Segment 0: Obamacare Success Story? Millions More Enrolled in Medicaid and Food Stamps — Government Dependency On The Rise — 30 Million Seeking Full Time Jobs — Wonder What Failure Looks Like?
How Medicaid & Obamacare Hurt the Poor – and How to Fix Them
Medicaid Sign Ups Outnumber People Enrolling In Paid For Obamacare Plans Lou Dobbs
CBS: ObamaCare System Threatened From High Medicaid Enrollment In Many States
Obamacare: Medicaid enrollment outpacing private insurance could ca
Stimulus, Obamacare & The New Republic: May 2013 Reason Mag
Your Doctor Is Not In? ObamaCare may put your doctor out of business.
83% of Private Practice Doctors Quiting Due to Obamacare Main Stream Media Keeping Quiet
Obamacare Has Always Been About Killing Grandma & Grandpa
Government Payouts – Nick Gillespie
ObamaCare Event In Arkansas Hands Out Condoms As Prizes
Is There a Silver Lining to the Supreme Court’s Obamacare Decision?
The History of Medicaid (According to Frank Thompson)
47 Years of Medicare & Medicaid
Heritage Hangout: Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion
Why new Medicaid enrollment is soaring
States are reporting far higher enrollment in Medicaid than in private insurance since the Affordable Care Act exchanges opened Oct. 1. In Maryland, for example, the number of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees is more than 25 times the number of people signed up for private coverage.
Even some Medicaid experts say they are surprised at the early numbers.
A Stateline survey of the 25 expansion states and the District of Columbia provides clear explanations for the strong Medicaid rollout so far.
The biggest reason for the initial jump in Medicaid enrollment is that hundreds of thousands of people in the expansion states have been pre-qualified for expanded Medicaid because they are already enrolled in low-income state health care. Illinois, for example, will roll over 100,000 Cook County residents who have received expanded Medicaid benefits since 2011.
Another reason for the big numbers is aggressive outreach campaigns in many states, including mailings to residents enrolled in other safety net programs. Oregon, for example, signed up 70,000 enrollees in October by contacting residents who receive food stamps.
A much smaller number of people in expansion states are also signing up on state exchanges and Medicaid websites. The federal government has not yet released the number of Medicaid applications filed on federally-operated exchange sites in the 34 states that are not running their own exchanges.
To be sure, the rush to enroll in Medicaid indicates a strong demand for health care coverage. But the early spike is more a function of states’ proven ability to find, educate and enroll low-income residents than an indication of an imbalance with healthier people who can afford insurance, as has been suggested.
It is important to note that early enrollment numbers reflect so-called “low hanging fruit,” said Matt Salo, director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. Future increases are expected to be smaller.
The states that chose to expand Medicaid, Salo said, are predisposed to aggressively reach out to potential beneficiaries. “Most have been more committed to Medicaid than the other states,” he said.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that Medicaid expansion was up to states, the Congressional Budget Office downgraded its original projection that 13 million people would qualify for expanded Medicaid in 2014 and 17 million by 2020. Now, the federal estimate is 7 million by the end of 2014 and 11 million by 2020.
Stateline‘s survey indicates at least 1.5 million people have already signed up or have been pre-qualified for expanded Medicaid in the 19 states that provided counts. Expected total enrollment in those states is 3.7 million.
Following are the details available as of Nov. 5:
Arizona: The number of new applications is not available at this time. In total, Arizona expects 57,000 people to qualify for its expanded Medicaid program. In addition, the state expects 240,000 more individuals to enroll in its existing Medicaid program for childless adults with incomes at or below the federal poverty level ($11,490). Enrollment in that program was frozen in 2012 and currently totals 70,000.
Arkansas: Arkansas has received 70,595 applications for its expanded Medicaid program. Of those, 3,672 came through the state’s existing Medicaid website, 1,785 were paper or phone applications, and the rest were positive responses to a mailing to 132,000 households that receive food stamps. Ultimately, the state expects about 250,000 uninsured residents to qualify.
California: California plans to release enrollment numbers from its state-run website in mid-November. Newly eligible enrollment in expanded Medicaid is expected to total about 1.4 million. Of that number, 600,000 people will come from the state’s early expansion program approved by the federal government in 2011.
Colorado: Colorado has qualified more than 25,000 adults for its expanded Medicaid program. Of that number, approximately 9,000 were on a waiting list for an existing Medicaid program that covers adults with extremely low incomes. Another 10,000 people enrolled in that program will also be transferred to expanded Medicaid coverage in January. Combined, that comes to 35,000 individuals, more than 20 percent of the 160,000 uninsured residents Colorado expects to be eligible for its expanded Medicaid program.
Connecticut: Connecticut has enrolled 3,550 new people in its expanded Medicaid program through its state-run exchange and Medicaid website. In addition, at least 48,000 enrolled in a state-run low income-health program have already been moved into expanded Medicaid. Connecticut expects a total of 55,000 expanded Medicaid enrollees in 2014.
Delaware: No new enrollment data is available yet. Delaware already provides Medicaid coverage for 30,000 adults with incomes up to the federal poverty level ($11,490). Its expanded Medicaid program is expected to cover another 30,000 people with incomes between $11,490 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856).
District of Columbia: D.C. began expanding its Medicaid program in June 2010. By June 2013, nearly 50,000 new people were enrolled. The District has not estimated how many people will ultimately enroll in expanded Medicaid.
Hawaii: Hawaii has approved 6,100 applications for expanded Medicaid. By 2014, the state expects a total of 54,000 enrollees.
Illinois: The Illinois Medicaid agency has received 30,124 applications for expanded Medicaid through its existing website. Illinois has an exchange partnership with the federal government so applications are also being filed on the federally-run exchange. In addition to online applications, 46,000 people responded to an August mailing to 123,000 food stamp recipients. Illinois has enrolled 26,000 of those respondents and is processing the balance. In addition, 100,000 people in Cook County who participate in a limited early Medicaid expansion enrollment group will automatically be rolled over to the expansion program on Jan. 1. Projected enrollment is 342,000.
Iowa: No new numbers are available on Medicaid applications. In all, 150,000 uninsured Iowans are expected to qualify under the proposed expansion. About 63,000 residents with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($22,980) are currently enrolled in a Medicaid health plan with limited benefits. Most are expected to qualify for expanded Medicaid. Iowa has not yet received federal approval for its Medicaid expansion plan, which is similar to Arkansas’ so-called private option.
Kentucky: Kentucky has received 25,654 applications for expanded Medicaid through its state-run exchange. Ultimately, the state expects 308,000 low-income individuals to qualify.
Maryland: The number of applications from its state-run website is not yet available. However, Maryland has an existing, limited-benefit health plan known as Primary Adult Care (PAC) available to all adults with incomes up to 123 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,133). As of Sept. 30, enrollment in the plan was 82,423. Maryland expects enrollment in PAC to expand to 88,000 by Jan. 1, 2014, when the entire population will automatically convert to full Medicaid benefits. In addition, residents in a narrow income band (124 percent to 138 percent of poverty) can sign up for expanded Medicaid on the state exchange. Overall, Maryland expects 110,000 people to be enrolled by the end of 2014.
Massachusetts: No enrollment numbers are available at this time. As a result of its own health care reforms launched in 2006, Massachusetts has a 97 percent insured rate. Still, the state expects about 45,000 people to obtain Medicaid coverage as a result of the expansion.
Michigan: No enrollment numbers are available. The Michigan legislature approved Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed Medicaid expansion in September but postponed implementation until April 2014.
Minnesota: The federal government granted Minnesota special permission to enroll 84,000 individuals in the expanded Medicaid program in 2011. Another 2,496 newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries completed applications on the state-run exchange in the first two weeks of October. Ultimately, Minnesota expects to cover 265,000 adults in its expansion. In addition, it is the only state that has opted to provide a so-called “Basic Health Plan” for people with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line ($22,980). Under the ACA, the federal government will pay 85 percent of the costs starting in 2015. That program is expected to grow to 160,000.
Nevada: No information is available at this time.
New Jersey: No information is available at this time.
New Mexico: New Mexico has approved 2,507 applications for expanded Medicaid through the federally operated exchange and its existing Medicaid website. In addition, 100,000 enrollees in two limited-benefit state health care programs will be rolled into the expanded Medicaid. New Mexico expects 130,000 people will be in the expanded program by 2015.
New York: No enrollment numbers are available yet. New York already covers parents with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty line ($17,235) and childless adults with incomes up to the poverty line ($11,490).
North Dakota: The Medicaid agency has received 147 applications for expanded Medicaid. In December, the state plans to send letters to 36,000 households that receive food stamps or home heating assistance, inviting eligible adults to sign up for expanded Medicaid. Total enrollment in expanded Medicaid is expected to reach 32,000.
Ohio: The most recent state to expand Medicaid, Ohio expects to sign up 275,000 newly eligible Medicaid enrollees. Republican Gov. John Kasich sidestepped the state legislature and won approval for expansion Oct. 21 from an executive branch Controlling Board. The state has not yet begun enrollment. The Medicaid agency says it will announce soon when enrollment will begin.
Oregon: Oregon has approved 70,000 applications for expanded Medicaid. Its state-run website had some initial technical difficulties, but new applications were filed over the phone, in person and through the mail. The vast majority of enrollments came from a mailing in late September that went to 260,000 residents who either receive food stamps or have children enrolled in Medicaid. The state expects roughly 223,000 adults to be enrolled in its expanded Medicaid program by 2015.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island has approved 3,213 new applications for its expanded Medicaid program. Another 835 are in progress. Projected enrollment is 23,428.
Vermont: About 1,000 individuals have signed up for Medicaid on Vermont’s exchange or by submitting paper applications. In addition, 30,000 adults enrolled in two state-run low-income health plans will be rolled into the expanded Medicaid program. By 2015, Vermont expects enrollment to reach 160,000.
Washington: Through its state-run exchange and Medicaid sites, Washington has signed up 26,336 people. Another 30,000 people enrolled in a low-income health program will be automatically enrolled in expanded Medicaid, bringing the total to 56,336. The state expects 270,000 people to qualify by the end of 2014.
West Virginia: West Virginia has pre-qualified 52,056 residents for its expanded Medicaid program. Projected new enrollment is 63,000.
Since 1965, Medicaid has been the backbone of this country’s health care safety net. Jointly funded by the states and the federal government, Medicaid covers more than 58 million low-income Americans, including families, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Today, Medicaid provides coverage for almost 29 million children and pays for approximately half of all long-term care costs.
Medicaid is jointly funded by the states and the federal government. Federal law requires state Medicaid programs to cover certain categories of individuals and services. Beyond that, states have wide flexibility in the design and implementation of their Medicaid programs.
Medicaid Today: Even though Medicaid has helped millions gain access to health care, many low-income people have been left out. In 30 states, income eligibility for parents is set below 50 percent of poverty (in 2012, that’s an annual income of $9,545 for a family of three). In most states, adults without dependent children, no matter how poor, cannot get Medicaid coverage at all.
Medicaid Expansion: In 2014, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, states can get substantial federal funding to expand Medicaid to all residents with incomes at or below 133 percent of poverty, thus extending Medicaid coverage to individuals who have been left out of the program. [Note: Since 5 percent of income is not included—is “disregarded”—when eligibility is determined, the expansion, in effect, applies to those with incomes at or below 138 percent of poverty.]
For more on how Medicaid works today, and how it will work under the Medicaid expansion, see:
Medicaid Today: Generally speaking, each state receives matching dollars from the federal government, and those matching rates vary across the states from 50 to 76 percent. This means that, for every dollar a state spends on Medicaid, the federal government contributes between $1.00 and $3.17. Federal matching rates are based on the per capita income of the states, so states with lower per capita incomes get higher matching rates.
Medicaid Expansion: In 2014, the Affordable Care Act gives states the opportunity to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all individuals with incomes at or below 138 percent of poverty (see note above), an income of about $31,809 for a family of four in 2012. That will extend coverage to many low-income adults currently left out of the program and simplify eligibility determinations across the program.
Federal law requires states to cover certain categories of people in Medicaid. In general, there are six categories of so-called “mandatory” individuals: 1) children, 2) pregnant women, 3) very low-income parents, 4) the elderly, and individuals who are 5) blind or 6) disabled. Eligibility levels for these groups of people varies by income:
- Children under age six with family incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($25,390 for a family of three in 2012)
- Children ages 6-19 with family incomes up to 100 percent of poverty ($19.090 for a family of three in 2012)
- Pregnant women with family incomes up to 133 percent of poverty
- Parents whose income meets the state’s AFDC (former welfare program) criteria in place as of July 1996
- People who are elderly, blind, or who have disabilities and who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may have incomes up to 74 percent of poverty ($8,266 for an individual in 2012)
- Certain people with severe disabilities who would qualify for SSI if they did not work
Elderly individuals and people with disabilities whose Medicare premiums are paid by Medicaid through the “QMB,” ”SLMB,” and “QI” programs—generally speaking, these are individuals who have incomes below 150 percent of poverty
States have the flexibility to increase these income limits to allow more people to qualify for Medicaid for several general categories of people, as follows:
- Low-income children, parents, and pregnant women with family incomes above mandatory cutoff levels and up to whatever income limit the states decide
- People who are blind, elderly, or disabled with incomes above the SSI level but below 100 percent of poverty ($10,830 for an individual in 2010)
- Nursing home residents with incomes above SSI levels but below 300 percent of poverty ($32,490 for an individual in 2010)
- People with disabilities who work and have incomes above the SSI limit
- Medically needy individuals who require institutional care but who have incomes that are too high to qualify for SSI—these individuals can deduct the cost of their institutional care from their income in order to qualify for Medicaid
The Affordable Care Act requires states to maintain the Medicaid eligibility levels, policies, and procedures that were in place in March 2010 (the date the Affordable Care Act was enacted) until the state has an operational exchange.
Medicaid Expansion: In 2014, states can expand their Medicaid programs to cover virtually all individuals under the age of 65 with incomes below 133 percent of poverty. Income eligibility for those over 65 will remain unchanged. For those newly eligible through this expansion, the federal government will cover 100 percent of costs for 2014 through 2016, gradually falling to 90 percent in 2020. The federal contribution will remain at 90 percent thereafter. States have the option to implement this expansion sooner.
In states that expand Medicaid, the historic federal Medicaid matching formula will still apply to individuals who meet the Medicaid eligibility criteria in place as of December 1, 2009.
For more information on current state-by-state eligibility, see Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Eligibility by State (May 2010) or Kaiser’s statehealthfacts.org and scroll down to “Medicaid Eligibility.”
Federal law requires states to provide a minimum benefit package in Medicaid. So-called “mandatory” benefits include physician services, hospital services, family planning, health center services, and nursing facility services. The benefit package for children is more comprehensive than the one for adults because federal law requires states to provide coverage for certain health screenings and services that are medically necessary. This requirement is called the Early and Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.
States are permitted to provide coverage for certain other health care services that are approved by the federal government. Such “optional” services include dental care, mental health care, eye glasses and vision care, coverage for prescription drugs, home health care, case management, and rehabilitation services. For a detailed list of what benefits state Medicaid programs cover, click here.
Medicaid Expansion: In states that take advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, there are specific benefit requirements for those who are newly eligible. For those individuals, states must provide a set of essential health benefits. For more information on Medicaid’s essential health benefits, see Designing the Essential Health Benefits for Your State: An Advocate’s Guide.
Medicaid provides health coverage for low-income children and adults, medical and long-term care coverage for people with disabilities, and assistance with health and long-term care expenses for low-income seniors. More than 58 million people rely on Medicaid services today, and millions more will qualify for Medicaid when the provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect in 2014.
Children receive health coverage through Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To learn more about CHIP, see the Children’s Healthsection.
This section of our website provides resources on Medicaid laws and regulations and keeps you up-to-date on the battle to sustain and improve this important program.
Medicaid Expansion Center
States that plan to expand Medicaid coverage in 2014 have much to do to prepare. In many states, advocates need support in making the case for expansion. The Medicaid Expansion Center offers information on everything from the Supreme Court decision’s effect on Medicaid to news from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), plus the best tools for helping your state make the most of the expansion.
Medicaid Defense Center
While some states move ahead to expand their Medicaid programs, the existing Medicaid program remains under fire at both the federal and state level. Many in Congress—and some governors, as well—seek to make deep cuts in Medicaid funding and to change the structure of the Medicaid program through proposals for block grants, per capita caps, and similar schemes. The Medicaid Defense Center features the latest news on the federal budget battle plus tools to help you fight for Medicaid funding in your state.
Obamacare Event Hands Out Condoms as Prizes
The Obamacare event took place at the University of Central Arkansas last weekend. It was hosted by a group called the Living Affected Corporation, which apparently has received a grant from the federal government to educate the public about Obamacare.
The event organizer spilled out a bag of condoms — as a couple whoops and hollers could be heard from the small crowd.
Then she says, “Ok, if anyone wants a paper application,” but she interrupts herself to pickup condoms that had fallen on the floor. “I have those as well.”
“So when you’re leaving, you can stop by my table and I’ll give you whatever — condoms — that box has a bunch in it. Anyway … Our corporation, LA Corp … And I’m waiting on my dental dams and female condom order that still hasn’t come in. If you ever need condoms, let me know because we have thousands — boxes of magnums, we get magnums a lot. So here is the prize table.”
The condom give-away was a training event with young Democrats, I’m told.
Is Obamacare on the rebound? Media turn to positive stories. (+video)
Positive headlines are creeping into the news coverage of Obamacare, amid a Democratic counteroffensive and signs the program could be turning a corner. But tough tests lie ahead.
Bit by bit, the media narrative around the travails of Obamacare and its main enrollment vehicle, HealthCare.gov, is starting to look up. Or to put it more precisely, it is no longer so crushingly negative.
After weeks of stories about website crashes and canceled health plans – and an extraordinary mea culpa from President Obama – a competing story line is starting to emerge. Slowly but surely, people are navigating the exchanges and getting insurance – for some, cheaper and better than what they had. Last week, The New York Times and Los Angeles Timestouted a “surge” in enrollment figures, especially in states that have their own exchanges.
This week, a Washington Post story described almost an Obamacare nirvana – people in rural Kentucky lining up and getting coverage, some for the first time in their lives.
Part of this wave of positive stories may be a media effect: Reporters (and the public) get tired of all the wall-to-wall negativity, and to keep interest up, seek out happy stories for a change of pace.
The Obama administration has also ramped up its public relations efforts on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), going around the national media and directly into local markets. On Tuesday, the administration
announced that seniors saved $8.9 billion on prescription drugs thanks to the ACA. And Democratic senators have headed off for Thanksgiving with marching orders: Find and publicize the ACA success stories. At the very least, say Democrats, they need to counter the Republican message machine and story-gathering.
“It’s true, the Democrats are more on the offensive than they were,” says Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. “But they still have serious problems. No one knows where this is going. And for Democrats, the last thing they want is for this to dominate the elections next year.”
This Saturday, Nov. 30, will be one moment of truth. That is the day the Obama administration promised HealthCare.gov would work smoothly for the vast majority of users, after the disastrous Oct. 1 launch. The definition of “vast majority” was later downgraded to 80 percent – with the remaining 20 percent enrolling by other means or still encountering slow loads and error messages.
On Tuesday, in a conference call with state and local elected officials, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised a “significantly different user experience” on HealthCare.gov by the end of the month. And with reporters on the line, she urged the officials “to not hesitate to recommend that people go to HealthCare.gov and get signed up.”
Secretary Sebelius has put her credibility on the line at a time when she can ill afford to see it go any lower. The problem for the Obama administration is that by announcing a hard deadline – Nov. 30 – for vast improvements on a once-profoundly dysfunctional website, it has raised expectations (again) for how well the site will work. As with the initial rollout, Obamacare opponents will be on the lookout for failures, and the media will surely cover them.
Another moment of truth will come when the administration reveals demographic data of people who have enrolled in coverage via the exchanges, possibly with the next official enrollment numbers in mid-December. The ACA will work only if less-healthy enrollees are balanced by enrollees without expensive health issues. On Tuesday’s conference call, Sebelius said she didn’t have demographic information on enrollees, but promised it “very soon.” Then she urged the county executive from Milwaukee to reach out to “young and healthy individuals.”
The daily report Tuesday from Kaiser Health News (KHN) was noteworthy for its positive stories:
- “Health law may offer part-time workers better options,” said one headline. The story talked about “mini-med” plans – low-cost, low-benefit plans that are no longer allowable under the ACA – and cited the case of a woman with a serious health problem who is likely to get better, subsidized coverage on the exchange.
- Another piece reported on Californians happy to have their insurance policies canceled. Some people, the story reported, had felt trapped with subpar plans but had kept them because of preexisting medical conditions. Now, under the ACA, people with health problems cannot be denied coverage.
- A story out of Philadelphia, highlighted websites that have been set up that allow people to calculate their health-care subsidy without going on HealthCare.gov – and if they’re not eligible, allow them to buy coverage directly from the site.
If they are eligible, however, they have to buy their coverage on the federal exchange. So ultimately, for those living in the 36 states that are served by HealthCare.gov, all roads lead back to that site. Among the challenges ahead for the federal site:
- By Saturday, the Obama administration says HealthCare.gov should be able to handle 50,000 users simultaneously. Whether that will be enough capacity is an open question. But it’s safe to say that if too many people wait till the last minute to sign up, there could be another wave of embarrassing website failures.
- People who want their insurance to begin on Jan. 1 now have until Dec. 23 to enroll. But again, if everyone waits until Dec. 23, that leaves the insurers just eight days – right during the holidays – to process all that paperwork.
- And about that paperwork… The “834” forms that are supposed to go to the insurance companies after consumers enroll on HealthCare.gov still need work, the HHS agency in charge of the site said Monday.
- Then there’s the issue of Healthcare.gov’s “back-office system,” which a week ago was still unbuilt. On Nov. 19, Henry Chao, a top official at HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said that between 30 and 40 percent of the IT system for the marketplace remained to be constructed. That sounded alarming, but a CMS spokeswoman said that that portion of the website is involved in paying federal subsidies to insurance companies and will not affect individuals.
Getting HealthCare.gov fully functioning in time still sounds like a high-wire act. If there are more major stumbles, the bad headlines will come roaring back.
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Uranium enrichment ‘a red line’ for Iran
In an address to Parliament in Tehran on Sunday, the Iranian President said the country made progress with world powers during talks over Tehran’s nuclear programme, but insisted the nation cannot be pushed to give up uranium enrichment.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran have not bowed to threats by any power and it will not do so,” he said.
Mr Rouhani repeated past declarations the country has a right to produce nuclear fuel, seeking to assure hard-line critics at home that Iran will not make sweeping concessions in the negotiations.
Talks ended without agreement in Geneva early on Sunday morning, but all sides said progress had been made and negotiations are scheduled to resume next week.
The West and its allies fear Iran’s uranium enrichment labs could one day produce weapons-grade material.
Iran insists it does not seek nuclear weapons and says its reactors are only for electricity and medical applications.
Mr Rouhani said asking Iran to end all uranium enrichment would be crossing a red line.
“National interests are our red line. Among those rights are nuclear rights within the framework of international law, including the right to enrich uranium on Iranian soil,” he said.
The US and others are considering easing economic sanctions in return for a possible suspension of 20 percent enrichment.
Rouhani said this proved sanctions had failed.
“They have come to the negotiating table to talk to us because they have realised that sanctions are not the answer,” he told Parliament.
The six powers party to the talks, especially France, expressed concern about a new reactor under construction that will make a plutonium by-product that could be used to build nuclear weapons, although Iran does not currently possess the technology required.
Making a nuclear weapon
How to enrich Uranium – Periodic Table of Videos
President Obama’s Statement on Iran Nuclear Program Deal: The World Will Be Safer
BREAKING: Deal Reached With Iran Halts Its Nuclear Program -
11/25/13 Former Amb. Bolton on the Obama’s Iran deal lies
Iran’s Arak heavy water nuclear reactor
Breaking: Explosion at Iran’s Nuclear Facility! Was it Israel?
UN Nuclear Watchdog says Iran can Double Uranium Enrichment
Iran’s ability to enrich Uranium in Qom to 20% doesn’t say anything about any nuclear bomb
Nuclear Power – Virtual Tour of Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility
Cold War Nuclear Factories [FULL VIDEO]
Reports: U.S. Unfreezes $8 Billion in Iranian Assets
Iranian officials praise ‘new path towards Iran’
The United States released $8 billion in frozen assets to Iran on Sunday in a move meant to ensure Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear pact signed over the weekend, according to top Iranian officials.
Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht confirmedon Monday morning that the U.S. government had unfrozen $8 billion in assets that had been previously blocked by the Obama administration.
The confirmation followed multiple reports of the release on Sunday in the Arab and Iranian news outlets.
Iran will be provided with about $7 billion in sanctions relief, gold, and oil sales under anuclear deal inked late Saturday in Geneva with Western nations.
Iranian officials lauded the deal as a path to opening up greater trade relations between Iran and the world.
“The agreement will open a new path towards Iran,” Alinaqi Khamoushi, the former head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce said on Sunday as he announced the release by the United States of some $8 billion in assets, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Nobakht confirmed the figure early Monday during a briefing with reporters in Tehran.
“The agreement will ease the anti-Iran sanctions, which will have significant impacts on the Iranian economy,” the state-run Fars News Agency quoted him as saying.
One senior GOP aide on Capitol Hill was not pleased with the reports.
“It’s pretty clear the White House and State Department have been lying to the American people since the beginning of this process so it wouldn’t shock me to learn they are lying about how much sanctions relief they’re giving Iran now,” said the aide.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) criticized the deal on Sunday, when he said to a Jewish audience that both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate were united in opposition.
“Democrats and Republicans are going to work to see that we don’t let up on these sanctions … until Iran gives up not only all of their weapons but all nuclear weapon capabilities,” Schumer said. “I want to leave you with that assurance.”
A State Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment on the reported assets relief.
Additionally, Iran announced on Sunday that its nuclear work will continue despite the deal, which aimed to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, who helped ink the deal, praised it for recognizing Iran’s right to enrich uranium, a key sticking point that had delayed the deal until Saturday evening.
“The [nuclear] program has been recognized and the Iranian people’s right to use the peaceful nuclear technology based on the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] and as an inalienable right has been recognized and countries are necessitated not to create any obstacle on its way,” Zarif told reporters over the weekend.
“The program will continue, and all the sanctions and violations against the Iranian nation under the pretext of the nuclear program will be removed gradually,” he added.
Iran’s most well-known nuclear sites will remain operational under the deal, according to Zarif, who presented a very different version of the agreement than that described by the White House on Saturday.
Over the next six months, Iran will see “the full removal of all [United Nations] Security Council, unilateral and multilateral sanctions, while the country’s enrichment program will be maintained,” Zarif said.
The Fordo and Natanz nuclear sites will also continue to run, he said.
“None of the enrichment centers will be closed and Fordo and Natanz will continue their work and the Arak heavy water [nuclear reactor] program will continue in its present form and no material [enriched uranium stockpiles] will be taken out of the country and all the enriched materials will remain inside the country,” Zarif said. “The current sanctions will move towards decrease, no sanctions will be imposed and Iran’s financial resources will return.”
America recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium up to 5 percent under the deal, according to both the Iranians and a White House brief on the deal.
The United States agreed to suspend “certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue,” according to a fact sheet provided by the White House.
Iran could earn another $4.2 billion in oil revenue under the deal.
Another “$400 million in governmental tuition assistance” could also be “transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students,” according to the White House.
The State Department denied that sanctions have been altered since an interim deal with Iran was announced.
“This report is false. Sanctions today are same as they were last week,” a senior State Department official said in response to the Fars report. “We will be forthcoming with guidance on how the technical terms of the relief package are worked out once all that is determined.”
Iran nuclear deal: Saudi Arabia warns it will strike out on its own
Saudi Arabia claims they were kept in the dark by Western allies over Iran nuclear deal and says it will strike out on its own
By Damien McElroy
A senior advisor to the Saudi royal family has accused its Western allies of deceiving the oil rich kingdom in striking the nuclear accord withIran and said Riyadh would follow an independent foreign policy.
Nawaf Obaid told a think tank meeting in London that Saudi Arabia was determined to pursue its own foreign and policy goals. Having in the past been reactive to events, the leading Sunni Muslim nation was determined to be pro-active in future.
Mr Obaid said that while Saudi Arabia knew that the US was talking directly to Iran through a channel in the Gulf state of Oman, Washington had not directly briefed its ally.
“We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.”
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In a statement the Saudi government gave a cautious welcome to the Geneva nuclear deal. It said “good intentions” could lead to a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s atomic programme. “This agreement could be a first step towards a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear programme, if there are good intentions,” the Saudi government said
But it warned that a comprehensive solution should lead to the “removal of all weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear, from the Middle East and the Gulf”.
A fellow of Harvard University’s Belfer Centre and adviser to Prince Mohammad, the Saudi ambassador to London, Mr Obaid said Saudi Arabia would continue to resist Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war. In particular he pointed to Iranian Revolutionary Guards involvement in battles in Syria on behalf of the regime.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) hugs French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius
“[Saudi Arabia] will be there to stop them wherever they are in Arab countries,” he said. “We cannot accept Revolutionary Guards running round Homs.”
Saudi Arabia’s fury at the diplomatic detente with Iran is commonly held with Israel. While both countries are in the same posion Saudi Arabia disavows any suggestion of an open alliance. Until the Palestinians have a state, Saudi Arabia will not work with Israel.
Saudi Arabia is increasingly at odds with Washington over Syria. It rejected a seat on the UN Security Council in protest at the body’s failure to “save” Syria.
Qatar is the latest Gulf Arab state to welcome the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, calling it a step toward greater stability in the region.
Saudi Arabia, has previously expressed unease about US overtures to Iran. The dialogue helped pushed along efforts by Washington and others to strike a deal with Iran seeking to ease Western concerns that Tehran could move toward nuclear weapons.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said the deal is an “important step toward safeguarding peace and stability in the region”.
Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have issued similar statements.
Iran nuclear deal ‘loophole’ may allow off-site reactor work
Nuclear agreement bans “further advances” at Arak reactor but off-site component work not explicitly banned.
Sunday’s agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program contains an apparent gap that could allow Tehran to build components off-site to install later in a nuclear reactor where it has promised to halt work, experts said.
They said any impact of the omission is likely to be small if Iran follows other undertakings in the interim accord, which is designed to restrain Tehran’s nuclear program for six months in return for limited sanctions relief.
But the gap, which one diplomat described as a potential “loophole”, could provide a test of Iran’s intentions, and demonstrates how difficult it will be to reach a final deal to resolve Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West once and for all.
Iran’s uncompleted heavy-water research reactor near the town of Arak emerged as one of the most important issues in marathon negotiations in Geneva last week that ended early on Sunday with a breakthrough deal.
Tehran has earlier said it could open the reactor as soon as next year. It says its purpose is only to make medical isotopes, but Western countries say it could also produce plutonium, one of two materials, along with enriched uranium, that can be used to make the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.
Much of the final day of negotiations was taken up with the major powers pressing hard for language that would stop Iran from completing the reactor.
In the deal, Iran agreed that it will “not make any further advances of its activities” at Arak, language that also covers its two big uranium enrichment plants, Fordow and Natanz.
Footnotes hammered out in the final hours of the talks set out a range of activities that would be forbidden at the reactor. For the half year covered by the agreement, Iran is barred from starting the reactor up, bringing fuel or heavy water to it, testing or producing more fuel for it, or installing any remaining components.
But no language explicitly prevents it from making components elsewhere, which could then be installed later.
Former chief UN nuclear inspector Olli Heinonen, now at Harvard university, said the measures were good, but could have been better: “I would have also included the manufacturing of key components,” he told Reuters in an e-mail.
One Western diplomat, who deals with nuclear issues but is not from one of the six world powers that negotiated the deal with Iran, said he did not see the gap as big.
While it was one of several possible “loopholes” in a very complicated agreement, the accord would still achieve its main aims, provided that Iran abides by it.
“If Iran is committed then none of these loopholes are fatal,” said the diplomat, who is based in Vienna, headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency which will play an expanded role monitoring Iran’s nuclear program.
Among other steps, Iran has agreed to the suspension of its most sensitive enrichment of uranium, to constraints on other atomic activities and to improved monitoring by the IAEA.
International inspectors say they are confident they can keep tabs on Iran’s declared nuclear activities at known sites, although without wider access they cannot rule out undeclared activity at secret locations.
The diplomat said the most important work to complete Arak is the work to be done at the plant which is barred by the accord, meaning that any manufacturing of components at another location may not be that significant for the timeline.
“The estimate of one to two years to actually get the thing going assumes everything required offsite is already procured and/or manufactured,” the diplomat said.
Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank, also noted the lack of prohibition on the manufacture of components but said most parts had probably already been built.
“I expect that most of the work on those components has already been completed, but no doubt some such work will continue,” he said. “Iran adheres to the principle that what is not prohibited is allowed.”
“DEVIL IN THE DETAIL”
Iran appears to have largely built the facility’s external structure in a valley among barren desert highlands, gradually installing key components over the years.
In May, UN nuclear inspectors observed that the reactor vessel had been delivered to the site.
But the IAEA’s latest quarterly report on Iran said other major parts – such as control room equipment, the refuelling machine and reactor cooling pumps – had yet to be put in place.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told Reuters on Nov. 13 that Iran still had “quite a lot to do” to complete the plant, which the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said has been under construction since mid-2004.
While attention has long focused on Iran’s established uranium enrichment work, its progress at Arak also rang alarm bells, raising concern that Tehran could pursue both possible bomb core alternatives – uranium and plutonium – simultaneously.
To make a plutonium bomb, Iran would also need to build a reprocessing plant to extract the material, and it has no declared plans to do so.
Nuclear analyst Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment think-tank said Iran might be able to do some Arak-related work off-site under Sunday’s interim accord.
“But the agreement puts a firewall around the reactor, meaning that no equipment will be installed … and no fuel will be loaded,” Hibbs said.
Middle East expert Shashank Joshi of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said it could be argued that the deal also covers building components at another location.
“Of course, the fact that we are having this argument is itself acknowledgment of a possible loophole. Remember the US-DPRK ‘leap day’ deal? Devil in the detail,” Joshi said, referring to an ultimately failed agreement between North Korea and the United States early last year.
Source: Netanyahu Scolded Obama in Phone Call on Iran Deal
“The prime minister made it clear to the most powerful man on earth that if he intends to stay the most powerful man on earth, it’s important to make a change in American policy because the practical result of his current policy is liable to lead him to the same failure that the Americans absorbed in North Korea and Pakistan, and Iran could be next in line.”
That was the message conveyed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to President Barack Obama in a private telephone call Sunday to discuss the interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program, according to a senior Israeli lawmaker in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.
The White House’s own official statement on the telephone call made no mention of any disagreement being aired, merely referring to “their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said that he would send a high-level diplomatic team to the U.S. to lobby for a tough final agreement with Iran that sees that country’s entire nuclear enrichment program dismantled.
In a development that may be related, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned Israel not to interfere with the emerging deal, perhaps voicing a sentiment shared by Obama and other diplomatic partners.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Proportions of uranium-238 (blue) and uranium-235 (red) found naturally versus enriched grades
Enriched uranium is a type of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process ofisotope separation. Natural uranium is 99.284% U238 isotope, with U235 only constituting about 0.711% of its weight. U235 is the onlynuclide existing in nature (in any appreciable amount) that is fissile with thermal neutrons.
Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency attempts to monitor and control enriched uranium supplies and processes in its efforts to ensure nuclear power generation safety and curb nuclear weapons proliferation.
During the Manhattan Project enriched uranium was given the codename oralloy, a shortened version of Oak Ridge alloy, after the location of the plants where the uranium was enriched. The term oralloy is still occasionally used to refer to enriched uranium. There are about 2,000 tonnes (t, Mg) of highly enriched uranium in the world, produced mostly for nuclear weapons, naval propulsion, and smaller quantities for research reactors.
The U238 remaining after enrichment is known as depleted uranium (DU), and is considerably less radioactive than even natural uranium, though still very dense and extremely hazardous in granulated form – such granules are a natural by-product of the shearing action that makes it useful for armor-penetrating weapons and radiation shielding. At present, 95% of the world’s stocks of depleted uranium remain in secure storage.
Slightly enriched uranium (SEU)
A drum of yellowcake (a mixture of uranium precipitates)
Slightly enriched uranium (SEU) has a 235U concentration of 0.9% to 2%. This new grade can be used to replace natural uranium (NU) fuel in some heavy water reactors like the CANDU. Fuel designed with SEU could provide additional benefits such as safety improvements or operational flexibility, normally the benefits were considered in safety area while retaining the same operational envelope. Safety improvements could lower positive reactivity feedback such as reactivity void coefficient. Operational improvements would consist in increasing the fuel burnup allowing fuel costs reduction because less uranium and fewer bundles are needed to fuel the reactor. This in turn reduces the quantity of used fuel and its subsequent management costs.
Reprocessed uranium (RepU)
Main article: Reprocessed uranium
Reprocessed uranium (RepU) is a product of nuclear fuel cycles involving nuclear reprocessing of spent fuel. RepU recovered from light water reactor (LWR) spent fuel typically contains slightly more U-235 than natural uranium, and therefore could be used to fuel reactors that customarily use natural uranium as fuel, such as CANDU reactors. It also contains the undesirable isotope uranium-236 which undergoes neutron capture, wasting neutrons (and requiring higher U-235 enrichment) and creating neptunium-237 which would be one of the more mobile and troublesome radionuclides in deep geological repository disposal of nuclear waste.
Low-enriched uranium (LEU)
Low-enriched uranium (LEU) has a lower than 20% concentration of 235U. For use in commercial light water reactors (LWR), the most prevalent power reactors in the world, uranium is enriched to 3 to 5% 235U. Fresh LEU used in research reactors is usually enriched 12% to 19.75% U-235, the latter concentration being used to replace HEU fuels when converting to LEU.
Highly enriched uranium (HEU)
A billet of highly enriched uranium metal
Highly enriched uranium (HEU) has a greater than 20% concentration of 235U or 233U. The fissile uranium in nuclear weapons usually contains 85% or more of 235U known as weapon(s)-grade, though for a crude, inefficient weapon 20% is sufficient (called weapon(s)-usable); in theory even lower enrichment is sufficient, but then the critical mass for unmoderated fast neutrons rapidly increases, approaching infinity at 6% 235U. For criticality experiments, enrichment of uranium to over 97% has been accomplished.
The very first uranium bomb, Little Boy dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in 1945, used 64 kilograms of 80% enriched uranium. Wrapping the weapon’s fissile core in a neutron reflector (which is standard on all nuclear explosives) can dramatically reduce the critical mass. Because the core was surrounded by a good neutron reflector, at explosion it comprised almost 2.5 critical masses. Neutron reflectors, compressing the fissile core via implosion, fusion boosting, and “tamping”, which slows the expansion of the fissioning core with inertia, allow nuclear weapon designs that use less than what would be one bare-sphere critical mass at normal density. The presence of too much of the 238U isotope inhibits the runaway nuclear chain reaction that is responsible for the weapon’s power. The critical mass for 85% highly enriched uranium is about 50 kilograms (110 lb), which at normal density would be a sphere about 17 centimetres (6.7 in) in diameter.
Later US nuclear weapons usually use plutonium-239 in the primary stage, but the secondary stage which is compressed by the primary nuclear explosion often uses HEU with enrichment between 40% and 80% along with the fusion fuel lithium deuteride. For the secondary of a large nuclear weapon, the higher critical mass of less-enriched uranium can be an advantage as it allows the core at explosion time to contain a larger amount of fuel. The 238U is not fissile but still fissionable by fusion neutrons.
HEU is also used in fast neutron reactors, whose cores require about 20% or more of fissile material, as well as in naval reactors, where it often contains at least 50% 235U, but typically does not exceed 90%. The Fermi-1 commercial fast reactor prototype used HEU with 26.5% 235U. Significant quantities of HEU are used in the production of medical isotopes, for example molybdenum-99 for technetium-99m generators.
Isotope separation is difficult because two isotopes of the same elements have very nearly identical chemical properties, and can only be separated gradually using small mass differences. (235U is only 1.26% lighter than 238U.) This problem is compounded by the fact that uranium is rarely separated in its atomic form, but instead as a compound (235UF6 is only 0.852% lighter than 238UF6.) A cascade of identical stages produces successively higher concentrations of 235U. Each stage passes a slightly more concentrated product to the next stage and returns a slightly less concentrated residue to the previous stage.
There are currently two generic commercial methods employed internationally for enrichment: gaseous diffusion (referred to as first generation) and gas centrifuge (second generation) which consumes only 2% to 2.5% as much energy as gaseous diffusion. Later generation methods will become established because they will be more efficient in terms of the energy input for the same degree of enrichment and the next method of enrichment to be commercialized will be referred to as third generation. Some work is being done that would use nuclear resonance; however there is no reliable evidence that any nuclear resonance processes have been scaled up to production.
Main article: Gaseous diffusion
Gaseous diffusion is a technology used to produce enriched uranium by forcing gaseous uranium hexafluoride (hex) through semi-permeable membranes. This produces a slight separation between the molecules containing 235U and 238U. Throughout the Cold War, gaseous diffusion played a major role as a uranium enrichment technique, and as of 2008 accounted for about 33% of enriched uranium production, but is now an obsolete technology that is steadily being replaced by the later generations of technology as the diffusion plants reach their ends-of-life.
Thermal diffusion utilizes the transfer of heat across a thin liquid or gas to accomplish isotope separation. The process exploits the fact that the lighter 235U gas molecules will diffuse toward a hot surface, and the heavier 238U gas molecules will diffuse toward a cold surface. The S-50 plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee was used during World War II to prepare feed material for the EMIS process. It was abandoned in favor of gaseous diffusion.
Main article: Gas centrifuge
A cascade of gas centrifuges at a U.S. enrichment plant
The gas centrifuge process uses a large number of rotating cylinders in series and parallel formations. Each cylinder’s rotation creates a strong centrifugal force so that the heavier gas molecules containing 238U move toward the outside of the cylinder and the lighter gas molecules rich in 235U collect closer to the center. It requires much less energy to achieve the same separation than the older gaseous diffusion process, which it has largely replaced and so is the current method of choice and is termed second generation. It has a separation factor per stage of 1.3 relative to gaseous diffusion of 1.005, which translates to about one-fiftieth of the energy requirements. Gas centrifuge techniques produce about 54% of the world’s enriched uranium.
Diagram of the principles of a Zippe-type gas centrifuge with U-238 represented in dark blue and U-235 represented in light blue
The Zippe centrifuge is an improvement on the standard gas centrifuge, the primary difference being the use of heat. The bottom of the rotating cylinder is heated, producing convection currents that move the 235U up the cylinder, where it can be collected by scoops. This improved centrifuge design is used commercially by Urenco to produce nuclear fuel and was used by Pakistan in their nuclear weapons program.
Laser processes promise lower energy inputs, lower capital costs and lower tails assays, hence significant economic advantages. Several laser processes have been investigated or are under development. Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation (SILEX) is well advanced and licensed for commercial operation in 2012.
Atomic vapor laser isotope separation (AVLIS)
Atomic vapor laser isotope separation employs specially tuned lasers to separate isotopes of uranium using selective ionization of hyperfine transitions. The technique uses lasers which are tuned to frequencies that ionize 235U atoms and no others. The positively charged 235U ions are then attracted to a negatively charged plate and collected.
Molecular laser isotope separation (MLIS)
Molecular laser isotope separation uses an infrared laser directed at UF6, exciting molecules that contain a 235U atom. A second laser frees a fluorine atom, leaving uranium pentafluoride which then precipitates out of the gas.
Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation (SILEX)
Separation of isotopes by laser excitation is an Australian development that also uses UF6. After a protracted development process involving U.S. enrichment company USEC acquiring and then relinquishing commercialization rights to the technology, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) signed a commercialization agreement with Silex Systems in 2006.[dead link] GEH has since built a demonstration test loop and announced plans to build an initial commercial facility. Details of the process are classified and restricted by intergovernmental agreements between United States, Australia, and the commercial entities. SILEX has been projected to be an order of magnitude more efficient than existing production techniques but again, the exact figure is classified. In August, 2011 Global Laser Enrichment, a subsidiary of GEH, applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a permit to build a commercial plant. In September 2012, the NRC issued a license for GEH to build and operate a commercial SILEX enrichment plant, although the company had not yet decided whether the project would be profitable enough to begin construction, and despite concerns that the technology could contribute to nuclear proliferation.
Schematic diagram of an aerodynamic nozzle. Many thousands of these small foils would be combined in an enrichment unit.
Aerodynamic enrichment processes include the Becker jet nozzle techniques developed by E. W. Becker and associates using the LIGA process and the vortex tube separation process. These aerodynamic separation processes depend upon diffusion driven by pressure gradients, as does the gas centrifuge. They in general have the disadvantage of requiring complex systems of cascading of individual separating elements to minimize energy consumption. In effect, aerodynamic processes can be considered as non-rotating centrifuges. Enhancement of the centrifugal forces is achieved by dilution of UF6 with hydrogen or helium as a carrier gas achieving a much higher flow velocity for the gas than could be obtained using pure uranium hexafluoride. The Uranium Enrichment Corporation of South Africa (UCOR) developed and deployed the continuous Helikon vortex separation cascade for high production rate low enrichment and the substantially different semi-batch Pelsakon low production rate high enrichment cascade both using a particular vortex tube separator design, and both embodied in industrial plant. A demonstration plant was built in Brazil by NUCLEI, a consortium led by Industrias Nucleares do Brasil that used the separation nozzle process. However all methods have high energy consumption and substantial requirements for removal of waste heat; none is currently still in use.
Electromagnetic isotope separation
Main article: Calutron
Schematic diagram of uranium isotope separation in a calutron shows how a strong magnetic field is used to redirect a stream of uranium ions to a target, resulting in a higher concentration of uranium-235 (represented here in dark blue) in the inner fringes of the stream.
In the electromagnetic isotope separation process (EMIS), metallic uranium is first vaporized, and then ionized to positively charged ions. The cations are then accelerated and subsequently deflected by magnetic fields onto their respective collection targets. A production-scale mass spectrometer named the Calutron was developed during World War II that provided some of the 235U used for the Little Boy nuclear bomb, which was dropped over Hiroshima in 1945. Properly the term ‘Calutron’ applies to a multistage device arranged in a large oval around a powerful electromagnet. Electromagnetic isotope separation has been largely abandoned in favour of more effective methods.
One chemical process has been demonstrated to pilot plant stage but not used. The French CHEMEX process exploited a very slight difference in the two isotopes’ propensity to change valency in oxidation/reduction, utilising immiscible aqueous and organic phases. An ion-exchange process was developed by the Asahi Chemical Company in Japan which applies similar chemistry but effects separation on a proprietary resin ion-exchange column.
Plasma separation process (PSP) describes a technique that makes use of superconducting magnets and plasma physics. In this process, the principle of ion cyclotron resonance is used to selectively energize the 235U isotope in a plasma containing a mix of ions. The French developed their own version of PSP, which they called RCI. Funding for RCI was drastically reduced in 1986, and the program was suspended around 1990, although RCI is still used for stable isotope separation.
Separative work unit
“Separative work” – the amount of separation done by an enrichment process – is a function of the concentrations of the feedstock, the enriched output, and the depleted tailings; and is expressed in units which are so calculated as to be proportional to the total input (energy / machine operation time) and to the mass processed. Separative work is not energy. The same amount of separative work will require different amounts of energy depending on the efficiency of the separation technology. Separative work is measured in Separative work units SWU, kg SW, or kg UTA (from the German Urantrennarbeit – literally uranium separation work)
- 1 SWU = 1 kg SW = 1 kg UTA
- 1 kSWU = 1 tSW = 1 t UTA
- 1 MSWU = 1 ktSW = 1 kt UTA
The work necessary to separate a mass of feed of assay into a mass of product assay , and tails of mass and assay is given by the expression
where is the value function, defined as
The feed to product ratio is given by the expression
whereas the tails to product ratio is given by the expression
For example, beginning with 102 kilograms (225 lb) of NU, it takes about 90 SWU to produce 10 kilograms (22 lb) of LEU in 235U content to 4.5%, at a tails assay of 0.3%.
The number of separative work units provided by an enrichment facility is directly related to the amount of energy that the facility consumes. Modern gaseous diffusion plants typically require 2,400 to 2,500 kilowatt-hours (kW·h), or 8.6–9 gigajoules, (GJ) of electricity per SWU while gas centrifuge plants require just 50 to 60 kW·h (180–220 MJ) of electricity per SWU.
A large nuclear power station with a net electrical capacity of 1300 MW requires about 25 tonnes per year (25 t/a) of LEU with a 235U concentration of 3.75%. This quantity is produced from about 210 t of NU using about 120 kSWU. An enrichment plant with a capacity of 1000 kSWU/a is, therefore, able to enrich the uranium needed to fuel about eight large nuclear power stations.
In addition to the separative work units provided by an enrichment facility, the other important parameter to be considered is the mass of natural uranium (NU) that is needed to yield a desired mass of enriched uranium. As with the number of SWUs, the amount of feed material required will also depend on the level of enrichment desired and upon the amount of 235U that ends up in the depleted uranium. However, unlike the number of SWUs required during enrichment which increases with decreasing levels of 235U in the depleted stream, the amount of NU needed will decrease with decreasing levels of 235U that end up in the DU.
For example, in the enrichment of LEU for use in a light water reactor it is typical for the enriched stream to contain 3.6% 235U (as compared to 0.7% in NU) while the depleted stream contains 0.2% to 0.3% 235U. In order to produce one kilogram of this LEU it would require approximately 8 kilograms of NU and 4.5 SWU if the DU stream was allowed to have 0.3% 235U. On the other hand, if the depleted stream had only 0.2% 235U, then it would require just 6.7 kilograms of NU, but nearly 5.7 SWU of enrichment. Because the amount of NU required and the number of SWUs required during enrichment change in opposite directions, if NU is cheap and enrichment services are more expensive, then the operators will typically choose to allow more 235U to be left in the DU stream whereas if NU is more expensive and enrichment is less so, then they would choose the opposite.
- Uranium enrichment calculator designed by the WISE Uranium Project
The opposite of enriching is downblending; surplus HEU can be downblended to LEU to make it suitable for use in commercial nuclear fuel.
The HEU feedstock can contain unwanted uranium isotopes: 234U is a minor isotope contained in natural uranium; during the enrichment process, its concentration increases but remains well below 1%. High concentrations of 236U are a byproduct from irradiation in a reactor and may be contained in the HEU, depending on its manufacturing history. HEU reprocessed from nuclear weapons material production reactors (with an 235U assay of approx. 50%) may contain 236U concentrations as high as 25%, resulting in concentrations of approximately 1.5% in the blended LEU product. 236U is a neutron poison; therefore the actual 235U concentration in the LEU product must be raised accordingly to compensate for the presence of 236U.
The blendstock can be NU, or DU, however depending on feedstock quality, SEU at typically 1.5 wt% 235U may used as a blendstock to dilute the unwanted byproducts that may be contained in the HEU feed. Concentrations of these isotopes in the LEU product in some cases could exceed ASTM specifications for nuclear fuel, if NU, or DU were used. So, the HEU downblending generally cannot contribute to the waste management problem posed by the existing large stockpiles of depleted uranium.
A major downblending undertaking called the Megatons to Megawatts Program converts ex-Soviet weapons-grade HEU to fuel for U.S. commercial power reactors. From 1995 through mid-2005, 250 tonnes of high-enriched uranium (enough for 10,000 warheads) was recycled into low-enriched-uranium. The goal is to recycle 500 tonnes by 2013. The decommissioning programme of Russian nuclear warheads accounted for about 13% of total world requirement for enriched uranium leading up to 2008.
The United States Enrichment Corporation has been involved in the disposition of a portion of the 174.3 tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) that the U.S. government declared as surplus military material in 1996. Through the U.S. HEU Downblending Program, this HEU material, taken primarily from dismantled U.S. nuclear warheads, was recycled into low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, used by nuclear power plants to generate electricity.
- A uranium downblending calculator designed by the WISE Uranium Project
Global enrichment facilities
The following countries are known to operate enrichment facilities: Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Belgium, Iran, Italy, and Spain hold an investment interest in the French Eurodif enrichment plant, with Iran’s holding entitling it to 10% of the enriched uranium output. Countries that had enrichment programs in the past include Libya and South Africa, although Libya’s facility was never operational. Australia has developed a laser enrichment process known as SILEX, which it intends to pursue through financial investment in a U.S. commercial venture by General Electric. It has also been claimed that Israel has a uranium enrichment program housed at the Negev Nuclear Research Center site near Dimona.
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Israel blasts Iran nuclear deal as ‘historic mistake’
By Hazel Ward
Israel on Sunday lashed out at the Geneva nuclear deal brokered by world powers as being heavily stacked in Iran’s favour, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a “historic mistake.”
Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday that “what was achieved yesterday in Geneva is not a historic agreement but rather a historic mistake,” according to a post on spokesman Ofir Gendelman’s Twitter account.
“This is a bad agreement,” said Netanyahu’s office in an earlier statement.
“It gives Iran exactly what it wanted — a significant easing of sanctions and allows it to keep hold of the most essential parts of its nuclear programme,” it said just hours after the historic accord was signed in Switzerland.
“The agreement allows Iran to continue enriching uranium and leaves all the centrifuges in place which allow it to create fissile material for nuclear weapons.
“Economic pressure on Iran could have produced a much better agreement that would have led to a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear capacities,” it concluded.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the agreement conferred legitimacy on Iran’s uranium enrichment programme in what he described as a diplomatic coup for the Islamic republic.
“This agreement is the greatest diplomatic victory of Iran, which has gained recognition for its so-called legitimate right to enrich uranium,” he told public radio.
‘All options are on table’
The hawkish, blunt-talking chief diplomat, who returned to office earlier this month after seeing off graft charges, stressed that “all options are on the table”.
“The responsibility for the security of the Jewish people and the population of Israel remains the sole responsibility of the Israeli government,” Lieberman said.
“All decisions in this regard will be taken independently and responsibly,” he added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) speaks near Israeli Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelbl …
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the agreement was likely to bring Iran “closer” rather than further away from building a bomb.
“The current deal … is more likely to bring Iran closer to having a bomb. Israel cannot participate in the international celebration, which is based on Iranian deception and world self-delusion,” he said in a statement from his office.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the far-right Jewish Home, said Israel was not bound by the Geneva deal and had a right to self-defence.
“Iran is threatening Israel and Israel has the right to defend itself,” he told army radio.
Israel and much of the West believe Iran’s nuclear programme is a front for a weapons drive, a charge which Iran has repeatedly denied saying it is only for civilian purposes.
Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements towards the Jewish state, notably under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Israel has repeatedly warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat, refusing to rule out a preventative military strike on Iran’s atomic infrastructure.
The holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad, who was president for eight years, often questioned Israel’s right to exist, famously saying Israel should be “wiped from the page of time,” which was mistranslated as “wiped off the map”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, a key player in the marathon talks that led to the interim deal, had earlier tried to head off criticism by saying the agreement would push back the threat and ultimately make the Jewish state more secure.
“This first step, I want to emphasise, actually rolls back the programme from where it is today, enlarges the breakout time, which would not have occurred unless this agreement existed.
“It will make our partners in the region safer. It will make our ally Israel safer,” Kerry told reporters.
Israel — widely assumed to be the Middle East’s only atomic-armed nation — has warned the West against being hoodwinked by Iran’s apparent newfound moderation since President Hassan Rouhani, himself a former nuclear negotiator, replaced Ahmadinejad in August.
Kerry said Netanyahu had been updated on progress in the talks and that any differences between the United States and Israel on the issue were cosmetic.
“There is no difference whatsoever between the US and Israel of what the end goal is — that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon,” he added.
Abject Surrender by the United States
What does Israel do now?
BY JOHN BOLTON
Negotiations for an “interim” arrangement over Iran’s nuclear weapons program finally succeeded this past weekend, as Security Council foreign ministers (plus Germany) flew to Geneva to meet their Iranian counterpart. After raising expectations of a deal by first convening on November 8-10, it would have been beyond humiliating to gather again without result. So agreement was struck despite solemn incantations earlier that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective. Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement. Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.” This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States.
In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.
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Segment 1: Democrats Go Nuclear And Eliminate 60 Vote Filibuster Rule — Videos
Raw: Senate Votes to Change Filibuster Rules
[Look] Sen. Rand Paul Slams Harry Reid A BIG BULLY, DICTATOR for Killing Filibuster, Breaing Rules
Mitch McConnell: Nuclear Option Doesn’t ‘Distract from Obamacare,’ It ‘Reminds’ Voters of It
Senate Democrats Vote To Change Filibuster Rules
Nuclear Filibuster option explained to Obama Voter
Reid, McConnell take drastically different views on US Senate filibuster rule change
Senate Votes To Change Filibuster Rules In Place Since 1789
Alexander colloquy with Sen. McConnell on filibuster rules change
Senate Invokes “Nuclear Option” To Soften Rules Ending Filibusters
Senate Votes To Change Filibuster Rules In Place Since 1789 – Invoking So Called “Nuclear Option”
The Nuclear Option: The Filibuster “Power Grab” in the Senate
Recent attention on what many believe to be a dysfunctional Senate has focused the national debate squarely on the institution’s complex parliamentary rules of procedure. Specifically, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced plans to consider a legislative manuever known as the Nuclear Option to change the rules of the Senate in order to curtail the use of the filibuster and facilitate the confirmation of President Obama’s judicial and executive nominees. The filibuster allows senators to speak for as long as they wish, on any topic they choose, unless three-fifths of the Senate votes to end debate by invoking cloture. Opponents of the Nuclear Option argue that it is a power grab because it allows Senate majorities to circumvent the regular order and change the rules of the Senate with a simple majority vote over the objection of Senate minorities. This, proponents argue, inevitably undermines deliberation. The result is an errosion of one of the fundamental roles of the Senate. Join us as we debate and discuss the filibuster, proposed rules changes, and the traditional role of the United States Senate in the legislative process.
Reid, Democrats trigger ‘nuclear’ option; eliminate most filibusters on nominees
The partisan battles that have paralyzed Washington in recent years took a historic turn Thursday, as Senate Democrats eliminated filibusters for most presidential nominations, severely curtailing the political leverage of the Republican minority in the Senate and assuring an escalation of partisan warfare.
Saying that “enough is enough,” President Obama welcomed the end of what he called the abuse of the Senate’s advise and consent function, which he said had turned into “a reckless and relentless tool” to grind the gears of government to a halt.
While “neither party has been blameless for these tactics,” Obama said in a statement to reporters at the White House, “today’s pattern of obstruction . . . just isn’t normal; it’s not what our founders envisioned.” He cited filibusters against executive branch appointments and judicial nominees on grounds that he said were based simply on opposition to “the policies that the American people voted for in the last election.”
“This isn’t obstruction on substance, on qualifications,” he said. “It’s just to gum up the works.”
The rule change means that federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has long been required to end debate and proceed to an up-or-down majority vote to confirm or reject the nomination.
The change does not apply to Supreme Court nominations. But the vote, mostly along party lines, dramatically alters the landscape for both Democratic and Republican presidents, especially if their own political party holds a majority of, but fewer than 60, Senate seats.
[Follow our live blog for the latest updates.]
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of a power grab and suggested that they will regret their decision if Republicans regain control of the chamber.
“We’re not interested in having a gun put to our head any longer,” McConnell said. “Some of us have been around here long enough to know that the shoe is sometimes on the other foot.” McConnell then addressed Democrats directly, saying: “You may regret this a lot sooner than you think.”
He added later: “The solution to this problem is at the ballot box. We look forward to having a great election in 2014.”
In his remarks at the White House, Obama called the use of the filibuster over the five years of his tenure “an unprecedented pattern of obstruction in Congress that’s prevented too much of the American people’s business from getting done.” Saying that the tactic has blocked bipartisan compromises, prevented qualified people from filling critical posts and stymied legislation to create jobs and limit gun violence, he said: “It’s harmed our economy, and it’s been harmful to our democracy.”
“A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can’t let it become normal,” Obama said.
“So the vote today I think is an indication that a majority of senators believe, as I believe, that enough is enough,” he said. He added: “The American people deserve better than politicians who run for election telling them how terrible government is, and then devoting their time in elected office to trying to make government not work as often as possible.” He did not take any questions after his remarks in the White House briefing room.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned Democrats against the rule change on Wednesday, saying that if the GOP reclaimed the Senate majority, Republicans would further alter the rules to include Supreme Court nominees, so that Democrats could not filibuster a Republican pick for the nation’s highest court.
Reacting to Republican criticism after the vote, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) called the move “a huge step in the right direction” and denied that it somehow broke Senate rules.
“The Senate broke no rules,” he said in a floor speech. “We simply used the rules to make sure that the Senate could function and that we could get our nominees through.”
The vote to change the rule passed 52 to 48. Three Democrats — Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) — joined 45 Republicans in opposing the measure. Levin is a longtime senator who remembers well the years when Democratic filibusters blocked nominees of Republican presidents; Manchin and Pryor come from Republican-leaning states.
Levin denounced both Republicans and Democrats in a floor speech after the vote. He said GOP obstruction of Obama’s nominees has been “irresponsible” and “partisan gamesmanship.” Republicans “are contributing to the destruction of an important check against majority overreach,” he said.
But Democrats have used the filibuster in the past, and “changing the rules by fiat” means that “there are no rules” in the Senate any longer,” he said. “Today we are once again moving down a destructive path,” Levin said.
Infuriated by what he sees as a pattern of obstruction and delay over Obama’s nominees, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the so-called “nuclear option” by proposing a motion to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millett, one of the judicial nominees whom Republicans recently blocked by a filibuster, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Senate voted 57 to 40, with three abstentions, to reconsider Millett’s nomination. Several procedural votes followed. The Senate parliamentarian, speaking through Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber’s president pro tempore, then ruled that 60 votes are needed to cut off a filibuster and move to a final confirmation vote. Reid appealed that ruling, asking senators to decide whether it should stand.
The Democratic victory paved the way for the confirmation of Millett and two other nominees to the D.C. appeals court. All have recently been stymied by GOP filibusters, amid Republican assertions that the critical appellate court simply did not need any more judges.
Under its new rules, the Senate subsequently voted 55 to 43 Thursday afternoon to move ahead with Millett’s nomination. Two senators voted present.
Senate rules still require up to 30 hours of debate on the Millett nomination. So a final confirmation vote on the nomination is expected to be held in mid-December after the two-week Thanksgiving recess.
[Read: What the Senate change means.]
Many Senate majorities have thought about using this technical maneuver to get around centuries of parliamentary precedent, but none has done so in a unilateral move on a major change of rules or precedents. This simple-majority vote has been executed in the past to change relatively minor precedents involving how to handle amendments; for example, one such change short-circuited the number of filibusters that the minority party could deploy on nominations.
Reid has rattled his saber on the filibuster rules at least three other times in the past three years, yielding each time to a bipartisan compromise brokered by the chamber’s elder statesmen. But this time, no deal emerged.
The main protagonists for the rules change have been junior Democrats elected in the last six or seven years, who have alleged that Republicans have used the arcane filibuster rules to create a procedural logjam that has left the Senate deadlocked. Upon arriving in 2009, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said, he found that “the Senate was a graveyard for good ideas.”
As he recounted in a speech this week, Udall said, “I am sorry to say that little has changed. The digging continues.”
[Read: The hist ory of this fight.]
Reid’s move is a reversal of his position in 2005, when he was minority leader and fought the GOP majority’s bid to change rules on a party-line vote. A bipartisan, rump caucus led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) defused that effort.
At the time, McConnell was the No. 2 GOP leader and helped push the effort to eliminate filibusters on the George W. Bush White House’s judicial selections. Eight years later, McConnell, now the minority leader, has grown publicly furious over Reid’s threats to use the same maneuver.
Democrats contend that this GOP minority, with a handful of senators elected as tea party heroes, has overrun McConnell’s institutional inclinations and served as a procedural roadblock on most rudimentary things. According to the Congressional Research Service, from 1967 through 2012, majority leaders had to file motions to try to break a filibuster of a judicial nominee 67 times — and 31 of those, more than 46 percent — occurred in the last five years of an Obama White House and Democratic majority.
Republicans contend that their aggressive posture is merely a natural growth from a decades-long war over the federal judiciary, noting that what prompted the 2005 rules showdown were at least 10 filibusters of GOP judicial nominees. To date, only a handful of Obama’s judicial selections have gone to a vote and been filibustered by the minority.
However, many Republicans, weary from the third rules fight this year, seemed to have adopted a resigned indifference to this latest threat, as opposed to the heated rhetoric in mid-July when the issue last flared up.
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White House reaction to sinking poll numbers
Poll: Obamacare support, Obama approval sink to new lows
WH aides feared ObamaCare site issues before launch
BREAKING! White House Admits Obama LIED About OBAMACARE!
Obamacare, The Numbers Don’t Lie – Obamacare Results Revealed In Polls, Sign-Ups
Ron Paul: Obamacare ‘A Conspiracy Of Stupidity’
Obama Not Feeling Down Over Low Poll Numbers
Judge Jeanine: Obama Setting Americans Up For Identity Theft Through Obamacare!
Judge Jeanine to Barack Obama: “No One Believes You Anymore!” – Opening Statement – 11-2-13
House Hearing On Docs Showing Obama Admin Knew About Obamacare Website Problems In March
Bill Johnson Talks the Security of Healthcare.gov on Fox Business
CBS Healthcare gov Chief Project Manager Kept in Dark About Website Problems
Video: Congressman Busts CBS News For Misleading Report on Obamacare Website Security Risks
Tony Trenkle, CMS CIO, steps down for ‘private sector’
Interview with Tony Trenkle, CIO, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
How White House “SWAT Team” Missed HealthCare.gov
U.S. Chief Tech Officer Testifies on Obamacare Site
Rep. Cory Gardner Questions Security of Obamacare Website
“I Am Sorry” Obama Apologizes For LYING About ObamaCare
Sean Hannity Interviews Ann Coulter: Obamacare Planned Intentional Disaster to Move to Single Payer
MEDIA REPORTS – Obamacare’s Unhealthy Numbers Democrats In A Full Panic
CBS News: 61 Percent Of Americans Disapprove Of Obamacare
A majority of Americans are not pleased with the job President Barack Obama has been doing.
A new CBS News poll finds that Obama’s approval rating has plummeted to 37 percent, a nine-point drop from his 46 percent rating in October. His disapproval rating is at the highest CBS News Polls have indicated, climbing to 57 percent.
The faulty Affordable Care Act rollout hasn’t helped matters as only 31 percent of Americans now approve of Obamacare, indicating a drop of 12 points since last month. It’s the lowest number recorded by CBS News Polls for the favorability of the law. A staggering 61 percent disapprove of the law.
Only 7 percent of Americans believe the law is working well and should be kept in place while one in 10 Americans believe thehealth care exchange sign-ups have been going well. Conversely, CBS News Polls found that two-thirds don’t believe enrolling for Obamacare is going well.
A majority of Americans also don’t believe the government will be able to fix the faulty HealthCare.gov website. Almost two-thirds believe the website will be fixed by the Dec. 1 deadline set by the administration, compared to 34 percent of people who believe it will be.
Last week, federal health officials revealed that just 26,794 people enrolled for health insurance through the federal website during the first, flawed month of operations, and a total of 106,000 nationwide — a small fraction of what they had projected.
Obama has apologized for the faulty rollout and for the millions of Americans who are losing their coverage due to the law. A CBS News analysis found that nearly 5 million Americans will lose their current health plan due to Obamacare.
In the wake of growing criticism over the cancellations, Obama tried to make good on a previous promise, saying those who like their insurance can keep it for one more year. However, the ultimate decision still lies with insurers and state insurance commissioners.
EXCLUSIVE — MR. PRESIDENT, TEAR DOWN THIS WEBSITE
by REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-TX)
Many Americans have experienced the ill effects of Obamacare. That’s because the President’s broken promises are piling up. He promised that if you like your health care plan you can keep it. But for millions of Americans, that’s not true.
He said that the law would make health insurance more affordable. But across the country, Americans are seeing their premiums go up, not down. And when launching Healthcare.gov, the Obama administration said that the website was safe, secure and open for business. We now know that isn’t true, either.
The data obtained by Healthcare.gov is one of the largest collections of personal information ever assembled. It links information between seven different federal agencies and state agencies and government contractors.
The website requires users to provide personal information like birth dates, social security numbers, and household incomes in order to obtain information about potential health coverage. But security experts have expressed concern about flaws in the site that put this personal data at risk and subject users to the threat of identity theft.
This week, the Science Committee, which I chair, held a hearing to examine security and privacy concerns about the Obamacare website. We heard from witnesses outside the government who are experts in cybersecurity and hacking websites. They provided a convincing evidence of the vulnerabilities that underlie Healthcare.gov.
One of our witnesses, David Kennedy, is a “white hat hacker,” who is hired by companies around the world to test the security of their online systems by essentially hacking their websites. During the hearing, Mr. Kennedy gave a demonstration of the healthcare.gov website’s vulnerabilities showing in real-time that hackers can access personal information on the website. It’s clear that not only is the website vulnerable, it’s under attack.
When asked whether he believed the website had already been compromised by hackers, Mr. Kennedy testified that he believed the website has either already been hacked or soon will be.
The massive amount of personal information collected by the Healthcare.gov website creates a tempting target for scam artists. Identity theft jeopardizes credit ratings and personal finances.
Here are some real-life examples of people who have already had misfortune after using the Obamacare website. Mr. Thomas Dougall of South Carolina received a surprise phone call from a stranger one Friday evening explaining that he had just downloaded a letter off the Healthcare.gov website containing Dougall’s personal information.
And when Lisa Martinson of Missouri called Healthcare.gov’s customer service after forgetting her password, she was told three different people were given access to her account, address and social security number.
Aside from technological vulnerabilities, it turns out that federal employees—called navigators—who help users apply for insurance on the Healthcare.gov website have not received background checks. Yet they are able to access the personal information of thousands of people.
These threats to Americans’ well-being and financial security should make us question the future of Obamacare. Perhaps it is time to take Obamacare off of life support. Americans deserve a healthcare system that works and that they can trust.
The Obama administration has a responsibility to ensure that the personal and financial data collected by the government is secure. It is clear that is not the case today. In their haste to launch Healthcare.gov, it appears the administration cut corners that leave the site open to hackers and other online criminals.
Given the distressing testimony we heard at the Science Committee’s hearing about Healthcare.gov, there is only one reasonable course of action. Mr. President, take down this website.
Obamacare, Another American Scandal Under Obama
Obamacare (ACA), is a prime example of cronyism in President Barack Hussien Obama’s administration, according to Bill Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard.
“It’s big government at work and crony big government at work and the Obama administration at work and Obamacare at work,” Mr. Kristol on TV saturday.
“It just exemplifies why someone of us have been so opposed to Obamacare and so insistent that the core conservative agenda for the next two years . . . has to be to the repeal of Obamacare.”
Mr. Kristol believes the social engineering behind the healthcare law “really brings home” how radical it is.
“There are a ton of liberal policies that tax people to give benefits to the poor, the elderly, or to students, or others and . . . people like us tend not to like those policies very much, think they’re much too extravagant and need to be reformed . . . but that’s one thing,” he said.
“They still don’t really intrude on your personal liberty and your personal life quite the way this does.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich last week compared the Affordable Care Act to the Watergate Scandal, but Mr. Kristol believes the healthcare law is far worse.
“Obamacare, honestly, will do more damage to the country than Watergate ever could’ve done,” he said.
“Watergate was stupid, petty, partisan politics and [President Richard] Nixon did misuse the Oval Office and then did lie to the country about it, probably.
“But, here, we have a legislative takeover of a huge percentage of the economy and an area that’s so important to everyone’s lives. So, no, I haven’t really thought of that analogy.”
On the question of Iran continuing to build its nuclear weapons program, Mr. Kristol believes the United States must intervene. Whether that will happen, he says, is doubtful.
“The United States should prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but I don’t think the Obama administration is going to,” he said.
“They don’t know they believe in the negotiations. They think there’s real hope that we can have an interim deal. I have no confidence, unfortunately, that the US is going to do the right thing here.”
Therefore, he said, Israel may have to act on its own in stopping Iran’s nuclear might.
“If they do, we should certainly support them. So this could be a huge issue in the next 6 to 9 months.
Between Obamacare and Iran, it will bring home how feckless, how irresponsible a leader Mr. Obama is.
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Segment 0: Repeal Obamacare Tax (ROT) — ROT NOW! — Videos
Higher Taxes In 2013 Can’t Help The Government (But Can Hurt You!)
Obama in 2009: “Absolutely Not a Tax Increase”
Reality Check: If Healthcare Law Is A Tax Is It Now Invalid?
Ben Swann Truth in Media: Obamacare Navigators Won’t Have To Pass Background Checks
Obama: Healthcare Law Raised Taxes On “Somethings” – Obamacare – Wake Up America!
ObamaCare Obama’s Regressive Tax on the Middle Class
Fail-Safe In Obamacare Puts Taxpayers On The Hook For Insurer Bailout – Wake Up America
Judge Jeanine Pirro – Unions Dodging Obamacare Tax – RPT: Rule Allows Labor Unions A Pass
Busted: Audio of Obama Lawyer Arguing Obamacare Is a Tax Stuns WH Chief of Staff Lew
ObamaCare Slaps 3.8% Net Income Tax On Individuals, Trusts And Estates
New ObamaCare Taxes You Probably Don’t Know About
Wake Up, America – Aka, “Obamacare Tax’ New Term: Shared Responsibility Payments
Reporter Uncovers Massive Fraud In Obamacare !!
Glenn Beck- ObamaCare Lies
Pelosi: ObamaCare Is Not “In Trouble”
The Obamacare Extension – Government Without Painkillers
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I Ate All Your Halloween Candy, Camilla
YouTube Challenge – I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy 2013
YouTube Challenge – I Told My Kid I Ate All Their Halloween Candy Again
YouTube Challenge – I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy
Glenn Beck Redistributes Children’s Candy in Hilarious Halloween Lesson on Obamacare
“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” – Barack Obama
OBAMACARE FREE HEALTH CARE FOR YOU JUST SEND THE BILL TO YOUR KIDS & GRANDKIDS
Jack Webb Schools Barack Obama on America
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Segment 0: Wall Street Journal On Obamacare: 79.8 Million Could Lose Coverage With Employer With (18 Million to 50 Million Actually Losing Coverage) — Edie Littlefield Sundby Loses Great Health Insurance Plan and Doctor Because of Obamacare — Shame On Obama — Videos
Obamacare sticker shock!
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
While gasoline prices may be going down, premiums, deductibles and co-payments for health insurance plans are skyrocketing.
Beginning Jan.1 all individual and group employer-provided health insurance must comply with the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
More than 156 million Americans have their health insurance plans provided by their employers and another 25 million purchase their health insurance in the individual market, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
More than 60 million people age 65 and older and those younger with disabilities qualify for Medicare, a social insurance program that pays on average less than 50 percent of their health care costs. The balance of their health care costs must be paid for by the individual or the individual’s supplemental insurance.
More than 60 million Americans who are poor qualify for Medicaid, a government insurance program jointly funded by federal and state governments for individuals of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care. Obamacare expanded Medicaid coverage to those earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty line (about $15,000 for an individual and $32,500 for a family of four). Twenty-four states have opted out of the Medicaid expansion, including Texas.
Those who do not qualify for Medicaid because their earned income is higher than the federal poverty line may qualify for subsidies or credits paid for by taxpayers if they purchase a plan from one of the insurance companies offering them on the new health insurance exchanges.
Most individuals and small group employers and their employees cannot keep their existing health insurance plans because of Obamacare. They are shocked by the high premiums, deductibles and co-payments of the new plans offered by insurance companies to replace their existing health insurance plans.
Credit: Texas Public Policy Foundation
One reason the premiums and deductibles for non-grandfathered (not in existence on March 23, 2010) individual and small group employer (employers with 50 or fewer employees) health care insurance plans are significantly increasing is Obamacare requires the insurance companies to offer a minimum core package of items and services referred to as Essential Health Benefits (EHB). The only plans not required to have EHB are fully insured large group plans, self-funded administrative services only plans and grandfathered plans.
These essential health benefits fall into 10 categories: ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity and newborn care, mental health services and addiction treatment, rehabilitative services and devices, pediatric services, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease treatment. These EHBs must be included for plans offered both outside and inside the Health Insurance Marketplace such as those plans you find on the website healthcare.gov.
A second reason the premiums, deductibles and co-payments for non-grandfathered health insurance plans are increasing is that individuals with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage and the plans cannot have a maximum lifetime limit for medical expenses.
Millions of Americans, because of their age, gender, lifestyle, marital status and religion, do not need maternity care and newborn care, mental health services and addiction treatment, pediatric services, abortions and contraceptives. These Americans were satisfied with and could afford their existing health insurance plans and wanted to keep them.
Americans believed Obama when he repeatedly said, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”
While in theory they could keep their plans under the Section 1251 “grandfather” provision of the Affordable Care Act, the regulations from the Obama administration interpreted this provision so strictly as to prevent most plans from being grandfathered.
Now the American people are learning from various news reports that the Obama administration officials knew in July 2010, when it published on page 34,522 of the Federal Register, that “The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013.” This represents about 93 million Americans facing cancellation of their existing plans because of Obamacare.
A sure way for a president to lose the trust of the American people is to misinform them about something they must pay for, such as the premiums, deductibles and co-payments for their health insurance plans.
Obama broke his promise to the American people and as a result his presidential job approval poll numbers have plummeted from an all-time high of 68 percent in Jan. 22-24, 2009 to a low of 39 percent on Nov.5, according to Gallup.
Instead of making health insurance more affordable, Obamacare has made it more expensive for more than 181 million Americans who are now in sticker shock.
Steve Moore: ObamaCare Is Why Employers Are Dropping Health Plans
Avik Roy on Obamacare’s Cancellations of Employer-Sponsored Insurance 2013-10-31
Health Care News WSJ NBC Poll Most Americans Don’t Trust ObamaCare
RPT: 18 Million Americans Could Lose Current Healthcare Plans Due To Obamacare
CBS: Obamacare Forcing Hundreds of Thousands to Lose Insurance Coverage
CBS: ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Well Below Projections In Early Days
CBS: More than two million Americans being dropped from their insurance plans due to Obamacare
Obamacare and Other Lies…
Obama Officials In 2010: 93 Million Americans Will Be Unable To Keep Their Health Plans Under Obamacare
On Wednesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius testified before Congress about the continuing issues with the rollout of Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges. “Hold me accountable for the debacle,” said Sebelius. “I’m responsible.” I attended the hearing, and I was struck by the scope, scale, and depth of the health law’s problems, problems that far exceed any one political appointee. But Obamacare’s disruption of the existing health insurance market—a disruption codified in law, and known to the administration—is only just beginning. And it’s far broader than recent media coverage has implied.
Obama administration knew that Obamacare would disrupt private plans
If you read the Affordable Care Act when it was passed, you knew that it was dishonest for President Obama to claim that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” as he did—and continues to do—on countless occasions. And we now know that the administration knew this all along. It turns out that in an obscure report buried in a June 2010 edition of the Federal Register, administration officials predicted massive disruption of the private insurance market.
On Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney attempted to minimize the disruption issue, arguing that it only affected people who buy insurance on their own. “That’s the universe we’re talking about, 5 percent of the population,” said Carney. “In some of the coverage of this issue in the last several days, you would think that you were talking about 75 percent or 80 percent or 60 percent of the American population.” (5 percent of the population happens to be 15 million people, no small number, but let’s leave that aside.)
By “coverage of this issue,” Carney was referring to two articles. The first, by Chad Terhune of the Los Angeles Times, described a number of Californians who are seeing their existing plans terminated and replaced with much more expensive ones. “I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,” said one.
The second article, by Lisa Myers and Hanna Rappleye of NBC News, unearthed the aforementioned commentary in the Federal Register, and cited “four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act” as saying that “50 to 75 percent” of people who buy coverage on their own are likely to receive cancellation notices due to Obamacare.
Mid-range estimate: 51% of employer-sponsored plans will get canceled
But Carney’s dismissal of the media’s concerns was wrong, on several fronts. Contrary to the reporting of NBC, the administration’s commentary in the Federal Register did not only refer to the individual market, but also the market for employer-sponsored health insurance.
Section 1251 of the Affordable Care Act contains what’s called a “grandfather” provision that, in theory, allows people to keep their existing plans if they like them. But subsequent regulations from the Obama administration interpreted that provision so narrowly as to prevent most plans from gaining this protection.
“The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013,” wrote the administration on page 34,552 of theRegister. All in all, more than half of employer-sponsored plans will lose their “grandfather status” and become illegal. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 156 million Americans—more than half the population—was covered by employer-sponsored insurance in 2013.
Another 25 million people, according to the CBO, have “nongroup and other” forms of insurance; that is to say, they participate in the market for individually-purchased insurance. In this market, the administration projected that “40 to 67 percent” of individually-purchased plans would lose their Obamacare-sanctioned “grandfather status” and become illegal, solely due to the fact that there is a high turnover of participants and insurance arrangements in this market. (Plans purchased after March 23, 2010 do not benefit from the “grandfather” clause.) The real turnover rate would be higher, because plans can lose their grandfather status for a number of other reasons.
How many people are exposed to these problems? 60 percent of Americans have private-sector health insurance—precisely the number that Jay Carney dismissed. As to the number of people facing cancellations, 51 percent of the employer-based market plus 53.5 percent of the non-group market (the middle of the administration’s range) amounts to 93 million Americans.
Will these canceled plans be replaced with better coverage?
President Obama’s famous promise that “you could keep your plan” was not some naïve error or accident. He, and his allies, knew that previous Democratic attempts at health reform had failed because Americans were happy with the coverage they had, and opposed efforts to change the existing system.
Now, supporters of the law are offering a different argument. “We didn’t really mean it when we said you could keep your plan,” they say, “but it doesn’t matter, because the coverage you’re going to get under Obamacare will be better than the coverage you had before.”
But that’s not true. Obamacare forces insurers to offer services that most Americans don’t need, don’t want, and won’t use, for a higher price. Bob Laszewski, in arevealing blog post, wrote about the cancellation of his own health coverage. “Right now,” he wrote, “I have ‘Cadillac’ health insurance. I can access every provider in the national Blue Cross network—about every doc and hospital in America—without a referral and without higher deductibles and co-pays.”
But his plan is being canceled. His new, Obamacare-compatible plan has a $500 higher deductible, and a narrower physician and hospital network that restricts out-of-town providers. And yet it costs 66 percent more than his current plan. “Mr. President,” he writes, “I really like my health plan and I would like to keep it. Can you help me out here?”
Congress proposes a straightforward solution
Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.) have proposed the “If You Like Your Health Care Plan You Can Keep It Act,” with dozens of co-sponsors. The two-page bill simply states that “nothing in [the Affordable Care Act] shall be construed to require that an individual terminate coverage under a group health plan or health insurance coverage in which such individual was enrolled during any part of the period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act and ending on December 31, 2013.”
Some Senate Democrats are jumping on the grandfathering bandwagon. Mary Landrieu (D., La.), locked in a competitive reelection race against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R., La.), now claims that she was unaware that Obamacare would disrupt existing insurance arrangements. “It was our understanding when we voted for that bill that people when they have insurance could keep with what they had. So I’m going to be working on that fix,” she said on Wednesday.
But that’s not accurate. It was well known, as far back as 2009, that millions of Americans would lose their existing coverage under the Obamacare bill. Landrieu still voted for it. In September of 2010, Sen. Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.) introduced legislation that would protect small businesses from losing their health plans’ grandfathered status under Obamacare. Landrieu voted against the bill, on a party-line vote.
But Landrieu’s flip-flop illustrates the potency of this issue. If Americans were truly being forced off of their existing insurance plans—that they like—and into better and more affordable ones, the outcry would be minimal. But that isn’t what’s happening. People are being forced into inferior and costlier plans. And they’re making their displeasure felt in Washington.
Expert: At least 129 million will ‘not be able to keep’ health care plan if Obamacare fully implemented
If Obamacare is fully implemented, 68 percent of Americans with private health insurance will not be able to keep their plan, according to health care economist Christopher Conover.
Conover is a research scholar in the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research at Duke University and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. In an interview with The Daily Caller, he laid out what he estimates the consequences of Obamacare’s implementation will ultimately be.
“Bottom line: of the 189 million Americans with private health insurance coverage, I estimate that if Obamacare is fully implemented, at least 129 million (68 percent) will not be able to keep their previous health care plan either because they already have lost or will lose that coverage by the end of 2014,” he said in an email. ”But of these, ‘only’ the 18 to 50 million will literally lose coverage, i.e., have their plans entirely taken away. This includes 9.2-15.4 million in the non-group market and 9-35 million in the employer-based market. The rest will retain their old plans but have to pay higher rates for Obamacare-mandated bells and whistles.”
Conover also says it is hard to imagine President Obama didn’t know these statistics when he was flacking for his health care bill by promising Americans they could keep their health insurance if they liked it.
“If President Obama himself believed this the first time he said it, he was poorly advised,” Conover said.
“The problem is that he said it at least 24 times, most of which occurred after his own rule-writers had estimated that 49-80 percent of small employer plans would have lost their grandfather status by 2013, along with 34-64 percent of large employer plans. The same rule estimated that each year 40 to 67 percent of non-group plans not already grandfathered would lose their grandfather status. Given how extensively presidential statements — especially to a joint session of Congress — are vetted and fact-checked, it is pretty inconceivable that President Obama was not aware that he was engaged in some degree of truth-twisting.”
See TheDC’s full interview with Conover below:
Absolutely not. Technically, every single health plan in the country already has been subject to at least some new Obamacare requirements. That is, even “grandfathered” plans and self-insured plans were required to eliminate lifetime and annual limits and to cover dependents up to age 26 on their parent’s plan. Each of these “improvements” in coverage costs money, just as every feature you add to your car costs money (anti-lock brakes, all-wheel drive). For instance, an Aon Hewitt survey of insurers showed that expanding dependent coverage to age 26 could increase premiums by 1 percent for some in the large group market, 2 percent in the small group market and up to 3.5 percent in the non-group market.
So strictly speaking, NO ONE who was entirely satisfied with their pre-Obamacare coverage has been able to keep it. But the degree of new restrictions/added costs is a continuum, with the added requirements/costs imposed in the following order (starting with plans facing the least added restrictions):
· Grandfathered plans (in theory, any plan in the large group, small group and non-group market can be grandfathered, but the restrictions are so tight that eventually every plan is expected to lose grandfather status)
· Self-insured plans (most of these are large employers with at least 100 workers)
· Large employer plans that are not self-insured (for now, small group only includes those under 50 workers, but this will grow to under 100 workers by 2016 and states have option to expand the definition further in future years)
· Non-group plans (inside and outside Exchanges)
· Small group plans (inside and outside Exchanges)
Thus, the degree to which you are dissatisfied with the new restrictions imposed by Obamacare or adversely affected by higher premiums depends heavily on what type of coverage you currently have.
By your calculations, how many people could lose their health insurance plans as result of Obamacare’s implementation?
The plans that come closest to conforming to the president’s original promise are grandfathered plans. But most Americans are not in grandfathered health plans anymore:
· Only 30 percent of large firm workers are in grandfathered plans in 2013, meaning the other 70 percent have already had to upgrade to more expensive policies covering, for example, all preventive services without any cost sharing (including contraception, sterilization and abortifacients).
· Similarly, only 52 percent of covered workers in small group plans are in grandfathered plans.
· It is estimated that 85 percent of non-group plans cannot qualify for grandfather status.
Bottom line: of the 189 million Americans with private health insurance coverage, I estimate that if Obamacare is fully implemented, at least 129 million (68 percent) will not be able to keep their previous health care plan either because they already have or will lose that coverage by the end of 2014. This includes:
· 9.2 to 15.4 million in the non-group market
· 16.6 million in the small group market
· 102.7 million in the large group market
But of these, “only” the 18 to 50 million will literally lose coverage, i.e., have their plans entirely taken away. This includes 9.2-15.4 million in the non-group market and 9-35 million in the employer-based market. The rest will retain their old plans but have to pay higher rates for Obamacare-mandated bells and whistles. It’s worth noting that RAND Corporation estimates that 3.8 million of these plan losers will not be able to find affordable coverage and will end up becoming newly uninsured.
Obama administration officials now say that those losing their insurance plans are actually losing inadequate coverage and that the new coverage they will be forced to get will be better and often cheaper. What do you say to that claim?
Here’s the problem: for additional coverage to be “better,” it must be worth the added cost from the perspective of the buyer. Prior to March 2010, there was nothing stopping employers or individuals from adding these benefit enhancements voluntarily, and indeed, many did. But tens of millions of others concluded that it wasn’t worth the added premium cost to extend dependent coverage from age 21 to age 26, for example, or to completely eliminate an already generous lifetime cap on benefits (e.g., $2 million). Obamacare essentially says “Uncle Sam knows best” by letting the judgment of government experts and bureaucrats trump that of American citizens, who used to have the freedom to make their own choices on these matters.
It’s true that some Americans will end up with cheaper coverage, but not the vast majority. Study after study shows premiums on average will be higher in the non-group, small group and even large group markets:
The Society of Actuaries predicts premiums will rise 31.5 percent on average in the non-group market.
· Heritage Foundation found that average premiums for a family of four in the non-group market will increase in all but five states.
· American Action Forum (headed by former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin) estimates that premiums for healthy 30-year-olds in the non-group market will increase in all fifty states and the District of Columbia – from a low of 9 percent in Massachusetts to a high of 600 percent in Vermont.
· Even for 40-year-olds, Manhattan Institute estimates that premiums in the non-group market will increase an average of 99 percent for men and 62 percent for women.
These studies do not account for Exchange subsidies; however two studies have addressed this issue directly:
· In a state-by-state analysis, Manhattan Institute calculated the “break-even” income level needed to ensure that an individual’s subsidies would entirely offset the full estimated increase in premiums they would face in their home state. Both for 27-year olds and 40-year olds (whether male or female), the break-even income was well below median household income. Since by definition half of households are below the median, this result implies that a majority of individuals in the non-group market will pay higher premiums even after accounting for exchange subsidies.
· National Journal’s independent assessment concluded that even after taking into account subsidies available on the exchanges, 66 percent of workers with single coverage and 57 percent of workers with family coverage will face higher premiums on the exchange compared to what they would pay for employer-sponsored coverage. The analysis showed that a single wage earner must make less than $20,000 to see his or her current premiums drop or stay the same under Obamacare. For a family of four, income would have to be less than or equal to $62,300 in order to see net premium savings (i.e., after subsidies are taken into account). This finding is particularly important since up to 35 million with employer-based coverage may lose it and thus be forced to buy on the Exchanges.
Is it possible President Obama truly believed his “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it” promise at the time he was saying it? Or were the consequences of Obamacare so foreseeable that such a scenario is hard to imagine?
If President Obama himself believed this the first time he said he, he was poorly advised. The problem is that he said it at least 24 times, most of which occurred after his own rule-writers had estimated that 49-80 percent of small employer plans would have lost their grandfather status by 2013, along with 34-64 percent of large employer plans. The same rule estimated that each year 40 to 67 percent of non-group plans not already grandfathered would lose their grandfather status. Given how extensively presidential statements — especially to a joint session of Congress — are vetted and fact-checked, it is pretty inconceivable that President Obama was not aware that he was engaged in some degree of truth-twisting. How much truth-twisting? Well, the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker, Glenn Kessler, has awarded the president Four Pinocchios for his pledge. That sounds about right to me.
What do you believe will happen if the Obamacare exchanges fail to sign up the needed percentage of the young and healthy? How serious a problem will that be?
There are mechanisms in place to protect individual health plans against ending up with an unexpectedly high selection of poor health risks. Nevertheless, if this phenomenon is occurring market-wide, it will result in substantially more taxpayer subsidies on the exchanges. Moreover, this adverse experience is likely to greatly influence decisions by health plans whether to re-participate in Year 2 (not to mention the companies that wisely sat out the first year so they could get a more accurate handle on the cross-section of health risks they would face so that they could more accurately price their products). Year 1 already suffers from pretty poor health plan participation (only 2 carriers offer coverage in North Carolina’s exchange, for example, even though there’s a half dozen carriers that previously offered plans in the non-group market). But this will make the exchanges even less desirable except for those heavily in need of subsidies (sicker/poorer). So I don’t think the death spiral will cause the immediate dissolution of the exchanges necessarily, but absent a change in the basic structure of Obamacare, I think it is close to inevitable.
Obamacare is a really bad deal for most young people. As one illustration, all the people who for many years used to be in 34 state high risk pools now will be channeled into the exchanges and the young are bearing the biggest burden of carrying this load (which previously used to be spread across all people with insurance and/or general taxpayers, depending on what state you lived in). As well, they are carrying the burden of paying for many older people who have much higher incomes. Young people only now are discovering this and I think it will become even more obvious this coming year. As young people discover how easy it is to evade the individual mandate penalty — i.e., make sure you don’t have a tax refund due and you’re home free — non-compliance is likely to increase rather than decrease over time even though the penalty itself will keep going up between now and 2016.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/11/04/expert-at-least-129-million-will-not-be-able-to-keep-health-care-plan-if-obamacare-fully-implemented/#ixzz2jiJn1i56
Stage 4 Cancer – Lung, Liver, and Gallbladder Surgery – My 6 Year Journey
You Also Can’t Keep Your Doctor
I had great cancer doctors and health insurance. My plan
EDIE LITTLEFIELD SUNDBY
Everyone now is clamoring about Affordable Care Act winners and losers. I am one of the losers.
My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.
My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits.
Countless hours searching for non-exchange plans have uncovered nothing that compares well with my existing coverage. But the greatest source of frustration is Covered California, the state’sAffordable Care Act health-insurance exchange and, by some reports, one of the best such exchanges in the country. After four weeks of researching plans on the website, talking directly to government exchange counselors, insurance companies and medical providers, my insurance broker and I are as confused as ever. Time is running out and we still don’t have a clue how to best proceed.
Two things have been essential in my fight to survive stage-4 cancer. The first are doctors and health teams in California and Texas: at the medical center of the University of California, San Diego, and its Moores Cancer Center; Stanford University’s Cancer Institute; and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
The second element essential to my fight is a United Healthcare PPO (preferred provider organization) health-insurance policy.
Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.
But in January, United Healthcare sent me a letter announcing that they were pulling out of the individual California market. The company suggested I look to Covered California starting in October.
You would think it would be simple to find a health-exchange plan that allows me, living in San Diego, to continue to see my primary oncologist at Stanford University and my primary care doctors at the University of California, San Diego. Not so. UCSD has agreed to accept only one Covered California plan—a very restrictive Anthem EPO Plan. EPO stands for exclusive provider organization, which means the plan has a small network of doctors and facilities and no out-of-network coverage (as in a preferred-provider organization plan) except for emergencies. Stanford accepts an Anthem PPO plan but it is not available for purchase in San Diego (only Anthem HMO and EPO plans are available in San Diego).
So if I go with a health-exchange plan, I must choose between Stanford and UCSD. Stanford has kept me alive—but UCSD has provided emergency and local treatment support during wretched periods of this disease, and it is where my primary-care doctors are.
Before the Affordable Care Act, health-insurance policies could not be sold across state lines; now policies sold on the Affordable Care Act exchanges may not be offered across county lines.
What happened to the president’s promise, “You can keep your health plan”? Or to the promise that “You can keep your doctor”? Thanks to the law, I have been forced to give up a world-class health plan. The exchange would force me to give up a world-class physician.
For a cancer patient, medical coverage is a matter of life and death. Take away people’s ability to control their medical-coverage choices and they may die. I guess that’s a highly effective way to control medical costs. Perhaps that’s the point.
Ms. Sundby lives in California.
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Segment 0: New Revealations About Benghazi Scandal From CBS 60 Minutes — Congress Demands Benghazi Survivors Testify As To What Happened! — Videos
The Benghazi cover story
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak at transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base for Americans killed in Benghazi. Credit:www.vosizneias.com
The Benghazi cover story was an awful, offensive, crude and disgusting online video that insulted believers in Islam lead to a spontaneous protest that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
On Sept. 14, 2012 during the transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made remarks to the families of the four Americans killed in Benghazi. She briefly reviewed the careers and lives of the deceased: Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Clinton said, “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.”
On Sept. 16, 2012, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on all five Sunday morning TV news shows. The interviewers on all five shows asked Rice to provide the Obama administration’s explanation for the murder of the four Americans in Benghazi.
On ABC’s “This Week,” in response to a question by Jake Tapper, Rice answered, “But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.” Rice repeated this explanation on all five shows.
On Sept. 25, 2012, President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He also repeated Rice’s explanation for what happened in Benghazi. Obama said, “That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video.”
According to an Associated Press story by Paul Schemm and Michael Maggie: “Within 24 hours of the attack, both the embassy in Tripoli and the CIA station chief sent word to Washington that it was a planned militant attack,” and “there was no sign of a spontaneous protest against an American-made movie denigrating Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.”
The terrorist attackers numbering about 150 are suspected of being members of the powerful militia organization Ansar al-Shariah. Their members espouse a jihadist al-Qaida-like ideology. They fought in the Libyan civil war that overthrew the 42-year dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi.
Gregory Hicks was deputy chief of mission and charge d’affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya on Sept. 11. He was called to testify before the House Oversight Committee that is investigating Benghazi on May 9. Hicks said, “I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go. I think everybody at the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”
On Oct. 27 CBS’s 60 Minutes Lara Logan said, “Contrary to the White House’s public statements, which were still being made a full week later, it’s now well established that the Americans were attacked by al-Qaida in a well-planned assault.”
Logan’s reporting coup was an interview with a new source, a British security officer, who uses a pseudonym. He said, “On his first drive through Benghazi, he noticed the black flags of al- Qaida flying openly in the streets and he grew concerned about the guard forces as soon as he pulled up to the U.S. compound.”
Also interviewed was Lt. Col. Andy Wood, chief security officer in Libya, and Hicks. Wood said, “Al-Qaida — using a familiar tactic — had stated their intent in an online posting, saying they would attack the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans in Benghazi. They made good on two out of the three promises. It was a matter of time ‘til they captured the third one.”
Wood added, “I made it known in a country team meeting, ‘You are gonna get attacked. You are gonna get attacked in Benghazi. It’s gonna happen. You need to change your security profile.’”
On Oct. 28 Fox News interviewed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). He said, “So I am calling for a joint select committee. … The people who survived the attack in Benghazi, have not been made available to the U.S. Congress for oversight purposes. I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress.”
The truth was known from the beginning that the terrorist attacks were planned and well-organized by a militia group called Ansar al-Shariah and had absolutely nothing to do with a YouTube video. The Benghazi cover story was a lie repeatedly told to deceive the American people during an election year.
60 Minutes – Benghazi (CBS – Oct 27, 2013) (Full)
Lara Logan reports on the events in Benghazi, Libya, September 11, 2012. The al Qaeda attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador, Chris Stevens.
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Segment 0: Captain William D. Swenson Awarded Medal of Honor At White House — Videos
Extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
In a ceremony at the White House on Oct. 15, President Barack Obama awarded Captain William D. Swenson the nation’s highest military honor for valor, the Medal of Honor.
Captain Swenson was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, as an adviser to the Afghan Border Police Mentor Team on Sept.8, 2009, when both Afghan soldiers and their American military trainers were ambushed near the village of Ganjgal in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, by more than 50 Taliban fighters.
The official citation for the award reads in part: “Surrounded on three sides by enemy forces inflicting effective and accurate fire, Captain Swenson coordinated air assets, indirect fire support and medical evacuation helicopter support to allow for the evacuation of the wounded. Captain Swenson ignored enemy radio transmissions demanding surrender and maneuvered uncovered to render medical aid to a wounded fellow soldier. Captain Swenson stopped administering aid long enough to throw a grenade at approaching enemy forces, before assisting with moving the soldier for air evacuation.”
“With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Swenson unhesitatingly led a team in an unarmored vehicle into the kill zone, exposing himself to enemy fire on at least two occasions, to recover the wounded and search for four missing comrades. After using aviation support to mark locations of fallen and wounded comrades, it became clear that ground recovery of the fallen was required due to heavy enemy fire on helicopter landing zones. Captain Swenson’s team returned to the kill zone another time in a Humvee. Captain Swenson voluntarily exited the vehicle, exposing himself to enemy fire, to locate and recover three fallen Marines and one fallen Navy corpsman.”
Swenson is the sixth living person awarded the Medal Honor for valor in the Iraq and Afghanistan war, according to the Defense Department.
Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor by Obama in 2011 for rescuing troops that same day and recovering the remains of four Americans killed in the battle of Ganjgal and served beside Captain Swenson. Meyer in his book, “Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War” said he would not be alive today if it was not for the actions of Captain Swenson and advocated that Swenson should receive the Medal of Honor.
Swenson was outspoken and critical of his superiors for not receiving timely air and artillery support. An investigation subsequently led to three Army officers being reprimanded. Swenson’s Medal of Honor was delayed when the paperwork for the award was lost.
Captain Swenson helped rescue and deliver to the medevac helicopter Sgt. Kenneth W. Westbrook, 41, of Shiprock, N.M. who later died from complications from his wounds in the United States. This small part of the battle was captured in a video on YouTube titled “Army Capt. William Swenson Receives Medal of Honor.”
Gone but not forgotten are the four Americans killed in the ambush: 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, Staff Sgt. Aaron Keneflick, 30 of Roswell, Ga., Corpsman James Layton, 22 of Riverbank, Calif., and Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, Ga. Also killed that day were 10 Afghan troops and an interpreter.
Swenson left the Army in February 2011 but has asked to return and is waiting for a decision by the Army.
After the ceremony Swenson standing in front of the West Wing, said, “Today, I stand with the Medal of Honor…but this award is earned with a team, a team of our finest, Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy and our Afghan partners, standing side by side. This medal represents them, represents us.”
Obama bestows Medal of Honor on former Army captain for actions during Afghanistan firefight
WASHINGTON — A former Army captain whose heroic actions in a deadly Afghan battle were captured on video received the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, from President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday.
Obama placed the award around the neck of William D. Swenson for his actions in a lengthy battle against the Taliban in the Ganjgal valley near the Pakistan border four years ago, which claimed the lives of five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops and an interpreter.
Obama noted that although the honor has been bestowed nearly 3,500 times in U.S. history, never before had Americans been able to witness of a small part of the bravery that led to it. The video captured from cameras mounted on the helmets of evacuation helicopter pilots showed Swenson delivering a severely wounded soldier to the helicopter and placing a kiss on his head as he placed him inside.
Swenson, 34, retired from the military in February 2011 and has been living in Seattle. But two U.S. officials told The Associated Press that Swenson has asked to return to active duty, and the Army is working to allow it.
Swenson was serving as a trainer and mentor embedded with the Afghan National Security Forces in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan when they came under fire near dawn on Sept. 8, 2009. Obama recounted how Swenson dodged enemy fire, without a helmet, and risked his life to recover bodies and help save fellow troops. “Will Swenson was there for his brothers,” Obama said.
The president called Swenson a “pretty low key guy,” who would rather be on a Pacific Northwest mountain trail surrounded by cedar trees instead of in front of the cameras at the White House. But Obama, perhaps thinking of the current partisan budget dispute gripping Washington, said, “I think our nation needs this ceremony today.”
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Army Capt. William D. Swenson of Seattle, Wash., during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. Swenson was being awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in a lengthy battle against the Taliban insurgents in the Ganjgal valley near the Pakistan border on Sept. 8, 2009, which claimed the lives of five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops and an interpreter.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
“In moments like this, Americans like Will remind us of what our country can be at its best, a nation of citizens who look out for one another, who meet our obligations to one another not just when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard — maybe especially when it’s hard,” Obama said. “And, Will, you’re an example to everyone in this city and to our whole country of the professionalism and patriotism that we should strive for, whether we wear a uniform or not, not just on particular occasions but all the time.”
After the Ganjgal battle, Swenson complained to military leaders after the fight that many of his calls for help were rejected by superior officers. Two Army officers were reprimanded for being “inadequate and ineffective” and for “contributing directly to the loss of life” following an investigation into the day’s events.
Four Americans died in the ambush: 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, a 25-year-old from Virginia Beach; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Georgia; Corpsman James Layton, 22, of Riverbank, California; and Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., a 31-year-old gunnery sergeant from Columbus, Georgia Army Sgt. Kenneth W. Westbrook, 41, of Shiprock, New Mexico, who Swenson delivered to the helicopter with a kiss, later died from his wounds.
The military says Swenson’s initial medal nomination was lost. Another man who fought in the battle, Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011.
Swenson is the sixth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama also attended Tuesday’s medal ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
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Former Army Capt. William Swenson to receive Medal of Honor at White House
It was a tender moment that demonstrates the brotherhood of the U.S. servicemen who fought for their lives in a remote Afghanistan province four years ago. But former Army Capt. William Swenson said he does not recall the brief kiss he laid on the head of his severely wounded partner that day.
The video, recorded on the shaky helmet camera of a Medevac crewman, captured the kiss without the soldiers’ knowledge. There is Swenson, helping Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook into the rescue helicopter, two hours into a firefight against heavily armed Taliban insurgents in the Ganjgal valley and after Westbrook was shot through the mouth and shoulder. Wearing wrap-around sunglasses but no helmet, Swenson kisses the top of Westbrook’s head and pats him on the shoulder before returning to the battle.
Swenson, 34, of Seattle, is credited with risking his life to help save his comrades and Afghan allies and retrieve the bodies of four Americans who were killed during the seven-hour battle on Sept. 8, 2009. He will accept the Medal of Honor from President Obama before 250 guests at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, the first Army officer to receive the U.S. military’s highest valor award since the Vietnam war.
“You could have told me it happened, and I wouldn’t have believed you,” Swenson said in one of his first extended interviews since the battle. “But it did, and it was captured on film. And it offered a glimpse of the humanity that does occur on battlefields.”
Swenson’s path to the White House ceremony has been a rocky one, as The Washington Post reported Sunday. After he criticized his Army superiors for failing to provide enough air and artillery support, his award nomination was delayed for years. At times, it seemed like he would never receive it.
During the interview with the Post, Swenson said he would accept the medal in honor of the fellow soldiers and Marines with whom he fought, many of whom will be at the ceremony, along with family members of those who died.
“It does not really belong to me, it belongs to that event and the people I stood with,” he said of the medal. “I’ll be thinking of everyone in that valley who gave more than could be expected of anybody.”
Westbrook, a married father of three, survived for a month after leaving the battlefield on the helicopter, but he died at a U.S. hospital of complications from a blood transfusion. His widow, Charlene Westbrook, will be at the White House on Tuesday.
‘Alright, buddy, hang on’
Swenson and Westbrook had been working for a year as trainers with the Afghan Border Police in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. They were trying to help prepare the Afghan forces to oversee remote tribal areas that were often teeming with insurgents and not aligned with the Afghanistan national government.
On the day of the battle, a group of about 11 U.S. trainers and 80 Afghan troops set out to meet with the town elders. As soon as they reached the valley, they were ambushed by Taliban fighters who had hidden in the higher mountain terrain that ringed the valley on three sides. In all, five Americans and 10 Afghan troops, along with an Afghan translator, were slain.
Swenson never saw Kenneth Westbrook again after helping him into the helicopter. He said Westbrook, who had served 22 years in the Army and was planning to retire soon, was shot in the neck while attempting to return fire on Taliban targets as a group of U.S. and Afghan troops was trying to retreat to safety.
“He called out and said, ‘Will, I’m hit.’ It was very matter-of-fact,” Swenson recalled. “I yelled back to him, ‘Alright, buddy, hang on, I can’t get to you.’ I was pinned down. He continued fighting and some time passed until it was getting serious, and we did not know how much longer he could hold on.”
When the rescue helicopter arrived, Swenson said, Westbrook “was beginning to lose consciousness. He had made a hundreds of meters dash. He was bleeding, and the wounds were significant. He had made a heroic effort but was finally giving out.”
At the final rock terrace, as Swenson and others tried to assist him into the helicopter, Westbrook “realizes he needs one more burst of energy, and he gets up on his feet and walks onto the helicopter — on his own two feet.”
Swenson received a copy of the video from the medevac crew, and he passed on a copy to Charlene Westbrook earlier this year. In an interview, she said Swenson had called her from Afghanistan while she was waiting in the hospital during her husband’s recovery.
Kenneth had just been taken from the surgical unit to the rehabilitation unit, she remembers telling Swenson, so he was not available to talk. Swenson asked how she was doing and then promised to call back. But Kenneth died unexpectedly soon after.
Looking back on their last moments together on that video, Swenson said: “To see him and to see me in that situation gives me comfort to see him walk off the battlefield. . . . I would trade anything for that not to be our last moment, but that was our last moment and I’ll always have that now.”
MEDAL OF HONOR WINNER ASKS TO RETURN TO DUTY
By LOLITA BALDOR
The former Army captain who received the Medal of Honor on Tuesday has asked to return to active duty in the Army, a rare move by an officer who has lived to wear the military’s highest award.
Two U.S. officials tell The Associated Press that William D. Swenson has submitted a formal request to the Army and officials are working with him to allow his return.
Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in the White House Tuesday afternoon for risking his life to recover bodies and save fellow troops during a lengthy battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border in 2009.
The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the request until a decision was made.
Swenson, 34, left the military in February 2011 as a captain, but he could rise to the rank of major once he rejoins. In order to successfully re-enlist, Swenson will have to pass a physical, a drug test and other routine reviews. But officials Tuesday were optimistic it would all fall into place.
In the aftermath of 9/11, when the Army was growing in size to meet the combat requirements of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it was not unusual for former soldiers to rejoin the service and go back on active duty. It is rare, if not unprecedented, for an officer holding the Medal of Honor, to do so. Officials were unsure if that had ever happened before.
Swenson also has a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal and lives in Seattle.
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VETERANS REMOVE BARRICADES FROM MEMORIALS AND BRING THEM TO WH
On Sunday, protesting the barricades placed at memorials around Washington D.C. by the vindictive Obama administration, veterans removed the barricades and proceeded to take them to the White House. Multiple people tweeted photos of the barricades being removed and taken for presidential inspection:
Former Marine Thomas Sowell
Veterans remove barricades from World War II Memorial and carry them to the White House, October 13, 2013. Set to the music of “The Home of the Brave,” by Gregory Sidak.
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Members of the so-called “Million Vet March” descended on Washington, D.C., Sunday to protest the Obama administration’s decision to close the city’s public memorials.
Thousands of demonstrators arrived early in the morning and tore down barricades that had been set up to block people from visiting the popular attractions, WTOP reports.
The group said military personnel and veterans are “being used a political pawns in the ongoing government shutdown and budget crisis,” according to a statement on its website.
The group also said it has no political leaning, but believes that the closing of memorials is “a despicable act of cowardice.”
Mark Levin To Obama: “We’ll March on Washington” if “You Lay One Hand” on those WWII Vets
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Political Junkies With SAD (Spending Addiction Disorder) Overdose
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
The ruling elite in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, are addicts with a bad habit.
The ruling elite share many of the common addictions of the American people to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, food, gambling, games, pornography, television, sex and surfing the Web.
Yet the ruling elite have a unique habit that the American people can no longer pay for or support. The name of this habit is SAD — Spending Addiction Disorder.
The primary symptoms of SAD are massive annual federal government budget deficits, raising the national debt ceiling and blaming others for their addiction problem.
Like most habits that turn into addictions, the ruling elite can no longer control themselves. They are hooked on spending other people’s money.
How bad is the SAD habit? For the past five fiscal years the federal government forced the American people to support their habit by collecting more than $12 trillion in taxes. However, the ruling elite’s habit is much worse. Besides the $12 trillion in taxes, the federal government spent in excess of $6 trillion by running annual budget deficits averaging more than $1.2 trillion per year.
This required the ruling elite to order the Department of the Treasury to issue more new Treasury debt securities in the form of Treasury bills, notes and bonds to finance these deficits that exceeded $6 trillion. As a result the total gross national debt now exceeds $17 trillion.
To put these amounts in perspective, the total U.S. real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2013 is estimated to be about $16 trillion.
President Barack Obama and Congress fear the American people will finally wake up and demand they kick their SAD habit and live within the means of the American people. This would require real cuts in the fiscal year 2014 federal budget spending with the aim of balancing the budget within three or four years.
The ruling elite SAD junkies are lashing out and demonizing American taxpayers who support their habit by calling them anarchists, arsonists, extremists, hostage-takers, kidnappers, terrorists or worse, Tea Party Republicans.
Obama held a press conference on Oct. 8 and warned that if the national debt ceiling is not raised by Oct. 17, the U.S. could default on its national debt and put the U.S. into another recession. Political junkies with the SAD habit have been known to lie in order to get another fix for their habit. On average the American people are currently paying the ruling elite about $225 billion each month in taxes which would more than cover the $35 billion monthly interest paid on Treasury debt, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) report. The last thing the U.S. government will do is default on the national debt by not paying the interest when due.
Mandatory spending makes up about 66 percent of all government spending and is required to be paid under existing authorization laws. Currently the federal government collects enough taxes to pay for mandatory spending including interest on the national debt, entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid), and income support programs (unemployment compensation, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP], Supplemental Income for the blind and disabled, earned income and child tax credits).
Discretionary spending makes up about 33 percent of government spending and includes spending for all federal departments, agencies and programs. Discretionary spending must be authorized each fiscal year and funded through appropriation bills.
The reason the political junkies with the SAD habit are panicking is they need to raise the national debt ceiling imposed by Congress by an additional $1 trillion above the existing national debt of $17 trillion to pay for discretionary spending for fiscal year 2014. In order to get another debt raising fix, Congress must raise the debt ceiling once again.
Cutting federal government spending to balance the budget over a period of three or four years is never an option for the ruling elite junkies hooked with SAD. More and more government spending and taxes is the default solution for SAD political junkies.
The time has come for the American people to put the political junkies hooked on SAD in a rehab job in the private sector. The American people need to elect representatives, senators and a president that are fiscally responsible stewards of the general welfare and insist that all federal government budgets be balanced.
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GOP offers short-term debt-limit increase, but wants negotiations before ending shutdown
House Republican leaders said Thursday they will offer a temporary increase in the federal debt ceiling in exchange for negotiations with President Obama on longer-term “pressing problems,” but they stopped short of agreeing to end a government shutdown now in its 10th day.
In a news briefing following a closed-door meeting of House Republicans to present a plan to raise the debt limit for six weeks, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “What we want to do is offer the president today the ability to move a temporary increase in the debt ceiling.” He described the offer, to be presented to Obama in a White House meeting with House Republicans on Thursday afternoon, as a “good-faith effort on our part to move halfway to what he’s demanded in order to have these conversations begin.”
Obama is “happy” that House Republicans agree a federal debt default is not an option, but he would prefer a longer extension of the debt limit, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Boehner did not immediately provide specifics of the plan. But the speaker made clear that House Republicans are not agreeing to Obama’s demand that they pass legislation to fund the government with no partisan strings attached, thereby ending the first government shutdown in 17 years.
[See the latest updates on the shutdown.]
Asked about the shutdown, Boehner said, “That’s a conversation we’re going to have with the president today.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), speaking to reporters after a White House meeting between Obama and Senate Democrats, said the shutdown must end and the debt ceiling must be raised ahead of negotiations with the Republicans, who he complained keep changing their demands.
“This is a situation where they do not know what they want,” Reid said. His message to the GOP: “Open the government. Pay our bills. We’ll negotiate with you about anything.” Reid also said that Senate Democrats would “look at anything [House Republicans] send us,” but when asked about negotiating with them before reopening the government, he replied: “Not going to happen.”
The GOP plan would suspend the debt limit until Nov. 22, the Friday before Thanksgiving, while also forbidding Treasury Secretary Jack Lew from using “extraordinary measures” that his department has used in recent years to extend his borrowing authority for weeks after the ceiling is reached, according to a senior GOP aide who was in the room. This creates a hard “X date,” as financial analysts call the issue, leaving no wiggle room beyond that day.
The House Republicans essentially are offering a “clean” debt-limit increase in exchange for negotiations over reopening the government, aides said. The government shutdown would not end until Obama agreed to “structural reforms” to the tax code and federal health programs.
The House GOP leadership would like to hold a vote Thursday night on the plan, provided that Obama accepts it in the meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. But such a vote is more likely Friday, aides said.
The Senate is currently on track to vote Saturday on a Democratic proposal for a clean debt-limit hike, but that might be moved up to Friday.
The Republican plan for a six-week increase in the debt limit, without conservative strings attached, was aimed chiefly at calming jittery financial markets, according to senior GOP advisers.
Financial markets soared earlier Thursday on the first sign of optimistic news out of Washington in almost a month, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 169 points in the first 15 minutes of trading. The rally continued when Boehner confirmed the plan at an 11 a.m. press briefing, and by 1:30 p.m. the Dow was up more than 225 points.
The plan was presented to the House GOP caucus Thursday morning after Lew warned lawmakers that he would be unable to guarantee payments to any group — whether Social Security recipients or U.S. bondholders — unless Congress raises the federal debt ceiling.
If the GOP plan goes over well with rank-and-file Republicans, Boehner could put the legislation on the floor for a vote late Thursday, aides said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) described the plan at the news briefing as “a temporary extension of the debt ceiling in exchange for a real commitment by the president and the Senate majority leader to sit down and talk about the pressing problems” facing the country. Rep. Kevin McCarty (R-Calif.), the House majority whip, characterized these problems as “drivers” of increasing federal debt.
Obama has indicated he could support a short-term debt-limit hike, but he has also demanded that Republicans allow the government to reopen before he would negotiate with the GOP.
If the Republicans want to negotiate, they should “reopen the government, extend the debt ceiling,” Obama said last week. “If they can’t do it for a long time, do it for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place.”
Carney, the White House spokesman, told reporters Thursday afternoon: “The president is happy that cooler heads at least seem to be prevailing in the House, that there at least seems to be a recognition that default is not an option.” However, Obama “believes it would be far better . . . to raise the debt ceiling for an extended period of time,” as Senate Democrats are proposing.
“It would be far better for the economy if we stopped this episodic brinksmanship and . . . mothballed the nuclear weapon here, which is the threat of default, for a longer duration,” Carney said. “But it is certainly at least an encouraging sign that . . . they are not listening to the debt-limit and default deniers.” If Republicans now recognize that default cannot be permitted, he added, “why keep the nuclear weapon in your back pocket?”
[Members of Congress are collecting pay during the shutdown.]
The first reactions from Republican House members appeared generally positive. But several insisted they would back the measure only with a commitment from the president to open negotiations over the next debt-ceiling hike.
“All we’re doing is saying, if the president hasn’t come towards us, we’ll just move the deadline out and offer it again,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “We haven’t changed our position. We’ve just changed the timeline.”
Fleming rejected the idea that the proposal represents a concession from Republicans. “Not really, if we get a concession from the president, to sit down and negotiate. If he doesn’t agree to that, I won’t agree to the debt ceiling.”
Meanwhile, several of the House’s most conservative members withheld comment about the proposal. “I’m not very enthusiastic,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said without elaborating.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, was noncommittal when asked about the plan and said his support depends on what happens in the meeting with the president Thursday.
“Some of this involves a conversation with the president,” Scalise said. “There’s nothing unilateral that can be done. It’s going to involve having the president finally put some things on the table of his own.”
Heritage Action for America, a conservative advocacy group influential with tea party Republicans, said Thursday that while it remains committed to fighting Obama’s health-care law and opposes “clean debt ceiling increases,” it wants to give House GOP leaders “the flexibility they need to refocus the debate on Obamacare.” Therefore, the group said, it will not include votes in favor of the proposal in its rankings of lawmakers’ conservatism.
The plan would meet Obama’s demand for an increase in Treasury’s borrowing authority without any legislative riders. But it would set the stage for tough negotiations, possibly lasting until Thanksgiving, over bigger fiscal matters, since the tentative plan calls for only a six-week increase of the debt limit.
Advisers cautioned that Boehner’s often unruly caucus, which has repeatedly rejected leadership initiatives in the past, needs to sign off on the plan before it can advance.
Reacting to the GOP proposal, a White House official said: “It is better for economic certainty for Congress to take the threat of default off the table for as long as possible, which is why we support the Senate Democrats’ efforts to raise the debt limit for a year with no extraneous political strings attached.”
Obama also wants House Republicans to allow a vote on the “clean” government funding bill that has been passed by the Senate, the official said. “Once Republicans in Congress act to remove the threat of default and end this harmful government shutdown, the president will be willing to negotiate on a broader budget agreement,” the official added. “While we are willing to look at any proposal Congress puts forward to end these manufactured crises, we will not allow a faction of the Republicans in the House to hold the economy hostage to its extraneous and extreme political demands. Congress needs to pass a clean debt-limit increase and a funding bill to reopen the government.”
Financial experts much prefer a longer-term extension of the debt ceiling, but even a brief extension would ease some of the turmoil that has been brewing on Wall Street. By the time markets closed Monday afternoon, the Dow had dropped 900 points in 14 trading days, losing almost 6 percent of its value.
Just three weeks ago, Boehner’s leadership team presented a plan to lift the debt ceiling accompanied by a one-year delay of Obama’s health-care law and a litany of other conservative domestic policy demands.
With Washington in gridlock and a key deadline in the debt-limit debate just one week away, Lew told the Senate Finance Committee Thursday morning that he would do all he can to minimize the pain of breaching the $16.7 trillion debt limit. But Lew also told the senators that in an unprecedented situation in which he would be relying entirely on the erratic flow of incoming revenue, the economy would suffer and there would not even be certainty that the government could make all interest and principal payments.
“No credible economist or business leader thinks that defaulting is good for job creation or economic growth,” Lew said. “If Congress fails to meet its responsibility, it could be deeply damaging to the financial markets, the ongoing economic recovery, and the jobs and savings of millions of Americans.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a key conservative with ties to leadership and more junior tea party-backed colleagues, said Thursday morning that he and his colleagues “potentially” could support the new GOP debt-ceiling plan.
“We think there needs to be some movement in dealing with the overall problem,” he said. “It’d be nice to get some dollar-to-dollar cuts there.”
Asked whether he could support a short-term increase without related cuts, Jordan said he expected that question would be the primary topic of conversation among House Republicans on Thursday.
Amid growing anxiety about a debt default, Republicans in the House and the Senate floated ideas Wednesday for raising the debt limit — if only for a short time — in hopes of forcing Obama to the negotiating table.
One of the most significant ideas was brewing in the House, where Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) briefed conservatives on a plan to raise the debt limit for six weeks, which would give party leaders time to negotiate a broad agreement to overhaul the tax code and trim federal health-care and retirement spending.
The plan, which Ryan sketched in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece Wednesday, was short on details. And it called for spending cuts of roughly $200 billion to cover the cost of raising the debt limit even in the near term — although senior GOP advisers said late Wednesday that they were also considering an increase with no strings attached.
Lew’s appearance is the first public confrontation between a senior administration official and Republicans since the fiscal showdown began last month. The meeting comes as some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are questioning whether the administration has been too alarmist about the threat of going past an Oct. 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans have cited reports by credit-rating firms saying that the United States would not technically default unless it fails to make interest payments on its debt — which they regard as unlikely.
Echoing points made by Republican presidents and officials in prior administrations, Lew is tried to counter that argument by highlighting the broad risks of leaving the government with no borrowing authority.
“Certain members of the House and Senate believe that it is possible to protect our economy by simply paying only the interest on our debts, while stopping or delaying payments on a number of our other legal commitments,” Lew said. “The United States should not be put in a position of making such perilous choices for our economy and our citizens. There is no way of knowing the irrevocable damage such an approach would have on our economy and financial markets.”
For example, officials say, Lew pointed out that the Treasury routinely refinances about $100 billion in debt every week, paying back principal and taking on new debt. He noted that should investors back away from Treasury debt, it could make refinancing difficult and throw the country’s financial markets into even greater chaos.
Lew said the administration will face a series of difficult decisions even if Treasury can avoid what the credit-rating firms consider a default. In a scenario where federal spending will far exceed revenue, he said, the administration would have only imperfect options in deciding whom to pay. Officials say Lew will try to push Republicans to decide whom they wouldn’t pay — Social Security recipients or veterans.
“We are relying on investors from all over the world to continue to hold U.S. bonds . . .,” Lew said. “If U.S. bondholders decided that they wanted to be repaid rather than continuing to roll-over their Treasury investments, we could unexpectedly dissipate our entire cash balance.”
A Treasury official said Wednesday night that Obama would have to make the final decision in such a scenario.
Lew confronted a Senate Finance Committee stocked with Republicans who have been skeptical about the administration’s claims that breaching the debt limit would be catastrophic.
Among the committee’s members is Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), who has championed the notion that the Treasury Department could avoid chaos in financial markets by continuing to make interest payments to investors.
The senior Republican on the panel, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), has also expressed doubts about the risk of a debt-ceiling breach. But on Wednesday, Hatch acknowledged that blowing the Oct. 17 deadline would “scare the hell out of people.” And while Treasury might be able to pay interest on the debt, Hatch said, “the real question is whether it’s going to tank the stock market.”
Obama, when he meets Thursday with House GOP leaders, is planning to emphasize his refusal to “pay ransom” to avoid default and reopen the government. Ryan, nonetheless, held out hope that the “meeting at the White House will allow us to work together and find common ground.”
Thursday’s meeting is the second in a series the White House announced Wednesday aimed at breaking the impasse, reopening the government and raising the $16.7 trillion debt limit. Obama met first with House Democrats late Wednesday and plans to meet with each party in the Senate in the coming days, starting with a meeting with the Senate Democratic caucus Thursday.
Obama invited the entire 233-member GOP House conference to join him at the White House, but Republicans decided to send only an 18-member group comprising top leaders and key committee chairmen, including Ryan, Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (Ky.) and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.).
“Nine days into a government shutdown and a week away from breaching the debt ceiling, a meeting is only worthwhile if it is focused on finding a solution,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner, said in a statement. “That’s why the House Republican Conference will instead be represented by a smaller group of negotiators.”
The White House said Obama is “disappointed” by Boehner’s decision to limit Republican attendance and emphasized that Obama will not be negotiating.
“The president thought it was important to talk directly with the members who forced this economic crisis on the country about how the shutdown and a failure to pay the country’s bills could devastate the economy,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
Obama “will talk to anyone anytime . . . but will not pay the Republicans ransom for doing their job,” Carney said. “If the Republicans want to have a real discussion, they should open the government and take the threat of default off the table.”
Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, circulated a memo from one of the nation’s leading credit-rating agencies that seemed to play down the threat of default. In the memo, Moody’s Investors Service said the Treasury Department is likely to continue paying interest on the government’s debt even if Congress refuses to lift the limit on borrowing, preserving the nation’s sterling AAA credit rating.
“We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact,” said the Oct. 7 memo. “The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenues; it does not prohibit the government from servicing its debt. There is no direct connection between the debt limit (actually the exhaustion of the Treasury’s extraordinary measures to raise funds) and a default.”
The memo offered a starkly different view of the consequences of breaching the debt limit than is held by the White House, many policymakers and other financial analysts. Over the weekend, economists at Goldman Sachs said the economy would take a devastating hit even if Treasury kept making payments on the debt, because the pullback in federal spending would amount to roughly $175 billion, or 4.2 percentage points of gross domestic product.
Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond company, agreed that the administration could take steps to contain the worst damage. But, he said, there would still be severe consequences.
“It would avoid a series of major and cascading disruptions to the functioning of a financial market that is at the heart of the core of the global financial system,” he said. “Having said that, equities and other risk assets would still likely sell off hard.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) noted that Moody’s analysis is geared toward the well-being of its own investors, not average Americans. “When they say their clients will be okay, they’re not talking about people on Society Security, Medicare or our troops in the field. Moody’s doesn’t give a damn about any of those people.”
William Branigin, Rosalind S. Helderman and Scott Wilson contributed to this report.
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Segment 1: U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew Panics Plays Politics With Debt Ceiling — Claims U.S. Will Default On Treasury Debt If Debt Ceiling Is Not Raise and Will Cause Recession — Pure Propaganda — Treasury Receives About $200 Billion Per Month With Interest On Debt Less Than $35 Billion Per Month! — Videos
U.S. Debt Clock
BUREAU OF THE FISCAL SERVICE
STAR - TREASURY FINANCIAL DATABASE
TABLE 1. SUMMARY OF RECEIPTS, OUTLAYS AND THE DEFICIT/SURPLUS BY MONTH OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT (IN MILLIONS)
ACCOUNTING DATE: 08/13
PERIOD RECEIPTS OUTLAYS DEFICIT/SURPLUS (-)
+ ____________________________________________________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
OCTOBER 163,072 261,539 98,466
NOVEMBER 152,402 289,704 137,302
DECEMBER 239,963 325,930 85,967
JANUARY 234,319 261,726 27,407
FEBRUARY 103,413 335,090 231,677
MARCH 171,215 369,372 198,157
APRIL 318,807 259,690 -59,117
MAY 180,713 305,348 124,636
JUNE 260,177 319,919 59,741
JULY 184,585 254,190 69,604
AUGUST 178,860 369,393 190,533
SEPTEMBER 261,566 186,386 -75,180
YEAR-TO-DATE 2,449,093 3,538,286 1,089,193
OCTOBER 184,316 304,311 119,995
NOVEMBER 161,730 333,841 172,112
DECEMBER 269,508 270,699 1,191
JANUARY 272,225 269,342 -2,883
FEBRUARY 122,815 326,354 203,539
MARCH 186,018 292,548 106,530
APRIL 406,723 293,834 -112,889
MAY 197,182 335,914 138,732
JUNE 286,627 170,126 -116,501
JULY 200,030 297,627 97,597
AUGUST 185,370 333,293 147,923
YEAR-TO-DATE 2,472,542 3,227,888 755,345
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Treasury warns default could be worse than Great Recession
he U.S. Treasury Department is warning that the economy could plunge into a downturn worse than the Great Recession if Congress fails to raise the federal borrowing limit and the country defaults on its debt obligations.
A default could cause the nation’s credit markets to freeze, the value of the dollar to plummet and U.S. interest rates to skyrocket, according to the Treasury report released Thursday.
(Read more:Buffett speaks out against DC’s ‘extreme idiocy’)
Treasury officials hope by laying out potential consequences they will be able to bring pressure on Congress to act. Treasury SecretaryJacob Lew has said he will have used up the extraordinary measures to avoid breaching the debt ceiling by Oct. 17. After that, the government will have around $30 billion of cash on hand.
The report looked at the disruptions caused to financial markets during a similar stand-off between the administration and Congress over raising the debt limit. It then made projections about what could occur if there were an actual default.
In August 2011, Congress eventually raised the nation’s borrowing limit before a default occurred but only after a protracted debate. The politics that nearly led to a default prompted Standard & Poor’s to cut the nation’s credit rating by a notch.
(Read more: Hank Paulson: Tea party ‘hijacked the debate’)
“As we saw two years ago, prolonged uncertainty over whether our nation will pay its bills in full and on time hurts our economy,” Lew said in a statement. “Postponing a debt ceiling increase to the very last minute is exactly what our economy does not need—a self-inflicted wound harming families and businesses.”
Our nation has worked hard to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, and Congress must act now to lift the debt ceiling before that recovery is put in jeopardy,” Lew said.
The report notes that even the possibility of a default could roil financial markets and damage the economy, thereby harming American businesses and households. Sharp declines in household wealth, increases in the cost of financing for businesses and households, and a fall in private-sector confidence, all tend to undermine economic expansion. It also states that if the current government shutdown is protracted, it could make the U.S. economy even more susceptible to the adverse effects from a debt ceiling impasse than it was prior to the shutdown.
In the event of a default, the U.S. economy could be plunged into a recession worse than any seen since the Great Depression, it said.
“The U.S. dollar and Treasury securities are at the center of the international finance system. In the catastrophic event that a debt limit impasse were to lead to a default on Treasury securities, financial markets could be shaken to their core as was seen in late 2008, which resulted in a recession worse than any seen since the Great Depression.”
Simple facts show Obama’s debt-ceiling default threats are nonsense
The United States of America isn’t going to default on its debt, even if Congress doesn’t increase the statutory borrowing authority in the next couple of months. Everyone in Washington knows, or should know, this. Any assertions to the contrary are tantamount to — perish the thought! — playing politics with the debt ceiling.This is the second time in less than two years that the nation finds itself at this juncture, with Republicans in Congress threatening to hold the debt ceiling hostage. Some lawmakers are willing to shut down the government in order to pressure President Barack Obama to agree to spending cuts.
A shutdown is certainly possible. A debt default? Not gonna happen.
Why? Because the income taxes withheld from most of our paychecks each month exceed the interest the Treasury owes on its debt outstanding. In November, for example, the Treasury’sinterest expense totaled $25 billion. That compares with tax receipts of $161.7 billion. The ratio of receipts to interest expense varies from month to month, but what comes in more than covers what goes out in debt service.
Without an increase in the $16.394 trillion debt limit, the federal government can’t pay all of its bills: It borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Still, “debt service would come first,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson Icap LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Wait. The Treasury claims it has no authority to prioritize payments, to pay bondholders first.
That’s what it says, yes. Others beg to differ. In response to a congressional inquiry on the issue in 1985, the Government Accountability Office concluded the following: “We are aware of no statute or any other basis for concluding that Treasury is required to pay outstanding obligations in the order in which they are presented for payment unless it chooses to do so.”
The GAO is equally unaware of any new law that would alter its opinion in any way. So repeat after me: The U.S. isn’t going to fail to make timely payment of principal and interest on its sovereign debt. If it can’t issue new debt, it can roll over maturing debt. Borrowers may very well demand a higher rate of interest, especially if Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner raise the specter of default, as they did in 2011.
Issuing such a threat is irresponsible and even counterproductive if it prompts bondholders to dump Treasuries. That’s what happened initially during the debt-ceiling negotiations in July and August of 2011, costing the U.S. Treasury an additional $1.3 billion in interest expense, according to the GAO.
Once Standard & Poor’s put the U.S.’s AAA rating on credit watch on July 14, stocks went into the tank and Treasuries ignored the downgrade threat, which became a reality on Aug. 5.
“The bond market has its own credit-rating system,”Crandall said.
I am not suggesting that a failure to raise the debt ceiling wouldn’t be disruptive or cause undue hardship to those who rely on government checks. Social Security payments might not get processed. Medicare and Medicaid providers wouldn’t get paid. Neither would those serving in the military.
The sad part is that the debt ceiling has nothing to do with the debt problem. It merely allows Treasury to borrow what Congress has already spent. It does not authorize new spending commitments.
Options to get around the statutory debt limit, such as invoking the 14th Amendment or minting a $1 trillion platinum coin, seem like a bad precedent (the former) or a gimmick (the latter) to circumvent a relic. Neither is likely to be implemented.
The only solution is to address the debt ceiling directly. Obama has made it clear he won’t negotiate with Congress over the government’s borrowing authority. Republicans have made it equally clear they aren’t going to give him what he wants without extracting concessions on spending cuts. Given thepublic’s view of them as spoilers, Republicans would be better served by using their leverage in negotiations over the sequester. As part of the deal to avert the fiscal cliff, the first installment of the 10-year, $1.2 trillion of not-so-automatic discretionary-spending cuts was delayed for two months.
Obama no longer has the leverage he had in the cliff negotiations: tax increases for all if Congress failed to act. Republicans, as a rule, oppose cuts in defense spending. So does the Pentagon. Obama doesn’t want to pare nondefense spending. In fact, he would like to increase it under the guise of”investment.” (It sounds so much better.)
Obama has also said that any deficit-reduction agreement must be balanced, by which he means spending cuts only in return for additional tax increases. Congress just made the Bush-era tax cuts permanent for all but the top 0.7 percent of earners. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, echoing the view of his caucus, said the “tax issue is finished, over, completed.”
The lines in the sand have been drawn — rather sharply, as it turns out. The negotiations could get interesting if Republicans pick their battles carefully, addressing spending cuts at a time and place that’s appropriate.
(Caroline Baum, author of “Just What I Said,” is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)
To contact the writer of this article: Caroline Baum in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this article: James Greiff at email@example.com.
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Jacob Joseph “Jack” Lew (born August 29, 1955) is an American government administrator and attorney who is the 76th and current United States Secretary of the Treasury, serving since 2013. He served as the 25th White House Chief of Staff from 2012 to 2013. Lew previously served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, and is a member of the Democratic Party.
Born in New York City, Lew received his A.B. from Harvard College and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Lew began his career as a legislative assistant to Representative Joe Moakley and as a senior policy adviser to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Lew then worked as an attorney in private practice before working as a deputy in Boston’s office of management and budget. In 1993, he began work for the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to the President. In 1994 Lew served as Associate Director for Legislative Affairs and Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, where he served as Director of that agency from 1998 to 2001 and from 2010 to 2012. After leaving the Clinton Administration, Lew worked as the Executive Vice President for Operations at New York University from 2001 to 2006, and as the COO at Citigroup from 2006 to 2008. Lew then served as the first Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, from 2009 to 2010.
On January 10, 2013, Lew was nominated as the replacement for retiring Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, to serve in President Barack Obama‘s second term. On February 27, 2013, the Senate confirmed Lew for the position. He was sworn in the following day.
Early life, education, and early career
Lew was born in New York City. He attended New York City public schools, graduating from Forest Hills High School. His father was a lawyer and rare-book dealer who came to the United States from Poland as a child. Lew attended Carleton College in Minnesota where his faculty adviser was Paul Wellstone, who eventually represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. He graduated from Harvard College in 1978 and the Georgetown University Law Center in 1983.
He worked as an aide to Rep. Joe Moakley (D-Mass.) from 1974 to 1975. He then was a senior policy adviser to House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Under O’Neill he served at the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee as Assistant Director and then Executive Director, and was responsible for work on domestic and economic issues including Social Security, Medicare, budget, tax, trade, appropriations, and energy issues.
Lew practiced as an attorney for five years as a partner at Van Ness, Feldman and Curtis. His practice dealt primarily with electric power generation. He has also worked as Executive Director of the Center for Middle East Research, Issues Director for the Democratic National Committee’s Campaign 88, and Deputy Director of the Office of Program Analysis in the city of Boston‘s Office of Management and Budget. 
From February 1993 to 1994, Lew served as Special Assistant to the President under President Clinton. Lew was responsible for policy development and the drafting of the national service initiative (AmeriCorps) and health care reform legislation.
Lew left the White House in October 1994 to work as OMB’s Executive Associate Director and Associate Director for Legislative Affairs. From August 1995 until July 1998, Lew served as Deputy Director of OMB. There, Lew was chief operating officer responsible for day-to-day management of a staff of 500. He had crosscutting responsibilities to coordinate Clinton administration efforts on budget and appropriations matters. He frequently served as a member of the Administration negotiating team, including regarding the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
President Clinton nominated Lew to be Director of the OMB, and the United States Senate confirmed him for that job on July 31, 1998. He served in that capacity until the end of the Clinton administration in January 2001. As OMB Director, Lew had the lead responsibility for the Clinton Administration’s policies on budget, management, and appropriations issues. As a member of the Cabinet and senior member of the economic team, he advised the President on a broad range of domestic and international policies. He represented the Administration in budget negotiations with Congress and served as a member of the National Security Council.
Between Clinton and Obama tenures
After leaving public office in the Clinton administration, Lew served as the Executive Vice President for Operations at New York University and was a Clinical Professor of Public Administration at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. While at NYU, Lew aided the university in ending graduate students’ collective bargaining rights. The Obama administration has maintained that Lew supports workers’ union rights. According to a 2004 report in NYU’s student newspaper, the Washington Square News, Lew was paid $840,339 during the 2002-2003 academic year.In addition to his salary, several hundred thousand dollars in mortgage loans from NYU to Mr. Lew were forgiven by the University.
In June 2006, Lew was named chief operating officer of Citigroup‘s Alternative Investments unit, a proprietary trading group. The unit he oversaw invested in a hedge fund “that bet on the housing market to collapse.” During his work at Citigroup, Lew had invested heavily in funds in Ugland House while he worked as an investment banker at Citigroup during the 2008 financial meltdown. Lew also had oversight of Citigroup subsidiaries in countries including, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and Hong Kong; and during his time at Citigroup, Citigroup subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands increased to 113.
Lew co-chaired the Advisory Board for City Year New York. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution Hamilton Project Advisory Board, and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Lew is also a member of the bar in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
Deputy Secretary of State
As Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Lew was the State Department‘s chief operating officer and was primarily responsible for resource issues, while James Steinberg, who also served as Deputy Secretary of State during that period was responsible for policy. Lew was co-leader of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.
On July 13, 2010, the White House announced that Lew had been chosen to replace Peter Orszag as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), subject to Senate confirmation. During confirmation hearings in the Senate, in response to questioning by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Lew said that he did not believe deregulation was a “proximate cause” of the financial crisis of 2007–2008: Lew told the panel that “the problems in the financial industry preceded deregulation,” and after discussing those issues, added that he didn’t “personally know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don’t believe that deregulation was the proximate cause.”
On November 18, 2010, Lew was confirmed by the Senate by unanimous consent.
The $3.7 trillion 2011 budget President Obama unveiled the administration estimated reductions to federal spending deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next decade if adopted and economic assumptions were fully achieved. Two-thirds of the that estimated reduction would come from spending cuts through a 5-year freeze in discretionary spending first announced in Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address, as well as savings to mandatory programs such as Medicare and lower interest payments on the debt that would result from the lower spending. Tax increases are responsible for the other third of the reduction, including a cap on itemized reductions for wealthier taxpayers and the elimination of tax breaks for oil and gas companies. Economist and former financial fraud investigator William K. Black warned that the OMB budget statement prepared under Lew’s direction was “an ode to austerity,” and that austerity would force the U.S. economy back into recession.
Lew meeting with President Barack Obama and the Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Rob Nabors
In an op-ed in the Huffington Post, Lew cited top Administration priorities to achieve deficit reduction; including: $400 billion in savings from non-security discretionary spending freezes, $78 billion in cuts to the Department of Defense, returning to the Clinton-era tax rates for the top 2% of income earners, and lowering the Corporate tax from 35% to 25%.
Chief of Staff
On January 9, 2012, President Obama announced that Lew would replace William M. Daley as White House Chief of Staff. Lew’s nomination was followed with criticism after renewed reports that he received over $900,000 in bonuses while working at Citigroup, which had been rescued with $45 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) after losing $27.7 billion, or 90% of its value.
During his tenure as Chief of Staff, Lew was seen as a supporter and top negotiator for a “grand bargain” deal between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, to avoid “Fiscal cliff” sequester cuts and tax increases.
Secretary of the Treasury
Lew’s New Money Signature
On January 10, 2013, President Obama nominated Lew for the position of Secretary of the Treasury. The nomination became the subject of some humorous commentary, due to Lew’s unusual loopy signature, which would appear on all U.S. paper currency for the duration of his tenure; the signature generated enough media attention that Obama joked at a press conference that he had considered rescinding his nomination when he learned of it. Lew later adopted a more conventional signature for currency. The Senate Finance Committee held confirmation hearings for Lew on February 13, 2013, and approved his nomination 19–5 on February 26, 2013, sending his nomination to the full Senate.
During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley expressed concern that Lew did not know what Ugland House was, though he had invested in it. During his work at Citigroup, Lew had invested heavily in funds in Ugland House while he worked as an investment banker at Citigroup during the 2008 financial meltdown. He had taken advantage of current tax law and his financial allocation in the venture resulted in Lew taking roughly a 2.8% loss, a $1,582 decrease in his investment principal.
On February 27, 2013, the full Senate voted and approved Lew for Secretary of the Treasury 71–26. He was sworn into office on February 28.
Lew is an Orthodox Jew who observes the Jewish Sabbath  and attends Congregation Beth Sholom.
Interviewed in a 2010 article, Lew’s former boss on the National Security Council, Sandy Berger, commented that “Lew’s faith never got in the way of performing his duties.” Berger also said that Lew’s commitment to his family was also extremely important, but that Lew “was able to balance the requirements, which was very, very hard – and he was determined to observe his religious traditions.”
A 2011 press release from the Religion News Service noted that Lew also “has extensive connections in the American Jewish community,” and that he might be able to help President Obama “build a more friendly rapport” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
- ^ Jump up to: a b c Cook, Nancy (9 January 2013). “Jack Lew: The Man Who Could Save Obama’s Legacy”. National Journal. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
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- Jump up ^ “Van Ness Feldman Congratulates Jack Lew on His Anticipated Nomination to Serve as Head of the White House Office of Management and Budget”. vnf.com. July 13, 2010.
- Jump up ^ “Thompson Schedules Nomination Hearing on Jacob J. Lew”. hsgac.senate.gov. Thursday, May 28, 1998.
- Jump up ^ “Jacob J. Lew”. nytimes.com. November 15, 2008.
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- Jump up ^ “Lew, Jacob J. “Jack”". January 26, 2012. ourcampaigns.com.
- Jump up ^ “The White House Office of the Press Secretary”. Houston, Texas: National Archives and Records Administration. April 14, 1998. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- Jump up ^ “A Look at the New White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew”. news.yahoo.com. January 9, 2012.
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- Jump up ^ Eidelson, Josh. “Jack Lew’s union-busting past”. Salon. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- Jump up ^ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324329204578269821728015016.html
- Jump up ^ Kaminer, Ariel. “NYU will cease loans to top employees for second homes”. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Jump up ^ “Flashback: Lew’s Time at Citi And Other Disappointments”. motherjones.com. January 9, 2012.
- Jump up ^ February 2013 “From the Citi to the Caymans”. WSJ News. 12 February 2012.
- Jump up ^ Daniel Halper (13 February 2013). “Jack Lew Oversaw Up to 113 Cayman Island Investment Funds”. Weekly Standard. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- Jump up ^ “Director Jack Lew Blogs About CYNY”. cityyearnewyork.wordpress.com. January 18, 2011.
- Jump up ^ “White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to Keynote December 16 Convocation; Stanley Raskas, Moise Safra and Diane Wassner to be Honored”. blogs.yu.edu. November 26, 2012.
- Jump up ^ “Obama National Security Team Takes Shape”. National Journal. December 23, 2008. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
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- Jump up ^ Long, Emily (July 15, 2009). “State Department launches quadrennial review”. Government Executive. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
- Jump up ^ “President Obama Announces His Intent to Nominate Jacob Lew as OMB Director”. http://www.whitehouse.gov. July 13, 2010.
- Jump up ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/21/obama-nominee-jacob-lew-f_n_732594.html
- Jump up ^ “Matt Taibbi & Bill Black: Obama’s New Treasury Secretary a ‘Failure of Epic Proportions’”. http://www.alternet.org. January 11, 2013.
- Jump up ^ Wasson, Erik (2011-02-14). “Obama 2012 budget proposes $1.1T deficit cut over next decade”. Thehill.com. Retrieved 2012-11-14.
- Jump up ^ “Obama’s OMB Channels its Inner Tea Party”. http://neweconomicperspectives.org/. December 27, 2012.
- Jump up ^ “The 2012 Budget”. huffingtonpost.com. February 14, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- Jump up ^ “Obama chief of staff Bill Daley steps down, budget chief Jack Lew steps up”. Cbsnews.com. 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2012-11-14.
- Jump up ^ “The new WH Chief of Staff and Citigroup”. salon.com. January 10, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
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- Jump up ^ Rachel Weiner (January 10, 2013). “Obama mocks Lew’s signature”. washingtonpost.com. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Jump up ^ Goldfarb, Zachary A. (June 18, 2013). “Treasury Secretary Jack Lew unveils new signature after quibbles with his scribble”. The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved July 29, 2013.
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1 BUREAU OF THE FISCAL SERVICE
STAR - TREASURY FINANCIAL DATABASE
TABLE 1. SUMMARY OF RECEIPTS, OUTLAYS AND THE DEFICIT/SURPLUS BY MONTH OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT (IN MILLIONS)
ACCOUNTING DATE: 08/13
PERIOD RECEIPTS OUTLAYS DEFICIT/SURPLUS (-)
+ ____________________________________________________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
OCTOBER 163,072 261,539 98,466
NOVEMBER 152,402 289,704 137,302
DECEMBER 239,963 325,930 85,967
JANUARY 234,319 261,726 27,407
FEBRUARY 103,413 335,090 231,677
MARCH 171,215 369,372 198,157
APRIL 318,807 259,690 -59,117
MAY 180,713 305,348 124,636
JUNE 260,177 319,919 59,741
JULY 184,585 254,190 69,604
AUGUST 178,860 369,393 190,533
SEPTEMBER 261,566 186,386 -75,180
YEAR-TO-DATE 2,449,093 3,538,286 1,089,193
OCTOBER 184,316 304,311 119,995
NOVEMBER 161,730 333,841 172,112
DECEMBER 269,508 270,699 1,191
JANUARY 272,225 269,342 -2,883
FEBRUARY 122,815 326,354 203,539
MARCH 186,018 292,548 106,530
APRIL 406,723 293,834 -112,889
MAY 197,182 335,914 138,732
JUNE 286,627 170,126 -116,501
JULY 200,030 297,627 97,597
AUGUST 185,370 333,293 147,923
YEAR-TO-DATE 2,472,542 3,227,888 755,345
|Interest Expense Fiscal Year 2013
|Fiscal Year Total
|Available Historical Data Fiscal Year End
Treasury taking final steps to avoid default
The Treasury Department has begun using the last set of accounting maneuvers at its disposal to allow the government to keep paying its bills until Congress raises the country’s borrowing limit, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told congressional leaders Tuesday night.
In a letter, Lew reiterated that if the debt ceiling is not raised by Oct. 17 the government will not be able to meet all its financial commitments, such as making payments to U.S. debt holders, government contractors and Social Security recipients.
“If we have insufficient cash on hand, it would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in our history,” he wrote. “For this reason, I respectfully urge Congress to act immediately to meet its responsibility by extending the nation’s borrowing authority.”
The Obama administration has said it will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, arguing Congress needs to act because the issue isn’t whether to approve new spending but whether the government should pay the bills it has already racked up.
(PHOTOS: D.C. closes up shop after government shutdown)
But Republicans have made clear they will expect some sort of concession in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling.
That debate has yet to begin in earnest, however, as congressional leaders and the White House wrestle with the more immediate fiscal fight over funding the government.
On Tuesday, the government began a partial shutdown because Congress failed to enact legislation to keep the government funded. A deal to get agencies up and running remains elusive.
Lew said in his letter that the government shutdown — and the decrease in spending that comes with it — will not do much if anything to push off the Oct. 17 deadline, which is when Treasury estimates the government will run out of money to pay all its bills.
Economists, corporate executives and market analysts have warned that failing to raise the debt ceiling would pose a much greater risk to the government and financial markets than a government shutdown.
U.S. government securities are viewed as the safest assets in the world and therefore play a key role in financial markets. If the creditworthiness of the U.S. government is called into question, economists warn, it could lead to a financial panic and a severe economic downturn.
(POLITICO’s full government shutdown coverage)
To buy more time before the debt limit needs to be raised, Lew said the final “extraordinary measures” being deployed include suspending the daily reinvestment of the portion of the Exchange Stabilization Fund that is invested in Treasury securities and that Treasury is entering into a debt swap with the Federal Financing Bank and the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/debt-ceiling-treasury-final-extraordinary-measures-97690.html#ixzz2gcU1Jmxm
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/debt-ceiling-treasury-final-extraordinary-measures-97690.html#ixzz2gcTtBlmb
House G.O.P. Leaders List Conditions for Raising Debt Ceiling
House Republican leaders shifted the budget battle on Thursday to a potentially more consequential fight over raising the government’s borrowing limit, rolling out conditions for a debt-ceiling increase that they pulled from three years of frustrated efforts to roll back regulations and undo President Obama’s first-term achievements.
Speaker John A. Boehner also made clear that he was not ready just yet to give up a policy fight that could shut down the federal government on Tuesday. Asked whether he would put a stopgap spending bill to a vote free of Republican policy prescriptions, he answered, “I do not see that happening.”
But anything other than a budget bill unadorned with Republican amendments would not pass the Senate, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said Thursday.
“They want to shut down the government — here’s how much time they have to figure it out,” Mr. Reid said, gesturing to a digital clock in a room off the Senate chamber that is ticking down, to the second, the time before the government shutdown deadline on Oct. 1. “They can play around all they want.”
With just days remaining until a cascade of economic events crash onto Washington, the budget showdown between Congressional Republicans, Senate Democrats and President Obama is growing only more tangled.
Democratic and Republican leaders were trying on Thursday to negotiate an agreement for final votes on a stopgap spending measure through mid-November that would likely be stripped of language defunding the health care law.
Also behind closed doors in the Capitol, House Republican leaders laid out their demands for a debt-ceiling increase to the Republican rank and file.
They include a one-year delay of the president’s health care law, fast-track authority to overhaul the tax code, construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, offshore oil and gas production, more permitting of energy exploration on federal lands, a rollback of regulations on coal ash, blocking new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas production, eliminating a $23 billion fund to ensure the orderly dissolution of failed major banks, eliminating mandatory contributions to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and an increase in means testing for Medicare, among other provisions.
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority whip, said all of those measures have passed the House since Republicans took over in 2011, but they have gone nowhere in the Democratic Senate.
Now, Republicans say, they will use the threat of a potentially devastating default on United States government debt to force consideration. The laundry list of Republican priorities is also needed to build support for any debt-limit increase, which many Republicans say they cannot vote for under any circumstances.
“The president says ‘I’m not going to negotiate,’ ” Mr. Boehner said. “Well, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”
Given the president’s stance and resistance by Senate Democrats to any threat to postpone the health measure, the House proposal would seem to have no chance of success in the Senate.
Economists of all political persuasions have warned that a failure to raise the debt ceiling by the Treasury’s deadline of Oct. 17 could be catastrophic. The world economy’s faith in the inviolable safety of Treasury debt would be shaken for years, interest rates could shoot up and stock prices worldwide would most likely plummet.
But to House Republicans, those fears are precisely the leverage they need to win passage of their priorities.
“People have to recognize there’s never any compromise until the stakes are high,” said Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California. “In our society, that’s the nature of democratic government.”
Representative Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, said, “That’s why we’re paid the big bucks — right? — to figure these problems out.”
But Democrats — and some Republicans — worried on Thursday that the shift to the debt-ceiling fight would leave the government heading toward a shutdown on Tuesday with no resolution in sight.
“I’d like to see us keep that focus there,” said Representative Tom Graves, Republican of Georgia who led the fight to link further government funding to gutting the Affordable Care Act. “We’ve got a responsibility to finish this up and let it play out.”
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the shift in focus from a short-term stopgap spending bill that keeps the government open to the debt ceiling is coming because “Republicans realize fighting a small battle over a small bill is a waste of time.”
She called the House debt ceiling “Christmas list” disingenuous.
“This is not the time to throw in your 50 favorite flavors,” she said. “You can’t just throw everything against the wall and see what happens.”
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Rick Stengel Is at Least the 24th Journalist to Work for the Obama Administration
Time managing editor Rick Stengel (pictured above) is leaving journalism to go work for the State Department, making him at least the 15th 21st23rd 24th reporter to go to work for the Obama administration. Stengel will be the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs,Politico and Capital New York report. The last high-profile journalist to leave Time for the Obama administration is Jay Carney, who is currently White House press secretary (pictured at right). Update:Thanks to a few tipsters, we’ve updated with a bigger count. They’re listed below.
A wave of reporters went to work for President Obama early in the administration, a time when many media organizations were going through layoffs and Obama’s approval rating was sky-high. The flow has tapered off since then. The Washington Post‘s Ed O’Keefe has semi-regularly kept tabs on the number of reporters working for Obama administration, counting 10 in May 2009, 14 in 2010, and 13 in 2011. The Washington Examiner‘s Paul Beddard counted 19 reporters working for “Team Obama” in February 2012, but he included liberal advocacy groups as part of the “team.”
Keeping track of how many reporters went to work under President Obama is tricky. Do you count those who had some other job in between reporting and the Obama administration? (Former TV reporter Beverley Lumpkin worked for the Project on Government Oversight before joining the Justice Department in 2011.) What about someone who went to work for George W. Bush, and kept his job under Obama? (Former ABC reporter Geoff Morrell went to work for the Defense Department in 2007.) Here’s a non-exhaustive list of journalists who switched to working for the government. Our updated count includes people like Lumpkin and Morrell, plus new additions:
- Earlier this month, Douglas Frantz went to work for the State Department, too, as assistant secretary of state for public affairs. Frantz took a couple spins through the revolving door between the media and the executive branch, the Huffington Post noted. For decades, Frantz reported for publications like The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times until 2009, when he got a job as an investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was chaired by then-Sen. John Kerry. In May 2012, Frantz got a job as The Washington Post‘s national security editor.
- Boston Globe online politics editor Glen Johnson went to work for Secretary of State John Kerry in January as a senior adviser.
- In February 2012, Stephen Barr went to work for the Labor Department as senior managing directorof the Office of Public Affairs. Barr had written the Federal Diary column for The Washington Post, which he retired from in 2008.
- The Washington Post‘s Shailagh Murray became Vice President Joe Biden’s communications directorin March 2011.
- Rosa Brooks, an author who was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, was counselor to Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, from April 2009 to July 2011. Brooks now writes for Foreign Policy.
- In February 2010, Desson Thomson went to work as a speechwriter for the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., Louis Susman. Thomson had been a film critic for The Washington Post until 2008.
- Roberta Baskin, who worked as a TV journalist and ran the Center for Public Integrity, went to work for the Department of Health and Human Services in August 2009 as a senior communications adviser.
- Washington Post Outlook section deputy editor Warren Bass went to work for then-UN ambassador Susan Rice in January 2009 as director of speechwriting and senior policy adviser. He now works for the RAND Corporation.
- Education Week reporter David Hoff went to work for the Education Department in May 2009.
- Sasha Johnson, who worked for CNN as a senior political producer, became a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation in May 2009, and, recently moved to be the chief of staff for the Federal Aviation Administration.
- The Chicago Tribune‘s Jill Zuckman became the Department of Transportation’s communications director in February 2009. She was a commentator on MSNBC last year.
- Rick Weiss left The Washington Post to work for the Center for American Progress, then in March 2009 moved to be the communications director and senior policy strategist in the White House Office of Science and Technology.
Update: A few people have written in with names we’d overlooked:
- Former CBS and ABC reporter Linda Doulglass started working for the Obama campaign in May 2008. She was then communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform until June 2010. She then worked for the Atlantic Media as communications chief until June of this year.
- New York Times reporter Eric Dash joined the Treasury Department’s public affairs office in 2012.
- As did MSNBC producer Anthony Reyes.
- Aneesh Raman left CNN to work for Obama’s 2008 campaign. He’s now a speechwriter for Obama.
- CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto worked as chief of staff for U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke from 2011 to September 2013.
- San Francisco Chronicle reporter Kelly Zito, who covered the environment, went to work for theEPA’s public affairs office in August 2011.
- We overlooked an obvious one: Samantha Power made her name as a journalist covering genocide before working for Obama when he was still a senator. She’s now Obama’sambassador to the United Nations.
Time’s Stengel latest in long line of reporters who jumped to jobs in Obama administration
Jay Carney says it was a simple calculation. He could continue as a reporter and writer for the rest of his working life, or he could try something new and different.He chose something different. After 20 years as a reporter at Time magazine, Carney accepted an offer to become communications director for Joe Biden, the newly elected vice president, in late 2008. Carney would go on to become President Obama’s press secretary two years later. “I had a great job” at Time, Carney says. “I’d also been doing it for 20 years. Doing something completely new has an appeal.”
As it happens, Carney was an early adopter. He was among the first of what has turned out to be a parade of journalists who’ve turned in their press badges for work in the Obama administration. In a trend that has raised some eyebrows among Obama’s critics, at least 20 reporters and editors from mainstream news organizations have taken high-profile positions in the administration within the past five years.
The latest hire: Richard Stengel, Time magazine’s managing editor (and Carney’s former boss). Obama nominated Stengel last week to be the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, a top communications post. Stengel will succeed Tara Sonenshine, another journalist (ABC News, Newsweek) who became part of the government she once covered.
At State, Stengel can swap newsroom stories with Samantha Power, a former journalist (U.S. News, the Boston Globe, the New Republic) who is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. His staff will include Desson Thomson, a former Washington Post movie critic who became a speechwriter for Hillary Rodham Clinton when she served as secretary of state. Other colleagues will include two recent additions to Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s staff: Glen Johnson, a longtime political reporter and editor at the Boston Globe, and Douglas Frantz, a reporter and editor who has worked for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and, most recently, The Post. Frantz was also briefly an investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Kerry, then a senator from Massachusetts.
Every administration draws in a few journalists, typically as speechwriters and press secretaries, a natural given the overlapping skills. A young reporter named Diane Sawyer went to work in Richard Nixon’s press operation in 1970, eventually helping Nixon write his memoirs. Tony Snow, the late columnist and Fox News host, wrote speeches for George H.W. Bush and served as the press secretary for George W. Bush from 2006 to 2007.
Edward R. Murrow, the legendary CBS anchor and perhaps the most famous newsman in America at the time, headed President John F. Kennedy’s U.S. Information Agency, overseeing the U.S. government’s broadcasts around the world.
But Obama may be different in terms of the sheer number of ink-stained wretches and other news-media denizens that he has attracted. Even before he was in office, his campaign had hired former CBS and ABC News correspondent Linda Douglass as a senior strategist. Douglass went on to serve as the communications chief for the White House Office of Health Reform before leaving in 2010.
The pattern of Obama hires has periodically aroused suspicions about the media’s allegedly cozy relationship with the president. Prompted by Stengel’s appointment last week, conservative radio titan Rush Limbaugh commented on his program, “There’s an incestuous relationship that exists between the Washington press corps and any Democrat administration. . . . Journalists are simply leftists disguised as reporters. They’re political activists disguised as reporters. That’s all they are, and this is just the latest example.”
Journalists who’ve become former journalists say it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Jill Zuckman, who was a seasoned political correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, says she joined Team Obama (as head of public affairs at the Transportation Department) in February 2009 primarily because aRepublican, Rep. Ray LaHood (Ill.), had been appointed to run it.
“I probably would not have done it without a professional relationship with Ray LaHood,” says Zuckman, who had covered LaHood when he was a congressional staff member in the early 1990s. “He was one of my favorite members of Congress. I thought he was smart, frank and plugged in. I thought I could help him” in his new job.
Zuckman, who left Transportation in 2011 to join a communications firm run by Democrats Anita Dunn and Hillary Rosen, denies any tilt for Obama or Democrats while she was a journalist. “I was a straightforward reporter,” she said. “I had good relationships with Republicans as well as Democrats.”
Carney makes no secret of his loyalties to Obama now but defends his objectivity and professionalism as a journalist when he covered candidate Obama and Washington generally. “I was definitely excited by and privately supported Obama in 2008,” he said. “But I think any reading of my coverage as a reporter would show that I was not an ideologue. [Time columnist] Joe Klein said he thought I was a Republican” when Carney joined Biden’s staff.
What’s more, the news business’s financial troubles have played a significant role in driving journalists onto the job market. The Obama administration came in as the Great Recession worsened what already had been a bad slump for traditional media outlets. Since then, mainstream news organizations have shed thousands of jobs.
“The news business was going south,” says Thomson, who accepted a buyout from The Post in 2008 after 25 years at the paper. “We are at a time when reinvention is the new black. And in 2008, that’s what was in front of me, to reinvent.”
(Thomson and Frantz are among the cadre of former Post journalists who have found second careers in federal Washington. Others include former city editor Bill Miller, now a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Washington, and former political reporter Shailagh Murray, who replaced Carney as Biden’s communications czar in 2011.)
Peter Gosselin, an economics reporter at the Los Angeles Times, became Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s chief speechwriter in 2009, just a few weeks after the Times’s parent, Tribune Co., filed for bankruptcy-court protection. “I couldn’t trust that I’d be able to support two kids through school, and in a few years going to college, on the chance that [newspapers] were not going to collapse,” Gosselin said.
Journalists who became Obama operatives speak highly of the experience. Although they say the office “culture” is wholly different — more collaborative, less geared to a newsroom’s individual star system — the job can be no less rewarding.
“I’m liking it a great deal,” said Thomson. “From the State Department’s point of view, the world is the ultimate canvas and the U.S. role in the world is as big a subject as it gets. . . . You go from outsider to insider, but that doesn’t mean you stop using the skills you applied to journalism.”
Zuckman, who oversaw the Transportation Department’s communications efforts during Toyota’s massive recalls of vehicles to fix a problem with sudden acceleration, said her stint at the agency gave her an appreciation for the hard, fast and complicated work that government employees do. Working for the agency, she said, “turned out to be one of the great experiences of my life.”
But Gosselin advised those who are considering such a switch to think twice.
“What astounded me was what a sleek, well-oiled, 21st-century machine a newsroom looks like compared to the way it works inside government,” he said. “The cultures are really, really different, particularly at high levels,” he added, citing the “messy” government decision-making process in which dozens of people get a say.
After working for Geithner and as a special adviser for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services, Gosselin is now a senior health-care policy analyst for Bloomberg Government, a news and information source. Which makes him part of an even smaller fraternity: those who’ve made a full revolution through the revolving door between reporting and government.
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What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria
By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN
MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.
Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.
Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.
From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”
But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.
No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.
The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.
We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.
A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.
I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.
If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Vladimir V. Putin is the president of Russia.
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