‎Senate Democrats Face Stark Choice On Iran Deal

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement following yesterday’s vote at the United Nations Security Council lifting international sanctions on Iran:

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“Monday’s vote at the United Nations Security Council laying the groundwork for lifting UN sanctions on Iran is a blatant circumvention by President Obama of the American people’s representatives, who have yet to even receive a briefing on this deal. Despite the UN’s action, it is important to realize that U.S. sanctions against Iran will remain the law of our land, regardless of what the UN Security Council says and even as President Obama moves to waive most of them.

“This is not America’s deal with Iran. It is Barack Obama’s deal with Iran, and it does not have congressional support. It is the duty of Congress to protect American security, not follow what President Obama has described as the ‘broad international consensus.’ It will be left to the next president to quickly reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran and to place additional sanctions on Iran’s leaders because of their ongoing support for terrorism and their human rights abuses. Any other message from U.S. leaders only serves to send the wrong message to Europe, Russia and China that Iran is open for business and that there will be no repercussions for reengaging this despicable regime.

“However, Senate Democrats face a stark choice when this deal comes before Congress for a vote in September. They can either stand with President Obama and allow this flawed ‎agreement to go through, or they can stand with a majority of the American people, our friend Israel and our moderate Arab allies in the region, all of whom understand this deal will only enrich Iran, put it on the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability and allow it to continue its mayhem in the Middle East.”

Concord Coalition Says Trustees’ Warnings Should Be Heeded

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The Concord Coalition said today that new reports from the trustees for Social Security and Medicare show the rising pressure the programs will put on the entire federal budget in the years ahead, a problem that deserves close attention from the presidential candidates and others seeking federal office next year.

“While there have been some encouraging signs that at least some presidential candidates are prepared to discuss entitlement reforms, voters need to hear in clear and fairly specific terms what the candidates have in mind,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “This is unquestionably one of the most important problems the next president will face, and voters should expect any serious candidate to understand that.”

“After another year of procrastination in Washington, repairs to Social Security’s Disability Insurance are particularly urgent,” he added. “But with an aging population and rising health care costs, both Social Security as a whole and Medicare remain unsustainable. The trustees note once again that the longer we delay, the more difficult that task will be. Elected officials and candidates should heed that warning.”

The reports show that Social Security and Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) continue to pay out more than they take in from their designated payroll taxes. Their reliance on general government revenues will grow.

In addition, still more general revenues are required to subsidize Medicare Part B, which provides various medical services, and Part D, which pays for medication. While many older Americans mistakenly believe they fully pay for these parts of Medicare with their premiums, those premiums are designed to cover only a fourth of their costs.

The combined general-revenue subsidies for Medicare and Social Security will total $364 billion in Fiscal 2015, according to the trustees. Of that total, $280 billion will go to Medicare and $84 billion to Social Security.

Each year the trustees’ reports receive considerable attention for their projections on how long the Social Security and Medicare trust funds will remain solvent. Those projections, however, do not provide meaningful information about sustainability or how entitlement program growth squeezes other government priorities and pushes up federal deficits.

For the Disability Insurance Trust Fund within Social Security, even the solvency analysis provides little comfort. The trustees project that this fund will run dry by late 2016, which would trigger sharp automatic cuts in benefits for millions of disabled Americans and their dependents.

To avoid such a debacle with Disability Insurance, Congress must soon pass legislation to make at least some changes in Social Security.

“Ideally, Congress will use the need to fix the Disability Insurance shortfall as an opportunity to make broader repairs to the entire Social Security system to enable it to meet the needs of an aging population with more and more retirees,” Bixby said.

The two public trustees, who are not administration officials, are particularly emphatic about the risks of delaying broad changes to Social Security. Pointing to a projection that Social Security costs will be more than 25 percent higher than income by 2034, they warn that there is “no historical precedent for closing annual gaps of this size within the space of just a few years.”

The public trustees also draw attention to the projection that “even the total elimination of Social Security benefits for those newly eligible in 2034 would be insufficient to restore short-term financial balance. Similarly, a payroll tax increase of the magnitude needed to maintain scheduled benefits would have a profound adverse impact on the economy and employment.”

The trustees’ Medicare report shows cost projections for the next 20 years that are similar to those in last year’s report. However, the projections for the longer range are substantially lower. As the public trustees stress, this improvement depends on the continued effort among all stakeholders in the nation’s health care system to follow through on cost containment and the many strands of reforms currently being examined and undertaken across the country.

“Using Medicare policy as a prod for cost containment efforts is crucial for maintaining progress,” said Joshua Gordon, Concord’s policy director. “That is why it would be problematic to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board — a mechanism for automatically furthering payment reform if health care costs were to resume rapidly increasing. The trustees suggest this mechanism might be triggered in 2017.”

“Even worse,” he added, “would be repeal of the ACA’s ‘Cadillac tax’ on high-cost health insurance, which has likely already reduced costs and is a step on the road towards limiting the inefficient and regressive tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance. Setting back the small progress we have made against health care inflation while facing a still unsustainable future makes no sense.”

A copy of this release can be found here on our website.

Rubio Introduces Bill To Reauthorize The United States Commission On International Religious Freedom

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL),the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, has introduced legislation to reauthorize the independent, bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

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“As religious freedom continues to be threatened around the world, the Commission’s defense of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad is more important than ever,” said Rubio. “Religious freedom, often referred to as America’s first freedom, must be a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. The Commission plays a vital role in ensuring that the plights of the beleaguered Iraqi Christian nun, the imprisoned Baha’i leader in Iran and the repressed Tibetan Buddhist monk are not forgotten. Its mandate is too important to keep subjecting the Commission to constant reauthorizations, which distract from the vital work they are charged with undertaking.

“This bill would strengthen the Commission and give its work greater relevance by empowering both USCIRF and the State Department to assess the religious freedom violations of non-state entities like ISIS and Boko Haram, which are increasingly among the most severe violators globally,” Rubio continued. “I encourage my colleagues to support this bill so we can send a clear message to those who threaten religious freedom that the United States is committed to shining a light on these cases of injustice and to standing with those who desire nothing more than to worship and peacefully live out their faith as they choose.”

PDF of the legislation is available here. Highlights of the bill include:

  • Reauthorizing USCIRF for six years;

  • Changing the definition of “Countries of Particular Concern” to include areas where there is effectively no governance, and add a new designation, “Entities of Particular Concern” to capture the growing threat posed by non-state actors;

  • Amending the Foreign Service Act of 1980 to require the Secretary of State to receive assistance from USCIRF when establishing training for Foreign Service officers in the field of internationally recognized human rights, including instruction regarding the relationship between religious freedom and security, as well as the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy;

  • Codifying the Commission’s current practice of rotating the chair and vice chair between appointees from the two political parties;

  • Requiring an “Annual Review” of the Executive Director; and

  • Ensuring that Commissioners who have a conflict of interest recuse themselves from relevant decisions.

KAYE BENDER REMBAUM HOSTS FREE CERTIFICATION COURSES FOR CONDOMINIUM AND HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS

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Broward County:

Kaye Bender Rembaum will provide a free Covenant Enforcement in a Community Association Course on Tuesday, August 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Kaye Bender Rembaum, 1200 Park Central Blvd. South, Pompano Beach, FL 33064. RSVP seminars@KBRLegal.com or call 954-928-0680954-928-0680.

 

Kaye Bender Rembaum will provide a free HOA Board Certification Course on Tuesday, August 25 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Kaye Bender Rembaum, 1200 Park Central Blvd. South, Pompano Beach, FL 33064. RSVP seminars@KBRLegal.com or call 954-928-0680954-928-0680.

 

Monday, August 3: The first Monday of every month from 4 to 5 p.m., Robert Kaye and Michael Bender can be heard on Ask the Experts on WWNN 1470 AM. They discuss pertinent association law topics and hot issues facing community associations.  The segment also runs on KBRLegal.com, iHeart Radio, YouTube and U Stream through video streaming and features a live call-in where viewers can have their legal questions addressed. Listeners can call into the segment at 888-565-1470888-565-1470 FREE

Kaye Bender Rembaum is a full-service commercial law firm concentrating on the representation of more than 800 community associations throughout Florida. With offices in Broward and Palm Beach counties, the Firm is ranked ninth in South Florida and 62nd in the South among “Top 300 Small Businesses” by Business Leader magazine, and was awarded the 2014 Readers’ Choice Award for Legal Services by the Florida Community Association Journal. For more information, visit www.KBRLegal.com or call 954-928-0680.