On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal to regulate companies that provide Internet access as public utilities. Spearheaded by President Obama and reluctantly embraced by FCC chief Tom Wheeler, this plan is undoubtedly the U.S. government’s most brazen effort yet to police the Internet—which, until now, has thrived thanks to the absence heavy-handed federal mandates.
If the FCC’s Democratic majority approves Obama’s rules, Internet providers will invest less in their networks, hurting Americans who appreciate faster Internet speeds at lower prices. In turn, these providers won’t compete as vigorously, setting up the FCC to justify further encroaching on the Internet in years to come. This vicious cycle might not end until the government effectively controls the wires that connect Americans’ homes and mobile devices to the Internet.
Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-06) was named House Ways and Means Committee Oversight Chair for the 114th Congress. The Oversight Subcommittee is a key watchdog over the spending and operations of programs within the tax-writing and healthcare jurisdiction of the full committee.
“In an era of big government, federal agencies have grown larger, gained more power and have become unaccountable to the taxpayers they are supposed to serve. The long trail of IRS abuses–from targeting individuals for their political or religious beliefs– to the dozens of agencies involved in Obamacare implementation that’s placing bureaucrats in the middle of individual’s healthcare choices with little transparency or recourse for Americans requires diligent oversight and action from the people’s representatives in Congress.
“I am honored to be named to this key oversight role in the 114th Congress, where my focus will be vigilant, fact-based and fair investigations into the Administration and its sprawling bureaucracy. These last few years have shown us the real dangers of agencies run amok, and frankly it’s become all too common for citizens to be in the cross-hairs of their own federal government. But in this moment of both a Republican House and Senate, we have an incredible opportunity to shine a light into the dark corners, and restore the checks and balances that the founders intended.
“Chairman Paul Ryan has a big vision on how to move our country forward and I look forward to working alongside him and my fellow Ways and Means Members to advance bold, conservative solutions and work to uncover and fix what isn’t working in government to better serve the American people.”
Roskam already has a long track record of defending taxpayers from government overreach in his work as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, passing through the House a series of bills aimed at reining in an out of control IRS.
- The Stop Playing on Citizens Cash (SPOCC) Act, stopped wasteful IRS spending on conferences in the wake of a series of lavish IRS conferences that featured spoof videos and costly employee gift bags.
- The Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act requires the IRS to alert taxpayers when their information is shared with other federal agencies. The bill also puts the onus on the IRS to correspond with taxpayers substantively within 30 days, and complete audits within a one-year of their start date.
- The Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act, cracked down on IRS targeting of individuals, baring the IRS from inquiring about a taxpayer’s religious, political or social beliefs.
- Roskam’s push for a Taxpayer Bill of Rights was recently adopted by the IRS and now hangs in every agency office throughout the country.
Roskam has also led the effort to increase Obamacare transparency and accountability through the creation of a Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act (SIGMA). Currently at 103 cosponsors, Roskam’s SIGMA legislation would enable a non-partisan, independent watchdog to reach into the myriad agencies responsible for Obamacare implementation and submit quarterly reports and audits on every aspect of the law, from the impact on out-of-pocket costs, to shrinking provider networks, contracting, and Healthcare.gov’s data security in a way that no single oversight official currently can.
Washington Times –
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois lawmakers left nearly $300 million in federal money on the table by not moving to approve a state-run health insurance marketplace by the end of their fall veto session, and any remaining hopes to set up such an exchange are dimming.
Some House Democrats say they want to work with Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner’s administration on establishing an exchange in the new year, but it’s questionable if he would support such a program the way outgoing Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has.
Democratic state Rep. Robyn Gabel, a main proponent of setting up a state-run marketplace, said Friday she plans to halt her push until the U.S. Supreme Court rules whether health insurance subsidies are legal in states like Illinois that use the federal website to connect residents with insurance offered through President Barack Obama’s health care law. A ruling is expected next summer.
Fox News –
President Obama is planning to unveil a 10-part plan for overhauling U.S. immigration policy via executive action — including suspending deportations for millions — as early as next Friday, a source close to the White House told Fox News.
The president’s plans were contained in a draft proposal from a U.S. government agency. The source said the plan could be announced as early as Nov. 21, though the date might slip a few days pending final White House approval.
Obama was briefed at the White House by Homeland Security officials before leaving on his Asia-Pacific trip last week, Fox News has learned.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with Obama in Burma Thursday that the president had not made a final decision on any executive actions concerning immigration and would not announce any until he returned to Washington.
The draft plan, though, contains 10 initiatives that span everything from boosting border security to improving pay for immigration officers.
But the most controversial pertain to the millions who could get a deportation reprieve under what is known as “deferred action.”
The plan calls for expanding deferred action for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — but also for the parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
The latter could allow upwards of 4.5 million illegal immigrant adults with U.S.-born children to stay, according to estimates.
Red State –
Truthy, is a nearly million dollar taxpayer financed research project of Indiana University computer science professor, Filippo Menczer, that tracked, monitored, and recorded tweets from conservatives on Twitter. In a 2012 book Menczer admitted to using his Truthy project to have the Twitter accounts of several conservatives suspended.
Menczer and his Truthy project are the subject of a growing controversy in Washington as the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and its chairman Texas congressman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) 69% investigate why the project was given nearly a million dollars by the National Science Foundation and the researchers obvious targeting of conservatives.
One of the people Menczer admits to having targeted is leading Obamacare critic, insurance broker, and Chicago Tea Party leader C. Steven Tucker.
As the Washington Free Beacon reports:
The database was used to identify “several Truthy memes, resulting in many of the accounts involved being suspended by Twitter,” the chapter said.
Truthy was able to suspend the account of C. Steven Tucker, a health insurance broker, who often used the hashtag “American Patriots,” or #ampat, from his two Twitter accounts.
“This activity generated traffic around this hashtag and gave the impression that more people were tweeting about it,” the chapter said. “These two accounts had generated a total of over 41,000 tweets.”
Speaking exclusively to USofArn.com Steve Tucker, who has also been targeted by the IRS, sounded off on professor Menczer and his Truthy project:
(There is)No reasoning. Just targeting. I was too effective so they shut me down. Pure, unadulterated, taxpayer funded Fascism.
I guess the first amendment doesn’t apply to us Conservatives aye “Fill”? Cowards like you always operate in the shadows. You should hang your head in shame but just like Barack Obama you’ll never admit you did anything wrong because the ends justify the means. Know this, no matter what program or algorithm you develop you will never stop the voice of Liberty. For this is America and America was founded on Conservative principles. Conservatives make America great. Not cowardly, taxpayer funded Fascists like you
Tucker says that as of Wednesday evening neither congressman Smith nor anyone from the House SST committee has gotten in touch with him about Truthy-gate.
Politics Early & Often –
Multimillionaire Republican Bruce Rauner proclaimed victory and “a new direction” as Illinois’ next governor Tuesday night, even as Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn refused to concede defeat.
“This is a historic time in Illinois,” Rauner told cheering supporters. “The voters have spoken. The voters have asked for divided government for the first time in many years.”
But a defiant Quinn declared, “I don’t believe in throwing in the towel” with votes uncounted.
“We will never, ever yield to a result until all the votes are in,” Quinn said, suggesting a complete count could take days
It was a fitting end to an Election Night that capped an often-vicious contest that saw unprecedented amounts of money spent and much vitriol thrown around.
Speaking just minutes after Quinn, Rauner made no mention of the governor’s defiance. Instead he focused on voters choosing a “divided government” — a Republican in the governor’s mansion and both Illinois houses controlled by Democrats.
The results of the actual elections are in — let’s see what we can learn from what voters told exit pollsters yesterday.
First, the American electorate is getting older. According to CNN’s exit polling data, two-thirds of voters were 45 or older. Those older voters skewed Republican: 53 percent of those 45-64 and 57 percent of those over 65 voted GOP.
One problem, of course, is that this makes entitlement reform less likely. The average 50-year-old is unlikely to favor Medicare reform, for example, when he’s just a few years away from being eligible.
An older electorate could also mean slower economic growth is ahead. In Europe and Japan, they’re struggling with aging workforces, and that’s making it more difficult to pay the social benefits that governments have promised. Our federal government could find itself in the same situation.
There are opportunities for change, though. Two-thirds of American say the country is on the wrong track. More than half think “government is doing too much,” and most — three-quarters — say they are worried about economic conditions.
Finally, it’s fair to say voters are simply unhappy.
More than half (55 percent) disapprove of President Obama’s job performance. Yet three-quarters disapprove of how Congress is doing. Voters are angry with the Obama administration (60 percent) and GOP leaders in Congress (70 percent). Exactly 54 percent have an “unfavorable opinion” of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
C. Steven Tucker –
On October 2nd President Obama touted an “improved, strong U.S. economy” and the “benefits of Obamacare” at Northwestern University. It all sounded great but this is what I’ve been dealing with today. I’m fielding angry calls from my HumanaOne, Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas clients. All of their policies will be canceled as of December 31, 2014. See the letters here and here. This is the second year I’ve had to deal with this but this year it’s much different.
Last year when more than 4 million cancellation notices went out, Americans were able to shop for prices as early as October 1st, granted the initial roll out left much to be desired. In fact, in my opinion it was an unmitigated disaster. Many of my clients spent hours on the phone with Healthcare.gov ‘navigators’ only to find out that their application had then mysteriously disappeared.
Worse yet, because our state’s “C.H.I.P” program was expanded long before Obamacare. The few members of my clientele who actually qualified for an APTC – “Advance Premium Tax Credit” a.k.a. “subsidy” to artificially lower their premiums were unable to add their children to their subsidized policies. They were instead instructed to enroll their children in Medicaid. Or, they could pay full price for each of their children. The rates for a single child in my state are at least $100 a month for the cheapest “Bronze” plan which includes a $6,000 deductible per person. That’s not exactly ‘affordable care’ when you have three children.
This year, for the first time in 20 years I can not even quote a replacement product because Barack Obama has issued a GAG ORDER to the health insurance industry instructing them not to disclose their January 2015 health insurance rates until after the mid-term elections. This is unprecedented. Normally health insurance premiums are released for public viewing 60 daysbefore the January 1st effective date. Where are the reports on these cancellations and the gag order from NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN? The only news organization that I am aware of that has reported on any of this is the Fox News channel. I can guarantee you one thing, not one of my clients who received a cancellation notice is voting Democrat on Tuesday.
Republicans have outstanding alternatives to this disastrous health care law. The two most recent are the American Health Care Reform Act and the Universal Exchange Plan. Please read them, for it will be up to us to forge a new path forward for the American people and time is of the essence. The insurance company bail outs are temporary and they will expire in 2016. Without a bailout the health insurance industry will pull out of the individual and family health insurance market. Before that happens we need to be able to articulate intelligent, market based alternatives. It’s up to us.