President: Rae Chornenky
Editor: Maria Jeffrey
This week:
The elections in Virginia and New Jersey are being held today

ObamaCare Backlash


         There is a growing backlash of Americans whose insurance plans are being canceled who are threatening to become a new political force opposing the law even as the White House struggles to convince consumers they will benefit from it, as the Washington Post reported yesterday. Unfortunately for those whose policies are being canceled, many alternate policies come with higher premiums and deductibles. Robert Laszewski, an industry consultant, told The Post that the new law has resulted in an estimated 30 to 50 percent increase in baseline costs for insurers. 


         On Meet the Press November 3, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Obama's oft repeated declaration that people would be able to keep their existing health plans if they liked them, was a "fundamental dishonesty." The Post explains that, while the poor, sick and uninsured may be the winners under the Affordable Care Act, the losers are clearly middle-income, healthy taxpayers, small business owners and  other self-employed Americans who purchase their own insurance.  Many in these groups earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies under the law but do not make enough to absorb the financial hardship of rising premium costs. According to The Post, even those who might qualify for insurance support under ObamaCare have been turned off by high premiums and deductibles and would rather just pay the fine to be imposed on all who do not purchase health insurance.


         Many Americans are upset because they do not want to be forced to buy coverage for services they'll never need and some are finding their doctors do not participate in any of their new insurance options. Under ObamaCare, insurance plans must cover ten essential benefits including pediatric care, prescription drugs, mental health services and maternity care.  In general, policies which do not carry those benefits cannot be sold after 2013.  


        To see Mitt Romney talk about ObamaCare on Meet the Press, click here.

Government Waste


        On Monday, The Washington Post reported that, in the past few years, Social Security paid $133 million to beneficiaries who were deceased, and the federal employee retirement system paid more than $400 million to retirees who have passed away. One aid program spent $3.9 million in federal money to pay heating and cooling bills for more than 11,000 people who are dead. In total, glitches in the system have paid more than $700 million to the dead according to government audits performed since 2008.


           In 2011 alone, auditors found Medicare paid $23 million for services "provided" to dead people.  From 2009 to 2011, it spent $8.2 million on medical equipment "prescribed" by doctors who had been dead for at least a year. Payments to the dead in recent years have totaled more than the annual budget of the Library of Congress.


           Since the federal bureaucracy, operating on jury-rigged and outdated systems, can't seem to determine exactly which Americans are deceased, benefits for those who are deceased continue to be paid out. Critics blame both the inattention of Congress and the inertia of the bureaucracy for the oversight.  But the situation never get fixed, according to Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, because the cost is spread among all taxpayers--too wide and too thin to make anybody very mad. "In the end, " Ellis said, it's not enough of an issue to get people rallied around." 


           The problem may be said to begin with the government's "Death Master File," which, The Post writes, is kept by the Social Security Administration. But the Social Security Administration official whose division oversees this function explains, "The fact is [these records] were never intended to be 100 percent accurate."  Thus, the task of maintaining the death records used by agencies across Washington, a task that calls for near-perfection, has fallen to an agency that does not believe perfection is its job.

Important Elections in Virginia and New Jersey Today

         Today, Virginians will be voting for either Democrat Terry McAuliffe or Republican Ken Cuccinelli for governor in what has turned out to be a contentious race in Virginia's political history. Traditionally, the Party that holds the White House loses the governor's mansion in Virginia, so that trend will be upset today if Terry McAuliffe wins. McAuliffe is a friend of the Clinton's, having co-chaired President Bill Clinton's 1996 presidential re-election campaign and chaired Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential election campaign. Cuccinelli is Virginia's current Attorney General, and has earnestly fought the infiltration of ObamaCare into Virginia; McAuliffe has repeatedly stated that he will accept the Medicaid expansion in Virginia to be able to fund whatever initiatives he decides to pursue as governor if he wins today.
          In New Jersey, Republican incumbent Chris Christie is expected to hold on the the Governor's mansion,and to win by a high percentage. There are also 35 Republican women running for offices in New Jersey's state legislature--26 for the General Assembly and 9 for the State Senate. Keep watch tonight to see who wins!

Budget Talks:  Tax Code Changes Possible


          A Congressional budget panel was formed as part of the agreement that ended last month's 16-day partial government shutdown. The 29 member panel, facing a self-imposed December 13 deadline to offer ways to resolve fiscal disputes that helped spur the shutdown, met last week.


           Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said any Democratic push to raise taxes at this time would result in a stalemate.  Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) who heads her chamber's Budget Committee, says that any agreement to trim Social Security and Medicare benefits must be tied to added revenue.  Many Democrats see tax code revisions that include ending or modifying certain tax breaks as a way to generate revenue. 


          Mark J. Mazur, the Treasury Department's assistant for tax policy, is of the opinion that the lawmakers on the panel should tackle incremental revisions to the U.S. tax code in their attempt to achieve agreement on fiscal issues.  Since leading lawmakers in both parties have endorsed a significant revamp of Internal Revenue Service Rules, Mazur believes an accord on even limited modifications to tax law would help create momentum for the revamp. 


          Bloomberg News reports that while the Obama administration prefers comprehensive changes in both the corporate and individual income tax code, Mazur has pointed out that the only consensus which can be reached appears to be on the corporate side.


          Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)  and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) have been conferring for months on revamp plans.  Baucus announced he will release discussion drafts on overhauling the tax code and lobbyists following his discussions believe that at least one of his drafts will target international taxation. Camp has proposed lowering the top corporate rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and reducing the top individual rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent.   


           President Obama has also laid out a framework for a redraft of the tax code and Mazur thinks there is a "huge amount of overlap" on proposals for changing the corporate rate.

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