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As news breaks that enrollment has surpassed one million, it turns out one of Obamacare’s fiercest critics is among Republicans showing some “secret love” for the law.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) signed his family up on the federal healthcare exchange and has opted to take a federal subsidy offered to lawmakers and staff, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
“Senator Rubio spent time looking at all the options and decided to enroll through the D.C. exchange for coverage for him and his family,” Rubio’s spokeswoman Brooke Sammon told the Times, adding that “Senator Rubio is following the law, even though he opposes it.”
The Washington Post notes that Rubio’s fellow 2016 GOP presidential prospects Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have also joined the D.C. exchange.
Marco Rubio’s House For Sale For $675,000
Rubio has previously tried to kill Obamacare, even declining last March to support a stopgap bill to fund the government unless it also defunded “this Obamacare bill that is going to be an absolute disaster for the American economy.”
John Boehner Slams Conservative Groups For ‘Using’ Lawmakers And The American People
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took a hard swing Wednesday at conservative groups opposing the newly announced bipartisan budget deal.
“You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?” he said in a response to a reporter’s question.
Before the deal was even announced on Tuesday, Heritage Action and Americans For Prosperity stated their opposition to it. Following the announcement, Club For Growth said it would oppose the deal and include it on its congressional scorecard.
“They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous,” Boehner said loudly. “Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
The deal reached by House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) modestly raises spending levels from $967 billion to $1.014 trillion by 2015, counteracting approximately one-third of sequestration cuts. It also reduces the deficit by $20 to $23 billion by hiking airline fees and requiring federal workers and military personnel to kick in more for their pensions.
Boehner’s tone toward the conservative groups was unusually aggressive, a further signal that he wants the deal to pass the House Republican caucus, where the groups hold sway among members.
Levi Russell, Director of Public Affairs for Americans For Prosperity, responded to Boehner’s comments. “AFP stood with House Republicans earlier this spring when they passed modest spending limits set by the sequester,” Russell said. “That bipartisan agreement was signed by President Obama and set spending levels at $967 billion. It’s disappointing to see leadership give up even those modest gains with nothing to show for it.”
“Americans are deeply concerned about the direction of the country. Over the next few days, lawmakers will have to explain to their constituents, many of whom are our members, what they’ve achieved by increasing spending, increasing taxes and offering up another round of promises waiting to be broken. That will be a really tough sell back home,” said Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action.
Club For Growth released a statement as well. “We stand with Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Coburn, Rand Paul, members of the Republican Study Committee and every other fiscal conservative who opposes the Ryan-Murray deal,” said the group’s president, Chris Chocola. “After carefully reviewing the budget deal, on which we never commented until it was complete, we determined that it would increase the size of government. We support pro-growth proposals when they are considered by Congress. In our evaluation, this isn’t one of those.”
Walking out of a private conference room beneath the Capitol Building on Tuesday, Republican House members looked tired. Not the typical “I-had-a-bad-night’s-sleep” tired but something deeper — a look of battle exhaustion. Unlike past meetings in the same place during periods of fever-pitched warfare with Democrats, it appeared — for the first time in a long time — the fire in their bellies that drove them to shut down the government and risk federal default, was, for now, no longer evident.
Conservative groups ‘ridiculous’ for opposing budget deal: Boehner MarketWatch
John Boehner Fed Up With ‘Ridiculous’ Tea Party Intransigence on Budget ABC News
U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation Reuters
Goodbye, sequestration! (For now. Maybe.) Yahoo News
Key support for budget deal; deficits would rise Associated Press
These Republicans had just been briefed on a new, bipartisan budget blueprint that would establish long-term federal government spending caps.
The plan, a product of months of negotiation between Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican, and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, lacks many priorities Republicans have fought for during the Obama era. It posits no major reforms to Social Security and Medicare, for instance, nor does it balance the budget.
But for the first time in years, many Republicans showed openness to a temporary truce.
“It’s a positive step forward,” said Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “It gets us past these minicrises that have caused all kinds of disruptions on our American citizens and government.” (It is worth pointing out that in October, Walden voted against the ultimately successful deal to reopen the government after its two-week shutdown earlier this year.)
The government shutdown, as many Republicans will attest now, was a flop that failed to achieve the stated goal of defunding or delaying President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Because the new budget deal sets spending levels until 2015, it eliminates the possibility of shutdown battles over the next few years, which serves as a welcomed relief to Democrats and Republicans alike.
The generally positive reception among Republicans to Ryan and Murray’s moderate plan appears to be, in part, a backlash to the ferocity and divisiveness that have defined Washington since Obama was elected. At least for the time being, Republican leaders fed up with the dysfunction are overruling the tea party-led refusal to compromise or settle for less.
This is not to say conservatives are rolling over. A number of well-funded outside groups, notably the Club for Growth, Heritage Action and FreedomWorks, have blasted the plan as insufficiently conservative and vowed to punish Republican lawmakers who support it.
Their antagonism has infuriated Republican leaders.
The frustration was on full display as Republican House Speaker John Boehner unloaded on the groups after a reporter asked about their opposition.
“Most major conservative groups have put out statements blasting this deal,” the reporter said. “Are you worried that there…”
Boehner cut the reporter off and boomed: “You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?”
“Yes, those groups,” the reporter replied. “Are you worried that there are…”
Boehner interrupted again: “They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” he said, raising his voice. “This is ridiculous! Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
Boehner’s outburst had been a long time coming. Since he accepted the speaker’s gavel, the Ohio lawmaker has served at the will of an unrelenting conference that made his life hell by refusing nearly all attempts at compromise. For two years, the conference humiliated Boehner by forcing him to pull key, sure-to-pass bills from the floor. In October, they dragged him and his deputies into a government shutdown fight they never wanted in the first place. And now Boehner is saying, “enough is enough, we’ll fight another day.”
The House will vote on the resolution by the end of the week.
America’s richest brothers, Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, are upset with the New York Times. Representatives for the family claim that the Times characterized their position on government policies related to climate change.
In the piece the reporter notes the Koch brothers have “longtime resentment of the biggest oil companies.”
Last week, the New York Times published a piece in which the reporter set forth her own characterization of Koch’s position on the prospect of a carbon tax, without allowing us to set forth our position or use the statements we provided her in the story.
We explained to the reporter that we opposed the proposed carbon tax because we support free markets and oppose excessive government intervention into the private sector. We also explained our opposition was based on our view of the proper role of government—we believe that it shouldn’t pick winners and losers, and that is why we oppose all subsidies, even when we may benefit from them. We went on to provide her with copies of correspondence we had sent to Congress in the past opposing various subsidies. Unfortunately, the reporter refused to use any of this information.
The reporter also noted that Fred Koch had been blocked from bringing an oil refining process to the market by John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil – now ExxonMobil (among other companies).
According to the Times story ExxonMobil and other companies have begrudingly accepted that they will likely have to start pricing carbon and factoring that price and future taxes into their business model.
A new report by the environmental data company CDP has found that at least 29 companies, some with close ties to Republicans, including ExxonMobil, Walmart and American Electric Power, are incorporating a price on carbon into their long-term financial plans.
Both supporters and opponents of action to fight global warming say the development is significant because businesses that chart a financial course to make money in a carbon-constrained future could be more inclined to support policies that address climate change.
One of the holdouts, reportedly, is Koch Industries which is still funding political groups such as the Tea Party and the American Energy Alliance attacking those that support a carbon tax or cap and trade schemes.
But even if the Kochs don’t succeed in stopping the pricing of carbon they have undoubtedly delayed the process enriching themselves greatly. If one were to interpret their political giving as a business strategy it has paid off handsomely for the brothers who have gained considerable wealth in the interim.
A Texas teen was sentenced to just 10 years of probation and forced to enter alcohol rehabilitation for killing four people and injuring two others when he crashed his car into them while inebriated.
Ethan Couch, 16, had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.24 when he crashed into four people who had pulled over to assist a stranded driver on June 15. Couch’s BAC was three times the legal limit for an adult over the age of 21. Prosecutors said Couch and his friends had stolen beer from a Walmart located near the site of the accident outside the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
All four of the pedestrians were killed: the driver of the stranded vehicle, a mother and daughter who stopped to help, and a youth minister who did the same. Couch’s two 15-year-old friends were ejected from his vehicle in the crash. Solimon Mohman suffered a number of broken bones and internal injuries, while Sergio Molina can now only communicate with his eyes because he was paralyzed in the accident.
Couch admitted to drunk driving at the time, with seven passengers in his vehicle, and tests later revealed traces of Valium in his system.
Prosecutors asked State District Judge Jean Boyd to impose a 20-year sentence. Yet, despite the severity of Couch’s crime, Boyd handed down a sentence of just 10 years probation and mandated that the 16-year-old receive therapy at a long-term, inpatient facility near Newport Beach, California.
Defense attorneys pressed for such a sentence and told the court that Couch’s family would be willing to pay the estimated $450,000 for his therapy out-of-pocket. They blamed Couch’s actions on his upbringing, with a psychologist testifying that Couch’s parents used him as a weapon against each other and that the teen’s emotional age was close to 12.
“The teen never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone,” psychologist Gary Miller said. “If you hurt someone you sent him money.”
The perception that money has contributed to the case’s resolution has much of the surrounding community outraged. Families of the victims spoke in court and, while many admitted they have forgiven Couch, they said that justice had not been served. Prosecutor Richard Alpert said he was disappointed in Boyd’s decision and that “there can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment here.”
Eric Boyles lost his wife in the crash earlier this year. He told the Star-Telegram that even though the families knew a harsh sentence wouldn’t bring back their loved ones, the disappointment was palpable.
“Money always seems to keep [Couch] out of trouble,” Boyles said. “Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If [he] had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different.”