Progress: Obama Announces 8 Million Obamacare Enrollees

Speaking from the White House late Thursday afternoon, President Obama announced there are now 8 million people enrolled in Obamacare, a small jump up from 7.1 million at the beginning of April and after former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has left office.

"Eight million people," Obama said. "Thirty-five percent of people who enroll through the federal market place are under the age of 35. All told, independent experts now estimate that millions of Americans who were uninsured have gained coverage this year."

The White House has still not produced numbers detailed how many people have paid for their insurance plans and has not defined what exactly "enrolled" means.

Joe Biden's Son Running for Delaware Governor

Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden has announced he will run for Governor of Delaware. The race is two years away, but Beau made the announcement saying that he won’t be running for re-election as the state’s attorney general in November.

This past year, Beau faced health issues and underwent surgery to remove a small lesion from his brain. He also suffered a mild stroke in 2010. The 45 year old made the announcement about his plans for the future in a written statement today. He did not make himself available for interviews or a press conference.

Biden's announcement Thursday that he will pursue the governor's office in 2016 will have ripple effects on the First State's politics. Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, a Democrat, and Rep. John Carney, who lost a Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2008 to now-Gov. Jack Markell, also have been seen as potential gubernatorial candidates.

Biden, the eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, was first elected attorney general in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010, dedicating significant time last year to fundraising. He raised more than $1.4 million through his campaign and political action committees in 2013 and had more than $900,000 in cash on hand at the end of the year.

Even through recent weeks, Beau’s political director claimed he was planning on running for a third term for his attorney general seat. As the election is still far away, we will have to wait and see how this race will play out. Will Joe Biden’s track record affect his son’s political future?

Arkansas: Female Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Files Two Complaints Against Her Own Party

Well, if this isn't a burgeoning political headache for the party of “tolerance” and “inclusiveness,” I don't know what is. An Arkansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate has filed two complaints against state organizations affiliated with the Democratic Party. She claims Arkansas Democrats snubbed her at a dinner by refusing to let her speak, and on a separate occasion, referred to her primary opponent as “the next governor of Arkansas”…as she sat and listened.

From ABC’s affiliate KATV:

Arkansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Lynette Bryant has filed a complaint against the Democratic Party of Arkansas and the Saline County Democratic Party for "unfair treatment" against her candidacy.

So far, Bryant has filed the complaints with the NAACP and the Democratic National Committee. In the complaint, Bryant cites the denial of her request to speak at the upcoming Saline County Jefferson Jackson Dinner.

"Upon further conversation and restating my request to speak, Mr. (George 'Bucky') Ellis [Chairman of the Saline County Democratic Party] told me no, I could not Speak at the Saline County Jefferson Jackson Dinner again," writes Bryant.

Bryant also cites an instance where DPA Chair Vince Insalaco introduced Mike Ross, who is running against Bryant in the primary, as "the next governor of Arkansas" at an event that both candidates were attending.

Bryant concludes her complaint by asking the NAACP and the DNC to get involved in order to ensure a 'fair race.'

The Democratic Party of Arkansas (DPA) released a statement, which you can read here. The DPA claims they never endorse in primaries; but Dr. Bryant’s testimony is evidence she feels they’re not exactly being impartial, either. Of course, I assume her mistreatment has nothing to do with her race or gender, and everything to do with her own party��s eagerness to nominate a candidate other than her. Still, it’s rather ironic that the political party that always accuses Republicans of racism and waging a “war on women” is reportedly slighting an African-American female candidate who has every right to participate in the political process.

Obviously, if she is asking the DNC and the NAACP to get involved this is no laughing matter. She feels as if the system is rigged against her. And that’s wrong, no matter how you slice it.

Engaging in favoritism and shady campaign tactics is always indefensible. After all, Dr. Bryant should at least be afforded the right to make her pitch (and she will get that opportunity, we're told), even if the powers that be don't necessarily want to hear it.

New Poll Shows Maine GOP Governor With Slight Lead

Some good news out of Maine: A new poll by the Portland-based Pan Atlantic SMS Group shows incumbent GOP Governor Paul LePage with a slight lead over his Democrat challenger Rep. Mike Michaud. This is the first poll that has shown LePage with a lead over Michaud.

The live telephone survey of 400 Maine residents was conducted between March 31 and April 5 and included a mix of landline and cell phone interviews, according to Pan Atlantic SMS. It shows LePage with a 1.3 percentage point lead over Michaud, 38.6 percent to 37.3 percent, while independent Eliot Cutler trails both of his rivals with 20.3 percent. The governor's lead is well within the poll's 4.9 percent margin of error, meaning the poll shows LePage and Michaud in a virtual tie with more than seven months remaining before the election.

As LePage was elected by a razor-thin 10,000 vote margin in 2010 over independent candidate Eliot Cutler (who is running again in the 2014 race) and Democrat Libby Mitchell, the 2014 gubernatorial election has widely been labeled as a toss-up. Cutler is currently polling in a distant third.

LePage's election in 2010 marked the state's first Republican governor since 1994. LePage has focused much of his efforts on reforming the state's welfare system. Michaud is one of the few remaining members of the Blue Dog Coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats.

While it's certainly far too early to cast any electoral positions, the polls are moving the right way for a LePage reelection.

NY Schools Struggle Where to Put Students Who Opt Out of Standardized Tests

A battle between parents and educators has erupted over standardized testing in the state of New York. These exams have been the norm under the No Child Left Behind Act, but parents, frustrated that schools are using these tests for teacher evaluation - as opposed to the students' academic progress - are launching a boycott and instructing their children to sit out of the exams.

State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the number of students and parents refusing the standardized tests was a "small but meaningful percentage." Just take a look at a few of the more surprising numbers throughout the upper region:

School District / Number of students refusing exam / 3-8 grade enrollment / Percent of students refusing test

West Seneca 877 3,087 28.41%

Lake Shore 287 1,135 25.29%

Wilson 120 562 21.35%

Springville-Griffith 151 833 18.13%

Alden 136 800 17.00%

Hamburg 269 1,718 15.66%

East Aurora 137 882 15.53%

Downstate is no different. In in Public School 368 in Harlem, Jasmine Batista, who has two sons the school, revealed to the NY Post how the tests negatively affected her 10-year-old:

“He was concerned that he would not go on to the next grade,” she said. “He was crying, he had no appetite, he couldn't sleep. He was so happy when that test was done.”

In addition to stress, parents cited a number of other reasons for telling their kids to reject the tests:

Some are educators who are upset that the exams are being used to measure how teachers and schools perform. Some are concerned that subjects such as social studies and art are being edged out as schools focus on preparing students for math and English exams.

Now, teachers and administrators are facing the challenge of how to deal with parents who are rejecting the standardized system and what to do with children who opt out of these exams. One school district in particular, Starpoint, where 8 percent of students opted out of the English Language Arts exam, decided to add the extra expense of hiring substitute teachers to supervise children in the hall as their peers work at their desks.

Despite the hostility between parents and teachers, New York is standing by the supposed merits of standardized testing:

State Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins defended the testing as “one of many tools that should be used to measure student growth and help inform instruction.”

What do you think? Are these parents in the wrong for telling their children to refuse to take the tests, thus stretching schools' resources by having to hire extra help? Or are they right to challenge state regulations that don't seem to improve their kids' education?

One thing's for sure: Educators are going to get headaches either way.

Mention of Mass Stabbing Curiously Missing From Obama's Pennsylvania Speech

Yesterday President Obama gave a speech in Oakdale, Pennsylvania with Vice President Joe Biden about skill training. Last week, just thirty miles away in Murrysville, a student went on a mass stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional High School. Twenty people were severely injured in the incident, making it one of the worst mass stabbing events in U.S. history.

But despite being close to the scene of the tragic and horrifying event, Obama failed to mention the incident during his nearly 30 minute long remarks.

I have a feeling if there had been a recent tragedy that involved a gun at a school near the location of an Obama speech, we'd be hearing all about it. Apparently, 20 people being stabbed isn't politically expedient enough for the White House.

UPDATE: False flag?; Scary: Jews in East Ukraine Ordered to Register Themselves

This is really scary. According to a report in USA Today and Israeli media, Jews in eastern Ukraine have been ordered to register themselves. Russia took over parts of the region this week and have no plans to stop moving.The excuse being used for the registration is that Jews support independence from Russia. Jewish citizens of Ukraine who do not register are being threatened with deportation.

Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to "register" with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media.

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated," reported Ynet News, Israel's largest news website.

The leaflet begins, "Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality," and states that all people of Jewish descent over 16 years old must report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and "register."

It says the reason is because the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta, a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement that fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, "and oppose the pro-Slavic People's Republic of Donetsk," a name adopted by the militant leadership.

This latest move by Russia brings back horrific memories and Israeli officials are in talks to figure out what to do next. Sanctions imposed by the United Staters on top Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin are clearly not slowing the dangerous and rapidly escalating situation.

UPDATE: The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine has confirmed this is happening.

UPDATE: Thank goodness, it looks like it was a false flag.

The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed this as “a provocation,” which it clearly is. “It’s an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry,” says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. “I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.”

Why? The Russian government has been playing up the (real but small) role of fascists and neo-Nazis in the victory of the EuroMaidan in Kiev. The Ukrainian government, utterly powerless to fight off the Russians and their local stooges, have had to rely on other methods, like leaking taped phone calls of allegedly local separatists getting their commands from Moscow. This may be just another tactic to smear the so-called anti-Maidan in the east of Ukraine: you think we’re fascists? Well, take a look at these guys.

Meanwhile, "pals" Barack Obama and Joe Biden are busy taking selfies in their limo.


New Dem Strategy: Stop Running From Obamacare

Can Obamacare be fixed? Vulnerable Democrats are pot committed to this idea. They say most Americans do not want to repeal Obamacare and therefore the only way to make it work is to reform it. They accuse Republicans of not having a viable alternative and wasting billions of dollars on failed efforts to defund it. As a consequence, some Democrats are urging the party to stand firm on this issue, and to stop running way from a law many of them voted for.

The AP reports:

Republicans already were pushing their luck by vowing to "repeal and replace" the health care law without having a viable replacement in mind, said Thomas Mills, a Democratic consultant and blogger in North Carolina. Now, he said, Democrats have even more reasons to rise from their defensive crouch on this topic.

"Democrats need to start making the case for Obamacare," Mills said. "They all voted for it, they all own it, so they can't get away from it. So they'd better start defending it."

Even some professionals who have criticized the health care law say the political climate has changed.

"I think Democrats have the ability to steal the health care issue back from Republicans," health care industry consultant said Bob Laszewski said. "The Democratic Party can become the party of fixing Obamacare."

Perhaps. But is this a wise strategy? That is, campaigning on Obamacare if you’re a vulnerable Democrat? A Bloomberg poll released last month suggests it isn’t:

According to the poll, 73 percent of respondents who said they would repeal the health-care overhaul known as Obamacare say the law will be a "major" factor in their vote. And 73 percent said they will "definitely" vote in this year's midterm elections.

By contrast, 45 percent of respondents who support modifications and 33 percent of those who support the law as it currently stands said Obamacare will be a "major" factor in how they vote. Meanwhile, 61 percent and 54 percent of those groups' respondents, respectively, said they will "definitely" turn out to vote.

At the same time, large swaths of the progressive base aren’t feeling particularly energized to vote in this year’s midterm elections. Question: if Democrats continue to defend Obamacare -- rather than run from it -- won’t that merely incentivize Republicans to turn out in greater numbers on Election Day? It’s true that Democrats can’t hide from their voting records given the barrage of attack ads coming their way, but to invoke the Affordable Care Act on the campaign trail in a red state at all seems like political suicide. It will remind voters that millions of Americans were promised they could keep their health care plans, when in fact they couldn’t, by the same people running for re-election. Best to ignore the issue altogether, no?

The polls show pretty consistently four years after the law passed that Obamacare is not a political winner. But if Democrats want to run on it, be my guest.

NY Pizza Delivery Man Stops Robbers With Concealed Carry Weapon

A man delivering a pizza late at night in upstate New York looks like an easy target for a robber — and he probably is without a gun. The good news is, the pizza delivery man attacked by four armed robbers outside a house in Buffalo Monday did not go to work that day unarmed.

The Buffalo News reported:

A gang of robbers attacked a pizza deliveryman just before 10:30 p.m. Monday as he brought food to a house in the 400 block of Cornwall Avenue, near Erie County Medical Center.

In the front hallway of the house, one of the robbers, who wore a mask and had a brown hoodie pulled over his face, hit the deliveryman on the head with a hammer, according to police.

The masked man also displayed what appeared to be a gun, police said.

But then, the deliveryman told investigators, he pulled out his own handgun and fired a shot, striking the masked man. The rest of the gang scattered.

The pizza delivery man suffered from wounds to the head and bruises on his left hand. The masked man, 18-year-old DeJuan Coleman, is under police guard while he recovers from the gun shot wound. He will face charges of first-degree robbery.

New York is hardly the friendliest state for gun owners. On Tuesday residents protested Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) anti-gun legislation by tearing SAFE Act registration cards to pieces, and they are not the only ones disgruntled. A rising number of Americans support fewer gun laws, a January Gallup poll revealed:

Gun-control advocates often use tragedies to push anti-gun legislation. However, the poll above, conducted after the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, shows that even fewer Americans supported gun-control in the aftermath of the tragic event.

The gap between those wanting stricter gun laws and those wanting less strict laws narrowed as a result of a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who want less strict laws, now at 16% up from 5% a year ago. Support for making gun laws stricter fell to 31% from 38% last January. The January 2013 poll was conducted shortly after the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy, which sparked some state governments to consider new gun laws and a robust national discussion about the issue.

Since politicians continue to use heart-wrenching events to promote their political agendas, it's important that these everyday stories of citizens protecting themselves through their Second Amendment rights are told.

Trouble: White House-Touted Health Costs Slowdown 'Could be Over'


The notion that Obamacare is bending downward the so-called "cost curve" on national health spending has been debunked by the government's own numbers. At late 2013 estimate from CMS projected that aggregate healthcare-related expenses would climb by 6.1 percent this year, as opposed to 4.5 percent in the absence of the new law. Overall federal spending on healthcare will be $621 billion higher than the previous trajectory over the next decade due to Obamacare, according to the same study. President Obama vowed that his signature law would readjust the trajectory in a downward direction. But the the rise of health costs has slowed in recent years, a trend for which the Obama administration has baselessly taken credit. Once again, the White House's posturing was discredited by government accountants, who determined that Obamacare was not among the top four major factors behind the deceleration. One of the factors they did cite was a naggingly weak economy, which would obviously present messaging problems for Democrats. And now that deceleration, as we noted earlier in the month, appears to be over -- because of Obamacare. The Los Angeles Times reports:


A historic slowdown in U.S. healthcare spending in recent years may be drawing to a close. An industry report published Tuesday and healthcare experts point to a steady rise in medical care being sought by consumers seeing specialists, getting more prescriptions filled and visiting the hospital. Other factors such as millions of newly insured Americans seeking treatment for the first time and higher prices from healthcare consolidation could also help drive up costs. Experts aren't predicting an immediate return to double-digit increases in medical spending. But the emerging trend underscores how difficult it will be for policymakers, employers and health plans to control healthcare costs going forward...From 2009 to 2012, U.S. healthcare spending grew annually at less than 4%, according to federal data. That's been the lowest rate of growth in half a century, and has sparked considerable debate about the underlying reasons. Many health economists and industry officials have attributed the slowdown primarily to lingering effects of the Great Recession, when millions of Americans cut back on medical care. But the Obama administration and other experts have pointed to fundamental changes in healthcare reimbursement and the delivery of care spurred by the Affordable Care Act.


Nope. Although the story does point to potential counterweights to the new acceleration, including Obamacare's narrower choices and limited access for consumers -- a cost-saving mechanism that betrays the president's "keep your doctor" pledge for many. The newsworthiness of this this story is twofold: First, the apparent end to the years-long, recession-influenced health cost slowdown (again, not a reduction) is a big deal. Second, it's an opportunity to highlight Team Obama's willingness to disingenuously claim credit for something in an attempt to boost Obamacare. In our post about the Census Bureau's profoundly ill-timed methodology shift on quantifying America's uninsured population, we floated the following scenario:


Democrats, famously allergic to nuance when the political moment demands a cudgel, will shout from the rooftops about the "stunning" improvement in uninsured rates [as a result of the new formula]. Obamacare is working! They'll elide the crucial caveats mentioned above, plugging the exciting news into television ads, talking points and stump speeches. Sure, they'll receive multiple Pinocchios and "mostly false" ratings from fact-checkers, but when has that ever stopped them? The media's push-back will mostly be pro forma. When Republicans move to debunk the figures, Democrats will deride them as bitter and anti-science. They're from the non-partisan Census Bureau, after all.


A White House aide chastised me on Twitter, noting that the new data would reflect stats from 2013, not 2014. Correct. Which brings us back to the administration's propensity toward shameless credit claiming. They've congratulated themselves over "good news" for which Obamacare was not responsible in the very recent past. They crafted a PR strategy of celebrating inflated "enrollment" numbers for their own aggrandizement. One can easily argue that this sort of behavior is politics as usual, but one can't credibly contend that the White House and its allies won't try to exploit the forthcoming apples-to-oranges switcheroo for political gain. For its part, MSNBC has two words for the questions and concerns being raised about the Census Bureau's major, White House-assisting methodological shift in the thick of a roiling healthcare debate:



Townhall Magazine's May Issue Preview: Rick Santorum's Blue Collar Conservatism

Townhall Magazine's May issue is hitting subscriber mailbox's now! If you want to get the latest original content from Townhall's conservative talent weeks before it goes online, subscribe here now!

Below is an excerpt from this month's exclusive interview with former-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) about his new book, "Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works."

Carroll: Why did you write “Blue Collar Conservatives”?

Santorum: Because I had a sense that, coming from a blue collar town, and un- derstanding folks who work for a living, the service industry and manufacturing, and having grown up in that community, and listening to both parties talk about what they are going to do to help the economy, or what they are going to do to help people get jobs, it was apparent to me that they weren’t speaking to the very people that I grew up with.

I felt that we needed to have a message that’s not ‘cut taxes for high income people and employers and then cut benefits for people that receive some sort of government benefit and balance the budget.’ That message doesn’t speak to anybody who is either an employee or is receiving government benefits. So what do we have for them? What ideas are we going to have to create a better and stronger opportunity for them to be able to get jobs that are family sustaining, that are stable and secure?

And I thought if Republicans don’t include average working people as part of our team, then we know what the other side is going to do. They are just going to promise benefits to everybody. They are going to promise money.

I think most folks understand, no matter what income level you are, that those policies are not going to make you happy and are not a long-term successful strategy.

But it is better than nothing. And that is what Republicans have been offering: nothing. We need to offer something for those of us who are average working Americans...

You can read the whole interview in Townhall Magazine's May issue.

Is Race Still the “Third Rail” of Talk Radio?

In the May issue of Townhall Magazine, Tom Tradup explains why the conservative movement has to do a better job of long-term engagement with minority communities.

When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently guested on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America,” he made what he surely thought was a cogent, uncontroversial observation about poverty in the United States. “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and generations of men not even thinking about working,” Ryan stated.

Suddenly, Ryan found himself the vortex of charges of “racism,” and suggestions that his remarks on the inner city and men not working were “code words” for black. New York Times columnist Charles Blow pronounced Ryan’s language “horrific.” And once again, an elected official had touched the so-called third rail of American politics: race.

As talk radio rallied to Ryan’s defense, another racially-tinged observation was made: virtually all of the voices countering attacks of racism by Ryan belonged to Caucasians. Raising the question: why aren’t more talk radio hosts in America black?

The answer, according to industry insiders, could lie with the GOP. “Too many years of election-cycle-only-visibility,” says David Webb, who hosts a weeknight talk show on Sirius XM.

“The Republican Party has to do a better job of long-term engagement in the black community,” Webb explained. “A needed to develop talk radio’s bench of black conservatives. “If the GOP can win over the community, the talkers/advocates tend to develop.”

While liberal persons of color abound in national talk media, including MSNBC’s Rev. Al Sharpton and Washington, D.C.- based talk radio host Joe Madison, black conservatives are still a fairly rare commodity on talk radio.

Conservative economist Walter Williams has filled in for market leader Rush Limbaugh but remains a guest host, at best. Denver conservative host Ken Hamblin, who billed himself as “The Black Avenger,” simply walked away from the format in 2003. And one-time WLS/Chicago host Mel Reynolds, elected to two terms in Congress but later convicted on misuse of campaign funds as well as sex with an underage intern, was last seen being arrested in Zimbabwe on pornography charges.

“Talk radio faces a two-pronged challenge,” Southern California-based talk consultant Jack Christy tells Townhall.

“Liberals historically draw low ratings, but experienced black conservative hosts are in short supply.”

So if talk radio is to broaden its appeal to minority audiences, it will need to create and develop ethnic talent, including

Hispanic conservatives, locally and nationally.

Cleveland attorney Peter Kirsanow, a member of the United States Civil Rights Commission, is an African-American conservative whose credentials include guest hosting Bill Bennett’s national morning show. He recently premiered

“The Kirsanow Report,” a daily commentary on Cleveland talk station WHK-AM.

Station general manager Mark Jaycox says it is a mutually rewarding project. “Peter and I first met at our “Constitution Under Fire” event back in the fall. A week after the event, he reached out to us. In our conversations, we explored ways he could be involved with us locally, and in short order, “The Kirsanow Report” was born: a daily 60-second feature that runs five times daily.”

Webb also believes the bottom line is focusing on content, rather than race. And if the communicator of Conservative ideas happens to be a minority, it is a bonus.

“Over the years, Fox, CNN and other networks have asked me to provide my analysis and opinion,” Webb explains.

“It’s understandable that if the issue is specific to the black community I will be asked, in the same manner that a woman will be asked, to provide perspective on a women related issue.”

But Webb adds that listeners, whatever their race, will gravitate to hosts, guests, and callers who focus on issues that

resonate with the core talk radio audience.

“Talk about keeping a family structure (not just social values),” Webb advises. “And even blended families to counter the single parent crisis, education, reducing crime in inner cities, free enterprise, employment, and bringing back companies to provide jobs.”

In defining the game plan for talk radio to attract more minorities on and off the air, Webb sounds eerily like… well… Paul Ryan. Maybe American media has a bright future after all. •

Tom Tradup is Vice President of News & Talk Programming at the Dallas-based Salem Radio Network. He can be reached at ttradup@srnradio.com

The Obama Administration Trolls

Someone in the lefty press is catching on.

Slate's John Dickerson points out that the Obama administration routinely "trolls" the GOP -- that is, deliberately misstates information about matters of public concern in order to keep what they consider favorable topics foremost in the public mind. Dickerson uses the topic of the "wage gap" as one example; I would use the topic of voting rights as another. In other words, the president and his administration are giving the press and the people purportedly factual information that they actually know is untrue as part of a deliberate strategy.

As Dickerson points out, there is something breathtakingly cynical about this approach. Not only is it wrong, it degrades the office of the presidency, and undermines whatever trust Americans still have in their elected officials -- a troubling phenomenon for a democratic republic.

Although his successors will reap the whirlwind, President Obama has obviously decided he doesn't care: The strategy is perfect to foment unrest and agitation by keeping low-information voters in a perpetual state of indignation against the GOP, and thus at least incrementally increases the chances that turnout among Democrat groups won't be as low this fall as many fear.

But it may also explain why, as Katie noted below, 60% of Americans think their President is lying to them about things that matter. After all, they're not stupid, and perhaps the President ultimately will come to realize that seeking to exploit fear powered by ignorance isn't really the best strategy for a leader to choose.

As with so many of his other policies, by choosing this course, the President is sacrificing the long-term good of this country for his own, short-term political objectives. Sad. And destructive.

Poll: 60 Percent of Americans Think Obama Lies on Important Issues

According to new polling released by Fox News, the vast majority of the country believes President Obama lies on important issues.

About six in ten American voters think Barack Obama lies to the country on important matters some or most of the time, according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday.

Thirty-seven percent think Obama lies “most of the time,” while another 24 percent say he lies “some of the time.” Twenty percent of voters say “only now and then” and 15 percent “never.”


It isn't just Obama's typical foes who think he's less than honest, Democrats and single women aren't too confident in his truth telling abilities either.

The number of voters saying Obama lies “most of the time” includes 13 percent of Democrats. It also includes 12 percent of blacks, 16 percent of liberals, 31 percent of unmarried women and 34 percent of those under age 30 -- all key Obama constituencies.


For President Obama, these numbers don't matter much, but they do matter for Democrats up for election this year who have been avid supporters of Obama's policies. Democratic support for Obamacare in particular continues to weigh on the minds of voters, especially voters who have lost the healthcare plans they were promised they could keep.

Watch: Al Qaeda Holds a Gigantic Meeting in Yemen

You'd think at this point these guys would be afraid of meeting out in the open like this for fear of getting pummeled by a drone, but apparently Al Qaeda wasn't too worried about that during a recent outdoor meeting of hundreds of terrorists in Yemen. The content of the video reminds us again that for these Islamists, attacking the United States and other western targets comes as part of their jihad and radical religious beliefs. More from the Washington Post:

A video that recently surfaced on Islamist militant Web sites shows a large group of al-Qaeda fighters — including the terrorist network’s second in command — taking part in a brazen open-air gathering, apparently unconcerned about the prospect of being struck by a U.S. drone.

U.S. officials said that the video appeared to be both recent and authentic and that analysts at the CIA and counterterrorism agencies are scrutinizing it for clues to potential plots. The officials declined to say why there had been no U.S. strike or whether U.S. spy agencies were even aware of the gathering before the video emerged.

At one point in the footage, al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, issues a warning that the organization remains focused on attacking the United States. “We must eliminate the cross,” Wuhayshi said, according to a translation of the video, adding that “the bearer of the cross is America.”


And now time for a flashback courtesy of President Barack Obama: "Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat!"

Conservative Texas Group Fighting Lone Star Political Police to Keep Donors Secret

A First Amendment battle is being waged in Texas right now that has national implications. Empower Texans, a taxpayer watchdog group that informs citizens about how their representatives in Austin are voting, has become the target of an IRS-style attack by the political Left and moderate Republicans to silence conservative voices.

Because the Texas Ethics Commission is currently trying to force the group to reveal its donor list, Empower Texans filed a federal lawsuit to protect their constitutional rights.

Lawyer and lobbyist Steve Bresnen led the effort against Empower Texans, but complaints were officially filed to the Ethics Commission by two Republican lawmakers, Rep. Jim Keffer and the now former-Rep. Vicki Truitt, both of whom had performed particularly poorly on the organization’s Fiscal Responsibility Index (see links for their grades). They also shared a common political consultant: Steve Bresnen.

In the complaint, Keffer and Truitt took issue with the fact that because people donate to Empower Texans, a 501(c)(4), and because the group has decided to engage in independent expenditures, they qualify under state law as a political action committee, which would then force Empower Texans to disclose their donor list. Additionally, they said that because Empower Texans scorecards lawmakers at the end of the legislative session, and because the group has an online page that puts out a weekly newsletter, Empower Texans’ President Michael Quinn Sullivan should file as a lobbyist and pay an annual fee to the government.

Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, says there’s actually a personal vendetta at play in some cases. “Disgruntled legislators who are not representing the views of their constituents are mad that we’re going and telling their constituents—our members, citizens of Texas—how they vote. And they’re using [Sullivan] as an example,” she said. “If they can silence him, then the rest of us might be intimidated to stop telling people how they vote.”

After sitting on the complaint for 20 months, a closed-door hearing finally took place in 2013. The Commission told Sullivan that the problem could all go away if he wrote a check, filed some reports, and became a licensed lobbyist.

“We refused,” Sullivan’s attorney Trey Trainor told Townhall, “because he’s not a lobbyist and they’re [Empower Texans] not a PAC, and if we did that, it would have just burdened other organizations that come along.”

Empower Texans has had no choice but to go to federal court, fighting on First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds, to protect the donors to 501(c)(4)s from being disclosed.

“I mean, when these people give their money, they’re told your name’s not gonna be disclosed,” Trainor said.

Texas Right to Life, Texas Home School Coalition, and Texas Eagle Forum plan to file motions to intervene in the suit on the side of Empower Texans to protect the ability of donors to be able to give money anonymously.

The Ethics Commission sought so much information in the initial round of subpoenas, including Empower Texans’ donor list and the email addresses of the group’s subscribers (for public record), that federal judge Sam Sparks said he “[knew] of no courtroom in the land that those subpoenas would be approved,” calling them “absurd” and “overbroad.”

Despite this, the Ethics Commission came back with subpoenas that were even more expansive, going from three pages to nine. And even after sitting down with the attorney general’s office several times offering to ratify the documents they have from the complaints, they haven’t been interested.

“I think it’d be easy to look at this and say, ‘ah, well, this is some skirmish in Texas between conservatives and [the] establishment, stinks to be them,” Sullivan said, before cautioning that if this happens in Texas, it will happen in other states too.

“Bad ideas spread like weeds in the garden in spring.”

John Moore, who is the chief lawyer and head of the Ethics Commission’s enforcement division, said at the last hearing that the constitutional issues don’t matter in the proceedings, and that it’s not an issue the commission needs to be concerned with in addressing the complaints.

“And so they’ve taken our arguments about the Constitution, about the rights of people to associate freely, the rights of organizations to basically inform the public of what’s going on through new media, don’t matter. The First Amendment doesn’t matter in these cases,” Trainor explained.

And it’s easy to see why moderate Republicans and the Left want the information.

“It’s all about being able to go on a witch hunt and track down the people who are funding these operations, and go to their employers and go to the people that they associate with, and put pressure on them because these groups are very effective at moving the Texas Legislature,” Trainor said. “We had a nationally recognized pro-life piece of legislation, we’re one of the best states in country for parental rights in homeschool issues, we’re a very fiscally conservative state that’s got a great business environment because the [grassroots] advocacy that goes on. … The groups on the Left are losing, and they’re losing because of [conservative grassroots organizations’] ability to go out and speak to the public, and now they want to quell that ability to speak to the public by figuring out who’s funding these operations.”

In 2013, left-leaning Republicans and members of the Texas Democratic Party tried to push legislation that would do much the same: force conservative nonprofits to reveal the names of their donors. Since SB 346 also had a special exemption for labor unions, however, ideological motivations can’t be ignored. Fortunately, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill last spring, saying it would “have a chilling effect” on freedom of association and freedom of speech.

“At a time when our federal government is assaulting the rights of Americans by using the tools of government to squelch dissent it is unconscionable to expose more Texans to the risk of such harassment, regardless of political, organizational or party affiliation,” he said.

Undeterred, however, the Texas Ethics Commission in February posted for public comment new rules that would essentially do what Gov. Perry vetoed and what they’re trying to accomplish through the subpoenas issued to Empower Texans.

“If you think of Obamacare, what [President Obama] can’t pass through legislation, he’s doing through agency rules,” Graham said. “I mean, the conservative Legislature actually voted against the bill, Perry vetoed the bill, and the agency is now trying to adopt its own rules despite having no legislative authority.”

In the end, this case isn’t about proving whether or not Empower Texans is a political action committee. It’s about how the political effectiveness of Empower Texans, and other groups like them, can be neutered.

The battle seems far from over, but one thing, as Sullivan said, is clear: “They picked on the wrong Texans.”

Win: VA Community College System to Change 'Free Speech Zone' Policy

A system of 23 community colleges in Virginia is about to become more in line with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is seeking to alter its policy on free-speech zones in response to a lawsuit brought by student Christian Parks.

Last September, Thomas Nelson Community College prohibited Christian Parks from expressing his Christian beliefs in a large courtyard of the college. An officer from the college’s police department told him he must stop preaching because the content of his speech might offend someone. School officials then told Parks that his speech violated the Student Code of Conduct and VCCS policies.

The Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit, Parks v. The Members of the State Board of the Virginia Community College System, explains that sidewalks and open spaces on campus are areas where students have broad free speech rights, including the right to express their views anonymously and spontaneously.

The First Amendment prohibits laws which limit free speech and the free exercise of religion; however, many college campuses put in place codes which violate the U.S. Constitution.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recently surveyed 427 schools across the nation and found that more than 58 percent “substantially prohibit protected speech.” The good news is that these restrictive policies have been declining for six consecutive years, and this recent lawsuit sparked yet another victory:

In a court filing last week in support of a motion from both sides to put the lawsuit on hold, the community college system said it would not enforce its current policy as it works to develop a new student policy.

"Both parties desire to suspend the … current policy in order to allow (Parks) and all other students to speak freely on campus" until a new policy is adopted, the joint filing said. With continuing talks between the Alliance and the state's attorney general's office, "counsel for the parties believe that they may be able to reach an amicable settlement in this case."

A proposed settlement is expected by early May.

Obama Admin Downplays Boston Bombings?

The detached, emotionless statement given by Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday sums up what is wrong with the Obama administration. On the anniversary of the Boston bombings, a national tragedy, the spokesman for this administration said the bombings were "mostly important in Boston."

The logic is unmistakable. When the United States is attacked on its own soil by foreign Islamic extremists, it’s a localized incident. When a man in Florida defends himself with a gun, it’s a nationwide outrage. Why can’t Obama show the same emotion and stern decisiveness when talking about the torn and bloody bodies covering the marathon route, as when he’s imagining what his son would look like?

Anyone looking at Obama’s record on addressing national crises sees the same thing. Whether it was the bizarre "beer summit" early in his presidency, or the suspiciously tearless crying after Sandy Hook, if an incident doesn’t further his popularity or political agenda, Obama discards it. It’s better to mourn the worst terror attack since 9/11 in secret if your motivation is holding on to a deteriorating liberal base.

Americans who understand the threat of Islamic terror will remember the Boston bombings openly, with or without the president.

Fox News Launching New Daytime Show Featuring Katie Pavlich

Fox News on Wednesday announced plans to introduce a new show to its afternoon lineup, “Outnumbered,” which will air weekdays at noon and feature a rotating ensemble of four female hosts and one male host, according to Media Bistro. Townhall’s News Editor and Fox News Contributor Katie Pavlich will be part of the rotating cast of panelists.

In the new daytime lineup, “Happening Now,” anchored by Jon Scott and Jenna Lee, will split into two one-hour blocks at 11am ET and 1pm ET. “America’s News Headquarters,” which has had a temporary place in the lineup since the primetime shuffle last year, will no longer air on weekdays.

Harris Faulkner and FBN’s Sandra Smith will be the rotating hosts that will lead news coverage on “Outnumbered.” Other women featured will be Kimberly Guilfoyle and Andrea Tantaros, along with Fox News contributors Jedediah Bila, Katie Pavlich and Kirsten Powers. The solo male panelist will vary each day.

“Outnumbered combines a distinctive group of FOX talent with unique experiences and insights that will make for compelling news programming,” Fox News Senior Vice President Jay Wallace said in a statement. “We look forward to once again pushing the envelope with the addition of this new show and are confident the revised line-up will only strengthen the FNC brand.”

The show will debut April 28.

MSNBC Accuses State of Forcing Women to Leave Children in Hot Car

Shanesha Taylor, an Arizona woman, left her two year old and six month old children locked in a very hot car for about 45 minutes while she was being interviewed for a job. Someone noticed one of the children crying hysterically and sweating profusely, and police arrested Taylor when she returned to her car. While her children appeared to have escaped serious harm and have been removed from her custody, she is being charged with felony child abuse and faces up to seven years in prison.

According to MSNBC host Chris Hayes, however, it is Arizona's fault this woman left two of her three children in a car as the state had cut child daycare services.

There is a petition circulating asking the county to drop the charges against Taylor, as she was at a job interview at the time.

During the MSNBC segment about the case, Hayes went on a rant saying that American policy towards the poor is "skilled and efficient" at punishing them, citing examples of people attempting to cheat on their taxes (which is illegal), possessing marijuana (also illegal), and leaving their children unattended in cars (again, illegal). These laws don't "punish the poor," they punish the people who break them. Being poor has nothing to do with marijuana possession, tax fraud, or child endangerment. An average of 38 children die each year due to heatstroke in a car. A vast majority of these children are under the age of three. Taylor is lucky her children aren't dead or seriously injured.

While this story is certainly heart wrenching and it's easy to feel sorry for Taylor, who was attempting to better her life, it's more more heart-wrenching to realize that this woman's lack of responsibility very nearly killed her children. It is foolish for Hayes to blame the state for the actions of the mother. If Taylor were to get the job, she would have to find some option for daycare as well. It is not the state's job to ensure that Taylor has other options besides leaving her children in a sweltering vehicle. That would be the literal definition of "nanny state."

Income Inequality Institute to Pay Infamous Class Warrior $25,000 per Month to Do Basically Nothing


I generally refuse to link to Gawker. Today I'll make an exception. This is delicious:


In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY’s Graduate Center and its Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality. About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to the build-up” of a new “inequality initiative.” It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman was able to explain, what “contribute to the build-up” entails. It’s certainly not teaching. “You will not be expected to teach or supervise students,” the letter informs Professor Krugman ... (After his first year, Krugman will be required to host a single seminar).


So this publicly-funded university offered Paul Krugman $225k over nine months to essentially preside as a public face of its in-house institute that studies -- ahem -- income inequality. In exchange for the money, Krugman will provide his presence, play a "modest" role in CUNY public events, and "contribute to the build-up" of the initiative to combat -- ahem -- income inequality. Oh, and he'll host one solitary seminar. On top of his salary, the university will furnish the left-wing columnist and economist with $20,000 in fringe benefits, including travel expenses. In a separate email, a CUNY official makes it fairly explicit that they're effectively just handing him a bunch of cash for access to his "brand:"


Along with the offer letter, CUNY released dozens of emails between Krugman and university officials. “Perhaps I’m being premature or forward,” the Graduate Center’s President, Chase Robinson, tells Krugman in one of them, “but I wanted you to have no doubt that we can provide not just a platform for public interventions and a stimulating academic community­—especially, as you will know, because of our investments in the study of inequality—but also a relatively comfortable perch.” Which is undeniably true: $225,000 is more than quadruple New York City’s median household income.


Translation: Please let us shower you with money. (Some of which has been extracted from New York taxpayers -- whose burden, incidentally, Krugman would like to increase). In response to a Twitter challenge from a lefty buddy of mine, I want to make clear that I'm not objecting to a prominent, successful person being compensated -- or even over-compensated -- by an institution. My thoughts exactly:



Setting aside Krugman's odious, reactionary politics, the dude won a Nobel Prize and enjoys a major platform at the New York Times. He's profiting handsomely from his achievements. Conservatives aren't the ones who typically bellyache about this sort of thing. Paul Krugman is. A cursory online search reveals a treasure trove of blog posts and columns from the former Enron adviser decrying the "one percent" and egging on the Occupy movement. None has a more enjoyable title, though, than Krugman's essay -- from this past January, no less! -- entitled, "The Myth of the Deserving Rich." In the piece, Krugman allows that people earning, say, between $200,000 and $300,000 may be perfectly innocent, then slaps down the idea that the really rich deserve their success. What is Paul Krugman's aggregate annual income, I wonder? Whatever the answer, I am highly amused that a man who's raking in a quarter-million bucks for what boils down to a ceremonial position once penned a piece about rich people not deserving their wealth. I'd recommend that Krugman offer a masters course in irony during his two-semester "comfortable perch" at CUNY -- but again, he's not required to teach.

North Korean Officials Demand Removal of "Disrespectful" Kim Jong Un Poster...From London Barbershop

When a British salon owner and his son hung up an unflattering poster of Kim Jong Un (read: a pretty typical-looking poster of him) as a means of enticing west Londoners to get their haircut at a discounted price, they didn’t expect two shadowy bureaucrats from North Korea’s embassy to show up and demand they take it down. But that’s reportedly what happened, according to the Guardian. The emissaries from North Korea were apparently livid when they saw their dear leader looking rather foolish (as he normally does), and thus fired off a letter to Britain’s Foreign Office exhorting them to (ahem) “stop the provocation”:

Some background:

"The day after it went up two Asian-looking guys wearing suits turned up. One was taking pictures and the other taking notes," said Nabbach. "I said to my client at the time, 'I think they are North Korean officials.'

"Then they came in. They asked: 'Who put that picture up?' I said I did.

He said the pair told him the poster was disrespectful and must come down. "They said: 'That is a country's national leader.' I explained to them we often used pictures of celebrities, Lady Diana, Victoria Beckham. I told them: 'Listen, this is not North Korea. This is England.'

"They asked for my name and I told them they would have to get their solicitors for that."

Nabbach said he asked them to leave, and later reported the incident to his local police station. The two did not identify themselves as being from the North Korean embassy, he said. But a Metropolitan police spokesman said: "I can confirm that the North Korean embassy have contacted us and that we are in liaison with them. Officers spoke to all parties. No offences have been disclosed."

The real injustice here would be if these hairdressers were ordered by the British government to take down the poster, and bend to the sensibilities of Kim Jong Un's breathless cronies. It would be a gross violation of free speech. And yet, the AP reports the poster has already been taken down:

We haven't had any trouble since then. If anything, the poster has become a tourist attraction," he said Tuesday - but by Wednesday afternoon the salon was shut and the poster was not visible in the window. The salon's phone rang unanswered.

Police said they had spoken to both parties and determined no crime had been committed.

Alas, Fox News reports the owners chose to take down the poster voluntarily, in part because it, er, “blocked out the light,” or something.

What a sad day for the West when we can’t publicly shame Kim Jong Un anymore without bending to (what seems to be) political pressure. After all, with a mop like that, it’s not as if some public chiding isn't well-deserved.

Oregon Pro-lifers Start 'Drive-Thru' Pledge to Stop Taxpayer Funding of Abortion

The only thing that makes Tax Day worse is finding out where exactly your tax dollars are going. Sadly, some of our hard earned money is funding abortions. That’s where pro-lifers in Oregon come in. On Tax Day, activists rallied in church parking lots throughout the state to get drivers to stop and sign their Stop Taxpayer-Funded Abortion pledge.

From the Oregon 2014 Citizen Initiative press release (please note the rather significant deadline date):

Organizers have set a goal of gathering 150,000 signatures by Mother’s Day — May 11 — in order to put their measure up for a public vote. If that goal is not met, volunteers will continue to gather signatures until the final deadline on June 30. A minimum of 116,284 signatures are required to qualify for the November ballot, and about 50,000 signatures have been turned in by volunteers so far.

If approved by voters, the initiative would prohibit using public funds for elective, non-medically necessary abortions. Currently, around 4,000 abortions each year are publicly funded with state tax dollars through the Oregon Health Plan.

Chief Petitioner Jeff Jimerson explained why the group used Tax Day to encourage much-needed action:

“Tax Day seemed like an appropriate time to draw attention to this issue,” Jimerson added. “Most people have no idea their tax dollars are funding thousands of elective abortions.”

The initiative managed to collect hundreds of signatures on Tuesday, Jimerson wrote in an email to Townhall.

This humble effort in Oregon is an important step pro-lifers must take on a national level to expose how Americans are unwillingly subsidizing abortions, particularly through the oft-sainted Planned Parenthood.

Just how much? Try $1.5 million per day. Although the organization tries to claim abortion is only 3 percent of its services, it’s hard to defend that when looking at these numbers: abortions made up 93.8 percent of Planned Parenthood's pregnancy services in 2012 and for every adoption referral, the business performed 149 abortions.

Hopefully pro-life efforts across the country will be successful in directing dollars away from abortion clinics. Tax Day is already tragic enough.

Update: For more information on the drive-thru campaign, go to www.Oregon2014.org.

Are You Ready For Senator Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS)?

Kathleen Sebelius has tendered her resignation as Health and Human Services secretary, ending what can only be described as a rocky and embarrassing tenure in the Obama cabinet. Many of us, of course, just assumed she would retire from public life after resigning. But the New York Times is floating the idea that she might actually seek public office this fall. Democrats apparently want her to run for a U.S. Senate seat in her home state of Kansas, where she served as governor from 2003 until 2009. Her would-be opponent, incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), is beatable, they claim, and his overly critical (although perhaps justified) attacks on her managerial competence last October makes Democrats all the more hungry to unseat him:

In her darkest hour last fall, Kathleen Sebelius suffered one of the deepest cuts from an old family friend who accused her of “gross incompetence” over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and demanded that she resign as secretary of health and human services. Now she is weighing revenge.

Ms. Sebelius is considering entreaties from Democrats who want her to run against that old friend, Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas.

Several Democrats said this week that Ms. Sebelius had been mentioned with growing frequency as someone who could wage a serious challenge to Mr. Roberts, 77, who is running for a fourth term and is considered vulnerable. One person who spoke directly to Ms. Sebelius said that she was thinking about it, but added that it was too soon to say how seriously she was taking the idea.

Meh. I doubt she jumps in. She’s suffered one too many humiliations since October 1 to be a viable contender in 2014. She’d also have to declare her candidacy by June 2, which doesn’t give her a whole lot of time to make up her mind. And there are other reasons, too. The Times points out the president performed rather poorly in Kansas when he ran for re-election in 2012, garnering less than 40 percent of the vote; plus, a Democrat hasn’t represented Kansas in the upper chamber since 1939.

I’m fairly certain Democrats could find a less toxic candidate to challenge Roberts, albeit with less state name ID, than Sebelius.

Nominating her would be a mistake.

Awkward: Senate Democrat Stumbles Over Obamacare Talking Points


As someone who makes part of his living on television, I can attest that delivering a strong, polished message under the bright lights isn't as easy as it looks. That's why my heart generates automatic pangs of empathy when people lose a train of thought at an inopportune moment (with this fairly recent example being perhaps the most painful to watch). In spite of his blowhard leftism, I can't enjoy what should be some delicious schadenfreude over Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's (D-RI) unfortunate struggles on Fox News Sunday -- although I'm not overly disappointed that the Free Beacon flagged and posted the clip. Things get really bad about 30 seconds in:



Rather than belabor Whitehouse's stammering (he's been a busy boy, hasn't he?), I'll simply point out that his "evidence" in support of Obamacare is (a) an anecdote about a single mother who's benefited from the law (weren't Democrats just complaining about governing by anecdote on Obamacare, even though they do so all the time?) and (b) laudatory comments about "filling the donut hole" on Medicare's prescription drugs benefit. While that second point, once he finally spat it out, may sound attractive to seniors, its reality is far less attractive to taxpayers and people with a stake in Medicare's solvency. Avik Roy broke it down in 2012:


In order to guard against these problems of overspending and overutilization, Congress incorporated a critical feature into Part D. The drug plan would require seniors to pay a share of their drug spending below a certain level, so as to ensure that they had “skin in the game” and would be discouraged from wasteful spending. Seniors were required to pay for 25 percent of drug spending below a certain level ($2,830 in 2010) and 100 percent of drug spending in a middle level (between $2,830 and $6,440). After spending through the middle level, seniors would only pay 5 percent of any additional costs. It’s that middle level, where seniors pay 100 percent of the costs, that came to be derisively known as the “donut hole.” The thresholds were designed by actuaries who mined actual drug usage statistics to identify the optimal price points...This cost-sharing system has worked astonishingly well. Medicare Part D has spent 30 percent less money than the Congressional Budget Office originally projected it would. Last year, it became the first federal health program in memory in which spending actually decreased from year-to-year. Obamacare closes the donut hole.


Obamacare takes one of the most efficient elements of "Medicare as we know it," and breaks it, apparently in the quixotic hope of making seniors less suspicious of the new law. Incidentally, while some liberals are rejoicing over a new CBO report indicating that Obamacare's subsidies will cost the government less than previously projected, the real actuarial picture is effectively unchanged. Here's former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin:



Among the parade of negatives embedded in CBO's blockbuster February report, Democrats aren't likely to talk about the nation's deficit trajectory, as confirmed by this week's update:


The nation is doomed to return to trillion-dollar shortfalls by 2024 if lawmakers don't alter existing tax and spending policies, congressional auditors warned on Monday. The culprits? Rising health care costs, an aging population, growing interest payments on federal debt, and an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This rising debt would have serious consequences, CBO warns. Federal spending on interest payments would increase considerably, and lawmakers would have less flexibility to use tax and spending policies to respond to unexpected challenges.


Policy-makers in Washington must exercise prudence by resisting the politics of now, in order to secure the future. This would require making slightly difficult choices at present to head off the painful austerity that's headed our way. One party has proactive solutions in mind; the other does not. I'll leave you with the latest Obamacare poll results, courtesy of The Economist and YouGov (headlined 'Obamacare: Still Divisive , Still Disliked):



The poll found that 29 percent of respondents support expanding the law, with 44 percent favoring repeal. Just 14 percent support the law as-is.