What This Cybersecurity Expert Thinks We Should Know About Hillary Clinton’s ‘Private’ Email System

Ken McIntyre /

Americans deserve specific answers from the Obama administration about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s exclusive use of private email during her four years as the nation’s top diplomat to foreign governments, a leading cybersecurity expert says.

In an interview yesterday with The Daily Signal, Paul Rosenzweig said the U.S. government needs to get to the bottom of basic questions about the security of Clinton’s private email system while she was secretary of state, including the strength of protections against intrusions and who else had access to sensitive correspondence.

Government officials need to “capture all the emails” as soon as possible, Rosenzweig said, and then analyze the correspondence for evidence of hacking, improper deletions and other unusual activity.

“We appear to know that Hillary Clinton used a separate domain, clintonemail.com, for official communications,” he said, adding:

What we don’t know is what steps if any were taken to maintain the security of those communications against outside intrusions. Such steps might include encryption, two-factor authentication for login, advanced intrusion-detection systems on the server maintaining the data, audits and controls, and other access restrictions—who else could access it?

But, Rosenzweig cautioned, “None of this is to say that anything is actually wrong.”

Clinton, the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination for president next year, served as secretary of state under President Obama from 2009 through early 2013.

“First off, [government] should capture all of the emails. She doesn’t get to choose, right?”–@RosenzweigP on @HillaryClinton’s emails.

Clinton’s personal control of her official email communications was disclosed by The New York Times, then detailed by the Associated Press, which along with outlets such as Bloomberg has continued to flesh out the story.

For Rosenzweig, what the government needs to do is pretty simple:

First off, it should capture all of the emails. She doesn’t get to choose, right?… And then somebody ought to do an audit or analysis, maybe the Department of State’s inspector general. And look, I’d be perfectly willing to get an answer that says they did the state of the art and there’s no evidence of a hack. That’s no guarantee that there wasn’t a hack [but] I’d be much happier than I  am now.

The practices of the former first lady and U.S. senator came to light, sparking a media hullabaloo, as a House select committee probing the deadly terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 said it obtained, from Clinton’s staff, thousands of pages of emails that had not been supplied in previous congressional demands for documents.

The special Benghazi panel, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., last night announced it had issued subpoenas for “all communications” by Clinton “related to Libya and to the State Department [or] other individuals who have information pertinent to the investigation,” spokesman Jamal D. Ware said.

“The committee also has issued preservation letters to Internet firms informing them of their legal obligation to protect all relevant documents,” Ware said.

BREAKING: @HouseBenghazi issues subpoenas for all communications from Secretary Clinton related to #Libya. http://t.co/mmMVyKfcid #Benghazi

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) March 4, 2015

More than  five hours later, Clinton tweeted her first comment on the growing controversy about what she calls “my email”:

I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 5, 2015

A former policy official at the Department of Homeland Security, Rosenzweig founded the Washington-based consulting firm Red Branch. He is the author of a book on cyber warfare and lectures on cybersecurity.

As someone who spends much of his time advising clients on law and policy on keeping systems secure, Rosenzweig has some other questions:

I would be very interested in knowing who if anyone else in the State Department was aware of this choice. Did any of them approve it? Disapprove it? Get overruled? I’d be very curious to know what the Department of State’s CIO [chief information officer] at the time thought of this.

Although a lawyer who specializes in national and homeland security, Rosenzweig refrained from commenting on the legal aspects of the email practices of Clinton and at least one of her top aides at State.

However, Steven Aftergood, director of an anti-secrecy program for the Federation of American Scientists, told The Daily Signal that use of private accounts to conduct the public’s business is especially “problematic” because it “insulates the email from the normal operation of government oversight.”

That oversight, Aftergood said, includes congressional review and requests from the public and press under the Freedom of Information Act.

“It seems clear @HillaryClinton’s actions were contrary to policy and good government.”-@saftergood @FAScientists

“For years, agencies have instructed officials that any official emails transmitted through private email accounts must be copied and archived in government databases. As of last year, that is now a requirement of law,” said Aftergood, whose project targets government secrecy in national security matters. “Since Secretary Clinton’s tenure predated the change in the statute, it is unlikely that she violated the law. But it seems clear that her actions were contrary to policy and good government.”

Aftergood said Clinton’s practice risked making the nation vulnerable because her emails were of  “intense interest to foreign intelligence services.” She may not have transmitted classified material, he said, but her correspondence “would be highly sensitive.”

“Finally,” Aftergood said in an email to The Daily Signal, “withholding such email in private accounts deforms and distorts the historical record. It’s bad all around.”

Some political observers, Democrats and Republicans alike, suggest that Clinton’s electronic communications appeared to be set up to get around federal record-keeping requirements.

“It doesn’t matter if the [private computer] server was in Foggy Bottom, Chappaqua, or Bora Bora,” House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday, referring to State Department headquarters and the home owned by Bill and Hillary Clinton  in Chappaqua, N.Y. “The Benghazi select committee needs to see all of these emails, because the American people deserve all of the facts.”

Rosenzweig, a former fellow at The Heritage Foundation, suggested that one unknown danger resides not so much in the possibility that Clinton’s private email account was less secure than an official State Department account, but in the government’s ignorance of the identity of her information technology manager.

That person or company conceivably had access to Clinton’s emails to her counterparts and other figures in such nations as Russia, China and Iran. By the same token, unfriendly forces in such foreign governments could have exploited  ways to “harvest” and target her non-official account, Aftergood and Rosenzweig said.

Although an audit of Clinton’s email setup wouldn’t necessarily confirm an intrusion, experts with the correct tools should be able to tell whether files are missing.

“In theory,” Rosenzweig said, “she could have asked someone to maintain the account that would have made it as secure as anything else.”

Security, he said, “really depends on the resources invested.”

Clinton’s routine would not have been tolerated even rarely by a State Department contractor, the cyber- and homeland security consultant said. If caught using private email for official business, “you wouldn’t be a State Department contractor very much longer.”

“We haven’t heard from Hillary Clinton yet,” Aftergood cautioned before her late-night tweet.  “I think she needs to spell out her perspective on what happened and why.”

He added in an email to The Daily Signal:

If significant doubts still linger about whether all of her official emails have been transferred back to the State Department, then a neutral third party—perhaps an official from the National Archives—could be tasked to do a forensic analysis of the Clinton email server to ensure that no such emails have been wrongly withheld.

Asked whether government officials, up to and including Obama, had a responsibility to ensure the secretary of state adhered to prescribed practices, Aftergood said:

Yes, someone should have spoken up. It may be awkward for junior staff to do so, but the White House, the archivist of the United States, and department records managers all had a duty to articulate the email preservation policy clearly and effectively.

The Loophole That Could Liberate Maryland From Common Core Testing - Daily Signal

The Loophole That Could Liberate Maryland From Common Core Testing

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness /

As millions of students across the nation begin taking Common Core-aligned standardized tests for the first time, Maryland finds itself in a unique position to opt-out.

A loophole discovered by a state lawmaker gives the governor the power to withdraw Maryland from tests created by Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which are designed to assess how well students are learning under the Common Core standards.

“It’s important for Maryland because the PARCC assessments and the consortium already—in its very short life—has shown clear evidence that it was poorly developed, poorly managed, and crammed down the throats of the states,” said David Vogt III, a Republican member of the state assembly.

Vogt recently discovered a hidden clause in a memorandum — signed by former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2010 — that committed Maryland to PARCC testing.

The loophole grants the newly elected governor, Republican Larry Hogan, the authority to either recommit or remove Maryland from the PARCC exams within the first five months of holding office.

Maryland’s legislature remains Democratically controlled.

Vogt is rallying a coalition of parents, educators, and administrators to pressure Hogan to pull the state out of PARCC.

“[PARCC’s] not only unconstitutional, but it’s a hindrance to the education system of Maryland,” Vogt said. “Education was built to be a state-managed and operated function and the governor exercising his authority here will put it back in the state of Maryland’s hands.”

The timing of the discovery is significant, because Maryland, along with a number of other states, is officially administering the new Common Core-aligned tests for the very first time, despite protests that have sparked across the nation.

In New Mexico, two hashtags, #BarkAtThePARCC and #PARCCWalkOut, went viral on Twitter, encouraging students to “walk out” on the exams.

#BarkAtTheParcc we are determined to change the system. pic.twitter.com/EAEbwwjUqs

— Evelyn (@possiblydesired) March 3, 2015

@AP @BurqueMedia Day 2: Students from Albuquerque High walk out to protest #PARCC testing. #BarkAtTheParcc #ABQ #NM pic.twitter.com/Cg4caVgTzK

— AChristophersen (@akristofferson) March 3, 2015

In New Jersey, technical problems caused some schools to delay the tests, which are taken on a computer. Thousands of students simply refused to take the tests.

“It took more time to set up the test than it did to take the test,” junior Emily Green of Cresskill, N.J., told CBS New York.

In Colorado, The Denver Post reported that only five of every 100 students were able to log on to take its computerized tests due to technical glitches, spurring criticism that states were inadequately prepared to test to the new standards.

PARCC test starts in CO w/ tech glitches. 5/100 students able to log on. Hourglass spins. http://t.co/qPJTOk5ZYJ @tbfurman @MTAS_Chicago

— Raise Your Hand (@ILRaiseYourHand) March 4, 2015

William Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, told The Daily Signal that “very few” students protested the exams.

“Full testing began this week with few technical issues and no broad student or parent protests,” he said. “More than 40,000 Maryland students are taking the assessment today.”

Still, the grassroots opt-out movement in Maryland is difficult to ignore.

Tony Piacente, the father of an 8th grader who goes to school in Mechanicsville, Md., told The Daily Signal that he’s been battling St. Mary’s County and the State Department of Education for over six weeks trying to refuse his son’s participation in PARCC.

“They are trying to bully me into submission,” he said. “I get contradictory statements from both places and they still have yet to provide me the law or regulation that states my child must participate in the PARCC to graduate.”

Piacente said he opposes PARCC because, “The prep time and test time takes away over 30 plus hours of quality instructional time for students, kids are tested enough in class, and it places undue stress and pressure on kids of all age groups.”

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery yesterday spoke out in support of the PARCC assessment, calling it “a tremendous opportunity to gain more insights than ever before into how our students are progressing, and identify where we can all do better.”

But Vogt believes he can garner enough momentum through grassroots organizations to pressure the governor to pull out of the tests.

“It’s fairly uniform across the board [that] everybody’s concerned about the testing problems,” he said. “I’ve had phone calls and letters and emails come in — from parents and teachers who are in the public school system, to members of local school boards across the state.”

Without the PARCC exams, teachers would still be required to follow the Common Core curriculum.

Common Core proponents argue that PARCC and similar assessments are the best way for the federal government to ensure that states are faithfully implementing the standards.

Maryland, along with 45 other states, adopted the Common Core standards in 2010 as a way to ensure that kids are college and career ready, and to track student success in a way that’s comparable state-by-state.

Critics say the exams are too rigorous and detract from local and state control of the classroom. They also argue that states were incentivized by the Obama administration to adopt Common Core and its affiliated exams with $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants and waivers from the No Child Left Behind law.

Maryland received a four-year, $250 million federal grant for fully implementing the standards by the 2014-2015 academic year.

State lawmakers will formally challenge Common Core this week, when they consider a number of proposals that intend to slow down or halt the process of implementing the standards.

A spokeswoman for Hogan told The Daily Signal that the governor is still deciding what to do about the PARCC tests.

“The governor has major concerns about ‘one-size fits-all’ standards like Common Core and PARCC, and he will be exploring ways to improve or remove them during his term,” Erin Montgomery, the spokeswoman, said.

Obamacare Supporters, Critics Clash at Supreme Court Over Law’s Subsidies - Daily Signal

Obamacare Supporters, Critics Clash at Supreme Court Over Law’s Subsidies

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness / Melissa Quinn /

The highly anticipated case that could topple the Affordable Care Act reached the Supreme Court Wednesday, and already onlookers are attempting to deconstruct the justices’ inquiries in an effort to predict how the court will rule.

The nine justices met in the marble courthouse to hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, opting to extend the discussion for an additional 20 minutes. The court will decide whether the federal government can grant subsidies to states selling insurance through the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov.

Michael Carvin, who represents the four plaintiffs named in the case, and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who represents the federal government, went before the court to argue their cases and take questions from the justices.

“It’s a very intelligent court that asks a lot of pointed questions. I always think it’s stupid to try and guess how they’re going to rule,” Carvin told The Daily signal. “But I think we had a fair opportunity to present our case, and I think our case was very compelling. I’m happy with the way the argument went.”

“I think we had a fair opportunity to present our case, and I think our case was very compelling. I’m happy with the way the argument went,” said Michael Carvin, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell.

The court’s right-leaning justices—Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia—directed their questioning toward the law’s text, specifically the statute that authorizes subsidies for states that create their own exchanges.

To the contrary, the four left-leaning justices—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer—focused on the consequences of striking down the subsidies.

“In those states that don’t—their citizens don’t have subsidies—we’re going to have the death spiral that this system was created to avoid,” Sotomayor told Carvin, referencing a potential rise in the cost of insurance should the court rule against the Obama administration.

Many are looking to either Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Anthony Kennedy to cast the deciding vote in the case.

In the first challenge to the Affordable Care Act in 2012, National Federation of Independent Business v. Kathleen Sebelius, Roberts was pivotal in upholding the law and sided with the administration.

(Photo: Melissa Quinn)

(Photo: Melissa Quinn)

Kennedy, meanwhile, is typically the bench’s swing vote.

In an interview with The Daily Signal, Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said both justices posed difficult questions to Carvin and Verrilli.

Roberts, however, offered few clues to how he would rule in the case.

“The chief justice asked a few questions—he didn’t ask a lot,” von Spakovsky said. “But he also seemed to zero in on the text of the statute and whether it was ambiguous or not.”

>>> In Under 3 Minutes, Watch Instant Analysis on Today’s Oral Arguments in Obamacare Supreme Court Case

The justices are expected to begin private deliberations on the case Friday. A decision won’t be handed down until June.

The Affordable Care Act states that subsidies are available to customers who purchase coverage “through an exchange established by the state.” But the law also gave the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the ability to create a federally run exchange for states that opt out of running their own.

After 34 states decided to use the federal exchange, the Internal Revenue Service extended the subsidies to all 50 states.

“One of the unfortunate consequences of the IRS rule is that they did a bait-and-switch to the states and led them not to take this deal in the first place,” Carvin said. “I’m sure that if the court restores the original deal, the states will take it up or the federal legislature will assure that no unfairness occurs to American citizens.”

If the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration, health policy experts warn that millions of Americans could lose their subsidies. In addition, Obama administration officials feel the court’s decision could lead to the health care law’s collapse.

Opponents of the law believe the IRS overstepped its bounds and took on the role of the legislative branch.

“The goal of this litigation is not just to restrain the IRS from violating the law and taxing people without congressional authorization,” Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, told The Daily Signal. “It’s also to create an opportunity for real and better health care reform that actually makes health care more affordable.”

>>> Commentary: The Supreme Court Heard King v. Burwell. Here’s What the Justices Asked About and Commented On.

 

Conservative Reform Party Wins Estonian Parliamentary Elections - Daily Signal

Conservative Reform Party Wins Estonian Parliamentary Elections

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness / Melissa Quinn / Daniel Kochis /

Estonia’s center-right Reform Party won the most seats in the parliamentary elections that concluded on Sunday. The Reform Party won 30 seats, while the Centre Party, which is supported by most ethnic Russian voters, came in second with 27 seats. In all, six parties won seats in the 101-seat Riigikogu, Estonia’s unicameral parliament.

The Reform Party has come in first in the past three elections. The Reform Party and the Social Democratic Party have ruled in coalition since 2011. However, following the most recent election, the two parties no longer have enough seats to form a majority. Smaller parties are therefore being courted to help form a ruling coalition. Estonia’s Prime Minister and head of the Reform Party Taavi Rõivas has ruled out working with the Centre Party.

The results of Sunday’s election are good news for the United States. Under the leadership of the Reform Party, Estonia has flourished. It currently ranks eighth in The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom, and is one of only four NATO members who keep defense spending at the 2 percent of gross domestic product benchmark.

Estonia is a strong partner for the United States in Europe. This past September Prime Minister Rõivas paid tribute to the alliance between the two countries saying: “We both stand for what’s right and good. We are both prepared to accept responsibility for helping to ensure the freedom and prosperity of all nations that stand with us.”

Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and continued aggression, the U.S. should develop and implement a robust strategy to support the Baltic region. This strategy should include an indefinite extension of the European Reassurance Initiative and prepositioning of U.S. equipment in the Baltics.

The result of Estonia’s 2015 elections means the nation’s economic success and commitment to transatlantic security is likely to continue. However, with the menacing Russian bear on Estonia’s border, how robustly the U.S. commits to Baltic security will prove vitally important.

The Supreme Court Heard King v. Burwell. Here’s What the Justices Asked About and Commented On. - Daily Signal

The Supreme Court Heard King v. Burwell. Here’s What the Justices Asked About and Commented On.

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness / Melissa Quinn / Daniel Kochis / Andrew Kloster / Hans von Spakovsky /

Today the Supreme Court heard oral argument in King v. Burwell, an important case dealing with the Obama administration’s attempt to hand out tax credits not authorized by the text of the law.

This is the third appearance of Obamacare before the Supreme Court and the justices were so intrigued by the case that Chief Justice John Roberts extended the time for both sides to make their presentations as the case was being argued.

There was a huge scrum of reporters and television cameras on the plaza outside of the Supreme Court building and a large number of protesters, including Tea Partiers protesting over the IRS’s involvement in their health care.

In brief, Section 1311 of Obamacare grants tax credits to individuals who purchase health insurance on exchanges “established by the State.” However, when the majority of states refused to set up Obamacare exchanges, the federal government stepped in and set up federal exchanges. So far so good. However, the IRS then began authorizing tax credits for individuals on the federal exchanges, despite the fact that the text of the law authorizes tax credits only for state-run exchanges.

The IRS was challenged by Virginia residents (a state which didn’t set up an exchange) who don’t want to receive the subsidy because, with it, they will be obligated to buy insurance or pay a penalty pursuant to the individual mandate (both of which they object to), but would be eligible for an “affordability” exemption from that mandate without the subsidy.

The case was the only one heard today by the Supreme Court. Mike Carvin, the lawyer representing the challengers, gave a tour de force performance under heavy siege by the liberal justices on the Court.  They almost immediately sought to divert attention away from the plain language of the statute, which is unambiguously in conflict with the position taken by the IRS and the administration, by asking questions about the supposedly dire consequences that could ensue if the Court rules against the government. Of course, this is a policy issue that should have nothing to do with the legal question at issue. As Carvin said in his very first words at the podium, “This is a straightforward case of statutory construction where the plain language of the statute dictates the result.”

Right out of the gate, however, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg raised an issue that has been in the news recently but which had not even been mentioned or raised in the Justice Department’s brief. Early last month, a number of left-wing outlets began to argue that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the IRS rule because they had not suffered any injury.

Carvin dismissed this as an issue, but Solicitor General Donald Verrilli appeared to vacillate. On the one hand, he did not want to concede an argument that might help the government win. On the other hand, it would be difficult to contest standing at this point due to the factual finding of standing by the lower court and the fact that the government had not raised the issue before the Supreme Court.

Two interesting lines of argument came up today. First, Justice Sonia Sotomayor unveiled a somewhat bizarre constitutional avoidance argument that did not make it into the briefs of either party. She claimed that if the tax credits were unavailable in the states with federal exchanges, this would be unconstitutionally “coercive” of traditional state authority by politically forcing them to set up exchanges. She used the popular phrase “death spiral” to describe what would happen to state insurance markets if the challengers won. Surprisingly, this argument appeared to appeal to Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of the purported swing votes in this case (the other being the chief justice).

Of course, the problem with this argument is that prior cases involving coercion of states by the federal government have involved programs where state governments would lose federal dollars if they did not comply with federal requirements. But here, there are no federal dollars going to state governments that can be used to “coerce” their behavior – the federal tax credits are payable to individuals.

Justice Elena Kagan also posed an odd hypothetical in which she tried to compare the problem of state exchanges vs. federal exchanges and federal tax credits to her assigning the writing and editing of a legal memo to her three law clerks, when one of them is unable to complete the assignment.

Her point seemed to be that it would not matter who ended up doing the work and that was comparable to it not being important for purposes of Obamacare subsidies whether the state or the federal government set up the exchange.

Carvin gamely answered the hypothetical, noting that while Justice Kagan may be indifferent as to who writes the brief, Congress was not indifferent as to who set up the exchanges when it drafted the Obamacare statute. Justice Samuel Alito noted that it certainly would matter to him to know which of the law clerks wrote a brief. He would not assume “it was written by Will, because Amanda stepped into Will’s shoes” and wrote it for Will.

In general, there was a great deal of discussion over an hour and a half about the language of the specific provision on exchanges, whether the text should be interpreted differently based on the overall structure of the statute, and on the possible effect on the insurance market and individuals of a finding that no tax credits can be provided through the federal exchange.

The courtroom was packed with a who’s who of Washington insiders listening to the spirited debate, from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Ne., to former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

How the Court will rule is anyone’s guess, but we will likely hear one way or another by the end of June, when the Supreme Court’s current term ends.

Senate Fails to Override Obama’s Keystone XL Veto. See How Your Senators Voted. - Daily Signal

Senate Fails to Override Obama’s Keystone XL Veto. See How Your Senators Voted.

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness / Melissa Quinn / Daniel Kochis / Andrew Kloster / Hans von Spakovsky / Kate Scanlon /

On Wednesday, the Senate failed to override President Obama’s veto of legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sixty-two senators voted to authorize construction of the pipeline, five short of the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto. Thirty-seven voted to sustain the veto.

President Obama’s ridiculous veto of #Keystone prevented a great jumpstart to our economy. http://t.co/fVMMq4fVl8

— David Perdue (@sendavidperdue) March 4, 2015

Just who voted for these people??? Republicans say no to American-made steel for Keystone XL. Need to call for a vote of no confidence — NotForTheWealthy (@NotForWealthy) March 4, 2015

Today, I voted to override the president’s #Keystone veto. Read my statement & RT if you agree http://t.co/vfr4qekUo1 pic.twitter.com/cwiPbQssjO

— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) March 4, 2015

Senate fails to override President’s veto on Keystone. Falls short of the 67 votes required. — Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) March 4, 2015

The legislation was vetoed by the president on Feb. 24; his first veto of major legislation as president.

Here’s how some reacted on Twitter:

US Senate Fails…again. “@marknyt: Senate Fails to Override Obama’s Keystone Pipeline Veto http://t.co/cKdNVXbWXk

— Dan Cox (@dangcox54) March 4, 2015

Well it looks like our new Senate failed to override the Veto for the Keystone Pipeline. Expected, but disappointing nonetheless. — Joel Morder (@Joel_Morder) March 4, 2015

There are actually people blaming “spineless Republicans” for Dem Senators voting to sustain Obama’s veto of Keystone. I have no words…

— Ken Gardner (@kesgardner) March 4, 2015

Congress couldn’t pass Keystone after veto. Good. — Brian W. Porter (@riding_road) March 4, 2015

EVERY #Senator from EVERY state the #Keystone #pipeline would go thru wants it! Only #Obama‘s lapdogs are preventing it.

— Doug Day (@mortgageprotx) March 4, 2015

SOOOO relieved!! http://t.co/JYLVzFU9WL — Merle Ann Loman (@AMontanaView) March 4, 2015

Obama doesn’t care about jobs RT @Salon: After months of trying, Republicans’ attempt to force through Keystone pipeline ends in defeat

— Matthew (@Matthops82) March 4, 2015

Keystone got scuttled, Dems all about job creation and helping Americans at the pump….except when they vote on these matters — Rothbardian (@HippieH8er) March 4, 2015

Congratulations to U.S. Senate Democrats for keeping President Obama’s KXL pipeline project veto in place…. http://t.co/xzdc1nX9XJ

— PennEnvironment (@PennEnvironment) March 4, 2015

“Senate Fails In Bid To Override Obama’s Veto On Keystone XL Pipeline http://t.co/O4k0XQTyqE” Checks & balances in action!! WOOT! — Ben Nichols (@Nichols_mlchs) March 4, 2015


See how your senators voted here:

Screenshot from Senate.gov

Screenshot from Senate.gov

In Under 3 Minutes, Watch Instant Analysis on Today’s Oral Arguments in Obamacare Supreme Court Case - Daily Signal

In Under 3 Minutes, Watch Instant Analysis on Today’s Oral Arguments in Obamacare Supreme Court Case

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness / Melissa Quinn / Daniel Kochis / Andrew Kloster / Hans von Spakovsky / Kate Scanlon / Melissa Quinn /

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the highly anticipated case King v. Burwell.

After the 85-minute long arguments, Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, spoke to The Daily Signal on the steps of the high court to provide an analysis of the proceedings.

The Supreme Court is examining whether the Obama administration can grant subsidies to those enrolling in the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchange. As it’s written, the law states that only states operating their own exchanges are eligible for the tax credits. However, the IRS issued a ruling extending those subsidies to include the 34 states selling insurance through the federal exchange.

In his analysis, von Spakovsky discussed the questions the nine justices asked of Michael Carvin, attorney for the plaintiffs, and Donald Verrilli, solicitor general and attorney for the federal government.

“[Carvin] had very quick answers to even the toughest questions he was being asked,” he said. “I thought that the solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, was really trying to paddle uphill because he was constantly trying to get the court away from a plain interpretation of the statue, which is pretty clear. And that is the big weakness of the government’s case.”

>>> How Will Congress Respond to Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare Subsidies?

 

The Damaging Effects of Obamacare - Daily Signal

The Damaging Effects of Obamacare

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness / Melissa Quinn / Daniel Kochis / Andrew Kloster / Hans von Spakovsky / Kate Scanlon / Melissa Quinn / Alyene Senger /

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the case of King v. Burwell—a challenge to an IRS rule under Obamacare that provides the payment of premium subsidies to individuals enrolled in the federal exchange. Obamacare’s advocates have made various claims about the harm that would supposedly occur if the court were to find for the plaintiffs (King) in this case. While it is not surprising that those claims have attracted attention, it’s important to remember the harm being caused by Obamacare.

Infographic by Kelsey Harris

Infographic by Kelsey Harris

How the New Lee-Rubio Tax Plan Would Boost the Economy - Daily Signal

How the New Lee-Rubio Tax Plan Would Boost the Economy

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness / Melissa Quinn / Daniel Kochis / Andrew Kloster / Hans von Spakovsky / Kate Scanlon / Melissa Quinn / Alyene Senger / David Burton /

The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, is the only major country to tax its businesses on income earned outside the country and delays the ability of businesses to deduct capital expenses for as long as 39 years. The monstrous complexity of the U.S. tax system has a disproportionately adverse impact on small businesses. It is a major reason why U.S. economic performance is anemic.

The Lee-Rubio plan, announced today, would fix these problems and result in a rapidly growing economy. Based on a forthcoming Tax Foundation study of the plan and previous analyses of similar plans in the past, the plan from Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has the realistic potential to increase the size of the economy by 15 percent over what it would be if we do nothing. Although tax lawyers would probably see their incomes decline, most Americans would see substantially higher real incomes.

The plan does this by reducing business tax rates to 25 percent, allowing business to deduct capital expenses when incurred, moving to a tax system that does not punish U.S. businesses for operating and selling abroad and eliminating the double taxation of corporate income.

The individual side of the plan moderately reduces tax rates for some, but not all, taxpayers. It eliminates most itemized deductions. It would provide a large child credit that would cut taxes for many families with young children. But child credits do not improve the incentive to work, save, invest or take entrepreneurial risks. The revenue used to fund the additional child credit would be better used to lower tax rates. This would further improve economic growth and increase incomes for all families.

The business reforms in the Lee-Rubio plan are extremely good and would make virtually all Americans better off but the individual reforms could be improved.

A full analysis of the plan is forthcoming.

Can Obama Raise Your Taxes Without Congressional Approval? - Daily Signal

Can Obama Raise Your Taxes Without Congressional Approval?

Ken McIntyre / Kelsey Harkness / Melissa Quinn / Daniel Kochis / Andrew Kloster / Hans von Spakovsky / Kate Scanlon / Melissa Quinn / Alyene Senger / David Burton / Kate Scanlon /

The U.S. Constitution requires that tax bills originate in the House of Representatives. So could President Obama really impose a tax hike on Americans through executive action?

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Obama is “very interested” in raising taxes without congressional approval, according to a report by Townhall.

Recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., sent a letter to the president, advocating that the administration “act on its own” to close tax “loopholes.”

“Since the Republican-led Congress has refused to raise revenue by asking the most profitable corporations to pay their fair share, I would hope that the president could take executive action to remedy some of the most egregious loopholes,” Sanders said in a statement regarding the letter.

Asked about Sanders’ suggestion, Earnest said the president is “very interested in this avenue generally.”

“The president certainly has not indicated any reticence in using his executive authority to try and advance an agenda that benefits middle class Americans,” Earnest told reporters.

Earnest cautioned that there is no “imminent” plan to raise taxes, but that the president is considering an “array of executive authorities that are available to him to try to make progress on his goals.”

Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative and senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said that the president doesn’t have the constitutional authority to raise taxes unilaterally.

“This is another sign of how arrogant (and dangerous) this president is,” said von Spakovsky. “He believes he can rule by executive fiat and that the restrictions and limitations in the Constitution on the executive can just be ignored or shrugged off. The president has no authority to raise taxes whatsoever. Only the House of Representatives can originate bills for raising taxes, and this would be just the latest unilateral, abusive and unconstitutional action of the president.”

Curtis Dubay, a research fellow in taxes and economic policy at The Heritage Foundation, added that even through legal means, now is not the time for a tax hike.

“Tax revenue is near its historical average as a percentage of the economy,” said Dubay. “Washington has no business raising taxes today, whether legitimately through a bill passed by Congress and signed by the president, or unilaterally and illegitimately by a president far overstepping his legal authority.”

A White House spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal they had “received the letter and would respond directly to Mr. Sanders.”