Saturday, June 18, 2016

America's Constitutional Crisis


Feds Respond to High ObamaCare Rates

- via The Washington Examiner

The federal government is extending new funds to state insurance regulators to help them enforce Obamacare consumer protections, as the administration battles headlines of high Obamacare rates.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Wednesday it will provide $22 million to state insurance departments to help them oversee plans offered on Obamacare's exchanges.

CMS is providing the funds as it fights against headlines of high premium increases being proposed by insurers for 2017. State insurance departments are charged with negotiating with insurers to try to get rates down. Read more here...

America Desperately Needs Relief From Regulations

- by Adam Brandon via Fox News 

The United States is in the midst of a constitutional crisis. The lines that clearly delineate the boundaries of the three branches of government, specifically, the executive and legislative branches, have become blurred. Presidents have claimed powers that far exceed what the framers intended, and Congress has been complicit by its failure to reestablish itself as the rightful and sole lawmaking authority.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, however, unveiled a plan this week that begins the process of reclaiming the ground Congress has ceded to the executive branch and its ever-growing army of unelected bureaucrats.

The regulatory state -- which has become an unconstitutional fourth branch of the federal government -- has been a serious problem for years. Notably, President George W. Bush aggressively expanded the regulatory state. "The Bush team," Veronique de Rugy wrote in January 2009, "spent more taxpayer money on issuing and enforcing regulations than any previous administration in U.S. history." Read more here...

Rep. Rod Blum at FreedomWorks' Rising Tide Summit


House Panel Vote to Censure IRS Chief

- via USA Today

A House committee voted Wednesday to censure IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for what Republicans allege was his obstruction of an investigation into whether the IRS improperly scrutinized Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Democrats on the panel denounced the action as a "travesty" that publicly defames an honorable public servant. The IRS had no immediate response, but Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew defended Koskinen as "an outstanding public servant of the highest integrity with decades of experience leading both public and private institutions."

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23-15 along party lines to approve a resolution condemning and censuring Koskinen and expressing the sense of the House that he engaged in a pattern of conduct inconsistent with the trust and confidence placed in him.  Read more here...

The Ozone Bureaucracy Complex

- by Kenny Stein

In October 2015, the EPA announced a new standard for ground-level ozone, tightening its stringent existing standard even more. It set the new standard at 70 parts per million (0.0070% of the atmosphere), a 9% decrease from the previous standard of 75 ppm established in 2008. Along with nearly 1000 counties nationwide that may not meet this new standard, one-third of all US counties, you'll find at least 26 national parks. Does it seem ridiculous to you that the EPA has created a situation where some of the most rural and pristine areas of the United States could be lumping in the same category with the most densely-populated and industrialized? Well, then you don't know the EPA.

Like many of today's destructive regulations, this story began with a good idea. Ozone is a known pollutant that can be hazardous to human health, especially at high concentrations. In the Clean Air Act, Congress granted EPA the authority to set national standards for ozone concentrations in an effort to reduce then dangerously high ozone levels. And these regulations have been successful: from 1980-2014 national average ozone readings fell by 33%. Read more here...

Lesson of the Week
Judge Andrew Napolitano explains how America came to be. After oppressive laws from the British drove the original thirteen colonies to revolution, the Founding Fathers were determined to create a new nation based on the principles of limited government and individual liberty. After the war, the colonies were united under the Articles of Confederation, which ultimately led to the framing of the U.S. Constitution. Watch it here...

House Eyes new Chance to Reform Surveillance

- via The Hill

The House is gearing up to take a new stab at reforming U.S. surveillance powers, after overwhelmingly passing similar measures in the past but failing to get them signed into law.

"It addresses two critical issues necessary for the protection of constitutional principles and the digital economy," wrote the groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, FreedomWorks and X-Lab.

The amendment would close what critics call the "backdoor search loophole" in current law, which federal intelligence agencies have used to collect information about Americans through a law designed to target foreigners. Read more here...

Congress Must Shut the Backdoor on Section 702 Surveillance

- via Ashley Nicole Baker

The fight over NSA surveillance is about to heat up again. This week, the House will consider a measure that would require the NSA and other government agencies to follow due process and obtain a warrant to collect the communications of American citizens. Through an amendment to H.R. 5293, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017, the House could defund warrantless government searches of the database of information collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The amendment, proposed by Reps. Massie (R-Ky.), Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Poe (R-Texas), would prevent the NSA's backdoor spying on American citizens through the use of U.S. person identifiers.

The Massie-Lofgren-Poe amendment also prohibits government agencies from requesting that U.S. companies build security vulnerabilities into their hardware or software in order to make it easier for the government to access them. This would protect encryption, which has been undermined by the NSA's breathtaking extension of surveillance. Read more here...

Common Core Fails to Prepare Students for College and Workforce, Says New Study

- via Reason

A new report by ACT—the organization the oversees university admissions tests—found that college instructors and employers are not satisfied with the Common Core Standards. Both groups feel the standards fail to prepare students for both college and the workplace.

The research is based on the ACT National Curriculum Survey, which asks educators at numerous levels which skills are valued in the classroom to promote success. This year was the first time the group collected a sample from the workforce.

In the study, 16 percent of college instructors said their incoming students were well prepared overall for college-level work, a decline from 26 percent from the 2009 and 2012 surveys. Read more here...

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