|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 8.19.13
Monday, August 19, 2013 ‚Äď
NSA Privacy Violations
The Washington Post recently published an article that detailed an internal audit indicating that the National Security Agency (NSA) breaks privacy rules ‚Äúthousands of times per year.‚ÄĚ This May 2012 audit finds 2,776 ‚Äúincidents‚ÄĚ ‚Äď instances in which rules or court orders regarding domestic surveillance were violated ‚Äď from April 2011 through March 2012.
Intelligence officials testifying before Congress had given the impression that errors were rare. Unfortunately, this information came to light several weeks after the House defeated in a vote of 205 - 217 the Amash-Conyers amendment, which would have stopped the NSA from conducting blanket surveillance. Had my colleagues known how often violations of privacy protection or legal rules are taking place, I believe more of them would have joined me in supporting the amendment and that it would have passed the House of Representatives.
The fight to protect Americans‚Äô rights, defend the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, increase transparency and gather information on the NSA and surveillance programs is a fight that must and will continue.
Yet Another Obamacare Delay
Borrowing from a recent Forbes article, ‚ÄúFirst, there was the delay of Obamacare‚Äôs Medicare cuts until after the election. Then there was the delay of the law‚Äôs employer mandate. Then there was the announcement, buried in the Federal Register, that the administration would delay enforcement of a number of key eligibility requirements for the law‚Äôs health insurance subsidies, relying on the ‚Äėhonor system‚Äô instead. Now comes word that another costly provision of the health law‚ÄĒits caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs‚ÄĒwill be delayed for one more year.‚ÄĚ
This provision would have limited out-of-pocket costs to $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families. As described by Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, ‚Äúwhen the Obama administration went to implement the rule, it found it wasn‚Äôt going to be that easy.‚ÄĚ Therefore, they opted to delay its implementation and announced the delay ‚Äúin a maze of legal and bureaucratic language that went largely unnoticed,‚ÄĚ according to The New York Times‚Äô Robert Pear. Where they get the authority to change the law repeatedly without Congressional action is a mystery.
From the Forbes article, ‚ÄúAccording to the Congressional Research Service, as of November 2011, the Obama administration had missed as many as one-third of the deadlines, specified by law, under the Affordable Care Act.‚ÄĚ
President Obama and the Democrats in Congress in 2010 drafted Obamacare as they wanted it, building it by stringing together a series of separate and distinct ideas that have been floating around Capitol Hill for decades. They set the timetables for its implementation without taking the time to figure out if it worked or if the country could really afford it. The Democrats rammed it through without Republican support and since then have been working on getting it to function.
Remember former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi saying that Congress had ‚Äúto pass the bill so you can find out what's in it?‚ÄĚ
Well, the Democrat-controlled Congress passed the bill, the President signed it, and since then they have not been able to make Obamacare work. I don‚Äôt believe Obamacare was built carefully enough to ever work.
The President has indicated that Republicans are no longer talking about ‚Äúrepeal and replace.‚ÄĚ He is partly right. While we hope the Democrat-controlled Senate will realize Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced before January 2014 when most of the provisions are ‚Äúsupposed‚ÄĚ to become law, it is doubtful they will. So now we are planning for the inevitable. Obamacare will be implemented. Instead of ‚Äúrepeal and replace,‚ÄĚ we will have to deal with ‚Äúcollapse and replace.‚ÄĚ Whether Obamacare is repealed or it collapses, the plan will go away. The question is how much harm the President and his allies will do to the country‚Äôs health care system in their insistence on clinging to an unworkable program.
The American people deserve a health care system that is affordable, high quality, fair, and that works.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office by email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.