The Pronk Pops Show 1375, December 13, 2019, Story 1: House Judiciary Committee 21 Democrats Vote For Impeachment and 17 Republicans Vote Against Impeachment of President Trump — Videos — Story 2: Congress Will Pass Budget Busting Omnibus Bill — Vote Democrats and Republicans Who Vote For Omnibus Spending Bill Out of Office For Financial Irresponsibility –Trump Must Veto Bill or Lose Support of Independents — Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Deficit Will Exceed $1,000 Billion — Videos

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Story 1: House Judiciary Committee 21 Democrats Vote For Impeachment and 17 Republicans Vote Against Impeachment of President Trump — Videos

Real Abuse of Power — Obama Administration

Bartiromo on FISA abuse: The lies are real, people will be prosecuted

Fitton accuses Comey of ‘directly’ spying on Trump

Brit Hume on Comey’s role in FISA misconduct

Trey Gowdy: Comey has lost his mind

Gaetz: Voting out Dems in 2020 is only way to ‘rebuild Congress’

Trish Regan: Comey should be held accountable

Tucker: Impeachment is a terrible idea for the country

No Abuse of Power — No Crime — Trump Administration

Ted Cruz lays out impeachment trial in the Senate

FIRED UP: Debbie Lesko says there’s NO PROOF Trump committed any impeachable offense

Collins on Senate denying Dem witnesses: ‘Welcome to the club, Mr. Schumer’

Doug Collins: Schiff, Pelosi, Nadler are acting like ‘petulant children’

RAILROADED: Doug Collins GOES OFF On Impeachment “Witch Hunt”

Gaetz on impeachment: Dems failed to meet the standards they set

Tomi Lahren rips impeachment push: Americans are ‘fed up’

House GOP speak after debating Trump articles of impeachment

The Five’ on Trump’s blistering letter to Pelosi

‘The Five’ breaks down the historic Trump impeachment debate

Giuliani admits to forcing out Yovanovitch: ‘She’s corrupt’

Steyn: Only proof Trump stole 2016 election is that he won it

PBS NewsHour West live episode, Dec 13, 2019

Ted Cruz lays out impeachment trial in the Senate

Trump approval rises, support for impeachment drops in new poll

A new poll released hours before the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives was poised to impeach President Trump indicates that by a slight 51-45 percent majority, Americans oppose removing the president from office.

The survey – released Wednesday morning by Gallup – also points to a drop in support for impeachment from October, when the inquiry into Trump got underway. At that time, according to Gallup, Americans supported impeachment by a 52-46 margin. And the poll, which was conducted Dec. 2-15, indicates that the Republican incumbent’s approval rating has edged up the past two months – from 39 percent in October to 45 percent now – as the House held blockbuster public hearings.

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP APPROVAL RATING TICKS UP AS IMPEACHMENT VIEWS REMAIN STEADY

The Gallup survey is one of seven live telephone operator national polls on impeachment that were conducted this month and released starting on Sunday. Some of the surveys indicate a slight deterioration in support for impeachment since October, with the others showing that support and opposition have remained mostly static.

The president, though, has played up the polls heavily, tweeting Friday that “Poll numbers have gone through the roof in favor of No Impeachment.”

While all the surveys indicate a deep partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans over impeachment, most of the polls suggest that a majority of independent voters oppose booting Trump from the White House.

Surveys from Quinnipiac University, Gallup, PBS/NPR/Marist, and USA Today/Suffolk University all point to a majority of independents opposed to impeaching and removing the president from office. Polls from Fox News and CNN indicate that independents are evenly divided.

And the polls also spotlight a gender divide – with majorities of men opposing and women supporting – on impeaching and removing Trump from the White House.

The surveys also show an uptick in the president’s approval rating from October to December.

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

The president faces two articles of impeachment – that he abused the powers of his office and that he obstructed Congress as it investigated him. Impeachment by the Democratic majority in the House would trigger a Senate trial, which would likely be held in January. The GOP-controlled Senate is expected to acquit Trump.

The president’s facing impeachment over his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings in the eastern European country. Biden is one of the top Democratic 2020 presidential contenders hoping to challenge Trump in next year’s election. Fueled by whistleblower complaints, a transcript of the call released by the White House, and testimony by witnesses in the inquiry, Democrats say that the president was asking a foreign country to potentially interfere in a U.S. election.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that before that phone call, millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine was put on hold. Despite allegations that the president was using that money as leverage, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong. He’s said there was no “quid pro quo” and has on numerous occasions described his conversation with the Ukrainian leader as “perfect.”

On Monday morning, the president took to Twitter to call the Democrats’ impeachment push the “greatest con job in the history of American politics!”

On the eve of his impeachment by the House, President Donald Trump sent a blistering letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi — airing his grievances with her and the broader Democratic Party while insisting that the actions taken on Wednesday will doom her to the dustbin of history.

I went through the letter — which, from its first words, you can tell has the President’s rhetorical fingerprints all over it — and highlighted some of the most, uh, important lines. They’re below.

The 30 most blistering lines from Donald Trump’s unhinged letter to Nancy Pelosi

THE POINT — NOW ON YOUTUBE!

In each episode of his weekly YouTube show, Chris Cillizza will delve a little deeper into the surreal world of politics. Click to subscribe!

1. “This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history.”
So, two things. One, impeachment is built into the Constitution and two past presidents have been impeached by the House. Two, it’s “Democratic lawmakers” not “Democrat Lawmakers.” And away we go!
2. “You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”
Like I said: You can clearly see Trump’s involvement in the letter.
3. “By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy.”
Wow. Lot to unpack here. Whether or not Trump likes it, the House is tasked with carrying out impeachment if a majority of members believe it is warranted. So, it’s not “invalid.” As for “declaring open war on American Democracy,” well, Trump never pretended to be understated.
4. “You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme?”
There’s almost never a good time for the “how dare you?” construction.
5. “Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying you pray for the President when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense.”
WHOA BOY. So, Trump knows Pelosi doesn’t actually pray for him? How? Did he someone eavesdrop on her prayers? Also, what is the “negative sense” of praying? I spent more time than I’d like to admit thinking about this and decided that Trump is suggesting that if Pelosi prays for him, it’s for his demise. I think.
6. “It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!”
Nothing is ever Trump’s fault. Ever.
7. “Fortunately, there was a transcript of the conversation taken, and you know from the transcript (which was immediately made available) that the paragraph in question was perfect.”
What would a perfect paragraph look like? Do we even know? Anywho, here are 4 facts from that July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: a) Trump tells Zelensky that the US does a lot for Ukraine b)Trump reminds Zelensky that Ukraine doesn’t reciprocate c) Trump asks Zelensky for a favor: to look into a debunked conspiracy theory that the hacked Democratic National Committee server is in Ukraine and d) Trump asks Zelensky to look into Joe and Hunter Biden. To my mind, the White House transcript of that call reads more like a smoking gun than an exoneration.
8. “I said to President Zelensky: would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it? I said do us a favor, not me and our country, not a campaign.”
Trump didn’t start making this “me” versus “us” argument until the past few weeks. But even putting that aside, the two things he asks of Zelensky (whereabouts of DNC server and investigation into the Biden) were not mentioned at all in Trump’s notes for the call, which were supposed to focus, generally speaking, on the country’s corruption problems.
9. “You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches of government into an impeachable offense.”
At issue is not the separation of powers or even really a disagreement. The issue is whether a president can ask a foreign country to investigate one of his potential political rivals. And, even if he can do it, should he?
10. “You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion dollars of US aid money to coerce Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his son millions of dollars.”
Reminder: Biden called for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor as part of an international coalition designed to address corruption in the country. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing in Ukraine by Joe or his son Hunter Biden.
11. “Now you are trying to impeach me by falsely accusing me of doing what Joe Biden has admitted he actually did.”
Apples and oranges here. Again, Biden called for the firing of the prosecutor as part of a coordinated — and transparent — strategy to address corruption in Ukraine. Trump got on the phone with the Ukrainian president and, contrary to the notes prepared for him in advance of the meeting, freelanced to ask him to investigate one of his main rivals for the GOP nomination.
12. “President Zelensky has repeatedly declared that I did nothing wrong, and that there was ‘No Pressure.'”
Zelensky is no dummy! He knows he needs future aid from the US in order to fight the Russians at his borders. Given that, why would he piss Trump off by saying he felt pressure? Also, not for nothing: Why is “No Pressure” capitalized?
13. “Ambassador Sondland testified that I told him: ‘No quid pro quo. I want nothing. I want nothing. I want President Zelensky to do the right thing, do what he ran on.'”
Yes, Trump did tell US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that. After the White House had been made aware that Congress was looking into the withholding of military aid. So….
14. “Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016, in an Electoral College landslide (306-227), and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat.”
The 2016 election ended 1,134 days ago.
15. “You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it!”
An incurable case of TDS??? Call the CDC, STAT.
16. “You view democracy as your enemy!”
Just a reminder here: This is the President of the United States, on official White House stationery, telling the Speaker of the House that she believes democracy is the “enemy.” Very normal! Nothing to see here!
17. “As you know very well, this impeachment drive has nothing to do with Ukraine, or the totally appropriate conversation I had with its new president.”
Wait. Is this the “perfect” conversation? Or are we referring to another “totally appropriate” conversation here? Either way, Trump did nothing wrong! Ever!
18. “Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me.”
This claim, which Trump repeats constantly, makes me insane. Because it’s just wrong. Here’s what Schiff said before paraphrasing what was in the July 25 phone call: “In not so many words, this is the essence of what the President communicates.” He literally makes clear that he is paraphrasing Trump, not directly quoting him. Why is this a thing???
19. “You conducted a fake investigation upon the democratically elected President of the United States, and you are doing it yet again.”
To be clear: Pelosi had zero to do with the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That was the Justice Department under Trump. Also, that investigation wasn’t “fake” — it led to a number of arrests and prison sentences, not to mention documenting the deep and broad efforts of the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
20. “And by the way, when I speak to foreign countries, there are many people, with permission, listening to the call on both sides of the conversation.”
Again, Trump misses the point here. The issue is not that other people were listening. The issue is what he told Zelensky — even with people listening! If he talks like that when he knows people are on the line, how does he talk on the sidelines of summits and the like when there are far less staff nearby?
21. “You are the ones interfering in America’s elections. You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy.”
I am rubber and you are glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.
22. “If you truly cared about freedom and liberty for our Nation, then you would be devoting your vast investigative resources to exposing the full truth concerning the horrifying abuses of power before, during, and after the 2016 election — including the use of spies against my campaign.”
There has never been a shred of evidence that spies were used against Trump’s campaign. In fact, in the report released by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz earlier this month, it’s made quite clear there is zero evidence of spies being sicced on the Trump campaign.
23. “Any member of Congress who votes in support of impeachment against every shred of truth, fact, evidence, and legal principle, is showing how deeply they revile the voters and how truly they detest America’s Constitutional order.”
“Detest America’s Constitutional order”? Really?
24. “In other words, once the phone call was made public, your whole plot blew up, but that didn’t stop you from continuing.”
As I wrote at the time, the transcript of the July 25 phone call is pretty damn close to a smoking gun against Trump.
25. “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.”
Uh, paging John Proctor
26. “This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth.”
Definitely not illegal! Or a coup!
27. “Your legacy will be that of turning the House of Representatives from a revered legislative body into a Star Chamber of partisan persecution.”
Not to be a contrarian here, but pretty sure that no matter what happens with impeachment, Pelosi’s legacy will be as the first female Speaker of the House.
28. “You apparently have so little respect for the American People that you expect them to believe that you are approaching this impeachment somberly, reservedly, and reluctantly. No intelligent person believes what you are saying.”
Really? And how did Trump learn to glean people’s “real” motives? Is that some sort device you can buy on Amazon? If so, send me a link!
29. “I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.”
“This will go down on your permanent record.” — The Violent Femmes
30. “One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another President again.”
Yeah, this feels like a good place to end.

 

Story 2: Congress Will Pass Budget Busting Omnibus Bill — Vote Democrats and Republicans Who Vote For Omnibus Spending Bill Out of Office For Financial Irresponsibility –Trump Must Veto Bill or Lose Support of Independents — Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Deficit Will Exceed $1,000 Billion — Videos

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Breaking down the House’s massive government spending bill

House passes nearly $1.4 trillion spending bill, avoids govt shutdown

USA: House approves $1.4 trillion spending bill to avoid govt shutdown

House passes $1.4 trillion federal spending bill

Sec. Mnuchin testifies before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the 2020 budget (FULL)

Funding the Government: The Budget Process and Omnibus Spending Bills [Article I Initiative]

House approves $1.4 trillion spending bill, repealing ObamaCare taxes

The Democratic-controlled House on Tuesday approved a $1.4 trillion federal spending bill to avoid a government shutdown that includes funding for President Trump’s border wall, strips ObamaCare taxes, raises the minimum age for buying tobacco products and gives Democrats increases for a variety of other domestic programs.

The House – as it prepares to vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump – approved all 12 spending bills. They now go to the Senate to sync up later this week.

TRUMP TELLS PELOSI IN BLISTERING LETTER THAT DEMS HAVE ‘CHEAPENED THE IMPORTANCE’ OF IMPEACHMENT

“I am proud that we were able to come together, negotiate our differences, and reach a bipartisan agreement that makes investments to strengthen our nation and give every American a better chance at a better life,” said New York Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The deadline to fund the government is Dec 20. These bills would fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2020, through Sept 30.

The hard-fought legislation also funds a record Pentagon budget and is serving as a must-pass legislative locomotive to tow an unusually large haul of unrelated provisions into law, including an expensive repeal of Obama-era taxes on high-cost health plans, help for retired coal miners, and an increase from 18 to 21 for the nationwide legal age to buy tobacco products.

The White House said Tuesday that Trump will sign the measure.

“The president is poised to sign it and to keep the government open,” said top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The roster of add-ons grew over the weekend to include permanent repeal of a tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health insurance benefits and a hard-won provision to finance health care and pension benefits for about 100,000 retired union coal miners threatened by the insolvency of their pension fund. A tax on medical devices and health insurance plans would also be repealed permanently.

The deficit tab for the package grew as well with the addition of $428 billion in tax cuts over 10 years to repeal the three so-called ObamaCare taxes.

The legislation is laced with provisions reflecting divided power in Washington. Republicans maintained the status quo on several abortion-related battles and on funding for Trump’s border wall. Democrats controlling the House succeeded in winning a 3.1 percent raise for federal civilian employees and the first installment of funding on gun violence research after more than two decades of gun lobby opposition.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Democrat-led House Rules Committee on Tuesday dove into a marathon session to prepare the ground rules for what is likely to be a furious showdown vote on the House floor to adopt articles of impeachment against Trump.

The panel’s meeting lays the procedural groundwork for the House debate on Wednesday, outlining the timetable and other factors for the historic and divisive moment in Washington.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/house-approves-1-4-trillion-spending-bill-avoiding-government-shutdown

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The Pronk Pops Show 1121, August 8, 2018, Story 1: Republican Red Wave Rising Along With Massive Budget Deficits and National Debt — King of Debt Trump 5 for 5 as Fiscal Year 2018 Deficit Breaking Over 800 Billion and FY 2019 Over 1,000 Billion — Giving Obama A Run For Record Deficits and National Debt — Drowning in Debt — Videos –Story 2: Corporate Conspiracy to Censor Conservatives Based On Communist China Censorship — Apple, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Spotify, Twitter, and Big Lie Media — ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN –NYT, LA Times, WP — Progressive Propaganda — Videos — Story 3: United States Reimposes Sanctions on Iran Now and More in November — Videos — Story 4: Poor Trucker Driver Retention Results in Need For More New Drivers — Videos

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Story 1: Republican Red Wave Rising Along With Massive Budget Deficits and National Debt — King of Debt Trump 5 for 5 as Fiscal Year 2018 Deficit Breaking Over 800 Billion and FY 2019 Over 1,000 Billion — Giving Obama A Run For Record Deficits and National Debt — Drowning in Debt —

Image result for branco cartoons red wave

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U.S. Debt Clock Real Time

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

 

Dubious milestone: US national debt exceeds $21 trillion

Published on Mar 19, 2018

Milton Friedman – Deficits and Government Spending

Milton Friedman – The Path Toward Economic Sanity

PAY IT BACKWARDS: The Federal Budget Surplus with Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman – Collectivism

Milton Friedman – Socialism is Force

Milton Friedman – Is Capitalism Humane? (Q&A)

Professor Laurence Kotlikoff Amerika is Bankrupt

$20,000,000,000,000 in Debt and Rising

America’s Debt Crisis Explained

Published on Feb 24, 2014

How to Solve America’s Spending Problem

Published on Sep 29, 2014

THIS is How the U.S. Accumulated $21 Trillion in Debt Without COLLAPSING!

THIS is Why You Will NEVER Be Able to Retire and All of Your Money Is Gone!

The Global Economic Collapse: An Asynchronous Systemic Meltdown Has Already Begun!

Is DEBT Threatening the USA’s Future? – VisualPolitik EN

Why red means Republican and blue means Democrat

New focus on federal deficit as Trump touts shrinking trade deficit

What Would Happen If USA Stopped Paying Its Debt?

Why the U.S. deficit continues to expand

Kudlow: We don’t believe US debt projection

John James: President Trump’s support was icing on the cake

Troy Balderson claims victory in Ohio special election

Trump boasts he went ‘5 for 5’ in Tuesday’s elections

President Trump on Wednesday boasted that all five candidates he endorsed in this week’s elections won their races, even as contests in Ohio and Kansas were too close to call.

The president declared victory in a brief tweet: “5 for 5!”

Trump in a second tweet accused the media of downplaying the Republican Party’s record of success in special elections.

“The Republicans have now won 8 out of 9 House Seats, yet if you listen to the Fake News Media you would think we are being clobbered. Why can’t they play it straight, so unfair to the Republican Party and in particular, your favorite President!” he wrote.

The president left out a special election in Southern California to replace former Rep. Xavier Becerra (D) in which no major Republican candidate ran.

Trump also claimed that “as long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates (within reason), they will win!” and said Republicans will “have a giant Red Wave” in November’s midterms “if I find the time” to hit the campaign trail.

Trump sent the messages from his New Jersey golf club, where he is spending the week on vacation.

Troy Balderson, a Trump-backed Republican running in a House special election in Ohio, held a narrow lead over his upstart Democratic challenger after Tuesday night’s voting.The same goes for Republican Kris Kobach, who was less than 200 votes ahead of incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) in Kansas’s GOP gubernatorial primary.

Even if both candidates pull out victories, the close results are not encouraging for Trump and the Republican Party.

Balderson’s district is solidly Republican and has been in the GOP’s hands since 1983. But Republican groups were forced to spend millions of dollars to fend off Democrat Danny O’Connor, and Trump made a last-minute stop in the district to stage a rally for Balderson.

In Kansas, Trump’s endorsement did not give Kobach a decisive edge like it did in Georgia’s gubernatorial primary or in a South Carolina House primary, where it propelled his hand-picked candidates to victory.

Still, Trump’s team sought to portray the results as clear-cut wins.

“Clearly, the president’s support was pivotal in GOP primaries yesterday,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “President Trump is delivering the right kind of leadership, results, and inspiration to unify our party at just the right time to keep America winning.”

Trump-backed candidates pulled off two wins in Michigan, where John James won the GOP Senate primary and Bill Schuette won the party’s nod for governor. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) won the state’s Senate primary.

–This report was updated at 11:22 a.m.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/400881-trump-boasts-he-went-5-for-5-in-tuesdays-elections

Election results in Ohio, Kansas too close to call — live updates

  • Tuesday ended without a clear winner in the final special election before Election Day in Ohio, where provisional and absentee ballots may determine the race’s outcome. The race for Kansas governor also remains too close to call. Four other states, meanwhile — Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington — held primary elections.

    • In Ohio, the race remains extremely close in the special election to replace Rep. Pat Tiberi in Ohio’s 12th District. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Balderson has 50.1 percent of the vote to O’Connor’s 49.3 percent. The result may rely on provisional and absentee ballots.
    • The contest between Trump ally and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer is even tighter. Kobach has a margin of under 200 votes Wednesday morning. This race may not be called for several days.

    Follow live updates of 2018 primary election results below


  • Trump takes credit for victories

    Mr. Trump on Wednesday morning took credit for Republican victories overnight, claiming the media is muting those victories.

    “The Republicans have now won 8 out of 9 House Seats, yet if you listen to the Fake News Media you would think we are being clobbered,” the president tweeted. “Why can’t they play it straight, so unfair to the Republican Party and in particular, your favorite President!”

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump

    The Republicans have now won 8 out of 9 House Seats, yet if you listen to the Fake News Media you would think we are being clobbered. Why can’t they play it straight, so unfair to the Republican Party and in particular, your favorite President!

    The president again predicted a “red wave” in November.

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump

    As long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates (within reason), they will win! I LOVE the people, & they certainly seem to like the job I’m doing. If I find the time, in between China, Iran, the Economy and much more, which I must, we will have a giant Red Wave!

  • Congress set for first Muslim woman

    Rashida Tlaib is set to become the first Muslim woman to be elected to Congress after securing the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th congressional district. Tlaib’s grassroots campaign for the House seat long held by former Rep. John Conyers raised more than $1 million.

    She previously told CBSN‘s “Red and Blue” back in May that her background will give her the kind of lens that is currently lacking in the U.S. Congress now.

    “Me being elected is a big message to the whole country that we are part of the got we are part of society and we want to give back just like anyone else,” said Tlaib.

    She’ll be unopposed on the November general election ballot.

  • Ohio special election — too close to call

    The race is extremely close in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, where Democrat Danny O’Connor is facing off against Republican state Senator Troy Balderson. The winner will take over the term of Pat Tiberi, who resigned to work for a business group earlier this year.

    With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Balderson has 50.1 percent of the vote, to O’Connor’s 49.3 percent. The vote may come down to counting provisional and absentee ballots — but that could take days. County boards of elections reported that 3,435 provisional ballots were cast and there were 5,048 outstanding absentee ballots. State law dictates election officials cannot begin counting these ballots until the 11th day after the election, which would be Aug. 18.

    Balderson appeared to claim victory, saying in a statement, “THANK YOU #OH12! I am honored for the opportunity to represent Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. I will work relentlessly for everyone in this district. Congratulations to Danny O’Connor on running a hard-fought race.”

    The NRCC claimed victory for Balderson, although no major news outlet has called the race, and Mr. Trump took credit for Balderson’s edge.

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump

    When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win BIG in Nov.

    If the vote margin is ultimately within half a point, an automatic recount would be triggered.

    Speaking to supporters late Tuesday night, O’Connor thanked his family and those who came out to vote for him. He did not concede.

    “Tomorrow we rest and then we keep fighting through to November,” O’Connor told supporters.

    Whatever the outcome of the special election race, the two could be running against each other again in just a few months. Both Balderson and O’Connor are the candidates for the November election as well.

    This central Ohio district isn’t a place where Democrats should be competitive, CBS News correspondent Ed O’Keefe points out. Mr. Trump won the 12th District by 11 points in 2016. Now, 31-year-old O’Connor tightened the race for an open House seat that the GOP has held since the early 1980s.

    GOP Senate Candidate Troy Balderson Campaigns At Local Ohio Fair

HARTFORD, OH – AUGUST 06: Ohio Republican congressional candidate Troy Balderson makes a campaign stop at the Licking County Hartford Fair on August 6, 2018 in Hartford, Ohio.

 SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES

Mr. Trump stumped in Ohio last week before heading to New Jersey for a working vacation, where he told the state’s supporters that they’re the “real elite.”

To date, O’Connor has raised more money than Balderson this election cycle, CBS News’ Caitlin Conant points out. The Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $2.6 million in the race and the NRCC and DCCC have both invested money as well, with the NRCC spending almost $600,000 so far.

Democratic Congressional Candidate Danny O'Connor Campaigns Before OH Special Election

MANSFIELD, OH – AUGUST 05: Ohio Democratic congressional candidate Danny O’Connor greets worshipers during a campaign stop at Oasis Church on August 5, 2018 in Mansfield, Ohio.

 SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES

Balderson insults part of his district

At a campaign event in Zanesville on Monday evening, Balderson attempted to gin up support in his hometown by disparaging Franklin County.

“My opponent is from Franklin County, and Franklin County has been challenging. We don’t want somebody from Franklin County representing us,” Balderson said. Franklin County encompasses a relatively small portion of the district, on the outskirts of Columbus. It is one of the most populous areas of the district, and less Republican than the other, rural counties. Around a third of the vote is expected to come from Franklin County on Tuesday.

O’Connor quickly seized upon Balderson’s comments. “Our district deserves someone who is going to represent all of us,” O’Connor wrote on Twitter, adding that Balderson “just made it crystal clear that’s not him.”

  • Chair of Ohio Democratic Party says there’s a lot of energy

    David Pepper, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, said there’s a lot of energy on the Democratic side Tuesday night, evidenced by how close the race is in a traditionally red district.

    “This district is gerrymandered for an easy win, no competition … this is Republican Ohio,” Pepper told CBS News correspondent Ed O’Keefe.

    Pepper said there are a number of races Democrats in Ohio are looking forward to. They key, he said, is to bring in great candidates and talk about issues that matter to to swing voters.

    Pepper said Balderson’s comment disparaging Franklin County will “haunt” him for the next 90 days.

  • Kansas primary results — Kobach, Colyer race too close to call

    Kansas Secretary of State and Trump ally Kris Kobach is hoping to defeat incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

    But with 87 percent reporting at 1 a.m. Wednesday, the race was too close to call. The two remained deadlocked with Kobach leading Colyer by a few hundred votes. That race may not be called until later Wednesday.

    Mr. Trump has voiced his support for Kobach, a firebrand who concerns many Republicans.

    Kris Kobach Campaigns

    American politician Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as he speaks during a fundraiser for his gubernatorial campaign at an unidentified senior citizens center, Emporia, Kansas, October 28, 2017.

     / GETTY IMAGES

    Kobach previously served as the the vice chair of the president’s controversial “voter fraud” commission, which has since been disbanded over states’ concerns that the commission was demanding states hand over voter data, leading to several lawsuits against the panel. Kobach was endorsed by Mr. Trump on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s election, calling him a “fantastic guy” who will be “strong on crime, border and military.”

    Moderate State Senator Laura Kelly is the likely Democratic nominee for governor.

    CBS News rates Kansas’ 2nd and 3rd congressional districts as “very likely” or “probably” competitive in November.

    Polling places open at 8:00 a.m. ET and close at 8:00 p.m. ET.

  • Michigan primary results

    In Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer is projected to win the Democratic nomination for governor, besting Abdul El-Sayed, who was backed by rising Democratic Party star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    The AP also projected State Attorney General Bill Schuette won the GOP primary, advancing in the race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Mr. Trump had endorsed Schuette via tweet, saying he will be a “fantastic” governor.

    In the Senate race, incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is running for re-election. She is expected to run against Iraq veteran John James, who was leading in his primary race Tuesday night. Mr. Trump congratulated James late Tuesday night, calling him a “future star” of the party.

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump

    Congratulations to a future STAR of the Republican Party, future Senator John James. A big and bold victory tonight in the Great State of Michigan – the first of many. November can’t come fast enough!

    CBS News also rates Michigan’s 8th and 11th congressional districts as “very likely” or “probably” competitive in November’s midterm elections.

    Hillary Clinton recorded a robocall ahead of Tuesday for Haley Stevens in Michigan’s 11th, endorsing Stevens’ experience as chief of staff for the auto bailout during the Obama administration.

    Polls are open from 7 a.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET in Michigan

  • Missouri primary results — voters strike down right-to-work law

    Missouri has a Senate primary election on Tuesday night — incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is expected to run against Republican State Attorney General Josh Hawley. Mr. Trump stumped for Hawley late last month, calling him a “great young man” and urging supporters that Missouri needed him in the Senate “badly.”

    McCaskill is the clear leader in the Democratic primary, and the AP projected that Hawley would win his race. Mr. Trump tweeted to congratulate Hawley early Wednesday.

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump

    Congratulations to Josh Hawley on your big Senate Primary win in Missouri. I look forward to working with you toward a big win in November. We need you in Washington!

    McCaskill meanwhile is one of 10 Democratic U.S. senators trying to defend their seats in states that Mr. Trump won in 2016.

    Missouri voters also overwhelmingly struck down the state’s right-to-work law through a referendum.

     

  • Washington primary — results coming in

    In Washington, incumbent Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell is expected to easily win re-election in the fall.

    Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was roughly tied for votes with Democrat Lisa Brown in Washington’s 5th Congressional District. That’s not great for Republicans, who generally perform well in that district. In Washington, the top two vote-getters proceed to November.

    Washington Senator Maria Cantwell Holds Town Hall In Seattle

    SEATTLE, WA – JULY 8: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) speaks during a town hall at Evergreen High School, on July 8, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.

     STEPHEN BRASHEAR / GETTY IMAGES

    CBS News rates Washington’s 8th Congressional District as “very likely” or “probably” competitive in the November midterms.

    Like California, Washington uses a top-two jungle primary system — regardless of party affiliation, the top two candidates move on to the general election.

    Washington state votes by mail-in ballot with drop boxes and voting centers closing at 11 p.m. ET

  • Which states still have primaries after today?

    Although the majority of states have voted in primary elections, several have yet to pick their nominees. Most of the states hold federal and state primaries on the same day, although New York has its state primary in September, three months after the federal primary.

    Here are the remaining primary elections after today’s primaries in Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas and Washington:

    August 11 – Hawaii; August 14 – Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont; August 21 – Alaska, Wyoming; August 28 – Arizona, Florida; September 4 – Massachusetts; September 6 – Delaware; September 11 – New Hampshire; September 12 – Rhode Island; September 13 – New York (statewide offices only); November 6 – Louisiana.

  • Salvanto: No “bellwether” out of special election

    CBS News’ Elections and Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto reports that no single district on Tuesday is considered a “bellwether” – whatever ultimately happens on election night will not foretell November.

    He adds that there’s already been a string of special elections in which Democrats have over-performed. Ohio’s 12th district shares a lot of the characteristics of places that are competitive in November, so it will be widely and correctly seen as a test case if it is close, or if the Democrat manages to pull an upset win.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/primary-election-2018-08-07-kansas-michigan-missouri-washington-ohio-special-election/

     

    Trump saved Balderson in Ohio, but he can’t carry the midterms by himself

    Chris Pandolfo
     · August 8, 2018

    Troy Balderson and Donald Trump at rally

    Maddie McGarvey | Getty Images

    President Donald Trump is getting credit for saving the Republican Party from a major embarrassment in Tuesday’s primaries.

    Republican Troy Balderson’s narrow victory over Democrat Danny  O’Connor in a heavily Republican district that Trump won by 11 points in 2016 is a troubling sign for Republicans. A Democrat should not have come within 2,000 votes of beating a Republican in a district Democrats haven’t held since 1983. But were it not for the “shot in the arm to base Republicans across the district” given by Trump’s Saturday rally for Balderson, it’s likely the Democrats might have pulled off another upset victory. Balderson’s pollsters admitted as much to Politico, and “senior Republicans” are panning Balderson as a “poor candidate.”

    The story seems to be that Trump saved an establishment candidate running a milquetoast campaign from disaster. And make no mistake, Balderson was the establishment candidate. He was backed by the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership and endorsed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, R-NeverTrump, who featured prominently in Balderson’s closing ads. Balderson favors keeping Obamacare’s pre-existing conditions regulations, and he wants a special pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrant so-called “Dreamers.”

    Balderson ran as a pro-Trump Republican in favor of repealing Obamacare and building a border wall, but his reputation as a moderate in that district and Kasich’s support did not match his campaign rhetoric. That was a recipe to suppress rural voter turnout among Trump’s base in rural portions of the congressional district. Turnout was higher in areas with educated suburbanites, a demographic that is more likely to support Democrats, and at the end of the day a Trump +11 district became a nail-biter on election day.

    If Balderson’s pollsters are right and Trump was the deciding factor in turning out enough of his base on election day to win, then this should show Republicans that the Balderson/Kasich moderate Main Street playbook is a loser in the midterms. That’s not what Trump’s base wants, and those voters won’t turn out to vote for Republicans who aren’t offering them anything unless the president himself intervenes.

    Folks, Trump cannot intervene for every single vulnerable House Republican between now and November. If Republicans want to win, they need to follow the president’s instincts and fight on the issues Trump talks about. If Trump talks about having a shutdown fight before the election on funding a border wall as a great campaign issue, Republicans in Congress ought to listen to him. The duck-and-cover, punt-on-tough-votes strategy is not generating enough enthusiasm to win the midterms.

    If Republicans want to win, they need to follow Trump’s lead and fight.

    Conservative Review Top 25 Conservatives

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Twitter REFUSES to block Alex Jones and InfoWars because they have ‘not violated its hate policies’ despite calls for it to follow sweeping bans from Apple, YouTube, Facebook and Spotify

  • Twitter had come under fire for leaving the conspiracy theorist’s accounts active
  • But it claims the podcast host and his site InfoWars have not broken its rules 
  • YouTube joined Facebook, Spotify and Apple in banning Alex Jones’ personal accounts from its platform Monday

Twitter has revealed it will not block controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from its site, despite recent bans from competitors Apple, YouTube and Facebook.

A spokesperson said accounts run by the podcast host and his media platform InfoWars will be spared the ban as they have not violated Twitter’s policies.

Users of the microblogging site have criticised the decision, arguing that Twitter is ‘protecting the hate, violence and bigotry’ of Jones and his associated accounts.

The 44-year-old saw his personal and InfoWars content removed from a host of the internet’s biggest sites in an unprecedented series of bans this week.

Apple, YouTube, Spotify and Facebook all announced blocks of the conspiracy theorist’s accounts and content within hours of one another on Monday, citing hate policy violations.

InfoWars, Jones’s right-wing conspiracy website, branded the ‘coordinated effort’ a ‘purge’ designed to censor the site’s provocative messages.

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Twitter has revealed it will not block controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from its site, despite recent bans from competitors Apple, YouTube and Facebook (file photo)

Following calls for similar restrictions on Twitter, a spokesperson for the site revealed Jones and his affiliated accounts would remain active.

They told MailOnline that InfoWars and its associated accounts were not currently in violation of Twitter’s rules.

Content that is posted by InfoWars to other social media sites is often not also published to Twitter, they added.

Its policies on hate speech state that it does not tolerate users who harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence other social network users.

Twitter users that violate these rules could find their content deleted, or their access to the account suspended, according to the social network.

But the site has come under fire in recent months over the way it handles accounts that post abusive and threatening tweets – particularly those based on gender and religion – despite last year claiming it would crack down on abusive content.

The site suspended the accounts of several leaders of the far-right group Britain First in December for breaking its rules on hate speech.

It claims to have removed tens of thousands of accounts – many of them affiliated with neo-nazi groups – since it pledged to make Twitter a ‘safer environment’ in November 2017.

Twitter users criticised the microblogging site this week for its failure to take a harder stance on Jones and InfoWars.

Shaun King wrote: ‘OK, @Twitter the ball is in your court. Every other major platform stepped up. Why are you protecting the hate and violence and bigotry of Alex Jones?’

Twitter users criticised the microblogging site for its failure to take a harder stance on Jones and InfoWars

Twitter users criticised the microblogging site for its failure to take a harder stance on Jones and InfoWars

Janice Leonard tweeted: '@Twitter please ban @realalexjones. We do not need to be subjected to his lies. Please'

Janice Leonard tweeted: ‘@Twitter please ban @realalexjones. We do not need to be subjected to his lies. Please’

Following bans from Facebook, Spotify and Apple, pornographic website YouPorn announced yesterday that it would remove any videos featuring Jones from its site. Twitter user Joyce Bolton criticised the microblogging site for failing to follow suit

Following bans from Facebook, Spotify and Apple, pornographic website YouPorn announced yesterday that it would remove any videos featuring Jones from its site. Twitter user Joyce Bolton criticised the microblogging site for failing to follow suit

Ed Krassenstein tweeted: ‘Why isn’t Twitter banning Alex Jones and his InfoWars propaganda? Everyone else is!’

Janice Leonard wrote: ‘@Twitter please ban @realalexjones. We do not need to be subjected to his lies. Please.’

Jones, a right-wing radio host based in Austin, Texas, frequently lands in hot water for inciting harassment against the targets of his political rants.

He claims his shows reach at least 70 million people a week.

WHO HAS TWITTER BANNED IN THE PAST?

Twitter announced in November 2017 it would begin banning accounts affiliated with ‘hate groups’.

In March, former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson was banned for violating hate speech rules

In March, former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson was banned for violating hate speech rules

The news followed years of criticism from users that the site allowed neo-nazi, white supremacist and other extremist groups to spread abusive messages.

Twitter suspended the accounts of several leaders of the far-right group Britain First in December for breaking its rules on hate speech.

In March, former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson was banned for violating rules governing ‘hateful conduct’.

The site announced it would soon undertake stronger measures to crack down on online trolls in May.

Despite sweeping bans, the site has come under criticism for not doing enough to purge itself of abusive users.

Last month, actor Seth Rogan lashed out at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for continuing to verify the accounts of white supremacists.

He tweeted: ‘I’ve been DMing with @Jack about his bizarre need to verify white supremacists on his platform for the last 8 months or so, and after all the exchanges, I’ve reached a conclusion: the dude simply does not seem to give a f**k.’

The theories he has promoted include that the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington were staged by the US government.

He has also promoted a theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was faked.

The shooting left 26 children and adults dead at a Connecticut elementary school.

Jones currently faces five lawsuits, including three fronted by parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre – which Jones claimed was a hoax run by left-wing forces to promote gun control.

Alex Jones, a right-wing radio host based in Austin, Texas, frequently lands in hot water for inciting the harassment of targets of his political rants. He claims his shows reach at least 70 million people a week 

A number of platforms have recently suspended or removed content posted by Jones and pages tied to Inforwars for violating hate content policies.

Facebook announced Monday that it removed four pages belonging to Jones for posting content that violated its policies around hate speech and violence.

It came just hours after Apple revealed it removed the entire iTunes library for five of Jones’s six Infowars podcasts, including the shows ‘War Room’ and the daily ‘The Alex Jones Show.’

Not long after Facebook and Apple took action, YouTube removed The Alex Jones Channel, which counts close to 2.5 million subscribers.

A twitter spokesperson said accounts run by the podcast host and his media platform InfoWars will be spared the ban hammer as they have not violated the site's policies (stock image)

A twitter spokesperson said accounts run by the podcast host and his media platform InfoWars will be spared the ban hammer as they have not violated the site’s policies (stock image)

WHAT IS TWITTER’S POLICY ON HATE SPEECH?

Twitter says it does not tolerate behaviour that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence other social network users.

Twitter users that violate these rules could find their content deleted, or their access to the account suspended by the social network.

What does Twitter forbid?

According to the company, it will remove any tweets that do the following —

  • Threaten physical violence
  • Promote attacks on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease
  • References to mass murder, violent events, or specific means of violence in which such groups are the primary targets or victims
  • Incites fear about a certain protected group
  • Repeated use of non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes
  • Content designed to degrade a specific user

Twitter users can target individuals or specific groups in a number of manners, for example using the @ mention feature, or tagging a photo.

How does Twitter enforce these rules?

According to the company, the first thing it does whenever an account or tweet is flagged as inappropriate is check the context.

Twitter says: ‘some Tweets may seem to be abusive when viewed in isolation, but may not be when viewed in the context of a larger conversation.

‘While we accept reports of violations from anyone, sometimes we also need to hear directly from the target to ensure that we have proper context.’

Twitter says the total number of reports received around an individual post or account does not impact whether or not something will be removed.

However, it could help Twitter prioritise the order in which it looks through flagged tweets and accounts.

What happens if you violate Twitter’s policy?

The consequences for violating our rules will vary depending on the severity of the violation and the person’s previous record of violations, Twitter says.

The penalties range from requesting a user voluntarily remove an offending tweet, to suspending an entire account.

Spotify also announced Monday it was taking further action against Jones, removing every episode of the Alex Jones Show from the streaming site.

Prior to this, Spotify had only gotten rid of specific episodes of the show, leaving most of the library up on its platform.

Even pornographic website YouPorn announced yesterday that it would remove any videos featuring Jones from its site.

People often post non-pornographic content to porn websites due to their relatively relaxed copyright rules.

Facebook announced Monday that it removed four pages belonging to Jones for posting content that violated its policies around hate speech and violence. It marks an about face for Facebook, which had earlier refused to take down Infowars' content on grounds of free speech

In recent weeks, Facebook and other tech giants have faced repeated backlash over its inaction against the US conspiracy theorist.

However, YouTube, Facebook and Apple all chose to take sweeping action against Jones on the same day, effectively removing his content from their platforms.

A notice on the Alex Jones Channel said the account had been ‘terminated for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.’

‘All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube,’ a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.

WHO IS ALEX JONES?

Alex Jones is a controversial radio and podcast host based in Austin, Texas.

Jones says his ‘InfoWars’ shows, which are broadcast on radio, YouTube and other platforms, reach at least 70 million people a week.

Among other claims, he has called the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting a hoax.

He was sued for defamation by families of some of the children killed in that attack, which left 20 children and six adults dead.

Among other claims, Alex Jones (file photo) has called the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting a hoax. He was sued for defamation by families of some of the children killed in that attack, which left 20 children and six adults dead 

Among other claims, Alex Jones (file photo) has called the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting a hoax. He was sued for defamation by families of some of the children killed in that attack, which left 20 children and six adults dead

He now admits the shooting occurred but says his claims were free speech. He has sought to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Jones has also claimed that the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington were staged by the US government.

While he began broadcasting his shows in 1999, Jones’ profile has spread from the far-right fringe in recent years.

While running for president in 2015, Donald Trump told Jones his reputation was ‘amazing.’

‘When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.’

YouTube had pulled four down videos hosted by Jones last month for violating its policies around hate speech and child endangerment.

The firm became aware that Jones was continuing to violate its policies and took further action as a result.

YouTube’s initial actions had triggered similar moves by Spotify, Facebook and Apple.

Apple announced its decision on Sunday night. Only one programme provided by InfoWars, ‘RealNews with David Knight’ remained on Apple’s platforms at the time of publication.

In a statement to BuzzFeed, Apple confirmed it had also removed Jones’ podcast for violating its guidelines on hate speech.

Just hours later, Facebook said it had ‘unpublished’ the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page.

Many have pointed out that the timing of Facebook’s ban was peculiar, with the social media firm posting the announcement to its site at about 3 a.m. (PT), according to the Guardian.

It marks a major about face for Facebook, which had said in recent weeks that it refused to ban Infowars on the grounds of protecting free speech on its platform.

Facebook in July banned Jones personally from posting on the platform for 30 days and removed four videos for violating its rules.

At the time, Facebook had warned that it would ban Jones and Infowars’ accounts should they continue to post content violating the company’s standards.

‘As a result of reports we received, last week, we removed four videos on four Facebook Pages for violating our hate speech and bullying policies,’ Facebook wrote in a blog post.

‘Since then, more content from the same Pages has been reported to us — upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.’

Facebook added that while many have criticized Infowars for posting fake news on the site, such as conspiracy theories related to 9/11 and the Sandy Hook shooting, the actions it took were not related to that.

While Jones and Infowars are technically unable to access the site, Facebook said they still have the right to ‘appeal’ the company’s decision.

If neither party appeals or their appeal fails, Facebook will remove the Pages indefinitely.

Facebook said in a tweet last month that banning Infowars’ Pages ‘would be contrary to the basic principles of free speech’ after a CNN reporter asked why the firm had allowed Infowars, which had more than 900,000 followers, to continue to operate on its site.

In July, YouTube slapped Jones’ channel with a ‘community strike,’ blocking him from broadcasting live on the site for 90 days.

Spotify, a music and podcast streaming company, followed suit last week when it removed some specific episodes of Jones’s programmes.

It’s unclear exactly how many episodes were ditched, although the vast majority of content created by Jones remains available to Spotify users.

‘Spotify can confirm it has removed specific episodes of `The Alex Jones Show´ podcast for violating our hate content policy,’ a spokesperson said late Sunday.

‘We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community.’

 

85% of Conservatives Believe Social Networks Censor Political Speech, According to Pew Study

Tech companies are seen as supporting liberal views

He may like Trump, but he probably doesn’t trust social networks.
Getty Images

Do technology companies lean liberal when it comes to supporting political views? Respondents to a recent study by Pew Research Center seemed to think so, with 72 percent going as far as to say that they believe social media companies actively censor political views that clash with their own.

Pew surveyed 4,594 U.S. adults between May 29 and June 11, and it found that 43 percent of them believe tech companies support liberal views over conservative views, while just 11 percent felt the opposite and 43 percent saw no bias.

This comes on the heels of Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey “breaking bread” with conservative leaders this week. The Washington Post reported that Twitter’s chief “convened a rare private dinner with Republican leaders and conservative commentators in Washington” last week to “build ‘trust’ among conservatives who have long chastised the company … He defended Twitter against accusations that it targeted right-leaning users unfairly but still admitted that the company has room for improvement, according to the attendees.”

Republicans and Republican-leaning independents were much more likely to accuse social networks of censoring political speech than Democrats were—85 percent believe it is likely that social media companies engage in this behavior, and 54 percent consider it very likely, while 64 percent believe tech companies more broadly support liberal views. Meanwhile, 53 percent of Democrats feel that tech companies support both sides equally.

Josh Nanberg, president of political and media consultancy Ampersand Strategies, wasn’t surprised by Pew’s findings, although he did say, “85 percent is high, for sure.”

Nanberg said of the distrust by conservatives, “It builds on a decades-long narrative that’s been pushed first through conservative talk radio, and then Fox News. Social media becomes an echo chamber, where you get most of your news from people who believe what you believe. You’re going to get that message reinforced a lot: If you see it everywhere you go, it must be true.”

Eric Schiffer, chairman and CEO of digital marketing solutions provider DigitalMarketing.com and Reputation Management Consultants, added, “Conservatives see the decisions that are made publicly on silencing leading conservatives’ voices or choices that are made that make them feel like they are not respected. Conservatives feel backstabbed. They look at big tech as devastatingly unfair.”

To say that President Donald Trump uses social media—particularly Twitter—far more aggressively than his predecessors would be an obvious understatement, and that Twitter activity plays a role in firing up Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

“Trump has created a level of distrust for media in general and a groundswell of skepticism from the start,” Schiffer said. “The areas of tech that contain media—Facebook, Google—already start out at a deficit.”

Nanberg added, “It’s not like [Trump] says something on Tuesday that garners a lot of attention: He says something at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Tuesday that garners a lot of attention. He’s like a tornado. I think the people who orchestrated the strategy have lost control of it. This is not an overnight sensation.”

The differences were not as drastic when comparing gender instead of politics: 58 percent of respondents believe tech companies support the views of men and women equally, with 33 percent saying they are slanted toward males, with just 8 percent saying they support women over men.

In a more general look at the perception of major technology companies, Pew found that 74 percent of respondents believe their impact has been more good than bad, and 63 percent see that impact as a net positive.

However, just 3 percent believe those companies can be trusted to do the right thing “just about always” and 25 percent “most of the time.” Sixty-nine percent believe tech companies are no more or less ethical than their counterparts in other industries, while 22 percent felt that they are less ethical.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/85-of-conservatives-believe-social-networks-censor-political-speech-according-to-pew-study/

Half of college students aren’t sure protecting free speech is important. That’s bad news

New Poll: 43% of Republicans Want to Give Trump the Power to Shut Down Media

The “enemy of the people” talk is working. A plurality of self-identified Republicans say they want Trump to have the power to take “bad” media outlets out.

Freedom of the press may be guaranteed in the Constitution. But a plurality of Republicans want to give President Trump the authority to close down certain news outlets, according to a new public opinion survey conducted by Ipsosand provided exclusively to The Daily Beast.

The findings present a sobering picture for the fourth estate, with respondents showing diminished trust in the media and increased support for punitive measures against its members. They also illustrate the extent to which Trump’s anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion about the role the media plays in covering his administration.

All told, 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said that they believed “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Only 36 percent disagreed with that statement. When asked if Trump should close down specific outlets, including CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, nearly a quarter of Republicans (23 percent) agreed and 49 percent disagreed.

Republicans were far more likely to take a negative view of the media. Forty-eight percent of them said they believed “the news media is the enemy of the American people” (just 28 percent disagreed) while nearly four out of every five (79 percent) said that they believed “the mainstream media treats President Trump unfairly.”

“Swaths of self-identified Democrats and Independents supported anti-press positions as well.”

But swaths of self-identified Democrats and Independents supported anti-press positions as well. According to the survey, 12 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of Independents agreed that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior” (74 percent and 55 percent, respectively, disagreed). Additionally, 12 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Independents agreed that “the news media is the enemy of the American people” (74 percent and 50 percent, respectively, disagreed)

The concept of an enemy press corps has become a staple of Trump’s tweets and public utterances in recent months. Much of it appears prompted by stories about internal frictions within the White House and a growing fear over the state of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

Members of the press, as well as top officials at some of the nation’s leading publications, have objected to the phrase, arguing that it is both wildly inaccurate and deeply dangerous. They have pointed to mob-like treatment of the media by Trump supporters at various rallies as evidence for their fears. Offered the opportunity, Trump’s spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, declined to denounce the phrase. Other Trump supports have insisted that he was merely referring to those outlets that spread false information.

But Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his top adviser Kellyanne Conway have both recently said they do not agree that the press is the enemy, while adding that the media plays an important socio-political role.

Respondents to the Ipsos survey seemed to generally share that belief as well. In one of the poll’s few silver linings for the press, 57 percent of all respondents said that they believed news and reporters were “necessary to keep the Trump administration honest” including a plurality of Republicans (39 percent agreeing with that statement compared to 35 percent disagreeing). A slightly less robust 46 percent of respondents said they agreed that “most news outlets try their best to produce honest reporting” (compared to 35 percent who disagreed). And virtually everyone (85 percent of respondents) believed that “freedom of the press is essential for American democracy” (compared to 4 percent opposed to that statement).

But despite support for journalistic principles in the abstract, respondents also seemed inclined to believe that reporters had too much professional protection. According to the survey, 72 percent of all respondents agree it should be easier to sue reporters who knowingly publish false information, including 85 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-poll-43-of-republicans-want-to-give-trump-the-power-to-shut-down-media

Story 3: United States Reimposes Sanctions on Iran Now and More in November — Videos

Trump imposes “most biting sanctions ever” on Iran

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Trump hits Iran with return to ‘biting sanctions’ as Tehran accuses him of ‘psychological warfare’ but president says he’s willing to negotiate a nuclear new deal to replace Obama’s

  • The U.S. brought back into effect sanctions that were lifted under nuclear deal
  • President Trump signed an executive order authorizing the harsh penalties
  • Trump trashed the Iran nuclear pact as a ‘horrible’ and ‘one-sided’ agreement
  • But he said he was open to reaching a more comprehensive deal with Iran 
  • Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani blasted the sanctions as ‘psychological warfare’

‘The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level,’ the president tweeted.

‘Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!’ he added.

Iran’s president slammed the United States after the White House re-imposed a wave of tough, unilateral sanctions at midnight.

The U.S. brought back into effect harsh penalties that had been lifted under Barack Obama’s multi-party nuclear agreement that Trump abandoned in May.

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Donald Trump snapped bace unilateral sanctions against Iran at midnight, and tweeted that nations will have to choose between doing business with the Islamist nation and trading with the United States

Donald Trump snapped bace unilateral sanctions against Iran at midnight, and tweeted that nations will have to choose between doing business with the Islamist nation and trading with the United States

President Hassan Rouhani described the measures as 'psychological warfare' aimed at sowing division among Iranians

President Hassan Rouhani described the measures as ‘psychological warfare’ aimed at sowing division among Iranians

'I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!' Trump tweeted

‘I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!’ Trump tweeted

Trump said he was open to reaching a more comprehensive deal with Iran ‘that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism.’

But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described the measures as ‘psychological warfare’ aimed at sowing division among Iranians.

‘If you’re an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife, and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife,’ the Iranian leader said in an interview on state television.

‘They want to launch psychological warfare against the Iranian nation,’ Rouhani said.  ‘Negotiations with sanctions doesn’t make sense.’

The first of two rounds of US sanctions kicked in overnight, targeting Iran’s access to US banknotes and key industries, including cars and carpets.

Iranians are already seeing the effects of the sanctions, with Iran’s rial currency losing around half its value since Trump announced the US would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear accord.

Many large European firms are leaving Iran for fear of US penalties, and Trump warned of ‘severe consequences’ against firms and individuals that continued to do business with Iran.

The impact of the return of sanctions has ramped up tensions inside Iran, which has seen days of protests and strikes in multiple towns and cities over water shortages, high prices and wider anger at the political system.

Severe reporting restrictions have made it impossible to verify the swirl of claims coming through social media.

Trump’s contempt for the nuclear deal dates back to his time as presidential candidate and on May 8, he made good on a pledge to pull America out of the international agreement.

President Trump said Monday that he will fully enforce sanctions due to be reimposed against Iran as he signed an executive order announcing his intent. Pictured, Trump signing a proclamation withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear agreement in May at the White House

President Trump said Monday that he will fully enforce sanctions due to be reimposed against Iran as he signed an executive order announcing his intent. Pictured, Trump signing a proclamation withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear agreement in May at the White House

He blasted the agreement yet again Monday, calling it a ‘horrible, one-sided deal (that) failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb.’

The unilateral withdrawal came despite other parties to the agreement – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the EU – pleading with Trump not to abandon the pact.

Washington’s so-called ‘snapback’ sanctions were reinstated against Tehran at 12.01am EDT on Tuesday. A second wave will go into effect on November 4.

In an executive order Monday, Trump said the sanctions seek to pile financial pressure on Tehran to force a ‘comprehensive and lasting solution’ to Iranian threats, including its development of missiles and regional ‘malign’ activities.

‘The United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions, and we will work closely with nations conducting business with Iran to ensure complete compliance,’ Trump said in a statement that trashed the Iran nuclear pact as a ‘horrible’ and ‘one-sided’ agreement.

‘Individuals or entities that fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences.’

The president signed the executive order from his Bedminster, New Jersey, property.

 He did so behind closed doors with reporters miles away after the White House told journalists covering him that he would not make any public appearances that day.

Instead, the president issued a statement that labeled the Iran nuclear pact ‘a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos.’

Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, on May 8, starting a ticking clock for the sanctions on Tehran to be reimposed.

He has repeatedly denounced the deal reached under his White House predecessor, Barack Obama, as one-sided in Iran’s favor. He promised as a candidate to tear it up.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking with reporters returning with him from an Asian trip, said Monday morning that sanctions are ‘an important part of our efforts to push back against Iranian malign activity’ and the U.S. would enforce the restrictions on certain Iranian goods.

Starting this week, Washington will bring back sanctions on Iran’s purchases of U.S. dollars, its trade in gold and precious metals, and its dealings with metals, coal and industrial-related software.

The United States has told other countries they must halt imports of Iranian oil starting in early November or face U.S. financial measures.

Video playing bottom right…

President Trump urged all nations and corporations ‘to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation’ in the statement that served as a substitute for on-camera remarks.

His executive order immediately targets Iran’s automotive, energy, shipbuilding and precious metals industries and begins a wind-down period for the acquisition, sale and transport of petroleum and petrochemical products.

The directive states that the punishments are intended to ‘advance the goal of applying financial pressure on the Iranian regime in pursuit of a comprehensive and lasting solution to the full range of the threats posed by Iran’ which include its missile development and support for terror groups as well as a ‘network and campaign of regional aggression’ and ‘malign activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its surrogates.’

Trump has forcefully denounced Iran’s ‘DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH’ toward the U.S. and at the end of July warned Iran not to threaten the United States or plan to ‘SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKE OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.’

That was after Rouhani warned the US that war with Iran ‘is the mother of all wars’ and said Trump stop ‘playing with the lion’s tail,’ with the stark pledge of or ‘else you will regret it.’

Still, the Trump administration has said the president would be willing to negotiate a new deal with Tehran under the right conditions. However, Iran should not expect relief sanctions in the interim.

The president said in a weekend tweet that the ball is in Tehran’s court.

‘I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter – it is up to them!’ he said of a potential meeting with Rouhani.

National Security Advisor John Bolton said Monday that Trump stands by his offer and it is Tehran that is refusing to meet with the American president.

‘I think he was very serious about it. If the Ayatollah’s want to get out from under the squeeze, they should come and sit down. The pressure will not relent while the negotiations go on, much as in the case of the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea,’ Bolton said.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday that Trump has ‘isolated’ America with his position on sanctions. The United States’ other negotiating partners, including France and Germany, remain in the deal.

‘Of course, American bullying and political pressures may cause some disruption, but the fact is that in the current world, America is isolated,’ said Zarif, who played a lead role in 2015 talks, as he downplayed the hit his country will endure as a result of the sanctions.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini in a statement jointly signed with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, shared her dismay at Trump’s order that will seal the break down of the deal on Monday.

‘We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the U.S.’ the statement said. ‘We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran.’

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) said it was hard to imagine negotiating with the man who tore up an agreement on which Iran and world powers had spent the 'longest hours in negotiating history' as he claimed that America is 'isolated' as a result of the sanctions implimentation

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) said it was hard to imagine negotiating with the man who tore up an agreement on which Iran and world powers had spent the ‘longest hours in negotiating history’ as he claimed that America is ‘isolated’ as a result of the sanctions implimentation

Rouhani said last week that Trump’s repudiation of the deal was illegal and Iran would not yield to Washington’s renewed campaign to strangle Iran’s vital oil exports.

Iran will ease foreign exchange rules, state TV reported on Sunday, in a bid to halt a collapse of the rial currency, which has lost half its value since April due to fears about the return of the sanctions.

Iran has seen days of protests and strikes directed at the country’s iron-fisted rulers.

A senior administration official told reporters during a Monday morning call that the blame ‘lies with the Iranian regime’ that has squandered the country’s’ resources and oppressed its people.

Officials on the call would not endorse regime change in Tehran and refused to say that the inherent purpose of the United States’ punishing actions was to force the collapse the Iranian economy.

A senior official hinted at the end game, however, telling press: ‘We are very intent on using these financial sanctions to great economic leverage.’

Referring to the sporadic protests in Iranian cities in his Monday avail, Pompeo said: ‘The Iranian people are not happy – not with the Americans but with their own leadership. They’re unhappy with the failure of their own leadership to deliver the economic promises that their leadership promised them.’

Pompeo said the United States wants ‘the Iranian people to have a strong voice of who their leadership will be,’ although he stopped short of calling for regime change in Tehran.

He later said in a message on Twitter that the United States was ‘deeply concerned about reports of Iranian regime´s violence against unarmed citizens’ and urged respect for human rights.

Protests broke out on Sunday for a sixth night in Iranian cities, including Kazeroon in the south, according to social media. Authorities reported the first fatality among protesters, with the shooting of a man in Karaj, west of Tehran. But they denied security forces were involved, Iranian news agencies reported

The protests have often begun with slogans against the high cost of living and alleged financial corruption but quickly turned into anti-government rallies.

Pompeo said it would require ‘enormous change’ by Iran to get out from under renewed U.S. sanctions. ‘They have got to behave like a normal country,’ he said, describing Iranian leaders as ‘bad actors.’

He alluded to Trump’s suggestion last week of the potential for future negotiations with Tehran, a notion that senior Iranian officials quickly rejected.

‘We are happy to talk if there’s an arrangement that is appropriate, that could lead to a good outcome,’ he said. ‘Perhaps that will be the path the Iranians choose to move down with. There´s no evidence to date of their desire to change to change their behavior.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6034339/Iranian-president-accuses-Trump-psychological-warfare.html

Story 4: Poor Trucker Driver Retention Issues Due To Pay, Benefits and Over-Regulation Results in Need For More New Truck Drivers — Videos

Trucking Companies Are Hiking Wages Amid Driver Shortage | CNBC

GOP lawmaker proposes solution to truck driver shortage

Truck driver shortage is really about retention issues: Todd Spencer

Is the trucker shortage a myth?

Truck driver pay plummeted in last 30 years: Drivers association president

Driver shortage is the fault of carrier pay/load rate per mile.

Is there a driver shortage? Let’s find out.

Why is there Truck drivers shortage in the US

THERE IS NO TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE!!! STOP SAYING THERE IS!!!!

Truck driver: Government decides when I work, eat and sleep

Truck Driver Salary Pay Packages Just Don’t Cut It

Published on May 6, 2014

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The Pronk Pops Show 919, June 27, 2017, Part 1 — Story 1: Breaking BIG — Big Interventionist Government — Obamacare and Obamacare Lite — The Progressive Two-Party Tyranny of The Democratic and Republican Parties — Fake Repeal and Fake Replace Is Not Real Repeal of Obamacare and All Obamacare Regulations and Replace With Free Enterprise Individual Health Insurance Markets Not Centralized Federal Control and Regulation with Massive Subsidies Of Health Insurance Industry — Collectivists vs Individualists — Replace The C, D, F BIG Progressive Republican Senators and Representatives — The Party’s Over — Videos

Posted on June 27, 2017. Filed under: American History, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Communications, Countries, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Fiscal Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care Insurance, History, Human, Labor Economics, Law, Life, Media, Medicare, Monetary Policy, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Pro Life, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Social Security, Success, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

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Image result for Progressive republicans and democrats the two party tyrannyImage result for cartoons on repeal and replace of obamacareImage result for Progressive republicans and democrats the two party tyranny

National Debt Clock 

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Image result for Progressive republicans and democrats the two party tyranny

Part 1 — Story 1: Breaking BIG — Big Interventionist Government — Obamacare and Obamacare Lite — The Progressive Two-Party Tyranny of The Democratic and Republican Parties — Fake Repeal and Fake Replace Is Not Real Repeal of Obamacare and All Obamacare Regulations and Replace With Free Enterprise Individual Health Insurance Markets Not Centralized Federal Control and Regulation with Massive Subsidies Of Health Insurance Industry — Collectivists vs Individualists — Replace The C, D, F BIG Progressive Republican Senators, and Representatives — The Party’s Over — Videos

 

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

 

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

Image result for how many americans are in employer paid health insurance v. individual health insurance

Judy Holliday – The Party’s Over

Judy Holliday The Party’s Over Lyrics

The party’s over
It’s time to call it a day
They’ve burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away.

It’s time to wind up

The masquerade
Just make your mind up
The piper must be paid.

The party’s over
The candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed

Through the night
It seemed to be right
Just being with him.

Now you must wake up
All dreams must end
Take off your makeup

The party’s over
It’s all over, my friend.

Now you must wake up
All dreams must end
Take off your makeup
The party’s over
It’s all over, my friend.

President Trump Holds Meeting with GOP Senators After Delayed Healthcare Vote 6/27/17

I won’t vote to keep ObamaCare: Rand Paul

What is President Trump’s role in the health care fight?

MARK LEVIN: Senate Health Care Bill Is 95% OBAMACARE

Conservative George Will MOCKS Donald Trump And Derives Republicans Over Hypocrisy On Trumpcare

Sen. Rand Paul: Our Bill May Cost More In First 2 Years Than Obamacare Did | TODAY

Republicans delay Senate health care vote

Heller says he will not support the GOP Senate health-care bill

Senator Ron Johnson: ‘We Should Not Be Voting’ on Healthcare This Week | Meet The Press | MSNBC

Milton Friedman – Collectivism

Milton Friedman on universal health care

Milton Friedman – The Social Security Myth

Milton Friedman – The Welfare Establishment

Milton Friedman – Tyranny of the Status Quo – Part 1 – Beneficiaries

Milton Friedman – Tyranny of the Status Quo – Part 2 – Bureaucrats

Milton Friedman – Tyranny of the Status Quo – Part 3 – Politicians

Milton Friedman – Why Tax Reform Is Impossible

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 1/4

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 2/4

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 3/4

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 3/4

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 4/4

Milton Friedman – Morality & Capitalism

Lacking enough GOP votes, Senate pushes back health bill

Sen. Rand Paul: Senate health care bill needs more Obamacare ‘repeal’

Hardball with Chris Matthews 6/27/17 Republicans can’t repeal and replace Obamacare

Hume on GOP Health Care Fight: Either Way, Republicans Have a ‘Problem’

Rand Paul: Let’s Repeal Obamacare And Don’t Replace It

Rush Limbaugh Talks Obamacare With VP Mike Pence: “We Take The Teeth Out Of The Tiger”

Republicans have one major problem on Obamacare

Why Can’t America Have a Grown-Up Healthcare Conversation?

Is Obamacare Working? The Affordable Care Act Five Years Later

Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

How Health Insurance Works

Senate postpones health care bill vote

Individual Health Insurance VS. Group Health Insurance

Published on Aug 14, 2009

Ok so lets contrast individual vs. group health insurance. One thing that a lot of people get wrong is individual health insurance, number one isn’t as good coverage and number two, cost more than a group coverage. Well, these two things are wrong. The first one, lets talk about cost. We find that individual health insurance is about 40% less than any group plan. You can load it up with all the features and benefits you are looking for in a group

Group vs. Individual Health Insurance: Health Insurance Facts & More

Published on Aug 16, 2012

Trump triumphs, CNN implodes, the Russian myth is destroyed and the Alt-Left Media haven’t a clue.

How Demented and Sick Our Republic Has Become By Design

‘We’re Amending Obamacare. We’re Not Killing It’

The Senate bill coming out Thursday would do many things to health care in the U.S., but it won’t get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and Mitch McConnell won’t claim that it does.

The health-care bill Senate Republicans plan to unveil on Thursday likely will make substantial changes to Medicaid and cut taxes for wealthy Americans and businesses. It will eliminate mandates and relax regulations on insurance plans, and it will reduce the federal government’s role in health care.

What it won’t do, however, is actually repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Lost in the roiling debate over health care over the last several weeks is that Republicans have all but given up on their longstanding repeal-and-replace pledge. The slogan lives on in the rhetoric used by many GOP lawmakers and the Trump White House but not in the legislation the party is advancing. That was true when House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act last month, which rolled back key parts of Obamacare but was not a full repeal. And it is even more true of the bill the Senate has drafted in secret, which reportedly will stick closer to the underlying structure of the law.

“We’re amending Obamacare. We’re not killing it,” a frustrated Jason Pye of the conservative group FreedomWorks told me earlier this month as the murky outlines of the Senate proposal were beginning to emerge.

Like the House bill, the Senate plan is expected to repeal the ACA’s employer and individual insurance mandates and most if not all of the tax increases Democrats levied to pay for new programs and benefits. But the Senate bill likely will only begin a years-long phase-out of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in 2020 rather than end it as the House measure does.

The Senate also is expected to include more generous tax credits than the House bill that more closely resemble the system already in place under Obamacare. But the funding levels would still be lower than the current law. And according to Axios, the bill would allow states to opt out of some ACA insurance regulations, but it would do so by loosening existing waivers within the current law rather than follow the House in creating a new waiver system. And the Senate proposal would require that states adhere to more of Obamacare’s regulations than the House bill.Senate Majority Leader McConnell has quietly abandoned the language of “repeal-and-replace” that his office originated seven years ago in the immediate aftermath of the ACA’s enactment. In more than a dozen speeches on health care that McConnell has delivered on the Senate floor since the House passed its bill in early May, he hasn’t uttered the word “repeal” a single time, according to transcripts provided by the majority leader’s office. Nor has he repeated his own pledge to rip out Obamacare “root and branch.” “We’re going to make every effort to pass a bill that dramatically changes the current health care law,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday, setting a new standard for the bill Republicans plan to release on Thursday.

When the year started, legislation leaving Obamacare substantially in place would have been dead on arrival with hardliners in the House and Senate, who demanded that party leaders expand on a bill that former President Barack Obama vetoed in 2015. That measure did not fully repeal the ACA either, bowing to Senate budget rules limiting how much of the law Republicans could scrap without a filibuster-proof 60 votes. But it eliminated the tax credits and subsidies undergirding the law’s insurance exchanges along with its tax increases and mandates. And with Republicans now in control of both Congress and the White House, conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus this spring began pushing the leadership to go further by repealing Obamacare’s core consumer protections guaranteeing the coverage of essential health benefits and prohibiting insurers from charging higher rates to people with preexisting conditions.

The deal that ultimately allowed the AHCA to pass the House was an under-appreciated turning point in the health-care debate. The concession that Speaker Paul Ryan and a few key moderates made to the Freedom Caucus was to allow states to opt out of some of Obamacare’s insurance regulations, most crucially on equal treatment for pre-existing conditions. But the concession that conservative lawmakers and outside groups made in return was just as significant: They agreed to back off their demand for full repeal and endorse—or at least not fight—a bill that fell far short of that goal.“While this legislation does not fully repeal Obamacare, it’s an important step in keeping that promise to lower healthcare costs,” the Freedom Caucus said in its statement upon passage of the AHCA. It was a message echoed by outside groups like FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, and the Club for Growth, who agreed to drop their opposition to the bill, a move that gave Republicans additional cover to vote for it. Conservatives had embraced an incrementalist approach to Obamacare. The new standard they adopted for health-care legislation was not whether it eliminated the Affordable Care Act but whether it would lower premiums for most consumers.One key question for McConnell is whether the most outspoken conservatives in his caucus—Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah—will judge the Senate bill by that more modest baseline. Republicans can lose no more than two votes to secure passage, and a group of moderate senators is proving just as difficult for party leaders to nail down. To this point, Paul has been the most critical of the GOP approach and the most likely to oppose the proposal from the right. The House bill, he complained, already kept 90 percent of Obamacare’s subsidies. “If this gets any more subsidies in it, it may well be equal to what we have in Obamacare. So it really wouldn’t be repeal,” Paul said on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg. Even so, the Kentucky conservative wouldn’t rule out supporting the bill until he read the text.Cruz and Lee have participated in the Senate process as members of the 13-man working group, and aides have said both have bought into McConnell’s incremental approach. But the two have each complained about the emerging draft in recent days, either on the substance or the top-down, secretive process used to write the bill. “We’re not there yet,” Cruz said Tuesday on Fox News. “The current draft doesn’t do nearly enough to lower premiums.”The Congressional Budget Office projected that in states that opted out of Obamacare’s insurance requirements under the waivers allowed in the House bill, average premiums would drop significantly. But the tradeoff is that people with preexisting conditions would face sharply higher costs or be priced out of insurance entirely. Conservatives have argued that the high cost of adhering to the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements has forced insurers to raise premiums in order to make a profit.Conservative activists briefly held out hope that the health-care bill would move further to the right in the Senate, buoyed by efforts by Cruz and Lee to have Republicans override parliamentary rulings limiting how much of Obamacare they could repeal through the budget reconciliation process. But party leaders never seriously considered that option, which moderate Republicans were likely to oppose.In recent weeks, conservatives have instead focused on demanding that the Senate preserve—or deepen—the reforms to Medicaid in the House bill while still repealing all of Obamacare’s tax hikes. “It is clear that significant portions of the Republican Party have no intention of actually repealing Obamacare despite campaigning on that objective for years,” Mike Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Conservatives will evaluate legislative language when it becomes available, looking particularly at whether the legislation empowers states to get out of the onerous insurance mandates imposed by Obamacare, maintains and improves the House’s Medicaid reforms, and repeals Obamacare’s stifling taxes.”

Make no mistake, Republicans aren’t merely tinkering around the edges of the health-care system, or Obamacare. The Senate proposal that will come out on Thursday will significantly alter the federal funding of Medicaid and, in all likelihood, would result in millions fewer Americans having health insurance over the next decade, as projected by the CBO. And while they won’t be excited by the bill, conservative senators and activists might well come around to support it. They’d vote for the plan as a step in the right direction, a weakening of Obamacare. But like McConnell, they won’t be calling it something that it’s not: repeal.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/senate-republican-bill-obamacare-repeal/531108/

What’s in the Senate Republican Health-Care Bill

Like the House version, Mitch McConnell’s proposal would slash taxes, cut Medicaid, and eliminate Obamacare’s insurance mandates for individuals and employers.

The Senate Republican health-care bill is finally out in the open.

After weeks of secretive deliberations, party leaders on Thursday released a 142-page proposal that would slash taxes on the wealthy and businesses; reduce federal funding for Medicaid and phase out its expansion under the Affordable Care Act; and limit the tax credits available to help people purchase insurance on the individual market. The legislation, titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, is officially labeled a “discussion draft,” but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants Republicans to debate and vote on the bill by the end of next week.

Like the American Health Care Act that passed the House in May, the Senate bill is a substantial revision to Obamacare but not a wholesale repeal. And while Senate Republicans had vowed to start over rather than work off the unpopular House proposal, their version is structured the same way. The Senate measure mirrors the House bill in eliminating the ACA’s employer and individual insurance mandates and most of the tax increases it imposed to pay for new programs. Both proposals call for an overhaul of Medicaid funding that would allow states to institute work requirements and end the program’s status as an open-ended entitlement. The Senate bill would go further than the House’s $800 billion in cuts by reducing its growth rate beginning in 2025, but unlike the House version, it would begin a three-year phase-out of the program’s expansion in 2020. The AHCA would cut off the expansion entirely that year.

As expected, Democrats assailed the proposal as a draconian measure that would strip health insurance from millions all for the goal of providing tax cuts for the rich. They seized on comments that President Trump reportedly made to Republican senators in which he called the House proposal “mean.”
“Simply put: This bill will result in higher costs, less care, and millions of Americans will lose their health insurance, particularly through Medicaid,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said. “It’s every bit as bad as the House bill; in some ways, it’s even worse.”

But the McConnell was never intended to appeal to Democrats. Instead, the majority leader and the Senate policy staffers who wrote the bill were trying to strike a delicate balance between conservatives bent on ripping up Obamacare and moderate Republican senators who, though they campaigned on repeal, now want to preserve its central benefits. Whether McConnell achieved that middle ground is unclear, as few Republican senators leapt to embrace his proposal in the immediate aftermath of its release. The first official holdouts to emerge were a group of four conservatives: Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” they said in a joint statement. “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”Their statement was significant because together, their opposition alone could sink the bill given the GOP’s narrow, 52-48 majority in the Senate. But its careful wording left a lot of room for any or all of the conservatives to come around by the time the bill hits the floor next week. Paul, who has been a critic of the GOP approach for months, was more harsh in a pair of tweets he sent on his own. “The current bill does not repeal Obamacare. It does not keep our promises to the American people,” he wrote. Paul had long been considered a likely no vote, as it is unlikely McConnell could move the bill far enough to the right to get his support without losing moderates.
The draft will also face the test of whether its provisions pass muster under the Senate’s complex rules for budget reconciliation, which would allow Republican to circumvent a Democratic filibuster. Aides on Thursday acknowledged that “there will be ongoing discussions with the Parliamentarian” in the Senate about certain parts of the bill.The Senate proposal targets abortion coverage by prohibiting the use of tax credits to buy insurance plans that cover the procedure, and it would ban funds from going to Planned Parenthood. Those provisions could jeopardize the support of two moderate Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have said they oppose restricting federal funding to Planned Parenthood. A spokeswoman for Collins, Annie Clark, said Thursday she would be reviewing the bill into the weekend. “She has a number of concerns and will be particularly interested in examining the forthcoming CBO analysis on the impact on insurance coverage, the effect on insurance premiums, and the changes in the Medicaid program,” Clark said.The Senate bill also allows states to opt out of some of Obamacare’s insurance regulations, but it does not allow waivers that would let insurance companies charge higher rates to people with preexisting conditions. “We’re not touching preexisting conditions,” one top GOP staffer told reporters on a Thursday conference call. While the House bill created a new waiver system aimed at allowing states to get around Obamacare requirements, the Senate expands an existing waiver in the current law to make it easier for states to apply. The provision, aides said, would allow insurance companies in states that obtain waivers to sell plans that do not provide essential health benefits, including maternity care, hospitalization, and mental-health treatment.Unlike the House bill, the Senate proposal contains funding for cost-sharing payments for insurers to help stabilize the faltering individual insurance market under Obamacare. They would continue through 2019 before being repealed entirely. The payments are the subject of a lawsuit that House Republicans filed against the Obama administration three years ago, and while the Trump administration has continued the subsidies, its refusal to guarantee them over the long term has prompted more insurers to exit the ACA exchanges.McConnell has drawn criticism from senators in both parties for writing the bill behind closed doors without public hearings, though it’s unclear if the mounting frustration among some Republican senators about the process will threaten the legislation’s passage. In a floor speech on Thursday morning, the majority leader said senators would have “ample time” to review and amend the bill before a final vote. The Congressional Budget Office said it would release its analysis of the Senate bill’s cost and impact on insurance early next week. It found that the House bill would leave 23 million more people uninsured over the next decade while reducing average premiums depending on whether states opted out of Obamacare’s insurance regulations.“We debated many policy proposals. We considered many different viewpoints,” McConnell said. “In the end, we found that we share many ideas about what needs to be achieved and how we can achieve it. These shared policy objectives and the solutions to help achieve them are what make up the health care discussion draft that we talked through this morning.”Senate budget rules call for what’s known as a “vote-a-rama” where members of either party offer amendments in a single session. And in many ways, it appears McConnell’s draft is designed to be amended. The bill, for example, does not include funding for the opioid crisis that Senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and others were demanding. Nor does it adopt their proposal for a longer, seven-year phase-out of the Medicaid expansion. But by omitting those provisions at the front end, McConnell could be inviting Portman, Capito, and other wavering senators to add them by amendment so they can claim credit for improving the bill when it comes to the floor. Similarly, the statement Paul, Cruz, Lee, and Johnson appeared to be a play for changes that could win their ultimate support.Republicans have a razor-thin majority of 52 seats, and McConnell can lose no more than two votes to pass the bill with a tie-breaker from Vice President Mike Pence. The majority leader will also face difficulty securing support from conservatives who feel the proposal doesn’t go far enough in dismantling Obamacare.https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/whats-in-the-senate-republican-health-care-bill/531258/
Mark Levin’s new book, “Rediscovering Americanism,” an assault on the media and progressives and a call for Americans to take back their country, debuts today at No. 1 on Amazon.

Showing the draw of the New York Times bestselling author and top syndicated radio host, his book is already on the way to becoming another big seller.

“My new book covers a lot of territory — philosophy, history, economics, law, culture, etc. And I look deeply into what is meant by Americanism, republicanism, individualism, capitalism. What do we mean by natural law, unalienable rights, liberty, and property rights? From where do these principles come? Why are they important?” he told Secrets.

It follows in the path of his other books and the nation: Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto; Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America; The Liberty Amendments; and Plunder and Deceit.

Secrets reviewed “Rediscovering Americanism”last week and wrote:

In the book, Levin attacks the embrace by the media, politicians, and academia of progressive promises of a “utopia” defined by the end of personal freedom and individuality.

He has a grim name for it: “The Final Outcome.” Levin wrote, “They reject history’s lessons and instead are absorbed with their own conceit and aggrandizement in the relentless pursuit of a diabolical project, the final outcome of which is an oppression of mind and soul.”

Levin added, “the equality they envision but dare not honestly proclaim, is life on the hamster wheel, where one individual is indistinguishable from the next.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/mark-levin-book-condemning-media-progressives-debuts-no-1-amazon/article/2627178

Dems face identity crisis

Democrats are grappling with how to keep their progressive base happy while winning over white working-class voters who left the party in the 2016 elections.

Defections by blue-collar voters cost Democrat Hillary Clinton the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which went to President Trump. It was the first time since 1988 that a GOP presidential candidate had won Michigan or Pennsylvania, and the first time since 1984 in Wisconsin.

The fallout has created an identity crisis for a Democratic Party seeking to find its way forward in the post-Obama era.

A string of House special election losses culminating in Democrat Jon Ossoff’s disappointing defeat in Georgia last week has only intensified the scrutiny and second-guessing of Democratic strategy, to say nothing of the hand-wringing by party activists craving a victory.

“I’m not convinced we know what the best thing is for the party right now,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley. “I’m not convinced we have the answers.”

Democrats trying to figure out what they’re doing wrong are focused on how they’ve seemingly lost a significant part of the Democratic base all while failing to turn out enough progressives.

There are different views about what to do across the party, with some questioning whether the white working-class voters can be won back by a party that seems to be tilting leftward with the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.) and other liberal voices.

“I’ve spoken to some folks who think we have to only choose one or the other,” said one former senior aide to President Barack Obama. “And after this election cycle, I think there are some who believe there may be some truth to that.”

A lot depends on whether the party can find the right candidate with the right message, particularly in 2020.

“Democrats need a reason for showing up. Give them a reason to believe, and we won’t be having this discussion,” the former Obama aide said.

Democrats say there is a way to appeal to both progressives and white working-class voters.

“Everybody is being too simplistic,” Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said. “Voters are much more complex.”

Simmons said it’s not a matter of choosing to talk about police violence and climate change or the minimum wage and creating jobs.

Progressives, he said, want Democrats to talk about all of that.

They “want politicians to say something about Black Lives Matter and equality — they also want to know how they’re going to get their kids through college, pay off their house and get a better job,” he said. “The thing that’s most frustrating to me is this either-or dichotomy.”

Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 show Democrats can win over both groups, say some Democrats.

“This crisis is Democrats not realizing their own strengths, or being scared of articulating their core principles, rather than a crisis of having no agenda,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.

He said a focus on economics, climate change and being anti-Trump would animate the party.

“These are the places that 2018 candidates need to focus on, because they are ways to distinguish themselves from the GOP and its agenda,” he added. “Then they should continue to use Trump as a unifying theme. Often experts downplay this, but Republicans were very effective at using Obama that way.”

In recent days, particularly since the Ossoff loss, Democrats have been doing a lot of finger-pointing.

There’s been a movement to stop blaming the 2016 presidential election loss on Russia. And there have been calls to cut ties with current Democratic leaders like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Some of those calls, within the House, come from lawmakers such as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who is worried about losing the white working class.

On the other end of the spectrum, some say Sanders’s bashing of Democrats has only deepened wounds.

“A lot of people are sick of it,” said Manley, a former adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “The mainstream part of the party has had it up to here with what he’s been saying.”

Some Democrats are seeking to build a bridge between the two groups.

In an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the party will unveil a “strong, bold, sharp-edged and commonsense economic agenda” in the coming weeks.

Addressing both wings of his party, he added, “I’m talking to Bernie Sanders. I’m talking to Joe Manchin. This is going to be really something that Democrats can be proud of, and I’m excited about it.”

Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, is among the most centrist members of Schumer’s conference.

Michael Tyler, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said Democrats will look to expand their support across the party.

He acknowledged in an email to The Hill that in order to win elections, Democrats “have to focus on broadening and turning out our base and on reaching out to Americans who cast ballots for Donald Trump or didn’t vote at all.”

Tyler said Democrats are in the process of rebuilding a party “from an organization whose mission was solely to elect the president of the United States to one that organizes to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, from school board to Senate.”

But it may not be as easy as that, some strategists say.

Asked how the party rebounds and lures both working-class and progressive Democrats, Manley admitted: “I don’t have the faintest idea in this point in time. I’m still trying to digest what happened.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/339577-dems-face-identity-crisis

Replacing Obamacare is a make-or-break moment for Republicans

 June 25

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) threw himself off a political cliff last week when he declared full-throated opposition to the Senate version of the Obamacare repeal bill, and it remains to be seen if Heller is hanging by a limb out of sight and can climb back to electoral sanity or has hit rock bottom in his public career.Individual Senate Republicans face different political realities, but the caucus must somehow get the votes necessary to return the revised Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill to the House. To fail to do so is to condemn not only Heller and Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake to certain doom but probably others among the eight GOP senators up for reelection. The grass roots’ disgust with this betrayal will be so deep as to endanger every senator, even in deep red states such as Mississippi, Texas and Utah.The political crosswinds and upheavals in the country are already beyond predicting anything, so to add even more cause for grievance by betraying the central promise of the congressional GOP is beyond irresponsible. It is political insanity. Shut the door to the consultants, and throw out the polling senators. If the GOP defaults on its core promise, it is doomed as a party to minority status, probably as early as 2018 and certainly in 2020.

To fail this week almost certainly forfeits the House majority in next year’s midterm elections but perhaps also the Senate’s, and with the latter, the ability to confirm Supreme Court justices and lower court judges, pass budgets under reconciliation, have any chance at serious tax reform and of course approve the crucial repeal of the Defense Department sequestration.

This is of course an imperative vote on saving American health care. Next year, for example, there potentially will be at least 18 counties in Ohio without even a single option for an individuals seeking coverage. The swaths of America where there is only one provider are large and growing. “Choice for consumers” is a delusion, and soaring deductibles have made health care an illusion to millions more.

Obamacare is a catastrophe on its own terms, but the consequences of not passing its repeal are worse even beyond those awful health-care outcomes. It will forfeit every other Republican goal because failing to deliver on the central promise of eight years of debates and campaigns will shatter the credibility every Republican, not just those who block the bill. The party as a whole will be gravely wounded, perhaps beyond healing for a generation or more.

I don’t have to guess about this. I have been talking to the center-right of the country for three hours a day Monday through Friday for the past 17 years. I know the central argument of the conservative activists everywhere in the United States is that Beltway Republicans cannot be trusted to do anything hard. That argument was dented by the discipline with which the GOP put up with the mainstream media and Democrats’ slings and arrows in the fight over replacing Justice Antonin Scalia. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) rightly calculated that to surrender that hill would be to lose not just a political battle but the political war stretching long into the future. It was that big of a deal to the base.

The same is true of Obamacare. To vote “no” on whatever compromise arrives is to express contempt for the Republican Party as a whole – and its grass-roots activists and base voters — and for those ideas it stands for on all major matters, from a strong defense to low taxes to an originalist Supreme Court.

Thus Heller seemed to declare himself a hollow man when he said he could not vote for it, a man without any core beliefs because with his rambling statement he endangered all alleged core GOP beliefs, and thus the GOP will not support him. It isn’t about primaries; primary opponents need not materialize. It is about millions of conservatives who will simply give up on politics.

This is a make-or-break moment for Senate Republicans and the party itself. Sadly, for this conservative, the tone-deafness of Heller may not be unique. It may not even turn out to be particularly rare. We will know in a week. And not one GOP senator will be able to say he or she wasn’t warned.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/replacing-obamacare-is-a-make-or-break-moment-for-republicans/2017/06/25/c5f7775a-59c9-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?utm_term=.602544feab43

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Acronyms(colloquial) PPACA, ACA
Nicknames Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Reform, Healthcare Reform, Obamacare
Enacted by the 111th United States Congress
Effective March 23, 2010; 7 years ago
Most major provisions phased in by January 2014; remaining provisions phased in by 2020
Citations
Public law 111–148
Statutes at Large 124 Stat. 119 through 124 Stat. 1025(906 pages)
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as the “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009” (H.R. 3590byCharles Rangel (DNYon September 17, 2009
  • Committee consideration by Ways and Means
  • Passed the House on October 8, 2009 (416–0)
  • Passed the Senate as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” on December 24, 2009 (60–39with amendment
  • House agreed to Senate amendment on March 21, 2010 (219–212)
  • Signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010
Major amendments
Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011
United States Supreme Court cases
National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
King v. Burwell

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 President Barack 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 Affordable Care Act was designed to increase health insurance quality and affordability, lower the uninsured rate by expanding insurance coverage and reduce the costs of healthcare. It introduced mechanisms including mandates, subsidies, and insurance exchanges.[1][2] The law requires insurers to accept all applicants, cover a specific list of conditions and charge the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex.[3]

The ACA has caused a significant reduction in the number of people without health insurance, with estimates ranging from 20–24 million additional people covered during 2016.[4][5] Increases in overall healthcare spending have slowed since the law was implemented, including premiums for employer-based insurance plans.[6] The Congressional Budget Office reported in several studies that the ACA would reduce the budget deficit, and that repealing it would increase the deficit.[7][8]

As implementation began, first opponents, then others, and finally the president himself adopted the term “Obamacare” to refer to the ACA.[9]

The law and its implementation faced challenges in Congress and federal courts, and from some state governmentsconservative advocacy groupslabor unions, and small business organizations. The United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate as an exercise of Congress’s taxing power,[10] found that states cannot be forced to participate in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion,[11][12][13] and found that the law’s subsidies to help individuals pay for health insurance are available in all states, not just in those that have set up state exchanges.[14]

Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system‘s most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of coverage since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.[15][16][17][18]

Provisions

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.[15][16][17][19][18] 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,[15] while the structure of Medicare, Medicaid, and the employer market were largely retained.[16] Most of the coverage gains were made through the expansion of Medicaid,[20] and the biggest cost savings were made in Medicare.[16] Some regulations applied to the employer market, and the law also made delivery system changes that affected most of the health care system.[16] Not all provisions took full effect. Some were made discretionary, some were deferred, and others were repealed before implementation.

Individual insurance

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.[21] The law provides a 5% “income disregard”, making the effective income eligibility limit for Medicaid 138% of the poverty level.[22]

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment process was simplified.[21]

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.[23][24]

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.[25][26] They remain eligible for emergency services.
  • Eligible citizens not enrolled in Medicaid.[27]
  • Citizens who pay the annual penalty instead of purchasing insurance, mostly younger and single.[27]
  • Citizens whose insurance coverage would cost more than 8% of household income and are exempt from the penalty.[27]
  • Citizens who live in states that opt out of the Medicaid expansion and who qualify for neither existing Medicaid coverage nor subsidized coverage through the states’ new insurance exchanges.[28]

Subsidies

Households with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level were eligible to receive federal subsidies for policies purchased via an exchange.[29][30] Subsidies are provided as an advanceable, refundable tax credits.[31][32] Additionally, small businesses are eligible for a tax credit provided that they enroll in the SHOP Marketplace.[33] 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.

Subsidies (2014) for Family of 4[34][35][36][37][38]
Income % of federal poverty level Premium Cap as a Share of Income Incomea Max Annual Out-of-Pocket Premium Premium Savingsb Additional Cost-Sharing Subsidy
133% 3% of income $31,900 $992 $10,345 $5,040
150% 4% of income $33,075 $1,323 $9,918 $5,040
200% 6.3% of income $44,100 $2,778 $8,366 $4,000
250% 8.05% of income $55,125 $4,438 $6,597 $1,930
300% 9.5% of income $66,150 $6,284 $4,628 $1,480
350% 9.5% of income $77,175 $7,332 $3,512 $1,480
400% 9.5% of income $88,200 $8,379 $2,395 $1,480
a.^ Note: In 2014, the FPL was $11,800 for a single person and $24,000 for family of four.[39][40] See Subsidy Calculator for specific dollar amount.[41] 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.[36]

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).[42]

Mandates

Individual

The individual mandate[43] is the requirement to buy insurance or pay a penalty for everyone not covered by an employer sponsored health planMedicaidMedicare or other public insurance programs (such as Tricare). Also exempt were those facing a financial hardship or who were members in a recognized religious sect exempted by the Internal Revenue Service.[44]

The mandate and the limits on open enrollment[45][46] were designed to avoid the insurance death spiral in which healthy people delay insuring themselves until they get sick. In such a situation, insurers would have to raise their premiums to cover the relatively sicker and thus more expensive policies,[43][47][48] which could create a vicious cycle in which more and more people drop their coverage.[49]

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.[47][50][51] Studies by the CBOGruber and Rand Health concluded that a mandate was required.[52][53][54] The mandate increased the size and diversity of the insured population, including more young and healthy participants to broaden the risk pool, spreading costs.[55] Experience in New Jersey and Massachusetts offered divergent outcomes.[50][53][56]

Business

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.[57][58] This provision was included to encourage employers to continue providing insurance once the exchanges began operating.[59] Approximately 44% of the population was covered directly or indirectly through an employer.[60][61]

Excise taxes

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.[62]

Insurance standards

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”[63][64][65][66][67][68][69] and others[70] rated Level A or B by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.[71] 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”.[68] States may require additional services.[72]

Contraceptives

One provision in the law mandates that health insurance cover “additional preventive care and screenings” for women.[73] The guidelines issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration to implement this provision mandate “[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity”.[74] This mandate applies to all employers and educational institutions except for religious organizations.[75][76] These regulations were included on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine.[77][78]

Risk management

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[79]: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”[80][81]

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.”[82] 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.”[80] 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” appropriations Consolidated 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”[83] and placed Congress in a potential breach of contract with insurers who offered qualified health plans, under the Tucker Act[79] as it did not pay the insurers.[84][84]

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.”[85]

Temporary reinsurance

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.[citation needed]

Risk adjustment

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.[citation needed]

Other provisions

In 2012 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse created this summary to explain his view on the act.

The ACA has several other provisions:

  • Annual and lifetime coverage caps on essential benefits were banned.[86][87]
  • Prohibits insurers from dropping policyholders when they get sick.[88]
  • 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.[89]
  • 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).[90][91][92] Premiums for older applicants can be no more than three times those for the youngest.[93]
  • Preventive care, vaccinations and medical screenings cannot be subject to co-paymentsco-insurance or deductibles.[94][95][96] Specific examples of covered services include: mammograms and colonoscopies, wellness visits, gestational diabetes screening, HPV testing, STI counseling, HIV screening and counseling, contraceptive methods, breastfeeding support/supplies and domestic violence screening and counseling.[97]
  • 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.[68][98] 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).[99]
  • Insurers are required to implement an appeals process for coverage determination and claims on all new plans.[88]
  • Insurers must spend at least 80–85% of premium dollars on health costs; rebates must be issued to policyholders if this is violated.[100][101]

Exchanges

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.[102][103][104]

Setting up an exchange gives a state partial discretion on standards and prices of insurance.[105][106] 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.[107] States without an exchange do not have that discretion. The responsibility for operating their exchanges moves to the federal government.[105]

State waivers

From 2017 onwards, states can apply for a “waiver for state innovation” that allows them to conduct experiments that meet certain criteria.[108] 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.[109] These states can be exempt from some of ACA’s central requirements, including the individual and employer mandates and the provision of an insurance exchange.[110] 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 under the state plan.[108]

In May 2011, Vermont enacted Green Mountain Care, a state-based single-payer system for which they intended to pursue a waiver to implement.[111][112][113] In December 2014, Vermont decided not to continue due to high expected costs.[114]

Accountable Care Organizations

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 mitigation of chronic disease. If they fail to do so, they are subject to penalties.[115]

Unlike Health Maintenance Organizations, ACO patients are not required to obtain all care from the ACO. Also, unlike HMOs, ACOs must achieve quality of care goals.[115]

Others

Legislative history

President Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010

Background

An individual mandate coupled with subsidies for private insurance as a means for universal healthcare was considered the best way to win the support of the Senate because it had been included in prior bipartisan reform proposals. The concept goes back to at least 1989, when the conservative The Heritage Foundation proposed an individual mandate as an alternative to single-payer health care.[125] It was championed for a time by conservative economists and Republican senators as a market-based approach to healthcare reform on the basis of individual responsibility and avoidance of free rider problems. Specifically, because the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) requires any hospital participating in Medicare (nearly all do) to provide emergency care to anyone who needs it, the government often indirectly bore the cost of those without the ability to pay.[126][127][128]

President Bill Clinton proposed a healthcare reform bill in 1993 that included a mandate for employers to provide health insurance to all employees through a regulated marketplace of health maintenance organizations. Republican Senators proposed an alternative that would have required individuals, but not employers, to buy insurance.[127]Ultimately the Clinton plan failed amid an unprecedented barrage of negative advertising funded by politically conservative groups and the health insurance industry and due to concerns that it was overly complex.[129] Clinton negotiated a compromise with the 105th Congress to instead enact the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in 1997.[130]

John Chafee

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’.[131] Advocates for the 1993 bill included prominent Republicans such as Senators Orrin HatchChuck GrassleyBob Bennett and Kit Bond.[132][133] Of 1993’s 43 Republican Senators, 20 supported the HEART Act.[125][134] 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;[135] however, Nickles subsequently removed the mandate from the bill, stating he had decided “that government should not compel people to buy health insurance”.[136] 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.”[125]

Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts went from 90% of its residents insured to 98%, the highest rate in the nation.[137]

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.[138] 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.”[139]

In 2007, a year after the Massachusetts reform, Republican Senator Bob Bennett and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Healthy Americans Act, which featured an individual mandate and state-based, regulated insurance markets called “State Health Help Agencies”.[128][139] The bill initially attracted bipartisan support, but died in committee. Many of the sponsors and co-sponsors remained in Congress during the 2008 healthcare debate.[140]

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[131] and that it was deliberately patterned after Romney’s state healthcare plan.[141]

Healthcare debate, 2008–10

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.[142][143]

During the general election, Obama said that fixing healthcare would be one of his top four priorities as president.[144] 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.[145]

President Obama addressing Congress regarding healthcare reform, September 9, 2009

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.[146][147] By July, a series of bills were approved by committees within the House of Representatives.[148] 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 BaucusJeff Bingaman and Kent Conrad, along with Republicans Mike EnziChuck 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.[149][150][151]

Congressional Democrats and health policy experts like MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber[152] and David Cutler argued that guaranteed issue would require both community ratingand an individual mandate to ensure that adverse selection and/or “free riding” would not result in an insurance “death spiral”.[153] This approach was taken because the president and congressional leaders had concluded that more progressive plans, such as the (single-payer) Medicare for All act, could not obtain filibuster-proof support in the Senate. By deliberately drawing on bipartisan ideas — the same basic outline was supported by former Senate majority leaders Howard BakerBob DoleTom Daschle and George J. Mitchell—the bill’s drafters hoped to garner the votes necessary for passage.[154][155]

However, following the adoption of an individual mandate, Republicans came to oppose the mandate and threatened to filibuster any bills that contained it.[125] 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:[156]

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.[157]

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.”[128] 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.”[127][134]

Tea Party protesters at the Taxpayer March on Washington, September 12, 2009

The reform negotiations also attracted attention from lobbyists,[158] 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.[159][160] The Sunlight Foundation documented many of the reported ties between “the healthcare lobbyist complex” and politicians in both parties.[161]

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.[147] Many threats were made against members of Congress over the course of the debate.[162][163]

When Congress returned from recess, in September 2009 President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress supporting the ongoing Congressional negotiations.[164] 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.”[165] 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.[147]

Senate

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.[166] To formally comply with this requirement, the Senate used H.R. 3590, a bill regarding housing tax changes for service members.[167] 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.[168] The bill ultimately incorporated elements of proposals that were reported favorably by the Senate Health and Financecommittees. With the Republican Senate minority vowing to filibuster, 60 votes would be necessary to pass the Senate.[169] 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[153][170] was met,[171] although supporters won various concessions, including allowing state-based public options such as Vermont’s Green Mountain Care.[171][172]

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[173] 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.[147][174] The latter half of the compromise was derisively termed the “Cornhusker Kickback”[175] 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).[176] The bill was endorsed by the AMA and AARP.[177]

On January 19, 2010, Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown was elected to the Senate in a special election to replace Kennedy, having campaigned on giving the Republican minority the 41st vote needed to sustain Republican filibusters.[147][178][179] His victory had become significant because of its effects on the legislative process. The first was psychological: the symbolic importance of losing Kennedy’s traditionally Democratic Massachusetts seat made many Congressional Democrats concerned about the political cost of passing a bill.[180][181]

House

House vote by congressional district.

  Democratic yes (219)
  Democratic no (34)
  Republican no (178)
  No representative seated (4)

Brown’s election meant Democrats could no longer break a filibuster in the Senate. In response, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel argued that Democrats should scale back to a less ambitious bill; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back, dismissing Emanuel’s scaled-down approach as “Kiddie Care”.[182][183]

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.[182][183] On February 22, he laid out a “Senate-leaning” proposal to consolidate the bills.[184] 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.

House Democrats had expected to be able to negotiate changes in a House-Senate conference before passing a final bill. Since any bill that emerged from conference that differed from the Senate bill would have to pass the Senate over another Republican filibuster, most House Democrats agreed to pass the Senate bill on condition that it be amended by a subsequent bill.[181] They drafted the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which could be passed by the reconciliation process.[182][185][186]

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.[187][188] 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.”[185]

Jim Clyburn and Nancy Pelosi celebrating after the House passes the amended bill on March 21

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.[189] This won the support of Stupak and members of his group and assured the bill’s passage.[186][190] 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.[191] The next day, Republicans introduced legislation to repeal the bill.[192] Obama signed ACA into law on March 23, 2010.[193] 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.[194] 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.

Impact

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.

Coverage

Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). County By County Projected Insurer Participation in Health Insurance Exchanges.

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.[195] The uninsured rate dropped in every congressional district in the U.S. between 2013 and 2015.[196] 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.[4] 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.”[4]

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.[5] Similarly, the Urban Institute issued a report in in December 2016 that said that about 19.2 million non-elderly Americans had gained health insurance coverage from 2010 to 2015.[197] 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.[4]

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.[198] As of December 2016 there were 32 states (including Washington DC) that had adopted the Medicaid extension, while 19 states had not.[199]

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.[200] 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,[6] with only a 3% increase from 2015 to 2016.[201]

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.[202] 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.[4]

Insurance exchanges

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.[203]

Medicaid expansion

Medicaid expansion by state, as of September 1, 2015.[204]

  Adopted the Medicaid expansion
  Medicaid expansion under discussion
  Not adopting Medicaid expansion

As of December 2016 there were 32 states (including Washington DC) that had adopted the Medicaid extension, while 19 states had not.[199] 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.[198] 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.[205] 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.[206] 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.[207]

States that rejected the Medicaid expansion could maintain their Medicaid eligibility thresholds, which in many states were significantly below 133% of the poverty line.[208] Many states did not make Medicaid available to childless adults at any income level.[209] Because subsidies on exchange insurance plans were not available to those below the poverty line, such individuals had no new options.[210][211] 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.[205]

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.[212] The federal government initially paid for 100% of the expansion (through 2016). The subsidy tapered to 90% by 2020 and continued to shrink thereafter.[213] Several states argued that they could not afford their 10% contribution.[213][214] 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,[215]

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.[216] 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.[217]

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.[218]

Healthcare insurance costs

U.S. healthcare cost information, including rate of change, per-capita, and percent of GDP. (Data source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services[219])

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.[220] 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.[221]

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,[6] with only a 3% increase from 2015 to 2016.[201] From 2008-2010 (before passage of the ACA) health insurance premiums rose by an average of 10% per year.[222]

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.[223][224][225][226] A 2013 study estimated that changes to the health system had been responsible for about a quarter of the recent reduction in inflation.[227] 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.[228]

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.[229]

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 deductibleco-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.[230]

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.[231]

Health outcomes

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.[232] 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.[233]

Federal deficit

CBO estimates of revenue and impact on deficit

The CBO reported in several studies that the ACA would reduce the deficit, and that repealing it would increase the deficit.[7][8][234][235] The 2011 comprehensive CBO estimate projected a net deficit reduction of more than $200 billion during the 2012–2021 period:[8][236] 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.[8] The CBO separately predicted that while most of the spending provisions do not begin until 2014,[237][238] revenue would exceed spending in those subsequent years.[239] 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”[240]—ultimately extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by 8 years.[241]

This estimate was made prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling that enabled states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, thereby forgoing the related federal funding. The CBO and JCT subsequently updated the budget projection, estimating the impact of the ruling would reduce the cost estimate of the insurance coverage provisions by $84 billion.[242][243][244]

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.[7]

Major new sources of increased tax receipts include:[95] higher Medicare taxes; annual fees on insurance providers; fees on the healthcare industry such as manufacturers and importers of brand-name pharmaceutical drugs and certain medical devices; limits on tax deductions of medical expenses and flexible spending accounts; a 40% excise tax on plans with annual insurance premiums in excess of $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family; revenue from mandate penalty payments; a 10% federal sales tax on indoor tanning services. Predicted spending reductions included a reduction in Medicare reimbursements to insurers and drug companies for private Medicare Advantagepolicies that the Government Accountability Office and Medicare Payment Advisory Commission found to be excessively costly relative to government Medicare;[245][246] and reductions in Medicare reimbursements to hospitals that failed standards of efficiency and care.[245]

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.[240][247] 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”.[248]

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.[249][250][251] 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.[252][253][254]

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.”[255] 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.[256]

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;[257][258] stating, “innovations in the delivery of medical care, like greater use of electronic medical records[259] 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.”[257]

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.[260] 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”.[261][262]

Economic consequences

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.[7]

In 2015 the Center for Economic and Policy Research found no evidence that companies were reducing worker hours to avoid ACA requirements[263] for employees working over 30 hours per week.[264]

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.”[265] 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.[266]

Employer mandate and part-time work

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.[267] 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.[268][269] 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.[270][271] In the public sector full-time jobs turned into part-time jobs much more than in the private sector.[270][272] A 2016 study found only limited evidence that ACA had increased part-time employment.[273]

Several businesses and the state of Virginia added a 29-hour-a-week cap for their part-time employees,[274][unreliable source?][275][unreliable source?] to reflect the 30-hour-or-more definition for full-time worker.[267] 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).[269] Trends in working hours[276] and the effects of the Great Recessioncorrelate with part-time working hour patterns.[277][278] 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.[269][276][279] Relatively few firms employ over 50 employees[269] and more than 90% of them offered insurance.[280] Workers without employer insurance could purchase insurance on the exchanges.[281]

Most policy analysts (on both right and left) were critical of the employer mandate provision.[268][280] They argued that the perverse incentives regarding part-time hours, even if they did not change existing plans, were real and harmful;[282][283] that the raised marginal cost of the 50th worker for businesses could limit companies’ growth;[284] that the costs of reporting and administration were not worth the costs of maintaining employer plans;[282][283] and noted that the employer mandate was not essential to maintain adequate risk pools.[285][286] The effects of the provision generated vocal opposition from business interests and some unions not granted exemptions.[283][287]

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.[288]

Hospitals

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.[289]

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.[290]

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.[115]

Public opinion

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.[291][292] About 29% of whites approve of the law, compared with 61% of Hispanics and 91% of African Americans.[293]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.[294]

Congressional Democrats celebrating the 6th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act in March 2016 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

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.[295] 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.[296][297]

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.[298] Other polls found that people were concerned that the law would cost more than projected and would not do enough to control costs.[299]

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.[295] 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”.[300] 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”.[301]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).[302]

A 2014 poll reported that 26% of Americans support ACA.[303] Another held that 8% of respondents say that the Affordable Care Act “is working well the way it is”.[304] In late 2014, a Rasmussen poll reported Repeal: 30%, Leave as is: 13%, Improve: 52%.[305]

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.[306] 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.[307]

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.[308]

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.[309] Approximately 45% were unsure whether the “repeal of Obamacare” also meant the “repeal of the Affordable Care Act.”[309] 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%).[309]

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.[310]

Political aspects

“Obamacare”

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”.[9][311] 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.[312] 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.”[9]

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.[312] Use of the term in a positive sense was suggested by Democrat John Conyers.[313] Obama endorsed the nickname, saying, “I have no problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care.”[314]

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…”.[315]

In October 2013 the Associated Press and NPR began cutting back on use of the term.[316] 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”.[317]

Common misconceptions

“Death panels”

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.[318] “Death panel” referred to two claims about early drafts.

One was that under the law, seniors could be denied care due to their age[319] 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).[320] 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.[321][322]

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.[323] The provision was not included in ACA.[324]

In 2010, the Pew Research Center reported that 85% of Americans were familiar with the claim, and 30% believed it was true, backed by three contemporaneous polls.[325] A poll in August 2012 found that 39% of Americans believed the claim.[326] The allegation was named PolitiFact‘s “Lie of the Year”,[318][327] one of FactCheck.org‘s “whoppers”[328][329] and the most outrageous term by the American Dialect Society.[330] AARP described such rumors as “rife with gross—and even cruel—distortions”.[331]

Members of Congress

ACA requires members of Congress and their staffs to obtain health insurance either through an exchange or some other program approved by the law (such as Medicare), instead of using the insurance offered to federal employees (the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program).[332][333][334][335][336]

Illegal immigrants

ACA does not provide benefits to illegal immigrants.[337] It explicitly denies insurance subsidies to “unauthorized (illegal) aliens”.[25][26][338]

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.”[339]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.[340]

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.[341]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.”[342]

Opposition

Opposition and efforts to repeal the legislation have drawn support from sources that include labor unions,[343][344] conservative advocacy groups,[345][346] Republicans, small business organizations and the Tea Party movement.[347]These groups claimed that the law would disrupt existing health plans, increase costs from new insurance standards, and increase the deficit.[348] Some opposed the idea of universal healthcare, viewing insurance as similar to other unsubsidized goods.[349][350] President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to “repeal and replace” it.[351][352]

As of 2013 unions that expressed concerns about ACA included the AFL-CIO,[353] which called ACA “highly disruptive” to union health care plans, claiming it would drive up costs of union-sponsored plans; the International Brotherhood of TeamstersUnited Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and UNITE-HERE, whose leaders sent a letter to Reid and Pelosi arguing, ” ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”[344] In January 2014, Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and D. Taylor, president of Unite Here sent a letter to Reid and Pelosi stating, “ACA, as implemented, undermines fair marketplace competition in the health care industry.”[343]

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.[354] Dayton later said he regretted his remarks after they were seized on by Republicans seeking to repeal the law.[355]

Legal challenges

National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius

Opponents challenged ACA’s constitutionality in multiple lawsuits on multiple grounds.[356][357][not in citation given] In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled on a 5–4 vote that the individual mandate was constitutional when viewed as a tax, although not under the Commerce Clause.

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.[358]

Contraception mandate

In March 2012 the Roman Catholic Church, while supportive of ACA’s objectives, voiced concern through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that aspects of the mandate covering contraception and sterilization and HHS‘s narrow definition of a religious organization violated the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion and conscience. Various lawsuits addressed these concerns.[359][360]

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.[361]

House v. Price

In United States House of Representatives v. Price (previously 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 ACA 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.[362] In 2017, the uncertainty about whether the payments would continue caused Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to try to raise premiums by 22.9 percent the next year, as opposed to an increase of only 8.8 percent that it would have sought if the payments were assured.[363]

Non-cooperation

Officials in Texas, Florida, Alabama, Wyoming, Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri opposed those elements of ACA over which they had discretion.[364][365] 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.[366] Other Republican politicians discouraged efforts to advertise the benefits of the law. Some conservative political groups launched ad campaigns to discourage enrollment.[367][368]

Repeal efforts

ACA was the subject of unsuccessful repeal efforts by Republicans in the 111th112th, 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.[369] 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.[370] All Republicans and 3 Democrats voted for repeal.[371] 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.[372] In the Senate, the bill was offered as an amendment to an unrelated bill, but was voted down.[373]President Obama had stated that he would have vetoed the bill even if it had passed both chambers of Congress.[374]

2017 House Budget

Following the 2012 Supreme Court ruling upholding ACA as constitutional, Republicans held another vote to repeal the law on July 11;[375] 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.[376][377] On February 3, 2015, the House of Representatives added its 67th repeal vote to the record (239 to 186). This attempt also failed.[378]

2013 federal government shutdown

Strong partisan disagreement in Congress prevented adjustments to the Act’s provisions.[379] However, at least one change, a proposed repeal of a tax on medical devices, has received bipartisan support.[380] Some Congressional Republicans argued against improvements to the law on the grounds they would weaken the arguments for repeal.[283][381]

Republicans attempted to defund its implementation,[365][382] 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.[383][384][385] Senate Republicans threatened to block appointments to relevant agencies, such as the Independent Payment Advisory Board[386] and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.[387][388]

2017 repeal effort

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 Republicansto repeal parts of the law “without threat of a Democratic filibuster.”[389][390] The plan, which passed 51-48, is a budget blueprint named by Senate Republicans the “Obamacare ‘repeal resolution.'”[391] Democrats opposing the resolution staged a protest during the vote.[392]

House Republicans announced their replacement for the ACA, the American Health Care Act, on March 6, 2017.[393] On March 24, 2017 the effort, led by Paul Ryan and Donald Trump, to repeal and replace the ACA failed amid a revolt among Republican representatives.[394]

On May 4, 2017, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act (and thereby repeal most of the Affordable Care Act) by a narrow margin of 217 to 213, sending the bill to the Senate for deliberation.[395] The Senate has indicated they will write their own version of the bill, instead of voting on the House version.[396]

Implementation history

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.[citation needed]

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”.[397][398] However, in fall 2013 millions of Americans with individual policies received notices that their insurance plans were terminated,[399] and several million more risked seeing their current plans cancelled.[400][401][402]

Obama’s previous unambiguous assurance that consumers’ could keep their own plans became a focal point for critics, who challenged his truthfulness.[403][404] 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.”[405] Various bills were introduced in Congress to allow people to keep their plans.[406]

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.[citation needed]

2010

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.[407]

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.[407]

2011

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.[citation needed] By 2011, insurers had stopped marketing child-only policies in 17 states, as they sought to escape this requirement.[408]

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[409]

2012

In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius decided on June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate was constitutional when the associated penalties were construed as a tax. The decision allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. Several did so,[410] although some later accepted the expansion.[411][412]

2013

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.[413][414]

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%.[415] The bulk of the savings were in reduced premiums, but some came from MLR rebates.

On July 2, 2013, the Obama Administration announced that it would delay the implementation of the employer mandate until 2015.[280][416][417]

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (or CLASS Act) was enacted as Title VIII of the ACA. It would have created a voluntary and public long-term care insurance option for employees.[121][123] In October 2011 the administration announced it was unworkable and would be dropped.[418] The CLASS Act was repealed January 1, 2013.[419]

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.[420] Operations stabilized in 2014, although not all planned features were complete.[421][422]

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.[423] 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.[424] The proportion of workers with employer-sponsored health insurance requiring a deductible climbed to about three-quarters in 2012 from about half in 2006.[223]
  • ACA changes[223] 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.[120][224]

2014

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 ACA website.[425]

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby the Supreme Court exempted closely held corporations with religious convictions from the contraception rule.[426] 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.[427]

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.[citation needed]

Many of the initial plans featured narrow networks of doctors and hospitals.[428][not in citation given]

A 2016 analysis found that health care spending by the middle class was 8.9% of household spending in 2014.[429]

2015

By the beginning of the year, 11.7 million had signed up (ex-Medicaid).[430] On December 31, 2015, about 8.8 million consumers had stayed in the program. Some 84 percent, or about 7.4 million, were subsidized.[431]

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%.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

The December spending bill delayed the onset of the “Cadillac tax” on expensive insurance plans by two years, until 2020.[432]

The average price of non-generic drugs rose 16.2% in 2015 and 98.2% since 2011.[429]

2016

As of March 2016 11.1 million people had purchased exchange plans,[citation needed] while an estimated 9 million to 10 million people had gained Medicaid coverage, mostly low-income adults.[206] 11.1 million were still covered, a decline of nearly 13 percent.[433] 6.1 million uninsured 19-25 year olds gained coverage.[434]

Employers

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.[435]

Insurers

The five major national insurers expected to lose money on ACA policies in 2016.[436] UnitedHealth withdrew from the Georgia and Arkansas exchanges for 2017, citing heavy losses.[203] Humana exited other markets, leaving it operating in 156 counties in 11 states for 2017.[437] 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.[438][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.[439] 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.[440] Aetna and Humana’s exit for 2017 left 8 rural Arizona counties with only Blue Cross/Blue Shield.[441]

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.[442]

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,[443] while only 2 percent of 2016 eligibles had only one choice.[444]

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.[428]

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.[445]

Costs

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.[220] 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.[221]

Cooperatives

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.[citation needed]

Medicaid

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.[446]

2017

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 sign up 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).[447] 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.[447] 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.”[448] 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.[449]

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini stated that ACA was in a “death spiral” of escalating premiums and shrinking, skewed enrollment.[450] 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 announced that it would exit the exchange market in all remaining states.[451] It stated that its losses had grown from $100M in 2014 to $450M in 2016.[452] Wellmark withdrew from Iowa in April.[453] As of May, no insurer had indicated its intention to offer ACA insurance in Nebraska.[451] Also in May Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced it would withdraw from Missouri and Kansas’s individual markets in 2018, potentially leaving nearly 19,000 residents in Western Missouri without a coverage option.[454] Anthem announced plans to withdraw from Ohio[455] and later Wisconsin[456] and Indiana,[457] describing the market as “volatile” and referring to the difficulty in pricing its plans “due to the shrinking individual market as well as continual changes in federal operations, rules and guidance.”[455]

The CBO reported in March 2017 that the healthcare exchanges were expected to be stable; i.e., they were not in a “death spiral.”[458] In June, Centene announced that it intended to initiate coverage in Nevada, Kanasa and Missouri and expand coverage in Ohio and Florida.[459]

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 established to help prevent insurers from artificially selecting lower-risk pools.[460]

In May the United States House of Representatives voted to repeal the ACA.[461][462]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act

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Electoral College Projections as of October 19th

October 19, 2016

As we head into the final presidential debate, and with just under three weeks to go until the 2016 presidential election, here’s the state of the race from the viewpoint of 14 forecasters. You can find all the associated maps, as well as a few others, on our2016 Presidential Election Forecasts page.

Since our last update on October 13th, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s average total electoral votes are little changed. Clinton is at 300, Trump 187. Within Trump’s average, however, we are beginning to see an erosion in states where the Republican nominee is favored vs. those that are leaning in his direction. For example, a couple forecasters have moved Texas from favored to leaning.

Note that the statistical projections (shaded in gray) in the table may change several times a day as new input data (e.g., polls released that day) are processed by the models. This will lead to more variability vs. the other forecasters.

http://www.270towin.com/news/2016/10/19/electoral-college-projections-october-19th_398.html#.WAgvH-iAOko

Latest Polls

Wednesday, October 19
Race/Topic   (Click to Sort) Poll Results Spread
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Quinnipiac Clinton 47, Trump 40, Johnson 7, Stein 1 Clinton +7
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton Quinnipiac Clinton 50, Trump 44 Clinton +6
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein IBD/TIPP Clinton 40, Trump 41, Johnson 8, Stein 6 Trump +1
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton IBD/TIPP Clinton 44, Trump 41 Clinton +3
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Bloomberg Clinton 47, Trump 38, Johnson 8, Stein 3 Clinton +9
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Economist/YouGov Clinton 42, Trump 38, Johnson 6, Stein 1 Clinton +4
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Reuters/Ipsos Clinton 42, Trump 38, Johnson 6, Stein 2 Clinton +4
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Rasmussen Reports Clinton 42, Trump 42, Johnson 7, Stein 1 Tie
General Election: Trump vs. Clinton LA Times/USC Tracking Clinton 44, Trump 44 Tie
North Carolina: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson SurveyUSA Clinton 46, Trump 44, Johnson 6 Clinton +2
North Carolina: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson Civitas (R) Clinton 45, Trump 43, Johnson 5 Clinton +2
Pennsylvania: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Emerson Clinton 45, Trump 41, Johnson 4, Stein 4 Clinton +4
New Hampshire: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Emerson Clinton 44, Trump 36, Johnson 10, Stein 6 Clinton +8
New Hampshire: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein WMUR/UNH Clinton 49, Trump 34, Johnson 8, Stein 2 Clinton +15
Missouri: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Emerson Trump 47, Clinton 39, Johnson 5, Stein 2 Trump +8
Arizona: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Arizona Republic Clinton 43, Trump 38, Johnson 7, Stein 4 Clinton +5
Wisconsin: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Monmouth Clinton 47, Trump 40, Johnson 6, Stein 1 Clinton +7
New York: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Siena Clinton 54, Trump 30, Johnson 5, Stein 4 Clinton +24
Kansas: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein KSN News/SurveyUSA Trump 47, Clinton 36, Johnson 7, Stein 2 Trump +11
Utah: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein vs. McMullin Emerson Trump 27, Clinton 24, McMullin 31, Johnson 5, Stein 0 McMullin +4
Vermont: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein Vermont Public Radio Clinton 45, Trump 17, Johnson 4, Stein 3 Clinton +28

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Presidential Debate – October 19, 2016

Full. Third Presidential Debate. Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton. October 19, 2016

LIVE: Third Presidential Debate (C-SPAN)

Social media mocks Hillary Clinton’s ‘creepy grandma’ grin

Hillary Clinton ~~ Pure Evil Devil Laugh (Remix)

Trump: Clinton such a nasty woman

Donald Trump: We need to get out ‘bad hombres’

Trump: Justice Ginsburg apologized to me

TRUMP RESPONDS! Project Veritas Action – Clinton Campaign and DNC Incite Violence at Trump Rallies

UPDATE , A MUST WATCH Project Veritas #3

Fox & Friends 10/15/16 NEW Wikileaks Bombshell Hillary Clinton Open Border

WikiLeaks Doc Dump on Hillary! Calls for Open Borders in Leaked Emails! – 10/7/16

WikiLeaks Hits Hillary Clinton with a 9.0 Magnitude Earthquake | 08 Oct 2016

Michael Savage – If Trumps Wins Elite Will Blame Russia And Cancel Elections

RUSH: What In The World Happened To All The Trump Voters?

LIMBAUGH: Woman Who Claims Trump ‘OCTOPUSED’ Her Is MAKING IT UP!

Wikileaks Blows To Pieces Rigged Media, Project Veritas Destroys Democratic Party Operatives

Rigging the Election – Video I: Clinton Campaign and DNC Incite Violence at Trump Rallies

Rigging the Election – Video II: Mass Voter Fraud

FOX NEWS ALERT 10/18/16 Trump On Clinton Email Scandal This Is Big Stuff. This Is Watergate.

Hillary Clinton The Movie Banned by the Courts in 2008

3 Reasons Not To Sweat The “Citizens United” SCOTUS Ruling

What You Probably Haven’t Heard About Citizens United

Justice Scalia on Citizens United (C-SPAN)

Crooked Hillary Threatens to Ban Gun Ownership With Supreme Court Nominations

Hillary Clinton Outlines Plan to Abolish the Second Amendment

The Heller Ruling, Five Years On (Robert Levy)

Dem Operative Who Oversaw Trump Rally Agitators Visited White House 342 Times

PETER HASSON

Reporter, Associate Editor

A key operative in a Democratic scheme to send agitators to cause unrest at Donald Trump’s rallies has visited the White House 342 times since 2009, White House records show.

Robert Creamer, who acted as a middle man between the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and “protesters” who tried — and succeeded — to provoke violence at Trump rallies met with President Obama during 47 of those 342 visits, according to White House records. Creamer’s last visit was in June 2016.

Creamer, whose White House visits were first pointed out by conservative blog Weasel Zippers, is stepping back from his role within the Clinton campaign. (RELATED: Second O’Keefe Video Shows Dem Operative Boasting About Voter Fraud)

Hidden camera video from activist James O’Keefe showed Creamer bragging that his role within the Clinton campaign was to oversee the work of Americans United for Change, a non-profit organization that sent activists to Trump rallies. (RELATED: Activist Who Took Credit For Violent Chicago Protests Was On Hillary’s Payroll)

Scott Foval, the national field director for Americans United for Change, explained how the scheme works.
“The [Clinton] campaign pays DNC, DNC pays Democracy Partners, Democracy Partners pays the Foval Group, The Foval Group goes and executes the shit,” Foval told an undercover journalist.
One example of the “shit” Foval executes was an instance in which a 69-year-old woman garnered headlines after claiming to be assaulted at a Trump rally.

“She was one of our activists,” Foval said.

Creamer’s job was to “manage” the work carried out by Foval.

“And the Democratic Party apparatus and the people from the campaign, the Clinton campaign and my role with the campaign, is to manage all that,” Creamer told an undercover journalist.

“Wherever Trump and Pence are gonna be we have events,” he said.

http://dailycaller.com/2016/10/18/exposed-dem-operative-who-oversaw-trump-rally-agitators-visited-white-house-342-times/#ixzz4Naebnlzy

 

 

Citizens United v. FEC

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Citizens United” redirects here. For the political organization, see Citizens United (organization). For other uses, see Citizens United (disambiguation).
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

Argued March 24, 2009
Reargued September 9, 2009
Decided January 21, 2010
Full case name Citizens United, Appellant v. Federal Election Commission
Docket nos. 08-205
Citations 558 U.S. 310 (more)

130 S.Ct. 876
Argument Oral argument
Reargument Reargument
Opinion announcement Opinion announcement
Prior history denied appellants motion for a preliminary injunction 530 F. Supp. 2d 274 (D.D.C. 2008)[1]probable jurisdiction noted128 S. Ct. 1471 (2008).
Holding
The Freedom of the Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation. And the provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act prohibiting unions, corporations and not-for-profit organizations from broadcasting electioneering communications within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary election violates the clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. United States District Court for the District of Columbia reversed.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Kennedy, joined by Roberts, Scalia, Alito; Thomas (all but Part IV); Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor (only as to Part IV)
Concurrence Roberts, joined by Alito
Concurrence Scalia, joined by Alito; Thomas (in part)
Concur/dissent Stevens, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor
Concur/dissent Thomas
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I, Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act
This case overturned a previous ruling or rulings
McConnell v. FEC (in part)

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205, 558U.S.310 (2010), is a U.S. constitutional law and corporate law case dealing with the regulation of campaign spending by organizations. The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) that freedom of speech prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation. The principles articulated by the Supreme Court in the case have also been extended to for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.[2][3]

In the case, the conservativenon-profit organizationCitizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts, which was a violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act or “BCRA”.[4] Section 203 of BCRA defined an “electioneering communication” as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary, and prohibited such expenditures by corporations and unions. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia held that §203 of BCRA applied and prohibited Citizens United from advertising the film Hillary: The Movie in broadcasts or paying to have it shown on television within 30 days of the 2008 Democratic primaries.[1][5] The Supreme Court reversed this decision, striking down those provisions of BCRA that prohibited corporations (including nonprofit corporations) and unions from making independent expenditures and “electioneering communications”.[4] The majority decision overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) and partially overruled McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003).[6] The Court, however, upheld requirements for public disclosure by sponsors of advertisements (BCRA §201 and §311). The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties, which remain illegal in races for federal office.[7]

Background

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (known as BCRA or McCain–Feingold Act) – specifically §203, which modified the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 U.S.C.§ 441b – prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury to fund “electioneering communications” (broadcast advertisements mentioning a candidate) within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election. During the 2004 presidential campaign, a conservative nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization named Citizens United filed a complaint before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) charging that advertisements for Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11, a docudrama critical of the Bush administration’s response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, constituted political advertising and thus could not be aired within the 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before a general election. The FEC dismissed the complaint after finding no evidence that broadcast advertisements for the film and featuring a candidate within the proscribed time limits had actually been made.[8] The FEC later dismissed a second complaint which argued that the movie itself constituted illegal corporate spending advocating the election or defeat of a candidate, which was illegal under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974. In dismissing that complaint, the FEC found that:

The complainant alleged that the release and distribution of FAHRENHEIT 9/11 constituted an independent expenditure because the film expressly advocated the defeat of President Bush and that by being fully or partially responsible for the film’s release, Michael Moore and other entities associated with the film made excessive and/or prohibited contributions to unidentified candidates. The Commission found no reason to believe the respondents violated the Act because the film, associated trailers and website represented bona fide commercial activity, not “contributions” or “expenditures” as defined by the Federal Election Campaign Act.[9]

In the wake of these decisions, Citizens United sought to establish itself as a bona fide commercial film maker, producing several documentary films between 2005 and 2007. By early 2008, it sought to run television commercials to promote its political documentary Hillary: The Movie and to air the movie on DirecTV.[10]

In the District Court

In December 2007 Citizens United filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the constitutionality of several statutory provisions governing “electioneering communications”.[11] It asked the court to declare that the corporate and union funding restrictions were unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to Hillary: The Movie, and to enjoin the Federal Election Commission from enforcing its regulations. Citizens United also argued that the Commission’s disclosure and disclaimer requirements were unconstitutional as applied to the movie pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.. It also sought to enjoin the funding, disclosure, and disclaimer requirements as applied to Citizens United’s intended ads for the movie.

In accordance with special rules in section 403 of the BCRA, a three-judge court was convened to hear the case. On January 15, 2008, the court denied Citizens United’s motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that the suit had little chance of success because the movie had no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote against Senator Clinton, that it was therefore express advocacy, not entitled to exemption from the ban on corporate funding of electioneering communications, and that television advertisements for the movie within 30 days of a primary violated the BCRA restrictions on “electioneering communications”.[12] The court held that the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC (2003) had found the disclosure requirements constitutional as to all electioneering communications, and Wisconsin RTL did not disturb this holding because the only issue of that case was whether speech that did not constitute the functional equivalent of express advocacy could be banned during the relevant pre-election period.

On July 18, 2008, the District Court granted summary judgement to the Federal Election Commission. In accordance with the special rules in the BCRA, Citizens United appealed to the Supreme Court which docketed the case on August 18, 2008 and granted certiorari on November 14, 2008.[13]

The Supreme Court heard oral argument on March 24, 2009[10][14][15] and then asked for further briefs on June 29; the re-argument was heard on September 9, 2009.[13]

Before the Supreme Court

During the original oral argument, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart (representing the FEC) argued that under Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the government would have the power to ban books if those books contained even one sentence expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate and were published or distributed by a corporation or labor union.[16] In response to this line of questioning, Stewart further argued that under Austin the government could ban the digital distribution of political books over the Amazon Kindle or prevent a union from hiring a writer to author a political book.[17]

According to a 2012 article in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin, the Court expected after oral argument to rule on the narrow question that had originally been presented: could Citizens United show the film? At the subsequent conference among the justices after oral argument, the vote was 5–4 in favor of Citizens United being allowed to show the film. The justices voted the same as they had in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., a similar 2007 case, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito in the majority.[18]

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the initial opinion of the Court, holding that the BCRA allowed the showing of the film. A draft concurring opinion by Justice Kennedy argued that the court could and should have gone much further. The other justices in the majority began agreeing with Kennedy, and convinced Roberts to reassign the writing and allow Kennedy’s concurrence to become the majority opinion.[18]

On the other side, John Paul Stevens, the most senior justice in the minority, assigned the dissent to David Souter, who announced his retirement from the Court while he was working on it. The final draft went beyond critiquing the majority. Toobin described it as “air[ing] some of the Court’s dirty laundry,” writing that Souter’s dissent accused Roberts of having manipulated Court procedures to reach his desired result – an expansive decision that, Souter claimed, changed decades of election law and ruled on issues neither party to the litigation had presented.[18]

According to Toobin, Roberts was concerned that Souter’s dissent, likely to be his last opinion for the Court, could “damage the Court’s credibility.” He agreed with the minority to withdraw the opinion and schedule the case for reargument. However, when he did, the “Questions Presented” to the parties were more expansive, touching on the issues Kennedy had identified. According to Toobin, the eventual result was therefore a foregone conclusion from that point on.[18] Toobin’s account has been criticized for drawing conclusions unsupported by the evidence in his article.[19]

On June 29, 2009, the last day of the term, the Court issued an order directing the parties to re-argue the case on September 9 after briefing whether it might be necessary to overrule Austin and/or McConnell v. Federal Election Commission to decide the case.[20] Justice Stevens noted in his dissent that in its prior motion for summary judgment Citizens United had abandoned its facial challenge of BCRA §203, with the parties agreeing to the dismissal of the claim.[21]

Justice Sotomayor sat on the bench for the first time during the second round of oral arguments. This was the first case argued by then-Solicitor General and future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson and First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams argued for Citizens United, and former Clinton Solicitor General Seth Waxman defended the statute on behalf of various supporters.[22] Legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky called it “one of the most important First Amendment cases in years”.[23]

Opinions of the Court

Majority opinion

Justice Kennedy, the author of the Court’s opinion.

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion[24] found that the BCRA §203 prohibition of all independent expenditures by corporations and unions violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The majority wrote, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”[25]

Justice Kennedy’s opinion also noted that because the First Amendment does not distinguish between media and other corporations, the BCRA restrictions improperly allowed Congress to suppress political speech in newspapers, books, television, and blogs.[4] The Court overruled Austin, which had held that a state law that prohibited corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates in elections did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court also overruled that portion of McConnell that upheld BCRA’s restriction of corporate spending on “electioneering communications”. The Court’s ruling effectively freed corporations and unions to spend money both on “electioneering communications” and to directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates (although not to contribute directly to candidates or political parties).

The majority ruled that the Freedom of the Press clause of the First Amendment protects associations of individuals in addition to individual speakers, and further that the First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker. Corporations, as associations of individuals therefore, have free speech rights under the First Amendment. Because spending money is essential to disseminating speech, as established in Buckley v. Valeo, limiting a corporation’s ability to spend money is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of its members to associate effectively and to speak on political issues.

The decision overruled Austin because that decision allowed different restrictions on speech-related spending based on corporate identity. Additionally, the decision said that Austinwas based on an “equality” rationale – trying to equalize speech between different speakers – that the Court had previously rejected as illegitimate under the First Amendment in Buckley. The Michigan statute at issue in Austin had distinguished between corporate and union spending, prohibiting the former while allowing the latter. The Austin Court, over the dissent by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and O’Connor, had held that such distinctions were within the legislature’s prerogative. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, however, the majority argued that the First Amendment purposefully keeps the government from interfering in the “marketplace of ideas” and “rationing” speech, and it is not up to the legislatures or the courts to create a sense of “fairness” by restricting speech.[24]

The majority also criticized Austin’s reasoning that the “distorting effect” of large corporate expenditures constituted a risk of corruption or the appearance of corruption. Rather, the majority argued that the government had no place in determining whether large expenditures distorted an audience’s perceptions, and that the type of “corruption” that might justify government controls on spending for speech had to relate to some form of “quid pro quo” transaction: “There is no such thing as too much speech.”[24] The public has a right to have access to all information and to determine the reliability and importance of the information. Additionally, the majority did not believe that reliable evidence substantiated the risk of corruption or the appearance of corruption, and so this rationale did not satisfy strict scrutiny.

The Court’s opinion relied heavily on the reasoning and principles of the landmark campaign finance case of Buckley and First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, in which the Court struck down a broad prohibition against independent expenditures by corporations in ballot initiatives and referenda.[24] Specifically, the Court echoed Bellotti’s rejection of categories based on a corporation’s purpose. The majority argued that to grant Freedom of the Press protections to media corporations, but not others, presented a host of problems; and so all corporations should be equally protected from expenditure restrictions.

The Court found that BCRA §§201 and 311, provisions requiring disclosure of the funder, were valid as applied to the movie advertisements and to the movie itself.[24] The majority ruled for the disclosure of the sources of campaign contributions, saying that

…prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are “in the pocket” of so-called moneyed interests…This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.[26][27]

Concurrences

Chief Justice Roberts, with whom Justice Alito joined, wrote separately “to address the important principles of judicial restraint and stare decisis implicated in this case”.[28]

Roberts wrote to further explain and defend the Court’s statement that “there is a difference between judicial restraint and judicial abdication.” Roberts explained why the Court must sometimes overrule prior decisions. Had prior Courts never gone against stare decisis, for example, “segregation would be legal, minimum wage laws would be unconstitutional, and the Government could wiretap ordinary criminal suspects without first obtaining warrants”. Roberts’ concurrence recited a plethora of case law in which the court had ruled against precedent. Ultimately, Roberts argued that “stare decisis…counsels deference to past mistakes, but provides no justification for making new ones”.[28]

Justice Scalia joined the opinion of the Court, and wrote a concurring opinion joined by Justice Alito in full and by Justice Thomas in part. Scalia addressed Justice Stevens‘ dissent, specifically with regard to theoriginal understanding of the First Amendment. Scalia said Stevens’ dissent was “in splendid isolation from the text of the First Amendment…It never shows why ‘the freedom of speech’ that was the right of Englishmen did not include the freedom to speak in association with other individuals, including association in the corporate form.” He further considered the dissent’s exploration of the Framers’ views about the “role of corporations in society” to be misleading, and even if valid, irrelevant to the text. Scalia principally argued that the First Amendment was written in “terms of speech, not speakers” and that “Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker.”[29] Scalia argued that the Free Press clause was originally intended to protect the distribution of written materials and did not only apply to the media specifically. This understanding supported the majority’s contention that the Constitution does not allow the Court to separate corporations into media and non-media categories.[24]

Justice Thomas wrote a separate opinion concurring in all but the upholding of the disclosure provisions. In order to protect the anonymity of contributors to organizations exercising free speech, Thomas would have struck down the reporting requirements of BCRA §201 and §311 as well, rather than allowing them to be challenged only on a case-specific basis. Thomas’s primary argument was that anonymous free speech is protected and that making contributor lists public makes the contributors vulnerable to retaliation, citing instances of retaliation against contributors to both sides of a then recent California voter initiative. Thomas also expressed concern that such retaliation could extend to retaliation by elected officials. Thomas did not consider “as-applied challenges” to be sufficient to protect against the threat of retaliation.[30]

Dissent

Justice Stevens, the author of the dissenting opinion.

A dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens[31] was joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor. To emphasize his unhappiness with the majority, Stevens read part of his 90-page dissent from the bench.[32] Stevens concurred in the Court’s decision to sustain BCRA’s disclosure provisions, but dissented from the principal holding of the Court. He argued that the Court’s ruling “threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.” He added: “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”[33]

Stevens also argued that the Court addressed a question not raised by the litigants when it found BCRA §203 to be facially unconstitutional, and that the majority “changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law”.[24] He argued that the majority had expanded the scope beyond the questions presented by the appellant and that therefore a sufficient record for judging the case did not exist. Stevens argued that at a minimum the Court should have remanded the case for a fact-finding hearing, and that the majority did not consider other compilations of data, such as the Congressional record for justifying BCRA §203.

Stevens referenced a number of major cases to argue that the Court had long recognized that to deny Congress the power to safeguard against “the improper use of money to influence the result [of an election] is to deny to the nation in a vital particular the power of self protection”.[34] After recognizing that in Buckley v. Valeo the Court had struck down portions of a broad prohibition of independent expenditures from any sources, Stevens argued that nevertheless Buckley recognized the legitimacy of “prophylactic” measures for limiting campaign spending and found the prevention of “corruption” to be a reasonable goal for legislation. Consequently, Stevens argued that Buckley left the door open for carefully tailored future regulation.[24] Although the majority echoed many of the arguments in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, Stevens argued that the majority opinion contradicted the reasoning of other campaign finance cases – in particular, Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission – and found it telling that the majority, when citing such cases, referenced mainly dissenting opinions.

Stevens’ dissent specifically sought to address a number of the majority’s central arguments:

First, Stevens argued that the majority failed to recognize the possibility for corruption outside strict quid pro quo exchanges. He referenced facts from a previous BCRA challenge to argue that, even if the exchange of votes for expenditures could not be shown, contributors gain favorable political access from such expenditures.[24] The majority considered access to be insufficient justification for limiting speech rights.

Stevens, however, argued that in the past, even when striking down a ban on corporate independent expenditures, the Court “never suggested that such quid pro quo debts must take the form of outright vote buying or bribes” (Bellotti). Buckley, he said, also acknowledged that large independent expenditures present the same dangers as quid pro quo arrangements, although Buckley struck down limits on such independent expenditures. Using the record from a previous BCRA §203 challenge, he argued that independent expenditures were sometimes a factor in gaining political access and concluded that large independent expenditures generate more influence than direct campaign contributions.[24] Furthermore, Stevens argued that corporations could threaten Representatives and Senators with negative advertising to gain unprecedented leverage. Stevens supported his argument by citing Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co.,[35] where the Court held that $3 million in independent expenditures in a judicial race raised sufficient questions about a judge’s impartiality to require the judge to recuse himself in a future case involving the spender. Stevens argued that it was contradictory for the majority to ignore the same risks in legislative and executive elections, and argued that the majority opinion would exacerbate the problem presented in Caperton because of the number of states with judicial elections and increased spending in judicial races.

Second, Stevens argued that the majority did not place enough emphasis on the need to prevent the “appearance of corruption” in elections. Earlier cases, including Buckley and Bellotti, recognized the importance of public confidence in democracy. Stevens cited recent data indicating that 80% of the public view corporate independent expenditures as a method used to gain unfair legislative access.[24] Stevens predicted that if the public believes that corporations dominate elections, disaffected voters will stop participating.

Third, Stevens argued that the majority’s decision failed to recognize the dangers of the corporate form. Austin held that the prevention of corruption, including the distorting influence of a dominant funding source, was a sufficient reason for regulating corporate independent expenditures. In defending Austin, Stevens argued that the unique qualities of corporations and other artificial legal entities made them dangerous to democratic elections. These legal entities, he argued, have perpetual life, the ability to amass large sums of money, limited liability, no ability to vote, no morality, no purpose outside profit-making, and no loyalty. Therefore, he argued, the courts should permit legislatures to regulate corporate participation in the political process.

Legal entities, Stevens wrote, are not “We the People” for whom our Constitution was established.[24] Therefore, he argued, they should not be given speech protections under the First Amendment. The First Amendment, he argued, protects individual self-expression, self-realization and the communication of ideas. Corporate spending is the “furthest from the core of political expression” protected by the Constitution, he argued, citing Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont,[36] and corporate spending on politics should be viewed as a business transaction designed by the officers or the boards of directors for no purpose other than profit-making. Stevens called corporate spending “more transactional than ideological”. Stevens also pointed out that any member of a corporation may spend personal money on promoting a campaign because BCRA only prohibited the use of general treasury money.

Fourth, Stevens attacked the majority’s central argument: that the prohibition of spending guards free speech and allows the general public to receive all available information. Relying on Austin, Stevens argued that corporations “unfairly influence” the electoral process with vast sums of money that few individuals can match, which distorts the public debate. Because a typical voter can only absorb so much information during a relevant election period, Stevens described “unfair corporate influence” as the potential to outspend others, to push others out of prime broadcasting spots and to dominate the “marketplace of ideas”.[24] This process, he argued, puts disproportionate focus on this speech and gives the impression of widespread support regardless of actual support. Thus, this process marginalizes the speech of other individuals and groups.

Stevens referred to the majority’s argument that “there is no such thing as too much speech” as “facile” and a “straw man” argument. He called it an incorrect statement of First Amendment law because the Court recognizes numerous exceptions to free speech, such as fighting words, obscenity restrictions, time, place and manner restrictions, etc. Throughout his dissent, Stevens said that the majority’s “slogan” ignored the possibility that too much speech from one source could “drown out” other points of view.

Fifth, Stevens criticized the majority’s fear that the government could use BCRA §203 to censor the media. The focus placed on this hypothetical fear made no sense to him because it did not relate to the facts of this case – if the government actually attempted to apply BCRA §203 to the media (and assuming that Citizens United could not constitute “media”), the Court could deal with the problem at that time. Stevens described the majority’s supposed protection of the media as nothing more than posturing. According to him, it was the majority’s new rule, announced in this case, that prohibited a law from distinguishing between “speakers” or funding sources. This new rule would be the only reason why media corporations could not be exempted from BCRA §203. In this, Stevens and the majority conceptualize the First Amendment’s protection of “the press” quite differently. Stevens argues that the “Press” is an entity, which can be distinguished from other persons and entities which are not “press”. The majority opinion viewed “freedom of the press” as an activity, applicable to all citizens or groups of citizens seeking to publish views.

Sixth, Stevens claimed that the majority failed to give proper deference to the legislature. Stevens predicted that this ruling would restrict the ability of the states to experiment with different methods for decreasing corruption in elections. According to Stevens, this ruling virtually ended those efforts, “declaring by fiat” that people will not “lose faith in our democracy”.[24] Stevens argued that the majority’s view of a self-serving legislature, passing campaign-spending laws to gain an advantage in retaining a seat, coupled with “strict scrutiny” of laws, would make it difficult for any campaign finance regulation to be upheld in future cases.

Seventh, Stevens argued that the majority opinion ignored the rights of shareholders. A series of cases protects individuals from legally compelled payment of union dues to support political speech.[37] Because shareholders invest money in corporations, Stevens argued that the law should likewise help to protect shareholders from funding speech that they oppose. The majority, however, argued that ownership of corporate stock was voluntary, and that unhappy shareholders could simply sell off their shares if they did not agree with the corporation’s speech. Stevens also argued that Political Action Committees (PACs), which allow individual members of a corporation to invest money in a separate fund, are an adequate substitute for general corporate speech and better protect shareholder rights. The majority, by contrast, had argued that most corporations are too small and lack the resources and raw number of shareholders and management staff necessary to cover the compliance, accounting, and administrative costs of maintaining a PAC. In this dispute, the opposing views essentially discussed differing types of entities: Stevens focused his argument on large, publicly held corporations, while the justices in the majority, and particularly Justice Scalia’s concurring opinion, placed an emphasis on small, closely held corporations and non-profits.

Stevens called the majority’s faith in “corporate democracy” an unrealistic method for a shareholder to oppose political funding. A derivative suit is slow, inefficient, risky and potentially expensive. Likewise, shareholder meetings only happen a few times a year, not prior to every decision or transaction. Rather, the officers and boards control the day-to-day spending, including political spending. According to Stevens, the shareholders have few options, giving them “virtually nonexistent” recourse for opposing a corporation’s political spending.[24] Furthermore, most shareholders use investment intermediaries, such as mutual funds or pensions, and by the time a shareholder may find out about a corporation’s political spending and try to object, the damage is done and the shareholder has funded disfavored speech.

Stevens concluded his dissent:

At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.[25]

Subsequent developments

There was a wide range of reactions to the case from politicians, academics, attorneys, advocacy groups and journalists.

Support

Politicians

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a plaintiff in the earlier related decision McConnell v. FEC, said:[38][39]

For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process. With today’s monumental decision, the Supreme Court took an important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups by ruling that the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day. By previously denying this right, the government was picking winners and losers. Our democracy depends upon free speech, not just for some but for all.

Republican campaign consultant Ed Rollins opined that the decision adds transparency to the election process and will make it more competitive.[40]

Advocacy groups

Citizens United, the group filing the lawsuit, said, “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Citizens United to air its documentary films and advertisements is a tremendous victory, not only for Citizens United but for every American who desires to participate in the political process.”[41] During litigation, Citizens United had support from the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association.[42]

Campaign finance attorney Cleta Mitchell, who had filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of two advocacy organizations opposing the ban, wrote that “The Supreme Court has correctly eliminated a constitutionally flawed system that allowed media corporations (e.g., The Washington Post Co.) to freely disseminate their opinions about candidates using corporate treasury funds, while denying that constitutional privilege to Susie’s Flower Shop Inc. … The real victims of the corporate expenditure ban have been nonprofit advocacy organizations across the political spectrum.”[43]

Heritage Foundation fellow Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former Republican member of the Federal Election Commission, said “The Supreme Court has restored a part of the First Amendment that had been unfortunately stolen by Congress and a previously wrongly-decided ruling of the court.”[44]

Libertarian Cato Institute analysts John Samples and Ilya Shapiro wrote that restrictions on advertising were based on the idea “that corporations had so much money that their spending would create vast inequalities in speech that would undermine democracy”. However, “to make campaign spending equal or nearly so, the government would have to force some people or groups to spend less than they wished. And equality of speech is inherently contrary to protecting speech from government restraint, which is ultimately the heart of American conceptions of free speech.”[45]

The American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief that supported the decision,[46] saying that “section 203 should now be struck down as facially unconstitutional”, though membership was split over the implications of the ruling and its board sent the issue to its special committee on campaign finance for further consideration.[47] On March 27, 2012, the ACLU reaffirmed its stance in support of the Supreme Court’sCitizens United ruling.[48]

Academics and attorneys

Bradley A. Smith, professor of law at Capital University Law School, former chairman of the FEC, founder of the Center for Competitive Politics and a leading proponent of deregulation of campaign finance, wrote that the major opponents of political free speech are “incumbent politicians” who “are keen to maintain a chokehold on such speech”. Empowering “small and midsize corporations – and every incorporated mom-and-pop falafel joint, local firefighters’ union, and environmental group – to make its voice heard” frightens them.[49] In response to statements by President Obama and others that the ruling would allow foreign entities to gain political influence through U.S. subsidiaries, Smith pointed out that the decision did not overturn the ban on political donations by foreign corporations and the prohibition on any involvement by foreign nationals in decisions regarding political spending by U.S. subsidiaries, which are covered by other parts of the law.[50][51][52]

Campaign finance expert Jan Baran, a member of the Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform, agreed with the decision, writing that “The history of campaign finance reform is the history of incumbent politicians seeking to muzzle speakers, any speakers, particularly those who might publicly criticize them and their legislation. It is a lot easier to legislate against unions, gun owners, ‘fat cat’ bankers, health insurance companies and any other industry or ‘special interest’ group when they can’t talk back.” Baran further noted that in general conservatives and libertarians praised the ruling’s preservation of the First Amendment and freedom of speech, but that liberals and campaign finance reformers criticized it as greatly expanding the role of corporate money in politics.[53]

Attorney Kenneth Gross, former associate general counsel of the FEC, wrote that corporations relied more on the development of long-term relationships, political action committees and personal contributions, which were not affected by the decision. He held that while trade associations might seek to raise funds and support candidates, corporations which have “signed on to transparency agreements regarding political spending” may not be eager to give.[43]

The New York Times asked seven academics to opine on how corporate money would reshape politics as a result of the court’s decision.[54] Three of the seven wrote that the effects would be minimal or positive: Christopher Cotton, a University of Miami School of Business assistant professor of economics, wrote that “There may be very little difference between seeing eight ads or seeing nine ads (compared to seeing one ad or two). And, voters recognize that richer candidates are not necessarily the better candidates, and in some cases, the benefit of running more ads is offset by the negative signal that spending a lot of money creates.[54]Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at UCLA, stated that the “most influential actors in most political campaigns” are media corporations which “overtly editorialize for and against candidates, and also influence elections by choosing what to cover and how to cover it”. Holding that corporations like Exxon would fear alienating voters by supporting candidates, the decision really meant that voters would hear “more messages from more sources”.[54] Joel Gora, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who had previously argued the case of Buckley v. Valeo on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the decision represented “a great day for the First Amendment” writing that the Court had “dismantled the First Amendment ‘caste system’ in election speech”.[54]

Journalists

The Editorial Board of the San Antonio Express-News criticized McCain–Feingold’s exception for media corporations from the ban on corporate electioneering, writing that it “makes no sense” that the paper could make endorsements up until the day of the election but advocacy groups could not. “While the influence of money on the political process is troubling and sometimes corrupting, abridging political speech is the wrong way to counterbalance that influence.”[55]

Anthony Dick in National Review countered a number of arguments against the decision, asking rhetorically, “is there something uniquely harmful and/or unworthy of protection about political messages that come from corporations and unions, as opposed to, say, rich individuals, persuasive writers, or charismatic demagogues?” He noted that “a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority of the public actually agrees with the Court that corporations and unions should be treated just like individuals in terms of their political-expenditure rights”.[56] A Gallup poll taken in October 2009 and released soon after the decision showed 57 percent of those surveyed agreed that contributions to political candidates are a form of free speech and 55 percent agreed that the same rules should apply to individuals, corporations and unions. Sixty-four percent of Democrats and Republicans believed campaign donations are a form of free speech.[57]

Chicago Tribune editorial board member Steve Chapman wrote “If corporate advocacy may be forbidden as it was under the law in question, it’s not just Exxon Mobil and Citigroup that are rendered mute. Nonprofit corporations set up merely to advance goals shared by citizens, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association, also have to put a sock in it. So much for the First Amendment goal of fostering debate about public policy.”[58]

Opposition

Politicians

President Barack Obama stated that the decision “gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington – while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates”.[59] Obama later elaborated in his weekly radio address saying, “this ruling strikes at our democracy itself” and “I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest”.[60]On January 27, 2010, Obama further condemned the decision during the 2010 State of the Union Address, stating that, “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law[61] to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.” On television, the camera shifted to a shot of the SCOTUS judges in the front row directly in front of the President while he was making this statement, and Justice Samuel Alito was frowning, shaking his head side to side while mouthing the words “Not true”.[62][63][64][65][66][67]

Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, a lead sponsor of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, stated “This decision was a terrible mistake. Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president.”[68]RepresentativeAlan Grayson, a Democrat, stated that it was “the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case, and that the court had opened the door to political bribery and corruption in elections to come.[69] Democratic congresswoman Donna Edwards, along with constitutional law professor and Maryland Democratic State Senator Jamie Raskin, have advocated petitions to reverse the decision by means of constitutional amendment.[70] Rep. Leonard Boswell introduced legislation to amend the constitution.[71] Senator John Kerry also called for an Amendment to overrule the decision.[72] On December 8, 2011, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed the Saving American Democracy Amendment, which would reverse the court’s ruling.[73][74]

Republican Senator John McCain, co-crafter of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, said “there’s going to be, over time, a backlash … when you see the amounts of union and corporate money that’s going to go into political campaigns”.[75] McCain was “disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court and the lifting of the limits on corporate and union contributions” but not surprised by the decision, saying that “It was clear that Justice Roberts, Alito and Scalia, by their very skeptical and even sarcastic comments, were very much opposed to BCRA.”[68] Republican Senator Olympia Snowe opined that “Today’s decision was a serious disservice to our country.”[76]

Although federal law after Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission still prohibited corporate contributions to all political parties, Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party, stated that “The ruling especially hurts the ability of parties that don’t accept corporate contributions, like the Green Party, to compete.” Another Green Party officer, Rich Whitney, stated “In a transparently political decision, a majority of the US Supreme Court overturned its own recent precedent and paid tribute to the giant corporate interests that already wield tremendous power over our political process and political speech.”

Ralph Nader condemned the ruling,[77] saying that “With this decision, corporations can now directly pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars.” He called for shareholder resolutions asking company directors to pledge not to use company money to favor or oppose electoral candidates.[78]Pat Choate, former Reform Party candidate for Vice President, stated, “The court has, in effect, legalized foreign governments and foreign corporations to participate in our electoral politics.”[79]

Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender in the 2016 Democratic Primary, has filed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Decision.[80] Further, both Sanders and Hillary Clinton have said that, if elected, they will only appoint Supreme Court Justices who are committed to the repeal of Citizens United.[81] In September 2015, Sanders said that “the foundations of American Democracy are being undermined” and called for sweeping campaign finance reform.[82]

International

Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, speaking for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe‘s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (which has overseen over 150 elections) said the ruling may adversely affect the organization’s two commitments of “giving voters a genuine choice and giving candidates a fair chance” in that “it threatens to further marginalize candidates without strong financial backing or extensive personal resources, thereby in effect narrowing the political arena”.[83]

Academics and attorneys

Money isn’t speech and corporations aren’t people
— David Kairys[84]

The constitutional law scholar Laurence H. Tribe wrote that the decision “marks a major upheaval in First Amendment law and signals the end of whatever legitimate claim could otherwise have been made by the Roberts Court to an incremental and minimalist approach to constitutional adjudication, to a modest view of the judicial role vis-à-vis the political branches, or to a genuine concern with adherence to precedent” and pointed out, “Talking about a business corporation as merely another way that individuals might choose to organize their association with one another to pursue their common expressive aims is worse than unrealistic; it obscures the very real injustice and distortion entailed in the phenomenon of some people using other people’s money to support candidates they have made no decision to support, or to oppose candidates they have made no decision to oppose.”[85]

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, whose opinions had changed from dissenting in Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce to co-authoring (with Stevens) the majority opinion in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission twelve years later, criticized the decision only obliquely, but warned, “In invalidating some of the existing checks on campaign spending, the majority in Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon.”[86]

Richard L. Hasen, professor of election law at Loyola Law School, argued that the ruling “is activist, it increases the dangers of corruption in our political system and it ignores the strong tradition of American political equality”. He also described Justice Kennedy’s “specter of blog censorship” as sounding more like “the rantings of a right-wing talk show host than the rational view of a justice with a sense of political realism”.[87]

Kathleen M. Sullivan, professor at Stanford Law School and Steven J. Andre, adjunct professor at Lincoln Law School, argued that two different visions of freedom of speech exist and clashed in the case. An egalitarian vision skeptical of the power of large agglomerations of wealth to skew the political process conflicted with a libertarian vision skeptical of government being placed in the role of determining what speech people should or should not hear.[88][89] Wayne Batchis, Professor at the University of Delaware, in contrast, argues that the Citizens United decision represents a misguided interpretation of the non-textual freedom of association.[90]

The four other scholars of the seven writing in the aforementionedNew York Times article were critical.[54]Richard L. Hasen, Distinguished Professor of election law at Loyola Law School argued differently from his Slate article above, concentrating on the “inherent risk of corruption that comes when someone spends independently to try to influence the outcome of judicial elections”, since judges are less publicly accountable than elected officials. Heather K. Gerken, Professor of Law at Yale Law School wrote that “The court has done real damage to the cause of reform, but that damage mostly came earlier, with decisions that made less of a splash.” Michael Waldman, director of the Brennan Center for Justice at N.Y.U. School of Law, opined that the decision “matches or exceeds Bush v. Gore in ideological or partisan overreaching by the court”, explaining how “Exxon or any other firm could spend Bloomberg-level sums in any congressional district in the country against, say, any congressman who supports climate change legislation, or health care, etc.” andFred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21 considered that “Chief Justice Roberts has abandoned the illusory public commitments he made to ‘judicial modesty’ and ‘respect for precedent’ to cast the deciding vote for a radical decision that profoundly undermines our democracy,” and that “Congress and presidents past have recognized this danger and signed numerous laws over the years to prevent this kind of corruption of our government.”[54]

Journalists

The New York Times stated in an editorial, “The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.”[91]Jonathan Alter called it the “most serious threat to American democracy in a generation”.[92] The Christian Science Monitor wrote that the Court had declared “outright that corporate expenditures cannot corrupt elected officials, that influence over lawmakers is not corruption, and that appearance of influence will not undermine public faith in our democracy”.[93]

Business leaders

In 2012, Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, founded Stamp Stampede, a sustained protest to demonstrate widespread support for a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. The campaign encourages people to rubber stamp messages such as “Not To Be Used for Bribing Politicians” on paper currency. In 2014, Cohen told Salon, “As long as the Supreme Court rules money is speech, corporations and the wealthy are using it by giving piles of it to politicians to pass or not pass laws that they want. Now, the rest of the people, [those] who don’t have that money, can actually make their voice heard by using money to stamp a message out.”[94]

Media coverage

Political blogs

Most blogs avoided the theoretical aspects of the decision and focused on more personal and dramatic elements, including the Barack ObamaSamuel Alito face-off during the President’s State of the Union address.[95] There, President Obama argued that the decision “reversed a century of law” (the federal ban on corporate contributions dates back to the 1907 Tillman Act, and the ban on union and corporate expenditures dates from 1947) and that it would allow “foreign corporations to spend without limits in our elections”, during which Justice Alito, in the audience, perceptibly mouthed the words “not true”. This event received extensive comment from political bloggers, with a substantial amount of the coverage concentrated on whether or not foreign corporations would be able to make substantial political contributions in US elections. In the opinion, the Court had specifically indicated it was not overturning the ban on foreign contributions.

Opinion polls

ABC-Washington Post poll results.

An ABC–Washington Post poll conducted February 4–8, 2010, showed that 80% of those surveyed opposed (and 65% strongly opposed) the Citizens United ruling, which the poll described as saying “corporations and unions can spend as much money as they want to help political candidates win elections”. Additionally, 72% supported “an effort by Congress to reinstate limits on corporate and union spending on election campaigns”. The poll showed large majority support from Democrats, Republicans and independents.[96][97][98]

A Gallup Poll conducted in October 2009, after oral argument, but released after the Supreme Court released its opinion, found that 57 percent of those surveyed “agreed that money given to political candidates is a form of free speech” and 55 percent agreed that the “same rules should apply to individuals, corporations and unions”. However, in the same poll respondents by 52% to 41% prioritized limits on campaign contributions over protecting rights to support campaigns and 76% thought the government should be able to place limits on corporation or union donations.[99][100]

Separate polls by various conservative organizations, including the plaintiff Citizens United and the Center for Competitive Politics, found support for the decision.[101] In particular, the Center for Competitive Politics poll[102] found that 51% of respondents believed that Citizens United should have a right to air ads promoting Hillary: The Movie. The poll also found that only 22 percent had heard of the case.

Further court rulings

SpeechNow v. FEC

Main article: SpeechNOW v. FEC

SpeechNow is a nonprofit, unincorporated association organized as a section 527 entity under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The organization was formed by individuals who seek to pool their resources to make independent expenditures expressly advocating the election or defeat of federal candidates. SpeechNow planned to accept contributions only from individuals, not corporations or other sources prohibited under the Federal Election Campaign Act. On February 14, 2008, SpeechNow and several individual plaintiffs filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act provisions governing political committee registration, contribution limits and disclosure. The plaintiffs contended that the Act unconstitutionally restricts their association guaranteed under the First Amendment. By requiring registration as a political committee and limiting the monetary amount that an individual may contribute to a political committee, SpeechNow and the other plaintiffs asserted that the Act unconstitutionally restricted the individuals’ freedom of speech by limiting the amount that an individual can contribute to SpeechNow and thus the amount the organization may spend. SpeechNow also argued that the reporting required of political committees is unconstitutionally burdensome.[103]

On March 26, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in SpeechNow.org. v. FEC that the contribution limits of 2 U.S.C. §441a were unconstitutional as applied to individuals’ contributions to SpeechNow. The court also ruled that the reporting requirements of 2 U.S.C. §§432, 433 and 434(a) and the organizational requirements of 2 U.S.C. §431(4) and §431(8) can be constitutionally applied to SpeechNow.[103] A unanimous nine-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals[104] struck down the federal limits on contributions to federal political committees that make only independent expenditures and do not contribute to candidates or political parties. This type of “independent expenditure committee” is inherently non-corruptive, the Court reasoned, and therefore contributions to such a committee can not be limited based on the government’s interest in preventing political corruption.[105] In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, in which the Supreme Court held that the government has no anti-corruption interest in limiting independent expenditures, the appeals court ruled that “contributions to groups that make only independent expenditures cannot corrupt or create the appearance of corruption.” As a result, the court of appeals held that the government has no anti-corruption interest in limiting contributions to an independent group such as SpeechNow. Contribution limits as applied to SpeechNow “violate the First Amendment by preventing [individuals] from donating to SpeechNow in excess of the limits and by prohibiting SpeechNow from accepting donations in excess of the limits.” The court noted that its holding does not affect direct contributions to candidates, but rather contributions to a group that makes only independent expenditures.[103] The appeals court held that, while disclosure and reporting requirements do impose a burden on First Amendment interests, they “‘impose no ceiling on campaign related activities'” and “‘do not prevent anyone from speaking.'” Furthermore, the court held that the additional reporting requirements that the Commission would impose on SpeechNow if it were organized as a political committee are minimal, “given the relative simplicity with which SpeechNow intends to operate.” Since SpeechNow already had a number of “planned contributions” from individuals, the court ruled that SpeechNow could not compare itself to “ad hoc groups that want to create themselves on the spur of the moment.” Since the public has an interest in knowing who is speaking about a candidate and who is funding that speech, the court held that requiring such disclosure and organization as a political committee are sufficiently important governmental interests to justify the additional reporting and registration burdens on SpeechNow.[103]

Public electoral financing

Main article: McComish v. Bennett

On June 27, 2011, ruling in the consolidated cases of Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett (No. 10-238) and McComish v. Bennett (No. 10-239), the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional an Arizona law that provided extra taxpayer-funded support for office seekers who have been outspent by privately funded opponents or by independent political groups. A conservative 5–4 majority of justices said the law violated free speech, concluding the state was impermissibly trying to “level the playing field” through a public finance system. Arizona lawmakers had argued there was a compelling state interest in equalizing resources among competing candidates and interest groups.[106] Opponents said the law violated free-speech rights of the privately financed candidates and their contributors, inhibiting fundraising and spending, discouraging participation in campaigns and limiting what voters hear about politics.[107] Chief Justice John Roberts said in the court’s majority opinion that the law substantially burdened political speech and was not sufficiently justified to survive First Amendment scrutiny.[107]

As a consequence of the decision, states and municipalities are blocked from using a method of public financing that is simultaneously likely to attract candidates fearful that they will be vastly outspent and sensitive to avoiding needless government expense. “The government can still use taxpayer funds to subsidize political campaigns, but it can only do that in a manner that provides an alternative to private financing” said William R. Maurer, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice, which represented several challengers of the law. “It cannot create disincentives.”[108] The ruling meant the end of similar matching-fund programs in Connecticut, Maine and a few other places according to David Primo, a political science professor at the University of Rochester who was an expert witness for the law’s challengers.[109]

State campaign-spending limits

Despite the Citizens United ruling, In December 2011, the Montana Supreme Court, in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana, upheld that state’s law limiting corporate contributions. Examining the history of corporate interference in Montana government that led to the Corrupt Practices Law, the majority decided that the state still had a compelling reason to maintain the restrictions. It ruled that these restrictions on speech were narrowly tailored and withstood strict scrutiny and thus did not contradict Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

While granting permission to file a Certiorari petition, the US Supreme Court agreed to stay the Montana ruling, although Justices Ginsburg and Breyer wrote a short statement urging the Court “to consider whether, in light of the huge sums of money currently deployed to buy candidate’s allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway”.[110] In June 2012, over the dissent of the same four judges who dissented in Citizens United, the Court simultaneously granted certiorari and summarily reversed the decision in American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, 567, U.S. __ (2012).[111] The Supreme Court majority rejected the Montana Supreme Court arguments in a two paragraph, twenty line per curiam opinion, stating that these arguments “either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case.”[112] The ruling makes clear that states cannot bar corporate and union political expenditures in state elections.[113]

McCutcheon v. FEC

Main article: McCutcheon v. FEC

In addition to limiting the size of donations to individual candidates and parties, the Federal Election Campaign Act also includes aggregate caps on the total amount that an individual may give to all candidates and parties. In 2012, Shaun McCutcheon, a Republican Party activist,[114][115] sought to donate more than was allowed by the federal aggregate limit on federal candidates.[116] McCutcheon et al filed suit against theFederal Election Commission (FEC).[117] In 2014, the US Supreme Court reversed a ruling of the DC District Court‘s dismissal of McCutcheon v. FEC and struck down the aggregate limits. The plurality opinion invalidated only the aggregate contribution limits, not limits on giving to any one candidate or party. The decisive fifth vote for McCutcheon came from Justice Thomas, who concurred in the judgment on the grounds that all contribution limits are unconstitutional.[118]

Legislative responses

Legislative impact

The New York Times reported that 24 states with laws prohibiting or limiting independent expenditures by unions and corporations would have to change their campaign finance laws because of the ruling.[119]

After Citizens United and SpeechNow.org numerous state legislatures raised their limits on contributions to candidates and parties.[120] At the federal level, lawmakers substantially increased contribution limits to political parties as part of the 2014 budget bill.[121] Such changes are widely perceived as efforts to place candidates and parties on something closer to equal footing with organizations making independent expenditures.[121]

While many states and the federal government have raised contribution limits in response to Citizens United, proposals aimed at discouraging political spending, or providing for public financing of campaigns, have been less successful.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) proposed that candidates who sign up small donors receive $900,000 in public money, but the proposal has not been acted on by Congress. Others proposed that laws on corporate governance be amended to assure that shareholders vote on political expenditures.[92]

In February 2010, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, immediate past Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, outlined legislation aimed at undoing the decision.[122] In April 2010, they introduced such legislation in the Senate and House, respectively.[123] On June 24, 2010, H.R.5175 (The DISCLOSE Act) passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate. It would have required additional disclosure by corporations of their campaign expenditures. The law, if passed, would also have prohibited political spending by U.S. companies with twenty percent or more foreign ownership, and by most government contractors.[124] The DISCLOSE Act included exemptions to its rules given to certainspecial interests such as the National Rifle Association and the American Association of Retired Persons. These gaps within the proposal attracted criticism from lawmakers on both political parties. “They are auctioning off pieces of the First Amendment in this bill… The bigger you are, the stronger you are, the less disclosure you have,” said Republican Congressman Dan Lungren of California. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California commented, “I wish there had been no carve-outs”.[125] The bill was criticized as prohibiting much activity that was legal before Citizens United.[126]

The DISCLOSE Act twice failed to pass the U.S. Senate in the 111th Congress, in both instances reaching only 59 of the 60 votes required to overcome a unified Republican filibuster.[127][128] A scaled down version of the DISCLOSE Act was reintroduced in both the House and Senate in 2012 but did not pass.[citation needed]

Some have argued for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision. Although the decision does not address “corporate personhood,” a long-established judicial and constitutional concept,[129] much attention has focused on that issue. Move to Amend, a coalition formed in response to the ruling,[130] seeks to amend the Constitution to abolish corporate personhood, thus stripping corporations of all rights under the Constitution.[131][132] In an online chat with web community Reddit, President Obama endorsed further consideration of a constitutional amendment and stated “Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court Doesn’t revisit it)”.[133] He further elaborated that “Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight on the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”[133]

Legislative reactions by state and local lawmakers

Members of 16 state legislatures have called for a constitutional amendment to reverse the court’s decision: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.[134][135]

Most of these are non-binding resolutions. However, three states – Vermont, California, and Illinois – called for an Article V Convention to draft and propose a federal constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.[136] In Minnesota, the Minnesota Senate passed a similar resolution, “Senate File No. 17,” on May 2, 2013, but the House of Representatives returned the measure to the General Calendar (meaning the measure did not pass) on May 15, 2013.[137] Thirty-four states are needed to call an Article V convention.

On a local level, Washington D.C. and 400 other municipalities passed resolutions requesting a federal constitutional amendment.[138]

Since Citizens United, however, 13 states have actually raised their contribution limits.[120]

Political impact

The Citizens United ruling “opened the door” for unlimited election spending by corporations, but most of this spending has “ended up being funneled through the groups that have become known as super PACs”.[139]While critics predicted that the ruling would “bring about a new era of corporate influence in politics” allowing companies and businesspeople to “buy elections” to promote their financial interests, as of 2016, in fact large corporations still play a “negligible role” in presidential election spending. Instead large expenditures, usually through “Super PACS,” have come from “a small group of billionaires”, based largely on ideology. This has shifted power “away from the political parties and toward the … donors themselves. In part, this explains the large number and variety of candidates fielded by the Republicans in 2016.”[139] The ability of individuals to spend unlimited sums was first affirmed by the Supreme Court, however, not in Citizens United, but in Buckley v. Valeo, decided in 1976.

Super PACs

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has often been credited for the creation of “super PACs“, political action committees which make no financial contributions to candidates or parties, and so can accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and unions. Certainly, the holding in Citizens United helped affirm the legal basis for super PACs by deciding that, for purposes of establishing a “compelling government interest” of corruption sufficient to justify government limitations on political speech, “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption”.[140]

However, it took another decision, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Speechnow.org v. Federal Election Commission, to actually authorize the creation of super PACs. While Citizens United held that corporations and unions could make independent expenditures, a separate provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act, at least as long interpreted by the Federal Election Commission, held that individuals could not contribute to a common fund without it becoming a PAC. PACs, in turn, were not allowed to accept corporate or union contributions of any size or to accept individual contributions in excess of $5,000. In Speechnow.org, the D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, held 9–0 that in light of Citizens United, such restrictions on the sources and size of contributions could not apply to an organization that made only independent expenditures in support of or opposition to a candidate, but not contributions to a candidate’s campaign.

Citizens United and SpeechNOW left their imprint on the 2012 United States presidential election, in which single individuals contributed large sums to “super PACs” supporting particular candidates. Sheldon Adelson, the gambling entrepreneur, gave approximately fifteen million dollars to support Newt Gingrich. Foster Friess, a Wyoming financier, donated almost two million dollars to Rick Santorum’s super PAC. Karl Rove organized super PACs that spent over $300 million in support of Republicans during the 2012 elections.[141]

In addition to indirectly providing support for the creation of super PACs, Citizens United allowed incorporated 501(c)(4) public advocacy groups (such as the National Rifle Association, the Sierra Club, and the group Citizens United itself) and trade associations to make expenditures in political races. Such groups may not, under the tax code, have a primary purpose of engaging in electoral advocacy. These organizations must disclose their expenditures, but unlike super PACs they do not have to include the names of their donors in their FEC filings. A number of partisan organizations such as Karl Rove‘s influential conservative Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies and the liberal 21st Century Colorado have since registered as tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups (defined as groups promoting “social welfare”) and engaged in substantial political spending.[142][143] This has led to claims[144][145][146] of large secret donations, and questions about whether such groups should be required to disclose their donors. Historically, such non-profits have not been required to disclose their donors or names of members. See National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama.

In an August 2015 essay in Der Spiegel, Markus Feldkirchen wrote that the Citizens United decision was “now becoming visible for the first time” in federal elections as the super-rich have “radically” increased donations to support their candidates and positions via super PACs. Feldkirchen also said in the first six months of 2015 the candidates and their super PACs received close to $400 million: “far more than in the entire previous campaign.” He opined that super-rich donating more than ever before to individual campaigns plus the “enormous” chasm in wealth has given the super-rich the power to steer the economic and political direction of the United States and undermine its democracy.[147] In October 2015, the New York Times observed that just 158 super-rich families each contributed $250,000 or more, while an additional 200 families gave more than $100,000 for the 2016 presidential election. Both groups contributed almost half of the “early money” for candidates in the 2016 presidential election as of June 30, 2015 through channels like super PACs legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.[148][149]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._FEC

District of Columbia v. Heller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Dick Heller” redirects here. For the sportswriter, see Dick Heller (sportswriter).
District of Columbia v. Heller
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

Argued March 18, 2008
Decided June 26, 2008
Full case name District of Columbia, et al. v. Dick Anthony Heller
Docket nos. 07-290
Citations 554 U.S. 570 (more)

128 S. Ct. 2783; 171 L. Ed. 2d 637; 2008 U.S. LEXIS 5268; 76 U.S.L.W. 4631; 21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 497
Argument Oral argument
Opinion announcement Opinion announcement
Prior history Provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 infringe an individual’s right to bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment. District Court for the District of Columbia reversed.
Procedural history Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Holding
The Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Scalia, joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito
Dissent Stevens, joined by Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer
Dissent Breyer, joined by Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. II; D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22–4504, 7–2507.02

District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmarkcase in which the Supreme Court of the United States held in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to federal enclaves and protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The decision did not address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond federal enclaves to the states,[1] which was addressed later by McDonald v. Chicago (2010). It was the first Supreme Court case to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.[2]

On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Heller v. District of Columbia.[3][4] The Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 as unconstitutional, determined that handguns are “arms” for the purposes of the Second Amendment, found that the Regulations Act was an unconstitutional ban, and struck down the portion of the Regulations Act that requires all firearms including rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock“. Prior to this decision the Firearms Control Regulation Act of 1975 also restricted residents from owning handguns except for those registered prior to 1975.

Lower court background

In 2002, Robert A. Levy, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, began vetting plaintiffs with Clark M. Neily III for a planned Second Amendment lawsuit that he would personally finance. Although he himself had never owned a gun, as a Constitutional scholar he had an academic interest in the subject and wanted to model his campaign after the legal strategies of Thurgood Marshall, who had successfully led the challenges that overturned school segregation.[5] They aimed for a group that would be diverse in terms of gender, race, economic background, and age, and selected six plaintiffs from their mid-20s to early 60s, three men and three women, four white and two black:[6]

Shelly Parker
A software designer and former nurse who had been active in trying to rid her neighborhood of drugs. Parker is a single woman whose life had been threatened on numerous occasions by drug dealers who had sometimes tried to break into her house.[7][8]
Tom G. Palmer
A colleague of Robert A. Levy at the Cato Institute and the only plaintiff that Levy knew before the case began.[6] Palmer, who is gay, defended himself with a 9mm handgun in 1982. While walking with a friend in San Jose, California, he was accosted by a gang of about 20 young men who used profane language regarding his sexual orientation and threatened his life. When he produced his gun, the men fled. Palmer believes that the handgun saved his life.[9][10]
Gillian St. Lawrence
A mortgage broker who lives in the Georgetown section of D.C. and who owns several legally registered long guns which she uses for recreation in nearby Chantilly, Virginia. It had taken St. Lawrence two years to complete the registration process. She wanted to be able to use these guns to defend herself in her home and to be able to register a handgun.[11]