And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Archive for the ‘Supreme Court’ Category

Heritage Newsletter offer us experts opinions on the news of the day and how it will affect you.   This was really a big day since the Supreme Court came down with two big rulings: one gave a victory to gay marriage by ruling against the Congressional Bill passed under Clinton called the Defense of marriage Act (DOMA)  which ruled marriage as being between a man and a woman.  I have been against this changing of our marriage laws on the grounds off finances.   This act by the court throws the problem back to the states but then after ruling that the California law *(voted for by the people) against gay marriage as unconstitutional it seems no state and certainly the majority of the voters have no say in this matter.   As stated I have been and am against the legalizing of s  gay marriage  because it  fives rights for financial support that have been the rights of wives and husbands only.   For instance social security support for widows and orphans.  the “orphans” part may be easy top figure out but who is the “widow”?   Are Both  parties in a lesbian marriage widows?   Do homosexual couples need to designate a “widow”?  And this is just the tip of a huge financial ice berg that We the Taxpayers will be responsible for that we were not before today.

The second ruling by the Supreme Court was one I feel is long overdue in being corrected.  States should and do have the right to determine what their voting laws are but until todays ruling 14 states had to get permission from some clerk in Washington before they could so much as change the location of a voting location.  In fact  one district in one of these states could not vote in the 2000 election due to a water pipe breaking and  flooding the polling place.  But since they had to get permission from Washington to move the site they simply had to disenfranchise the voters ion that district!   Now that was an extreme and surely rare happening but it really does point out the nonsense of following a law that was very necessary when passed by 50 years later attitudes and laws and mostly people’s views have changed and no Black can or will be kept from voting.  After all we do now have a Black as President!

And be sure to take note of how our President plans to go around your elected officials in Congress and use the EPA Environmental Protection Agency to force  his climate change agenda and war on coal and oil on us.   People there is no such thing as climate change.  the Earth is not getting hotter.  Obama lied again and again in his speech yesterday at Georgetown University.  Don’t believe me but do your own research and go to the records kept by the government itself  and see that we are experiencing right now the cycle that is normal and active in the 1950’s.  Then the hotter seasons was followed by a cooling off and so-called “cooling of the Earth due to the use of fossil fuels ” that occurred in the 1970’s.  these damned fools lead by Hollywood idiots and our President  are helping a cool group of men led by Al Gore and Barrack Obama to make a pile of money.   But while they are manipulating and  lining their pockets with all the money it will cost to go from fossil fuels to their so-called clean and not at all reliable wind and solar We the People are going to see the cost of energy to us going out of  sight.  And since energy is needed for every aspect of our lives including the food on our tables that means everything in our lives will cost more.  Well, anyhow  please do read the article and go to the references.   Sincerely, BB

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Items for Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Divided Supreme Court strikes down key voting rights provision
The Washington Times

John Malcolm

Obama planning to sidestep Congress for next phase in climate change agenda
Fox News

Nicolas Loris

David Kreutzer

Jack Spencer


Snowden flap bares hapless U.S.

Boston Herald

Peter Brookes

James Carafano

Ariel Cohen
INFOGRAPHIC: What You Should Know About Marriage
The Foundry Blog

Ryan Anderson

Jennifer Marshall

Andrew Walker

Sarah Torre


Immigration and the Crisis of Opportunity

National Review Online

Genevieve Wood

Mike Gonzalez

Stuart Butler


Latest Heritage Research
:

ISSUE BRIEF
How to Slash Billions from the Agriculture Appropriations Bill

Gang of Eight Giveaways
National Review

Jessica Zuckerman

Mike Needham

Dan Holler

Obama energy push could loom large in 2014
Politico

Nick Loris

David Kreutzer

Jack Spencer

Snowden mystery deepens, took job to gather NSA evidence
USA Today

Steven Bucci

Peter Brookes

James Carafano

Snowden Case Has Cold War Aftertaste
The New York Times

Ariel Cohen

5 Things You Need to Know About the Supreme Court’s Marriage Cases
The Foundry Blog

Ryan Anderson

Andrew Walker

Jennifer Marshall

 

Latest Heritage Research:

ISSUE BRIEF
Helping Southeast Asia Come to Grips with the Reality of Taiwan

ISSUE BRIEF
Obama’s Trip to Africa: Make It More Than a Photo-Op

ISSUE BRIEF
Schumer–Corker–Hoeven Amendment Fails on Securing the Border and Halting Illegal Immigration

BACKGROUNDER
Ratifying the Disabilities Convention Will Not Help Americans with Disabilities at Home or Abroad

ISSUE BRIEF
Kerry in India: Setting the Tone on Security Issues

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The following article is from the Heritage Foundation and is a listing of studies made by various groups on the state of our government and social programs.  I found many of them informative and felt that perhaps my Readers would also.  Just check out the listings and click on the topics that interest you.   You may also wish to subscribe and have the Insider Online newsletter delivered to your home page.  sincerely, BB

 

Updated daily, InsiderOnline (insideronline.org) is a compilation of publication abstractshow-to essaysevents, news, and analysis from around the conservative movement. The current edition of The INSIDER quarterly magazine is also on the site.


June 22, 2013

Latest Studies: 38 new items, including a Manhattan Institute report on the student debt problem, and an American Legislative Exchange Council report on environmental overcriminalization

Notes on the Week: Not even low-income workers can count on benefiting from ObamaCare, things to know about the CBO’s immigration scoring, and more

To Do: Keep an eye on Russia

Latest Studies

Budget & Taxation
• Four Tenets to Less Government Spending – e21 – Economic Policies for the 21st Century
• The Municipal Government Debt Crisis – Heartland Institute
• Proposed New Farm Programs: Costly and Risky for Taxpayers – The Heritage Foundation
• Soaring National Debt Remains a Grave Threat – The Heritage Foundation
• Taxing Online Sales: Should the Taxman’s Grasp Exceed His Reach? – The Heritage Foundation
• The Big Choice for Jobs and Growth: Lower Tax Rates Versus Expensing – The Heritage Foundation
• The Many Real Dangers of Soaring National Debt – The Heritage Foundation
• The Simple Economics of Pro-Growth Tax Reform – The Heritage Foundation
• Turn Down the Heat, Switch On the Light: A Rational Analysis of Tax Havens, Tax Policy and Tax Politics – Institute of Economic Affairs
• The Best Solution from Both Budgets: “Reverse Logrolling” Shows the Best Option for Government Spending and Tax Reform – John Locke Foundation
• Creating a Fair Property Tax System: Is it Possible? – Public Interest Institute
• Kansas 2013 Tax Reform Improves on Last Year’s Efforts – Tax Foundation
• New Zealand’s Experience with Territorial Taxation – Tax Foundation
• A Review of the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature – Texas Public Policy Foundation
• Virginia Economic Forecast 2013-2014: State to Add Jobs Despite Sequestration – Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Crime, Justice & the Law
• Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse, But It Is Reality – The Heritage Foundation
• Comeback States Report: Reducing Juvenile Incarceration in the United States – Texas Public Policy Foundation
• Scientific Evidence in State Courts: Florida Reform as a Model – Washington Legal Foundation

Education
• Beyond Retrofitting: Innovation in Higher Education – Hudson Institute
• College Credit: Repairing America’s Unhealthy Relationship with Student Debt – Manhattan Institute

Foreign Policy/International Affairs
• Beyond the Border: U.S. and Canada Expand Partnership in Trade and Security – The Heritage Foundation

Health Care
• The Right Way to Fight Obesity – Hoover Institution
• An Analysis of the Proposed Medicaid Expansion in Michigan – National Center for Policy Analysis
• Veterans Affairs Fails to Curb Suicide Epidemic – National Center for Policy Analysis

Immigration
• Advancing the Immigration Nation: Heritage’s Positive Path to Immigration and Border Security Reform – The Heritage Foundation
• Senate Immigration Bill Does Not Require Payment of All Back Taxes – The Heritage Foundation

Information Technology
• FCC Must Maintain Open Eligibility for Incentive Spectrum Auction – Free State Foundation

Monetary Policy/Financial Regulation
• Rethinking the FHA – American Enterprise Institute
• Recent Arguments against the Gold Standard – Cato Institute

National Security
• Obama’s Wish to Cut Nuclear Arsenal Undermines National Security – The Heritage Foundation
• Preventing the Next “Lone Wolf” Terrorist Attack Requires Stronger Federal–State–Local Capabilities – The Heritage Foundation

Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
• Efficiency Policy – American Action Forum
• Five Solutions for Addressing Environmental Overcriminalization – American Legislative Exchange Council
• Improving Incentives for Federal Land Managers: The Case for Recreation Fees – Cato Institute
• Denial of Supreme Court Review Leaves Ninth Circuit ESA Case Intact – Washington Legal Foundation
• Ohio Court Limits Localities’ Authority over Energy Exploration – Washington Legal Foundation

Transportation/Infrastructure
• Paint Is Cheaper Than Rails: Why Congress Should Abolish New Starts – Cato Institute
• Moving the Road Sector into the Market Economy – Institute of Economic Affairs

 

 

 

Notes on the Week

Rector on CBO on immigration: The Congressional Budget Office told us this week that letting large numbers of immigrants into the country and changing the status of those currently here illegally will be great for the economy and the federal budget. Robert Rector has a few things to say about the CBO’s scoring of the Gang of Eight immigration bill. Here are the highlights:

[T]he immigration coming in under this bill looks like previous immigration in the sense that its predominantly lower-skilled plus the fact that you’re taking 11 million illegal immigrants and giving them access to the welfare and entitlement states. They have an average education of 10th grade, so it’s very difficult to imagine that those households would somehow pay enough in taxes to equal their benefits […] .

The trick is the CBO 10-year budget window. […] For mysterious reasons, when an amnesty bill is written, the amnesty recipients become eligible for everything under the sun in about the 11th year. So that they pay taxes in the first 10 years and they don’t get additional benefits for some mysterious reason until you move outside the CBO budget window. […]

[T]he federal government, because of Social Security and Medicare, inherently transfers from the non-elderly to the elderly. State and local governments kind of do the opposite. If you just look at state and local governments you would find that they transfer from the elderly to the non-elderly to pay for education. The elderly pay a lot of property tax; they don’t get any education benefits any more. […] Of course immigrants are not elderly themselves. For a limited period of time they pay in but then they take out more than they have paid in. It’s important to put both flows together because the opposite process is happening down at the state and local level. […]

One of the interesting things that CBO does tell us is that the number of illegal immigrants who will enter the country over the next 20 years goes down by only 25 percent. There would have been, they estimate, 10 million illegal immigrants entering over the next 20 years. They estimate that that will drop to 7.5 million illegal immigrants entering the country […] . The net cost of those illegals alone would be about $400 billion over that period. […]

When you look at the Gang of Eight explain their bill they always say: Oh, we’re shifting from low-skill immigration to high-skill immigration. You can trust us. That’s what we do. But in fact the numbers from CBO show exactly the opposite. Roughly 80 … 85 to 90 percent of the individuals getting green card status are not skill-based. [The Foundry, June 21]

 

 

Turn on, tune in, pay up. Online learning may transform higher education someday, but right now it serves mainly as a prop in the familiar university system, say Andrew Kelly and Frederick Hess:

Many online programs generate large revenues because most colleges charge the same price (or more!) for students enrolled online as for those on campus. A survey of 199 universities by the educational technology arm of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education found that 93 percent of universities charged the same or higher tuition for their online programs. This is bizarre, given that online courses are less costly to deliver than in-person courses. But instead of competing on price (meaning that cost savings get passed to the student), institutions have maintained in-person prices for online courses—even as the cost of delivery has fallen.

What do colleges do with that extra revenue? They cross-subsidize activities on the brick and mortar campus: unfunded research, student life, institutional aid programs, and so on. Put more genteelly, they “reinvest” it in their traditional campus.

Real innovation, as Kelly and Hess point out, is about unbundling the research-based university, and that’s not going to happen until the government regulations, subsidies, and accreditation policies that protect that model from competition are reformed. [“Beyond Retrofitting: Innovation in Higher Education,” by Andrew P. Kelly and Frederick Hess, Hudson Institute, June 2013.]

 

 

Not even low-income workers can count on coming out ahead under ObamaCare. Some low-income workers could end up paying a lot more for health insurance than they paid before ObamaCare became law, reports Jillian Kay Melchior. ObamaCare requires employer-provided health insurance to cover at least 60 percent of health-care costs while not costing employees more than 9.5 percent of their household incomes. Since low-income households may have multiple sources of income, it can be difficult for companies to figure out if a particular plan is sufficient to avoid penalties. The federal government has proposed “safe harbor” standards in order to provide clarity: Companies offering plans that have a $3,500 deductible, a $6,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs, and premiums of $90 or less per month would put companies in the clear of any penalties. Under those standards, says Melchior, a low-income worker not eligible Medicaid has few good options:

He could take the employer’s plan — but if it’s a safe-harbor plan, it would cost, at minimum, $1,080 a year. And that’s before the deductible is even factored in. For someone who earns $28,725 a year, falling at 250 percent of the poverty level, these costs are sizeable.

Option two: He could shop around on the health exchange for an alternative. But because his employer provides a sanctioned plan, he’s disqualified from any subsidy he might have received to help offset costs. Even a very basic plan would cost up to $2,316 a year in premiums alone.

Option three: Forgo insurance altogether and pay the steadily increasing penalty to the federal government. In 2014, for an individual, that’s $95 for the year or 1 percent of household income, whichever is greater. But by 2016, it will rise to either $695 or 2.5 percent of household income. And that’s not even factoring in whether the worker has kids. In that case, he could face an annual penalty of $2,085 or more by 2016. […]

Before, many employers who paid by the hour offered limited medical plans. These policies often got a bad rap because of their lack of catastrophic coverage. But to their credit, they were inexpensive and contributed to health-care costs immediately, without workers needing to first meet a deductible.

Now, these low-wage hourly workers would be forced to spend at least $5,300 before their coverage really begins to benefit them. [National Review, June 17]

 

 

Who elected those guys? ask teachers in Kansas. Last week, teachers in Deerfield, Kansas, did something that almost never happens, report James Sherk and Michael Cirrotti: They voted to decertify their union:

Unlike most public officials, unions do not stand for re-election, so their members cannot regularly hold them accountable. Workers can remove an unwanted union only by filing for decertification. But bureaucratic obstacles make it difficult to hold a vote on decertification. The hoops Deerfield’s teachers had to jump through illustrate this problem.

Joel McClure, the teacher who led the effort, submitted the appropriate paperwork to the Kansas Department of Labor in November 2012. But Kansas teachers can request a vote only in a two-month window every three years. KNEA officials contested the petition by claiming that the teachers missed the December 1 deadline. (The Department of Labor had misplaced the initial petition paperwork.) Then the KNEA objected that the teachers’ attorney was not certified in Kansas and that they did not have enough signatures. However, the teachers prevailed and voted out their union—in June, just eight months after the initial submission.

When asked why they went through such protracted effort, the teachers said their union ignored their concerns. They wanted instead to be actively involved in negotiations and work collaboratively with the school district. “The desire is for teachers to participate at the [bargaining] table, to have free access to information,” McClure said. “In our little school district, there’s no reason we can’t sit down at the table and work out our issues.” [The Foundry, June 18]

Did we mention that next week is National Employee Freedom Week?

 

 

The death panel is coming. Last week, a federal judge in Philadelphia blocked the enforcement of an age-limit rule on lung transplants, thus allowing a very sick 10-year-old girl to obtain a new set of lungs. Doctors had said the girl, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, would live only three to five weeks without new lungs. Earlier, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius had said she would not to intervene in the case by overturning the rule.

When the ObamaCare-created Independent Payment Advisory Board is up and running in two years, it too will make decisions on matters of life and death, but unlike Sebelius’s decision on lung rules, the decisions of the IPAB cannot be reviewed by courts. Those decisions are also protected from politics in some extraordinary ways. As David Rivkin and Elizabeth Foley explain, the IPAB set-up is certainly unconstitutional, but likely not challengeable in the short run because no one would have standing to sue:

Once the board acts, its decisions can be overruled only by Congress, and only through unprecedented and constitutionally dubious legislative procedures—featuring restricted debate, short deadlines for actions by congressional committees and other steps of the process, and supermajoritarian voting requirements. The law allows Congress to kill the otherwise inextirpable board only by a three-fifths supermajority, and only by a vote that takes place in 2017 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15. If the board fails to implement cuts, all of its powers are to be exercised by HHS Secretary Sebelius or her successor. […]

The power given by Congress to the Independent Payment Advisory Board is breathtaking. Congress has willingly abandoned its power to make tough spending decisions (how and where to cut) to an unaccountable board that neither the legislative branch nor the president can control. The law has also entrenched the board’s decisions to an unprecedented degree.

In Mistretta v. United States (1989), the Supreme Court emphasized that, in seeking assistance to fill in details not spelled out in the law, Congress must lay down an “intelligible principle” that “confine[s] the discretion of the authorities to whom Congress has delegated power.” The “intelligible principle” test ensures accountability by demanding that Congress take responsibility for fundamental policy decisions.

The IPAB is guided by no such intelligible principle. ObamaCare mandates that the board impose deep Medicare cuts, while simultaneously forbidding it to ration care. Reducing payments to doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers may cause them to limit or stop accepting Medicare patients, or even to close shop.

These actions will limit seniors’ access to care, causing them to wait longer or forego care—the essence of rationing. ObamaCare’s commands to the board are thus inherently contradictory and, consequently, unintelligible.

Moreover, authorizing the advisory board to make rules “relating to” Medicare gives the board virtually limitless power of the kind hitherto exercised by Congress. For instance, the board could decide to make cuts beyond the statutory target. It could mandate that providers expand benefits without additional payment. It could require that insurers or gynecologists make abortion services available to all their patients as a condition of doing business with Medicare, or that drug companies set aside a certain percentage of Medicare-related revenues to fund “prescription drug affordability.” There is no limit. [Wall Street Journal, June 19]

 

 

What is candy? Depends on which state wants to tax it online. Forcing online retailers to remit sales taxes to the state where the purchaser resides, as the federal Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) does, is not going to level the playing field between online and bricks-and-mortar retailers. Rather, as James Gattuso explains, it will tilt the playing field heavily against online retailers—especially smaller ones:

While the legislation does require states to provide retailers with free software for managing tax compliance, that software need only cover the individual state. Retailers are left on their own to get nationwide software, unless they want to integrate 46 individual software packages. No compensation is offered for recurring costs incurred by retailers, such as accounting services or online tax management services.

In addition, internal staff time would be needed for an array of tasks, including handling claims by tax-exempt customers, fielding inquiries from tax authorities, and addressing the inevitable glitches.

Even the simple act of classifying the item being sold can be problematic, with thousands of idiosyncratic distinctions and definitions through each state’s tax code. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin flag as well as the U.S. flag is not subject to tax. All other flags are taxable. Unless they are bundled with flagpoles, in which case the rules change yet again.

Similarly, candy is defined—under the “streamlined” sales tax agreement, as “a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other ingredients in the form of bars, drops, or pieces.” But sellers beware: “‘Candy’ shall not include any preparation containing flour and shall require no refrigeration.” Thus defined, states still vary on whether the concoction is taxable or not.

The problems do not end with the sale. Each of the 46 state tax authorities with which retailers would have to deal directly require tax returns to be completed, on an annual, quarterly, or even weekly basis. To ensure that it is all done correctly, sellers would be subject to audits from each of 46 states. (If tax authorities on Indian reservations are included—as they are in the MFA as passed by the Senate—the number of tax forms and potential audits jumps to the hundreds.) [The Heritage Foundation, June 19]

 

 

Carbon taxers forget the externalities of not using cheap, abundant energy. One reason putting a tax on carbon in order to price its negative externalities is not a free-market idea:

[E]ven if SCC [social cost of carbon] estimates were not assumption-driven hocus-pocus, their use by activists, policymakers, and agencies would still be biased and misleading, because proponents of “climate action” always ignore the social costs of carbon mitigation.

As Cato Institute scholar Indur Goklany explains in a recent study, fossil fuels are the chief energy source of a “cycle of progress” responsible for the amazing improvements of the past 250 years in life expectancy, health, nutrition, safety, comfort, human capital formation, and per capita income. The cycle of progress is to no small extent a “positive externality” of fossil fuels. Thus, policies that suppress the extraction, delivery, and consumption of fossil fuels, or that make fossil energy less affordable, have social costs in addition to whatever compliance burdens and economic losses the policies entail.

For example, the more stringent the carbon mitigation scheme, the more severe the impacts on household income and job creationNumerous studies find that poverty and unemployment increase the risk of sickness and death. Carbon tax advocates never acknowledge this side of the ledger.

Given the continuing importance of fossil fuels to human flourishing and the undeniable connection between livelihoods, living standards, and life expectancy, carbon taxes can easily do more harm than good to public health—even if one accepts the IPCC’s version of the science.

That’s from Marlo Lewis’s excellent summary of the recent R Street-Heartland Institute debate on the carbon tax. [GlobalWarming.org, June 16]

 

 

Progressives make use of rights that progressives think should not exist. It’s a good thing for progressives—and everybody else—that one particular progressive idea hasn’t been adopted, observes Wendy Kaminer:

If progressives had their way, the ACLU’s latest challenge to the NSA’s domestic surveillance would easily be dismissed.ACLU v Clapper, filed in the wake of the Snowden revelations, is based on the ACLU’s First and Fourth Amendment rights, which, according to progressives, ACLU should not possess. It is, after all, a corporation, and constitutional amendments aggressively promoted by progressives would limit constitutional rights to “natural persons.”

“The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities,” the popular People’s Rights Amendment declares. [The Atlantic, June 17]

Arthur Koestler’s protagonist in Darkness at Noon referred to the first-person singular as a “grammatical fiction” because it conflicted with the logic of self sacrifice demanded by the party. Today’s real progressives are now trying to subvert the plural form. By insisting that only individuals, not corporations, have rights, they elide the fact that corporations are made up of individual people. Individuals can’t fully exercise their rights if the things they choose to do cooperatively with others do not have the same protections as the things they choose to do alone. Maybe the American Civil Liberties Union can spread the word.

 

 

To Do: Keep an Eye on Russia

• Find out what Russia is up to with its efforts to construct a Eurasian Union. The Heritage Foundation will host a half-day conference on June 27 in Washington, D.C.

• Reflect on the Battle of Gettysburg and its meaning for the nation, which happened 150 years ago this July. Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College will make remarks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., at 4:30 p.m. on June 26.

• If you are a young, professional, conservative woman, come meet other young, professional, conservative women at the Network of enlightened Women’s National Conference. The conference will be held June 27 – June 28 at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Christina Hoff Summers will deliver a keynote address.

• Request a free copy of the movie Amazing Grace, which tells the true story of William Wilberforce’s fight to abolish slavery. The offer is part of the Foundation for Economic Education’s Blinking Lights Project, which educates about the importance of personal character as a vital element of free society. Be sure to check that out, too.

• Don’t forget that next week is National Employee Freedom Week, “a national effort to inform union employees of the freedom they have regarding opting out of union membership and making the decision about union membership that’s best for them.”

• Save the dates! These events are no longer classified, are they?
—The annual IEA Hayek Memorial Lecture, delivered this year by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, talking on “The Leave Us Alone Coalition vs. The Takings Coalition: The On-going Struggle” at 6:30 p.m. in London;
—The 42nd National Fourth of July Soiree, featuring barbeque, blue grass, balloon artists, and more at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Va., on July 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
—The Heritage Foundation’s annual Scholars & Scribes review of the Supreme Court’s 2012-2013 term, July 11, in Washington, D.C.;
Freedom Fest, the largest gathering of free minds, July 10 – July 13 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas;
—and Cato University, July 28 – August 3 at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

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As many of you know I am, and have always been, against the government welfare for the elderly programs.  I am NOT, repeat NOT, against helping those who need help.  I am against forcing those who do not need it the government welfare programs.  At age 24 with an insurance covered by her children grandmother I very much opposed Medicare.  60%, that is 6 out of 10 elderly people at that time DID NOT need government welfare, but the insurance companies insisted that in order to take on those who did need this help with their medical bills the government must FORCE all elderly to participate.  This is why at age 71 I am on Medicare instead of the WORK EARNED TriCare medical insurance that I was most pleased with.  I will grant you that Medicare has paid for every thing I have needed it for.  And I still resent it because if the government had not gotten into competition with me on health insurance then the escalation of medical costs would have remained fairly even with inflation, and even gone down in costs as technology increased and medical practice and health car as other things that the government did not get into remained reasonably priced as have hundreds of other commodities and services that the government did not get their bumbling fingers into.  I hate every medical bill I cause and do at times refuse treatment  because it is the young workers who are footing the bills!  Bills by the way that only inflated by triple digits every year since Medicare went into effect!  EVERYTHING, yes EVERYTHING, the government gets into goes sky high in price and is POORLY RUN.  There is not one government program that is not poorly administered and wasteful and extremely high priced.  Even the very best of them, the military, is poorly administered and wasteful.  The military by the way is one of  the very few  government programs the Constitution demands that the federal government does undertake for it’s citizens!  Everything else our government, both city,state and federal,  just usurped from us the People.  Or, worse yet, we demanded that they take from our shoulders!

So my rant today is about Federal Government Welfare Programs for the elderly and the sad fact that an individual can not get  out of one of them even if they want to.  Read on for another great folly and how the Supreme Court helped in this folly. BB

JANUARY 25, 2013 2:22PM

Supreme Court Snubs Citizens Whose Social Security Will Be Confiscated If They Refuse Government Health Care

Some of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most significant decisions are those declining to hear a case. Two weeks ago, the Court made such a momentous non-ruling in refusing to hear a lawsuit, Hall v. Sebelius, challenging government policies that deny otherwise eligible retirees their Social Security benefits if they choose not to enroll in Medicare. (I previously wrote about the case, and Cato filed a brief supporting the retirees’ petition for Supreme Court review.)

Despite having paid thousands of dollars each in Social Security and Medicare taxes during their working lives—for which they never sought reimbursement—the five plaintiffs were told by officials at the Social Security Administration and Department of Health and Human Services that they had to forfeit all of their Social Security benefits if they wished to withdraw from (or not enroll in) Medicare. This determination resulted from internal policies that were put in place during the Clinton administration and strengthened by the Bush administration. The plaintiffs sought a judicial ruling that would prohibit SSA and HHS from enforcing these policies, which they believed conflicted with the Social Security and Medicare statutes. A sharply divided U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit eventually upheld them. By its decision not to hear the case, the Supreme Court let that controversial ruling stand.

At this point, one might ask why someone would want to give up Medicare. The answer is that some people would prefer to keep their existing (private) health insurance, but that for various regulatory and economic reasons insurance companies are wary of insuring people already covered by Medicare. Talk about the prototypical case of government programs crowding out the private sector!  (THINK OBAMACARE!! How long do you think it will be before everyone is on the government  so-called Public Option? BB)

In any event, the troubling reality of the Supreme Court’s non-ruling is twofold: First, the government now has full authority to force citizens to participate in a financially troubled program (Medicare) that was originally intended to be—and operated for almost three decades as—a wholly voluntary program. If they refuse, SSA and HHS can deny them their Social Security benefits. If they seek to withdraw from Medicare, SSA and HHS can not only deny them future benefits, but force them to repay all benefits received from both programs. Second, the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to address the issue raised here allows federal agencies to bypass Congress with impunity when drafting and implementing their own rules.  (The President is doing this almost weekly with his Presidential Decrees and appointments.  Recently, the US District Court in Washington DC  did rule against the Presidential appointments of three extremely liberal and union representatives he appointed to the National Labor Relations Board when Congress was still in session.  Democrat Harry Reid set up this scheme whereby the Senate was considered in session if someone came in and called the senate to order regardless of how many people were in attendance or even if the Senators were in town.  He did this to block the Senate Republicans from an action they wanted to take.  Now this action of Democrat Harry Reid and the President’s Man in the Senate has played right into the hands of Conservatives!  Sometimes there is Pay Back!   At any rate, the US Court of Appeals in DC ruled that the Senate was indeed in session even tho the Senators were out of town and therefore the Presidents appoints were illegal and void.  This of course makes all of their ruling against the People and Business and for the union thugs illegal and void.  (I have copy the Cato Institute report on this at the bottom of this post)

The Supreme Court however by refusing to hear this case does open up the case for the department, and President to continue to by pass Congress and make their own laws!  Think long and hard about this People.  BB)

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Kent Masterson Brown, had this to say in a press release following the Supreme Court’s order:

Not only have the Courts allowed these agencies to grant themselves permission to seize a retiree’s Social Security benefits should they opt out of Medicare, but they have allowed those agencies to turn voluntary programs into compulsory ones, giving Seniors no choice whatsoever but to accept the ever more limited health care offered by Medicare. The plaintiffs cannot pay for their own health care—and save the Government and taxpayers money—without forfeiting all of their Social Security benefits.  There is nothing in the Social Security statutes that says a retired individual who chooses not to apply for Medicare coverage will be stripped of his or her Social Security benefits.

Martha de Forest, executive director of a group that supported the lawsuit, the Fund for Personal Liberty, also had a response:

Why would the government tie two programs together when they have different payment mechanisms and different start dates? It is about control, nothing more.  That is why the government forces retirees to participate in Medicare as a condition of receiving Social Security Retirement benefits.

At base, it’s axiomatic that administrative agencies have no powers not granted to them by Congress and that regulations must be anchored in their operative statute. The rules challenged here failed this standard. Combined with the fiscal irresponsibility of forcing citizens to accept costly benefits during hard economic times, the SSA and HHS rules are an arbitrary power grab. Agency overreach imperils the separation of powers and therefore liberty.

Now that the Supreme Court has failed to counter this unauthorized expansion of federal power, it’s time for Congress to do so by legislation—as Quin Hillyer suggests in his commentary on the case. Richard Epstein has further thoughts on how Hall v. Sebelius illustrates the untrammeled growth of the administrative state.

Creative Commons License
This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

 

JANUARY 25, 2013 3:38PM

DC Circuit Overturns President Obama’s Power Grab

Today, in an important decision with far-reaching implications, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional President Obama’s appointment of three members to the National Labor Relations Board.

Slightly over a year ago, on January 4, 2012, President Obama appointed four people to high-level offices without the constitutionally required “advice and consent” of the Senate. Three of those appointees were placed on the NLRB, and the other was Richard Cordray, chosen to direct the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the “consumer watchdog” agency created by Dodd-Frank.

The appointments were one of the most significant power grabs by a president in recent memory. The Constitution requires that certain “officers of the United States,” a category which indisputably includes NLRB board members and the director of the CFPB, be appointed by the president with the “advice and consent of the Senate.” Like many constitutional provisions, this is a “checks and balances” requirement that helps ensure the president does not unilaterally control the executive branch for his own purposes.

As a precaution against crucial offices staying vacant while the Senate is not in session, the Framers included a clause that allows the president to temporarily circumvent the “advice and consent” requirement in order “to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” At the time of the framing, as well as for many decades afterward, senators would usually spend six to nine months out of Washington. In those absences, it was left to the president to keep the government going, and the Recess Appointment Clause gives the president the power to make temporary appointments during those long periods when the Senate was simply unavailable.

Unfortunately, like so many constitutional provisions, the last 80 years have seen a gradual, bipartisan effort to whittle away the Recess Appointment Clause’s function and to concentrate more power in the president. Initially, presidents began redefining what a “recess” is by asserting the power to appoint officers during “intrasession recesses”—that is, breaks within a formal session (e.g., holiday breaks)—rather than just during intersession recesses. After this precedent had been established by President Warren Harding, successive presidents began appointing officials during shorter and shorter intrasession recesses. President Clinton made a controversial appointment during a 10-day intrasession recess, and President George W. Bush followed suit.

In 2007, after Bush’s controversial appointments, the Senate, led by Harry Reid, began holding “pro forma” sessions in order to block future appointments. Usually held every three days during intrasession recesses, pro forma sessions are often less than a minute long and held in a largely empty Senate chamber. Yet the sessions satisfy the constitutional definition of being “in session” and are often used by the Senate and House to satisfy the constitutional requirement that either chamber cannot adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.

Whereas previous presidents only had the gall to assert the power to determine what a recess was, President Obama’s innovation in executive power grabs was to assert the power to determine whether or not a pro forma session is actually a session for the purposes of the Recess Appointment Clause. According to the Office of Legal Council, the president has the “discretion to conclude that the Senate is unavailable to perform its advise-and-consent function and to exercise his power to make recess Appointments.”

The OLC’s argument “will not do,” wrote Chief Judge David Sentelle in a stirring and chiding opinion rooted in constitutional originalism. He continued:

An interpretation of “the Recess” that permits the President to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law.

As for whether or not the Senate’s intentions for holding pro forma sessions permit the president to determine whether the Senate is actually in session, Judge Sentelle writes:

The Senate’s desires do not determine the Constitution’s meaning. The Constitution’s separation of powers features, of which the Appointments Clause is one, do not simply protect one branch from another. These structural provisions serve to protect the people, for it is ultimately the people’s rights that suffer when one branch encroaches on another. As Madison explained in Federalist No. 51, the division of power between the branches forms part of the “security [that] arises to the rights of the people.”

After appointing Cordray and the NLRB board members, President Obama said he “refused to take no for an answer,” and that he would “not stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people they were elected to serve.” The President’s attorneys made a similar argument, claiming that the Senate was standing in the way of his duties as president. Sentelle’s response:

It bears emphasis that “[c]onvenience and efficiency are not the primary objectives—or the hallmarks—of democratic government.” … The power of a written constitution lies in its words. It is those words that were adopted by the people. When those words speak clearly, it is not up to us to depart from their meaning in favor of our own concept of efficiency, convenience, or facilitation of the functions of government.

The decision is an important step to reining in a long line of presidential abuses. If the court had upheld the appointments, Obama unquestionably would not have been the last to use this power. Moreover, the reasoning of the decision should directly apply to Richard Cordray of the constitutionally problematic CFPB. His days are numbered if the Supreme Court either upholds the decision or does not take the case.

If you read my previous post you se that I feel Chief Justice Roberts did the People a favor with his ruling on Obamacare.  I seem to be very much in the minority in my thinking,  especially up against such brilliant people as Mark Levin who is  all but ready to call Roberts out as a traitor to his country.  But  The Project to Restore America  newsletter this month seems to see things my way.   Check out what they have to say:  (BB)

Obamacare Survives, but Political Playing Field Has Changed
By Michael Barone
Monday, July 02, 2012

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding the Obama administration’s health care legislation was a victory for the president, his administration and his party. Their most ambitious legislative achievement has not been nullified, and they are not left in obvious disarray. 

But it is only a partial victory and in some ways not a victory at all, both in the short run electorally and in the long run in terms of the constitutional order. 

Politically Obamacare, as its critics call it, remains highly unpopular. It’s possible that the court decision will boost its support, but unlikely. 

Most voters want this law repealed. Mitt Romney and the Republicans want to repeal it. Barack Obama and the Democrats want to preserve it. It’s not a winning issue for the incumbent. 

Constitutionally, many conservatives are unhappy that Chief Justice Roberts and the four justices generally considered liberal voted to uphold the mandate to buy health insurance as a tax, which Congress is clearly empowered to levy. 

But the fact remains that a majority of five justices, including Roberts, also declared that Congress’ power to regulate commerce does not authorize a mandate to buy a commercial product. This will tend to bar further expansion of the size and scope of the federal government. 

Moreover, the Constitution’s limits on congressional power have now become, for the first time in seven decades, a political issue. They’re likely to remain one for years to come. 

This would not have been true had not the constitutional case against the mandate been advanced by Washington lawyer David Rivkin, Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett and many others. 

They did not quite prevail in the Supreme Court, but they changed not only the legal but also the political debate in a way almost no one anticipated three years ago. 

Unhappy conservatives grumble that Congress can get around the declaration that a mandate is beyond Congress’s enumerated powers by labeling it a tax — or just by relying on five justices declaring it one. 

But there’s usually a political price to pay for increasing taxes. That’s why Barack Obama swore up and down that the mandate was not a tax. It’s why Democratic congressional leaders did not call it one. 

Roberts’ decision undercuts such arguments, now and in the future. Members of Congress supporting such legislation will be held responsible, this year and for years to come, for increasing taxes. 

And the Constitution’s provision that tax bills must be originated in the House of Representatives means that the party controlling the House can effectively block such measures. That will be an argument for Republican congressional candidates for the indefinite future. 

It should not be forgotten that the Supreme Court did overturn part of the Obamacare legislation, the provision allowing the federal government to cut off states from all Medicaid funding if they refuse to vastly expand Medicaid eligibility as the legislation requires. 

Here, another novel legal argument, advanced by Vanderbilt law professor (and my law school classmate) James Blumstein, found favor with a majority of justices. The idea is that Congress can’t use the leverage of partial federal funding to force the states to increase the size and scope of government. 

This seems like a principle that could work powerfully against big government policies. Medicaid has been vastly expanded over the years in this manner. Now the Court seems to be saying that that game is over

The court’s decision elicited sighs of relief from the White House. The president’s entire administration is not in disarray. 

But the basic assumptions that he brought to office have proven unwarranted. Obama followed the New Deal historians in portraying history as a story of progress from minimal government to big government and in arguing that economic distress would make Americans more supportive of big government policies. 

The unpopularity of Obamacare and the stimulus package have proven the latter assumption wrong. Most Americans are skeptical about the supposedly guaranteed benefits of centralized big government programs. 

And history does not move in one direction toward big government, even if it did from 1929 to 1945. Mercantilism was replaced by free trade in the 19th century, New Deal regulation by deregulation in the 1970s and 1980s. 

The Supreme Court’s decision, while upholding Obamacare, tilts the legal and political playing field away from big government more than anyone anticipated three years ago, and probably for years to come. 


Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. 

COPYRIGHT 2012 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Once again, thank you for sending us your e-mails. We can’t respond individually, but we read and consider all of them. Send your question, comment, or complaint tojohn@theprojecttorestoreamerica.com orwendy@theprojecttorestoreamerica.com

 Hello! I just read the article below: 

Why I Escaped From New York and Californiaby Wayne Allyn Root, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. I want to be able to post it on facebook! Please add a share button! – Marita 

Bidwell comment: Marita, if you go to www.theprojecttorestoreamerica.com, this article is under the Recent Articles. When you click the link, the article fills the screen. At the top right of the page, the Facebook icon is with the other Share this site icons. I hope this helps…

Also if you liked Wayne Allyn Root’s article, you might like this one as well… http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/06/25/to-defeat-obama-in-2012-tell-story-chicago-decline/

 (On Stansberry Radio,) I think that Chris Martinsen was more persuasive on peak oil because he built his argument on the fact that oil on this planet is a limited resource. We are not likely to burn up all the oil because it will eventually become cheaper to manufacture a different type of portable energy. You have a good point that enhanced recovery methods will push production out into the future, but the decline will inevitably kick in and apply pressure for innovation. The stakes are high to keep our transportation systems running, I hope innovation wins. Thanks, Mike 

Heffern comment: If you enjoyed the last radio show we recommended (the overwhelming positive feedback assures me that you did) tune in to the interview with a former Managing Partner at Bain Capital, Ed Conrad. This interview is one that I’d put near the top of my list. Porter Stansberry and Aaron Brabham interviewed a close business associate and friend of Mitt Romney’s, Conard talks in great detail about the benefits of rising income inequality, true facts about the economy, and the noble profession of private equity. Conard is a great debater and an extremely smart man.

I’d recommend making this podcast part of your weekly routine. A great thing about the radio show is they have a feedback line where you can leave messages for the hosts directly… They always love to hear listener feedback on any aspect of the show or ideas on who you would want interviewed next… 1-855-SA-RADIO (1-855-727-2346) orfeedback@stansberryradio.com.

It is my belief that Chief Justice Robert did the people of the United States  a great favor.  YES,  he did indeed rewrite the law when he named the mandate a tax and therefore constitutional under the Congress’s right to levy taxes.  But in the arguments before the court in a last ditch effort to get the law passes the White house did argue that the mandate was a tax thus bringing up the subject and giving Roberts his opening.

Some are saying it was a win for Obama.  No way!  It was a win for the people because Roberts gave the Conservatives a  hammer to beat Obama over the head with:  A huge tax on ALL  people and one that will grow and grow.  He told us in his closing argument that he did not and does not judge the goodness  or badness of a law,  but only the constitutionality.   He was telling the people that he was throwing it back out there for them to decide what kind of America we want and if we want the home of the free then we will get our buns out there in November and make darn sure as many others get out to vote too.    If the mandated had been shot down we still would have been stuck with the other many, many monsters in this law!!  but the people would have gone their way believing the  problem has been solved.  We the People owe Chief Justice Roberts a great debt for his ruling and the  statesmanship (or brinkmanship!) for giving us this last chance to save ourselves.  BB

I have received a newsletter from Hillsdale College for several years now and   consider it one of my favorite things.  The newsletter features a different conservative speaker each month on a topic of timely national interest.  Hillsdale College is offering a 10 week e-course on “The History and Meaning of the Constitution” that I highly recommend to any one , even those who feel they  have a fair understanding of the Constitution.  I am taking it now.  For you who may be interested below is the information that will get you started.  BB

 

Welcome to Constitution 101!

To access each week’s course material, click the hyperlinked title in the schedule below.

Please email us at constitution@hillsdale.edu with any questions.


 

Constitution 101 Schedule


Each lecture is pre-recorded and lasts approximately 40 minutes. Lectures and other study materials will be released by noon each Monday according to the schedule. Once released, they are available to view at your convenience.

You will receive an email each week informing you that new material is available.

Pre-course Introductory Materials

  1. The American Mind
    Larry P. Arnn
    Monday, February 20
  2. The Declaration of Independence
    Thomas G. West
    Monday, February 27
  3. The Problem of Majority Tyranny
    David Bobb
    Monday, March 5
  4. Separation of Powers: Preventing Tyranny
    Kevin Portteus
    Monday, March 12
  5. Separation of Powers: Ensuring Good Government
    Will Morrisey
    Monday, March 19
  6. Religion, Morality, and Property
    David Bobb
    Monday, March 26
  7. Crisis of Constitutional Government
    Will Morrisey
    Monday, April 2
  8. Abraham Lincoln and the Constitution
    Kevin Portteus
    Monday, April 9
  9. The Progressive Rejection of the Founding
    Ronald J. Pestritto
    Monday, April 16
  10. The Recovery of the Constitution
    Larry P. Arnn
    Monday, April 23

 


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