Most Americans oppose the just imposed government health care regulations
President Barack Obama, citing months of "Republican obstruction" to his nominees for various administration posts, said he will make recess appointments of 15 nominees, including union lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.
Mr. Obama's decision to appoint Mr. Becker is a win for labor unions that had helped the president win passage of his health care overhaul. Republicans and business groups had fought Mr. Becker's nomination, saying he wouldn't be impartial on a board that supervises union elections and referees disputes between employers and employees. Mr. Obama said he will also make a recess appointment of Democrat Mark Pearce to the NLRB, but not the pending Republican NLRB nominee, Brian Hayes.
Mr. Obama also said he will fill two top Treasury Department posts by making recess appointments of Jeffrey Goldstein as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance and Michael F. Mundaca as assistant secretary for tax policy.
Mr. Obama telegraphed earlier this year the likelihood that he would use recess appointments to bypass Republican Senate opposition. By the White House count, 217 nominations have been pending before the Senate for an average of 101 days each. Of those nominations, 34 have been awaiting action for more than six months, the White House said in a statement Saturday.
A member of the House of Lords appointed to investigate the veracity of climate science has close links to businesses that stand to make billions of pounds from low-carbon technology.
Lord Oxburgh is to chair a scientific assessment panel that will examine the published science of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
The CRU has been accused of manipulating and suppressing data to overstate the dangers from climate change. Professor Phil Jones, its director, has stood down from his post while a separate inquiry, chaired by Sir Muir Russell, takes place into the leaking of e-mails sent by him and his colleagues.
Climate sceptics questioned whether Lord Oxburgh, chairman of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association and the wind energy company Falck Renewables, was truly independent because he led organisations that depended on climate change being seen as an urgent problem.
Andrew Montford, a climate-change sceptic who writes the widely-read Bishop Hill blog, said that Lord Oxburgh had a “direct financial interest in the outcome” of his inquiry.
Lord Oxburgh has said that he believes the need to tackle climate change will make capturing carbon from power plants “a worldwide industry of the same scale as the international oil industry today”.
The CCS Association has stated that carbon capture could become a “trillion dollar industry” by 2050, but this would happen only if governments made reducing emissions a top political priority. In an interview in 2007, Lord Oxburgh said that the threat from global warming was so severe that “it may be that we shall need . . . regulations which impose very severe penalties on people who emit more than specified amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”.
The university appointed Lord Oxburgh, a geologist and former chairman of the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, after consulting the Royal Society, of which he is a fellow.
Professor Trevor Davies, the university’s pro-vice-chancellor for research, said that the university had been aware of Lord Oxburgh’s business interests but believed that he would lead the panel of six scientists “in an utterly objective way”. The panel will meet in Norwich next month. . . .
A federal judge on Friday upheld the gun laws that the District of Columbia passed to comply with the landmark 2008 Supreme Court ruling that struck down the city's decades-old ban on handgun possession.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina found that the new regulations were crafted to make the streets safer and aren't so restrictive that they violate the Second Amendment guarantee of a person's right to own a gun for self-defense.
"It is beyond dispute that public safety is an important -- indeed, a compelling -- governmental interest," Urbina wrote.
The judge ruled that the District's handgun registration process, which requires owners to submit fingerprints and allow police to perform ballistics tests, is constitutional. He also upheld a city ban on most semiautomatic pistols.
D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, said the ruling shows the District reached the correct balance between the rights of residents and the need to promote public safety. . . .
As Democrats tout the moral underpinnings of the federal health care system overhaul -- ensuring health care coverage for nearly all Americans -- one senator appeared to go off message when he said the legislation would address the "mal-distribution of income in America."
After the Senate passed a "fix-it" bill Thursday to make changes to the new health care law, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the influential Finance Committee, said the overhaul was an "income shift" to help the poor.
"Too often, much of late, the last couple three years, the mal-distribution of income in American is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy and the middle income class is left behind," he said. "Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America."
That contrasted with the arguments Democrats have been making in the past year for reinventing the health care system: to expand health care coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans and tighten regulations on insurance companies while reducing the federal deficit. . . .
While Congress spent the last year debating how to provide health insurance for the uninsured, a little-known provision slipped into the heath care law that could cost some Americans upwards of $2,000 a year.
The Class Act, otherwise known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, is the federal government's first long-term care insurance program.
Under-reported and the under the radar of most lawmakers, the program will allow workers to have an average of roughly $150 or $240 a month, based on age and salary, automatically deducted from their paycheck to save for long-term care.
The Congressional Budget Office expects the government will collect $109 billion in premiums by 2019. . . .
Democratic supporters say the provision, which was championed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, should not be controversial. . . .
Few people know about it, but experts agree that it could well explode the federal budget deficit down the road. . . .
The problem: The insurance plan, as currently constructed, can't possibly pay for itself over the long run and will blow a hole in the federal budget unless lawmakers somehow become more diligent than we generally expect them to be. . . .
North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has called the measure a Ponzi scheme. He and other moderate Democrats wrote a letter last year expressing their concerns about the long-term fiscal soundness of the proposal.
Ace reporter Jennifer Haberkorn of The Washington Times wrote an excellent front-page article about the dangers of the CLASS Act in November. But no one paid much attention. . . .
Nancy Pelosis and Barack Obamas words are ringing true: We will learn what is in the bill once it is passed. New long term care deduction on everyone's paycheck-$150-250 a month, unless you opt out.
Federal prosecutors filed formal misdemeanor charges Friday in connection with a January incident involving four conservative activists and the telephone system at the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in New Orleans.
Joseph Basel, 24, Stan Dai, 24, Robert Flanagan, 24, and James O’Keefe, 25, were each charged with one misdemeanor count of obtaining access to federal property by false pretenses. The charging document says the men decided Basel and Flanagan "would pretend to be repair technicians from the telephone company and would, while disguised to look like telephone repairmen, state to staff members of the senator that they were following up on reports of problems with the telephone system, engage them in a coversation about the telephone system, and pretend to test the phone system" while O'Keefe videotaped the encounter.
A preliminary complaint filed in the case in January indicated that the men were intent on committing a felony when they entered Landrieu's office on January 25. However, the "information" filed in federal court Friday makes no mention of any alleged effort by the four men to damage the telephone equipment as was originally reported.
The relatively minor charges filed Friday carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a fine of up to $5000. If prosecutors chose to pursue felony charges of attempting to destroy federal infrastructure, the men could have faced lengthy prison terms.
While early press reports suggested there may have been a nefarious plot to interfere with Landrieu's phones, later stories indicated that the incident was some sort of effort to verify or dramatize claims that the senator's office was ignoring calls from angry constituents. . . .
Some are talking about you running vs Scott Brown in '12. I'm Chair of MA Dem Party. My email is johnewalsh@Comcast.net cell-617-650-9311
It’s only been a couple of months since I’ve been in office, and before I’ve even settled into my new job, the political machine in Massachusetts is looking for someone to run against me. And you’re not going to believe who they are supposedly trying to recruit—liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow. . . .
We can continue to push our movement forward by running for office, joining in rallies and petitions that challenge President Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s health-care legislation, supporting campaigns against the tax-and-spenders or by donating time and money to office-holders and candidates who will restore the principles of our founders. . . .
The Massachusetts Democratic Party never asked me to run against Scott Brown. It's just not true. Honestly, I swear. No, really. . . .
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Pentagon reporters Thursday it's "inappropriate" for active duty officers to comment on potential changes to the law that bans gays from openly serving in the military. Those comments were a direct response to a March 8th letter written to the "Stars and Stripes " by Lieutenant General Benjamin Mixon, commanding general of the US Army Pacific, which clearly stated his opinion that most servicemembers are opposed to repealing the policy.
In the letter Mixon wrote: "It is often stated that most servicemembers are in favor of repealing the policy. I do not believe that is accurate." He went on to say, "Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views. If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy." . . .
The Marine Corps' commandant said he won't force his troops to bunk with gays on base and would give them separate rooms if Congress votes to allow openly gay service.
The comment, by Gen. James Conway, is the latest pushback by a small but vocal faction of senior military leaders opposed to a repeal of the 1993 law known as "don't ask, don't tell."
President Obama says the ban is unfair, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has launched a lengthy study to determine how to allow gays to serve openly without hurting military effectiveness.
Among the questions to be answered is whether changes to housing policies would even be necessary.
Conway, a known opponent of repealing the law, suggested in an interview published Friday by Military.com that he already knows it would be a logistical hurdle. On base, Marines typically bunk two-to-a-room. . . .
For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.
After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.
“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea." . . .
That incident followed an even uglier series of events outside the chamber Saturday, when tea party protesters reportedly shouted the N-word at civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and hurled an anti-gay insult at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). . . .
Democrats on Wednesday made financial reform their new top domestic priority, vowing to enact an overhaul of Wall Street this year and warning opponents not to stand in the way.
President Barack Obama is looking to Congress to pass a regulatory bill in the next few months, and key congressional Democrats said they are emboldened to act following the passage of healthcare legislation on Sunday night.
Republicans who voted unanimously against healthcare reform will suffer the political consequences using the same strategy on Wall Street reform, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) told The Hill on Wednesday. . . .
By 57-42, Democrats rejected an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., barring federal purchases of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders. Coburn said it would save millions, while Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., called it "a crass political stunt." . . .
Sadler said the number of requests for new permits rose drastically in January, February and March last year but has since leveled off to about 2,000 monthly for both new permits or renewals. . . .
The majority of concealed pistol licenses in Michigan were granted within the last five years. As of March 2, state police said there were 223,418 concealed pistol license holders in Michigan, of whom 145,351, or 65 percent, were first-time licensees since 2001, including 1,587 in Berrien County.
In the 2008-09 fiscal year, a record high of 66,446 licenses were issued in Michigan, including 751 in Berrien County. . . .
The Colorado Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit by a gun rights organization challenging the University of Colorado's ban on guns on its three campuses.
Attorney Jim Manley, representing Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, argued a 1994 CU policy banning concealed weapons from its campus violates state gun laws, particularly the Concealed Carry Act of 2003.
The act states no local government can adopt an ordinance to limit state concealed carry rights in its municipality. Manley argued at the hearing that the CU Board of Regents is equivalent to a local governing body subject to this ruling.
CU attorney Patrick O'Rourke argued the law does not apply because CU is not defined in state law as a governing body and is allowed to regulate guns on its property.
"CU is a state institution of higher education, not a local government," O'Rourke told the hearing.
O'Rourke said the regents have a right to regulate the campus to create the best environment for learning. Manley said that creates a dubious distinction of where the campus authority ends.
Manley said the SCCC would be satisfied if CU would change the law to allow guns in vehicles on campus. As it stands, Manley says, a person could be charged with violating the law by driving through campus with a firearm in their car. . . .
Sales of new homes in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in February to a record low as blizzards, unemployment and foreclosures depressed the market.
Purchases decreased 2.2 percent to an annual pace of 308,000, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median sales price climbed by the most in more than two years.
The new-home market is vying with foreclosure-induced declines in prices for existing homes in an economy where unemployment is forecast to average 9.6 percent this year, close to a 26-year high. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner yesterday said it would take a “long time” to repair the housing market as the administration takes steps to overhaul real-estate financing and regulation.
“It’s going to be a long, slow slog and the lagging sector will be new home sales because they have to compete with existing sales and foreclosures,” Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association in Washington, said before the report. “New home sales probably have until the fourth quarter until they start recovering.”
Sales were projected to climb to a 315,000 annual pace, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 78 economists. Forecasts ranged from 275,000 to 343,000. The Commerce Department revised January data to show 315,000 sales at an annual pace, up from the previously estimated 309,000. . . .
Proponents of high-speed rail worry that the new line, which is scheduled to be up and running in 2015, might hurt rather than help their cause, if it comes to be seen as little more than an expensive way to whisk tourists from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World, which is slated to get its own stop.
Even Representative John L. Mica, a Republican whose district in northeast Florida stops about 20 miles short of the proposed line, has questioned whether his state was the best choice to receive some of the $8 billion that was set aside in the stimulus act for high-speed rail. . . .
But it is unclear where the state will get the money to extend the train line. As it is, officials are uncertain where they would get the rest of the $2.6 billion that they believe is needed to build the Orlando to Tampa route.
Supporters of high-speed rail often argue that it can be a way to lure passengers off airplanes. Orlando and Tampa are so close, however, that no airlines fly between them.
The drive took less than 82 minutes on a couple of recent test runs by a reporter; the train is expected to cover the same ground in 54 to 58 minutes.
Even the Florida project’s planners have acknowledged it would have a limited impact on traffic. An environmental impact statement issued in 2005 estimated that the train would draw 11 percent of the 4.5 million people who drive between Tampa and Orlando each year.
It also said the drivers who opted instead to ride the train “would not be sufficient to significantly improve” traffic flow on Interstate 4. . . . .
For months, Wall Street banks and the troubled automakers feverishly protested that their top executives would flee if they were not lavishly rewarded for their talents. New data, however, suggests the departures were more of a trickle than a flood.
Of the 104 senior executives whose pay was set by the federal pay regulator in the last two years, 88 executives, or nearly 85 percent, are still with the companies even though their pay was drastically cut back, according to people briefed on the government data.
The relative stability, at least within the executive suite, suggests that a soft job market, corporate loyalty and personal pride helped deter the feared management exodus at the companies hardest hit by the pay rules. . . .
Most of Mr. Feinberg’s pay rulings, for example, were in effect only for the final few weeks of 2009 — and affected only a handful of the most troubled companies. . .
With legislation encompassing almost 3,000 pages, it will take time to find out exactly what the mandates in the newly passed health care law mean for America. After all, it wasn’t until the end of last week that the reconciliation bill was even made public. But here's something we already have uncovered. And it's shocking. -- In addition to all the special favors doled out to various congressional districts, it turns out that the congressional staff who wrote the health care bill put in special favors for themselves, too.
While everyone else in the United States -- from the top corporate executives to the grocery store checkout clerk -- will be forced to buy their insurance through heavily regulated state-run exchanges, the health care bill excludes one group: the leadership and committee staff. Yes, that’s right. The very people who wrote up this bill are refusing to be included themselves. Given the narrow definition of “congressional staff” on page 158 of the health care bill, the Congressional Research Service memo believes that courts will not require “professional committee staff, joint committee staff, some shared staff, as well as potentially those staff employed by leadership offices” to go through the exchanges. President Obama and his family are also exempt from the law. . . .
State Democrats today blasted Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit against the federal government over health-care reform as a “right-wing” pursuit “doomed to fail,“ and said they filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out how much money is being spent on the action.
In a noon news conference, Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, charged that Cuccinelli is advancing “a right wing agenda” with the blessing of Gov. Bob McDonnell, and said the attorney general is pursuing a fight with the federal government over other issues, among them chasing down predatory lenders.
And when the issue of state’s rights arose, so did this state’s scarred racial past.
Asked by a reporter about any parallels between Virginia’s opposition to desegregation decades ago and its current fight against health care reform, Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond, said “absolutely.“
“If you ask them, a lot of people today are embarrassed by the fact that 50 years ago we engaged in Massive Resistance and regret that we did that, and realize that was a huge waste of time that had a detrimental impact on a whole generation of children who were prevented from going to school,“ she said. . . .
In an interview, Ms. Coulter said she's given 100 to 200 speeches at colleges and last night was the first time one of her addresses has been “completely shut down.” She said the incident reflects poorly on the University of Ottawa. . . . . “I was just worried that things were going to be said about certain groups of people that were going to make them feel very unsafe and very uncomfortable and we promise our students here at the University of Ottawa a safe, positive space,” said Rita Valeriano, a second-year sociology and women’s studies student. . . . “Does Michael Moore get a letter reminding him to be civil and threatening him with criminal prosecution?” Ms. Coulter said. . . .
NAIROBI, Kenya - Private security guards shot and killed a Somali pirate during an attack on a merchant ship off the coast of East Africa in what is believed to be the first such killing by armed contractors, the EU Naval Force spokesman said Wednesday.
The death comes amid fears that increasingly aggressive pirates and the growing use of armed private security contractors onboard vessels could fuel increased violence on the high seas. The handling of the case may have legal implications beyond the individuals involved in Tuesday's shooting.
The guards were onboard the MV Almezaan when a pirate group approached it twice, said EU Naval Force spokesman Cmdr. John Harbour. During the second approach on the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship which is United Arab Emirates owned, there was an exchange of fire between the guards and the pirates.
An EU Naval Force frigate was dispatched to the scene and launched a helicopter that located the pirates. Seven pirates were found, including one who had died from small caliber gunshot wounds, indicating he had been shot by the contractors, said Harbour. The six remaining pirates were taken into custody. . . .
The health care reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama Tuesday requires members of Congress and their office staffs to buy insurance through the state-run exchanges it creates – but it may exempt staffers who work for congressional committees or for party leaders in the House and Senate.
Staffers and members on both sides of the aisle call it an “inequity” and an “outrage” – a loophole that exempts the staffers most involved in writing and passing the bill from one of its key requirements.
The bill requires “congressional staff” to buy insurance from the exchanges – with a stipend from the Office of Personnel Management But page 158 of the bill defines “congressional staff” narrowly, as “employees employed by the official office of a member of congress, whether in the district office or in Washington.”
The Congressional Research Service believes a court could rule that the legislation "would exclude professional committee staff, joint committee staff, some shared staff, as well as potentially those staff employed by leadership offices.” . . .
1. You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the “privilege.” (Section 1501)
2. You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Tough. You’ll have to pay for premiums that cover not only you, but also the guy who smokes three packs a day, drink a gallon of whiskey and eats chicken fat off the floor. That’s because insurance companies will no longer be able to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. (Section 2701).
3. You would like to pay less in premiums by buying insurance with lifetime or annual limits on coverage? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer such policies, even if that is what customers prefer. (Section 2711).
4. Think you’d like a policy that is cheaper because it doesn’t cover preventive care or requires cost-sharing for such care? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer policies that do not cover preventive services or offer them with cost-sharing, even if that’s what the customer wants. (Section 2712).
5. You are an employer and you would like to offer coverage that doesn’t allow your employers’ slacker children to stay on the policy until age 26? Tough. (Section 2714).
6. You must buy a policy that covers ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services; chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
You’re a single guy without children? Tough, your policy must cover pediatric services. You’re a woman who can’t have children? Tough, your policy must cover maternity services. You’re a teetotaler? Tough, your policy must cover substance abuse treatment. (Add your own violation of personal freedom here.) (Section 1302).
7. Do you want a plan with lots of cost-sharing and low premiums? Well, the best you can do is a “Bronze plan,” which has benefits that provide benefits that are actuarially equivalent to 60% of the full actuarial value of the benefits provided under the plan. Anything lower than that, tough. (Section 1302 (d)(1)(A))
8. You are an employer in the small-group insurance market and you’d like to offer policies with deductibles higher than $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families? Tough. (Section 1302 (c) (2) (A).
9. If you are a large employer (defined as at least 101 employees) and you do not want to provide health insurance to your employee, then you will pay a $750 fine per employee (It could be $2,000 to $3,000 under the reconciliation changes). Think you know how to better spend that money? Tough. (Section 1513).
10. You are an employer who offers health flexible spending arrangements and your employees want to deduct more than $2,500 from their salaries for it? Sorry, can’t do that. (Section 9005 (i)).
11. If you are a physician and you don’t want the government looking over your shoulder? Tough. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to use your claims data to issue you reports that measure the resources you use, provide information on the quality of care you provide, and compare the resources you use to those used by other physicians. Of course, this will all be just for informational purposes. It’s not like the government will ever use it to intervene in your practice and patients’ care. Of course not. (Section 3003 (i))
12. If you are a physician and you want to own your own hospital, you must be an owner and have a “Medicare provider agreement” by Feb. 1, 2010. (Dec. 31, 2010 in the reconciliation changes.) If you didn’t have those by then, you are out of luck. (Section 6001 (i) (1) (A)).
13. If you are a physician owner and you want to expand your hospital? Well, you can’t (Section 6001 (i) (1) (B). Unless, it is located in a country where, over the last five years, population growth has been 150% of what it has been in the state (Section 6601 (i) (3) ( E)). And then you cannot increase your capacity by more than 200% (Section 6001 (i) (3) (C)).
14. You are a health insurer and you want to raise premiums to meet costs? Well, if that increase is deemed “unreasonable” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services it will be subject to review and can be denied. (Section 1003)
15. The government will extract a fee of $2.3 billion annually from the pharmaceutical industry. If you are a pharmaceutical company what you will pay depends on the ratio of the number of brand-name drugs you sell to the total number of brand-name drugs sold in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the brand-name drugs in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2.3 billion, or $230,000,000. (Under reconciliation, it starts at $2.55 billion, jumps to $3 billion in 2012, then to $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018, before settling at $2.8 billion in 2019 (Section 1404)). Think you, as a pharmaceutical executive, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 9008 (b)).
16. The government will extract a fee of $2 billion annually from medical device makers. If you are a medical device maker what you will pay depends on your share of medical device sales in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the medical devices in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2 billion, or $200,000,000. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for R&D? Tough. (Section 9009 (b)).
The reconciliation package turns that into a 2.9% excise tax for medical device makers. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 1405).
17. The government will extract a fee of $6.7 billion annually from insurance companies. If you are an insurer, what you will pay depends on your share of net premiums plus 200% of your administrative costs. So, if your net premiums and administrative costs are equal to 10% of the total, you will pay 10% of $6.7 billion, or $670,000,000. In the reconciliation bill, the fee will start at $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, $1.9 billion in 2017, and $14.3 billion in 2018 (Section 1406).Think you, as an insurance executive, know how to better spend that money? Tough.(Section 9010 (b) (1) (A and B).)
18. If an insurance company board or its stockholders think the CEO is worth more than $500,000 in deferred compensation? Tough.(Section 9014).
19. You will have to pay an additional 0.5% payroll tax on any dollar you make over $250,000 if you file a joint return and $200,000 if you file an individual return. What? You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9015).
That amount will rise to a 3.8% tax if reconciliation passes. It will also apply to investment income, estates, and trusts. You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Like you need to ask. (Section 1402).
20. If you go for cosmetic surgery, you will pay an additional 5% tax on the cost of the procedure. Think you know how to spend that money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9017).
Republican California Rep. Darrell Issa is demanding answers from the White House about a possible quid pro quo between the Obama administration and Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak. Mr. Sestak alleged last month in an interview with TV anchor Larry Kane that the president offered him a "high-ranking" position in his administration last July in order to get him to drop out of the Democratic primary against five-term Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who faces a difficult re-election bid in the fall against Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey. . . .
Last month, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dodged repeated questions about the purported job offer, telling reporters: "I have not made any progress on that. . . . I was remiss on this and I apologize. . . . Let me check into that." In a letter to the White House counsel, Mr. Issa also requested a more detailed explanation, to which Mr. Gibbs responded pithily: "I don't have anything additional on that."
Last week, Mr. Gibbs finally offered further elaboration, telling the White House press that he had "talked to people who have talked to others in the White House" and had been assured that "whatever conversations have been had are not problematic." He added: "Whatever happened is in the past." . . .
Senator Specter himself chimed in on a Philadelphia radio show to say that Mr. Sestak himself may be guilty of a felony if he failed to report a felony. . . .
this kind of sausage-making is rife in politics as evidenced by this weekend's health-care buy offs of California Rep. Jim Costa with more water for his Central Valley district and Tennessee Rep. Bart Gordon with $100 million of additional Medicaid funds for Tennessee -- not to mention the Senate's Cornhusker Kickback and Louisiana Purchase. But selling federal appointments is considered another matter. . . .
Using U.S. government data on average yearly temperatures and the number of violent crimes between 1950 and 2008, the researchers estimate that if the annual average temperature in the U.S. increases by 8°F (4.4°C), the yearly murder and assault rate will increase by 34 per 100,000 people -- or 100,000 more per year in a population of 305 million. . . .
In addition to the "heat hypothesis," they report that rising global temperatures also increases known risk factors for the development of aggression in violence-prone individuals -- such as increasing poverty, growing up amid scarce resources, malnutrition and food insecurity. They contend that one of the most catastrophic effects of climate change will be food availability, producing more violence-prone individuals in the process. . . .
The last-minute negotiations over the government health care bill made one thing clear: Without Mr. Stupak and other ostensibly pro-life Democrats, the bill did not have enough votes. The final vote count was 219 to 212, and without the eight Democrats who caved to pressure with Mr. Stupak, the bill would have been defeated, 220 to 211. And make no mistake about it, these sellouts did not wean any concessions from the White House. President Obama's much-ballyhooed executive order gave the Democrat holdouts nothing more than was already in the Senate bill. . . .
Most people use social media sites to keep in touch with old friends and to make new ones. But more and more, law enforcement agencies are using them to fight crime – and some criminals are making that task very easy.
Take Chris Crego, a fugitive on the run from police in New York. Police who arrested him in Indiana say he all but turned himself in by posting his workplace on his MySpace and Facebook pages.
Take Robert Powell, a Florida man convicted of murdering of his friend Joseph Duprey. He posted pictures of Duprey on his MySpace page next to the words "rest in peace" and "live through me" -- hours before Duprey's death was even reported to police.
And it's hard to forget Jonathan G. Parker, a 19-year-old from Pennsylvania who was arrested and charged with burglary after a woman found her home ransacked and her jewelry stolen. Police say the woman found something else, too -- Parker's Facebook account open on her home computer. . . .