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Posts tagged ‘Tom Coburn’

Allen West: New Obamacare Delay Unfair to Individuals.


Image: Allen West: New Obamacare Delay Unfair to Individuals

By Todd Beamon

The latest delay in Obamacare proves that “big government does not work — and we see it happening right here,” former Florida congressman Allen West told Newsmax TV on Tuesday.

“The president always talks about fairness and fair share and inequality,” West told John Bachman on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV. “Then, why is he continuing to grant all of these delays and waivers and exemptions to unions, to cronies, to employers, big businesses?

“Why not the same to the individual American citizen, when they see their wages being depressed, they are out of work, they don’t see any future and hope? Mr. President, you talk about fairness. What about fairness to the individual American?”

Story continues below video.

On Monday, the Obama administration delayed another part of the Affordable Care Act, this one affecting companies with 50 to 99 employees. The companies will not face a tax penalty until 2016 for not providing workers with health insurance.

Last July, the employer mandate for Obamacare was delayed until next year, even though individuals face a tax penalty for not having health coverage this year.

The latest delay marked the eighth one-year extension of mandates to President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation since it was signed into law in 2010, according to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service. The report was provided to Newsmax by the office of GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

West, who is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is among many Republicans who have long charged that Obamacare is unworkable and should be repealed.

“Is this the law of the land, or it is just some imperial edict that can be changed willy-nilly by the stroke of a pen or the use of a cellphone?” he asked Newsmax. “We continue to see these changes to employer-based mandates. But the one that is most important: Why not a delay for the individual mandate?

“This was truly rammed down the throats of the American people,” West added. “In the world of academics, theory works very well — but when it comes to practical application, now you see things falling apart.”

Republican disunity is keeping the party from taking the lead in the Obamacare debate, he said.

“That’s the problem with the Republican Party: You cannot get them to come out as unified messengers on major policy issues. Right now, the Republican Party needs a singular voice, a true leader.”

That’s not, however, House Speaker John Boehner.

“He’s supposed to be the third in line to the presidency,” West said of the Ohio Republican. “Any time the president gets up and gives a press conference or something like that, John Boehner should be up there giving the counterargument.

“John Boehner should be up there saying: ‘Here’s our plan. The president keeps talking about we don’t have a plan.’ His denial of us not having a plan does not mean that’s true — and he should be able to articulate that plan step by step.

“The key thing is, in a constitutional republic, a law is supposed to be applicable to everyone,” West said. “That’s why I say this is not the law of the land. This is just an edict that can continually be changed and manipulated according to politics.

“That’s a great point to bring up with this president and his administration. This is not applicable to everyone — and we need to have a law that is applicable to everyone.

“If this law cannot be applicable to everyone, then we need to scrap it.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sen. Hatch: GOP Health Plan Makes Financial Sense.


The GOP health plan proposal “makes sense from the financial standpoint” as an alternative to Obamacare, a law that will eventually run the country into bankruptcy, Sen. Orrin Hatch said Thursday.

“We’ve got to come up with a consumer-based approach that really gets rid of Obamacare, but also makes sense from the financial standpoint,” the Utah Republican told MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”

“What people don’t realize is, the Obamacare is going to run us right into bankruptcy. We won’t be able to pay for it,” he added.

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The GOP alternative, called the Patient Choice Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act, or CARE, was introduced by Hatch and co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina. He said his bill would keep some of the more popular aspects of Obamacare, including health coverage for pre-existing conditions and children being able to stay on their parents’ health plan through age 26.

Hatch said the bill takes out the costly mandates, taxes, and regulations in Obamacare, and shifts the management of healthcare to the states. He described it as a “consumer-based program” that saves money because it gets “rid of the bureaucrats … in Washington, and all of the government processes that just eat up funds right and left.”

Obamacare was “not going to work,” Hatch said, and explained one problem with the law was that it pushed costs into Medicaid. He said the GOP bill would “reform Medicaid and make it work again.”

“In the future, [Medicaid] is going to be unfunded, and we’ve got to find some way of … completely rehabilitating Medicaid. And we do that in our bill,” he said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

GOP Sens. Burr, Coburn and Hatch Offer Obamacare Alternative.


Image: GOP Sens. Burr, Coburn and Hatch Offer Obamacare AlternativeFrom left: Sens. Richard Burr, Tom Coburn and Orrin Hatch

Three prominent Republican senators on Monday called for replacing Obamacare with a package of election-year proposals intended to lower health insurance costs while retaining some elements of President Barack Obama’s health reform law.Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Orrin Hatch of Utah released a legislative blueprint that analysts say could help the Republican Party offer a much-needed vision for healthcare ahead of November’s mid-term congressional elections, voting that will determine which party controls Congress in the final two years of the Obama presidency.

The proposals came a day before Obama is scheduled to defend his top domestic policy in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

“The American people have found out what is in Obamacare – broken promises in the form of increased healthcare costs, costly mandates and government bureaucracy. They don’t like it and don’t want to keep it,” Burr said in a statement.

Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has extended health coverage to millions of people, despite a botched October rollout. The administration says 6.3 million people have signed up for private insurance as a result of implementation. A similar number have been determined eligible for Medicaid coverage.

The Republican alternative – dubbed the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, or CARE Act – would repeal Obamacare’s mandates, taxes and fees and replace the law with what aides called “common-sense, patient-centered” reforms intended to lower costs.

As with earlier Republican initiatives, the approach would address costs by making consumers responsible for more of their medical bills, with assistance from health savings accounts funded with pre-tax dollars that could be used to pay for insurance premiums as well as healthcare services.

The plan would keep in place two popular Obamacare provisions by banning lifetime limits on insurance benefits and allowing adult children to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. It would scale back Obamacare subsidies to help lower-income people buy private insurance, allow insurers to charge older people more and protect the sick against insurance market discrimination only if they remain continuously insured.

Medicaid, the program for the poor, which Obamacare would expand to Americans with incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, would be limited to mothers, children and the frail. Federal payments would be capped but states would receive greater flexibility to run their own Medicaid programs.

Funding for the CARE Act would come mainly from new federal taxes on employer-sponsored health plans, which are currently excluded from taxation. The Republican proposal would make 35 percent of a plan’s value taxable for employees but keep employer tax deductions unchanged.

At the same time, it would leave in place as estimated $700 million in reduced payments to Medicare, while lawmakers seek a separate bipartisan agreement on how to reform the program for the elderly and disabled.

The White House was dismissive. “This looks very much like just another repeal proposal, another attempt to raise taxes on the middle class, to keep uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions locked out of the market, to raise costs on seniors and to take away Medicaid from the millions of Americans,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told a briefing.

But analysts said the proposal could help Republicans in the coming months.

“It gives them an opportunity to talk about these things in a more positive way than just repeal and replace,” said Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.

Republicans have already made Obamacare a major campaign issue in hopes of leveraging the law’s unpopularity into active voter support in November. Republicans voted to repeal, defund or dismantle the law more than 40 times in the House of Representatives.

Of likely U.S. voters, 43 percent view Obamacare at least somewhat favorably, while 52 percent have an unfavorable view, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll released on Monday.

But there is no consensus on how to replace the law and party leaders believe it important enough to offer a positive vision that House Republicans have made it a major topic for their annual retreat this week.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Coburn: 2013 Marked ‘Unwinding of Country’s Founding Principles´.


Image: Coburn: 2013 Marked 'Unwinding of Country's Founding Principles'

By Courtney Coren

Sen. Tom Coburn says the power grab by Democratic leaders in Congress, not to mention the Obama administration’s apparent disdain for the rule of law, made 2013 one of the nation’s worst years.

“In both the executive branch and Congress, Americans witnessed an unwinding of the country’s founding principles and of their government’s most basic responsibilities,”Coburn wrote Monday in an op-ed piece carried in The Wall Street Journal.

“The rule of law gave way to the rule of rulers. And the rule of reality . . . gave way to some politicians’ belief that they were entitled to both their own opinions and their own facts.”

“It’s no wonder the institutions of government barely function,” the Oklahoma Republican added.

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Coburn described the launching of Obamacare as one of the most devastating blows to the rule of law and he accused President Barack Obama of changing his signature achievement “according to whim” without regard to any legal or constitutional constraints that might be involved. He also wrote that the most troubling aspect of the president’s behavior in pushing the law on the American public was his promise that people would be able to keep their current insurance plans and doctors.

“We now know that the administration was aware that these claims were false, yet Mr. Obama continued to make them, repeatedly,” Coburn said.

Even though the president “apologized in part for his statements,” it sent a message to politicians that “message discipline” is the name-of-the-game if it helps “to win an election or achieve a short-term political goal.”

“When a misleading message ultimately clashes with reality, the result is dissonance and conflict,” the Oklahoma senator argued. “In a republic, deception is destructive.”

Coburn took a hard swipe at Democrats in Congress as well, calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s successful effort to do away with the 60-vote threshold for moving most presidential nominations an outright power grab “to undo 200 years of precedent that requires a supermajority to change Senate rules.”

“To speed the approval of executive appointments and judicial nominations, Sen. Reid resorted to raw political power, forcing a vote (52-48) that allows the Senate majority to change the rules whenever it wants,” Coburn complained. “In a republic, if majorities can change laws or rules however they please, you’re on the road to life with no rules and no laws.”

Coburn concluded by noting that if Americans are truly fed up, as he is, with the way Washington works these days, then they should make use of the elections this year to make some changes.

“If you don’t like the rulers you have, you don’t have to keep them,” he wrote.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sen. Coburn: Government Wasted $30 Billion in 2013.


Image: Sen. Coburn: Government Wasted $30 Billion in 2013

By Drew MacKenzie

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has released his annual Wastebook, detailing the 100 leading examples of government waste — amounting to $30 billion this year.

The congressional watchdog said that one of the primary offenders for trashing federal money was the disastrous launch of the Affordable Care Act website HealthCare.gov, which cost at least $319 million.

Millions more were wasted on ads in various states for President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, including a campaign featuring an Elvis impersonator in Colorado, where Wastebook 2013 says only 4,000 people enrolled, one of whom turned out to be a dog named Baxter.

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Another big expense went to a football field-sized blimp, called an “unblinking eye,” that was supposed to provide nonstop surveillance over an Afghanistan battlefield. But the Army pulled the plug on the project this year after one test flight over New Jersey. The total waste: $297 million.

The Army National Guard was also lambasted for throwing away $10 million on a Superman movie tie-in while plans were being made to cut the strength of the Guard by 8,000 soldiers.

“When it comes to spending your money, those in Washington tend to see no waste, speak no waste, and cut no waste,” wrote Coburn, a Republican, in his 167-page report.

He pointed out that although the Department of Defense grounded the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels, it frittered away $634 million “to construct aircraft they never intended to fly.”

The Defense Department also destroyed $7 billion worth of usable military equipment rather than selling it or having it shipped home.

Additional Pentagon dollars squandered included $9 million for a reality TV series for the Army and $34 million for a military headquarters in Afghanistan that will never be used.

When it comes to doing nothing and getting paid for it, Coburn says there’s no beating the 20 NASA employees who spent 70 days lying in bed with their bodies slightly angled downward, as part of a study to replicate what could happen to astronauts during weightlessness in space. NASA has no plans to send anyone up in space in the near future, so that’s another $360,000 down the drain.

The government spent $384,989 on a study of duck penises, $237,205 on research of red crabs, and $390,000 to create a cartoon superhero called “Green Ninja” to teach children about global warming, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

And while the Smithsonian was closing exhibits in Washington, the government was funding the creation of “play zones” at the National Museum of Play, an inventory of toys at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, as well as producing a $150,000 zombie game to help teach kids math.

“Washington has reversed the wisdom of the old cliché that less is needed when less is wasted,” Coburn said. “Every branch of government bickered this year over the need to spend more, while continuing to misspend, with an attitude of ‘waste more, want more.'”

“These are only a few of the 100 examples of government mismanagement and stupidity included in Wastebook 2013. Collectively these cost more than $30 billion in a year when Washington would have you believe everything that could be done has been done to control unnecessary spending.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Budget Deal Gets House GOP Support; Sens. Coburn, Paul, Rubio Opposed.


House Republicans signaled support Wednesday for a budget deal worked out a day earlier, a plan narrowly drawn but promoted as a way to stabilize Congress‘ erratic fiscal efforts, avert another government shutdown and mute some of the partisan rancor that has damaged Americans’ attitudes about their lawmakers.

“There’s a lot to like about it,” said one GOP congressman, John Fleming of Louisiana, as he emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting.

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But GOP Senators, led by Rand Paul, Tom Coburn and Marco Rubio have lashed out as at the compromise budget. Coburn slammed the deal on Wednesday, saying it would “raise fees, raise money, steal money.”

In welcome news to House GOP leaders, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said most Republicans would back the deal worked out by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and applauded by the White House.

The House plans to vote by week’s end before it adjourns for the year on Friday.

Still, there was some grumbling from liberals and conservatives as the pact doesn’t solve long-term tax and spending issues, and ignores expiring unemployment benefits.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a potential 2016 presidential candidate, announced his opposition, saying that “undoing tens of billions of this modest spending restraint is shameful and must be opposed.”

Coburn said he is “real disappointed in the deal.”

“What we do is we raise fees, raise money, steal money. Raise the costs of pensions for federal workers. Do these other things in the out years that will never be guaranteed to be there. And, say we cut a deal,” the Oklahoma Republican told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio issued a statement opposing the measure and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was seen as likely to oppose it as well. But key Democrats lined up behind Obama, especially after Ryan eased demands on making federal workers contribute more to their pensions.

“We need a government with less debt and an economy with more good paying jobs, and this budget fails to accomplish both goals, making it harder for more Americans to achieve the American Dream,” he said. “Instead, this budget continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans.”

The agreement, among other things, seeks to restore $63 billion in automatic spending cuts affecting programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon. The deal to ease those cuts for two years is aimed less at chipping away at the nation’s $17 trillion national debt than it is at trying to help a dysfunctional Capitol stop lurching from crisis to crisis. It would set the stage for action in January on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill for the budget year that began in October.

The measure unveiled by Ryan and Murray blends $85 billion in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees — but no taxes or cuts to Medicare beneficiaries — to replace a significant amount of the mandated cuts to agency budgets over the coming two years.

The package would raise the Transportation Security Administration fee on a typical nonstop, round-trip airline ticket from $5 to $10; require newly hired federal workers to contribute 1.3 percentage points more of their salaries toward their pensions; and trim cost-of-living adjustments to the pensions of military retirees under the age of 62. Hospitals and other health care providers would have to absorb two additional years of a 2-percentage-point cut in their Medicare reimbursements.

The plan doesn’t attempt to resuscitate earlier attempts at an accommodation that would have traded tax hikes for structural curbs to ever-growing benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. But it would at least bring some stability on the budget to an institution — Congress — whose approval ratings are in the gutter.

“Our deal puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back … harmful cuts to education, medical research, infrastructure investments and defense jobs for the next two years,” Murray said.

The measure won an immediate endorsement from President Barack Obama, who called it a step in the right direction.

The budget deal was one of a few major measures left on Congress’ to-do list near the end of a bruising year that has produced a partial government shutdown, a flirtation with a first-ever federal default and gridlock on Obama’s agenda.

In a blow to Democrats, the agreement omits an extension of benefits for workers unemployed longer than 26 weeks. The program expires Dec. 28, when payments will be cut off for an estimated 1.3 million individuals. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has agreed to stage a test vote on the measure this year, but it’s not clear whether he’ll get enough GOP support to advance it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last week said Democrats would not support a budget deal unless it included plans to extend expiring unemployment benefits.

When asked on Wednesday whether Democrats would support the bill, Pelosi said: “Stay tuned.”

Aides predicted bipartisan approval in both houses in the next several days, despite grumbling from liberals over the omission of the unemployment extension and pressure from tea party-aligned groups that are pushing Republican conservatives to oppose the deal.

The agreement would increase the cap on so-called discretionary spending from the $967 billion mandated by Washington’s failure to follow up a 2011 budget agreement with additional deficit cuts. The cap would rise to $1.012 trillion for the ongoing 2014 budget year and up to $1.014 trillion for 2015.

The relief to the Pentagon is relatively modest since the agency started out facing a cut of $20 billion below the harsh cuts it faced in 2013; the agreement replaces those cuts but doesn’t bring the military’s budget much above 2013 levels.

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“While modest in scale, this agreement represents a positive step forward by replacing one-time spending cuts with permanent reforms to mandatory spending programs that will produce real, lasting savings,” said Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Even before the deal was announced, conservative organizations were attacking the proposal as a betrayal of a 2011 agreement that reduced government spending and is counted as among the main accomplishments of tea party-aligned Republicans who came to power earlier the same year in the House.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Coburn Slams Budget Deal: ‘Raises Taxes’.


Sen. Tom Coburn Wednesday slammed the budget deal before Congress, saying it would “raise fees, raise money, steal money.”

“What we do is we raise fees, raise money, steal money. Raise the costs of pensions for federal workers. Do these other things in the out years that will never be guaranteed to be there. And, say we cut a deal,” the Oklahoma Republican told MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe.”

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“I’m real disappointed in the deal,” Coburn said.

The two-year agreement was brokered by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray. It calls for an increase in discretionary spending, raises fees, and stops sequestration cuts over the next two years.

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“They said there is no tax increases,” said Coburn. “All of it is tax increases because eventually an American pays for it. So they did raise taxes.”

The two-term senator maintained that the Washington establishment is more interested in keeping the status quo on budget issues. He called Ryan and Murray “two very well-meaning individuals” who “hammered out an agreement to get past a political event.”

“We’re going to raise spending back up, because the political powers that be want to spend more money, rather than be responsible with what we know needs to be done up here — which is hard work eliminating the all the stupidity, fraud, duplication that’s going on,” he said.

“I’m sure it’s the best Paul could get. But, it’s not anything I can support,” Coburn said.

Wasteful government spending is ignored in the budget deal before Congress, the two-term senator maintained. He said Congress is failing to do its job and “be responsible.”

“We’re going to put out the waste book again this year. It’s got $25 billion in stupid spending this year. None of that’s addressed in this. None of the waste, the duplication, the fraud. None of it,” he said.

Coburn suggested keeping the sequester levels where they are, and specifically addressing duplication of services. He said that savings alone could offset the sequester cuts.

“Let’s just eliminate duplications over the next year. You can pay two-and-a-half times what the sequester is,” he said. “We will have an agreement, and go on and function with government. Every dollar that you save is a dollar we’ll add back on sequester.”

Former adviser to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, appearing on the same show, said, “We all acknowledge that there are some long-term issues that have to be dealt with.

“I don’t disagree with Sen. Coburn,” Axelrod added. “Anybody who spends time in Washington understands there are savings to be made. And, it’s hard to get them, because of bureaucracy safeguards.”

“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough took issue with the process of lawmakers making deals behind closed doors, and then pressuring members of Congress to vote for them.

“Leaders go behind closed doors, come up with this massive deal, and then come out and stick a gun to conservatives’ heads and say, ‘You either support this, or you are for a government shutdown.’

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“That’s how they continue shoving these bad deals down our throats. That’s why conservatives are repelled by it,” Scarborough, who also served as a Congressman from Florida, said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

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