Gun Free Schools are a deadly failure. This bill ends them.

Massie Proposes Repeal of Federal Gun-Free School Zones

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced Jan. 5 H.R. 34, the Safe Students Act, which would repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990.

The bill, originally introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) in 2007, repeals the Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) of 1990, which makes it “unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.” In 1995, the Supreme Court held the GFSZA unconstitutional, which prompted Congress to amend the bill in 1996. The Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of the amended Act.

“Gun-free school zones are ineffective. They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target-rich, no-risk environments,” said Massie. “Gun-free zones prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals.”

The Safe Students Act has garnered the support of three major gun organizations: National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America, and the National Rifle Association.

Representative Massie concluded: “A bigger federal government can’t solve this problem. Weapons bans and gun-free zones are unconstitutional. They do not and cannot prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing acts of violence. But they often prevent victims of such violence from protecting themselves.”

As John Lott, author of The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies, writes in The Columbus Dispatch, “Would you feel safer posting a sign announcing your home is a gun-free zone? Criminals don’t obey these signs. In fact, to criminals, gun-free zones look like easy targets. So why do we display these signs in public places?”

Cosponsors include: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. James Comer (R-KY),  Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX).

Representative Massie is Chairman of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus in the 115th Congress.

Federal intervention in education is a flaming failure. This bill ends it forever.

Massie Introduces Bill to Abolish Federal Department of Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Thomas Massie introduced Feb. 7 H.R. 899, a bill to abolish the federal Department of Education. The bill, which is one sentence long, states, “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

On the day of Betsy DeVos’ scheduled Senate confirmation for Secretary of Education, Massie said, “Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn."

Massie added, "Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students. Schools should be accountable. Parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school, or private school."

“For years, I have advocated returning education policy to where it belongs - the state and local level,” said Rep. Walter Jones, an original co-sponsor.  “D.C. bureaucrats cannot begin to understand the needs of schools and its students on an individual basis. It is time that we get the feds out of the classroom, and terminate the Department of Education.”

“I’ve always been a proponent of empowering parents, teachers and local school boards who best know our children and their needs," said Rep. Raul Labrador, another original co-sponsor. "Eliminating the U.S. Department of Education is the most important step we in Congress can take in returning decision making to the local level.”

"Education of our students should lie primarily with parents, teachers, and state and local officials who know how to meet their individual needs best," said freshman Rep. Andy Biggs. "Since its inception, the Department of Education has grown into an unrecognizable federal beast, and its policies have helped foster Common Core across the country. It is time the one-size-fits-all approach by the federal government is ended and authority is returned to the local level."

The Department of Education began operating in 1980. On September 24, 1981 in his Address to the Nation on the Program for Economic Recovery, President Ronald Reagan said, “As a third step, we propose to dismantle two Cabinet Departments, Energy and Education. Both Secretaries are wholly in accord with this. Some of the activities in both of these departments will, of course, be continued either independently or in other areas of government. There's only one way to shrink the size and cost of big government, and that is by eliminating agencies that are not needed and are getting in the way of a solution. Now, we don't need an Energy Department to solve our basic energy problem. As long as we let the forces of the marketplace work without undue interference, the ingenuity of consumers, business, producers, and inventors will do that for us. Similarly, education is the principal responsibility of local school systems, teachers, parents, citizen boards, and State governments. By eliminating the Department of Education less than 2 years after it was created, we cannot only reduce the budget but ensure that local needs and preferences, rather than the wishes of Washington, determine the education of our children.”

Original co-sponsors include Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). 

Here's why you are better off with Bitcoin than with euros

Bitcoin Is Less Volatile than the Euro

Bitcoin volatility has fallen since 2011 and compared to the U.S. dollar currently sits at about 3-4 times higher than the Japanese yen, British pound, and euro. High volatility in the digital currency space has long been cited as a reason against adoption. But, as charts and analysis demonstrate, it is very likely that Bitcoin volatility is trending downwards, even as volatility in other cryptocurrencies remain high.

The Bitcoin industry generally highlights key indicators like price, transaction volume, bitcoin wallet numbers and trading volumes to underscore Bitcoin’s increasing popularity. All of these factors have jumped in recent years. But Bitcoin’s volatility has fallen, now sitting at approximately 5%. For comparison, gold volatility averages approximately 1.2% and major fiat currencies between 0.5% and 1.0%.

Diminishing Volatility

Bitcoin’s volatility, a measure of how much its price varies over time, has long been cited as the digital currency’s downfall. Each day, Bitcoin’s value goes up or down – and oftentimes both. Measuring volatility is important to judging an asset’s overall risk profile. High volatility is cited as to why sophisticated investors and the mainstream public stay away from Bitcoin.

Investors generally limit exposure to volatile assets by not holding them or hedging. Hedging Bitcoin is tough due to a dearth of options to short Bitcoin. Further, the more volatile an asset, the more expensive it is to hedge.

There are external factors which could contribute to currency-pair volatility like fiscal policy, geopolitical disruption and other factors. Bitcoin volatility could also be a function of transaction volume, as some suggest.

A paper published in 2014 by University of Victoria researchers examined the relationship between Bitcoin volatility and Google searches is implied. “Changes in Google Trends have an effect on the realized volatility of Bitcoin,” according to the paper. According to the paper, changes in the volatility of Bitcoin also have an effect on Google searches for Bitcoin.

“An increase in Google Trends has a positive impact on volatility, and an increase in volatility has a positive impact on Google Trends,” states the research team, led by Darryl C. Davies. In the past year, this has proven untrue, as an increase in Bitcoin search queries has paralleled a decrease in volatility.

An end to zero fee futures trading in China has led some to speculate Bitcoin volatility will decrease in the coming months and years. When the change was announced, Bitcoin trading volume crashed 90%. In fact, most volatility so far in 2017 is credited to actions and statements by the Chinese government. reported earlier this year that monied investors in China are leaving their money in the digital currency.

“We are starting to see a lot of smart money enter into the space and stay there,” said Ryan Rabaglia, Head Trader for Octagon Strategy, a Commodity and Digital Asset Trading firm based in Hong Kong. “In the form of small to medium sized institutions taking much larger positions in [bitcoin] and a natural progression to larger ones is sure to follow. With all the uncertainties surrounding us in traditional product spaces, alternatives are being sought, and although this space is still foreign to most, it’s not preventing the capital inflows we’re seeing.”

All Time Highs Amid Low in Volatility

The number of Bitcoin transactions has skyrocketed throughout the digital currency’s lifespan, as has the price, which currently sits near an all-time high after crossing the $1,000 threshold twice so far in 2017. The number of bitcoin wallets at popular multi-service provider has increased, as well, in the past eight years. Trading volumes are also at all-time highs. Yet, over time, Bitcoin price volatility has declined.

Reprinted from Bitcoin.
Justin Connell
Justin Connell
Justin is an Associate Editor with the News team.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

SICK: Undercover videos catch Planned Parenthood assisting sex traffickers

Troubling New Videos Show Urgent Need to Defund Planned Parenthood

Live Action, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending abortion and protecting the right to life, has released videos and findings that demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to defund America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

According to a report released in January, a Live Action investigation revealed that “Planned Parenthood lied to the media about retraining thousands of staff” with regard to reporting sex trafficking.

Back in 2011, the organization caught Planned Parenthood on film advising an undercover investigator posing as a pimp on how to get birth control and abortions for underage prostitutes.

Planned Parenthood vowed to retrain staff and fire any employees who potentially violated abuse reporting laws. One survey found that over a quarter (29.6 percent) of survivors of trafficking visited a Planned Parenthood during their abuse.

Yet instead of training its employees to spot and report trafficking, according to Live Action’s report, Planned Parenthood trained employees how to identify undercover journalists and discern whether or not they were being recorded.

Live Action also recently exposed Planned Parenthood’s misleading statements about the organization providing prenatal care. Specifically, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards claimed, “Prenatal care—these are the kinds of services that folks depend on Planned Parenthood for.”

Live Action put this claim to the test by calling 97 Planned Parenthood facilities. It turns out that 92 of them provided no prenatal services.

As calls to defund the abortion giant have escalated in recent years, Planned Parenthood has repeatedly cited prenatal care as a vital service that women will lose access to if federal dollars are diverted to other health centers not entangled with the abortion industry.

After being exposed by Live Action, Planned Parenthoods across the country removed references to prenatal care from their websites.

Then, at the end of January, Live Action revealed that Planned Parenthood uses ultrasounds to determine the unborn child’s age and position in the womb for purposes of aborting the child, but refuses to provide ultrasounds to women who want to keep their babies and would like to check on their health and that of their baby.

As one Planned Parenthood staffer put bluntly on one of Live Action’s recordings, “We only do ultrasounds if you are terminating.”

Peddling Abortion for Profit

In February, Live Action released testimony from former Planned Parenthood employees who claimed that its facilities must hit monthly sale quotas for abortion. Planned Parenthood gave its employees incentives to meet those quotas, such as throwing pizza parties and giving paid time off.

One former employee spoke of how staff were trained “to really encourage women to choose abortion; to have it at Planned Parenthood, because it counts towards our goal.”

It’s not news that abortion is quite profitable for Planned Parenthood, and if the allegations in the testimony are true, it is grotesque that Planned Parenthood uses parties and vacation time to incentivize employees to push women toward abortion over life-affirming options.

Earlier this week, Live Action released additional testimonials from former Planned Parenthood employees who spoke about the abortion giant’s abortion-centric business model that cut doctor-patient visit times in half and led to women being herded in the facility “like cattle.”

Managers also highlighted that despite the often repeated myth, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms and offers little support to pregnant women who are going forward with a pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood reported almost $59 million in excess revenue for fiscal year 2015 and more than $1.4 billion in net assets. It also receives over half a billion dollars from taxpayers each year, as shown in its 2014-2015 annual report. (Curiously, Planned Parenthood has still not released its annual report for 2015-2016).

Time to Act

Congress should disqualify Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers from receiving taxpayer funds. Repealing Obamacare using language from the 2015 reconciliation measure is the best place to start.

If the reconciliation bill is crafted as it was in 2015, it would make Planned Parenthood affiliates ineligible from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for one year after the enactment of the bill. Such federal reimbursements constitute a significant portion of the roughly $500 million in government funds sent to the nation’s largest abortion provider each year and should be cut.

The ultimate solution is for Congress to pass, and the president to sign, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., explains that the legislation makes the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions permanent and government-wide while ensuring that Obamacare (until it is repealed) conforms with the Hyde Amendment.

It also requires health insurance plans on Obamacare exchanges to provide full disclosure, transparency, and the prominent display of the extent to which they cover abortion so as to empower people to opt out.

Trump has committed to signing the bill into law if it reaches his desk. The bill passed in the House of Representatives the week of the 2017 March for Life, and the Senate should follow suit to finally and completely separate American taxpayers from the grisly abortion business.

Commentary by The Daily Signal's Melanie Israel.  Originally published at The Daily Signal.

One Woman’s Story About the Increasing Costs of Obamacare

When Kim Quade left her job of 17 years as a school speech pathologist outside Kansas City, Kansas, to work independently, she knew she would have to purchase her own health insurance. But, Quade says, she never anticipated the rate increases to come.

Quade, 61, says she researched options and found a decent plan for a fair price. In 2013, she changed her health insurance carrier and purchased a plan for $188 per month.

“It had a health savings account attached to it, it had a $5,000 deductible on it, but it was OK because I had money I was able to squirrel away into my health savings account,” Quade told The Daily Signal.

Quade says she liked this plan, in part because she believes health savings accounts are patient-centered and should be encouraged.

“It was something that I was able to take care of on my own and I was happy about it. It’s the way I was raised: You take care of yourself,” Quade says.

Mia Heck, director of the Health and Human Services Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, told The Daily Signal last month that health savings accounts can help Americans plan independently for their future.

“A health savings account is a pre-tax medical savings account available for taxpayers who are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan,” Heck said. “The high-deductible health plan serves as catastrophic coverage, while encouraging individuals and families to save money to use toward future medical expenses. Funds deposited into an HSA are not subject to federal income tax.”

Over the years, Quade says, her situation changed drastically. In 2015, her $188 monthly premium more than doubled to $399 per month.

She was willing to pay the increased rate, Quade says, because “I had my regular health care doctor and specialist, and I wanted to keep these people very much.”

“I didn’t want to lose them, so I bit the bullet.”

But when her monthly premium went up an additional $200, Quade says, she decided to make a change.

Quade says she and her husband reluctantly entered the federal Obamacare exchange, purchased a family plan, and stayed on it until her husband turned 65. He transferred to Medicare, and she, again, shopped for a new health insurance plan.

She says she had two goals: keep her health savings account and both of her doctors. She was able to do this at a price of $773 per month, she says, and after receiving a subsidy her monthly payment is $333—still nearly double what she was paying in 2013.

Although her original plan covered flu shots and physicals, Quade says, her policy under Obamacare covered neither for her. After a bout with pneumonia last year, she says, her insurance paid only $50 toward the cost of two X-rays.

Asked whether she experienced any improvements to her health plan under Obamacare, or noticed any benefits that weren’t available to her before, Quade simply says: “No.”

With health insurance carriers in Kansas leaving the federal exchange and some leaving the state entirely, Quade says, she was left with few options. The policy she purchased before Obamacare is no longer available, she says.

“A lot of companies are leaving the states because they can’t make a profit,” Quade says. “Profit is not an evil thing, it’s how companies stay in business and make jobs for other people and produce a product.”

Amid uncertainty in Congress about the details of repealing and replacing Obamacare, Quade, who writes for the Victory Girls blog, says she believes the free market is the optimal solution for the health insurance industry.

“Less regulation, more free market,” she says. “Because companies want to do business, they would love to come back into Kansas and to other states.”

Report by The Daily Signal's James Rogers. Originally published at The Daily Signal.

In 1 Chart, What Your Favorite Fast-Food Items Would Cost With $15 Minimum Wage

For Americans hitting the drive-thru at their local McDonald’s, a $15-an-hour minimum wage could hit them in their wallets.

According to a January report released by James Sherk, a former research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, fast-food prices would rise by 38 percent under a $15-an-hour minimum wage and cause a 36 percent drop in employment.

Sherk’s research comes after several cities and states across the country voted to raise their minimum wages, with increases typically phased in over the next five years.

Additionally, several Democrats have advocated a $15-an-hour minimum wage at the federal level, as does Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who spoke about the need for an increase to the federal minimum wage while campaigning for president last year.

In his paper, Sherk said that raising the minimum wage would lead to higher labor costs for fast-food restaurants. Restaurant owners operating on already slim profit margins would then need to raise their prices.

Those higher menu prices would have a direct impact on customers who frequent fast-food establishments.

Here’s how prices at some of the most popular fast-food restaurants would change with a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Report by The Daily Caller's Melissa Quinn (@MelissaQuinn97).  Originally published at The Daily Signal.

BEST VIDEO EVER?: That epic Trump press conference, full and uncut

Did you miss Donald Trump's epic press conference?  Watched it and want to see it again?

Or do you just want to send it to your liberal friends?

No matter what you think of Trump, you'll love watching him absolutely horse-whip a deserving media in this epic video.

VIDEO: Who will President Trump offend in his Weekly Address?

From the Oval Office
February 17, 2017

My fellow Americans,

We have taken major steps during the first few weeks of my Administration to remove wasteful regulations and get our people back to work. I have been saying I was going to do that for a long time.
This week I signed two pieces of legislation to remove burdens on our economy, continue to keep my promises to the American People and so much more.
I signed House Joint Resolution 38, which eliminates an anti-coal regulation put forward by unelected bureaucrats.  Our coal miners have been treated horribly, and we are going to turn that around - and we are going to turn it around quickly. We are going to fight for lower energy prices for all Americans as part of the deal.
That’s why I also signed a resolution to eliminate a costly regulation Dodd-Frank imposed on American energy companies. By stopping this regulation, we are able to save American companies and workers millions and millions of dollars in job-killing compliance costs.
But to truly succeed as a country, we must realize the full potential of women in our economy.
That is why I was thrilled to host the White House’s women’s business leaders roundtable—very exciting, great women.
As President, I am committed to ensuring that women entrepreneurs have equal access to the capital, markets, and networks of support that they need, and I mean really need. And it’s going to happen.  This is a priority for my Administration.  I campaigned on helping women in the workforce, and we are going to deliver on that promise, believe me.
In fact, as part of my first official meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week, we announced the creation of the joint United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. Actually, very exciting.
The United States also reaffirmed our unbreakable bond this week with our cherished ally, Israel. It was an honor to welcome my friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.
I affirmed to the Prime Minister America’s commitment to working with Israel and our allies and partners toward greater security and stability.  The threat of terrorism—and believe me it is a threat—must be confronted and defeated and we will defeat it.
We share with Israel a deep conviction that we must protect all innocent human life.
So as you head into the President’s Day weekend, the American people should know that we are working tirelessly on your behalf.  We are not here for the benefit of bureaucrats, consultants, or pundits—we are here to work for you, and only for you, the American people.
Thank you, God Bless you and God Bless America.

Fake News About Gorsuch’s Record

Statement of Committee for Justice President Curt Levey:
While President Trump was admonishing the press about its fake news yesterday, the left-leaning Alliance for Justice published some fake news of its own, titled “The Gorsuch Record.” The Gorsuch opinions and other materials cited by the AFJ report are real, but the conclusions it draws are fake — very fake.

The report concludes that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch “has, throughout his life, been driven by an ultraconservative ideology … marked by four themes,” including hostility toward progress, indifference to Americans’ health and safety, bias in favor of corporations, and overlooking abuses of constitutional rights (see page one of the report). These four alleged themes are disturbing ones — until you take a closer look.
A close review of the report’s bases for its conclusions reveals that those conclusions are heavily clothed in progressive spin. To give you a more accurate picture of Judge Gorsuch’s record, we have translated AFJ’s four themes by removing the spin. Viewed in that new light (see below), the four themes turn out to be an excellent summary of why mainstream Americans should support Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Theme #1: Judge Gorsuch is “hostil[e] toward social and legal progress over the last century,” threatening to “take the country backwards” through his belief “that judges should ‘strive . . . to apply the law as it is.’”

Translation: Gorsuch believes social and legal progress should be accomplished democratically, rather than through unelected judges creating new rights. Accordingly, judges should focus on constitutional and statutory text rather than their personal vision of how the law should evolve.

Theme #2: Gorsuch is “willing[] to downplay abuses of constitutional rights by government actors.”
Translation: Gorsuch believes that judges should follow the law where it leads, regardless of whether the result is a ruling for the government or the individual. He also believes that judges should defer to the policy decisions of our elected representatives unless there is a clear constitutional violation. Finally, he believes law enforcement agents should be given the benefit of the doubt when performing their jobs in good faith.
Theme #3: Gorsuch “aggrandize[s] corporations over individuals.”
Translation: Gorsuch believes that both arbitration agreements and the legal requirements for class action lawsuits should be enforced, and that statutory text should be adhered to, regardless of whether a plaintiff’s claims have emotional appeal. He is skeptical of plaintiffs’ lawyers who use frivolous claims to get rich. And he does not believe that people forfeit their First Amendment rights to religious liberty and free speech when they go into business.
Theme #4: Gorsuch expresses “skepticism of the federal government’s role in protecting the health and safety of the American people and a desire to weaken important legal protections.”
Translation: Gorsuch believes that the regulations issued by federal bureaucrats are legitimate only insofar as they faithfully implement the democratically-enacted statutes that authorize the rules in question. He is concerned that ever-expanding, unaccountable federal bureaucracies can undermine democracy and believes that when Congress delegates virtually unlimited discretion to such bureaucracies, it runs afoul of the Constitution.

How did your senator REALLY vote on Pruitt? You may have guessed wrong. Here's the roll call vote.

The following senators voted Friday to obstruct the confirmation vote of Scott Pruitt to be EPA Administrator, as part of a plot to drag out the confirmation in the hopes of defeating him.

This is not the confirmation vote.  This is a vote to try and stop the confirmation vote from ever taking place.

If your senator is listed here, he or she voted to try and KILL the Pruitt nomination.

Senators Heitkamp and Manchin voted to kill the Pruitt confirmation.  They voted for Pruitt to cover up their obstruction, knowing their votes would make no difference in the end.  A 50-50 tie would be broken by Vice President Pence's vote in favor.

On the Motion: Motion to Extend Debate Re: Pruitt Nomination

Baldwin (D-WI)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Coons (D-DE)
Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Duckworth (D-IL)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harris (D-CA)
Hassan (D-NH)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)***
Hirono (D-HI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)***
Markey (D-MA)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Peters (D-MI)
Reed (D-RI)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Van Hollen (D-MD)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Not voting:
McCain (R-AZ)
Donnelly (D-IN)

Scott Pruitt is your new EPA Administrator. Which of these reactions is you right now?

GOP Leaders Release Details of Plan to Replace Obamacare

The Ferguson Forum note: Any plan that keeps Medicaid, which is fiscally unsustainable, is socialized medicine.  This plan also creates a taxpayer-funded health insurance entitlement for people with pre-existing conditions, which is fiscally unsustainable socialized medicine.

House Republican leaders mapped out their proposal for how Obamacare will be repealed and replaced in a closed-door meeting Thursday, outlining plans for Medicaid reforms and refundable tax credits for Americans.
Joined briefly by newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden presented the details to members.
The plan comes amid mounting frustration from the chamber’s conservative wing, who want to see their leaders move faster on repealing Obamacare and decided to coalesce around their own replacement plan Wednesday after discussions over potential changes to the health care system slowed.
GOP lawmakers said repeatedly they would unwind Obamacare—a promise repeated by President Donald Trump on the campaign trail—but the conference has yet to come together on which parts of the law would be repealed and how.
And members are likely to face questions on Obamacare’s future from constituents on both sides of the aisle when they head home for the Presidents Day recess.
Ryan told reporters on Thursday that upon returning to Washington at the end of the month, lawmakers would introduce the repeal and replace legislation.
However, he noted that GOP lawmakers are waiting on cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation
“What we’re proposing is a patient-centered system where the patient designs their plan. The patient gets to decide what they want to do,” Ryan said. “The nucleus is the patient and her doctor versus the nucleus of the system being the government in Obamacare’s sake.”

According to a copy of the 
presentation leaders gave to Republicans that was obtained by The Daily Signal, the plan calls for Congress to pass legislation that repeals Obamacare’s taxes, individual and employer mandates, and subsidies. It also stresses that the Medicaid expansion, which loosened program eligibility requirements, would also be changed.
Then, it maps out four key components of a replacement: modernize Medicaid, use State Innovation Grants, expand health savings accounts, and provide portable, monthly tax credits.
Specifically, Americans purchasing coverage on the individual market would receive an advanceable, refundable tax credit based on age.
The plan also expands the use of health savings accounts, a policy that is the hallmark of nearly every proposal Republicans have presented over the last six years.
Brady and Walden’s replacement plan calls for an increase in the maximum contribution Americans can make to their health savings accounts. Currently, individuals can contribute $3,400 each year to a health savings account, but the Republicans’ plan would raise that limit to $6,500.
Republicans are generally in agreement on the expansion of health savings accounts and even on providing Americans some form of financial assistance, but GOP members are more divided on how to handle changes to Medicaid.
Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia expanded Medicaid, and had 100 percent of Medicaid costs for those who are newly eligible covered by the federal government from 2014 to 2016. Now, GOP senators representing some of those states have pushed for the expansion to remain in place.
The plan put forth by House Republican leaders would pare down the match rates for the expanded Medicaid population over time, but allow states to continue enrolling new beneficiaries under the expansion’s eligibility. Republicans then propose changing it to either a per-capita allotment or block grant program.
The proposal provides a transition period, though not defined, for states that did expand Medicaid.
To ease the concerns of leaders from expansion states, Ryan said Walden and Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, have been working with Republican governors to discuss potential changes to the program.
The last item in the GOP’s replacement plan calls for the creation of high-risk pools, which would be funded by federal dollars allocated to the states and can be used to help those with pre-existing conditions.
Republicans plan to repeal Obamacare using a budget tool called reconciliation, which fast-tracks legislation in the Senate and allows it to pass with 51 votes.
Their plan is to start with a repeal bill that passed both chambers in 2015, but was ultimately vetoed by President Barack Obama.
GOP leaders are planning to build on the 2015 bill by including parts of Obamacare’s replacement.
Late last month, Ryan mapped out a timeline for Obamacare’s repeal, telling GOP colleagues the House would dismantle the bill in March or April.
But House conservatives are becoming frustrated with the speed leaders are moving and want to see action before then.
On Monday, the approximately 40 members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus voted unanimously to back the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill, and on Wednesday, they endorsed an Obamacare replacement plan released by Sen. Rand Paul.
This article has been updated to clarify the proposal’s changes to Medicaid expansion.

Report by The Daily Signal's Melissa Quinn.  Originally published at The Daily Signal.

Trump Blasts #FakeNews and ‘Failing’ Media Outlets

President Donald Trump went toe-to-toe with the media at a White House press conference Thursday, using terms such as “fake news” and “failing” to describe many of the recent stories about his administration.

“I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos, chaos,” Trump said. “Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved.”

He also said, “In other words, the media’s trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made and they’re not happy about it for whatever reason.”

During the press conference, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked, “Aren’t you concerned, sir, that you are undermining the people’s faith in the First Amendment, freedom of the press, the press in this country, when you call stories you don’t like ‘fake news?’”

Trump said, “I’m changing it from fake news, though. Very fake news.”

Trump continued:

It’s so important to the public to get an honest press. The press—the public doesn’t believe you people anymore. Now, maybe I had something to do with that. I don’t know. But they don’t believe you.

Trump said, “I mean, you have a lower approval rate than Congress. I think that’s right.”

Trump singled out CNN more than any other news outlet, saying, “I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred.”

Acosta later said, “Just for the record, we don’t hate you. I don’t hate you.”

Trump responded, “Ask [CNN President] Jeff Zucker how he got his job. OK?”

Major media figures, such as NBC’s Chuck Todd, expressed alarm at Trump’s comments.
However, Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association who covers the president for Reuters, had a more reserved view.
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group, who has in the past been a critic of Trump, said some aspects of the press conference amused him.
This marks the third press conference for Trump this week, after holding two prior press conferences with foreign leaders.

Regarding the story about Trump’s recent firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn and his communication with a Russian ambassador, Trump said: “The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”

Trump went on to denounce reports that his campaign aides communicated with Russians.

“The failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday and it was very much discredited, as you know,” Trump said. “It was—it’s a joke, and the people mentioned in the story, I notice they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia. They weren’t even a part, really—I mean, they were such a minor part. They—I hadn’t spoken to them.”

He later talked about a Wall Street Journal story that said intelligence officials didn’t trust the president.

“And just while you’re at it, because you mentioned this, Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New York Times’ story yesterday.”

Trump said he’s actually having fun speaking to the press:

I’m actually having a very good time, OK? … I won with news conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people. That’s for sure. But I’m having a good time. Tomorrow, they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it.

Report by The Daily Signal's Fred Lucas.  Originally published at The Daily Signal.

Moscow Issues Its First Nuclear Challenge to Trump

Almost right out of the gate, the Trump administration is facing its first arms control challenge from Moscow.
Russia has reportedly deployed its new cruise missile in an apparent violation of the Reagan-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, in effect since 1988.
The treaty prohibits the possession of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Russia’s ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile has been under development and testing for several years.
Russia initially violated the treaty by testing the missile during Barack Obama’s presidency. Despite becoming aware of this apparent violation, the Obama administration did not take any forceful action to bring Russia back into compliance with the treaty, merely sending President Vladimir Putin a letter of concern in July of 2014.
The Obama administration was less than forthcoming in discussing challenges that the treaty violation poses for the United States and its allies. The State Department’s annual compliance reports prior to July 2014 wrongly led Americans to believe there was no reason for concern over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, even though the missile has reportedly been tested as early as 2008.
The Trump administration must do better.
The missile range limit of 500 kilometers is significant for U.S. allies in Europe situated close to the Russian borders and to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave that borders Poland and Lithuania. The presence of Russian intermediate-range missiles would considerably complicate any U.S. efforts to defend its allies in the Baltics and Central and Eastern Europe should Russia decide to violate their territorial integrity.
Such a scenario is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Russia has a recent history of violating other nations’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also periodically issues nuclear threats against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies and conducts military exercises that simulate nuclear strikes against Poland.
Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of Supreme Allied Command Europe and of U.S. European Command, said NATO allies are “concerned” over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty issue and argued that violations “can’t go unanswered.”
For its part, Russia accuses the United States of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty violations. But Russian accusations are baseless. U.S. missile defense systems do not violate the treaty because the treaty itself contains an exception for them.
Neither do U.S. drones violate the treaty, as they are simply not mentioned by the treaty at all.
The Trump administration has a range of options to respond to the Russian treaty violations. Purely diplomatic measures to address the violation first begun during the Obama administration may not be sufficient.
Historically, arms control tends to limit how the United States learns about military systems and their interactions in a broader context. This is why terminating the treaty is a viable option.
Currently, Moscow is doing whatever it deems necessary to its strategic interest regardless of the treaty, while the United States continues to abide by it. The administration should not ponder any future arms control initiatives and nuclear weapons reduction agreements at least until this issue is resolved.

Commentary by Michaela Dodge. Originally published at The Daily Signal.

4 Broken Obamacare Promises Town Hall Protesters Should Remember

 While the House and Senate plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, members of Congress are hosting town hall meetings with their constituents and have been greeted by hostile crowds.
These folks seem to have amnesia about Obamacare’s glaring failures.
Here’s a quick refresher on Obamacare’s top four broken promises.
1. Costs are exploding.
President Barack Obama promised that his reform proposal would cut typical family costs by $2,500 annually. That, of course, never materialized.
The typical family today pays about 35 percent of their income for health care.
The small group and individual insurance markets were hit hard by big premium increases. An eHealth report concluded that from 2013 to 2017, the average individual market premium increases were 99 percent for individuals and a jaw-dropping 140 percent for families.
Costs have also increased for those with employer-sponsored insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, from 2010 to 2016, average family premiums for employer-sponsored plans nearly increased 32 percent.
Higher premiums are not the only shock. Out-of-pocket costs in the Obamacare exchanges, particularly deductibles, have been stunning. HealthPocket analyzed that for the lowest tier bronze plans in 2017, the average deductible for an individual is $6,092 and $12,383 for a family.
2. Competition and choice are declining.
Obama told America his proposal would increase competition in the health insurance markets but that hasn’t happened either.
On Tuesday, news broke that Humana will be leaving the Obamacare exchange markets next year. This was just the latest in a growing list of insurers who are jumping ship from this massive public policy failure.
Town hall audiences should take a good look at county-level data. A new Heritage Foundation analysis found that Obamacare’s exchanges, in their fourth year of operation, offer Americans little health insurer choice.
The downward slide in competition means that in 2017, consumers in 70 percent of U.S. counties are left with just one or two insurer options on the exchanges. The 70 percent figure is way up from 36 percent in 2016.
3. Forget about keeping your plan.
Perhaps the most famous health care promise of all, Obama’s promise: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.” In fact, there were 37 instances where Obama or a high-ranking administration official repeated that infamous promise to keep you plan and your doctor.
Rarely has there been such a disconnect between rhetoric and reality. In 2014, the first year that Obamacare was fully implemented, the Associated Press reported that there were at least 4.7 million canceled policies across 30 states. The law’s insurance rules and mandates forced many insurers to cancel plans that people liked and wanted.
Sadly, the disruption only continued from there. For example, hundreds of thousands of people signed up for plans offered by insurers under Obamacare’s co-op program.
But 18 out of 23 of these federally-funded insurers have already collapsed, meaning taxpayers are highly unlikely to be repaid the more than $1.9 billion in loans they received—not to mention the thousands of co-op enrollees that lost their health care plans, some in the middle of the year.
Not exactly a proud moment in public policy.
4. No, you can’t necessarily keep your doctor.
Obama promised patients that they would be able to keep their doctors. For many patients, that also turned out to be untrue.
Obamacare’s rising costs, and its limited flexibility in federally fixed benefit designs, resulted in plans resorting to narrow provider networks. Narrow networks limit access to doctors and other medical professionals as a way to contain costs.
Enough is enough. For seven years, Obamacare has proved to be one giant bundle of broken promises and policy failures. Congress needs to get serious—quickly—and repeal Obamacare.
This is a crucial first step in moving America toward the patient-centered health care system our country deserves.

Commentary by Jean Morrow. Originally published at The Daily Signal.