Are You Ready For Senator Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS)?

Kathleen Sebelius has tendered her resignation as Health and Human Services secretary, ending what can only be described as a rocky and embarrassing tenure in the Obama cabinet. Many of us, of course, just assumed she would retire from public life after resigning. But the New York Times is floating the idea that she might actually seek public office this fall. Democrats apparently want her to run for a U.S. Senate seat in her home state of Kansas, where she served as governor from 2003 until 2009. Her would-be opponent, incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), is beatable, they claim, and his overly critical (although perhaps justified) attacks on her managerial competence last October makes Democrats all the more hungry to unseat him:

In her darkest hour last fall, Kathleen Sebelius suffered one of the deepest cuts from an old family friend who accused her of “gross incompetence” over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and demanded that she resign as secretary of health and human services. Now she is weighing revenge.

Ms. Sebelius is considering entreaties from Democrats who want her to run against that old friend, Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas.

Several Democrats said this week that Ms. Sebelius had been mentioned with growing frequency as someone who could wage a serious challenge to Mr. Roberts, 77, who is running for a fourth term and is considered vulnerable. One person who spoke directly to Ms. Sebelius said that she was thinking about it, but added that it was too soon to say how seriously she was taking the idea.

Meh. I doubt she jumps in. She’s suffered one too many humiliations since October 1 to be a viable contender in 2014. She’d also have to declare her candidacy by June 2, which doesn’t give her a whole lot of time to make up her mind. And there are other reasons, too. The Times points out the president performed rather poorly in Kansas when he ran for re-election in 2012, garnering less than 40 percent of the vote; plus, a Democrat hasn’t represented Kansas in the upper chamber since 1939.

I’m fairly certain Democrats could find a less toxic candidate to challenge Roberts, albeit with less state name ID, than Sebelius.

Nominating her would be a mistake.

Awkward: Senate Democrat Stumbles Over Obamacare Talking Points


As someone who makes part of his living on television, I can attest that delivering a strong, polished message under the bright lights isn't as easy as it looks. That's why my heart generates automatic pangs of empathy when people lose a train of thought at an inopportune moment (with this fairly recent example being perhaps the most painful to watch). In spite of his blowhard leftism, I can't enjoy what should be some delicious schadenfreude over Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's (D-RI) unfortunate struggles on Fox News Sunday -- although I'm not overly disappointed that the Free Beacon flagged and posted the clip. Things get really bad about 30 seconds in:



Rather than belabor Whitehouse's stammering (he's been a busy boy, hasn't he?), I'll simply point out that his "evidence" in support of Obamacare is (a) an anecdote about a single mother who's benefited from the law (weren't Democrats just complaining about governing by anecdote on Obamacare, even though they do so all the time?) and (b) laudatory comments about "filling the donut hole" on Medicare's prescription drugs benefit. While that second point, once he finally spat it out, may sound attractive to seniors, its reality is far less attractive to taxpayers and people with a stake in Medicare's solvency. Avik Roy broke it down in 2012:


In order to guard against these problems of overspending and overutilization, Congress incorporated a critical feature into Part D. The drug plan would require seniors to pay a share of their drug spending below a certain level, so as to ensure that they had “skin in the game” and would be discouraged from wasteful spending. Seniors were required to pay for 25 percent of drug spending below a certain level ($2,830 in 2010) and 100 percent of drug spending in a middle level (between $2,830 and $6,440). After spending through the middle level, seniors would only pay 5 percent of any additional costs. It’s that middle level, where seniors pay 100 percent of the costs, that came to be derisively known as the “donut hole.” The thresholds were designed by actuaries who mined actual drug usage statistics to identify the optimal price points...This cost-sharing system has worked astonishingly well. Medicare Part D has spent 30 percent less money than the Congressional Budget Office originally projected it would. Last year, it became the first federal health program in memory in which spending actually decreased from year-to-year. Obamacare closes the donut hole.


Obamacare takes one of the most efficient elements of "Medicare as we know it," and breaks it, apparently in the quixotic hope of making seniors less suspicious of the new law. Incidentally, while some liberals are rejoicing over a new CBO report indicating that Obamacare's subsidies will cost the government less than previously projected, the real actuarial picture is effectively unchanged. Here's former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin:



Among the parade of negatives embedded in CBO's blockbuster February report, Democrats aren't likely to talk about the nation's deficit trajectory, as confirmed by this week's update:


The nation is doomed to return to trillion-dollar shortfalls by 2024 if lawmakers don't alter existing tax and spending policies, congressional auditors warned on Monday. The culprits? Rising health care costs, an aging population, growing interest payments on federal debt, and an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This rising debt would have serious consequences, CBO warns. Federal spending on interest payments would increase considerably, and lawmakers would have less flexibility to use tax and spending policies to respond to unexpected challenges.


Policy-makers in Washington must exercise prudence by resisting the politics of now, in order to secure the future. This would require making slightly difficult choices at present to head off the painful austerity that's headed our way. One party has proactive solutions in mind; the other does not. I'll leave you with the latest Obamacare poll results, courtesy of The Economist and YouGov (headlined 'Obamacare: Still Divisive , Still Disliked):



The poll found that 29 percent of respondents support expanding the law, with 44 percent favoring repeal. Just 14 percent support the law as-is.

BREAKING: New Emails Show Lois Lerner Was in Contact With DOJ About Prosecuting Tax Exempt Groups

According to new IRS emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from Judicial Watch, former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner was in contact with the Department of Justice in May 2013 about whether tax exempt groups could be criminally prosecuted for "lying" about political activity.

"I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ ... He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who "lied" on their 1024s --saying they weren't planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS," Lerner wrote in a May 8, 2013 email to former Nikole C. Flax, who was former-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller's chief of staff.

"I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?" Flax responded on May 9, 2013.


After this email exchange, Lerner handed things off to Senior Technical Adviser and Attorney Nancy Marks, who was in charge of setting up a meeting with DOJ.

Just a few short days later on May 10, 2013, Lerner admitted and apologized for the inappropriate targeting of conservative tea party groups during an American Bar Association Conference after answering a planted question. Further according to Judicial Watch, "In an email to an aide responding to a request for information from a Washington Post reporter, Lerner admits that she “can’t confirm that there was anyone on the other side of the political spectrum” who had been targeted by the IRS. She then adds that “The one with the names used were only know [sic] because they have been very loud in the press.”

In other words, only conservative groups were being looked at for criminal prosecution.

Last week news broke that Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings' staff was in contact with Lerner about the conservative group True the Vote, despite denying any contact occurred. In this specific instance of Lerner discussing possible criminal prosecution of tax-exempt groups through DOJ, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse seems to have been the person to get the ball rolling.

On April 9, 2013 during a Senate Judiciary Hearing, just one month before the targeting scandal broke, Whitehouse asked witnesses from DOJ and the IRS why groups that had possibly "made false statements" about their political activities had not been prosecuted. On March 27, 2013, just days before the hearing took place, Lerner described the purpose for the hearing to IRS staff in an email.

"As I mentioned yesterday -- there are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down. One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn't feel so comfortable doing the stuff," she wrote. "So, don't be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity."

Lerner later acknowledged pursuing prosecutions of these groups would not fit well with the law.

“These new emails show that the day before she broke the news of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner was talking to a top Obama Justice Department official about whether the DOJ could prosecute the very same organizations that the IRS had already improperly targeted,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The IRS emails show Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is now implicated and conflicted in the IRS scandal. No wonder we had to sue in federal court to get these documents.”

This post has been updated.

Editors note/correction: A previous version of this post stated and implied Lois Lerner contacted the DOJ about criminal prosecution when the emails state she in fact got a phone call from DOJ about the issue. While she was clearly in contact with DOJ about criminal prosecution for tax exempt groups, DOJ initiated the contact in this specific instance. Emails also show Lerner and Flax responded to both recommendations by Senator Whitehouse and DOJ to look into criminal prosecution. The headline to this post has also been updated.

Michael Bloomberg Pours $50 Million Into New Gun 'Safety' Organization to Counter NRA

Here we go again. Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced today he will be dumping $50 million into a new gun "safety" organization and campaign.

The new organization, Everytown, will house gun control groups Moms Demand Action, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and others. The organization is being touted as a direct counter to the National Rifle Association. From the New York Times:

Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.

“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he said of the N.R.A. “ ‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ”

He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”

Bloomberg has already spent millions of dollars trying to do this exact thing in different ways and has failed. He plans to target states like Colorado with this new campaign, despite losing historic recall elections to Second Amendment advocates last fall after lawmakers voted for gun control legislation. Over the past decade, Americans' appetite for more gun control has been waning.

Founder of Moms Demand Action Shannon Watts told the times she wants to get women to the polls on the issue of gun control, a tough task considering women's firearms ownership is up 77 percent since 2005.

A survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that 73 percent of gun dealers reported an increase in female customers in 2011, as well as the previous two years. In 2005, just 13 percent of gun owners were women. Today, that number is 23 percent--a 77 percent increase in 7 years.

And then there is this gem from Bloomberg:

“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

After Censoring Gosnell Movie, Kickstarter Rejects Another Pro-Life Project

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website designed to allow people with all kinds of backgrounds to raise money for a project. Recently, Kickstarter censored the Gosnell Movie, a project by veteran filmmakers Phelim and Ann McElhinney. The movie is based on the true life story and grand jury report of America's most prolific serial killer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Kickstarter argued the description of the film submitted to the website, specifically the wording “pledge because of 1000s of babies stabbed to death," needed to be altered in order to comply with community standards. McElhinney and McAleer refused and moved their project to Indiegogo to raise funds instead. So far they've raised $800,000 of their $2.1 million goal.

But it seems the Gosnell Movie isn't the only pro-life project either rejected or censored by Kickstarter. Just a few short days after McElhiney and McAleer moved their film to Indiegogo, another pro-life project was rejected by the company. The project, created by activist Jason Vaughn, is called Stolen Moments.

It’s a simple idea. Everyone has a story to tell. Our stories are made of a special moments throughout our lives. Stories come from both the good and bad moments. Yet, due to abortion we’ve lost millions of potential moments in our lives. Moments that would be part of our story. Moments that were stolen from all of us.

We want to share through a series of short videos some of those moments we’re all missing because of abortion. It’s an idea I’ve fallen in love with and I think once you see what God has laid on our heart to create you will as well.

It’s thrilling to be at the point where we have a great crew assembled and to be ready to raise the funds. We were all set to launch and then got this upsetting news.

I love Kickstarter. If you look at my profile then you’ll see I’ve backed over two dozen campaigns in the last couple of years. They pioneered crowdfunding.

There are two great campaigns I’m promoting right now for some great friends. (Polycarp and Red, White, Blue, & Green)

*Update: Red, White, Blue, & Green has ended their Kickstarter to stand in solidarity with StolenMomentsCampaign.com

What worries me though is not only can I not understand their reasoning for rejecting Stolen Moments, but they also happened to reject another film that has some talk about abortion in it. I’m hesitant to call it a pro-life film because I don’t think the creators would consider it as such.

The team that did FrackNation is looking to make a documentary on the abortionist and serial killer, Kermit Gosnell. For those that haven’t heard about Kermit Gosnell it isn’t really a surprise. He slaughtered thousands of born babies after they were born. This is a story that needs to be told and deserves your support.

Apparently you’re allowed to discuss incest and porn, but Kickstarter isn’t a fan of people telling the true story about babies being ripped apart after birth.


Although Kickstarter rejected Gosnell Movie and Stolen Moments, it approved a film glorifying former late-term abortionist George Tiller and other abortionists like him currently performing the procedure. A reward for donating to the film includes, "mailing you a bouquet…of colorful condoms, arranged like the most beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen!" Here is a short description:

Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, was a faithful church-goer and a father of four. He was also one of the only doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions for women, and in 2009, he became the eighth American abortion clinic worker to be assassinated since Roe v. Wade. With his death, there are now only four doctors in the country who provide late-term abortions for women. AFTER TILLER goes inside the lives of these physicians, who have become the new number-one targets of the pro-life movement, yet continue to risk their lives every day to do work which many call murder—but which these doctors believe literally saves lives.

Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler denies censoring Gosnell Movie and said the company was simply asking for compliance with community guidelines. Apparently condom bouquets and late-term abortion doctors meet Kickstarter community standards but films exposing the horrors of Kermit Gosnell and the abortion industry are just too much to handle.

"Every private business has the right to discriminate for any reason they want," Vaughn said in an interview. "But they should be open about such discrimination and not try to hide it through false guidelines."

Guess What Your Income Tax Would Have Been in 1862

Five percent— in 1862 any American making more than 10,000 dollars a year handed only five percent of their income over to the government. Well, times have changed…a lot. The Tax Foundation gathered a list of statutory tax rates spanning from more than 150 years ago to today.

In 1862 only two brackets existed:

Today, there are seven tax brackets, with the top income earners handing almost 40 percent of their annual earnings over to the government:

These rates have fluctuated greatly over the years. The first income tax dates back to 1861, when Congress passed the Revenue Act to help pay for the expenses of the Civil War. The tax was repealed a decade later, according to the Library of Congress:

However, in 1894 Congress enacted a flat rate Federal income tax, which was ruled unconstitutional the following year by the U.S. Supreme Court because it was a direct tax not apportioned according to the population of each state. The 16th amendment, ratified in 1913, removed this objection by allowing the Federal government to tax the income of individuals without regard to the population of each State.

The Federal government has been reaching into the pockets of Americans all across the nation, ever since. In the the 1950s the statutory top marginal tax rate rose to more than 90 percent! Thankfully this is not currently the case, however the government is still claiming a huge chunk of our paychecks, and an increasing amount of it is going towards entitlement programs.

The Heritage Foundation used the following graphic to reveal that almost 50 percent of tax dollars go towards entitlement programs:

Barack Obama Marks Passover With A Picture Of Himself

Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrating the Exodus of the ancient Israelites from their slavery in Egypt, began at sundown on Monday. And, like clockwork, Barack Obama’s wished everyone a ‘Happy Passover’ with, you guessed it, a picture of Barack Obama.

Here’s a list of just a few other times President Obama has celebrated or commemorated situations with photos of himself:

-The Grand Canyon’s Birthday

-Anniversary of the day Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus.

- JFK Assassination anniversary

- Nelson Mandela’s death

-The birthday of Obama’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough

- 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

-Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

-Honoring Neil Armstrong

You get the idea….

Narcissist in chief.

Heartache: Wendy Davis Getting Crushed in Texas


Surprise: Texas voters aren't particularly excited about electing a tax-and-spend liberal whose claim to fame is filibustering a widely-supported bill to ban sixth-month abortions. With a grain of salt due to its provenance, feast your eyes on the latest polling out of the Lonestar State (which Katie covered earlier here):



Republican Greg Abbott -- currently the state's Attorney General -- leads by 14 points, with Davis struggling in the mid-to-high 30's. Recall that Davis got swamped in heavily Hispanic areas along the southern border in the Democratic primary. She leads Hispanics by just ten points in this poll. Abbott leads among men by 21 points (perhaps some Texas men sympathize with Wendy's ex), and eight among women. Davis has also experienced a stark reversal on personal favorability:



Abbott is sitting at (+13), with Davis limping along at (-14). Women view her roughly just as unfavorably as men. Maybe she'll turn things around after her secretive meeting with President Obama, with whom she declined to appear in public. As a tip of the hat to Texas tweeter Will Franklin, be sure to read his recent analysis of Texas' exceptional public education stats, which continue to compare very favorably with similarly-situated California on both costs and student outcomes. As for Democrat-aligned PPP's polling in Texas, their track record is...interesting. Dan McLaughlin delivers this fun juxtaposition:



The only worrying element of this survey is that the under-45 crowd skews toward Davis. Meanwhile, is Al Franken in trouble in Minnesota? A new poll shows President Obama deep underwater in the state, with Obamacare doing significant damage to the Democratic brand. Incumbents Mark Dayton (Governor) and Franken (Senate) fare better than Obama does, but neither one looks invincible. Franken, a former SNL writer and performer, has gone out of his way to cultivate a sober and serious image since he first sought elective office in 2008. He's generally eschews national interviews, and appeared to deliberately excise silliness from his daily diet ever since an infamous run-in with Mitch McConnell. But deep down, it looks as if he's still Stuart Smalley:



"Goshdarnit, fewer voters like me."

The Astounding Tax Rates On America's Poor

One of the difficulties of devising social safety net programs is dealing with what are called "welfare cliffs" - as low-income people move up the income ladder, they see government benefits phase out. Many of these welfare benefits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, are administered through the tax code. That results in sky-high effective marginal tax rates. There are a few different ways to try to mitigate this, but it's certainly not clear that the federal government is doing it correctly.

The Congressional Budget Office analyzed marginal tax rates that affect different income levels under 2012 tax law and found that people just above and below the poverty line in America can face the highest marginal tax rates:

What this means is that there are massive work disincentives for Americans who are just working themselves out of poverty. As the Heritage Foundation's Salim Furth wrote:

...futility of work for a single parent with one child[:] If he does not work at all, he receives $19,300 in government benefits. If he instead earns a salary of $30,000—which is full-time work at $15 per hour—he has disposable income of $28,000. This means that he is working full-time for only $8,700 per year more than if he did not work at all, making his effective take home wage $4.35 per hour ($8,700/2,000 hours per year). Is it rational to expect someone to work hard for such a low wage?

And Furth had an accompanying chart similar to the CBO's:

This is largely a function of the welfare state, but it's illustrated nicely by the fact that so much of our welfare state spending is now done through the tax code. The Tax Policy Center had a good report, "The War on Poverty Moves to the Tax Code," [pdf] explaining this - you can see the rise of tax code welfare policy like the Earned Income Tax Credit:

.

There are two ways to flatten the disincentive cliff - by increasing subsidies further up the income ladder or increasing them lower down the income ladder. It's difficult to increase the subsidies lower, as some of this welfare assistance is based on working. Increasing them higher often gets absurd, which is why we see Obamacare subsidies available to families making more than $80,000 per year. There's also, of course, the option of making the benefits as a whole less generous, or of disentangling them from work. This is why Milton Friedman was drawn to the idea of replacing the welfare state with a "negative income tax" - the disincentives would still be there, but would be less gradual as a low-income worker moved up the income ladder.

What is clear, however, is that welfare cliffs are real, and are a real problem - and on tax day, it's important to highlight the problem of welfare cliffs, and that policymakers need to be thinking of them as they design new policies.

Network News Stations Leave out Major IRS Scandal Updates Last Week

Last week, new developments were made in the case of the IRS-Tea Party scandal, but according to all of the network news channels, these were not important enough to be covered. IRS official Lois Lerner received a criminal referral from the House Ways and Means Committee and new emails surfaced, proving she fed tax information on a targeted group to Rep. Elijah Cummings. But both ABC and NBC news did not feel this was news worthy and gave ZERO coverage to these developments.

CBS This Morning kept it brief with a 90 second report on Thursday. This was the only showing on any network news channel about the scandal. What’s even more absurd is that these news networks had plenty of opportunity to cover the updates, but apparently felt the American people didn’t need to know.

In fact, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appeared on ABC’s World News on Friday, but the host spent time asking about long wait times on the agency’s phone line instead of asking questions about the scandal. It’s Tax Day today and yet still no one found the time to ask the pressing questions.

You ask about the Sunday shows, well no, none of them could address the latest news on the IRS targeting scandal. Isn’t the whole point of those shows to wrap up and analyze the news of the last week? Isn’t this kind of important?

As not all Americans are lucky enough to have cable, many rely on getting their news from these network channels. How is it that the American people don’t need to know about the unfair bias at the IRS? The network news channels should be focusing on reporting the news straight to the viewers, and it is frankly irresponsible for them not to.

Greg Abbott Beating Wendy Davis in Texas Among Women

Texas Attorney General and Gubernatorial Candidate Greg Abbott is beating State Senator and feminist hero Wendy Davis in the Lone Star State...among women. According to new data from the left leaning Public Policy Polling, Abbott is not only leading Davis with overall voters, but by a whopping eight percent among female voters.

Further, Davis' has an overall 47 percent unfavorable rating while Abbott enjoys a favorable rating of 40 percent. Among women, Davis' approval favorable rating is just 32 percent.

Going into this race, Davis was defined by her pro-late term abortion stance. At the time of her now infamous filibuster and before she announced her bid for governor, Davis was at odds with Texas women, and women in general, over the issue. The overwhelming majority of women support a late-term abortion bans and strict regulations on abortion clinics. I'm sure lying about how she made her way as a "single mother" didn't help win her any votes, either.

Biden to #BostonStrong Survivors: “You’re Living Proof that America Can Never, Never be Defeated”

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. On April 15, 2013, hundreds of people were injured, and three were killed, when two home-made bombs exploded near the finish line. Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Boston today to participate in the commemoration ceremony, delivering remarks and reflecting upon the courage of the survivors and the resiliency of the city of Boston.

“I’ve never witnessed a tribute [like] I heard today,” he said. “Let me say to those quote ‘survivors’ [those who spoke before him]. My God you have survived and you have soared. It was worth it, I mean it sincerely, just to hear you speak. You are truly, truly inspiring. I have never heard anything so beautiful.”

“I really mean it,” he added.

Then, speaking directly to the victims and their families, he conceded that mere words were not enough to convey the depths of their struggles over the past 12 months. But at the same time, he hopes they at least know that their courage and example have been an inspiration to the nation.

“I know that no memorial, no words, no acts can fully provide the solace that your hearts still yearn to acquire. But I hope it eases your grief a little bit,” he said. “You’re living proof that America can never, never be defeated.”

On a somewhat lighter note, he told the audience of survivors, family members, first responders, and politicians that he was never a Boston sports fan growing up -- “you got the living hell kicked out of you [if you were],” he said -- but he nevertheless admired Boston’s sense of community and its unwavering commitment to its citizens.

“You have become the face of America’s resolve not unlike what happened on 9/11,” he said.

He went on to say that he had traveled all over the world as vice president -- some 900,000 miles. And that everywhere he went, people were familiar with the city of Boston, and the remarkable way in which they responded to the bombings.

Terrorists, however, could not bask in the damage they had wrought, he said; in fact, they had only made Bostonians more committed to the ideals the country was founded upon: pluralism, tolerance, and freedom.

“Terrorists try to make us afraid,” he intoned. “If they instill enough fear [they think] we will change. And it infuriates them that we refuse to bend.”

He continued:

“What makes me so proud to be an American is that we have never ever yielded to fear," he said. "Never."

"Just look [at] what you’ve done.”

One Year Later: Reactions to the Boston Marathon Bombing

It's been a year since two bombs were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring 264. A shooting three days later by the perpetrators of the bombing left a policeman dead, and the ensuing hours-long police standoff and manhunt had the entire city on edge until suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was finally captured by police. Here are some reactions to the anniversary:

The Boston Globe organized a photo at the finish line of the marathon composed of survivors, runners, first responders, bystanders, medical personnel, and notable figures in Boston.

Many organizations and people tweeted using the "#bostonstrong" hashtag:


Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino gave tribute to his city's resiliency at a memorial service today:

"I want you to hear this solemn promise: When lights dim and cameras go away, know that our support and love for you will never waiver."

Vice President Joe Biden echoed his sentiment:

"America will never, ever, ever stand down. We are Boston. We are America. We respond, we endure, we overcome, and we own the finish line."

ESPN dedicated its Sports Center Featured segment on the healing effect Boston's professional sports teams had on the people of Boston. The Boston Red Sox earlier this year honored the people of Boston and their resilience on Opening Day.


The White House also announced that the president will be partaking in a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., the time of the first explosion.

Poll: 52 Percent Say Federal Income Taxes "Too High"

Hopefully by now you’ve filed and/or paid your federal incomes taxes. Today, after all, is the deadline. But if you did owe money to the federal government and find yourself grumbling about it, you wouldn’t be alone. A new Gallup study released this week shows that more than half of respondents -- 52 percent -- believe they pay “too much”:

 photo taxes1_zps69002462.png

Between the late 1960s and the late 1990s no less than 60 percent of Gallup respondents said federal income taxes were “too high.” But that all changed markedly around the turn of the century. In fact, between 1999 and 2002 the percentage of respondents who said their taxes were “too high” dropped some 18 percentage points. Why? According to the pollsters, the passage of the Bush tax cuts in 2001 -- and then again in 2003 -- had something to do with it.

Interestingly, too, when Gallup surveyed partisan groups, they found that Independents were more likely than Republicans to say Uncle Sam takes too much of their money:

 photo Taxes2_zps9538fb0d.png

Democrats are the only partisan group wherein more than half of respondents say the amount of money they pay in federal income taxes is “about right.” However, all groups seem to recognize that the IRS isn't underfunded, either.

Manipulating Obamacare Stats: The Census Bureau's Suspect Timing


In her post this morning, Carol linked to a New York Times story describing the US Census Bureau's ridiculous decision to change its formula for determining health coverage rates in America. "Ridiculous" not because it's out of bounds to overhaul methodology on principle, but because after three decades, they're implementing this shift at the exact moment we need a consistent baseline off of which to measure the impact of Obamacare. The brand new survey questions will unquestionably "reveal" a dramatic decrease in the uninsured population, bureau experts say, which will deliver Democrats a super handy talking point. And oh-by-the-way, the artificially improved numbers will be released...this fall:


The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said. The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said. An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument. “We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,” said Brett J. O’Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau. With the new questions, “it is likely that the Census Bureau will decide that there is a break in series for the health insurance estimates,” says another agency document describing the changes. This “break in trend” will complicate efforts to trace the impact of the Affordable Care Act, it said.


Allow me to paint you a picture: The Census Bureau releases its new figures in September, just a few weeks out from a major election. Per the bureaucrat-in-chief over at Census, the fresh stats on uninsured Americans will be "much lower," due to the heavily revised question wording. The wonks will make this abundantly clear, admonishing one another that the new and old data are like apples and oranges. Plus, they'll add, the new numbers don't even include the post-Obamacare implementation data from early 2014, so any attempt to trumpet the results as a triumph for the Affordable Care Act will be especially inapt. Even some elements of the center-Left smart set have begun grumbling about the indefensible timing of these methodological alterations:



Democrats, famously allergic to nuance when the political moment demands a cudgel, will shout from the rooftops about the "stunning" improvement in uninsured rates. Obamacare is working! They'll elide the crucial caveats mentioned above, plugging the exciting news into television ads, talking points and stump speeches. Sure, they'll receive multiple Pinocchios and "mostly false" ratings from fact-checkers, but when has that ever stopped them? The media's push-back will mostly be pro forma. When Republicans move to debunk the figures, Democrats will deride them as bitter and anti-science. They're from the non-partisan Census Bureau, after all. Josh Barro calls the move "insane," asking why this sea change couldn't have waited until, say, any other year. That's a serious question. If the need for this adjustment was so glaring, why wasn't it undertaken years ago? And considering the sensitive timing, why couldn't it have been pushed back for a few years? Whether they'll admit it or not (they won't), this amounts to a massive bureaucratic gift to Democrats, akin to "home cooking" officiating in sports. A White House official tweeted at me to downplay the significance of these developments, pooh-poohing the notion that census chicanery is a major "political flashpoint:"



Lee implies that this is all no biggie. Fine. Let's see if Congressional Democrats and his bosses will refrain from making political hay out of facile "official" statistics that make them look good. Color me intensely skeptical, especially in light of this White House's routine eagerness to brag about dramatically inflated Obamacare "enrollment" numbers. Another wrinkle to this: Obama and company regularly cited the loftiest (misleading) numbers possible when discussing the uninsured while selling this law, based on the Census Bureau's previous method. (Asking Americans if they'd been insured over the previous year turns up a lot of false negatives, it turns out, so the problem is being rectified). As such, it seems likely that Team O will end up benefiting politically from both frames of reference, the latter of which is being introduced just in the nick of time. Meanwhile, Ezra Klein is already "Voxplaining" that because the forthcoming data will only measure 2013 stats, next year's release will allow for an apples-to-apples comparison regarding Obamacare. That's true to some extent, but 30 years of stable data under one methodology would be a much more useful "control" set to examine, rather than just one year of recently-modified data. I'll leave you with this flashback, via John Ekdahl:


Majority of Arizona Republicans: We Want John McCain Gone in 2016

Although Arizona Senator John McCain hasn't officially announced he'll be seeking another term, recent comments and a glitzy fundraiser in New York City indicate he'll be putting himself up for re-election.

But according to a new statewide poll conducted by Citizens United Political Victory Fund, the vast majority of Arizona Republicans aren't so keen on McCain staying in office.

Arizona Senator John McCain confronts a very challenging primary landscape should he decide to run for a sixth term in 2016. Although his job approval-disapproval rating among Republicans statewide is evenly split, and his image is slightly underwater (47.7% favorable, 51.4% unfavorable), it is the fact that Republican Primary voters in Arizona are over twice as likely to elect “a new person” (64.2%) than they are to re-elect McCain (29.3%) that spells trouble.

This is not simply “trouble with the Tea Party” or “far-right angst.” Senator McCain struggles at various levels with Republicans across the ideological spectrum, as shown in the Appendix (Tea Party Republicans, Strong, Republicans, Not-so-strong Republicans and Independents).


In addition, the poll detailed potential primary match-ups between Governor Jan Brewer, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. David Schweikert and McCain. At this point, McCain would lose to all three.

Senator McCain also loses to every Republican tested in head-to-head primary balloting. In separate questions, Arizona Republicans prefer both current Governor Jan Brewer (47.7%-29.0%) and Fifth District Representative Matt Salmon (48.2%-30.3%) by double-digit margins. Sixth U.S. District Representative David Schweikert also bests McCain on the Primary ballot (40.1%-33.9%), albeit by a narrower spread.


Late last year when asked about whether he would seek another term in office, McCain said he didn't want to "be one of these old guys that should’ve shoved off.”

Ted Cruz Presents Top 10 Excuses the IRS Won't Accept From You

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is having some fun on this fine tax day by exposing the double standard between people who work at the IRS and taxpayers who must comply with the rules and regulations of the agency.



Today marks $1.4 trillion in tax payments from the American people.

Uncle Sam’s haul this year is going to be enormous, estimated at $1.4 trillion from individual taxpayers alone. What does all that buy you? Well, an estimated $427 billion will be needed just to pay interest on existing federal debts.

Keep working America! The government is depending on you.

Uh Oh: Alex Sink Won't Challenge Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) in 2014

All eyes were glued to the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District last month when Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly vied for the right to represent their constituents in the US House. Jolly was deemed a less-than-optimal candidate, of course, but still managed to squeeze out a victory. The Democratic spinsters predictably tried to explain away the loss, but the implications were clear and raised an important question: if Democrats can’t win a district President Obama won twice with a well-known candidate (who, by the way, almost won the governorship in 2010), what does that say about Democrats’ electoral prospects in 2014?

Well, the DCCC took another hit today when Mrs. Sink -- Democrats’ best (and perhaps only) hope to unseat Rep. Jolly this fall -- announced she’s decided not to challenge him (via the Tampa Bay Times):

Democrat Alex Sink has decided not to run for Congress again this year, meaning there will not be a rematch of the nationally watched and extraordinarily costly campaign that Sink lost in Pinellas County a little over a month ago by less than 2 percentage points.

“I am so honored and humbled by the outpouring of support our campaign received, but after reflection with my family I have made a personal decision not to run for the 13th Congressional District seat in the 2014 election,” Sink said in a statement. “I want to thank every voter, volunteer and donor for their support – we can all be proud of the strong campaign we ran. I look forward to finding new, rewarding avenues where I can continue to effectively serve the people of Florida. In the words of Bill, I look forward to continuing to do good. I remain totally convinced that a Democrat can and will win this congressional seat in the fall, and I look forward to helping the Democratic nominee.”

Can Democrats kiss this seat goodbye? Maybe not. But it’s clear Sink’s decision will make it easier for Jolly to keep his seat, and make it that much harder for Democrats to win back the House -- which, incidentally, isn’t likely to happen anyway.

How Convenient: New Census Makes It Harder to Measure ObamaCare's Impact

How very . . . convenient.

The Census Bureau is changing the questions on the census so dramatically that it will be almost impossible to measure the impact of ObamaCare on the number of the nation's uninsured.

But if that weren't convenient enough, the new survey questions produce lower estimates of the number of uninsured, which will allow Democrats vaguely to attribute the good news to the much-hated new health law.

Now that's really convenient -- especially given that the census report comes out in the fall, presumably ahead of elections.

Report: More Low-Wage Workers Losing Benefits Under Obamacare


The departure of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius won't stop our Obamacare chronicles, as new developments continue to beset the unpopular health law. Today's Wall Street Journal explores the deleterious impact Democrats' signature overhaul is having on workers -- often low wage -- who work "variable hour" professions. The report focuses on employees of food services monolith Sodexho, but notes that similarly-situated companies are likely to follow suit in the coming months and years. Obamacare is all about fighting for the little guy, supporters will be quick to inform you. Except when it's not, which turns out to be often (via YG Network):


Susan Caspersen was in a hospital in Akron, Ohio, last November recovering from an emergency appendectomy when she got some unwelcome news: as of Jan. 1, 2014, she would no longer be eligible for the health-insurance plan offered by her employer, food-service giant Sodexo USA. Ms. Caspersen, a waitress at Virtues Restaurant in the Summa Akron City Hospital, falls into part of the workforce that may feel the strongest effects of the Affordable Care Act: workers whose hours change on a weekly or seasonal basis. Thousands of these so-called variable-hour employees—many of whom work on college campuses that don't operate during summer months—could lose their benefits as employers use new formulas to classify workers as full time or part time. The distinction determines which employees are entitled to company-sponsored health coverage...A large portion of Sodexo's 125,000 U.S. workers are variable, and about 10,000 of them are losing access to health insurance, paid vacation and sick days and other benefits available to full-timers. Sodexo says it has taken steps to ease the strain on workers, but avers that the new formula lets it manage costs and stay competitive in a business driven by low-margin contracts. Other employers are likely to follow Sodexo's lead in reclassifying workers as they get closer to the ACA's Jan. 1, 2015 compliance deadline, said Gary Claxton, a vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, who said that businesses sought clear guidance from government officials on how to handle workers with nonstandard hours.


Er, isn't the new employer mandate compliance deadline January 1, 2016 now? In any case, Sodexho says it's made as many adjustments as it can to mitigate the damage, but the law is the law -- and it has consequences:


Peterson [Sodexo's VP of compensation and benefits] says ‘the ACA, on a net basis, is costing the company material amounts of money.’ The law's requirement that individuals buy coverage ‘has driven thousands of employees into our medical benefits and that's offset any savings from the change in eligibility,’ she said.”


The "Affordable" Care Act's repercussions are reverberating at a small business in Maryland, where the owner of a family-owned grocer has made the difficult decision to stop hiring full-time workers (via the Free Beacon):



"Like so many other small businesses around the country, he's keeping the number of full-time employees here at 49."

Independent of their intentions, policy decisions don't happen in a vacuum. Supporters of the president's proposed minimum wage hike should take note. In February, Kathleen Sebelius stated that no evidence exists that Obamacare is negatively impacting employment. "There is absolutely no evidence -- and every economist will tell you this -- that there is any job loss related to the Affordable Care Act...I know that's a popular myth that continues to be repeated, but it just is not accurate," she told an Orlando audience. Setting aside the piles of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, including the reports cited above, Sebelius' statement is patently false on a statistical basis, too. The nonpartisan CBO determined that the ACA will reduce the US workforce by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers over the coming years. The report also stated that Obamacare has stifled economic and job growth. That buzzworthy analysis was released before Sebelius made her comments, which makes them even less credible. President Obama offered similar false assurances last year, which were contradicted at the time by several pieces of empirical evidence. I'll leave you with this quote from an angry New Yorker:


State officials say the decision served to level the playing field for insurance companies and consumers. But it has led to complaints from consumers who cannot go to the doctors or hospitals they want. The sickest customers tend to be the most upset, like Abigail List, a 53-year-old therapist in Manhattan, who said she had to choose one of the most expensive plans, costing $300 more a month than others, so she could have coverage for her longtime cancer doctors at NYU-Langone Medical Center. “I’m being railroaded, that’s why I’m so furious,” Ms. List said...The most prestigious and specialized hospitals tend to take the fewest plans on the exchange. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the renowned cancer hospital, takes only two exchange plans for individuals, Health Republic and Oscar.


Those details are part of a New York Times story portraying the state's Obamacare exchange as a great success. Unlike most states, New York's average premiums have dropped under Obamacare -- and all it took was severely curtailed networks and options for consumers (many of whom lose their existing coverage under the law). All Americans were unequivocally promised that they could keep their preferred plans and doctors.

Today Marks Deadline for New Yorkers to Register Their ‘Assault Weapons’

The deadline has arrived for gun owners in New York state to register guns the state defines as “assault weapons” under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s anti-gun SAFE Act.

The penalties for ignoring the deadline range from a misdemeanor to a felony. The law allows for either charge, and the State Police say it will be up to prosecutors to decide which to apply.

Despite the consequences of refusing to register, as of April 13, already 1 million New Yorkers have decided to rebel against the state, citing their Second Amendment rights.

It’s not hard to imagine why. “Assault weapon” is a political term created by gun control activists simply because they think the AR-15 “looks” scary. How else could one explain that the changes the NY SAFE Act makes are all cosmetic? The banned features don’t affect firing power.

Gun owners across the state have recognized this, rallying in the state capitol with their ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ signs to voice their displeasure and demand their Second Amendment freedom remains free. Some took their frustration one step further, sending their now illegal firearms to more gun-friendly states ahead of New York's registry deadline.

Allan Rice, a manager at Beikirch's, had five assault rifles that the law requires be registered. He converted one to avoid registration and shipped the other four to his son in Florida, where gun laws are far less restrictive.

"Registration leads to confiscation, any way you look at it," Rice said.

So now the question is: Will New Yorkers succumb to a law they disagree with and sell their AR-15 souls - or become criminals?

RNC Sues IRS Over Information Stonewalling on Targeting Scandal

The Republican National Committee has submitted a lawsuit against the IRS for failing to comply with Freedom Information Requests related to the targeting of conservative groups. The original FOIA request was made on May 21, 2013, nearly one year ago and the IRS has asked for multiple extensions to submit information. At this point, none of the information requested by the RNC has been received by the taxing agency.

“We’re filing this suit because the Obama administration has a responsibility to be transparent and accountable to the American people. The IRS has a legal obligation to answer our inquiry for these records. On Tax Day especially Americans deserve to know whether they can trust the agency to which they’re sending their taxes," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “If the IRS and the Obama administration don’t have anything to hide, why not answer the request? Their delays and distractions make Americans think they’re trying to cover up their actions, just like ex-IRS employee Lois Lerner. We’re going to keep fighting to hold the IRS and Obama administration accountable because Americans deserve a government that treats them fairly and not one that harasses them because of their beliefs nor an administration that goes after its perceived political enemies.”

The RNC argues the information being requested is in the public interest and that Americans deserve to know why one of the government's most powerful agencies would purposely target groups base on their values and beliefs.

True the Vote Attorney: IRS Did The Bidding of Democrats Who Demanded Conservatives Be Silenced

Last night, True the Vote Attorney Cleta Mitchell appeared on The Kelly File to discuss recent revelations that Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings was in contact with the IRS about the organization. True the Vote and its founder Catherine Engelbrecht were targeted after applying for tax exempt status and received nearly identical questions about the organization from Cummings and the IRS on separate occasions. You can read the back story on that here.

New IRS emails released by the House Oversight Committee show staff working for Democratic Ranking Member Elijah Cummings communicated with the IRS multiple times between 2012 and 2013 about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote. True the Vote was targeted by the IRS after applying for tax exempt status more than two years ago. Further, information shows the IRS and Cummings' staff asked for nearly identical information from True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht about her organization, indicating coordination and improper sharing of confidential taxpayer information.

During her appearance, Mitchell reminded viewers that it isn't just Elijah Cummings who put conservative groups on the radar screen for IRS targeting, but a handful of Democrats who didn't like what these groups were doing in opposition to big government policies.

"Lois Lerner and the top brass at the IRS came to see its role as somehow the enforcement arm of the Democratic Party and Democratic members of Congress and the White House and they began to carry out these activities to pursue conservative groups because these politicians were demanding it," Mitchell said. "All of these people, Lois Lerner, all of them, they have civil service protection and the only difference between what happened in Watergate when Richard Nixon asked the IRS to go after his political enemies was when Richard Nixon asked, they refused. When these Democratic politicians said, 'Go do something about these conservative groups because they're challenging us and we don't like what they're saying about us,' the IRS took it upon itself to do their bidding to try and silence these groups."


As Mitchell mentioned above, True the Vote filed an ethics complaint in February against Cummings and has since bolstered that request with new revelations he was in contact with Lois Lerner about the organization.

Good News: IRS Set to Water Down Newly Proposed Free Speech Regulation

Shortly after former IRS Director of Tax Exempt Groups Lois Lerner admitted last year that her agency had been inappropriately targeting conservative organizations, a new set of rules were proposed that would make what the IRS did to tea party groups legal and would limit the free speech of tax-exempt groups across the political spectrum.The rules specifically define "candidate related activity" as voter registration, candidate forums and debates, distribution of voter guides, discussion of incumbent voting records, simply referencing the names of candidates during meetings and more.


During the public commenting period, a record breaking 150,000 people left comment strongly suggesting the rule be completely thrown out. Conservative groups like the Tea Party Patriots and liberal groups like the ACLU are both opposed to this type of regulation on the free speech of tax-exempt groups.

Now, IRS head John Koskinen plans to rewrite the previously proposed rules and will open up another public comment period once they are finished.

He said the new rule would take into account backlash from conservative Tea Party groups as well as some liberal advocacy organizations that the agency's proposal – intended to address concerns that the tax-exempt groups were engaged in partisan warfare – would bar, even voter education and registration programs.

He was interviewed on the eve of Tax Day, the April 15 deadline for Americans to file their returns.

"I think we have to take all of that into consideration," Koskinen told the weekly video newsmaker series. "There are very thoughtful comments and concerns, and one of the questions that has evoked a lot of comment is, once you define what political activity is, to what organizations should it apply in the 501(c) context and how much of it should be allowed? All of that is going to be very important."


Last week Koskinen faced tough criticism Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Orrin Hatch for failing to kill of the newly proposed rules faster.The new regulation has also prompted calls for tax reform on Capitol Hill.

GOP Needs to Pledge to Clean Up Washington's Sleazy Culture

It's not always that a party can seize an issue that's not only politically advantageous -- but is also right. This is one of those times.

There is a culture of sleaze in Washington that's worse than ever. Too-big, all-powerful government not only cripples the freedoms of the regular people who have to live under it, it also creates a whole shadow infrastructure dedicated to working it to the advantage of the elite and the connected. Three recent stories illustrate the point:

Matt Continetti's piece about the divorce of lobbyists Tony and Heather Podesta shows how connected insiders can make out like bandits in Obama's Washington. The Podestas have offered their vast and wealthy clients little in the way of objective value. Rather, they've gotten rich just greasing the skids, working the system, using their connections.

Today's Washington Post report on how Hillary Clinton and Boeing have enjoyed an (ahem!) mutually beneficial relationship -- where Boeing contributes heartily to the foundation the Clintons head and Secretary of State Clinton saw to its international business interests -- illustrates the same principle of one well-heeled, insider hand washing another.

Finally, a Forbes article highlights the next step unprincipled government officials can take in these perverse relationships, with a piece arguing that Eric Holder's Justice Department blocks even friendly mergers where the companies are run by Republicans -- but mergers of deep-blue companies are scarcely scrutinized.

No wonder Google now has such an extensive lobbying infrastructure. Apparently companies need it -- kind of like "protection."

The whole issue of the incestuous Washington culture and the way oversized government encourages -- and even requires -- it is an issue Republicans should be seizing. These disgusting displays of insider greed help explain why Washington, D.C. is the richest city in America.

The left wants to call out a supposed "1%" that got rich by producing goods and services that Americans actually want, and buy voluntarily. The right should be calling out an "insider" culture that depends on our tax money -- and a behemoth government spending and regulating and controlling too much -- to line its own pockets. That's where the real greed is.