Friday, October 30, 2009
Republicans Are Offering Better Solutions to Lower Health Care Costs
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Time after time, Republicans have reached out to President Obama and congressional Democrats to work together on common-sense solutions to lower health care costs for families and small businesses. President Obama promised the American people a bipartisan process. Unfortunately, Democrats have chosen a partisan, go-it-alone approach. It’s yet another broken promise, and it defies the will of the American people.
Through the month of August, the American people let Members of Congress from both parties know that they didn’t want a government takeover of health care. But instead of listening to Americans’ concerns, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democratic leaders ignored them and wrote a bill behind closed doors designed to appease the liberal special interests.
Next week, Speaker Pelosi will attempt to ram through her 1,990-page government takeover of health care through the House of Representatives. This bill will raise the cost of Americans’ health insurance premiums and add to our already skyrocketing debt; it will kill jobs with tax hikes and new mandates; and it will cut seniors’ Medicare benefits.
For the sake of struggling middle-class families, small businesses, and seniors, Republicans are going to do everything we can to fight this monstrosity. We will stand on principle in opposing this bill, and we will offer a better solution to lower costs for families and small businesses.
In the national Republican address today, I am outlining Republicans’ plan for common-sense health care reform our nation can afford, emphasizing four common-sense reforms that will lower health care costs and expand access to quality care without a government takeover of our nation’s health care system that kills jobs, raises taxes on small businesses, or cuts Medicare for seniors.
Here are four smart, fiscally-responsible reforms that we can implement today to lower costs and expand access to quality care:
· Number one: let individuals and families buy health insurance across state lines.
· Number two: allow individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do.
· Number three: give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower health care costs.
· Number four: end junk lawsuits that contribute to higher health care costs by increasing the number of tests and procedures that physicians sometimes order not because they think it's good medicine, but because they are afraid of being sued.
You can learn more about these and all the health care initiatives Republicans have supported by visiting http://healthcare.gop.gov and you can watch the video of the address HERE. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DKDdVXsC2I.
Democrats Worth Hearing
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Does anyone in Washington tell the truth? Why should Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid be believed when he promises states can "opt-out" of a public option on health care? This isn't like opting-out of sex education class. Individuals won't be able to avoid the consequences of national health care once the government puts the insurance companies out of business, because there will be no other choice than the government program.
With health insurance "reform," opting-out, is really opting-in for eventual single-payer national health insurance that will include rationing -- especially for seniors, who will be told by government what treatment they are allowed -- higher taxes, longer waits and substandard care.
Several Democrats have been honest about where this is headed. They deserve thanks from the public for exposing the lies their party leaders are telling us. Speaker Nancy Pelosi's cover-up now includes word games. She thinks the public option should be renamed "the consumer option." There will be no option for consumers when government undercuts insurance companies, which have fast become Democrats' Halloween ogres.
Don't take it from me. Consider Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat: "If it was a public option that was just kind of a stalking horse for a government-run health care system, I don't think that would have a very good chance." Kudos to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat, for saying, "For some in my caucus, when they talk about a public option, they're talking about another entitlement program and we can't afford that right now as a nation."
Imagine that! A Democrat saying we are spending too much as Congress prepares to raise the debt limit to $12 trillion. The deficit is currently at $1.6 trillion.
Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, called the push for the public option "a wasted effort" because the votes aren't there. Sen. Byron Dorgan, also a North Dakota Democrat, agrees: "I've indicated I won't vote for a bill that's a government takeover of health insurance, or the health care system." And then there's Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Democrat and current Independent, who has vowed to join Republicans in a filibuster of any plan that contains a government option.
There is no secret what will fix the problems with health insurance, but liberal Democrats don't want to fix it, as much as they wish to control it and all of us.
The CATO Institute remains a primary resource for ideas that will work in reforming health insurance. It recommends four steps Congress could take and the public should demand. (1) give Medicare enrollees a voucher and let them choose any health plan on the market that fits their needs, not what the government dictates. Vouchers would be means-tested, would include Medicare spending and are, says CATO, the only way to protect seniors from rationing. (2) Congress should reform the tax treatment by allowing large health savings accounts. This would reduce the number of uninsured Americans, would free workers to buy secure health coverage from any source, and would effectively give workers a $9.7 trillion tax cut without increasing the deficit; (3) Congress should breakup state monopolies on insurance and clinician licensing. CATO estimates allowing people to buy insurance from other states could cover one-third of the uninsured without new taxes or government subsidies.
(4) Congress should reform Medicaid and the State Children's health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) the way it reformed it in 1996 when it block-granted the programs. This would help reduce the deficit and encourage states to target resources to those most in need.
These free market ideas and others like them are a rebuke to the lie by some liberal Democrats that Republicans and conservatives have presented no plan of their own for health insurance reform. They have, but those holding power don't want to hear them. That's because they have their own agenda. The only way they can be stopped is by a public outcry and uprising. Not only our health, but also our lives depend on stopping them.
I'm so sick of hearing the media and Obama repeatedly saying in the media that the Republicans don't have any ideas and are the party of "no". It was the democrats who initially said no to any Republican ideas or contributions. Just trying to set the facts straight here.
Posted by Brett at 9:11 PM
The Public Option Is Not an Option
Friday, October 30, 2009
Can you imagine the brazenness of President Barack Obama and his cohorts in going so far as to ridicule opponents of Obamacare for rightly pointing out that its ultimate goal is single-payer socialized medicine?
These people are propaganda virtuosos of the highest order. You might expect grand artists of deception just to silently dismiss such claims from critics or, at most, to summarily deny them. But they go further and mock the critics, trying to reduce them to acutely paranoid, tinfoil-hat-wearing, black-helicopter-hallucinating Cuckoo's Nest inpatients.
What better way to distract attention from what is right in front of our faces? It's brilliant reverse jujitsu: using the outrageousness of your own plan to discredit as preposterous the allegations of your opponents about your truly outrageous plan. Shameless!
Obama and his minions are indeed conspiring to foist socialized medicine on this nation through whatever means necessary -- including outright deception over the nature and purpose of the so-called public option. But before presenting proof of that, let me pose a few questions bearing on the likelihood Obama would be involved in such a deception in pursuit of this goal.
Didn't Obama repeatedly threaten to "spread the wealth"? Isn't he deliberately indebting us through government expenditures of borrowed funds not remotely designed to appreciably increase employment? This "stimulus" monstrosity is a massive redistributive scheme not only in its direct transfer payments but also in the confiscatory tax increases it will necessitate to retire the debt it is generating.
Obama is hellbent on passing economically crippling cap-and-tax legislation on the dubious pretense that man-made global warming is leading to an apocalypse. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis estimates that this legislation would make the United States some $9.4 trillion poorer by 2035 while moderating temperatures by only hundredths of a degree in 40 years. Obama's former colleague Sen. John Kerry, adding insult to injury, has the audacity to sell this plan as one that would enhance our national security -- security that depends on our economic viability.
Based on those two examples alone, the inescapable conclusion is Obama believes that America's resources have been unfairly allocated under its free enterprise system and that he must preside over an unprecedented correction of this "injustice" through institutional changes disguised as benign measures necessary to stop phantom demons.
But if you're not sufficiently convinced of Obama's Marxist bent to understand he is determined to implement socialized medicine as a means to establishing government control over all aspects of our lives, how about considering direct evidence of the administration's deception concerning the true purpose of the public option?
First, we have Obama's pre-presidential words (in a 2003 speech) on a single-payer system. "I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program. ... We may not get there immediately."
Bloggers at Verum Serum have further exposed this "transparent deception" with a video montage of Obama and other leftists -- including politicians, professors and journalists -- speaking candidly about the relationship between a "public option" and a single-payer system.
The videos show Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., telling her audience that an insurance company spokesman claimed that a public option would put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to a single-payer system. "My single-payer friends," said Schakowsky, "he was right. ... This is not a principled fight. This is a fight about strategy for getting there, and I believe we will." Professor Jacob Hacker smugly boasts: "Someone once said to me this is a Trojan horse for single-payer. Well, it's not a Trojan horse, right? It's just right there." Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confesses: "I'm all for a single-payer system, eventually. ... What we have to do, though, is work with what we've got to close the gap." Rep. Barney Frank says a public option "is the best way to reach single-payer." New York Times columnist Paul Krugman believes that a public option would, "in the end, kill the private plan." Presidential adviser Rahm Emanuel, in explaining Obama's apparent flip-flop on the public option, said, "The objective is what's important; it's not the means."
If you need more proof, you can read a short history of the public option on "Tapped," The American Prospect's leftist blog, which traces the genesis of the public option idea as a means to get to single-payer. Because single-payer wasn't politically feasible if directly proposed, the public option was crafted as a compromise that would eventually lead to single-payer. "Ideally, it would someday magically turn into single-payer."
Apart from Obama's statist ideology and the evidence of his true aims, our common sense tells us that a "public option" backed by a government-stacked deck against private insurance companies -- which Obama hasn't demonized for nothing -- will eventually bury private health insurance companies.
Let's wake up!
Posted by Brett at 5:14 PM
The Three Envelopes
Friday, October 30, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Old Soviet joke:
Moscow, 1953. Stalin calls in Khrushchev.
"Niki, I'm dying. Don't have much to leave you. Just three envelopes. Open them, one at a time, when you get into big trouble."
A few years later, first crisis. Khrushchev opens envelope 1: "Blame everything on me. Uncle Joe."
A few years later, a really big crisis. Opens envelope 2: "Blame everything on me. Again. Good luck, Uncle Joe."
Third crisis. Opens envelope 3: "Prepare three envelopes."
In the Barack Obama version, there are 50 or so such blame-Bush free passes before the gig is up. By my calculation, Obama has already burned through a good 49. Is there anything he hasn't blamed George W. Bush for? The economy, global warming, the credit crisis, Middle East stalemate, the deficit, anti-Americanism abroad -- everything but swine flu.
It's as if Obama's presidency hasn't really started. He's still taking inventory of the Bush years. Just this Monday, he referred to "long years of drift" in Afghanistan in order to, I suppose, explain away his own, well, yearlong drift on Afghanistan.
This compulsion to attack his predecessor is as stale as it is unseemly. Obama was elected a year ago. He became commander in chief two months later. He then solemnly announced his own "comprehensive new strategy" for Afghanistan seven months ago. And it was not an off-the-cuff decision. "My administration has heard from our military commanders, as well as our diplomats," the president assured us. "We've consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, with our partners and our NATO allies, and with other donors and international organizations" and "with members of Congress. "
Obama is obviously unhappy with the path he himself chose in March. Fine. He has every right -- indeed duty -- to reconsider. But what Obama is reacting to is the failure of his own strategy.
There is nothing new here. The history of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is a considered readjustment of policies that have failed. In each war, quick initial low-casualty campaigns toppled enemy governments. In the subsequent occupation stage, two policy choices presented themselves: the light or heavy "footprint."
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, we initially chose the light footprint. For obvious reasons: less risk and fewer losses for our troops, while reducing the intrusiveness of the occupation and thus the chances of creating an anti-foreigner backlash that would fan an insurgency.
This was the considered judgment of our commanders at the time, most especially Centcom commander (2003-2007) Gen. John Abizaid. And Abizaid was no stranger to the territory. He speaks Arabic and is a scholar of the region. The overriding idea was that the light footprint would minimize local opposition.
It was a perfectly reasonable assumption, but it proved wrong. The strategy failed. Not just because the enemy proved highly resilient but because the allegiance of the population turned out to hinge far less on resentment of foreign intrusiveness (in fact the locals came to hate the insurgents -- al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan -- far more than us) than on physical insecurity, which made them side with the insurgents out of sheer fear.
What they needed, argued Gen. David Petraeus against much Pentagon brass opposition, was population protection, i.e., a heavy footprint.
In Iraq, the heavy footprint -- also known as the surge -- dramatically reversed the fortunes of war. In Afghanistan, where it took longer for the Taliban to regroup, the failure of the light footprint did not become evident until more recently when an uneasy stalemate began to deteriorate into steady Taliban advances.
That's where we are now in Afghanistan. The logic of a true counterinsurgency strategy there is that whatever resentment a troop surge might occasion pales in comparison with the continued demoralization of any potential anti-Taliban elements unless they receive serious and immediate protection from U.S.-NATO forces.
In other words, Obama is facing the same decision on Afghanistan that Bush faced in late 2006 in deciding to surge in Iraq.
In both places, the deterioration of the military situation was not the result of "drift," but of considered policies that seemed reasonable, cautious and culturally sensitive at the time, but ultimately turned out to be wrong.
Which is evidently what Obama now thinks of the policy choice he made on March 27.
He is to be commended for reconsidering. But it is time he acted like a president and decided. Afghanistan is his. He's used up his envelopes.
Posted by Brett at 5:12 PM
Marriage in Maine: Why We’d Better Fight
Friday, October 30, 2009
Now that we know what President Obama’s “Safe Schools Czar” Kevin Jennings means by “safe,” we’d better start putting the pieces together on homosexual activism and fight back.
The beautiful old state of Maine faces a battle that will affect us all. Will they vote “yes” to maintain traditional marriage on November 3rd or will they not? Homosexual advocates are pouring in millions, while defenders are operating on a shoestring. This is a battle where gay activists are strong and sure and some opponents too clever by half. One thing is sure: If we believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, we’d better mobilize. But marriage is just one piece of this puzzle. Let me tell you why.
Much has been reported about the “Safe Schools Czar,” not the least of which is his desire to “Queer Elementary Education.” That is the creepy title of the book for which he wrote the forward along with no-longer-underground-Bill Ayers. And the title actually means what you think it means. The book is filled with child-adult sex, including the story of a lesbian mom and her daughter lusting for the same girl in the playground. Homosexual activists have your kids in their sights. The next generation is very important to them—and not only for the purposes of propaganda.
Homosexual activists want your children in every way. In order to achieve that, it is necessary to mainstream homosexuality so that anyone opposing it is severely ostracized or punished as a result. But, of course, we’re there. Matt Barber, while working for All State Insurance, wrote—on his own time—an article opposing homosexuality and was subsequently fired. Crystal Dixon, African American Vice President for Human Resources at University of Toledo met the same fate for writing an op-ed in a newspaper expressing her religious views on the subject. Corporations are targeted and punished for not supporting homosexuality. Years ago, United Airlines was among the first to cave in—and the rest of corporate America has fallen like dominoes. Corporate America now spends money, posts rainbows, celebrates “pride”—but they dare not give money in support of traditional marriage or pro-family causes for fear of retribution.
Only positive examples of “gayness” have been presented in television, movies and media in order to normalize and de-stigmatize homosexuality. Young Americans can hardly remember when or why homosexuality was once taboo. After the famous Britney Spears/Madonna kiss there was an epidemic of teenage girls experimenting with lesbianism, kissing in public, emulating their idols for all to see. Through Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs, established by Safe Schools Czar Jennings and his former organization GLSEN, children—even in grade school—have been encouraged to “come out.” Questionnaires in health classes ask how students know they are straight if they haven’t tried sex with a same-sex partner.
How did this happen? Gay activists had a plan which they laid out in great detail in a 1989 book called “After the Ball.” And they had help in high places. For over 20 years, the National Education Association has been aggressively pushing homosexuality. Propaganda films like “That’s Elementary” were produced and force fed to dissenting teachers who were silenced and shamed. Games were introduced into the classroom like “Tolerance Circle” where children with moral opposition to homosexuality were placed in the middle and ridiculed for their traditional beliefs. Homosexuality was introduced in every area of the curriculum with American history rewritten to accommodate a “gay” Abraham Lincoln and literature and reading assignments filled with stories of graphic homosexual sex. After serving for years as president of the NEA, President Robert Chase stepped down and “came out” leaving a legacy of mainstreaming homosexuality in American public schools. The teachers were had, or they were silent and the children unprotected and ripe for the picking.
But there were other allies too. Mothers went soft, refusing to believe their own schools were presenting such outrageous materials, while at the same time believing they were being compassionate to the gay community. It was all part of the strategy, after all, helped greatly by presenting sympathetic characters and stories of bullying and brutality to canonize homosexuals as victims in order to get the sympathy of women, who naturally want justice. Matthew Shepard’s death worked beautifully for this and, though tragic, it was based on the false premise that he was murdered for being gay. No matter … Matthew became a cause célèbre and mothers turned their heads from the sexualization of their own children in order to show empathy with gay relatives and friends.
The strategy looks something like this: Sexual orientation laws (protecting homosexuality as equal to race and religion) lead to hate crimes law (giving uber law enforcement protection to gays, lesbians and transgendered persons) which lead to hate speech laws that eventually silence free speech—even the preaching of pastors in churches. Using the Bible to teach God’s design for sex expressed only in the union between one man and one woman for a lifetime has become a criminal act in countries where hate crimes and speech laws have been enacted.
In 1996 Michelangelo Signorile wrote in OUT Magazine:
It (gay marriage) is a chance to wholly transform the definition of family in American culture. It is the final tool with which to dismantle all sodomy statutes, get education about homosexuality and AIDS into public schools and, in short, usher in a sea change in how society views and treats us.
And that brings us to the marriage debate. It is not unconnected. Homosexual activists don’t want marriage. They want the total breakdown of traditional family relationships. In 1972, the National Coalition of Gay Organizations demanded the “repeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex or number of persons entering into a marriage unit: and the extension of legal benefits to all persons who cohabit regardless of sex or numbers.” Achieving homosexual marriage is merely a stepping stone to the complete deconstruction of the natural family. But many Americans are so naïve, they have been handily manipulated into believing they’re showing great tolerance when, in reality, they have proved to be merely sheep.
Even some opponents of homosexual marriage have fallen for the deception. Afraid to tackle the deeper problems of the homosexual political agenda, they too are seduced by the need to show “tolerance” and are willing to settle for the half measure of protecting a word (marriage). They have criticized others who continue to fight on principle, and have (by and large) used their muscle to achieve something that means almost nothing in the long run. This is what has been happening in Maine. Groups deeply trusted by Protestant Christians and Catholics and conservatives have convinced themselves that somehow the word “marriage” is the object of the game. It is not. There is nothing sacred about the word “marriage.” The concept means simply leaving father and mother and joining in a sexual relationship to establish a home recognized by the state. It could have been translated “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships.” It matters not a whit. Their straining at this particular gnat is emasculating righteous indignation, further confusing an already confused culture and presenting the homosexual community with the prize that will—by any name—have the same dangerous effect: the sexualization of our children and the continued deconstruction of our civilization.
US: Mass. can't force gay marriage benefits
Friday, October 30, 2009
States that allow gay marriage can't force the federal government to provide benefits to those couples, the Obama administration argued Friday in court papers in a lawsuit by Massachusetts.
The Justice Department is at odds with Massachusetts _ the first state to allow gay marriage _ over a 1996 federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Massachusetts sued in July, saying that law is discriminatory and deprives gay couples in the state of some federal spousal benefits.
The Obama administration agrees the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is discriminatory and wants it repealed, but says it has an obligation to defend laws enacted by Congress while they are on the books and can be reasonably defended.
The law "does not prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying, nor does it prohibit the states from acknowledging same-sex marriages," according to the court filing by Assistant Attorney General Tony West.
Massachusetts, the filing continues, is trying to claim individuals have a right to federal benefits based on marital status.
"There is, however, no fundamental right to marriage-based federal benefits," according to the 36-page filing.
The 1996 law denies federal recognition of gay marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Massachusetts is the first state to sue the government over the DOMA law. Some gay couples have filed their own lawsuits challenging the law, but this case is unique in pitting a state against the federal government over the issue.
Justice Dept. spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said any state "can allow gay and lesbian citizens to marry and can make its own decisions about how to treat married couples when it comes to state benefits."
"Massachusetts is not being denied the right to provide benefits to same-sex couples and, in fact, has enacted a law to provide equal health benefits to same-sex spouses," she said.
In earlier filings, the government has sought to dismiss the DOMA lawsuits brought by individuals.
The Massachusetts case could also have implications for Democratic Party politics. The Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, is trying to win the Senate seat of the late Edward Kennedy, at the same time her office is leading the lawsuit against the Democratic administration on the issue of gay rights.
The lawsuit brought by Massachusetts says the approximately 16,000 same-sex couples who have married since the state allowed it in 2004 are being unfairly denied federal benefits given to heterosexual couples.
Those benefits include federal income tax credits, employment benefits, retirement benefits, health insurance coverage and Social Security payments, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also argues that the federal law requires the state to violate the constitutional rights of its citizens by treating married heterosexual couples and married same-sex couples differently when determining eligibility for Medicaid benefits and when determining whether the spouse of a veteran can be buried in a Massachusetts veterans' cemetery.
Besides Massachusetts, five other states _ Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Iowa _ have legalized gay marriage.
Posted by Brett at 10:52 AM
Friday, October 30, 2009
The King James version of the Bible runs more than 600 pages and is crammed with celestial regulations. Isaac Newton's "Principia Mathematica" distills many of the rules of physics in a mere 974 pages.
Neither of them has anything on Nancy Pelosi's new fiendishly entertaining health care opus, which tops 1,900 pages.
So curl up by a fire with a fifth of whiskey, and just dive in.
But drink quickly. In the new world, your insurance choices will be tethered to decisions made by people with Orwellian titles ("1984" is only 268 pages!), such as the "Health Choices Commissioner" and "Inspector General for the Health Choices Administration."
You will, of course, need to be plastered to buy Pelosi's fantastical proposition that 450,000 words of new regulations, rules, mandates, penalties, price controls, taxes and bureaucracy would have the transformative power to "provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending."
It's going to take some time to deconstruct this lengthy masterpiece, but as you flip through the pages of the House bill, you will notice the word "regulation" appears 181 times. "Tax" is there 214 times. "Fees," 103 times. As we all know, nothing says "affordability" like higher taxes and fees.
The word "shall" -- as in "must" or "required to" -- appears more than 3,000 times. The word, alas, never is preceded by the patriotic phrase "mind our own freaking business." Not once.
To vote for the bill, a legislator must believe a $1 trillion price tag is "revenue-neutral" or that it alleviates any of the pain higher costs bring to the average American. This would require alcohol.
Real competition, as far as anyone can tell, is antithetical to the authors of this bill. Remember, you can purchase oranges from Florida and whiskey from Kentucky, yet you're prohibited from buying health insurance from anywhere outside your state; so sayeth Nancy Pelosi.
Instead of the creation of a new market with interstate trade, what we would get is the institution of the pleasant-sounding "Health Insurance Exchange," which would exist, it seems, only to accommodate a noncompetitive, government-run insurance option.
Now, finding a name for a state-run program without offending the lingering capitalistic sensibilities of bourgeoisie has been problematic. So Pelosi went with the innocuous "consumer option" -- known for a fleeting moment as the "competitive option" and popularly as the "public option." Whatever your preference is, it's the option that would lead to a single-payer insurance program.
Democrats say we could save billions by funding a plan that used billions of wasted tax dollars from another public plan that we already supplement with billions. Make sense?
In actuality, we would pay for all this by "cost sharing," or "sharing the cost" of insuring everyone through higher prices and taxes. But no fear. The legislation also would tax "the rich." The bill wouldn't index tax to inflation, so more of you would be on the hook as inflation rose because of the tragically irresponsible behavior of Congress and the White House. The rich -- many of them small-business owners -- are already set to see their federal rates go up in 2010.
Hey, who needs those jerks to create real jobs when we have Washington pretending to do it?
All of this, as Madame Speaker says, constitutes a "historic moment for our nation and families." True. No legislation in modern American history compares when in comes to injecting itself into the everyday decisions of the citizen.
And few can compete with its deception. The bill's intentions are cloaked in euphemisms, and it is teeming with ulterior motives, all cobbled together in closed-door meetings at which industry payoffs are offered using taxpayer dollars to facilitate a power grab of unprecedented cost.
All of it rolled right into a neat 1,900 pages.
Posted by Brett at 10:46 AM
Poll: Voters Trust GOP More on Top 10 Electoral Issues
Posted by: Meredith Jessup at 12:55 PM 10-30-09
For the first time in years, the Republican Party is trusted more than the Democrat Party on the top 10 electoral issues important to voters, according to Rasmussen Reports; in fact, the GOP leads by double-digits in five of the categories:
Health Care - - Democrats 40%, Republicans 46%
Education - Democrats 38%, Republicans 43%
Social Security - Democrats 37%, Republicans 45%
Taxes - - Democrats 35%, Republicans 50%
Economy - Democrats 35%, Republicans 49%
Abortion - Democrats 35%, Republicans 47%
Immigration - Democrats 33%, Republicans 40%
Nat'l Security - Democrats 31%, Republicans 54%
Iraq - Democrats 31%, Republicans 50%
Gov't Ethics - Democrats 29%, Republicans 33%
Maybe there is some hope for our country yet. It's only going to get worse for the Democrats - the more they tax us the more we all will lose.
Posted by Brett at 10:08 AM
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Dismantling America: Part II
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Many years ago, at a certain academic institution, there was an experimental program that the faculty had to vote on as to whether or not it should be made permanent.
I rose at the faculty meeting to say that I knew practically nothing about whether the program was good or bad, and that the information that had been supplied to us was too vague for us to have any basis for voting, one way or the other. My suggestion was that we get more concrete information before having a vote.
The director of that program rose immediately and responded indignantly and sarcastically to what I had just said-- and the faculty gave him a standing ovation.
After the faculty meeting was over, I told a colleague that I was stunned and baffled by the faculty's fierce response to my simply saying that we needed more information before voting.
"Tom, you don't understand," he said. "Those people need to believe in that man. They have invested so much hope and trust in him that they cannot let you stir up any doubts."
Years later, and hundreds of miles away, I learned that my worst misgivings about that program did not begin to approach the reality, which included organized criminal activity.
The memory of that long-ago episode has come back more than once while observing both the actions of the Obama administration and the fierce reactions of its supporters to any questioning or criticism.
Almost never do these reactions include factual or logical arguments against the administration's critics. Instead, there is indignation, accusations of bad faith and even charges of racism.
Here too, it seems as if so many people have invested so much hope and trust in Barack Obama that it is intolerable that anyone should come along and stir up any doubts that could threaten their house of cards.
Among the most pathetic letters and e-mails I receive are those from people who ask why I don't write more "positively" about Obama or "give him the benefit of the doubt."
No one-- not even the President of the United States-- has an entitlement to a "positive" response to his actions. The entitlement mentality has eroded the once common belief that you earned things, including respect, instead of being given them.
As for the benefit of the doubt, no one-- especially not the President of the United States-- is entitled to that, when his actions can jeopardize the rights of 300 million Americans domestically and the security of the nation in an international jungle, where nuclear weapons may soon be in the hands of people with suicidal fanaticism. Will it take a mushroom cloud over an American city to make that clear? Was 9/11 not enough?
When a President of the United States has begun the process of dismantling America from within, and exposing us to dangerous enemies outside, the time is long past for being concerned about his public image. He has his own press agents for that.
Internationally, Barack Obama has made every mistake that was made by the Western democracies in the 1930s, mistakes that put Hitler in a position to start World War II-- and come dangerously close to winning it.
At the heart of those mistakes was trying to mollify your enemies by throwing your friends to the wolves. The Obama administration has already done that by reneging on this country's commitment to put a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe and by its lackadaisical foot-dragging on doing anything serious to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. That means, for all practical purposes, throwing Israel to the wolves as well.
Countries around the world that have to look out for their own national survival, above all, are not going to ignore how much Obama has downgraded the reliability of America's commitments.
Iraq, for example, knows that Iran is going to be next door forever while Americans may be gone in a few years. South Korea likewise knows that North Korea is permanently next door but who knows when the Obama administration will get a bright idea to pull out? Countries in South America know that Hugo Chavez is allying Venezuela with Iran. Dare they ally themselves with an unreliable U.S.A.? Or should they join our enemies to work against us?
This issue is too serious for squeamish silence.
Posted by Brett at 5:56 PM
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Economic Freedom Fighters, Unite
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It must be something in the water. The ruling Democrats know their tax-hiking, re-regulating, and big-spending policies have failed to rejuvenate job-creation or reduce the unemployment rate. And yet they persist in trying more of the same.
A recent New York Times editorial acknowledges that the economy is weak, but it pleads for yet another federal stimulus package. The Times editors want another round of unemployment benefits (this would be the third) to subsidize non-work welfarism. They also want more federal spending on state Medicaid -- an area that already has been showered with federal taxpayer money to no economic avail since it has nothing to do with economic growth.
Can’t we do better?
Or let’s take the case of Rep. Barney Frank, a smart guy. He told MSNBC that "The right wing took control of government and ruined it. They gave it a bad reputation. Now we are trying on every front to increase the role of government in the regulatory area."
Ah! Re-regulation. What a great idea. As I recall, the Soviet Union and old Eastern Bloc tried heavy government control and regulation, and it didn’t work. The people rebelled. They wanted economic freedom; the right to keep their own money; the right to start their own businesses; and the right to climb the ladder of success in a free economy.
Now here’s a counter-thought. The Reagan free-market revolution, which included regulation lite, a sound dollar, and low tax rates, launched a three-decade-long boom. And yes, the Gipper’s policies were copied around the world. (What does Barney Frank know that the rest of the world doesn’t?) Even the communists in China have adopted deregulated free-market capitalism.
The battle between democratic entrepreneurial capitalism and heavy-handed statism has already been won by the economic freedom fighters around the globe. That’s one reason why the capitalist emerging economies in Asia, Eastern Europe, and many parts of Latin America (think Brazil) are challenging U.S. economic supremacy and the American dollar.
Prodded by the New York Times and other media organs, the Democrats in Congress are going in the wrong direction. They don’t seem to realize that growth and wealth come from individuals and human action, not the heavy footprint of the state.
Here’s another example of drinking from the wrong water. Top administration economist Christina Romer delivered a very gloomy forecast to Congress last week. She said unemployment will remain at a "severely elevated level," and that the U.S. jobs market will stay painfully weak next year. She was just being honest. Ms. Romer, who has written about the benefits of permanent tax cuts to stimulate GDP growth, might in fact be sending a shot across the bow to her fellow Obamacons. She even said the Obama stimulus plan will contribute little to economic growth in 2010. From her own work, she knows that big-government spending and temporary tax credits have no economic-growth power.
So why not try something different? Unfashionable as it may be today, why not go back to the supply-side model of lower marginal tax rates for individuals and businesses, large and small? That’s the model my late dear friend Jack Kemp successfully espoused to President Reagan more than 30 year ago. It’s the incentive model of economic growth. At lower tax rates, where folks keep more of what they earn and invest, greater after-tax rewards spur greater work effort and investment risk. They also boost asset values. This is exactly what the economy needs: a rejuvenated dose of incentives -- permanent incentives.
Think of this: At the same wage level from cost-conscious businesses, a 10 percent personal tax cut provides a handsome after-tax wage-increase incentive that will spur individuals to go back to work -- simply because work will pay more after-tax.
When I spoke last week at the launch of the Jack Kemp Foundation in Washington, D.C., I emphasized the supply-side model of a sound dollar, flat tax rates, free trade, limited government, and market-driven solutions for better schooling, more efficient health care, and the amelioration of poverty. Jack Kemp believed in these principles. He believed in growing the economic pie, not redistributing it. And he believed in growing it large. He would have hated today’s notion of a "new normal" of 2 percent growth and high unemployment. He would have argued for the need to give everyone greater economic-empowerment opportunities and incentives. And he would be just as right today as he was when he began his crusade in the mid-1970s.
Kemp’s universal principles have stood the test of time. His was a genuine growth solution, one that is essential to America’s greatness, her boundless optimism, her prosperity, and her success. Today’s anti-growth economic policies would have driven him crazy. And he would have fought back.
That’s the message for economic freedom fighters everywhere: Unite, and throw off your chains. Especially here in America.
Posted by Brett at 6:52 PM
I'll Pass on "Opting Out"
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The Democrats' all-new "opt out" idea for health care reform is the latest fig leaf for a total government takeover of the health care system.
Democrats tell us they've been trying to nationalize health care for 65 years, but the first anyone heard of the "opt out" provision was about a week ago. They keep changing the language so people can't figure out what's going on.
The most important fact about the "opt out" scheme allegedly allowing states to decline government health insurance is that a state can't "opt out" of paying for it. All 50 states will pay for it. A state legislature can only opt out of allowing its own citizens to receive the benefits of a federal program they're paying for.
It's like a movie theater offering a "money back guarantee" and then explaining, you don't get your money back, but you don't have to stay and watch the movie if you don't like it. That's not what most people are thinking when they hear the words "opt out." The term more likely to come to mind is "scam."
While congressional Democrats act indignant that Republicans would intransigently oppose a national health care plan that now magnanimously allows states to "opt out," other liberals are being cockily honest about the "opt out" scheme.
On The Huffington Post, the first sentence of the article on the opt-out plan is: "The public option lives."
Andrew Sullivan gloats on his blog, "Imagine Republicans in state legislatures having to argue and posture against an affordable health insurance plan for the folks, as O'Reilly calls them, while evil liberals provide it elsewhere."
But the only reason government health insurance will be more "affordable" than private health insurance is that taxpayers will be footing the bill. That's something that can't be opted out of under the "opt out" plan.
Which brings us right back to the question of whether the government or the free market provides better services at better prices. There are roughly 1 million examples of the free market doing a better job and the government doing a worse job. In fact, there is only one essential service the government does better: Keeping Dennis Kucinich off the streets.
So, naturally, liberals aren't sure. In Democratic circles, the jury's still out on free market economics. It's not settled science like global warming or Darwinian evolution. But in the meantime, they'd like to spend trillions of dollars to remake our entire health care system on a European socialist model.
Sometimes the evidence for the superiority of the free market is hidden in liberals' own obtuse reporting.
In the past few years, The New York Times has indignantly reported that doctors' appointments for Botox can be obtained much faster than appointments to check on possibly cancerous moles. The paper's entire editorial staff was enraged by this preferential treatment for Botox patients, with the exception of a strangely silent Maureen Dowd.
As the Times reported: "In some dermatologists' offices, freer-spending cosmetic patients are given appointments more quickly than medical patients for whom health insurance pays fixed reimbursement fees."
As the kids say: Duh.
This is the problem with all third-party payor systems -- which is already the main problem with health care in America and will become inescapable under universal health care.
Not only do the free-market segments of medicine produce faster appointments and shorter waiting lines, but they also produce more innovation and price drops. Blindly pursuing profits, other companies are working overtime to produce cheaper, better alternatives to Botox. The war on wrinkles is proceeding faster than the war on cancer, declared by President Nixon in 1971.
In 1960, 50 percent of all health care spending was paid out of pocket directly by the consumer. By 1999, only 15 percent of health care spending was paid for by the consumer. The government's share had gone from 24 percent to 46 percent. At the same time, IRS regulations made it a nightmare to obtain private health insurance.
The reason you can't buy health insurance as easily and cheaply as you can buy car insurance -- or a million other products and services available on the free market -- is that during World War II, FDR imposed wage and price controls. Employers couldn't bid for employees with higher wages, so they bid for them by adding health insurance to the overall compensation package.
Although employees were paying for their own health insurance in lower wages and salaries, their health insurance premiums never passed through their bank accounts, so it seemed like employer-provided health insurance was free.
Employers were writing off their employee insurance plans as a business expense, but when the IRS caught on to what employers were doing, they tried to tax employer-provided health insurance as wages. But, by then, workers liked their "free" health insurance, voters rebelled, and the IRS backed down.
So now, employer-provided health insurance is subsidized not only by the employees themselves through lower wages and salaries, but also by all taxpayers who have to make up the difference for this massive tax deduction.
How many people are stuck in jobs they hate and aren't good at, rather than going out and doing something useful, because they need the health insurance from their employers? I'm not just talking about MSNBC anchors -- I mean throughout the entire economy.
Almost everything wrong with our health care system comes from government interference with the free market. If the health care system is broken, then fix it. Don't try to invent a new one premised on all the bad ideas that are causing problems in the first place.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
“Competition is as American as apple pie.”
That’s the premise behind a new ad from MoveOn.org, the left-leaning grassroots group that’s pushing President Barack Obama’s socialized medicine plan. If it sounds familiar to supporters of free market reform, it should.
Competition is as American as apple pie, but there’s just one small problem with this group’s definition of the term.
By adding (or rather re-adding) a so-called “public option” to the latest trillion-dollar health care plan, Obama and his allies in Congress are not promoting competition – they’re squashing it. Simply put, by injecting the government directly into a market that it has the power to regulate, “Obamacare” would place the health care industry in America on an irreversible path toward nationalization – not to mention raise health care costs on the typical American family by as much as $4,000 per year.
Government doesn’t want to “compete” in the marketplace – it wants to artificially manipulate the marketplace to force millions of Americans out of private plans and into government-run plans, which they ludicrously claim will save taxpayers money.
At the heart of this bastardized notion of “competition” is the demonstrably false belief that government-run programs have lower administrative costs than private plans.
“Medicare has lower administrative costs than any private plan on the market,” U.S. Rep. Pete Stark wrote years ago as the government-run health care movement started picking up steam.
This is simply not true. Medicaid plans have significantly high per person costs than private plans, even though Medicaid is exempt from state health insurance premium taxes that private providers must pay.
“In recent years, Medicare administrative costs per beneficiary have substantially exceeded those costs for the private sector,” writes Dr. Robert A. Book for the Heritage Foundation. “This (is) despite the fact that, as critics note, private insurance is subject to many expenses not incurred by Medicare. Contrary to the claims of public plan advocates, moving millions of Americans from private insurance to a Medicare-like program will result in program administrative costs that are higher per person and higher, not lower, for the nation as a whole.”
Additionally, Medicaid is riddled with fraud and abuse – an epidemic problem that the U.S. government has shown little interest in “reforming.”
In fact, according to a CBS 60 Minutes report that aired last weekend, an estimated $60 billion out of $430 billion in annual Medicaid disbursements goes to fund fraudulent Medicaid claims.
That means one out of every seven dollars spent on Medicaid goes toward fraud – one reason why the program has seen skyrocketing annual premium increases in recent years, and one reason why its hospital trust fund is forecast to run out of money within the coming decade.
In South Florida, CBS found that Medicaid fraud had replaced cocaine traffic as the most lucrative criminal enterprise.
Why would a program that’s ostensibly so vital to the health of the nation be allowed to pour so much money down the drain?
“Our oversight budget has been extremely limited,” the government’s top anti-fraud bureaucrat complained to CBS, revealing another flaw of the “public option.”
Whenever these government-run monstrosities break down – and they always break down – every American taxpayer is suddenly on the hook for the “bailout.”
Is this really the sort of system we want to expand – perhaps to include as many as 100 million new Americans? Of course not. But that’s exactly what would happen under the plan currently being debated in Washington.
Obviously, proponents of Obama’s socialized medicine proposal are very well aware of the public’s skepticism when it comes to supporting unsustainable entitlement programs – which is why they are hiding the greatest government power grab since the “Great Society” beneath a cloak of capitalist-sounding terms like “market principles,” “choice” and “competition.”
Don’t be fooled. The only “choice” Americans will receive in this “market” will be left exclusively to government bureaucrats, whose definition of “competition” is racking up exorbitant costs to provide substandard service – and then sticking you with an ever-expanding bill.
Posted by Brett at 6:46 PM
The Very Dishonest Harry Reid.
Here are 2 recent articles which discuss the dishonest and fraudulent practices of our Senate Majority Leader - Dem. Harry Reid, from Nevada...
Reid's Bait and Switch Tactics
Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Harry Reid had two problems. How would he get the health care bill out of the Senate Finance Committee without revealing the glaring potential fissures in his party over the public option on health care? And, how could he lend a veneer of bipartisanship to a one-party bill?
He couldn't allow a vote on final passage out of the committee with a public option in the bill because he knew that he would lose Democrats and would have no GOP support. But real compromise was always out of the question. He wanted his public option. So he evolved a strategy where the only bill that would be voted on in committee would be one that did not have a public option, all the while planning for the final product to have one.
So he used the bait of a bill with no public option to hook moderate Democrats like Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and the gullible Republican Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
When the bill emerged from Finance, by a lopsided 15-to-nine vote, it restored the momentum to health care reform that had stalled due to the public outrage so evident during the August recess.
Then, the dexterous Reid capitalized on that momentum to put the public option back into the bill, reversing the commitment to compromise that allowed the bill to clear the committee in the first place.
This tactic of bait and switch offers a foretaste of what Reid will attempt on the Senate floor. He obviously hopes to replicate these tactics in getting the bill through the Senate.
As he did in the Finance Committee, Reid has opened his gambit on the Senate floor by embracing a public option. He does this for two reasons: First, he wants to send a signal to the House and Senate militants that his heart is in the right place and that the final bill will probably have a public option. Second, he needs to have room to compromise so the final Senate version attracts the moderates he needs. He first veers left in order to then swing right.
His next move is predictable. As he awaits House action, he stands firm in backing the public option. And, as he nears the point of a Senate floor vote, he will pretend to modify that option in order to attract moderates and perhaps a few stray Republicans. As he and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., did in committee, he will truncate or even abandon the public option to win unanimous Democratic support (and perhaps one or two Republicans).
Then, in conference with the House, he will pull the old bait-and-switch tactic again, jettisoning the Senate bill and embracing a full-throated public option in the final version that will return to the Senate.
At that point, he hopes to use the momentum of House passage and the imprimatur of the conference committee to try to persuade senators, and the public, that it is this bill or no bill and that only a proposal with a robust public option can pass.
The point of this strategy is never to ask moderates to vote for a public option until the final vote after the conference committee. Let them build a record of having opposed the public option to sell back home. Let Reid show that he tried to compromise. And only put the final test to the moderate senators at the very last minute when all the momentum is on the side of final passage.
If he succeeds, Reid gets a bill with his public option. But, even if he fails and has to delete the public option at the last minute to get Senate support, he will still have gotten the health care bill through.
By making such a fuss over the public option, with the connivance of the liberals, he keeps the spotlight away from the Medicare cuts, the end of Medicare Advantage, the inevitable rationing of health care, the taxes on the uninsured and the sick, and the cuts in medical reimbursement. A bill with all these provisions -- even without a public option -- is pernicious enough!
And, these tactics can still produce a bill with a public option.
Will this tactic work? It all depends on the political environment outside Washington. If the bill is only marginally unpopular (the current 40 percent to 55 percent), it will probably pass. But if public opinion moves another 5 or so points (to, say, 35 percent to 60 percent against), then the moderates will probably refuse to cave in.
A Tale of Two $250s
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This fall, as American families anticipate the holiday season and an uncertain economy in 2010, they’re likely to decide to cut back. Maybe they’ll stay home for Thanksgiving instead of flying to Grandma’s house. They’ll put fewer gifts under the Christmas tree.
It’s a pity our political leaders aren’t inclined even to consider such frugality.
Two recent stories prove that, far from cutting back in the face of recession, Congress and the Obama administration are eager to expand entitlement spending. Take Social Security.
Every January, recipients’ benefits are adjusted for inflation. This cost of living adjustment (COLA) usually results in retirees receiving a larger payment, because the cost of living usually goes up. But it didn’t this year.
The recession has driven prices down across the board, and the cost of living has actually declined by almost 5 percent. Because of that, and because Medicare premiums won’t increase next year, spending analyst Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute estimates that the average Social Security recipient will have about $725 more in purchasing power next year. So, reasonably, Social Security plans to skip the COLA.
But not if the Obama administration can help it. The president wants to give each person on Social Security $250 next year. That may not sound like a lot, yet this little giveaway would cost future taxpayers $13 billion. And, as Social Security expert David John of The Heritage Foundation writes, it would start “the process of converting the program from an earned benefit funded by a worker’s own contributions to a welfare program.” With the program already facing massive unfunded deficits in the decades ahead, the proposed giveaway is exactly the wrong approach.
At the same time Obama was prepping to shower seniors with $250 checks, Congress was trying to spend a much bigger sum -- almost $250 billion -- without actually paying for it.
Here’s how lawmakers got into this trap. While stumping for his version of health reform, President Obama has repeatedly insisted he wouldn’t sign a bill that “adds one dime to our deficits, either now or in the future, period.” But one of the reasons federal spending on health care is out of control is because Medicare spending grows faster than the economy as a whole almost every year.
More than a decade ago, lawmakers passed a law that was supposed to solve that problem by capping payments to doctors. According to the law, fees paid to doctors under Medicare will be slashed by 21.5 percent this year, and by 40 percent over the next five years. Of course, no lawmaker wants to be accused of cutting payments to doctors. So every year lawmakers in both parties vote overwhelmingly to override their own law.
And that’s the problem. Overriding the scheduled cuts this year would add about $250 billion to the cost of ObamaCare, and put the president at risk of violating his promises not to increase the deficit. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed a stand-alone bill that pundits called the “doc-fix” bill. It aimed to spend $250 billion over the next 10 years without that spending counting toward the price of any proposed health care reform bill.
Senators used a procedural maneuver to prevent that bill from being voted on. But the idea of shifting spending from one column to another to hide costs may make a comeback as lawmakers debate health reform behind closed doors.
The late Sen. Everett Dirksen supposedly said, “A billion here, a billion there -- and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” We could paraphrase that today: “$250 here, $250 billion there -- eventually you destroy an already teetering entitlement system.”
These are changes our government can’t afford. And they’re ones the American people shouldn’t stand for.
Posted by Brett at 10:59 AM
Now's the Time to Stop the Abomination of Obamacare
Janice Shaw Crouse
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
We’re down to the wire with ObamaCare. The big-government-loving left is determined to push through a bill before the end of the year that contains who knows what — with the only certainty being that members of Congress won’t be subject to its limits on care. After promising bipartisanship and sunshine in the deliberations, Democrats are shaping the bill behind closed doors. In the face of an overwhelming lack of public support and dire budget-deficit ramifications, the left, like the snake oil peddlers of old, is selling ObamaCare with quackery and the President’s oft-repeated and patently false claim that “if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.” The media campaigns of today’s slick-talking politicians harken back to the entertaining road shows where deceiving people and leaving before the deception became obvious was an effective way to fleece the public. Today’s radical politicians are determined to promote and pass their disastrous health care reform before the public learns the details and then delay implementation until some time after the 2012 election when Obama, at least, will be politically safe from the public’s wrath.
Oh, the deception! Let me count the ways!
For starters: the reality of mandates, rationing, taxpayer funded abortion, opposition from physicians, the prohibitive cost, the lack of competition between private and public insurance … the list could go on and on. It’s easy to get the facts at websites like ours — www.cwfa.org. But it’s not easy to get it from the nightly news or the morning papers. Nor can you get the truth from those promoting ObamaCare — but I repeat myself.
Congressional GOP members describe the plans that are on the table as socialized medicine. They point out that government-run health care would drive private insurers out of business. Even Democratic members privately admit that their plans don’t offer enough choices and will hurt Americans who already have insurance through their employers. The estimates of additional costs to individual American families run into the thousands of dollars. In fact, in spite of repeated denials by those pushing legislation through Congress right now, government-run insurance policies would provide the type of shortage-plagued service now available in Canada and England — not exactly what Americans want.
Remember the major selling point for ObamaCare? It was supposed to provide insurance for those who don’t currently have insurance. However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shot down that deception; CBO’s estimate was that when fully implemented, the proposed plan — counting both the number who would gain insurance less the number who would lose coverage through their employer — would only increase the number of insured by about 16 million (only about 35 percent of the 46 million uninsured in 2009) at a cost of an additional $1 trillion in the deficit over the 2010-2019 period.
Now is the time for dissenting, well-informed voices to be heard. If the current ideas become law, it will irrevocably change our health care system as we know it. It will lead to higher costs, rationing of health care, the funding of elective abortions, and will drive pro-life doctors out of the profession. Was this the change that people voted for in 2008?
People from around the world come to the United States for the best health care, and that top-quality health care, now available to the vast majority of Americans, is endangered. It is reprehensible that politicians are working behind closed doors to devise schemes to push ObamaCare through quickly without public approval. They are willing to totally ignore the millions of Americans who are concerned that it will trample our beliefs and values.
Congress needs to hear our voices; we must speak out now. With public disapproval getting more open, and the outcry against ObamaCare spreading so rapidly, Congress is getting pretty desperate; and the backroom tactics are getting more bare-knuckled.
The Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) revealed this week that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) reportedly offered money to physicians who would drop their opposition to ObamaCare. He reportedly promised national medical groups that the Senate would stop medical cuts to doctor payments for 10 years in return for physicians’ support for ObamaCare.
Remember presidential candidate Barack Obama’s talk about “affordable” health care coverage? More and more people are learning the reality about the hefty price tag of Obama’s health care bill. A report from Price Waterhouse Coopers confirms that health care reform measures will be prohibitively expensive — more than twice the expected growth in the Consumer Price Index, with the increased cost of health insurance premiums being borne by individuals and families.
But the most egregious and morally reprehensible aspect of the health care debate thus far — with the possible exception of the withholding of treatment of the elderly and disabled — is the deception about whether the reforms include taxpayer funding for abortions. The radical left repeatedly assures the public that they won’t have to involuntarily fund abortions.
How stupid do they think we are?
In spite of all the rhetoric to the contrary, all the health care reform bills currently before Congress mandate abortion funding and coverage. All of the pro-life amendments that came before various committees were rejected along party lines. In short, without explicit wording prohibiting abortion funding and coverage, health care reform will involve all American taxpayers in explicit financial support for abortion-on-demand.
Further, any health care reform provisions must provide protection for the rights of conscience for health care workers and medical providers. Those whose faith or consciences prevent them from performing abortions must have the ability to object and refrain from participating in actions that are contrary to their beliefs.
Now is the time to speak out — often and loudly; otherwise, the ObamaCare that we will be forced to swallow will be as foul and ineffective as the snake oil sold in the travelling carnivals.
Posted by Brett at 10:48 AM
Bravest Congressman is Calling Obama's Bluff
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The bravest member of the House of Representatives, Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan, is calling President Barack Obama's bluff on the question of federal funding of abortion in the health care bill.
Like other members, Stupak was sitting in the House chamber on Sept. 9 when Obama delivered a nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress urging passage of the bill.
It was during this speech that Obama said it was false to claim the bill would provide insurance to illegal immigrants and that Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina famously blurted out, "You lie."
What is not famous -- yet -- is what Obama said just seconds after Wilson accused him of lying: "And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up: Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions."
Shortly after this speech, an incredulous Bart Stupak got Obama on the phone. Stupak, you see, knows as much about the status of abortion funding in the health care bill as anyone. He has proposed an amendment that would prohibit any federal money from paying for any part of any health insurance plan that covers abortion.
In July, Stupak's amendment was narrowly defeated in the Energy and Commerce Committee, the House panel primarily responsible for drafting the bill. The committee instead approved an amendment by Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California. This amendment actually mandates that at least one insurance plan in each state-based "exchange" -- the only place people receiving federal health-insurance subsidies will be allowed to buy health insurance -- must cover abortions.
On Aug. 21, after Obama gave a radio talk insisting it was "not true" the health care plan would allow federal funding of abortion, FactCheck.org concluded, "Despite what Obama said, the House bill would allow abortions to be covered by a federal plan and by federally subsidized private plans."
Nothing had changed by Sept. 9, when Obama reiterated his claim to the joint session of Congress.
In an interview last week, I read to Stupak the exact words Obama said that night about abortion funding. Stupak told me that when he got Obama on the phone, he had read those very words to Obama himself.
Obama responded to Stupak -- a former police officer -- that when he said these words he was not talking about the actual health care plan developed by the House, he was talking about his own plan -- a plan that has never been written.
"I called him," Stupak told me. "I called the president -- had a discussion with the president. And I read exactly what you just said. And he said: What it says is 'under my plan' -- meaning the president's plan. And I said: With all due respect, sir, you do not have a plan. The only plan we have out is the House plan. So, I don't know if it is a game of semantics or what."
Stupak said Obama did not try to tell him the House bill does not fund abortion.
I asked Stupak if, when Obama claimed "our plan" does not fund abortions, the president meant some plan that existed only "theoretically."
"Correct," said Stupak. "And when I pointed this out, he said: Go back and work with the people on your committee and get this matter worked out. Work with the speaker. Work with us, would you? And I said: Yes, I would. And we have tried."
All Stupak wants is a vote on his amendment when the health care bill comes to the floor. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have none of it.
"The speaker has told me I will not have my amendment," said Stupak.
He is now determined to defeat the health care bill itself if Pelosi does not change her mind. He intends to do this by defeating the special rule that would govern the terms of the debate on the bill -- including what amendments would be allowed. Unless this rule is first approved by a majority vote, the House cannot move to the bill itself. Stupak has a large group of Democrats ready to vote against the rule.
"There's about 40 likeminded Democrats like myself," he told me. "We'll try to take down the rule. If all 40 of us vote in a bloc against the rule -- because we think the Republicans will join us -- we can defeat the rule."
In the meantime, Stupak has made a request to Obama that he has delivered through White House advisers: Tell Pelosi to put his language prohibiting abortion funding into the bill.
"I believe based upon what he said on Sept. 9 and in my conversation that he would not like to see federal funding of abortion," said Stupak.
"We are calling the president to get his attention and say: We have tried. We have tried to work this with the speaker, and we have been denied," said Stupak. "Our last opportunity to get this in the bill, to avoid a fight on the rule, is if you call the speaker and have her put the language back in."
Stupak is waiting for a call back from the White House. Otherwise, the bravest member of Congress is ready to lead fellow Democrats into a massive battle on the House floor against a Democratic leadership intent on using tax dollars to fund the taking of unborn lives.
Posted by Brett at 10:31 AM
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
What Happened to Liberalism?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
On Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2009, congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) appeared opposite Ralph Nader on "The Ed Schultz Show." When Nader questioned Frank's far-left bona fides, Frank quickly responded, "we are trying on every front to increase the role of government."
This is what today's liberal movement has become. Stripped to its essentials, modern liberalism is now a nakedly ambitious power grab by corrupt officials, their union allies and faux-victimized purloiners of the taxpayer till. Its underlying premises -- the ultimate goodness of government, the ultimate evil of the American population -- are plainly inconsistent with the foundations of constitutional philosophy.
It was not always thus. Over the weekend, I had a chance to re-read one of my favorite authors, John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was considered for decades the leading authorial spokesman for the blue collar left. "The Grapes of Wrath," his most famous work, is undoubtedly a liberal tract -- it condemns the harshness of unbridled capitalism and asks (literally) for the milk of human kindness.
Whereas today's liberal spokespeople have been infected by a virulent anti-Americanism that sees all businessmen as profiteers and all public workers as saints, Steinbeck was a patriot. He worried about the lack of kindness he saw in his fellow men, particularly the willingness to cut corners to make a buck -- but at the same time, he saw the virtue of freedom.
In 1960, Steinbeck wrote a piece in Newsday magazine in which he explained his view of morality. "[It's] very clear that peoples are strong when they are moral in the sense that the good of the group or the nation takes precedence over the selfish good of the individual. And we know from many examples of the past that when this is reversed and the individual raids the public good for his own purposes, the laws of decay have set in." In short, a nation comprised of a group of individuals governed by a common morality is stronger than an agglomeration of atomistic individuals acting solely for their own benefit.
Steinbeck's brand of liberalism made political debate a real possibility. After all, conservatives agree that men are neither angels nor devils, and that not everyone will behave with the same honor as an Ayn Rand-ian hero. Steinbeck's solution to the problem of "immorality" was not necessarily more government, but better men in government, and not necessarily more regulation, but more self-regulation. Communal standards were important, but there was no guarantee that government would be the best judge of communal standards. As Steinbeck wrote shortly before his death, "It is our national conviction that politics is a dirty, tricky and dishonest pursuit and that all politicians are crooks. The reason for this attitude is fairly obvious -- we have had cynical and dishonest officials on all levels of our government."
Steinbeck was embraced by the 1930s New Deal liberals because he wrongly saw FDR's collectivist efforts as a corrective to the moral problem posed by supposed individual exploitation of the system. But Steinbeck's brand of liberalism was rejected wholesale by the left in the 1960s. Suggestions that Americans embrace traditional morality were no longer enough for the left -- a broader transformation of American values was necessary.
Critics labeled Steinbeck a relic of the past, his morality was too old-fashioned. Time magazine said that he had entered "late-middle-aged petulance." Detractors on his left claimed that he was too wedded to capitalism, that he was archaically clinging to nationalistic feelings regarding the military (especially after his reports from Vietnam, which accurately described the Viet Cong as barbaric), and that he was not sufficiently utopian.
And so Steinbeck's philosophy was jettisoned. The American people no longer had the potential for good -- now they were all rapacious individuals dedicated to plundering their fellows. Government was no longer susceptible to corruption; it was now the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, and the best embodiment of the collective. Liberalism, which was once a philosophy of doubt -- doubt about both the individual and the government -- became a philosophy of certainty.
Modern liberalism is now impoverished by its own simplicity. Government is always the solution, and individualism is always the problem. As President Obama so succinctly put it in 2008, "our individual salvation depends on collective salvation." Steinbeck's liberalism put it differently: "It believe that man is a double thing -- a group animal and at the same time an individual. And it occurs to me that he cannot successfully be the second until he has fulfilled the first." The founders would have agreed with Steinbeck. Today's liberals agree with Frank and Obama. The day authentic liberalism died, so did the possibility of bridging the gap between modern liberalism and the founding principles of our country.
Posted by Brett at 9:43 PM
Government by Holiday Inn Express
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
You've seen those commercials in which an airline pilot, or surgeon, or nuclear engineer is giving expert advice only to acknowledge eventually to this nonplussed listeners that while he is not actually a fill-in-the-blank, he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Do you ever get the feeling that we are getting Holiday Inn Express government?
Does anything they say make basic economic sense? President Obama and the Democratic Party propose to save money (or what they call "bend the cost curve") on health care spending. They will spend less, they say, but also cover more people -- the 47 million or 30 million uninsured (Obama has used both numbers). This will be accomplished without reducing care for anyone and without raising taxes on anyone except the rich. In fact, care will be improved.
Sounds great. But do these people know what they're doing? They mouth the words "choice" and "competition" but only, ironically, in praise of a "public option." The concept of encouraging choice and competition in the health insurance market -- say by permitting interstate sales -- is off the table.
The Wall Street Journal provided a handy chart of "Uncle Sam's Cost Overruns." In 1965, when Medicaid was enacted, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that first year costs would amount to about $238 million. The actual price was $1 billion. The program now costs $251 billion annually and is climbing fast. The record is similar for Medicare. In 1965, Congress predicted that by 1990, Medicare would be costing $12 billion. The actual cost -- $90 billion. As Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget has admitted, "If costs per enrollee in Medicare and Medicaid grow at the same rate over the next four decades as they have over the past four, those two programs will increase from 5 percent of GDP today to 20 percent by 2050."
So the same people who brought you cost spirals in Medicare and Medicaid now propose to introduce another government health program. Don't worry, they assure us, we know how to provide efficiencies. It's not necessary to dwell on the risible claim that they will cut half a trillion in waste from the Medicare budget. If they know where that waste is, why aren't they cutting it now? Where, on the books, are the federal waste-cutting initiatives?
The administration has also highlighted two other ideas that will supposedly provide tremendous cost savings. Both have been in the news lately.
Starting during the campaign, President Obama touted digital medical records to reduce errors, improve care, and cut costs. More than $19 billion of stimulus funds were earmarked for it. But when the Washington Post examined the matter, they discovered that digital records not only fail to produce the promised benefits, they actually reduce efficiency and cause errors. The digital systems currently available give physicians too much information. Pages upon pages of digital information document every conceivable ailment a patient might have. Doctors have difficulty wading through all of the unnecessary data to reach the critical information. One emergency room physician at a hospital that had adopted a digital system complained, "It's been a complete nightmare. I can't see my patients because I'm at a screen entering data . ... Physician productivity and satisfaction have fallen off a cliff." Some hospitals have adopted digital systems only to abandon them.
Another silver bullet the administration has peddled is preventive care. Everyone knows that a timely PSA test will detect prostate cancer at an early and treatable phase thus saving the patient's life and saving money, right? Not exactly. The test is obviously worthwhile for that individual. But testing all men for prostate cancer -- an overwhelming majority of whom will never get the disease -- is expensive. If more and more of us are tested for more and more diseases -- even accounting for some illnesses found early -- health spending will rise, not fall. Further complicating the picture, the National Cancer Society has announced that the benefits of cancer screenings, particularly for breast and prostate cancers, have been oversold. They aren't saving very many lives, but they are causing needless tests and surgeries.
The Baucus bill -- even before being melded with House versions -- weighed in at 1,502 pages of new taxes, fees, and mandates. Every single page proclaims something that is dubious -- that the Democrats know what they are doing.
and while on the same subject....
Welcome to the Health Care Free Lunch Cafe
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It used to be said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. But when it comes to health care reform, President Obama appears to be offering up a free breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime snack.
At the core of the president’s proposal is the idea that he can provide more health care services to more people and have it cost less. A neat trick – but one that flies in the face of economic reality, not to mention common sense.
For example, the president wants to require insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, that is, people who are already sick. Doing so will cost money. And where will that money come from? Insurance companies will simply raise premiums for the rest of us.
Similarly, the president would mandate that all insurance plans provide a new government-designed minimum benefits package. In addition to the usual coverage for hospitalization, physician services and so on, all insurance plans would also have to include coverage for prescription drugs, rehabilitation services, mental health and substance-abuse treatment; preventive services and maternity, well-baby, and well-child care, as well as dental, vision, and hearing services for children under age 21. If that’s not enough, he would also establish a new federal commission headed by the surgeon general, which will have the power to develop additional minimum benefit requirements. There is no limit to how extensive those future required benefits may be.
Those additional benefits may or may not help consumers, but insurers are not going to provide them for free. In fact, some—like mental health and substance-abuse treatment—can add as much as 10 to15 percent to the cost of a policy. The president would also limit the size of deductibles and co-payments and would prohibit lifetime limits on the amount of benefits that insurance companies pay.
Indeed, some estimates suggest that the president’s plan could add anywhere from 75 to 95 percent overall to the cost of insurance premiums, especially for young and healthy people.
The president also wants to subsidize insurance coverage for millions of Americans, some of whom are uninsured, but millions of whom already have insurance today. The health care bills currently making their way through Congress include subsidies for families earning as much as 300 percent of the poverty level, $66,000 for a family of four. That’s the main reason these plans cost $900 billion or more.
But not to worry. The president says he won’t have to raise middle-class taxes to pay for all this. Health care reform will mostly pay for itself through greater efficiency, emphasis on preventive care, and electronic medical records. Of course, experts from across the political spectrum, not to mention the Congressional Budget Office, say that those measures won’t come close to covering the bill’s cost. Maybe that’s why the House version of the health care bill contains more than $880 billion in new taxes. The slightly cheaper Senate version raises taxes by at least $357 billion, not counting the tax penalty on those who fail to comply with the bill’s insurance mandate.
Of course, the president also promises that he can cut $500 billion from Medicare spending over the next 10 years without anyone getting less of anything. All he has to do is eliminate “fraud, waste, and abuse.” Not to be overly cynical, but presidents have been promising to eliminate "waste, fraud, and abuse" since at least, oh, Ronald Reagan. More neutral observers acknowledge that Medicare cuts of that magnitude will inevitable mean reductions in services.
Back when he was running for president, Barack Obama used to talk about “making the tough choices” and “being honest about the challenges we face.” That’s all gone now. Today the president is head chef at the free lunch café.
Posted by Brett at 12:29 PM