Mason Evans, 9th grader at MJHS, is writing political news articles for his High Honors Project. This, his first article, is an unbiased report and we agreed to publish the article on our website. His hope is that this will help his project receive community involvement. Below for your reading pleasure.....
LET US HAVE A WORD
Obamacare: Pros and Cons
Considering all of the issues brought up, debated, passed or denied, we begin to understand which ones contain more value to the American people. These bills, according to their creators, were meant to build upon the American dream. Right now, in the 113th congress, one of the biggest bills discussed is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or in other words, Obamacare.
According to the Inquistr, “The bill started life as House Resolution 3590, which was then called the Members Home Ownership Act. After passing the House, the bill was stripped in a process known as ‘gut and amend’ and replaced entirely with the contents of what became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
Inside the bill, we see, according to the Inquistr, “You must be signed for health insurance by December 25, 2013 in order to [escape] Obamacare penalty. The original penalty maxes out at $285 or one percent of the income for a family of four. In 2016, the obamacare penalty maxes at 695 per person, $2,085 for the family, or 2.5 percent of taxable income which amounts to $173.75 per month.”
One student has a strong opinion about this. “While I find the fine absurd…there is no reason to get riled up about it.” Another student disagrees with this penalty fine. “That is wrong. There should be no fine.”
Many consider Obamacare to be a good asset to the American people. According to Healthcare.gov, “ You can get lower costs on coverage…All plans must offer a comprehensive set of essential health benefits including doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization, prescriptions, and more…Pre-existing conditions will be covered. The health care law offers new rights, consumer protections, and benefits like free preventive care.”
One student believes these are important parts of Obamacare are good to the American people and because of them, Obamacare should stand as law. “The ACA (affordable care act) allows many low income Americans to get the care they need at a reasonable cost that anyone can afford.” Another student says,” It is reasonable but you shouldn’t have to get it.”
After weighing the pros and cons, to some, it seems the cons way more. According to NASDAQ,” There will be 19 new taxes in the form of brand new taxes, fees, and penalties that have never existed and in the elimination of tax deductions. For example, we’ll see a 50,000 tax penalty on charitable hospitals that fail to meet five new requirements, a 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers, and a removal of executive salary tax deductions for health insurance companies that compensate executives over 500,000 a year.”
One student states that he doesn’t like taxes and that this is wrong. Another states otherwise. “I think the taxes are unnecessary but it is for the good of the person who is buying health care. It’s something they need. While taxing them is inefficient, something must be done to ensure they receive the care they need. The taxes to the hospital are insignificant.”
In the first 24 hour launch of Obamacare, according to CNN, 4.7 million people went to federal websites discussing Obamacare and its contents. According to CNN, glitches should be expected when looking at this website. It could be the work of a hacker or the website has an overload of viewers.
“I trust that the government can keep up their websites,” states one student. “ And if they can’t, they are completely at fault.”
“I hope it is a hacker,” says another student jokingly. “That would be funny.”
Shutdown and Default, Part 1
On Thursday evening, John Boehner and other House GOP leaders met with President Obama at the White House to discuss potential paths in the government shutdown.
One student said, “I'm glad that they are finally getting things done”.Another also responded as such. “ I personally think they (the government officials are just trying to raise hopes.”
President Obama has many goals related to this issue, according to CNN. First, he wants to pay off the bills the U.S has received. Second, President Obama wants to end the shutdown.
A student replied, “Another student said, “Good luck. The meeting doesn’t mean unanimous support.”
The House Republicans say, according to CNN, that “they will propose a temporary increase in the U.S borrowing limit, a potential first step toward breaking a political deadlock that has shutdown parts of the government and threatens a US default.”
One student answered, “Adding to the borrowing limit is not anything that anyone wants to do, but America's debt will be in a serious problem if we don't. It's a lose lose situation.” A second student claimed, “The debt won’t get any better by adding to the borrowing limit.”
Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, said to reporters, “ We are [finally] working together now.”
A student replied to the statement, “Republicans and Democrats have been working together? Since when? Last I heard, the Democrats have been holding close to their beliefs and the Tea Party Republicans have been making their grandiose claims that no one wants to even hear about. I am glad that their is some negotiation going on, but the Republicans are making ridiculous claims that no one can settle for.
According to FOX news, Harry Reid, a Democratic Senator, has doubt on this plan. The plan that will be proposed by the Republicans, according to FOX, “called for a six week extension of the debt ceiling.”
One student said, “ This is just procrastinating a real decision. We need a decision now.” He also said, “Harry Reid obviously doesn’t seem willing to compromise.” Another student replied, “Harry Reid is a good guy, but as a senate majority leader he certainly isn't doing much.”
According to Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, Obama is happy that the Republicans want to avoid a default. The White House also said that “the president and Senate Democrats will continue to pursue reasonable discussion about our budget challenges…”
As this may look like progress, we still have some work ahead. NBC reported from Hal Rogers that the negotiators will try to solve the CR (government funding) problem. According to NBC, GOP leaders said, “No Final decisions were made.”
Shutdown and Default, Part 2
Luckily, according to CNN, “Senate leaders from both parties say a deal is near to end the partial government shutdown and avoid a potential default as soon as this week. However, House Republicans decided Tuesday to offer their own proposal that would tack on provisions changing President Barack Obama's signature health care reforms in what appeared to be a last-gasp effort to influence the agreement to reopen the government and raise the federal borrowing limit.”
One student said, “ Not surprised since they want the credit for ending the shutdown and getting what they want done.” Another said, “The last I heard, the 'progress in congress' was another ridiculous idea proposed by the Tea Party and shut down by Obama.”
CNN provided a summary of this counteroffer. “According to GOP sources and confirmed by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the House plan would include most of what is in the Senate agreement while adding a provision to suspend an Obamacare tax on medical devices for two years and remove federal health care subsidies for Obama and legislators when they obtain health coverage under the reforms. In addition, the House proposal would forbid the Treasury from taking what it calls extraordinary measures to prevent the government from defaulting as cash runs low, in effect requiring hard deadlines to extend the federal debt ceiling.”
A student remarked, “ I like the part where Obama and Congress wont get special privileges.” Another student was asked if he liked the counteroffer. “NO. The counteroffer is completely ludicrous and will do nothing to help anything in the way of the affordable care act. The affordable care act was a compromise to a problem! There is no reason to compromise a compromise that, might I add, was already made into law.”
As of 11:15 AM, eastern time, CNN released the following news involving the House’s counteroffer. “The White House is rejecting the latest proposal from House Republicans over the fiscal impasse. ‘The President has said repeatedly that Members of Congress don't get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation's bills,’a White House spokeswoman said. Separately, President Barack Obama will meet with House Democrats at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.
“ Obama could’ve ended the shutdown right there. What a loser,” replied a student. A second student remarked. “I am very glad and not surprised that Obama rejected the counteroffer.”
According to FOX news, “President Obama, meanwhile, plans to meet with House Democratic leadership Tuesday afternoon. Congressional Democrats hammered their GOP colleagues for crafting a new bill. And White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage called the emerging House plan a ‘partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place.’
House Republicans, though, stressed that the plans were similar and voiced hope that the Senate might accept what they're working on.
“ Why can’t they get something done?” asked one student.
NBC also stated, “ ‘There are a lot of opinions about what direction to go,’ House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio told reporters at the Capitol after an unusually long meeting with fellow Republicans. ‘There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do.’”
“The speaker's words were somewhat stunning given the manner in which Republican aides circulated the details of a GOP proposal to tackle the shutdown and debt limit during the meeting, suggesting the House would move forward on the alternative as soon as Tuesday. The top Senate Democrat said he was ‘blindsided’ by the developments.”
“Democrats were quick to seize on the theatrics, accusing Republicans of ‘sabotaging a good faith, bi-partisan effort,’ in the works of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.”
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the GOP maneuver a ‘blatant attack on bipartisanship,’ which he vowed ‘can't pass the Senate and won't pass the Senate.’"
“ Politics is messed up,” remarked one student. Another student supported the Democrats dislike of the law. “The fact that the Senate dislikes the counteroffer does not surprise me. No one expected the Tea Party to come up with a reasonable compromise for a problem that didn't even need to be a problem.”
Aftermath of Shutdown:
After lots of chaos in Congress, the Radical Republicans and Dramatic Democrats finally came to a deal. The deal was signed by President Obama, giving a raise to the debt ceiling and ending the sixteen day shutdown. However this deal may look, there is still work to do.
NBC Politics stated, “ The agreement that passed Congress on Wednesday extends spending through Jan. 15, and raises the debt limit through early February. But the hard-fought negotiations did little to soften the deep chasm between Democrats and Republicans on the question of government spending.”
The sixteen day shutdown is over but the battle isn't over. NBC put an article out titled, “Will GOP force another shutdown in three months?”. NBC covered the case of the shutdown and said that some Republicans dislike some of the fighting strategies of the conservatives. John McCain said, “ ‘I would also like to point out that we learned a lesson last time – we forgot it,’ [He is] referring to the hit the GOP took after the government shutdowns of the mid-1990s. ‘I am very confident that we won’t go through this exercise again, at these expiration dates that are coming up.’ ”
One student replied, “I think that we will avoid that by passing another bill.”
Despite the fact that a short term deal has been decided on, the fight of Obamacare is not over. The reform avoided changes, which according to Democrats, is because of the firmness of President Obama. The first problem is the websites themselves.
According to CNN, “ The Obamacare website, which launched October 1, deleted some users' passwords, according to multiple call center representatives for the site.
Five call center agents told CNN on Wednesday that because of an upgrade to the beleaguered website, many passwords were deleted if they were created in the first week or so after the launch. More recently created user names and passwords don't seem to have the same problems.”
One student replied, “That would be a problem. I am unsure of it's validity, but if it is occurring there should definitely be a team working on fixing that ASAP.”
According to Huffington Post, “Republicans in Congress chastised President Barack Obama's top health adviser[Kathleen Sebelius] on Thursday for declining to testify before an oversight panel about problems in rolling out the president's signature healthcare program known as Obamacare.” CNN also stated, “ the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, last week wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demanding information about the rollout problems…[Kathleen Sebelius] told CNN… ‘There are constant improvements under way, so that we are getting people in much more quickly.’Nevertheless, a couple of Republicans have called on Sebelius to resign.”
One student said, “ The way it is being solved is the way every website issue is being solved. All they have to do is fix the tables which, I am assuming, were not created very carefully. She is not an IT team. I guess that she can tell them how it is going, but that wouldn’t solve anything. Are they insinuating that there is a conspiracy going on?”
Looking over the aftermath of, what CNN calls it, the shutdown showdown, we see that the shutdown caused some economical damage. CNN reported, “ the 16-day shutdown was costly: It took $24 billion out of the economy, Standard & Poor's says.”
One student blames the Tea Party for such damage. “I am very, very angry at the tea party for this one. The hypocrisy and utter lunacy of them has not only damaged the America, but will continue to damage America. They get mad at Obama for spending a single penny and they go and shut down the government over a law? There is a procedure for taking out a law, and shutting down the government is the most extreme and unnecessary and costly way of doing things.
And, might I add, it doesn't end up changing the law.”
Plus, many have began to say that the deal “ kicks the can down the road.” To translate, it means that the same problems we faced before will arise again. Now, reporters have asked the President if he thinks this will repeat. He said no but no one is entire as confident.
One student said, “They are correct, we might. The only way to NOT go through the same trouble is A.) Not let the Tea Party hold the country hostage and B.) Get Ted Cruz and Boehner out of office. If they weren't talking heads, we wouldn't have to go through this.”
Yet while we think we have seen the worse, CNN stated, “ As much as President Barack Obama has insisted that the debt ceiling is not subject to partisan politics, these protracted and ugly negotiations demonstrate otherwise, portending similar showdown in the future.
It may seem the congressional wrangling preceding the deal was a study in government at its most dysfunctional, but experts say the worst could be on the horizon.”
One student stated, “ It's hard to say. This debt ceiling action was a double edged sword; it solved our immediate problem but it will lead to more debt over time. If we make a permanent solution than we will be fine unless some idiot of a president is elected in '16. If no permanent solution is found, we are in serious trouble.”
How the government will either escape this same story or live it again, we will see in about three months.
Political Parties: A harm or benefit to America?
If someone was to look over the Constitution comprehensively and study the articles, they would realize that there is no article discussing political parties and the rules which they should abide.PEARSON, the world’s biggest learning company, stated,
“... it is difficult to imagine our system of government without them. Unlike most other democratic nations… American society has always seen divisions on important issues. Before independence, some colonists favored independence while others, called Tories or Loyalists, opposed it. When the Constitution was being debated, the Federalists favored a strong national government and ratification of the Constitution, while the Anti-Federalists favored a weaker national government and opposed ratification. This latter division would eventually give rise to the first political parties, which would try to get people who shared their views elected to government offices.”
Since the beginning of politics and government, no government has ever had unanimous support from all government officials and the people. It is basically written in human nature to have different ideas and opinions than the guy on your left and the other guy on your right. One student stated, “
Right now, as of 2013, there are two different major parties involved in the government and media. One of the parties is the Democratic Party, or the Democrats. They began in the 1820s and their first presidential candidate was the seventh president, Andrew Jackson. Democrats have been known as one of the oldest political parties in the world. Over time, they would give many presidents, including FDR, JFK, and the current president, Barack Obama. “ “
The other party began in 1850s and according to the GOP website,their slogan was, “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men.” They first nominated John Fremont in 1856 and then Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Lincoln would lead the country in one of the worst wars in U.S. history. Later, the Republicans would later give the first woman to be elected to Congress, Jeanette Rankin from Montana. Over the history of the United States, they would give many presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. “ “
Right now, many could say the Republicans and Democrats have never been farther apart in political issues. First, Democrats are known to be liberal while the Republicans are conservative. Democrats are pro-choice while Republicans are pro-life. Democrats support gay marriage while Republicans don’t. Democrats want to decrease spending in military while Republicans want increase. Democrats prefer higher tax rates while Republicans believe taxes should not be increased on anyone including the wealthy. Get the idea?
CNN released a poll about the shutdown and the poll stated 63 % of the people surveyed wanted Boehner removed. 54% said they thought a republican-controlled House is bad for the country.
86% said they disapprove of how Congress is doing their job. That is Republicans and Democrats. 21% said that they don’t have confidence in Congress or Obama to solve the issues.
There is one more party that has gained notice after the recent shutdown. According to the website, “ The Tea Party is a grassroots movement that calls awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty, or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation, the United States of America. From our founding, the Tea Party represents the voice of the true owners of the United States: WE THE PEOPLE.”
Snooping and eavesdropping is probably what teens mostly dislike from their friends. It isn’t any different when national governments start eavesdropping on each other. Though, some could protest that this “intelligence gathering” is not the worst thing in the world.
According to CNN, “The National Security Agency's controversial intelligence-gathering programs have prevented 54 terrorist attacks around the world, including 13 in the United States, according to Gen. Keith Alexander, NSA director.” Intelligence gathering is good when preventing terrorist attacks but what should be the most appropriate steps in order to avoid conflict with other countries?
According to FOX, “ President Barack Obama knew of the organization’s spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel – and approved of the efforts, a National Security Agency official has reportedly told a German newspaper…
“The Economic Times writes the ‘high-ranking’ NSA official spoke to Bild am Sonntag on the condition of anonymity, saying the president, ‘not only did not stop the operation, but he also ordered it to continue.’”
“The Economic Times also reports the official told Bild am Sonntag that Obama did not trust Merkel, wanted to know everything about her, and thus ordered the NSA to prepare a dossier on the politician.”
However, another account was made about Obama’s involvement. “The account could mean difficulties for the White House, given another report claiming Obama told Merkel during a telephone conversation last Wednesday he was not aware of the NSA’s spying.
The Economic Times cited Frankfuter Allgemeine Zeitung in writing that when Merkel called Obama last week to alternately complain -- and get an explanation -- about the NSA surveillance, the president assured her he wasn’t aware of the campaign regarding her, and would have halted it, had he known.”
FOX also stated, “The National Security Agency monitored 60 million phone calls made in Spain over the course of a single month last year, according to a report published by a Spanish newspaper Sunday evening.”
It was also stated, “El Mundo, citing information in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, reported that the NSA collected data on the phone calls, which were made in December 2012. Spain is the third different Western European country in less than a week to have a major news publication report on NSA surveillance of phone calls in that country. Earlier this week, officials in France and Germany demanded explanations from the U.S. after reports detailed NSA surveillance of phone calls, most notably that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which Der Spiegel reported dated back to 2002.
Meanwhile, the NSA has been doing work also in America. General Alexander, the NSA director, “said the NSA can collect metadata on phone calls in the United States, including the date and time of the call, the numbers involved and the length of the conversations. He made a special point of saying the NSA does not have access to the content of citizens' calls or text messages.” This was reported by CNN.
Fire sent from the media towards the White House
Within the last couple of days, the White House has been under media fire. A CNN analyst said, “This is an administration that has been very, very good at its politics, but has never been very good at execution of policies from Day One.” One student said, “
CNN said the following, “ In a place accustomed to tough stretches, this has been a particularly tough few days at the White House. After emerging from the showdown over the Republican-led government shutdown relatively unscathed, the Obama administration finds itself under assault on three fronts: problems surrounding Obamacare, revelations of the U.S. spying on allies, and the 2012 attack on the U.S diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya -- over which a senator has threatened to hold up all of the administration's nominations.”
First, Obamacare. FOX stated the following, “Even as President Obama was assuring voters in the 2012 election that “you will keep your health insurance” under ObamaCare, the White House knew that between 40 percent and 67 percent of individual policy holders were going to lose their coverage under the law now moving toward final implementation.”
“An NBC News investigation revealed that Obama officials were already forecasting 7 million people would lose their insurance under the president’s plan, even as Obama was reassuring voters nervous about their coverage under his law.”
Obama gave his opinion on this issue. CNN reported, “President Barack Obama acknowledged Wednesday the national health care law's new website was ‘too slow and too many people ‘have gotten stuck’ in it.
‘I'm not happy about it and neither are a lot of Americans who need health care,’he said at a Boston rally to tout and defend the Affordable Care Act, which is the signature domestic achievement of his presidency.
Also, the website has been having problems. CNN reported, “Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- which is in charge of the Obamacare website -- became the first administration official to formally apologize to Americans for the glitchy start.”
Changes have been made to the sign up date however. According to FOX, “The White House is officially giving Americans six more weeks to sign up for ObamaCare due to the ongoing problems of the program’s Web site and enrollment functions. The White House announced the date for uninsured Americans to sign up before penalties kick in – $95 or 1 percent of taxable income – will move from mid-February to March 31 of next year. Republicans are questioning the administration’s authority to change the law without congressional authorization.
On October 29th, CNN reported the following,: “9:17 a.m. ET-”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized Wednesday to Americans for the "miserably frustrating experience" caused by problems with the Obamacare website.”
Second, NSA spying. CNN reported “European lawmakers are taking their push for answers on U.S. surveillance programs to the White House on Wednesday...Revelations of U.S. spying involving allied leaders and citizens have sparked calls for the United States to roll back its surveillance programs and threats of repercussions.”
FOX also reported, “ [a] Wall Street Journal report that Obama didn’t know the NSA was conducting electronic surveillance against Angela Merkel and other leaders allied with the U.S.”
NSA directors have been interviewed by CNN and this is part of CNN’s article about European delegation and NSA spying. “National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander denied Tuesday that the United States had collected telephone and e-mail records directly from European citizens, calling reports based on leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden ‘completely false.’”
“Testifying Tuesday alongside Alexander before the House Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers that covert spying among nations was a ‘fundamental given’."