Monday, July 18, 2016

"Senior Obama administration officials" "no legal basis" "illegal" "unlawful" "contrived" 2013 "unappropriated" $7 billion payments to Obamacare insurers

"A report issued last week jointly by the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees explores how the administration came to unlawfully funnel $7 billion in unappropriated money to insurers...

Like the City of Greensboro's Civil Rights museum bailout

The program — known as cost-sharing reduction (CSR) — requires insurers to reduce deductibles and other out-of-pocket spending for certain low-income people who signed up for coverage through health insurance exchanges. In turn, the statute authorized the administration to seek an appropriation from Congress to reimburse insurers for the cost of providing these coverage enhancements.

...the administration determined as early as 2010 that it needed an appropriation to make CSR payments to insurers. In April 2013, the president submitted a budget to Congress formally requesting the appropriation.

But in July, the Senate Appropriations Committee, then controlled by Democrats, expressly denied the president's request. 

Sometime after Congress refused to fund the program, the administration contrived the theory that it could spend money without an appropriation.

Without consequence

Senior officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) drafted a legal memorandum during late 2013 declaring that the government could make billions in CSR payments to the insurance industry without congressional approval. The administration began making the unlawful payments in January 2014.

President Obama should be impeached

Although the administration continues to stonewall the congressional investigation into how it arrived at this decision, the committees have learned that several Treasury Department officials raised concerns about the OMB memo. Those officials were permitted to read the document, but were forbidden to make copies or take notes.

The administration has denied Congress even that courtesy, defying congressional subpoenas for copies of the OMB memorandum and other material relevant to the investigation. It has supplied them with a memorandum that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew signed in January 2014 directing his subordinates to begin making CSR payments. But that memorandum has been redacted to omit the department's legal justification.

Jack Lew should be arrested and indicted,
but he won't be, because now everything is legal
as long as our ruling elite is in on it

The administration also has slapped a gag order on current and former employees, instructing them not to answer the committees' questions about the legality of the unappropriated spending.

The administration has good reason to stonewall. Its ostensive reason — that the legitimacy of the CSR payments is under review by the courts — is a smokescreen. The Supreme Court settled that matter in a 1929 case arising from the Teapot Dome Scandal, holding that congressional inquiries cannot be thwarted by ongoing litigation.

The administration's defiance has a much simpler explanation: Its actions have no legal basis. Even The New York Times has acknowledged that if the administration were permitted to continue spending unappropriated money, "it could have major — some might say huge — consequences for our constitutional democracy."

...the government's unlawful spending on the CSR program fits into a broader pattern of malfeasance in ObamaCare implementation. That malfeasance includes decisions made during the first half of 2014 to unlawfully divert $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion from the Treasury to insurance companies through the "reinsurance" program. It also involves the attempt by the government to turn the law's "risk corridor" program into a new version of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), forcing taxpayers to cover losses resulting from bad business decisions made by insurance executives.

Those abrupt and unlawful policy reversals were occasioned by a serious miscalculation of demand for health insurance among relatively healthy people."