Monday, December 2, 2013

Congress Should Abolish the TSA — It’s Time to Privatize Airport Screening  
Chris Edwards / Townhall Columnist


A government study that finds a program doesn’t work and proposes to cut it is almost as rare as pigs that fly. But a new Government Accountability Office study on aviation does just that: it proposes chopping the Transportation Security Administration’s SPOT security program because it finds no evidence that it could stop airline terrorists.

The GAO routinely finds waste in programs, but it usually just proposes ways to fix them — so the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program must be really lame. The GAO finds no “scientifically validated evidence” for the $200 million program, and it says that TSA deployed it before even doing a cost-benefit analysis.

That failure is one of many discussed in my new study on TSA, which proposes dismantling the agency.

TSA was created in a rush after 9/11, and today employs an army of 53,000 passenger and baggage screeners at airports. The agency has spent billions of dollars on programs that have few demonstrated benefits, including SPOT, the air marshal program, and the intrusive full-body scanning machines.

More importantly, TSA’s performance has been underwhelming. In the early years after 9/11, federal auditors found that the ability of TSA screeners to stop prohibited items from getting through security was no better than that of the previous private screeners.

In recent years, there have been head-to-head comparisons between federal and private screening because 16 U.S. airports are now allowed to use private contractors.

Studies have found that TSA’s screening results have been no better, and possibly worse, than that of the private screeners. And a House report in 2011 found that private screeners at San Francisco International Airport were far more efficient than the federal screeners at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The government has an important oversight role to play in aviation security, but the TSA’s near-monopoly on screening has resulted in it getting “bogged down in managing its bloated federal workforce,” as one congressional report concluded.

Another congressional report blasted TSA for having an “enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy,” and even former TSA chief Kip Hawley noted last year that the agency is “hopelessly bureaucratic.”

The solution is to get rid of most of the bureaucracy by moving responsibility for screening from TSA to the nation’s airports. The airports would then be free to contract out screening to expert aviation security companies. As aviation scholar Robert Poole notes, that would solve TSA’s conflict of interest from both performing airport screening and overseeing it.

Private airport screening is the successful approach used by many other high-income nations. Indeed, all main airports inCanada use private screening firms, as do more than 80 percent of Europe’s main airports. That practice creates a more efficient security structure and allows governments to focus on aviation intelligence and oversight.

Congress should abolish TSA. Activities that have not shown substantial benefits — such as SPOT — should be eliminated. Airport screening — which represents about two-thirds of TSA’s budget — should be moved to the control of airports and opened to competitive contracting. And the remaining parts of TSA should be moved to other federal agencies.

Over a decade of experience has shown that the nationalization of airport screening was a mistake.

Let’s learn from the successful reforms abroad, and bring in the private sector to boost quality, spur innovation, and reduce the costs of our aviation security system.

Last week, I explained that the U.S. Senate’s deployment of the “nuclear option” — lowering the threshold for approval of non-Supreme Court presidential nominees from 60 votes to 51 votes — does not make it easier for President Obama to use ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board. I need to add this caveat: during his tenure. The nuclear option does enhance the ability of the president and his party to control the health care sector well after he leaves office.

It’s true that the rules change will make it easier for the president to have his IPAB nominees approved by the Senate, particularly through January 2015, when the Democratic caucus holds 55 seats. But if the president and Senate fail to seat anyone on the IPAB, the board’s sweeping legislative powers fall to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. If President Obama wants to use IPAB’s powers during his term, therefore, he need only retain Kathleen Sebelius as his HHS secretary.

ObamaCare permits IPAB to exercise its powers, however, only if Medicare’s actuaries project the program’s outlays will grow faster than a specified rate. A number of readers note that Medicare’s actuaries reported earlier this year that their projections currently do not show Medicare spending exceeding that target rate, and that their projections likely will not do so during the remainder of President Obama’s term. Those projections and the resulting determination could change next year. If so, and if the president and Senate have not placed confirmed any IPAB members, Secretary Sebelius could use IPAB’s powers during President Obama’s term. Those powers include the ability to raise taxes, to ration care to Medicare enrollees, and to appropriate funds to her own department, without the consent of the people’s elected representatives. (Critics will object that IPAB has none of these powers. In this study, Diane Cohen and I explain why we think they are incorrect.) Sebelius’ “proposal” would take effect during 2016.

Regardless of whether Medicare’s actuaries pull that trigger, however, President Obama and Senate Democrats face a huge incentive to nominate and confirm as many IPAB members as they can, as quickly as they can: with the nuclear option, Democrats now have it within their power to ensure Democratic control of IPAB — and with it, essentially the entire health care sector — at least through the first term of President Obama’s successor and the next three Congresses, even if Republicans capture the presidency, retain the House, and take control of the Senate. Consider.
  • Despite requirements that the president consult with the leaders of both parties in Congress on his IPAB picks, there is no obligation for the president to select members from both parties. The president can stack IPAB entirely with members of his own party and ideological persuasion.
  • IPAB members serve terms that are nominally six years, but actually serve until they are replaced. So a board member who is confirmed in 2014 will serve at least through 2020, and possibly longer.
  • If President Obama and Senate Democrats seat even one IPAB member, they can maintain Democratic control of IPAB for as long as they retain control of the Senate. If a Republican wins the White House in 2016, the fact that there is one sitting IPAB member is enough to prevent a Republican HHS secretary (Paul Ryan, maybe?) from wielding IPAB’s powers. Only one member need be seated for the “board” itself to do business. A Democratic Senate could then keep that one-member IPAB 100-percent Democratic by blocking any Republican nominees to the board.
  • If President Obama and Senate Democrats seat only eight IPAB members, they will guarantee a Democratic majority on the board through at least 2020 (and beyond if they then control the Senate and/or the presidency).
  • If President Obama and Senate Democrats seat all 15 IPAB members, his successor will not be able to appoint any members during her first term. Even if Republicans take the White House and the Senate. Nor would a Republican successor be able to remove any Obama appointees. The president may remove IPAB members “for neglect of duty or malfeasance in office, but for no other cause.”
Here’s where things get scary.

ObamaCare mandates certain procedures that Congress must follow if it wants to overrule IPAB’s, ahem, “proposals.” The people’s elected representatives must clear certain hurdles — some as high as IPAB wishes to set them — if they want to retain their authority as the ones who write laws regarding health care. (The Congress that enacted ObamaCare had no lawful power to enact such requirements, but no matter. George F. Will writes that Diane Cohen and I “well described” IPAB as “the most anti-constitutional measure ever to pass Congress.”)

As Cohen and I report, during the first term of President Obama’s successor, Congress loses even those limited powers to restrain IPAB:
Worse, if Congress fails to repeal IPAB through the restrictive procedure laid out in the Act, then after 2020, Congress loses the ability even to offer substitutes for IPAB proposals…To constrain IPAB at all after 2020, Congress must repeal it between January and August in 2017.
Though this will be news even to most health policy wonks, I won’t explain here how ObamaCare produces this frightening result. I refer readers instead to the Cohen-Cannon study.

But the upshot is this. To the extent Democrats use the nuclear option to pack IPAB with Democratic appointees in 2014, and are able to retain the White House or the Senate in 2016 and beyond, they will be able to ensure one-party authoritarian control of the U.S. health care sector. That’s not just unfair or partisan or economically inefficient or unconstitutional. It’s also undemocratic.
Netanyahu on Iran's nuke threat: "I will not be silent"
From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer 
BNetanyahu.jpg

Standing firm when no one else is. "PM, under attack, insists he ‘won’t be silent’ on Iran," by Adiv Sterman for the Times of Israel, December 2:
Israel will not stand silent as its security is compromised and will take action to dispel any threat leveled against the state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. 
Speaking at the Great Synagogue in Rome, Netanyahu shot back at critics of his policies, and said that he was concerned more with Israel’s safety than with his public image.
“In contrast to others, when I see that interests vital to the security of Israel’s citizens are in danger, I will not be silent,” the prime minister said.
“I am committed to the future of my state and in contrast to periods in the past, we have a loud and clear voice among the nations and we will sound it in time in order to warn of the danger.”
These remarks were apparently directed at his predecessor Ehud Olmert, who earlier Sunday slammed Netanyahu’s public feuding with the US over the best way to thwart Iran’s nuclear weapons drive.
Netanyahu went on to directly address Iran’s nuclear program, and said that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the Islamic Republic would not only endanger Israel, but the entire Middle East.
“I would like to dispel any illusions. Iran aspires to attain an atomic bomb,” he said, adding that Tehran was also spreading violence across the region.
“Today there is a regime in Iran that supports terrorism, facilitates the massacre of civilians in Syria and unceasingly arms its proxies – Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad – with deadly missiles.”
Netanyahu concluded his remarks by stressing that the lifting of sanctions on Tehran would pave the way for the Islamist regime in Tehran to produce nuclear weapons.
“As we have warned, and I say this with regret, the sanctions have started to weaken and very quickly,” the prime minister said.
“If tangible steps are not taken soon, [the sanctions pressure] is liable to collapse and the efforts of years will vanish without anything in exchange.”...
George Will: Medicaid is Next Obamacare Crisis
By Greg Richter
 / Newsmax
 
As the White House touted improvements to the troubled HealthCare.gov website Sunday morning, conservative pundit George Will said the real test might be in six months when employers begin to weigh their options for 2015.

"Watch the employers, because if they start dumping people into … Medicaid – and the doctors then say, the burdens are too high and the reimbursement is too low; we're not seeing Medicaid patients – then all hell is going to break loose," Will said on "Fox News Sunday."

Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., voted for Obamacare, and admitted Sunday it hasn't worked out like he expected.

"Clearly, the rollout has been a disaster, and it's still a work in progress," Bayh told host Chris Wallace. Short-term, he said, the program has been "very problematic, and first impressions tend to be lasting."

If things don't turn around in the next year, he said, it will be "problematic" for Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections.

With the passing of the November 30 deadline to have the glitch-filled website functioning, James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center told Fox News it may be a month before anyone can tell if there has been success in fixing the site.

He said the appearance of a better-working site doesn't mean the system is functioning as it should.

"The real test of HealthCare.gov is whether you make the right payment to the right people to the right insurance plans, he said. "It's very easy to fix the front-end enrollment if you turn off controls on the back end. And it's very clear from multiple media reports that the system is still not accurate when it makes payments to the insurance plans."

The technicians are working around the problem instead of fixing it, he said. The government currently is making bulk payments to insurance companies who are self-reporting their sign-ups because the back end of the system isn't properly keeping an accounting.

Neera Tanden, of the Center for American Progress, agreed that the true test is a month away, but as a supporter of the Affordable Care Act noted, "I think the idea of gloom and doom over that is overstated."


Despite Website Fixes, Fears Grow that Obamacare Numbers Don't Add Up

By Newsmax Wires


Image: Despite Website Fixes, Fears Grow that Obamacare Numbers Don't Add UpThe Obama administration was hoping to have 7 million people enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.gov, but at the current rate that won't be possible, according to some experts who have crunched the numbers.

"We're looking at 1 million people signed up in the amount of time they’re expecting," reporter Rebecca Jarvis said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

And if that pool is dominated by older people, Jarvis noted, premiums in 2015 could skyrocket.

The administration had been counting on younger, healthier people signing up to keep costs down for older people who use health services more often. But early reports showed young people either not signing up – possibly opting for a less-expensive fine – or signing up for Medicaid, which is funded by taxpayers.

The White House released a statement Sunday morning that it had met its self-imposed November 30 deadline to make major repairs to the site, which barely worked for the first month after its October 1 launch. Reporters testing the site, however, still found it crashed.

Even with the repairs, the Obama administration is asking people not to flood the site. It is said to be capable of handling 50,000 people at a time now, or 800,000 per day.

ABC's numbers used only the current known capacity of the website and not the projected 800,000 per day. The administration originally set December 15 as the deadline to sign up for coverage that would take effect January 1. But because of the technical problems, that deadline was extended to December 23.

Open enrollment lasts until March 31.

After the disastrous initial rollout, federal officials reported that only about 23,000 people signed up for private insurance through HealthCare.gov. Even worse, just 150,000 signed up for private plans through both the federal and state-based exchanges.

But as the states addressed their own website glitches, their numbers seemed to go up. Kentucky, a Republican stronghold that decided to expand Medicaid and build a state-based exchange, has been an early success. Kentucky announced it would add an 80 percent increase in capacity by Dec. 2, and that more than 60,000 people had enrolled in coverage by Nov. 26.

"There is great variation by state," Stan Dorn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told USA Today. "In states that are enthusiastically implementing the law and trying to implement the state exchanges and trying to increase enrollment, there's going to be greater numbers."

Still, those numbers don't seem to be at the level needed to make Obamacare work.

In Colorado, enrollment figures are below the state’s own worst-case projections. The lowest-level mid-November enrollment projection was 11,108; the middle range 20,186 and highest hitting 30,944, the Denver Post reported.

In Maryland, meanwhile, the situation got so bad that the exchange board decided to let insurance companies deal with payments directly.
Its first full month of operation saw only 1,278 people signed up for the state-run option. During the first week in November, 465 people signed up.

The low numbers have some questioning whether Maryland will make its goal of signing up 800,000 uninsured residents during its first year, Fox News reported. The state also delayed its small business marketplace enrollment deadline until April.

“The complexity of the challenge has been clearly more than we anticipated,” Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland’s health secretary, said in a statement. “Our focus is on improving the performance of the system. We are really looking for significant improvement.”

Along with Kentucky, New York and California seem to be the best hope for Obamacare.

New York's enrollment numbers showed 76,177 had enrolled in a health plan, up from 48,162 on Nov. 12. And 257,414 people had completed their exchange applications, up from 197,011. New York officials expected 1.1 million to sign up by the end of three years.

California has said enrollment applications grew from 334,027 as of Nov. 16 to 385,556 as of Nov. 23.In Washington, more than 150,000 have started applications.

Insurers, meanwhile, also are very concerned about "back-end" issues, according to Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans. Specifically, they want to know if the non-consumer portion of the site that ensures insurers receive subsidy payments will be ready by Jan. 1. There have also been considerable problems with "834" forms, or the process by which the government gives insurers data about whom they're insuring, she told USA Today. That will have a huge effect on numbers.

"HealthCare.gov and the overall enrollment process continue to improve, but there are significant issues that still need to be addressed," Ignagni said. "Health plans will continue to support federal and state officials' efforts to fix the ongoing technical problems and improve the direct enrollment process so that consumers can get the coverage they need."

"The real challenges remain, and that's downstream," said Rick Howard, research director for the technology consultant Gartner. "The real error rate will be in the billing transactions and how accurate the billing information is and how accurate the premium calculation is."

Republicans plan to highlight Obamcare's failures in the 2014 midterm elections, and many Democrats in tough elections are distancing themselves from the program they once touted.

In addition to the website failures, the program has come under fire because President Barack Obama promised people they could keep insurance plans and doctors they like. That has proved to not always be the case.

And some people who currently have insurance are being forced into plans that cost significantly more.

The employer mandate, which affects people who get insurance through their jobs, was delayed until 2014. Republicans charged that this was to move the full impact on the public until after the 2014 vote.

The White House denied that, but on November 22 confirmed that the 2015 enrollment period would be delayed by a month to give insurance companies more time to calculate their premiums.

That would move enrollment to November 1, just three days before the midterm elections.

See the ABC report here:

The Extra-Constitutional President

by   / Personal Liberty Digest

The Extra-Constitutional President
In delaying portions of Obamacare, President Barack Obama — the undocumented usurper currently occupying the people’s house — has taken on powers not granted him under the Constitution.

This is very simple to understand, yet most people seem to be turning a blind eye to the fact.

Congress and Congress alone is empowered under the Constitution with writing the laws. The President is charged through his oath to carry them out. Article II, Section 1 reads:
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and will to the best of my Ability; preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Since Obamacare was signed into law, Obama has changed it no fewer than five times. In instances where Congress has proposed making the same the change to Obamacare in order to give it the imprimatur of law, Obama has threatened to veto the very the thing he wants done.

And it’s not just Obamacare that Obama violates. He has also ignored or selectively enforced the Defense of Marriage Act and Federal immigration laws while watching — if not actually sanctioning — his misnamed Department of Justice as it ran roughshod over laws related to firearms trafficking, voting and civil rights.

Additionally, Obama has plundered the Federal Treasury to give multibillion-dollar payouts to his cronies under the guise of stimulus and “green” initiatives. These monies were turned around and plowed back into his campaign fund while the corporations receiving the funds went bankrupt.

Article II, Section 4 says, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Congress is abdicating its authority by ignoring the serial lawbreaking of the chief executive and not bringing him up on charges. It is complicit in turning the U.S. republic into an authoritarian banana republic under the high-sounding name of democracy.
Op-ed: 
For an American traitor treason charges should beckon* 
By: Diane Sori
Let’s start with the bottom line…BARACK HUSSEIN Obama must be arrested for treason and crimes against America…throw in charges of murder x 4 for Benghazi and then for Extortion 17...and finish off with ‘aiding and abetting the enemy'…for then and only then will America be set right again.

As per the United States Constitution, Article 3, Section 3…
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
And while there is so much relating to TREASON that Barack HUSSEIN Obama can be charged with, certain recent key events stick out in my mind above the others.

And these started with Obama’s leading from behind, resulting in his capitulation to Syria concerning its stockpile of chemical weapons…the ones Saddam Hussein moved out of Iraq to…along with his supplying the al-Qaeda backed rebels…the same al-Qaeda of Benghazi, Libya, and 9/11 infamy...with guns, weapons, and our taxpayer dollars. This led to Obama’s also capitulating to Iran with that farce of a 6-month deal where Iran gets to keep the enriched uranium they already have and do NOT have to dismantle anything…NO centrifuges…NO uranium enriching plants…NO anything.

But truth be told Obama has already helped Iran in their quest to get a nuclear bomb…helped them in their quest to wipe Israel off the map…and he did it with his kept under-the-radar release (aided in that endeavor by his control of the media) of Iranian scientist, Mojtaba Atarodi. Atarodi, arrested in 2011 for attempting to secure ‘dual-use technologies’…equipment that could be used in Iran’s nuclear program...was set free last April with Obama’s approval.

Done through Obama-sanctioned backdoor talks in Oman involving secret prisoner exchanges…as in 'shhhh don’t let the American public know I'm letting terrorists go’…done as a placating gesture to get Iran to the recent P5+1 talks, Obama has in effect negotiated and plotted with the enemy against the United States to arm the enemy with the most serious and deadly of weapons…a nuclear bomb... and if that smells a lot like TREASON of the first degree it’s because it is TREASON of the first degree...adhering to all aspects of the Constitutional definition of treason.

 But this is just the latest in a long list of fairly recent treasonable offenses that could and should be brought against Barack HUSSEIN Obama, probably the most egregious of which is Benghazi. Benghazi, complete with its many lies about a ridiculous YouTube video and cover-ups galore…all excuses concocted to protect Obama from criminal prosecution for his under-the-table gunrunning to the al-Qaeda backed Syrian rebels, and most assuredly to protect him from conviction. Denying pleas for help from Ambassador Steven’s and the others throughout the seven hour long siege by heavily armed jihadists, this miserable excuse of a president…this most vile of men…sat back and watched four Americans die...watched four Americans being butchered in real time, and then cold-heartedly flew off the next morning for a fundraiser in Las Vagas.

TREASON personified…accessory to MURDER for sure.

Now add in how Barack HUSSEIN Obama has changed the rules of war…changed the rules of engagement to give advantage if NOT outright victory to America’s enemies. In having our troops fight a ‘politically war’ instead of fighting as they were trained to fight…as in fighting to win…our troops have been instructed to fight to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of the enemy instead of bringing the enemy to its knees in surrender. Obama is now giving our enemies an open door invitation to slaughter our troops…one by one if need be…as he has our troops fighting with guns by their sides and sometimes minus their bullets…for to him its better our troops die than heaven forbid any more of his muslim brethren die.

TREASON on the grounds of maliciously and calculatingly ‘aiding and abetting the enemy’ by tying the hands of our troops leaving them open to certain death.

And let’s NOT forget the August 6, 2011, Taliban shoot down of an Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan…Extortion 17…where 17 Navy SEAL Team 6 members died…where the five men Chinook crew died…where three Air Force special tactics airmen died…where five men of a Navy support force died…and where a specially trained service dog died. And where eight Afghanis died…seven of which were swapped right before the helicopter took off for the original men listed on the flight manifest…a flight that tried to land WITHOUT the mandatory cover fire such a helicopter is given when landing. Who ordered that gun fire to be held…on whose authority was that order carried out…it becomes obvious when you remember that SEAL Team 6 was the team that took out Osama bin-Laden…it becomes obvious that silence at all costs had to be assured.

TREASON most likely…mastermind of murder quite possibly.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Barack HUSSEIN Obama…the ties run deep…ties to a terrorist group that Obama refuses to declare a terrorist group…a terrorist group wrecking havoc throughout the Middle East...ties that go back to 2009 when he invited Ingrid Mattson, then president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)…the association of muslim Brothers and Sisters in the United-States…to say a prayer at the National Cathedral during his first inauguration. Ties that allowed Obama to give the Muslim Brotherhood $250 million of our taxpayer dollars claiming it was for humanitarian purposes; ties to give the puppet government of Mohamed Morsi…who by the way was implicated in the attacks on Benghazi…20+ F-16 fighter jets and Abrams tanks; and ties that had him send US troops to Egypt to breakup protests against the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this year.

TREASON…for NOT only is this ‘aiding and abetting the enemy’ but in aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama is aiding terrorism as he is deliberately affording them weapons that can be used against our troops and the troops of our ally Israel…and is aiding them in their slaughter of Egypt’s Coptic Christians whose only crime is that they’re Christians.

The Muslim Brotherhood…known terrorists…but that did NOT stop Obama from appointing seven Brotherhood members to seats in our federal government, including Muslim Brother Mohamed Elibiary to the Homeland Security Advisory Council and Muslim Brother Arif Alikhan as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. And let’s NOT forget how Obama rammed through Congress the confirmation of ‘supposed’ muslim convert John Brennan as the Central Intelligence Agency Director.

Now Obama has both Homeland Security and the CIA stacked with the enemy and that spells T.R.A.I.T.O.R to me.

Our president is supposed to have arrested and tried those who commit such acts of TREASON against America because our president is supposed to ‘protect and defend America against enemies both foreign and domestic.’ But I guess that does NOT mean protecting America against oneself...an enemy that encompasses both all rolled up into one neat little package called Barack HUSSEIN Obama…a most traitorous of presidents that Congress needs to have brought up on charges of TREASON...if only one member would put aside their fear of the race card and do what needs to be done that is.
 
*These accusations are based on my beliefs and research and mine alone.