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Speaking of Taxpayers, June 29 2012: "Obamacare" Decision Aftermath
Posted By:  - 06/29/12

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NTU Vice President of Government Affairs Andrew Moylan and NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady join Pete and Doug to discuss the fallout from the Supreme Court's game-changing decision for taxpayers.

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With Affordable Care Act Upheld, What Now?
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 06/29/12

Tab Insert

NTU Foundation, the education and research arm of the National Taxpayers Union, examined what legislative options opponents and supporters of the President’s health care overhaul have available to them right now. With the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Act (PPACA), these measures, already introduced in the 112th Congress, offer a glimpse into how elected officials may change PPACA.

Highlighted in the latest Taxpayer’s Tab, NTUF has identified 45 bills that would directly affect PPACA, including:

  • 9 exclusive repeal bills
  • 7 repeal and replace with a different system bills
  • 25 bills that would eliminate or change specific provisions of PPACA
  • 4 expansion bills that would increase government control of health care

As always, NTUF offers the costs and savings associated with enacting these measures.

For all the details, check out the latest Taxpayer’s Tab here.

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Lessons from the Soviets: the Truth about Socialized Medicine
Posted By:  - 06/26/12

With the ruling on President Obama’s health care law rumored to be handed down by the Supreme Court this week, it is worth examining the experiences of our Russian comrades who supplanted market-driven initiatives for government-run programs.

In a detailed article from the Mises Institute, senior fellow Yuri N. Maltsev details the history of the Soviet’s “cradle-to-grave” healthcare model.

Maltsev notes the noble nature with which the Soviet’s gallant mission was launched back in 1918, with high hopes and heavy doses of benevolence:

'The "right to health" became a "constitutional right" of Soviet citizens… attractive and humane goals of universal coverage and low costs. What's not to like?'

However, the Socialized system soon soured, leaving Russian medical innovation at least 100 years behind that of the United States, not to mention the “filth, odors, cats roaming the halls, drunken medical personnel, and absence of soap and cleaning supplies” which did nothing to endear the pitiable system to the Russian people.

What’s more, it soon became evident to the average citizen that the utopian experiment was only benefitting the Communist Party:

“So, as in all countries with socialized medicine, a two-tier system was created: one for the "gray masses" and the other, with a completely different level of service, for the bureaucrats and their intellectual servants.”

As with most services that are converted from private sector enterprises which rely on voluntary exchange to government-run programs initiated by force and coercion, the rapturous dream of universal coverage was just that---a dream---and the masses were left to pay the price, sometimes with their very lives.

Americans will soon learn whether their government is taking a step toward a system that is reminiscent of the failed Soviet regime. 

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Speaking of Taxpayers: Cato’s Ilya Shapiro on the Supreme Court & “Obamacare”
Posted By: Douglas Kellogg - 06/16/12

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In an action-packed extended podcast - NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift joins Doug and special guest Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute for a must-hear interview on the Supreme Court's upcoming decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Pete also outlines a key new report on G20 membership just published by NTU. And, as always, the Outrage of the Week
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Big Government's PR Problem
Posted By: Nan Swift - 05/29/12

Public relations consultants have a line they like to trot out - that Bill Gates once said “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”  That might not be a bad idea, business-wise, but in the case of the federal government, our last dollar went out the door a long time ago.  So it’s unclear why we’re spending money we don’t have on public relations campaigns we don’t need.

That’s right, while many American families continue to struggle financially and avoid unnecessary expenditures; our federal government is spending millions on public relations. From the “We’re paying for this??” files come stories of how big government is spending your tax dollars on misguided, unnecessary public relations campaigns.

Last week TheHill.com reported:

The Health and Human Services Department has signed a $20 million contract with a public-relations firm to highlight part of the Affordable Care Act.

The article goes on to say that it is international public relations firm Porter Novelli who won the contract to promote the benefits of ObamaCare  and waste taxpayer dollars - a firm responsible for both the old and new USDA Food Pyramids and climate change awareness campaigns.  CNSNews.com  also points out a connection between the Administration and a member of the Porter Novelli leadership team:

The public relations firm hired to conduct the PR campaign, Porter Novelli, is a global firm whose leadership team features former Obama campaign surrogate and Democratic operative Catherine "Kiki" McLean.

McLean appeared on television on behalf of the Obama campaign in 2008. She also worked as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign as well as the presidential campaigns of former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

It’s almost as if the Administration was expecting to need some good PR to elevate the unpopular  Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The funding was called for in Section 4004 of the legislation.

Still, that’s not the only source of taxpayer funds to spin the President’s health care bill. Senator Jim DeMint  brings to light additional spending on ObamaCare marketing, this time paid for with stimulus funds:

The Obama Administration awarded Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide two contracts worth $26.5 million in 2010 for the purpose of creating a “publicity center” that would, according to the contract, “market and promote comparative effectiveness” products developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Another bad PR (in every sense) move that surfaced last week involved the government sponsored enterprise (GSE) formerly known as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, now Brand USA.  Freebeacon.com reports:

The government-appointed board behind an aggressive overseas advertising campaign to promote tourism to the U.S. is little more than a corporate welfare program and a slush fund for wealthy Democratic donors, critics say.

Brand USA, formerly known as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, is a public-private partnership established by Congress to promote the United States abroad. It is governed by an 11-member board. John Connor, director of the Office of White House Liaison at the United States Department of Commerce, appointed the board members.

All of the board members Connor has appointed have donated to Democrats and Democratic organizations almost exclusively, if they have donated at all.

It’s helpful to think of Brand USA as the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) of tourism. Like Ex-Im, Brand USA is a cunning mix of politically well-connected rent-seekers who use the government’s power to tax those traveling to the U.S. (the very travel they claim they want to promote) to subsidize private companies.  The article continues:

Andy Roth, the vice president for government affairs at the Club for Growth, also said the government has no business subsidizing corporations’ travel advertising.

“If this is such a good idea, then the companies should be doing it on their own, even if it’s not costing the taxpayers money,” Roth said in an interview with the Free Beacon. “The government should be creating conditions to allow the private sector to flourish, but it shouldn’t be involved.”

On top of that, the burden of paying for this corporate welfare isn’t the jet-setters Brand USA board members imagine will come to their casinos and resorts, the most frequent visitors to the U.S. are coming to visit family members, who are getting taxed for the “privilege.”

I’m so glad that as our economy struggles to recover, the deficit continues to swell, and entitlements hurtle towards bankruptcy, we’re spending money on the things that really matter: growing government, protecting unpopular bills, and tourism.  As many Americans continue to make financial sacrifices, it’s nice to know that thanks to the taxes you paid, those at Porter Novelli, Ogilvy, and Brand USA won’t have to do the same.

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Supreme Court Health Care Showdown: Roundup
Posted By: Nan Swift - 03/29/12

Yesterday was the final day for oral arguments in the individual mandate case before the Supreme Court.  Most experts are saying that we can expect a decision in late June, but there’s no reason to rest on our laurels until then.  Just because the Don’t Tread on Me flags are no longer waving in front of the court house doesn’t mean that we don’t need to continue to educate others about what is really in the President’s health care bill and to urge our legislators to repeal it.  Go here to learn how you can take action.

And check out some of the great articles below to see what others are saying about the last three days and what comes next:

Sheldon Richman, “Why the Health Insurance Mandate is Immoral and Unnecessary”

The argument, however, contains a fatal flaw. If the medical-insurance market would indeed fail without a mandate, it’s only because of other mandates the government has already imposed. Thus the government has created the rationale for an extension of its own power.

Anthony Fisher & Damon Root, “Obamacare #FAIL: Day 3 at the Supreme Court”

Washington Free Beacon, “Scalia Likens Reading Obamacare to Cruel and Unusual Punishment”

Politico.com, “Justices to Congress: Back to You”

Chicago Tribune, “Justices Suggest Medicaid Expansion is Unconstitutional”

The Wall Street Journal, “The ObamaCare Reckoning: Overturning the Whole Law Would be an Act of Judicial Restraint”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Mr. Clement is asking the Court to conduct "a wrecking operation," before stating that "the more conservative approach would be salvage rather than throwing out everything." The Obama Administration didn't say exactly that, but it did argue that the mandate is indispensable to its supposedly well-oiled regulatory scheme and if it is thrown out the insurance rules should be too.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy doubted Justice Ginsburg's logic, since by taking out only the individual mandate the Court would in effect be creating a new law that Congress "did not provide for, did not consider." To wit, costs would soar without any mechanism to offset them.

"When you say judicial restraint," Justice Kennedy said, "you are echoing the earlier premise that it increases the judicial power if the judiciary strikes down other provisions of the act. I suggest to you it might be quite the opposite." Overturning the mandate alone, he continued, "can be argued at least to be a more extreme exercise of judicial power than to strike the whole."

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Supreme Court Health Care Showdown: Day 3
Posted By: Nan Swift - 03/28/12

The Supreme Court is looking at two important pieces of the PPACA puzzle today.  From 10-11:30 am justices heard arguments regarding the “severability” of the individual mandate from the rest of the health care law to determine if the rest of the law can stand should the individual mandate be found unconstitutional.  Later, from 1-2pm the court will consider the constitutionality of Medicaid expansion – check out the links from Nick Gillespie and Peter Suderman for great commentary on these two issues.

Regardless of how things pan out between now and the expected June decision (though it could be much longer), we still need to use every opportunity available to urge our legislators in Washington to repeal the President’s health care law.  Go here to take action!


The Washington Times, Supreme Court Considers How to Tinker with Health Care Law”

Nick Gillespie, “Does Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Plan Violate the Constitution as Badly as Medicaid Fails its Patients?”

Peter Suderman, “Can ObamaCare’s Mandate Be Severed from the Rest of the Law?”

Real Clear Politics, “Toobin: Hard to Imagine How Things Could be Going Worse for Obama Administration”

Mark Perry, “Obamacare in Trouble? Intrade Odd Jump from 38% to 60% That SCOTUS Will Reject Mandate”

The Wall Street Journal, “Justices Spar Over Health Law”

Audio and Transcripts from Today’s Oral Arguments

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Supreme Court Health Care Showdown: Day 2
Posted By: Nan Swift - 03/27/12

Today was the second day of oral arguments in battle over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Today the Court considered the constitutionality of the individual mandate.  The sidewalks around the Supreme Court building were packed today with activists on both sides of the issue.  The Left was dominated by activists from NOW, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood who focused on the women’s health/abortion side of the health care law debate, despite the fact that it is an incredibly small part of the overall plan and that so far women have been able to get along just fine in the current “oppressive” climate that forces individuals to take responsibility for their own actions.

Tea Party Patriots rallied those on the Right, and despite the alleged violence of the tea party movement, The Don’t Tread on Me crowd had a difficult time being heard above the drumming, yelling, and aggressive jostling of the opposition.  It should also be noted that though the Tea Party Patriots had a permit to hold their press conference, it was almost impossible to do so thanks to groups that did not have permits.  Nothing was done to try to enforce or protect the permitted area. 

Here’s your daily dose of essential resources to stay abreast of the health care law debate:

Emily Ekins, Reason.com, “54 Percent of Americans Expect New Health Care Law Will Lead to Rationing”

Peter Suderman, Reason.com, “Is the Supreme Court Skeptical of ObamaCare’s Insurance Mandate?”

Nick Gillespie & Jim Epstein, Reason.com, “Why ObamaCare is ‘the Most Important Case’ in 50 Yrs”

Peter Suderman, Reason.com, “The Secret Word for CBO is Banana, Or: How Obama Flip-Flopped on the Mandate”

Highlights Reel: President Obama on the Mandate in 2008

The Federalist Society, “Randy Barnett on ObamaCare Day 1”

The New York Times, “Vindication for Challenger of Health Care Law” (Randy Barnett)

Michael Cannon, Cato, “IPAB: ObamaCare’s Next Constitutional Hurdle”

Ezra Klein, The Washington Post, “A Bad Day for ObamaCare’s Supporters”

RedState.com, “Toobin on ObamaCare Supreme Court Arguments: ‘This Was a Train Wreck for the Obama Administration”

Day 2 Transcripts

Day 2 Audio

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Supreme Court Health Care Showdown: Day 1
Posted By: Nan Swift - 03/26/12

President Obama’s health care law heads to the Supreme Court today for 3 days of oral arguments.  According to news reports this morning, people have been standing in line since last Friday for a chance to watch the proceedings.  Below are some great resources to help you know what to expect over the next few days and some great commentary to help think through the big questions the justices will be examining:

Audio of Oral Arguments 3/26

Transcript of Oral Arguments 3/26

Philip Klein, “Obamacare on Trial: Oral Arguments Schedule,” The Washington Examiner

George Will, “Obamacare’s Contract Problem,” The Washington Post

Representative Kevin Brady, “Obamacare Chart”

Peter Suderman, “ObamaCare’s Medicaid Expansion Is Also a Problem

Damon Root, “The 4 Best Legal Arguments Against ObamaCare”

Nick Gillespie and Meredith Bragg, “3 Reasons to End ObamaCare Before it Begins!”
 

Pessimistic Predictions from Both Sides of the Issue:

Howard Dean: “Supreme Court will Declare Individual Mandate Unconstitutional”

Ron Paul: “I Suspect They’re Going to Rule it Constitutional”

 

From President Obama’s home state:

Andrew Thomason, “Necessary but Impossible Cuts Face IL in Medicaid Spending”

Jonathan Ingram, “Medicaid Expansions Have Already Failed in Illinois”

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Happy Birthday PPACA!
Posted By: Nan Swift - 03/23/12

President Obama’s terrible Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has finally reached its terrible twos.  The timing couldn’t be more poignant.  No sooner does  PPACA pass this milestone than it goes to face down the Supreme Court on Monday morning.  March 26-28 the Court will hear oral arguments for six hours, far more than the usual one hour allotted a case.  The fact that the Court has not held such a long hearing in 45 years is a very real indicator of the gravity of the case.

But we can’t pin all our hopes on this case.  Even if the Court were to rule against the unconstitutional individual mandate, it is still possible that they would let the rest of the law stand.  A lot hangs in the balance and it could be many months until we know how things stand freedom-wise.

That’s why it is essential that we continue to urge our legislators to repeal the President’s health care law.  Not only is the future uncertain regarding the Supreme Court ruling, but there are many components of the bill that are taking effect long before the “official” January 1, 2014 date when the majority of the bill goes into effect.  Already, states are being forced to set up health insurance exchanges with several targets to be reached between now and 2014, a very costly and time consuming project.  Insurers have been hit with burdensome new regulations that are raising health care costs.  The Department of Health and Human Services has been given all kinds of new, broad powers and has already doled out millions from an unlimited slush fund. Small businesses will soon see higher taxes and employers will now be disclosing the value of each employee’s health insurance to the IRS.

If there is some silver-lining to be found in all of this, it is that for those of us who have been fighting the good fight for several years now the recent CBO report is a giant “We told you so”-of-doom, full of “hard truths”  that even the law’s supporters are having to face.

Politico.com is admitting that:

1)      Some people won’t get to keep the coverage they like …

2)      Costs aren’t going down …

3)      It’s just a guess that the law can pay for itself …

4)      “The more they know, the more they’ll like it” isn’t happening …

Take Action now to help stop the coming Health Care O-pocalypse.

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