BY Erin Kelly
WASHINGTON — After debating seven hours through the night, the Senate voted early Thursday to take the first real step toward repealing Obamacare — a top goal of congressional Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump.
Senators voted 51-48 to approve a budget resolution that Republicans will use as a vehicle to speed through repeal of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. House leaders plan to take it up Friday.
Senators began voting on 19 amendments to the resolution about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday before passing the budget measure about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.
Republicans said the 2010 health care law is broken and must be repealed and replaced with something better — although just what that replacement plan will look like has not yet been revealed by congressional leaders. Critics of the law cite sky-rocketing premiums, high deductibles and fewer health care choices for patients as insurers pull out of the program.
“When Obamacare’s supporters forced their partisan law on our country, they promised an easy-to-use system; one that would lower premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs; one that would foster choice and allow families to keep the plans and doctors they liked,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “But it didn’t take long for the American people to discover the truth about Obamacare. Too many have been personally hurt by this law. Too many feel they’re worse off than they were before Obamacare.”
Democrats said repealing the law will strip millions of Americans of insurance, leave people with pre-existing medical conditions unable to find coverage, and increase the nation’s budget deficit by $353 billion over the next 10 years as the tax and fee provisions that pay for Obamacare are gutted.
“Ripping apart our health care system — with no plan to replace it — will create chaos,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, it’s women, kids, seniors, patients with serious illnesses, and people with disabilities who will bear the burden.”
“Premiums will skyrocket,” she continued. “Out-of-pocket prescription drug costs will rise. And overall health care costs will increase. It’s a perfect storm to make America sick again — and absolutely the wrong direction for families and for our economy.”
While Republicans are eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have acknowledged that it could cause serious problems for Americans if the law is scrapped without a replacement plan ready to go.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Tuesday that “it is our goal to bring it all together concurrently.”
“We’re going to use every tool at our disposal through legislation, through regulation, to bring replace concurrent along with repeal, so that we can save people from this mess,” Ryan said. He did not offer details of what a replacement plan would include.
At a press conference Wednesday, Trump said he is prepared to offer a detailed replacement plan as soon as his nominee for Health and Human Services secretary — Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia — is confirmed by the Senate.
Republicans are using a procedural tactic known as budget reconciliation to prevent Senate Democrats from being able to block an Obamacare repeal. The procedure allows the Senate to pass a repeal with only a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the 60-vote super-majority required for most major bills. Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate.
The resolution that the Senate passed early Thursday directs key committees to write draft legislation by Jan. 27 to repeal the health care law. Some Republicans want the deadline to be pushed to March to give lawmakers more time to come up with a replacement plan.
Democrats offered amendments they knew would fail but that put senators on record voting for or against some of the more popular provisions of Obamacare. Those include a provision barring insurance companies from refusing to cover patients with pre-existing medical conditions and a provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
Republicans have said they plan to keep those provisions in whatever replacement plan they offer.
Radical communist touts radical Islamist to radicalize party
Tyler O’Neil | PJ Media – JANUARY 4, 2017
On CNN, liberal activist Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones said that “the Clinton days are over” in the Democratic Party, and pointed to two emerging leaders as the future of a more progressive political party focused on identity politics. Naturally, he chose two racial minority members of Congress — and the extremely controversial first Muslim congressman.
“You have to understand, I think that the Clinton days are over,” Jones told CNN’s Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “This idea that we’re going to be this moderate party … those days are over.” Jones called for a new generation of Democrat leadership, touting California Attorney General Kamala Harris (an anti-free speech activist) and Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress and a candidate for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship.
“I think that Keith Ellison is very important because he is somebody who represents the progressive wing of the party,” Jones declared. “On thing that happened, when Hillary Clinton had a chance to make a VP pick, she didn’t pick someone from the progressive wing, which made it much harder to heal the wounds with the [Bernie] Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing. Keith Ellison represents that wing very, very well.”
Keith Ellison also represents a long-term threat to the Democratic Party’s success as well. Ellison has ties to the Nation of Islam (which he later denounced), has received contributions from members of the radical front group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), attacked Vice President Dick Cheney‘s actions as “the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship,” and compared the Bush administration’s reaction to the September 11 attacks to Hitler’s use of the Reichstag fire.
In 2009, Ellison met with Mohammed al-Hanooti, whom FBI documents identify as a top U.S. fundraiser for the terror organization Hamas. They met at a campaign event for Virginia House of Delegates candidate Esam Omeish, who had previously called for Palestinians to follow “the jihad way” against Israel.
Last month, the Anti-Defamation League — no conservative organization — declared Ellison “disqualified” from becoming DNC chairman based on remarks the congressman made about Israel in a 2010 speech. The group argued that Ellison’s remarks about Israel suggested anti-Semitism, an unfortunate trend among Muslims worldwide, and one in keeping with Ellison’s old praise for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whom the congressman himself later denounced as anti-Semitic.
Indeed, Democrat lawyer Alan Dershowitz has threatened to leave the Democratic Party should the DNC elect Ellison as its chairman. “If they appoint Keith Ellison to be chairman of the Democratic Party, I will resign my membership to the Democratic Party after 50 years of being a loyal Democrat,” Dershowitz declared on Fox Business last Friday.
But beyond Ellison’s particular issues, his candidacy also represents a doubling down on Democrats’ losing strategy in 2016. According to an election post-mortem study by Barna Group, President-elect Donald Trump won every single Christian demographic, while Democrat Hillary Clinton won every non-Christian demographic, including voters with a non-Christian faith, 71 percent of whom backed Clinton.
While the non-Christian vote has increased in the last few decades, Christians still provide a majority of the electorate. The Democratic Party cannot afford to write off Christian voters.
But Van Jones did not just mention Ellison as the poster boy of a new Democratic Party leadership. The liberal activist also pointed to Kamala Harris, the attorney general of California who was elected to a U.S. Senate seat in November. He called Harris “unreal” because she is such a good representative of identity politics. “She’s got African-American roots. She’s got Asian roots. She’s female. She’s tough. She’s smart. She’s going to become a big deal,” Jones argued.
Regardless of her allegedly impressive pedigree, Harris is on the record opposing free speech. The California attorney general is notorious for her efforts to restrict the free speech of nonprofit groups. She attempted to use the power of the state to prevent a conservative nonprofit, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Foundation, from raising money unless it turned over a list of donors. A district court struck down her order in April.
If the identities of donors were to be revealed, harassment would almost surely follow, in a situation which U.S. District Judge Manuel Real argued would “chill” free speech. “The Court heard ample evidence establishing that AFP, its employees, supporters and donors face public threats, harassment, intimidation, and retaliation once their support for and affiliation with the organization becomes publicly known,” Real wrote.
Anonymous donations to political nonprofits constitute free speech, as they allow individuals to support a cause. Anti-speech activists like Harris argue that the public has a right to know which individuals support such speech, but America has a long and rich tradition of anonymous speech, going back to the Federalist Papers and Benjamin Franklin’s anonymous writings. Indeed, if the early patriots had not been able to write under pseudonyms, the British government could have arrested them for treason, preventing the independence of the United States.
Harris, in her lust to shut down AFP Foundation, was willing to violate longstanding free speech protections. If she is the future of the Democratic Party, God help us all.
But on another note, the Democrats have indeed come to represent the anti-free speech party of unfettered liberal activism. From the IRS scandal, where the federal government targeted conservative groups in an effort to stop their political advocacy, to the witch hunt against “climate deniers,” and the increasinglystifling culture of political correctness on college campuses, free speech is under attack like never before. Indeed, this is one of the key reasons Donald Trump, with his “tell it like it is” selling-point, won the Republican nomination and the general election.
With any luck, the American people will see these radicals for who they are, and if the Democratic Party is foolish enough to promote Ellison and Harris, they will pay dearly at the ballot box. The 2016 election represented a defeat for non-Christian Democratic racial identity politics, and people like Van Jones are doubling down on the same ideas that cost them dearly last year.
Device creates chilling effect on free speech
DECEMBER 29, 2016
A once-secret device used by law enforcement to track an individual’s cell phone location in real-time can also be used to drop or jam innocent calls, according to privacy activists.
Privacy activists have long expressed concern over law enforcement’s use of the Stingray, a suitcase-sized device that mimics a cellphone tower, allowing law enforcement to track an individual’s cellphone in real time.
Cell-tower simulators were originally designed for use on the battlefield, allowing military units to track their opponent’s movements.
Law enforcement agencies that use the Stingray are required by the FBI to sign a non-disclosure agreement banning them from revealing its use in public, even during legal proceedings.
The defense contractor that produces the Stingray, Harris Corp., is required to notify the FBI whenever it sells the device to a law enforcement agency.
Digital Receiver Technology Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing, produces its own version known as the Dirtbox.
The device, typically mounted in vans, mimics a cellphone tower and picks up the signal of every cellphone operating in the immediate area.
While some devices allow calls for 911 to pass through to a legitimate tower, most regular calls are dropped or jammed.
“Even if there is a 911 pass-through feature, there are still plenty of other calls that people might want to make,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. “You might want to call your children’s school. You might want to call your wife or husband.”
“There are real privacy interests at stake when the government sends probing electronic signals into the homes of innocent people.”
“These devices cannot be used in a way that only enters the home of the target,” he added.
The FBI reportedly has 194 Stingray devices in use; the Marshals Service has 70; Immigration and Customs Enforcement has 59, and the Internal Revenue Service has two. At least 68 law enforcement agencies in 23 states and the District of Columbia use Stingrays, with the most concentrated in California, Florida, North Carolina and Texas.
A report released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week expressed serious concern over the Stingray’s growing popularity among law enforcement agencies across the country combined with a lack of regulation governing its use.
“Cell-site simulator use inside the United States raises far-reaching issues concerning the use, extent and legality of government surveillance authority,” the report stated. “While law enforcement agencies should be able to utilize technology as a tool to help officers be safe and accomplish their missions, absent proper oversight and safeguards, the domestic use of cell-site simulators may well infringe upon the constitutional rights of citizens to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the right to free association.”
E-mails obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request in 2014 revealed the Marshals Service was instructing Florida law enforcement agencies to lie to judges about information obtained through use of the Stingray; police were told to claim the information was obtained from a “confidential source.”
The Marshals Service went so far as to seize documents related to the Stingray from the Sarasota Police Department before they could be turned over to the ACLU after the organization filed a FOIA request.
The use of military equipment, such as the Stingray and Dirtbox, by law enforcement is a clear indicator of the growing militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies by the federal government in preparation for civil unrest.
BY RICK WELLS
Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan is met with a chorus of moans and groans by Democrats and perhaps some of the many Republican sellouts as well as he introduces his resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Once again there is a double standard in our “blind justice” system, one for the powerless and another for those holding the power. Koskinen works for the elites who control us just like Ryan does. They’re both above the law.
Rep Jordan is interviewed by Martha MacCallum on the events of the day. The first question she has for him is why his Republican colleagues failed to support him and voted with the Democrats. He doesn’t have an answer, but he may want to think back to a year ago when Paul Ryan was first pretending he didn’t want to be Speaker of the House and promising to be open and above board. Jordan’s a smart guy, given enough time he should be able to figure that one out.
He points out that the impeachment resolution was sent back to the very committee where it’s been sitting for the last 18 months, the House Judiciary Committee. “It was sent there so that we wouldn’t be able to impeach John Koskinen, hold him accountable,” says Jordan. “My attitude is, this election was about doing what hard-working families want us to do and part of that’s draining the swamp and making sure people who do wrong things are held accountable. He then gives a short synopsis of what Koskinen did and what still continues to happen under his “leadership” today.
He says he’s disappointed in the way things turned out and believes the American people, those who want to clean up the corruption of DC, are as well. It’s dead now, Paul Ryan will never bring it up again. Koskinen got away with it, just like Lerner, Holder, Clinton, Abedin, Mills – all of the swamp creatures.
Jordan is asked if he’s upset with Paul Ryan, who said through a spokesperson that they were moving on. The short answer is “yes.” Jordan points out, “The American people this election, appropriately so, are fed up with this double standard. There’s one set of rules for you and me and we the people and a different standard for the politically connected, like John Koskinen and Hillary Clinton.”
He adds, “That is not supposed to be how it works in this country. It’s supposed to be equal treatment under the law. No citizen could get away with this behavior but somehow it’s okay for John Koskinen. We’ve got to hold people accountable if we’re going to keep this amazing principle in this great country that says everyone, regardless of what high position they might hold, everyone is treated equally under the law.” Ryan protects and works for the elite, Rep Jordan. He’s above both the Constitution and the law.
Your Freedom Caucus bought a phony bill of goods last year when you were positioned to block Ryan and backed down based upon some pretty sounding promises of recognition. Last month you extended that foolish purchase for another year. You have only yourselves to blame. Even we detached citizens in the farthest reaches of flyover country knew Ryan was a snake so you must have as well.
If you’re not part of the problem as well, Rep Jordan, learn from this experience – get rid of Paul Ryan. Stop talking around the issue. It’s the corrupt establishment and that means Paul Ryan who are the problem. Just like with Islamic terrorism you have to name the enemy before you can defeat it. Say the words – “Paul Ryan is the enemy of the American people.”