Memo to Leonardo DiCaprio: Climate Change ‘Reforms’ Would Hurt People

Scott Blakeman /

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently designated actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a “U.N. Messenger of Peace” for climate change, touting him as a “credible voice in the environmental movement.”

Upon receiving the designation, DiCaprio, who will give an acceptance speech at this week’s Climate Summit in New York City, said he feels a “moral obligation to speak out at this key moment in human history – it is a moment for action. How we respond to the climate crisis in the coming years will likely determine the fate of humanity and our planet.”

Can a Hollywood actor be a credible source when it comes to something as complex as climate science? Perhaps. However, simply being a popular Hollywood actor does not, in and of itself, make one an expert on climate change. In fact, it should raise a lot of red flags when people start turning to Hollywood for credible information.

The truth is the dire predictions that were once made by climate change alarmists haven’t come to fruition. Data simply does not show that the climate has been getting warmer, wetter or wilder at the accelerating pace some predicted it would. All the climate summits in the world and all the marches and rallies may ironically increase the collective carbon footprint, but they won’t change reality.

However, drastic measures taken to combat climate change could harm economic growth. Increased environmental regulations, carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes all harm the economy.

Where is the indignation from Hollywood over the harm these policies and others like them inflict on people who struggle simply to afford electricity and other sources of needed energy? Increased economic activity is one of the ways to improve quality of life for people in America and across the globe, but there will be less access to jobs, hospitals, schools and businesses if excessive carbon emissions regulations and other such schemes are enacted.

Perhaps this is why the top leaders of countries such as China and India are skipping the summit. These countries have some of the largest populations, segments of which do not have reliable access to energy, and emit much of the world’s carbon. Their absence from this week’s Climate Summit is telling.

Instead of being a “Messenger of Peace,” DiCaprio should aim to be a Messenger of the Market. The free market can improve peoples’ lives, create opportunity and prosperity and simultaneously help with stewarding the environment. That idea probably wouldn’t mesh well with DiCaprio’s progressive inklings, but it would actually help people live better lives.

U.S. Terrorism Victims Win Landmark Case Against Arab Bank - Daily Signal

U.S. Terrorism Victims Win Landmark Case Against Arab Bank

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson /

In a unanimous verdict late Monday, a federal jury agreed that Jordan-based Arab Bank violated U.S. anti-terrorism laws in conducting business with Hamas-linked “charities.”

Some Israelis refer to Arab Bank as the “Grand Central Station of terrorist financing.”

It is the first case that successfully employed the strategy of going after terrorists by suing a major bank that allegedly did business with them. More than 300 U.S. nationals were part of the landmark terrorism trial that began last month in New York.

Some Israelis refer to Arab Bank as the “Grand Central Station of terrorist financing.” The plaintiffs or their family members were injured or killed in terrorist attacks while visiting Israel between 2000 and 2005 during the second intifada or Palestinian uprising.

>>> Arab Bank Accused of Helping Reward Hamas Suicide Bombers in Terrorism Case

In finding the bank guilty of violating anti-terrorism laws by providing material support to Hamas, jurors rejected Arab Bank’s key defense that it had no way to know some of its clients were using its accounts to provide payoffs for terrorist acts.

Wasfiyeh Idris, mother of suicide bomber Wafa Idris, surrounded by other female family members, holds a portrait of her daughter at her home in the al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank town of Ramallah. According to evidence presented at a terrorism trial today, families of suicide bombers received payments about four times the average annual Palestinian income. (Photo: Awad/Newscom)

Wasfiyeh Idris, mother of suicide bomber Wafa Idris, surrounded by other female family members, holds a portrait of her daughter at her home in the al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank town of Ramallah. According to evidence presented at a terrorism trial today, families of suicide bombers received payments about four times the average annual Palestinian income. (Photo: Awad/Newscom)

A dozen Middle Eastern charities with links to Hamas and other radical Islamic groups allegedly transferred $32 million to Arab Bank during the second intifada. The money was then allegedly paid out to families of suicide bombers and other Palestinians as rewards for acts of terrorism against Jews.

Families of suicide bombers were entitled to a $5,300 payment.

“I said before this trial that there is nothing worse than people in suits who incentivize terrorism for profit. This bank is the worst,” said Tab Turner, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys. “They deserve to be put out of business for what they did to these victims.”

In a statement after the verdict Monday, Arab Bank said it has “very strong grounds for appeal” and that the trial “was infected by scores of errors.”

Landmark Terrorism Case

It’s taken a decade for the case to make it to the trial stage.

Among the victims are New York attorney Mark Sokolow, his wife and two of his teenage daughters. They were shopping in Jerusalem in 2002 when Wafa Idris, the first female suicide bomber in the conflict, detonated a backpack bomb.

Mark Sokolow in a hospital bed in Jerusalem January 28, 2002. Sokolow, 43, a survivor of the September 11 attack on New York's World Trade Center, was a victim to another bombing attack on the junction of Jaffa Road and King George Street in west Jerusalem  in which some 40 people were injured and two killed. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/Newscom)

Mark Sokolow in a hospital bed in Jerusalem January 28, 2002. Sokolow, 43, a survivor of the September 11 attack on New York’s World Trade Center, was a victim to another bombing attack on the junction of Jaffa Road and King George Street in west Jerusalem in which some 40 people were injured and two killed. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/Newscom)

Bank documents showed a payment, through an account serviced by Arab Bank, to her surviving family. Also among the evidence was the confession of Abbas al-Sayed, the mastermind behind a Hamas suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel, in 2002 that killed 30 people and injured 140. Al-Sayed’s signed confession stated that he bought weapons for the attack with money transferred to his private Arab Bank account.

>>> Arab Bank Mounts Its Defense in Landmark Terrorist Financing Case

The federal judge presiding over the case instructed the jury that, to prevail, the plaintiffs had to prove that the business the bank conducted with Hamas-linked clients was the “proximate cause” of the terrorist attacks involved, and that the bank should have reasonably foreseen the potential for injury. In each of the 24 attacks at issue, the jurors agreed that it was.

Arab Bank: ‘A Show Trial’

After the verdict, Arab Bank called the trial “nothing more than a show trial.” It accused the court of eliminating its defenses, permitting weeks of inadmissible and inflammatory testimony and rejecting the Supreme Court’s causation standard.

In Arab Bank’s view, it was found liable for “legitimate and routine financial services.”

Arab Bank's main offices in the Jordanian capital, Amman. (Photo: Khalil Mazraawi/Newscom)

Arab Bank’s main offices in the Jordanian capital, Amman. (Photo: Khalil Mazraawi/Newscom)

Bank documents introduced by the plaintiffs into evidence revealed an intricate network that rewarded terrorist acts through use of Arab Bank accounts.

“The trial was infected by scores of errors,” Arab Bank said of the guilty verdict.

In addition to other charities, the Saudi Committee for the Support of the Intifada al Quds sent nearly $100 million through Arab Bank. An estimated $32 million of that allegedly was distributed as cash payments to martyrs and their families, including the families of suicide bombers; the rest was distributed to other Hamas-controlled charities.

Families of suicide bombers were entitled to a $5,300 payment, wounded “martyrs” received $2,655 and the families of jailed martyrs received a payment of $1,325.

>>> Paycheck for Terrorism: $5,300 for Suicide Attack

During the trial, terrorism financing expert Juan Zarate, author of “Treasury’s War,” told The Daily Signal that a loss for Arab Bank “could trigger further political, regulatory, and enforcement scrutiny from U.S. authorities.”

Palestians shout as they follow an empty coffin for Palestinian suicide bomber Wafa Idris. Middle East charities are under scrutiny for financially rewarding families for the suicide attacks. (Photo: Abbas Momani/Newscom)

Palestians shout as they follow an empty coffin for Palestinian suicide bomber Wafa Idris. Middle East charities are under scrutiny for financially rewarding families for the suicide attacks. (Photo: Abbas Momani/Newscom)

Several top banks we contacted prior to the verdict declined comment on the impact a guilty verdict would have on their relationships with Arab Bank.

The issue of damages, how much the bank will have to pay the victims, will be decided during a separate court proceeding.

“The trial was infected by scores of errors, and the bank has very strong grounds for appeal,” said an Arab Bank spokesman in a statement. “It will seek prompt review by the Second Circuit [U.S. Court of Appeals].”

Why You Can’t Keep Your Plan Under Obamacare, Explained in 3 Minutes - Daily Signal

Why You Can’t Keep Your Plan Under Obamacare, Explained in 3 Minutes

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson / Melissa Quinn /

In 2009, President Obama repeatedly told the American people, “If you like the plan your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” However, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, quickly led to the debunking of the president’s claim.

But why exactly did millions of Americans receive cancellation notices from their health insurance companies? Robert Graboyes, senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, dug through the Affordable Care Act’s 1,000 pages and came up with a simple way to explain the specific provisions that prompt insurers to cancel plans.

>>>  Top 10 Broken Obamacare Promises (Research by Heritage’s Alyene Senger)

 

 

Instead of Protesting, Climate Marchers Should Read This - Daily Signal

Instead of Protesting, Climate Marchers Should Read This

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson / Melissa Quinn / Nicolas Loris /

World leaders will gather for the United Nations climate summit this week after tens of thousands of protestors marched through Manhattan on Sunday urging action on climate change. Their time would have been better spent reading Steven Koonin’s Wall Street Journal piece, “Climate Science is Not Settled.”

Before you go labeling Koonin a climate denier, check out his resume. He served as the undersecretary of science for the Department of Energy during President Obama’s first term. He’s a theoretical physicist and the director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. And his message is clear and straightforward: Yes, the climate is changing as it always has. But the science is far from settled, and there’s great uncertainty into all that goes into a changing climate. Climate models have serious limitations, and we’re nowhere near understanding variations in the climate enough to make sound policy decisions.

Yet the administration is forging ahead with regulations on conventional fuels that will drive up energy costs for American households and businesses. The bulk of the administration’s climate change plan is built around regulating carbon emissions from new and existing power plants that will drive out coal, which makes up 40 percent of America’s electricity generation. The Obama administration also has subsidized alternative energy sources and implemented a host of new energy efficiency standards for vehicles and appliances to reduce carbon emissions.

Koonin himself is supportive of some of these policies, including energy efficiency mandates and government spending on low-carbon energy sources. He calls them “no-regret” policies but acknowledges bigger climate strategies can carry immense costs. But even the no-regret policies have costs that make Americans worse off.

The result of these regulations, subsidies and mandates will be trillions of dollars lost in compliance costs and less economic growth.

For instance, our federal government has thrown away tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to build politically preferred energy technologies aimed to ultimately wean us off conventional fuels. A diverse, innovative energy sector does have benefits and will provide Americans with the most reliable energy at the best cost. But that should be done through free-market competition—not the government picking winners and losers.

If that weren’t enough, government bureaucrats want to play energy guardian by telling us how much energy we can use to drive our cars, wash our clothes and microwave our leftovers. The government has put in place a host of efficiency mandates, taking choices away from individuals and businesses, with the hope of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All of these policies and regulations are predicated on the notion that we need to do something about climate change.

Cumulatively, the result of these regulations, subsidies and mandates will be trillions of dollars lost in compliance costs and less economic growth as America depends on conventional fuels for just about every aspect of economic activity. And even if the planet were headed toward dangerous levels of warming, which it is not, these policies still would be unsound as they will cost a great deal and do little to actually mitigate global temperatures. But Koonin presents evidence and uncertainties why that’s not the case when it comes to our changing climate. And he concludes his piece with an important message about politicizing the science:

Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging the scientific certainties, but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do so otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.

And ignoring climate realities to implement economy-crushing regulations is a great disservice to both the economy and public policy.

Politico Found Lois Lerner. So Why Can’t the U.S. Attorney in Washington? - Daily Signal

Politico Found Lois Lerner. So Why Can’t the U.S. Attorney in Washington?

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson / Melissa Quinn / Nicolas Loris / Hans von Spakovsky /

Politico obviously had no problem finding Lois Lerner for an exclusive interview that it published on Monday. So why can’t the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen, Jr., find Lois Lerner so that a federal grand jury can interview her? Perhaps the Obama administration doesn’t want Lerner answering any real questions about what happened at the IRS when it was targeting conservative organizations.

While Lois Lerner gave a lengthy interview to Politico in the presence of her legal defense team, including her husband, who is also a lawyer and a partner at a major law firm, she didn’t answer a single substantive question about the IRS’s actions. In fact, Rachael Bade, the Politico reporter, admits that Lerner “studiously avoided answering fundamental questions about her role in the IRS scandal.”

Given its lack of substance, it appears that this personal interview is part of a publicity campaign by Lerner’s legal team to try to repair her public image, since Lerner refuses to actually provide the information that Congress has asked for and over which she was held in contempt by the House of Representatives on May 7, 2014. And that brings us back to Ronald Machen, who was nominated by President Obama to be the U.S. Attorney for D.C. and confirmed by the Senate in February 2010. Machen has taken no action on Lerner’s contempt citation, which the clerk of the House sent to him in May.

Under federal law (2 U.S.C. §194), the duty of the U.S. Attorney “shall be to bring the [contempt citation] before” a federal grand jury for action. Under 2 U.S.C. §192, Lerner could be imprisoned “for not less than one month nor more than twelve months” and fined up to $1,000 for refusing to answer questions posed by Congress. Yet despite the mandatory language of the federal statute, it now has been almost five months since Machen received the contempt citation. There has been no public statement from Justice that any action has been taken by Machen to do what he is supposed to do: present the Lerner contempt citation to a grand jury. It appears to have gone down a rabbit hole at Justice.

Perhaps Rachael Bade, the Politico reporter who got the exclusive interview with Lois Lerner, can send Machen contact information for Lois Lerner. It looks like Machen needs it. And perhaps just one of the many enterprising reporters who inhabit Washington and who are always looking for a good story could ask Machen why he hasn’t acted and whether he ever intends to conduct his own “exclusive interview” with Lois Lerner – before a federal grand jury.

Lerner’s husband brags that Lerner got “amazing ratings and bonuses” under “both Republican and Democratic administrations” as if that excuses her actions. But that is meaningless. Career civil servants like Lerner are seldom disciplined for misbehavior, and good ratings and bonuses for career executives are commonplace, not rare, in the federal system.

Lerner’s claim in the interview that her personal political opinions as a registered Democrat “never affected my work” is belied by the emails that have surfaced in which she (and her husband) berate conservatives, calling them “crazies” and “a-holes,” as well as her actual behavior on the job. She very clearly did not like conservative organizations spending money on political speech and political campaigns, complaining about the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, and praising states that tried to counter it.

Former Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee Ann Elliott, who worked with Lerner at the FEC before Lerner moved to the IRS, confirmed to Politico that Lerner was biased against groups that were political spenders. Another former FEC executive assistant said that Lerner’s “ideology inhibited fair administration of the law.”

Lerner tells Politico that “you don’t hear half of what happened because they are picking and choosing,” apparently referring to Republican members of Congress who are trying to investigate the IRS. But if that is true, then Lerner has only herself to blame – she is the one refusing to answer questions about “what happened.”

 

 

No Apologies: Lois Lerner Breaks 16-Month Silence on IRS Scandal - Daily Signal

No Apologies: Lois Lerner Breaks 16-Month Silence on IRS Scandal

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson / Melissa Quinn / Nicolas Loris / Hans von Spakovsky / Melissa Quinn /

It’s been one year since Lois Lerner officially retired from the Internal Revenue Service amid accusations that the tax agency improperly had targeted tea party and other conservative groups. Now, Lerner is speaking out and offering no apologies for her role in the scandal.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Lerner told Politico, echoing the few words she uttered to a congressional panel investigating the targeting. “I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country.”

Breaking her silence in the news media since the story of the IRS’s aggressive scrutiny of conservative groups broke more than a year ago, Lerner defended her tenure.

“Regardless of whatever else happens, I know I did the best I could under the circumstances and am not sorry for anything I did,” she told Politico.

“…I did the best I could under the circumstances and am not sorry for anything I did,” former IRS official Lois Lerner tells Politico.

While she was head of the IRS division overseeing tax exempt organizations, right-leaning groups were forced to answer invasive questions on applications and waited years before receiving action on their request for tax exempt status. That unusual scrutiny that prompted dozens of congressional hearings and an ongoing investigation into whether Lerner was operating on her own or under orders from the White House.

>>> In Depth: Why Americans Should Be Concerned About the IRS and Political Bias

Lerner began working at the IRS in 2001 after  20 years at the Federal Election Commission. She had limited knowledge of tax law and IRS operations.

“Her fuse was short, and if you come to the IRS, you better be able to sit and listen and ask questions and absorb and rethink,” Debra Kawecki, an attorney who worked with Lerner until 2006, told Politico. “And she had a hard time doing that.”

In 2006, Lerner took over the tax exempt organizations division.

Following the landmark Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court upholding independent political activity as free speech, she expressed skepticism.

In several emails, Lerner supported legislation by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to require more disclosure from political groups receiving tax exempt status. Similarly, she commended the writer of a June 2012 email about how states created their own disclosure rules in the wake of the Citizens United decision.

“You done good!” Lerner wrote. “Now, if you can only fix the darn law!”

Lerner, though, contended in the Politico interview that she is  “not a political person” and said she has a history of supporting candidates across the political spectrum.

>>> Commentary: More Evidence of Lois Lerner’s Liberal Bias

Larry Noble, Lerner’s former boss at the FEC, agreed and said she was “never partisan.”

However, FEC Commissioner Lee Ann Elliott and Craig Engle, who worked with Lerner at the FEC, said ideology affected her work.

“Lois’ ideology is against money in politics, is ‘anti-contribution;’ that’s her bias,” Engle told Politico. “Her ideology inhibited fair administration of the law.”

On May 22, 2013,  Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. According to Politico, the IRS placed her on indefinite administrative leave.

Former IRS official Lois Lerner pled the Fifth before Congress. Now, she’s breaking her silence to the media.

Lerner officially retired in September 2013 and now receives a $100,000 annual pension, Politico reported.

Last March, Lerner pleaded the Fifth once more before the House Oversight Committee. Afterward, the entire House voted to hold her in contempt of Congress..

Congressional investigators have released emails from Lerner in which she refers to conservatives as “crazies” in addition to a vulgar anatomical term.

Lerner and husband Michael Miles, a lawyer, said such messages were taken out of context.

>>> Commentary: The Latest Clue That the Justice Department Investigation of the IRS Scandal is a Sham

The bulk of Lerner’s emails sent between 2009 and 2011 — the period when conservative groups were targeted — were reported lost after what the IRS said was a computer crash three years ago. The agency only told lawmakers of the crash in June.

Some House Republicans and other critics contend the IRS tried to cover up the contents of the emails. Lerner, though, rebuffed the idea that she crashed her own computer.

“How would I know two years ahead of time that it would be important for me to destroy emails,” she said, “and if I did know that, why wouldn’t I have destroyed the other ones they keep releasing?”

Several emails obtained by congressional investigators show Lerner became aware that tea party groups faced additional scrutiny in 2010 and attempted to correct the agency’s “be on the lookout” criteria when she found out about it in 2011. IRS employees, Politico reported, continued the practice.

Some congressional Republicans have called for the appointment of a special prosecutor. Lerner’s allies, though, call her a scapegoat.

Former IRS official Lois Lerner on IRS targeting scandal: “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

>>> Exclusive: Liberal Senator Preparing Report That Dismisses Allegations of IRS’ Tea Party Targeting

“You could take her out of there and just stand in a different person, and no matter who it is, we would have the same result,” Karen Gries, a tax lawyer who previously worked with Lerner, told Politico. “I don’t believe this is reflective of Lois the individual or Lois the professional.”

Lerner told Politico she struggles to find employment and has received a multitude of hate mail and death threats. Federal agents were called to protect her at home following one threat. Her two daughters and mother-in-law also received “hate calls.”

Lerner staunchly told Politico that the public was hearing only one side of the story. Asked if “she could tell the world anything,” she said:

And, oh, one more thing — I’m doing just fine.

51 Cents of Every Dollar: How Much Americans Think the Government Wastes - Daily Signal

51 Cents of Every Dollar: How Much Americans Think the Government Wastes

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson / Melissa Quinn / Nicolas Loris / Hans von Spakovsky / Melissa Quinn / Romina Boccia /

Americans estimate that Washington wastes 51 cents of every dollar it spends, according to a Gallup poll released last week.

The timing could not have been more appropriate. The poll was released just days before Congress and the president agreed on  a stopgap spending measure to fund federal government programs and agencies indiscriminately at the annualized rate of $1.1 trillion. This year’s figure is tied for the highest since Gallup began asking the question in 1979. The 2011 survey, conducted after the $800 billion stimulus bill was enacted, also registered 51 percent.  Except for a low point of 38 percent during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, American perception of government waste has gone the same direction as the size of the federal budget—up. galluppollwaste Americans’ estimate of how much the federal government wastes is likely more an expression of a general discontent with operations in Washington than the result of a budget ledger review. Americans are right that government waste goes beyond obvious inefficiency, mismanagement and fraud, and even beyond such boondoggles as the bridge to nowhere or the infamous RoboSquirrel. Economists think of waste as the misallocation of resources from higher-valued activities to lower-valued ones. Waste comes in many sizes and shapes, such as spending on projects that cost more than the benefits they create, or federal funding for functions that are better performed by the private sector or by state and local governments. Last week’s congressional stopgap measure (continuing resolution) funded several wasteful provisions, by extending funding for the 1,582-page omnibus spending bill Congress had passed in January, which included handouts to the energy industry, funding for purely local projects and continued obsolete rural programs. And yet, annual congressional spending bills deal only with about one-third of the federal budget. The remaining two-thirds consist of mandatory spending on health care, retirement, welfare and interest on the debt. Of the more than $100 billion in officially estimated improper payments in 2013, parts of Medicare and Medicaid were among the largest contributors, according to the Government Accountability Office. Medicare and Medicaid reforms should be a top priority for the next Congress. Moreover, a specifically dedicated waste commission could step in where Congress has fallen behind in its oversight responsibilities, consolidating duplicative programs and eliminating inappropriate spending and waste. Ultimately, though, reducing government waste requires reducing the size and scope of government activity. Congress has its work cut out for it.

‘Jesus Loves You All!’ College Students Respond to Angry Preacher - Daily Signal

‘Jesus Loves You All!’ College Students Respond to Angry Preacher

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson / Melissa Quinn / Nicolas Loris / Hans von Spakovsky / Melissa Quinn / Romina Boccia / Kate Scanlon /

A preacher spoke at James Madison University, telling students they were “going straight to hell” and that there was no possibility of redemption.

But instead of responding with anger, students began to sing the hymn “How He Loves Us.”

When they finished, the student playing the guitar yelled “Jesus loves you all!” to the crowd.

In Depth: Why Americans Should Be Concerned About the IRS and Political Bias - Daily Signal

In Depth: Why Americans Should Be Concerned About the IRS and Political Bias

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson / Melissa Quinn / Nicolas Loris / Hans von Spakovsky / Melissa Quinn / Romina Boccia / Kate Scanlon / Genevieve Wood / Hans von Spakovsky /

Daily Signal’s Genevieve Wood talks to Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer representing many of the groups targeted by the IRS, and Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, about the IRS and Justice Department’s stonewalling — and what can be done.

Conservatives Decry Obamacare’s Hidden Abortion Coverage - Daily Signal

Conservatives Decry Obamacare’s Hidden Abortion Coverage

Scott Blakeman / Sharyl Attkisson / Melissa Quinn / Nicolas Loris / Hans von Spakovsky / Melissa Quinn / Romina Boccia / Kate Scanlon / Genevieve Wood / Hans von Spakovsky / Kelsey Harkness /

Conservatives in Congress are taking President Obama to task for breaking a promise to Americans, if not outright lying, that taxpayers’ money won’t pay for abortions under Obamacare.

“Clearly, in this case, the administration lied to the American people,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, said Thursday during  Conversations with Conservatives, a group of free market and liberty-minded House members who meet each month with reporters.

In 2009, promoting the Affordable Care Act to Congress and the American public,  President Obama pointedly said: “No federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”

But after a new report from the Government Accountability Office showed that assertion to be wrong, conservatives weren’t shy in calling out Obama.

“In my opinion, the president and [former Health and Human Services Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius knew full well that Obamacare plans would be funding abortion,” Huelskamp said.

abortionsOcare-v3

Infographic: Kelsey Harris

In addition to finding that taxpayer money does, in fact, go to fund insurance plans that cover elective abortions, the GAO report shows that under Obamacare it is extremely difficult for consumers to figure out which plans do not cover abortions in the first place.

“The GAO report shows that Obamacare is hiding the ball when it comes to abortion coverage,” said Sarah Torre, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation who closely follows developments on Obamacare and abortion.

Torre said:

Americans who would otherwise object to paying for abortion coverage may not even be aware that they’re signing up for a plan that includes elective abortion. They often have to dig through a summary of benefits materials, pore over insurers’ websites, or call insurers directly, hoping to find an answer. In some cases, as insurers admitted to the GAO, individuals might not know their plan covers elective abortion until they’re already enrolled.

>>> Commentary:  How Obamacare Forces You to Subsidize Plans That Cover Elective Abortions

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, calls for ‘certainty.’ (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio,  also among those attending Conversations With Conservatives, said: “Most Americans don’t want their tax dollars used for this, and we need to make sure that they can plainly see that.”

Americans, Jordan told The Daily Signal later, should “know with certainty that their tax dollars aren’t being used to take the lives of the unborn.”

Jordan, who sits on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is a co-sponsor of H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding Abortion Act. It would ensure that no federal funds could be used to pay for abortion or health benefit plans that cover abortion, including those offered through Obamacare insurance exchanges.

>>> Flashback: Obama Promises ‘No Federal Dollars Will Be Used to Fund Abortions’

In recent days, Jordan and other pro-life House conservatives pressed the Senate to pass versions of H.R. 7 and another bill (H.R. 3279). The second bill would amend Obamacare to require insurance issuers that include elective abortion coverage on exchange plans to prominently display that fact in marketing and enrollment materials.

The new GAO report also “highlights and underscores the problems with Obamacare in general,” Jordan said.

“We’ve had this for a year—we’ve had so many sections of it waived, it’s why this law [the Affordable Care Act] needs to go away.”

Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, had his own sarcastic take on Obama’s 2009 pledge.

“Obama lie about Obamacare?” he asked at the lawmakers’ gathering with reporters. “That would have never happened, I’m sorry.”