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NINTH OBAMACARE CO-OP IMPLODES

A South Carolina health insurer has become the ninth insurance cooperative formed nationwide under the Affordable Care Act to fold. Consumers’ Choice Health Insurance Co. said Thursday that it will not sell policies in 2016, a decision that will leave 67,000 individuals and business customers looking for new coverage. Ray Farmer, director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance, said Consumers’ Choice and state regulators reached a mutual decision to shut down the company’s business. He said the company was in a “financially hazardous condition.”

It seems Mr. Farmer may have stumbled upon a solid new slogan for the entire law. The New York Times analyzes the “cascading failures” of Obamacare co-ops across the country:

The grim announcements keep coming, picking up pace in recent weeks. About a third, or eight, alternative health insurers created under President Obama’s health care law to spur competition that might have made coverage less expensive for consumers are shutting down. The three largest are among that number. Only 14 of the so-called cooperatives are still standing, some precariously. The toll of failed co-op insurers, which were intended to challenge dominant companies that wield considerable power to dictate prices, has left about 500,000 customers scrambling to find health insurance for next year…At a time when the industry is experiencing a wave of consolidation, with giants like Anthem and Aetna planning to buy their smaller rivals, the vanishing co-ops will leave some consumers with fewer choices — and potentially higher prices…The shuttering of these start-ups amounts to what could be a loss of nearly $1 billion in federal loans provided to help them get started. And the cascading series of failures has also led to skepticism about the Obama administration’s commitment to this venture. Some policy analysts say they were doomed from the beginning.

Obamacare Entering ‘Death Spiral’

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by Betsy McCaughey

ObamaCare is heading toward a death spiral.

The Obama administration is having trouble selling insurance plans to healthy people. That’s a big problem: When the young and healthy don’t enroll, premiums have to be hiked to cover the costs of older, sicker people, discouraging even more young people from signing up.

Last Thursday, the administration predicted enrollment for 2016 will be less than half what the Congressional Budget Office predicted in March.

Despite subsidies to help with premiums and out-of-pocket costs, most of the uninsured who are eligible for ObamaCare are saying “no thanks.” Only one in seven is expected to sign up. That’s despite a hefty increase in the financial penalty next year for not having insurance.

The president sees the writing on the wall. You won’t be seeing the customary nationwide TV campaign to encourage sign-ups, as there were in previous years. Remember the young guy in plaid pajamas — “Pajama Boy,” to conservatives — well, he won’t be back this winter.

Bad enough that healthy people aren’t buying. Worse is that the administration is spending billions of your tax dollars covering up the problem, paying insurers to keep offering the plans, even though they’re losing their shirts. But facts are facts — and there’s no hiding these.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell predicts ObamaCare enrollment will inch up by 1 million or so, to 10 million people — half what the CBO forecasted. Open enrollment for the coming year, which begins Nov. 1, “is going to be a challenge,” she said.

David Wichmann, UnitedHealth Group’s president, announced higher premiums last week because enrollees will “require more medical services than original expectations.”

Many states (though not New York) are looking at premium hikes of 30 percent or more, according to a new Robert Wood Johnson/Urban Institute analysis. The Heritage Foundation estimates that insurers lost 12 percent selling ACA plans in 2014, with more losses this year.

Don’t shed any tears for the insurance companies. Though they’re losing money on exchange plans, overall they’re profitable and their stocks are doing well. It’s John Q. Public who’s bearing the brunt. Just as ObamaCare intended.

If you get insurance at work, you’re paying an extra tax to fund “reinsurance” for ObamaCare plans. It’s a fund to defray the cost of their most expensive enrollees.

So far, insurers have collected about $7.9 billion. Recent congressional testimony shows the payments kept ObamaCare sticker prices about 11 percent lower than they otherwise would have been. In short, you pay a tax to make ObamaCare look more affordable than it is.

But even with these hidden subsidies, ObamaCare isn’t working because the design is fatally flawed. The 5 percent of the population with serious medical conditions consume nearly 50 percent of the health care. When you try to sell insurance to sick and healthy people for the same price, the healthy don’t sign up. It’s too expensive.

New York state learned that in the 1990s, when one-price-for-all insurance laws pushed premiums to the highest in the nation, crushing the individual insurance market here.

ObamaCare repeats that mistake. Despite slapping the uninsured with penalties — which will jump to 2.5 percent of household income in 2016 — they’re not signing up. The need to coerce enrollment with penalties is proof the plans are a bad deal.

How long will big insurers play along? There are political considerations, and for most, ObamaCare losses are still just a dent in their overall business. Not so for the 23 co-op insurers set up under the health law. Eight state plans have already failed, including New York’s Health Republic, and most of the rest are bleeding money.

With ObamaCare enrollment floundering and losses mounting, the nation needs alternatives. The Republicans are coalescing around a reform plan, but Democrats are doubling down. Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to burden the existing, unpopular plans with more “free” goodies, and make it harder to dodge the mandate. That won’t work.

A real reform would cover the seriously ill — people with pre-existing conditions — in separate plans with separate pricing and subsidies to make them affordable.

Just like the high-risk pools many states used to maintain. That’s the lesson of the failing ObamaCare scheme.

Betsy McCaughey is the author of “Beating ObamaCare” and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.

Obama’s Rosy jobless numbers cover up bad news

Economist sifts truth from ‘politically manipulated statistics’

by Jerome R. Corsi

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Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series about the unprecedented dependence Americans have on their federal government. The first story shows how the food-stamp program has doubled under President Obama, as it did under President George W. Bush. The second story reports the strain on the welfare system caused by record numbers of Americans retiring amid a declining work force.

NEW YORK – As the Obama administration announced unemployment in June had fallen to 5.3 percent, respected economist John Williams, the author of Shadow.stats.com, argued in his private subscription newsletter that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ rosy numbers were not the result of a recovering economy creating full-time jobs but a product of manipulating statistics for political purposes.

Williams pointed out that the drop in unemployment from 5.5 percent in May to 5.3 percent in June reflected 375,000 unemployed workers disappearing from the workforce.

“Separately, aside from the headline June payroll gain of 223,000, which was a count of jobs, not people holding jobs, headline full-time employment fell by 349,000, representing the count of people who lost full-time jobs in June,” Williams wrote in his subscription newsletter.

Williams said that on the unemployment front, the drop in the headline U3 rate from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent “could not have been more negative.”

“Instead of the 375,000 drop in unemployment representing people finding gainful employment, it represented those people leaving the headline labor force, most likely being shifted to the headline discouraged-worker category by the BLS,” he said.

Williams point was that the BLS reported June payrolls rose by 223,000 in June, but it neglected to point out that “June payrolls” measures the number of jobs, not the number of people with jobs.

“Headline June employment and unemployment numbers were more typical of deteriorating, broad economic activity than they were of an expanding economy in its purported sixth year of recovery,” he said.

Supporting Williams’ argument, the BLS also reported last week that a record 93,636,000 Americans were no longer in the labor force in June, up from 92,986,000 in May, while the labor force participation rate continued to hover near the 38-year record low, registering labor force participation at only 62.6 percent for June.

Calculating unemployment by historically accepted government methodologies, Williams concludes the unemployment rate in June was not the 5.3 percent “headline rate” reported by the Obama administration, but above 23 percent, where it has been since April 2013.

Manipulated unemployment rates

The BLS publishes six levels of unemployment, but only the headline U3 unemployment rate gets attention.

The headline number does not count the “discouraged” unemployed workers who have actively looked for work in the past year but not in the past four weeks, because they believe no jobs are available.

Williams has demonstrated that it takes an expert to truly decipher BLS unemployment statistics.

The U6 unemployment rate is the BLS’s broadest measure. It includes those marginally attached to the labor force and the “under-employed” – those who have accepted part-time jobs when they are really looking for full-time employment. Also included are what Williams describes as short-term discouraged workers who have looked for a job in the past year but not the past four weeks.

Since 1994, however, the long-term discouraged workers, those who have been discouraged for more than one year, have been excluded from all government data.

The only measure BLS reports to the public as the official monthly unemployment rate is the seasonally adjusted U3 number.

Williams calculates his ShadowStats Alternative Unemployment Rate by adding to the BLS U6 numbers the long-term discouraged workers.

Williams argues that his ShadowStats Alternative Unemployment measure most closely mirrors common experience.

“If you were to survey everyone in the country as to whether they were employed or unemployed, without qualification as to when they last looked for a job, the resulting unemployment rate would be close to the ShadowStats estimate,” Williams explained to WND.

The headline BLS unemployment rate has stayed relatively low because it excludes all discouraged workers, Williams argues.

Here is a more complete unemployment table that includes the seasonally adjusted unemployment percentages for U3 unemployment, as well as the same for U6 unemployment, followed by the ShadowStats Alternative Unemployment rate, comparing June 2014 with June 2015.

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As is made clear by the table, the BLS admitted that in June 2015, when the headline unemployment rate reported to the U.S. public was the U3 rate of 5.3 percent, the U6 rate for June 2015 was much higher, 10.5 percent.

Obama ‘non-recovery’

Williams believes the drop in unemployment to 5.3 percent in June reflects systematic government manipulation in what he characterizes as Obama’s “non-recovery.”

“In the ongoing economic collapse into 2008 and 2009, and the non-recovery thereafter, the broad drop in the U3 unemployment rate from its headline peak of 10 percent in 2009 to today’s 5.3 percent has been due largely to unemployed giving up looking for work, being redefined out of headline reporting and the labor force, as discouraged workers,” Williams explained in his current subscription newsletter.

He noted that as new discouraged workers move regularly from U3 into U6 unemployment accounting, those who have been discouraged for one year are dropped from the U6 measure.

As a result, the U6 measure has been declining along with U3 for some time.

But those being pushed out of U6 still are counted in the ShadowStats Alternate Unemployment Measure, which has remained steady, at or near its historic-high rate for the last couple of years, Williams said.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/rosy-jobless-numbers-cover-up-bad-news/#KcxQfLpLKP4g4lSJ.99

Bureaucratic incompetence is corruption

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The IRS is blaming employee mistakes for the allegedly permanent loss of 24,000 emails at the center of the Lois Lerner/Tea Party discrimination scandal. The agency posits its excuse — that the email washout was the result of a simple error — as an alternative to some conservatives’ accusation that IRS employees acted corruptly and maliciously.

Every time a government agency or employee is caught up in something that appears to be illegal, immoral, ill-advised or self-serving, the inevitable internal review yields a benign-sounding reason at the heart of the matter: Nobody meant to do bad. They just messed up. Honest mistake. There’s no motive, no evil intent — only incompetence, a failure of oversight, a workflow in need of further refinement.

But perhaps we should back away from the granular and regard the bureaucracy in its entirety. One scandal, involving real people with real names and personalities, can always be chalked up, plausibly, to good intentions undone by bad systems.

But take a macro-scale view of the same phenomenon, multiplied hundreds or thousands of times at every level and layer of government.

We can infer that those who work in government believe that scandals are more palatable to the public if they can be explained without condemning (or even identifying) anyone’s motives. If systems are to blame instead of people — if well-meaning people press the wrong buttons, email the wrong documents or naively confide in the wrong reporter — then the public is satisfied that nothing more can be done to correct an affront to their interests. It’s just another perpetrator-less crime.

This view presumes the system is inert and immovable. It’s not a variable; it’s too big to consider as a contributing factor in government malfeasance. If a scandal, at its core, can be blamed on systemic flaws, everyone shrugs and sort of ruefully says, “That’s too bad.” Life goes on.

That’s a dangerous place for the zeitgeist to be. Take a step back and ask: Malice or mistake — what’s the difference?

At this scale, among government agencies, programs, employees and (lest we forget) elected servants — all of whom aspire to supervise the overlapping interactions and obligations of 330 million people (plus the rest of the world) — what really distinguishes institutionalized incompetence from outright evil?

Certainly not outcomes. In today’s United States, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a scandal that arises from base human instincts and one that arises from someone’s ignorance of a metal gadget’s owner’s manual. The cumulative devastation of 1,000 culprit-free scandals is hard to distinguish from the devastation wrought by one good, unapologetic, rapacious, bloodthirsty, concupiscent political regime.

None of this is to argue that many, if not most, of the failures of America’s bureaucracy owe to anything other than dumb ineptitude. Most probably do; we could even grant, for the sake of argument, that they all do. That concession gets rid of the left’s beloved saw about conspiracy theorists and smoking guns. If we remove malice from the equation, there’s no sinister personality, no secret evil, behind all the bad things government does.

So what? The present age is sufficiently dystopian to allow for personal metaphors to circumscribe impersonal things, and there is much about the American system that is — yes — evil. There is much about America that continues to be very good, as well; but our institutional strengths have been in a state of decadence for a long time.

But that’s a topic unto itself. Until a tipping point’s worth of Americans come around to the idea that soulless system-blaming is just as outrageous and inexcusable as naked corruption, we’re stuck with more of the same.

Call the Medic

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House votes to weaken Obama’s climate rule

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By Timothy Cama and Cristina Marcos
The House voted Wednesday to delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rule for power plants and let state governors opt out of complying.

The bill, passed 247-180, is a major blow to the main pillar of President Obama’s effort to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, although the White House has promised a veto to protect his legacy.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s power subpanel, sponsored the legislation as House Republicans’ principal response to the EPA’s climate rule. The rule has become the most controversial aspect of the Obama administration’s environmental policy, and one of its most controversial regulations.

Under the bill, state governors could opt out of adopting state plans for the EPA’s regulation if such a plan would harm electricity rates, reliability or important economic sectors in the states.
The regulation’s enforcement would also be delayed until all court challenges are resolved.

The GOP believes that the rule will not withstand judicial review, so the delay is designed to ensure that the regulation never takes effect.

“They’ve picked up a shotgun and pointed it at the heart of the American economy, our power generation,” Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) said of the EPA.

But Democrats warned it would ultimately gut the regulation intended to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

“This ‘just say no’ bill would effectively give governors the power to sabotage EPA’s proposed clean power plan by allowing them to opt out of the federal requirements of the plan based on arbitrary and ambiguous determinations,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

The EPA proposed the regulation last June, and plans to make it final this August. It seeks a 30 percent cut in the carbon emissions of the nation’s power plants by 2030, with specific targets assigned to each state.

Regulators will give states 13 months to draft plans to hit their targets. If they don’t, the EPA will write its own plans and impose them — something the GOP is trying to prevent.

“Earlier we heard the gentleman from Illinois say that this was a ‘just say no’ bill,” Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) said in response to Rush. “You bet it is. That’s exactly what it is. It’s a ‘just say no’ bill. No to a weaker electric grid. No to fewer jobs, particularly in manufacturing and also in the coal and energy industries.”

The White House sees the bill as a threat to the centerpiece of Obama’s climate legacy, and it has threatened a veto.

“The bill would give governors unprecedented and broad discretion to avoid compliance with the [CAA, Clean Air Act], thereby delaying the delivery of important public health benefits,” the White House wrote to lawmakers Tuesday.

“The bill’s effects would be felt hardest by those most at risk from the impacts of air pollution and climate change, such as the elderly, the infirm, children, native and tribal groups, and low-income populations,” it said, calling the bill “premature and unnecessary” and saying that Obama’s advisors would urge a veto if it gets to his desk.

The White House added that it “is not aware of any instance when Congress has enacted legislation to stay implementation of a CAA standard during judicial review.”

Senate Republicans have put their efforts into a similar bill that would go even further in its attempts to weaken the rule and impair the EPA’s ability to set carbon rules for power plants.

Their bill, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), would give governors even more reasons they could cite in rejecting compliance, including if doing so would hamper economic growth, competitiveness or jobs.

The Senate legislation would also repeal the EPA’s rule and reinterpret the Clean Air Act to make it extremely difficult for the agency to regulate power plants’ carbon.

ObamaCare Beyond the Handouts – Wall Street journal June 24th

We’ve already proved we can subsidize health care. But which subsidies make sense?
By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

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By one standard no government program can fail, and that’s the standard being applied to ObamaCare by its supporters: If a program exists and delivers benefits, the program is working.

Paul Krugman, Nancy Pelosi and others consistently point to the fact that people are willingly receiving ObamaCare benefits as proof of the program’s value. Mr. Obama himself says: “When you talk to people who actually are enrolled in a new marketplace plan, the vast majority of them like their coverage. The vast majority are satisfied.”

And the polls indeed show that 74% of ObamaCare’s eight million enrollees are “satisfied” with their plans, because the polls fail to count the 12 million who are eligible but decline to enroll.

Of the eight million who have signed up, some 87% are receiving taxpayer subsidies. In other words, they are getting health care partly or wholly at someone else’s expense. The latest data reveal that the average monthly benefit amounts to $276 per person (up from $268 in February), allowing the typical HealthCare.gov user to buy a plan for $69 per month out of pocket.

To put it another way, the annual subsidy amounts to $3,312 per recipient. Which is excellent if you’re one of the recipients.

Steve Rattner, a Wall Street figure and President Obama’s former auto-bailout czar, insists in a recent New York Times op-ed that ObamaCare “is working,” by which he apparently means it’s in operation, which nobody denies. Mr. Rattner, like a lot of analysts, writes as if costs are benefits—as if millions of people lining up for something from the wallets of their fellow citizens, ipso facto, is proof of a worthwhile program.

Mr. Rattner, in a throwaway line—really, a partisan pleasantry—adds without evidence or elaboration that health-care costs are lower than they otherwise would be at least partly due to the new law.

Now, if this were true, it would be the greatest validation of ObamaCare as public policy but there is no reason to believe it’s true.

The right question about any program is whether the benefits justify the expenditure of taxpayer money. ObamaCare’s cheerleaders provide not cost-benefit analysis but benefit analysis—as if money grows on trees or is donated by Martians or can be printed in limitless quantities by the Fed.

ObamaCare, with its subsidies to those with low incomes, is not the worst thing in our health-care system by far. Medicare indiscriminately subsidizes everyone in Warren Buffett’s age group; and, more insidiously, trains Americans from an early age to expect somebody else to cover their medical costs in retirement. And the giant tax handout to employer-provided insurance perversely treats the richest taxpayers as the neediest.

It pays to remember, however, why the pending Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell is such a lethal threat to ObamaCare. King v. Burwell argues the IRS is illegally misreading the law to grant subsidies to 6.7 million users of the federal ObamaCare exchange known as HealthCare.gov.

King is a threat to ObamaCare because, without subsidies, ObamaCare is nothing. It fixes no problem in our health-care system, except to subsidize more people to consume health care at taxpayer expense. Not that subsidies are always undesirable: They help some people get necessary care. But subsidies do the most good when used sparingly, because subsidies also tend to inflate prices for everyone as well as encourage inefficient consumption that doesn’t improve health and may even endanger health.

In a final irony, many Republicans, seeing the damage an adverse Supreme Court ruling would do, take the statesman-like view that a GOP Congress must stand ready to find a new way to extend subsidies to the 6.7 million people who, since the advent of ObamaCare, expect themselves to be subsidized.

Fine, but let’s also have a major rethink of who should be subsidized and who shouldn’t, across our whole range of health-care programs, including Medicare and the workplace tax benefit.

Never going to happen? It will, if the GOP summons the courage to fix ObamaCare along the lines of the original, rational, “reform” that has motivated health-care thinking for four decades. A place to start would be reducing ObamaCare’s costly coverage mandates so policies would be genuinely attractive to people spending their own money; subsidies could then be trimmed back because fewer people would need subsidies to induce them to buy coverage.

We’ve always said that ObamaCare, for all its flaws, could become the instrument by which responsible reformers renew their push for health care that delivers value for money. In the meantime, however, no worthwhile thoughts about ObamaCare, pro or con, are to be heard from people who count a program as a success just because Americans enjoy receiving benefits at the expense of other Americans.

Another ObamaCare Dream Goes Bust

Health-care cooperatives last year suffered an estimated $377 million in net underwriting losses.
By GRACE-MARIE TURNER And THOMAS P. MILLER

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The Affordable Care Act created a new kind of “cooperative” heralded by supporters of health reform. These Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, chartered and regulated by the states, would compete with for-profit health-insurance companies and were meant to appease disgruntled advocates of a single-payer and “public option” model for the nation’s health-care system.

All but one of the co-ops are operating in the red. One already has been shut down, and others are in precarious financial condition. Chalk up another ObamaCare failure.

Generous federal loans helped 23 cooperatives to get up and running. They have enrolled more than a million people, according to the National Alliance of State Health Co-ops. Their supporters believed that consumer cooperatives, which must meet the same regulatory requirements as private insurers, would provide better benefits and lower prices than commercial carriers.

In practice, most co-ops have significantly underpriced premiums and grossly underestimated medical claims. Many seek significant premium increases for 2016: 58% for individual plans in Utah, 38% in Oregon and 25% in Kentucky, for example.

Iowa’s CoOportunity Health, which operated in both Iowa and Nebraska, was the first to confront the hard reality of insurance economics as medical claims far outpaced premium income. After the co-op burned through $145 million in federal loans, an Iowa state court in February ordered the organization to be liquidated.

At least 120,000 members were forced to quickly find coverage elsewhere. The Iowa Insurance Division had this helpful advice: “Your coverage with CoOportunity Health will stop, and claims will not be paid after cancellation. If you do not purchase replacement insurance, you may be penalized by the federal government.”

Meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services reported early this year that 10 co-ops had worse loss ratios than Iowa’s in the third quarter of 2014 resulting from a “high medical claims trend and not enough scale to offset administrative costs.” Citing Iowa’s experience, the report warned: “The solvency problems experienced by CoOportunity Health introduce questions about co-ops’ finances in general.”

A separate analysis by the insurance-rating agency A.M. Best expressed concerns “about the financial viability of several of these plans” as losses escalated throughout 2014. Other estimates based on quarterly financial statements filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners show co-ops as a whole reported net underwriting losses of $377 million in 2014. Only Maine’s Community Health Options has been operating in the black.

Congress has cut funding for co-ops three times—cuts all signed into law by President Obama—reducing appropriations from $6 billion to $2.4 billion. All the upfront money from the feds has been allocated mostly in the form of “solvency” loans. Most co-ops survive on what little remains unspent from those loans.

New York’s Health Republic Insurance received $265 million in federal loans and had the largest enrollment, with 155,000 members in 2014. Its premiums are significantly lower than established carriers in virtually every region of the state. But the co-op has applied for premium increases in 2016 of more than 14%, with some regions of the state as high as 30%. Industry actuaries believe that those raises will not be enough to offset high claims costs and the exhaustion of federal loan dollars.

Until recently, the Kentucky Health Cooperative had been considered one of the more successful co-ops, with 75% of enrollees in the state’s health exchange. It attracted consumers primarily by offering significantly lower premiums and running the risk of future insolvency.

Yet there are disturbing similarities between this cooperative and the one that failed in Iowa. Kentucky Health Cooperative’s $147 million in taxpayer loans has been exhausted. To maintain a semblance of solvency, it is applying for a big premium increase of 25% for next year and banking on so-called risk-protection payments from other insurers.

The Affordable Care Act provided for risk-protection payments in which insurers with better pricing and higher profits are required to make payments to insurers with inaccurate pricing and bigger losses. Co-ops book these expected payments on their balance sheets as “assets.” But those risk payments are expected to be significantly lower, and they don’t solve the co-ops’ long-term problems.

Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans feed the agenda of progressives who disparage profit-driven commercial health-insurance carriers. But the co-ops are failing. Underpricing risks to gain market share and then counting on further bailouts from taxpayers is a losing business plan, and not much of a political strategy either.

Congress can exercise its oversight function by: 1) making sure that no additional federal dollars are wasted on this program; 2) investigating how $2.4 billion in taxpayer loans has been spent; and 3) determining who will be responsible for paying back the loans.

Ms. Turner is president of the Galen Institute. Mr. Miller is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Their report “ObamaCare Co-ops: Cause Célèbre or Costly Conundrum?” is released this week.

Here’s The Real Reason For Baltimore’s ‘BLACK PROBLEMS’

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Contrary to what the media and race baiters try to make you believe, here is the real reason why Baltimore is the way that it is.

By Allen West
The population of Baltimore is 622,000 and 63 percent of its population is black. The mayor, state’s attorney, police chief and city council president are black, as is 48 percent of the police force. But as 36-year-old Robert Stokes says, “You look around and see unemployment. Filling out job applications and being turned down because of where you live and your demographic. It’s so much bigger than the police department.”
Everyone wants to have an honest conversation about race, so let’s us endeavor to do just that. Now, of course, when you speak the hard truth about race issues in America – and not just the liberal progressive talking points – and you’re white, you’ll be branded a racist. And if you’re black, well, y’all just watch the comments below and see the denigrating drivel.
As posted on Breitbart.com by John Nolte, “Contrary to the emotional blackmail some leftists are attempting to peddle, Baltimore is not America’s problem or shame. That failed city is solely and completely a Democrat problem.”
“Like many failed cities, Detroit comes to mind, and every city besieged recently by rioting, Democrats and their union pals have had carte blanche to inflict their ideas and policies on Baltimore since 1967, the last time there was a Republican Mayor. In 2012, after four years of his own failed policies, President Obama won a whopping 87.4% of the Baltimore city vote. Democrats run the city of Baltimore, the unions, the schools, and, yes, the police force. Since 1969, there have only been only been two Republican governors of the State of Maryland. Elijah Cummings has represented Baltimore in the U.S. Congress for more than thirty years.”

The truth is that it is a culture of dependency as promulgated by the race baiters and new plantation overseers of the inner city that has created what we’re seeing play out in Baltimore. There is where the blame lies, but there are very few who are willing to admit just that.

Remember what ESPN sports commentator Stephen A. Smith said? He wished that for one voting cycle, the black community would vote Republican. Heck, they could do no worse — and look, even the people of the state of Maryland decided to try something different and elected a Republican governor. Who, when finally asked, immediately activated the National Guard to quell the violence and chaos which the Democrat Mayor of Baltimore failed to comprehend, and control. Perhaps what we’re witnessing in Baltimore is the pure definition of insanity — continuing to do the same thing and expect different results.

Yes, the dirty little secret that no one wants to admit is that Baltimore, and so many other urban areas and inner city communities in America are a reflection of the abject failure of liberal progressive socialist policies as advanced by the Democrat party.

The preeminent question is whether or not those in Baltimore and other places will recognize who is truly responsible for their plight. Or will they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.

John Nolte’s piece was spot on and this is not about an American failure, it is about a Democrat failure. And ask yourself, who were the ones who developed the concept of urban economic empowerment zones — as opposed to the ones who have produced urban depraved enslavement zones?

Congressman demands answers on influx of Syrian refugees

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Republican wants end to secrecy in choosing resettlement sites

by Leo Hohmann
The Syrian civil war has caused 3.5 million refugees, with more than 350,000 being targeted by the United Nations for resettlement outside the region.
The Syrian civil war has caused 3.5 million refugees, with more than 350,000 being targeted by the United Nations for resettlement outside the region.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding information about the reported pending move of dozens of foreign refugees from Syria, North Africa and elsewhere into South Carolina.

Gowdy is chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee responsible for the refugee resettlement program overseen by the State Department. Yet, he says in the letter, he was kept totally in the dark about the proposed resettlement of refugees into his own district in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Ann Corcoran, a longtime watchdog over the refugee program and author of the Refugee Resettlement Watch blog, says Gowdy is the first member of Congress to demand answers to basic questions about this program since she took up her crusade eight years ago to expose secrecy, fraud and lax oversight in the program.

The program has flown under the radar for more than 25 years but controversy flared in February when a top FBI counter-terrorism official, Michael Steinbach, testified before the House Homeland Security committee and said the U.S. has no way to vet the Syrian refugees for possible connections to the Islamic State, also called ISIS, and other terrorist organizations. As WND reported, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, sent a letter to the White House Jan. 28 citing “serious national security concerns” about the Syrian refugee program and imploring Obama to not let it become a “back door for jihadists.”

In fact, dozens of Islamic refugees from Iraq, Somalia and other countries have already been charged and convicted of providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations while others have left the country to fight for ISIS in Syria and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Now, Gowdy has taken the fight for information on exactly how this program works to a new level, demanding answers for the Spartanburg resettlement from none other than John Kerry.

But he needs to go one step further, Corcoran said. As chairman of the subcommittee charged with overseeing this program, Gowdy must demand answers for the communities in all 49 states that participate in the U.S. refugee program, not just his own state or district. That would require holding hearings, she said, because this issue affects communities across the U.S., not just Spartanburg.

image: http://www.wnd.com/files/2014/10/Trey-Gowdy.gif

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
“Maybe due to Gowdy’s swift and decisive action, other communities, which are being kept in the dark, will get some relief,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone in Congress do this. Trey Gowdy has directed a letter to John Kerry asking all the right questions.”

The U.S. has been taking in an average of about 70,000 refugees per year over the past few years. The refugees are placed in housing and schools and given free healthcare. They are put on a fast track toward full U.S. citizenship, often within five years.

Gowdy has asked Kerry to provide answers on how Spartanburg was selected for the opening of a new resettlement office to be operated by World Relief. He wants to know when the refugees will arrive, how many, and from what countries. He also demanded to know what services will be required, the cost, and how much of the cost will be charged to the federal government.

This is an issue that affects almost every state. The U.S. State Department works with the United Nations to resettle refugees into every state except Wyoming. Charitable organizations such as World Relief, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Church World Services, Episcopal Migration Ministries and the International Rescue Committee operate resettlement offices in 190 communities across the U.S. All of these are private charitable agencies but they receive millions of dollars in federal grants to support their efforts.

WND requested comment from Gowdy Tuesday morning.

“We don’t have any comment at this point beyond our letter sent yesterday,” said Gowdy’s press secretary, Amanda Duvall.

Last week WND reported on the secretive nature of the process in which cities and towns are chosen for the resettlement of foreign refugees, many of them Muslims from areas known to be in upheaval fighting ISIS and other terrorist organizations. Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, all have devolved into civil sectarian strife, causing the displacement of large numbers of people. Many Christians have been driven from their homes in Iraq and Syria, yet the U.S. has been taking in mostly Muslims from these countries.

And the FBI is not the only intelligence operation warning about the strong likelihood that ISIS will send its militants to Western countries posing as “refugees.”

The Norway’s Police Intelligence Service said in November 2014 that its main concern was individuals misusing the refugee system to bring Syria’s violence to Norway, reported the Nordic Page.

Refugee resettlements are conducted in the U.S. by nine private agencies that contract with the U.S. government, and six of the nine have religious affiliations. These nine contractors in turn subcontract with more than 350 other charitable organizations and churches.

The complete text of Gowdy’s letter, dated April 13, is posted below.

The Honorable John Kerry Secretary U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry,

I write regarding the potential resettlement of refugees to the Spartanburg, South Carolina, area. It has been reported by media outlets, and confirmed by staff within your Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), that a resettlement agency submitted a proposal to open an office in Spartanburg. In addition, it is my understanding that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) approved the request to resettle a certain number of refugees in Spartanburg.

As the Member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Spartanburg area, I am deeply concerned about the lack of notice, information, and consultation afforded to me and my constituents about this issue. As such, please provide the information requested and answers to questions below:

1. Please provide a copy of the proposal submitted by the resettlement agency and any subsequent correspondence between your Department and the resettlement agency.
2. When was the resettlement agency’s proposal submitted? When was it approved by USRAP?
3. How were the claims made in the proposal as to Spartanburg’s readiness to resettle refugees verified for accuracy by USRAP prior to approval?
4. What, if any, steps were taken to notify and consult with local government officials (elected or otherwise) prior to the approval of the resettlement proposal? If so, who was contacted and did they approve the proposal?
5. Which officials/employees of the South Carolina State government reviewed and approved the resettlement agency’s proposal? When was such approval given? Were these officials/employees contacted by USRAP to independently ensure approval was given?
6. What types of, and how much, funding will the resettlement agency receive from the federal government? How much of that amount must be provided to the refugees and how much can be kept by the resettlement agency?
7. When are the first refugees expected to arrive in Spartanburg?
8. What federal, state, and local benefits are the refugees entitled to receive a) upon designation as a refugee and b) upon resettlement in the Spartanburg area?
9. How many refugees will be resettled in the Spartanburg area?
10. How are the refugees chosen to resettle in Spartanburg?
11. What is the country of origin of each of the refugees to be resettled in the Spartanburg area?
12. Who is responsible for ensuring housing, employment, and education services for the resettled refugees?
13. Who is responsible for ensuring resettled refugees maintain employment, as opposed to tracking employment for the first few months after being resettled?
14. How many of the refugees to be resettled in the Spartanburg area are of the age to attend K–12 schools? Of those, how many need the local government to provide interpreters or teachers who speak the native language of the refugee for the students?
15. Do any of the refugees to be resettled in the Spartanburg area have criminal convictions? If so, for what crimes has each been convicted?
16. Please explain the background check process performed on refugees scheduled to be resettled in Spartanburg.
17. Will this be the only time refugees will be resettled to the Spartanburg area pursuant to the agency’s proposal? Or can additional refugees be resettled pursuant to the proposal?

I request that any plans to resettle refugees in the Spartanburg, South Carolina, area be placed on hold until my constituents and I receive your substantive responses to the questions and information requested in this letter.

Additionally, before moving forward, both the Spartanburg community and I should have time to substantively review the information and be comfortable with the information provided.

As previously stated, I am troubled by the lack of notice and coordination with my office and the Spartanburg community, particularly local officials, regarding the plans to resettle refugees in the area. In that vein, I request at least one month’s notice prior to the arrival of the first refugee in the Spartanburg area. Please contact my Chief of Staff, Cindy Crick, with such notice (864-241-0175 or cindy.crick@mail.house.gov).

Thank you in advance for your prompt response and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Trey Gowdy

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/04/congressman-demands-answers-on-influx-of-syrian-refugees/#0SULL0db2opJ9bkl.99

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