Spending

House Republican proposes spending bill that would delay ObamaCare

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks’ endorsements of Graves’ plan.

Amid growing concerns that House Republicans will be unable to find the votes to pass a Continuing Resolution to before the end of the month, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) has proposed a measure that would keep the government open while also delaying implementation of ObamaCare until 2015.

House Republicans leaders tried some legislative trickery by proposing a Continuing Resolution that wouldn’t defund ObamaCare. Division in the party’s ranks caused the leaders to delay a vote on the measure and threaten the cancelation of the September recess.

“After weeks of working with and listening to members on how to approach the government funding deadline, it’s clear that House Republicans are united around two goals: keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare,” said Graves, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Today, my 42 cosponsors and I are putting forward a plan that achieves both goals.”

Graves says the plan is “straightforward.” The measure funds the government a post-sequester levels, with the exception of defense and national security, while keeping true to House Republicans’ desire to delay and defund ObamaCare.

ObamaCare will cost more than expected, study suggests

ObamaCare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is a bad idea, according to a recent study carried out by researchers at Stanford University.

The report indicates that ObamaCare could cost much more than previous estimates. According to the study, employers may choose to drop worker health coverage once ObamaCare kicks in. That’s because the employer may find it more affordable to let employees obtain their own health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, which places households with an income that falls anywhere between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line in a group that may be benefited by publicly funded subsidies.

Once the number of people depending on publicly funded subsidies for health coverage goes up, the law becomes more costly to maintain.

The study also determined that about 37 million people could end up benefitting once the law is implemented, since employers would then give workers cash instead of paying for their health care coverage. By switching, employees could save by simply obtaining help from the government to get subsidized coverage, which is guaranteed by the exchanges.

While some households could benefit from that system, the law could be more costly to sustain, causing the Affordable Care Act to cost about $132 billion more than what was expected.

According to the study, an even greater number of employees could benefit from being dropped by their employers if premiums rise unexpectedly, which would add 2.25 million of people to the list of individuals receiving subsidized health coverage. Over 2 million people added to this list would increase the overall cost of the law by $6.7 billion.

House passes Farm Bill without reform, makes subsidies permanent

After a embarrassing defeat last month and despite a veto threat from the White House, House Republican leaders were able to save some face yesterday by passing the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM Act), otherwise known as the “Farm Bill.”

The vote was close, 216 to 208, with every Democrat voting against the measure because food stamp funding was separated from the bill for the first time in several decades. Twelve Republicans voted against the measure because they say it spends too much and didn’t offer any real reform.

While separating food stamps from the Farm Bill — which accounted for nearly 79% of the $940 billion measure that the House voted down last month — does substantially bring down, the $202 billion proposal passed yesterday by the Republican-controlled House, according to The Hillcuts less in subsidies than the bill passed by the Senate.

Do House Republicans really want Farm Bill reform?

As much as I never like to question anyone’s intentions, I finally find myself asking this week, do House Republicans really want to reform Washington?

Perhaps it was naïve, but after the defeat of the Farm Bill, I thought hope was in the air for agriculture policy reform. Numerous Republicans had offered strong amendments, many of which were rejected at the onset by the Rules Committee. And a fair number of the remaining amendments were defeated on the floor at the urging of leadership. This egregious flouting of their party’s desire to curb spending pushed members over the edge. Sixty-two fiscally conservative Republicans revolted against the bill, proving to leadership once and for all that, indeed, they are here to actually make changes.

This failure appeared to make leadership desperate, forcing them to take the drastic step they’d previously vowed to avoid – splitting the bill into two portions, one for food assistance and one for agriculture programs. Reform advocates long have tossed around splitting the bill. Their logic is simple: neither portion of the bill is strong enough to stand alone. Nutrition program supporters and farm program enthusiasts need each other to get the bill across the finish line. So for those who find the programs to be bloated, forcing each portion through on its own merit seemed more likely to yield change than the current back-scratching arrangement.

America, Land of the Free (but get permission first)

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow.” — James Madison, Federalist No. 62 (1788)

Having celebrated the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence this past Thursday, I was once again reminded of what a great country we live in; the “Land of the Free” where man is free to pursue happiness as he determines that to be, where you be anything you want to be and do what you want to do…anything at all!

Unless…

You want to choose your own health care plan, one that meets your needs and doesn’t force you to pay for coverage that you don’t need, that doesn’t make you pay for alcoholism coverage even if you don’t drink, coverage for smoking-related illnesses even if you’ve never smoked, pre-natal and maternity coverage even if you are a single man or a great-grandmother whose child-bearing years ended sometime around the Carter administration (sorry, you can’t do that).

Arizona Governor Signs ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion

Jan Brewer

On Monday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law the state’s budget opting in to the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion program.  It was the capstone of a long, hard fought battle by Gov. Brewer to impose the expansion on the state of Arizona and its startled citizenry.

How did we come to the point where a Republican governor in a conservative state would stake her political career on choosing to implement ObamaCare’s massive expansion of the welfare state?

ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion is Optional

PPACA Section 2001 expanded Medicaid up to 133% of the federal poverty line.  It also provided federal funding for the increase as follows:

(A) 100 percent for calendar quarters in 2014, 2015, and 2016;
(B) 95 percent for calendar quarters in 2017;
(C) 94 percent for calendar quarters in 2018;
(D) 93 percent for calendar quarters in 2019; and
(E) 90 percent for calendar quarters in 2020 and each year thereafter.

Then came the Supreme Court’s ruling on the individual mandate in NFIB v. Sebelius.  Chief Justice Roberts inexplicably upheld the mandate as a tax, a holding that will forever define his legacy as having abandoned originalism.  But there was one minor victory for the states:

Expect the Farm Bill to cost a lot more than advertised

With pressure in the Senate to pass the Farm Bill this week (they approved cloture this morning) and showmanship killing any consideration of further amendments, things aren’t looking good for reformers. This leaves taxpayers on the hook for an expanded crop insurance program with incredibly few taxpayer protections built in.

The Senate lauds this as progress, claiming $24 billion in savings over ten years. But a simple breakdown makes it clear that these supposed savings will never be realized. Luckily, the American Enterprise Institute has a great infographic presenting the numbers as they are likely to look over the next ten years. Instead of finding $24.4 billion in savings, the AEI graphic shows $31.2 billion of increased spending, which they rightly term a “bait-and-switch” for the taxpayer.

So where do these costs come from? The answer is the Agriculture Risk Coverage provision, a proposed “shallow loss” program that would make up the difference for revenue not covered by crop insurance. The program works with crop insurance to guarantee revenues, basically ensuring farmers 89 percent of their average revenue over the last five years. So if prices fall or your yield decreases, ARC will smooth over the difference.

Despite Outcry, Our Infrastructure is Not Crumbling

Skagit Bridge

In the aftermath of last week’s bridge collapse in Washington state, there have been a number of news reports and editorials on the need to address “America’s crumbling infrastructure” and they’ve declared that Congress needs to take action.

“It’s almost as if Washington has seen this movie before: a bridge collapses, groups decry the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and Congress does nothing,” lamented Abby Phillip at ABC News. John Nichols of the leftist publication The Nation carried the water of labor unions, and asked, “Is Washington ready to listen to the people who have been saying for years that we can’t afford to keep neglecting and shortchanging our nation’s infrastructure?”

Brian Levin of the Huffington Post was even more direct. He declared a state of emergency, writing that [w]e should treat our decaying infrastructure as the national security threat that it is and dispatch troops to the ground.”

“And by troops, I mean the million-man strong regiment of unemployed construction workers — 13.2 percent of people in the industry,” he added. “There is no logical reason why anyone from any party or persuasion would oppose the president’s plan, except to say that it should go even further.”

Hyperbole, much?

Spending Proposals Down in 112th Congress, Fiscal Irresponsibility Still a Washington Habit

It’s no secret that Washington is addicted to spending. Though, it’s true that the budget deficit is expected to decline this year, after four consecutive years of $1+ trillion deficits, the decline is spending isn’t because of any actual spending restraint, it’s a result of gridlock in government.

But declining budget deficits don’t reflect the desires of many members of Congress. According to a new report from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), the net-cost of legislation introduced in 112th Congress (proposed increases less proposed cuts) would have increased the federal budget by $1.3 trillion.

Despite the large increase in federal spending proposed last year, the “BillTally” report has some encouraging findings. Demian Brady, director of research at NTUF, noted that there was a increase in legislation to cut spending.

“The 112th Congress saw a sharp rise in the number of bills to reduce federal spending, with 221 introduced in the House and 127 in the Senate,” wrote Brady. “This is the highest number of spending-cut bills NTUF has recorded since the 105th Congress (1997-1998) when there were 265.” The report also found that legislation to increase federal spending is “being introduced at a much slower pace than in the previous Congress.”

No More Tanks: Army Tells Congress to Stop Spending

Abrams tank

Whenever people call for cutting the military budget, the usual response goes something like  ”How can you keep the Army from getting the equipment it needs to fight wars?” Well, the problem with that response is highlighted today by this story from ABC:

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”

It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.

Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.

Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.

If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.