Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Romney in 2016

After months of insisting he was not interested in running for president again, Mitt Romney now says he's keeping the door open.

“We’ve got a lot of people looking at the race,” the 2012 Republican nominee told the New York Times Magazine when he was asked about the possibility of seeking the nomination in 2016. “We’ll see what happens.”

Does This Also Apply to Congress?

Until now, some federal employees have been able to get away with watching pornography at work—in one case, up to six hours a day. That may soon change if a lawmaker from North Carolina has his way, The Washington Post reports.

 Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican, introduced H.R. 5628, a bill that aims to “prohibit accessing pornographic web sites from Federal computers.”

The bill comes in response to a revelation in May that a senior-level staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not been fired—and continues to collect pay—despite having been discovered looking at pornography “between two and six hours per day since 2010,” Environment & Energy Publishing reports.

The staffer confessed to spending hours each day watching pornography at work. Investigators discovered he had downloaded more than 7,000 files and, at one point, spent four consecutive hours on a site called “Sadism Is Beautiful,” according to the Post.

Monday, September 29, 2014

For Many New Medicaid Enrollees, Care Is Hard to Find, Report Says

For Many New Medicaid Enrollees, Care Is Hard to Find, Report Says


SEPTEMBER 27, 2014

WASHINGTON — Enrollment in Medicaidis surging as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but the Obama administration and state officials have done little to ensure that new beneficiaries have access to doctors after they get their Medicaid cards, federal investigators say in a new report.

The report, to be issued this week by the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, says state standards for access to care vary widely and are rarely enforced. As a result, it says, Medicaid patients often find that they must wait for months or travel long distances to see a doctor.

The inspector general, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal and state officials must do more to protect beneficiaries’ access to care, in view of the program’s rapid growth. Just since October, the administration says, eight million people with low incomes have enrolled. By 2016, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, one in four Americans will be on Medicaid at some time during the year.

Twenty-seven states have expanded Medicaid eligibility since the passage of the health care law in 2010, and President Obama is urging other states to do so.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014


September 27, 2014, 03:07 pm
Cruz clinches straw poll gold again

By Julian Hattem

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won the Value Voters Summit presidential straw poll on Saturday.

The crowd burst onto applause on Saturday, as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins announced that Cruz won 25 percent of votes at the annual Washington conference. 

The victory is a big victory to the Republican firebrand and Tea Party icon, coming just a day after he drewstanding ovations with a religious and emotional speech that blasted ObamaCare, congressional Democrats and called for Republicans to take over the White House in 2016. 

Cruz also won the straw poll in 2013. 

Coming in second was neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a political novice who has a large following in conservative circles but said earlier this week that there is a “strong” likelihood that he would run for president. He won 20 percent of the votes.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) came in third, with 12 percent of the vote.

As a signal of Carson’s popularity at the summit, the former Johns Hopkins University neurosurgeon came in first in the polling for vice president, winning 22 percent of the votes.

Cruz was the runner up in that contest, with 14 percent. Third was Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) — who earned surprising admiration in his Friday evening address, despite his low showing in recent polls of potential 2016 contenders — with 11 percent of the vote.

The annual Washington summit is considered a right of passage for prospective Republican presidential candidates, and served as an opportunity for aspirants to make some of their most direct pitches to social conservatives before announcing their ambitions next year. 

The notable absence from the winners' list of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — another senator who is considered to be strongly eyeing a presidential run — is a sign of pervasive skepticism from the religious right.

Paul’s libertarian leanings have won him supporters among the young and tech-savvy, but he has yet to make inroads among Christian conservatives. The poor showing comes despite his attempts on Friday to appeal to the summit’s religious leanings. 

The summit also asks participants which issues they care about most deeply.

“Protecting religious liberty” easily won that contest with 39 percent of the vote, fo

Friday, September 26, 2014

4 reasons Keystone won’t do anything to cut gas prices

Paul Brandus

Pipeline project may have its merits, but not for curbing prices

Will the pipeline ever get fully built?
WASHINGTON — Here’s a comment that has been making its way around Twitter and Facebook for the past few years.

Remember the awful crisis Obama inherited from GWB.

Here are GWB's gas prices the day Obama took Office.

“Look how cheap gasoline prices were back on Jan. 20, 2009!” folks say. The implication is that prices have jumped on President Barack Obama’s watch to the current national average of $3.34 because of him and his dunderheaded economic policies. That’s an increase of 80%. Impeach!
But here’s what folks who gleefully blame Obama for gasoline prices will never show you, much less acknowledge in their own minds:
Gasoline peaked at $4.11 in July, 2008 — just six months before plunging to $1.86. A drop of 54.7%.
Why the 55% drop between July 2008 and January 2009? Was there anything happening to the broader economy back then? Let me think. Oh, yes, that’s right: it collapsed. Silly me for pointing this out, but during those six months 3.6 million Americans lost their jobs — about 600,000 per month. GDP shrank at an annual rate of 1.9% between July and September — before collapsing at an 8.2% pace between October and December. Look at the data in fourth quarter: it was truly an economic collapse. Gasoline prices were certainly no exception.

Real GDP as Bush's term ended

Change from previous quarter at annual rate, seasonally adjusted

So if you want to give George W. Bush credit for bringing prices down over those six months, be my guest. But an economic collapse sure isn’t the way to do it.


Then there is this question: how did gasoline prices reach $4.11 in July 2008 in the first place? After all, they were just $1.47 when Bush was sworn in back in 2001. The answer is simple. The economy then, as now, was recovering from recession.

So here is my challenge to folks who think “Obama is to blame for high gas prices”: if you blame him for gasoline rising from $1.86 to today’s $3.34, a jump of 80% in nearly six years, then who do you blame for prices rising from $1.47 in 2001 to $4.11 in July 2008 — a jump of 180%?

Don’t get me wrong. Both sides play this same disingenuous game. Liberals who blamed Bush then were just as dumb, biased and myopic as the conservatives who blame Obama now.

Meantime, here’s another crazy-giant misunderstanding about gasoline prices: while I support building the Keystone XL pipeline, I’m not so naive as to think that it will have any impact on what I pay to fill up my SUV. Here’s why:

1.) The implication that we need Keystone to bring down gasoline prices suggests we need that extra supply to push prices down. Hogwash. The United States is drowning in oil and gas — production is booming and we’re the top oil producer in the world.
 2) We just don’t need as much gasoline as we used to. Broad trends are pushing per capita consumption down: cars get better mileage. Telecommuting is rapidly increasing. An aging population is driving less.
 3) We’re exporting record amounts of fuel. In May, U.S. refiners exported more than 15 million barrels of gasoline — nearly as much as they sold abroad for all of 1989. Global consumption is growing faster than it is here, and prices are higher as well. Imagine that: refiners are focusing on selling their products in markets that are growing and willing to pay more. It’s called the free market, folks.
No wonder that refiners slog the Gulf Coast want Keystone built. It’s more product for them to sell abroad.
 4) There’s some evidence Keystone might actually raise gasoline prices. Hold onto your wallet: a variety of studies have suggested that if Keystone is built, gasoline prices could rise up to 20 cents per gallon in the Midwest, Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. That’s because Keystone would divert crude from refineries in those regions to those on the Gulf for export.
 So who will be the big winners if the pipeline is built? Not you or me. The big winners for Keystone (other than the 35 permanent jobs it will create after temporary construction jobs go away) will be owners of refineries along the Gulf Coast. No wonder oil state senators in tough re-election fights like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, a Democrat and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, are fighting to allow oil to be exported.
But this much is true: to build or not to build, it’s quite unlikely that Keystone will save any money for you at the pump.