Exposed: Obama Admin Caught Making Illegal Move That Makes ObamaCare Look Even Worse

The Obama administration has been caught — once again — seeking to circumvent the law related to Obamacare by diverting billions in funds intended for the U.S. Treasury to cover private insurance companies’ losses.

In 2014, Sen. Marco Rubio inserted language into the omnibus spending bill which specifically barred the Department of Health and Human Services from dipping into the general funds of the Treasury to bailout failing insurance companies, the Washington Post reported.

Marc Thiessen, writing for the Post, observed that the provision is “quietly killing” Obamacare, while the New York Times headlined in December, “Marco Rubio Quietly Undermines Affordable Care Act.” The Hill called the provision, “the biggest blow in the GOP’s five-year war against Obamacare.”

Both the Post and the Times pointed out that private insurers have been taking heavy losses participating in the healthcare exchanges, and to entice them to stay, the Obama administration was subsidizing the companies with taxpayer dollars.

According to the Times report, in 2014 “insurers lost $2.9 billion more than expected on Obamacare…Thanks to Rubio’s provision, the administration was allowed to pay only 13 cents of every dollar insurers requested. Without the taxpayer bailouts, more than half of the Obamacare insurance cooperatives created under the law failed.”

Several insurers have pulled out of the remaining exchanges. United Healthcare and Aetna, two of the nation’s largest providers, have indicated they are considering pulling out of Obamacare altogether, due to the billions in losses they have sustained.  

As a means of mitigating the disastrous financial impact of the law on insurers, the Obama administration announced earlier this month it will hand out $7.7 billion to companies from fees collected through the ACA. The only problem is $2 billion of that money is supposed to go the Treasury’s general funds.

Doug Badger, a senior fellow with the Galen Institute, writes the “reinsurance fee” is $107 for every man, woman and child with a private health plan, which adds up to billions in collections each year.

“The law states a fixed share ‘shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used’ to offset insurance companies’ losses. But the administration gave all of it to the insurance companies last year, and got away with that heist. So they’re trying it again,” Betsy McCaughey wrote in Investors Business Daily.

According to Badger, the amount the Treasury is supposed to receive — but won’t because the Obama administration has directed it be paid to private insurers — is $3.5 billion over the two years.

The Daily Signal reported Thursday that the House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating the multi-billion dollar transfer of taxpayer money.

“[Earlier this month], the administration announced that they would be using billions of taxpayer dollars to make payments to insurance companies under the Obamacare reinsurance program,” Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Penn., a member of the committee said Wednesday during a hearing with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “The announcement that the administration made represents an illegal wealth transfer from hardworking taxpayers to insurers.” 

The Ways and Means Committee has also taken up the issue. Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas; Subcommittee on Oversight Chairman Peter Roskam, R-Ill.; and Subcommittee on Health Chairman Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, asked Burwell for documents related to the reinsurance program in a letter sent Feb. 9.

“It appears that the administration has illegally diverted funds from the U.S. Treasury to fund the transitional reinsurance program established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” they wrote. “Not only is this diversion inconsistent with past policies promulgated by the administration but it is incompatible with clear congressional instructions contained within the ACA. We ask that HHS immediately submit to the Treasury all diverted funds.”

The Obama administration’s diversion of funds is just the latest example of changing provisions of ACA without congressional approval. Other instances included delaying implementation of the employer mandate twice, delaying the individual mandate for two years, and not creating a means to adequately verify whether those signing up were actually eligible for health care subsidies.

Obama Is Not A King, But Lindsey Graham Is A Court Jester

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham recently proposed a bill that is in clear violation of the Constitution.

His bill would give the President the power to fight ISIS “whenever, wherever, and however.” But the President is not a king; Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress shall have the power “To declare war.” Congress and Congress alone may constitutionally declare war. The President has the power to direct and command troops after an official declaration of war, per Article 2, Section 2; but he does not have the power to declare war.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said: “This resolution is a total rewrite of the war powers clause of the United States Constitution. Let’s be clear about that. It is essentially a declaration of international martial law, a sweeping transfer of military power to the president that will allow him or her to send U.S. troops almost anywhere in the world for almost any reason with absolutely no limitations.”

One of the most devastating attacks on the checks and balances of our Constitution was when in 2002, Congress voted to give the President the power to declare war on Iraq. In fact, the last Constitutional war was World War II; the so called “wars” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, and the Persian Gulf were simply Congress giving the President the authorization to invade countries without officially declaring war. These technically illegal “wars” caused the death of over 119,000 American citizens.

We certainly should have learned our lesson after 119,000 innocent lives have been lost in the Middle East and beyond. While I am no friend of ISIS, I cannot see our country crumble into a monarchy, with the President being able to order Americans to go and fight in violation of the Constitution. Only Congress can declare war, and even Congress must be hesitant to go into conflicts. Our leaders should take advice from the Scriptures, and “as far as it depends on us, live at peace with everyone.” Senator Graham’s bill takes us one step closer to tyranny.

 

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Is Congress Declaring War On ISIS… Or On You?

Passage of Senator Mitch McConnell’s authorization for war against ISIS will not only lead to perpetual US wars across the globe, it will also endanger our civil and economic liberties. The measure allows the president to place troops anywhere he determines ISIS is operating. Therefore, it could be used to justify using military force against United States citizens on U.S. territory. It may even be used to justify imposing martial law in America.

The President does not have to deploy the U.S. military to turn America into a militarized police state, however. He can use his unlimited authority to expand programs that turn local police forces into adjuncts of the U.S. military, and send them increasing amounts of military equipment. Using the threat of ISIS to justify increased police militarization will be enthusiastically supported by police unions, local officials, and, of course, politically-powerful defense contractors. The only opposition will come from citizens whose rights have been violated by a militarized police force that views the people as the enemy.

Even though there is no evidence that the government’s mass surveillance programs have prevented even a single terrorist attack, we are still continuously lectured about how we must sacrifice our liberty for security. The cries for the government to take more of our privacy will grow louder as the war party and its allies in the media continue to hype the threat of terrorism. A president armed with the authority to do whatever it takes to stop ISIS will no doubt heed these calls for new restrictions on our privacy.

Following last year’s mass shooting in California, President Obama called for restricting the Second Amendment rights of any American on the “terrorist watch list.” The president also used the attacks to expand the unconstitutional gun background check system via executive action. Can anyone doubt that President Obama — or a future anti-gun president — will use the absolute power to do whatever is necessary to stop terrorism as a justification for imposing new gun control measures? Using the war on ISIS to justify more gun control will be particularly attractive since even many pro-gun politicians will support gun control measures if they are marketed as part of the war on terror.

As the American economy faces continued stagnation, and as challenges to the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency mount, an increasingly authoritarian government will impose new restrictions on our economic activities and new limits on our financial privacy. In particular, our ability to move assets out of the country will be limited, and new reporting and other requirements will limit our ability to use cash without being treated as criminals or terrorists. Those who carry large amounts of cash will find themselves at increased risk of having the cash confiscated by government agents under civil asset forfeiture laws.

If Senator McConnell’s declaration of perpetual war passes, presidents could use the war on ISIS as a justification to impose new restrictions on our use of cash and our financial privacy via executive action. After all, they will say, the government needs to make sure cash is not being used to support ISIS.

The only way to protect both liberty and security is to stop trying to impose our will on other countries by military force. The resentment created by America’s militaristic foreign policy is ISIS’ most effective recruiting tool. Adopting a non-interventionist foreign policy that seeks peace and free trade with all would enable the government to counter legitimate threats to our safety without creating an authoritarian police state.

© Copyright 2016 Ron Paul

Congress Is Writing The President A Blank Check For War

While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.

The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.

President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011, the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.

It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week, the media reported that the U.S. military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the U.S. would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the U.S. is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the U.S. military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the U.S. military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.

The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with U.S. backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn’t al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?

The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch’s power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people’s branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.

Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the U.S. Constitution will be all but a dead letter.

© Copyright 2016 Ron Paul

BREAKING: 8 D.C. Workers Hospitalized After ‘Suspicious Substance’ Is Discovered

Investigators descended upon one of the major buildings in the Capitol complex Friday morning after a suspicious substance was reported in the Longworth House Office Building.

The U.S. Capitol Police Hazardous Materials Response Team was at the building.

Washington, D.C., Fire Department spokesman Timothy Wilson said fire crews evaluated 10 people and took eight to the hospital. He could not immediately describe the symptoms, but said they were minor.

Captain Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, had no immediate information on what the substance might be. Police said the substance was found in Suite B-227, the First Call Service Center. WJLA reported that all of those sickened were workers in the building’s kitchen.

No offices were evacuated, although Congress was not in session and many members were not in town.

According to the Washington Post:

No offices at the building on Independence Avenue were evacuated. It is located just south of the U.S. Capitol and near the Capitol South Metro station.

Police had briefly closed the eastbound lanes of Independence Avenue SE between Washington Avenue and First Street. The road was reopened by 12:15 p.m.

In an email to House employees, the House Sergeant at Arms said that the area had been cleared, and that the cafeteria had been undergoing construction overnight for several weeks.

The email from the House Sergeant at Arms also indicated that lead exposure caused by debris from sanding could be a possible cause of the symptoms experienced by the staff of the building. Additionally, the email said the building’s cafeteria should be closed for some time until officials complete their evaluation of the incident.

No further details about the substance were available as of Friday morning.

h/t: Washington Post