Ted Cruz unveils patient-centered replacement for Obamacare

Ted Cruz is not only the loudest opponent of Obamacare on Capitol Hill. He’s also the only Senator to propose an alternative in the form of an actual bill.  Other so-called “alternatives” have only amounted to general ideas and op-eds but not legislation. 

from the Hill:

Cruz’s bill, called the Health Care Choices Act, would allow people to buy health insurance across state lines, long a Republican health policy goal. It would also repeal Title I of ObamaCare, which would undo much of the law, including the mandate to buy insurance, the insurance marketplaces and subsidies to help people afford coverage.

Republicans are looking to show that they have a plan ready if the court strikes down subsidies for around 7.5 million people in the roughly three-dozen states using federally run marketplaces. The court will hear arguments in the case, King v. Burwell, on Wednesday.

The Obama administration insists that it does not have a contingency plan and that it will prevail in Court.

“The administration has done absolutely nothing to prepare for an upcoming Supreme Court decision that could leave millions of Americans unable to afford insurance thanks to this failed law,” Cruz said in a statement. “Republicans must offer the American people alternatives that lower costs and break the status quo that favors big government and big health care business over hardworking Americans.”

read the rest

The timing of Ted Cruz’s bill is vitally important because yesterday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court specifically went into the details of what would happen if the majority of justices struck down Obamacare’s illegal Federal subsidies.  The Obama administration claims that there is no alternative to Obamacare (which is laughable because the law has only existed for 4 years), but clearly there are alternatives.  Ted Cruz’s bill completely undermines one of the primary arguments the Obama administration made before the court yesterday.  

Today, 75 scientists urged President Obama to stop oil and gas companies from using underwater explosions, which can harm whales and other marine mammals.

Because whales depend on sound waves to communicate, feed, mate, and travel, the blasting can disrupt the reproduction and feeding of blue whales and other endangered whales “over vast ocean areas,” the letter says. It expresses special concern for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which only 500 remain.

The blasts also “could have potentially massive impacts on fish populations,” according to the letter. In some countries seismic testing has driven away commercial species, resulting in dramatic drops in catch rates. Studies also show the airguns could kill fish eggs and larvae, interfere with breeding, and make some species more vulnerable to predators.  
“People are rightly concerned about the dangers of offshore oil spills, but seismic blasting is likely to have a terrible impact on Atlantic sea life before the first well is even drilled,” said Michael Jasny, director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project.

The seismic surveys, used by oil companies to locate oil and gas deposits below the ocean floor, were evaluated  last year by the Department of the Interior and would result in more than 20 million seismic “shots” over a multiyear period. “The Interior Department itself has estimated that seismic exploration would disrupt vital marine mammal behavior more than 13 million times,” the letter says.

Read the rest. And help whales by taking action here

U.S. conservation groups accused the federal Wildlife Services in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday of indiscriminately killing a multitude of wildlife like wolves and mountain lions in Idaho to benefit ranchers and farmers.

The groups asked a U.S. judge in Idaho to force the agency to stop violating federal environmental and wildlife protection laws by conducting campaigns in Idaho such as aerial gunning of wolves without assessing the impacts on public lands and wild animals as required.    

The Center for Biological Diversity and five other conservation groups complained in the lawsuit that Wildlife Services, which operates under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, kills thousands of Idaho wolves, foxes, cougars, birds and other creatures considered nuisances to farm or ranch operations, all at taxpayer expense.

"This lawsuit will shine a bright light on this rogue agency that spends millions of dollars annually to indiscriminately shoot, poison and trap wildlife species," said Laird Lucas, head of litigation for Advocates for the West, a Boise-based  environmental law firm that was involved in the suit.

The lawsuit also targets the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for what conservationists said was federal wildlife managers’ failure to properly assess the consequences on imperiled animals of Wildlife Services’ activities in Idaho.

The USDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. The Fish and Wildlife Service has a policy of not commenting on litigation or pending litigation.


Idaho.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro revealed new evidence on the coup plot against his administration Tuesday during his weekly televised show, revealing that much of it was planned in the United States.

President Maduro played the audio of a conversation held between Carlos Manuel Osuna Saraco, a former Venezuelan politician living in New York, and a soldier, in which Osuna dictates the statement that the rebel soldiers should read out during the coup.

The Venezuelan leader informed viewers that he would soon call upon the United States to extradite the suspect Osuna for trial in his home country.

Maduro also noted that in addition to the call from Osuna’s base in New York, there was a second phone call from Miami.

Ledezma was in constant coordination with Osuna in New York via telephone.

“There is a lot of hatred in certain minorities [in Venezuela],” Maduro said. “Minorities with economic power that are being encouraged from the U.S.”

“This plot has a tag which reads ‘made in the USA,’” he asserted, adding that a member of the United States Embassy in Venezuela also met with opposition leaders, giving them documents to help in the preparation stage.

He urged U.S. President Barack Obama to abandon his government’s attempts to oust him.

“You, Mr. Obama, must decide … if you want to go down in history as George W. Bush, who failed in attempting to oust President Chavez,” said Maduro.