Here’s a look back at the Top 10 News Stories Of 2013, which will not only continue to unravel during the new year and beyond, but also impact our lives for many years to come.
1. The ObamaCare Rollout And Liberalism’s “Lie Of The Year”
The disastrous rollout of ObamaCare in October of 2013 took number one on the PeoplesPunditDaily.com list of the Top 10 News Stories Of 2013. In fact, the biggest consideration for its top spot, is that the President’s signature health care law is likely to be the biggest story of 2014, as well.
What the media is missing, is that the failed launch of Healthcare.Gov is not what caused the president’s approval numbers to plummet, or what stopped the momentum Democrats had on the Generic Congressional Ballot following the government shutdown. It was the lie the law was sold on.
President Obama’s oft-stated lie, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, period. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you,” earned the PolitiFact “lie of the year” award. As it turns out, Republicans were right, the law was designed to throw people off of their health care plans to pay even higher costs to cover other people, and millions of Americans will lose their current coverage.
The administration has repeatedly, and unilaterally, delayed deadlines and mandates to try to boost enrollment in the ObamaCare exchanges, which are numbers we will all be watching in January. The Obama administration boasted a surge of enrollment in December, but a PeoplesPunditDaily.com study outlining state-by-state enrollment shows an over-expansion in Medicaid, which the entire program will begin to resemble.
The two biggest considerations going into 2014 regarding ObamaCare’s actual survival, will be if Americans are willing to accept Medicaid-like coverage for the same cost as their previous plans, and if the Obama administration can enroll enough Americans into the exchanges that it makes it politically untouchable in the future.
As far as the politics of ObamaCare, the law is deeply unpopular, and exactly how much damage has been done to liberalism, itself, is not yet known. But the revelations of Essential Health Benefit Standards and other aspects to the law’s design, have forced liberalism’s dirty little secret out in the open, which is that it is a “parentalism” ideology.
Liberalism, or progressivism, is based on a belief that a smarter, more sophisticated group of people know what is best for others. There is no hiding it now, but whether or not Republicans can effectively convey their own ideology is another question, altogether.
We will certainly know more about the answers to all of these questions in 2014.
2. IRS Scandal
Most presidents pray with Pastor Billy Graham when they get elected, but President Obama audited him to get reelected. In May of 2013, the IRS scandal was revealed when officials admitted it had improperly targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for audits who had requested tax-exempt status.
Democrats tried to calm the storm with the false claim that the IRS targeted “progressive” groups as well as conservatives. But rebuffing that ridiculous charge, the Treasury Department’s inspector general revealed that 292 – which is 100 percent – of Tea Party groups seeking special tax status were put under IRS review, while just 6 progressive groups were targeted.
The scandal appeared to be fading following the resignation of Lois Lerner, but a round of emails leaked by the Ways and Means to the Wall Street Journal, showed Lois Lerner and other Washington bureaucrats were involved in a huge partisan undertaking that was nearly impossible to execute on their own. But that was the end of the road for accountability, despite the worst aspect of the IRS scandal not even making it to a press room.
A research paper from Stan Vueger of AEI, Andreas Madestam of Stockholm University, Daniel Shoag and David Yanagizawa-Drott (both from the Harvard Kennedy School), took a look at how much impact the Tea Party had on voter turnout in the 2010 election. Their conclusions provide the most troubling element to this story, and everyone in the media ignored it.
According to the joint conservative-liberal scholarship paper: “The data show that had the Tea Party groups continued to grow at the pace seen in 2009 and 2010, and had their effect on the 2012 vote been similar to that seen in 2010, they would have brought the Republican Party as many as 5 – 8.5 million votes compared to Obama’s victory margin of 5 million.”
3. The NSA Spying Programs
Former government contractor Edward Snowden leaked information regarding the NSA spying programs, creating worldwide headlines and another big problem for President Obama. Federal prosecutors have officially charged Edward Snowden with espionage, but he has become somewhat of an international celebrity, mostly in the eyes of our enemies.
In a recent Washington Post interview, Edward Snowden declared mission “accomplished,” stating he had “already won” and achieved what he’d set out to do. Snowden claimed he was trying to improve the security agency by ending broad NSA surveillance, and start a national debate over privacy rights.
Snowden’s leaks revealed the National Security Agency was mining data from millions of U.S. phone calls and e-mails. The administration defended the programs, arguing that they were within the law and had helped authorities stop real terrorist threats. But critics said the programs violated the Constitution, and in December a federal judge agreed.
In 2014, the legal battles are expected to continue, with two recent federal judge rulings on the NSA collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls contradicting each other, leading one legal adviser to Snowden to predict that the Supreme Court will ultimately have the final say on government spying. We agree.
4. Boston Marathon Bombing
On April 15, 2013, two homemade bombs were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing 3 people and injuring hundreds. The nation was glued to news covering the terrorist attack as it unfolded, and the intense manhunt in Boston that resulted in the death of bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the wounding and arrest of his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Rolling Stone Magazine caught serious blowback from Boston residents, supported by citizens around the country, when they featured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover, depicting him in a Jim Morrison light.
We listed this after the NSA surveillance for a reason, because despite the NSA spying programs and a large number of obvious warnings from the Russians, the government missed these guys. It will no doubt go down as a monumental failure in the history books, as it was the first and only terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001. However, in the context of the NSA, we haven’t heard the last of this story.
5. Harry Reid Invokes Nuclear Option
In an unprecedented power grab, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and complacent Democrats invoked the nuclear option, ushering in textbook Democratic tyranny. The most significant changes to the Senate filibuster in a century now requires only 51 votes on procedural motions related to all administration nominees aside from Supreme Court justices.
Every Republican voted against the change, along with 3 Democrats. The move allowed several Obama nominees to move forward, but promises to make life in the Senate difficult in the next year.
Republicans and even some consistent Democrats warned that Harry Reid and President Obama have opened Pandora’s box. Harry Reid has been slowly but surely stripping minority rights and powers during his time as majority leader, even using budget reconciliation to pass ObamaCare. However, invoking the nuclear option on nominees is flat-out trampling on our idea of representative government.
Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), 1 of 3 Democrats who opposed the move, said it could “permanently damage” the Senate.
“This institution was designed to protect — not stamp out — the voices of the minority,” he said.
The ramifications of this move will be felt for many, many years to come. It will ensure leftist judges are embedded in a court system that will enable big government regulations to increase the power of the federal government, and future president’s and majorities will build on its precedent.
All of this will occur to the detriment of our freedom.
6. The Effort To Defund ObamaCare And The Government Shutdown
On October 1, Congress missed the midnight deadline to pass a crucial spending bill, triggering the beginning of a partial government shutdown.
For 16 days, the federal government remained shut down, which furloughed hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” federal workers. President Obama made the unnecessary decision to close national parks and monuments, sinking his and congressional Republican poll numbers.
Polls showed Republicans took most of the blame, but their numbers precipitated only after intra-party fighting began to show a divide within the party. Millions of Americans signed a petition to defund ObamaCare, which was headed up by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
When Republican Senate leadership derailed the movement and began to blast Sen. Ted Cruz, who went on a 21-hour filibuster-like binge, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other House members, revamped their strategy.
The Republican House bill, which the chamber backed on a 228-201 vote, would have delayed the law’s individual mandate while prohibiting lawmakers, their staff and top administration officials from getting government subsidies for their health care.
The Senate voted 54-46, completely along party lines to reject it.
The shutdown ended when the House of Representatives, in a vote of 285 to 144, passed a bill to fund the government through January 15, also increasing the nation’s borrowing limit through February 7.
The story you will never hear in the mainstream media, is how the Democrats’ refusal to negotiate with Republicans during the shutdown could have averted the ObamaCare disaster.
In December, hoping to avoid another shutdown, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to a 2-year budget deal. It passed with bipartisan support.
7. War In Syria And Obama’s Amateur “Red Line” Moment
On August 31, President Obama asked Congress to authorize a military attack on Syria, after painting himself in a corner with his self-imposed “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebel forces.
Polls showed a military action was unpopular, and a whip count from various reports showed the resolution headed for defeat. President Obama, while speaking in a joint press conference in Stockholm Sweden, denied that he even set a red line. Refusing to take the full burden, the president said, “first of all, I didn’t set a red line, the world did.”
Obama was rescued by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who completely outsmarted and out-strategized Obama on the international stage, which is what makes this story so important. Putin arranged a deal with Syria, a puppet state of the Russian power, promising to surrender its chemical weapons.
While the U.S. was able to back away from the resolution, Obama did not save face, weakening the U.S. in the process and emboldening other enemies.
8. Iran Deal: It Was Never Serious Or Realistic, 2014 Will Pay The Price
After revealing the first phone call in 30 years between Iran and the U.S., an Iran agreement was out hatched between Iran and 6 world powers on November 23. The first-stage agreement was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Iran deal a “historic mistake,” and admonished the world in remarks that were broadcast from the start of his weekly cabinet meeting on November 24.
Shortly following the initial reports of the Iran deal, Iran announced that they would adopt new enrichment technologies, fueling skepticism over their commitment. Also, the so-called moderate new president, gave a speech in which he declared victory, delivering several outrageous anti-American comments.
President Obama pushed lawmakers in Congress to support the Iran deal, but bipartisan skepticism in both the House and Senate favored tougher sanctions, leading to what is now a veto face off with President Obama and members of his own party.
Then, on December 8, a deal between Iran and Afghanistan, or a cooperation pact, was hatched out between President Hamid Karzai and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran. The news came after Karzai backed away from a status of forces agreement that was already approved by the Afghan tribal council.
Iran is sure to fill headlines in 2014, but it was a series of amateur mistakes and decisions made by Obama in 2013 that will be to blame. In the final “Fox News Sunday” show panel, former Senator Joe Lieberman said that he expects bipartisan sanction legislation to pass in 2014. Lieberman also said it was likely that a strike by Israel and/or the U.S. in 2014 will end the Iran nuclear program.
Look for more brazen moves by U.S. enemies in 2014, such as the instance of China sending fighter jets on more patrols of its new air defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
9. The Obama Administration “Chilling” AP, Media And James Rosen
On May 15, before the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked Attorney General Eric Holder, “We also have an old law that would allow for prosecution of anyone who published the classified information, isn’t that correct?”
Holder replied, “You’ve got a long way to go to try to prosecute people—the press for the publication of that material. This has…not fared well in American history.”
Associated Press reporters, however, would disagree.
In May, the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department “secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press.” As it turned out, as many as 100 AP reporters may have been targeted. Then, it went from bad to worse for the Obama administration.
NBC News reported that Holder “signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a ‘possible co-conspirator’ in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails,” which were revealed during conversations with a law enforcement official.
The FBI targeted James Rosen’s phone records and private emails, because they alleged there was “probable cause to believe” Rosen was a “co-conspirator and/or aider and abettor…committing the criminal offense…” The scandal represented what we now know to be a general policy by the Obama administration to “chill” the media. In other words, to scare the daylights out of them, so that they will not report on anything that may damage them.
I do not think I have to elaborate on the danger of this, do I?
10. Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA, But Abortion Bans Are The Future
The top court ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act in June in a landmark decision. In a 5 – 4 decision the Supreme Court ruled DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
The majority opinion – Justice Kennedy joined the liberal justices – said the Fifth Amendment allows gay federal employees who are legally married to have the same benefits as same-sex couples. Roberts dissents, joined by Scalia who is joined by Thomas – while Chief Justice Roberts joined in part.
To be sure, 2013 was a good year for the gay marriage movement legally, but as the media attempts to paint a picture of an ever-accepting shift in the American electorate on socially liberal issues, the data suggest the opposite. On abortion, gay marriage, and other important social issues, the shift has arrested and reversed.
PeoplesPunditDaily.com recently examined the rightward move back to socially conservative positions, as the number of socially liberal Americans falls to an all-time low on some surveys. However, whether or not they will be able to translate that sentiment into legal victories in 2014, is far from clear.
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Happy New Year