Government Agencies

By Matthew Philbin | December 18, 2013 | 11:36 AM EST

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.

By Tom Blumer | December 16, 2013 | 1:26 PM EST

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.

By Tom Blumer | December 14, 2013 | 9:27 AM EST

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.

By Tom Blumer | December 13, 2013 | 11:57 PM EST

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):

By Tom Blumer | December 13, 2013 | 9:44 PM EST

Searches on "Connecticut" at the Associated Press's national site and at the Politico indicate that there's plenty of news about the Nutmeg State which the two web sites believe merit national attention.

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:

By Tom Blumer | December 11, 2013 | 7:24 PM EST

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.

By Tom Blumer | December 10, 2013 | 2:14 PM EST

Monday evening at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Hope Yen, with the help of lead AP pollster Jennifer Agiesta and three other reporters, tagged 20 percent of Americans as "rich."

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):

By Tom Blumer | December 10, 2013 | 9:03 AM EST

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):

By Tom Blumer | December 9, 2013 | 9:01 PM EST

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):

By Tom Blumer | December 9, 2013 | 10:45 AM EST

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.

By Tom Blumer | December 8, 2013 | 9:41 PM EST

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.] 

By Tom Blumer | December 8, 2013 | 8:50 AM EST

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):