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Posts tagged ‘United States debt ceiling’

Rep. Tom Cotton: Obamacare Best Example of President’s Failed Policies.


President Barack Obama has “irresponsibly added trillions of dollars to our national debt” while concentrating too much power in Washington — and Obamacare is the best example of the president’s failed policies, Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton said in this week’s GOP address.

“The debt slows economic growth today and it places an immoral burden on our kids and grandkids,” said Cotton Saturday. “And the President’s policies concentrate too much power in Washington — they give more control to bossy bureaucrats, who want to run your lives, while handing out special favors and privileges to the elite and well-connected.”

And in Arkansas, where like most states Americans “have had their grit tested over the last several years through a financial collapse, recession, and a stagnant, jobless recovery,” Obama’s policies are causing the problems, Cotton said.

Story continues below video.

Obamacare promised to lower costs and improve care while cutting spending, said Cotton, but that hasn’t happened.

“We now know the sad reality of Obamacare: lose your insurance, lose your doctor, lose your job,” he said.

“President Obama promised you could keep your plan if you like it. That’s not true. Five million Americans face cancellations, and the President’s own estimates predict that tens of millions more will lose their plan. Many more are losing access to their family doctors, specialists, and local hospitals. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects Obamacare will cost the equivalent of at least two-and-a-half million full-time jobs.”

Meanwhile, the healthcare law adds trillions in new spending during a time of record debt and means less money in paychecks and less capital for businesses, Cotton said.

“Less growth means less opportunity and more stress for families,” noted Cotton. “And the Congressional Budget Office says we’ll still have 31 million uninsured in 10 years — the same number President Obama used to sell the law in the first place.

He pointed out one of his state’s constituents, a woman named Elizabeth, who says her monthly premiums “have risen 85 percent because of Obamacare’s new coverage mandates.”

“She’s now forced to pay for things she does not want and can’t afford, simply because Washington politicians and bureaucrats think they know what’s best for her and her family,” said Cotton.

“What’s worse, Obamacare isn’t just raising her premium costs. Elizabeth now takes home less total pay than she did in 2011 – and that’s after two raises and a promotion. She’s stopped shopping at locally owned businesses because she can’t afford their prices, so Obamacare is hurting her local community, too.”

For such people, Cotton said, Obamacare is “anything but an amazing success story,” and wrong for Arkansas and America.

“Republicans in Congress are committed to stopping the harms caused by the President’s policies, repairing the damage, and getting America working again,” said Cotton. “We’re advocating reforms that trust patients and their doctors – not Washington bureaucrats. And we’re working to get spending under control. That’s because we trust you to make the right decisions for you and your family.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Sandy Fitzgerald

DeMint: Republicans Had Little Choice on Debt-Limit Vote.


Last week’s debt-limit vote brought criticism from many conservatives, but Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint said he believes Republicans did the only thing they thought they could do.

“It was a defining vote this week,” DeMint told NBC “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer. “I think it showed that all the Democrats in Congress were completely willing to give the president a blank check to borrow whatever he wanted. Most of the Republicans weren’t.”

However, the former South Carolina GOP senator said, Republican leaders, like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have figured out that they either give President Barack
Obama “all the money and debt he wants or he’s going to close the government down and blame it on them. So I think they did what they thought was the only thing they could do.”

Editor’s Note: 
Secret ‘250% Calendar’ Exposed — Free Video

Story continues below video.

DeMint said he doesn’t blame Boehner or other Republicans for their vote, but he also does not believe people who share his brand of conservatism feel well-represented in the nation’s capital, and many Americans, “regardless of political labels,” feel the same way.

“I hear it all over the country and I think that’s why you see a stirring in the country,” DeMint said. “Frankly, people are less interested in the label of Republican and Democrat and they’re tired of that but they will unite around some principles that will give us a stronger economy, a strong society, a strong America… America’s not nearly as divided as it looks like they are in Washington.”

DeMint said he is concentrating on his work with the Heritage Foundation, which is working to promote conservative goals. He said he is not involved in the super PAC he founded, Senate Conservative Fund, which aims to oust moderate Republicans, including making a push this past week to remove Boehner as House speaker.

“We’re less involved with, really, trying to cram anything down the throats of congressman and senators,” said DeMint.

Editor’s Note: Secret ‘250% Calendar’ Exposed — Free Video

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Rep. Hastings Announces Retirement In Wake of Debt-Ceiling Vote.


Image: Rep. Hastings Announces Retirement In Wake of Debt-Ceiling Vote

 

By Todd Beamon

Rep. Doc Hastings on Thursday became the latest House Republican to announce his retirement — two days after he was part of a critical coalition of House leaders, made up of retiring GOP members and representatives primarily from Northeastern states, that backed a controversial bill to raise America’s debt ceiling without restrictions.

“Last Friday, I celebrated my 73rd birthday, and while I have the ability and seniority to continue serving central Washington, it is time for the voters to choose a new person with new energy to represent them in the people’s House,” Hastings said in a statement.

First elected in 1995, Hastings is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and recently called for overhauling the Endangered Species Act, charging that the 40-year-old law has been abused by environmental groups seeking to restrict development in the name of species protection.

The announcement came a day after GOP Rep. Gary Miller, 66, of California said that he was retiring after more than 15 years in the House because of family issues.

Hastings is now the 24th member of Congress to say that this year would be his last. He joins 13 Republicans and 11 Democrats to disclose their impending departures from Capitol Hill.

In the House, he is the 11th Republican and 18th member overall to announce his retirement.

But on Tuesday, Hastings and Miller joined with Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and 23 other House Republicans to support a one-year extension of the nation’s borrowing authority — agreeing to President Barack Obama’s demands for a debt-limit increase without any conditions.

Boehner backed the legislation, which won on a 221-201 vote. Two Democrats, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, joined the GOP in rejecting it.

Besides splitting the House leadership — the No. 4 Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the highest-ranking House GOP woman, was among the leaders to vote “no” — the vote rankled conservatives, tea party supporters and rank-and-file Republicans.

The Senate Conservatives Fund even charged that Boehner should be replaced as speaker.

These groups were further outraged the next day when the Senate voted — after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and Minority Whip John Cornyn, of Texas, led an assault on a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz — to pass a similar debt bill on a straight 55-43 party-line vote.

In the House, the 28 Republicans voting for the measure included six who are retiring at the end of the year. Besides Hastings and Miller, they are Howard Coble, N.C.; Buck McKeon, Calif.; Jon Runyan, N.J.; and Frank Wolf, Va.

“You’ve got retirees, the leadership and Republicans in safe districts with a Northeastern bias,” political analyst and pollster Doug Schoen explained to Newsmax on Thursday.

“Basically, the votes they gave were enough to get it passed — and they didn’t want to put anyone at risk,” he added. “It was retirees, leadership, and Northeastern moderate Republicans who could take the vote without a problem.”

Others in the top House leadership who supported the debt ceiling bill included Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Mich.; Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Calif.; Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, Ky.; and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Calif.

Those Northeastern Republicans on board included four from New York — Reps. Chris Collins, Michael Grimm, Richard Hanna, Peter King — as well as three each from neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Seven California House members backed the measure.

“Put it another way: For the Republican base, this is toxic — and the way the process was organized was to insulate the party and its grass-roots as much as possible to avoid any political problems,” Schoen told Newsmax.

The primary problem was avoiding another federal government shutdown, similar to the partial one that lasted 16 days in October and cost taxpayers $1.4 billion — especially when the GOP could possibly retake the Senate in this fall’s congressional elections.

“It goes back to their basis thesis: We get through this. We don’t fight on an issue we can’t win because, ultimately, this election is moving in our direction — and we don’t need to have a problem like the problem we had with the government shutdown.”

Political strategist Dick Morris described the House skirmishing on Thursday as “phony” and “fraudulent.”

“Boehner went to his caucus and said: ‘Hey guys, let’s approve the debt limit in return for pretty-good spending cuts or other restorations,'” Morris told John Bachman on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV. “The House Republicans said, or enough of them said: ‘We’re not going to vote for a debt-limit increase under any circumstance. You could balance the whole budget and we’re not going to go for it.’

“He didn’t have his 218 votes to pass it — and he couldn’t get any Democratic votes if there were cuts,” Morris said of Boehner.

The Ohio Republican then put together the GOP coalition to support the clean bill.

“All of these Republican congressmen can now go to their primary opponents from the tea party and say, ‘Hey, I voted against raising the debt limit’ — knowing darn well that they were willing to vote for it if they needed it,” Morris said.

Schoen saw it another way.

“The Republican Party did not want to vote to increase the debt ceiling,” he said. “Because they are in the majority, they had to provide some votes — in this case, 28 — to go along with near-unanimous Democratic support to get it done.

“The leadership understood that it was in their interest, long-term, to increase the debt ceiling without any riders or any possibility of paralyzing the government,” Schoen added. “The vast majority of Republicans, for a variety of reasons, disagree.

“For John Boehner, this became a practical step to avoid more political harakiri.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Dick Morris: Re-Election Worries Fueled McConnell’s Vote on Debt.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted on Wednesday to end debate on a bill to increase the nation’s debt ceiling because “he didn’t want to have a government shutdown or bill stalling in the Senate because of him when he had a general election that was tough,” political strategist Dick Morris told Newsmax TV on Thursday.

“But in his mind, the villain is Ted Cruz,” Morris told John Bachman on “America’s Forum.” “The Democrats were perfectly prepared to pass this and let all the Republicans vote against it.

“The American people get more and more sophisticated as each of these things happen — and they realize the debt limit is now just a political football” he added. “In 2011, right after the tea party controlled the House, it became very good because we got a trillion dollars in cuts.

Story continues below video.

“Everybody was so scared by the abortive October shutdown that they’re not willing to do it again — and everybody realizes the debt limit is just a symbolic fight that doesn’t mean anything anymore.”

In the run-up to Wednesday’s vote to increase the nation’s borrowing authority, Kentucky Republican McConnell came forward to cast a vote toward ending debate on the bill and sending it to the full Senate floor for a vote.

McConnell’s “aye” vote, along with Minority Whip John Cornyn’s, bucked Cruz’s demand that a 60-vote threshold be in place to end the debate, or to invoke what is called “cloture.”

Ten other Republicans joined McConnell and Cornyn to end Cruz’s filibuster. That final vote was 67-31.

The bill, which suspends the nation’s debt limit through March 15, 2015, later passed the Senate on a 55-43 vote along party lines. It was expected to be quickly signed by President Barack Obama.

Both Cornyn and Cruz are from Texas, and McConnell and Cornyn face tough primary elections this spring against candidates backed by the tea party.

In his Newsmax interview, Morris, who was an aide to President Bill Clinton, said that Republican leaders supported ending debate because “the Senate was a bit chaotic because the Democrats control it, so it was hard for the Republicans to orchestrate.

“Raising the debt limit is unpopular in the United States,” he added. “Borrowing more money without cutting the budget is unpopular.”

Morris explained: “The debt limit is not about borrowing the money for 2013; we’ve already done that. It’s about borrowing the money for ’14 and ’15 and ’16. We haven’t done that yet.

“It’s fully appropriate to make cuts in those out-years, because it’s not a question of the bills coming due. All that’s coming due is your intention to buy it.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Todd Beamon

GOP Senate Leadership Bucks Cruz’s 60-Vote Debt Ceiling Bid.


Image: GOP Senate Leadership Bucks Cruz's 60-Vote Debt Ceiling Bid

After a dramatic Senate tally in which top GOP leaders cast the crucial votes, must-pass legislation to allow the government to borrow money to pay its bills cleared Congress Wednesday for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The Senate approved the measure by a near party-line 55-43 vote. All of the “aye” votes came from Obama’s Democratic allies.

But the vote to pass the measure was anticlimactic after a dramatic 67-31 tally — held open for more than an hour — in which the measure cleared a filibuster hurdle insisted on by tea party Republican Ted Cruz of Texas. The Senate’s top two Republicans — both facing tea party challenges in their GOP primaries this year — provided crucial momentum after a knot of Republicans in the Senate well were clearly unhappy at having to walk the plank.

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After Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Whip John Cornyn, voted “aye” several other Republicans switched their votes in solidarity. Twelve Republicans ultimately voted to help the measure advance but the tally appeared to be in doubt for several anxious minutes.

“A lot of people stepped up and did what they needed to do,” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who voted to advance the bill, as did Mark Kirk of Illinois, who said: “Members didn’t want to” vote for it.

The 12 Republicans who voted against Cruz’s measure were: John Barrasso, Wyo.; Susan Collins, Maine; Bob Corker, Tenn.; John Cornyn, Texas; Jeff Flake, Ariz.; Orrin Hatch, Utah; Mike Johanns, Neb.; Mark Kirk, Ill.; John McCain, Ariz.; Mitch McConnell, Ky.; Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; John Thune, S.D.

Cruz’s demands irritated Republicans because it forced several of them, particularly McConnell, to cast a difficult vote. McConnell faces a May primary against tea party candidate Matt Bevin, whose supporters adamantly oppose increasing the debt limit.

“In my view, every Republican should stand together against raising the debt ceiling without meaningful structural reforms to rein in our out of control spending,” Cruz said.

After the tally, Cruz said he had no regrets, saying the “Senate has given President Obama a blank check.”

Asked about forcing a difficult vote upon McConnell, Cruz said: “That is ultimately a decision … for the voters of Kentucky.”

The legislation would permit Treasury to borrow normally for another 13 months and then reset the government’s borrowing cap, currently set at $17.2 trillion, after that.

It passed the House Tuesday after Republicans gave up efforts to use the debt ceiling measure to win concessions from Obama on GOP agenda items like winning approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay bills like Social Security benefits, federal salaries, and payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers.

Quick action on the debt limit bill stands in contrast to lengthy showdowns in 2012 and last fall when Republicans sought to use the critically necessary measure as leverage to win concessions from Obama. They succeeded in 2011, winning about $2 trillion in spending cuts, but Obama has been unwilling to negotiate over the debt limit since his re-election, and Wednesday’s legislation is the third consecutive debt measure passed without White House concessions.

Republicans have been less confrontational after October’s 16-day partial government shutdown sent GOP poll numbers skidding and chastened the party’s tea party faction. Republicans have instead sought to focus voters’ attention on the implementation and effects of Obama’s health care law.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay all of its bills, including Social Security benefits, federal salaries, payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers and interest on the accumulated debt. Congress has never failed to act to prevent a default on U.S. obligations, which most experts say would spook financial markets and spike interest rates.

Most Republicans say any increase in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by cuts to the spiraling costs of costly benefit programs like Medicare.

“We need some reform before we raise the debt ceiling. We need to demonstrate that we are taking steps that will reduce the accumulation of debt in the future,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, top Republican on the Budget Committee. “And the president and the Democratic Senate have just flatly refused. So they’ve just said, `We’ll accept no restraint on spending’.”

Some Republicans seemed irked that Cruz wouldn’t let the bill pass without forcing it to clear a 60-vote threshold that required some Republicans to walk the plank and help it advance..

“I’m not going to talk about that,” said Orrin Hatch when asked if Republicans are annoyed with Cruz.

Passage of the debt limit measure without any extraneous issues comes after House GOP leaders tried for weeks to find a formula to pass a version of their own that included Republican agenda items like approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and repeal of an element of the health care law. But a sizable faction of House Republicans simply refuse to vote for any increase in the government’s borrowing abilities, which forced House Speaker John Boehner to turn to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to pass the measure on the strength of Democrats.

The debt measure permits Treasury to borrow regularly through March 15, 2015, putting the issue off until after the November elections and setting it up for the new Congress to handle next year. If Republicans take over the Senate, they’re likely to insist on linking the debt ceiling to spending cuts and other GOP agenda items, but for now at least, the issue is being handled the old fashioned way, with the party of the incumbent president being responsible for supplying the votes to pass it but with the minority party not standing in the way.

“I think we will go back to the responsible way of making sure that our country does not default,” said Democratic Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray.

Senate action Wednesday would safely clear the debt issue off of Washington’s plate weeks in advance of the Feb. 27 deadline set last week by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. The debt limit was reset to $17.2 trillion after a four-month suspension of the prior, $16.7 trillion limit expired last Friday. Lew promptly began employing accounting maneuvers to buy time for Congress to act.

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© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

LIGNET: US Cedes Influence to China as Beijing Defense Budget Booms.


Image: LIGNET: US Cedes Influence to China as Beijing Defense Budget Booms

Chinese paramilitary police march in Tiananmen Square in Beijing last Friday. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s dramatic increase in defense spending, its acquisition of new technologies, and its increasing belligerence in the Pacific are raising deep concerns that the United States will not be able to counter any long-term Chinese threat.

Compounding these concerns is a fear that budget cuts are forcing Washington to rethink its entire Asia-Pacific strategy. The rise of China, coupled with disarray in U.S. policy, is causing deep consternation among U.S. allies in the region.

Click HERE to read an exclusive analysis from LIGNET’s top intelligence experts. 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/LIGNET-US-China-Defense/2014/02/12/id/552438#ixzz2t9MtUFEp
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Republicans Call Debt-Ceiling Vote ‘Missed Opportunity’ for Sanity.


Image: Republicans Call Debt-Ceiling Vote 'Missed Opportunity' for Sanity From left: Reps. Paul Ryan, Marsha Blackburn and Paul Broun

By Todd Beamon

House Republicans told Newsmax on Tuesday that they opposed Speaker John Boehner’s plan for a one-year extension of the nation’s borrowing limit without restrictions because it would not hold President Barack Obama and Democrats accountable to work toward greater fiscal responsibility.

“This is a missed opportunity,” said House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin. “We need to pay our bills today and make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow.

“I’m disappointed that the president and Senate Democrats refuse to get serious about our fiscal challenges,” Ryan said.

“Raising the debt ceiling without any guarantee of future spending cuts is irresponsible and only makes our nation’s debt problem worse,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee.

Rep. Paul Broun, of Georgia, said he voted against the bill because “we cannot continue to fuel the president’s spending addiction by increasing our nation’s borrowing limit and leaving our children and grandchildren with bills they simply cannot afford to pay.”

The House vote on the “clean” spending bill was 221-201, with only 28 Republicans supporting the measure. Two Democrats, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, joined the GOP in rejecting it.

The vote marked a dramatic shift from the confrontational fiscal approach of House Republicans over the past three years, culminating in October’s 16-day partial government shutdown, which cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.

Discussions this time had concerned linking the debt ceiling to defunding Obamacare — part of last year’s unsuccessful effort — or to a repeal of planned cuts in military pensions.

Under the legislation, the debt ceiling would be suspended until March 15, 2015, allowing the government to keep borrowing beyond its current $17.2 trillion limit. Afterward, however, the new ceiling would equal the amount of debt the government has accumulated in total.

The Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on the legislation.

The vote even split the top GOP leadership, with Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California backing the measure.

But the House’s No. 4 Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the highest-ranking GOP woman in the lower chamber, rejected the bill, along with Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“We can continue to ignore the problem of out-of-control spending, or we can address it,” McMorris Rodgers said. “Unfortunately, the Democrats who run Washington refuse to seriously address our crushing debt in any other way than higher taxes, which isn’t fair to those in eastern Washington and across America.

“If President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate refuse to address our spending addiction when a debt limit increase is requested, when will they?” McMorris Rodgers asked.

Lankford said, “I could not vote to increase our national debt ceiling because the legislation did not offer long-term spending reforms or a plan to prevent having this same debate in the future.”

“We must stop pretending our national debt is not a major issue even though it already exceeds a completely incomprehensible amount,” he added. “On behalf of my daughters and future generations, I will not support taking the easy road today but make it harder in the future,” Lankford said.

Said Walden, “Previous debt-limit negotiations have resulted in historic agreements that reduced spending. I stood ready to work in a bipartisan way on another such agreement, but the Democrats have been unwilling to discuss even modest proposals to reduce the deficit.”

In addition, the Club for Growth and other conservative groups had urged legislators to reject the measure.

“When we heard that House leadership was scheduling a clean debt-ceiling increase vote, we thought it was a joke,” the Club for Growth said on its website. “But it’s not. Something is very wrong with House leadership, or with the Republican Party.

“This is not a bill that advocates of limited government should schedule or support,” the club said.

The Senate Conservatives Fund said in a fundraising letter that Boehner should be replaced.

“Republicans are giving up because they know that winning is impossible when their leaders are determined to lose,” the group said on its website. “These leaders have telegraphed weakness to the Democrats and sabotaged conservative efforts so many times that Republicans now have no leverage.

“Unless we install a new leader who will actually go on offense, Democrats will never fear us and we will never have any leverage,” the group said.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told Newsmax that the House failed to “heed the warning that reaching the debt ceiling provides” and did not “use this speed bump on the road to national bankruptcy as an opportunity to deal with the root cause of our debt crisis: out-of-control spending.”

“By passing the unconditional increase in the debt ceiling that the president demanded, the answer to this question sadly appears to be no,” Hensarling said.

Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma noted how Obama has refused to negotiate with Republicans over the debt limit. He reiterated that position heading into this round of talks.

“Every negotiation requires a negotiating partner, but the president has remained intransigent and refused to find common-sense solutions,” Cole said. “I have shown time and again that I am willing to work in a bipartisan manner to solve our nation’s most pressing economic problems, and I will continue to do so.

“The legislation presented today is not that solution,” Cole said.

Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona said that “major reform is needed in an area that is swiftly consuming our GDP and is moving our entitlement programs toward insolvency. With today’s vote, we continue to show an addiction to spending and a negligence to address the root of our spending problems.”

Blackburn’s “Volunteer State” State colleague, Rep. Diane Black, was even more blunt.

“Our looming debt crisis threatens the security of the nation we leave behind for future generations,” she said. “Without needed reforms to address the drivers of our debt and deficits, the bill simply gives President Obama a blank check to continue borrowing against our children and grandchildren’s future.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Clean Debt-Limit Bill Passes House With Just 28 GOP Votes.


The House of Representatives narrowly approved a one-year extension of federal borrowing authority on Tuesday, agreeing to President Barack Obama’s demands to allow a debt limit increase without any conditions.

The 221-201 vote, carried mainly by Democrats, marked a dramatic shift from the confrontational fiscal tactics House Republicans have used over the past three years, culminating in October’s 16-day government shutdown.

It came after House Republicans repudiated House Speaker John Boehner’s latest plan to link an increase in the $17.2 trillion borrowing cap to a repeal of planned cuts in military pensions.

Editor’s Note: These 38 Dates Are Key to Bagging $313,038 

Although Boehner called his decision to advance a “clean” debt-limit bill a “disappointing moment,” it sets aside a difficult and divisive issue until after the 2014 congressional elections in November, enabling Republicans to focus their campaign efforts on the rocky launch of Obama’s healthcare reform law.

Democrats provided most of the “yes” votes on the debt-limit increase, which was hastily attached to a measure to rename an air traffic control center in Nashua, N.H. There were 193 Democrats who voted yes, and just 28 Republicans, who wanted to pin blame on Obama’s refusal to negotiate.

“He will not engage in our long-term spending problem,” Boehner said earlier on Tuesday. “So, let his party give him the debt ceiling increase that he wants.”

The Democratic-controlled Senate is likely to begin consideration of the measure on Wednesday. Senate passage this week would buy financial markets considerable breathing room ahead of Feb. 27, when the U.S. Treasury expects to exhaust existing borrowing capacity, putting federal payments at risk.

Without an increase in the statutory debt limit, the government would soon default on some of its obligations and have to shut down some programs, a historic move that would likely cause market turmoil.

Stocks reacted mildly to news of the Republican decision to drop any conditions on the debt limit. Wall Street stocks rose for a fourth session as traders focused most of their attention on Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s first congressional testimony.

“It was a minor worry that an agreement wouldn’t come. It’s not a big plus [for the market], but I’m glad this happened,” said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York.

As stocks rose, bond prices retreated.

Republicans used the debt limit with great effectiveness in 2011 to gain budget concessions, when a bitter standoff led to a deal calling for $2.1 trillion in cuts to U.S. discretionary spending over a decade. The fight also cost the United States its top-tier credit rating from Standard & Poor’s.

But the wrenching two-week government shutdown and debt limit battle last October sapped the party’s enthusiasm for another major showdown.

Instead of seeking big cuts to the Social Security and Medicare benefit programs that Republicans blame for pushing up the debt, Boehner floated more modest proposed concessions, such as ordering approval of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline and changes to Obamacare insurance provisions.

But they too failed to gain enough Republican support to overcome objections from Democrats.

The final plan to repeal cost-of-living cuts for non-disabled military retirees was doomed from the start, lawmakers said, as many conservatives objected to linking veterans to the debt ceiling, to cost offsets and other issues. Many simply wanted the big deficit reduction achieved in the past.

“If there’s something attached to the debt ceiling, it should be addressing the underlying problem, which is, we’re spending too much money,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, a conservative Republican from Ohio.

The 28 GOP members who voted to pass the bill were: John Boehner, Ohio; Ken Calvert, Calif.; Dave Camp, Mich.; Eric Cantor, Va.; Howard Coble, N.C.; Chris Collins, N.Y.; Charlie Dent, Pa.; Michael Fitzpatrick, Pa.; Michael Grimm, N.Y.; Richard Hanna, N.Y.; Doc Hastings, Wash.; Darrell Issa, Calif.; Peter King, N.Y.; Frank LoBiondo, N.J.; Kevin McCarthy, Calif.; Buck McKeon, Calif.; Pat Meehan, Pa.; Gary Miller, Calif.; Devin Nunes, Calif.; Dave Reichert, Wash.; Hal Rogers, Ky.; Peter Roskam, Ill.; Ed Royce, Calif.; Jon Runyan, N.J.; John Shimkus, Ill.; Chris Smith, N.J.; David Valadao, Calif.; and Frank Wolf, Va.

Two Democrats, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, voted against the bill.

The episode showed that Boehner still has difficulty exerting control over his fractious caucus, in which conservatives backed by the tea party movement hold considerable sway.

“Republicans can’t unite behind one plan, and so as long as we do that, we’ll not be influencing the outcomes of issues like this,” said Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, of Texas.

Conservative groups that egged on Republicans in the October shutdown fight over Obamacare funding urged members to vote against the debt-limit increase.

“Something is very wrong with House leadership, or with the Republican Party. This is not a bill that advocates of limited government should schedule or support,” the Club for Growth said.

Some Republicans wanted the debt-limit issue behind them so they could focus on more productive issues such as next year’s annual spending bills and bashing Obama’s healthcare law, which they have repeatedly tried to repeal.

“If you spend the money, you’ve got to pay the bill,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, who voted for the increase.

Republican House leaders led off a news conference on Tuesday with five lawmakers complaining about the latest Obamacare mandate delay for medium-size companies.

In a somewhat cryptic sign that Boehner himself may be relieved to put the debt limit behind him, he walked out of the news conference singing the opening words to “Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah,” the marquee song from the 1946 Disney film “Song of the South.”

Editor’s Note: These 38 Dates Are Key to Bagging $313,038 

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Ex-G.W. Bush Aide Wallace: Boehner Deserves Medal of Freedom.


House Speaker John Boehner pushed through Tuesday’s debt ceiling vote to keep Republicans from being falsely blamed for gumming up the government and enable them to keep their eyes on the prize: the 2014 elections, says Nicolle Wallace, former communications chief for President George W. Bush.

“The truth is the Republicans . . . will be judged by too many voters as responsible for these things,” Wallace told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“We have such important elections on the horizon; these midterm elections are much more important for our party than theirs, we have much more at stake.

“We have seen the wreckage caused by having . . . an extreme progressive liberal in the Oval Office. Our only recourse, now, is to further solidify our majority in the House and to try to take back the Senate, and it matters how our party is viewed when it comes to these big Washington food fights,” she said Tuesday.

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Wallace, who was also senior adviser for the John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign, said Boehner should get an award for his Herculean work in keeping a turbulent party together.

“John Boehner deserves whatever that highest civilian honor is, the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Wallace said.

“He has a very difficult job . . . He is there not just to pass laws, but to keep the government running and to get things done. I admire every step he’s taken; even during the government shutdown last fall, through all of this, he’s been strong and he’s been honest.

“He’s in a really tough position, and I don’t think ‘sympathy’s’ the right word because I don’t pity him at all, I admire him, but I have a lot of empathy with what he’s wrestling with.”

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By Bill Hoffmann

Obamacare Bailout Could Cost $450 Million for Just One Insurer.


Although House Republicans have dropped a plan to tie an increase in the debt ceiling to a repeal of the insurance company bailout clause in Obamacare, as more details emerge, there is growing concern over the costs incurred by the health care law’s risk corridor provision.

In just one example of how much money insurers stand to gain from taxpayer subsidies for future losses, Humana has announced that it expects to receive between $250 and $450 million through the three-risk adjustment mechanisms in Obamacare in 2014, half of which will come mostly from the risk corridors, reports Forbes. 

Humana will book the money as revenue to offset shortfalls between what it takes in from exchange premiums and what it pays out in medical claims, according to the publication.

The company reportedly attributed the higher risk pool largely to the Obama administration’s decision to allow individuals to keep their coverage rather than buy insurance plans through the new exchanges. 

Humana said it had enrolled 202,000 people on its exchange-based health plans as of Jan. 31, 82 percent of whom were eligible for subsidies.

If Humana’s situation is repeated throughout the healthcare system, the implication for taxpayers is staggering. “The risk-corridor provision of the law commits taxpayers to cover insurance-company losses beyond a certain level and places no limit on the taxpayers’ exposure to the risk of such losses,” writes political analyst Yuval Levin in the National Review. 

“If the balance of risk in the exchange system as a whole ends up being badly out of whack, taxpayers could easily end up turning over billions to cover insurer losses,” he said. 

Levin called the risk-corridor provision “a discrete instance of highly inappropriate unlimited taxpayer exposure to private corporate risk,” and suggested it “could be readily repealed or at least made formally budget neutral (by requiring that outgoing payments not exceed incoming ones) by itself.”

“Obviously such a move would not be welcomed by the insurers, and in many states it could undermine the viability of the exchanges,” Levin concluded. 

“But that just means that the exchanges are not viable without the promise of a taxpayer bailout of major insurer losses. That’s not exactly a case for Obamacare either.”

Related stories:


Rubio Compares Obamacare to the Denver Broncos

Consultant: ACA Protects Insurers, Shifts Losses to Taxpayers

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By Lisa Barron

 
 

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