Civitas Review

What's Easier: Real or Phony ACA Sign-ups?


The Affordable Care Act's problems keep mounting.

A North Carolina TV station found that people are still having problems signing up for the program — a.k.a. Obamacare. (HT to Carolina Plott Hound.)

Meanwhile, how easy is it to sign up easily? It's very easy, according to the federal Government Accountability Office.

In other words, under the ACA, it's easier to sign up fraudulently than legitimately.

The most disturbing part, as the pundit in the above report noted: "It’s also troubling because it makes one wonder what other major parts of the system simply aren’t working."

You'll hear a lot from the Left about how successful Obamacare is. But almost every time an aspect of the program is closely scrutinized, it's found to be badly flawed if not outright fraudulent. How many more lies and failures will come to light as the program is unrolled?

R's Channelling Easley, Perdue to Defend Corporate Welfare


Details of the corporate welfare expansion provisions tucked into HB 1224, the bill that also caps local sales tax rates, are emerging. The background:

The bill would direct $12 million toward a company that owns a Western North Carolina paper mill, add $14 million in grants to recruit companies and start a new fund that would allow the state Commerce secretary to offer upfront cash grants to companies. The closing fund, controlled solely by the state commerce secretary, is expected to get $20 million to $30 million in the still-developing state budget. Senate lawmakers said it would be a one-time appropriation.

All told, we are looking at potentially $54 million being approved for additional corporate welfare handouts – this in a year when legislators are fighting over how to pay for teacher raises. And that doesn't count the corporate welfare for the film industry also being debated. The Senate on Thursday approved the bill, and in so doing, sounded an awful lot like the Democrats whom they criticized in years past for doing the exact same thing. In defending his support for the corporate welfare expansion, Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown said  "I think we need to be in a position to recruit one of those (large companies) if possible, and this is a way we can give (the secretary) a tool to maybe do that"; and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Rick Gunn said "This is a huge tool in the tool box." Sound familiar?

In 2010, Gov. Bev Perdue said this in reference to a corporate welfare bill: "This jobs package, which was strongly supported by legislators in both parties, gives North Carolina more tools in our economic development toolbox."

Gunn also added: "the next five-year window is when every state is going to see the biggest opportunity for growth. I want to be in the game, and I want to win the game."

Perdue in 2012, in referring to the use of corporate welfare to recruit businesses, said, "…that is the climate we find ourselves in. It's hard out there. Everybody wants to win."

Moreover, current Commerce Department spokesman Graham Wilson offered support for the new corporate welfare program, describing it as "a closing fund that is going to give us some flexibility. When you get to the end of those negotiations you need that flexibility."

In 2006, Gov. Mike Easley bragged: "We have shifted emphasis to more flexible tools such as the One North Carolina Fund and Job Development Investment Grant."

And in a somewhat different vein, there was this defense of the expansion of cronyism:

Sen. Jim Davis, a Franklin Republican who represents the area, said the money is needed to ensure the future of the plant and its 1,200 jobs.

"I'm not a big fan of picking winners and losers, but … if the government is going to impose all these regulations on them at least the government can be part of the solution," he said.

So Sen. Davis says that the problem of government intervention (via regulations) should be solved by more government intervention (corporate welfare). As Ludwig von Mises warned, intervention begets more intervention. The proper way to address the problems caused by government intervention is to eliminate the interventions, not create more.

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You are Extreme and Immoral – If You Disagree with William Barber


Here is a depiction of William Barber as a guest on the Bill Maher show broadcast on Saturday… and yes this is what he really said to Maher (this image came from the NAACP facebook page — we can only presume Barber is proud of this).


Then there was the following interchange between Maher and Barber after Barber had identified the Republican leaders in NC as extreme and immoral and Maher called them the "bad guys" who hijacked the state.

Maher: "They seem to work backwards from "who doesn't vote for? hmm, Let's see how we can f*** with them?"

Barber: "Well (amid laughter and applause) "Well that's all right, that's all right, that's why I'm here." Then Barber gave Maher a high five.

Barber was busy last week, he also spoke the Netroots Nation Conference and according to sources, spoke to a half-empty room. Nevertheless, his message of social justice resonated with the audience.

Barber's take on North Carolina history is always interesting, to say the least. As he began his speech at the conference in Detroit, he talked about the Redemption Movement in the 1800's and feigned a word slip when he called movement the Tea Party instead of the Redemption Movement. The audience loved it. Of course, Barber couldn't be farther off the mark with this story. The truth is, the Redemption Movement was fueled by the Democratic Party and its attempts to return the South to its pre-war class system is well documented,  first in 1877 and the second time in 1898. The latter was also called The Democratic White Supremacy Campaign. Barber would have us believe that Democrats of the White Supremacy Campaign were conservatives, but its leaders and members were mostly known Progressives.

Here are a couple more gems that I must share from Barber's speech at Netroots:

Barber takes us all the way out into left field with this one;

"Our deepest moral  traditions declare that the true challenge society is not private charity but public policy that impacts how people exist everyday of our lives."

Our deepest moral traditions? Evidently Barber relies on this idea in his ongoing chase for more and more money  in the form of state and federal government grants to fuel his non-profit based in Goldsboro, NC and numerous other ultra-liberal non-profit organizations based throughout NC.

Barber said his go-to Bible is called the Poverty and Justice Bible and I'm assuming this is where he finds this translation of Matthew 25:36.

"When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was naked did you clothe me? When I was sick did you give me health insurance? That's in the book!"

One thing is for certain, Barber makes it clear in his speeches that he has replaced the word justice with the words "social justice" in both the U.S. Constitution and the Bible. We can only speculate as to whether the framers of the Constitution would laugh or cry if they heard Barber's interpretation of the Constitution and I don't believe there is mention of "social justice" in the Bible.

Dr. Mark Creech, Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. explains social justice this way:

"Teachings of social justice catch the Spirit of Jesus in that they are trying to help the underprivileged, the helpless, and the needy. Nevertheless, it (social justice) is none other than a form of government coercion that takes money from one group to give to another — in this case supposedly the impoverished. But such is really no more than a violation of one's rights to private property based on the eighth command of God not to steal."

Barber claims in his speeches that he and the people who agree with him are moral and the people who disagree with him are immoral, extremists and bigots. After listening to more than an hour of his speech in Detroit, it is obvious to me who the real extremist is – and it's not the conservatives he constantly attacks. We can be sure that it never occurs to Mr. Barber to apply his teachings to himself, because near the end of his speech, he said;

"The worst thing you can do as an activist is to be loud and wrong." Here's the video - just in case you want to come to your own conclusions as to who is wrong.

How Obamacare Ruling May Roil NC


The latest chaos associated with Obamacare could have an impact on North Carolina.

A ruling yesterday by a federal court was a major jolt to the health care law. A D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel wrote that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not allow the IRS to pay subsidies to enrollees in federal exchanges. In a 2-to-1 decision, the judges said that “the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges 'established by the State.'”

Thirty-four states, including North Carolina, declined to open their own exchanges. The actual text of the law, as cited above, says subsidies to poor people can go only to people who sign up on exchanges “established by the State.” If the law stands and NC refuses to open its own exchange  — more on that below — people in North Carolina would not be eligible for Obamacare subsidies.

A separate federal court concluded that the actual words of the law can be ignored, and the Obama administration has appealed the D.C. Circuit’s three-judge panel ruling to the full appeals court. All this may well send the case to the Supreme Court. For now, the Obama administration has decreed the subsidies can continue.

In the mean time, chaos reigns. More than four out of five ACA enrollees qualify for subsidies. It seems plain that if people can’t get subsidies from the state exchanges many will drop their ACA coverage. That would cripple ACA finances, and presumably undercut political support as well.

What happens next? Conservatives should be wary. For one thing, this legal mess could put more pressure on Gov. Pat McCrory and the NC General Assembly to establish a state-run exchange. As explained in this article, previously states could resist setting up exchanges, but citizens of the state could still get federal subsidies. But if the courts affirm that subsidies can go only to people in state-run exchanges, you can bet that liberals, Democrats, newspaper editorial boards, and medical-industry lobbyists will be howling for North Carolina to establish an exchange to ladle out those subsidies.

Meanwhile, another hit to Obamacare will hearten conservatives who believe it will hammer our health care and the state’s finances, not to mention our freedoms. The ACA is based on a bad idea whose execution was botched in every conceivable way, and a few that were inconceivable before the law was passed. That will make it even more important for North Carolina to hold out as a bulwark against this damaging law.

Senate Finance Committee Approves Local Tax Changes, Expansion of Corporate Welfare


The Senate Finance Committee gave approval to a bill that impacts local sales taxes and expands state government's corporate welfare programs. The bill is on the schedule for Senate discussion today.

HB 1224 has been modified over the past week, with the final version gaining committee approval yesterday. With regard to local sales taxes, the bill would:

  • Allow local governments to raise their sales taxes in 1/4 cent increments, pending voter approval, and allow the revenue to be used for purposes voters approve
  • Cap the local sales tax rate at 2.5% (most counties currently levy a 2% local sales tax; which combined with the state rate of 4.75% brings the total to 6.75%)
  • Notable exceptions are Durham and Orange counties, currently with local rates of 2.75%. They would be allowed to keep that rate under this bill
  • Mecklenburg currently has a 2.5% local sales tax, this bill would not allow any further tax hikes
  • Wake Co. is expected to ask voters to approve a 1/4 cent sales tax increase this fall. If that passes, they would not be able to ask for another 1/2 cent sales tax increase for transit in the future, as that would put them over the 2.5 cent cap proposed in HB 1224

Receiving little attention is the part of the bill that expands the state government's corporate welfare programs. The currently existing JMAC (Jobs Maintenance and Capital Development Fund) and JDIG (Job Development Investment Grant) programs would be expanded; and a new "Job Catalyst Fund" that would be similar in nature would also be created (without any specific dollar amount mentioned in the bill). These programs are corporate welfare schemes that distribute taxpayer dollars to politically-privileged companies.

Lastly, the final bill also added a provision authorizing North Carolina-based companies to engage in "crowdfunding," i.e. selling shares in a company not registered under state or federal law via the web.