Monthly Archives: January 2016

America’s Defense Time Warp

Washington’s leaders appear trapped in a time warp when it comes to making decisions about defense and foreign policy.

Still reveling in the bloodless victory a quarter-century ago over the Soviet Union in the first Cold War, President Obama, his progressive supporters, and some Republican budget hawks more concerned with balancing the budget than funding national security needs cling to the illusion that, since the USSR’s demise, there are no overarching threats from powerful nations.  In his State of the Union address, President Obama claimed that the only real threat to the U.S. came from failed states.

Arguments are frequently made that the U.S. military is funded far better than any potential adversaries. The reality is, of course, that a vast percentage of spending on the armed forces of nations such as Russia and China are simply not reported, a strategy made easier by the absence of a free press in those nations.

Substantially ignored by far too many in government and media are these crucial realities that make the current era the most dangerous in American history:

For the first time in a century, Washington’s alliances do not constitute the most powerful military grouping in existence.  That distinction goes to the Russian-Chinese-Iranian-North Korean axis.

For the first time in history, the U.S. does not possess the most powerful or modern nuclear force.  Since the Obama/Clinton “Reset” with Russia and the New Start Treaty, that distinction belongs to Moscow. Some believe that China’s vast military tunnel system may contain more nuclear weapons than America’s arsenal, as well.

The equipment, weapons and vehicles of America’s conventional forces are old and worn down by overuse. Those of our potential adversaries are fresher.

Concerns over the diminished armed forces is not restricted to Republicans, conservatives, or hawks.

The U.S. Navy, once the unquestioned master of the world’s oceans, has shrunk to less than half its previous size while facing adversaries who have dramatically increased the size and capabilities of their fleets. The Chinese Navy already has more submarines than the U.S. has, and by 2020, its navy will surpass Washington’s in total numbers.  Beijing also possesses some unique weapons, such as land-based missiles that can devastate ships nearly a thousand miles from shore, a true game-changer.

Politico  has reported: “We have a crisis in the fleet… Today, at 284 warships, the United States Navy’s fleet is the smallest since World War I. But even that number probably overstates the Navy’s true capability: The Pentagon recently changed the rules by which it counts active warships and if you apply the traditional and more stringent method, the Navy has but 274 warships. [The NY Analysis pegs the number even lower.] Given sequestration, the fleet will continue to decline.”

The U.S. military no longer has the capability to fight a two-front war. The Heritage Foundation  notes that “The common theme across the services and the United States’ nuclear enterprise is one of force degradation resulting from many years of underinvestment, poor execution of modernization programs, and the negative effects of budget sequestration (cuts in funding) on readiness and capacity. While the military has been heavily engaged in operations, primarily in the Middle East but elsewhere as well, since September 11, 2001, experience is both ephemeral and context-sensitive. Valuable combat experience is lost over time as the servicemembers who individually gained experience leave the force, and it maintains direct relevance only for future operations of a similar type. Thus, though the current Joint Force is experienced in some types of operations, it is still aged and shrinking in its capacity for operations.”

The American Enterprise Institute opines: “Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, American power has slowly but surely atrophied relative to the burgeoning threats that confront the United States. Seemingly attractive short-term defense cuts carried long-term costs, not only in monetary terms, but also in proliferating risk to American national interests. Military spending has fallen since 1991 by every metric—as a percentage of GDP, as a percentage of the federal budget, and in real terms—even as a declining share of the Pentagon budget funds combat-related activities…

“American political leadership has consistently asked the military to do more with less. Without sufficient military credibility to deter or contain conflict, an ever-smaller American military has been sent abroad far more frequently than in the Cold War. If the rosy assumptions about threats to American interests had proved true, none of this would matter. Yet the past decade has seen drastic and widespread negative developments for American interests, from the direct threat of radical Islamist terrorism to China’s unwillingness to cooperate instead of compete and Russia’s delusions of grandeur. These threats to stability might each be soluble in isolation, but together they require sustained application of American economic, diplomatic, and cultural power, each buttressed by credible US military power. If American political leadership continues to underfund and overuse the military, it will not result in a less ambitious foreign policy. It will result only in greater risk to American national interests. A weaker military has resulted in less credible American security guarantees and increased likelihood of conflict. A strong American military will rebuild the trust of our allies and ensure stability for a new American century.”

Decisions over the fate and funding of America’s military have been tied to balance sheets, politics, and conflicting ideologies. It’s time that the only appropriate criteria—the ability to deter enemy aggression—replaced those comparatively trivial considerations.

Warthog Lives to Fight Again

Defense One reports that the U.S. Air Force may be forced to postpone any immediate plans to retire the A-10 Warthog attack plane.

The debate over the A-10 concerns more than just a type of aircraft.  In many ways, it is a microcosm of how policy makers envision future security threats to the U.S.  On one side is the White House, which has generally promulgated the concept that large-scale nation vs. nation warfare is a thing of the past, and the type of weaponry necessary for conventional combat operations such as destroying tanks are an unnecessary expense.  On the other side are those who point to the dramatic conventional arms buildups of Russia and China.

Part of those two nation’s conventional buildup has been developing new and powerful tanks. Moscow’s “Armata” tank will enter service in 2020, according to the Diplomat.  China Daily reports that Beijing’s VT-4 is the equal of its Russian counterpart. Both seek to sell their new combat vehicles internationally, as well as equipping their own armed forces with them. “Production lines of tanks have been closed in Western countries for a long time, so among large tank makers, only China and Russia have such facilities, which means if an international client wants to buy a new tank, it can only choose between China and Russia”

In addition to being a contentious issue between the USAF and the US Army, the aircraft’s fate pitted Congress against the White House.  For the past two years, the President’s Executive Budget sought to retire the Warthog, but Congress fought to keep it alive.

The Warthog, an extremely durable aircraft designed to attack tanks and other ground targets, has been targeted for retirement on a number of occasions by the USAF, which prefers to use scarce resources for other priorities such as air to air fighters and bombers.  Estimates are that the USAF could save up to $4.2 billion by retiring the Warthog, according to Breaking Defense.

During the Obama Administration, defense spending has been severely curtailed, and attempts to retire the Warthog have been part of that. Breaking Defense quoted Dustin Walker, Senate Armed Services Committee spokesman earlier this year: “The A-10 continues to prove its enduring value as a close air support platform against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The A-10 is also deploying in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, reassuring our NATO allies and partners in the face of continued Russian aggression in Ukraine…Senator McCain continues to believe this administration’s attempt to prematurely retire the A-10 fleet without fielding a suitable replacement is folly. And he will do everything in his power to oppose it.”

The fact that there is nothing in the U.S. arsenal that can accomplish its tasks of knocking out enemy armor and safekeeping American troops as effectively is a powerful argument for its preservation. The diminishing defense budget forces difficult choices to be made, particularly at a time when international threats are rapidly rising.

One problem is the aircraft, as mandated by law, is assigned to the Air Force,  but its primary mission is one that belongs to the Army, the destruction of enemy armor and protecting ground forces.

According to Defense One, “Putting the A-10’s retirement plans on hold is a key policy shift that will be laid out next month when the Pentagon submits its 2017 budget request to Congress, said Pentagon officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the Obama Administration’s spending plan before its official release.”

Its role is not, by any stretch of the imagination, obsolete. Indeed, it may well be needed now more than ever, and not just in the current fight against ISIS.  As the NEW YORK ANALYSIS OF POLICY & GOVERNMENT reported earlier, most American tanks have been withdrawn from Europe.  The White House has also, inappropriately, sought to close down the very last factory that manufactures tanks, to make the job complete. For the United States to continue its NATO obligation to defend against the increasingly likely possibility of threats of Russian aggression , the A-10 would be a key aspect of providing a credible deterrence.

Seth McCormick Lynn, writing for the Princeton Journal of Public and International Affairs , notes:There is no indication that the U.S. military has seen the last of conventional warfare…conventional threats represent a far greater danger to U.S. national security than do irregular threats…U.S. conventional capabilities have deteriorated significantly, making these threats even more severe.”

The A-10’s cost about $18.8 million each. F-35’s, which are a multi-role aircraft that would to some extent undertake A-10’s role should the Warthog be retired, can cost about $178 million each.

Is the Iran Nuclear Deal Already Dead?

Is the Iran nuclear deal already dead?

Iran apparently violated a Security Council resolution in October when it tested a medium range missile. In December, it again conducted a prohibited test.

Some Congressional leaders believe that the tests violate at least one of the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries, and indicate that Tehran has no serious intention of  fulfilling its obligations under the terms of the deal. President Obama has refused, however, to re-impose sanctions.

The White House continues to advocate its view of the agreements benefits:

“Iran would need two key elements to construct a uranium bomb: enough highly enriched uranium to produce enough material to construct a uranium bomb and tens of thousands of centrifuges. Currently, Iran has a uranium stockpile to create 8 to ten nuclear bombs. But thanks to this nuclear deal, Iran must reduce its stockpile of uranium by 98%, and will keep its level of uranium enrichment at 3.67% — significantly below the enrichment level needed to create a bomb.

“Iran also needs tens of thousands of centrifuges to create highly enriched uranium for a bomb. Right now, Iran has nearly 20,000 centrifuges between their Natanz and Fordow uranium enrichment facilities. But under this deal, Iran must reduce its centrifuges to 6,104 for the next ten years. No enrichment will be allowed at the Fordow facility at all, and the only centrifuges Iran will be allowed to use are their oldest and least efficient models.”

Despite the President’s reassurances, however, the deficiencies in the deal are deeply troubling to many U.S. lawmakers, international observers, and arms control experts. In a stunning report entitled “A Nuclear Deal With Iran: Managing the Consequences,” a task force formed by the American Foreign Policy Council   (AFPC)  concludes that:

“[A] broad spectrum of national security practitioners, military experts, scientists and analysts concur that the deal is woefully deficient in several respects. The list of these deficiencies is long. Some, like significant shortfalls in verification and monitoring, preclude confidence that Iran will abide by the terms of the agreement in the future, or that the international community will know promptly if it does not. Likewise of concern is that the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action] weakens the global nonproliferation regime by setting a precedent for what counts as a “peaceful” nuclear program that will have effects well beyond the Middle East.”

The difference in opinion comes down to this: The White House likes the deal because, on paper, it delays Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arms for many years. Critics state that, based on precedent and current actions, it is clear that Iran has no intention of living up to its obligations under the deal, and will gain billions in funds it can use both to further weapons development and support terrorist activities.

This excerpt from AFPC’s report summarizes what, upon analysis, are the very real and substantial concerns about the nuclear deal: JCPOA, upon implementation, will empower a range of Iranian activities deeply inimical to the strategic interests and security of the United States and its allies and international partners.

These strategic, political and economic problems will include:

Expanded Iranian resources. Under the parameters of the JCPOA, Iran is poised to receive massive sanctions relief and unfrozen assets in the near term: an estimated $100 billion or more after a perfunctory six-month verification period. The scale of this economic assistance is staggering. It represents a quarter or more of Iran’s total annual GDP, which amounted to $415 billion in 2014 …The proportional impact of such relief to the Islamic Republic is comparable to an infusion into the American economy (currently estimated at $16.7 trillion) of roughly $4.2 trillion, approximately five times the economic stimulus that stabilized the U.S. financial sector following the 2008 global economic crisis.

Moreover, these funds will invariably be augmented by the benefits of post-sanctions trade between Iran and potential trading partners in Europe and Asia, which now appear eager to expand their economic ties to the Islamic Republic. White House officials have expressed their hope that its unprecedented windfall will be used by the Iranian regime overwhelmingly to improve domestic conditions and strengthen its economy. Even if Iran does spend the lion’s share of sanctions relief in this fashion, however, the sheer volume of funds to be unblocked means that the Iranian regime will nonetheless be able to significantly augment its expenditures on several fronts of concern to U.S. strategic interests.

Terrorism financing. The Islamic Republic, which was first formally designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the Reagan administration in 1984, still maintains its status as the world’s most active backer of terrorist groups. The scope of this material support is extensive, estimated by the U.S. Treasury Department several years ago to be in the billions of dollars annually.

More recently, a study by the Congressional Research Service found Iranian spending on these activities to range from $3.5 billion to $16 billion annually. These expenses include, inter alia, between $100 and $200 million per annum to Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia; tens of millions of dollars annually to the Palestinian Hamas movement and; the entire annual operating budget of the smaller Palestinian Islamic Jihad (estimated at some $2 million). That these expenditures have continued unabated, despite the growing adverse impact of U.S. and international sanctions on the Iranian economy in recent years, illustrate that terrorism support – euphemistically termed “export of the revolution” by the Iranian regime – represents a cardinal regime priority. With extensive sanctions relief now on the horizon, it would be prudent for policymakers to expect this support to grow significantly…

Big Government Hurts Middle Class

How much interference in their daily lives will Americans tolerate from increasingly powerful government, especially when that interference results in a reduced quality of life?

The Foundation for Economic Education notes:

“Government in America was never supposed to engage in the multitude of activities that it does today. When the United States gained its independence more than 200 years ago, the founding fathers envisioned a national government with explicit and restricted responsibilities. These responsibilities pertained mainly to protecting the security of the nation and ensuring “domestic tranquility,” which meant preserving public safety. Especially in the realm of domestic affairs the founders foresaw very limited government interference in the daily lives of its citizens.”

The Institute for Policy Innovation outlines the challenge:

“We have to put Big Government back within its Constitutional restraints because Big Government has led to the establishment of a Government Class that lives at the expense and off the backs of the productive private sector. And when you allow a ruling class to live better than you but at your expense, you are on the way to losing your freedom. …And what happens when we dare suggest that they should rein in their spending by a couple of pennies out of a dollar? They punish us by releasing illegal immigrant felons from prison, by delaying our flights, by closing government buildings and by threatening us with restricted services. This is not the behavior of public servants. This is the behavior of a Ruling Class, punishing its subjects for questioning its authority. And these are but the first few skirmishes.”

As America’s governments, both on the national and state levels have grown increasingly large, powerful, and intrusive, the middle class has suffered accordingly. As the New York Analysis previously reported, A Pew Research Center review  notes that “Middle-income Americans are no longer the nation’s economic majority…The share of U.S. aggregate household income held by middle-income households has plunged, from 62% in 1970 to 43% in 2014.”  According to the U.S. Census Bureau   In 2014, real median household income was 6.5 percent lower than in 2007…The 2014 poverty rate increased for two groups: people aged 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree.

This discloses another reason for the declining fortunate of the middle class:  “Liberals across the country supported the misnamed Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The law’s mandates have made health coverage more expensive for both individuals and businesses…when benefit costs rise, employers cut wages. Empirical research confirms this prediction. “ Research from the Heritage Foundation  concurs.

How have “Progressive” ideas affected average Americans? “The curse of the U.S. economy today is the downward trend in “take-home pay, Heritage  notes.  “In the 50 years since that the war on poverty began, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the ‘causes’ rather than the mere ‘consequences’ of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely.”

Scholar Charles Murray believes that “Aspects of America’s legal system have become lawless, for reasons that are inextricably embedded in the use of law for social agendas.

The federal government has a debt of over $18 and a half trillion, Social Security is heading towards insolvency, the nation’s infrastructure remains in poor condition, and the military is significantly underfunded.

While Washington’s spending concentrates on failed poverty programs, (spending on poverty programs has reached its highest level under President Obama) real median income of working Americans has declined.

Independent Presidential Bid Challenges Democrat Leaders

Michael Bloomberg, who served three terms as mayor of New York City, is actively exploring a run for the presidency.  His entry into the race has the potential of dramatically altering an already chaotic campaign season, and could have a lasting effect on U.S. politics for years after.

Unlike prior third party candidates, he stands a substantial chance of producing a successful effort. Similar to Trump, Bloomberg can afford a self-financed campaign, and he has made it known that he could commit up to a billion dollars to finance a run for the White House.

The 73 year old billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist would run as an independent, a position he has experience in.  A Democrat and lifelong supporter of causes many would identify as leaning towards the left, he nevertheless first ran for NYC’s top spot as a Republican, later changing his registration to independent.

As mayor, Bloomberg governed essentially as a mid-century liberal.  He raised taxes more than any of his predecessors, reduced the size of the police force, and pursued a variety of nanny-state goals such as attempts to prohibit certain outlets from selling large-size soda drinks.  He sought to impose tolls on private vehicles traveling from residential sections of the city to the main business district, and imposed traffic rules that some labelled bizarre. On the other hand, he avoided large and expensive leftist programs, and worked to balance the budget. He also broke with  the traditional hard-left, progressive pandering to the public school bureaucracy, and had some success in bringing the notoriously self-indulgent NYC school system (which places the needs of unions ahead of that of students) under at least limited control.

All of which positions him as something the nation has not seen for some time, a traditional Democrat, despite his periodic affiliation with both Republican and independent registration. The hard-left, pacifist, neo-socialism of the current leadership of the Democrat Party has left many wondering whether America’s older political party has abandoned its core membership.

In many ways, Bloomberg’s entry into the race, even though he would do so as an independent, could be seen as a referendum on the future of the Democrat party. There is little resemblance of traditional Democrat values reflected in the current extremist, progressive-oriented party leadership. Unlike Democrat icons FDR, Harry Truman, and John Kennedy, the pacifist defense policies of the party’s current power brokers tends to disregard very real national security concerns.  Bloomberg is also more pro-Israel, which could also reassure supporters of America’s strongest Mideast ally that, unlike Obama and Clinton, they still had a sympathetic ear to turn to.

That, of course, leads to a fascinating speculation.  One of the original contenders for the Democrat nomination this year was James Webb, a former Democrat senator from Virginia. Webb is a far more traditional Democrat than any of the current candidates for the party’s nomination. He is generally considered an advocate of a strong defense policy.  In his own words, his candidacy pursued “a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us. We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process. Our elected officials need to get back to the basics of good governance and to remember that their principal obligations are to protect our national interests abroad and to ensure a level playing field here at home, especially for those who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power.” Should Bloomberg decide to join forces and establish a Bloomberg-Webb ticket, many Democrats currently ignored by their party’s pacifist leadership could find a candidacy to support.

Bloomberg might also attract those frustrated with the depressed state of employment growth. Despite the needs and interests of union members, who have been bedrock supporters of Democrat candidates, the environmental and international trade policies of Obama, Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley harshly disregard the need for employment security and wage growth for working men and women. West Virginia coal miners and pipeline construction workers across the nation have been particularly hard-hit.

The former Mayor may also have an appeal to minority voters. Ironically, considering that Mr. Obama is the first African American president, the support of black voters for the Democrats has been severely tested by party policies, particularly in the area of immigration.  The current White House tolerance for illegal immigration has hit inner city minority youth with particular severity, as they face massive competition for entry-level jobs from those entering the nation unlawfully, eager to take those starter positions at salaries below that which native-born youth would find acceptable.

Bloomberg would have to make a decision no later than March to move ahead with a campaign.

Fundamental Weakness in U.S. Economy

There is growing evidence that the fundamental underpinnings of the U.S. economy are weak.

The indicators are significant.  The Federal Reserve  reports that Industrial production declined 0.4 percent in December. The decrease for total industrial production in November was larger than previously reported. For the fourth quarter as a whole, industrial production fell at an annual rate of 3.4 percent. Manufacturing output edged down in December. Mining production decreased 0.8 percent in December for its fourth consecutive monthly decline. At 106.0 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in December was 1.8 percent below its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 0.4 percentage point in December to 76.5 percent, a rate that is 3.6 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2014) average.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis disclosed that the latest numbers for the U.S. Balance of Trade in goods and services indicated a deficit of $42.4 billion, meaning that foreign nations sold far more to the U.S. than America sold to them. “Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $25.2 billion, or 5.5 percent, from the same period in 2014. Exports decreased $99.0 billion or 4.6 percent. Imports decreased $73.7 billion or 2.8 percent…Year-over-year, the average goods and services deficit increased $1.2 billion from the three months ending in November 2014.

The poor performance of the economy is reflected in the jobs picture. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the seasonally adjusted number of Americans 16 and over filing for unemployment in Dec. 0f 2014 was 147,190, but in December of 2015, it was 149,929. In addition, initial jobless claims increased by 10,000 in the January 10—January 16 period, the highest level in half a year.  Marketwatch notes that “initial claims have risen more than 14% after touching a post-recession low of 256,000 in early October.”

Writing in the Washington Times, Donald Lambro warns that the U.S. is headed for another recession.  “Much of the major economic data suggests we’re moving in that direction…Clearly our economy is slowing down and economists are forecasting that fourth quarter growth in 2015 will be down significantly…All the telltale signs are there. Consumers aren’t buying as they used to, even with rock bottom oil prices and a gas tank of regular costing less than $2 a gallon. Yet retail sales fell in December at the height of the Christmas buying season. A New York Times headline last week put it this way: ‘Retail Sales Were Lackluster in December, Signaling Fragile Economy.’

The London Times describes the start of this year as “the worst for financial markets since the onset of the Great Depression.”

Bloomberg notes that “Investment managers are warning that markets probably have further to fall …The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will drop another 10 percent to 1,650.” That projected is mirrored by the International Business Times  Projections for 2016 are cloudy, with some prominent economists warning of an imminent U.S. recession and others predicting smooth sailing ahead.”

There is little reason to believe that direct Washington spending can or will stimulate the economy.  President Obama’s $831 billion stimulus package–The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—accomplished little, and the nearly bankrupt federal government doesn’t have the resources for another attempt. The national debt, which skyrocketed under the Obama Administration, is nearing $19 trillion, and will grow even larger. The Congressional Budget Office  predicts that the federal budget will also be severely stressed in the coming year. “In 2016, the federal budget deficit will increase… If current laws generally remained unchanged, the deficit would grow over the next 10 years, and by 2026 it would be considerably larger than its average over the past 50 years… Debt held by the public would also grow significantly from its already high level.”

The central question is how the generally robust American economy descended to its current condition, and why it continues to exhibit weakness. Similar to the 2007 recession, which was caused by decades of a misguided government legislation  that mandated high-risk loans which eventually caused serious harm to key financial institutions, the looming—perhaps better described as ongoing– crisis results from federal policies.

American employers face severe disadvantages. Tax rates are the highest of any developed nation, and regulations are more extreme. Bad trade deals continue to allow nations to sell relatively unhindered to U.S. consumers, while Washington does little to address discriminatory treatment of American productions sold overseas. In many cases, the intellectual property produced in the U.S., including software, entertainment features, and new/advanced technological techniques and goods are outright stolen through industrial espionage and other means, with little response from the U.S. government.

Obamacare-Medicaid Connection: Back Door to a National Single Payer Plan?

President Obama is seeking to expand federal funding to states that expand medicaid eligibility.

One of the key results of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, better known as Obamacare) has been an explosion in Medicaid enrollment.  About 12 million people have signed up for Medicaid under the program. Some observers believe that the Medicaid-expansion provisions of the ACA were a stealth effort to lay the groundwork for a one-payer system.

A revealing study by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation  notes that  “policy changes introduced by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been driving Medicaid enrollment and spending growth…Medicaid enrollment and spending increased substantially in FY 2015, the first full year of implementation of the major ACA coverage expansionsAcross all 50 states and DC, Medicaid enrollment increased on average by 13.8 percent in FY 2015, largely due to the ACA coverage expansions.”

Those states that accepted Medicaid expansion under the ACA experienced Medicaid growth far in excess of non-expansion states. The Kaiser study found that “Expansion states reported Medicaid enrollment and total spending growth nearly three times the rate of non-expansion states. A total of 29 states were implementing the ACA Medicaid expansion in FY 2015, up from 26 states in the previous year (FY 2015 additions include: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Indiana.)

“Across the 29 expansion states in FY 2015, enrollment increased on average by 18.0 percent and total spending increased by 17.7 percent; both enrollment and spending growth were driven by increases in enrollment among adults qualifying under the new expansion group. Of the 29 states expanding Medicaid in FY 2015, more than half (17 states) noted that enrollment initially increased faster than expected.”

“ Over two-thirds of expansion states reported that per member per month costs for the expansion population were at or below projections.  Across the 22 states not implementing the Medicaid expansion in FY 2015, enrollment and total spending growth was 5.1 percent and 6.1 percent (respectively), much slower growth compared to the expansion states. Increased enrollment among previously eligible parents and children was the primary reason cited for enrollment growth in non-expansion states.” otes that “ObamaCare’s Medicaid Expansion Could Insure 21.3 Million Americans in the Next Decade. ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion is one of the biggest milestones in health care reform. “

A Heritage review  found that the increased Medicaid enrollment under Obamacare has been accompanied by declining enrollment  in employer plans.

A Washington Examiner  review emphasizes that “There are 393 appearances of the word ‘Medicaid’ in the legislative text of Obamacare. The expansion of Medicaid itself is authorized in Title II, Subtitle A of Obamacare — a section called, ‘Improved Access to Medicaid.’ The Medicaid expansion is one of the main two ways through which Obamacare expands insurance coverage. By 2025, the Congressional Budget Office projects that Obamacare will add 14 million people to Medicaid. The Medicaid expansion will account for $824 billion (or slightly more than half) of Obamacare spending over the next decade, according to the CBO.

“It’s also worth noting that Medicaid is the one aspect of Obamacare that both left and right agree is explicitly a single-payer system. The logical implication of Kasich’s position of boasting about rejecting setting up a state-based exchange while expanding Medicaid is that Obamacare would have been better if it simply expanded single-payer healthcare in the U.S. instead of monkeying around with regulated exchanges that featured private insurers.”

Jeff Reynolds, writing in Freedomworks states that  “the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare has come with all sorts of surprises and unintended (or perhaps intended) consequences. Medicaid expansion creates a two-tier medical delivery system that forces all but the most well-off into a single-payer system. Indeed, Obamacare’s similarities to Great Britain’s NHS are becoming more apparent. Another way this is being accomplished: the removal of asset limits for Medicaid qualification.

“In addition to the huge cost to the taxpayers, there is much to worry about in expanding Medicaid, particularly in the quality of care, notes Reynolds. “There is also strong evidence Medicaid provides substandard care. The Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy wrote in 2012, ‘Medicaid patients were almost twice as likely to die as those with private insurance; their hospital stays were 42 percent longer and cost 26 percent more.’

“Many doctors refuse to accept Medicaid patients because payments are low. John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis told Fox News, ‘One woman in Boston who was in Medicaid said she had to go through a list of 20 doctors before she found one who would see her.’ He adds, ‘I asked if she was going through the Yellow Pages,’ and she said, ‘No, I’m going through the list of doctors Medicaid gave me.”

Terror Threat Increases on U.S. Southern Border

More Pakistanis and Afghans, including those of military age, carrying U.S. passports, and on the terror watch list illegally entered the United States in the first month of this fiscal year than in all of FY2015, According to a San Diego Reader report.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) in a recent letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, stated:

It is routinely said that there is no ‘specific and credible information about an attack on the homeland.’ Despite this assertion, the Southern land border remains vulnerable to intrusion and exists as a point of vulnerability. And evidently there are criminal organizations and individuals with the networks and the knowhow to facilitate illegal entry into the United States without regard for one’s intentions or status on a terror watch list. The detention of two Pakistani nationals underscores the fact that any serious effort to secure our homeland must include effective border security and immigration enforcement.”

According to the San Diego Reader, “Muhammad Azeem and Muktar Ahmad, both in their 20s, surrendered to U.S. Border Patrol agents in September, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. One was listed on the Terrorist Screening Database for ‘associations with a known or suspected terrorist. The other was a positive match for derogatory information in an alternative database,’ according to Hunter’s letter. Azeem and Ahmad are among dozens of men — described by Border Patrol agents as “military age and carrying U.S. cash” who began entering the U.S. through a Tijuana-based human-smuggling pipeline in September.”

In October, Judical Watch (JW)  disclosed that:

“a top law enforcement official finally confirmed that Islamic terrorists have infiltrated the United States through Mexico…Last October JW reported that four members of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), who entered the U.S. through the Mexican border, were arrested in McAllen and Pharr Texas. Then, over the summer, JW reported that Mexican drug cartels are smuggling foreigners from countries with terrorist links into a small Texas rural town near El Paso and they’re using remote farm roads—rather than interstates—to elude the Border Patrol and other law enforcement barriers. The information comes from sources on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border who say the Special Interest Aliens (SIA) are being transported to stash areas in Acala, a rural crossroads located around 54 miles from El Paso on a state road – Highway 20.

“Prior to that JW published a series of investigative articles citing high-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources certifying that Islamic terrorist groups are operating in at least two Mexican border towns. In August, 2014 ISIS planned to attack the U.S. with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) from a camp in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies were all placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning the terrorist threat.

“This past spring JW sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police inspector disclosed that ISIS is actually operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso. The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources told JW.

“For the most part, government officials have refused to go on the record about these serious terrorist threats and in fact many have outright denied they exist or have tried silencing sources. For instance, a congressman (Beto O’Rourke) who represents El Paso in the U.S. House of Representatives telephoned area offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) in an effort to identify—and evidently intimidate—sources that may have been used by JW to break the ISIS in Juarez story.”

Security Intelligence emphasizes that:

“Intelligence community documents, congressional hearings and media reports point to a growing international convergence of organized crime groups and terror organizations to take advantage of the specialized skills and assets of each group.

“For example, there is evidence of Hezbollah establishing a strong base in Latin America over the past decade or more and working with Mexican DTOs to launder money, finance terrorism and smuggle people. According to Jennifer Hesterman, author of “The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus,” the Italian Mafia has worked with al-Qaida, and DTOs with U.S. outlaw motorcycle gangs, to carry out illicit operations. These are groups with diverging interests, goals and philosophies, yet they are working together to capitalize on each other’s specific skills or assets.”