In January 2010, Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation studied the draft language in what ultimately turned into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or what came to be known as Obamacare. His two most important findings: 1) Obamacare would encourage divorce while discouraging marriage; 2) Individuals and couples earning what most would consider to be nice but certainly not opulent incomes — especially those aged 50 and above — would pay disproportionately high premiums, while those making just a few thousand dollars less per year would, after subsidies, pay far less. Yours truly has made these points subsequently on several occassions (examples here, here, and here).
Well glory be, almost four years later, acting as if they're breaking some kind of new ground, Katie Thomas, Reed Abelson and Jo Craven McGinty at the New York Times have discovered that "the cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies varies widely across the country and rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s." Imagine that. Even then, the Times trio pegged the suffering Obamacare is inflicting to gross income and not net — and the difference is stark. Excerpts, beginning with a weak headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Friday morning, CBS News's Sharyl Attkisson reported that Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), "told Congress there have been two, serious high-risk findings since the website’s launch." Further, Fryer "told congressional interviewers that she explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate (ATO)" in late September, "but was overruled by her superiors." Fryer's statements make sworn assertions by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that "no senior official reporting to me ever advised me that we should delay" at best difficult to believe.
While the press properly devotes attention to serious security breaches at leading retailer Target, the arguably more serious problems at HealthCare.gov continue to get scant attention. Searches on Fryer's name (not in quotes) at the Associated Press, the New York Times, and Politico all return nothing relevant. Excerpts from Attkisson's startling, read-the-whole-thing report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
As would be expected, Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger Wednesday treated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's announcement that the nation's central bank will reduce the amount of money it creates out of thin air from $1.02 trillion per year to $900 billion, i.e., from $85 a month to $75 billion, as "its strongest signal of confidence in the U.S. economy since the Great Recession." As will be shown, it's a sign of continued serious weakness.
The pretense inherent in all of this is comparable to teaching a child how to ride a bike, raising the training wheels by one-eighth of an inch, and pronouncing him or her ready to roll. What should be troubling is that the tiny reduction means that the Fed will be financing a much higher percentage of next year's projected deficit and increase in the national debt than it has in previous years. That would seem to indicate that the nation is running out of other buyers who might be interested in purchasing Treasury securities, and that Bernanke's own words in July, namely that "the economy would tank" if he wasn't so obviously and artificially propping it up, are truer than ever.
Barack Obama gets to jet around on Air Force One, golfs every once in a while (/sarc), and has all the trappings and perks of the highest office in the land. But according to a headline in Monday's Washington Post, he is the one person in the whole USA above everyone else — not those who have lost health insurance plans with which they were happy, not those who are paying outrageious amounts for far skimpier coverage than they formerly had, not the millions of potential workers so discouraged that they are no longer looking for work or considered to be workers, not the increasing ranks of the homeless — who has taken it on the chin this year (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Bringing on yet another appearance of the dreaded "U-word" — "unexpectedly" (via Bloomberg) — the Labor Department reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 379,000. That's a nine-month high, and an increase from last week's also unexpected 369,000. This week's and last week's results were far above the 332,000 and 320,000, respectively, analysts had predicted.
The Department of Labor's excuse for the past two dismal weeks has been "holiday volatility." Though they mostly had a point last week, this week they don't. Last week was the week after Thanksgiving, while that holiday took place six days earlier in 2012. But the week ended December 14, 2013 and the comparable week from last year (12/15/12) are both sufficiently removed from Thanksgiving's influence on the numbers that the holiday has no meaningful impact. The business press is pretending that DOL is right.
Earlier today, Matt Hadro at NewsBusters refuted a ridiculous assertion Tuesday evening by CNN's Don Lemon who, in reaction to guest Larry Klayman's criticism, insisted that he is not "a big supporter of Obama" or an "ultra leftist." Horse manure, Don.
Lemon and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin also acted like immature children in Klayman's presence. They were clearly mortified that — ugh — Larry Klayman had to be the guy who brought suit against the National Security Administration arguing against the constitutionality of its metadata collection efforts. Apparently even worse for Lemon and Toobin, Klayman won a tentative legal victory when a judge ruled that NSA's "bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is likely unconstitutional." Tal Kopan recounted Klayman's CNN appearance early this morning at the Politico:
On Wednesday, only NBC's Today devoted a full segment to the upcoming sentencing of top Environmental Protection Agency official John Beale for "bilking the government out of nearly $1 million by claiming he that he worked undercover for the CIA." ABC's Good Morning America only offered a 25-second news brief on the story while CBS This Morning ignored it completely. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While NBC and ABC finally got around to the story on Wednesday, Fox News reported the scandal on the October 1 edition of Special Report, with correspondent Shannon Bream noting congressional involvement: "Massachusetts Democrat Steven Lynch was just one of many House members demanding to know how the Environmental Protection Agency could be duped for years by a top-level employee....Angry lawmakers say former EPA chief Gina McCarthy, who openly praised Beale during his time at the agency, should have known better."
They say tragedy plus time equals comedy. But is 27 years enough time? And what if the product isn’t comedy but another run-of-the-mill pop song about sex?
At the beginning of the song “XO” from her eponymous new album, pop star Beyoncé includes an odd sample: a few seconds of audio from the immediate wake of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. On Jan. 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded in mid air just 73 seconds into its flight, killing seven astronauts. The tragedy played out on live TV. Video after the break.
An Associated Press-GfK poll has found that 11 percent of an admittedly small sample of Americans insured through their employer or a family member's employer are losing their coverage in 2014. The related AP report relays that point and even has a graphic supporting it.
But reporters Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jennifer Agiesta failed to make the drop-dead obvious connection. According President Barack Obama and his White House spinmeisters, nothing is changing as a result of Obamacare if you're employed, and Obama's false guarantee that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" only applies to those in the private individual insurance market. Tell that to the 11 percent.
The nation's press has long since stopped paying any attention to what has actually happened in the wake of the outrageous Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court ruling in June 2005.
The court's majority wrote that "The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue." The quite newsworthy but virtually ignored fact flying in the face of the Supremes' certitude is that nothing has happened in the affected area for 8-1/2 years. The latest idea for removing the "stain" of Kelo proposed by New London, Connecticut Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio is to place a "green" parking garage and "micro lots" (with micro homes) in the affected Fort Trumbull neighborhood where perfectly acceptable century-old housing used to stand. Excerpts from a New London Day editorial reporting on that paper's meeting with the mayor follow the jump.
In mid-November, Americans for Tax Reform compiled a list of federal spending on state Obamacare exchanges totaling a breathtaking $4.5 billion.
One number on the list stands out from the rest — and it's not California's, though its $910 million amout is awful, disproportionate, and surely highly wasteful (before considering scalability concerns, the fixed costs of building a web site should be close to the same regardless of a state's population). The big eye-catcher is tiny Vermont's staggering $208 million. The nation's second-least populous state (626,000 as of 2012) has 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, but has received 4.6 percent of grants from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Though the Green Mountain State's enrollment numbers have been among the country's least embarrassing on percentage of the population, its exchange's rollout has in many ways been as bad, if not worse, than HealthCare.gov's, according to a December 10 Vermont Public Radio report which has garnered very little attention (HT Megan McArdle at Bloomberg News; bolds are mine):
But somehow, the fact that the state's Obamacare exchange, Access Health CT, "had incorrect information online about deductibles and co-insurance impacting all 19 individual health plans from the three insurance companies that offer those plans" doesn't merit attention. Further indicating the development's national significance, as David Steinberg at PJ Media has noted, President Barack Obama himself cited Access Health CT as a success story in supposedly getting one-third of its enrollees from people who are 35 and younger (also not true) back on October 21. More verbiage from the story, as reported in the Hartford Courant by Fox Connecticut's Louisa Moller, follows the jump:
Well, it's not perfect, but it's a start — and it's certainly a far cry from what President Obama is now willing to admit.
In his report Tuesday on the congressional hearing for John Koskinen, Obama's nominee to be the next IRS Commissioner, Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press wrote that Koskinen "told senators Tuesday he will work to restore public trust in the agency in the wake of the tea party scandal even as the IRS takes on new responsibilities administering the president's health care law." That's a remarkable admission, given that the word "scandal" does not appear in Koskinen's prepared remarks, and of course given that Obama's current opinion of what is better described as the "IRS conservative targeting scandal" is that it isn't one ("they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged"). As nice as it is that he used the "S-word," Ohlemacher's dispatch still contained serious oversights, including his failure to cite the change in Obama's public stance since May and his contention that no one outside the IRS knew of its targeting efforts until then.
To do so, she reinvented what it is to be "rich" or "affluent." It apparently has nothing to do with how it is normally defined, i.e., based on current net worth (assets owned minus debts owed). Ms. Yen's and AP's yearning is apparently to base it on whether you're in a household which has had annual earnings above $250,000 — ever. Really. The purpose of the piece appears to be to go after this segment of the population, such as it is, because they aren't knee-jerk supporters of limitless government spending, and won't spend money on consumption to improve the economy like Keynesians think they're supposed to. Be on the lookout for a clearly misused word (HT to emailer Alfred Lemire; bolds are mine throughout this post):
This month, the Boston Globe and the New York Times have published items on the growth of homelessness in the state of Massachusetts and New York City, respectively. Based on the content of each, it's clear that the topic was ripe for coverage in 2012, but received little if any. I wonder why? (/sarcasm)
The Globe's regular-length news story by Megan Woolhouse and David Abel cited the state's "record numbers of homeless families" as "another example of an uneven recovery" from a recession which officially ended almost 4-1/2 years ago. The Times published the first of what will ultimately five parts on the plight of one homeless family, with special emphasis on Dasani, their 11 year-old daughter. The Globe cites "federal budget cuts" and "a legacy of the Great Recession" as negative factors. The Times's Andrea Elliott needlessly marred her otherwise compelling profile by hyping newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio while taking swipes at "the wealthy" and "Reagan-era cutbacks," as excerpts after the jump will demonstrate (bolds and italicized comments are mine):
As a reminder, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein was the founder of the secretive JournoList group late last decade. Their objective was to put left-wing writers, perhaps with input from the Democratic Party itself and certain of its candidates for national office, on the same page in their coverage of the news.
That's useful to know, as on Saturday Klein published a column which might as well have been called "Obama administration talking points meant to convince readers that the President's 'If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your health insurance plan, PERIOD' promise really wasn't that important" (Alternative title: "As the Goalposts Move"). Almost four weeks after Barack Obama owned up to the fact that his guarantee wasn't true for millions of private individual health insurance policyholders (he has yet to acknowledge the current impact on certain small employer group plans or the impending impact on large employer-sponsored plans), and given the fact that his broken guarantee is already an established fact in the historical record — no less than the Associated Press acknowledged this on September 30 — Klein's topic choice is odd indeed. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):
Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace was not in the mood to put up with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's standard-issue leftist guff on Sunday. Last night, I noted that the pressed Emanuel until he forced a "yes" out of him to a simple question: "Didn't he (President Obama) say, 'If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.'" That move brought out Emanuel's ridiculous contention that what Obama somehow really meant was, "If you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that. This is a matter of choice." Everyone but you and a few deluded leftists know that isn't so, Zeke.
A good example of Wallace standing up to what amounted to a bullying attempt by Emanuel, followed by a couple of other howlers delivered by Zeke the Bleak, are after the jump.
In promoting the Affordable Care Act, or what has come to be known by friend and foe alike as "Obamacare," to the American public, President Obama spent at least four years making two fundamental guarantees: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan," and "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." It is quite well-known that the first guarantee has been proven untrue with private individual plans. Less known is that the guarantee is destined to become more untrue as employer-sponsored plans throughout 2014 decide whether to comply with Obamacare's costly plan design and compliance requirements and continue to cover their employees, or abandon that effort entirely and pay the related fines for not doing so.
On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of Obamacare's chief architects, attempted to claim that the President's second guarantee was not a lie. Wait until you see his "reasoning." [See video after jump.]
On Friday morning, Richard Pollock at the Washington Examiner (HT Ed Driscoll at PJ Media) broke an important story about the the large number of doctors choosing not to participate in Covered California, the state's Obamacare exchange.
The odds that the agenda-driven press in the formerly Golden State of California was already aware of this problem and chose not to report on it would seem to be pretty high — and they're still ignoring the story, despite its obvious impact on the availability of medical services once Obamacare kicks in on January 1. Excerpts from Pollock's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
So it's come to this. During the past week, the Associated Press reported today, "Federal health officials," meaning "the Obama administration," began "urging" (i.e., "telling") counselors and navigators around the country to stop using paper applications for Obamacare coverage, "because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time." It seems that either Team Obama or AP (my money is on AP) doesn't mind risking criticism for waiting to let this news out until a weather- and sports-dominated Saturday. It's apparently okay to keep those who don't know any better, i.e., those who went to the trouble of printing a paper app on their own, in the dark.
So you shouldn't use paper. But the vastly under-reported but inarguable fact is that HealthCare.gov isn't secure; experienced IT security experts strongly warn against using it. So consumers shouldn't be going online either, meaning that there's no defensible way to apply for coverage before the end of the year. Of course, the Associated Press's Kelli Kennedy didn't tell readers that (no form of the word "security" is in her late Saturday morning story), just as she and Time Magazine's web site failed to do earlier this week (bolds are mine):
The ongoing effort to insulate President Barack Obama from the negative consequences of his "signature achievement," not only with the HealthCare.gov web site but also his false "If you like your plan-doctor-provider, you can keep your plan-doctor-provider" guarantees, is a sickening sight to behold.
Reid Epstein at the Politico contributed one small chapter in that exercise. He decided to "report" on the portion of the President's interview with MSNBC sycophant Chris Matthews (some related NewsBusters posts are here, here, and here) concerning whether Obama's "management style" contributed to "problems with the Obamacare rollout." The predictable answers: Of course not, he doesn't need to change anything, and there's no reason why a reporter should even be the least bit skeptical. Oh, and it's really all Congress's fault (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Seung Min Kim and Jennifer Haberkorn at the Politico have apparently been living in hermetically sealed Beltway caves since early October.
In an item which appeared Tuesday evening, the pair acted as if the idea that Americans stand a great chance of losing access to their current doctors and other medical providers as a result of signing up for a health care plan through the Obamacare exchange is something brand new. Kim and Haberkorn write that Republican opponents of Obamacare are going to have to "replicate the uproar" which occurred with "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan," when the uproar has been building for weeks, based on numerous stories involving real people (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On November 19, Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told a congressional committee that "[W]e still have to build the payment systems to make payments to issuers in January" for those who have enrolled in plans through HealthCare.gov.
On Black Friday, while almost no one was paying attention, Alex Nussbaum at Bloomberg News reported that "The administration is setting up a temporary process ... (in which) insurers will estimate what they are owed rather than have the government calculate the bill." Somehow, they'll settle up (or "true up") at the detailed level later. Tuesday evening, Roberta Rampton and Caroline Humer at Reuters covered this development. The Reuters item, which went live about an hour before Megyn Kelly's broadcast last night, moved the Fox News host to treat it as her lead story.
How does one do a report on an important commerce-related web site without mentioning serious known security problems which are so bad that respected IT experts warn that it shouldn't be used? Ask Kate Pickert at Time's Swampland blog and Kelli Kennedy at the Associated Press, because that's exactly what they did.
Pickert and Kennedy reviewed the new and not much improved HealthCare.gov on December 2 and 3, respectively. No variation of the word "security" is in either writeup. Both reports ignore the fact that IT experts are absolutely appalled at the site's lack of security.
Sharyl Attkisson touted 'Fast and Furious' whistleblower John Dodson as "a rare example, especially amid the Obama administration's war on leaks" during a segment on Monday's CBS This Morning. Attkisson, whose reporting on the arms trafficking scandal won CBS a Edward R. Murrow Award, spotlighted the ATF senior agent's new book on "the inside story of why he went public to expose the government's false denials about its gunwalking secrets."
The correspondent also pointed out how "there's still a court battle over the 'Fast and Furious' documents that President Obama is withholding from Congress under executive privilege". She also featured a clip from Dodson where he emphasized that this is an ongoing controversy that deserves more media attention: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
As has so often been the case since Barack Obama took office in 2009, the editorialists at a major national business newspaper are reporting facts that the wire services and broadcast networks should have relayed to the American people weeks or months ago.
In this case, it's the Wall Street Journal. A Friday evening editorial published in Saturday's print edition directly refutes the Obama administration's key Obamacare memes involving affordability, choice, and the nature of the once-free health insurance market (bolds are mine):
In the runup to Thanksgiving, Organizing For Action, the group whose sole mission is to promote President Barack Obama's agenda, with the "help" of an absolutely horrid video, encouraged its members to "have the talk with your loved ones" about signing up for Obamacare.
Just before Thanksgiving, as P.J. Gladnick at NewsBusters noted on Thursday, two Huffington Post writers suggested that changing the subject away from Obamacare might be the better move. Even Andrew Rosenthal at the Obama-loving New York Times was concerned: "I question the wisdom of directing people to a cheery ad for the exchanges before they, you know, work. The president’s communications team is just asking for it." Based on tweets collected by the intrepid Twitter monitors at Twitchy.com, they got it (some individual tweets were given minor edits; bolds are mine):
A number of liberals and liberal outfits have taken notice of the "knockout game" trend. Their mission is to downplay or debunk it.
In a November 22 item published in its November 23 print edition on Page A19, Cara Buckley at the New York Times, below a picture of a Guardian Angels member posting a warning in Brooklyn, cited "police officials in several cities" claiming that it "amounted to little more than an urban myth," and noted that Gotham officials were questioning "whether in fact it existed." Excerpts and other ostrich-like responses from others are after the jump.
In response to several outlets contending with basis that the Associated Press sat on its knowledge that the United States and Iran were conducting secret diplomatic discussions, the AP's Paul Colford has published a "Back Story" item defending its conduct, claiming that it could not "confirm, to its standards, what had happened." My related NewsBusters post is here.
Breitbart had a related item earlier today. In it, Larry O'Connor posted a tweet from a specific person at another news organization indicating that "both had versions of it independently early & were asked to not publish til end of Iran talks." Barring a better explanation from AP than what readers will see after the jump, the tweet by Laura Rozen at the Washington-based, Middle East-focused Al-Monitor presumptively refutes AP's claim that it didn't have enough information to justify publishing a story (if they didn't, why would the government bother to ask them to not publish?). Colford did not address Rozen's relayed claim, even though his item more than likely went up several hours after O'Connor's Breitbart post and roughly 48 hours after Rozen's tweet (depending on its time zone). Colford's full AP post follows the jump (links and italics are in original):
My previous post (at BizzyBlog; at NewsBusters) dealt with Pace's blind acceptance of unsupported assertions about the reason for the Obama administration's delay of 2015 Obamacare enrollment until November 15, 2014 and her willingness to parrot long-discredited talking points about why the HealthCare.gov website initially crashed. Before that, she bragged about how her organization, which didn't exactly have a track record of sitting on news about secret Bush administration efforts, sat on what it knew about the existence of secret negotiations between the U.S. and Iran (bolds are mine throughout this post):