HERE’S A LIST OF OBAMA ADMIN OFFICIALS WHO USED ALTERNATE E-MAILS TO CONDUCT GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

Agencies include EPA, IRS, HHS and more…

Kerry Picket | Daily CallerSEPTEMBER 26, 2016

The Obama administration from the top down managed to operate around the eyes of the public often by using pseudonyms when communicating with one another online.

Although President Barack Obama previously claimed to CBS he only found out about Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server through news reports, Politico reported Friday that an FBI news dump shows he communicated with Clinton on her private server using a fake name.

The idea of using a fake name to communicate through e-mail is not an unusual one to Obama administration appointees. Clinton and even her daughter Chelsea obscured their names when communicating with one another. Chelsea went by the alias “Diane Reynolds” when talking to her mother over e-mail the night of the attack in Benghazi.

According to CBS News, Clinton, instead of using her formal state.gov email address, used the email HRod17@clintonemail.com or would sign off as “Gert” or “Gertie” to her friend Betsy Ebeling in Chicago. Another e-mail address she used was hdr22@clintonemail.com.

A “Richard Windsor” appeared to be an official at the EPA. The individual had an official epa.gov e-mail address, but it was later discovered through FOIA requests and public records that Windsor.Richard@epa.gov not only did not exist, but the e-mail address belonged to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

“I don’t know any other agency that does this,” said Anne Weismann, chief counsel of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which called upon the EPA’s inspector general to investigate the matter in 2012.

It did not stop at just the EPA. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, among other appointees, used secret e-mail accounts to conduct business, the Associated Press reported.

In June 2013, the AP asked for HHS’s unpublished secret email accounts from the agency, which the department initially resisted.
“The Health and Human Services Department initially turned over to the AP the email addresses for roughly 240 appointees — except none of the email accounts for Sebelius, even one for her already published on its website. After the AP objected, it turned over three of Sebelius’ email addresses, including a secret one. It asked the AP not to publish the address, which it said she used to conduct day-to-day business at the department,” the AP reported. “Most of the 240 political appointees at HHS appeared to be using only public government accounts.”

Eventually, the AP published Sebelius’s secret email — KGS2(at)hhs.gov — “over the government’s objections because the secretary is a high-ranking civil servant who oversees not only major agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services but also the implementation of Obama’s signature health care law. Her public email address is Kathleen.Sebelius(at)hhs.gov.”

The AP notes that “at least two other senior HHS officials — including Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a deputy administrator in charge of implementing health insurance reform — also had secret government email addresses.”

The Internal Revenue Service disclosed last year that Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the agency’s targeting of conservative organizations controversy, also had a private e-mail account she may have used for government business.

Lerner’s second e-mail, discovered by the D.C. watchdog group Judicial Watch, is registered to the name “Toby Miles.”

“It is simply astonishing that years after this scandal erupted we are learning about an account Lois Lerner used that evidently hadn’t been searched,” Tom Fitton said in a statement to The Washington Times.

The use of a non-public pseudonym for e-mail communication within a government agency was done by address for Seth D. Harris when he was the acting labor secretary.

Did anybody at the Justice Department hold administration officials accountable for the use of such alternate emails? Unfortunately, the task would have been difficult for Attorney General Eric Holder who had two secret aliases — Lew Alcindor and Kareem Abdul Jabar, — to communicate through email at DOJ.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/09/25/heres-a-list-of-obama-admin-officials-who-used-alternate-e-mails-to-conduct-government-business/#ixzz4LP9FIGjz

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/09/25/heres-a-list-of-obama-admin-officials-who-used-alternate-e-mails-to-conduct-government-business/#ixzz4LP9FIgIP

The Medicaid Ticking Time Bomb – A Budget-Gobbling Fiscal Disaster

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BY DANIEL MITCHELL

The burden of government spending is already excessive. But the numbers will get worse with the passage of time if policy is left on autopilot.

The main culprits are the so-called mandatory programs. Entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, and Obamacare that automatically dispense money to various constituencies are consuming an ever-larger chunk of the economy’s output.

And if you want to be even more specific, the fastest-growing entitlement program is Medicaid, which was originally supposed to be a very small program to subsidize health care for poor people but has now metastasized into a budget-gobbling fiscal disaster. Arguably, it’s the entitlement program most in need of reform.

So how big is the problem? Enormous if you look at the numbers from the National Association of State Budget Officers.

“States increased their spending in fiscal year 2015 by the biggest margin in more than 20 years, but most of the increase was thanks to huge leaps in Medicaid spending under the first full year of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Spending increased last fiscal year, which ended on June 30 for most states, by 7.8 percent, according to new estimates from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). It’s the biggest boost since 1992 and was thanks to a 15.1 percent increase in Medicaid spending, much of that paid for via federal Medicaid funds. Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Nevada and Oregon saw more than 30 percent increases in federal funding because they expanded Medicaid under the ACA. But 2015 was also a year where states were putting up more of their own money again.”
Here’s the chart showing which outlay categories grew the fastest.

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The article points out that spending is outpacing revenue.

“On average, state revenues aren’t keeping pace with spending; NASBO estimates General Fund revenues will increase by just 3.8 percent.”
Though the real problem is that spending is expanding faster than the private sector, which is the opposite of what is called for by my Golden Rule.

One of the reasons Medicaid grows so fast is that the program is split between Washington and the states, which both picking up a share of the cost. This may sound reasonable, but it creates a very perverse incentive structure since politicians at both levels can vote to expand the spending burden while only having to provide part of the cost.

The National Center for Policy Analysis explains how this system produces bad decisions.

“Medicaid has a horrible financing mechanism: Federal transfers to states are not based on the number of poor people, or any other reasonable calculation. Instead, they depend on the amount of its own taxpayers’ money a state spends. Traditionally, when California spent $1 on Medi-Cal, the federal government kicked in $1. … So, state politicians hike taxes and spending on their own citizens in order to get as much funding as possible from people in other states (via the feds). Hospitals and Medicaid MCOs maximize this by agreeing to a state tax on themselves, which the state uses to ratchet up the federal funding. After multiplication, the money goes right back to these providers. … Stopping this wild spending growth requires fundamental reform to Medicaid’s financing. Congressional Republicans have proposed ‘block grants,’ whereby states would get federal Medicaid transfers based on their population of poor residents, not how much they gouge out of their own people.”

US budget deficit approaches $600bn, public debt to reach 77% of GDP

Slower revenue growth and large spending will expand the US budget deficit to $590 billion in the fiscal year ending September 30, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
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The deficit is expected to be $152 billion more than last year and $56 billion larger than CBO’s forecast in March and will equal 3.2 percent of the country’s economic output.

Such a budget deficit is more than the GDP of Sweden, Poland or Iran. In July, the US posted a $113 billion budget gap, bigger than the economies of Ukraine or Slovakia.

The largest deficit America has seen is $1.4 trillion in 2009, which dropped to $485 billion in 2014. US public debt will continue to grow and is projected at 77 percent of the country’s GDP by year-end.

On Wednesday, US public debt was more than $19.4 trillion, or almost $60,000 per citizen and $164,432 per taxpayer. Federal spending was approaching $4 trillion with Medicare/Medicaid, social security and the military being the largest budget items.

American revenues have grown by less than one percent in 2016 instead of the expected five percent. The reasons are mandatory spending for Social Security and Medicare, the federal retirement and healthcare programs for the elderly, CBO said.

The economy grew only one percent in the first half of the year, but the last months of the year will see a boost, according to CBO, bringing a two percent growth this year and 2.4 percent in 2017. This will add to hiring, putting pressure on inflation and interest rates.

Obamacare Insurers Looking for Taxpayer Bailout…

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Insurers helped cheerlead the creation of Obamacare, with plenty of encouragement – and pressure – from Democrats and the Obama administration. As long as the Affordable Care Act included an individual mandate that forced Americans to buy its product, insurers offered political cover for the government takeover of the individual-plan marketplaces. With the prospect of tens of millions of new customers forced into the market for comprehensive health-insurance plans, whether they needed that coverage or not, underwriters saw potential for a massive windfall of profits.

Six years later, those dreams have failed to materialize. Now some insurers want taxpayers to provide them the profits to which they feel entitled — not through superior products and services, but through lawsuits.

Related: Get Ready for Huge Obamacare Premium Hikes in 2017

Earlier this month, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina joined a growing list of insurers suing the Department of Health and Human Services for more subsidies from the risk-corridor program. Congress set up the program to indemnify insurers who took losses in the first three years of Obamacare with funds generated from taxes on “excess profits” from some insurers. The point of the program was to allow insurers to use the first few years to grasp the utilization cycle and to scale premiums accordingly.

As with most of the ACA’s plans, this soon went awry. Utilization rates went off the charts, in large part because younger and healthier consumers balked at buying comprehensive coverage with deductibles so high as to guarantee that they would see no benefit from them. The predicted large windfall from “excess profit” taxes never materialized, but the losses requiring indemnification went far beyond expectations.

In response, HHS started shifting funds appropriated by Congress to the risk-corridor program, which would have resulted in an almost-unlimited bailout of the insurers. Senator Marco Rubio led a fight in Congress to bar use of any appropriated funds for risk-corridor subsidies, which the White House was forced to accept as part of a budget deal. As a result, HHS can only divvy up the revenues from taxes received through the ACA, and that leaves insurers holding the bag.

Related: Obamacare: Costs Go Up, Insurers Drop Out and Consumers Get Screwed

They now are suing HHS to recoup the promised subsidies, but HHS has its hands tied, and courts are highly unlikely to have authority to force Congress to appropriate more funds. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services formally responded by telling insurers that they have no requirement to offer payment until the fall of 2017, at the end of the risk-corridor program.

That response highlights the existential issue for both insurers and Obamacare. The volatility and risk was supposed to have receded by now. After three full years of utilization and risk-pool management, ACA advocates insisted that the markets would stabilize, and premiums would come under control. Instead, premiums look set for another round of big hikes for the fourth year of the program.

Consumers seeking to comply with the individual mandate will see premiums increase on some plans from large insurers by as much as 30 percent in Oregon, 32 percent in New Mexico, 38 percent in Pennsylvania, and 65 percent in Georgia.

Thus far, insurers still claim to have confidence in the ACA model – at least, those who have not pulled out of their markets altogether. However, massive annual premium increases four years into the program demonstrate the instability and unpredictability of the Obamacare model, and a new study from Mercatus explains why.

Related: Obamacare: Costs Go Up, Insurers Drop Out and Consumers Get Screwed

The claims costs for qualified health plans (QHPs) within the Obamacare markets far outstripped those from non-QHP individual plan customers grandfathered on their existing plans – by 93 percent. They also outstripped costs in group QHP plans by 24 percent. In order to break even without reinsurance subsidies (separate from the risk-corridor indemnification funds), premiums would need to have been 31 percent higher on average for individual QHPs.

The main problem was that younger and healthier people opted out of the markets, skewing the risk pools toward consumers with much higher utilization rates – as Obamacare opponents predicted all along. With another round of sky-high premium increases coming, that problem will only get worse, the study predicts.

“[H]igher premiums will further reduce the attractiveness of individual QHPs to younger and healthier enrollees, resulting in a market that will appeal primarily to lower-income individuals who receive large subsidies and to people with expensive health conditions,” it concludes. “To avoid such an outcome, it is increasingly likely that the individual insurance market changes made by the ACA will have to be revised or reversed.”

Related: It’s Time to Blame Obamacare for Losing So Many Full-Time Jobs

Galen Institute senior fellow Doug Badger, one of the study’s co-authors, wonders how long insurers will continue to publicly support Obamacare. In an interview with me this week, Badger noted how critical that political cover is for the White House, but predicted it won’t last – because the system itself is unsustainable, and no one knows this more than the insurers themselves, even if they remain reluctant to voice that conclusion. Until they speak up, however, the Obama administration can keep up their happy talk while insurers quietly exit these markets, an act that should be speaking volumes all on its own.

Even the Kaiser Foundation, which has supported Obamacare, has admitted that the flood of red ink has become a major issue. “I don’t know if we’re at a point where it’s completely worrisome,” spokesperson Cynthia Cox told NPR, “but I think it does raise some red flags in pointing out that insurance companies need to be able to make a profit or at least cover their costs.”

Red flags have flown all over the Obamacare model for six years. Instead of suing the federal government for losses created by a system for which they bear more than a little responsibility, insurers should finally admit out loud that the ACA is anythingbut affordable – not for insurers, and certainly not for consumers or taxpayers. When that finally happens, we can then start working on a viable solution based on reality rather than fealty to a failed central-planning policy.

WATCH: Debunking the Myth of ‘Democratic’ Socialism

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UPDATE 06/08/2016: I’ve received thousands of emails about the situation below. The following video was entirely removed from Youtube based on a BS “copyright” claim from an angry liberal at Mashable who didn’t like the fact that he was roundly criticized. My personal youtube account was punished with a manual copyright strike, and business privileges like live-streaming were removed from my account which had always been in good standing. It required a lawyer, a counter-claim and a whoooole lot of truth-telling, but the BS was dismissed and the video has now officially been reinstated. It’s horrible that this is such a common tactic from the left, and it’s horrible that mere truth-telling has to be defended, but we did, and we won. Thanks for the support!

Here’s how you know people generally disfavor socialism. Proponents of socialism take a parent to child approach by wrapping a distasteful thing (socialism) inside something seen as more palatable (democracy). Voila, cheese covered broccoli. Except Democratic Socialism is still socialism, with all the trappings and pitfalls of a miserable population, a crap economy, and a huge gap between rich and poor. Also, spoiler alert: the USA is a REPUBLIC. Stop saying we’re a democracy already. I explain in detail below.

Democratic socialism, nationalistic socialism, or just socialism-socialism eventually lead to one thing: misery. Here, I’ll put it in simpler terms for you…

Word+Socialism= Socialism.

More math for you….

Socialism + Anything = Bad idea that’s never worked, will never work, can never work. So stop it.

Socialism seeks to make everyone equally poor, equally dependent, equally terrible. Because success isn’t fair. Rich isn’t fair. Well, except for those cronies up at the top who fooled you into buying their ketchup covered broccoli and telling you it was nutrition.

jeremy clarkson

Yet here we are. We have an openly socialist running for president. Face the facts here. Bernie Sanders rhetoric (nay, most of the Democrat Party) is indistinguishable from Lenin. Socialism is a bad idea. It’s made for the lazy who just would rather not work, but thanks. It’s made for whiners. It’s made for fools. Just don’t be one, you’re going to make the rest of us pay for it. And not just in a metaphorical sense…

Read more: http://louderwithcrowder.com/watch-debunking-the-myth-of-democratic-socialism/#ixzz4B0Uwhp96
Follow us: @scrowder on Twitter | stevencrowderofficial on Facebook

 

Obama’s disappearing financial disclosure reports…

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Obama Admin Deletes Conflict Of Interest Disclosures For Top Bureaucrats [VIDEO]

BY LUKE ROSIAK

Conflict of interest disclosure reports filed by top federal officials were removed from public view by the Obama administration in recent months, a move that government transparency and accountability advocates condemn as a major setback.

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) reports are the primary tool that watchdog journalists, political activists and interested voters can use to guard against presidential appointees using their positions to enrich themselves or others.

For years, the OGE website featured a sortable, searchable list of over 1,000 government appointees, including their names, agencies and titles, and flagging new ones. By clicking on a name, users could easily access multiple disclosures for the appointee, including yearly financial accounting, stock ownership and a letter detailing any agreements surrounding conflicts, such as issues when the individual promises to recuse himself.

By January, the list was inexplicably removed, leaving only a search box. That action severely reduced the chance of officials’ finances being scrutinized because it became necessary to know the name of a person and have a reason to want to look up that individual, as opposed to, for example, looking for listings from an agency of interest.

Now, even that capability is gone, along with almost all references to actually seeing the disclosures. Thousands of PDFs have also been deleted, leaving dead links.

OGE referred press calls to Seth Jaffe, who didn’t respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s query placed on Monday.

“This is a problem,” Daniel Schuman, a policy analyst at the liberal group Demand Progress, told TheDCNF. “They should put it back. It’s very odd there’s no explanation.”

John Wonderlich, head of the transparency group the Sunlight Foundation, called it a “big step backward,” saying “the administration should be demonstrating how digital disclosure should strengthen our accountability systems, and creating barriers to access is the opposite of progress.”

Previously, Sunlight had praised President Barack Obama, who had pledged at the outset of his first term in the Oval Office to have the “most transparent [administration] in history.”

The OGE documents also include “ethics waivers,” documents that showed despite Obama making pledges such as not to appoint former lobbyists, this was frequently done.

Thanks to the disclosures, the public recently learned that Secretary of State John Kerry has millions invested in offshore tax havens. The disclosures also showed that Medicare chief Andy Slavitt took actions relating to firms he had financial ties to, and that he got a waiver to do so.

OGE’s role as an independent entity is important in serving as a check against self-interested departments. The disclosures showed that the Medicare agency lied about Slavitt getting preferential tax treatment.

They also showed a former union lawyer who was appointed to head a labor relations agency steered lucrative contracts to his old law firm despite signing an agreement saying he “will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which Bredhoff & Kaiser is a party or represents a party unless I am first authorized.”

The site’s menu now says nothing about viewing disclosures, but buried several clicks in to a section called “Media” allows you to fill out a form requiring highly specific information about a person and the disclosure you are requesting.

When TheDCNF called to inquire about the change, the form had to be sent in via snail mail. Soon after the call, they added a cumbersome online form that was submitted to an employee who supposedly would send the documents several days later.

TheDCNF filled out the form and several days later, got rejected without explanation.

“The records that you requested are not maintained in the Office of Government Ethics. Please contact the employing agency/agencies for these records,” Irene Houston wrote.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/25/obamas-admin-deletes-conflict-of-interest-disclosures-for-top-bureaucrats/#ixzz49nMRhnaZ

 

OBAMACARE BLEEDING OUT: Insurers warn losses unsustainable…

By Peter Sullivan

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Health insurance companies are amplifying their warnings about the financial sustainability of the ObamaCare marketplaces as they seek approval for premium increases next year.

Insurers say they are losing money on their ObamaCare plans at a rapid rate, and some have begun to talk about dropping out of the marketplaces altogether.

“Something has to give,” said Larry Levitt, an expert on the health law at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Either insurers will drop out or insurers will raise premiums.”

While analysts expect the market to stabilize once premiums rise and more young, healthy people sign up, some observers have not ruled out the possibility of a collapse of the market, known in insurance parlance as a “death spiral.”

In the short term, there is a growing likelihood that insurers will push for substantial premium increases, creating a political problem for Democrats in an election year.

Insurers have been pounding the drum about problems with ObamaCare pricing.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association released a widely publicized report last month that said new enrollees under ObamaCare had 22 percent higher medical costs than people who received coverage from employers.

And a report from McKinsey & Company found that in the individual market, which includes the ObamaCare marketplaces, insurers lost money in 41 states in 2014, and were only profitable in 9 states.

“We continue to have serious concerns about the sustainability of the public exchanges,” Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, said in February.

The Aetna CEO noted concerns about the “risk pool,” which refers to the balance of healthy and sick enrollees in a plan. The makeup of the ObamaCare risk pools has been sicker and costlier than insurers hoped.

The clearest remedy for the losses is for insurers to raise premiums, perhaps by large amounts — something Republicans have long warned would happen under the healthcare law, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The industry is clearly setting the stage for bigger premium increases in 2017,” said Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Insurers will begin filing their proposed premium increases for 2017 soon. State regulators will review those proposals and then can either accept or reject them.

Michael Taggart, a consultant with S&P Dow Jones Indices, pointed to data from his firm showing per capita costs for insurers are spiking in the ObamaCare marketplaces.

“We made a significant change in the rules with the ACA, and we’re still working through the process to see how that market stabilizes,” Taggart said at a panel on Wednesday. “Is [a death spiral] a possibility? Sure it’s a possibility. I wouldn’t attempt to put a probability on it, because I think there are a lot of things going on.” 

One factor helping to prevent a death spiral is ObamaCare’s tax credits, which cushion the impact of premium increases on consumers.

“What we’re likely to see is more of a market correction than any kind of death spiral,” Levitt said. “There are enough people enrolled at this point that the market is sustainable. The premiums were just too low.”  

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the chief operating officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said in an interview that there is “absolutely not” a risk of a death spiral or collapse in the ObamaCare marketplaces.

While acknowledging that “companies are needing to adjust” to the new system, she pointed to the 12.7 million people who signed up this year, 5 million of whom were new customers, as a sign of success.

“What brings us the most confidence about the long term stability and health of the marketplace is its growth,” Cohen said.

Another risk, should regulators reject large premium increases, is that insurers could simply decide to cut their losses and drop off the exchanges altogether.

“Given that most carriers have experienced losses in the exchanges, often large losses, it only makes sense that most exchange insurers will request significant rate increases for 2017,” said Michael Adelberg, a former CMS official under President Obama and now a consultant at FaegreBD.

“Market exits are not out of the question if an insurer is looking at consecutive years of losses and regulators are unable to approve rates that get the insurer to break-even.”

The most prominent insurer eyeing the exits is UnitedHealth, which made waves in November by saying it was considering whether to leave ObamaCare in 2017 because of financial losses. The company last week announced that it is dropping its ObamaCare plans in Arkansas and Georgia, and more states could follow.

The Department of Health and Human Services argues that the attention on UnitedHealth is overblown, given that the insurer is actually a fairly small player in the marketplaces.

It’s more important to watch what happens with Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, which are the backbone of the ObamaCare marketplaces.

There have been some rumblings of discontent from Blue Cross plans. The plan in New Mexico already dropped off the marketplace there last year after it lost money and state regulators rejected a proposed 51.6 percent premium increase. Now, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina says that it might drop out of the marketplace because of its losses.

Blue Cross of North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson said in an interview that the company had lost $400 million due to its ObamaCare business.

“We’re not alone, and I think that that also is evidence to suggest that there are systemic and fundamental challenges that we all need to have a civilized conversation about,” Wilson said.

He said a key factor in the decision on whether to stay in the market next year will be whether regulators approve whatever premium increase the company ends up proposing so as to try to make up for its losses.

Asked about the risk of a death spiral, Wilson said he is not worried about that happening “tomorrow,” but has concerns if the situation does not change over time.

“There’s not going to be something magical happen that will cause this to turn around,” Wilson said. He is pressing for changes like further tightening up extra sign up periods that insurers say people use to game the system and repealing the Health Insurance Tax, which could help lower premiums.

Cohen of the CMS said that her agency is in close touch with insurers and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina in particular. But she pushed back on talk of Blue Cross of North Carolina dropping out of the marketplace, stating flatly, “I have no concerns about them leaving the market.”

She referred to problems the company has had with its computer systems that have led to some people being enrolled in the wrong plan, along with other issues that have added to the company’s administrative costs.

“I know that they have struggled with some of their internal operations … but that is not related to anything to the health of the market itself or the risk pool,” Cohen said.

Overall, while the system set up by ObamaCare itself might be resilient, premium increases are sure to fuel Republican arguments that the law simply isn’t working.

“There’s more political risk here than anything else,” Levitt said.