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Posts tagged ‘Melanie Batley’

Blackburn: White House in ‘Full Panic Mode’ Over Obamacare.


Image: Blackburn: White House in 'Full Panic Mode' Over Obamacare

By Melanie Batley

Republican lawmakers are blasting the Obama administration’s decision to exempt large numbers of people from having to buy insurance under Obamacare — a last-ditch attempt to help the millions of people who received insurance cancellation notices because of the new healthcare law.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confirmed the changes in a letter to six Democratic senators Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reports. She said the government would permit those who could not find affordable new coverage to quality for a “hardship exemption” to avoid a penalty next year for not having insurance.

ObamaCareYou Can Win With The Facts 

“This is a common-sense clarification of the law,” said Joanne Peters, a Health and Human Services spokeswoman, Fox News reports.

The administration also downplayed the change, saying the it is expected to affect fewer than 500,000 people.

Democrats have praised the announcement, but Republicans say it’s one more example of a healthcare program that is unworkable.

“We asked Secretary Sebelius point blank what would be the next holiday surprise, and she was silent. Yet, here we are with another major policy shift,” said Tennessee GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fox reports. “The sad reality is that when the law takes effect come Jan. 1, more Americans will be without coverage under Obamacare than one year ago.”

“Less than two weeks from going live, the White House seems to be in full panic mode. Rather than more White House delays, waivers, and exemptions, the administration should provide all Americans relief from its failed law,” she added.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called it a “slap in the face” to those already enrolled in Obamacare.

“Holding a fire sale of cheap insurance is not a responsible fix for a broken program. This is a slap in the face to the thousands of Americans who have already purchased expensive insurance through the Obamacare exchanges,” he said.

The insurance industry also reacted negatively to the news, saying the decision to allow people to sign up for “catastrophic” coverage plans would cause tremendous “instability.”

“This latest rule change could cause significant instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers,” Karen Ignagni, head of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, told the Journal.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts

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Senate Confirmation of Yellen Delayed.


Image: Senate Confirmation of Yellen Delayed

By Melanie Batley

A final vote in the Senate expected this week to confirm Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve has been postponed until early January as part of a deal with Republicans to secure the confirmations of three other presidential nominees.

The decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was an attempt to break a stalemate between the parties which reached fever pitch after Democrats changed the filibuster rules to ram through appointments that had been stalled for months, according to Bloomberg. Republicans have since been digging in their heels by dragging out debate on each appointment.

“I think the solution to this is not to throw daggers at each other but to sit down and talk this through,” Indiana GOP Sen. Dan Coats said on the Senate floor shortly after the agreement was announced, according to The Washington Post.

Senators will vote to end formal debate on Yellen’s nomination Friday, take a two-week holiday break, then return Jan. 6 for the final vote, Bloomberg reports.

In exchange, votes to confirm three other presidential nominees are set for Friday, including John Koskinen as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Alejandro Mayorkas as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Brian Davis to be a federal judge in Florida.

Under the new filibuster rules, Yellen needs the support of a simple majority of the Senate’s 100 members to become the 15th chairman and first woman to head the central bank in its 100-year history. If confirmed, she will replace Ben Bernanke whose term expires on Jan. 31.

“We need her expertise at the helm of the Fed as our nation continues to recover from the great recession, completes Wall Street reform rule-makings and continues to enhance the stability of our financial sector,” Senate Banking Chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, said in a floor speech, according to Bloomberg.

Yellen said at her Nov. 14 confirmation hearing that she will maintain current policies until “strong recovery” allows the bank to scale back monetary accommodation.

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War College Considers Removal of Confederate Portraits.


Image: War College Considers Removal of Confederate Portraits

By Melanie Batley

The U.S. Army War College is considering the possible removal of portraits depicting Confederate generals, including Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson, after an official questioned why the school honors those who fought against the United States.

The issue arose as the college conducts an inventory of all its paintings and photographs, with plans to re-hang them in historical themes to chronicle the military’s history, The Washington Times reported Tuesday.

“This person was struck by the fact we have quite a few Confederate images,” college spokeswoman Carol Kerr, told the Times. “[Lee] was certainly not good for the nation. This is the guy we faced on the battlefield whose entire purpose in life was to destroy the nation as it was then conceived . . . This is all part of an informed discussion.”

Army Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the commandment of the college, said that inaccurate rumors were spread about the removal of the portraits because a faculty member took them down as part of the inventory process. He nonetheless confirmed that changes would be made.

There will be change: over the years very fine artwork has been hung with care — but [with] little rationale or overall purpose,” he said Wednesday in a statement on the school’s website.

“I will . . . approach our historical narrative with keen awareness and adherence to the seriousness of several things: accurate capture of U.S. military history, good, bad and ugly; a Soldier’s life of selfless service to our Nation; and our collective solemn oath to defend the Constitution of the United States (not a person or a symbol, but a body of ideals). Those are the things I will be looking to reinforce with any changes to the artwork.”

Two portraits of Lee are on display at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and his portrait is also on the walls of other military institutions and government buildings, according to the Times.

The Army War College was established in 1901 in Carlisle, Pa. for the study of lessons in warfare, and the institution has been the making of future field generals. It graduates more than 300 U.S. officers, foreign students, and civilians in two classes each year, according to the Times.

Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Six months after surrendering to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Lee swore allegiance to the Constitution and to the Union.

In 1975, Congress enacted a joint resolution reinstating Lee’s U.S. citizenship, stating, “This entire nation has long recognized the outstanding virtues of courage, patriotism and selfless devotion to duty of General R.E. Lee.”

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