Checks come as surprise under ‘Obamacare’

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What a coincidence these checks come right before election time…..The presence of a rebate should not be viewed as a sign that an insurer is deliberately over-charging its customers,” says Adam Powell, a healthcare economist who consults for insurance companies.

Your check really might be in the mail.

By August 1, health insurance companies have to refund $1.1 billion in premiums to about 12.8 million customers, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The “80/20 rule” in the ACA mandates that health insurers spend at least 80% of their customers’ premiums on health services, leaving no more than 20% for administrative costs and advertising. That means if an insurance company spends 78% of the money it collects on health benefits for customers, it has to send rebate checks for the additional 2%.

“The 80/20 rule in the Affordable Care Act is intended to ensure that consumers get value for their health care dollars,” a letter accompanying the refund checks says.

Connie Kadansky recently received a $79 rebate check from her Arizona insurance company due to the rule.

“It was a surprise,” says Connie Kadansky, who is self employed. “My insurance agent tells me that my insurance is going to skyrocket.(Of course it will, but not until well after the elections.) He hates Obamacare. I read the letter and I said to myself, ‘So what’s wrong with this? This is good.'”

There’s no way to know ahead of time if you qualify for a rebate, and although checks average $151 per household, there’s a lot of variability. Check size depends on how your insurance company collected and spent premiums over the past year, specifically in your state.

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CBO: Obamacare to Cover Millions Fewer Than Before Supreme Court Decision

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Earlier today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an updated cost estimate for Obamacare that showed that the law will cost less over 10 years than last predicted—because fewer people will be covered.

Now, although Obamacare spends more than $1 trillion, CBO predicts it will leave 30 million Americans uninsured, falling far short of what was promised.

The reason for the changes to the law’s cost projection is the recent Supreme Court ruling. Though the Court allowed Obamacare’s individual mandate to stand as a tax, it deemed a separate provision—the Medicaid expansion—to be unconstitutional. As a result, states can choose not to expand their Medicaid programs and are no longer at risk of losing all their federal Medicaid dollars if they don’t. As Heritage health policy expert Nina Owcharenko explains, “If the Administration’s attempt to centralize health care decision making in Washington was unworkable, its unconstitutional imposition on the states has made its problems even worse.”

As a result of the Court’s decision, the outlook for the law has changed. Here are the main takeaways from the CBO’s latest report:

  • Obamacare will cost less… The new CBO scoring shows that the net cost of Obamacare will be $84 billion less over the next 10 years than predicted in its last analysis in March 2012. Spending on the Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program expansion will fall by $289 billion, while increased spending on the exchanges to cover some of those who will no longer qualify for Medicaid will cost $210 billion. The law will now add $1.17 trillion in new government spending over 10 years—paid for by massive tax hikes on all Americans and robbing money from the Medicare program.
  • …Because more people will be uninsured. Obamacare will cost less because it will insure fewer people. While the Medicaid expansion extended to all individuals below 138 percent of the federal poverty line, the exchange subsidies are only available to those earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which means only a portion of would-be new Medicaid enrollees will qualify for subsidies. In 2022, this will add 3 million more to the number of Americans who will still be uninsured under Obamacare.
  • Obamacare falls far short of its promise for universal coverage. Since day one, it’s been clear that Obamacare will not achieve universal coverage, and every time CBO revisits the law, the numbers show just that. In March 2010, when the law passed, CBO predicted that there would be 22 million people still without insurance in 2019. In March 2012, the estimate increased to 27 million in 2022. Now, the number has once again increased—to 30 million. So Obamacare leaves just as many people uninsured as it covers.
  • Massive uncertainty underlies CBO’s estimate. According to CBO, “what states will be able to do and what they will decide to do are both highly uncertain. As a result…[the] estimates reflect an assessment of the probabilities of different outcomes…in the middle of the distribution of possible outcomes.” As CBO points out, states’ decisions to expand or not expand Medicaid hinge on a number of factors, including their budget outlooks. States that decide to expand would face “a large extra cost.”

Over the last two years, Obamacare has shown itself to be a law muddled with unintended consequences, unworkable provisions, and costly, ineffective new programs. Today’s report from CBO shows that Americans can expect this trend to continue, driving home once again that the health law will not achieve what it promised and needs to be repealed.

Heritage blog

Carville Misleads About the Koch Brothers in a Desperate Money Raising Letter

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Did you ever wonder how much spin goes on in Politics? Let me give you an example of the letter that James Carville has sent to Democrats demonizing the Koch Brothers. This from the Weekly Standard:

Carville: ‘We’re Gonna Have to Go Through Hell and High-Water to Win this Damn Thing’


10:42 AM, JUL 29, 2012 • BY DANIEL HALPER

In a fundraising email sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic strategist James Carville has a serious warning: “We’re gonna have to go through hell and high-water to win this damn thing.” The remedy, according to Carville, is to donate more money to the Democratic group.

“I wish I had good news for you,” Carville begins the pitch. “I want to tell you that President Obama has a second term in the bag. I want to tell you that the Koch Brothers are giving up their plot to buy the election.”

But here’s where things really stand: We’re gonna have to go through hell and high-water to win this damn thing. It’s gonna be hard. Every big-oil billionaire and Republican Super PAC is throwing the kitchen sink at President Obama.

If we don’t fight back, it’ll be over long before November.

Contribute $3 or more to back up President Obama with a Democratic majority. Get your donation in today and it’ll get matched >>

Every dollar we can muster will go straight to the front lines — organizers on the ground and ads on the air hitting Republicans where it hurts.

If you’re with us, then give what you can today:

C’mon now!


Seems he forgets about George Soros…it’s only unfair on one side…..

and now the research from Open Secrets Blog:

Capital Rivals: Koch Brothers vs. George Soros

By Spencer MacColl 

Koch vs Soros.jpgEver since Jane Mayer’s recentNew Yorker piece earlier this month, much of the media has risen to debate how much influence conservative and libertarian-leaning businessmen David and Charles Koch, the owners of Koch Industries, have in American politics.

Some critics of the article argue that the media cries foul over the Koch brothers, yet largely ignores liberal George Soros, the Hungarian-American currency speculator and stock investor, who has spent millions of dollars on liberal and nonpartisan causes (including the Center for Responsive Politics).

OpenSecrets Blog is here to investigate the numbers behind these bold-faced names in our new feature, Capital Rivals.

For starters, both Soros and the brothers Koch (pronounced “coke”) are incredibly rich. And their political endeavors are numerous.

Koch Industries, an oil refiner, is the nation’s second largest private company with about $100 billion in annual revenue. Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management, a highly successful hedge fund that has provided financial and investment strategies to a variety of funds. As of June 30, 2009, the hedge fund had holdings valued at $4.2 billion.

David and Charles Koch are tied at No. 24 on Forbes top billionaires list with a personal fortunes of $17.5 billion each. Soros is No. 35 on the list with a net worth of $14 billion.

The Koch brothers, Soros and their respective companies have spent millions of dollars on politics, ranging from federal lobbying to candidate support to bankrolling political committees, according to a Center for Responsive Politicsreview of their political activity.

The Kochs and Soros have also funded think tanks, foundations and political organizations — money that is sometimes notoriously difficult to track.

These individuals aren’t exactly flying under the radar as the Kochs hold leadership positions and are featured on the websites for the Cato Institute,Reason Foundation and the Mercatus Center among others. Soros also runs the Open Society Institute — website — as well as the recently created Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Still these individuals have provided major funding to groups that aren’t particularly transparent, such as Soros-backed Democracy Alliance, which doesn’t provide information on the projects it funds.

David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Foundation has a more detailed website, but it is unclear why Koch is seemingly uninvolved in the similar organization, Americans for Prosperity. David Koch contends that no Koch foundations have provided funding to Americans for Prosperity, the citizen advocacy group organizing Tea Party events around the country. AWashington Post article from January of this year connects the Kochs with the Tea Party movement, citing records of their foundation giving $3.1 million to Americans for Prosperity, but according to the Kochs, this is false, as the money only went to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Below is the Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis federal political activity by Soros and the Kochs. Note that while direct political donations are relatively easily to track, it’s difficult to create a full compilation of the political groups that these individuals are connected with due to secondary and indirect affiliations. Therefore, the groups listed at the end of the are the most well-known organizations linked to these three individuals. 

Organization-Driven Political Activity

The Koch brothers’ company, Koch Industries, has been a big player in both campaign donations and lobbying. Koch Industries currently leads the oil and gas industry as the top contributor to federal candidates and parties, and is the fifth highest lobbying spender in the industry this year. Soros’ hedge fund, Soros Fund Management, has also lobbied at the federal level, but employees have not made campaign donations through a Soros-sponsored political action committee. Because of the notable lobbying involvement of a Soros-funded think tank, the Open Society Policy Center, this group’s data is also included for the purpose of this comparison:
Political Action Committee Spending (1989 to 2010)
Koch Industries: $5,938,993 (83 percent going to Republicans)

Soros Fund Management: $0

527 Group Contributions (2001 to 2010)
Koch Industries: $574,998

  • $186,598 – Democratic Governors Association
  • $150,000 – Republican State Leadership Committee
  • $103,400 – Republican Governors Association

Soros Fund Management: $0

Lobbying Expenditures (1998 to 2010)
Koch Industries: $50,972,700

Soros Fund Management: $860,000
Open Society Policy Center (Soros-Funded): $11,930,000

According to federal lobbying reports, Koch Industries’ top issues include energy, environmental, tax and homeland security policies. The Open Society Policy Center has mainly lobbied on issues relating to foreign relations, civil rights, and law enforcement policy. The graph below outlines these organizations lobbying history since 1998 (click on graph for full size):

Koch vs Soros Lobbying Expenditures.bmp
VERDICT: When it comes to the combination of institutional lobbying, 527 group donations and PAC expenditures, Koch Industries far out-spends Soros’ hedge fund and think tank, $57.4 million to $12.8 million. Most of this money is attributable to lobbying expenditures.

Individual-Funded Political Activity

Soros and the Koch brothers have all donated to federal political campaigns and committees. While Soros has far out-spent the Koch brothers in donating to 527 groups, especially when considering his incredible $23.7 million in donations to the groups between 2003 and 2004, the Koch brothers have donated more money to federal candidates and committees.

The Koch brothers give almost exclusively to Republicans just as Soros donates predominately to Democrats and Democratic organizations. Overall, Soros has spent $34.24 million and the Kochs have spent $4.06 million. (Note: This study only covers donations to federal candidates – to see donations to state candidates, go to and search for Soros and Koch. For example, as Ben Smith of Politico wrote recently, David Koch and his wife have given $74,000 to a Democrat, Andrew Cuomo, New York’s State Attorney General.)

Individual donations to federal candidates, parties and political action committees (1989 to 2010)
Koch Brothers: $2.58 million
George Soros: $1.74 million 

David Koch: $2,224,170

  • $667,500 – National Republican Congressional Committee
  • $555,000 – Republican National Committee
  • $191,400 – National Republican Senatorial Committee

Charles G. Koch: $363,100

  • $58,900 – National Republican Senatorial Committee
  • $50,000 – Republican National Committee

George Soros: $1,748,627

  • $252,670 – Democratic National Committee
  • $147,216 – Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
  • $259,716 – Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

David Koch’s Favorite congressional members:
$17,100 – Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.)
$7,600 – Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.)
$7,200 – Mark Foley (R-Fla.)
$6,600 – James Inhofe (R-Okla.)
$5,000 – Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)

George Soros’ favorite congressional members: 
$6,500 – Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)
$6,200 – Jon Cranley (D-Ohio)
$6,000 – Ken Salazar (D-Colo.)
$6,000 – Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.)
$5,500 – Tom Perriello (D-Va.)

Individual donations to 527 organizations (2001 to 2010)
George Soros: $32.5 million
Koch Brothers: $1.5 million

So-called 527 groups are non-profit, tax-exempt organizations that are allowed to raise money for political activities including voter mobilization efforts, issue advocacy and other actions. They are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations and unions. Until earlier this year, they could not use these unlimited contributions to expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a federal candidate. Federal court rulings — includingCitizens United v. Federal Election Commission and v. Federal Election Commission — have broken down that restriction. 

As mentioned previously, Soros spent $24 million in under two years and did so in his determination to defeat George W. Bush in 2004. He told theWashington Post in November 2003, “America under Bush, is a danger to the world. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.” Since December 2008, Soros has only donated $4,000 to these types of groups. On June 30th of this year, David Koch made a $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association, his largest one-time donation to date.

David Koch: $1,472,000

  • $1,352,000 – Republican Governors Association
  • $100,000 – Americans for Better Government

George Soros: $32,506,500

  • $12.05 million – Joint Victory Campaign 2004
  • $7.5 million – America Coming Together
  • $2.5 million –
  • $3.65 million – America Votes
  • $3.5 million – The Fund for America
  • $150,000 – Win Back Respect
  • $120,000 – Majority Action
  • $100,000 – Campaign Money Watch

Soros certainly wins the 527 group spending battle, beating the Koch brothers $32.5 million to $1.5 million. A graph below show the history these donations (click on graph for full size):

Soros vs Koch 527 donations CORRECT.bmpVERDICT: Soros rules this category, having poured more than $34.2 million into political channels, compared to $4.06 million for the Koch brothers.

Think Tanks and Political Organizations

In addition to donating directly to political candidates, parties and committees, the Kochs and Soros have funded numerous political think tanks and advocacy groups. These groups are not required to reveal their donors, therefore making it hard to come up with a comprehensive list of organizations that have financial ties to these individuals. The institutions mentioned are those most well-connected with the Koch brothers and George Soros.

Charles Koch co-founded the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, along with Edward Crane in 1977. Charles and David Koch, along with Richard Fink and Jay Humphries, co-founded the Citizens for a Sound Economy in 1984. In 2004, CSE broke off into two groups: Koch-linked Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, headed by former congressman Dick Armey. According to its website, Americans for Prosperity “is committed to educating citizens about economic policy and a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits.” In addition to those mentioned above, Charles Koch has helped to build the Institute for Humane Studies, the Bill of Rights Instituteand the Market-Based Management Institute.

David Koch is currently on the board of directors at Cato, as well as the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a research center dedicated to “market-oriented ideas.” He is a trustee at the libertarian Reason Foundationwhose goal is to advance “free minds and free markets.” 

George Soros founded the Open Society Institute which is his primary philanthropy organization. According to the website, “The Open Society Foundations fund a range of programs around the world, from public health to education to business development.” While the foundation spends much of its resources on democratic causes around the world, OSI has also contributed to political advocacy groups such as the Tides Foundation. In 2004, Soros pledged $3 million to the progressive think tank, Center for American Progress. Soros is also a major financial backer of the Democracy Alliance, an organization committed to drive progressive activist funding and the recently formed Institute for New Economic Thinking, which was jump started by a $50 million pledge from Soros.

Both the Koch brothers and Soros have given generously to nonpartisan charitable organizations. David Koch, who is still receiving treatment for prostate cancer has donated $120 million to cancer research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $40 million to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, $100 million to renovating New York City Ballet and Opera Theater, and $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History, among other donations. Soros recently pledged $100 million to Human Rights Watch, and he has made many other charitable donations such as $50 million for the Millennim Promise initiative to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa. In 2003, PBS estimated Soros had donated more than $4 billion since the 1980s.

VERDICT: Given the difficultly in tracking donations to nonprofits and charitable organizations, it’s almost impossible to quantify whether the Koch brothers or Soros dominate this political realm. That said, both the Kochs and Soros have spent incredible riches in this area with no sign of stopping.

Capital Rivals is OpenSecrets Blog’s ongoing series that plays political foes against one another on the playing field of money in politics. 

Could This Be the Forewarn to Civil Unrest and Martial Law?

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Are you ready for a rocky election? Hope so, DHS is…


DHS gears up for civil unrest prior to presidential elections

Reuters / Frank Polich

Reuters / Frank Polich

The Department of Homeland Security has ordered masses of riot gear equipment to prepare for potential significant domestic riots at the Republican National Convention, Democratic National Convention and next year’s presidential inauguration.

The DHS submitted a rushed solicitation to the Federal Business Opportunities site on Wednesday, which is a portal for Federal government procurement requisitions over $25,000. The request gave the potential suppliers only one day to submit their proposals and a 15-day delivery requirement to Alexandria, Virginia.

As the brief explains, “the objective of this effort is to procure riot gear to prepare for the 2012 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and other future similar activities.”

The total amount ordered is about 150 sets of riot helmets, thigh and groin protectors, hard-shell shin guards and other riot gear.

Specifically, DHS is looking to obtain:

– “147 riot helmets” with “adjustable tactical face shield with liquid seal”

 “147 sets of upper body and shoulder protection”

– “152 sets of thigh and groin protection”

– “147 hard-shell shin guards” with “substantial protection from flying debris, non-ballistic weapons, and blows to the leg” and “optimized protective design for severe riot control or tactical situations.”

– “156 forearm protectors”

– “147 pairs of tactical gloves”

The riot gear will be worn by Federal Protective Service agents who are tasked with protecting property, grounds and buildings owned by the federal government.

The urgency of the order can be explained by the fact that there is a growing anticipation that many demonstrators will travel to the Republican National Convention (RNC), scheduled for August 27-30 in Tampa Bay, Florida, and Democratic National Convention (DNC), planned for September 3-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The RNC itself, for example, will have free speech zones, which will serve as containment quarters for the protesters by not allowing them to leave the designated areas and cause trouble.

Another recent DHS move to gear up was back in March of this year, when it gave the defense contractor ATK a deal to provide the DHS with 450 million .40 caliber hollow-point ammunition over a five year period.

On top of that, the DHS has recently purchased a number of bullet-proof checkpoint booths and hired hundreds of new security guards to protect government buildings.


Oldest General Store in US Closing After 224 Years in Business

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Gray’s Store in Adamsville village brought in customers for years with its old-fashioned marble soda fountain, cigar and tobacco cases, and Rhode Island johnny cakes.

The 224-year-old business may be the oldest operating general store in America, although others have staked similar claims. The Rhode Island store near the Massachusetts line opened in 1788. Now owners say this year is its last.

Gray’s is set to close Sunday afternoon.

Owner Jonah Waite inherited the shop after his father died of cancer last month. He said Saturday it was a hard decision to close the store and leave behind all the history, but the shop’s finances aren’t sustainable and a supermarket down the street has siphoned away business.

Waite, 21, who will be a senior at the University of Hartford in Connecticut in the fall, also is consumed with pursuing a career in sports journalism.

“Obviously, I understand the historical aspect of it, and I would really love to keep it the way it is, but it doesn’t seem to me that that’s the most feasible option,” Waite said. “With the economy … the place has lost its attraction, lost its luster.”

Waite said he’s not sure yet if he will keep the property or try to sell it.

The shop features general store standards like penny candy and a small selection of groceries, as well as antiques and collectible knickknacks. It’s been in Waite’s family for seven generations, since 1879, and comprises the front part of the family’s home.

He said his father, Grayton Waite, who was 59 when he died June 11, enjoyed selling cigars and candy. His great grandfather owned the store in the early 1900s and ran a gristmill to make his own corn meal that he sold in the store.

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The Mayor of Boston Should Retract His Threats to Chik-fil-a and Apologize

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This article was written by Cato Institute’s Tom G. Palmer, who is openly gay.

The head of a fast food chain, Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, is opposed to allowing gay people to create the mutual obligations and rights of marriage.  I disagree with him.  I’ve never eaten in one of his stores, so I couldn’t really boycott his business, but I can explain to him why I disagree.

What I would not do is to take any of his rights from him for his expression of his views.  He has the right to them.

The mayor of Boston has threatened to punish Mr. Cathy for exercising his right to express his views. He raked Mr. Cathy over the coals in a letter that was then posted on the City of Boston’s Facebook page.   In an interview with the Boston Herald  the mayor not only expressed his own opinion, which he is free to do; he went further and threatened to use his power illegitimately to deny the rights of Mr. Cathy and his partners, shareholders, and employees to do business in the city of Boston.

Opinion: “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”

Threat: “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult—unless they open up their policies.”

I’m a supporter of the right of gay people to create mutual obligations and rights of marriage.  I’m a supporter of freedom of speech.  And I’m a supporter of freedom of enterprise.  I disagree (strongly) with Mr. Cathy and hope that he will change his mind.

Mayor Menino should retract his threats and, at the very least, apologize.  Mayor Menino is no friend of human rights.  His threat is tyrannical.

Cato Institute

Let’s be honest about guns


Folks, you are starting to see the beginning of the  coming for our guns, which I predict could start a civil war. Which is probably what they want, but I know I don’t..

This post was written by Richard Schrade, an attorney from Georgia and member of the Libertarian National Committee, and gun rights proponent.

The problem with all of the Second Amendment discussion is that very few people are willing to address this issue directly and accurately. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect the right to and ability to conduct an armed revol…ution. The Second Amendment was to protect the ability of the people to violently overthrow the government.

Even if one agrees with the “Militia limitation” on the Second Amendment, the Militias to which the Amendment refers were State Militias which would have been used to fight the federal government.

When viewed in this light, it is apparent that a limitation on automatic weapons would be an infrigment on the purposes of the Second Amendment. If we want to have an honest discussion about the issue of gun control, then let’s frame the discussion correctly, “Should the people have the right to keep and bear arms that could be used to violently overthrown the central government”.

Let’s remember that this country was formed in a violent revolution. Let’s remember that at Lexington and Concord citizen fired on and killed government solidiers sent by the central government to confiscate their weapons and arms.

If we are going to have gun control then let’s not dicker around the fringes. Let those who would limit the law-abiding citizen’s access to arms first repeal the Second Amendment. That would be the intellectually honest way to address the issue.

United Liberty

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