Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Friday, July 31, 2009

No free lunch at the White House

This is so gauche it's disgusting. We're sick of seeing Mr. Know-Nothing running this nation, and not having one clue about protocol. If you're ever invited to the White House for dinner or lunch, do yourself a favor stay home. It ain't worth it:

Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office.

But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.

The White House defended the unusual move as a way to avoid conflicts of interest. But the Bush administration didn’t charge presidential guests for meals, one former official said, and at least one etiquette expert found the whole thing unseemly – suggesting it was a serious breach of protocol.

“I’m sure they have their political reasons for doing that, but I think it’s not what quote, hospitality, unquote is all about,” said Letitia Baldrige, who headed Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House staff in the early 1960s. “We’ve got to relax about this. To have people to the White House and worry about the price of things is laughable.”

“I don’t know what the menu was, but I’m sure it wasn’t braised pheasant,” she said.

The White House did not say what was served for lunch or how much the attendees were charged. A spokeswoman said White House staff collected the credit card numbers separately from the event.

Around the table with Barack Obama that afternoon were Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox Corporation; Muhtar Kent, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company; AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson; and Honeywell International CEO Dave Cote.

“From time to time, White House guests are asked to reimburse for their meals, the reasons include ensuring there is no conflict or appearance of a conflict,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “That is consistent with our tough ethics rules and we will continue the practice when appropriate.”

Remember that this is the president who gave Prime Minister Gordon Brown 25 DVDs that weren't formatted for British DVD players. He also urged Michelle to run down to the White House gift shop and get two, cheap Marine Force One models for his kids. He gave the queen an iPod as a gift when he visited Britain. See the pattern here?

He, nor his wife, have the foggiest clue about protocol. Being a guest in the White House is something that's special, and never before has a president ever charged his guests for the meal they ate. But this is their arrogance. They feel they deserve this, and despite the excuse given by the president's spokesman regarding a conflict of interest it doesn't hold water as far as we're concerned.

It's telling. It really is. It's as telling about him as this photo is of the beer summit yesterday. This is not a selfless president. He's the self-serving sort, and it continues to show day after day.

Publius II

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New health care cost? $820,000,000,000

Don't blame the CBO. The simply missed a key part in scoring this boondoggle. It was Chuck Blahous that scored this, and while we're not surprised at his numbers, we're sure it will knock a lot of people out of their seats. HT to Captain Ed

Nearly lost in all of the publicity about the Congressional Budget Office’s finding that proposed health care legislation would worsen the current-law deficit by $239 billion over the next 10 years is something far more troubling: The proposed legislation would actually worsen the imbalance in federal health care programs by more than $800 billion over the next 10 years — and far more thereafter.

CBO’s analysis shows quite clearly that the proposed changes to federal health care commitments would worsen the deficit by $1.042 trillion, with proposed health care savings netting only $219 billion. The net effect of these health care “reforms,” therefore, is to dig the financial hole in federal health care programs deeper — not by $239 billion but by $820 billion over the next decade.

Worse yet, by the 10th year of the analysis, the additional annual costs of the proposed health care changes would be more than four times the expected savings — worsening the imbalance by more than $150 billion in the 10th year alone. Thus, the more than $800 billion gap would only grow larger over time, with no end in sight.

Just this past week, President Barack Obama promised explicitly that such an outcome would not come to pass: “I will not sign health insurance reform — as badly as I think it’s necessary, I won’t sign it if that reform adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade — and I mean what I say.”

Legislation currently under consideration doesn’t even come close to this standard. The health care changes now on the table wildly exceed, by more than $800 billion, the fiscal criteria the president has said he will insist upon.

The oft-cited finding that these bills as a whole would add “only” $239 billion to the deficit over 10 years is based on the Joint Committee on Taxation’s accompanying analysis of provisions to increase unrelated income taxes by $581 billion during the same time period.

Whatever the merit of these other income tax increases, they have nothing to do with health care reform or with “bending the cost curve.” They are, rather, being proposed to offset part of the true $820 billion deficit impact of proposed federal health care expansion.

Let's put this in perspective the way I did in the title of the post. That's $820,000,000,000. And remember that Mr. Blahous says that the costs would continue to increase with no end in sight. There is no way this nation can sustain those costs. Eventually, the government will run out of rich people to tax, and they'll move onto the middle class next.

We know a lot of people would like us to focus on the crap in the proposed reform, but we'd rather focus on the money. This administration is spending money it doesn't have, and can't afford. We can't get nations like China to buy up our debt as it is, and China is warning us about the road this president has embarked on. It will lead to economic disaster for us and for the world.

We know there are those out there that believe Barry is doing this on purpose to bring the nation to it's knees. We don't really believe that. He's moving right along with that 40 year wish list from the Democrats that they want enacted. And he's simply too obtuse to realize the damage he's doing to the country. Recall, if you will, this infamous quote made by Biden:

"And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

Biden said that at a campaign stop where he told supporters that Barry would be tested -- internationally -- in his first six months. Now while that has been true, thus far (see Iran and North Korea, folks), but it's also true here in America. Biden, like Obama, believes that they can do no wrong, and that whatever they are doing is good for the nation. And they'll plead with the public to trust them and give them a chance. Their ideas will work.

We didn't want them passing the Pork-A-Palooza stimulus because we knew that you can't spend your way out of a recession.

We abhorred the auto bailouts and the bank bailouts. The free market has a way to deal with insolvent businesses. They get bought up by other companies, or they go under. The government spending money -- our money -- to prop them up, and eventually seize a majority ownership in them is not only wrong, it's downright illegal.

The health care industry is 1/6th of America's economy. The provisions of the reform alone will kill us. It'll be rationed health care, care denied to seniors, taxpayer funded abortions, death counseling for the elderly, poor care, long waits, doctors that will limit the amount of patients they see, and eventually an exodus of health care professionals. And on top of all that, we'll be forking over a price tag that no one in their right mind should be paying for half-assed care.

If the government wants real health care reform, then start with tort reform to lower costs. Look at the idea of health savings accounts, provided by a tax credit everyone in the country would get, and allow us to control our health care as opposed to Uncle Sam controlling it. Those two ideas would go a lot further in bringing down health costs, reforming the industry, and preserving our own individual liberty and freedom. Freedom? Liberty? You're probably asking "Thomas, what do you mean by that?" Captain Ed covered it yesterday. The freedoms that will be stripped from us in this debacle are integral to each and every one of us. If this passes (and we're not convinced it will as it's written now) those freedoms will be stripped from us, and the government will have near absolute control over our lives.

If we let this happen we'll be the puppets on the string, and we'll be on the hook for the cost. This isn't reform. This isn't change. It's control because liberals don't trust us to make any decision on our own. They are so enamoured with their beloved Mother Government, and refusing to see that history is not on their side with that idea, that they are leading this nation over the cliff like a group of lemmings.

Publius II

We know health care reform is important, but ...

.... we are still engaged in two hot wars. (Screw Nappy Janet and the whole "overseas contingency operation". They're wars, you ditz.) We are still in Iraq, and will be for years, and we're still in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda. But according to this from CQ the administration wants the military to pony up $60 billion of it's budget in defense cuts. HT to Michael Goldfarb

The military will need to come up with $60 billion in savings over the next five years to pay for new priorities to be set by the Defense secretary, a top Pentagon official said Tuesday.

The order from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is based on an assumption that there will be no real growth in defense budgets over the next five years, a radical departure for a department whose budgets have increased more than 80 percent since 2001.

Pentagon officials say new spending priorities will be informed by an ongoing review of the nation’s military posture, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review. The review is a deep analysis of the overall structure of the military, meant to guide overall planning and program decisions.

One of the driving factors so far in the evaluation is the prospect that defense budgets largely will be static in fiscal 2011 through fiscal 2015, said David Ochmanek, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force transformation and resources.

The military services must “find offsets” to make room for the new capabilities that Gates wants to add or expand, he said. “They’re now busily looking for those billpayers,” said Ochmanek. “That’s how the zero growth assumption manifests itself.”

In late August, the military services will submit their budgets to the Pentagon leadership, which will use those figures to negotiate with the White House Office of Management and Budget, he said. Pentagon planners hold out hope that more money could be forthcoming.

The $60 billion in offsets will be directed toward research and procurement accounts, Ochmanek said.

OK, look. We're working with the Iraqis only in support capacity, and we're working on furthering the training of their military and security forces. So, in essence, things are winding down in Iraq. But we are in an extremely hot war in Afghanistan. We're not saying that we should maintain the same level of spending from previous years but we shouldn't be cutting our defense spending.

Barry was all hot-to-trot with the Pork-A-Palooza in February. He couldn't wait to spend the money from the $410 billion omnibus pork bill in March. He has been giving money to GM and Chrysler hand over fist. And he's looking forward to breaking our health care system to the tune of trillions. But Barry is asking our military to shed some much-needed money. (I know the report says it's Gates making the request, but he's doing so on the orders of the president.) It's bad enough that Barry ended the F-22 Raptor program in favor of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (which is already two years behind schedule), but to demand the military cut it's spending when it's in a war is simply insane.

We knew he'd do this. We knew he was going to cut back on the military. Carter did it. Clinton did it. Just like Democrat presidents before him we knew Barry would do this, and not bat an eyelash at it. This goes to show what happens when we elect a man who doesn't have a clue how to run the country. It further shows the disdain he has for the military. Instead of the military having to cut back how about if Barry and Congress cut back on some spending. Let's cut some programs that the government shouldn't be involved in. If we really want to cut wasteful spending we could always quit giving subsidies to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. Here's an idea: Let's get rid of the Department of Education and transfer education back to the states. That'll save us billions alone.\

But Barry won't do that. He'd rather take from the military; the same people we ask to keep this nation safe and secure. Liberals think that we shouldn't be fighting wars, and our enemies will respond to empty threats, rhetoric, and subpoenas. Elections have consequences, and we get to endure this stupidity for the next three-and-a-half years.

Publius II

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Democrats looking for scapegoats

The Democrats know their health care reform is stalled in committee, and as they are facing increased pressure from the president, they are now starting to look for scapegoats to point the fingers at if it doesn't make it out of committee. They wish they had Bush back to kick around some more, or even the Republicans in Congress if they were the ones blocking it. But that's not the case. They're not apt to publicly point fingers now, but the day is coming when they will eat their own if this fails to reach the floor:

With their health care plans in a holding pattern — and no George W. Bush to kick around anymore — Democrats are casting about for somebody to blame.

House Majority Whip
Jim Clyburn says that Republicans have “perfected ‘just say no.’” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said insurance companies are chalking up “immoral profits.”

But even if they won’t acknowledge it publicly, most Democrats in Congress know the truth: It’s their own colleagues who are slowing down progress in both the House and the Senate.

Back in 2005, Democrats made a concerted push to recruit conservative candidates to help them win in Republican-leaning districts. The strategy worked, propelling the party to power in 2006 and giving it a larger majority in 2008.

But now Democrats at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are grappling with the downside: To get health care reform through Congress, they’re going to have to get it past these new, more conservative members of their party — specifically, the seven
Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee who have delayed consideration of the bill.

The frustration bubbled over last Friday after negotiations broke down between the Blue Dogs and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman
Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). Afterward, the chairman complained, “We’re not going to let them empower Republicans to control the committee.”

During a
meeting of committee Democrats shortly afterward, New York Rep. Eliot Engel and others gave the two Blue Dogs in attendance — Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross and Ohio Rep. Zack Space — a piece of their minds, those in attendance said afterward.

And on Monday, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman raised the possibility that some Blue Dogs are dragging their heels because they want Obama to fail — both on health care and at the polls in 2012.

[They aren't doing anything to the president. They're fighting to save their political backsides because they know if they go for this, their political careers are most likely finished. Krugman, no offense, is a moron.]

“Perhaps their bottom line is that they don’t want a bill,” said Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a leading progressive. “Some of us feel this has become a constantly moving target.”

“I’ve listened carefully to what they want, and I have yet to hear how money will be saved,” she added.

Pelosi won’t go that far, but she, too, knows where the holdup is. Asked Monday about the prospects for a vote on a bill this week, the speaker said, “We’re on schedule to do it now or do it whenever. ... A lot depends on when the Energy and Commerce Committee finishes its work.”

But the fact remains that House Democrats owe their majority to lawmakers such as Space and John Barrow of Georgia or Baron Hill of Indiana — two fellow Blue Dogs on Energy and Commerce — so they push these members at some peril to the party.

“These guys are the majority makers,” said Michigan Rep. John Dingell, the former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who has attended key negotiating sessions with the Blue Dogs. “These guys gotta fight to stay. ... They can warn us about pitfalls that we, in our arrogance, may not see. Their concerns are legitimate.”

Dingell seems to be the only one with a brain in the House to recognize the Blue Dogs do have legitimate issues with this legislation. The Blue Dogs have seen the CBO reports, and they're not convinced this bill will be "deficit-neutral" as Barry said it would be in his presser last week. They're seeing the deficits climb to heights they never envisioned, and they're already on the hook -- most of them -- for voting in favor of the Pork-A-Palooza back in February and the omnibus pork bill in March.

They have seen what this administration is all about, and they know if they go along with it without a fight, they're finished as politicians on the national stage.

The Blue Dogs are the fiscally-responsible ones in their own party, and Dingell is further correct about them being the majority-makers. They are. If the Democrats can't get them to play ball, they'll side with the Republicans, and health care reform will die in the House. This is one bill that Pelosi knows she needs them on board because the Republicans will be lock-step against this. Yes, there's rumors that the Senate is working on a compromise with the moderate Republicans there, but they still haven't addressed the deficit issues. As long as the outrageous deficits exist, the Blue Dogs should remain 100% against this.

Publius II

Sotomayor out of Judiciary; Heading to the Senate

Like we thought she was going to be stopped? Yeah, right:

Along largely partisan lines, the Senate Judiciary Cmte backed SCOTUS appointee Sonia Sotomayor, Pres. Obama's first high court pick, this morning by a 13-6 vote.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was the only Republican to support Sotomayor. The Senate cmte's Dems voted unanimously for the Bronx native.

The full Senate will vote next, but with the Dems' 60-vote majority, Sotomayor's confirmation is all but a done deal. She will be the first individual of Hispanic heritage to sit on the SCOTUS.

We knew the moment she was nominated that she was a shoo-in. Yes, she's biased. Yes, she tends to rule based on race and other factors that have no bearing in legal proceedings. No, she's not the intellectual heavyweight Democrats claim she is. (Forget the malprops, folks. She just isn't that sharp.) And no, nothing can stop her in the Senate.

Our prediction? She'll be confirmed along mostly party lines with just a handful of Republicans (hopefully) voting for her. Final vote? 65-33 with two not voting in Sens. Kennedy and Byrd.

Publius II

Friday, July 24, 2009

Barry's own death doctors

He claims we can keep our health care if we like it. That's a lie.

He claims the costs won't be as high as the CBO claims, and he asserts that this reform will be deficit neutral. Another lie.

He has said that everyone will have coverage. As Betsy McCaughey notes today, that's not true at all:

THE health bills coming out of Congress would put the de cisions about your care in the hands of presidential appointees. They'd decide what plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have and what seniors get under Medicare.

Yet at least two of President Obama's top health advisers should never be trusted with that power.

Start with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. He has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

Emanuel bluntly admits that the cuts will not be pain-free. "Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality are merely 'lipstick' cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change," he wrote last year (Health Affairs Feb. 27, 2008).

Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others" (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008).

Yes, that's what patients want their doctors to do. But Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else. ...

He explicitly defends discrimination against older patients: "Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years" (Lancet, Jan. 31). ...

Dr. David Blumenthal, another key Obama adviser, agrees. He recommends slowing medical innovation to control health spending.

Blumenthal has long advocated government health-spending controls, though he concedes they're "associated with longer waits" and "reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices" (New England Journal of Medicine, March 8, 2001). But he calls it "debatable" whether the timely care Americans get is worth the cost. (Ask a cancer patient, and you'll get a different answer. Delay lowers your chances of survival.)

Obama appointed Blumenthal as national coordinator of health-information technology, a job that involves making sure doctors obey electronically deivered guidelines about what care the government deems appropriate and cost effective.

In the April 9 New England Journal of Medicine, Blumenthal predicted that many doctors would resist "embedded clinical decision support" -- a euphemism for computers telling doctors what to do.

Do you understand what these two men would do? Emanuel advocates allowing the elderly to die to save costs! Give them a pill, and send them to a hospice counselor (mandated every five years by the House bill), and prepare them to die. Sure, it's more "humane" than what the Brits did, which was encourage the elderly, if sick, to stay home and basically die. But not by much.

Blumenthal is all for basically slowing medical technology discovery to a crawl to cut down on costs. Additionally, he points out that the reform may have a problem with doctors refusing to abide by what the bureaucracy tells them to do. As Emanuel notes, there's a little matter known as the "Hippocratic Oath." Not surprising to see a man so enamoured with a eugenics idea claims the Hippocratic Oath is being "taken too seriously."

These are just two of the people that'll be involved in this reform if it passes. One believes in simply letting the elderly die, alone -- unremarked, and uncared for -- while the other believes it's time to slow down on health care innovations, regardless of the benefits it can bring to people around the world. And why? I'm sure there is a some personal, ideological reason behind it, but in all honesty it comes down to one thing for them.

The bean counters.

They're concerned with costs, but they won't address the one cost that can be controlled. If tort reform were enacted prior to any health care reform, which it should be, we would watch health care costs go down. Doctors wouldn't need to take out so much malpractice insurance for frivolous lawsuits. But we are a sue-happy society, and people will sue doctors at the drop of a hat over the most inane things. I'm all for going after a doctor that has done something seriously wrong. But that's not what the vast majority of malpractice lawsuits involve. They're ambulance chasers and get-rich-quick scams. They clog up the legal system and compound health care costs. But Congress would never cut off it's nose to spite it's face. They have too much support and too much money coming in from trial lawyers to even consider tort reform.

Barry's got both of the people he wants to explain why these cost-cutting measures are necessary. What they won't be able to explain is how this reform has anything to do with liberty and freedom. Thomas Jefferson was correct: "The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." And Barry is growing it at an exponential rate, and should this reform pass it'll be the most intrusive program in our day-to-day lives.

Publius II

They're not giving up ...

And when I say "they" I'm speaking of the White House. Captain Ed found this video with Rahm Emanuel promising that the House will vote on the health care bill next week.

Um, Rahm, how are they going to pull that one off? Neither draft is out of committee yet in the House, and the same goes for the one in the Senate. Reid pulled the plug on a vote in the Senate, and so did Granny Rictus yesterday backing her upper chamber colleague. She's being hammered by the Blue Dogs that they won't sign onto this bill because they know it will cost them their jobs next year.

(We know that in previous votes this year Pelosi and Reid have given members of their caucus "permission" to not go along, and it's usually when they know for certain they already have enough votes, such as with the Pork-A-Palooza.)

But this vote is different. The Blue Dogs are hearing from their constituents, and when they get those calls it's becoming painfully obvious to them that: A) Their constituents have read enough about this that they're not behind it. And B) They're constituents are ticked off as all Hell. They're afraid of what might happen if they go along with this. (Here's a hint -- You'll be out of a job come 2010.)

Of course, breaking news just a few minutes ago shows that Pelosi isn't going away quietly as she is moving forward for a floor vote before the August recess. Again, I'd like to see what they're voting on, exactly. Their bills -- their proposals -- are in committee Hell.

In short, this is far from over. But if they can't ram this through both Houses before the August recess, the Democrats are in trouble. Why? It'll give us plenty of time to read what's in the bills (should they be brought to the floor), and when they come back they'll be facing an educated opposition. It could very well be the stake through the heart of the beast. Members of Congress are already hearing from us, and we're not happy with this at all, sort of the way we weren't happy about the immigration reform. That's what the Congress is facing, and they think they can push back against us and we'll go away.

That ain't happening at all.

Congress would be wise to listen to us. Their approval numbers aren't exactly bragging material. And the president's approval numbers are now below fifty percent. Senator DeMint is correct. This particular issue is shaping up to be Barry's "Waterloo."

Publius II

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You've got to be kidding .....

Unless you've been living in a Taliban cave, and can't pick up any of the "tingling class" tonight, Barry is going to hold another one of his infamous prime-time pressers. What's the subject for this presser tonight? Captain Ed hits the nail on the head. Barry's going to try and pimp his health care reform package to the people -- 53% of which are wholly against the plan. Why the title of the post then? Here's your answer:

On Wednesday, Mr. Obama will address the nation in a prime-time news conference. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said in an interview that the president intended to use it as a “six-month report card,” to talk about “how we rescued the economy from the worst recession” and the legislative agenda moving forward, including health care and energy legislation, which squeaked through the House and faces a tough road in the Senate.

I don't know whether to laugh 'til I fall out of my chair, or facepalm.

First, let's address that last sentence. Crap and Tax passed the House, narrowly, and it is languishing in committee Hell in the Senate; recently shelved by Democrats until September. But the health care reform can't seem to get out of committee to face a floor vote! We find it disingenuous that the New York Times would allude that the health care bill passed the House. (We're sure they'll correct that, or print a correction on page A210.)

Let's move onto the next gripe. What has the administration done to "rescue" the economy from this recession? Pork-A-Palooza passed in February amidst a flurry of crisis rhetoric. Barry demanded it be passed to rescue the economy because we had no time to waste on it. It was important and necessary for it's immediate passage. He told the nation that if passed, unemployment wouldn't go above 8%. We're sitting at 9.5% unemployment now, and as Captain Ed notes in his post, unemployment claims, both adjusted and non-adjusted, are continuing to climb. We have predicted unemployment will hit 12% before the year is out. The stimulus money hasn't helped the economy at all, unless you're a union worker or members of ACORN (in other words, the people who helped get him elected). Businesses that aren't facing such dire circumstances aren't hiring anyone right now out of concern that if the economy sinks lower they'll end up having to lay off employees.

In short folks the stimulus didn't work.

Barry is going to take to the airwaves tonight to lie about the "success" he sees only in a fantasy realm. He's going to lie about the health care reform package -- a package he readily admits he's "not familiar" with some of the provisions:

BLOGGER: Investor's Business Daily, they're saying that H.R. 3200 will make individual private medical insurance illegal. Is this true? Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?

OBAMA: You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you're talking about.

Not familiar with it? Betsy McCaughey read the bill in it's current draft form and she discovered that, yes, the government will force private insurers out of business, and demand that everyone be under a "qualified plan" offered by the government. Your employers will be given a five-year grace period to transfer employees over to this plan; if you pay for your own your grace period will be shorter.

Funny how we, the people, know more about this reform package than the president does. It'll be interesting to see how he spins this tonight. We know the "tingling class" will be running cover for him. Any hard question will be met by a "Barry filibuster." (Definition: yammering on for ten minutes, and never answering the question at all.) And after that question he'll move onto a friendlier reporter for a softball question that he will, again, mount his filibuster to waste more time. Readers can dislike how we characterize these pressers, but when you've seen on Barry presser, you can practically write the script for each one after the first.

Let him pimp it if he wants. We call on people to continue the pressure on Congress. We don't care if you have nothing but liberals representing you in the Congress. Call them anyway. Be polite, but firm. Have the knowledge of what's in this disaster at your fingertips. It's starting to sink into the tick skulls on Capital Hill that we know what's in it, and we know it won't help reform the health care system, cut costs, or save us any money in the short or long term. You know the number -- 202-224-3121. Use it liberally until this fiasco is finally dead.

Publius II

Barry throws a hissy fit

You can see that the president is way too thin-skinned for this job. He's starting to bristle at reporter's questions that he thinks are impertinent, even when they're allowed to speak to him. And as JammieWearingFool observes, his temper is short with fellow Democrats right now as Charles Grassley learned recently:

A telling episode recounted by Senate Finance ranking member Charles Grassley reveals the Obama administration might be more worried than they are letting on that a Republican senator's comparison of the healthcare overhaul to Waterloo might be dangerously close to the truth.

Grassley said he spoke with a Democratic House member last week who shared Obama's bleak reaction during a private meeting to reports that some factions of House Democrats were lining up to stall or even take down the overhaul unless leaders made major changes.

"Let's just lay everything on the table," Grassley said. "A Democrat congressman last week told me after a conversation with the president that the president had trouble in the House of Representatives, and it wasn't going to pass if there weren't some changes made ... and the president says, 'You're going to destroy my presidency.' " ...

Wait, wait. I thought he said this "wasn't about me" and now apparently it is. Sucks to be a narcissistic empty suit, huh?

Grassley did not name the member but said he was not from the senator's home state of Iowa. He brought up the anecdote in response to a question about whether the president's rebuke of the Waterloo remark Monday was affecting Finance Committee negotiations on a bipartisan overhaul bill. Grassley said the imbroglio was not taking a toll on the bipartisan effort.

President Obama and the Democratic National Committee pushed back hard this week against South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint's remark Friday that the healthcare overhaul could be Obama's Waterloo. Obama went directly after the comment in a speech Monday and Democratic leaders and organizations have fired off countless e-mails to call out Republicans for attempting to bring down the effort rather than offer constructive alternatives.

Most of the Blue Dog Coalition opposes the House overhaul bill and have managed to delay the Energy and Commerce Committee markup. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., the Blue Dogs' Health Care Task Force chairman, said Tuesday he is not the member Grassley was referring to.

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., defended Obama even though he is also opposed to House Democrats' bill. "I can't see him saying that," Stupak said. "He's got too much self-confidence."

House Republicans Tuesday made hay of the issue, with Ways and Means minority staff sending out an e-mail asking, "Who's really blocking health care reform?"

"Do not be fooled by the president's repeated attempts to create a Republican straw man for his health care troubles," the e-mail reads. The GOP pointed to ads the Democratic National Committee is running to pressure Democratic lawmakers.

Jim DeMint is correct. If this dies, this ends his charismatic presidency. He'll be wounded in ways we could have only imagined. I mean, let's face facts here. No one thought we could hurt his presidency so early in his term. He was seen as untouchable and invincible. Well, this is what happens when the minions buy the hype of the media, and so does their president.

We are winning on this issue, so keep up the pressure. 202-224-3121. That's the congressional switchboard. Get on the phones. For those who listen to Hugh Hewitt, you heard me yesterday lay it out in simple terms. Just because we're hearing the news that support is waning on this bill isn't a reason to let up. Deluge the phones, overflow their e-mail boxes, and run the fax machines out of paper. Take this fight to Congress the same way we fought immigration reform. We can win the day, but we have to do it now.

During the blogger conference call that Barry had a couple days ago he was asked if the reconciliation option was still o the table. Reconciliation is defined as "a legislative process of the United States Senate intended to allow a contentious budget bill to be considered without being subject to filibuster." Clinton tried to use reconciliation to pass his health care overhaul, but it was Senator Robert Byrd who pointed out that the use of reconciliation for the bill was out of bounds as reconciliation is usually used for budget bills. And need we remind readers that Byrd is being a serious thorn in Reid's side right now over the president's czars and cap and trade?

It's distinctly possible that this could very well be Barry's Waterloo moment. He's blown his political capital in passing the deficit-busting bills that have flushed the economy down the toilet. There is no recovery on the horizon no matter what the president and his compatriots say. Jobs aren't turning around. Businesses aren't hiring. The stock market has stabilized, but it's still on shaky ground. The economy is what the Democrats bet on to lead them to larger margins in the House and Senate next year. That's not going to happen, and if they go along with the president on this jam-down of health care reform, they will write themselves into minority status just like they did in the '94 midterms.

Publius II

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Byron York -- "Voters scared of Obama’s rushed ‘experiments’"

We miss Byron York at National Review, but he's definitely found his niche at the Washington Examiner. Today's missive is spot on and it's reflected in the recent polling data released today:

With one word Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele helped the GOP get back in the fight over health care and the entire Obama agenda. The word was “experiment.”

“Candidate Obama promised change,” Steele said in a speech at the National Press Club. “President Obama is conducting an experiment.” Steele went on to accuse Barack Obama of carrying out dangerous experiments with the nation’s health care, with the economy, with taxpayers’ dollars.

“Experiment” didn’t come from nowhere. “The term bubbled up from a set of focus groups we did with swing voters, independents, soft Republicans and soft Democrats,” says one strategist involved in an extensive RNC research effort nationwide and in key states like Virginia, Colorado and Florida. “It’s something that a vast majority of voters believe is true, that Obama is running what amounts to an experiment with our future.”

The RNC researchers came away convinced that Americans are scared. Certainly voters expected Obama to do things. But they are frightened by the sheer scope of the president’s proposals, the fiscal dangers they present and, perhaps most of all, the astonishing speed with which the administration is trying to enact such fundamental and far-reaching changes.

“When Americans voted for change, it was for a change from the uncertainty and economic unpredictability at the end of the Bush years,” says Alex Castellanos, the Republican message master who helped shape the RNC campaign. “But the president is giving them economic unpredictability on steroids. There is the clear sense out there that he is moving so fast on so many fronts that his health care plan cannot be well thought out.”

You can see those feelings in the latest Washington Post poll in which just 49 percent of those surveyed approve of Obama’s handling of health care. The numbers were eagerly received by Republican leaders on Capitol Hill. “This is a signature issue for him; it’s something he campaigned on, and it’s something that was inevitable in January,” says one key GOP Senate aide. “And now he has less than 50 percent approval on it and independents are running away.”

Just like President Bush had political capital to spend after the 2004 elections, with increased numbers in Congress, Barry is using his up quickly. He used it on the Pork-A-Palloza passed in February, the pork-laden Omnibus spending bill passed in March, and in nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. He's spent, folks.

Liberals laugh when we use a phrase on them that they know is true. "Broad, expansive overreach." That's what Barry did the moment he settled into his new job. He removed CEOs he disagreed with, took over companies after granting them bailout money, and now he's trying to ram through two of the most destructive and invasive pieces of legislation through the Congress. The health care reform would put the government in charge of our health care. No more private insurance, despite what he claims, because the private industry can't compete with the government which doesn't have to show a profit to survive. The cap and tax bill (Crap and Tax) would invite Uncle Sam into our home where Barry and the Congress can dictate to us how much energy we use.

An experiment? Yes it is, and plenty of people are worried -- even scared -- of how much further this experiment is going to go. They have a right to be. Furthermore, they have a right to be outraged. They were sold a bill of goods from a slick, snake-oil salesman. Now, what they're finding out is that his idea of "change" isn't their idea of "change." And his idea of change is 180 degrees contrary to the principles this nation was founded on, and the ideals we have held true for 233 years.

Publius II

A true, verbal smackdown

Let me state this from the get-go. We like Peggy Noonan. But this pitiful fit of seeming jealousy towards Governor Sarah Palin is getting a tad tiresome. And we're not the only ones who think this. Stuart Schwartz gives Ms. Noonan a well-deserved spanking:

You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. But it's not the normal kind of jealous, the kind reserved for girlfriends who can squeeze into size 2 jeans. No, it's the kind of jealous that hurts, that grabs your gut and twists, that has you howling with rage into your pillow in the middle of the night, screaming "It's not fair" like a two-year-old denied another piece of cake. It is Sarah Palin jealous...and it is consuming you.

You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You are a card-carrying member of the intellectual conservative elite, a PBS-anointed expert on family values who worked for both Ronald Reagan and Dan Rather, a talented speechwriter and wordsmith. And you are fuming: Sarah Palin refuses to be yesterday's news. You just can't get her out of your mind. And, what's worse, everyone continues to talk about her. You've tried everything, using your mainstream media platforms, your Wall Street Journal columns, and powerful friends -- so many of them -- to savage her, to give her a rhetorical beating so fierce that it would bring a smile to the face of Vince McMahon -- if you knew who he is, and if you had ever watched a WWE wrestling match, which he heads. "She is a complete elite confection. She might as well have been a bonbon," you
wrote, your $300 manicured fingers shaking on the keyboard.

You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. So you loosed a multi-column primal scream: Palin is an idiot who is "out of her depth in a shallow pool", a woman who has no sense of personal limits because she is not even smart enough to realize she is "a ponder-free zone." Whoa-good one! The rhetorical equivalent of the
chickenwing camel clutch, where you come up behind and twist her arm behind her back, and then force her face to the mat. Or, in her case, to the snow. That's what they have in Alaska, don't they? You don't know, of course-Martha's Vineyard is about as far north as you venture, and then only to observe humanity-you know, the common folks-from "a little pier" before strolling over for dinner with two of the more brilliant stars in your friends firmament, television personalities Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric.

You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You pal around with Sawyer and Couric, Jane Fonda, Marlo Thomas, Lily Tomlin -- the world is your aging oyster -- and The New York Times (which is sort of
iffy on your writing) admires you for the company you keep. The Manhattan and beltway salon denizens love you. Brian Williams even said he'd nominate you for a Pulitzer, calling your writing "sparkling." Yes, THE Brian Williams, He Who Anchors NBC News, who had an audience with President Obama, to whom he bowed when leaving.You hang with the grandees, and they understand the world. Unlike Sarah Palin, who uses a pier simply to fish and wouldn't know a winsome observation if it jumped into her net. And you just don't understand the crowds, the admiration for someone who owns the kind of fishing boat that is not equipped with a champagne cooler. Oh, the unfairness of it all!

You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You don't understand it. Sure, maybe she has accomplished a few things (like the $26 billion dollar natural gas pipeline
deal, restructuring Alaskan government, and taking an ice pick to corrupt politicians). But she has no style, no pizzazz -- she just does stuff. But so do you -- and you can't understand why you don't get the same adoration. After all, didn't you go before the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission and not just protest, but elegantly protest -- so said The New York Times -- a 16-story tower a developer wanted to build in your ritzy Upper East Side Manhattan neighborhood? Sarah Palin wouldn't have done that; she's not brilliant enough to understand preservation. She probably would have looked at the jobs the construction would create and given it a déclassé "Hell yeah!"

Like her or not, Sarah Palin is an extremely popular individual, and not just on our side of the aisle. The MSM has deemed her such with the incessant stories done about her, the virtual third-degree given to her family, and the seemingly endless demands by "Excitable" Andy Sullivan that she and her son Trig submit to paternity tests to finally determine who the little guy's real mom is.

Snark doesn't begin to cover the attitude Ms. Noonan displays towards Sarah Palin. Mr. Schwartz is right to call it jealousy because it is just that. For some odd reason her columns on Sarah Palin reflect a jealousy that she's never displayed before. And I think I know why. See, up until Sarah Palin came onto the national stage last year Ms. Noonan was the "go-to conservative woman." After all, she worked for our hero, and clearly the best president from the last century. She had to have some of his conservative bona-fides in her blood to be working for him. Sure, Reagan "worked across the aisle" (but never to a detriment to his party, unlike today's Republicans who hand the Democrats the knife to stab them in the back with) but she was a speechwriter for him.

Yes, we're biased. We like Sarah Palin, a lot. And we will continue to defend her against scurrilous, biased, uncalled for attacks. And if that means we have to go after a conservative, we'll do it. Ms. Noonan earned this smackdown. She brought this on herself. But given her Beltway snobbery, she'll click her tongue, and declare Mr. Schwartz a neanderthal, and then compare him to Sarah Palin.

That's snobbery that is quite gauche, and shows those who treat her word as gospel truth that she's really no different from the liberal media that drew a target on Governor Palin. They tried to destroy her, and we knew they would. It's much different when it's someone on your own side trying to fillet you.

Publius II

So, Barry's a "post-partisan" president? Yeah, right ...

That's the focus of a Wall Street Journal piece penned by William McGurn today. Not only does the "post-partisan" fallacy fall apart to any sensible person, but Mr. McGurn gives several examples:

Only last summer we were told that Barack Obama’s political appeal rested on his vision for a “post-partisan future.” The post-partisan future was one of the press corps’ favorite phrases. It served as shorthand for the candidate’s repeated references to “unity of purpose,” looking beyond a red or blue America, and so on.

Six months into the president’s term, you don’t read much about this post-partisan future anymore. It may be because on almost every big-ticket legislative item (the stimulus, climate change, and now health care), Mr. Obama has been pushing a highly ideological agenda with little (and in some cases zero) support from across the aisle. Yet far from stating the obvious—that sitting in the Oval Office is a very partisan president—the press corps is allowing Mr. Obama to evade the issue by coming up with novel redefinitions.

The redefinition started during the stimulus debate, but it really picked up steam late last month with David Axelrod’s appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” There the president’s chief strategist explained that a bill didn’t need Republican votes to be “bipartisan”; it was enough if Republican “ideas” were included. A few days earlier, Rahm Emanuel had offered reporters another redefinition, suggesting that a bill was bipartisan if people merely “saw the president trying” to get Republicans on board.

The president himself endorsed this redefinition during Rose Garden remarks delivered after a Senate committee passed a health-care bill on a strictly party-line vote. Perhaps only someone who truly embraces “the audacity of hope” could see healthy bipartisanship at work in the complete lack of GOP votes. Here’s how he put it: “It’s a plan that was debated for more than 50 hours and that, by the way, includes 160 Republican amendments—a hopeful sign of bipartisan support for the final product.”

Let’s leave aside specific complaints from Republicans, who note that the “Republican” amendments the president cited are mostly technical in nature. The larger point is that the White House’s new definitions of bipartisanship are just like the fake “jobs saved or created” numbers Mr. Obama used to justify the stimulus at a time when the economy was in fact shedding tens of thousands of jobs. And the press should call him on it.

Honest reporting would seem especially important at a time when the future of a large and vital segment of the American economy is at stake. In addition to higher costs, other Republican objections to the president’s health-care proposal include the establishment of a government-run insurance plan that will compete with private insurers—and the refusal to equalize the tax treatment between individually purchased and employer-provided health insurance. In all these areas, the president has shown no interest in compromise.

And if people think that the president is still enjoying the wonderful approval numbers think again, folks:

Trust in President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies to identify the right solutions to problems facing the country has dropped off significantly since March, according to a new Public Strategies Inc./POLITICO poll.

Just as Obama intensifies his efforts to fulfill a campaign promise and reach an agreement with Congress on health care reform, the number of Americans who say they trust the president has fallen from 66 percent to 54 percent. At the same time, the percentage of those who say they do not trust the president has jumped from 31 to 42.

The president’s party has taken a similar hit since the last Public Trust Monitor poll, with only 42 percent of respondents saying that they trust the Democratic Party, compared with 52 percent who do not. The party’s numbers are nearly the inverse of March’s survey, in which 52 percent said they trusted Democrats and 42 percent did not.

Obama’s personal approval rating has fallen below 60 percent in a number of recent major polls, and according to a Washington Post/ABC News survey out Monday, support for the president’s leadership on several key issues has fallen below 50 percent.

But whatever the problems faced by Obama and his party, they still earn higher approval ratings than other Washington leaders or the Republican Party, according to the Public Trust Monitor poll. And the loss in trust in Democrats did not correspond with a gain for the GOP: Trust in Republicans fell from 40 percent in March to 36 percent in the recent survey.

We take issue with that last paragraph. Not too long ago Rasmusson conducted a survey that was widely reported that on a generic ballot, the Republicans lead Democrats on eight of ten key issues. The facts are simple, folks: People are seeing that not only is Barry not accomplishing what he promised to do, but that he's anything but "post-partisan." Last week I pointed out the "post-partisan" tactics of this president and his administration towards the state of Arizona. We live in Arizona, and we're none too pleased with the extortion tactics used by this administration to get their way.

His bully tactics are translating to his poll numbers. People are seeing this man for what he is. He's a thug. He's a Chicago Machine pol that has brought his bully tactics to DC, and he's willing to strongarm anyone who opposes him. Granted, his minions will love him regardless, but his numbers last week weren't pretty. The drop in support with Democrats and Independents, and the rise of his disapproval numbers, represents a 16 point shift, overall .... in one month.

Things don't look good for him, or the rest of his agenda right now. He's pi$$ed away his political capital, and we're not sure if he's got enough left to get Crap and Tax or the Slow-Death Reform passed. Members of Congress, squeamish about their reelection bids next year, aren't exactly hanging around his bandwagon. They're running like Hell from him as the ire of their constituents is brought to their attention.

One thing is certain: Barry has shown the nation, and the world, that he's hardly above partisanship. He's the epitome of it, and people are getting turned off by it.

Publius II

Anyone think that they won't ration health care if the slow-death reform passes?

Last week I cited a piece written by James Pethokoukis. In his piece for Reuters, Mr. Pethokoukis broke down nine reasons why the House's health care (or slow-death, as I call it) reform bill was a mistake. That dealt solely with the surtaxes involved. Bill Kristol tips readers off to Senator Ted Kennedy' admission that their slow-death reform plan will definitely contain rationing, and in the worst possible sense. From the Kristol piece:

Newsweek Managing Editor Daniel Klaidman explains that his magazine decided to ask Sen. Ted Kennedy to author a cover piece on health care, because "his absence during this historic debate had been so palpable, yet here was a way for this respected voice on health care to weigh in and be part of the national conversation at a critical moment."

Well, Sen. Kennedy has
weighed in, and he may have helped doom Obamacare.

For Kennedy and his co-author, Bob Shrum, have let the rationing cat out of the bag. And that's a problem for President Obama and the Democrats. Make no mistake: Beyond all the other crippling problems with the Democrats' health care proposal--its cost at a time of massive deficits, the tax increases it requires at a time of recession, its preference for government over the private sector and for central planning over free competition--the deepest vulnerability of Obamacare is that it (intentionally) puts us on a course towards government rationing of health care.

Here's the key paragraph from Kennedy and Shrum:

We also need to move from a system that rewards doctors for the sheer volume of tests and treatments they prescribe to one that rewards quality and positive outcomes. For example, in Medicare today, 18 percent of patients discharged from a hospital are readmitted within 30 days--at a cost of more than $15 billion in 2005. Most of these readmissions are unnecessary, but we don't reward hospitals and doctors for preventing them. By changing that, we'll save billions of dollars while improving the quality of care for patients.

By changing it? That only means one thing which is exactly what Great Britain is doing now. Plenty of stories from reputable sources have cited the sort of treatment that seniors receive in Great Britain or Canada, to the point where seniors are left in ambulances or waiting rooms until they get a chance to see a doctor. Does the term triage mean anything to you? It should because that's how our health care will be if Congress and Barry get their way.

But Kennedy has let the mask slip about how we'll be treating seniors if this passes. They're going to be denied care. It's that simple. Heart bypass? Don't think so, grandpa. Hip replacement? Sorry, granny, you're over sixty. What's that? You need your asthma meds? Forget it, old man. You're over seventy. This is the same way that regimes around the globe in the past treated their older people because they were undesirable. For example, Germany, as the Nazis were rising to power, didn't just look that way towards seniors (of course their motives weren't entirely about saving money) but they looked down on all that were considered "inferior."

And if you think it'll end there, think again. What about children born with diseases like asthma, or MS, or diabetes? Better yet, what will happen if this crap is enacted, and they tell a pregnant women it'll cos the government too much to deliver that baby, but an abortion is cheaper, and more preferable? And let's ask ourselves this question -- Let's say you're Rich Uncle Pennybags and you've got gobs of cash (think Bill Gates). You need a heart bypass, and you can afford the operation. The problem is whether you can find a doctor willing to take a risk and do what you need to have done despite the government bean-counters saying that you're not worth the operation because you're too old or for some other idiotic reason. What do you do then?

If the Congress and Barry get their way, our health care will be rationed. Worse yet, as Betsy McCaughey observes (she's read the bills making their way through Congress) that if we go down this road, our health care will NEVER be the same:

PRESIDENT Obama promises that "if you like your health plan, you can keep it," even after he reforms our health-care system. That's untrue. The bills now before Congress would force you to switch to a managed-care plan with limits on your access to specialists and tests.

Two main bills are being rushed through Congress with the goal of combining them into a finished product by August. Under either, a new government bureaucracy will select health plans that it considers in your best interest, and you will have to enroll in one of these "qualified plans." If you now get your plan through work, your employer has a five-year "grace period" to switch you into a qualified plan. If you buy your own insurance, you'll have less time.

And as soon as anything changes in your contract -- such as a change in copays or deductibles, which many insurers change every year -- you'll have to move into a qualified plan instead (House bill, p. 16-17).

When you file your taxes, if you can't prove to the IRS that you are in a qualified plan, you'll be fined thousands of dollars -- as much as the average cost of a health plan for your family size -- and then automatically enrolled in a randomly selected plan (House bill, p. 167-168).

It's one thing to require that people getting government assistance tolerate managed care, but the legislation limits you to a managed-care plan even if you and your employer are footing the bill (Senate bill, p. 57-58). The goal is to reduce everyone's consumption of health care and to ensure that people have the same health-care experience, regardless of ability to pay.

The bills are a disaster.

The number you all need to call is 202-224-3121. We don't care if your representative is Democrat or Republican. Call them and tell them to stop this bill. If this passes, even if the GOP does retake the Congress in 2010, it'll be impossible to rollback once the entitlement crowd sinks their claws into this. It'll be just like welfare and social security. We've been trying to reign those in for years and reform them -- if not outright killing them -- and we're no closer now than we were before. If the slow-death reform is passed, this nation is screwed.

And if this bill was so bloody good, why are there Democrats defecting on this issue? There was supposed to be a vote on the House Energy committee today on this bill and it's been postponed now. Why? Because the Blue Dogs are refusing to go along with this fiasco. They're concerned with the price this is going to cost this nation. REMEMBER, these are fiscally-conservative Democrats that are taking the CBO's deficit numbers seriously. They know damn good and well that if they go for this their days in Congress are over. So, keep up the pressure. Congress is hearing us. It's the idiots like Reid, Pelosi, and Barry that refuse to listen to people that, no offense, are far more intelligent and less politically-motivated than they are.

Publius II

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Issue Up!!!

That's right, folks, the new issue of Common Conservative is up and awaiting your perusal.

The Chief takes Barry to the woodshed over the fear-mongering he's attempting with this health care fiasco.

Larry Simoneaux gives out some more food for thought on a host of issues.

And Marcie and I round out the staff articles by taking a look at Sarah Palin's departure.

Tom Proebsting kicks off the guest columns with a piece on the GOP; he offers them a piece of advice that, likely, they won't listen to. Why? Because it's more sound than anything else they have right now.

Ryan Coates finds reason to hope as the GOP tries to rebuild itself.

John Lillpop puts the microscope over the recent pay-to-play "scandal" at the WaPo.

Dario Predazzi looks at President Bush's associations with Latin America.

Dr. Robert Owens recently took a "workation" and took the pulse of the nation. Needless to say, a lot of people are worried.

And Harold Witkov draws and interesting comparison between Star Trek and living in Barry's America.

As usual, have fun reading, folks!

Publius II

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Know that House health care plan? Yeah, it's a disaster

Th health care debate is about to ramp up in Congress. Now, we know we don't have the amount of readers that, say, Michelle Malkin, Hot-Air, Glenn Reynolds, or even Ace of Spades has, but trust us when we tell you that you, as American, have one job -- Melt this insane idea down the way we did immigration reform back in 2006. Blow up the phones, faxes, and e-mail in-boxes in Congress. (You can locate your representatives e-mail address at the House.gov website.) The number to the Capitol Hill switchboard is 202-225-3121. We need to kill this now, once and for all. This reform idea is a disaster, and James Pethokoukis lays out nine reasons why this is a bad, bad idea:

It’s not the first Obama tax hike. This tax would be in addition to the $1 trillion in new taxes that Obama called for in his budget released earlier this year. (And then there’s cap and trade, remember.) And if healthcare reform costs more than expected — what are the odds of that, you think? — the surtax would go up.

It pushes income tax rates above a key threshhold. Once you take into account state income taxes, the top tax rate would sneak above 50 percent. Research by former White House economist Lawrence Lindsey has found that rates above 40 percent really start to hit economic growth especially hard.

It’s risky in a weak economy. Democrats love the “consensus view” when it comes to climate change, so how about the economy? The consensus view is for unemployment to hit double digits this year and stay high throughout 2010 and beyond as the economy staggers to its feet. Even Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said “it seems realistic to expect a gradual recovery, with more than the usual ups and downs and temporary reversals.” In a “long recession” environment, do we really want a policy that, according to research that current White House economic adviser Christina Romer conducted at Stanford University, is “highly contractionary.”

It actually makes America’s healthcare problem worse. Entitlements, including Medicare, will eventually bankrupt the economy unless action is taken. Agreed. But lowering the potential U.S. growth rate will only make those problems worse by generating lower tax revenue and making the overall pie smaller than it would be otherwise. Yet many economists think government interventions in finance, housing, autos, energy and now healthcare will do just that. And adding layers of additional new taxes helps how?

It makes the tax code more lopsided and inefficient. As it is, the top 1 percent of Americans in terms of income pay 40 percent of taxes. Not only would this plan exacerbate this imbalance, it adds further complexity to the tax code. Most tax reformers favor a simpler system with fewer brackets and deductions matched by a lower rate. Indeed, Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center points out the following:

Many of the uber-rich are unlikely to pay much more in taxes than they do now, despite the rate increase. Since we’d be returning to pre-1986 rates, we shouldn’t be surprised when the very wealthy reprise their pre-1986 sheltering behavior. The hoary financial alchemy of turning ordinary income into capital gains, morphing individuals into corporations, and deferring compensation will return. Remember, the targets of these tax hikes are the people who can most easily manipulate their income. The bad old days of bull semen partnerships may not return, but I suspect the financial Merlins are already cooking up new shelters for what promises to be a booming new market.

It hurts U.S. competitiveness. America already has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. Under the House plan, the top U.S. income tax rate would be higher than the OECD (advanced economies) average of 42 percent. France and Germany, by contrast, are looking to keep rates stable or lower them. Pro-growth China doesn’t even tax investment income.

It ignores the lessons of Clinton. Democrats love to point out how the Clinton tax increases didn’t tank the economy back in the 1990s. Oh, you mean the economy that was expanding for more than two years before he signed his tax increases? The economy is far weaker today and may be anemic for some time given the history of economies that suffered a banking crisis.

It ignores the lessons of 1937. The slowly recovering 1930s economy weakened again in 1937 and 1938. Again, Christina Romer tells all:

In this fragile environment, fiscal policy turned sharply contractionary. The one-time veterans’ bonus ended, and Social Security taxes were collected for the first time in 1937. … GDP rose by only 5% in 1937 and then fell by 3% in 1938, and unemployment rose dramatically, reaching 19% in 1938. The 1937 episode is an important cautionary tale for modern policymakers. At some point, recovery will take on a life of its own, as rising output generates rising investment and inventory demand through accelerator effects, and confidence and optimism replace caution and pessimism. But, we will need to monitor the economy closely to be sure that the private sector is back in the saddle before government takes away its crucial lifeline.

Except in this the case, Uncle Sam is not taking away a lifeline but tightening the noose.

It pays for a wrong-headed healthcare reform plan. Health exchanges, a public option, subsidies, taxes … well, we could go on and on. Or we could try to create a simpler consumer-driven market. Harvard Business economist Regina Herzlinger recommends reforming the tax system by making the money spent by employers on health insurance available as cash, tax-free, to employees. “Insurers would then compete for customers with policies that offer better value for the money,” she wrote in an analysis for consultancy McKinsey. Not even on the Obamacrat radar screen, though.

This plan will literally wreck the economy as Veronique de Rugy outlines in this post at NRO's The Corner:

In order to pay for the $1 trillion health-care plan, they won't be cutting spending (it's probably too 1990s for today's lawmakers) but they will be imposing new taxes — surtaxes in fact — and fees and penalties. Finally, America will become like its European counterparts, a place where it's painful to work hard and be rewarded for it.

Read this New York Times article about how the plan will be paid for and cry. A sample:

Starting in 2011, a family making $500,000 would have to pay $1,500 in additional income tax to help subsidize coverage for the uninsured. A family making $1 million would have to pay $9,000.

Employers who do not provide health insurance to workers would generally have to pay a fee or penalty to the government. The fee would be equal to 8 percent of wages for an employer with an annual payroll of more than $400,000.

Mais bien sur! In a high-unemployment environment, let's raise the cost of employing people.


The surtax would apply to any adjusted gross income exceeding $280,000 a year for an individual and $350,000 for a couple filing a joint return. The tax rates would range from 1 percent to 5.4 percent.

Who wants to bet that the number of people filing a joint return will collapse? Moi! (I have to practice my French, since that's where we are heading.)

I know that a lot of people would click their tongues and say "The rich deserve to pay more." Above, Mr. Pethoukoukis reminds people of what Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center stated about how the rich would dodge these new taxes:

Many of the uber-rich are unlikely to pay much more in taxes than they do now, despite the rate increase. Since we’d be returning to pre-1986 rates, we shouldn’t be surprised when the very wealthy reprise their pre-1986 sheltering behavior. The hoary financial alchemy of turning ordinary income into capital gains, morphing individuals into corporations, and deferring compensation will return. Remember, the targets of these tax hikes are the people who can most easily manipulate their income.

This plan is a prescription (pun intended) for economic disaster. In a severely weakened economy, such as our own is right now, adding a heftier tax burden to the people is not the solution. Remember, when the rich shelter their money, what happens to those new taxes? Do they go away? Hell no. They get passed onto the next level of citizens which means the upper middle class and middle class taxpayers will pick up the burden; a burden they already can't sustain.

Real health care reform can be achieved, but forcing this plan on the American public will mean that our private insurance we have will fold, and we'll be forced to have the nationalized health care that we defeated by in the early 1990s. HillaryCare was a catastrophe then, and it's still one today.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: I forgot to include something else in this post. James R. Edwards, Jr. pens a piece for National Review which makes a valid point, especially at this particular time: "It’s hard to envision how health reform can avoid tripping the immigration booby trap." From his piece:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has insisted the Senate will deal with immigration and health reform separately. And Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) told the Dallas Morning News in May, “We’re not going to cover undocumented aliens, undocumented workers. That’s too politically explosive.”

But it’s hard to envision how health reform can avoid tripping the immigration booby trap. Approximately 15–22 percent of the 46 million residents of the United States without health coverage are illegal aliens. That’s about 9 or 10 million people. More generally, a third of the foreign-born are uninsured, Census data analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies show. That means something like 12.6 million people, or more than a fourth of the total uninsured, are immigrants, both legal and illegal. Since 1989, immigration is responsible for 71 percent of the rise in those without health insurance. The fact is, the problem of the uninsured would be a more manageable one if the U.S. were not admitting millions of uninsured immigrants.

As they say, folks, read it all. We have to stop this plan here and now.

Publius II