The Obamacare Hydra – Michelle Malkin – Townhall Conservative Columnists

The Obamacare Hydra – Michelle Malkin – Townhall Conservative Columnists.

The Obamacare Hydra - Michelle Malkin - Townhall Conservative Columnists

The Hydra was a mythical swamp beast whose multiple heads grew back after being severed. Obamacare is a real Washington monster whose countless hidden bureaucracies keep sprouting forth even after they’re rooted out. As soon as combatants lop off one of the law’s unconstitutional agencies, another takes its place.

On Thursday, as the behemoth federal health care law marked its second anniversary, House Republicans repealed the infamous Independent Payment Advisory Board. The mother of all death panels, IPAB would have unprecedented authority over health care spending through a rogue board of 15 Medicare spending czars. The House repeal has a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving the Senate. But IPAB’s legality is being challenged in federal court by the conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute. And the more the public knows about these freedom-usurping, taxpayer-soaking institutions buried in the health care law the less they like it.

Seven House Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the GOP majority rollback. Analysts on both sides of the political aisle have decried IPAB’s complete lack of accountability and insulation from judicial review. Critical decisions about public and private health insurance payment rates would be freed from the normal administrative rules process – public notice, public comment, public review — that governs every other federal commission in existence. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., summed up bipartisan opposition: “IPAB embodies the very thing Americans fear most about ObamaCare — unaccountable Washington bureaucrats meeting behind closed doors to make unilateral decisions that should be made by patients and their doctors.”

The problem with piecemeal repeal is that for every old IPAB, there’s a new, multibillion-dollar bureaucracy waiting in the Obamacare wings. Senate Republicans and fellow medical doctors Tom Coburn and John Barrasso point to a $10 billion entity called the “Innovation Center” that “would test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures under Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).”

According to a new Congressional Research Service analysis of this little known office to be operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there would be “no administrative or judicial review” of the director’s payment experiments. Coburn and Barrasso explain that “(t)his means that the administrator of CMS is the sole individual in the entire federal government with the power to decide whether or not models tested negatively impact seniors’ quality of care and meet the financial requirements spelled out in law.”

This “innovation” super-czar would be allowed to tinker behind closed doors — and then impose whatever experiments the “innovation center” chooses without any checks or balances on the methods or results. Moreover, at least two other sub-offices within CMS (subject to normal open meetings and open records rules) have already been tasked with researching payment and delivery models. Health care blogger Tevi Troy at warns: “The ‘innovation’ center appears to be one more way in which the health-care law is going to interfere with the practice of medicine, and one that physicians should start paying more attention to.”

It’s not just physicians who need to pay attention. Every taxpayer has a stake. At the end of the month, this shadowy agency will start doling out $1 billion in grants to payment experiment groups and data-tracking system builders. Sounds like yet another pipeline for political payoffs and Chicago-style boodle that will result in less patient autonomy, fewer health care choices, more government intrusion and lower-quality care.

Final diagnosis: The Obamacare beast won’t die until it’s eradicated completely, root and branch.

BARRASSO: Strategic Petroleum Reserve is for emergencies – not political disasters – Washington Times

BARRASSO: Strategic Petroleum Reserve is for emergencies – not political disasters – Washington Times.

By Sen. John BarrassoThe Washington Times

With the price of gas rising, Americans are feeling pain at the pump and President Obama is feeling the heat. Three years of his failed energy policies have done nothing to give America energy security. About the only quick fix the president has available is to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

That’s what he did last June when he sold 30 million barrels of oil to address rising gas prices. It is almost inevitable that Mr. Obama will try tapping the reserve again. The only question is when he will do it. Raiding our emergency reserves now would be nothing more than a campaign trick.

The reserve was meant for unanticipated emergencies and severe supply disruptions. Presidents have sold oil to deal with those kinds of emergencies twice before – during Operation Desert Storm (17 million barrels) and Hurricane Katrina (11 million barrels).

After Mr. Obama’s release in June, gas prices dropped by about 8 cents. Then they bounced back even higher within a month.

It would cost $4 billion to replace the oil the president took out last year. That’s about $1 billion more than he sold it for. Taxpayers will be on the hook to pay the bill.

Soaring fuel prices are exactly what you expect when Washington overregulates, restricts access and tries to control the marketplace. We’re headed for the most predictable energy crisis in history. Mr. Obama’s “solutions” have made things worse.

The Obama administration already has stopped issuing permits to explore for energy in the Gulf of Mexico. It intends to restrict future drilling to less than 3 percent of all areas off our coasts. Oil production on public lands and waters dropped nearly 14 percent from 2010 to 2011.

When the president rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, he shut the door on Canadian oil. That oil could have replaced what we import from such places as socialist Venezuela.

Now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is putting the final touches on a new rule that will force oil refiners to change how they make gasoline. This one new policy – the “Tier 3 rule” – could drive up the cost of gas even higher.

These Obama regulations and restrictions take more money out of the pockets of American families through higher gas prices. That is all part of the president’s plan.

Mr. Obama admitted during his last election campaign that he did not mind higher prices, though he said he preferred a “gradual” increase. Prices have doubled gradually since he took office.

The president has said he wants green energy to be the cheapest form of energy. He is trying to accomplish this by pushing policies that raise the price of red, white and blue energy.

The idea was to increase the cost of fossil fuels and subsidize alternatives such as solar power. Washington would control the energy market and pick winners and losers in the economy.

The president calls it “investment,” but someone always has to pay for that investment. In this case, it’s everyone who buys gasoline.

Higher prices have always been unpopular. President Obama needs to give himself some political cover. That’s why he gave a last-minute speech on the subject while campaigning in Florida recently. He blamed higher prices on Republicans, oil companies, China and everyone else he could think of.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama’s policies have focused on promoting his unrealistic vision of all Americans driving electric cars and powering their homes with solar panels.

As the president makes excuses for his inaction and bad policy choices, America continues to import essentially the same amount of oil as the day he took office.

What we need are real solutions to develop American energy sources. Oil and gas power our economy. They are essential parts of a true “all-of-the-above” energy policy.

The Obama administration resists this approach. It prefers to hope for alternative energy in the future and rely on imported oil from the Middle East until then. Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer recently echoed that preference by calling for Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production.

More oil from the Middle East and less from the United States is exactly the opposite of a rational energy policy.

Republicans in the Senate have proposed common-sense legislation to roll back some of the EPA’s most destructive regulations and free up energy exploration off our coasts and on federal land.

Increased American production and reduced costs are essential to maintaining our energy security. Tapping our strategic reserves now would provide relief to the president, not to American consumers. We don’t need more political games from the White House. We need Mr. Obama to get serious about making the most of America’s energy resources.

Sen. John Barrasso is a Wyoming Republican.

The EPA Gets Caught in a Big Fat Lie – Tea Party Nation

The EPA Gets Caught in a Big Fat Lie – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

The notion that the Environmental Protection Agency uses “science” to justify their regulations is false, just like most of the claims they issue on various aspects of the nation’s environment. Their favorite scam is to estimate the number of deaths they will prevent with some new draconian regulation.

The EPA is the American equivalent of the Gestapo, a ruthless enforcement agency with a very Green agenda that is opposed to the use of many beneficial chemicals, every form of energy, and the right of people to be left alone.

At the top of its list of priorities is the destruction of the nation’s economy with special attention to all forms of energy production. Manufacturing anything comes next, followed by afflicting the nation’s vast agricultural sector. The EPA insists that dust is a pollutant. You can’t farm without generating DUST.

To understand the threat the EPA poses it is necessary to understand that proposed Clean Air regulations are based on the claim that “global warming” is real, is happening, and is caused primarily by carbon dioxide (CO2). The claim is utterly without any scientific merit..

There is NO global warming. At least not the kind Al Gore lies about.

The North and South Poles are not melting; they gain and lose ice in a perfectly natural cycle that has been going on for billions of years. The polar bears are not disappearing. Drilling for oil in ANWR will have zero effect on the caribou. Et cetera!

With our vast reserves of coal and natural gas, the U.S. does not lack for the ability to generate electricity or to refine oil for transportation.

If you want to stay warm this winter, you better hope that utilities keep producing the electricity for your home or apartment’s heating system. Fifty percent of that electricity is produced by cheap, abundant coal and the EPA is hell bent to shut down as many coal mines as possible, leading in turn to the shutdown of utilities that burn coal. Natural gas accounts for just over twenty-four percent of electricity generation and it need hardly be said that the EPA is wary of fracking, the technology to access it.

Blowing the Whistle on the EPA

The big news—the kind even the mainstream media was unable to ignore—was that the EPA’s own inspector general has released a report accusing the agency of cutting corners regarding the “science” cited to justify its effort to declare CO2 a “pollutant.”

Simply stated, without CO2 all life on Earth dies.

It is a gas that plants use for their growth. From a blade of grass to a giant redwood, all depend on CO2, as do all the crops grown coast to coast. Enormous quantities of corn and wheat are grown that contribute to the U.S. economy, feeding both livestock and humans in wondrous ways. Take away vegetation and the animals die. Take away the animals that grace our dinner plates and we die.

Absurdly, the EPA says it is a “pollutant”, a dangerous hazard to our health.

No, the most dangerous hazard to our health is the EPA.

The EPA insists on ignoring all the other natural sources of CO2 as well as the fact that it constitutes less than one percent, 0.038 percent of the atmosphere. The oceans of the world gather it, store it, and release it. The EPA, though, says that when man is involved, it is pure evil.

Mind you, every human exhales about six pounds of CO2 every day. The fact is that the air Americans inhale daily is clean is due to the agency’s early efforts to mitigate some abuses. Those were the days before the EPA abandoned a rational, fact-based approach to its stated objectives. One of its legacies is the idiotic required inclusion of ethanol in every gallon of gasoline. Made from corn, it actually produces more CO2 to produce and use.

The EPA effort to regulate CO2 came along with the invention of the global warming hoax that claimed CO2 was “trapping” the Earth’s heat. That is why CO2 and others are deceptively called “greenhouse” gases (GHGs). Manufacturing everything from a donut to megawatts of electricity emits GHGs.

Finally, even the EPA’s inspector general blew the whistle on the utterly deceitful way the EPA arrives at its justification for a vast matrix of regulations that has been stifling the economy for years. The IG has charged that the EPA did not meet its own guidelines for peer review to ensure the integrity of the science stated.

Anyone who has been following the rise and fall of the global warming hoax knows that “peer review” has become a highly corrupted practice. Real peer review is critical to the integrity of any scientific study. When major science journals abandoned the peer review process to publish gibberish about global warming, they put all other new scientific studies at risk.

As Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted, the EPA’s regulation of CO2 emissions would require “230,000 full-time employees to produce 1.4 billion work hours to address the actual increase in permitting functions” that would result if the EPA is allowed to get away with this scandalous hoax. It would cost an estimated $21 billion per year. By contrast, the EPA’s budget request for fiscal year 2012 is $8.973 billion.

The EPA claims that the Clean Air Act gives it the power to regulate CO2, but it does not. It was never intended to, but the Supreme Court in one of its more idiotic rulings opened the door for the EPA claim. In his dissent from Massachusetts v EPA, Justice Antonin Scalia quipped that, as defined by the Court, “everything airborne, from Frisbees to flatulence, qualifies as an ‘air pollutant’”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) pointed out that “The EPA’s determination has led to a mountain of Clean Air Act regulations that could cost over a million jobs.” It is noteworthy that Sen. Barrasso said, “EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has regularly assured Congress and the American public that its finding is based on sound scientific practices.” It isn’t. Jackson “should testify immediately,” said Sen. Barrasso, “the American people deserve the truth.”

The EPA has been short on the truth about all of its claims for four decades and needs to be shut down in order to let a truly science-based agency replace it with strict congressional oversight and limitations.

The time is long overdue to pull the plug on the Environmental Protection Agency.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

BARRASSO: Regulatory overreach smothering economy – Washington Times

BARRASSO: Regulatory overreach smothering economy – Washington Times.

Obama review has killed one regulation

By Sen. John Barrasso – The Washington Times

Last year, President Obama promised Americans a recovery summer. This year, he’s given us a regulatory summer. He’s thrown a giant wet blanket on economic recovery and has given Americans a summer of more burdens, more costs and more rules.

At the beginning of this year, the White House issued an executive order to all agencies to review regulations. The goal was to cut costs and take Washington off the backs of business. The president’s order instructed all agencies that all rules “must promote predictability and reduce uncertainty” and “must identify and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends.”

Since that order, more than seven months ago, the administration has repealed only one rule – a rule that effectively treated spilled milk like an oil spill. By contrast, since the start of the year, the administration has proposed more than 340 regulations at a cost of more than $65 billion to job creators. It is important to note that these are only the regulations for which the administration actually conducted an economic analysis. For hundreds more, it has regulated blindly, with no cost or job numbers associated with its rules.

The president said on his recent bus tour that “there is some red tape that needs to be cut, and we should cut it.” Yet in just one week in August, two new rules were finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – rules that increased the regulatory burden on job creators by $10 billion.

The first of these two rules is the so-called “transport rule,” which purports to regulate emissions from utility companies. Its proposed method is expensive and heavy-handed. The EPA itself admits that the transport rule will cost thousands of jobs and unleash a $2.7 billion burden on the private sector. This rule raises the cost of energy and will make it more expensive to run factories and small businesses.

The second rule is literally unprecedented. It is the first-ever rule released that regulates mileage for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. This is a costly move that adds complexity, and the impact will be broad-based. Regulating these vehicles will affect small businesses, cities and towns that purchase emergency vehicles such as firetrucks and ambulances, and recreational vehicle owners. Everything from delivery vans to full-size pickups to even school busses will be hampered by these new environmental requirements. At a time when building strong, safe vehicles in America should be a priority, these new regulations are making it harder.

Under this rule, consumers will end up paying $1,000 more for every medium- to heavy-duty truck. The total cost of the rule is $8.1 billion. It would be nice if we knew what effect this would have on American jobs. The EPA conveniently forgot to do an analysis of the jobs impact of this rule. A little common sense tells us this means the rule is bad news for already struggling American manufacturing jobs.

Waiting on the horizon is the single most expensive environmental regulation in history: the EPA’s ozone rule. It is estimated that it will cost nearly $1 trillion. The administration has temporarily delayed this rule, but it needs to be canceled. Our economy must not take a third strike, a third major rule this summer.

I have introduced, in the Senate, the Employment Impact Act. This common-sense legislation will force Washington always to take into consideration the impacts regulations have on jobs.

While the president tells Americans that he wants to cut red tape, his administration is still churning it out. Now he is planning on proposing yet another jobs plan next month. If he wants to take this issue seriously, part of that plan must scrap his administration’s expensive ozone rule. His administration’s own analysis shows that unless it cancels this rule, no jobs plan will matter. Instead, no-job zones will spring up all across America.

New regulations and uncertainty continue to take a toll on our economy. America’s job creators should not have to suffer through another summer of Washington’s job-destroying regulations.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming is vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.