It’s No Longer Obamacare — It’s IRScare
Another day, another scandal (or three). Whether the issue is investigating reporters, fumbling Benghazi or harassing Tea Partiers, people across the political spectrum finally are challenging the once-Teflon Obama administration. His groupies in the press are loath to criticize him directly, but the president’s “no drama” public façade is crumbling faster than a Kardashian marriage.
Some in the press compare the scandal tsunami to Watergate while the more daring sort are even breathing the word “impeachment.” The left and the talking heads can say what they want, but let’s hope Republicans avoid the I-word entirely.
Barack Obama isn’t the problem. Progressivism is.
If President Obama retired tomorrow so he could focus on golf, body surfing and autobiographies 3 through 13, would the country immediately transform into a liberty-minded paradise? Of course not.
President Biden (shudder) or another Democrat placeholder would grab the wheel of the sprawling bureaucracy and demand new departments with bigger budgets to better tell citizens how to eat, drink, work, play and pray. Big-government Republicans would jump aboard Uncle Joe’s Choo-Choo Train of Change insisting it’s the only way to prove bipartisan goodwill.
Worse still, the slow-mo train wreck of Obamacare would be chugging down a parallel track, taking out jobs, hospitals and health plans along the way. With or without President Obama, the “Affordable” Care Act can cause significant damage through sheer momentum.
After this president is gone, his legislation remains. And who will enforce it? The deeply unpopular, conservative-profiling, “mistakes were made” Internal Revenue Service. (Yes, I realize that line just signed me up for an audit.)
Obamacare is no longer Obama’s — it belongs to the Beltway bureaucracy. Health and Human Services is still convening committees, sub-committees and sub-sub-committees to convert the 2,400-page law into 20,000+ pages of regulations. Meanwhile, the IRS is staffing up to impose these byzantine requirements on a skeptical public.
The fact is, it’s no longer accurate to call it Obamacare. It is IRScare.
The federal healthcare law demands a bunch of tax hikes, millions in new IRS funding and nearly 2,000 full-time IRS employees to implement. The law requires insurance companies to give the IRS a treasure trove of personal information, including whether or not each citizen has purchased “government approved” health insurance. And if you don’t play ball, the IRS will fine... I mean, tax you for your insolence.
But not to worry—all of your personal, medical, and financial data will be stored in a secure, new government database. The IRS promises they won’t release any of your private information to left-wing groups, the press or the Senate Majority Leader. And they certainly wouldn’t treat you differently if you, say, belong to a Tea Party or write an article like this.
If the federal healthcare law is allowed to stand, its public face will be the IRS. There is little to gain by impeaching a lone politician. What must be impeached is the idea of big government and IRScare.
Follow Jon on Twitter at @ExJon.
More Voices Not Less: Volkalize Launches Social Networking Site
I'm tired of Facebook. I even contemplated deactivating my account there, but for that ubiquitous "Like" button (which you should click now). (Just kidding.) (But seriously, click it now).
Facebook is all about the people you know. They may or may not want to hear about your ideas, whether they agree or disagree with them.
If Facebook is for the people from your high school days, Twitter, it's said, is for the people you would have liked to have been there. You can get to know a lot about a person, 140 characters at a time -- or you can think that you do. In the end, those sites are focused on personalities, and not on using ideas to bring people together.
FreedomWorks maintains a great resource for political activists, Freedom Connector. There you can connect with like-minded people in your area using the handy geo-locator feature, and follow local announcements and breaking news -- and make your own.
Activist and software developer Ron Robinson helps campaigns run their social media and maintain voter communication. "I love Freedomworks' FreedomConnector," Robinson said, "and have used it many times to connect with new people in my own neighborhood. I'm not quite as good as I should be at answering every email that comes to me from people who have discovered me through FreedomConnector. But if they are paying attention, they know they can always contact me as a GOP official in the community and come to our local meetings."
Freedom Connector is there to help activists within the limited government movement to organize. What about outreach? What about talking to people who don't agree even broadly with those ideas ... yet?
Volkalize.com is a new social networking site with a different way of looking at what it means to be social online. I caught up with Jordan Bostick, President of Volkalize, at the recent Blog Con 2013. Volkalize launched a public beta test May 20.
FW: Jordan Bosstick, you’re from San Diego. How long have you been involved in politics and that sort of stuff?
JB: I started getting really involved at the end of high school and beginning of college, and then started working on my project about two years ago.
FW: What other groups have you been involved with around San Diego?
JB: I was involved with the College Republicans at Arizona State University. I was their Communications Director. When I moved back to San Diego this last May, a year ago, I joined the Fairbanks Republican Women. I do their social media.
FW: Do you see a lot of other young people in the liberty movement in your area?
JB: Not so much in my area. I find that with a lot of people you have to push them to really come to things. But in Arizona there was a lot more, and I feel that when I go to big conservative events there are lots of young people.
FW: What makes you want to do all of this?
JB: I describe it as hitting that threshold of knowledge where I realized how important it was, and how much I didn’t know, and I became obsessed with politics. When you realize how much it affects your life, and you realize that as an American you have a responsibility to preserve the free world -- and I truly believe it’s at stake -- I think that’s why I’m obsessed with politics.
FW: What is your company?
JB: My company is called Volkalize, at volkalize.com. It’s basically a political social networking site so that people can connect through their ideas, rather than through their preexisting social networks.
FW: And since it’s by invitation only, that keeps down spam. What kind of editorial control do you exercise? Is there any editorial control at all?
JB: We want to people to feel like they can express their opinions, but if there is anything threatening, or obscene -- we want the conversations to be appropriate for public discourse, so we do moderate. When users do become inappropriate, we will contact them and say, “That was inappropriate for this reason, please repost your opinions without any threatening or obscene language.
FW: As far as the actual content of the discussion, you don’t moderate that at all.
JB: No. We want all ideologies expressed because the reason I really started Volkalize was to increase engagement. Most people think media is so biased that they don’t listen to either side, because if they listen to a more liberal-leaning site or television broadcast, they know it’s liberal, and if they listen to a more conservative-leaning broadcast they know it’s conservative. So they don’t ever feel like they’re getting a true debate on both sides.
FW: And do you believe that most people are a mix of ideologies, not just liberal or conservative?
JB: Even here at BlogCon, you could there’s a wide variety of interests and ideologies, so I don’t anybody really agrees with a party -- Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian -- 100%. So the point is to show the people the debate, and have them make up their minds themselves.
FW: So on your site, the goal is for people to argue based on their ideas, not win the debate based on who they are, is that right?
JB: Yeah. Your party affiliations and stereotypes are left out. So on Volkalize people will see what you say, and then they can go visit your profile if they want, and your blog or donation page or whatever is linked to your profile, so they can connect with you outside of volkalize if they like what you’re saying on volkalize.
FW: Some people see Volkalize as great way to begin refactoring our politics. So we’ve got a left-right paradigm, and everybody feels like they have to fall into one of those categories.
JB: It’s basically discussing issues, rather than political parties. I think that’s really important, especially when you get back to local control of government and states rights, it really should be about the issues, rather than parties, and voting on specific positions rather than toeing the party line.
JB: We’re on Facebook and Twitter, and the site beta launch is May 20.
There is a lot of work that goes in to creating a social networking site. It takes a long time, or a special set of circumstances, and a dedicated core following. It also takes a great idea, and a willingness to believe in that idea. Volkalize, like Facebook, Twitter, and Freedom Connector, has that.
(At the time of this writing, Volkalize has no current or planned financial or legal relationship with FreedomWorks, me, or Ron Robinson.)
A Community of Hope
Last week Tea Party groups from across the nation made headlines for being the subject of targeted attacks by the IRS. They bravely came forward to tell their stories of being victimized by the largest and most powerful US government agency. They are heroes for refusing to relent under intense scrutiny and pressure. They would not be silenced and they would not quietly stand aside. Instead they chose to gather with like minded people in an effort to strengthen and serve their communities and their country by exercising their First Amendment rights.
They're heroes again today, even if they're not in the headlines.
Moments after the news reports started flooding in and spotlighting the devastating results of the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, Tea Party activists kicked into high gear to help those affected.
On twitter, I immediately started seeing conservative activists I knew from around the country offer their support. I sent out a few tweets and within no time I had responses from all over the country. People willing to donate time, vehicles to transport supplies, money or whatever was needed. I reached out to the people at Mercury One and asked how I could help and was immediately contacted back with directions on how to coordinate volunteers and supplies.
Dana Loesch inquired in a few tweets about people in the St. Louis area who may be willing to haul supplies to Oklahoma. Within a matter of hours, she was literally overwhelmed with offers to truck water, supplies, food, generators and anything else. Her convoy of trucks has been added to the relief efforts being spearheaded by Beck's charity.
FreedomWorks has focused its efforts over the past several years on empowering people at the local level to make a difference in their communities. Glenn Beck and FreedomWorks have had a great partnership for a while and though it has been more political in nature, it has always centered on the idea that people are most effective when they are empowered to act from the ground up.
What I saw last night was the culmination of this relationship benefitting people in likely the most devastating moment of their lives; regardless of ideology. Convoys of supplies arriving in Oklahoma to meet the tangible needs of a devastated community; in less than twelve hours. This is the community that the liberty movement has helped foster. It is a community built on the knowledge that at times in our lives everyone needs a little help and that there are good people willing to give it. It is a community that understands America was built on the individual being good, and decent and kind, and often giving more than anyone could imagine.
Support efforts are continuing around the clock. FreedomWorks is partnering with TheBlaze radio on Thursday, May 23rd for a 24 hour radiothon to raise money for the Mercury One charity. One hundred percent of proceeds go to the Oklahoma disaster relief effort. People are organizing relief efforts on FreedomConnector now as well.
FTR Radio along with Smart Girl politics, is also sponsoring a three hour radiothon Thursday Night from 8pm-11pm. All proceeds from this event will also go directly to the disaster relief effort. Guests scheduled to appear so far are SE Cupp, FoxNews' Monica Crowley, Dana Loesch, Erick Erickson of Redstate.com, myself and many, many more.
It is very easy to focus on the loss and the devastation when a tragedy like this occurs. There is no way to replace what has been lost for so many in Moore, Oklahoma. It would be easy to sink inside ourselves, but as a nation, that's not who we are. We help. We serve. We sacrifice. I'm reminded of this quote by Martin Luther King Jr.
Life's most persistent and urgent question is "What are you doing for others?"
It's a good question to ask every day, not just today.
The FreedomCast - Episode 37 - Engaging the Culture and Hey Girl It's Paul Ryan
Today on the FreedomCast, writer and comedian Emily Zanotti joins me to discuss the importance of engaging the pop culture, why conservatives need to loosen up a bit and how she made economics sexy with "Hey Girl It's Paul Ryan."
Have a suggestion for an upcoming FreedomCast episode, or a comment? Send it to me on twitter @KristinaRibali.
Subscribe to The FreedomCast on iTunes here.
Follow FreedomWorks on twitter and on Faceboook.
Follow today's guest @emzanotti on twitter.
Our podcast is fabulously produced by @BradWJackson.
Key Vote NO on the Senate "Farm Bill"
Dear FreedomWorks member,
As one of our millions of FreedomWorks members nationwide, I urge you to contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to vote NO on the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill, S. 954. While it is entitled the “Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013”, this bill is a bloated microcosm of everything that is wrong with the federal government, containing corporate welfare, direct welfare, government subsidies and carve-outs for favored industries, and a brand new entitlement program to boot.
To begin with, what is popularly known as the “farm bill” could more accurately be described as the Food Stamp Reauthorization Act, with agricultural provisions attached. More than 80% of the nearly trillion dollars of spending in this bill go to the food stamp program, properly called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Enrollment in SNAP has increased by 70% just since 2008, in part because the eligibility requirements are so loose and fraud so rarely punished. Helping needy families acquire food would be best left to the states, instead of being concentrated in a wasteful federal program which is only incentivized to keep adding more people to the dole.
On the actual agricultural side of the bill, the Senate did finally do away with direct payments to farmers, a program that was meant to be temporary, and which was largely paid to large farm corporations which are in no need of assistance. However, the Farm Bill continues to be a hot mess of corporate welfare, filled with special carve-outs for the industries whose lobbyists have succeeded in earning the favor of Congress. These favored industries include cotton, peanuts, corn, soy, and (most notoriously) sugar, which actually receives its very own section in the bill.
Yet another poorly conceived part of farm policy is that way in which crop insurance is subsidized. It would be enough if the federal government merely paid for a portion of the crop insurance premiums for farmers who need the help. Instead, the government pays for, on average, 60% of the premiums, with wealthy major corporations receiving the lion’s share of those subsidies. On top of that, the government also gives generous subsidies to the insurance companies themselves. The incentives are all wrong – farm companies are incentivized to take more risks because of their cheap insurance, while the insurance companies have no incentive to keep premium or administrative costs low because of all the free federal cash flowing into their coffers.
If all of this were not bad enough, this year’s Farm Bill creates a brand new entitlement program called “shallow-loss” insurance. While ordinary crop insurance is designed to cover catastrophic crop loss, like from an early freeze or a severe drought, shallow-loss covers the difference when farmers see their revenues fall below an average of the previous five years. Not only is this an unnecessarily generous subsidy in the first place, current farm revenues are at near-record highs, meaning that if revenues fall to even their average levels, farmers will receive a massive payout anyway.
And beyond (or as a result of) all of the bad policies contained within the bill, there is also the simple matter of its cost. A CBO estimate of the 2008 Farm Bill put its costs at $714 billion over ten years, and yet in 2012 the CBO’s ten-year estimate had already increased to close to $1 trillion. Yet the Senate Agriculture Committee is touting this bill’s “savings” of $24 billion, which still leaves taxpayers with a $950 billion bill. And that’s before agricultural revenues inevitably fall to somewhere closer to average, in which case the shallow-loss program will add countless billions more to the total.
This bill is sold to the American people as being for the small family farm, with 40 acres and a cow, which struggles to make a living every year. In reality, the overwhelming majority of the agricultural provisions in this bill go to massive (and highly profitable) farm corporations which use their federal subsidies to help force small farmers out of the market. And all of the farm provisions in this bill are, in the end, used as a vehicle to get Republicans to vote for the fast-growing and tremendously wasteful food stamp program. This bill is the sort of abomination that only big government could assemble, a singular container for all of the forces that have created the out-of-control federal Leviathan.
Thus, I urge you to call your U.S. Senators and ask them to vote NO on the Senate Farm Bill, S. 954. We will score this bill’s passage as a KEY VOTE when calculating the FreedomWorks Congressional Scorecard for 2013. The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes Members of Congress with voting records that support economic freedom.
President and CEO