Welcome to tax season, now prepare to give your #Obamacare subsidy back

**Posted by Phineas

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This item has been sitting in my files for a while (1), but, since we’re deep into tax season, it’s still relevant — especially so for people relying on that federal subsidy to help pay for their “affordable” health care:

As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm.

H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“The ACA is going to result in more confusion for existing clients, and many taxpayers may well be very disappointed by getting less money and possibly even owing money,” the president of a tax preparation and education school told the Journal.

While the Affordable Care Act fines those who don’t have health insurance, it also provides subsidies for people making up to four times the federal poverty line ($46,680).

But the subsidies are based on past tax returns, so many people may be receiving too much, according to Vanderbilt University assistant professor John Graves, who projects the average subsidy is $208 too high, the Journal reports.

If, like a lot of people, you’re used to getting some sort of a refund, you probably already have an idea of how much you expect and how you plan to spend it. Imagine then how happy these many millions of people will be when they’re told they’re either getting less of a refund, or that they in fact owe money. And, on top of that, their subsidy for the next year will almost certainly be lower, so even more of their money will go to the insurance companies by force of law for coverage that probably isn’t as good as they had before, or at least isn’t what was promised.

That, my friends, is a recipe for angry voters. And, oh, there’s a presidential election warming up, too. Fancy that.

If anything good comes of this fiasco, it will probably be the hard-learned lesson that government is poorly equipped to do more than a certain few tasks and running a huge, massively complicated healthcare system isn’t among them.

Call it another “teachable moment.”

Footnote:
(1) Ancient by Internet standards — a whole month!

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Hats – or headscarves – off to Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

President and First Lady Obama’s arrive in Riyadh 1/27/15. Photo via Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

This morning I find myself in the very rare position of being able to say I’m proud of our First Lady. Why? Read on:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — For first lady Michelle Obama, just a few hours in Saudi Arabia were enough to illustrate the stark limitations under which Saudi women live.

Joining President Barack Obama for a condolence visit after the death of the King Abdullah, Mrs. Obama stepped off of Air Force One wearing long pants and a long, brightly colored jacket — but no headscarf.

Under the kingdom’s strict dress code for women, Saudi females are required to wear a headscarf and loose, black robes in public. Most women in Saudi Arabia cover their hair and face with a veil known as the niqab. But covering one’s head is not required for foreigners, and some Western women choose to forego the headscarf while in Saudi Arabia.

As a delegation of dozens of Saudi officials — all men — greeted the Obamas in Riyadh, some shook hands with Mrs. Obama. Others avoided a handshake but acknowledged the first lady with a nod as they passed by.

The Washington Post reports that Mrs. Obama’s actions caused an uproar among Saudi women on social media:

Barack Obama was in Riyadh on Tuesday to pay his respects to the late Saudi King Abdullah. His visit, for which he cut short a much-hyped trip to India, underscores how important the U.S.-Saudi relationship remains to the American leadership. On social media, however, much of the attention has focused on something else: His wife’s attire.

[…]

More than 1,500 tweets using the hashtag #?????_??????_???? (roughly, #Michelle_Obama_immodesty) were sent Tuesday, many of which criticized the first lady. Some users pointed out that on a recent trip to Indonesia, Michelle had worn a headscarf. Why not in Saudi Arabia?

[…]

The response wasn’t entirely negative — Ahram Online notes that some Twitter users said Michelle shouldn’t be criticized too much, it being a short, impromptu trip and all. Saudi state television did show images of Michelle and her uncovered head, despite some claims that they had digitally obscured her (a widely circulated video with the first lady entirely blurred seems to have been an amateur production).

The headscarf thing wasn’t the only issue some Saudis took with the First Lady’s attire, as Josh Rogin with Bloomberg View notes:

The alleged blurring wasn’t the only controversy.  Some Arab media outlets criticized Michelle Obama for wearing a blue dress, rather than a black one.

Politico points out other First Ladies (and former First Ladies) have been known to throw aside the headscarf as well:

In 2011, when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Abdullah in New York, she did not cover her face or hair. Nor did then-first lady Laura Bush during a 2006 visit with Abdullah in Saudi Arabia.

American women: Rebels, with a clue.  Sometimes. ;)

(Via Memeorandum)

#Hillary2016’s pre-campaign hires spark allegations of “white dudefest 2016″

Hillary Clinton testifies on Benghazi

HIllary Clinton testifies on Benghazi. – January 2013

The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak has an unintentionally hilarious piece on the state of La Clinton’s “pre-campaign” hires and how the current “all-white, all-male” cast has Democrat strategists hitting the panic button:

Hillary Clinton’s pre-presidential campaign has made some high-profile hires recently—but all of them, so far, are white males. And Democrats have noticed.

Does Hillary Clinton need binders full of women?

Some Democrats, particularly women and people of color, think so.

In interviews with The Daily Beast, nearly a dozen Democrats, said they were worried Clinton’s hires for the top echelons of her pre-campaign haven’t taken gender and racial diversity into account.

Their concern started after early leaks about heavy hitters recruited for the likely 2016 presidential candidate’s proto-campaign all had two distinct things in common: they were white and male.

“Democrats need a leader that can bring together races and nationalities, especially now and especially to win. That starts at the top of the campaign, and Hillary Clinton will need to demonstrate that level of commitment to set the right tone and strategy going forward” said Aimee Allison, senior VP at PowerPAC+, a group founded by major Democratic donor Steve Phillips to build the “political power of the multiracial majority.”

The situation is altogether more jarring, several Democrats interviewed said, when one considers 2008 Hillary’s campaign manager was Patti Solis Doyle, the first Hispanic woman to manage a presidential campaign.

One operative quipped that the top levels of the campaign are in danger of looking like “white dudefest 2016.”

And it gets even better. Read on:

The Democrats who spoke to The Daily Beast didn’t want to be named for a variety of reasons: some were trying to land campaign positions in the 2016 election cycle, or their bosses are expected to support Hillary, or they feared retribution and wanted to speak freely.

The frustrations over racial and gender diversity are especially acute among those staffers who worked on the most recent Obama campaign. Many of them found that women and minority staffers were not elevated to the very top rungs of the campaign structure—nor did they receive nearly enough credit for its eventual success.

One post-campaign retrospective from Rolling Stone drew particular ire—it pointed out ten of the Obama campaign’s ‘real heroes,’ nine of whom were men.

The question of diversity Clinton could face was handled improperly by Obama in the last election cycle, said a strategist who worked on the president’s reelection campaign.

“On these historic campaigns, where you’re trying to change the very image of what the word ‘president’ evokes, what you think of when you think of the word ‘president,’ the leadership was pretty male, pretty white,” she said.

Not exactly a surprise when you consider the White House won’t even practice what it preaches when it comes to one of their pet issues: “equal pay.” As always, it’s “do as I say and not as I do” with Democrats – no matter the issue, really.

And related to “Hillary 2016″ talk, Mike Allen at Politico has a good read on her (predicted) future political plans, and talked to numerous Democrats “close to the Clintons” who say she will officially launch her second campaign for President in April and that massive preparation is underway in advance of the expected announcement.  The article also says Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), long speculated to be running and who could have quite possibly been Hillary’s toughest competition in the primaries, “is making no behind-the-scenes preparations” – so apparently Warren was serious when she said she had no plans to run.

As they say, stay tuned, because there’s never a dull moment when it comes to the Clinton political machine … nor the media’s love/hate relationship with Bill and Hill.

#NCSEN: GOP nominee Tillis fires back over Hagan’s “mansplaining” nonsense

Thom Tillis

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis

Really happy to see Thom Tillis push back on the phony, desperate “war on women” rhetoric coming from the Kay Hagan campaign:

WILSON, N.C. — Thom Tillis, the Republican running for a North Carolina Senate seat that could well decide the majority in the Senate, has been pilloried since last week’s debate by Democrats who see him as a condescending “man-splainer” who played into gender stereotypes.

But in his first comments on the controversy, the Republican state House speaker was unrepentant in a sit-down interview on the campaign trail, chalking up the firestorm to Democrats playing gender politics to boost Sen. Kay Hagan.“It’s just silly,” he said during a lunch stop this weekend with supporters over barbecue, fried oysters and chicken livers. “We’re talking about the future of the greatest nation on the earth, and this is what we’re going to?”

In a state that’s become ground zero this cycle for Democrats “war on women” strategy, the debate served as a flashpoint. There’s no race in the country where the gender gap is more pronounced than North Carolina — a must-win state for both parties. Democratic women’s groups Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List have already announced their biggest 2014 investments will be in the Tar Heel State, where there are 500,000 more women registered to vote than men.

Polls have shown the race locked in a dead heat even with the wide gender gap. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll — conducted in August, before the first debate — had Hagan up 18 points among female voters and Tillis leading by 12 points among men.

The attacks began after Tillis, in a paid advertisement, jabbed at the incumbent, a former bank vice president, saying “Math is lost on Sen. Hagan.” Then, in last week’s debate, in which the Republican appeared better prepared overall, Tillis referred to her as “Kay,” even though she continued to refer to him as “Speaker Tillis.”

“We saw women on social media in particular who were bothered by his tone and more than anything they were bothered by his record,” said Sadie Weiner, spokeswomen for Hagan.

Tillis dismissed the criticism.

“I knew Sen. Hagan when she was in the state legislature. I knew her husband Chip. This race isn’t about titles. It’s about results,” he said. “And in Sen. Hagan’s case, it’s a lack of results. If you look at it just objectively, if that is what the Hagan’s camp is focusing on in this debate, then they must have really felt in their own minds that they fell short on the issues. If it really comes down to that — I mean what about the substance of the debate?

Amen.

As a side note, what Ms. Weiner won’t tell you is that the much of the “outrage” over the alleged “mansplaining” that was seen on social media last Wednesday during and after the debate came from … political operatives like herself, and state-wide media allies who (unsurprisingly) eagerly jumped on the “Tillis was being mean!” bandwagon.  As a general rule, once the media validates a particular “criticism”, there is a snowball effect with others who may not have necessarily seen it that way then falling in line with the prevailing – but false – narrative.

Tillis is right – if ridiculous charges of “mansplaining” are the best Team Hagan could do coming out of last week’s debate, it kind of tells you how badly they think she did, which is why they want you to focus on the sideline noise they’re drumming up about sexism which – ironically, is what they themselves are guilty of.  You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Not enough: DNC Chair apologizes (not really) for cheapening the meaning of domestic abuse

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

‘Sorry, not sorry.’

In an update to this post, the disgraceful, shameless Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, known for her insane, over-the-top, way beyond the bounds of basic civility, has issued a non-apology “apology” of sorts for her vile remarks likening Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) to a physically abusive husband:

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she used words she “shouldn’t have” in her attack against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, in which she said he “has given women the back of his hand.”

“I shouldn’t have used the words I used,” Wasserman Schultz wrote in a statement on Thursday. “But that shouldn’t detract from the broader point that I was making that Scott Walker’s policies have been bad for Wisconsin women, whether it’s mandating ultrasounds, repealing an equal pay law, or rejecting federal funding for preventative health care, Walker’s record speaks for itself.”

The DNC chairwoman slammed the Republican governor and the GOP during a round-table discussion in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Her remarks quickly sparked outrage.

“Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality,” Wasserman Schultz said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

She continued, “What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch.”

Sorry – her lame “walk-back” was not good enough. While it was refreshing today to see even some in the normally reliably left wing media take her to task for not just what she said, but how she said it, she really should have the decency to resign from her post as Chairwoman.  But she won’t because, as I noted this morning, this is exactly the type of in-the-gutter public discourse she gets paid to come up with.

So because she won’t resign, I’m calling on people to do exactly what prominent Democrats and their allies in the press would do had this been a Republican: Keep talking about it for the next couple of weeks at least (that’s about the normal timeframe for an MSM scandal cycle, right?). On social media, on your blogs, on political message boards, everywhere you can. Remind people Wasserman Schultz’s brand of “hardball is part of a larger Democrat party election-year strategy – one in which Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), currently in a fierce battle to try and keep her seat, is also taking part - of blatantly trying to emotionally manipulate women with baseless, false, in some cases outright reprehensible political and personal attacks against their opposition … because they’re desperate to win in November.  Of course, this is something they do all the time, but this time around they’ve cranked up efforts to levels previously unseen for a non-presidential election year. 

Keep what’s happening, the stunts they’re trying to pull, fresh in everyone’s minds. Don’t let Democrats get away with throwing everything but the kitchen sink again.

DNC Chair cheapens meaning of domestic violence w/ despicable Scott Walker attack

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

‘I don’t know why I’m such a raging demagogue. I just am …’

Just when you think the left hadn’t stooped low enough this election year. Via The Week:

On Wednesday, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz used some fairly graphic language to describe Republican Gov. Scott Walker during a visit to Wisconsin.

“Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand,” Wasserman Schultz said at a roundtable discussion in Milwaukee on women’s issue, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. “I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality.” She added: “What Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch.”

In response, Republican Lt. Gov Rebecca Kleefisch said she was “shocked” that Wasserman Schultz used language that would normally describe domestic violence, in reference to Walker: “I think the remarks were absolutely hideous and the motive behind them was despicable.”

The campaign of Walker’s Democratic opponent, businesswoman Mary Burke — whom Wasserman Schultz was attempting to boost — distanced themselves from the comments. “That’s not the type of language that Mary Burke would use, or has used, to point out the clear differences in this contest,” said Burke press secretary Stephanie Wilson, who also added: “There is plenty that she and Governor Walker disagree on — but those disagreements can and should be pointed out respectfully.”

The Burke campaign is right on the surface, even if they really don’t mean what they say. We’ve seen this all play out before, haven’t we? Wasserman Schultz makes inflammatory remarks that go wayyyy beyond what is acceptable in the political debate arena, the mainstream media – typically – gives her a pass on them (unlike how they’d treat this if the words came from the mouth of a Republican), the GOP calls her out on them and her left wing allies respond with muted “criticism” of what she deliberately suggested and then we’re all supposed to move on as if she never said anything.

This, my dear readers, is part of what this viper is paid to do – and why Democrats keep her in this position.  To say the worst things imaginable about the opposition, and then hope/expect the (glaringly phony) image they’ve painted of them will stick in the minds of enough voters that they’ll vote against them at the ballot box.  In essence, this is what you call “selling your soul” for political advantage. Wasserman Schultz didn’t think – and likely still doesn’t think – her disgusting broadside against Walker is wrong, in spite of the fact that it’s likely the case that she  knows women who have been real victims of actual, horrific domestic abuse, just like many others of us do.

Falsely insinuating domestic violence is in no way, not ever acceptable as campaign rhetoric (or any other rhetoric, for that matter), Ms. Wasserman Schultz. Many women have the life-long  emotional and physical scars, and some have even been murdered, at the brutish hands of men they thought loved them.  For you to cheapen their experiences, to water down the definition of the term “domestic abuse” in your attempt at partisan one-upping someone in the opposing party defines gutter tactics at their absolute worst.  Shame on you – not that you have any.

Read more via Memeorandum.

#StuckOnStupid: Schakowsky says Marino’s criticism of Pelosi was “sexist”

schakowsky-pelosi

Birds of a feather …

When all else fails for Democrats, the “VICTIM” card must be played!  Via The Hill’s Briefing Room blog:

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) is calling the attack during the immigration debate on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “sexist.”

On MSNBC’s “Politics Nation” late Monday, Schakowsky was asked to react to Rep. Tom Marino’s (R-Pa.) comments toward Pelosi in which he suggested she bore some of the blame for the border crisis.

“I would say that it’s sexist and that it was patronizing. ‘Do the research, Madam Leader.’ And he got exactly what he deserved. And then for him to claim, ‘I was the tough guy. I’m a street fighter.’ Really? On the floor of the House?” she said.

Before the House passed the new version of the GOP border bill on Friday, Marino broke floor protocol and called out Pelosi directly. 

“I did the research on it,” he said. “You might want to try it. You might want to try it, Madam Leader.”

Um, correction.  Marino didn’t “break floor protocol” – it was Pelosi who did so by leaving her side of the aisle and marching over to his to confront him, as the video clearly shows. That’s why he said to her, “I did the research,” etc.

Continuing from The Hill’s report:

“And talking to her in that condescending way. I’m really offended. And I was proud of her for marching over,” Schakowsky said.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who was on the House floor at the time, said Pelosi walked across the aisle to Marino and said, “You’re insignificant.”

“You know, you’re not supposed to direct comments personally, and he did just that. He deserved what he got and shouldn’t be proud of it,” Schakowsky added.

If Schakowsky had ANY shame whatsoever, which she doesn’t, she’d either not comment on this at all or at the very least say both sides got heated. I know there’s no way in hell she’d actually admit the truth, which is that Pelosi got WAY out of line in her Friday chase-down of Marino.  Escalating disagreement personally like what she did simply isn’t done on the House floor, shouldn’t be done.

You wanna know what the infuriating thing is about Schakowsky’s bull sh*t comments on Pelosi’s meltdown?

1) That she’s trying to have her cake and eat it, too, on the “sexism” card. Marino was “sexist” for defending what he was saying and not backing down from her, but he’d have also been “sexist” had he been the one who walked across the aisle and confronted her.  Don’t you just love how liberals enjoy having it both ways?

2) Schakowsky is knowingly lying about the instigator of the “personal” attack.  Marino called out the other side of the aisle for not doing much of anything on immigration when they had control for the first two years of Obama’s presidency. Pelosi came over to him and tried to “correct” him and then went personal by calling him “insignificant.” Again, imagine the howls of outrage from “feminists” had he said and done the same to her?  Furthermore, why is Marino “insignificant” to Pelosi? I would love to hear an answer to that one.

3) Schakowsky is doing exactly what “feminists” of yesteryear deplored – in effect, being the opposite of a true feminist – by giving Pelosi the fainting couch treatment, suggesting any disagreement with female political leaders in positions of power by men are, by default, outrageous and sexist and therefore any response the “attacked” woman decides is “appropriate” and should not be questioned nor criticized. Or …., you got it, sexism!

4) I think of all the legitimate claims of sexism in this country from years past and current, where women have actually been real victims of sexually hostile environments, and then I read Schakowsky’s completely watered down definition of it and it makes me sick. As usual, the left dumbs down words to the point they have no real meaning anymore except what they decide it is at the time – for political advantage, of course.

Infuriating.

#Obamacare: the more Americans know it, the more they hate it

**Posted by Phineas

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

That’s the unavoidable conclusion of a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which, if I recall correctly, has been friendly towards the ACA. Byron York reports:

According to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has closely tracked Obamacare for years, 37 percent of those surveyed have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, while 53 percent have an unfavorable view. That’s an eight-percentage-point jump in unfavorability over last month, and a two-point drop in favorability over the same time.

Why the shift? It’s not because millions of Americans have suddenly become conservative Republicans. Kaiser found that disapproval of Obamacare has risen across the board. Among Democrats, for example, the law’s unfavorable rating jumped six points in July, while its favorable rating fell four points. A similar thing happened among independents and — it hardly seemed possible — among Republicans who already hated the law.

Obamacare’s unfavorables also rose among all income groups — people who make less than $40,000 a year, those who make between $40,000 and $90,000 a year, and those who make more than $90,000. The same among all age groups. And the same for race and ethnicity: Disapproval rose among whites, blacks, and Hispanics.

Rather than a shift among some identifiable group, Obamacare’s rising unpopularity seems to be a product of the simple fact that, several months into its implementation, more and more people are having personal experience with the law.

Remember how Democrats swore people would love the law, once they got some experience with it? Critics suspected that was wishful thinking, and we seem to have been right.

Read the rest of York’s article for the details, but this is really the result of two things: 1) monumental progressive arrogance in seizing control of a health insurance system that a majority of the nation was satisfied with, substituting their judgement for that of their constituents and face-slapping the constitutional order in the process; and 2) doing a crappy job of writing the actual legislation, causing all sorts of problems for people across the nation. After the disruption of doctor-patient relationships, shrunken provider networks, increased deductibles, and massive cancellations of policies people were happy with –and the savaging of large group plans is still to come!–  after all that, is it any wonder more and more people hate this thing, the more they get to know it?

Obamacare has been pushed into the background somewhat, as other crises du jour have taken it’s place on the front pages. But it’s still there, and it is still going to annoy the heck out of people, especially as the rate increases hit this summer and group policies start getting cancelled. And you can bet that surveys like this one fill Democrats with dread as we approach November.

As they should.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)