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North Korea state media warns of nuclear strike if provoked as U.S. warships approach
* North Korea media warns of nuclear strike on U.S. if provoked
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* Russia “really worried” about possible U.S. attack on North (Adds Trump Tweet)
By Sue-Lin Wong
PYONGYANG, April 11 (Reuters) – North Korean state media on Tuesday warned of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of U.S. aggression as a U.S. Navy strike group steamed towards the western Pacific.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished neighbour, said in a Tweet North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without China’s help.
Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula with talk of military action by the United States gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria and amid concerns the reclusive North may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the country was prepared to respond to any aggression by the United States.
“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the U.S. mainland,” it said.
South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn warned of “greater provocations” by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring and to ensure close communication with the United States.
“It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries including the Supreme People’s Assembly,” said Hwang, acting leader since former president Park Geun-hye was removed amid a graft scandal.
Trump said in a Tweet a trade deal between China and the United States would be “far better for them if they solved the North Korea problem”.
“If China decides to help, that would be great,” he said. “If not, we will solve the problem without them!”
Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met in Florida last week and Trump pressed Xi to do more to rein in North Korea.
The North convened a Supreme People’s Assembly session on Tuesday, one of its twice-yearly sessions in which major appointments are announced and national policy goals are formally approved. It did not immediately release details.
But South Korean officials took pains to quell talk in social media of an impending security crisis or outbreak of war.
“We’d like to ask precaution so as not to get blinded by exaggerated assessment about the security situation on the Korean peninsula,” Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said.
Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s founding father and grandfather of current ruler, Kim Jong Un.
A military parade is expected in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, to mark the day. North Korea often also marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities in breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Men and women in colourful outfits were singing and dancing on the streets of Pyongyang, illuminated by better lighting than that seen in previous years, apparently practising for the parade planned.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a message of congratulations to mark the event, lambasting “big powers” for their “expansionist” policy.
“The friendly two countries are celebrating this anniversary and, at the same time, conducting a war against big powers’ wild ambition to subject all countries to their expansionist and dominationist policy and deprive them of their rights to self-determination,” the North’s KCNA news agency quoted the message as saying.
The North’s foreign ministry, in a statement carried by KCNA, said the U.S. navy strike group’s approach showed America’s “reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase”.
“We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves,” an unidentified ministry spokesman said.
North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The North regularly threatens to destroy the South and its main ally, the United States.
“Empire” is a dirty word. Considering the behavior of many empires, that is not unreasonable. But empire is also simply a description of a condition, many times unplanned and rarely intended. It is a condition that arises from a massive imbalance of power. Indeed, the empires created on purpose, such as Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, have rarely lasted. Most empires do not plan to become one. They become one and then realize what they are. Sometimes they do not realize what they are for a long time, and that failure to see reality can have massive consequences.
World War II and the Birth of an Empire
The United States became an empire in 1945. It is true that in the Spanish-American War, the United States intentionally took control of the Philippines and Cuba. It is also true that it began thinking of itself as an empire, but it really was not. Cuba and the Philippines were the fantasy of empire, and this illusion dissolved during World War I, the subsequent period of isolationism and the Great Depression.
The genuine American empire that emerged thereafter was a byproduct of other events. There was no great conspiracy. In some ways, the circumstances of its creation made it more powerful. The dynamic of World War II led to the collapse of the European Peninsula and its occupation by the Soviets and the Americans. The same dynamic led to the occupation of Japan and its direct governance by the United States as a de facto colony, with Gen. Douglas MacArthur as viceroy.
The United States found itself with an extraordinary empire, which it also intended to abandon. This was a genuine wish and not mere propaganda. First, the United States was the first anti-imperial project in modernity. It opposed empire in principle. More important, this empire was a drain on American resources and not a source of wealth. World War II had shattered both Japan and Western Europe. The United States gained little or no economic advantage in holding on to these countries. Finally, the United States ended World War II largely untouched by war and as perhaps one of the few countries that profited from it. The money was to be made in the United States, not in the empire. The troops and the generals wanted to go home.
But unlike after World War I, the Americans couldn’t let go. That earlier war ruined nearly all of the participants. No one had the energy to attempt hegemony. The United States was content to leave Europe to its own dynamics. World War II ended differently. The Soviet Union had been wrecked but nevertheless it remained powerful. It was a hegemon in the east, and absent the United States, it conceivably could dominate all of Europe. This represented a problem for Washington, since a genuinely united Europe — whether a voluntary and effective federation or dominated by a single country — had sufficient resources to challenge U.S. power.
The United States could not leave. It did not think of itself as overseeing an empire, and it certainly permitted more internal political autonomy than the Soviets did in their region. Yet, in addition to maintaining a military presence, the United States organized the European economy and created and participated in the European defense system. If the essence of sovereignty is the ability to decide whether or not to go to war, that power was not in London, Paris or Warsaw. It was in Moscow and Washington.
The organizing principle of American strategy was the idea of containment. Unable to invade the Soviet Union, Washington’s default strategy was to check it. U.S. influence spread through Europe to Iran. The Soviet strategy was to flank the containment system by supporting insurgencies and allied movements as far to the rear of the U.S. line as possible. The European empires were collapsing and fragmenting. The Soviets sought to create an alliance structure out of the remnants, and the Americans sought to counter them.
The Economics of Empire
One of the advantages of alliance with the Soviets, particularly for insurgent groups, was a generous supply of weapons. The advantage of alignment with the United States was belonging to a dynamic trade zone and having access to investment capital and technology. Some nations, such as South Korea, benefited extraordinarily from this. Others didn’t. Leaders in countries like Nicaragua felt they had more to gain from Soviet political and military support than in trade with the United States.
The United States was by far the largest economic power, with complete control of the sea, bases around the world, and a dynamic trade and investment system that benefitted countries that were strategically critical to the United States or at least able to take advantage of it. It was at this point, early in the Cold War, that the United States began behaving as an empire, even if not consciously.
The geography of the American empire was built partly on military relations but heavily on economic relations. At first these economic relations were fairly trivial to American business. But as the system matured, the value of investments soared along with the importance of imports, exports and labor markets. As in any genuinely successful empire, it did not begin with a grand design or even a dream of one. Strategic necessity created an economic reality in country after country until certain major industries became dependent on at least some countries. The obvious examples were Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, whose oil fueled American oil companies, and which therefore — quite apart from conventional strategic importance — became economically important. This eventually made them strategically important.
As an empire matures, its economic value increases, particularly when it is not coercing others. Coercion is expensive and undermines the worth of an empire. The ideal colony is one that is not at all a colony, but a nation that benefits from economic relations with both the imperial power and the rest of the empire. The primary military relationship ought to be either mutual dependence or, barring that, dependence of the vulnerable client state on the imperial power.
This is how the United States slipped into empire. First, it was overwhelmingly wealthy and powerful. Second, it faced a potential adversary capable of challenging it globally, in a large number of countries. Third, it used its economic advantage to induce at least some of these countries into economic, and therefore political and military, relationships. Fourth, these countries became significantly important to various sectors of the American economy.
Limits of the American Empire
The problem of the American Empire is the overhang of the Cold War. During this time, the United States expected to go to war with a coalition around it, but also to carry the main burden of war. When Operation Desert Storm erupted in 1991, the basic Cold War principle prevailed. There was a coalition with the United States at the center of it. After 9/11, the decision was made to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq with the core model in place. There was a coalition, but the central military force was American, and it was assumed that the economic benefits of relations with the United States would be self-evident. In many ways, the post-9/11 wars took their basic framework from World War II. Iraq War planners explicitly discussed the occupation of Germany and Japan.
No empire can endure by direct rule. The Nazis were perhaps the best example of this. They tried to govern Poland directly, captured Soviet territory, pushed aside Vichy to govern not half but all of France, and so on. The British, on the other hand, ruled India with a thin layer of officials and officers and a larger cadre of businessmen trying to make their fortunes. The British obviously did better. The Germans exhausted themselves not only by overreaching, but also by diverting troops and administrators to directly oversee some countries. The British could turn their empire into something extraordinarily important to the global system. The Germans broke themselves not only on their enemies, but on their conquests as well.
The United States emerged after 1992 as the only global balanced power. That is, it was the only nation that could deploy economic, political and military power on a global basis. The United States was and remains enormously powerful. However, this is very different from omnipotence. In hearing politicians debate Russia, Iran or Yemen, you get the sense that they feel that U.S. power has no limits. There are always limits, and empires survive by knowing and respecting them.
The primary limit of the American empire is the same as that of the British and Roman empires: demographic. In Eurasia — Asia and Europe together — the Americans are outnumbered from the moment they set foot on the ground. The U.S. military is built around force multipliers, weapons that can destroy the enemy before the enemy destroys the relatively small force deployed. Sometimes this strategy works. Over the long run, it cannot. The enemy can absorb attrition much better than the small American force can. This lesson was learned in Vietnam and reinforced in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is a country of 25 million people. The Americans sent about 130,000 troops. Inevitably, the attrition rate overwhelmed the Americans. The myth that Americans have no stomach for war forgets that the United States fought in Vietnam for seven years and in Iraq for about the same length of time. The public can be quite patient. The mathematics of war is the issue. At a certain point, the rate of attrition is simply not worth the political ends.
The deployment of a main force into Eurasia is unsupportable except in specialized cases when overwhelming force can be bought to bear in a place where it is important to win. These occasions are typically few and far between. Otherwise, the only strategy is indirect warfare: shifting the burden of war to those who want to bear it or cannot avoid doing so. For the first years of World War II, indirect warfare was used to support the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union against Germany.
There are two varieties of indirect warfare. The first is supporting native forces whose interests are parallel. This was done in the early stages of Afghanistan. The second is maintaining the balance of power among nations. We are seeing this form in the Middle East as the United States moves between the four major regional powers — Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey — supporting one then another in a perpetual balancing act. In Iraq, U.S. fighters carry out air strikes in parallel with Iranian ground forces. In Yemen, the United States supports Saudi air strikes against the Houthis, who have received Iranian training.
This is the essence of empire. The British saying is that it has no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. That old cliche is, like most cliches, true. The United States is in the process of learning that lesson. In many ways the United States was more charming when it had clearly identified friends and enemies. But that is a luxury that empires cannot afford.
Building a System of Balance
We are now seeing the United States rebalance its strategy by learning to balance. A global power cannot afford to be directly involved in the number of conflicts that it will encounter around the world. It would be exhausted rapidly. Using various tools, it must create regional and global balances without usurping internal sovereignty. The trick is to create situations where other countries want to do what is in the U.S. interest.
This endeavor is difficult. The first step is to use economic incentives to shape other countries’ behavior. It isn’t the U.S. Department of Commerce but businesses that do this. The second is to provide economic aid to wavering countries. The third is to provide military aid. The fourth is to send advisers. The fifth is to send overwhelming force. The leap from the fourth level to the fifth is the hardest to master. Overwhelming force should almost never be used. But when advisers and aid do not solve a problem that must urgently be solved, then the only type of force that can be used is overwhelming force. Roman legions were used sparingly, but when they were used, they brought overwhelming power to bear.
The Responsibilities of Empire
I have been deliberately speaking of the United States as an empire, knowing that this term is jarring. Those who call the United States an empire usually mean that it is in some sense evil. Others will call it anything else if they can. But it is helpful to face the reality the United States is in. It is always useful to be honest, particularly with yourself. But more important, if the United States thinks of itself as an empire, then it will begin to learn the lessons of imperial power. Nothing is more harmful than an empire using its power carelessly.
It is true that the United States did not genuinely intend to be an empire. It is also true that its intentions do not matter one way or another. Circumstance, history and geopolitics have created an entity that, if it isn’t an empire, certainly looks like one. Empires can be far from oppressive. The Persians were quite liberal in their outlook. The American ideology and the American reality are not inherently incompatible. But two things must be faced: First, the United States cannot give away the power it has. There is no practical way to do that. Second, given the vastness of that power, it will be involved in conflicts whether it wants to or not. Empires are frequently feared, sometimes respected, but never loved by the rest of the world. And pretending that you aren’t an empire does not fool anyone.
The current balancing act in the Middle East represents a fundamental rebalancing of American strategy. It is still clumsy and poorly thought out, but it is happening. And for the rest of the world, the idea that the Americans are coming will become more and more rare. The United States will not intervene. It will manage the situation, sometimes to the benefit of one country and sometimes to another.
Tension between the two sides continued. Kim Il-sung remained in power until his death in 1994. He developed a pervasive personality cult and steered the country on an independent course in accordance with the principle of Juche (or self-reliance). However, with natural disasters and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1991, North Korea went into a severe economic crisis. Kim Il-sung’s son, Kim Jong-il, succeeded him, and was in turn succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un. Amid international alarm, North Korea developed nuclear missiles.
Northern Korea before the division
From 1910 to the end of World War II, Korea was under Japanese rule. Most Koreans were peasants engaged in subsistence farming. In the 1930s, Japan developed mines, hydro-electric dams, steel mills, and manufacturing plants in northern Korea and neighboring Manchuria. The Korean industrial working class expanded rapidly, and many Koreans went to work in Manchuria. As a result, 65% of Korea’s heavy industry was located in the north, but, due to the harshness of the terrain, only 37% of its agriculture.
A Korean guerrilla movement emerged in the mountainous interior and in Manchuria, harassing the Japanese imperial authorities. One of the most prominent guerrilla leaders was the Communist Kim Il-sung.
Northern Korea had very little exposure to modern, Western ideas. One partial exception of this was the penetration of religion. Since the arrival of missionaries in the late nineteenth century, the northwest of Korea, and Pyongyang in particular, had been a stronghold of Christianity.
At the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Soviet Union promised to join its allies in the Pacific War within three months of victory in Europe. On August 8, 1945, after three months to the day, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. Soviet troops advanced rapidly, and the US government became anxious that they would occupy the whole of Korea. On August 10, the US government decided to propose the 38th parallel as the dividing line between a Soviet occupation zone in the north and a US occupation zone in the south. The parallel was chosen as it would place the capital Seoul under American control. The division placed sixteen million Koreans in the American zone and nine million in the Soviet zone. To the surprise of the Americans, the Soviet Union immediately accepted the division. The agreement was incorporated into General Order No. 1 (approved on 17 August 1945) for the surrender of Japan.
Soviet forces began amphibious landings in Korea by August 14 and rapidly took over the north-east of the country, and on August 16 they landed at Wonsan. On August 24, the Red Army reached Pyongyang. US forces did not arrive in the south until September 8.
During August, People’s Committees sprang up across Korea, affiliated with the Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence, which in September founded the People’s Republic of Korea. When Soviet troops entered Pyongyang, they found a local People’s Committee established there, led by veteran Christian nationalist Cho Man-sik. Unlike their American counterparts, the Soviet authorities recognized and worked with the People’s Committees. By some accounts, Cho Man-sik was the Soviet government’s first choice to lead North Korea.
On September 19, Kim Il-sung and 36 other Korean Red Army officers arrived in Wonsan. They had fought the Japanese in Manchuria in the 1930s but had lived in the USSR and trained in the Red Army since 1941. On October 14, Soviet authorities introduced Kim to the North Korean public as a guerrilla hero.
In December 1945, at the Moscow Conference, the Soviet Union agreed to a US proposal for a trusteeship over Korea for up to five years in the lead-up to independence. Most Koreans demanded independence immediately, but Kim and the other Communists supported the trusteeship under pressure from the Soviet government. Cho Man-sik opposed the proposal at a public meeting on January 4, 1946, and disappeared into house arrest. On February 8, 1946, the People’s Committees were reorganized as Interim People’s Committees dominated by Communists. The new regime instituted popular policies of land redistribution, industry nationalization, labor law reform, and equality for women.
Kim established the Korean People’s Army (KPA) aligned with the Communists, formed from a cadre of guerrillas and former soldiers who had gained combat experience in battles against the Japanese and later Nationalist Chinese troops. From their ranks, using Soviet advisers and equipment, Kim constructed a large army skilled in infiltration tactics and guerrilla warfare. Before the outbreak of the Korean War, Joseph Stalin equipped the KPA with modern medium tanks, trucks, artillery, and small arms. Kim also formed an air force, equipped at first with ex-Soviet propeller-driven fighter and attack aircraft. Later, North Korean pilot candidates were sent to the Soviet Union and China to train in MiG-15 jet aircraft at secret bases.
In 1946, a sweeping series of laws transformed North Korea on Stalinist lines. The “land to the tiller” reform redistributed the bulk of agricultural land to the poor and landless peasant population, effectively breaking the power of the landed class. This was followed by a “Labor Law”, a “Sexual Equality Law”, and a “Nationalisation of Industry, Transport, Communications and Banks Law”.
As negotiations with the Soviet Union on the future of Korea failed to make progress, the US took the issue to the United Nations in September 1947. In response, the UN established the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea to hold elections in Korea. The Soviet Union opposed this move. In the absence of Soviet co-operation, it was decided to hold UN-supervised elections in the south only. In April 1948, a conference of organizations from the North and the South met in Pyongyang, but conference produced no results. The southern politicians Kim Koo and Kim Kyu-sik attended the conference and boycotted the elections in the South. Both men were posthumously awarded the National Reunification Prize by North Korea. The elections were held in South Korea on May 10, 1948. On August 15, the Republic of Korea formally came into existence. A parallel process occurred in North Korea. A new Supreme People’s Assembly was elected in August 1948, and on September 3 a new constitution was promulgated. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was proclaimed on September 9, with Kim as premier. On October 12, the Soviet Union declared that Kim’s regime was the only lawful government on the peninsula. On December 12, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly accepted the report of UNTCOK and declared the Republic of Korea to be the “only lawful government in Korea”.
The consolidation of Syngman Rhee‘s government in the South with American military support and the suppression of the October 1948 insurrection ended North Korean hopes that a revolution in the South could reunify Korea, and from early 1949 Kim Il-sung sought Soviet and Chinese support for a military campaign to reunify the country by force. The withdrawal of most U.S. forces from South Korea in June 1949 left the southern government defended only by a weak and inexperienced South Korean army. The southern régime also had to deal with a citizenry of uncertain loyalty. The North Korean army, by contrast, had benefited from the Soviet Union‘s WWII-era equipment, and had a core of hardened veterans who had fought either as anti-Japanese guerrillas or alongside the Chinese Communists. In 1949 and 1950 Kim traveled to Moscow with the South Korean Communist leader Pak Hon-yong to raise support for a war of reunification.
InitiallyJoseph Stalin rejected Kim Il-sung’s requests for permission to invade the South, but in late 1949 the Communist victory in China and the development of Soviet nuclear weapons made him re-consider Kim’s proposal. In January 1950, after China’s Mao Zedong indicated that the People’s Republic of China would send troops and other support to Kim, Stalin approved an invasion. The Soviets provided limited support in the form of advisers who helped the North Koreans as they planned the operation, and Soviet military instructors to train some of the Korean units. However, from the very beginning Stalin made it clear that the Soviet Union would avoid a direct confrontation with the U.S. over Korea and would not commit ground forces even in case of major military crisis. The stage was set for a civil war between the two rival régimes on the Korean peninsula.
For over a year before the outbreak of war, the two sides had engaged in a series of bloody clashes along the 38th parallel, especially in the Ongjin area on the west coast. On June 25, 1950, claiming to be responding to a South Korean assault on Ongjin, the Northern forces launched an amphibious offensive all along the parallel. Due to a combination of surprise and military superiority, the Northern forces quickly captured the capital Seoul, forcing Syngman Rhee and his government to flee. By mid-July North Korean troops had overwhelmed the South Korean and allied American units and forced them back to a defensive line in south-east South Korea known as the Pusan Perimeter. During its brief occupation of southern Korea, the DPRK regime initiated radical social change, which included the nationalisation of industry, land reform, and the restoration of the People’s Committees.According to the captured US General William F. Dean, “the civilian attitude seemed to vary between enthusiasm and passive acceptance”.
The United Nations condemned North Korea’s actions and approved an American-led intervention force to defend South Korea. In September, UN forces landed at Inchon and retook Seoul. Under the leadership of US General Douglas Macarthur, UN forces pushed north, reaching the Chinese border. According to Bruce Cumings, the North Korean forces were not routed, but managed a strategic retreat into the mountainous interior and into neighboring Manchuria. Kim Il-sung’s government re-established itself in a stronghold in Chagang Province. In late November, Chinese forces entered the war and pushed the UN forces back, retaking Pyongyang in December 1950 and Seoul in January 1951. According to Bruce Cumings, the Korean People’s Army played an equal part in this counterattack. UN forces managed to retake Seoul for South Korea. The war essentially became a bloody stalemate for the next two years.
2012 rehearsal in Pyongyang for Victory Day, marking the end of the war
American bombing included the use of napalm against populated areas and the destruction of dams and dykes, which caused devastating floods. China and North Korea also alleged the US was deploying biological weapons. As a result of the bombing, almost every substantial building and much of the infrastructure in North Korea was destroyed. The North Koreans responded by building homes, schools, hospitals, and factories underground. Economic output in 1953 had fallen by 75-90% compared with 1949.
While the bombing continued, armistice negotiations, that had commenced in July 1951, wore on. North Korea’s lead negotiator was General Nam Il. The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953. A ceasefire followed, but there was no peace treaty, and hostilities continued at a lower intensity.
Despite the failure of his attempt at unifying the nation under his rule, Kim Il-sung considered the war a victory in the sense that he remained in power. As a result, the North Korean media made the most of it by focusing entirely on the defeats suffered by the US and UN forces during the failed invasion of North Korea in late 1950. The armistice was celebrated in Pyongyang with a military parade in which Kim declared: “Despite their best efforts, the imperialist invaders were defeated with great loss in men and material.”
Kim began gradually consolidating his power. Up to this time, North Korean politics were represented by four factions: the Yan’an faction, made up of returnees from China; the “Soviet Koreans” who were ethnic Koreans from the USSR; native Korean communists led by Pak Hon-yong; and Kim’s Kapsan group who had fought guerrilla actions against Japan in the 1930s.
When the Worker’s Party Central Committee plenum opened on 30 August 1953 Choe Chang-ik made a speech attacking Kim for concentrating the power of the party and the state in his own hands as well as criticising the party line on industrialisation which ignored widespread starvation among the North Korean people. However, Kim neutralised the attack on him by promising to moderate the regime, promises which were never kept. The majority in the Central Committee voted to support Kim and also voted in favour of expelling Choe and Pak Hon-yong from the Central Committee. Eleven of Kim’s opponents were convicted in a show trial. It is believed that all were executed. A major purge of the KWP followed, with members originating from South Korea being expelled.
Pak Hon-yong, party vice chairman and Foreign Minister of the DPRK, was blamed for the failure of the southern population to support North Korea during the war, was dismissed from his positions in 1953, and was executed after a show-trial in 1955. Most of the South Korean leftists and communist sympathizers who defected to the North in 1945–1953 were also accused of espionage and other crimes, and subsequently killed, imprisoned, or exiled to remote agricultural and mining villages. Potential rivals from other groups such as Kim Tu-bong were also purged.
The Party Congress in 1956 indicated the transformation that the party had undergone. Most members of other factions had lost their positions of influence. More than half the delegates had joined after 1950, most were under 40 years old, and most had limited formal education.
In February 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made a sweeping denunciation of Stalin, which sent shock waves throughout the Communist world. Encouraged by this, members of the party leadership in North Korea began to criticize Kim’s dictatorial leadership, personality cult, and Stalinist economic policies. They were defeated by Kim at the August Plenum of the party. By 1960, 70 per cent of the members of the 1956 Central Committee were no longer in politics.
Kim Il-sung had initially been criticized by the Soviets during a previous 1955 visit to Moscow for practicing Stalinism and a cult of personality, which was already growing enormous. The Korean ambassador to the USSR, Li Sangjo, a member of the Yan’an faction, reported that it had become a criminal offense to so much as write on Kim’s picture in a newspaper and that he had been elevated to the status of Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin in the communist pantheon. He also charged Kim with rewriting history to appear as if his guerrilla faction had single-handedly liberated Korea from the Japanese, completely ignoring the assistance of the Chinese Communist Party. In addition, Li stated that in the process of agricultural collectivization, grain was being forcibly confiscated from the peasants, leading to “at least 300 suicides” and that Kim made nearly all major policy decisions and appointments himself. Li reported that over 30,000 people were in prison for completely unjust and arbitrary reasons as trivial as not printing Kim Il-sung’s portrait on sufficient quality paper or using newspapers with his picture to wrap parcels. Grain confiscation and tax collection were also conducted forcibly with violence, beatings, and imprisonment. During Kim Il-sung’s Moscow visit, the Soviets recommended that he discard the personality cult, adhere to the ideas of collective leadership, remove falsified history accounts from textbooks, and work towards improving the living standards of the Korean people, which remained poor and below prewar standards. Foodstuffs during the initial postwar period were rationed and extremely expensive, as were consumer items. By comparison, South Korea, which had less of an industrial base than the DPRK, had a better food supply and was also flooded with American goods although it should be noted that the overall destruction there during the war was smaller.
In late 1968, known military opponents of North Korea’s Juche ideology such as Kim Chang-bong (minister of National Security), Huh Bong-hak (chief of the Division for Southern Intelligence) and Lee Young-ho(commander in chief of the DPRK Navy) were purged as anti-party/counter-revolutionary elements, despite their credentials as anti-Japanese guerrilla fighters in the past.
Kim’s personality cult was modeled on Stalinism and his regime originally acknowledged Stalin as the supreme leader. After Stalin’s death in 1953, however, Kim was described as the “Great Leader” or “Suryong”. As his personality cult grew, the doctrine of Juche (or self-reliance) began to displace Marxism–Leninism. At the same time the cult extended beyond Kim himself to include his family in a revolutionary blood line. In 1972, to celebrate Kim Il-sung’s birthday, the Mansu Hill Grand Monument was unveiled, including a 22-meter bronze statue of him.
Like Mao in China, Kim Il-sung refused to accept Nikita Khrushchev‘s denunciation of Stalin and continued to model his regime on Stalinist norms. At the same time, he increasingly stressed Korean independence, as embodied in the concept of Juche. Kim told Alexei Kosygin in 1965 that he was not anyone’s puppet and “We…implement the purest Marxism and condemn as false both the Chinese admixtures and the errors of the CPSU”.
Relations with China had worsened during the war. Mao Zedong criticized Kim for having started the whole “idiotic war” and for being an incompetent military commander who should have been removed from power. PLA commander Peng Dehuai was equally contemptuous of Kim’s skills at waging war.
By some analysis, Kim Il-sung remained in power partially because the Soviets turned their attention to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 that fall. The Soviets and Chinese were unable to stop the inevitable purge of Kim’s domestic opponents or his move towards a one-man Stalinist autocracy and relations with both countries deteriorated in the former’s case because of the elimination of the pro-Soviet Koreans and the latter because of the regime’s refusal to acknowledge Chinese assistance in either liberation from the Japanese or the war in 1950-53.
Stalin continued to be honored in North Korea long after his death in 1953, and a street in Pyongyang bore his name until 1980. By contrast, neighboring Chinese leader Mao Zedong was mostly ignored and Kim Il-sung rejected most of his policies such as the Hundred Flowers Campaign and (later) the Cultural Revolution.
The captured USS Pueblo being visited by tourists in Pyongyang
Tensions between North and South escalated in the late 1960s with a series of low-level armed clashes known as the Korean DMZ Conflict. In 1966, Kim declared “liberation of the south” to be a “national duty”. In 1968, North Korean commandos launched the Blue House Raid, an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the South Korean President Park Chung-hee. Shortly after, the US spy ship Pueblo was captured by the North Korean navy. The crew were held captive throughout the year despite American protests that the vessel was in international waters and finally released in December after a formal US apology was issued. In April 1969 North Korea shot down an EC-121 aircraft, killing everyone on board. The Nixon administration found itself unable to react at all, since the US was heavily committed in Vietnam and had no troops to spare if the situation in Korea escalated. However, the Pueblo capture and EC-121 shootdown did not find approval in Moscow, as the Soviet Union did not want a second major war to erupt in Asia. China’s response to the USS Pueblo crisis is less clear.
After Khrushchev was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev as Soviet Leader in 1964, and with the incentive of Soviet aid, North Korea strengthened its ties with the USSR. Kim condemned China’s Cultural Revolution as “unbelievable idiocy”. In turn, China’s Red Guards labelled him a “fat revisionist”. But by 1970, most of the storm clouds of the Cultural Revolution had blown away and relations with China quickly returned to normal. Chinese premier Zhou Enlai visited Pyongyang that year and apologized for the attacks made on Kim by the Red Guards. At the same time, the Soviets were again criticized by both Chinese and North Korean officials for being too soft on the United States. The Cultural Revolution was now viewed in North Korea as an excellent idea and “completely correct”.
In 1972, the first formal summit meeting between Pyongyang and Seoul was held, but the cautious talks did not lead to a lasting change in the relationship.
With the fall of South Vietnam to the North Vietnamese on April 30, 1975, Kim Il-sung began to feel that the US had shown its weakness and that reunification of Korea under his regime was finally possible. Kim visited Beijing in May 1975 in the hope of gaining political and military support for this plan to invade South Korea again, but Mao Zedong refused. Despite public proclamations of support, Mao privately told Kim that China would be unable to assist North Korea this time because of the lingering after-effects of the Cultural Revolution throughout China, and also because Mao had recently decided to restore diplomatic relations with the US. Afterwards, Kim went home empty-handed.
Reconstruction of the country after the war proceeded with extensive Chinese and Soviet assistance. Koreans with experience in Japanese industries also played a significant part.Land was collectivized between 1953 and 1958. Resistance appears to have been minimal as landlords had been eliminated by the earlier reforms or during the war.
Although developmental debates took place within the Workers’ Party of Korea in the 1950s, North Korea, like all the postwar communist states, undertook massive state investment in heavy industry, state infrastructure and military strength, neglecting the production of consumer goods.
The first Three Year Plan (1954–1956) introduced the concept of Juche or self-reliance. The first Five Year Plan (1957-1961) consolidated the collectivization of agriculture and initiated mass mobilizations campaigns: the Chollima Movement, the Chongsan-ni system in agriculture and the Taean Work System in industry. The Chollima Movement was influenced by China’s Great Leap Forward, but did not have its disastrous results.Industry was fully nationalized by 1959. Taxation on agricultural income was abolished in 1966.
North Korea was placed on a semi-war footing, with equal emphasis being given to the civilian and military economies. This was expressed in the 1962 Party Plenum by the slogan, “Arms in one hand and a hammer and sickle in the other!” At a special party conference in 1966, members of the leadership who opposed the military build-up were removed.
On the ruins left by the war, North Korea had built an industrialized command economy. Che Guevara, then a Cuban government minister, visited North Korea in 1960, and proclaimed it a model for Cuba to follow. In 1965, the British economist Joan Robinson described North Korea’s economic development as a “miracle”. As late as the 1970s, its GDP per capita was estimated to be equivalent to South Korea’s. By 1968, all homes had electricity, though the supply was unreliable. By 1972, all children from age 5 to 16 were enrolled in school, and over 200 universities and specialized colleges had been established. By the early 1980s, 60–70% of the population was urbanized.
Decline and crisis
North Korean village in the Yalu River delta
In the 1970s, expansion of North Korea’s economy, with the accompanying rise in living standards, came to an end. Compounding this was a decision to borrow foreign capital and invest heavily in military industries. North Korea’s desire to lessen its dependence on aid from China and the Soviet Union prompted the expansion of its military power, which had begun in the second half of the 1960s. The government believed such expenditures could be covered by foreign borrowing and increased sales of its mineral wealth in the international market. North Korea invested heavily in its mining industries and purchased a large quantity of mineral extraction infrastructure from abroad. It also purchased entire petrochemical, textile, concrete, steel, pulp and paper manufacturing plants from the developed capitalist world. This included a Japanese-Danish venture that provided North Korea with the largest cement factory in the world. However, following the world 1973 oil crisis, international prices for many of North Korea’s native minerals fell, leaving the country with large debts and an inability to pay them off and still provide a high level of social welfare to its people. North Korea began to default in 1974 and halted almost all repayments in 1985. As a result, it was unable to pay for Western technology.
Worsening this already poor situation, the centrally planned economy, which emphasized heavy industry had reached the limits of its productive potential in North Korea. Juche’s repeated demands that North Koreans learn to build and innovate domestically had run its course as had the ability of North Koreans to keep technological pace with other industrialized nations. By the mid to late-1970s some parts of the capitalist world, including South Korea, were creating new industries based around computers, electronics, and other advanced technology in contrast to North Korea’s Stalinist economy of mining and steel production. Migration to urban areas stalled.
Despite the emerging economic problems, the regime invested heavily on prestigious projects, such as the Juche Tower, the Nampo Dam, and the Ryugyong Hotel. In 1989, as a response to the 1988 Seoul Olympics it held the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students in Pyongyang. In fact, the grandiosity associated with the regime and its personality cult, as expressed in monuments, museums, and events, has been identified as a factor in the economic decline.
In 1984 Kim visited Moscow during a grand tour of the USSR where he met Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko. Kim also made public visits to East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Soviet involvement in the North Korean economy increased, until 1988 when bilateral trade peaked at US$2.8 billion. In 1986, Kim met the incoming Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and received a pledge of support.
However, Gorbachev’s reforms and diplomatic initiatives, the Chinese economic reforms starting in 1979, and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc from 1989 to 1991 increased North Korea’s isolation. The leadership in Pyongyang responded by proclaiming that the collapse of the Eastern Bloc demonstrated the correctness of the policy of Juche.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 deprived North Korea of its main source of economic aid, leaving China as the isolated regime’s only major ally. Without Soviet aid, North Korea’s economy went into a free-fall. By this time in the early 1990s, Kim Jong-il was already conducting most of the day-to-day activities of running of the state. Meanwhile, international tensions were rising over North Korean’s quest for nuclear weapons. Former US president Jimmy Carter made a visit to Pyongyang in June 1994 in which he met with Kim and returned proclaiming that he had resolved the crisis.
Succession by Kim Jong-il
Portraits of Kim Il-sung and his son and successor Kim Jong-il
Kim Il-sung died from a sudden heart attack on July 8, 1994, three weeks after the Carter visit. His son, Kim Jong-il, who had already assumed key positions in the government, succeeded as General-Secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party. At that time, North Korea had no secretary-general in the party nor a president. Minimal legal procedure that had been established was summarily ignored. Although a new constitution appeared to end the war-time political system, it did not completely terminate the transitional military rule. Rather it legitimized and institutionalized military rule by making the National Defense Commission (NDC) the most important state organization and its chairman the highest authority. After three years of consolidating his power, Kim Jong-il became Chairman of the NDC on October 8, 1997, a position described by the NDC as the nation’s “highest administrative authority,” and thus North Korea’s de facto head of state. His succession had been foreshadowed in 1980, when he was introduced to the public at the Sixth Party Congress. In 1982, Kim Jong-il had established himself as a leading theoretician with the publication of On the Juche Idea. In 1984, he had been officially confirmed as his father’s successor.
Meanwhile, the economy was in steep decline. In 1990-1995, foreign trade was cut in half, with the loss of subsidized Soviet oil being particularly keenly felt. The crisis came to a head in 1995 with widespread flooding that destroyed crops and infrastructure, leading to a famine that lasted till 1998. At the same time, there appeared to be little significant internal opposition to the regime. Indeed, a great many of the North Koreans fleeing to China because of famine still showed significant support for the government as well as pride in their homeland. Many of these people reportedly returned to North Korea after earning sufficient money.
In 1998 the government announced a new policy called “Songun“, or “Military First”. This suggested that the Korean People’s Army was now more powerful than the Korean Workers’ Party.
President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea actively attempted to reduce tensions between the two Koreas under the Sunshine Policy, but this produced few immediate results. Since the election of George W. Bush as the President of the United States in 2000, North Korea has faced renewed external pressure over its nuclear program, reducing the prospect of international economic assistance.
In 2002, Kim Jong-il declared that “money should be capable of measuring the worth of all commodities”, followed by some small market-oriented measures, and the creation of the Kaesong Industrial Region with transport links to South Korea was announced. Experiments are under way to allow factory managers to fire underperforming workers and give bonuses. China’s investments increased to $200 million in 2004.
On October 9, 2006, North Korea has announced that it had successfully detonated a nuclear device underground at 10:36 am local time without any radiation leak. An official at South Korea’s seismic monitoring center confirmed a magnitude-3.6 tremor felt at the time North Korea said it conducted the test was not a natural occurrence.
Additionally, North Korea was running a missile development program. In 1998, North Korea tested a Taepondong-1 Space Launch Vehicle, which successfully launched but failed to reach orbit. On July 5, 2006, they tested a Taepodong-2 ICBM that reportedly could reach the west coast of the U.S. in the 2-stage version, or the entire U.S. with a third stage. However, the missile failed shortly after launch, so it is unknown what its exact capabilities are or how close North Korea is to perfecting the technology.
North Korea’s advancements in weapons technology appear to give them leverage in ongoing negotiations with the United Nations and other countries. On February 13, 2007, North Korea signed an agreement with South Korea, the United States, Russia, China, and Japan, which stipulated North Korea would shut down itsYongbyon nuclear reactor in exchange for economic and energy assistance. However, in 2009 the North continued its nuclear test program.
Kim Jong-Il died on December 17, 2011 and was quickly succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un. Tensions between North Korea and other countries increased due to its rocket launches and nuclear bomb testing, and UN sanctions have been tightened.
In 2015, North Korea adopted Pyongyang Standard Time (UTC+08.30), reversing the change to Japan Standard Time (UTC+9.00) which had been imposed by the Japanese Empire. As a result, North Korea was in a different time zone from South Korea.
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“Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted,”
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Rep. Mo Brooks Files A Bill To Repeal Obamacare
Published on Mar 27, 2017
On the same day that the House of Representatives canceled its vote on Ryancare, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks filed a simple one-line bill to repeal Obama’s signature health care law.
The Huntsville Republican titled the bill ‘Obamacare Repeal Act.” It is short and to the point, AI.com reported. “Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted,” the bill reads.
Brooks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told constituents last week that he was a “no” vote on the Obamacare repeal/replace bill offered by Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Also last week, in an interview with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow, Brooks called the Speaker’s bill “a horrible replacement bill.”
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Is The House Freedom Caucus Unwilling to take “Yes” For an Answer?
Freedom Caucus’s reasonable demand on Obamacare repeal
By WASHINGTON EXAMINER•3/31/17 12:01 AM
President Trump and most of official Washington blames the House Freedom Caucus for the death of the American Health Care Act. There is some, but not complete, justification for this.
But the Freedom Caucus’s top members have since laid out a clear path to passage or repeal and replace, and are showing a willingness to compromise. They have made a perfectly reasonable and prudent bid in the negotiation.
If the White House, Speaker Paul Ryan, and Republican centrists actually want to repeal and replace Obamacare, they should accept the Freedom Caucus’s offer. If they reject it, it will demonstrate that they didn’t mean it when they campaigned for election on a platform that included killing the 2010 law.
Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows laid out his conditions in an editorial board meeting at the Washington Examiner Thursday.
The Affordable Health Care Act repealed the employer mandate and the individual mandate. That’s two of Obamacare’s 12 mandates, by Meadows’ count.
“The Freedom Caucus has asked for two [more] to be included in the repeal,” Meadows said, “which would bring us to a total of four of the twelve Obamacare mandates. That’s our ask: These Obamacare mandates repealed in exchange for Yes votes.”
The Essential Health Benefits and “Community Rating” are the two regulations the Freedom Caucus wants dead.
Meadows said that with this change the legislation could probably win over most Freedom Caucus members. “With the text that actually repeals the two mandates, the EHBs and the community rating, it would bring the vast majority of the Freedom Caucus to yes”
This is a major concession. It means the Freedom Caucus is not demanding full repeal. It’s allowing most Obamacare mandates to stay in place, in order to assuage centrists. A week ago, through an amendment that leaked out but never saw congressional action, the Freedom Caucus was asking for a repeal of the rule barring lifetime limits, among other deregulations.
“We have come from six requests down to two,” Meadows said Thursday.
Meadows also said he can swallow the AHCA’s refundable tax credits, which amount to federal spending and a new entitlement. “We got over that three weeks ago… We fully believe we’re creating a new entitlement by doing that. That being said, our main goal, our only goal, is to lower premiums.”
Axing EHB and community rating regulations are the way to lower premiums.
Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits regulation outlaws insurance plans that don’t include sufficient coverage of a long list of treatments and services. This outlaws more affordable health insurance plans and forces people to carry more insurance than they want.
Centrists may balk at repealing these because Democrats get away with gross misrepresentation of the effect of this move.
Just because EHBs require coverage for ambulance rides doesn’t mean you couldn’t buy ambulance coverage if the regulations were repealed. First, other state and federal mandates on minimum coverage already exist. But even without mandates insurers, being businesses, tend to sell people products they want to buy. And if people want maternity coverage, they can buy maternity coverage. A thing need not be mandated to be available. It’s the difference between “may” and “must.”
“Community Rating” is the name for Obamacare’s price controls on premiums. An insurer can’t raise premiums on risky individuals without also raising premiums on less risky individuals. The result is that everyone’s premiums go up.
“Every major healthcare policy expert says” those two regs “are the two that most drive healthcare premiums up,” Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan said. “So you have to get those repealed.”
These are sound requests. They would bring down insurance premiums and untangle some of the regulatory web Obamacare has woven. So the stage is set for an Obamacare replacement compromise: keep the tax credits from the first bill, keep most of Obamacare’s mandates, keep the incomplete Medicaid reform. Just kill these two costly regulations.
But Republican centrists might not accept this deal. “We’re talking about asking for a little over 15 percent of the Obamacare mandates to be repealed,” Meadows said, “and we can’t get a yes for that?”
“We’re willing to give the moderates something they want, whether it’s on Medicaid expansion or additional monies for perhaps something they say that was being pulled out. But in the end, the request is pretty simple: two of 12 Obamacare mandates.”
“The narrative is out there that we’ve moved the goalposts,” Meadows said. “Well, we have. We’ve moved them much closer so all they have to do is kick a little chip shot…”
The House Freedom Caucus has often been obstinate and sometimes wrong. This time, they’re being flexible, and they are right on the substance. The Speaker and the president should take them up on their offer. If this still doesn’t get 216 votes, then the problem isn’t the stubborn conservatives, it’s the supposedly reasonable centrists.
Even among Republicans, only 41 percent support the American Health Care Act, while 24 percent oppose it. And 80 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Independent voters disapprove of the plan.
Republicans are scrambling to shore up support for the repeal-and-replace bill ahead of an expected House vote later Thursday. President Trump is meeting with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who are seeking a number of changes to the bill in exchange for their support.But centrist Republicans are fleeing from the bill as it changes to fit the conservatives’ desires, complicating efforts to get the bill passed in the House.
The poll found that 46 percent of voters say they will be less likely to vote for their Congressional representative if they vote to approve the GOP health insurance plan.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from March 16 to 21 and surveyed 1,056 voters. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.
Community rating is a concept usually associated with health insurance, which requires health insurance providers to offer health insurance policies within a given territory at the same price to all persons without medical underwriting, regardless of their health status.
Pure community rating prohibits insurance rate variations based on demographic characteristics such as age or gender, whereas adjusted or modified community rating allows insurance rate variations based on demographic characteristics such as age or gender.
Community rating, as a basis for premium calculation, is fundamentally different from the usual method of determining insurance premiums, i.e. risk rating. In a risk rated insurance market, an insurer calculates the premium payable by a potential policy holder in order to enter into an insurance contract on the basis of various factors particular to that individual, such as the risk of a claim occurring, and the value of any such claims during the term of an insurance policy. In a community rated market, the insurer may not calculate premium on the basis of the risk factors attaching to the particular person wishing to purchase an insurance contract, but rather the risk factors applying to all persons within the market as a whole. Thus, in a community rated market, the insurer evaluates the risk factors of market population, and not those of any one person when calculating premiums. Some form of risk equalization also often exists in a community rated system.
Health insurers vary premium rates based on case characteristics, such as:
health status and claims history
Community rating — prohibits insurers from varying rates based on health status or claims history
Pure community rating — allows insurers to vary rates based on benefit design and family composition only
Limited variation in rates by geographic area is sometimes included in the pure community rating category (e.g. New York City)
Adjusted (modified) community rating — allows insurers to also vary rates based on demographic characteristics (e.g. age and gender) and lifestyle factors (e.g. tobacco use)
Guaranteed issue — requires insurers to issue insurance to any eligible applicant without regard to health status or other case characteristics
Community rating of supplemental private health insurance:
Australia,Ireland — lifetime community rating of private hospital insurance supplemental to universal publicly financed hospital insurance
Community rating of basic private health insurance:
Netherlands — age and gender rating illegal = pure community rating; individual guaranteed issue
individual mandate with low-income government subsidies for 40% of households
Switzerland — age and gender rating illegal = pure community rating; individual guaranteed issue
individual mandate with low-income government subsidies for 40% of households
Essential health benefits must be offered by health plans in individual and small group markets, both inside and outside of the Health Insurance Marketplace. Large-group health plans, self-insured ERISA plans, and ERISA-governed multiemployer welfare arrangements not subject to state insurance law are exempt from the EHB requirement.
Essential health benefits
The ACA sets forth the following ten categories of essential health benefits, at Section 1302(b)(1) of the Affordable Care Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 18022(b):
The essential health benefits are a minimum standard: “Qualified health plans are not barred from offering additional benefits, and states may require that qualified health plans sold in state health insurance exchanges also cover state-mandated benefits.”
The ACA’s list of essential health benefits is defined in terms of ten broad classes. The act gives “considerable discretion” to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine, through regulation, what specific services within these classes are essential. However, the Act provides certain parameters for the secretary to consider. The secretary (1) must “ensure that such essential health benefits reflect an appropriate balance among the categories … so that benefits are not unduly weighted toward any category”; (2) may “not make coverage decisions, determine reimbursement rates, establish incentive programs, or design benefits in ways that discriminate against individuals because of their age, disability, or expected length of life”; (3) must take into account “the health care needs of diverse segments of the population, including women, children, persons with disabilities, and other groups”; and (4) must ensure that essential benefits “not be subject to denial to individuals against their wishes on the basis of the individuals’ age or expected length of life or the individuals’ present or predicted disability, degree of medical dependency, or quality of life.”
As it stands, federal regulations for 2014 and 2015 do not establish a single, nationally uniform package of health services. Instead, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave states discretion to determine the specific benefits they deem essential. This approach was well-received by many state officials, who valued the opportunity to tailor benefit standards to reflect state priorities, and by insurers, who retained more control over benefit design. Groups representing consumers and providers were less supportive, however, expressing concern that the degree of flexibility found in the rules undermines the law’s promise of consistent, meaningful coverage.
Dr. Shana Alex Lavarreda, the director of health insurance studies for the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, explains that before the ACA’s passage, U.S. health insurance sector experienced “a race to the bottom, with insurers cutting benefits to lower premiums.” The establishment of essential health benefits “set a standard for insurance. Anything below that is not true health insurance.” The EHB requirement came into effect on January 1, 2014.
Essential health benefits should not be confused with minimum essential coverage (MEC). MEC is the minimum amount of coverage that an individual must carry to meet the individual health insurance mandate, while EHBs are a set of benefits that qualified health plans (QHPs) must offer. MEC is a low threshold; many forms of coverage that do not provide essential health benefits are nevertheless considered minimum essential coverage.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and nicknamed Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by PresidentBarack Obama on March 23, 2010. Under the act, hospitals and primary physicians would transform their practices financially, technologically, and clinically to drive better health outcomes, lower costs, and improve their methods of distribution and accessibility.
The ACA has caused a significant reduction in the number and percentage of people without health insurance, with estimates ranging from 20-24 million additional persons covered during 2016. Increases in overall healthcare spending have slowed since the law was implemented, including premiums for employer-based insurance plans. The Congressional Budget Office reported in several studies that the ACA would reduce the budget deficit, and that repealing it would increase the deficit.
As implementation began, first opponents, then others, and finally the president himself adopted the term “Obamacare” to refer to the ACA.
The President and White House Staff react to the House of Representatives passing the bill on March 21, 2010.
The ACA includes provisions to take effect between 2010 and 2020, although most took effect on January 1, 2014. Few areas of the US health care system were left untouched, making it the most sweeping health care reform since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. However, some areas were more affected than others. The individual insurance market was radically overhauled, and many of the law’s regulations applied specifically to this market, while the structure of Medicare, Medicaid, and the employer marketwere largely retained. Most of the coverage gains were made through the expansion of Medicaid, and the biggest cost savings were made in Medicare. Some regulations applied to the employer market, and the law also made delivery system changes that affected most of the health care system. Not all provisions took full effect. Some were made discretionary, some were deferred, and others were repealed before implementation.
Guaranteed issue prohibits insurers from denying coverage to individuals due to pre-existing conditions. States were required to ensure the availability of insurance for individual children who did not have coverage via their families.
States were required to expand Medicaid eligibility to include individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level, including adults without disabilities or dependent children. The law provides a 5% “income disregard”, making the effective income eligibility limit for Medicaid 138% of the poverty level.
Dependents were permitted to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until their 26th birthday, including dependents that no longer live with their parents, are not a dependent on a parent’s tax return, are no longer a student, or are married.
Among the groups who remained uninsured were:
Illegal immigrants, estimated at around 8 million—or roughly a third of the 23 million projection—are ineligible for insurance subsidies and Medicaid. They remain eligible for emergency services.
Households with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level were eligible to receive federal subsidies for policies purchased via an exchange. Subsidies are provided as an advanceable, refundable tax credit Additionally, small businesses are eligible for a tax credit provided that they enroll in the SHOP Marketplace. Under the law, workers whose employers offer affordable coverage will not be eligible for subsidies via the exchanges. To be eligible the cost of employer-based health insurance must exceed 9.5% of the worker’s household income.
a.^ Note: In 2014, the FPL was $11,800 for a single person and $24,000 for family of four. See Subsidy Calculator for specific dollar amount. b.^DHHS and CBO estimate the average annual premium cost in 2014 would have been $11,328 for a family of 4 without the reform.
Premiums were the same for everyone of a given age, regardless of preexisting conditions. Premiums were allowed to vary by enrollee age, but those for the oldest enrollees (age 45-64 average expenses $5,542) could only be three times as large as those for adults (18-24 $1,836).
The purpose of the mandate was to prevent the healthcare system from succumbing to adverse selection, which would result in high premiums for the insured and little coverage (and thus more illness and medical bankruptcy) for the uninsured. Studies by the CBO, Gruber and Rand Health concluded that a mandate was required. The mandate increased the size and diversity of the insured population, including more young and healthy participants to broaden the risk pool, spreading costs. Experience in New Jersey and Massachusetts offered divergent outcomes.
Businesses that employ 50 or more people but do not offer health insurance to their full-time employees pay a tax penalty if the government has subsidized a full-time employee’s healthcare through tax deductions or other means. This is commonly known as the employer mandate. This provision was included to encourage employers to continue providing insurance once the exchanges began operating. Approximately 44% of the population was covered directly or indirectly through an employer.
Excise taxes for the Affordable Care Act raised $16.3 billion in fiscal year 2015 (17% of all excise taxes collected by the Federal Government). $11.3 billion was an excise tax placed directly on health insurers based on their market share. The ACA was going to impose a 40% “Cadillac tax” on expensive employer sponsored health insurance but that was postponed until 2018. Annual excise taxes totaling $3 billion were levied on importers and manufacturers of prescription drugs. An excise tax of 2.3% on medical devices and a 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services were applied as well.
Essential health benefits
The National Academy of Medicine defined the law’s “essential health benefits” as “ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care” and others rated Level A or B by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In determining what would qualify as an essential benefit, the law required that standard benefits should offer at least that of a “typical employer plan”. States may require additional services.
One provision in the law mandates that health insurance cover “additional preventive care and screenings” for women. The guidelines mandate “[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity”. This mandate applies to all employers and educational institutions except for religious organizations. These regulations were included on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine.
ACA provided three ways to control risk for insurers in the individual and business markets: temporary reinsurance, temporary risk corridors, and permanent risk adjustment.
Risk corridor program
The risk-corridor program was a temporary risk management device defined under the PPACA section 1342:1 to encourage reluctant insurers into the “new and untested” ACA insurance market during the first three years that ACA was implemented (2014-2016). For those years the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “would cover some of the losses for insurers whose plans performed worse than they expected. Insurers that were especially profitable, for their part, would have to return to HHS some of the money they earned on the exchanges” According to an article in Forbes, risk corridors “had been a successful part of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and the ACA’s risk corridors were modeled after Medicare’s Plan D.” They operated on the principle that “more participation would mean more competition, which would drive down premiums and make health insurance more affordable” and “[w]hen insurers signed up to sell health plans on the exchanges, they did so with the expectation that the risk-corridor program would limit their downside losses.” The risk corridors succeeded in attracting ACA insurers. The program did not pay for itself as planned with “accumulated losses” up to $8.3 billion for 2014 and 2015 alone. Authorization had to be given so that HHS could pay insurers from “general government revenues”. Congressional Republicans “railed against” the program as a ‘bailout’ for insurers. Then-Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), on the Appropriations Committee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department “[slipped] in a sentence” — Section 227 — in the “massive” appropriationsConsolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 3547) that said that no funds in the discretionary spending bill “could be used for risk-corridor payments.” This effectively “blocked the administration from obtaining the necessary funds from other programs” and placed Congress in a potential breach of contract with insurers who offered qualified health plans, under the Tucker Act as it did not pay the insurers. On February 10, 2017, in the Moda Health v the US Government, Moda, one of the insurers that struggled financially because of the elimination of the risk corridor program, won a “$214-million judgment against the federal government”. Justice Thomas C. Wheeler stated, “the Government “made a promise in the risk corridors program that it has yet to fulfill. Today, the court directs the Government to fulfill that promise. After all, ‘to say to [Moda], ‘The joke is on you. You shouldn’t have trusted us,’ is hardly worthy of our great government.”
Temporary reinsurance for insurance for insurers against unexpectedly high claims was a program that ran from 2014 through 2016. It was intended to limit insurer losses.
Of the three risk management programs, only risk adjustment was permanent. Risk adjustment attempts to spread risk among insurers to prevent purchasers with good knowledge of their medical needs from using insurance to cover their costs (adverse selection). Plans with low actuarial risk compensate plans with high actuarial risk.
All health policies sold in the United States must provide an annual maximum out of pocket (MOOP) payment cap for an individual’s or family’s medical expenses (excluding premiums). After the MOOP payment cap is reached, all remaining costs must be paid by the insurer.
A partial community rating requires insurers to offer the same premium to all applicants of the same age and location without regard to gender or most pre-existing conditions (excluding tobacco use). Premiums for older applicants can be no more than three times those for the youngest.
The law established four tiers of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. All categories offer the essential health benefits. The categories vary in their division of premiums and out-of-pocket costs: bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums and highest out-of-pocket costs, while platinum plans are the reverse. The percentages of health care costs that plans are expected to cover through premiums (as opposed to out-of-pocket costs) are, on average: 60% (bronze), 70% (silver), 80% (gold), and 90% (platinum).
Insurers are required to implement an appeals process for coverage determination and claims on all new plans.
Established the creation of health insurance exchanges in all fifty states. The exchanges are regulated, largely online marketplaces, administered by either federal or state government, where individuals and small business can purchase private insurance plans.
Setting up an exchange gives a state partial discretion on standards and prices of insurance. For example, states approve plans for sale, and influence (through limits on and negotiations with private insurers) the prices on offer. They can impose higher or state-specific coverage requirements—including whether plans offered in the state can cover abortion. States without an exchange do not have that discretion. The responsibility for operating their exchanges moves to the federal government.
From 2017 onwards, states can apply for a “waiver for state innovation” that allows them to conduct experiments that meet certain criteria. To obtain a waiver, a state must pass legislation setting up an alternative health system that provides insurance at least as comprehensive and as affordable as ACA, covers at least as many residents and does not increase the federal deficit. Such states can exempt states from some of ACA’s central requirements, including the individual and employer mandates and the provision of an insurance exchange. The state would receive compensation equal to the aggregate amount of any federal subsidies and tax credits for which its residents and employers would have been eligible under ACA plan, if they cannot be paid out due to the structure of the state plan.
The Act allowed the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which are groups of doctors, hospitals and other providers that commit to give coordinated, high quality care to Medicare patients. ACOs were allowed to continue using a fee for service billing approach. They receive bonus payments from the government for minimizing costs while achieving quality benchmarks that emphasize prevention and mitigating chronic disease. If they fail to do so, they are subject to penalties.
The 1993 Republican alternative, introduced by Senator John Chafee as the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act, contained a “universal coverage” requirement with a penalty for noncompliance—an individual mandate—as well as subsidies to be used in state-based ‘purchasing groups’. Advocates for the 1993 bill included prominent Republicans such as Senators Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennett and Kit Bond. Of 1993’s 43 Republican Senators, 20 supported the HEART Act. Another Republican proposal, introduced in 1994 by Senator Don Nickles (R-OK), the Consumer Choice Health Security Act, contained an individual mandate with a penalty provision; however, Nickles subsequently removed the mandate from the bill, stating he had decided “that government should not compel people to buy health insurance”. At the time of these proposals, Republicans did not raise constitutional issues with the mandate; Mark Pauly, who helped develop a proposal that included an individual mandate for George H. W. Bush, remarked, “I don’t remember that being raised at all. The way it was viewed by the Congressional Budget Office in 1994 was, effectively, as a tax.”
Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts went from 90% of its residents insured to 98%, the highest rate in the nation.
In 2006, an insurance expansion bill was enacted at the state level in Massachusetts. The bill contained both an individual mandate and an insurance exchange. Republican Governor Mitt Romney vetoed the mandate, but after Democrats overrode his veto, he signed it into law. Romney’s implementation of the ‘Health Connector’ exchange and individual mandate in Massachusetts was at first lauded by Republicans. During Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, Senator Jim DeMint praised Romney’s ability to “take some good conservative ideas, like private health insurance, and apply them to the need to have everyone insured”. Romney said of the individual mandate: “I’m proud of what we’ve done. If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing it, then that will be the model for the nation.”
By 2008 many Democrats were considering this approach as the basis for healthcare reform. Experts said that the legislation that eventually emerged from Congress in 2009 and 2010 bore similarities to the 2007 bill and that it was deliberately patterned after Romney’s state healthcare plan.
Healthcare reform was a major topic during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. As the race narrowed, attention focused on the plans presented by the two leading candidates, Hillary Clinton and the eventual nominee, Barack Obama. Each candidate proposed a plan to cover the approximately 45 million Americans estimated to not have health insurance at some point each year. Clinton’s proposal would have required all Americans to obtain coverage (in effect, an individual mandate), while Obama’s proposal provided a subsidy but rejected the use of an individual mandate.
During the general election, Obama said that fixing healthcare would be one of his top four priorities as president. Obama and his opponent, Sen. John McCain, proposed health insurance reforms though they differed greatly. Senator John McCain proposed tax credits for health insurance purchased in the individual market, which was estimated to reduce the number of uninsured people by about 2 million by 2018. Obama proposed private and public group insurance, income-based subsidies, consumer protections, and expansions of Medicaid and SCHIP, which was estimated at the time to reduce the number of uninsured people by 33.9 million by 2018.
After his inauguration, Obama announced to a joint session of Congress in February 2009 his intent to work with Congress to construct a plan for healthcare reform. By July, a series of bills were approved by committees within the House of Representatives. On the Senate side, from June to September, the Senate Finance Committee held a series of 31 meetings to develop a healthcare reform bill. This group — in particular, Democrats Max Baucus, Jeff Bingaman and Kent Conrad, along with Republicans Mike Enzi, Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe — met for more than 60 hours, and the principles that they discussed, in conjunction with the other committees, became the foundation of the Senate healthcare reform bill.
However, following the adoption of an individual mandate, Republicans came to oppose the mandate and threatened to filibuster any bills that contained it. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who led the Republican congressional strategy in responding to the bill, calculated that Republicans should not support the bill, and worked to prevent defections:
It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.
Republican Senators, including those who had supported previous bills with a similar mandate, began to describe the mandate as “unconstitutional”. Journalist Ezra Klein wrote in The New Yorker that “a policy that once enjoyed broad support within the Republican Party suddenly faced unified opposition.” Reporter Michael Cooper of The New York Times wrote that: “the provision … requiring all Americans to buy health insurance has its roots in conservative thinking.”
The reform negotiations also attracted attention from lobbyists, including deals between certain lobby groups and the advocates of the law to win the support of groups that had opposed past reforms, as in 1993. The Sunlight Foundation documented many of the reported ties between “the healthcare lobbyist complex” and politicians in both parties.
During the August 2009 summer congressional recess, many members went back to their districts and held town hall meetings on the proposals. The nascent Tea Party movement organized protests and many conservative groups and individuals attended the meetings to oppose the proposed reforms. Many threats were made against members of Congress over the course of the debate.
When Congress returned from recess, in September 2009 President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress supporting the ongoing Congressional negotiations. He acknowledged the polarization of the debate, and quoted a letter from the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy urging on reform: “what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.” On November 7, the House of Representatives passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act on a 220–215 vote and forwarded it to the Senate for passage.
The Senate began work on its own proposals while the House was still working. The United States Constitution requires all revenue-related bills to originate in the House. To formally comply with this requirement, the Senate used H.R. 3590, a bill regarding housing tax changes for service members. It had been passed by the House as a revenue-related modification to the Internal Revenue Code. The bill became the Senate’s vehicle for its healthcare reform proposal, discarding the bill’s original content. The bill ultimately incorporated elements of proposals that were reported favorably by the Senate Health and Finance committees. With the Republican Senate minority vowing to filibuster, 60 votes would be necessary to pass the Senate. At the start of the 111th Congress, Democrats had only 58 votes; the Senate seat in Minnesota ultimately won by Al Franken was still undergoing a recount, while Arlen Specter was still a Republican (he became a Democrat in April, 2009).
Negotiations were undertaken attempting to satisfy moderate Democrats and to bring Republican senators aboard; particular attention was given to Republicans Bennett, Enzi, Grassley and Snowe. On July 7 Franken was sworn into office, providing a potential 60th vote. On August 25 Ted Kennedy—a longtime healthcare reform advocate—died. Paul Kirk was appointed as Senator Kennedy’s temporary replacement on September 24.
After the Finance Committee vote on October 15, negotiations turned to moderate Democrats. Majority leader Harry Reid focused on satisfying centrists. The holdouts came down to Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who caucused with Democrats, and conservative Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson. Lieberman’s demand that the bill not include a public option was met, although supporters won various concessions, including allowing state-based public options such as Vermont’s Green Mountain Care.
Senate vote by state.
Democratic yes (58)
Independent yes (2)
Republican no (39)
Republican not voting (1)
The White House and Reid addressed Nelson’s concerns during a 13-hour negotiation with two concessions: a compromise on abortion, modifying the language of the bill “to give states the right to prohibit coverage of abortion within their own insurance exchanges”, which would require consumers to pay for the procedure out of pocket if the state so decided; and an amendment to offer a higher rate of Medicaid reimbursement for Nebraska. The latter half of the compromise was derisively termed the “Cornhusker Kickback” and was repealed in the subsequent reconciliation amendment bill.
On December 23, the Senate voted 60–39 to end debate on the bill: a cloture vote to end the filibuster. The bill then passed, also 60–39, on December 24, 2009, with all Democrats and two independents voting for it, and all Republicans against (except Jim Bunning, who did not vote). The bill was endorsed by the AMA and AARP.
Obama remained insistent on comprehensive reform. The news that Anthem Blue Cross in California intended to raise premium rates for its patients by as much as 39% gave him new evidence of the need for reform. On February 22, he laid out a “Senate-leaning” proposal to consolidate the bills. He held a meeting with both parties’ leaders on February 25. The Democrats decided that the House would pass the Senate’s bill, to avoid another Senate vote.
As per the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, reconciliation cannot be subject to a filibuster. But reconciliation is limited to budget changes, which is why the procedure was not used to pass ACA in the first place; the bill had inherently non-budgetary regulations. Although the already-passed Senate bill could not have been passed by reconciliation, most of House Democrats’ demands were budgetary: “these changes—higher subsidy levels, different kinds of taxes to pay for them, nixing the Nebraska Medicaid deal—mainly involve taxes and spending. In other words, they’re exactly the kinds of policies that are well-suited for reconciliation.”
The remaining obstacle was a pivotal group of pro-life Democrats led by Bart Stupak who were initially reluctant to support the bill. The group found the possibility of federal funding for abortion significant enough to warrant opposition. The Senate bill had not included language that satisfied their concerns, but they could not address abortion in the reconciliation bill as it would be non-budgetary. Instead, Obama issued Executive Order 13535, reaffirming the principles in the Hyde Amendment. This won the support of Stupak and members of his group and assured the bill’s passage. The House passed the Senate bill with a 219–212 vote on March 21, 2010, with 34 Democrats and all 178 Republicans voting against it. The next day, Republicans introduced legislation to repeal the bill. Obama signed ACA into law on March 23, 2010. Since passage, Republicans have voted to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act over sixty times; no such attempt by Republicans has been successful. The amendment bill, The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, cleared the House on March 21; the Senate passed it by reconciliation on March 25, and Obama signed it on March 30.
Coverage rate, employer market cost trends, budgetary impact, and income inequality aspects of the Affordable Care Act.
This chart illustrates several aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including number of persons covered, cost before and after subsidies, and public opinion.
The law has caused a significant reduction in the number and percentage of people without health insurance. The CDC reported that the percentage of people without health insurance fell from 16.0% in 2010 to 8.9% during the January–June 2016 period. From Q4-2013 to Q1-2016, a Gallup survey found that the uninsured rate among adults declined from 17.1% to 11.0%, a decline of 6.1 percentage points. In a 2016 review, Obama presented data showing that the uninsured rate had declined by 43%, from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015, mostly in 2014. The uninsured rate dropped in every congressional district in the U.S. between 2013 and 2015.
In March 2016, the CBO reported that there were approximately 27 million people without insurance in 2016, a figure they expected would range from 26-28 million through 2026. CBO also estimated the percentage of insured among all U.S. residents would remain at 90% through that period, 92-93% excluding unauthorized immigrants.
Those states that expanded Medicaid had a 7.3% uninsured rate on average in the first quarter of 2016, while those that did not expand Medicaid had a 14.1% uninsured rate, among adults aged 18 to 64. As of December 2016 there were 32 states (including Washington DC) that had adopted the Medicaid extension, while 19 states had not.
The Congressional Budget Office reported in March 2016 that there were approximately 12 million people covered by the exchanges (10 million of whom received subsidies to help pay for insurance) and 11 million made eligible for Medicaid by the law, a subtotal of 23 million people. An additional 1 million were covered by the ACA’s “Basic Health Program,” for a total of 24 million. CBO also estimated that the ACA would reduce the net number of uninsured by 22 million in 2016, using a slightly different computation for the above figures totaling ACA coverage of 26 million, less 4 million for reductions in “employment-based coverage” and “non-group and other coverage.” The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that 20.0 million adults (aged 18–64) gained healthcare coverage via ACA as of February 2016, a 2.4 million increase over September 2015. HHS estimated that this 20.0 million included: a) 17.7 million from the start of open enrollment in 2013-2016; and b) 2.3 million young adults aged 19–25 who initially gained insurance from 2010-2013, as they were allowed to remain on their parent’s plans until age 26. Of the 20.0 million, an estimated 6.1 million were aged 19–25.
By 2017, nearly 70% of those on the exchanges could purchase insurance for less than $75/month after subsidies, which rose to offset significant pre-subsidy price increases in the exchange markets. Healthcare premium cost increases in the employer market continued to moderate. For example, healthcare premiums for those covered by employers rose by 69% from 2000-2005, but only 27% from 2010 to 2015, with only a 3% increase from 2015 to 2016.
The ACA also helps reduce income inequality measured after taxes, due to higher taxes on the top 5% of income earners and both subsidies and Medicaid expansion for lower-income persons. CBO estimated that subsidies paid under the law in 2016 averaged $4,240 per person for 10 million individuals receiving them, roughly $42 billion. For scale, the subsidy for the employer market, in the form of exempting from taxation those health insurance premiums paid on behalf of employees by employers, was approximately $1,700 per person in 2016, or $266 billion total in the employer market. The employer market subsidy was not changed by the law.
As of August 2016, 15 states operated their own exchanges. Other states either used the federal exchange, or operated in partnership with or supported by the federal government.
As of December 2016 there were 32 states (including Washington DC) that had adopted the Medicaid extension, while 19 states had not. Those states that expanded Medicaid had a 7.3% uninsured rate on average in the first quarter of 2016, while those that did not expand Medicaid had a 14.1% uninsured rate, among adults aged 18 to 64. Following the Supreme Court ruling in 2012, which held that states would not lose Medicaid funding if they didn’t expand Medicaid under the ACA, several states rejected expanded Medicaid coverage. Over half of the national uninsured population lived in those states. In a report to Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that the cost of expansion was $6,366 per person for 2015, about 49 percent above previous estimates. An estimated 9 million to 10 million people had gained Medicaid coverage, mostly low-income adults. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated in October 2015 that 3.1 million additional people were not covered because of states that rejected the Medicaid expansion.
States that rejected the Medicaid expansion could maintain their Medicaid eligibility thresholds, which in many states were significantly below 133% of the poverty line.Many states did not make Medicaid available to childless adults at any income level. Because subsidies on exchange insurance plans were not available to those below the poverty line, such individuals had no new options. For example, in Kansas, where only able-bodied adults with children and with an income below 32% of the poverty line were eligible for Medicaid, those with incomes from 32% to 100% of the poverty level ($6,250 to $19,530 for a family of three) were ineligible for both Medicaid and federal subsidies to buy insurance. Absent children, able-bodied adults were not eligible for Medicaid in Kansas.
Studies of the impact of state decisions to reject the Medicaid expansion calculated that up to 6.4 million people could fall into this status. The federal government initially paid for 100% of the expansion (through 2016). The subsidy tapered to 90% by 2020 and continued to shrink thereafter. Several states argued that they could not afford their 10% contribution. Studies suggested that rejecting the expansion would cost more than expanding Medicaid due to increased spending on uncompensated emergency care that otherwise would have been partially paid for by Medicaid coverage,
A 2016 study led by Harvard University health economics professor Benjamin Sommers found that residents of Kentucky and Arkansas, which both accepted the Medicaid expansion, were more likely to receive health care services and less likely to incur emergency room costs or have trouble paying their medical bills than before the expansion. Residents of Texas, which did not accept the Medicaid expansion, did not see a similar improvement during the same period. Kentucky opted for increased managed care, while Arkansas subsidized private insurance. The new Arkansas and Kentucky governors have proposed reducing or modifying their programs. Between 2013 and 2015, the uninsured rate dropped from 42% to 14% in Arkansas and from 40% to 9% in Kentucky, compared with 39% to 32% in Texas. Specific improvements included additional primary and preventive care, fewer emergency departments visits, reported higher quality care, improved health, improved drug affordability, reduced out-of-pocket spending and increased outpatient visits, increased diabetes screening, glucose testing among diabetes patients and regular care for chronic conditions.
A 2016 DHHS study found that states that expanded Medicaid had lower premiums on exchange policies, because they had fewer low-income enrollees, whose health on is worse than that of those with higher income.
The law is designed to pay subsidies in the form of tax credits to the individuals or families purchasing the insurance, based on income levels. Higher income consumers receive lower subsidies. While pre-subsidy prices rose considerably from 2016 to 2017, so did the subsidies, to reduce the after-subsidy cost to the consumer. For example, a study published in 2016 found that the average requested 2017 premium increase among 40-year-old non-smokers was about 9 percent, according to an analysis of 17 cities, although Blue Cross Blue Shield proposed increases of 40 percent in Alabama and 60 percent in Texas. However, some or all of these costs are offset by subsidies, paid as tax credits. For example, the Kaiser Foundation reported that for the second-lowest cost “Silver plan” (a plan often selected and used as the benchmark for determining financial assistance), a 40-year old non-smoker making $30,000 per year would pay effectively the same amount in 2017 as they did in 2016 (about $208/month) after the subsidy/tax credit, despite large increases in the pre-subsidy price. This was consistent nationally. In other words, the subsidies increased along with the pre-subsidy price, fully offsetting the price increases.
Healthcare premium cost increases in the employer market continued to moderate after the implementation of the law. For example, healthcare premiums for those covered by employers rose by 69% from 2000-2005, but only 27% from 2010 to 2015, with only a 3% increase from 2015 to 2016. From 2008-2010 (prior to Obamacare) health insurance premiums rose by an average of 10% per year.
Several studies found that the financial crisis and accompanying recession could not account for the entirety of the slowdown and that structural changes likely share at least partial credit. A 2013 study estimated that changes to the health system had been responsible for about a quarter of the recent reduction in inflation. Paul Krawzak claimed that even if cost controls succeed in reducing the amount spent on healthcare, such efforts on their own may be insufficient to outweigh the long-term burden placed by demographic changes, particularly the growth of the population on Medicare.
In a 2016 review of the ACA published in JAMA, Barack Obama himself wrote that from 2010 through 2014 mean annual growth in real per-enrollee Medicare spending was negative, down from a mean of 4.7% per year from 2000 through 2005 and 2.4% per year from 2006 to 2010; similarly, mean real per-enrollee growth in private insurance spending was 1.1% per year over the period, compared with a mean of 6.5% from 2000 through 2005 and 3.4% from 2005 to 2010.
Effect on deductibles and co-payments
While health insurance premium costs have moderated, some of this is because of insurance policies that have a higher deductible, co-payments and out-of-pocket maximums that shift costs from insurers to patients. In addition, many employees are choosing to combine a health savings account with higher deductible plans, making the impact of the ACA difficult to determine precisely.
For those who obtain their insurance through their employer (“group market”), a 2016 survey found that:
Deductibles grew by 63% from 2011 to 2016, while premiums increased 19% and worker earnings grew by 11%.
In 2016, 4 in 5 workers had an insurance deductible, which averaged $1,478. For firms with less than 200 employees, the deductible averaged $2,069.
The percentage of workers with a deductible of at least $1,000 grew from 10% in 2006 to 51% in 2016. The 2016 figure drops to 38% after taking employer contributions into account.
For the “non-group” market, of which two-thirds are covered by the ACA exchanges, a survey of 2015 data found that:
49% had individual deductibles of at least $1,500 ($3,000 for family), up from 36% in 2014.
Many marketplace enrollees qualify for cost-sharing subsidies that reduce their net deductible.
While about 75% of enrollees were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their choice of doctors and hospitals, only 50% had such satisfaction with their annual deductible.
While 52% of those covered by the ACA exchanges felt “well protected” by their insurance, in the group market 63% felt that way.
Insurance coverage helps save lives, by encouraging early detection and prevention of dangerous medical conditions. According to a 2014 study, the ACA likely prevented an estimated 50,000 preventable patient deaths from 2010 to 2013.City University public health professors David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler wrote in January 2017 that a rollback of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion alone would cause an estimated 43,956 deaths annually.
The CBO reported in several studies that the ACA would reduce the deficit, and that repealing it would increase the deficit. The 2011 comprehensive CBO estimate projected a net deficit reduction of more than $200 billion during the 2012–2021 period: it calculated the law would result in $604 billion in total outlays offset by $813 billion in total receipts, resulting in a $210 billion net deficit reduction. The CBO separately predicted that while most of the spending provisions do not begin until 2014, revenue would exceed spending in those subsequent years. The CBO claimed that the bill would “substantially reduce the growth of Medicare’s payment rates for most services; impose an excise tax on insurance plans with relatively high premiums; and make various other changes to the federal tax code, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs”—ultimately extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by 8 years.
The CBO in June 2015 forecasted that repeal of ACA would increase the deficit between $137 billion and $353 billion over the 2016–2025 period, depending on the impact of macroeconomic feedback effects. The CBO also forecasted that repeal of ACA would likely cause an increase in GDP by an average of 0.7% in the period from 2021 to 2015, mainly by boosting the supply of labor.
Although the CBO generally does not provide cost estimates beyond the 10-year budget projection period because of the degree of uncertainty involved in the projection, it decided to do so in this case at the request of lawmakers, and estimated a second decade deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion. CBO predicted deficit reduction around a broad range of one-half percent of GDP over the 2020s while cautioning that “a wide range of changes could occur”.
Opinions on CBO projections
The CBO cost estimates were criticized because they excluded the effects of potential legislation that would increase Medicare payments by more than $200 billion from 2010 to 2019. However, the so-called “doc fix” is a separate issue that would have existed whether or not ACA became law – omitting its cost from ACA was no different from omitting the cost of other tax cuts.
Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton health economist, wrote. “The rigid, artificial rules under which the Congressional Budget Office must score proposed legislation unfortunately cannot produce the best unbiased forecasts of the likely fiscal impact of any legislation”, but went on to say “But even if the budget office errs significantly in its conclusion that the bill would actually help reduce the future federal deficit, I doubt that the financing of this bill will be anywhere near as fiscally irresponsible as was the financing of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.”Douglas Holtz-Eakin, CBO director during the George W. Bush administration, who later served as the chief economic policy adviser to U.S. Senator John McCain‘s 2008 presidential campaign, alleged that the bill would increase the deficit by $562 billion because, he argued, it front-loaded revenue and back-loaded benefits.
Scheiber and Cohn rejected critical assessments of the law’s deficit impact, arguing that predictions were biased towards underestimating deficit reduction. They noted that for example, it is easier to account for the cost of definite levels of subsidies to specified numbers of people than account for savings from preventive healthcare, and that the CBO had a track record of overestimating costs and underestimating savings of health legislation; stating, “innovations in the delivery of medical care, like greater use of electronic medical records and financial incentives for more coordination of care among doctors, would produce substantial savings while also slowing the relentless climb of medical expenses… But the CBO would not consider such savings in its calculations, because the innovations hadn’t really been tried on such large scale or in concert with one another—and that meant there wasn’t much hard data to prove the savings would materialize.”
In 2010 David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General then working for The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, stated that the CBO estimates are not likely to be accurate, because they were based on the assumption that the law would not change. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities objected that Congress had a good record of implementing Medicare savings. According to their study, Congress followed through on the implementation of the vast majority of provisions enacted in the past 20 years to produce Medicare savings, although not the payment reductions addressed by the annual “doc fix”.
CBO estimated in June 2015 that repealing the ACA would:
Decrease aggregate demand (GDP) in the short-term, as low-income persons who tend to spend a large fraction of their additional resources would have fewer resources (e.g., ACA subsidies would be eliminated). This effect would be offset in the long-run by the labor supply factors below.
Increase the supply of labor and aggregate compensation by about 0.8 and 0.9 percent over the 2021-2025 period. CBO cited the ACA’s expanded eligibility for Medicaid and subsidies and tax credits that rise with income as disincentives to work, so repealing the ACA would remove those disincentives, encouraging workers to supply more hours of labor.
Increase the total number of hours worked by about 1.5% over the 2021-2025 period.
Remove the higher tax rates on capital income, thereby encouraging additional investment, raising the capital stock and output in the long-run.
The CBO estimated that the ACA would slightly reduce the size of the labor force and number of hours worked, as some would no longer be tethered to employers for their insurance. Cohn, citing CBO’s projections, claimed that ACA’s primary employment effect was to alleviate job lock: “People who are only working because they desperately need employer-sponsored health insurance will no longer do so.” He concluded that the “reform’s only significant employment impact was a reduction in the labor force, primarily because people holding onto jobs just to keep insurance could finally retire”, because they have health insurance outside of their jobs.
The employer mandate requires employers meeting certain criteria to provide health insurance to their workers. The mandate applies to employers with more than 50 employees that do not offer health insurance to their full-time workers. Critics claimed that the mandate created a perverse incentive for business to keep their full-time headcount below 50 and to hire part-time workers instead. Between March 2010 and 2014 the number of part-time jobs declined by 230,000, while the number of full-time jobs increased by 2 million. In the public sector full-time jobs turned into part-time jobs much more than in the private sector. A 2016 study found only limited evidence that ACA had increased part-time employment.
Several businesses and the state of Virginia added a 29-hour-a-week cap for their part-time employees,[unreliable source?][unreliable source?] to reflect the 30-hour-or-more definition for full-time worker. As of yet, however, only a small percent of companies have shifted their workforce towards more part-time hours (4% in a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis). Trends in working hours and the effects of the Great Recession correlate with part-time working hour patterns. The impact of this provision may have been offset by other factors, including that health insurance helps attract and retain employees, increases productivity and reduces absenteeism; and the lower training and administration costs of a smaller full-time workforce over a larger part-time work force. Relatively few firms employ over 50 employees and more than 90% of them offered insurance. Workers without employer insurance could purchase insurance on the exchanges.
Most policy analysts (on both right and left) were critical of the employer mandate provision. They argued that the perverse incentives regarding part-time hours, even if they did not change existing plans, were real and harmful; that the raised marginal cost of the 50th worker for businesses could limit companies’ growth; that the costs of reporting and administration were not worth the costs of maintaining employer plans; and noted that the employer mandate was not essential to maintain adequate risk pools. The effects of the provision generated vocal opposition from business interests and some unions not granted exemptions.
A 2013/4 survey by the National Association for Business Economics found that about 75 percent of those surveyed said ACA hadn’t influenced their planning or expectations for 2014, and 85 percent said the law wouldn’t prompt a change in their hiring practices. Some 21 percent of 64 businesses surveyed said that the act would have a harmful effect and 5 percent said it would be beneficial.
From the start of 2010 to November 2014, 43 hospitals in rural areas closed. Critics claimed that the new law caused these hospitals to close. Many of these rural hospitals were built using funds from the 1946 Hill–Burton Act, to increase access to medical care in rural areas. Some of these hospitals reopened as other medical facilities, but only a small number operated emergency rooms (ER) or urgent care centers.
Between January 2010 and 2015, a quarter of emergency room doctors said they had seen a major surge in patients, while nearly half had seen a smaller increase. Seven in ten ER doctors claimed that they lacked the resources to deal with large increases in the number of patients. The biggest factor in the increased number of ER patients was insufficient primary care providers to handle the larger number of insured patients.
Insurers claimed that because they have access to and collect patient data that allow evaluations of interventions, they are essential to ACO success. Large insurers formed their own ACOs. Many hospitals merged and purchased physician practices. The increased market share gave them more leverage in negotiations with insurers over costs and reduced patient care options.
Prior to the law’s passage, polling indicated the public’s views became increasingly negative in reaction to specific plans discussed during the legislative debate over 2009 and 2010. Polling statistics showed a general negative opinion of the law; with those in favor at approximately 40% and those against at 51%, as of October 2013. About 29% of whites approve of the law, compared with 61% of Hispanics and 91% of African Americans.Opinions were divided by age of the person at the law’s inception, with a solid majority of seniors opposing the bill and a solid majority of those younger than forty years old in favor.
Congressional Democrats celebrating the 6th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act in March 2016 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Specific elements were popular across the political spectrum, while others, such as the mandate to purchase insurance, were widely disliked. In a 2012 poll 44% supported the law, with 56% against. By party affiliation, 75% of Democrats, 27% of Independents and 14% of Republicans favored the law overall. 82% favored banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, 61% favored allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, 72% supported requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employees, and 39% supported the individual mandate to own insurance or pay a penalty. By party affiliation, 19% of Republicans, 27% of Independents, and 59% of Democrats favored the mandate. Other polls showed additional provisions receiving majority support, including the creation of insurance exchanges, pooling small businesses and the uninsured with other consumers so that more people can take advantage of large group pricing benefits and providing subsidies to individuals and families to make health insurance more affordable.
In a 2010 poll, 62% of respondents said they thought ACA would “increase the amount of money they personally spend on health care”, 56% said the bill “gives the government too much involvement in health care”, and 19% said they thought they and their families would be better off with the legislation. Other polls found that people were concerned that the law would cost more than projected and would not do enough to control costs.
Some opponents believed that the reform did not go far enough: a 2012 poll indicated that 71% of Republican opponents rejected it overall, while 29% believed it did not go far enough; independent opponents were divided 67% to 33%; and among the much smaller group of Democratic opponents, 49% rejected it overall and 51% wanted more. In June 2013, a majority of the public (52–34%) indicated a desire for “Congress to implement or tinker with the law rather than repeal it”. After the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, a 2012 poll held that “most Americans (56%) want to see critics of President Obama’s health care law drop efforts to block it and move on to other national issues”.A 2014 poll reported that 48.9% of respondents had an unfavorable view of ACA vs. 38.3% who had a favorable view (of more than 5,500 individuals).
A 2014 poll reported that 26% of Americans support ACA. Another held that 8% of respondents say that the Affordable Care Act “is working well the way it is”. In late 2014, a Rasmussen poll reported Repeal: 30%, Leave as is: 13%, Improve: 52%, i.e., 65% wanted to leave ACA alone or improve upon it.
In 2015, a CBS News / New York Times poll reported that 47% of Americans approved the health care law. This was the first time that a major poll indicated that more respondents approved ACA than disapproved of it. The recurring Kaiser Health Tracking Poll from December 2016 reported that: a) 30% wanted to expand what the law does; b) 26% wanted to repeal the entire law; c) 19% wanted to move forward with implementing the law as it is; and d) 17% wanted to scale back what the law does, with the remainder undecided.
Separate polls from Fox News and NBC/WSJ both taken during January 2017 indicated more people viewed the law favorably than did not for the first time. One of the reasons for the improving popularity of the law is that Democrats who opposed it in the past (many prefer a “Medicare for All” approach) have shifted their positions since the ACA is under threat of repeal.
A January 2017 Morning Consult poll showed that 35% of respondents either believed that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were different or did not know. Approximately 45% were unsure whether the repeal of Obamacare also meant the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. 39% did not know that “many people would lose coverage through Medicaid or subsidies for private health insurance if the A.C.A. were repealed and no replacement enacted,” with Democrats far more likely (79%) to know that fact than Republicans (47%).
A 2017 study found that personal experience with public health insurance programs leads to greater support for the Affordable Care Act, and the effects appear to be most pronounced among Republicans and low-information voters.
The term “Obamacare” was originally coined by opponents as a pejorative. The term emerged in March 2007 when healthcare lobbyist Jeanne Schulte Scott used it in a health industry journal, writing “We will soon see a ‘Giuliani-care’ and ‘Obama-care’ to go along with ‘McCain-care’, ‘Edwards-care’, and a totally revamped and remodeled ‘Hillary-care‘ from the 1990s”. According to research by Elspeth Reeve, the expression was used in early 2007, generally by writers describing the candidate’s proposal for expanding coverage for the uninsured. It first appeared in a political campaign by Mitt Romney in May 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa. Romney said, “In my state, I worked on healthcare for some time. We had half a million people without insurance, and I said, ‘How can we get those people insured without raising taxes and without having government take over healthcare?’ And let me tell you, if we don’t do it, the Democrats will. If the Democrats do it, it will be socialized medicine; it’ll be government-managed care. It’ll be what’s known as Hillarycare or Barack Obamacare, or whatever you want to call it.”
By mid-2012, Obamacare had become the colloquial term used by both supporters and opponents. In contrast, the use of “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” or “Affordable Care Act” became limited to more formal and official use. Use of the term in a positive sense was suggested by Democrat John Conyers. Obama endorsed the nickname, saying, “I have no problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care.”
In March 2012, the Obama reelection campaign embraced the term “Obamacare”, urging Obama’s supporters to post Twitter messages that begin, “I like #Obamacare because…”.
In October 2013 the Associated Press and NPR began cutting back on use of the term. Stuart Seidel, NPR’s managing editor, said that the term “seems to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular”.
On August 7, 2009, Sarah Palin pioneered the term “death panels” to describe groups that would decide whether sick patients were “worthy” of medical care. “Death panel” referred to two claims about early drafts.
One was that under the law, seniors could be denied care due to their age and the other that the government would advise seniors to end their lives instead of receiving care. The ostensible basis of these claims was the provision for an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). IPAB was given the authority to recommend cost-saving changes to Medicare by facilitating the adoption of cost-effective treatments and cost-recovering measures when the statutory levels set for Medicare were exceeded within any given 3-year period. In fact, the Board was prohibited from recommending changes that would reduce payments to certain providers before 2020, and was prohibited from recommending changes in premiums, benefits, eligibility and taxes, or other changes that would result in rationing.
The other related issue concerned advance-care planning consultation: a section of the House reform proposal would have reimbursed physicians for providing patient-requested consultations for Medicare recipients on end-of-life health planning (which is covered by many private plans), enabling patients to specify, on request, the kind of care they wished to receive. The provision was not included in ACA.
ACA does not provide benefits to illegal immigrants. It explicitly denies insurance subsidies to “unauthorized (illegal) aliens”.
Exchange “death spiral”
One argument against the ACA is that the insurers are leaving the marketplaces, as they cannot profitably cover the available pool of customers, which contains too many unhealthy participants relative to healthy participants. A scenario where prices rise, due to an unfavorable mix of customers from the insurer’s perspective, resulting in fewer customers and fewer insurers in the marketplace, further raising prices, has been called a “Death Spiral.”During 2017, the median number of insurers offering plans on the ACA exchanges in each state was 3.0, meaning half the states had more and half had fewer insurers. There were five states with one insurer in 2017; 13 states with two; 11 states with three; and the remainder had four insurers or more. Wisconsin had the most, with 15 insurers in the marketplace. The median number of insurers was 4.0 in 2016, 5.0 in 2015, and 4.0 in 2014.
Further, the CBO reported in January 2017 that it expected enrollment in the exchanges to rise from 10 million during 2017 to 13 million by 2027, assuming laws in place at the end of the Obama administration were continued. Following a 2015 CBO report that reached a similar conclusion, Paul Krugman wrote: “But the truth is that this report is much, much closer to what supporters of reform have said than it is to the scare stories of the critics–no death spirals, no job-killing, major gains in coverage at relatively low cost.”
Opposition and efforts to repeal the legislation have drawn support from sources that include labor unions,conservative advocacy groups, Republicans, small business organizations and the Tea Party movement. These groups claimed that the law would disrupt existing health plans, increase costs from new insurance standards, and increase the deficit. Some opposed the idea of universal healthcare, viewing insurance as similar to other unsubsidized goods. President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to “repeal and replace” it.
In October 2016, Mark Dayton, the governor of Minnesota and a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, said that the ACA had “many good features” but that it was “no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people” and called on the Minnesota legislature to provide emergency relief to policyholders. Dayton later said he regretted his remarks after they were seized on by Republicans seeking to repeal the law.
The Court further determined that states could not be forced to participate in the Medicaid expansion. ACA withheld all Medicaid funding from states declining to participate in the expansion. The Court ruled that this withdrawal of funding was unconstitutionally coercive and that individual states had the right to opt out without losing preexisting Medicaid funding.
On June 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6–3 that federal subsidies for health insurance premiums could be used in the 34 states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges.
House v. Burwell
In United States House of Representatives v. Burwell the House sued the administration alleging that the money for premium subsidy payments to insurers had not been appropriated, as required for any federal government spending. The Obamacare subsidy that helps customers pay premiums was not part of the suit. Without the cost-sharing subsidies, the government estimated that premiums would increase by 20 percent to 30 percent for silver plans.
Officials in Texas, Florida, Alabama, Wyoming, Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri opposed those elements of ACA over which they had discretion. For example, Missouri declined to expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance marketplace engaging in active non-cooperation, enacting a statute forbidding any state or local official to render any aid not specifically required by federal law. Other Republican politicians discouraged efforts to advertise the benefits of the law. Some conservative political groups launched ad campaigns to discourage enrollment.
ACA was the subject of unsuccessful repeal efforts by Republicans in the 111th, 112th, and 113th Congresses: Representatives Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) introduced bills in the House to repeal ACA the day after it was signed, as did Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) in the Senate. In 2011, after Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, one of the first votes held was on a bill titled “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” (H.R. 2), which the House passed 245–189. All Republicans and 3 Democrats voted for repeal. House Democrats proposed an amendment that repeal not take effect until a majority of the Senators and Representatives had opted out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; Republicans voted down the measure. In the Senate, the bill was offered as an amendment to an unrelated bill, but was voted down. President Obama had stated that he would have vetoed the bill even if it had passed both chambers of Congress.
2017 House Budget
Following the 2012 Supreme Court ruling upholding ACA as constitutional, Republicans held another vote to repeal the law on July 11; the House of Representatives voted with all 244 Republicans and 5 Democrats in favor of repeal, which marked the 33rd, partial or whole, repeal attempt. On February 3, 2015, the House of Representatives added its 67th repeal vote to the record (239 to 186). This attempt also failed.
2013 federal government shutdown
Strong partisan disagreement in Congress prevented adjustments to the Act’s provisions. However, at least one change, a proposed repeal of a tax on medical devices, has received bipartisan support. Some Congressional Republicans argued against improvements to the law on the grounds they would weaken the arguments for repeal.
Republicans attempted to defund its implementation, and in October 2013, House Republicans refused to fund the federal government unless accompanied with a delay in ACA implementation, after the President unilaterally deferred the employer mandate by one year, which critics claimed he had no power to do. The House passed three versions of a bill funding the government while submitting various versions that would repeal or delay ACA, with the last version delaying enforcement of the individual mandate. The Democratic Senate leadership stated the Senate would only pass a “clean” funding bill without any restrictions on ACA. The government shutdown began on October 1. Senate Republicans threatened to block appointments to relevant agencies, such as the Independent Payment Advisory Board and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
During a midnight congressional session starting January 11, 2017, the Senate of the 115th Congress of the United States voted to approve a “budget blueprint” which would allow Republicans to repeal parts of the law “without threat of a Democraticfilibuster.” The plan, which passed 51-48 is a budget blueprint named by Senate Republicans the “Obamacare ‘repeal resolution.'” Democrats opposing the resolution staged a protest during the vote.
Once the law was signed, provisions began taking effect, in a process that continued for years. Some provisions never took effect, while others were deferred for various periods.
Existing individual health plans
Plans purchased after the date of enactment, March 23, 2010, or old plans that changed in specified ways would eventually have to be replaced by ACA-compliant plans.
At various times during and after the ACA debate, Obama stated that “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan”. However, in fall 2013 millions of Americans with individual policies received notices that their insurance plans were terminated, and several million more risked seeing their current plans cancelled.
Obama’s previous unambiguous assurance that consumers’ could keep their own plans became a focal point for critics, who challenged his truthfulness. On November 7, 2013, President Obama stated: “I am sorry that [people losing their plans] are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.” Various bills were introduced in Congress to allow people to keep their plans.
In the fall of 2013, the Obama Administration announced a transitional relief program that would let states and carriers allow non-compliant individual and small group policies to renew at the end of 2013. In March 2014, HHS allowed renewals as late as October 1, 2016. In February 2016, these plans were allowed to renew up until October 1, 2017, but with a termination date no later than December 31, 2017.
In June small business tax credits took effect. For certain small businesses, the credits reached up to 35% of premiums. At the same time uninsured people with pre-existing conditions could access the federal high-risk pool. Also, participating employment-based plans could obtain reimbursement for a portion of the cost of providing health insurance to early retirees.
In July the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) took effect to offer insurance to those that had been denied coverage by private insurance companies because of a pre-existing condition. Despite estimates of up to 700,000 enrollees, at a cost of approximately $13,000/enrollee, only 56,257 enrolled at a $28,994 cost per enrollee.
As of September 23, 2010, pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage for children’s policies. HHS interpreted this rule as a mandate for “guaranteed issue“, requiring insurers to issue policies to such children. By 2011, insurers had stopped marketing child-only policies in 17 states, as they sought to escape this requirement.
The average beneficiary in the prior coverage gap would have spent $1,504 in 2011 on prescriptions. Such recipients saved an average $603. The 50 percent discount on brand name drugs provided $581 and the increased Medicare share of generic drug costs provided the balance. Beneficiaries numbered 2 million
In January 2013 the Internal Revenue Service ruled that the cost of covering only the individual employee would be considered in determining whether the cost of coverage exceeded 9.5% of income. Family plans would not be considered even if the cost was above the 9.5% income threshold. This was estimated to leave 2–4 million Americans unable to afford family coverage under their employers’ plans and ineligible for subsidies.
A June 2013 study found that the MLR provision had saved individual insurance consumers $1.2 billion in 2011 and $2.1 billion in 2012, reducing their 2012 costs by 7.5%. The bulk of the savings were in reduced premiums, but some came from MLR rebates.
The launch for both the state and federal exchanges was troubled due to management and technical failings. HealthCare.gov, the website that offers insurance through the exchanges operated by the federal government, crashed on opening and suffered endless problems. Operations stabilized in 2014, although not all planned features were complete.
CMS reported in 2013 that, while costs per capita continued to rise, the rate of increase in annual healthcare costs had fallen since 2002. Per capita cost increases averaged 5.4% annually between 2000 and 2013. Costs relative to GDP, which had been rising, had stagnated since 2009. Several studies attempted to explain the reductions. Reasons included:
Higher unemployment due to the 2008-2010 recession, which limited the ability of consumers to purchase healthcare;
Out-of-pocket costs rose, reducing demand for healthcare services. The proportion of workers with employer-sponsored health insurance requiring a deductible climbed to about three-quarters in 2012 from about half in 2006.
ACA changes that aim to shift the healthcare system from paying-for-quantity to paying-for-quality. Some changes occurred due to healthcare providers acting in anticipation of future implementation of reforms.
On July 30, 2014, the Government Accountability Office released a non-partisan study that concluded that the administration did not provide “effective planning or oversight practices” in developing the website.
In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby the Supreme Court exempted closely held corporations with religious convictions from the contraception rule. In Wheaton College vs Burwell the Court issued an injunction allowing the evangelical college and other religiously affiliated nonprofit groups to completely ignore the contraceptive mandate.
A study found that average premiums for the second-cheapest silver plan were 10-21% less than average individual market premiums in 2013, while covering many more conditions. Credit for the reduced premiums was attributed to increased competition stimulated by the larger market, greater authority to review premium increases, the MLR and risk corridors.
A 2016 analysis found that health care spending by the middle class was 8.9% of household spending in 2014.
By the beginning of the year, 11.7 million had signed up (ex-Medicaid). On December 31, 2015, about 8.8 million consumers had stayed in the program. Some 84 percent, or about 7.4 million, were subsidized.
Bronze plans were the second most popular in 2015, making up 22% of marketplace plan selections. Silver plans were the most popular, accounting for 67% of marketplace selections. Gold plans were 7%. Platinum plans accounted for 3%. On average across the four metal tiers, premiums were up 20% for HMOs and 18% for EPOs. Premiums for POS plans were up 15% from 2015 to 2016, while PPO premiums were up just 8%.
A 2015 study found 14% of privately insured consumers received a medical bill in the past two years from an out-of-network provider in the context of an overall in-network treatment event. Such out-of-network care is not subject to the lower negotiated rates of in-network care, increasing out-of-pocket costs. Another 2015 study found that the average out-of-network charges for the majority of 97 medical procedures examined “were 300% or higher compared to the corresponding Medicare fees” for those services.
Some 47% of the 2015 ACA plans sold on the Healthcare.gov exchange lacked standard out-of-network coverage. Enrollees in such plans, typically received no coverage for out-of-network costs (except for emergencies or with prior authorization). A 2016 study on Healthcare.gov health plans found a 24 percent increase in the percentage of ACA plans that lacked standard out-of-network coverage.
The December spending bill delayed the onset of the “Cadillac tax” on expensive insurance plans by two years, until 2020.
The average price of non-generic drugs rose 16.2% in 2015 and 98.2% since 2011.
As of March 2016 11.1 million people had purchased exchange plans, while an estimated 9 million to 10 million people had gained Medicaid coverage, mostly low-income adults. 11.1 million were still covered, a decline of nearly 13 percent. 6.1 million uninsured 19-25 year olds gained coverage.
A survey of New York businesses found an increase of 8.5 percent in health care costs, less than the prior year’s survey had expected. A 10 percent increase was expected for 2017. Factors included increased premiums, higher drug costs, ACA and aging workers. Some firms lowered costs by increasing cost-sharing (for higher employee contributions, deductibles and co-payments). 60% planned to further increase cost-sharing. Coverage and benefits were not expected to change. Approximately one fifth said ACA had pushed them to reduce their workforce. A larger number said they were raising prices.
The five major national insurers expected to lose money on ACA policies in 2016. UnitedHealth withdrew from the Georgia and Arkansas exchanges for 2017, citing heavy losses. Humana exited other markets, leaving it operating in 156 counties in 11 states for 2017. 225 counties across the country had access to only a single ACA insurer. A study released in May estimated that 664 counties would have one insurer in 2017.[not in citation given]
Aetna cancelled planned expansion of its offerings and following an expected $300 million loss in 2016 and then withdrew from 11 of its 15 states. In August 2016 Anthem said that its offerings were losing money, but also that it would expand its participation if a pending merger with Cigna was approved. Aetna and Humana’s exit for 2017 left 8 rural Arizona counties with only Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield Minnesota announced that it would exit individual and family markets in Minnesota in 2017, due to financial losses of $500 million over three years.
Another analysis found that 17 percent of eligibles may have a single insurer option in 2017. North Carolina, Oklahoma, Alaska, Alabama, South Carolina and Wyoming were expected to have a single insurer, while only 2 percent of 2016 eligibles had only one choice.
Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealth Group also exited various individual markets. Many local Blue Cross plans sharply narrowed their networks. In 2016 two thirds of individual plans were narrow-network HMO plans.
One of the causes of insurer losses is the lower income, older and sicker enrollee population. One 2016 analysis reported that while 81% of the population with incomes from 100-150% of the federal poverty level signed up, only 45% of those from 150-200% did so. The percentage continued to decline as income rose: 2% of those above 400% enrolled.
The law is designed to pay subsidies in the form of tax credits to the individuals or families purchasing the insurance, based on income levels. Higher income consumers receive lower subsidies. While pre-subsidy prices rose considerably from 2016 to 2017, so did the subsidies, to reduce the after-subsidy cost to the consumer. For example, a study published in 2016 found that the average requested 2017 premium increase among 40-year-old non-smokers was about 9 percent, according to an analysis of 17 cities, although Blue Cross Blue Shield proposed increases of 40 percent in Alabama and 60 percent in Texas. However, some or all of these costs are offset by subsidies, paid as tax credits. For example, the Kaiser Foundation reported that for the second-lowest cost “Silver plan” (a plan often selected and used as the benchmark for determining financial assistance), a 40-year old non-smoker making $30,000 per year would pay effectively the same amount in 2017 as they did in 2016 (about $208/month) after the subsidy/tax credit, despite large increases in the pre-subsidy price. This was consistent nationally. In other words, the subsidies increased along with the pre-subsidy price, fully offsetting the price increases.
The number of ACA nonprofit insurance cooperatives for 2017 fell from 23 originally to 7 for 2017. The remaining 7 posted annual losses in 2015. A General Accountability Report found that co-ops’ 2015 premiums were generally below average. At the end of 2014, money co-ops and other ACA insurers had counted on risk corridor payments that didn’t materialize. Maryland’s Evergreen Health claims that ACA’s risk-adjustment system does not adequately measure risk.
Newly elected Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued an executive order to accept the expansion, becoming the 32nd state to do so. The program was expected to enroll an additional 300,000 Louisianans.
More than 9.2 million people signed up for care on the national exchange (healthcare.gov) for 2017, down some 400,000 from 2016. This decline was due primarily to the election of President Trump, who pulled advertising encouraging people to signup for coverage, issued an executive order that attempts to eliminate the mandate, and has created significant uncertainty about the future of the ACA. Enrollments had been running ahead of 2016 prior to President Obama leaving office, with 9.8 million expected to sign-up, so President Trump’s actions potentially cost about 600,000 national enrollments (i.e., 9.8 million expected – 9.2 million actual = 0.6 million impact).Of the 9.2 million, 3.0 million were new customers and 6.2 million were returning. The 9.2 million excludes the 11 states that run their own exchanges, which have signed up around 3 million additional people. These figures also exclude the additional coverage due to the Medicaid expansion, which covers another approximately 10 million persons, as described in the impact section above.
In February, Humana announced that it would withdraw from the individual insurance market in 2018, citing “further signs of an unbalanced risk pool.” That month the IRS announced that it would not require that tax returns indicate that a person has health insurance, reducing the effectiveness of the individual mandate, in response to an executive order from President Donald Trump.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini stated that ACA was in a “death spiral” of escalating premiums and shrinking, skewed enrollment. However, a U.S. judge found that the Aetna CEO misrepresented why his company was leaving the exchanges; an important part of the reason was the Justice Department’s opposition to the intended merger between Aetna and Humana. Aetna actually pulled out of states where it was making money on the exchanges, while remaining in some states where it was not. Further, the CBO reported in March 2017 that the healthcare exchanges were expected to be stable; i.e., they were not in a “death spiral.”
Molina Healthcare, a major Medicaid provider, said that it was considering exiting some markets in 2018, citing “too many unknowns with the marketplace program.” Molina lost $110 million in 2016 due to having to contribute $325 million more than expected to the ACA “risk transfer” fund that compensated insurers with unprofitable risk pools. These pools were establish to help prevent insurers from artificially selecting lower-risk pools.
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BREAKING: Obama SCREAMS LIKE A BABY After Being Refused A Meeting With Trump At The White House
StrykerCrime, Hotel, Supreme Court0
Four Secret Service agents and two United States Marines had a good laugh earlier today when Barack Obama showed up unannounced at the White House, demanding a meeting with President Trump. At first, the former president just nodded and waved and started walking through the door at the ellipse like he owned the place until he came face to face with Agent Brock Neidemeir, who used to serve on his detail.
After a short discussion, Neidemyer agreed to call down to the Oval Office and was told by Trump’s secretary Rosalita that he wasn’t welcome and that Trump had no time for him. Obama, being the sore loser that he is, started stomping around like a baby and demanding he be allowed in. People as far away as the south gate could hear him whining.
There’s no telling why Obama felt the need to show up at the White House or why he thought he could just waltz right in like he owned the place. One thing is for sure: Trump isn’t going to allow someone who knows how to do his job that much better than him come down the halls of the West Wing to show him up. He has real issues to deal with.
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SEDUCED BY ISIS
London terror attacker named as Khalid Masood – a 52-year-old body-building obsessed dad-of-three English teacher seduced by ISIS
The Muslim convert used several aliases and had been convicted previously of possessing a knife
BY Holly Christodoulou and Emma Lake
23rd March 2017, 5:50 pm
Updated: 23rd March 2017, 7:47 pm
A KILLER who murdered three people before he was shot dead by police has been named as a body-building obsessed married dad-of-three.
Muslim convert former English teacher Khalid Masood, 52, who mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before storming Parliament and stabbing a police officer to death, was born in Kent but later moved to the West Midlands.
Scotland Yard said serial offender Masood, who was born on Christmas Day, had previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences.
He had not been convicted of any terror offences, and was not subject to any investigations at the time of the atrocity.
Masood’s first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage and his last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.
The Met police said there was “no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack”.
They added: “Anyone with any information about Masood can call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789 321.”
The killer was known by a number of aliases including Khalid Choudri, according to Sky News.
Theresa May earlier revealed MI5 intelligence chiefs had previously investigated 52-year-old Khalid Masood but dismissed him as a “peripheral figure”.
The three women and five men have been held on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.
Police said a 39-year-old woman was arrested at an address in east London, a 21-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man were arrested at an address in Birmingham, a 26-year-old woman and three men aged 28, 27 and 26 years old were arrested at a separate address in Birmingham.
A 58-year-old man was also arrested this morning at a separate address in Birmingham on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts.
Mark Rowley, national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and Met Acting Deputy Commissioner corrected earlier figures saying three innocent victims – PC Palmer, a woman in her mid 40s and a man in his mid 50s – were killed along with the attacker who was shot by cops.
AMAQ News Agency says ISIS carried out London terror attack at Westminster
Scotland Yard confirm seven arrests in raids linked to Westminster terror attackPM Theresa May confirms MI5 know the identity of the Westminster terror attackerMr Rowley said 29 people are being treated in hospital, with five in a critical condition and two with life threatening injuries.
Theresa May has been visiting victims of the attack in hospital. The PM spent around 40 minutes with the injured victims talking to them about their harrowing experiences.
She also spoke to medical staff to thank them for their work, said her official spokesman, who declined to name the hospital where the private visit took place.
Many of those injured on Westminster Bridge were taken to St Thomas’ Hospital, which faces the Palace of Westminster across the Thames. Others went to King’s College Hospital and the Royal London Hospital.
Twelve Brits were injured, with police officers reportedly among those hurt, while nationals from France, Romania, China and America were also hurt.
The Romanian couple who were injured have been named as Andrei Burnaz and Andreea Cristea.
PC Keith Palmer’s former team lay a wreath in memory of those who lost their lives in Westminster terror attackPolice have been also been paying tribute to the dad, and the Met Police announced today they would retire the tragic cop’s shoulder number.
They tweeted: “As a mark of respect Keith’s shoulder number – 4157U – will be retired and not reissued to any other officer #WeRemember #WestminsterAttack”.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a candlelit vigil will be held in Trafalgar Square at 6pm as he defiantly said “Londoners will not cower”.
The Queen has also released a statement, saying: “My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy are with all those who have been affected by yesterday’s awful violence.
“I know I speak for everyone in expressing my enduring thanks and admiration for the members of the Metropolitan Police Service and all who work so selflessly to help and protect others.”
PM Theresa May’s statement to Commons following Westminster terror attack
The Met’s SO15 counter-terrorist command have said they believe they know the identity of the terrorist fanatic.
Mr Rowley last night said: “It is still our belief – which continues to be born out by our investigation – that this attacker acted alone yesterday and was inspired by international terrorism.
“To be explicit – at this stage, we have no specific information about further threats to the public.
“Clearly our investigation is ongoing – developing all the time – and is focused on his motivation, his preparation and associates.”
Mr Rowley also reminded the public to be vigilant and report anything that causes concern or raises suspicions to police.
PM sends condolences to Pc Keith Palmer’s family following terror attack in London Westminster
PM on Britain’s response to London terror attack on Westminster
Anti-terror police raid in Birmingham linked to Westminster Parliament attackNeighbours recounted the dramatic moments police swooped in to search the Birmingham flat last night, with the homes near the car rental where the vehicle involved in the rampage had been hired from.
Dozens of officers equipped with machine guns were seen smashing their way into the flat just before midnight, with one witness saying that the man involved in the attack had lived there.
He said he saw three men arrested.
Anti-terror police raid in Birmingham linked to Westminster Parliament attackStuart Bailey, who lives four doors down, said: “There were a load of armed police in the street and on the pavement and I could see three or four in front of me.
“They were all dressed in black and armed with what looked like MP5s (submachine guns) and one of them had six ammunition magazines strapped to his leg.”
Police were still swarming at the site on Thursday morning, with one of the windows of the flat covered with cardboard.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon on whether killed Westminster policeman should have been armed
Car hire firm Enterprise has confirmed that one of their cars had been rented out and used in the attack, saying in a statement: “We can confirm that the car used in the tragic attack in London yesterday afternoon was one of ours.
“An employee identified the vehicle after seeing the licence plate in an image online. We ran another check to verify, and immediately contacted the authorities.
“We are co-operating fully with the authorities and will provide any assistance that we can to the investigation.
“Our thoughts are very much with the victims of this terrible tragedy.”
Those injured in the Westminster Bridge attack
Theresa May has confirmed 29 people were hurt when the speeding car smashed into crowds on Westminster Bridge.
Seven remain in a critical condition.
The nationalities of those injured have been released, including:
Three French children
Four South Koreans
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan pays tribute to victims of Westminster terror attackLast night Theresa May held an emergency COBRA meeting following the attack, which she called “sick and depraved”.
In a statement from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: “Any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.
“Parliament will meet as normal.
“We will come together as normal.
“And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great city – will get up and go about their day as normal.
“They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives.
“And we will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”
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Incoming Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick has praised the bravery of officers involved in yesterday’s attack.
In a message to staff she said: “One of our officers died protecting the public and Parliament. We will never forget his courage.
“My deepest sympathy is with his family and with the loved ones of everyone who lost their lives.
“My thoughts too are with the members of the public and our officers who were injured as well as those people affected by these appalling events.
“As many Parliamentarians have noted, our officers ran towards danger to do their jobs. We are indebted to their bravery.
“Officers and staff from the Metropolitan Police are working as hard as we can to protect the public and our capital city.
“I am grateful for all their efforts.”
TIMELINE OF TERROR
Lone wolf attacker mowed down crowds of pedestrians in 4×4 on Westminster Bridge
He then crashed into gate outside Parliament before stabbing policeman PC Keith Palmer, 48, to death
Armed cops put Westminster on lockdown as attack brought London to a standstill yesterday afternoon
Four people died – including the attacker who was shot by police – and 29 are injured, including seven critical
Eight people arrested today after six raids at addresses in London, Birmingham and elsewhere
Cops believe they know the identity of the suspect who was inspired by Islamic terrorism
The Hyundai used to carry out the attack was hired last Thursday in Birmingham, according to Newsnight
Hero MP Tobias Ellwood attempted to revive PC Palmer but husband and father could not be saved
Theresa May condemned attack as ‘sick and depraved’ before holding emergency Cobra meeting
MPs were locked in House of Commons for five hours
PC Palmer, a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Squad and former Bombardier in the Royal Artillery Army Reserve between ’87-’01 , was killed as he tried to stop the attacker at about 2.30pm on Wednesday, while two members of the public were also fatally injured.
Speaking in parliament this morning, Tory MP James Cleverly, who had known PC Palmer for 25 years, called on the officer to be honoured with a posthumous award.
Nearly in tears, the MP said that his friend was a “strong, professional public servant”.
Theresa May agreed, saying that full consideration would be given to award the 48-year-old, having previously described him as “every inch a hero”.
Tears from Tory MP James Cleverly as he pays tribute to friend PC Keith Palmer murdered in Westminster terror attack
The knifeman drove a grey Hyundai i40 across Westminster Bridge before crashing it into railings, then running through the gates of the Palace of Westminster.
His attack left a trail of destruction as paramedics and heroic bystanders tended to victims on the bridge and at the gate.
One woman hit by the attacker’s car before he reached Parliament was confirmed dead by a doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital.
Others on the bridge suffered “catastrophic injuries”.
Another woman who fell into the Thames was rescued and given urgent medical treatment on a nearby pier.
A party of French schoolchildren were among those targeted on the bridge, while four students from Edge Hill University in Ormskirk were also hurt – two described as “walking wounded”, and others said to have minor injuries.
The attack came on the first anniversary of the Brussels airport bombings.
The Muslim Council of Britain said: “We are shocked and saddened by the incident at Westminster. We condemn this attack and while it is still too early to speculate on the motives, our thoughts and prayers are for the victims and those affected.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “London is the greatest city in the world and we stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life.
“Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “I want to thank the emergency services for the quick response and pay tribute to their bravery, courage and professionalism.
“We have the best police, the best security services in the world and we must let them get on with doing their job.
“The British people will be united in working together to defeat those who would harm our shared values. Values of democracy, tolerance and the rule of law.
“Values symbolised by the Houses of Parliament. Values that will never be destroyed.”
Story 2: Big Lie Media Ignores Maryland Rape Case — Why? Two Criminal Illegal Aliens Were The Rapists — Rollback The 30-60 Million Illegal Alien Invasion of United States — Enforce Immigration Law: Remove and Deport All Illegal Aliens — It Is The Law! — Videos
Bill ‘O Reilly: The Media’s Treatment of Maryland School Rape ‘Beyond Anything I Have Ever Seen’
Published on Mar 23, 2017
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly slammed the mainstream media on Wednesday’s “The O’Reilly Factor” for ignoring the case of two immigrant teens, at least one of whom is in the U.S. illegally, accused of raping a Maryland high school student. “ABC, NBC, CBS did not cover it on their nightly news broadcasts,” O’Reilly said in his “Talking Points Memo.” “CNN did not cover the Maryland story in primetime last night. Ditto MSNBC. That is beyond anything I have ever seen in my 40 years-plus of journalism.
We all know why,” O’Reilly said. “Illegal immigration is a political issue.” The host went on to accuse the media of “allowing the sanctuary [city] movement to pretty much run wild” by opposing President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies.
O’Reilly warned that “many Americans have had enough of illegal immigration,” saying that “the federal government has lost control over the immigration process, and … many states and cities will not obey federal law, creating anarchy.” “[There] comes a time when citizens of any country have to demand justice, have to demand protection, demand the law be respected,” O’Reilly said. “We have not, have not, come to that time yet in America.”
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Rockville High School Rape an Example of Why President Trump Puts a Priority on Illegal Immigration: Spicer
Two students accused of raping another student at Rockville High
By Darcy Spencer and Matthew Stabley
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that a Maryland rape case, in which an 18-year-old with a pending immigration case is charged with assaulting a 14-year-old girl, is an example of why President Donald Trump is making illegal immigration a priority.
They approached her in a hallway and asked her to walk with them, police said. Montano asked her for sex, and after she refused, he and Sanchez forced her into a boys’ bathroom, where they both raped her and sodomized her, police said.
“Let’s remember the human side of this, that this is a tragic event that no child, no person, no parent should ever have to deal with,” Spicer said. “School should be a place where a parent puts their child on a bus or drops them off or sees them off and knows that they’re safe.”
Montgomery County Public Schools Responds to High Profile Criticism of Handling of High School Rape Case
A rape at a local high school gets national attention and high profile criticism. Two students are accused of raping a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High School. News 4’s Darcy Spencer explains how the school district is defending itself.
(Published Tuesday, March 21, 2017)
According to court documents, Sanchez, who admitted to having sex with the victim, has had an immigration case pending since August.
According to court records, Montano, who was charged as an adult, was born in El Salvador, where he lived for 16 years, the Associated Press reported. ICE officials would not discuss Montano’s immigration status because he is a juvenile.
“I think part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this,” Spicer said. “We act so many times when we talk about this and say why is the president dealing with this, because of this priority. Well, part of the reason is because of the tragedy that this young girl dealt with, had inflicted upon her, whatever the word is, but this is why he is passionate about this.”
“This horrible incident shouldn’t change anyone’s minds that those schools are safe for our students,” Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said.
Sean Spicer Addresses Rockville High Rape
Answering questions about the Rockville High School rape case at his press briefing Tuesday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said it is an example of why President Trump made illegal immigration a priority.
(Published Tuesday, March 21, 2017)
He pledged he won’t allow the assault to become a political issue and denounced comments he has seen since the attack.
“While some would try to make this into a question and an issue of immigration, what comes down here is that we serve every student that walks in our door,” he said. “We are a public school system.”
Spicer also questioned the age of the suspects, who have been called ninth graders.
“I think he was 17 or 18 years old,” Spicer said. “How does that person get put into the ninth grade?”
14-Year-Old Girl Raped in Maryland High School Bathroom: Police
Two students raped a 14-year-old girl in a Rockville High School bathroom, according to Montgomery County Police. Derrick Ward reports.
(Published Friday, March 17, 2017)
Smith explained they entered the school system in the fall with no credits, which technically makes them freshmen despite their ages. The victim is in the ninth grade.
Spicer said crime is just one aspect of immigration policy.
“People are victims of these crimes and they’re victims of the economic piece of it; there’s a national security peg, but immigration pays its toll on our people if it’s not done legally and this is another example,” he said.
“I am outraged by the brutal and violent rape of a 14 year old girl in a Rockville public school. Our prayers are with her,” Hogan posted in a Facebook statement Tuesday. “The State of Maryland is calling on Montgomery County to immediately and fully cooperate with all federal authorities during the investigation of this heinous crime. The public has a right to know how something this tragic and unacceptable was allowed to transpire in a public school.”
Hogan accused the school system of withholding information from the Maryland State Board of Education about the rape and the students involved.
“Montgomery County government and the Montgomery County police are cooperating and the school system is not and it appears as if they have something to hide,” he said.
Smith said all the information they have about the case as of Tuesday afternoon was sent to the state board.
A spokesman for Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said his administration is cooperating.
“We want to get bad eggs out of our county, basically, but we don’t want our county police enforcing immigration law, but in this case I think everybody can agree that if these folks are convicted that we don’t want them in our county,” Patrick Lacefield said.
Investigators arrested Montano and Sanchez on school property. They are charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual assault.
“These are very serious allegations carrying a life sentence,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office spokesman Ramon Korionoff said last week. “The potential of life in prison would be available as we prosecute these individuals.”
Both suspects were ordered held without bond.
Montano is charged as an adult. However, a court-appointed attorney wants him moved to a juvenile facility. He is due in court March 31.
Sanchez will be back in court April 14.
Montgomery County Public Schools records show 27 high school sexual assaults or sexual incidents requiring police response in the previous school year, the News4 I-Team reported, including at least one incident at Rockville High School.
In 2014-2015, the school district reported 14 “sex-related” incidents requiring police response at county high schools.
In April 2014, MCPS told the I-Team it installed mirrors and cameras to reduce blind spots in some hallways of another high school in Rockville after a consensual sexual encounter wasn’t noticed by staff or administrators.
Police described the bathroom where the rape occurred as being in a remote area of the school and said the rape took place early in the morning.
In a Freedom of Information Act request from 2015, the school district reported to the I-Team that it had 5,000 security cameras district-wide.
Smith said Tuesday the district will review all safety procedures in response to the rape.
The incident took place the morning of Tuesday, March 14 inside of the boys bathroom at the high school. Police say the 14-year-old girl was brutally raped by two fellow freshmen who entered the country illegally around seven months before from Central America. They were both placed in the ninth grade.
The victim tells authorities she was dragged into an empty stall from the hallway near the gymnasium around 9 a.m. when she was approached by two male students, later identified as Jose O. Montano, 17, and Henry E. Sanchez Milian, 18. According to court documents, she grabbed a sink trying to get away. Just minutes after the crime, she reported the alleged rape in class.
Part 2 — Story 1: House Freedom Caucus Is Right: First Complete Clean Repeal and Then Replace Obamacare — No Three Phases/Prongs Bull — Change Your Rules or American People Will Replace You — Restore Free Market Competition In Health Insurance Sector So That Companies and Consumers Are Free of Government Mandates and Dictates Thereby Lowering Premiums and Deductibles — Freedom Works — Repeal and Replace Obamacare Now! — Videos
What Is Budget Reconciliation?
Led by President Donald Trump, Republicans have promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They have control of both houses of Congress and the White House, but they still have one big obstacle in that effort.
In the Senate, opponents could stage a filibuster — the right of the minority to try to talk a bill to death and keep senators from voting. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. Republicans have a majority but only 52 seats. And Democrats say they won’t help take apart the health law they voted to pass seven years ago.
Instead, Republicans are vowing to use a budget procedure called “reconciliation.” It comes from a 1974 law called the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. Lots of major health laws have been passed using reconciliation, including those guaranteeing the right to emergency room care, creating the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, and allowing private plans as an alternative to traditional Medicare coverage.
Here’s how reconciliation would work. First, Congress has to pass a budget resolution.
That budget document has to be agreed on by the House and Senate, but it doesn’t go to the president for his signature.
The budget resolution does two main things. First, it sets spending targets for federal programs Congress funds every year. Those are known as appropriations.
But there are also programs funded by the federal government that don’t need annual approvals from Congress. These include tax cuts or increases and so-called entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
So the budget resolution also instructs the congressional committees in charge of those programs to propose changes in the law that would “reconcile” how much those programs cost with the targets set by the budget. This is what Republicans would use to order changes to the Affordable Care Act.
When the committees report back their proposed changes, they are assembled into a budget reconciliation bill.
In the Senate, budget reconciliation has its own special rules that make it easier to pass. Debate is strictly limited, and the bill only needs a simple majority to pass.
But there are limits, too. Budget reconciliation bills can only change things that directly impact the federal budget — either adding to or reducing federal spending.
For the Affordable Care Act, that means Congress could use budget reconciliation to eliminate spending, like the help people get to pay their premiums or funding to states to expand the Medicaid program for the poor. It can also repeal the taxes that help pay for those benefits, including the tax penalties for individuals who fail to have insurance.
But Congress can’t use reconciliation to change parts of the health law like provisions requiring insurance companies to provide certain benefits or sell coverage to people with preexisting conditions. Those don’t directly affect federal spending.
That has led insurance companies to complain that they will go broke if they still have to sell to sick people, but healthy people won’t have any incentive to get covered. In that case, they say, only sick people will buy insurance, and premiums will skyrocket.
And the new Republican Congress seems set on using the technique to take apart the health law. Whether that’s a good idea may depend on whether you favor or oppose the Affordable Care Act.
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Reconciliation in Congress
Exclusive — Rand Paul: ‘Easily 35 No Votes’ Against Paul Ryan’s Obamacare 2.0, ‘I Would Predict They Pull Bill, Start Over’
by MATTHEW BOYLE
21 Mar 2017Washington, D.C.2,723
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Breitbart News exclusively on Tuesday afternoon that he expects House Speaker Paul Ryan will be forced to pull the American Health Care Act (AHCA) before a scheduled Thursday vote because Ryan will not get the votes to pass the legislation.
The AHCA has been dubbed “Obamacare Lite” by Paul — a leading conservative critic of the plan — and by other conservatives as “RyanCare,” “RINO-Care,” and “Obamacare 2.0,” since the bill does not actually fully repeal Obamacare and keeps many of the main structures that the now-former President Barack Obama installed in the healthcare system. It has come under intense scrutiny from both sides of the Republican Party — moderates and conservatives are lining up against the bill — and Ryan, despite publicly projecting confidence, cannot find the necessary 216 votes to pass the legislation.
Paul, one of the leading senators out of more than a dozen Republicans in the upper chamber criticizing the bill there, told Breitbart News in this exclusive interview he believes there are at least 35 House Republicans ready to vote against the bill in its current form. And he predicted that, unless some major changes come to the legislation between now and the scheduled vote on Thursday, Ryan will need to withdraw the bill and Republicans will have to start from scratch with a new bill and a new strategy on Obamacare.
Paul said in the in-person interview at his U.S. Senate office in the Russell Senate Office Building:
I think there’s easily 35 no votes right now so unless something happens in the next 24 hours, I would predict they pull the bill and start over. I think if conservatives stick together, they will have earned a seat at the table where real negotiation to make this bill an acceptable bill will happen. But it’s interesting what conservatives are doing to change the debate. We went from keeping the Obamacare taxes for a year—hundreds of billions of dollars—but they’re coming towards us because we’re standing firm. So we have to stick together, and if we do stick together there will be a real negotiation on this. The main goal I have is not to pass something that does not fix the situation. If a year from now, insurance rates and premiums are still going through the roof and it’s now a Republican plan it will be a disservice to the president and all of us if we pass something that doesn’t work.
There is plenty of reason to believe that Paul is correct in predicting Ryan does not have the votes to pass this legislation and will need to pull the bill to start over. Despite overtures from President Donald Trump, the House Freedom Caucus members — and particularly its chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) — remain steadfastly opposed to the bill.
NBC News has confirmed at least 26 Republicans who are opposed:
But Breitbart News can confirm several more than that are definitely opposed to the legislation. To kill the bill, Republicans need just 21 Republicans opposed—and some are talking about holding a press conference on Wednesday or Thursday with the necessary number of House Republicans to crush RyanCare, appearing arm-in-arm in public opposition before a vote.
House GOP leadership made some last minute changes, too, which Paul — in his interview with Breitbart News — flatly said “no,” were not enough to get the bill passed. Regarding those changed, Paul said:
If you keep all the insurance mandates, and you keep subsidizing insurance, basically it’s Obamacare Lite. So I think it’s still Obamacare Lite. The modifications, some are going in the right direction, but they actually expanded some of the subsidies. So one of the new things about it is it’s actually $75 billion more in subsidies. So, I think they’re stuck trying to split the baby. They’re trying to give conservatives a few token changes. And they’re trying to give the moderates more subsidies.
Paul added that Ryan would not have dragged President Trump into this awful position if he had been more open and inclusive in the process from the beginning. In effect, Paul argued as he has done before, that Ryan is hurting President Trump by doing this the way he is doing it. Paul said:
I’m still unclear as to why they completely ignored conservatives early on in the process and then they had the audacity to look at conservatives and say ‘this is what you all campaigned on.’ That just, frankly, was never true. I was elected in 2010 in the big Tea Party wave that was for repealing Obamacare root and branch, rip the whole thing out. We were for repealing it. I still think that our grassroots conservative supporters are for repealing it. But somewhere along the line, Paul Ryan decided that it wasn’t so much about repealing it but about replacing it with Obamacare Lite. And I think that was a tactical error on their part to think ‘oh, we’ll just be for this and everybody will be for this’ when in reality no conservatives are really for the Ryan plan.
Paul would not say if Ryan will lose the confidence necessary to run the House of Representatives if this bill fails, as some have suggested. When asked if Ryan can still run the House if the bill goes down, Paul told Breitbart News that instead he thinks the bill going down would lead to real negotiations on healthcare reform. He said:
I think what it will be is the real negotiations will begin the moment his bill fails, and when his bill fails conservatives will have a seat at the table. As long as conservatives stay unified and don’t start negotiating one person at a time — what’s a really bad part of negotiations is if everybody starts saying individually ‘oh if you give me this, give me this, give me this’ because then you won’t really fix the main thrust of the bill and the main outcome is that insurance premiums continue to rise and we continue to bail out insurance companies that’s not repeal of Obamacare—that’s Obamacare Lite.
More from Sen. Rand Paul’s latest exclusive interview with Breitbart News is forthcoming.
Many members are also part of the Republican Study Committee, another conservative House group. The caucus is sympathetic to the Tea Party movement. According to its mission statement, it “gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.”
The origins of the caucus lie at the mid-January 2015 Republican congressional retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Nine conservative active Republican members of the House began planning a new Congressional caucus separate from the Republican Study Committee and apart from the House Republican Conference. The group ultimately became the nine founding members and the first board of directors for the new caucus consisting of Republican Representatives Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Fleming of Louisiana, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Justin Amash of Michigan, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Mark Meadows of North Carolina. The group debated over a name for their new caucus eventually settling on “House Freedom Caucus” (HFC) because, according to founding member Mick Mulvaney, “it was so generic and universally awful that we had no reason to be against it.” The group of nine founding members in Hershey set as a criterion for new members that they had to be willing to vote against Speaker of the United States House of RepresentativesJohn Boehner on legislation that the group opposed.
During the crisis over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security in early 2015, the Caucus offered four plans for resolution, but all were rejected by the Republican leadership. One of the caucus leaders, Labrador of Idaho, said the Caucus will offer an alternative that the most conservative Republican members could support.[needs update]
The House Freedom Caucus was involved in the resignation of Boehner on September 25, 2015, and the ensuing leadership battle for the new Speaker. Members of the Caucus who had voted against Boehner for Speaker felt unfairly punished, accusing him of cutting them off from positions in the Republican Study Committee and depriving them of key committee assignments.[not in citation given] Boehner found it increasingly difficult to manage House Republicans with the fierce opposition of the Freedom Caucus, and he sparred with House Republican members (who later created and became members of the Freedom Caucus when it was created in 2015) in 2013 over their willingness to shut down the government in order to accomplish goals such as repealing the Affordable Care Act.[not in citation given]
Initially, Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, was the lead contender, but the Freedom Caucus withheld its support. However, McCarthy withdrew from the race on September 28, 2015. On the same day as McCarthy’s withdrawal, Reid Ribble resigned from the Freedom Caucus saying he had joined to promote certain policies and could not support the role that it was playing in the leadership race.
On October 20, 2015, Paul Ryan announced that his bid for the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives was contingent on an official endorsement by the Freedom Caucus. While the group could not reach the 80% approval that was needed to give an official endorsement, on October 21, 2015, it announced that it had reached a supermajority support for Ryan. On October 29, 2015, Ryan succeeded John Boehner as the Speaker of the House.
The group has faced backlash from the Republican Party establishment during the 2016 election cycle. One of its members, Congressman Tim Huelskamp, a Tea Party Republican representing Kansas’s First District, was defeated during a primary election on August 2, 2016, by Roger Marshall. GOP Establishment PACs, many of whom also opposed Donald Trump, spent nearly $2 million to defeat Huelskamp.
Congressional District map for Freedom Caucus membership of the 114th Congress. Former members in light color.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus as of March 2017 include:
It’s Rand Paul vs Paul Ryan in the battle over Obamacare — and the future of the GOP
Brandon Morse Mar 17, 2017 8:52 am
A protester wears a Repeal Obamacare button on his jacket during a Freedom Works rally Wednesday against the proposed GOP health care plan across from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The in-house Republican battle over the repeal of Obamacare is about to boil over as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are engaged in an increasingly sharp war over words over their disagreements on how to proceed forward with the promised repeal and replace of former President Obama’s signature legislation.
Paul has been waging a war against the House GOP Obamacare repeal and replace plan since before it was given to the public. Calling it “Obamacare Lite,” Paul has lambasted not only the bill, but his fellow Republicans for their less-than-diligent attempts at getting rid of the unpopular health care law. This time, he turned his attention toward Ryan, who has been the bill’s primary spokesman.
“I think that Paul Ryan’s selling [Donald Trump] a bill of goods that he didn’t explain to the president, and the grassroots doesn’t want what Paul Ryan is selling,” Paul told CNN.
Paul Ryan, during an segment on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” fired back at the Kentucky senator, claiming that his remarks were a jab at President Donald Trump.
“Frankly, I think that’s kind of an insulting remark to the president — as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Ryan said.
“We think this is a smarter way to go,” Ryan said to Tapper. “The alternative is the status quo, and the status quo is in the middle of a collapse.”
Ryan has made the case that this version of the Obamacare repeal bill is the “closest we will ever get” to repealing it.
Paul, however, believes that Trump is open to changing his mind on the health care bill, despite his prior statements of broad approval, and that it’s Republican leadership who have “dug in their heels.”
“They are not going to compromise. So the only way that we are going to get to a compromise where they listen to the grassroots that wants complete repeal, the only way we got to that compromise is that we have to demonstrate to the House leadership that we have the votes to stop them.”
As the battle continues between the conservatives and GOP leadership, the faith of the voters hangs in the balance, according to the conservatives. Paul believes that should the GOP pass “Obamacare Lite,” Republicans will pay for it come election time. Duncan wrote in the Daily Signal that should the bill pass, voters “will feel betrayed.”
If that is true, then winner of the struggle between Paul and Ryan may determine the GOP’s future momentum.
Rand Paul Unveils His Brilliant Obamacare Replacement Plan
WASHINGTON (AP) — Time for talk running out, President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned wavering House Republicans that their jobs were on the line in next year’s elections if they failed to back a GOP bill that would overhaul Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The countdown quickened toward an expected vote Thursday on legislation undoing much of the law that provided health coverage to some 20 million Americans. Trump huddled behind closed doors with rank-and-file Republicans just hours after GOP leaders unveiled changes intended to pick up votes by doling out concessions to centrists and hardliners alike.
“If we fail to get it done, fail to (meet) the promises made by all of us, including the president, then it could have a very detrimental effect to Republicans in ’18 who are running for re-election,” said Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas. “If it fails, then there will be a lot of people looking for work in 2018.”
Trump’s message to Republicans: “If you don’t pass the bill there could be political costs,” said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.
The outlook for House passage remains dicey even with the revisions.
The GOP bill would scale back the role of government in the private health insurance market, and limit future federal financing for Medicaid. It would also repeal tax cuts on the wealthy that Democrats used to pay for Obama’s coverage expansion. Fines enforcing the Obama-era requirement that virtually all Americans have coverage would be eliminated.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 24 million fewer people will have health insurance in 2026 under the GOP bill.
Trump warned House Republicans they’d seal their political doom if they waver, with the party potentially losing majority control of the House. Still, several conservatives were steadfast in their opposition even after the session with Trump and the leadership’s changes.
“The president wouldn’t have been here this morning if they have the votes,” said Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, a member of the Freedom Caucus who complained that the GOP bill leaves too much government regulation in place.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said he was convinced to back the bill in part by Trump’s urging and the changes.
“I think a vote ‘no’ is a vote for Obamacare,” Bacon said. “We can vote for this, and continue to make it better. I intend to vote ‘yes’ Thursday.”
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters that if Republicans pass the legislation, “people will reward us. If we don’t keep our promise, it will be very hard to manage this.”
If the bill advances, prospects are uncertain in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim majority. Six GOP senators have expressed deep misgivings including Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who said Tuesday he cannot support the House bill.
In an Associated Press interview, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., signaled he’d use Trump’s clout to pressure unhappy Republicans in his chamber. McConnell said he’s optimistic that in the end no Republican senator will want to be held responsible for “Obamacare’s” survival.
“I would hate to be a Republican whose vote prevented us from keeping the commitment we’ve made to the American people for almost 10 years now,” McConnell said.
The House GOP bill would dismantle Obama’s requirements that most people buy policies and that larger companies cover workers. Federal subsidies based on peoples’ incomes and the cost of insurance would end, and a Medicaid expansion to 11 million more low-income people would disappear.
Instead, the bill would provide tax credits based chiefly on age to help people pay premiums. Open-ended federal payments to help states cover Medicaid costs would be cut. Insurers could charge older consumers five times the premiums they charge younger people instead of Obama’s 3-1 limit, and would boost premiums 30 percent for those who let coverage lapse.
The latest changes to the bill by GOP leaders were largely aimed at addressing dissent that the measure would leave many older people with higher costs.
Included was an unusual approach: language paving the way for the Senate, if it chooses, to make the bill’s tax credit more generous for people age 50-64. Republicans said the plan sets aside $85 billion over 10 years for that purpose. The income tax threshold for deducting medical expenses would be lowered to 5.8 percent, from the current 10 percent.
The leaders’ proposals would accelerate the repeal of tax increases Obama imposed on higher earners, the medical industry and others.
On Medicaid, the changes would provide higher federal payments to help states care for older and disabled beneficiaries. States would be able to impose work requirements for able-bodied adults. But the bill would still limit future federal financing for Medicaid, seen by many state officials as a cost shift. Obama’s Medicaid expansion would be repealed.
In a bid to cement support from upstate New Yorkers, the revisions would also stop that state from passing on over $2 billion a year in Medicaid costs to upstate counties, though it exempts Democratic-run New York City from that protection. Local officials have complained the practice overburdens their budgets.
Democrats remain solidly opposed to the GOP repeal effort.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said Trump told Republicans he would campaign for them if they backed the bill.
Associated Press reporters Matthew Daly, Kevin Freking, Richard Lardner, Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington and Thomas Beaumont in Iowa contributed to this report.
WikiLeaks said it obtained an alleged arsenal of hacking tools the CIA has used to spy on espionage targets. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
By Devlin BarrettMarch 7 at 6:55 PM
The FBI has begun preparing for a major mole hunt to determine how anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks got an alleged arsenal of hacking tools the CIA has used to spy on espionage targets, according to people familiar with the matter.
The leak rattled government and technology industry officials, who spent Tuesday scrambling to determine the accuracy and scope of the thousands of documents released by the group. They were also trying to assess the damage the revelations may cause, and what damage may come from future releases promised by WikiLeaks, these people said.
It was all a familiar scenario for a government that has repeatedly seen sensitive information compromised in recent years.
Military, defense and security at home and abroad.
In the wake of revelations from Army private Chelsea Manning and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, officials sought to tighten security procedures, and federal agents came under greater pressure to find and prevent secrets from spilling out of the government.
But cracks keep appearing in the system. Last year, the FBI arrested Harold T. Martin III, an NSA contractor who took home documents detailing some of the agency’s most sensitive offensive cyberweapons. Some of those files later appeared online, although investigators are still trying to determine Martin’s role, if any, in that part of the case.
WikiLeaks says it has a trove on the CIA’s hacking secrets. Washington Post national security reporter Greg Miller explains what these documents reveal. (Dalton Bennett, Greg Miller/The Washington Post)
He has pleaded not guilty to charges that he violated the Espionage Act. Officials call the Martin case the largest theft of classified information in U.S. history.
Now, less than a year after the Martin case, U.S. intelligence agencies are rushing to determine whether they again have suffered an embarrassing compromise at the hands of one of their own.
“Anybody who thinks that the Manning and Snowden problems were one-offs is just dead wrong,’’ said Joel Brenner, former head of U.S. counterintelligence at the office of the Director of National Intelligence. “Ben Franklin said three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. If secrets are shared on systems in which thousands of people have access to them, that may really not be a secret anymore. This problem is not going away, and it’s a condition of our existence.’’
In Silicon Valley, industry figures said they received no heads-up from the government or the hacking community that such a move by WikiLeaks was in the works. By midday Tuesday, industry officials said they still had not heard from the FBI.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the CIA had sent a crimes report to the Justice Department — a formal mechanism alerting law enforcement of a potentially damaging and illegal national security leak. Such a report would offer the FBI a road map for where to begin investigating, and whom to question.
The FBI and CIA both declined to comment.
Once investigators verify the accuracy of the WikiLeaks documents, a key question to answer is who had access to the information, according to veterans of past leak probes. The FBI has spent years investigating WikiLeaks, and authorities are eager to figure out whether it has recruited a new, well-placed source from the U.S. government.
Anti-secrecy group Wikileaks on Tuesday said it had obtained a top-secret trove of hacking tools used by the CIA to break into phones, communication apps and other electronic devices, and published confidential documents on those programs. (Reuters)
In releasing thousands of pages of documents, WikiLeaks indicated that its source was a former government employee or contractor.
“This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA,’’ WikiLeaks said in announcing the first release of documents. “The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.’’
One former intelligence official said if that claim is accurate, “there’s going to be another major mole hunt . . . If this is all correct, it’s a big deal.’’
A key distinction for investigators will be whether WikiLeaks reveals the actual computer code — or enough details about such code — that others can develop and deploy some of the hacking tools, according to current and former officials.
The security failures highlighted by damaging leaks from Snowden and Manning have proven difficult to address.
Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010 after transmitting documents to WikiLeaks that came to be known as the Iraq and Afghanistan “War Logs.’’ She also leaked a video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter in Baghdad opening fire on a group of people that the crew thought were insurgents. Among the dead were two journalists who worked for Reuters. She also leaked documents pertaining to Guantanamo Bay prisoners, as well as 250,000 State Department cables.
In response to the Manning case, the Obama administration created the National Insider Threat Task Force, designed to teach and train government workers and contractors to spot potential leakers.
Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, came out as transgender after her 2013 conviction. In the waning days of his presidency, Barack Obama commuted her 35-year prison sentence, and she is due to be released in coming months.
The post-Manning efforts did not stop Snowden from taking reams of data about sensitive bulk intelligence collection in 2013 and giving the material to reporters. Those revelations, including a court document showing how the government gathered Americans’ phone records, sparked years of political debate about privacy and government surveillance in the digital age.
Snowden has remained out of reach of the U.S. government, living in Russia.
Brenner, the former counterintelligence official, said the net effect of the new leaks could be “very dangerous to us, because they “accelerate the leveling of the playing field between the United States and its adversaries in cyberspace.’’
The bigger lesson of the newest leak, Brenner argued, is that U.S. pursuit of dominance in cyberspace may actually be destabilizing over the long run. “That is a very unsettling debate for our military and our intelligence services, but I think it’s coming,’’ he said.
Snowden also weighed in regarding the alleged CIA documents, tweeting: “What @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.’’
U.S. aware of CIA security breach in 2016; contractors suspected in leak
By John Walcott and Andrea Shalal| WASHINGTON/BERLIN
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Wednesday they have been aware since the end of last year of a security breach at the CIA and were focusing on contractors as the likeliest source of documents being passed on to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks detailing the agency’s hacking tools.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that they believed documents published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday about CIA techniques used between 2013 and 2016 were authentic.
The documents showed that CIA hackers could get into Apple Inc (AAPL.O) iPhones, Google Inc (GOOGL.O) Android devices and other gadgets in order to capture text and voice messages before they were encrypted with sophisticated software.
The White House said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump was “extremely concerned” about a CIA security breach that led to the Wikileaks release, and the administration would be tough on leakers.
“Anybody who leaks classified information will be held to the highest degree of law,” spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters.
One official with knowledge of the investigation said companies that are contractors for the CIA have been checking to see which of their employees had access to the material that Wikileaks published, and then going over their computer logs, emails and other communications for any evidence of who might be responsible.
One reason the investigation is focused on a potential leak by contractors rather than for example a hack by Russian intelligence, another official said, is that so far there is no evidence that Russian intelligence agencies tried to exploit any of the leaked material before it was published.
One European official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Wikileaks material could in fact lead to closer cooperation between European intelligence agencies and U.S. counterparts, which share concerns about Russian intelligence operations.
U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of seeking to tilt last year’s U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor, including by hacking into Democratic Party emails. Moscow has denied the allegation.
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in Langley, Virginia, U.S. on August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo
One major security problem was that the number of contractors with access to information with the highest secrecy classification has “exploded” because of federal budget constraints, the first U.S. official said.
U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to hire additional permanent staff needed to keep pace with technological advances such as the “Internet of Things” that connects cars, home security and heating systems and other devices to computer networks, or to pay salaries competitive with the private sector, the official said.
Reuters could not immediately verify the contents of the published documents. On Tuesday, several contractors and private cyber security experts said the materials appeared to be legitimate.
A person familiar with Wikileaks’ activities said Wikileaks has had the CIA hacking material for months, and that the release of the material was in the works “for a long time.”
A Congressional official said that the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has begun asking questions about the WikiLeaks disclosures.
In Germany on Wednesday, the chief federal prosecutor’s office said that it would review the Wikileaks documents because some suggested that the CIA ran a hacking hub from the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt.
“We’re looking at it very carefully,” a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office told Reuters. “We will initiate an investigation if we see evidence of concrete criminal acts or specific perpetrators.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to visit Washington on March 14 for her first meeting with Trump, who has sharply criticized Berlin for everything from its trade policy to what he considers inadequate levels of military spending.
The Wikileaks documents may also complicate bilateral intelligence ties that have just begun to recover after a series of scandals, including news in 2013 that the U.S. National Security Agency had bugged Merkel’s cellphone. The Frankfurt consulate was investigated by German lawmakers after that incident.
Merkel told lawmakers last month she did not know how closely Germany’s spies cooperated with their U.S. counterparts until 2015 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the BND spy agency had for years passed on information to the NSA about European companies and politicians.
Germany scaled back the level of cooperation with the NSA after those revelations.
U.S. officials have acknowledged that the consulate in Frankfurt is home to a CIA base. A facility adjacent to the city’s airport and the Rhein-Main Air Base has for many years been home to the CIA’s “Tefran” station, a U.S. center for collecting intelligence on Iranian activities in Europe, maintaining surveillance on Iranian officials and targeting potential defectors working in Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Foreign ministry spokesman Sebastian Fischer told a regular government news conference that Germany took the issue seriously, but more work needed to be done to verify the authenticity of the documents. Berlin was in close touch with Washington about the case and such matters generally, he said.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Germany’s domestic intelligence agency had the job of uncovering espionage activities in Germany, and carried out its work comprehensively.
Wikileaks reported that CIA employees had been given diplomatic passports and State Department identities to carry out their work in Frankfurt, focused on targets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The documents included advice for CIA experts about life in Germany, noting that shops are closed on Sundays, and to have “your cover-for-action story down pat” when they were asked by German authorities when entering the country.
(Reporting by John Walcott, Mark Hosenball, Yara Bayoumy in Washington and Matthias Sobolewski and Andrea Shalal in Berlin; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Peter Graff, Grant McCool and Frances Kerry)
Wikileaks to hand over alleged CIA spying tools to tech companies
Wikileaks will hand Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools to technology companies in order for them to defend their customers against spying.
Julian Assange, founder of the website, said he had decided to provide the classified information to giants such as Microsoft, Samsung and Apple whose products were implicated in the alleged CIA leaks.
Wikileaks didn’t disclose details of how the tools worked, but basic information that allegedly proves the cyber weapons arsenal exists.
In the wake of the release, Assange said tech companies had asked Wikileaks to pass them details of the hacks that affect their products in order for them to fix them.
“After considering what we think is the best way to proceed and hearing calls from some of the manufacturers we have decided to work with them, to give them exclusive access to some of the technical details we have,” said Assange.
With the information Assange said the companies can “effectively disarm” the alleged CIA hacking tools.
It is not clear how long it will take for all of the vulnerabilities to be fixed or if they can all be solved. Some could be blocked in a couple of days, said Assange, while other more critical one could take weeks.
Assange warned that other hacks, such as the one used to turn on a “fake off” spying mode on Samsung smart TVs, may have to be manually blocked. This could prove difficult as it would require people to know their device had been infected in order for it to be fixed.
Apple has responded directly to the alleged CIA hacking tools mentioned in the documents. It says the security vulnerabilities that could have been used to access iPhones were fixed as of its latest security update. Samsung and Google meanwhile have said they are investigating the claims but it is unclear what action they have taken.
The CIA has not commented on the authenticity of the leaks.
WikiLeaks has offered to help the likes of Google and Apple identify the software holes used by purported CIA hacking tools – and that puts the tech industry in something of a bind.
While companies have both a responsibility and financial incentive to fix problems in their software, accepting help from WikiLeaks raises legal and ethical questions. And it’s not even clear at this point exactly what kind of assistance WikiLeaks can offer.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Thursday that the anti-secrecy site will help technology companies find and fix software vulnerabilities in everyday gadgets such as phones and TVs. In an online news conference, Assange said some companies had asked for more details about the purported CIA cyberespionage toolkit that he revealed in a massive disclosure on Tuesday.
“We have decided to work with them, to give them some exclusive access to the additional technical details we have, so that fixes can be developed and pushed out,” Assange said. The digital blueprints for what he described as “cyberweapons” would be published to the world “once this material is effectively disarmed by us.”
Any conditions WikiLeaks might set for its cooperation weren’t immediately known. Nor was it clear if WikiLeaks holds additional details on specific vulnerabilities, or merely the tools designed to exploit them.
Apple declined comment on the WikiLeaks offer, and Google didn’t respond to requests for comment. Microsoft said it hopes that anyone with knowledge of software vulnerabilities would report them through the company’s usual channels.
Tech companies could run into legal difficulties in accepting the offer, especially if they have government contracts or employees with security clearances.
“The unauthorized release of classified documents does not mean it’s unclassified,” said Stewart Baker, a former official at the Department of Homeland Security and former legal counsel for the National Security Agency. “Doing business with WikiLeaks and reviewing classified documents poses a real risk for at least their government contracting arms and their cleared employees.”
Other lawyers, however, are convinced that much of the information in the documents is so widely known that they are now part of the public domain. That means tech companies would be unlikely to face any legal liability for digging deeper with WikiLeaks.
Alternatively, suppose tech companies don’t accept WikiLeaks’ offer to help fix any security flaws – and are subsequently hacked. At that point, they could face charges of negligence, particularly in Europe where privacy laws are much stricter than in the U.S., said Michael Zweiback, a former assistant U.S. attorney and cybercrime adviser now in private practice.
GETTING TOO CLOSE TO WIKILEAKS
Public perception might be a bigger problem. “They don’t want to be seen as endorsing or supporting an organization with a tainted reputation and an unclear agenda,” said Robert Cattanach, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney.
During the 2016 election, WikiLeaks published thousands of emails, some embarrassing, from breached Democratic Party computers and the account of a top aide to Hillary Clinton. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded those emails were stolen by hackers connected to the Russian government in an attempt to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
The CIA did not respond directly to Assange’s offer, but it appeared to take a dim view of it.
“Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity,” CIA spokeswoman Heather Fritz Horniak said.
But most tech companies already have digital hotlines to receive tips about security weaknesses, even if they come from unsavory characters. So it wouldn’t break new ground for them to consult with a shadowy organization such as WikiLeaks.
A BETTER PATH
Ideally, the CIA would have shared such vulnerabilities directly with companies, as other government agencies have long done. In that case, companies would not only be dealing with a known entity in an aboveboard fashion, they might also obtain a more nuanced understanding of the problems than their engineers could glean from documents or lines of computer code.
And if companies could learn details about how the CIA found these vulnerabilities, they might also find additional holes using the same technique, said Johannes Ullrich, director of the Internet Storm Center at the SANS Institute.
And there are risks obtaining actual hacking tools from WikiLeaks. Some might have unadvertised features that could, for instance, start extracting data as soon as they launch. Ullrich said the CIA also might have left some traps to attack people running its exploits. If these aren’t detailed in the documents, only the CIA would be able to help tech companies avoid setting them off.
If all goes well, WikiLeaks could emerge looking better than some parts of the U.S. government.
“I am not a fan of WikiLeaks, but I don’t think it is fair to throw rocks at everything they do,” said Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group specializing in online privacy and other digital rights. “What WikiLeaks is demonstrating is that the CIA does not have the best interests of these companies at heart.”
BETTER THAN NOTHING
There’s one more unknown, which is just how much help WikiLeaks can actually provide. Apple, Google and Microsoft say they’ve already rendered many of the alleged CIA cyberespionage tools obsolete with earlier updates that patched related software holes.
Still, the companies will probably want to check out what WikiLeaks has, assuming that the organization hasn’t set unreasonable conditions on its cooperation. Some privacy and security experts believe the CIA’s own refusal to contact the affected companies about the vulnerabilities gives them little choice.
“We all should have better security, and certainly at this point, not trying to fixing them makes no sense,” Cohn said.
Liedtke reported from San Ramon, Calif. Raphael Satter in Paris, Paisley Dodds in London and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to reflect that purported CIA tools are not aimed at “defeating encryption” but at hijacking computers.
Why Is Obama Expanding Surveillance Powers Right Before He Leaves Office?
It could be to prevent Trump from extending them even more.
JAN 13, 2017
On Thursday, the Obama administration finalized new rules that allow the National Security Agency to share information it gleans from its vast international surveillance apparatus with the 16 other agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.With the new changes, which were long in the works, those agencies can apply for access to various feeds of raw, undoctored NSA intelligence. Analysts will then be able to sift through the contents of those feeds as they see fit, before implementing required privacy protections. Previously, the NSA applied those privacy protections itself, before forwarding select pieces of information to agencies that might need to see them.The updated procedures will multiply the number of intelligence analysts who have access to NSA surveillance, which is captured in large quantities and often isn’t subject to warrant requirements. The changes rankled privacy advocates, who oppose a broadening of surveillance powers—especially on the cusp of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Trump and Mike Pompeo, the president-elect’s nominee for CIA director, have made it clear that they think overzealous civil-liberties protections should be cleared away in favor of stronger surveillance laws.But while the changes may subject more Americans to warrantless surveillance, the last-minute timing of the announcement actually might have been designed to cut future privacy losses. Susan Hennessey, a Brookings fellow and the managing editor of Lawfare, says firming up the changes before Trump takes office makes it harder for the incoming president to encroach even further on civil liberties.I spoke with Hennessey, who was previously an attorney in the NSA general counsel’s office, about the lasting effects of the new intelligence-sharing procedures. A transcript of our conversation follows, lightly edited for clarity and concision.
Kaveh Waddell: First off, what do these changes mean for the intelligence community? Has a lack of information-sharing among agencies been holding back investigations?
Susan Hennessey: The origin of these changes dates back, honestly, to just after 9/11. There was this identified issue of “stovepiping”: Intelligence wasn’t being shared frequently or fast enough. Some modifications have already been made throughout the years.
Under Executive Order 12333 as it previously existed, NSA analysts had to make an initial determination and apply a set of privacy rules before sharing raw signals-intelligence information with other parts of the intelligence community. After this change, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an NSA analyst that makes that determination—that information can be shared with other parts of the intelligence community.
So it doesn’t change the substantive rules, it doesn’t change the scope of collection, it doesn’t change the types of protection, it doesn’t change the possible uses; it essentially just broadens the group of people who can apply those protections to the raw intelligence.
Waddell: And by extension, it broadens the group of people who get to see raw intelligence, before those rules are applied?
Hennessey: Yes. This is something that has been at the forefront of privacy and civil-liberties advocates’ minds when they’ve expressed concern with this type of collection. But it’s not accurate to say the rule change means it’s a raw signals-intelligence free-for-all, that anybody can get signals intelligence.
Intelligence agencies other than the NSA will have to provide justification for why they need access to that data. It can only be for foreign intelligence, or other enumerated purposes. So it’s not that those agencies will just be able to see whatever they want—it’s that they will be able to request, with particular justifications, access to more raw signals intelligence than they had before. Then, they will need to apply those minimization procedures for themselves.
The civil-liberties concern often surrounds the use of incidentally collected information. Under the new rule, the FBI could not obtain access to or search raw intelligence information for ordinary criminals in an ordinary criminal investigation against a U.S. person. However, if the FBI incidentally seized evidence of a crime, they are allowed to use that information. So that tends to be where the tension is for people who are concerned with the potential impacts that this change could have on U.S. persons.
Waddell: The fact that more Americans could potentially be subject to warrantless searches, just by virtue of being caught up in the raw signals intelligence that’s shared—is that something that concerns you?
Hennessey: No. Look, I think it’s important to understand that these minimization procedures are taken very seriously, and all other agencies that are handling raw signals intelligence are essentially going to have to import these very complex oversight and compliance mechanisms that currently exist at the NSA.
Within the NSA, those are extremely strong and protective mechanisms. I think people should feel reassured that the rules cannot be violated—certainly not without it coming to the attention of oversight and compliance bodies. I am confident that all of the agencies in the U.S. intelligence community will discharge those very same obligations with the same level of diligence and rigor, adhering to both the spirit and the letter of the law.
That said, there are potentially broader reforms that might be undertaken. I don’t think that they necessarily need to be linked to the sharing of data. But it’s reasonable to at least engage in a conversation about whether or not it’s appropriate to have particular post-collection reforms, like for example imposing an obligation for law enforcement to obtain a warrant in particular circumstances.
That’s a long way of saying that nothing about this particular rule change exposing Americans to additional privacy risks. However, that doesn’t mean that there are not still reasonable and responsible reforms which might take place.
Waddell: I found it interesting that you said the change could, in one way, actually be viewed as a “huge source of comfort.” I think you were referring to the timing of the change. Why is that?
Hennessey: These changes have actually been in process for eight or nine years. One of the things that I think individuals who had insight into intelligence activities and were concerned about the election of Donald Trump—specifically, some of the statements he’s made about adherence to the rule of law—a lot of those people’s minds went very quickly to these procedures.
It’s important to understand the distinction between Executive Order 12333 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: One very oversimplified way to think about it is that FISA is a statute that governs collection that takes place within the United States, but that is aimed at a foreign target; 12333 collection is aimed at a foreign target, and takes place outside the United States. That’s shorthand that glosses over some technical and legal nuance, but those are the broad buckets people should be thinking about.
FISA is a statute, so you’d need congressional action to change those rules, and you have a built-in check there. But 12333 is not constrained by statute; it’s constrained by executive order. In theory, a president could change an executive order—that’s within his constitutional power. It’s not as easy as just a pen stroke, but it’s theoretically possible.
Executive Order 12333 requires that this series of protective procedures exist and are adhered to. The procedures are kind of where the rubber meets the road on privacy. They’re the details, the nitty-gritty: What can you actually see? What can you share? What do you have to minimize? So they’re really, really important in terms of what the relationship between U.S. citizens and the intelligence community looks like.
When they were in rewrites, they were sort of vulnerable. There was the possibility that an incoming administration would say, “Hey! While you’re in the process of rewriting, let’s go ahead and adjust some of the domestic protections.” And I think a reasonable observer might assume that while the protections the Obama administration was interested in putting into place increased privacy protections—or at the very least did not reduce them—that the incoming administration has indicated that they are less inclined to be less protective of privacy and civil liberties. So I think it is a good sign that these procedures have been finalized, in part because it’s so hard to change procedures once they’re finalized.
Waddell: Is that why we just went through an eight- or nine-year process to get here?
Hennessey: Exactly. For questions both of genuine complexity and just government bureaucracy, the time horizon here is longer than a single term of the presidency.
So I don’t think that it’s necessarily true that the intelligence community or the Department of Justice was rushing to get these procedures passed; if anything, they’re a little bit late. But I think the bottom line is that it’s comforting to a large national-security community that these are procedures that are signed off by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and not by the DNI and attorney general that will ultimately be confirmed under the Trump Administration.
Waddell: Is there anything else we should be thinking about with these new changes?
Hennessey: People sometimes focus on the top-line stuff and end up missing the things that aren’t necessarily the symbolic expressions of privacy—the things that make us feel good—but are the functional elements of privacy and civil liberties. What rules do people apply day-to-day and how? There’s going to be a need moving forward to have disciplined conversations about the legal protections that really matter.
If there is a silver lining to some of the anxieties that the incoming administration has produced, I think it’s the potential to move the conversation into a much more productive place. But that opportunity will end up being lost if the responses are the same old same. That’s my last shred of optimism, and I’m hanging on to it.
Timely and accurate information about the activities, capabilities, plans, and intentions of foreign powers, organizations, and persons and their agents, is essential to the national security of the United States. All reasonable and lawful means must be used to ensure that the United States will receive the best intelligence available. For that purpose, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the United States of America, including the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, and as President of the United States of America, in order to provide for the effective conduct of United States intelligence activities and the protection of constitutional rights, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Goals, Direction, Duties and Responsibilities With Respect to the National Intelligence Effort
1.1Goals. The United States intelligence effort shall provide the President and the National Security Council with the necessary information on which to base decisions concerning the conduct and development of foreign, defense and economic policy, and the protection of United States national interests from foreign security threats. All departments and agencies shall cooperate fully to fulfill this goal.
(a) Maximum emphasis should be given to fostering analytical competition among appropriate elements of the Intelligence Community.
(b) All means, consistent with applicable United States law and this Order, and with full consideration of the rights of United States persons, shall be used to develop intelligence information for the President and the National Security Council. A balanced approach between technical collection efforts and other means should be maintained and encouraged. (c) Special emphasis should be given to detecting and countering espionage and other threats and activities directed by foreign intelligence services against the United States Government, or United States corporations, establishments, or persons. (d) To the greatest extent possible consistent with applicable United States law and this Order, and with full consideration of the rights of United States persons, all agencies and departments should seek to ensure full and free exchange of information in order to derive maximum benefit from the United States intelligence effort.
1.2The National Security Council.
(a) Purpose. The National Security Council (NSC) was established by the National Security Act of 1947 to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign and military policies relating to the national security. The NSC shall act as the highest Executive Branch entity that provides review of, guidance for and direction to the conduct of all national foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, and special activities, and attendant policies and programs.
(b) Committees. The NSC shall establish such committees as may be necessary to carry out its functions and responsibilities under this Order. The NSC, or a committee established by it, shall consider and submit to the President a policy recommendation, including all dissents, on each special activity and shall review proposals for other sensitive intelligence operations.
1.3National Foreign Intelligence Advisory Groups.
(a) Establishment and Duties. The Director of Central Intelligence shall establish such boards, councils, or groups as required for the purpose of obtaining advice from within the Intelligence Community concerning:
(1) Production, review and coordination of national foreign intelligence;
(2) Priorities for the National Foreign Intelligence Program budget;
(3) Interagency exchanges of foreign intelligence information;
(4) Arrangements with foreign governments on intelligence matters;
(5) Protection of intelligence sources and methods;
(6) Activities of common concern; and
(7) Such other matters as may be referred by the Director of Central Intelligence.
(b) Membership. Advisory groups established pursuant to this section shall be chaired by the Director of Central Intelligence or his designated representative and shall consist of senior representatives from organizations within the Intelligence Community and from departments or agencies containing such organizations, as designated by the Director of Central Intelligence. Groups for consideration of substantive intelligence matters will include representatives of organizations involved in the collection, processing and analysis of intelligence. A senior representative of the Secretary of Commerce, the Attorney General, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense shall be invited to participate in any group which deals with other than substantive intelligence matters.
1.4The Intelligence Community. The agencies within the Intelligence Community shall, in accordance with applicable United States law and with the other provisions of this Order, conduct intelligence activities necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the protection of the national security of the United States, including:
(a) Collection of information needed by the President, the National Security Council, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and other Executive Branch officials for the performance of their duties and responsibilities;
(b) Production and dissemination of intelligence;
(c) Collection of information concerning, and the conduct of activities to protect against, intelligence activities directed against the United States, international terrorist and international narcotics activities, and other hostile activities directed against the United States by foreign powers, organizations, persons, and their agents;
(d) Special activities;
(e) Administrative and support activities within the United States and abroad necessary for the performance of authorized activities; and
(f) Such other intelligence activities as the President may direct from time to time.
1.5Director of Central Intelligence. In order to discharge the duties and responsibilities prescribed by law, the Director of Central Intelligence shall be responsible directly to the President and the NSC and shall:
(a) Act as the primary adviser to the President and the NSC on national foreign intelligence and provide the President and other officials in the Executive Branch with national foreign intelligence;
(b) Develop such objectives and guidance for the Intelligence Community as will enhance capabilities for responding to expected future needs for national foreign intelligence;
(c) Promote the development and maintenance of services of common concern by designated intelligence organizations on behalf of the Intelligence Community;
(d) Ensure implementation of special activities;
(e) Formulate policies concerning foreign intelligence and counterintelligence arrangements with foreign governments, coordinate foreign intelligence and counterintelligence relationships between agencies of the Intelligence Community and the intelligence or internal security services of foreign governments, and establish procedures governing the conduct of liaison by any department or agency with such services on narcotics activities;
(f) Participate in the development of procedures approved by the Attorney General governing criminal narcotics intelligence activities abroad to ensure that these activities are consistent with foreign intelligence programs;
(g) Ensure the establishment by the Intelligence Community of common security and access standards for managing and handling foreign intelligence systems, information, and products;
(h) Ensure that programs are developed which protect intelligence sources, methods, and analytical procedures;
(i) Establish uniform criteria for the determination of relative priorities for the transmission of critical national foreign intelligence, and advise the Secretary of Defense concerning the communications requirements of the Intelligence Community for the transmission of such intelligence;
(j) Establish appropriate staffs, committees, or other advisory groups to assist in the execution of the Director’s responsibilities;
(k) Have full responsibility for production and dissemination of national foreign intelligence, and authority to levy analytic tasks on departmental intelligence production organizations, in consultation with those organizations, ensuring that appropriate mechanisms for competitive analysis are developed so that diverse points of view are considered fully and differences of judgment within the Intelligence Community are brought to the attention of national policymakers;
(l) Ensure the timely exploitation and dissemination of data gathered by national foreign intelligence collection means, and ensure that the resulting intelligence is disseminated immediately to appropriate government entities and military commands;
(m) Establish mechanisms which translate national foreign intelligence objectives and priorities approved by the NSC into specific guidance for the Intelligence Community, resolve conflicts in tasking priority, provide to departments and agencies having information collection capabilities that are not part of the National Foreign Intelligence Program advisory tasking concerning collection of national foreign intelligence, and provide for the development of plans and arrangements for transfer of required collection tasking authority to the Secretary of Defense when directed by the President;
(n) Develop, with the advice of the program managers and departments and agencies concerned, the consolidated National Foreign Intelligence Program budget, and present it to the President and the Congress;
(o) Review and approve all requests for reprogramming National Foreign Intelligence Program funds, in accordance with guidelines established by the Office of Management and Budget;
(p) Monitor National Foreign Intelligence Program implementation, and, as necessary, conduct program and performance audits and evaluations;
(q) Together with the Secretary of Defense, ensure that there is no unnecessary overlap between national foreign intelligence programs and Department of Defense intelligence programs consistent with the requirement to develop competitive analysis, and provide to and obtain from the Secretary of Defense all information necessary for this purpose;
(r) In accordance with law and relevant procedures approved by the Attorney General under this Order, give the heads of the departments and agencies access to all intelligence, developed by the CIA or the staff elements of the Director of Central Intelligence, relevant to the national intelligence needs of the departments and agencies; and
(s) Facilitate the use of national foreign intelligence products by Congress in a secure manner.
1.6Duties and Responsibilities of the Heads of Executive Branch Departments and Agencies.
(a) The heads of all Executive Branch departments and agencies shall, in accordance with law and relevant procedures approved by the Attorney General under this Order, give the Director of Central Intelligence access to all information relevant to the national intelligence needs of the United States, and shall give due consideration to the requests from the Director of Central Intelligence for appropriate support for Intelligence Community activities.
(b) The heads of departments and agencies involved in the National Foreign Intelligence Program shall ensure timely development and submission to the Director of Central Intelligence by the program managers and heads of component activities of proposed national programs and budgets in the format designated by the Director of Central Intelligence, and shall also ensure that the Director of Central Intelligence is provided, in a timely and responsive manner, all information necessary to perform the Director’s program and budget responsibilities.
(c) The heads of departments and agencies involved in the National Foreign Intelligence Program may appeal to the President decisions by the Director of Central Intelligence on budget or reprogramming matters of the National Foreign Intelligence Program.
1.7Senior Officials of the Intelligence Community. The heads of departments and agencies with organizations in the Intelligence Community or the heads of such organizations, as appropriate, shall:
(a) Report to the Attorney General possible violations of federal criminal laws by employees and of specified federal criminal laws by any other person as provided in procedures agreed upon by the Attorney General and the head of the department or agency concerned, in a manner consistent with the protection of intelligence sources and methods, as specified in those procedures;
(b) In any case involving serious or continuing breaches of security, recommend to the Attorney General that the case be referred to the FBI for further investigation;
(c) Furnish the Director of Central Intelligence and the NSC, in accordance with applicable law and procedures approved by the Attorney General under this Order, the information required for the performance of their respective duties;
(d) Report to the Intelligence Oversight Board, and keep the Director of Central Intelligence appropriately informed, concerning any intelligence activities of their organizations that they have reason to believe may be unlawful or contrary to Executive order or Presidential directive;
(e) Protect intelligence and intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure consistent with guidance from the Director of Central Intelligence;
(f) Disseminate intelligence to cooperating foreign governments under arrangements established or agreed to by the Director of Central Intelligence;
(g) Participate in the development of procedures approved by the Attorney General governing production and dissemination of intelligence resulting from criminal narcotics intelligence activities abroad if their departments, agencies, or organizations have intelligence responsibilities for foreign or domestic narcotics production and trafficking;
(h) Instruct their employees to cooperate fully with the Intelligence Oversight Board; and
(i) Ensure that the Inspectors General and General Counsels for their organizations have access to any information necessary to perform their duties assigned by this Order.
1.8The Central Intelligence Agency. All duties and responsibilities of the CIA shall be related to the intelligence functions set out below. As authorized by this Order; the National Security Act of 1947, as amended; the CIA Act of 1949, as amended; appropriate directives or other applicable law, the CIA shall:
(a) Collect, produce and disseminate foreign intelligence and counterintelligence, including information not otherwise obtainable. The collection of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence within the United States shall be coordinated with the FBI as required by procedures agreed upon by the Director of Central Intelligence and the Attorney General;
(b) Collect, produce and disseminate intelligence on foreign aspects of narcotics production and trafficking;
(c) Conduct counterintelligence activities outside the United States and, without assuming or performing any internal security functions, conduct counterintelligence activities within the United States in coordination with the FBI as required by procedures agreed upon by the Director of Central Intelligence and the Attorney General;
(d) Coordinate counterintelligence activities and the collection of information not otherwise obtainable when conducted outside the United States by other departments and agencies;
(e) Conduct special activities approved by the President. No agency except the CIA (or the Armed Forces of the United States in time of war declared by Congress or during any period covered by a report from the President to the Congress under the War Powers Resolution (87 Stat. 855)1) may conduct any special activity unless the President determines that another agency is more likely to achieve a particular objective;
(f) Conduct services of common concern for the Intelligence Community as directed by the NSC;
(g) Carry out or contract for research, development and procurement of technical systems and devices relating to authorized functions;
(h) Protect the security of its installations, activities, information, property, and employees by appropriate means, including such investigations of applicants, employees, contractors, and other persons with similar associations with the CIA as are necessary; and
(i) Conduct such administrative and technical support activities within and outside the United States as are necessary to perform the functions described in sections (a) through (h) above, including procurement and essential cover and proprietary arrangements.
1.9The Department of State. The Secretary of State shall:
(a) Overtly collect information relevant to United States foreign policy concerns;
(b) Produce and disseminate foreign intelligence relating to United States foreign policy as required for the execution of the Secretary’s responsibilities;
(c) Disseminate, as appropriate, reports received from United States diplomatic and consular posts;
(d) Transmit reporting requirements of the Intelligence Community to the Chiefs of United States Missions abroad; and
(e) Support Chiefs of Missions in discharging their statutory responsibilities for direction and coordination of mission activities.
1.10The Department of the Treasury. The Secretary of the Treasury shall:
(a) Overtly collect foreign financial and monetary information;
(b) Participate with the Department of State in the overt collection of general foreign economic information;
(c) Produce and disseminate foreign intelligence relating to United States economic policy as required for the execution of the Secretary’s responsibilities; and
(d) Conduct, through the United States Secret Service, activities to determine the existence and capability of surveillance equipment being used against the President of the United States, the Executive Office of the President, and, as authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury or the President, other Secret Service protectees and United States officials. No information shall be acquired intentionally through such activities except to protect against such surveillance, and those activities shall be conducted pursuant to procedures agreed upon by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General.
1.11The Department of Defense. The Secretary of Defense shall:
(a) Collect national foreign intelligence and be responsive to collection tasking by the Director of Central Intelligence;
(b) Collect, produce and disseminate military and military-related foreign intelligence and counterintelligence as required for execution of the Secretary’s responsibilities;
(c) Conduct programs and missions necessary to fulfill national, departmental and tactical foreign intelligence requirements;
(d) Conduct counterintelligence activities in support of Department of Defense components outside the United States in coordination with the CIA, and within the United States in coordination with the FBI pursuant to procedures agreed upon by the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General;
(e) Conduct, as the executive agent of the United States Government, signals intelligence and communications security activities, except as otherwise directed by the NSC;
(f) Provide for the timely transmission of critical intelligence, as defined by the Director of Central Intelligence, within the United States Government;
(g) Carry out or contract for research, development and procurement of technical systems and devices relating to authorized intelligence functions;
(h) Protect the security of Department of Defense installations, activities, property, information, and employees by appropriate means, including such investigations of applicants, employees, contractors, and other persons with similar associations with the Department of Defense as are necessary;
(i) Establish and maintain military intelligence relationships and military intelligence exchange programs with selected cooperative foreign defense establishments and international organizations, and ensure that such relationships and programs are in accordance with policies formulated by the Director of Central Intelligence;
(j) Direct, operate, control and provide fiscal management for the National Security Agency and for defense and military intelligence and national reconnaissance entities; and
(k) Conduct such administrative and technical support activities within and outside the United States as are necessary to perform the functions described in sections (a) through (j) above.
1.12Intelligence Components Utilized by the Secretary of Defense. In carrying out the responsibilities assigned in section 1.11, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to utilize the following:
(1) Collection, production, or, through tasking and coordination, provision of military and military-related intelligence for the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, other Defense components, and, as appropriate, non-Defense agencies;
(2) Collection and provision of military intelligence for national foreign intelligence and counterintelligence products;
(3) Coordination of all Department of Defense intelligence collection requirements;
(4) Management of the Defense Attache system; and
(5) Provision of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence staff support as directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
(b) National Security Agency, whose responsibilities shall include:
(1) Establishment and operation of an effective unified organization for signals intelligence activities, except for the delegation of operational control over certain operations that are conducted through other elements of the Intelligence Community. No other department or agency may engage in signals intelligence activities except pursuant to a delegation by the Secretary of Defense;
(2) Control of signals intelligence collection and processing activities, including assignment of resources to an appropriate agent for such periods and tasks as required for the direct support of military commanders;
(3) Collection of signals intelligence information for national foreign intelligence purposes in accordance with guidance from the Director of Central Intelligence;
(4) Processing of signals intelligence data for national foreign intelligence purposes in accordance with guidance from the Director of Central Intelligence;
(5) Dissemination of signals intelligence information for national foreign intelligence purposes to authorized elements of the Government, including the military services, in accordance with guidance from the Director of Central Intelligence;
(6) Collection, processing and dissemination of signals intelligence information for counterintelligence purposes;
(7) Provision of signals intelligence support for the conduct of military operations in accordance with tasking, priorities, and standards of timeliness assigned by the Secretary of Defense. If provision of such support requires use of national collection systems, these systems will be tasked within existing guidance from the Director of Central Intelligence;
(8) Executing the responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense as executive agent for the communications security of the United States Government;
(9) Conduct of research and development to meet the needs of the United States for signals intelligence and communications security;
(10) Protection of the security of its installations, activities, property, information, and employees by appropriate means, including such investigations of applicants, employees, contractors, and other persons with similar associations with the NSA as are necessary;
(11) Prescribing, within its field of authorized operations, security regulations covering operating practices, including the transmission, handling and distribution of signals intelligence and communications security material within and among the elements under control of the Director of the NSA, and exercising the necessary supervisory control to ensure compliance with the regulations;
(12) Conduct of foreign cryptologic liaison relationships, with liaison for intelligence purposes conducted in accordance with policies formulated by the Director of Central Intelligence; and
(13) Conduct of such administrative and technical support activities within and outside the United States as are necessary to perform the functions described in sections (1) through (12) above, including procurement.
(c) Offices for the collection of specialized intelligence through reconnaissance programs, whose responsibilities shall include:
(1) Carrying out consolidated reconnaissance programs for specialized intelligence;
(2) Responding to tasking in accordance with procedures established by the Director of Central Intelligence; and
(3) Delegating authority to the various departments and agencies for research, development, procurement, and operation of designated means of collection.
The foreign intelligence and counterintelligence elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps,
whose responsibilities shall include:
(1) Collection, production and dissemination of military and military-related foreign intelligence and counterintelligence, and information on the foreign aspects of narcotics production and trafficking. When collection is conducted in response to national foreign intelligence requirements, it will be conducted in accordance with guidance from the Director of Central Intelligence. Collection of national foreign intelligence, not otherwise obtainable, outside the United States shall be coordinated with the CIA, and such collection within the United States shall be coordinated with the FBI;
(2) Conduct of counterintelligence activities outside the United States in coordination with the CIA, and within the United States in coordination with the FBI; and
(3) Monitoring of the development, procurement and management of tactical intelligence systems and equipment and conducting related research, development, and test and evaluation activities.
(e) Other offices within the Department of Defense appropriate for conduct of the intelligence missions and responsibilities assigned to the Secretary of Defense. If such other offices are used for intelligence purposes, the provisions of Part 2 of this Order shall apply to those offices when used for those purposes.
1.13The Department of Energy. The Secretary of Energy shall:
(a) Participate with the Department of State in overtly collecting information with respect to foreign energy matters;
(b) Produce and disseminate foreign intelligence necessary for the Secretary’s responsibilities;
(c) Participate in formulating intelligence collection and analysis requirements where the special expert capability of the Department can contribute; and
(d) Provide expert technical, analytical and research capability to other agencies within the Intelligence Community.
1.14The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under the supervision of the Attorney General and pursuant to such regulations as the Attorney General may establish, the Director of the FBI shall:
(a) Within the United States conduct counterintelligence and coordinate counterintelligence activities of other agencies within the Intelligence Community. When a counterintelligence activity of the FBI involves military or civilian personnel of the Department of Defense, the FBI shall coordinate with the Department of Defense;
(b) Conduct counterintelligence activities outside the United States in coordination with the CIA as required by procedures agreed upon by the Director of Central Intelligence and the Attorney General;
(c) Conduct within the United States, when requested by officials of the Intelligence Community designated by the President, activities undertaken to collect foreign intelligence or support foreign intelligence collection requirements of other agencies within the Intelligence Community, or, when requested by the Director of the National Security Agency, to support the communications security activities of the United States Government;
(d) Produce and disseminate foreign intelligence and counterintelligence; and
(e) Carry out or contract for research, development and procurement of technical systems and devices relating to the functions authorized above.
Conduct of Intelligence Activities
2.1Need. Accurate and timely information about the capabilities, intentions and activities of foreign powers, organizations, or persons and their agents is essential to informed decisionmaking in the areas of national defense and foreign relations. Collection of such information is a priority objective and will be pursued in a vigorous, innovative and responsible manner that is consistent with the Constitution and applicable law and respectful of the principles upon which the United States was founded.
2.2Purpose. This Order is intended to enhance human and technical collection techniques, especially those undertaken abroad, and the acquisition of significant foreign intelligence, as well as the detection and countering of international terrorist activities and espionage conducted by foreign powers. Set forth below are certain general principles that, in addition to and consistent with applicable laws, are intended to achieve the proper balance between the acquisition of essential information and protection of individual interests. Nothing in this Order shall be construed to apply to or interfere with any authorized civil or criminal law enforcement responsibility of any department or agency.
2.3Collection of Information. Agencies within the Intelligence Community are authorized to collect, retain or disseminate information concerning United States persons only in accordance with procedures established by the head of the agency concerned and approved by the Attorney General, consistent with the authorities provided by Part 1 of this Order. Those procedures shall permit collection, retention and dissemination of the following types of information:
(a) Information that is publicly available or collected with the consent of the person concerned;
(b) Information constituting foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, including such information concerning corporations or other commercial organizations. Collection within the United States of foreign intelligence not otherwise obtainable shall be undertaken by the FBI or, when significant foreign intelligence is sought, by other authorized agencies of the Intelligence Community, provided that no foreign intelligence collection by such agencies may be undertaken for the purpose of acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons;
(c) Information obtained in the course of a lawful foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, international narcotics or international terrorism investigation;
(d) Information needed to protect the safety of any persons or organizations, including those who are targets, victims or hostages of international terrorist organizations;
(e) Information needed to protect foreign intelligence or counterintelligence sources or methods from unauthorized disclosure. Collection within the United States shall be undertaken by the FBI exceptthat other agencies of the Intelligence Community may also collect such information concerning present or former employees, present or former intelligence agency contractors or their present or former employees, or applicants for any such employment or contracting;
(f) Information concerning persons who are reasonably believed to be potential sources or contacts for the purpose of determining their suitability or credibility;
(g) Information arising out of a lawful personnel, physical or communications security investigation;
(h) Information acquired by overhead reconnaissance not directed at specific United States persons;
(i) Incidentally obtained information that may indicate involvement in activities that may violate federal, state, local or foreign laws; and
(j) Information necessary for administrative purposes.
In addition, agencies within the Intelligence Community may disseminate information, other than information derived from signals intelligence, to each appropriate agency within the Intelligence Community for purposes of allowing the recipient agency to determine whether the information is relevant to its responsibilities and can be retained by it.
2.4Collection Techniques. Agencies within the Intelligence Community shall use the least intrusive collection techniques feasible within the United States or directed against United States persons abroad. Agencies are not authorized to use such techniques as electronic surveillance, unconsented physical search, mail surveillance, physical surveillance, or monitoring devices unless they are in accordance with procedures established by the head of the agency concerned and approved by the Attorney General. Such procedures shall protect constitutional and other legal rights and limit use of such information to lawful governmental purposes. These procedures shall not authorize:
(a) The CIA to engage in electronic surveillance within the United States except for the purpose of training, testing, or conducting countermeasures to hostile electronic surveillance;
(b) Unconsented physical searches in the United States by agencies other than the FBI, except for:
(1) Searches by counterintelligence elements of the military services directed against military personnel within the United States or abroad for intelligence purposes, when authorized by a military commander empowered to approve physical searches for law enforcement purposes, based upon a finding of probable cause to believe that such persons are acting as agents of foreign powers; and
(2) Searches by CIA of personal property of non-United States persons lawfully in its possession.
(c) Physical surveillance of a United States person in the United States by agencies other than the FBI, except for:
(1) Physical surveillance of present or former employees, present or former intelligence agency contractors or their present of former employees, or applicants for any such employment or contracting; and
(2) Physical surveillance of a military person employed by a nonintelligence element of a military service.
(d) Physical surveillance of a United States person abroad to collect foreign intelligence, except to obtain significant information that cannot reasonably be acquired by other means.
2.5Attorney General Approval. The Attorney General hereby is delegated the power to approve the use for intelligence purposes, within the United States or against a United States person abroad, of any technique for which a warrant would be required if undertaken for law enforcement purposes, provided that such techniques shall not be undertaken unless the Attorney General has determined in each case that there is probable cause to believe that the technique is directed against a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Electronic surveillance, as defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, shall be conducted in accordance with that Act, as well as this Order.
2.6Assistance to Law Enforcement Authorities. Agencies within the Intelligence Community are authorized to:
(a) Cooperate with appropriate law enforcement agencies for the purpose of protecting the employees, information, property and facilities of any agency within the Intelligence Community;
(b) Unless otherwise precluded by law or this Order, participate in law enforcement activities to investigate or prevent clandestine intelligence activities by foreign powers, or international terrorist or narcotics activities;
(c) Provide specialized equipment, technical knowledge, or assistance of expert personnel for use by any department or agency, or, when lives are endangered, to support local law enforcement agencies. Provision of assistance by expert personnel shall be approved in each case by the General Counsel of the providing agency; and
(d) Render any other assistance and cooperation to law enforcement authorities not precluded by applicable law.
2.7Contracting. Agencies within the Intelligence Community are authorized to enter into contracts or arrangements for the provision of goods or services with private companies or institutions in the United States and need not reveal the sponsorship of such contracts or arrangements for authorized intelligence purposes. Contracts or arrangements with academic institutions may be undertaken only with the consent of appropriate officials of the institution.
2.8Consistency With Other Laws. Nothing in this Order shall be construed to authorize any activity in violation of the Constitution or statutes of the United States.
2.9Undisclosed Participation in Organizations Within the United States. No one acting on behalf of agencies within the Intelligence Community may join or otherwise participate in any organization in the United States on behalf of any agency within the Intelligence Community without disclosing his intelligence affiliation to appropriate officials of the organization, except in accordance with procedures established by the head of the agency concerned and approved by the Attorney General. Such participatio