Insurance Premiums Rising As A Result of Obamacare

Yesterday, The Heritage Foundation published this piece about how Obamacare would simultaneously cause insurance premiums to rise and prevent companies from raising them.

The Heritage article is extremely relevant given this piece from Monday’s Birmingham News:

In filings with the Alabama Department of Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and VIVA Health reported they already have increased some of their premiums for 2011. Some of the increases are directly related to the federal changes, some are not. And they warn that more increases are on the horizon.

The changes in Alabama, while slight compared to some changes in other parts of the country, are being monitored by federal regulators who say the new Affordable Care Act is not an excuse for companies to inflict massive cost increases on consumers…
…A spokeswoman said most of the increase is directly related to the new health care law’s mandate to eliminate the annual prescription drug maximum. VIVA had set its maximum at $3,000 on plans for companies with fewer than 50 employees, as a way to make them more affordable.

The Federal Takeover of Education

Great article in the American Thinker on national education standards and the Common Core Standards Initiative.  Thanks to State School Board Member Betty Peters for prompting the writing of this piece.

The Federal Takeover of Education

by Bill Costello

Federal control over education has been growing since the 1960s despite the fact that the word education does not appear in the Constitution of the United States.

Now, as the current administration pushes for national education standards, federal control over education is about to expand considerably at the expense of state and local control.

Texas Eduation Commissioner Robert Scott described the push for national education standards as “a step toward a federal takeover of the nation’s public schools.”

A little more than a year ago, state leaders launched the Common Core State Standards Initiative to develop a common set of K-12 standards in English and math. The standards they developed, known as the Common Core, are the first and only common education standards.  Read More…

Dems Pull EPA Appropriations Bill Over Cap and Trade Resolution

This flew a little under the radar, so in case anyone else missed it…

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee was set to vote on an amendment to the Interior-EPA Appropriations bill that would have imposed a one-year ban on global warming regulations.  The amendment would have defunded the EPA’s regulatory program on global warming.  Appropriations are done yearly, hence the one-year ban.  The Obama administration and the EPA have attempted to do what Congress has thus far refused to do, by declaring carbon dioxide a pollutant and regulating it under the Clean Air Act.  Americans have made it clear they don’t support cap and trade legislation, and as a result, Congress has been unable to pass it.  Obama and the EPA are essentially circumventing the democratic process to impose and enforce cap and trade through the EPA…a backdoor method, if you will.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not yet said when a new vote might be scheduled.

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality: Government Takeover of the Internet

What is Net Neutrality?

We all know there are different types of content on the internet–emails, websites, photos, videos, etc.  Certain types of content (especially videos and very large files) take a lot more bandwidth than other types of content.  Think of the internet as a highway, and content as cars.  A simple email with no attachments is like a small, fast sports car.  It can get from point A to point B in a zip.  A You Tube video is more like a big bus.  It gets from point A to point B, but has to go a lot slower because of it’s size.  When the smaller, faster sports cars get stuck behind the big bus, it slows them down significantly.  In order to keep the smaller content like emails from getting slowed down by large files and videos, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) prioritize content that takes less bandwidth.  This would be akin to a fast lane on a highway just for small, fast cars.

Net Neutrality is the principle that all content should be treated equally no matter the size or amount of bandwidth they use.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently considering a regulatory scheme that would enforce this principle prohibiting ISPs from prioritizing certain kinds of content over others.

Why is this a bad thing?

Net Neutrality is ultimately a huge power grab for the FCC.  It would be the first time in history the internet would be subject to regulation by the federal government.  The FCC is becoming increasingly irrelevant with more and more of our daily communication moving to the internet from radio and television.  The Net Neutrality movement is essentially a way to justify its continued existence.

Net Neutrality would at its base, be another federal government take over, this time, control of the internet.  It will allow the federal government to regulate how ISPs manage content and data that travels across their networks.  This will result in more congestion on the internet and less investment in broadband expansion.

History of Net Neutrality

The FCC has already attempted to enforce Net Neutrality and was prevented from doing so by a federal court in April 2010.  The Federal Court of Appeals in DC said the FCC was trying to “shatter” the bounds of their legal authority by regulating the Internet.  As a result, the FCC is now trying to reclassify the internet as a Title II “telecommunications service” which would allow them to enact Net Neutrality as well as many other harmful provisions.  Title II contains 40+ provisions that were created to address monopoly telephone carriers during WWII.  The FCC claims that they are only going to enforce 6 of these provisions and forebear the rest.  The forebearance, however, is not legally binding and they could enforce any of the provisions they choose.

One of the worrisome provisions in Title II would allow the FCC to set price controls.  They claim they don’t intend to enforce this provision, but they would have a wide open path to set rates for internet service.  Most ISPs currently have a tiered pricing system.  A consumer who just uses the internet to check email and look up the occasional website doesn’t have the same bandwidth needs as someone who downloads a lot of You Tube videos or files.  Thus, ISPs allow consumers to choose a wireless plan that best fits their needs.  FCC enforcement of Net Neutrality will likely eliminate that option.

Who is behind the push for Net Neutrality?

An organization called Free Press is the most vocal advocate for Net Neutrality.  Free Press is a neo-Marxist group whose goal is to eliminate all private media in this country.  They have repeatedly said that Net Neutrality is the first step toward eliminating private media and making broadband service a public utility.  Google has been another ardent supporter of Net Neutrality.  The concern of content providers like Google is that the ISPs will want to charge them to prioritize their content.

While the concerns of content providers are understandable, prioritizing can actually be a good thing.  It creates a fast lane for companies that want to create a high amount of data.  Google is afraid they will have to pay extra for that fast lane.  That too, is not necessarily a bad thing.  Allowing companies to pay extra to make sure that their product is delivered on time is not a new concept.  Many companies switched from USPS to Fed Ex even though Fed Ex was more expensive, because they wanted to make sure their products got delivered on time.  This would also provide another source of revenue for broadband expansion.

What’s the status of the Net Neutrality debate?

The coalition against Net Neutrality is bi-partisan with all House Republicans and 77 House and Senate Democrats sending a letter to the FCC in opposition.  Reports are that the FCC has ended all talks with ISPs at the behest of Free Press, which would seem to be a step toward Title II regulation.  However, there are signs that Google and some of the other content providers are concerned about the possibility of overburdensome regulations under Title II and have stepped back their efforts in favor of Net Neutrality.  Google and Verizon are reportedly in talks, and Amazon is attempting to broker a compromise on Title II reclassification.  It is looking more and more like content providers are going to be forced to work with ISPs to provide the best product to the consumer; thus, enabling free market forces to work without the heavy hand of government.

Heritage Morning Bell Points Out The Obama Administration’s Hypocrisy On Education Reform

President Obama has not been a friend of school choice.  One of his first acts as president was to let the D.C. voucher program lose it’s funding.  Instead of giving more control to parents and local school boards, his administration has pushed to consolidate control over curriculum to the U.S. Department of Education.  Thankfully, the Heritage Foundation took time to point this out:

How can Obama possibly call this “heartbreaking” when one of his first acts as President was to snatch winning lottery spots from Washington, D.C. school children? Specifically, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent letters to 216 low-income families informing them that he was taking back the $7,500 in scholarship money that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program had previously awarded them. Yesterday on NBC’s TODAY Show, Obama admitted that daughters Sasha and Malia deserve better than D.C. public schools — that’s the reason he sends them to a tony private school with other Washington elites. So then why is Obama blocking other kids from the same opportunity?

Supreme Court Rules 2nd Amendment Actually Means What It Says

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the language of the 2nd Amendment means that Americans have the right to own a gun for self-defense no matter where they live.  This strikes down bans on handguns in places like D.C. and Chicago where the legislation had been tied up in the court system.

For reference, this is what the 2nd Amendment says:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Did You Get Your Money’s Worth Out Of Congress This Week?

What You Paid
This week, taxpayers spent roughly $46 million on Congress
Salaries of Members of Congress and their allowances/week:
Speaker of the House: $223,500/52 = $4,299
House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders: ($193,400/52) x 4 = $14,877
Other Representatives and Senators: ($174,000/52) x 530 = $1,773,462
Money allocated for House (sans member salaries): $1.369 billion/52 = $26,326,923
Money allocated for Senate (sans member salaries): $926 million/52 = $17,807,692
What You Got
House of Representatives:
The House passed six bills. The bills are described by the House Clerk’s Office as the following:
1)Expressing condolences to the families of the victims of the February 27, 2010, earthquake in Chile, as well as solidarity with and support for the people of Chile as they plan for recovery and reconstruction
2)Commemorating the 45th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the role that it played in ensuring the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
3)Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act
4)Recognizing the plight of people with albinism in East Africa and condemning their murder and mutilation
5)Honoring John E. Warnock, Charles M. Geschke, Forrest M. Bird, Esther Sans Takeuchi, and IBM Corporation for receiving the 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation
6)Congratulating Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for being awarded the Nobel Prize in physics
The Senate passed legislation to extend certain expiring tax provisions, four months after the House passed the bill in December.