Obama Admin – Transparency, Redaction, and Delay…

Editor’s Note – The “Most transparent administration ever” is the mantra of the Obama Administration, and they laud the fact that the White House Visitor List is available – elsewhere, not so…

Ask the Citizens Commission on Benghazi with their myriad requests for information on Benghazi. Ask Karen and Billy Vaughn about ‘Extortion 17’. Ask the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, ask the House Ways and Means Committee.Capture2

Look at all the scandals – all of them still unsolved and/or not concluded from Fast & Furious, to the IRS, from the AP to Fox News reporters, it’s always opaque at best.

The reason is always – NO TRANSPARENCY! All we see is redaction, lies, deflections, demagoguery, distractions, delays, finger pointing, the blame game, the fifth… and then there all those unbelievable statistics on jobs, GNP, the debt, ObamaCare, HHS, wage disparity, etc. – lies, damn lies, and those rascally  statistics.

The most [REDACTED] administration in history

BY GENE HEALY – Washington Examiner

Good news: thanks to a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, the “most transparent administration in history” is going to have to tell American citizens when it believes it’s legally entitled to kill them.

The lawsuit arose out of Freedom of Information Act requests by two New York Times reporters for Office of Legal Counsel memoranda exploring the circumstances under which it would be legal for U.S. personnel to target American citizens. The administration stonewalled, asserting that “the very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified,” and a federal district judge upheld the refusal in January 2013.

Issa-600A month later, however, someone leaked a Justice Department “white paper” on the subject to NBC News, forcing a re-examination of the question in light of changed circumstances. On Monday, the three-judge panel held “it is no longer either ‘logical’ or ‘plausible’ to maintain that disclosure of the legal analysis in the OLC-DOD Memorandum risks disclosing any aspect” of sensitive sources and methods.

In matters of transparency, the Obama Team can always be counted on to do the right thing — after exhausting all other legal options and being forced into it by the federal courts.

When “peals of laughter broke out in the briefing room” after then-press secretary Robert Gibbs floated the “most transparent administration” line at an April 2010 presser, the administration should have taken the hint. But it’s one soundbite they just can’t quit. Gibbs’ successor Jay Carneyrepeated it just last week, as did the president himself in a Google Hangout last year: “This is the most transparent administration in history …. I can document that this is the case.”

Actually, any number of journalists and open government advocates have documented that it’s not. As the Associated Press reported last month: “More often than ever, the [Obama] administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In the hope-infused afterglow of his first inauguration, President Obama declared, “for a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” and ordered his attorney general to issue newly restrictive standards for government use of the “state secrets privilege,” which allows the government to shield national security secrets from civil or criminal discovery. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged that the administration would not “invoke the privilege for the purpose of concealing government wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment.”GretaVanSustern-RedactedDocs224x199

Easier pledged than done, apparently. Earlier this year, in a case involving a Stanford graduate student erroneously placed on a no-fly list, we learned that the government had cried “state secrets” to cover up a paperwork error. Holder himself assured the court that assertion of the privilege was in keeping with the new policy of openness. When the presiding judge found out the truth, he said: “I feel that I have been had by the government.”

In fact, the Obama administration has driven state secrecy to new levels of absurdity. We’re not even allowed to know who we’re at war with, apparently, because letting that secret slip could cause “serious damage to national security.”

Over the last year, thanks in large part to illegal leaks, we’ve learned that we’re living in a [REDACTED] republic. In the president’s version of “transparency,” the Americans have no right to debate even the most basic public questions — like the legal standards for spying on or killing American citizens — unless, of course, that information leaks, at which point the administration “welcomes” the debate.

"We Don't Need Badges" – We Do What We Want!

Editor’s Note – A law is a law – you don’t get to change it unless Congress says you can, that is called balance of power, separation of powers. Of course, the Obama administration cares little about that, so he just changes enforcement and implementation as he sees fit. What OATH! Faithfully execute…blah, “we don’t need badges”!

Yet Another White House Obamacare Delay: Out-Of-Pocket Caps Waived Until 2015

By Avik Roy, Forbes

First, there was the delay of Obamacare’s Medicare cuts until after the election. Then there was the delay of the law’s employer mandate. Then there was the announcement, buried in the Federal Register, that the administration would delay enforcement of a number of key eligibility requirements for the law’s health insurance subsidies, relying on the “honor system” instead. Now comes word that another costly provision of the health law—its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs—will be delayed for one more year.

According to the Congressional Research Service, as of November 2011, the Obama administration had missed as many as one-third of the deadlines, specified by law, under the Affordable Care Act. Here are the details on the latest one.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) speaks as Assistant Attorney General of Justice Department's civil rights division Thomas Perez (R) listens during a personnel announcement March 18, 2013 at the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Perez has succeeded Hilda Solis as the U.S. Secretary of Labor. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 18: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) speaks as Assistant Attorney General of Justice Department’s civil rights division Thomas Perez (R) listens during a personnel announcement March 18, 2013 at the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Perez has succeeded Hilda Solis as the U.S. Secretary of Labor. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Obamacare contains a blizzard of mandates and regulations that will make health insurance more costly. One of the most significant is its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs, such as co-pays and deductibles. Section 2707(b) of the Public Health Service Act, as added by Obamacare, requires that “a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage may not establish lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits for the any participant or beneficiary.” Annual limits on cost-sharing are specified by Section 1302(c) of the Affordable Care Act; in addition, starting in 2014, deductibles are limited to $2,000 per year for individual plans, and $4,000 per year for family plans.

Out-of-pocket caps drive premiums upward

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you ban lifetime limits, and mandate lower deductibles, and cap out-of-pocket costs, premiums have to go up to reflect these changes. And unlike a lot of the “rate shock” problems we’ve been discussing, these limits apply not only to individually-purchased health insurance, but also to employer-sponsored coverage. (Self-insured employers are exempted.)

These mandates have already had drastic effects on a number of colleges and universities, which offer inexpensive, defined-cap plans to their healthy, youthful students. Premiums at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C., for example, rose from $245 per student in 2011-2012 to between $2,507 in 2012-2013. The University of Puget Sound paid $165 per student in 2011-2012; their rates rose to between $1,500 and $2,000 for 2012-2013. Other schools have been forced to drop coverage because they could no longer afford it.

According to the law, the limits on out-of-pocket costs for 2014 were $6,350 for individual policies and $12,700 for family ones. But in February, the Department of Labor published a little-noticed rule delaying the cap until 2015. The delay was described yesterday by Robert Pear in the New York Times.

Delay needed to align ‘separate computer systems’

Notes Pear, “Under the [one-year delay], many group health plans will be able to maintain separate out-of-pocket limits for benefits in 2014. As a result, a consumer may be required to pay $6,350 for doctors’ services and hospital care, and an additional $6,350 for prescription drugs under a plan administered by a pharmacy benefit manager.”

The reason for the delay? “Federal officials said that many insurers and employers needed more time to comply because they used separate companies to help administer major medical coverage and drug benefits, with separate limits on out-of-pocket costs. In many cases, the companies have separate computer systems that cannot communicate with one another.”

The best part in Pear’s story is when a “senior administration official” said that “we had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers…They asked for more time to comply.” Exactly how is it in consumers’ interests to pay far more for health insurance than they do already?

It’s not. Unless you have a serious, chronic condition, in which case you may benefit from the fact that law forces healthy people to subsidize your care. To progressives, this is the holy grail. But for economically rational individuals, it’s yet another reason to drop out of the insurance market altogether. For economically rational businesses, it’s a reason to self-insure, in order to get out from under these costly mandates.

Patient groups upset

While insurers and premium-payers will be happy with the delay—whose legal justification is dubious once again—there are groups that grumbled. Specifically, groups representing those with chronic diseases, and the pharmaceutical companies whose costly drugs they will use. “The American Cancer Society shares the concern” about the delay, says Pear, “and noted that some new cancer drugs cost $100,000 a year or more.” But a big part of the reason those drugs cost so much is because manufacturers know that government-run insurers will pay up.

“The promise of out-of-pocket limits was one of the main reasons we supported health reform,” says Theodore M. Thompson of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society . “We have wonderful new drugs, the biologics, to treat rheumatoid arthritis,” said Patience H. White of the Arthritis Foundation. “But they are extremely expensive.”

The progressive solution to expensive problems? More subsidies. But subsidies don’t reduce the underlying cost of care. They only excuse the high prices that manufacturers and service providers already charge.

It’s one of the many aspects of Obamacare that should be repealed, if we are to combat the rate shock that the health law imposes on tens of millions of Americans. But that will require Republicans to come up with a smarter strategy than shutting down the government.

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