|7:41 AM, Aug 29, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The Palm Beach Post reports that Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty is characterizing as “unfair” Marco Rubio’s argument that American taxpayers should not be forced to provide a bailout for health insurance companies that lose money under Obamacare. It’s not entirely clear whether Geraghty thinks it’s “unfair” to oppose the bailout, to call it that, or both. Regardless, Obamacare is poised to force taxpayers to help cover health insurers’ losses — and it’s harder to imagine a clearer example of a bailout, or of cronyism, than that.
Geraghty claims that we should have sympathy for health insurance companies because the Obama administration’s rollout of healthcare.gov was so inept, and because President Obama has refused to implement Obamacare as written.
The Post writes,
“[I]nsurers including Florida Blue have had to adapt to a number of big changes after they filed rates, Geraghty said. For example, Obama decreed people who liked their old policies could keep them [after Obamacare had banned them], affecting 300,000 Florida Blue customers. That changed the risk assumptions on which prices were set.
“‘Our price before we got to Day 1 was insufficient,’ Geraghty said. ‘That’s what we call a nightmare.’
“Then problems with the federal health care website turned an expected 50,000 calls per week to Florida Blue to five times that, he said. The enrollment period started ‘with multiple disasters,’ Geraghty said.”
Fair enough: Obamacare is a disaster, and Obama’s execution of it is a lawless disaster. Still, it isn’t remotely clear why taxpayers should have to bail out insurance companies as a result.
Plus, when it comes to Obamacare, Geraghty — like so many other insurance execs — hasn’t exactly been an innocent bystander. As the House Oversight Committee recently learned and documented, White House communications director Tara McGuiness and Chris Jennings, Obama’s deputy assistant for health policy, collaborated with “numerous insurance company CEOs” to try to sell Obamacare to a citizenry that rightly wanted nothing to do with it. Prominently listed among these CEOs — you guessed it — was Geraghty.
The Oversight Committee’s report reads, “Ms. McGuiness and Mr. Jennings collaborated closely with Florida Blue Cross and Blue Shield CEO Patrick Geraghty. After a CBS Evening News appearance on October 11, 2013, Ms. McGuiness emailed Mr. Geraghty, ‘You were great! I watched. Thanks for the help.’”
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:19 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on the President's speech on his non-existent ISIS policy in the Middle East.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
4:38 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama told reporters today that "we don't have a strategy yet" for dealing with ISIS:
"I don't want to put the cart before the horse," he said. "We don't have a strategy yet. I think what I've seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we're at than where we currently are. I think that's not just our assessment but the assessment of the military as well. We need to make sure we have clear plans, that we're developing them."
Democratic senator lives with parents.4:02 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Washington Post reports that Democratic senator Mary Landrieu doesn't own a home in her state of Louisiana, instead listing her residence on federal election forms as either a mansion she owns in Washington, D.C. or her parents' home in New Orleans. Landrieu, who is facing a tough reelection battle in November, is registered to vote at the New Orleans address.
Here's more from the Post:
On a statement of candidacy Landrieu filed with the Federal Election Commission in January, she listed her Capitol Hill home as her address. But when qualifying for the ballot in Louisiana last week, she listed the family’s raised-basement home here on South Prieur Street.
The New Orleans house, which Landrieu claims as her primary residence, is a new flash point in one of the most closely contested Senate races in the country. Republicans are considering taking legal action to question Landrieu’s residency in the state, arguing that since winning her seat in 1996 she has become a creature of Washington.
Read the whole report here.
3:20 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
At the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham demonstrates through one chart "why it feels like the recession never ended." Here's the chart, with part of Ingraham's explanation below:
From the start of the recession in 2007 to today, the average price of the things you buy - clothes, food, housing - has risen by 15 percent. This, in itself, isn't a problem at all. The problem is that wages haven't kept pace with that increase. In fact, for all but the top wage earners, real (inflation-adjusted) earnings are actually down over the same period.
Let's put it another way. Say that you're a median wage earner, right in the 50th percentile. And let's say that in 2007 you could buy a week's worth of groceries for $100. Fast forward to today: those exact same groceries cost $115, but you only have $112 dollars in your pocket.
Read all of Ingraham's post here, in which he also points out that pessimism about the permanence of the Great Recession is up.
Not many candidates for office, Republican or Democrat, have made an argument about how to solve the problem of price inflation and stagnant wages. This, despite the political opportunity demonstrated by a recent poll that found 75 percent of Americans are concerned about inflation. But at least one candidate for Senate, Republican Jeff Bell of New Jersey, senses an opening.
“No one in Washington wants to talk about the cause of this problem -- least of all my opponent, Cory Booker," said Bell in a statement responding to the Post article. "I am running for U.S. Senate because I know the cause of this problem and I have the solution. The reason why goods are more expensive but wages are being crushed is because of the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy. My solution is to restore the value of the dollar by tying the dollar to gold. This will reign in the Fed and curb inflation, while bringing jobs and growth back to the economy."
As Andrew Ferguson writes in the current issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Bell has so far focused his entire campaign against Booker on the Democrat's implicit support for the Federal Reserve's monetary policy. And on Wednesday, the Bell campaign released its first ad, a 30-second radio spot, touting his plan to return to the gold standard. You can listen to the ad here, which is running on two New York radio stations.
2:49 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Noemie Emery, writing at the Washington Examiner:
The knock on conservatives is that they seem to want conflict, but that’s not exactly the case. What they really want is making themselves strong enough to deter it, or, failing that, so strong that if anyone ever tries to attack them, they never will try it again. "We arm to parley," said Winston Churchill, the ultimate neocon, meaning that strength is perquisite to ensuring tranquility. That was the reason NATO was formed in the late 1940s; that John Kennedy campaigned on the "missile gap" (which was nonexistent); that Ronald Reagan sent missiles to Europe and batted down talk of a "freeze."
That is the weapon Obama let drop, when he cut back on troops and on defense spending, cut back on support for our allies in Europe, sent troops to Afghanistan with a fixed date of exit, pulled out of Iraq before the war ended, drew many lines in the sand that Syrian President Bashar Assad would cross over, and bombed Libya and got rid of its leader without doing anything more. Not to mention ignoring or failing to act on reports about ISIS, long before it had reached its current proportions, when it might have been stopped or contained.
"We have witnessed as close to a laboratory experiment on the effects of U.S. disengagement" as the real world is likely to give us, Fred Hiatt has written. "Obama thought he could engineer a cautious … retreat from U.S. leadership. What we have gotten is a far more dangerous world."
Read the whole thing here.
The Books & Arts Podcast is Hosted by Philip Terzian 2:30 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Books & Arts Podcast with Philip Terzian, on the September 1st Issue's Books and Arts section.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
1:02 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Republican Governors Association is running a new TV ad in Nebraska, attacking the Democratic candidate for governor, Chuck Hassebrook. The ad knocks Hassebrook for supporting Obamacare. Watch it below:
Hassebrook is running to succeed retiring Republican governor Dave Heineman, though the Democrat is trailing Republican nominee Pete Ricketts by seven or eight points. The Real Clear Politics poll average considers Nebraska a likely Republican state, and the last Democrat elected governor was Ben Nelson in 1994. Ricketts isn't beating Hassebrook by double digits, but there's no indication of any groundswell of support for Democrats in the Cornhusker State.
Meanwhile, Republican governors in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, and Wisconsin are all in tight battles for reelection, and Republican candidates in states like Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, and even New York could potentially beat Democrats.
12:16 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Less than a week before President Obama and other NATO leaders gather in Wales for a two day summit, NATO is accusing Russia having "well over 1,000 troops" in Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists continue to skirmish with Ukrainian forces. This latest development underlines a statement on the state department's blog Thursday, which refers to "Russia’s illegal aggression" as "the most severe challenge to European security since the end of the Cold War."
The blog post, entitled "NATO Wales Summit: A Family of Nations Committed to Peace and Freedom," cites four themes NATO will focus on at the upcoming gathering: Afghanistan, "challenges on NATO’s periphery," capabilities, and partnerships. The Russia-Ukraine conflict falls under the "challenges on NATO’s periphery" heading along with "Syria and Iraq, as well as persistent instability in North Africa, especially Libya." Here's the entire paragraph:
NATO leaders will meet with Ukrainian President Poroshenko to discuss the crisis caused by Russia’s illegal aggression, the most severe challenge to European security since the end of the Cold War. All 28 Allies today contribute to reassurance measures in the air, on the land and at sea among the eastern Allies, signaling NATO’s unity and resolve. At the Summit, we’ll address additional reassurance measures and further adaptations to NATO’s posture in response to this challenge. Leaders will also discuss the rapidly evolving situations in Syria and Iraq, as well as persistent instability in North Africa, especially Libya.
So far, President Obama had expressed confidence than sanctions will be sufficient to force Russia into a political settlement with Ukraine.
11:29 AM, Aug 28, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The VA has created a small public relations problem for itself. Which, to say the least, is something it did not need.
As Tricia L. Nadolny of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, it seems that:
The beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs depicted dissatisfied veterans as Oscar the Grouch in a recent internal training guide, and some vets and VA staffers said Tuesday that they feel trashed. The cranky Sesame Street character who lives in a garbage can was used in reference to veterans who will attend town-hall events Wednesday in Philadelphia.
The VA says that, of course, it meant no disrespect.
"The training provided was not intended to equate veterans with this character," spokeswoman Marisa Prugsawan said. "It was intended to remind our employees to conduct themselves as courteously and professionally as possible when dealing with veterans and their concerns.”
In which case, shouldn’t the VA employee be depicted as some clueless cartoon character?
But never mind. If this were the most pressing issue facing the VA, all its people could take off early for the Labor Day weekend.
9:57 AM, Aug 28, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
After news broke this morning of Russia furthering its invasion of Ukraine, the White House announced that President Obama will meet with the National Security Council later this afternoon in the Situation Room:
Later in the afternoon, the President will meet with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room. The Vice President will participate remotely via a secure line. This meeting is closed press.
4:00PM THE PRESIDENT meets with members of the National Security Council; the VICE PRESIDENT will also participate
The Situation Room
The White House did not specifically say that the Russia-Ukraine crisis is on the agenda. It's possible the meeting could be about the ongoing crisis with the terrorist army ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
8:43 AM, Aug 28, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Jeanna Smialek and Shobhana Chandra of Bloomberg reports that:
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits were little changed last week as employers held on to staff in an improving economy. Claims decreased by 1,000 to 298,000 in the week ended Aug. 23 from 299,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 46 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 300,000.
Also, as repaired by Bloomberg’s Chandra:
The economy in the U.S. expanded more than previously forecast in the second quarter, propelled by the biggest gain in business investment in more than two years that bodes well for the rest of 2014.
Still waiting to see if the recovery will achieve escape velocity or loose momentum and fall back into its heretofore tepid trajectory.
7:29 AM, Aug 28, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Kateryna Choursina, Volodymyr Verbyany and Bryan Bradley of Bloomberg are reporting that:
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called an emergency security meeting to defend against what he called a Russian “invasion” after separatists gained ground in intensified fighting in eastern regions.
The AP adds that Poroshenko is staying in the country:
Poroshenko canceled a visit to Turkey for the inauguration of newly elected president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and called a snap session of Ukraine's security council.
"I have decided to cancel my visit to Turkey because of the sharp escalation of the situation in the Donetsk region… as Russian forces have entered Ukraine," he said.
And CNN says a U.S. official claims 1,000 Russian troops have entered Ukraine:
More from CNN:
Pro-Moscow rebel forces in eastern Ukraine, backed by Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers, battled government forces on two fronts Thursday, a Ukrainian military official said.
The fighting was taking place southeast of Donetsk, and along the nation's southern coast in the town of Novoazovsk, about 12 miles (20 km) from the Russian border, according to Mykhailo Lysenko, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Donbas battalion.
"This is a full-scale invasion," Lysenko said, referring to the fighting in the south.
U.S. officials also said Russian troops were directly involved in the latest fighting, despite Moscow's denials.
Intelligence now indicates that up to 1,000 Russian troops have moved into southern Ukraine with heavy weapons and are fighting there, a U.S. official told CNN on Thursday.
4:46 PM, Aug 27, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
With lawmakers ratcheting up pressure on Obama to take action in Syria, few in the administration have been paying close attention to Libya, apparently. As Fox News's Jennifer Griffin reported last night on Special Report with Bret Baier, the United States was baffled for days as to who conducted airstrikes in Libya.
At the end of her package, she notes:
Qatar's support for Libya's Islamist factions forced Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to go it alone twice in the past week, carrying out air strikes against Libyan factions, surprising U.S. officials.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon Press Secretary: "We do believe there were airstrikes undertaken in recent days by the UAE and Egypt inside Libya."
It took several days for U.S. intelligence analysts to figure out who carried out the airstrikes in Libya.
This is troubling in several ways:
1). The U.S. is not monitoring the area that closely, and if we are, we're not doing a good job of it. While most people think the government is an omniscient, omnipresent entity that knows our every move, our intelligence capabilities aren't as great as most people probably thought they were.
While we're deploying drones in Syria, as Jennifer Griffin also noted yesterday in a separate report, there "aren't enough to go around" to cover key areas. (Meanwhile, Griffin pointed out that ISIS fighters took over a Syrian military air base on Monday, while Obama has pledged $500 million for Syrian friendly forces in next year's budget.)
2). Perhaps even more disconcerting, Egypt and the UAE, supposedly among our strongest allies in the Middle East, didn't trust us enough to even give us a courteous heads up -- either before or even after the fact -- let alone coordinate with us on any level. They left us completely in the dark.
As the New York Times reported:
The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to U.S. diplomats, the officials said.
3). Our allies in the Middle East have no confidence in our ability to lead or to have their backs.
3:37 PM, Aug 27, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm is lined up, as Derek Draplin of the College Fix reports, to teach:
… a graduate course focused on “creating jobs through better government policies,” [which] the class description states, adding “... is designed to help to launch the American Jobs Project at UC Berkeley.”
Her qualifications are of the “life experience” sort and, who knows maybe she’s learned something, since:
… as governor from 2003 to 2011, Michigan’s unemployment rate soared from 6.6 percent at the beginning of Granholm’s term up to 14.2 percent in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When she left office, the unemployment rate languished at 11 percent. The national average at the time was 9 percent.
Ms. Granholm certainly knows about getting a good job for herself.
At the Goldman School of Public Policy, Granholm is listed as “Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy” and will make $84,300 for teaching the “American Jobs Project,” the only course she is scheduled to teach in the fall semester, according to an online database of public salaries. The two previous years she earned about $150,000 per year …
Nice work, if you can get it.
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