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Posts tagged ‘Lamar Alexander’

Unemployment Insurance Has Little GOP Support.


With a Senate vote on extending unemployment insurance to more than 1 million Americans scheduled for Monday evening, it is not clear there will be enough Republican support for the bipartisan plan to pass.

proposal by Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island  would provide benefits to about 1.3 million eligible workers for three months, costing roughly $6.5 billion.

While it has the support of Heller and 55 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, many GOP senators have said they won’t back the program because it does not include a way to pay for the benefits, reports The Washington Post.

Spokespeople for Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, all states with high unemployment rates, told the newspaper that the legislators will vote against the Reed-Heller proposal.

Aides to Bob Corker of Tennessee and Mark Kirk of Illinois, also states with high levels of unemployment, told the Post they didn’t know how the senators would vote.

Meanwhile, Organizing for Action, the Obama administration’s lobbying arm, has planned events in 30 cities for Tuesday to pressure Republicans to support the plan, reports Politico.

Labor groups are also organizing phone calls to the Capitol and holding a Wednesday rally featuring unemployed workers and Democratic members of Congress who support the proposal, according to the publication.

But a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reaffirmed on Sunday that he would not consider any unemployment benefit extension unless it is paid for.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Lisa Barron

Obamacare Delivers Staggering Knockout Blow To Middle Class.


“And here’s what you need to know. First, I will not sign a health care plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period” – Barack Obama, September 9, 2009

The hard, cold reality of Obamacare is that it adds $6,200,000,000,000.00 to our national deficit. One of the largest, most impactful laws ever to be passed in American history, and it is 100% based upon a lie.

The Week: ObamaCare has delivered another sucker punch to the middle class. This time it’s sticker shock. Now that most people can get past the tech problems of HealthCare.gov and actually see the real cost of insurance plans available, they are finding that Affordable Care is a big hit to the family budget. And when the family budget gets hit in the solar plexus, guess what happens to consumer spending and the economy?

obamacare-sticker-shock-obama

In California, policies for about 900,000 Californians are being canceled because of ObamaCare’s mandates, and about two-thirds of these do not qualify for subsidies, according to The Chicago Tribune. The result: These folks will be paying higher premiums.

In Alabama, premiums have doubled for some middle-class families, like that of Courtney Long, a stay-at-home mother of four. She told WHNT News, “It’s devastating. I started crying.”

“I mean, we have worked so hard to get out of credit card debt, get ahead on the car loan, transfer our mortgage to a 15- from a 30-year mortgage… and for what?”

In Tennessee, GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander issued an analysis of a White House report and found the following:

    • Today, a 27-year-old man in Memphis can buy a plan for as low as $41 a month. On the exchange, the lowest state average is $119 a month — a 190 percent increase.
    • Today, a 27-year-old woman in Nashville can also buy a plan for as low as $58 a month. On the exchange, the lowest-priced plan in Nashville is $114 a month — a 97 percent increase. Even with a tax subsidy, that plan is $104 a month, almost twice what she could pay today.
    • Today, women in Nashville can choose from 30 insurance plans that cost less than the administration says insurance plans on the exchange will cost, even with the new tax subsidy.
    • In Nashville, 105 insurance plans offered today will not be available in the exchange.

In Washington state, ObamaCare will increase the underlying cost of individually purchased health insurance by 34 to 80 percent on average, according to Forbes.

The list goes on and on and includes Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Georgia, and North Carolina. But premiums are just the beginning. The deductibles are outrageous, too.

A recent article in The New York Times tells the story of Doug and Ginger Chapman, ages 55 and 54, a middle-class couple “sitting on the health care cliff.” Their annual income of around $100,000 a year makes them ineligible for a subsidy in New Hampshire (if they earned under $94,000, it would cut their costs by half). They have to replace their family insurance which includes the two of them and their two sons. The premium cost alone, not including any deductible, is $1,000 a month, or 12 percent of their income.

The Times‘ analysis found the following:

The cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s. In some places, prices can quickly approach 20 percent of a person’s income. Experts consider health insurance unaffordable once it exceeds 10 percent of annual income. By that measure, a 50-year-old making $50,000 a year, or just above the qualifying limit for assistance, would find the cheapest available plan to be unaffordable in more than 170 counties around the country, ranging from Anchorage to Jackson, Miss. [The New York Times]

The other group that gets disproportionately hit is the young, according to Forbes. For a 40-year-old, the 2013 average deductible was $4,045, and the monthly cost increased 29 percent to $309. For a 64-year-old man, the monthly cost of a plan with a $3,494 deductible increased 64 percent to $806.

If even a fraction of the middle class and upper middle income earners divert some of their discretionary dollars to pay for health care, it will have a significant impact on consumer spending. What will that mean for the economy? Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation’s GDP, although experts say that number is likely to decline.

The top 20 percent of income earners account for about 40 percent of all spending in the U.S. When you increase the costs of health care and the new taxes associated with ObamaCare, you can hear the wallets closing. source – The Week.

by NTEB News Desk.

Pajama Boy: Chris Christie Joins Online Mockery of New Obamacare Ad.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joined Twitter users Wednesday in lambasting this month’s mega-viral Obamacare ad, “Pajama Boy,” with a mocking tweet of his own.

Like the “Obamacare website woman” before him, Pajama Boy is the punch line of the Internet after being featured this week in ad for Organizing for America, a Democratic group that aims to mobilize the people to rally for President Barack Obama’s causes, specifically the Affordable Care Act.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Christie tweeted a parody of the Pajama Boy ad Wednesday, urging New Jerseyans to “get out of your pajamas” and volunteer, much to Twitter’s delight.

Pajama Boy, as described by Politico’s Rich Lowry, is “an insufferable man–child … wearing pajamas — a zip-up onesie in classic Lamar Alexander plaid — and drinking hot chocolate. He is in his twenties, sporting hipster glasses he could have bought at Warby Parker and an expression of self-satisfied ironic amusement.”

Just like they did with the Obamacare website girl, Twitter users Photoshopped and mocked Pajama Boy to no end.

Editor’s Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Alexandra Ward

Lamar Alexander: Eliminating Filibuster is ‘Obamacare II’.


Image: Lamar Alexander: Eliminating Filibuster is 'Obamacare II'

By Cathy Burke

The tyrannical Senate rule change that effectively eliminated the filibuster to make it easier to approve President Obama’s nominees should be called “Obamacare II,” Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said Friday.

“This was the most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them,” the Republican from Tennessee wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post.

“It creates a perpetual opportunity for ‘tyranny of the majority,’ which Alexis de Tocqueville called one of the greatest threats to American democracy.”

“Call it Obamacare II,” he added, “for which the only cure is a referendum next November.”

In the piece, Alexander called the Democrats‘ reasons for the controversial rule change “flimsy” — and in “many cases, untrue.”

No Supreme Court nominees, federal district judges or Cabinet nominees have been defeated by a filibuster, he wrote.

“Regarding sub-Cabinet nominees, there were two for President Obama, three for George W. Bush, and two for Bill Clinton,” he wrote. “As for appeals court judges, Republican filibusters have blocked five, but that happened only after Democrats first blocked five.”

He also noted Obama’s second-term Cabinet nominees have been confirmed at about the same pace as those of Presidents Clinton and Bush, refuting arguments the president’s nominees have waited too long.

And as to the charge of “Republican obstruction” hobbling the majority leader, Alexander noted former majority leader Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., called the filibuster the “necessary fence” against “the executive and popular passions.”

“Majority leaders could do whatever they needed to do under the rules, Byrd said,” Alexander noted.

He also refuted arguments Republicans have unfairly blocked the president from filling vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“In 2006, Democrats insisted on doing precisely what Republicans are asking in 2013: moving judges from courts where they are not needed to where they are needed most,” he wrote. “They did not think this unfair then.”

“So why would Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., engineer a rules change that he said in 2006 ‘would be the end of the Senate’?” Alexander added.

“Because the vote was not about the filibuster. It was about permitting the majority to do whatever it wants.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

McConnell: Shutting Down Government Not ‘Conservative Policy’.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday said shutting down the government is not conservative policy and that it would not happen again when both sides work out the final funding details in January.

“I don’t think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy,” the Kentucky lawmaker told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Recalling the Kentucky adage “There’s no education in the second kick of a mule,” McConnell added: “There will not be another government shutdown, you can count on that.”

McConnell was credited with brokering the Senate deal that allowed the government to reopen Thursday, but was then identified in press reports of having inserted $2 billion in the agreement for a dam project on the Ohio River.

McConnell denied the funding was his earmark, but that Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California inserted the language.

“It’s a dam that sets an important inland water passage between the Mississippi and the Ohio, it’s been a longstanding project,” McConnell said.

“It doesn’t just benefit Kentucky, it benefits the whole inland waterway system – it is extremely important to the commerce that flows down the central part of the U.S.,” McConnell said.

Host Bob Schieffer said the agreement to reopen the government plus the funding earmark “made the tea party back in Kentucky go nuts,” and that his tea party-backed primary opponent, Matt Bevin, was emboldened by the move.

“I’ve endured millions of dollars of attack ads that’s been calling me a right-wing fanatic over the years,” McConnell responded.

“I think my opponents in the primary are going to have a hard time convincing Kentucky primary voters I’m some kind of liberal,” McConnell said.

Citing the endorsements of tea party favorites Rand Paul, a fellow Kentucky senator, as well as Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, McConnell said their own internal polling shows only 2 percent of Kentuckians consider him a liberal.

“So I think that’s a pretty hard sell, and it’s almost certainly going to fail,” McConnell said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Audrey Hudson

Sebelius Under Fire and Obamacare Rollout Woes Mount.


Image: Sebelius Under Fire and Obamacare Rollout Woes Mount

By Lisa Barron

With the debt deal behind them, Congressional Republicans now are turning their attention to the disastrous rollout of Obamacare and are turning up the pressure on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign over the fiasco.

Several GOP leaders, including Rep. Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Commission, and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, ranking member of the HELP Committee, have sent oversight letters to HHS and vowed to investigate, reports Politico.

“Deadlines have been repeatedly missed. The databases that store sensitive medical and financial information aren’t secure. Those attempting to enroll in health care exchanges have been unable to do so due to technical ‘glitches.’ Worse still, these same individuals will be slapped with a penalty tax for being uninsured,” Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., told the publication.

“If the federal government is unable to manage this website, how can they possibly manage our country’s health care system?” he added.

The White House, meanwhile, is standing by Sebelius, who apparently has no intention of resigning, according to The New York Times.

“The secretary does have the full confidence of the president,” press secretary Jay Carney said earlier this week.

“The fact that people are calling for her head does not surprise her or alarm her particularly. People have been calling for her head for a long time, and it’s still there. I don’t think that fazes her much,” Sebelius’ older brother Donald Gilligan told the Times, adding that his sister was “just digging in on a daily basis and trying to figure out how to fix” the problems that have plagued the website.

So far, though, any fixes seem elusive. A new study by market research company Millward Brown Digital showed that traffic on the website has plummeted since Oct. 1 and that relatively few people have successfully enrolled.

The number of visitors to healthcare.gov dropped from 9.5 million in the first week to 4.1 million in the second week, according to Matthew Pace, a vice president of the firm. And while 196,000 people began to enroll in the first week, only 36,000 finished the process. In the second week, 368,000 began enrollment and just 47,000 completed it.

Questions are also mounting about the contractors, Virginia-based CGI Federal, who received hundreds of millions of dollars,  well above the projected cost, to build the failed website.

Reuters is reporting Thursday that U.S. officials warned that the technology behind Obamacare might not be ready for launch and the administration is paying a contractor tens of millions of dollars more than it had planned to fix the problems.

Government documents shows that the contract to build the federal Healthcare.gov tripled in potential total value to nearly $292 million as new money was assigned to the work beginning in April this year, according a Reuters review. All the while, federal and state officials had warned the administration that the technology behind the Obamacare exchanges was in flawed.

Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao said in March that he was “pretty nervous” about the exchanges being ready by Oct. 1, Reuters reports, adding, “let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.”

Robert Laszewski, a health care consultant who works for insurers, told Politico that the administration was aware of the problems well ahead of time, pointing to an oversight report by the Government Accountability Office in June that pointed to missed deadlines and timetable issues.

“The GAO was being politically correct…it didn’t come out and say this thing is going to crash and burn, but if you go back and read it, it’s pretty obvious,” he said.

Obama’s former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on MSNBC on Monday that the debut had been “excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House and for the Department of Health and Human Services.” After the problems are fixed, he added, “I hope they fire some people.”

But beyond the finger pointing remains the question of what is next for the exchanges.

“Can they put the genie back in the bottle on this one? I don’t think they can,” GOP Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas, the vice chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, told Politico.

“I think the problems are too pervasive and too widespread. I think it may need going back to square one and rewriting the code.”

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Obamacare Exemption Questions, Verification Issues Cause More Confusion

Lindsey Graham: Obamacare Will Hang Democrats

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

McConnell Accused of Pork Barreling in Funding Deal.


Image: McConnell Accused of Pork Barreling in Funding Deal

By Melanie Batley and Elliot Jager

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who led the GOP in the deal to end the government shutdown, is being accused of using the funding bill to squirrel away money for his own Kentucky constituency.

The 35-page bill, passed by Congress and signed Wednesday night by President Barack Obama, sets aside $2 billion for the Olmsted Locks and Dam waterway project in Kentucky and Illinois, designed to ease barge traffic on the Ohio RiverThe Washington Post reports.

Within hours of the bill’s passage, the Senate Conservatives Fund issued a statement labeling it “the Kentucky Kickback,” adding, “McConnell may try to blame someone else for this, but he wrote the bill and it’s not the first time he has sought funds for this project. This is what’s wrong with Washington and it’s what’s wrong with Mitch McConnell.”

Sen. John McCain told The Daily Beast, “These people are like alcoholics. They can’t resist taking a drink. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It should have gone through the normal legislative process.”

McConnell’s office, however, denies he requested the funds be included in the bill.
According to PoliticoSens. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat, and Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican, asked for the money. Alexander’s office confirmed it.

Both the House and Senate this year authorized more money for the project, and the president had asked for it to be included in the 2014 budget. Without the authorization, the program would have had to shut down in November, costing taxpayers $80 million to restart it in six months or $160 million if it were stalled for one year, according to The Post.

The Senate Conservatives Fund recently targeted McConnell with ads criticizing his stance on Obamacare. It also is considering backing a primary challenger to take him on in the 2014 primary.

Related Articles

Costly Olmsted Dam Project Called ‘Complete Failure’

McConnell To Newsmax: ‘I’m a Thorn in the Side’ of Obama

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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