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…and Obamacare will fix it all

One of the great problems in politics today is not the laws that are being passed, though many are quite troubling. It’s not the partisanship that has gridlocked Congress, though that is pervasive and adds to the problem. It’s the fact that there is no consideration of the consequences of what is being shoved into law.

Obamacare is of course a great example. Here we have a partisan law, passes without being read, that the public has never wanted, touted as the great fix to healthcare insurance woes. So far, the website cost 3x it’s initial estimate and is inferior to similar sites by 10 years of technology. Millions are finding out that “affordable” is a relative term, rarely matching the hype that this law has been surrounded by. Hundreds of thousands are quickly learning that keeping the insurance and doctors they have and like is not an option – or when it is, it is too expensive to be realistic.

Is this because healthcare reform was a bad idea? NO. Was it because of the partisan gridlock? Partially, as excluding reform ideas from across the isle limits the effectiveness of any law. Is it because partisan ideology demanded that politicians not pause for a moment to reflect (or read) what they were doing. The consequences of their actions were of no concern in the face of getting it done. Mere years later and already havoc is starting to play out, with no end in sight of how long the dominoes will fall.

All of that, and the worst consequence of all. Partisanship sold the Rights of America on the cheap. A precedent has been made that Government has a Right above the people. If the Government can make everyone do one thing, it can make them do anything. Maybe not this Administration, or even the next, but eventually it will happen because absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Still, this is not the only example. Look at the Obama Stimulus, which was another speedy race to pass a law that few understood the scope of. In June of 2009 it was found, by the Associated Press, that food was literally being taken out of the mouths of the public.

“People are finding out that because of the extra $25 they cannot decline, calculations made including this money is placing Americans over the Government limits for food stamps and other forms of aid. The range of the loss is unknown (and likely to remain so), but the AP provided an example – costing a family $300 in food stamps they now cannot receive.”

Perhaps the best example is all the bluster about the national debt. Each side keeps talking about how devastating the cuts are and how big a cut is being made. Except they leave out that the cuts are reductions in the future increases in spending. And even then Congress tries to find ways to spend money it doesn’t have and evade laws it put in place to prevent spending more. If you think that anyone is being honest on the debt, try and find one person who has stated the impact of interest rates increasing to just the level since 1980′s (4.25%). You won’t find that in any plan of debt reduction – which is odd since it will nearly overnight add several trillions of dollars to the debt, assuming not another dime is spent.

The problem is that Government thinks it can fix it all. Congress thinks that enough short-term fixes will patch up any problem forever. More than a few elected officials are quite happy riding the fence on issue after issue, making a few well placed comments to keep constituents in the dark and their re-election secure; knowing full well that at some point it will be time to pay the reaper. Except that politician won’t be around to worry about it, apparently they hope.

If all you want are 30-second soundbites, the headline is all you need from this commentary. You can vote for whatever politician makes the best empty promise you like – such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s, ‘You need to pass it to find out what’s in it.’ If you think that Government is filled with people endowed by an election with knowledge that surpasses the norm, simply because they won, there are plenty of politicians that act as if they are nobility (like Sen. Schumer for one example) that you can vote for.

But be prepared. Voter apathy combined with the political ambitions of too many in Congress have led to consequences that we are really not able to kick down the road without consequence any more. Our credit rating is in danger, our energy independence is questionable, our freedoms are eroding, and our economic stability is in jeopardy. If you believe that simply fixing the bugs on a website will resolve the holes in Obamacare, you really won’t like what probably will happen over then next several years.

Politicians are not soothsayers, nor should they try to be. But reasonable attempts to think more than 1 election down the road, combined with taking the time to pass laws that are actually meaningful and what voters want isn’t too much to expect. Having a Congressman that can actually take a position and stand by it would be a nice change in the New York 22nd Congressional District as an example; and if that Representative could also try to pass a law that might benefit constituents and the nation, well that would be a night worthy of fireworks.

Until voters take on politicians and vote out those that are the worst in preserving their power at the cost of quick fix gimmicks and finger-pointing, dominoes will fall where we least expect them, leaving us a weaker and less great nation.

It doesn’t have to be like that. We can have better laws, better Representatives and Senators. We can have a better Government that is smaller and more controlled. All we need to do is vote.

***Michael Vasquez is exploring a run for the New York 22nd Congressional District in 2014.***

What do they say about first impressions?

Like millions of Americans on Oct. 1, 2013, I took to the internet in the early morning hours to check out the truth about what Obamacare might mean to me. Not because of a need for health insurance which I already have, but out of a morbid curiosity akin to watching a racing car wreck at full speed live. It’s gruesome and horrifying but you won’t stop watching til its all done.

After 3 years of discussion, planning, and political battles Obamacare – or the Affordable Care Act by its official and generally unused name – came to life in health care exchanges, at the cost of a Government shutdown. The result, for residents of New York State at least, can be summed up in the word underwhelming.

Since 2:00 AM through 11:25 PM the result – that cost $1 trillion dollars, is arguably creating a trend of part-time work, and is rife with whispers of corporations big and small abandoning employees to the cumbersome indelicate micromanagement of the Government in an all to quickly approaching future – was nothing. The system, just less than a month earlier, that was rumored to fail and likely to expose the critical private data of average Americans to cybercriminals like bees to honey lived up to a single expectation… it collapsed immediately.

No quotes for individuals and families. No miraculous savings on monthly premiums (with a penalty of extreme deductibles and out-of-pocket costs out of the range of the very people it was intended to help). Not even a flicker of the internal design of the pages that would lead to the fruition of the grand plan that was executed behind closed doors, with political deals just short of bribes for members of a supermajority that acted against the will of the public in the most partisan action to ever be ignored by the very people damning Republicans efforts to disembowel this Frankenstein’s monster as partisan.

In business and life it is often said that the first impression is critical. It leaves a near indelible mark on the memory, and colors all future interaction with its residue. All to often, the first impression is the most clear observation of what is to come, and the ultimate expression of what will develop over time.

Obamacare, in one fell swoop, has clearly stated what it is…a mess that cannot function even with billions of dollars and years of effort.

Some will say, just as President Obama did before the on switch was flipped, that such a massive undertaking will have hiccups and errors at the start. That the initial steps of so massive a reform must stutter-step before taking grand strides forward. Then again, Dr. Frankenstein felt his monster was wonderous. An impression felt by him alone.

Still, the unwritten rule of thumb may be wrong. The law of averages implies that eventually the Government must achieve success in micromanaging something. Yes, maybe even Billy Crystal’s Fernando might be proven wrong and something that looks bad and feels bad might actually wind up being really good. Then again, what entitlement programs has lived up to the long-term expectations it was created under?

Maybe on day 2, or 3, or at some point in the not too distant future Healthcare.gov will work (at least for those in New York State). Possibly those that hang in there will find the pot of gold they were promised. We can only hope so, because the cost in debt, freedom, and growth in Government will NEVER be fully undone.

Obamacare is hope, the final plague left in Pandora’s Box. At least that is the first impression it has given me.

Government shutdown over Obamacare – is it worth it?

The Government of the United States has officially shutdown as of 12:01 AM on Oct 1,2013. Well the discretionary spending portion of the Government anyway. Now come the blame game and dire finger pointing by the media and pundits alike. But was this shutdown over Obamacare worth it?

The answer to the question depends entirely on why politicians sought the OK Corral showdown in the first place. But before I go there let’s get some perspective.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was presented as a non-tax that would provide everyone in America with health insurance if they wanted or needed it. For those that did not want to take part in the Government healthcare exchanges, they were told they could keep their existing plan and doctors. The best part, as the public was told, was that the cost of healthcare would go down, and it would save money from being added to the deficit. This was the promise of Obamacare.

Since June 2009 the majority of Americans (that’s Democrats, Independents, and Republicans) has not bought into the above pitch. According to every poll, by anyone you want to select as far as I am aware, there has not been less that 51% opposition to Obamacare in over 3 years.

In the meantime, the public has learned that Obamacare is a tax, which is why the Supreme Court did not strike it down. Chief Justice Roberts also made clear that the quality and repercussions of laws are not the responsibility of the Supreme Court, just the constitutionality.

We have learned that the cost of healthcare has increased, and there is no cost savings. In fact Obamacare increases the deficit. Almost everyone in America is expected to be covered – just a pesky 10-15 million won’t be involved for reasons ranging from lack of knowledge, lack of income, dislike of the law, and in some cases the perceived lack of need.

It gets better. As years have passed America has learned of hordes of flaws in the law, most unintentional and likely due to the fact that the law was passed without being read by the supermajority of Democrats that passed it (which oddly enough is not considered a partisan action by the media). We have learned that boat-loads of corporations from the smallest to international giants have chosen to bail on healthcare – eliminating the option of workers from keeping their plans and doctors.

We have also learned that implementation of this law has been about as flawed as its creation, with serious questions on the safety of the data input by Americans that chose to explore the exchanges (whether they want to or now need to). At the same time one of the biggest parts of the law, and several smaller parts, have been pushed back at least a year due to complications – but not the mandate on the public.

But the promise of cheaper monthly premiums for healthcare has been all the rage leading up to Oct. 1st. Still, in all that hoopla the math presented left out the costs of out-of-pocket expenses – like copay, deductibles, and what is or is not covered by the plans. The real world cost is not just a monthly premium, but you’d never know that from what has been presented so far.

Thus, public opinion has remained negative. Even in the face of uncounted speeches by the spectacular orator President Obama. Even with the aid of multiple Hollywood supporters, members of the NFL and NBA, and a host of other marketing gimmicks meant to spur a positive response.

So back to the question at the start. Is this partisan attempt to wipe out Obamacare worth shutting down the Government?

If, as some on the far left have told me, it is an attempt to attack the Black President then no. But there is nothing in the language used by anyone over the past 3 years when discussing Obamacare to imply anything racial. That doesn’t stop some from suggesting it, but it’s an issue that doesn’t exist.

If it is simply an attempt by the political party out of favor at the moment to confound the other side of the aisle, then no. But the pubic opinion and the problems above explicitly describe more than a political tug-of-war.

If it is just an attempt by Republicans to preserve their ability to get re-elected by constituents who want to see a more principled and conservative representation, then no. While there is no doubt that more than a few Republicans, either with dreams of elections to higher office or looking to shore up a very moderate if not Democrat voting record, have voted to repeal or defund Obamacare just for the political gain that is not enough of a reason to shutdown the Government. Again, the public and the litany of problems, plus revelations on what Obamacare really is and does clearly states that this is more than mere political math.

If this is an honest (or at least as honest as some politicians get) attempt to represent the views of the majority of Americans for more than 3 years, then it is worth it. It would mean that this has been an attempt to correct the initial partisan passage of the law, the failures of the law to address serious concerns (like malpractice insurance – a key factor in healthcare increases, and interstate competition for health insurance plans, ect), and the consistent refusal of Democrats to repeal a law the nation has not wanted (which in itself is a partisan reaction without the slightest concern for public opinion or representation).

For me, I believe that a shutdown of the Government as an attempt to repeal or defund Obamacare as it is written is essential for a reason I believe is more important than everything else mentioned so far. Because it is a law that gives power to the Government over the public in a manner never seen before.

Nothing is more terrifying than a Government that can tell its populace they must do whatever. Not that they can choose this or that, or if they elect to invoke this privilege they must comply with regulations and laws. Obamacare is the Pandora’s Box that leads to a far less free nation than has ever existed before. It is only a question of time before a new law – for the good of the public – is passed (possibly with great enthusiasm) the restricts and limits freedom in ways that generations 2 or 3 decades ago would have rioted over. This is the path that leads to Governments like Syria, Iran, the old USSR, and China to name just a few examples.

IF, and only if, Republicans have taken this hard stance to represent the public and protect the freedoms they swore an oath to defend, then the Government shutdown is worth it. Anything less is just political grandstanding, and an attempt to ward off election challenges from the Right and the Left.

Which reason, for each Representative, will be very clear is short order. Hopefully the public at large will notice.

Twitter posts from August 2013 – @electvasquezny

The following can be found on my Twitter account (@electvasquezny – ask to be added to be up to date daily) from the month of June 2013:

There are issues and events from day to day that there is just not enough time to expand on, or are complete in just a short message. Twitter is an excellent format to provide and share comments and thoughts of this nature. But not everyone is on Twitter. Thus, from time to time, this blog will provide several of these commentaries and musings.

1 Aug ‏@electvasquezny

If NSA XKeyscore program collects “large amount of information” that is “never reviewed” as the 2009 NSA report says, why keep it?

Would you allow FBI or NSA to stay in your house and record your activities? How is NSA programs any different?

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2 Aug @electvasquezny

Interesting that Rep Hanna (NY-22) says he supports limits on NSA, but is NOT cosponsor of http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:H.R.2399 …: – HR 2399

Amazing how 20,000 fewer jobs than expected for july and unemployment rate drops.

Did anyone else notice that long-term unemployed percentage dropped but short-term increased. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t12.htm …

@whitehouse @BarackObama as opposed to just repealing the inclusion of Congress and their aides? Double standard indeed.

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5 Aug @electvasquezny

Why didn’t press ask Rep. Hanna to explain his voting record to constituents today? How truely credible is his support for small biz?

AZ Dem Gubernatorial Candidate Darkens Skin for Commercials to Appear Hispanic http://shar.es/yqHQH via @BreitbartNews This is insulting!

politi.co/13fDRgs Some get it, others just want to discredit valid concerns they don’t want to address. Guess which is Rep Rangel.

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6 Aug @electvasquezny

@BarackObama missing key word in statement – “LEGAL”

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7 Aug @electvasquezny

@politico then why is the Government keeping all the data on tens of millions of Americans?

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9 Aug @electvasquezny

What are the Obamacare numbers for the NY-22? http://wp.me/p3tK3D-1O

What happens when Congress fails to read laws? Cities, Counties and employers scramble to the detriment of public. http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130808/OPINION01/308080008/1008/OPINION01/Obamacare-leading-part-time-nation …

Just got voiceover artist Jimmyjohn McCabe on board for the commercials. With a few more donations, the ads will be up across the NY-22

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10 Aug @electvasquezny

@IngrahamAngle That does sound like Rep Richard Hanna NY-22 (R)

Pres. Obama talks NSA, Rep. Hanna visits Southern Tier, and the net result is? http://wp.me/p3tK3D-1Q

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12 Aug ‏@electvasquezny

I will be speaking on the Bob Joseph Show on WNBF on 8/19 @ 9:30am. Tune in and share the news.

I wonder if Pres. Obama would speak to the only person exploring a run for Congress in Broome County? Nah, I’m a black hispanic conservative

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20 Aug @electvasquezny

@JazzShaw of course, otherwise he might be asked to explain the failure to focus on jobs in an area with above national level unemployment.

@AP so at this point, now that media is focused elsewhere, one one being held accountable for what happened in Benghazi. Wag the dog indeed.

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21 Aug @electvasquezny

@JazzShaw he deserved to be shot. He violated his oath and damaged the nation during wartime. 35 years is not enough.

@CNN and Rep Hanna voted NOT to restrict NSA. Somehow I don’t think constituents would agree.

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22 Aug @electvasquezny

So is Pres. Obama proposing Govt will pick winners in college education like it picked “green” companies? Which college will be a Solyndra?

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23 Aug @electvasquezny

Former Maj Nidal Hasan, like prvt manning, deserves death penalty.

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28 Aug @electvasquezny

Pres Obama restricts our guns, mandates our purchase, violates immigration law, and bombs nations – all without Congress. But Bush is bad?

@electvasquezny Ok, obamacare was with a Dem supermajority that didn’t read the law. That was sort of with Congress. I stand corrected.

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29 Aug @electvasquezny

@WSJ interesting how much economy inproves without weight of stimulus as a drag

So why hasn’t Rep Hanna joined the call to have Pres Obama get authority from Congress for Syria along w 100 Repubs http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/08/28/more-than-100-lawmakers-ask-obama-to-seek-congressional-approval-on-syria-strikes/ …

Will Syria be another foreign policy flip-flop for Rep Hanna, like Libya? http://m.cnsnews.com/news/article/81-republicans-flip-flop-libya-opposition-votes …

Apparently the British can’t see a point in bombing Syria that benefits them, so why is President Obama pushing for it when America is same.

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30 Aug @electvasquezny

50% don’t want US involved w Syria (NBC poll), 80% want Congress approval, US intel still unsure of details, British are out. Time to pause

Can anyone recall the last time Britian didn’t support, even grudgingly, a military action by US?

In dictionaries, under examples of feckless you can see the following: ‘See Obama Syria bombing plan’

August 2013 – Facebook comments

Often there are issues and events from day to day that there is just not enough time to expand on, or are complete in just a short message. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent formats to provide and share comments and thoughts of this nature. But not everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, or have as open an access to these formats as the internet in general. Thus, from time to time, this blog will provide several of these commentaries and musings.

The following can be found on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ElectMichaelVasquezNY – ask to be added to my friends list to be up to date daily) from the month of August 2013:

August 2

I support the LIBERT E Bill – H.R. 2399. Along with 48 members of congress (Rep Hanna is not one of them) I believe that the NSA should not blanket collect US citizens phone and internet transactions. What do you think?

H.R.2399 — LIBERT-E Act

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If its so great and beneficial, why the exemption? Besides, isn’t Obamacare supposed to let them keep their insurance if they like it? Or was that just polispeak to cover passing the law?

Congress: ObamaCare for thee, but not for we; Update: Boehner: Only solution is “full repeal”

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August 4

I could say I just want one to piss off the anti-gun people, but to be honest I really just want to own it because it’s so unique.

SSK produces largest caliber rifle ever, one round costs same as tank of gas

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August 7 -

So after an hour long discussion (on my part, the other side was just going for personal attacks), it again has become clear that some people will reject all scientific proof – from State and Government sources, collected over years and rechecked – because they don’t like the answer. Then I get the threat that I won’t get their vote.

Good. No one should vote for someone they don’t believe in. Ever. But I won’t change my views to pander to the public just to get an extra vote. That’s what I dislike in Congress and Government now. That’s why things are so screwed up.

You don’t have to agree with me 100%, just vote for whomever you believe is sincere and honestly trying to represent the people. If we all do that, America will be better for it.

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August 8 -

YNN announces Cheasapeque Energy walking away from leases. With 9% unemployment, the loss of income to landowners and loss of potential business to small biz owners in Southern Tier bodes poorly for the area. The same anti frackers may be happy, until the negative economy and business unfriendliness impacts there livelihoods. But then they will blame someone else most likely.

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August 9 -

What happens when Congress fails it’s job and does not read laws that it passes? Cities, Counties and employers all scramble to the detriment of the public.

“The Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] would have been a hit to our budget,” says Mayor John O’Reilly [of Dearborn, MI], a Democrat. “It has imposed on us an obligation that we didn’t anticipate. I’m a supporter of the concept (of the ACA), but as we move forward and identify the unintended consequences, I’d like more flexibility.”

Obamacare leading to part-time nation

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For all the things President Obama said about changing the parameters of the NSA, what troubles me is what he did NOT say. Will the NSA continue to keep records already collected of tens of millions of innocent Americans? What is the NSA doing with those records? What about PRISM, which are the records of all internet actions of all Americans?

Barack Obama FULL Press Conference: NSA Surveillance, Putin, Russia, Edward Snowden – 8/9/13

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August 10

As I understand it, and I am no lawyer or UMCJ expert, Article 94 – sedition, applies and is punishable by death. So does Article 104 – aiding the enemy, 166 – breach of peace, 118 (1) – murder, and Article 134. With Article 134, which covers everything, acts of terror could be addressed and charged.

Victims angry, but experts cite legal reasons why Fort Hood shooter not charged with terror

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August 15

Aren’t you glad that Rep Hanna voted against restricting the NSA?

NSA Surveillance Broke Privacy Rules Thousands Of Times Per Year: Report

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August 19

Let me know what you thought about the discussion with Bob Joseph today. What would be the one thing that you would ask president Obama

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Full audio and transcript of my conversation with Bob Joseph of WNBF Talk Radio 1290 will be available later this evening.

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Part 1 of Michael Vasquez and Bob Joseph of WNBF, discussing President Obama, fracking, Congress, and more.

Bob Joseph of WNBF and Michael Vasquez discuss Pres Obama coming to Binghamton NY

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Part 2 of 2 – Michael Vasquez and Bob Joseph of WNBF discuss the potential from President Obama visiting Binghamton, NY

Michael Vasquez, Bob Joseph of WNBF discuss Pres. Obama in Binghamton

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August 20 -

According to the Obama Administration the NSA can violate the 4th Amendment. According to efforts by the drone caucus (which Rep Hanna is a member) unmannes aerial systems need no laws and can violate the 4th Amendment. Now, as the Washington Post reports, the Obama Administration supports warrantless cellphone searches. Maybe it’s time we get people into Congress that are willing to defend our freedoms rather than sell them on the cheap.

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August 21 -

So if no one is responsible for the Benghazi attack, was it just an accident or act of God? Is no one to blame as it was unforseeable or impossible to prevent? Only if pigs fly.

Analysis: No one is being held responsible for Benghazi

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August 22

Why is it that when President Obama wanted change to immigration laws and gun restrictions he circumvented Congress, but for college tuition he is waiting for Congress to act. Are his convictions not as strong? Is this just a smokescreen issue meant to distract?

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August 25

With your donations, we can get this on TV across the 22nd Congressional District of New York. Share, Like, spread the word and don’t forget to donate whatever you can. Let’s make Congress accountable in 2014.

Voiceover by Jimmyjohn McCabe

NSA, 4th Amendment, and the 2014 NY election

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August 28 –

I’m so tired of the re-write. MLK wasn’t looking for minorities to be given jobs that didn’t exist, he was fighting for Right not to be denied a job just because a minority applied. The job still needs to be earned to be worthwhile.

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August 29 -

So why is Rep Hanna silent as 100 Republicans and 18 Dems agree w Senator Obama that President needs Congress approval for Syria?

More than 100 lawmakers ask Obama to seek congressional approval on Syria strikes

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Rep Hanna position not so surprising considering flip-flop on Libya in 2011 -

81 Republicans Flip-Flop on Libya Opposition Votes

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British are no go on bombing Syria. Seems they don’t see a point in doing something with no benefit to them and potential long-term negatives. Think that will sway president Obama? Not if you recall Libya.

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August 30

Britain has supported every military action by US that I recall, even if they didn’t like it. But on Syria they are out, and the powerhouse of France is backing us. When was the last time France won a military action? Napoleon? Is this really the only support we are getting. Shouldn’t this give pause as maybe something is wrong.

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I think you can find the answer on what to do about Syria in the following quote from December 20, 2007…

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As commander-in-chief, the president does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the president would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”

Barack Obama’s Q&A

July 2013 – Facebook comments

Often there are issues and events from day to day that there is just not enough time to expand on, or are complete in just a short message. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent formats to provide and share comments and thoughts of this nature. But not everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, or have as open an access to these formats as the internet in general. Thus, from time to time, this blog will provide several of these commentaries and musings.

The following can be found on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ElectMichaelVasquezNY – ask to be added to my friends list to be up to date daily) from the month of July 2013:

July 4

Wishing everyone the best on the July 4th

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July 8

Since people will now self-report wages to get tax credit for Obamacare, does anyone think there wont be abuse, paid by our taxes?

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July 20

Fundraiser was a success. Thank you to everyone that attended!

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July 24

I was talking today with some people about natural gas and fracking. You know something opponents of fracking never say? President Obama was wrong in the 2012 and 2013 State of the Union Addresses. The very same people that trumpet his push for renewable energy, and deplore fracking, ignore the support their champion has given to the subject. Makes you wonder what the real reason might be. Oh, has anyone checked the value of Nancy Pelosi’s wind energy stocks lately?

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July 30 -

Pfc Manning deserved life in prison or the death penalty. In a time of war the mass leak of classified information for the purpose of weakening the nation is treason. I applaud the Marines in Quantico regardless of the judges finding. I hope manning gets more.

Bradley Manning trial verdict: Acquitted of aiding the enemy, convicted on lesser charges

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July 31

Clarity and accuracy are 2 things you would expect from an elected politician. But what we expect from Government doesn’t seem to be what we are getting these days.

Is the Internet the end of political waffling? Not quite

What are the Obamacare numbers for the NY-22?

Over the years there has been a massive discussion about what Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) will cost, and how individuals will pay that cost. Yet, to date there have been no real answers that the Average American can pull up and understand at a glance. In fact there is no system available to even easily get an estimate of the cost at this time. But after being asked again recently, I decided to cull some data to get an idea of what might be the result.

First, healthcare insurance is now a requirement of all citizens (enforced as of 2014). No matter if you are in poverty or a billionaire, you must have healthcare insurance or suffer penalties – 2.5% of income (maximum, based on income) assessed on your income taxes. Thus, if you are making say $25,000 a year and choose not to get healthcare you will have a fine of $95 added to your taxes. Of course the average refund for a person in New York State (2011) was $3070.70. So the above example would still result in a refund to the taxpayer.

This is the first problem with Obamacare. Some people, generally the young that are just starting their careers or those that are poor, will not suffer negatively from the penalty (if it even applies). So the impetus to get healthcare insurance before it is needed is subdued, increasing the burden on those with health insurance and likely a catalyst to increase cost in the future.

Separate of the penalty, what happens to those that do get health insurance. We will look at 2 groups, a single person making $31,796 and a family of 3 making the same (1 kid). The dollar amounts and family size are based on the Census results for NY State – of which the results for the NY-22 are lower.

Before we look at the estimates, the following is the annual cost of healthcare in America: Single – $5,615 and for a Family – $15,745. The deductible is respectively $1,120 and $2.075. For those covered by an employer, they pay respectively $1,225 and $4,316.

The approximate out of pocket cost, based on 2010 figures, is $2787. That is the cost of co-pays and other expenses separate of the health insurance premium. Estimates are for that figure to go to $3,301 in 2014.

So given the above, assume that either your employers have either removed their healthcare coverage (because it is cheaper not to provide it) or that it is not an option (you are either part of the trend of part-time workers or otherwise unable to get other coverage). We will also assume that the age is 50, again based on Census data.

Example 1

A non-smoker under the above conditions, NOT including out-of-pocket costs, is 277% above poverty and so could have a premium of $2,806 for a silver plan, $1,883 for a bronze plan. Of this the Government might give a tax credit of $2,584*.

A non-smoking family of 3 with 1 child under 20, under the above conditions, NOT including out-of-pocket costs, is 163% above poverty and so could have a premium of $1,459 for a silver plan, $0 for a bronze plan. Of this the Government might give a tax credit of $11,238*.

The key points that should be addressed:

  • A Bronze healthcare plan is the minimum required by law. As of this time no standard for what that minimum is has been established. It is quite possible, that like many State auto insurance minimums, the requirement will be inadequate to the needs of the general public – which would either place the burden of the difference on the plan holder or the general public (causing premiums to increase in the future).
  • A Silver plan is more comprehensive than the bare-bones Bronze. Again, no standard exists at this time.
  • The above estimates are based on the poverty level, which changes annually. Therefore, the potential tax credit can go up or down independent of actual healthcare costs or income of the plan holder, without prior notice.
  • The above does not cover the additional $3,301 in out-of-pocket costs.
  • Cost increases dramatically for each smoker in household. Therefore there is a built in enticement to lie about this – which can again influence costs.

    So what happens in the above estimate figures, if the plan holder gets a raise (assuming that poverty does not change)? If we ONLY change the income by 3% the figures become

    Example 2

    A non-smoker under the above conditions ($32749 annual), NOT including out-of-pocket costs, is 285% above poverty and so could have a premium of $2,969 for a silver plan, $2,046 for a bronze plan. Of this the Government might give a tax credit of $2,421*.

    A non-smoking family of 3 with 1 child under 20, under the above conditions ($32749 annual), NOT including out-of-pocket costs, is 168% above poverty and so could have a premium of $1,576 for a silver plan, $0 for a bronze plan. Of this the Government might give a tax credit of $11,121*.

    The increase is 5.8% for a Single person, 8% for a Family. That far outpaces the actual income gain.

    *Another critical point about the healthcare premium. The Government provides a tax credit on the income taxes for what has been paid. In other words, the plan holder will pay (in Example 1) Single – $5309, Family – $12,697 up front. The tax credit will be applied on their taxes that following year, which may result in a refund of all or just part of what is paid. The estimated $3,301 in out-of-pocket costs is NOT covered by the tax credit.

    Therefore, under this non-State specific summary, a single person making just $31,796 could pay a total of $8610, a family of 3 could pay $15,998, of which they may or may not get all, part, or none of the tax credit as actual in pocket cash depending on the poverty level at the time of the tax return and their income tax return filed.

    Complicated? More than a bit. Especially as no standard for what is considered a basic minimum has been reached.

    Worse is if you just change the age. If the same data from Example 1 is used, but the age is 25 instead of 50, the tax credit drops to just $229 out of a premium of $3030 for a Single. Instead of the proposed 51% discount, the younger plan holder will only get a 24.5% discount. Not much incentive for the youth to join up, with whom the cost savings of the Obamacare estimates are dependent on. If younger Americans opt out, paying $95 on their tax returns and keeping the cash in their pocket thru the year, costs for Obamacare will rocket higher.

    But no matter the complications, as of January 1, 2014, all citizens must comply with the demands of the Government or be penalized. In the meantime, businesses have a 1 year reprieve as they try to sort through the actual costs and determine the best way to go. As the growing trend of part-time workers has indicated, many have realized that it is cheaper and far more expedient to drop healthcare than adapt to the Government loopholes. The public does not get the same options though.

    I hope this has helped.

  • Part-time employment has been a problem longer than you think

    Growth in Part-time Workers - Source: BLS

    Growth in Part-time Workers – Source: BLS

    It’s been a very busy summer, speeches and a fundraiser taking up more than a little time and attention – and I’m not nearly done. But the rest of the world of politics has hardly waited for a break in my schedule. Thus I want to recap a few key points in the next few articles. I’ll start with the part-time employment bandwagon.

    On July 5th, The Wall Street Journal published the article Part-Time America. This highlighted a serious concern that seemingly no one else heard of. Or rather no one in the major media was willing to discuss. The growth trend in part-time jobs had become a stark and undeniable by-product of Obamacare. Businesses, facing the impending employer mandate, opted to pay the fine rather than pay the cost of healthcare for employees. As the WSJ stated

    “All of this gives businesses that operate on thin margins—and that’s most businesses—an incentive to hire more part-time workers.”

    The Washington Post, not to be left out, stated on July 8th that

    “Well, Obamacare creates a big new tax on full-time employees. So what does common sense tell us about that? It tells us there will be fewer full-time employees and more part-time employees as employers work to minimize their costs and vulnerability under Obamacare.”

    Even the L.A. Times and New York Times had to note the contribution of Obamacare – grudgingly.

    But is this a new result, an unforeseen or unpredictable outcome? Only if you are Rep. Nancy Pelosi or Sen. Harry Reid. Before announcing my exploratory committee I noted in my monthly review of the unemployment rate:

    March 12, 2013 – “The number of people that could only find part-time work, on average from 2003 – 2008 was 1.3 million people. On average from 2009 – 2012 that number increased to 2.35 million. As of February 2013 the figure is 2.47 million. This increase counts as a positive reduction in the official unemployment rate, though it is counted as a negative in the U-6 total figure…

    Lastly the data shows no conclusive benefit from the Obama Stimulus or the Health Care Reform. In fact much of the data shows that the Stimulus could have hindered the economic recession’s recovery, as improvement occurred only as the effect of the Stimulus dwindled. As for the Health Care Reform, it’s only immediate impact appears to be the seemingly direct increase in part-time workers…

    Perhaps this is why politicians and media stick to headlines on unemployment data. Looking deeper just highlights a reality that is not being addressed.”

    Of course it can be said that I found the numbers with luck. Except I started crunching the part-time employment numbers December 9, 2012

    “The number of part-time workers unable to get full-time work has continued to increase with the current to-date amount of 2.54 million per month for 2012. This is an increase vs 2002 (full year) of 126%, vs 2010 of 6.8%, and vs 2011 of 0.9%.”

    But my point isn’t a pat on my back for seeing a trend and causation literally months before the major media or politicians decided to really analyze the unemployment data. It’s that we have members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the major media that are so busy posturing and trying to look like they know what they are doing (or passing out 30 second soundbites that obscure the fact they aren’t doing their homework) that the nation is suffering.

    The reward for empty promises and bad legislation? A 93% re-election rate, and profits for the media companies. Does anyone think that this is what our Government is supposed to be about? Does anyone feel like we should be treated better? Isn’t it time for Congress to do it’s job?

    Binghamton University Libertarians and Michael Vasquez discuss New York 22nd Congressional District

    On May 9, 2013 the Binghamton University Libertarians had Michael Vasquez as the guest speaker at their meeting in the Fine Arts building on the BU campus. This was an informal discussion; to introduce Mr. Vasquez and to address the concerns of young voters.

    Initially the expectation was that the meeting would only be a 15 minute speech and Q&A combined as this would be at the end of a 12 hour workday for Mr. Vasquez. But after the casual introduction, when questions were opened to the students, the passion and variety of questions offered led to almost 2 hours of discussion on issues in the minds of BU students. Issues discussed included: the economy; student loans; 2nd Amendment; legalizing drugs; Affirmative Action; Equal Rights Movement; representation by elected officials; and more.

    The following videos are the total introduction, questions and answers. All answers and questions are complete and without edit.

    Introduction

    Q & A pt 1

    Q & A pt 2

    Q & A pt 3

    Q & A pt 4 (final)

    America is on wrong track according to 61%

    wrong trackThere may be no better example of the state of the nation, and the effectiveness of current Government, than the fact that 61% of the nation believe America is on the wrong track. The blame for the path America is on is not just partisan, its universal.

    With only 27% stating that personal finances are getting better, 45% think college grads will have trouble getting a job, and 47% think a housing recovery is still 3 years away, Congress remains in gridlock. All the while the national deficit is $16.8 trillion and rising – even with $77 billion in additional taxes and $30 billion in Sequester cuts.

    This isn’t really shocking though.

    Government isn’t listening to the public, and the results are clear. The majority of Americans haven’t believed that America is on the right path since before 2009. Obamacare was passed against the will of the majority, and today 55% are still unfavorable towards this law. President Obama is using Executive Orders in a way that even Senator Obama would never approve. Only 15% approve of the way Congress is handling the economy, immigration, gun control, and the rest of their job.

    For the New York 22nd Congressional District, the lack of connection appears to be equally apparent. In just the last couple of weeks I have been amazed by the number of people that either don’t know who represents them in the NY-22, or believe that they are still represented by former Rep. Maurice Hinchey – who retired last year. Given is the fact that so far I have only spoken to a fraction of the constituents that make up the NY-22, but with the current Representative having made 45 town hall style meetings with the public (of which only 9 appear in a Google search of “Richard Hanna meets constituents“) and a re-election, the Southern Tier – at least – remains largely unconnected to Congress.

    But hopefully this will change. Already Rep. Hanna has attempted to clarify why he is in favor of immigration reform, and giving STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] jobs to foreigners. He has made sure to get the press aware that he is meeting constituents – as he did on May 1st. But he has yet to explain, that can be found via Google search, why he did not attend the Joint Economic Committee meeting on resolving long-term unemployment.

    I would like to think that the challenge of a Republican primary is motivating these changes. I would like to think that the knowledge of voters having a real choice is inspiring a re-dedication to the concerns of the New York 22nd District. Especially at a time in the nation when Government, from local to national levels, is actively restricting freedoms (Executive Orders for gun restrictions, NYSAFE Act), compromising law (Executive Orders on immigration, amnesty proposals in immigration reform talks, sanctuary cities), mandating action (Obamacare, Chevy Volt), even potentially removing long-standing safeguards (FCC decency policy). Which says nothing of the on-going fiscal irresponsibility of Government.

    But the trend of millionaire and career politicians has for decades been a study in doing just enough to appear invested in the constituent, right up until a primary threat or election passes. The ultimate result of which brings us back to what path 61% of Americans believe we are on.

    Status quo in elections, mediocre politicians, and a lack of real connection to the issues, concerns, and daily life of constituents needs to end.