Stephen Ohlemacher, On Thursday April 22, 2010, 8:06 pm EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 4 million Americans — the vast majority of them middle class — will have to pay a penalty if they don’t get insurance when President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law kicks in, according to congressional estimates released Thursday.
The penalties will average a little more than $1,000 apiece in 2016, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report.
Most of the people paying the fine will be middle class as Obama’s comprehensive law is phased in over the next few years. In his 2008 campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.
Republicans have criticized the requirement that Americans get coverage, even though the idea was originally proposed by the GOP in the 1990s and is part of the Massachusetts health care plan signed into law in 2006 by then Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican. Attorneys general in more than a dozen states are working to challenge it in federal court as unconstitutional.
“The individual mandate tax will fall hardest on Americans who can least afford to pay it, many of whom were promised subsidies by the Democrats and who the president has promised would not pay higher taxes,” saidRep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said while Obama and congressional Democrats celebrate the benefits of the law, they have an obligation to acknowledge the flip side. “There’s a price for not participating, and people will pay it,” Grassley said.
Democrats argue that the requirement and the penalties are a necessary part of a massive overhaul designed to expand coverage to millions who now lack it. They point out that getting more Americans, especially young and healthy people, in the insurance pool will reduce costs for others and could lower premiums.
“The new law will make health insurance affordable for everyone and CBO’s analysis confirms that the vast majority of uninsured Americans will find health care affordable and choose to participate,” said White House spokesman Nick Papas.
Americans who don’t get qualified health insurance will be required to pay penalties starting in 2014, unless they are exempt because of low income, religious beliefs, or because they are members of American Indian tribes. The penalties will be fully phased in by 2016.
About 21 million nonelderly residents will be uninsured in 2016, according to projections by the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation. Most of those people will be exempt from the penalties.
Under the new law, the penalties will be phased in starting in 2014. By 2016, those who must get insurance but don’t will be fined $695 or 2.5 percent of their household income, whichever is greater.
After 2016, the penalties will be increased by annual cost-of-living adjustments. People will not be required to get coverage if the cheapest plan available costs more than 8 percent of their income.
The penalties will be collected by the Internal Revenue Service through tax returns. However, the IRS will not have the authority to bring criminal charges or file liens against those who don’t pay.
About 3 million of those required to pay fines in 2016 will have incomes below $59,000 for individuals and $120,000 for families of four, according to the CBO projections. The other 900,000 people who must pay the fine will have higher incomes.
The government will collect about $4 billion a year in fines from 2017 through 2019, according to the report
Fox News has posted a second article today that highlights comments on Infowars.com. “Hundreds of comments were posted in response to an incendiary story on infowars.com, the radical far-right Web site owned by radio host Alex Jones. The story, entitled, ‘The Cost Of Defying Obamacare: $2,250 a Month And IRS Goons Pointing Guns At Your Family,’ focused on the ‘increasing militarization of the IRS’ and its expansion of powers under the new health care law,” writes Jana Winter.
“The federal government is investigating dozens of death threats to IRS employees that have been posted online since the House passed the health care bill,” Winter explains. “The health care law has sparked protests on radical anti-tax and anti-government Web sites and within their private, password-protected e-mail lists and message boards. Some writers have labeled March 21 — the day the House passed the bill – ‘Bloody Sunday,’ and they see it as a call to violent action against IRS workers.”
In addition to creating dozens of new bureaucracies – the Health Choices Administration, the Health Benefits Advisory Committee, the Health Insurance Exchange, and others – the Obamacare bill further empowers the IRS.
“Under the Democrats’ health care proposals, the already powerful — and already feared — IRS would wield even more power and extend its reach even farther into the lives of ordinary Americans, and the presidentially-appointed head of the new health care bureaucracy would have access to confidential IRS information about millions of individual taxpayers,” notesByron York, writing for the Washington Examiner.
In response to this outrageous and unconstitutional power grab by the federal government, millions of people around the country have called and sent emails to Congress and the White House. Thousands of websites have posted articles critical of Obamacare and millions of people have posted comments in opposition. Millions have joined the Tea Party movement. Countless others have promised to not vote for Democrats or Republicans in the mid-term elections, a prospect that horrifies the establishment.
Instead of mentioning the fact Obamacare is vastly unpopular and the is IRS hated and feared by millions of Americans – and that an increasing number of them are no longer shy about expressing their outrage — Fox News would have you believe that anger is confined to a small number of “anti-government” websites, most notably Alex Jones’ Infowars.com. Reading Fox News, the casual reader would arrive at the conclusion that a large number of Infowars.com readers are locked and loaded and ready to attack IRS employees.
In other words, Fox News, owned by the neocon Rupert Murdoch, is disseminating exactly the sort of propaganda the establishment has ordered up to demonize the growing and increasingly vocal opposition. Fox News is a cherished asset of Operation Mockingbird.
Fox News’ mission is to buttress the false right-left paradigm and steer the opposition into the ranks of the Republican party. It has already successful sabotaged the Libertarian Tea Party movement. It must now demonize the remaining opposition.
“While these threats are being investigated, experts doubt there is much that law enforcement can do to predict if any of these commenters actually plan on taking action. The only thing certain is that the online community of anti-government extremists is growing, and it is increasingly being viewed by law enforcement as a threat,” writes Winter.
Fox News, CNN, and other corporate media outlets serving as government propaganda mills are attempting to turn attention on Alex Jones and make him a scapegoat for the isolated actions of a few people who have threatened government officials.
Fox’s own polling reveals a majority of Americans oppose Obama’s authoritarian health care. “The latest Fox News poll finds that 55 percent oppose the healthcare reforms being deliberated on Capitol Hill,” Newsmax reported on March 19. “The 55 percent opposing reform is up from 51 percent in January, and from 47 percent in July. Opposition peaked at 57 percent in December.”
In addition, the poll reported that 75 percent of voters overall believe that the federal government does not represent their views.
READING, Pa. – A Pennsylvania judge has refused to divorce two women married last year inMassachusetts, leaving them in apparent limbo because they do not meet the residency required to divorce in the Bay State.
Berks County Judge Scott Lash said he could not grant a divorce to Carole Ann Kern and Robin Lynn Taney because their marriage is not recognized under Pennsylvania law.
“Relief under the divorce code can only be obtained by parties who are recognized to be married,” Lash wrote in a ruling issued Thursday.
Kern, a Berks County resident, had filed a petition in October seeking to divorce Taney on grounds their marriage was irretrievably broken. The pair had married four months earlier in Brewster, Mass.
Massachusetts law has no residence requirement to marry, but requires couples seeking to divorce to have lived there for a year, a requirement they did not meet.
Gay couples seeking to divorce face a tangle of state laws on the subject.
New York and New Jersey, on the other hand, ban same-sex marriage but grant divorces to such couples. Despite objections from New Jersey’s state attorney general, a judge there approved a same-sex divorce on grounds the state accepts virtually all out-of-state marriages.
In Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott last month intervened to block a divorce granted by a district judge to two women who had also married in Massachusetts.
“There’s not a consensus,” said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel and marriage project director forLambda Legal, a national civil rights group for homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people.
“State laws vary enormously and we’re in a time of legal change and evolution. … But the pace of change is, of course, different in different parts of the country,” she said.
Lash compared the case before him to that an unmarried heterosexual couples who separate after living together and pooling assets.
“(They) cannot, upon their breakup, rely upon the divorce code for disposition of property rights or alimony,” Lash wrote.
Pennsylvania’s Marriage Law includes a section that explicitly states that same-sex marriages performed elsewhere are void in the commonwealth. Kern, in her petition, called the language “discriminatory against homosexuals and patently unfair” and noted how the U.S. Supreme Courtin 1967 struck down long-standing state prohibitions on interracial marriage.
“While before the issue may have been interracial marriage, the time has now come to include gays in our definition of ‘We, the people…'” Kern wrote.
Her attorney, Lisa Gentile of Reading, was out of the office Friday and not available for comment.
However, Pizer called the limbo in which Kern and Taney appear to find themselves a common problem.
“In Massachusetts, couples have entered a legal status and found themselves unable to exit it, as heterosexuals (can),” she said.
According to a document obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on Tuesday March 16, the 9/11 commission was warned on Jan. 6th, 2004 by high-level administration officials to “not cross the line” in the investigation of the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
Here’s a copy of the letter in question (page 26 of the PDF document).
Department of Defense Department of Justice Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
Thomas H. Kean, Chairman Lee H. Hamilton, Vice Chairman
Your staff has advised us that the Commission seeks to participate in the questioning of certain enemy combatants detained in the war against terrorists of global reach. Such action by the Commission would substantially interfere with the ability of the United States to perform its law enforcement, defense and intelligence functions in the protection of the American people.
Your legislative commission has had extraordinary — indeed, unprecedented in the annals of American history — access to many of the Nation’s most sensitive secrets in the conduct of its work, including detainee information. In response to the Commission’s expansive requests for access to secrets, the executive branch has provided such access in full cooperation. There is, however, a line that the Commission should not cross — the line separating the Commission’s proper inquiry into the September 11, 2001 attacks from interference with the Government’s ability to safeguard the national security, including protection of Americans from future terrorist attacks. The Commission staffs proposed participation in questioning of detainees would cross that line.
As the officers of the United States responsible for the law enforcement, defense and intelligence functions of the Government, we urge your Commission to not further pursue the proposed request to participate in the questioning of detainees.
John Ashcroft, Attorney General Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence
9/11 Commission findings based on torture
In December of 2009, we have published an important article titled “Much of 9/11 Commission findings cite intelligence garnered by torture” in which we describe that much of the material cited in the 9/11 Commission’s findings was derived from war detainees during brutal CIA interrogations authorized by the Bush administration. In fact, information derived from the interrogations was central to the 9/11 Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks.
The CIA has since revealed that in 2005 it destroyed videotapes of prisoners being tortured.
When asked by MSNBC News anchor if “under duress, will people tell the truth if tortured?” former CIA officer Robert Baer answered “under duress, under the threat of duress, people will tell what they think you want to hear. It is an unreliable tool. And the reason I say this is I have spent 21 years in the CIA, in and out of prisons watching these techniques, one way or another, reading reports, and the countries that torture, uniformly produce inaccurate intelligence. Torture does not work.”
They also talk about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who has been waterboarded over 183 times.
The below text is a excerpt of the Examiner.com article on this newly released memo
The warning in the memo released by the government to the ACLU is just one example of how the Bush administration fiercely struggled to prevent the 9/11 Commission from conducting a deeper probe into the attacks. It is common knowledge that Bush and Cheney refused to cooperate with the investigation and when forced to do so, only testified together, not under oath.
9/11 Commissioners criticism
What may not be known to many Americans is that members of the 9/11 Commission have publicly stated that the investigation was a whitewash, and stymied from the beginning.
“I’m saying that’s deliberate. I am saying that the delay in relating this information to the American public out of a hearing… series of hearings, that several members of Congress knew eight or ten months ago, including Bob Graham and others, that was deliberately slow walked… the 9/11 Commission was deliberately slow walked, because the Administration’s policy was, and its priority was, we’re gonna take Saddam Hussein out.”
— Senator Max Cleland, former 9/11 Commissioner who resigned after calling it a “national scandal”
On Democracy Now, Cleland also said, “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”.
In 2006 the Washington Post reported that several members of the 9/11 Commission suspected deception on part of the Pentagon:
Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.
9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerry also has unanswered questions. According to an article in Salon.com, he believes that there are legitimate reasons to believe an alternative version to the official story.”There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version,” Kerry said. The commission had limited time and limited resources to pursue its investigation, and its access to key documents and witnesses was obstructed by government agencies and key administration officials.
Commissioner Tim Roemer suggested that Commission members were considering a criminal probe of false statements. “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting,”Roemer told CNN. “We were not sure of the intent, whether it was to deceive the commission or merely part of the fumbling bureaucracy.”
The document that the ACLU has obtained corroborates what officials involved in the 9/11 Commission have been saying for years. The entire “investigation” was nothing more than a whitewash designed to hide the facts about 9/11 from the American people.