RTCS

Views on the News

July 4, 2009

 

Views on the News*

Obama’s healthcare plans have stalled on Capitol Hill; he is being faulted for a shaky response to the post-election violence in Iran; his job-approval ratings are dropping; and confidence in his handling of the economy is ebbing. Employment dropped another 467,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate at a 26 year high of 9.5% while the stock market Dow Jones Industrial Average is stuck at the mid 8,000’s, and the second quarter GDP is expected to fall by 1 to 2 percent annually. Jobs are not languishing despite the government’s best efforts; they are languishing because of them. The latest Rasmussen daily tracking poll shows that President Barack Obama for the first time has a negative approval index, 31% of Americans strongly approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job while 33% strongly disapprove. On the cap-and-trade legislation, 42% believe it's going to hurt the economy. The takeover of General Motors is strongly opposed. More Americans strongly oppose Obama's healthcare plan than strongly support it, while a majority of Americans oppose a single-payer healthcare system. Now Obama is rolling out stage managed health care Town Hall “infomercial” meetings that prescreen questions and preselect acolytes to hype his baseless claims. Now the Minnesota Supreme Court has awarded the Senate seat to Al Franken, despite the election being stolen using manufactured votes, disqualified votes, and duplicate counting. Republicans have an opportunity to stand firm in strong opposition to Obama’s programs and not be bought off by compromises. Democrat use of “reconciliation rules” to pass legislation is further proof of partisan cramming of unpopular bills through Congress, and is a perfect reason for zero Republicans to support it. Republicans should not, under any circumstances, give either the health care bill or the “cap and tax” bill even a single vote. Denying a single Republican vote would brand these health care and energy programs as Obama’s, since they doom America to a deteriorating health care system and bankrupt our economy, and provide the Republican Party's best shot for regaining political power and majority status.

 

In four short years the Democrat Congress has progressed beyond the “Party of No” obstructing all progress in the last two Bush years to the “Party of Cram,” ramming a succession of unreadable liberal spending bills through Congress bankrupting this nation in the process. When Democrat took over leadership in the Congress in 2006, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was adamant that something new and different and wonderful had arrived, pledging that hers would be the "most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history." First the $700 Billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bill was rushed through Congress to rescue the financial industry, but quickly became an Administration slush fund to buy ownership stakes first in banks, then insurance companies, and most recently automotive companies. Then the $787 Billion “stimulus” bill was a 1,100-page “Christmas tree” liberal wish list of spending programs rushed through Congress which neither stimulated the economy nor created long term jobs. Next the $410 Billion Omnibus Spending bill was rushed through Congress with changes added the night before the vote was another pork spending bill. None of these first big initiatives ills allowed sufficient time for anyone to read the entire 1000+ pages of legislation, nor did Obama allow his promised five days review period prior to signing. At the time, we were skeptical and skepticism was roundly vindicated last week. That was when Madam-Speaker used every dirty trick at her disposal to coldly ram a 1,500 page (300 page amendment added at 3am prior to the vote) American Clean Energy and Security global warming bill through the House of Representatives. The Speaker chose to stifle the usual observances of deliberative democracy because open, honest debate would have attracted unwelcome scrutiny to her massive new energy tax. If you take the time to read the legislation, you’ll discover four major themes: special-interest giveaways, regulatory mandates unrelated to climate change, fanciful technological programs worthy of The Jetsons, and assorted left-wing wish fulfillment. Here is a breakdown of its 50 most outrageous features: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTc1MmVhMGYxY2UzNzAwMTJlODBjZjg2NDJjNmM2MWE= . President Obama has rewritten the Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals for use in his administration manufactured crises to justify actions and personally attacking all dissenters. There is no reason whatsoever that Congress needs to be considering bills that are as long as the Bible. Expect more of the same strong arm tactics to be employed as Obama and the Democrat Congress ramp up to cram the nationalized health care proposal down our collective throats!

 

This Democratic-led Congress and White House have been the most fiscally reckless and irresponsible in our history. There are now more than five unemployed workers for every job opening in the United States. The ranks of the poor are growing, welfare rolls are rising and young American men on a broad front are falling into an abyss of joblessness. There were roughly seven million people officially counted as unemployed in November 2007, a month before the recession began, and now there are about 14 million. If you add to these unemployed individuals those who are working part time but would like to work full time, and those who want jobs but have become discouraged and stopped looking, you get an underutilization rate that is truly alarming. These captains of the Titanic know the iceberg looms in the murky distance, but instead of taking evasive action, they're screaming "full steam ahead" as the ship readies for impact. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) long-term budget outlook found "the federal budget is on an unsustainable path — meaning that federal debt will continue to grow much faster than the economy over the long run." The CBO then describes budgetary choices: "Keeping deficits and debt from reaching levels that would cause substantial harm to the economy would require increasing revenues significantly as a percentage of GDP, decreasing projected spending sharply, or some combination of the two." Congress has basically ignored this report and is intent on making the deficit even deeper. First there's $787 billion in stimulus, $700 billion in TARP spending and hundreds of billions in bailout funds for the automakers and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This year alone the spending will approach $4 trillion, 117% above the $1.8 trillion spent in 2000. This unprecedented increase will lead to expected deficits of $1.8 trillion this year and as much as $13 trillion through 2019. Over that time, the U.S. will go from having a fairly manageable debt load to one that threatens our financial stability. According to the CBO, at the end of 2008, federal debt held by the public was 41% of GDP, far less than most countries in the European Union or Japan. But it won't last. In just two years, the debt load will leap to 60% of GDP, and to 87% by 2020 and 181% by 2035, just 25 years away. Today, we spend about 1% of GDP on paying down debt, but it is estimated to rise to 2.5% by 2020. We'll be working just to pay our debts, or rather, our children and grandchildren will. Almost all of the spending surge is due to entitlements. These projections do not even include possible programs like “cap and trade” and “nationalized health care.” Medicare and Medicaid alone account for 80% of the growth of all entitlement spending over the next 25 years, rising from 5% of GDP to 10%. The economy can’t be re-established on a sound basis without aggressive efforts to put people back to work in jobs with decent wages. We keep hearing Congress has no choice because this is what people really want. A recent Rasmussen Poll asked Americans: "Would you prefer a more active government with more services and higher taxes, or a smaller government with fewer and lower taxes?" Some 66% responded they would prefer smaller government with less taxes; only 25% went for the big government option. In short, the U.S. economy is being socialized through the back door against the will of its people.

 

Obama is desperate for new taxes to offset the huge spending programs he is implementing. Despite overwhelming empirical evidence that we cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity, the Obama administration remains committed to making a failed model work based on faith and hope. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that U.S. taxes as a share of GDP would have to rise 49% by 2035 to pay for just the spending already budgeted. Finding new sources of revenue is a top priority for the happy-go-spendy Congress. Obama’s expanded spending plans were the basis for his campaign promise to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, thus calling for the biggest tax increase in history just be inaction. Defeat of the international tax, that penalized companies with foreign subsidiaries, was encouraging, but will cause the administration to become more desperate for revenue sources. The Waxman-Markey legislation is a huge energy tax in a thin disguise, designed to force Americans to switch to more expensive renewable energy sources. Sin taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and other government controlled substances, are again being considered to raise revenue again penalizing the poor more than any other group. Value Added Taxes (VAT) are a national sales tax alternative being considered not to replace any other tax but as a net additional tax to help pay for nationalized health care. “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” Obama promised flat out that he wouldn't raise taxes on families with income of less than $250,000. Barack Obama's claim that “95% of Americans will not see their taxes go up” under his proposals will not only not be met, but 100% WILL see their taxes go up!

 

In April, President Obama declared that "the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over," but meanwhile his administration was suppressing science to advance their preconceived conclusions. The members of the House voted for the largest tax increase in American history under the claim it was a vote to save the climate. The Obama Administration has launched its own war on science, basing legislation on flawed and intentionally incomplete information. There is no consensus in the scientific community about how much climate change, other than the normal cycles, is taking place, nor how severe it will be, and how much man-made CO2 is responsible. None of the climate models predicted the unexpected global cooling of the last decade. It is known that the legislation will have a negligible effect on global CO2 emissions, particularly since the big polluters, such as China and India, are not playing ball. The only conclusion to draw is that global warming is a scientific hoax designed to obfuscate an enormous redistribution of wealth from those who product to those who consume. It is also known that the "cap and trade" system that the legislation calls for has been a failure in Europe, where it has been in operation for the last few years, in that it has proven to be far more costly than envisioned, has not met the CO2 reduction targets, and has been highly susceptible to corruption and abuse. In addition, because the legislation requires Americans to use more inefficient energy (wind and solar) sources, it cannot help but raise costs for American businesses and citizens, and hence will kill jobs rather than create them. In addition the director of the Environmental Protection Agency suppressed a report that cautioned the administration from making hasty policy decisions with regards to climate change based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data.” The report was the product of Alan Carlin, senior operations research analyst at the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE). He is convinced that actual climate observations do not match climate change theories and that only the politics, not the science, has been settled. This report included an "endangerment analysis" that contained such interesting items as: "Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until at least 2030), there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data." What the report says is that the EPA, by adopting the United Nations' 2007 "Fourth Assessment" report, is relying on outdated research by its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UN research, it says, is "at best three years out of date in a rapidly changing field" and ignores the latest scientific findings. The report "suggests that the IPCC used faulty solar data in dismissing the direct effect of solar variability on global temperatures. Obama and Congress have their collective minds made up and don't want to be confused with the inconvenient facts, especially if they refute their base assumptions! A Heritage Foundation analysis finds that Waxman-Markey would, by 2035, raise electricity rates 90%, gasoline prices 74%, residential natural gas prices 55% and an average family's monthly energy bill by more than $100. The corresponding value of reducing greenhouse emissions is estimated to be "by the year 2050, the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill would result in a global temperature 'savings' of about 0.05 degrees Centigrade ... about two years' worth of warming." In summary, this legislation is a discredited political decision that creates very high costs for American households and produces NO discernable benefit!

 

An important question about any public provider of health insurance is whether it would have access to taxpayer funds, and N. Gregory Mankiw explores this issue. If not, the public plan would have to stand on its own financially, as all other private plans do, covering all expenses with premiums from those who signed up for it. In essence, a public plan without taxpayer support would be yet another nonprofit company offering health insurance. However we all know, if a public option is available, it will probably enjoy taxpayer subsidies. Indeed, even if the initial legislation rejected them, such subsidies would be hard to avoid in the long run. Much like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, any public health insurance plan would enjoy the presumption of a government backstop. Such explicit or implicit subsidies would prevent a public plan from providing honest competition for private suppliers of health insurance. Instead, the public plan would likely undercut private firms and get an undue share of the market. A public option that uses taxpayer funds to tilt the playing field provides an unfair advantage causing more and more consumers being induced to switch. This then raises the question: Would the existence of a dominant government provider of health insurance be good or bad? It is natural to be skeptical since the largest existing public health programs, Medicare and Medicaid, are the main reason that the government’s long-term finances are in shambles. A dominant government insurer, however, could potentially keep costs down by squeezing the suppliers of health care, who are now refusing to accept any more Medicare and Medicaid patients. This cost control works not by fostering honest competition but by thwarting it. The health care of the future won’t come cheap, but a public option won’t make it better.

 

The Massachusetts Health Care plan has been held up as a potential model, but Phyllis Schlafly has shown kit to be a massive failure and a model for what not to do. The Obama-Kennedy health plan is modeled after the Massachusetts plan, which, when adopted, many applauded as innovative and destined for success. The reality is that: it has increased costs; it has wasted taxpayer dollars; it has limited patients' choice; it has hurt small business; it has failed to achieve its goal of universal coverage; and most objectionable, it has created shortages and waiting lists. Promoters predicted that the Massachusetts plan would lower health-care costs, but costs are moving in the opposite direction. State government spending on health-care programs in Massachusetts has increased by 42% since the plan was adopted in 2006 and currently is 33% above the national average. Advocates promised that the Massachusetts plan would make health insurance more affordable, but according to a Cato study, insurance premiums have been increasing at nearly double the national average: 7.4% in 2007, 8% to 12% in 2008, and an expected 9% increase this year. Health insurance in Massachusetts costs an average of $16,897 for a family of four, compared to a national average of $12,700. The Massachusetts Connector, a new bureaucracy that was supposed to increase patient choice, has become an overbearing regulatory arm of government that has decreased competition by prescribing benefits insurance must offer. The Connector is evidently unpopular with patients, since only 18,000 people have used the Connector to buy insurance during the past three years. The Connector has imposed regulations that add to the cost of insurance and limit consumer choice, such as requiring prescription-drug coverage and preventive-care services, restricting high-deductible policies and putting limits on annual or per-sickness policies. Complying with the Connector's rules means changing from your current insurance that you like to another you may not like. The costs to the taxpayers are rising, too, and one tax increase has not satisfied the appetite of the hungry plan. The prospect of huge deficits has elicited discussion of cuts in reimbursements to providers and the imposition of a "global budget," which is a euphemism for rationing. Even though Massachusetts has more doctors per capita than any other state, the Boston Globe reports that waiting periods to see physicians have grown. The average wait is now 63 days to see a family doctor, 50 days to see a specialist and the second trimester of pregnancy to see an obstetrician-gynecologist. If you want to see the busiest, most popular physicians, the wait can be up to a year. The longer waits are the result of thousands of newly insured residents coming into the new expanded health-care system. Although President Obama told the American Medical Association that single-payer (government-controlled) health care works "pretty well" in some other countries (un-named), no government has ever been able to run a health-care system as well as private enterprise.

 

The Supreme Court overruled “Ricci vs. DiStefano” upon appeal rebuking Sonia Sotomayor for her support of institutionalizing discrimination as a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The only consensus the nine justices found was that the handling of case by Sotomayor’s three-judge appeals-court panel was shoddy. Even the four dissenting justices agreed that the Second Circuit applied the wrong legal standard. The majority was less charitable, rehearsing the machinations by which the lower courts tried to bury the firefighters’ discrimination claims: While conceding evidence of intentional discrimination, a district judge disposed of the claims in an unpublished order, which Sotomayor’s panel then rubber-stamped in an unpublished summary order of its own. Sotomayor dismissed weighty legal issues as frivolous displaying, “the ugly flip side of [Sotomayor’s] selective empathy towards certain favored litigants is selective antipathy towards disfavored litigants.” For the fourth time in six cases, the Supreme Court of the United States has reversed a decision for which Judge Sonia Sotomayor voted on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. According to a new Rasmussen poll, the public has woken up to study her record and the opposition outnumbers supporters by 39 to 37 percent. If this nominee were a white male, would this not raise questions about whether he should be elevated to a court that has found his previous decisions wrong two-thirds of the times when those decisions have been reviewed?

 

Since Obama's foreign policy has already failed or is in the process of failing throughout the world, why is he refusing to reassess it? The only reasonable answer to all of these questions is that far from being non-ideological, Caroline Glick believes that Obama's foreign policy is the most ideologically driven since Carter's tenure in office. Obama is moved by a radical, anti-American ideology that motivates him to dismiss the importance of democracy and side with anti-American dictators against US allies. For his efforts, although he is causing the US to fail to secure its aims as he himself has defined them in arena after arena, he is successfully securing the support of the most radical, extreme leftist factions in American politics. Obama does not look comfortable when he's forced to mouth support for "democracy" and "freedom" either at home or abroad.  It's not in the nature of a socialist in other words to feel comfortable speaking about these things.  The Mainstream Media in America has bargained critical thinking for idol worship with leftist, self imposed tunnel vision. Like Carter before him, Obama may succeed for a time in evading public scrutiny for his foreign-policy failures because the public will be too concerned with his domestic failures to notice them. In the end, Barack Obama’s slavish devotion to his radical ideological agenda will ensure that his failures reach a critical mass and he will inevitably be drummed out of office in disgrace, much like his inspiration, Jimmy Carter. Obama’s quick support for “impeached” Manuel Zelaya, after his shameless power grab from the Honduras Supreme Court and Congress, is further proof of his arrogant desire to meddle in other countries affairs only if it supports his leftist allies. We can only hope that our American Congress and Supreme Court would have as much intestinal fortitude as Honduras’ to stop Obama when and if he goes outside our Constitution to grow his leftist government expansion!

 

It is really ironic that voices in Russia and China are mocking our current Big Government policies, according to Mark W. Hendrickson. Stanislav Mishin is one of many voices, foreign and domestic, warning us of the dangers of faith that government can be omnicompetent and can meet all our economic needs. Those whose countries took the tragic, impoverishing detour through Big Government hell now react with scorn and derision as we Americans charge headlong down that same path. What an amazing spectacle it must be for them to see the victor of the Cold War borrow many pages from the losers’ playbook. American capitalism gone with a whimper,” wrote Mishin, “the American descent into Marxism is happening with breath-taking speed.” This decline has happened because, according to Mishin, “the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education” that produced millions of Americans who “know more about their favorite TV dramas than the drama in D.C. that directly affects their lives.” Mishin also faults the widespread abandonment of Christ’s religion in America, our loss of faith. This is the cultural backdrop for a political system that has culminated in Barack Obama’s unprecedented “spending and money printing.” Mishin believes that, under Obamanomics, “America at best will resemble the Weimar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.” Prime Minister Putin warned Obama and UK’s Blair, not to follow the path to Marxism, since it only leads to disaster.” Mishin has concluded that we are ignoring Putin’s warning and he concludes, “The proud American will go down into his slavery without a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world how free he really is. The world will only snicker.” Adding to the irony of a Russian warning the United States about the dangers of Marxism is the fact that this article appeared in the online publication Pravda.ru, the contemporary version of the Soviet-era newspaper Pravda that served as the official Communist Party channel for pro-communist, anti-American propaganda. Speaking at the University of Beijing, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner assured a large audience of students that China’s large holdings of U.S. Treasury securities were “very safe.” The students laughed out loud… this reaction might have been unusually rude, but it was brutally honest, since they didn’t believe Geithner for one second. The Chinese students laughing at Geithner told us implicitly what Mishin told us explicitly: It is runaway government spending, stemming from the socialistic error that the government can be all things to all people, which threatens us all with financial cataclysm, national bankruptcy, and the loss of our prosperity and our freedoms. From the perspective of the Russians and the Chinese, the joke is on us, but for all of us, America’s plunge into the Big Government trap is no laughing matter.

 

Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party rallies are planned in 1,267 cities and towns across the nation. The protests will be held in small towns and big cities in all 50 states, from Wasilla, Alaska, to Chicago, from liberal enclaves like Santa Cruz, Calif., to conservative bastions like Salt Lake City, Utah. As government spending has ballooned, along with the threat of much higher taxes, the TEA Parties’ attendees promise to surpass the number that turned out in the first round of protests on April 15, Tax Day, over half a million Americans protested in over 800 cities. There is now a national chorus who are fed up with the government’s wasteful spending for questionable programs that make the county’s problems worse and penalize those whose hard work and core beliefs in the principles of liberty and freedom made this country successful. TEA party organizers around the country are coordinating their tea parties with local parades and fireworks displays, which could boost attendance. The TEA Party participation has become bipartisan because of the growing dissatisfaction among Democrats and Independents over the government’s increasing control over the economy, health care and the dodgy recovery plan.

 

* There is so much published each week that unless you go out of your way to find it, you will miss important breaking events. I package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning for your reading pleasure and to fill in factual vacuums.

 

If you are sick and tired of government and politics as usual, read my web site with its individual issue analysis and recommendations sections at: http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com . Individual issue updates this week include:

 

Week’s Best Articles:

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.returntocommonsensesite.com