Heritage Call Notes October 19, 2016
The House and Senate are both out of session until November 14th.
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Lame Duck: Instead of passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the federal government into next year, Congress passed a short-term CR that funds the government until December 9th. This creates an unaccountable lame-duck session of Congress after the November elections are over.Historically, lame-duck sessions produce liberal policy outcomes as well as trillion dollar omnibus spending packages right before Christmas. Heritage Action is concerned with the following five issues that could make their way into the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress:
- A Bad Budget Deal: Congress should work to pass a budget that reins in out-of-control federal spending by sticking to the lower spending levels established under the Budget Control Act (BCA). With a national debt nearing $20 trillion, Congress must pass a fiscally responsible budget.
- Obamacare Insurance Bailouts: Health insurance companies operating on the Obamacare exchanges continue to face huge economic losses and areabandoning the exchanges at an alarming rate. Companies who chose to remain must raise their prices to stay afloat. Some 82,000 Nebraskans will pay more than expectedafter Blue Cross Blue Shield pulled out of the Obamacare exchange. Even former President Bill Clinton knows Obamacare is failing. In a recent rally in Michigan he said, “You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care, and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half and it’s the craziest thing in the world.” The Obama Administration knew this could be a possibility in 2010 and had three health insurer bailouts written into the law, including risk corridors, reinsurance, and cost-sharing subsidies, to keep Obamacare intact.
The risk corridor provision redistributes profit made by successful insurance companies to those who suffer heavy losses, but because Obamacare is failing, losses far outweigh profits. As a result, health insurance companies want a taxpayer bailout and the Obama administration is attempting to go around Congress’ provision preventing this by using Judgment Funds from the U.S. Treasury to bail them out. The reinsurance provision requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect $25 billion in taxes on employer-provided health-insurance plans and 1.) Reimburse taxpayers $5 billion and then 2.) Bail out health insurance companies. Instead of following the law, the Obama Administration is attempting to bail out health insures before reimbursing taxpayers. Federal district court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled against the White House earlier this May and now the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently concluded HHS does not have the legal authority to bail out health insurance companies.
Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT) is circulating a letter calling for a lawsuit against the White House, but this approach falls short of stopping Obamacare bailouts. In the short term, Congress should shut down all possible avenues that would bail out insurance companies to save the President’s failing law, and resist any attempts to extend these bailout provisions past the end of this year during the lame-duck. This includes passing the Taxpayers Before Insurers Act (S. 2803 and H.R. 5904) sponsored by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Representative Mark Walker (R-NC). If passed, this bill wouldpenalize HHS for illegally prioritizing big insurance companies ahead of taxpayers through Obamacare’s reinsurance program by cutting 50 percent of HHS’s general department management fund unless the Secretary of HHS pays the full amount taxpayers are owed.
Click here to read the new Sentinel brief on this issue. Click here to read Heritage Action’s legislative endorsement of the Taxpayers Before Insurers Act. Click here to read the Heritage Foundation’s statement against the illegal Obamacare payments.
- Internet Sales Tax: Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) released a discussion draft of a repackaged Internet Sales Tax bill. Named the Online Sales Tax Simplification Act of 2016, this bill would increase taxes by empowering states to tax the online sales of retailers. A Congress controlled by Republicans in both chambers has no business raising taxes, especially during a lame-duck session.
- Draft our Daughters: The House and Senate have yet to resolve the differences in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate’s version includes a provision forcing young women ages 18-26 to sign up for the Selective Service, making them eligible for a future military draft. The House version excludes this provision. Congress should not allow a draft our daughter’s provision to make it through legislation passed during the lame-duck.
- Supreme Court Nomination: After nearly 8 years of President Obama filling his liberal nominees to various federal court vacancies, 9 of the 13 Federal Appeals Courts are now controlled by liberal judges while the Supreme Court is only one bad judge removed from allowing executive amnesty, transgender school bathrooms, unfettered abortion, the restriction of free speech and gun control. Senate Republicans must remained opposed to all Obama nominees during the lame-duck. A lame-duck President should not appoint a Supreme Court Judge and a lame-duck Congress should not confirm one. Watch the Heritage Foundation’s latest video highlighting the importance of just one Supreme Court Judge by clicking here.
Thank you for taking action on these important issues AND for taking time to let me know how I can make it easier for you to attend the upcoming Sentinel Summit in San Antonio next month! Register here: https://sentinelsummit20
Melody Himel Clarke
Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Follow us on Twitter: @Heritage_Action and me, @TheRightMelody. Our hashtag is #Haction.