Rush Limbaugh: Single Payer Healthcare Is The ‘Ultimate Goal’ Of The Left

Published on May 29, 2015
“Obamacare’s tentacles are now woven deep, like a huge web of deceit,” conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said on his syndicated radio show Thursday. Limbaugh strongly condemned President Obama’s signature health care law, stating it has trapped countless Americans in a chaotic, unaffordable mess in order to advance the “ultimate goal” of a government-run healthcare system. “The increasing difficulty in getting treatment, the increasing difficulty in actually having health care… is all part of the grand design to get to total government control of healthcare.” he added.

For the past 50 years, the Left’s goal has been to establish “single- payer, government- run, cradle-to-grave, no insurance company, no insurance industry health care,” Limbaugh said. “That has been the objective from Day One.” “I don’t like that term,” Limbaugh commented on the phrase “single-payer healthcare.” “Socialized medicine…is the preferred term. And we’ve just taken a dramatic step closer to it.” He referenced an article by Associated Press reporter Michael Virtanen (AP) about a bill that was passed Wednesday by the New York Assembly that establishes “publicly funded universal health coverage in a so-called single- payer system.”

Limbaugh criticized the Republican majority in the New York Senate, saying that they would not “kill” the bill because Republicans “are feeling scared to death at the prospect.” This is “all part of the plan too. Don’t care how it operates, don’t care whether or not it works. Just implement it!” Limbaugh said, adding that Republicans should stand up and fight Obamacare. If they do nothing, they will just be furthering the goal of creating a single-payer health care system for all Americans, he warned. “It doesn’t matter if it works or not. In fact, the more it doesn’t work, the better for the long term goal.” Limbaugh said.

Connecticut Post: NY Assembly votes for universal health coverage

Obamacare Co-ops Use Tax Dollars To Lobby For More Tax Dollars

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RICHARD POLLOCK

Health Republic Insurance of New York paid K Street lobbyists to help it secure $90 million in federal “solvency funds,” allowing the Obamacare health insurance co-op to stay afloat last year, according to congressional lobbying disclosure records.

Quarterly documents obtained from the clerk of the United States Senate by the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group show Health Republic paid $180,000 to the lobbying firm of Alston & Bird. The payments were made from early 2014 through the first quarter of this year.

Alston & Bird did not merely lobby Congress, according to the documents.  They also lobbied federal officials at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which manages Obamacare.

Health Republic last year asked CMS to provide an additional $90 million in “solvency funds” to the co-op.  CMS officials approved the request last September, five months after Alston & Bird began their lobbying of agency officials.

Health Republic originally received $265 million in start-up funding in 2012, making it the largest of two dozen health insurance co-ops established under an Obamacare program designed to provide publicly funded competition for private sector health insurance firms. Healthcare reform advocates said the co-ops would offer lower premiums for comparable coverage.

Obamacare health insurance co-ops in Colorado and Michigan also retained lobbyists to influence Congress and executive branch officials, according to Senate documents.

Heading up Health Republic’s Washington lobbying is former U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, a nine-term North Dakota Democrat, who manages the K Street firm’s health care lobby shop.

Bob Siggins, a former long-time congressional staff aide for the congressman and once his chief-of-staff followed Pomeroy to join Alston & Bird.  Siggins also lobbies for Health Republic, according to the documents.IR

Pomeroy claimed his lobbying on behalf of the federally funded co-op was “completely appropriate” and that the lobbying firm continues the work on the co-op’s behalf.

Federal law forbids a recipient of federal funds “to pay any person for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a Member of Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with any federal action.”

CMS stated in its Dec, 13, 2011, final rule governing the co-ops that “no portion of the loans be used for propaganda purposes, attempts to influence legislation, or marketing.”

Federal rules also direct all co-ops to “to use any profits to lower premiums, improve benefits, or for other programs intended to improve the quality of health care delivered to its members.”

Obamacare co-ops like Health Republic rely almost exclusively on tax dollars.  The CMS awarded $2 billion to 24 proposed co-ops in 2012. The money was to be used for start-up costs and insurance capitalization.

Health Republic has filed its tax returns as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt business league organization, but it and the other Obamacare co-ops also conform to the 501(c)(29) designation established specifically for them. Health Republic filed as a (c)(29) in 2011, but the IRS regulations for the (29) designation – which bar the co-ops from lobbying Congress – weren’t finalized until this year.

The (c)(6) designation permits lobbying, but the funds used for that purpose are not tax-deductible and may be subject to a special tax on the organization.

“If they rely 100% on federal taxpayer dollars, they are prohibited from using those funds to lobby agencies or members of Congress,” said Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit government watchdog. “Lobbying cannot be paid for with taxpayer dollars.”

Aaron Albright, director of communications at CMS did not respond to repeated DCNF questions about the co-op lobbying.

The National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs, the Obamacare creation’s trade association, also did not respond to DCNF questions about the legality of co-op lobbying.

Many of the Obamacare co-ops have compiled less-than-stellar records, as was predicted by the White House Office of Management and Budget, which projected in 2010 that nearly half of the groups would fail.

The insurance commissioner in Vermont refused to license the Obamacare co-op there in 2013. And the Iowa-Nebraska co-op was dissolved under state receivership early this year.

Health Republic, however, claimed to be among the most successful Obamacare co-ops, capturing one-third of New York’s Obamacare exchange customers.

The co-op was founded by Sara Horowitz, a well-known liberal New York political activist who once worked with then-state senator Barack Obama at a New York think tank partly funded by billionaire George Soros.

Horowitz also was the only individual approved by CMS to launch Obamacare co-ops in three separate states. Her groups received $434 million from CMS to launch co-ops in New York, New Jersey and Oregon.

Despite the substantial federal funding, Health Republic executives discovered last year that they did not have enough capital on hand to meet New York’s capital reserve requirements.

Alston & Bird’s disclosure forms describe the firm’s lobbying of Congress and CMS on behalf of Health Republic for the solvency funds.

According to CMS officials, a request for solvency funds represents a co-op’s attempt to meet “state determined reserve requirements.”

If a co-op’s capital reserves are being depleted too quickly or fall rapidly to unacceptable levels set by insurance regulators, there may be a need for the additional funds.

It is unclear what went wrong at Health Republic last year.  However, Horowitz ran another non-profit health insurance company in New York called Freelancers Insurance, which she closed in 2014.

The New York Department of Financial Services ranked Freelancers among the poorest insurers in the state, placing 31st among 34 insurers in the number of complaints received by state officials in 2013, it’s last full year in operation. Freelancers also had the highest reversal rate for grievances filed by doctors, hospitals and other medical providers.

Thomas Miller, a health expert and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute said Health Republic’s decision to hire a high-priced lobbying firm indicates “they were pulling out all of the stops.”

The request for solvency funds is “a warning sign not only that they’re having trouble right now but it’s a preview of what would be a continuing chronic future.”  He said, “they’re simply throwing more good money after bad.”

Consumer Mutual Insurance of Michigan reported paying $13,000 in lobbying fees to MJ Capitol Consulting.  The Michigan co-op received $71 million in CMS funding and also sought solvency funding but did not get it.

The Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative received $72 million from CMS and paid $20,000 this year to Thorn Run Partners for unspecified lobbying on “issues relating to CO-OPs.”

Spokesmen for the Colorado and Michigan co-ops did not respond to DCNF calls.

WHY THE US CONSUMER IS ABOUT TO BE CRUSHED: THE OBAMACARE INFLATIONARY DELUGE ARRIVES

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by ZERO HEDGE | MAY 22, 2015

For the past three years, the biggest argument supporters of Obamacare would trot out every single time when faced with opposition to the mandatory tax, would be that despite widespread predictions of soaring prices, US medical care service costs had remained low and even, on occasion, declined (we leave aside the lack of discussion about soaring deductibles which are recurring “one-time” charges incurred whenever anyone does need medical care, and whose weighted impact on overall medical outlays is dramatic).

A big reason for this delayed increase in prices is that many insurers were unable to gauge the full base-effect impact of Obamacare on their P&L: after all, effective implementation of Obamacare had been materially delayed thus preventing an apples to apples comparison of incurred fees versus revenues.

All that changed moments ago when core US inflation finally spiked the most since 2013 driven by a 0.7% monthly surge in medical care service costs: the highest since 2007!

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What’s far worse for the troubled US consumer, this is just the beginning. Because after finally digesting the true cost of Obamacare, any recent insurance prime hikes will seem like a walk in the park compared to what is coming.
According to the WSJ, key insurers in some states are proposing hefty rate boosts for plans sold under the federal health law.

Case in point:

In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016.
In Tennessee, the biggest insurer BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase.
In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products.
In Oregon, the largest insurer Moda Health seeks an average boost of around 25%.
All of them cite high medical costs incurred by people newly enrolled under the Affordable Care Act.

The irony is that while the Obama administration “can ask insurers seeking increases of 10% or more to explain themselves, but cannot force them to cut rates. Rates will become final by the fall.”

Why the explosion in costs? Simple: take on look at the IBB or any other biotech index, all of which have exploded in recent years as a result of one key thing: pushing prices of medicines ever higher. Now, finally, these soaring prices which have likewise resulted in soaring stock prices, are about to be funded by everyone else.

Insurers say their proposed rates reflect the revenue they need to pay claims, now that they have had time to analyze their experience with the law’s requirement that they offer the same rates to everyone—regardless of medical history.

Health-cost growth has slowed to historic lows in recent years, a fact consumer groups are expected to bring up during rate-review debates. Insurers say they face significant pent-up demand for health care from the newly enrolled, including for expensive drugs.

“This year, health plans have a full year of claims data to understand the health needs of the [health insurance] exchange population, and these enrollees are generally older and often managing multiple chronic conditions,” said Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry group. “Premiums reflect the rising cost of providing care to individuals and families, and the explosion in prescription and specialty drug prices is a significant factor.”

David Axene, a fellow at the Society of Actuaries, said some insurers were trying to catch up with the impact of drugs such as Sovaldi, a pricey pill that is first in a new generation of hepatitis C therapies.
Now Sovaldi has been great news for one group of consumers: those who were long the stock of drug maker Gilead. Alas, now the time has come to pay the piper. And while Sovaldi’s cost at $1,000 per pill and $84,000 for a typical 12-week course of treatment, has been a goldmine for GILD, the piper’s invoice will be massive.

Who pays it? Why everyone dear America. That’s the magic of socialized medicine the Obamcare tax, which means everyone has to chip in for the healthcare of the few. Meanwhile, GILD shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank.

As a result, expect Obamacare premiums, which are about to spike across the board virtually everywhere, to become a key talking point:

Insurance premiums have become a top issue for consumers and politicians as they evaluate how well the law is working. Obama administration officials weathered a storm as some younger, healthier consumers saw their premiums jump when the law rolled out, but were also able to point to modest premiums overall as insurers focused on other ways to keep costs down, such as narrow provider networks.

For 2015 insurance plans, when insurers had only a little information about the health of their new customers, big insurers tended to make increases of less than 10%, while smaller insurers tried offering lower rates to build market share.
Since the insurers have now had a chance to evaluate the impact of Obama’s landmark tax on the top- and bottom-line, they have decided that they will need to charge the mandatorily insured Americans more. Much more. After all, it’s not like Americans have much of a choice to say no to a “mandatory” tax.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, CareFirst in Maryland and Moda in Oregon all said high medical claims from plans they sold over insurance exchanges spurred their rate-increase requests.

The Tennessee insurer said it lost $141 million from exchange-sold plans, stemming largely from a small number of sick enrollees. “Our filing is planned to allow us to operate on at least a break-even basis for these plans, meaning that the rate would cover only medical services and expenses—with no profit margin for 2016,” said spokeswoman Mary Danielson. The plan’s lowest monthly premium for a midrange, or “silver,” plan for a 40-year-old nonsmoker in Nashville would rise to $287 in 2016 from $220.

* * *

Moda Health said that with more than 100,000 individual members, it had the best data “on the care actually being received by these Oregonians. Our proposed rates reflect that.”

Under Moda’s proposal, a 40-year-old nonsmoker in Salem would pay $296 a month in 2016 for a silver plan, up from $245 a month this year. “It is a balance,” said Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali of her rate-review process.
But wasn’t the Affordable Care Act supposed to make healthcare prices more, well, a?. Well no, as we have explained time and again, most recently last summer.

But the biggest irony: just as Obamacare was the primary reason for the US Q3 GDP surge to 5%, as we explained last December, fooling many pundits into believing the US economy was finally in a self-sustaining liftoff mode…

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… so this year it will be up to Obamacare to single-handedly pump up core CPI inflation – that biggest missing link from the Fed’s “successful monetary policy” checklist.

As for US consumers? Why, they are about to get the short end of the stick again, as any and all “gas savings” now and in the future, will be once again spent on, you guessed it, health insurance.

The problem with that being that unless oil crashes again, there are no gas-savings to be had. Which means one thing: the only thing crushed yet again will be the US consumer, that 70% component of US GDP.

But don’t worry: when the US economy slows down to a crawl once more, and posts a negative GDP print this time during the summer, there will be a double seasonal adjustment for that.

Skyrocketing Medicaid signups stir Obamacare fights

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Some GOP governors are saying: “I told you so.”

BY RACHANA PRADHAN

Medicaid enrollment under Obamacare is skyrocketing past expectations, giving some GOP governors who oppose the program’s expansion under the health law an “I told you so” moment.

More than 12 million people have signed up for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act since January 2014, and in some states that embraced that piece of the law, enrollment is hundreds of thousands beyond initial projections. Seven states have seen particularly big surges, with their overruns totaling nearly 1.4 million low-income adults.

The federal government is picking up 100 percent of the expansion costs through 2016, and then will gradually cut back to 90 percent. But some conservatives say the costs that will fall on the states are just too big a burden, and they see vindication in the signup numbers, proof that costs will be more than projected as they have warned all along.

Obamacare originally expanded Medicaid — which traditionally served poor children, pregnant women and the disabled — to all childless low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,250 for an individual) across the country. But the Supreme Court made expansion optional in 2012. And 21 states, mostly with GOP governors, have resisted.

“The expansion of Obamacare will cost our state taxpayers $5 billion,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in an interview with POLITICO last week, referring to the 10-year cost. “Name the health care program — I think the only one is Medicare Part D — that cost less than what they initially anticipated…Historically, if you look at the numbers, with the growth in Medicare costs, Medicaid costs, it’s always multiples.” A bitter critic of Obamacare, Scott at one point surprisingly backed expansion, but withdrew his support earlier this year. His state legislature is deeply split on Medicaid policy.

In some states that did expand, the take-up has been startling — the result, officials say, of significant pent-up demand for coverage. In Illinois, nearly 541,000 people had signed up as of December, far beyond the 199,000 adults the state had estimated would enroll in 2014. The numbers increased to nearly 634,000 as of April.

In Washington, 535,000 people had signed up as of March — already beating the state’s January 2018 goal. Officials’ projection for March had been just 190,365 newly eligible enrollees.

In Michigan, where the first-year enrollment projection was 323,000 people, sign-ups hit 605,000 before falling back to 582,000 earlier this month. Kentucky signed up nearly 311,000 new adults by the end of its 2014 fiscal year, more than double its initial projection of 148,000. And in February 2014, Minnesota forecast that 147,000 newly eligible adults would enroll by December, but actual enrollment that month was at nearly 194,000.

Supporters of Obamacare say the enrollment surge might lead to some budget bumps down the road, but that the historic decline in the uninsured is a major achievement. In addition, they say the expansion is providing significant health and economic benefits to states that more than offset costs.

States — and hospitals and doctors — are getting billions of dollars from the federal government to cover low-income people, letting them save money on other programs that had been fully or partly funded through state dollars.

“Can we afford not to do this?” asked Audrey Haynes, secretary of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services under Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. Kentucky under Beshear has fully implemented Obamacare, and it’s seen the second largest decline in its uninsured rate, after Arkansas.

But the money remains a concern not just for foes of expansion like Scott, but for GOP governors like Utah’s Gary Herbert who are trying to come up with some way for their states to expand. Herbert met with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in late April and later voiced worries that any form of expansion could mean Medicaid consumes an even bigger chunk of the state budget starting in 2017.

“We’re trying to cover as many people as we can afford,” said Herbert, a Republican who supports expansion but has not yet managed to find the right mix of ACA expansion and conservative variants to bring his legislature on board. “Is it 90,000 or 110,000 people? I don’t know what that’s going to work out to be right now.”

The enrollment surge underscores those fiscal fears.

“If you’re spending twice as much on this program than expected, that’s twice as much money that’s being added to the national debt,” said Nicholas Horton with the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank that has sought to highlight how much expansion enrollment has gone beyond expectations. Even if the states don’t pay nearly as much as the federal government for Medicaid expansion, he said, “You’re still going to spend more money overall. That’s still taxpayer money.”

Colorado has repeatedly revised its average enrollment estimates to account for increases. Early on, officials had projected that for the fiscal year ending June 30, about 144,000 new adults would be covered in any given month. In November, they bumped the number to nearly 205,000. It currently stands at about 234,000.

Beyond the low-income adults that became newly eligible for Medicaid because of the health care law, states have long feared the budget impacts of the “woodwork effect” — people previously eligible for Medicaid who are only enrolling now because of the broader outreach surrounding Obamacare. Generally, even the states that have shunned Obamacare Medicaid expansion are seeing enrollment growth. The federal government does not cover as much of traditional Medicaid costs; on average, the feds’ share is 57 percent and the states pay the rest.

That “woodwork” phenomenon could create budget concerns for states if enrollment is significantly higher than projections, acknowledged Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. But even that outcome, he stressed, “still solves a health care problem.” These people are now insured, and that could lead to less cost-shifting and crisis care that was also a fiscal strain on states.

And for states that expanded under the ACA, he said, “you don’t do an expansion and hope no one comes.”

“Everything’s got to make sense in a budgetary environment,” Salo said. “But you balance that with, isn’t this what you were trying to accomplish?”

In California, a spokesperson for the Department of Health Care Services said enrollment for new low-income adults has been on par with projections, but as of March enrollment of those previously eligible for Medicaid was about 200,000 people higher than expected. Kentucky similarly had expected about 17,000 of the previously-eligible population to sign up, but enrolled nearly 37,000.

But Haynes points to a Deloitte report that shows the substantial economic benefits Kentucky has gained from expanding Medicaid. In 2014, 12,000 jobs were created, the report said. And had the state not expanded, it would have incurred nearly $100 million in costs between 2014 and 2021.

Some state officials say that even though enrollment ballooned in the first year, the trend may be leveling off. Michigan says while enrollment to date has exceeded estimates, the numbers have started to decline as it begins annual redeterminations to make sure beneficiaries are still eligible for coverage.

In Ohio, where John Kasich was among the first GOP governors to embrace the ACA expansion, officials expected 366,000 people to enroll in the first year; more than 485,000 did. The numbers as of March stood at nearly 528,000.

Ohio Medicaid spokesman Sam Rossi says in spite of the higher expansion enrollment, overall Medicaid enrollment remains below projections by roughly 27,000 people because the state hasn’t seen as much “woodwork effect” as it anticipated. He adds that total Medicaid general revenue spending as of March was below estimates by $330 million.

Nathan Johnson, the chief policy officer for Washington state’s Health Care Authority, said that in some ways the booming Medicaid enrollment growth isn’t surprising. But the exact reasons as to why projections were so off have yet to be identified.

“We still assume that it’ll more than break even in terms of the financial component, even after higher than expected enrollment,” he said. A recent report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeks to quantify the state’s savings from expansion, but it assumes Washington will only have 480,000 newly eligible enrollees in the current fiscal year — a figure that has already been exceeded.

Haynes, of Kentucky, has strong words for the states that are shying away from enacting the Obamacare coverage expansion. Every state is tight on money, and people who say they can’t give health care to the poorest individuals either don’t understand the issue or it’s “political fodder.”

“It is usually a political decision, not a policy and economic decision,” she adds. “[Expansion foes] can make up whatever they want, to dispute those facts. But it’s made up. These are the facts.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/skyrocketing-medicaid-expansion-obamacare-republican-governors-118011.html#ixzz3aXB0gd7U

IRS criticized for not helping people calculate ObamaCare subsidies

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BY SARAH FERRIS

A federal auditor is urging the IRS to help people more accurately predict the amount of their ObamaCare insurance subsidies after a tax season in which nearly half of Americans had to pay some of the total back.

The auditor found that while the IRS did create an online tool that accurately calculates a person’s subsidies last year, only the agency’s staff members were allowed to use it. The IRS did not release a public version before filing season.

The IRS has since “reevaluated” its decision not to provide a public subsidy calculator, the auditor wrote in a report released Friday.

The agency told the auditors that it had previously decided not to finish the public version “because approximately 80 percent of individual taxpayers use tax preparation software to file their tax return.”

But the Treasury inspector general’s office pushed back, arguing that the IRS “has an obligation to provide the same level of assistance to all taxpayers.”

The inspector general confirmed that the IRS’s instructions about ObamaCare subsidies were accurate but warned that it was “complex.”

The Obama administration has acknowledged that calculating tax subsidies is complicated and has partnered with tax-filing companies to get the word out.

About half of people who received subsidies during the first year of ObamaCare owed money on their taxes this year, according to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nearly all families saw some change in their income level after calculating their subsidies.

The Odd Connection between Obamacare and Foodstamps

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BY MICHAEL MINKOFF

Ever since Obamacare has been implemented, food stamp usage has increased, seemingly disconnected from the “improving” economy:

In most affected states, the enrollment increases were not huge, ranging from 1 percent to 6 percent over two years, according to an Associated Press analysis. The sole exception was Nevada, where enrollment shot up 14 percent.

The enrollment is climbing as Republicans try to cut the costs of the food program and at a time when food-stamp usage would normally be expected to decline. Eligibility rules have not changed.

West Virginia’s food-stamp enrollment increased 4 percent after a Medicaid expansion that was part of the health care changes. Enrollment jumped because people were “more engaged with our systems and more aware what they’re eligible for,” said Jeremiah Samples of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

So Obamacare forces people to engage with the welfare system in at least one way, and some of those people are dipping into other welfare services while they’re there. Because why not?

Everyone knew Obamacare was going to be more expensive than anyone had predicted. But not even the most diehard opponent of Obamacare foresaw this. People would have said we were grasping at straws if we had predicted an up-tick in welfare enrollment correlated to Obamacare. Yet that is just what is happening.

So what’s the solution? The solution is obvious. Get the civil government out of the welfare business. They are really terrible at it. By that, I mean that they are really terrible at actually helping people. They are very adept at finding new ways to give “support” to people who would probably be better off without it in the long-term.

There probably isn’t a chance of abolishing Obamacare at this point. Everyone points to how well it’s working. No one seems to care that we can’t afford it. Well at least we’ll be able to eat some freshly minted food stamps when the economy collapses.

Read more at http://eaglerising.com/17753/the-odd-connection-between-obamacare-and-foodstamps/#w3Qf34zmPiFHcMZ2.99

STATES TELL FEDS TO POUND SAND

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State nullification efforts chip away at the monster government

by MICHAEL BOLDIN | MARCH 31, 2015

The Internal Revenue Service gives subsidies when it wants. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Environmental Protection Agency redefine words on a whim in an effort to give themselves more power and more control over your life. “Legislating from the bench” has been superseded by this even more dangerous “lawmaking” by unelected, unaccountable federal agencies.

As Chapman law professor Ronald Rotunda noted recently, we “have come a long way towards governance by bureaucrats.” Some states, however, are taking positive steps in 2015 to thwart the effects of these unilateral — and wildly unconstitutional — acts.

The following is an overview of state legislation to thwart federal overreach that’s moving forward right now.

Federal gun control

Even though the ATF has, at least temporarily, backed down on a proposed M855 ammo ban, gun rights advocates should be alarmed. More of this should be expected moving forward, that is, more gun control no matter whom you elect to Congress.

In Arizona, however, a bill that would effectively block in practice any additional restrictions on the natural right to keep and bear arms has already passed the state Senate by a 17-12 vote and is due for further consideration in the state House in the near future. A similar bill passed the Montana Legislature and is going to Gov. Steve Bullock’s desk, and another in Tennessee is up for a do-or-die vote in committee this week.

Other states like Ohio and Pennsylvania have seen legislation introduced, but not yet considered. Should any of the bills pass into law, they’d join Idaho, which in 2014 was the first in the country to pass legislation specifically designed to thwart any new federal gun control measures.

Broader bills have been introduced in other states, with the goal of addressing not just new federal gun control measures, but nearly all of them. Missouri HB1341 would make any federal gun control measure — past, present or future — invalid and unenforceable in the state. And two Texas bills, HB413 and HB422, would work together to do almost the same. Should either pass, they’d join Alaska, which passed a similar law in 2013.

Self-ownership

The Food and Drug Administration has a lengthy process for approving new treatments for people. In some situations, however, that long process can actually kill people.

Take, for example, the case of Mikaela Knapp, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She and her husband, Keith, launched a social media campaign to lobby drug firms and the FDA to give her access to a new gene therapy. Their efforts gained national attention and generated 200,000 signatures on a petition, but failed to win access to the treatment. The 25-year-old newlywed died a few months later.

In 2014, Arizona residents approved Prop. 303, a measure that now allows people the “Right to Try” some experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA. They joined Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana and Michigan in passing such legislation.

In 2015, governors in Wyoming in Arkansas have already signed a Right to Try act into law. Bills in Virginia, Montana, Indiana, Utah and Mississippi have also passed the full legislature and are awaiting a signature from each state’s governor.

“These laws are a no-brainer,” said Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center. “When someone is on their deathbed, the fact that FDA regulations would let them die rather than try, has got to be one of the most inhumane policies of the federal government. Every state should nullify the FDA like this.”

Farming

The total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2014 was recently said to be at least $620 million. According to the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a nonprofit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, this includes items like nondairy milk, shelled seed, soaps and lotions, along with clothing, auto parts, building materials and various other products.

Federal regulations resulting in a de facto ban on hemp farming has created a situation where the U.S. is the world’s No. 1 importer of hemp, while China and Canada are the top two exporters in the world.

And while the Feds now “allow” hemp farming for “research purposes,” some states and individuals have taken action beyond what is permitted and are now harvesting crops for commercial purposes.

Hemp is already being farmed in both Colorado and Vermont. On Feb. 2, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business. One week later, the first license went to a small nonprofit group that hopes to plant 25 acres this spring. The Tennessee Agricultural Department recently put out a call for licensing, signaling that hemp farming will start soon there, too. A law by Gov. Nikki Haley in South Carolina in 2014 authorizes the same. Another passed this year in North Dakota is awaiting a signature from Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Hemp farming bills have also passed the New Hampshire House, the Washington State Senate, and committees in Connecticut and Missouri. Legislation has been introduced and will be up for consideration soon in Texas, Florida, Maine and elsewhere.

Surveillance

Former National Security Agency chief technical director William Binney called the agency’s practice of “parallel construction” the “most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.” This is the process whereby federal spying data is being handed off to local police for use in everyday law enforcement work, not just for investigating “terrorists.”

In 2014, Utah and New Hampshire passed bills to ban each state from participating in this practice. And this year, bills in Texas, Alaska, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina and elsewhere have been introduced to ban all “material support or resources” to all federal bulk warrantless spying programs.

Passage would ban participation in parallel construction, but also take things further and withhold other resources like water, electricity or even trash pickup from state or local governments or agencies to any federal agency involved in the wholesale surveillance of anything and everything you do with your phone or Internet service.

Legislation to help block a recently revealed nationwide license plate tracking program has already passed the Virginia Legislature and the Montana House. Similar legislation is up for consideration in New York, Missouri, Vermont, Massachusetts and Oregon.

Obamacare

While the legal world awaits an opinion this summer from the Supreme Court in the King v. Burwell case, some states are considering bills that will help bring down the federal takeover no matter what the court opines.

Bills passed in the Arizona House and introduced in Texas would ban a crucial enforcement mechanism for the federal act, and set the stage for pulling the rug out from under it and bringing it down.

What’s next

Sometimes, however rare, a federal court will stop a federal agency from unilaterally giving itself more power. Sometimes, a federal agency will back down on a newly proposed rule, like the recent M855 ammo ban from the ATF, because of heavy public pressure. And even more rarely, although I can’t remember anything of note, Congress will actually repeal a law it passed, giving up its own power.

The truth of the matter is this: Federal courts cannot be trusted to limit federal power, and federal politicians cannot be trusted to limit their own power. Only the states and the people can do it now.

While these moves by states give liberty-lovers hope, there is no silver bullet to stop the runaway freight train that is the federal government. But instead of waiting years for a lawsuit, or a convention, or any other national-level process, these state nullification efforts chip away at the monster government right now — one state at a time.

What this gets down to is the power of the people. When enough people tell the Feds to pound sand, and enough states pass laws backing them up, there’s not much the Feds can do to force their unconstitutional laws, rules, regulations or mandates down our throats.