Count down to government shut down

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Banking, Business, Credit, Economics, Fiscal Policy, Government Spending, Health Care, Law, Liberty, Monetary Policy, People, Philosophy, Politics, Tax Policy, U.S. Constitution, War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Count down to government shut down

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

Senate_Must_Act

House votes to fund federal government but defund Obamacare                Credit: http://www.ktvu.com

The nonessential parts of the federal government may be shut down on Oct. 1 until Congress passes either a fiscal year 2014 budget appropriations bill or a continuing resolution.

Fiscal year 2014 begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2014. Since the Democrats want to increase government spending and taxes and the Republicans want to decrease government spending and taxes, neither party will agree to a budget appropriations bill.

Instead of a stalemate, Congress could pass a joint continuing resolution that appropriates funds for government departments, agencies and programs at current, expanded or reduced levels until a formal appropriations bill is signed into law or until the resolution expires. A continuing resolution would have to be passed by both the House and Senate and then signed into law by the president.

The House passed a continuing resolution on Sept. 20 that would fund the federal government at current levels for the first 11 weeks of the fiscal year 2014 and keep the federal government open. If this continuing resolution is not passed by the Senate, some nonessential parts of the federal government would need to be shut down.

The House resolution had two amendments. The first would strip out funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare and thereby stop its implementation. The second would direct how federal government spending is prioritized in the event the Treasury hits the borrowing debt ceiling limit in the near future.

The 230-189 vote was mainly along party lines with 228 Republicans and two Democrats voting in favor and 188 Democrats and one Republican voting against the continuing resolution.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) held a victory rally after the resolution passed and remarked, “The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare. The House has listened to the American people. Now it’s time for the United States Senate to listen to them as well.”

House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor put several Democratic Senators, who are up for re-election in Nov. of 2014, on the spot. Cantor called out Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Cantor said, “It’s up to Senate Democrats to follow House Republicans and show some responsibility.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Sept. 19, “I will do everything and anything possible to defund Obamacare.” Cruz promised to filibuster any attempt to strip out the language of the House continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare. A filibuster is the use of irregular or obstructive tactics by a Senator to prevent the adoption of a measure.

Cruz began his filibuster by saying: “I rise today in opposition to Obamacare. I rise today in an effort to speak for 26 million Texans and for 300 million Americans. All across this country Americans are suffering because of Obamacare. Obamacare isn’t working and yet fundamentally there are politicians in this body who are not listening to the people. They are not listening to the concerns of their constituents. They are not listening to the jobs lost, the people forced into part-time jobs, the people losing their health insurance, the people who are struggling. A great many Texans, a great many Americans feel that they do not have a voice. So I hope to play some very small part in helping to provide that voice for them. …I  intend to speak in opposition to Obamacare. I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare, until I am unable to stand.”

Cruz delivered on his promise by standing and speaking for more than 21 hours on Sept. 23-24.

According to a Sept. 15 NBC/WSJ poll, 44 percent of respondents call Obamacare a bad idea and 31 percent believe it’s a good idea.

In a national survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted on Sept. 14-15 by Rasmussen Reports, 51 percent favor a government shutdown until Congress cuts health care funding. The Rasmussen survey also found that “58 percent favor a federal budget that cuts spending, while 16 percent prefer one that increases spending. Twenty-one percent support a budget that keeps spending levels about the same.”

According to Rasmussen, “74 percent of Republican and 62 percent of unaffiliated voters would rather have a shutdown until the two sides can agree on what spending to cut,” while “63 percent of Democrats agree with the president and would prefer to avoid a shutdown by authorizing spending at existing levels.”

“Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown. I have said it before but it seems to bear repeating: the Senate will not pass any bill that defunds or delays Obamacare,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

The Democrats are determined to fund Obamacare, shut down the government on Oct.1 and blame it on Republicans.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

 

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King Obama Decrees Subsidies to Congress and Staff for Obamacare: The Ruling Class vs. The American People

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Business, Economics, Fiscal Policy, Government Spending, Health Care, Law, Liberty, Macroeconomis, Microeconomics, People, Philosophy, Politics | Tags: , , , , , |

King Obama Decrees Subsidies to Congress and Staff for Obamacare: The Ruling Class vs. The American People
By Raymond Thomas Pronk

United States Capitol Building

United States Capitol Building, Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.       Credit: blog.timesunion.com

Only the ruling class in Washington, both Democrats and some Republicans, not believe in the proverb, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

The The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 and commonly known as Obamacare, requires members of Congress and their staffs (currently about 11,000 people) to purchase their health insurance plans through new states-based markets known as insurance exchanges.

Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) originally proposed this requirement as an amendment to the Obamacare bill, said at the time he wanted “members of Congress and Congressional staff to get their employer-based health insurance through the same exchanges as our constituents.”

Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) revised the Grassley amendment when the Obamacare bill was rushed to a vote on Christmas eve December 2009. The resulting 2,500 page bill failed to include legislature language that would continue premium contributions for members of Congress and their staffs that the federal government makes for its employees and requires them to purchase Obamacare mandated plans through the exchanges.

Currently members of Congress and their staffs obtaine their health insurance plans through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) that covers more than eight million people including government employees and their families, provides dozen of competing plans and is the nation’s largest employer-sponsored health insurance program. This will soon end as the state insurance exchanges begin operation on Oct.1.

Individuals without qualified health insurance coverage through their employers or covered by Medicare or Medicaid are required by law to purchase health insurance coverage by January 1, 2014 and may qualify for federal subsidies. Low-income individuals and families above 100% and up to 400% of the federal poverty level will receive federal subsidies on a sliding scale if they choose to purchase insurance via an exchange. For 2013 the federal poverty guideline level for an individual is $11,390 and for a family of four is $23, 550 (see Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/01/24/2013-01422/annual-update-of-the-hhs-poverty-guidelines)

Starting in 2014 Members of Congress and their staffs by law must purchase their health insurance through the exchanges and no longer through FEHBP. United States senators and representatives have earned $174,000 per year starting in 2009. The Speaker of the House and the House Majority and Minority Leaders earn $223,500.Senate majority and minority leaders earn $193,000 as do other House leadership. Members of Congress and their highly paid staff would not be eligible for any subsidies under Obamacare.

Reid has made it very clear that “There are not now, have never been, nor will there be any discussions about exempting members of Congress from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employer offering health care.”

However, those who work for Congressional committees and leadership offices, such as  Senate Majority leader Reid’s office, are apparently exempt from requirement to obtain their health insurance coverage through the exchanges and can continue to obtain their subsided health insurance plans through the FEHBP.

Obama’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on Aug. 7 issued regulations that members of Congress and their staffs will continue to receive premium contribution subsidies based on the FEHBP’s defined-contribution formula that covers about 75 percent of the cost of the average health insurance plan or about $5,000 for an individual and $11,000 for a family for fiscal year 2014 that begins Oct.1, 2013.

“These proposed regulations implement the administrative aspects of switching Members of Congress and congressional staff to their new insurance plans – the same plans available to millions of Americans through the new Exchanges,”  said OPM Director of Planning and Policy Jon Foley.

The OPM claims that a legal loophole in the Obamacare law, the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of law”, is legal justification and authority for continuing Member of Congress and staff keeping their employee subsidies. This proposed regulation simply ignores  the fact the Obamacare law “prohibits an employer from providing a qualified health plan through an Exchange as a benefit under its cafeteria plan.”

Furthermore, most Congressional staff employees will most likely remain under FEHBP and not be forced into the mandated health insurance exchanges because the term “official office” of a Member of Congress does not have an existing statutory definition under Obamacare.

The ruling class in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, will continue to be subsized by the American taxpayer. While more than 30 million individuals and small businesses will be forced to purchase health insurance plans that do not want and many cannot  afford.

Now that Obama has also delayed implementation of the Obamacare employer mandate for those with 50 or more employees until Jan.1. 2015, 56 percent of American voters favor delaying for a year the individual mandate as well with only 26 percent opposed according to the July 13, 2013 Rassmusen Reports. While American voters oppose the individual mandate by a 2 to 1 margin, most voters favor the employer mandate for businesses with 50 or more employees by 59 percent in favor and 34 percent oppose, according to Rassmusen Reports.

The House of Representative controlled by the Republicans has passed legislation to repeal Obamacare in its entirety 40 times. The Democratic controlled Senate has blocked such legislation from becoming law. However, tea-party Senators lead Mike Lee (R-Ut.), Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), Rand Paul (R-Ky), Marco Rubio (R-Fla) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and eight other Senators and 60 House Republicans have signed a letter urging the Republican leadership to defund Obama by passing a continuing resolution that would fund the federal government for fiscal year 2014 in its entiretly except for Obamacare.

The only way this tea party initiative can succeed is for the American people to rise up against the ruling class in Washington. Senator Cruz said, “The most important Constitutional check that Congress has on an overreaching President is the Power of the purse. If Republicans stand together, we can actually succeed in defunding it.”

During the August Congressional recess the tea party Senators and Representatives will be mobilizing the support of the American people to defund Obamacare.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

 

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