Here’s What Congress Should Do After the Supreme Court Rules on Obamacare

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In Heritage Work

If the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration in King v. Burwell and strikes down subsidies for health insurance purchased on federal exchanges, there are a couple of things Heritage experts Ed Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski think Congress should do to respond:

Any congressional response should first focus on exempting individuals, employers, and insurance plans in states without state-run exchanges from the ACA regulations and mandates that increased health insurance premiums to start with. Making the reduction of coverage cost the top priority is also a first step toward a post-Obamacare market in which more affordable coverage reduces the number of individuals who might need assistance, as well as the size and scope of such assistance.

Why focus on these regulations and mandates? Because doing so can reduce premiums as much as 44 percent.

Do you think Congress should rein in the regulations and mandates that make health insurance more expensive? 

Six Intelligence Initiatives to Prevent Another 9/11

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In Heritage Work

Our defense system needs to reform the way it gets intelligence in order to protect our country from another 9/11-scale attack, Heritage Foundation visiting fellow David Shedd argues. He recommends six reforms in a new article for Defense One

  1. Reorganize the CIA around specific subjects and geographic regions.
  2. End bureaucratic turf wars to ensure effective cybersecurity.
  3. Integrate foreign and domestic intelligence to better identify threats.
  4. Strengthen the Defense Intelligence Agency as the hub of military intelligence.
  5. Ensure collaboration across intelligence agencies by temporarily assigning officers to work with other agencies.
  6. Create a National Intelligence Leadership Corps that rotates effective leaders through high-level positions.

According to Shedd, the most vital reforms will adapt the intelligence community to the current climate:

Today, the threat environment has radically changed, and, collectively, its challenges are greater than those we faced even a decade ago. To remain relevant, the Intelligence Community must accelerate its own transformation. We cannot afford to be timid with the work that lies ahead.

Do you agree that we need reforms like this? 

President Obama Ignores Iranian Piracy and Neglects an Ally

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In Heritage Work

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out cooperation with the U.S. against ISIS. (Photo: Newscom)

The Obama administration is so desperate to push through a nuclear deal with Iran that it is turning a blind eye to the rogue regime’s hostile actions in international waters.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boarded, hijacked and diverted a cargo ship, registered in the Marshall Islands, to an Iranian port — essentially performing an act of piracy.

Iranian authorities claim the hijacking was due to a commercial dispute with the ship’s owner. Heritage Foundation expert Jim Phillips rejects this pretext involving a commercial dispute and noted that “even if true, that would not legally justify seizing a ship in international waters.”

Phillips believes that Iran has a more ominous motive:

[T]he Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has flexed its muscles to provoke a crisis in retaliation for U.S. backing for the Saudi-led coalition that is blockading Yemen, to prevent Iran from arming and supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels, which Tehran has backed.

“If Iran violates international law and its own legal commitments in the strait,” Phillips asks, “why does the administration believe that it will suddenly abandon its longstanding effort to attain a nuclear weapon?”

If the Obama Administration ignores this aggression, it will be abandoning its responsibility to defend the interests of the Marshall Islands, a U.S. protectorate under a binding treaty, as well as its commitments to ensure freedom of the seas and free flow of trade.

The Obama administration needs to immediately demand the unconditional release of the hijacked ship and its crew. If they don’t, Phillips warns:

Turning a blind eye to Tehran’s latest provocation would not only betray an ally but would send a dangerous signal to Iran’s predatory regime that it can interfere with international shipping in the strait and violate international law with impunity.

CNN reports today that “U.S. Navy warships will now ‘accompany’ every U.S.-flagged commercial vessel that passes through the Strait of Hormuz.”

How do you think the administration should respond to the hijacking?

Should the Government Take Your Property Even If You’re Innocent of Breaking the Law?

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In Heritage Work

It’s common sense that your property–like your house, car, or cash–cannot commit a crime. But under a process known as civil asset forfeiture, your property can be treated as a criminal, giving law enforcement the power to seize it when a crime is suspected.

In a new report, Heritage legal expert John Malcolm explains this outdated practice: 

Civil asset forfeiture is based on a fiction, albeit one of ancient lineage, that property can be guilty of a crime and thereby forfeited to the sovereign regardless of whether any individual is ever charged with (and much less convicted of) a crime related to that property.

These laws, originally intended to take the fruits of crime away from the perpetrator, have gone too far and are now abused by some in law enforcement. Prosecutors need only to demonstrate a “preponderance of evidence” to justify a seizure, while a criminal conviction requires proof of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Mere suspicion is enough.

Those whose property is taken must then prove their property was not involved in a crime. In many cases it’s more expensive to contest a seizure in court than to allow the seizure to stand.

Malcolm gives examples of innocent Americans whose property was taken from them on mere suspicion of a crime. Two dairy farmers in Maryland, for instance, had more than $60,000 taken from their bank account because their deposits looked like those used by criminal money launderers. And in Philadelphia, several homeowners’ houses may be seized because their family members–not the homeowners themselves–conducted drug transactions on their property.

What do you think of this practice? Tell us in the comments. 

Raul Castro Pardons America

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In Heritage Work

You read that right. Raul Castro pardoned us. Over the weekend, the Cuban dictator granted the United States of America a pardon for the embargo we enacted on Cuba.

And President Obama shook the dictator’s hand:

Photo: NPR

This thaw in relations does nothing for the Cuban people or America’s interests, but rather serves to bolster Obama’s personal legacy.

“Barack Obama is simply in a rush to create a legacy for himself,” Heritage Foundation expert Mike Gonzalez told FoxNews.com. “He found time to meet with Mr. Castro, but he didn’t have time to meet with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

And how has President Obama affected the dictator’s future plans for Cuba? Gonzalez warns that it will be much of the same: “Raul Castro is a family man, like ‘Don Corleone’ – he is now setting up his pieces and Obama has given him an assist in how to perpetrate that.”

What kind of foreign policy legacy do you think President Obama will have?

Heritage Research Demolishes This Voter ID Myth

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In Heritage Work

2012 was an important year for elections because a new Kansas law requiring voters to carry a photo ID came into effect.

Many critics of voter ID laws say that they are conspiracies from the right to suppress votes, especially liberal votes. But the data from Kansas show this couldn’t be further from the truth, Heritage Foundation election expert Hans von Spakovsky explains:

In three different measures, including the turnout of registered voters, the turnout of the Voting-Eligible Population, and the turnout of the Voting-Age Population (VAP), Kansas showed an increase in votes from the 2010 to the 2014 election ranging from 1.1 to 0.8 to 0.6 percentage points, respectively. This increase in votes surpassed national levels.

Under this Kansas voter ID law, the number of voters did not decrease–in fact, turnout increased at a rate above the national average. That’s hardly suppressing the vote.

Do you support voter ID laws? 

Everything a 2016 Presidential Candidate Needs to Know About Tax Reform

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In Heritage Work

Over 70 percent of Americans think our tax system needs major changes and reform. So if you’re running for President in 2016, you’re going to need to sort through all the different tax reform proposals out there. Luckily, Heritage Foundation economists Curtis Dubay and David Burton have just published “A Tax Reform Primer for the 2016 Presidential Candidates.

Why should candidates care about tax reform? Dubay and Burton write:

The country needs tax reform because the tax code stifles economic freedom, preventing the economy from being vibrant and prosperous. Fundamental tax reform would alleviate the harm caused by the tax system and significantly increase the size of the economy. This stronger economic growth would substantially improve the incomes of all Americans and enhance economic opportunities.

The primer lists the five principles of any good tax reform, and then details four tax reform plans: the traditional flat tax, the new flat tax, the business transfer tax, and a national sales tax such as the Fair Tax. You can read the full primer here. 

Do you support tax reform? If so, tell us why in the comments.

Russia Is a Major Strategic Adversary. Here’s What We Need to Counter It.

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In Heritage Work

“The next leader of the free world must be able to powerfully project and defend America’s interests internationally,” Heritage Foundation experts Nile Gardiner and James Carafano point out in National Review.

President Obama’s mantra of leading from behind isn’t cutting it when it come to such a shrewd adversary as Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gardiner and Carafano explain:

[It] is simply not good enough when it comes to challenging Vladimir Putin’s regime. In the last year, Russia has grown more aggressive, annexing Crimea and fighting a proxy war in support of ethnic Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

And leading from behind doesn’t exactly lend itself to anticipating–and countering–Putin’s next moves. Looking forward, there are the two major components our new president needs to focus on:

  1. America must project military strength in Europe. We can do this by “establishing a permanent U.S. military presence in the Baltic region, expanding joint training exercises with military allies in Eastern Europe, and providing arms to help the Ukrainian government resist the Russian invasion.”
  2. European countries need to become economically independent from Russia’s energy supplies. Furthermore, “the next U.S. president must act to lift barriers to natural-gas exports and end the ban on crude-oil exports.”

Read their full article in National Review.

What do you think? Should the next president follow President Obama’s Russia policy?

Obamacare Will Hike Taxes by $800 Billion

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In Heritage Work

From 2013 to 2022, Obamacare will set American taxpayers back nearly $800 billion. But the bulk of this tax hike won’t show up until after President Obama has left the White House:

Obamacare contains 18 separate tax increases. A few of the biggest include a tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans, which doesn’t take effect until 2018, long after President Obama and many in Congress who voted for the tax in 2010 have departed Washington.

Read more on the Obamacare tax hike in this Daily Signal article. 

Here Are Five Things Congress Can Pass Right Now to Boost the Economy

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In Heritage Work

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Can the 114th Congress overcome gridlock and enact important economic reforms? Heritage expert Daren Bakst say yes. In a new report, Bakst outlines 26 proposals that should be non-controversial and may already enjoy broad support. Here are five of them:

  1. Balance the budget. Congress has until April 15th to decide on a budget outline for the next ten years. Lawmakers should agree on ways to cut overall spending and debt so the budget balances in 2025.
  2. Make Congress decide on expensive regulations, not bureaucrats. Major rules and regulations costing over $100 million dollars obviously have a big effect on the economy. Unelected bureaucrats in federal agencies can have the final say on these costly regulations. Congress should pass legislation that requires a vote on any major rule proposed by a federal agency to ensure elected lawmakers have a final say.
  3. Keep the Federal Reserve in check. Congress should establish a National Monetary Commission to hold the Federal Reserve accountable. The commission would provide a forum for experts to debate the validity of operations and the appropriate role of the Fed.  In addition, such a Commission could make recommendations to Congress about how to reform the Fed in the future.
  4. Take food stamps out of the farm bill. Whether they’re for or against food stamps, all Congressmen can agree that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program shouldn’t be lumped in with agriculture policies. Yet food stamps are 80 percent of the farm bill’s spending! By separating agricultural appropriations from nutrition assistance, Congress can make it clear where taxpayer funds are going and start reforming pork-barrel farm spending.
  5. Kick-start tax reform by halting the “tax extenders” debate. Lawmakers devote a lot of time to debates over renewing temporary tax provisions known as “tax extenders.” By making these provisions permanent, Congress can get to work on more important tax issues without the distraction of renewing these provisions.

What do you think of these ideas?

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