Views on the News
Views on the News*
March 28, 2015
In 2008, many conservatives opposed the bank bailout as a waste of $700 billion on banks that had failed. Some of us argued it was unfair; some of us argued it was unnecessary, and the strongest argument was the moral-hazard argument. Bailing out reckless behavior today will only encourage reckless behavior in the future. We should have also focused on what it would teach others. Any parent with children knows that when they are watching what you do, they are learning from what you do. If you swear, they’ll learn to swear. If you cut corners, they’ll learn to cut corners. The young learn the habits of the old, for better or worse. Today, President Obama and the Democrats are teaching millennials that actions do not have consequences. That recklessness has rewards and that they do not ever have to grow up, at least until 26 when they are kicked off their parents’ healthcare plan. President Obama is doing his best to teach these millennials that they will be the first generation the government will take care of, from the cradle to the grave. This vision was best articulated by the Obama campaign’s depiction of the “Life of Julia,” a fictional woman whose every success, not to mention her basic survival, is the product of government regulations, interventions, and contributions. Elections, unlike irresponsible lending practices by sophisticated financial institutions, have consequences. The consequence of Obama’s reelection was his assumed mandate for more government, more bailouts, and more attempts to coddle Americans in Julia’s millennial generation. Want a new car, millennial, and don’t have the credit? No problem, thanks to the Fed’s low interest rates, banks are salivating over bonds. You can buy a car at sub-prime interest rates and even finance for up to 7 years. Did you go to college at an overpriced institution but don’t have the money to make the payments? No problem, it was rumored that President Obama and his top advisors were discussing a plan that might forgive student loans. It’s no wonder that about one in four millennials expects the federal government to forgive their student loans. That is an expensive expectation. Since 1970, college tuition outpaced inflation by 275%. The result is that more than 70% of college grads are in debt the day they receive their diplomas. The total student loan debt now exceeds a trillion dollars. More than a third of the under-30 crowd carrying a huge portion of that debt is at least 3 months behind on loan payments. If President Obama goes ahead with a drastic expansion of the government’s student-loan forgiveness program, we know who will be to blame for the perpetuation of inflated tuitions and lavish spending – the President who looks out from the windows of the White House and sees a generation of Julias, and his political party, which thinks moral hazard means nothing more than a sorority party with John Edwards and Bill Clinton on the guest list.
(“Professor Obama’s Lesson” by Scottie Hughes dated March 23, 2015 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/scottiehughes/2015/03/23/professor-obamas-lesson-n1974393 )
Five years ago, President Obama signed his signature healthcare initiative into law and predicted that it would become more popular once it was implemented, but the reality has been the opposite. In no small part due to ObamaCare, Democrats have lost control of the House and Senate, even though they enjoyed overwhelming majorities in both chambers when they rammed the legislation through the U.S. Congress on a strict party line vote. Democrats have pointed to signs of a recent uptick of support for ObamaCare, but it's worth noting that in April 2010, just after it was signed into law, the Kaiser Family Foundation's poll found that 46% of Americans had a favorable view of the law, compared with 40% who had an unfavorable view. This month, just 41% have a favorable view, compared with a larger contingent of 43% who viewed it unfavorably. Even more staggering is that at the time the law passed, 50% of the uninsured viewed the law favorably, no doubt optimistic about the promises of quality, affordable healthcare, but now just 31% of the uninsured had a favorable view. In other words, the segment of the population intended to be the primary beneficiaries of the law and who have the most reason to interact with it, have a more negative impression of the law than the broader public. As time has gone on, more and more of the promises of the healthcare law have been proven false.
· Obama pitched the legislation, he said it would cost "around $900 billion over 10 years." The CBO now predicts the law is going to cost $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. That much spending, has increased the number of Americans with health insurance by millions, but that wasn't supposed to be the only purpose of the law.
· Obama boasted that “we’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family in a year.” The NBER reported that 2014 premiums were 24.4% higher than they would have been without ObamaCare.
· Obama predicted the law would lower premiums, but the raft of regulations imposed on insurance policies have driven up the sticker price of health insurance, which is particularly painful for those who don't qualify for taxpayer subsidies. Despite promising that people who liked their health plans could keep them, millions of Americans received termination notices as insurers implemented the law's regulations.
· Obama's promised that people “would be able to keep their doctors.” Insurers have been forced to slash the number of medical providers included in their insurance networks to help offset the rising costs created by ObamaCare. More than 60% of doctors plan to retire earlier than anticipated by 2016 or sooner.
· Obama promised that “this law means more choice, more competition, lower costs for millions of Americans.” The Heritage Foundation found that number of insurers selling to individual consumers in the exchanges this year is 21.5% less than the number on the market in 2013, the year before the law took effect. The GAO reports that insurers have left the market in droves, shrinking from 1,232 carriers in 2013 to 310 in 2015.
As bad as ObamaCare is, the only thing that's prevented it from being even more damaging is that the administration has acted unilaterally on a number of occasions to prevent it from going into effect as written. The administration, for instance, has twice delayed the full implementation of the law's mandate forcing larger employers to offer health insurance coverage that meets the government's definition of insurance. If fully implemented, the law will provide an incentive to employers to limit the size of their workforce or reduce worker hours. If the nation is going to be spared from further negative effects of ObamaCare, it will be necessary for Republicans to offer an alternative.
(“ObamaCare hasn’t aged well” dated March 23, 2015 published by Washington Examiner at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obamacare-hasnt-aged-well/article/2561875
“Unhappy birthday, ObamaCare: Five years after its signing, the Affordable Care Act is failing to live up to its promise” by Sally Pipes dated March 23, 2015 published by New York Daily News at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/sally-pipes-unhappy-birthday-obamacare-article-1.2157297 )
For a guy who's not a fan of certain foreign leaders, Barack Obama sure does place a tremendous amount of trust in the good will of other nations. For legacy-building purposes, the administration trusts that Iran will police its own nuclear ambitions or, we've entered into a nonbinding agreement that is also not based on trust; and the same goes for the Chinese government, whom we will soon have to trust so the President can get his legacy-building global-warming deal. Obama is working hard to nail down a wide-ranging global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This one will also be nonbinding and unenforceable accomplished with unprecedented executive fiat. Obama's single most notable achievement will be circumventing checks and balances with more regularity than any President in history. There are millions of voters who don't like the idea of the United States leading a charge on anti-growth, climate alarmism, which has the potential to slow economic progress across the globe, especially in poor and developing nations. The President, who believes that climate change is the greatest threat facing mankind, was unable to rally Democrat majorities in both houses to pass cap-and-trade legislation when he had a chance. So now Obama just uses the Environmental Protective Agency as his personal legislative branch. The President is hoping for the "broadest, farthest-reaching deal in history, reworking environmental regulations for governments and corporations around the world and creating a framework for global green policy for decades." The deal itself is one that will be expensive for developed nations and potentially disastrous for developing ones. While the United States will probably try to hold up its end, the idea that China, which will not have to do anything until year 2030 when that nation's carbon emissions are expected to peak, would follow through is far-fetched. We live in a political reality where progressive goals are treated as moral endeavors and Constitutional constraints are treated as procedural inconveniences that can be bypassed for the good of the nation. No president has been as openly contemptuous of checks and balances as this one, and if there are no repercussions, he might only be the first in a long line of Presidents we say that about.
(“Obama’s ‘Signature Achievement’ Will Be Bypassing the Constitution” by David Harsanyi dated March 20, 2015 published by Reason at http://reason.com/archives/2015/03/20/obamas-signature-achievement )
How can Obama engage in talks with Iran, a country that makes no secret of its contempt for the United States? Discerning Americans of all stripes are horrified by Iran's never-ending screeds about wiping Israel off the face of the earth and are puzzled by Obama's staff patently answering these threats with euphemistic double talk, knowing all along that they are merely parroting their boss's ideology. Lucid people who employ logic and evidence find it unimaginable that Obama does not appear to advance American interests and safeguard American lives. Everything Obama does is meant to achieve the very opposite of judicious and prudent behavior. Obama does not care a whit for American democracy and freedom, and it is evident by those who respect his actions! Any farsighted individual would clearly view the $18 trillion-plus debt with horror. Recall that the aim of the jihadist world is to destroy the economic power of America. Since debt debilitates a country, it is why Obama keeps increasing it. Furthermore, Obama could not care less whether ObamaCare is meant to succeed. He has managed to create chaos, worry, and enormous financial hardship for Americans. This is his ultimate goal. It does not matter if there is disarray; one can call it single payer or universal healthcare, the only parameter that matters is the pain and suffering it affords millions of Americans. If we keep in mind that Obama revels in his imperial rule of America in order to sap and undermine the country and its inhabitants' morale, then there is a method to his apparent madness. The Iranian nuclear talks are never meant to succeed in the traditional manner of working out a deal. They are merely a smokescreen that will allow Iran, master jihadist nation, to obtain more time. It will be just as Obama desires. His constant iteration about never invoking Islam in any conversation about terrorism is the clue. He is so programmed to shield Islam that, on this point, he can never prevaricate or obfuscate, but can only defend the so-called religion of peace. Actually, this may be the only time that he is actually truthful. The mullahs did an excellent job inculcating him with an Islamic education when he was a youngster. Their student has exceeded their wildest dreams as he defends Islam at all costs. The Arab Spring was never meant to work under Obama. He has no regrets over its demise because he does not seem to fear a Muslim Brotherhood caliphate. This is a man who sees everything through the lens of race and his revulsion of one group in particular. Obama may never use jihad in his talking points but by his actions, it becomes clearer each day that his deference and homage are to jihadist activities and people associated with this ideology. It is safe to say that Obama's results are exactly what he intended them to be all along. Coupled with his covert anti-semitic feelings and his overt associations with known anti-semites such as Reverend Wright and Rashid Khalidi, it would appear that Obama actually "wants the Jihadists to win." With nothing to hold him back, Obama's true colors emerge more clearly each day. David Meir-Levi explains Obama's evolution: First he was viewed as an "incompetent amateur;" then he was described as a "self-absorbed ego-centric narcissist;" from there he was depicted as being "blinded by political correctness" or "simply ignorant of Islam's commitment to global Jihad." Now that he is actively facilitating Iran in its quest to achieve "regional hegemony" one must conclude that the 44th President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of America, is colluding with America's worst enemies and it is deliberate and calculated.
(“Obama’s Locus” by Eileen F. Toplansky dated March 21, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/03/obamas_locus.html )
Islam is in need of a radical transformation. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born women’s-rights activist who fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage, wrote a book, Heretic, proposing a drastic reform of a religion whose adherents believe its central text was dictated by Allah Himself. When the behavior of millions is guided by a religion whose sacred texts frequently justify intolerance and cruelty, something must be done. Denial of this fact has become de rigueur both within the world of Islam and beyond. A plethora of special protections have been extended to Islam such as “blasphemy” laws in Muslim countries and “hate speech” laws in non-Muslim countries. What these have in common is that they seek to spare the religion any rigorous intellectual challenge. Unless the discussion is free and unconstrained, it is hard to see how the crisis of religious authority now roiling Islam will ever be resolved in favor of the reformers. If sporadic “blasphemy” leaves those who engage in it exposed to lethal danger, only relentless “blasphemy” will raise enough pressure to spark a genuine reformation. Hirsi Ali proposes five amendments to Islamic doctrine: dethroning Mohammad as an infallible prophet, and scrapping a literalist reading of the Quran; elevating the rewards of human life over those of eternal life (with the ancillary purpose of delegitimizing martyrdom); replacing the most barbarous parts of Sharia with practical man-made legislation; promoting concerted action to stigmatize those tempted to take religious law into their own hands; and, last, repudiating the theological warrant for jihad. Mere criticism of its ideas is widely construed as an ignorant and irrational fear of Islam: in a word, Islamophobia. The sympathy for reform among Muslims is at once more widespread and more contested than many in the West care to admit. Hirsi Ali distinguishes among three different groups of Muslims:
· By far the largest group, which she calls the Mecca Muslims, after Mohammad’s early efforts in Islam’s holiest city to persuade polytheists to accept that there was no god but Allah and that he was Allah’s messenger, consists of pious believers who are not inclined to practice violence but remain at odds with the modern world in crucial ways.
· The second group, which she dubs Medina Muslims, after Mohammad’s later mission to spread Islam by the sword, “are the fundamentalists who . . . envision a regime based on sharia, Islamic law. They argue for an Islam largely or completely unchanged from its original seventh-century version,” and seek to impose this theocratic regime by force.
· The third group, the smallest and most vulnerable, are the Muslim dissidents. A few of these, like Hirsi Ali herself, have left Islam altogether, but many more count themselves believers seeking to reform the faith from within.
It is fairly clear, as between the dissidents and the Medina Muslims, where the West’s sympathies should lie. The influence of the Mecca Muslims, however, is far from benign. They may not be flocking to fight under the banner of the Islamic State, but many still manage to believe that the appropriate punishment for apostasy and blasphemy is death. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that only 3% of the world’s Muslims subscribe to militant Islam, but out of well over 1.6 billion believers that 48 million is a formidable opponent. By pretending that an Islamic reformation is unnecessary, the West has allowed itself to withhold from the reformers even modest support. We have disowned the dissidents’ cause by denying that there is anything in contemporary Islam to dissent from. If the cause of a Muslim Reformation should fail or be defeated, the rest of the world too will pay an enormous price, not only in blood spilled but also in freedom lost. Hirsi Ali’s project of stripping away Quranic fanaticism deserves widespread attention and support from the West.
(“Needed: An Islamic Reformation” by Brian Stewart dated March 25, 2015 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/415920/needed-islamic-reformation-brian-stewart )
* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Updates have been made this week to the following sections:
· Bibliography at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/welcome/bibliography.php
· Education at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/education.php
· Immigration at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/immigration.php
· Domestic Policy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/policy.php
· Homeland Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php
· Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php