Category Archives: President Obama

ACA saving seniors on prescription drugs

drugsSince enactment of the Affordable Care Act four years ago, Kansas seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare have saved nearly $94 million on prescription drugs, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Closing the “doughnut hole” in Medicare Part D has saved about 40,500 Kansans nearly $32.5 million, for an average savings of $800. Nationally, ACA has saved seniors $9.9 billion on prescription drugs, according to HHS.

Obama should fly his big plane to Wichita

obamaaf1During a recent White House event to announce advanced manufacturing hubs in Detroit and Chicago, President Obama punctuated a statement about his administration’s efforts to promote 3-D printing and other high-tech advances with this: “These are all ambitious goals, but this is America – that’s what we do, we’re ambitious. We don’t make small planes.” Really? That would be news to a general aviation hub such as Wichita. And it was an unfortunate choice of words for a president who recently signed the Small Airplane Revitalization Act sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita.

More bad polling results for Brownback

thumbsdownOnly 33 percent of Kansans approve of Gov. Sam Brownback’s job performance and 51 percent disapprove, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling. What’s more, only 46 percent of Republicans approve of the job Brownback is doing. In comparison, 34 percent of Kansans approve of President Obama’s job performance (though 60 percent disapprove). Brownback’s high disapproval rating is likely why he slightly trails House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, in a head-to-head matchup. Davis leads 42 percent to Brownback’s 40 percent, even though 59 percent of the people surveyed weren’t sure what they thought of Davis.

GOP should go to court to restrain Obama

obamasotu13Republicans must do more than issue strong statements about President Obama circumventing Congress and the rule of law, columnist Cal Thomas argued. “The GOP should use the courts to at least restrain him,” Thomas wrote. “The founders foresaw the danger when a president behaves like a king.”

Pompeo: Obama directive hurts intelligence capabilities

spyingliberty1Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and former White House attorney David B. Rivkin Jr. argued in a Wall Street Journal commentary that President Obama’s recent intelligence directive “undermines our intelligence capabilities in service of a novel cause: foreign privacy interests.” They especially criticized Obama for extending the “same privacy protections to foreigners that now apply to data regarding ‘U.S. persons’” and called on Congress to “hold him accountable for a directive that will hobble our foreign-intelligence capabilities, even as the world spies on us and threats to Americans multiply.”

Why does Schmidt care about Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan?

schmidtWhy did Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt file a brief this month opposing an agreement to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, which is a thousand miles from Kansas? Because agriculture interests are worried that the Environmental Protection Agency will next want to clean up the Mississippi River basin. “The issue is whether EPA can reach beyond the plain language of the Clean Water Act and micromanage how states meet federal water-quality standards,” Schmidt wrote in the brief on behalf of Kansas and 20 other states, mostly in the Midwest and South. A federal District Court ruled last fall that the EPA didn’t exceed its authority. The ruling also noted that the cleanup plan was developed with the participation of all states in the watershed over a period of years. Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, doesn’t appreciate the intervention by Schmidt and others. “Don’t tell us how to restore clean water in our backyard,” he said.

Boehner, GOP to blame for failure on immigration reform

illegalimmigrationHouse Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the reason the House won’t approve immigration reform is because Republicans don’t trust President Obama. No, it’s not. The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan immigration reform bill. The same bill could pass the House if Boehner would allow a vote. But he is being cowed by members of his party who oppose immigration reform. It’s also worth noting that the Obama administration has deported almost 2 million illegal immigrants in the past five years, nearly as many as the George W. Bush administration deported in eight years.

Pro-con: Is Obama overreaching on executive orders?

Inaugural Swearing InFact is, U.S. presidents do have vast powers under Article II of the Constitution, especially when it comes to waging war and protecting national security. But “vast” isn’t the same as “unlimited.” Too many presidents – Republican and Democrat – have stretched the interpretation of their powers to the limit, and sometimes beyond. In that sense, President Obama is no different from past presidents. But in crucial ways, he has used and abused his powers in ways his predecessors could only fantasize about. Unilaterally raising the federal minimum wage for government contractors may have Republicans in Congress pulling their hair out, but that’s among the least of this president’s usurpations of their lawmaking authority. Committing American airpower in 2011 to help overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi without so much as consulting Congress was a milestone in presidential overreach. Obama decided in 2012 that Congress wasn’t doing enough to reform U.S. immigration laws, so he signed an executive order barring the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service from deporting minors and relatives of U.S. service members living in the United States illegally. When the president decided to delay his health care law’s “employer mandate,” he engaged in nothing less than wholesale lawlessness. Congress has for too long delegated far too much of its power to the executive branch. It’s past time the legislative branch used its authority to hold this president to account. – Ben Boychuk, City Journal

Two words: “Unitary executive.” You might not remember those words – Republicans in Congress certainly don’t seem to. They were the name of a theory, advocated by Dick Cheney in particular, under which the George W. Bush administration unilaterally chose to ignore Congress and its legal obligations, pretty much whenever it chose. A law against warrantless wiretapping? Ignore it. Treaties against torture? Ignore them. Don’t like the new law Congress passed? Don’t veto it – sign it, but add a “signing statement” explaining why you won’t actually obey it. All of this happened with the near-total acquiescence of congressional Republicans throughout the Bush administration. Much as it did its love of fiscal austerity and the filibuster, the GOP rediscovered its fidelity to the rule of law with alacrity in 2009, when President Obama took office. It’s clear what’s going on here: Republicans don’t believe in a constrained, limited presidency. They believe in constraining and limiting Democrats. It’s not the same thing, and observers can be forgiven for rolling their eyes at the crocodile tears of self-styled defenders of the Constitution. If Republicans want to limit the presidency, let them prove it when one of their own is in the White House. – Joel Mathis, Philadelphia Magazine

Will House act on immigration reform?

Barack ObamaThere isn’t much cause to hope that the current Congress will work together for the common good. But one significant reform that it could accomplish, if House leadership allows it, is immigration reform. The Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last year, but GOP leaders haven’t allowed a vote in the House. “Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted,” Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday. “I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.” By not scolding House lawmakers or mentioning specific provisions that must be in the bill, Obama was extending an olive branch. But as Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote: “Will/can House Republican leaders – many of whom applauded Obama’s line on immigration – grasp it?”

Is another investigation of Benghazi needed?

clinton,benghaziThough the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan report last week on the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, columnist Cal Thomas wants more investigation. “What is needed is for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to appoint a select committee, modeled after the Senate Watergate Committee, with subpoena powers to question under oath witnesses and those in charge,” Thomas wrote.

Public doesn’t like surveillance, but it’s not a policy priority

eavesdrop4Though 63 percent of Americans don’t like government surveillance of U.S. citizens, only 42 percent consider it an extremely or very important priority for Congress and the president, lower than 15 other priorities, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Why didn’t Gates speak up sooner?

gatesrobertmugWichita native and former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has received some praise but also a lot of criticism for his new book, “Duty.” Many consider it bad form for a Cabinet secretary to publish a tell-all book while the president is still in office (particularly a defense secretary potentially undermining the commander in chief). Sarah Chayes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace questioned why Gates didn’t raise his concerns while he was the secretary. “In his memoir, Gates emerges as a petulant, inhibited man who ill-served his president and the national interest by keeping his anger and concerns bottled up instead of raising them in person, at the time when it might have done his country some good,” she wrote.

Obama tries to strike balance with new surveillance rules

nsaflag2President Obama likely went too far for some and not far enough for others Friday when he ordered the end to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. He also barred eavesdropping on leaders of allied countries. “In our rush to respond to very real and novel threats, the risks of government overreach – the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security – became more pronounced,” Obama said.

Roberts applauds rule change on school lunches

schoollunchSen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture for allowing flexibility on maximum caloric limits for meats and grains in school lunches. “This has been a battle for common sense in the cafeteria,” Roberts said in a statement. “These guidelines were leaving students hungry throughout the school day and athletic events.” USDA loosened daily and weekly portion limits in 2012. The new rules make that change permanent. “In the end we were able to convince USDA to listen to reason,” Roberts said.

Sebelius touts Jan. 1 as ‘new day in health care’

sebeliushandsupDespite all the trouble that the Affordable Care Act experienced this year, including the disastrous rollout of its online marketplace, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is upbeat about what the reform law will mean to Americans in 2014. In an Eagle commentary, the former Kansas governor called Jan. 1 “a new day in health care” because, among other changes, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions or impose an annual benefits cap. “Now, not only are there new rights and benefits, we are also seeing the slowest health care price inflation in 50 years,” she wrote. The Obama administration also is touting a December surge in enrollments, though the 2 million total signups between the federal and state exchanges is still far short of the goal of enrolling 7 million by March 31.

ACA hurting Obama’s approval rating

obamajune2011The rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act hurt President Obama’s approval rating, with a record 54 percent disapproving of his job performance in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed cited ACA as a chief factor in shaping their view of the president this year. “It’s probably fair to say that as goes health care, so goes the Obama presidency for the next year,” Democratic pollster Fred Yang said. The public thinks even less of Congress. “More than half of those polled rated the current Congress as one of the worst ever, by far the most negative verdict going back to 1990,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Selfie, handshake weren’t biggest news of the day

APTOPIX South Africa Mandela MemorialIt’s sad that a “selfie” picture of President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt dominated much of the discussion about former South African President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Tuesday. Yes, the officials should have known better – as Cameron noted, “the TV cameras are always on.” Still, who really cares? The other, slightly more substantive debate was about whether Obama was wrong to shake hands with Cuban President Raul Castro. Some argued that the handshake could give the dictator some propaganda. But others argued that it would have been bigger news if Obama had snubbed Castro at the memorial of a man who modeled outreach and reconciliation.

What Sebelius, Cyrus and the pope have in common

sebeliustestifyHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (in photo) made the short list for Time’s Person of the Year, which will be announced Wednesday. The former Kansas governor shares the top 10 with her boss, President Obama, and 2013 newsmakers Pope Francis, surveillance whistle-blower Edward Snowden, pop star Miley Cyrus, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and gay rights activist Edith Windsor. Time magazine counted Sebelius among the nation’s five best governors seven years ago and later touted her as a worthy running mate for Obama, but her current stature stems from her role in the political and implementation disaster that is the Affordable Care Act.

Mandela was an inspiration

mandelaGov. Sam Brownback was among the many U.S. and world leaders to react to the death Thursday of former South African President Nelson Mandela (in photo), 95. “Nelson Mandela was a great man who stood up for his principles and human rights,” Brownback said in a statement. “He was an inspiration to many, including myself.” Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer said that Mandela “embodied unsurpassed courage and commitment to equality.” President Obama ordered flags to half-staff until Monday. His presidential proclamation said that “the United States has lost a close friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice and human dignity.”

Aviation law the exception for unproductive Congress

congressPresident Obama’s signing last week of the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, which was championed by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, is even more noteworthy because so few bills have become law this year. Fewer than 60 public laws were enacted in the first 11 months of this year, the Washington Post reported. That makes the first session of the 113th Congress the least productive ever. By far. No wonder Congress’ approval rating – 9 percent according to a Gallup poll – is at a record low.

Closing ‘doughnut hole’ saving Kansas seniors millions

drugsMore than 31,000 Kansas seniors and people with disabilities have saved nearly $24 million on their prescription drugs so far this year, for an average of about $750 per beneficiary, according to data released this week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Overall, Kansas seniors have saved more than $85 million since the Affordable Care Act was enacted and closed the “doughnut hole” gap in Medicare Part D. Nationwide, the savings is $8.9 billion, according to CMS.

New aviation law is a model for collaboration

pompeo2Congratulations to U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita – and to the general aviation industry – on the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, which President Obama signed into law Wednesday. The new law updates and streamlines the certification process for general aviation manufacturers, which should encourage more innovation and improve safety. Pompeo worked closely on the bill with the Federal Aviation Administration, industry officials, labor union representatives and his Democratic colleagues in Congress. This hard work and collaboration are why the bill became law, and a model for how Washington should work.

Polls reflect Washington’s ineptitude

thumbsdownWoven together, new polls showing President Obama with a 39 percent approval and Congress with a 9 percent rating tell the story of Washington’s ongoing ineptitude, wrote columnist Joshua Green. “Americans are fast losing faith in the president, his party and his signature policy achievement,” Green wrote. “But while they’re open to the idea of handing power to the opposition, Republicans are busy demonstrating that they have no idea how to govern.”

Now, president needs to sign Pompeo’s bill

pompeo,mikeThe Air Capital can thank Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, for the victory of the Small Aircraft Revitalization Act, which won final congressional approval last week and moved to President Obama’s desk. Amid a toxic political atmosphere, Pompeo worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and industry representatives to not only improve the regulatory environment for general aviation but also prove that Congress and the White House can still come together on needed legislation. And as National Business Aviation Association president and CEO Ed Bolen put it: “Streamlining the certification process for general aviation manufacturers, while preserving important safety requirements, will lead to swifter adoption of new aircraft designs and vital safety equipment, benefiting everyone from pilots and their passengers to manufacturers.” Now, the president needs to sign the bill.

Moritz’s nomination going more smoothly than Six’s

moritzPresident Obama’s latest nomination of a Kansan to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is going smoothly so far – and thank goodness for that, given how abortion-related politics doomed his solid choice of former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six two years ago. Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nancy Moritz, chosen by Obama in August to fill a long-vacant seat on the Denver-based federal court, reportedly was well-received at last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and already has the stated support of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. The nomination of Moritz, a Beloit native and Washburn University law graduate, still must be approved by the committee and full Senate. Carl Tobias, a federal court watcher who is Williams Professor of Law at the University of Richmond (Va.), told the Topeka Capital-Journal: “I’m optimistic, cautiously, that she’ll be confirmed. Probably with very few ‘no’ votes.” For Kansas Republicans, the nomination has the plus of allowing Gov. Sam Brownback his first opportunity to name a member of the state Supreme Court.