Views on the News
September 18, 2010
Views on the News*
Thousands of TEA Party activists gathered in Washington DC, St. Louis, and Sacramento on Sunday eager to celebrate recent victories against the Republican establishment and rally together ahead of the November elections. Tens of thousands of conservatives, many new to activism, protested against unchecked government expansion under President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress. This was the second protest march building on the success of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” gathering in Washington two weeks ago. Sunday’s rally emphasized a crowd-sourced statement of TEA Party principles called the Contract from America, intended as a populist take on the 1994 Contract With America that Republicans used in their campaign to take Congress that year. The key message of both protest marches was dissatisfaction with the direction the country is being taken by President Obama and the democrats in Congress. In only one year, the TEA Party movement has gone from the force liberals loved to ignore, to the force they loved to mock with their own vulgar epithets. It has now become the force they grudgingly respect in the way liberals love best: open hate. The TEA Party movement has also become the counterpoint to the Left’s radical boots-on-the-ground coalition that includes termites like ACORN (or whatever they’ve disguised themselves as now), Organizing for America, and MoveOn.org. Polls show that Americans favor the TEA Party movement over the establishment of both the R & the D mega-parties. Whether one is able to participate physically in a TEA Party isn’t even an indicator of this groundswell of support - which tells any political pulse-taker that the massive TEA Parties are the mere tip of an iceberg that threatens to shake the seats of power not only in D.C., but in every state house, town council, and school board across the country. An odd army of homemakers, empty-nested moms and dads, retired fellows, businessmen who’ve lost their businesses, and various other regular folks have taken on the elitist establishment from their living rooms, using phones and laptops to produce the most viable political movement seen in this country since the civil rights movement. The TEA Parties reintroduced the concept of limited government into mainstream American political conversation. It has taught politicians of all stripes that “We the People” is no longer a trite patriotic anachronism, but rather the battle cry of a grassroots electoral tiger with razor-sharp fangs. The exasperated anger seen at town halls last summer has now hardened into resolve. The chant was taken that the damage has been done by the incumbents in Congress, but voters will “Remember in November” and vote them out of office as payment for their political overreach and lack of representation.
(“A year later, tea party marches on” by James Hohmann and Kenneth P. Vogel dated September 12, 2010 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/42043.html
“Anger Is Now Hardened into Resolve” by Kyle-Anne Shiver dated September 14, 2010 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/anger-is-now-hardened-into-resolve/
“The Future of the Tea Party Movement” by James R. Keena dated September 16, 2010 published by The Land of the Free at http://www.thelandofthefree.net/conservativeopinion/2010/09/16/the-future-of-the-tea-party-movement/ )
The all-important mid-term election is about Americans taking back their government, and their country, from a socialist regime with strong Marxist tendencies. It is about taking America back to its basic fundamentals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is about rejecting the slavery of Socialism, Progressivism, Marxism, Communism, and left-wing Liberalism. In a little over eight weeks, Americans will go to the polls in this extremely important election about the profound differences between the philosophy of the Democrats and the philosophy of the Republicans. No Democrat Presidential Administration and Democratic controlled Congress has ever made those differences so clear and concise as the Obama Regime and the current Democratic controlled Congress. The GOP is for freedom and the Democrats are for slavery under a socialist government. That fact is now blindingly clear. It is clear that Americans have been paying a lot of attention to this election for months, and it appears to be "I can't wait to vote!" On November 2nd voters will go to the polls and kick out Democrats in record numbers. Not because Republicans have done such a good job of proposing an alternative vision for solving our problems, but because Democrats have done such a bad job. Democrats ran on fiscal responsibility, transparency, a post-partisan Washington, "cleaning up the swamp" and fixing our troubled economy. They've broken--shattered, actually--every one of those promises. Rasmussen Reports says that voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 of the key issues it regularly tracks, including taxes, health care, immigration, national security, Social Security, and even education. The large majority of Republicans and independents, and I predict not a small number of Democrats, are demanding that candidates embrace limited government, fiscal responsibility, transparency and a commitment to the Constitution. They are furious that Obama and the Democrats forced through their stimulus package, multiple bailouts and ObamaCare with virtually no Republican support and against the public's wishes. Frankly voters are tired of being lied to and they are tired of the elitist mindset that has settled into Washington, one that says, "believe what I tell you, not what you see."
(“The ‘I Can’t Wait to Vote’ Election” by Merrill Matthews dated September 9, 2010 published by Forbes Magazine at http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/09/elections-democrats-politics-opinions-columnists-merrill-matthews.html?boxes=opinionschannellatest
“Mainstream Media Wrong Again” by J.D. Longstreet dated September 11, 2010 published by American Daily at http://americandaily.com/index.php/article/4445 )
Barack Obama has morphed from preacher to professor, and has fallen in love with his own voice while America fell out of love with it. The more he talks, the less we listen, particularly as the nation’s problems show resilience against getting talked out of existence. “O” stands for overexposed. There is a fundamental belief among the President’s advisors that his words can solve everything. The endless speeches, town halls, and interviews on healthcare coincided with a decline in popularity for the President and his plan. The more he sold his plan, fewer of the public bought it. But he keeps on talking. Barack Obama is the fitting President for the age of aggressive noise. Invasive cell-phone conversations, televisions blaring in the background, and techno overflowing personal headphones to become an unwelcome public soundtrack dull the sonic senses. The President’s verbosity just adds to the din and we hear but are too numbed to listen anymore.
(“Talker-in-Chief Barack Obama” by Daniel J. Flynn dated September 13, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=38969 )
Large swaths of Americans think President Obama is lying about his faith and it becomes clearer that we are in the midst of a national psychosis: the worst spasm of paranoia and bigotry of the post-Cold War age. For many years now, the Pew Research Center has been asking Americans whether the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” In 2002, Americans rejected this baldly isolationist statement by well over two to one. Last December, when Pew asked again, it found that Americans agreed with it by a margin of five points. In both 2002 and 2009, Democrats proved slightly more isolationist than Republicans, probably because of their greater antipathy to America’s wars abroad. But among Democrats, isolationist sentiment has proven more stable. Where it has jumped dramatically has been among Republicans, who were 22 points more likely to endorse Pew’s statement last year than in 2002. Partly, this rising Republican isolationism is the result of no longer trusting America’s commander in chief. Ever since 9/11, according to opinion polls, Republicans have worried more about terrorism than have Democrats. Initially, this fear translated into overwhelming support for military action abroad. As Republicans have grown tired and embittered by America’s wars, they have turned their anxiety inward, lured by the same idea that attracted the McCarthyites: that America could guarantee its safety on the cheap by ferreting out the real threat, which resides within.
(“The New McCarthyism” by Peter Beinhart dated September 12, 2010 published by The Daily Beast at http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-09-12/new-mccarthyism-palin-gingrich-and-us-paranoid-politics/ )
Most American voters are not grateful for the "historic" achievements of the Obama administration and are basically disappointed with the "results." The Democrats simply haven't produced. Their signature legislative "achievement," the ironically named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is actually exacerbating the problems it was ostensibly passed to solve. Meanwhile, unemployment has doubled since the Democrats recaptured Congress and the federal deficit has skyrocketed at a truly alarming rate. That such high-profile failures have produced disapprobation for congressional Democrats and their eloquent accomplice in the White House should not be surprising, but the phenomenon seems to have shocked and angered many progressive pundits. What we're seeing is a sea change in the balance of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is not aroused simply by a stirring speech. It's aroused by seeing your ideas and policies work out the way you expected. It's aroused by seeing your political adversaries' ideas and policies fail to work out the way they expected. When your opponents fail, you're usually pretty sure your alternatives will work out better and you're enthusiastic about trying them. Democrats in the past 20 months have seen Obama fail to produce the hope and change they expected. Meanwhile, the vast increases in government spending in the stimulus package and Obama budgets have done little to produce a robust economic recovery, and the health care bill jammed through a reluctant Congress has failed to produce the widespread gratitude that Obama said we should expect. A CBS News poll shows Americans are dissatisfied with their representation in Congress, with just 34% of registered voters saying their own member of Congress deserves re-election. Asked about most members of Congress, voters are even harsher: just 12% say they deserve reelection, while 78% want someone new. The approval rating for Congress, meanwhile, stands at a lowly 21%, down four points from 2006 while 70% disapprove of the job Congress is doing. There is good news for Republicans heading into November: 58% of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than usual, compared to 47% of Democrats. 52% of registered voters say they're dissatisfied with Washington, and another 22% describe themselves as "angry." A majority of voters, 53%, said they favor a smaller government with fewer services. 55% of American voters say it's time to give someone new a chance which is up from 47% in 2006 and this November will prove how strong this need for change really is!
(“When policies flop, political enthusiasm wanes” by Michael Barone dated September 14, 2010 published by The Washington Examiner at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/When-policies-flop_-political-enthusiasm-wanes-862770-102906689.html
“Most Want New Blood in Congress” by Brian Montropoli dated September 15, 2010 published by CBS News at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20016599-503544.html?tag=mncol;lst;1
“Accountability and Its Discontents” by David Catron dated September 16, 200 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2010/09/16/accountability-and-its-discont )
The President is desperate to do something to restart the economy and create new jobs, since nothing he has done so far has worked, so Different Stimulus, Different Day does not feel like it will have any more success than its predecessors. First there was the TARP which was a holdover from the previous administration. Next came the American Recovery and Investment Act, more popularly known as the “Porkulus” Bill. The administration's drumbeat was; "We've got to hurry! We're on the precipice!" and we had to hurry to hold unemployment to 8%. After the bill was passed, two things happened almost in tandem. The President pivoted to health care and the administration proved to be ineffective at tracking the $787 billion of stimulus cash. The deeper we delved into this mess the more we discovered that this was being used as a slush fund for Democrat districts and Democrat pet projects. There was the "Cash-for-Clunkers" program, and the first time homebuyers tax credit, or HARP (the Housing Assistance and Recovery Program). Each of these programs cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars, all were nightmares to manage, and most hurt more people than they helped. Immediately after passing the American Recovery and Investment Act, the President embarked on health care legislation. Again the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a 2,400 page monstrosity that the President said would reduce the costs of health care even as it added tens of millions to the roles of the insured. As the plan took shape over the spring of 2009 Americans, remembering what happened with respect to the now discredited “stimulus” package decided to do something that apparently had never occurred to their congressional representatives; they read the proposed legislation. The summer recess was a disaster! Congressional representatives were either reduced to stunned silence at town hall meeting or refused to hold them altogether as hoards of informed and upset voters crowded these facilities. In the final weeks of 2009, just before passage; the final position of Democrats was a) we'll have to pass the bill in order for the public to discover how great a deal it is; and b) only racism could possibly motivate anyone who spoke out against such legislation. Fast forward to fall of 2010 and the administration is looking a lot like a one-trick pony. There have been two more stimulus bills; both disguised as jobs bills. The first was nothing other than a $30 billion payoff to states in order to keep them from laying off unionized teachers, firefighters, and other public service union employees. Now Obama unveiled a $50 billion infrastructure upgrade program that has union employment mandates baked into it. Meanwhile the long-term unemployment rate, defined as the percentage of the labor force that has been jobless for more than half a year, hit its highest point since 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began data tracking. America's long-term jobless might be unlucky, unwilling, unskilled or some combination of the three. Whatever the reason, the longer they lack work, the harder it will be for them to find it again. As the President tries to deflect attention from his failed domestic policies, American voters are anxious to send him this message: “It’s the Spending, Stupid!” and once spending is under control all the rest of the problems will begin to improve.
(“The Jury is in… Obama is Definitely Destroying the Economy” by Bill Wavering dated September 10, 2010 published by Intellectual Conservative at http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2010/09/10/the-jury-is-in-obama-is-deliberately-destroying-the-economy/
“The Unemployment Number to Fear Most” by Jack Hough dated September 10, 2010 published by Smart Money at http://www.smartmoney.com/investing/economy/the-unemployment-number-you-should-fear-most/
“It’s the Spending, Stupid” by Daniel Henninger dated September 16, 2010 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703743504575493953591176476.html?KEYWORDS=daniel+henninger )
Most economists think the Great Recession technically ended a year or so ago, when the economy started growing again after shrinking for five quarters out of six, but a year's worth of "recovery" hardly feels like it. Unemployment, at 9.6%, is painfully high, and companies show little interest in hiring. That leaves nearly 15 million unemployed Americans wondering what to do next. Overall, Americans have lost $12 trillion in home equity, investments, and other forms of net worth. We're ready to rebuild and go back to work, but instead of picking up steam, the economy seems to be stalling, possibly headed for a dreaded double-dip recession. The prolonged malaise could cost Democrats dearly in the upcoming midterm elections. Healing is underway in badly damaged parts of the economy, but improvements have been too slow and subtle for many Americans to notice. Here are six ways to tell when we're finally entering a recovery that feels like one:
· The unemployed people you know start to find jobs. Unemployment is the single biggest indicator of economic health or misery. Layoffs have largely stopped and temporary hiring is picking up, so we're part of the way there. Over the next few months, the unemployment rate is likely to tick upward, perhaps topping 10% once again. Most Americans don't follow the monthly unemployment statistics, but they'll know things are getting better when people they know who are looking for work start to find it, and hiring at their own companies picks up. When it might happen: The second half of 2011.
· The Federal Reserve stops stimulating. The most powerful stimulus over the last couple of years has been a flurry of moves by the Federal Reserve: Sharply lowering short-term interest rates, and buying more than $1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities, and the Fed is still at it. When Bernanke stops talking about additional intervention, it will signal the Fed's growing confidence in the economy. An even bigger sign will be the sell-off of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities in the Fed's portfolio, and sooner or later, the Fed will raise short-term rates, a definitive sign that we're out of the woods. When it might happen: Probably not until 2012.
· Inflation picks up a bit. The inflation rate over the past year has been just 1.2 percent, which is great news for shoppers and people on fixed incomes. But low inflation indicates weak demand for goods and services, which cuts into profitability at companies and makes them reluctant to hire. For the last several months, the Federal Reserve has been debating whether it should take aggressive steps to head off deflation, which it hasn't done yet, but the Fed will only relax when inflation stabilizes somewhere between 2% and %, a level that gives firms some pricing power without triggering painful spikes in most people's cost of living. When it might happen: Early or mid-2011.
· Home prices start to rise. Home prices have been falling since 2006, and in many areas they still haven't hit bottom. Once prices stop falling for good, homeowners will adjust to their new, lower net worth, and potential buyers will stop worrying about investing in an asset that's falling in value. But a significant pickup in sales depends largely on the job market, since buyers need to feel confident about their job security before committing to such a large purchase. Consumers will notice when homes in their neighborhood start to sell within a couple of months, instead of going on and off the market for years. When it might happen: Second half of 2011.
· The stock market drifts upward. The S&P 500 plunged 57% between October 2007 and March 2009, then soared by 83% from that low point through April 2010. Since then, it's down another 8%. This is not the kind of consistent performance that puts investors at ease. The stock market is nearly impossible to predict, but in general, it rises during good times, which both reflects and reinforces a growing economy: As spending picks up, company revenues and profits increase, and the value of stocks goes up; that in turn makes investors feel better off and more comfortable spending. Stocks can rise in a weak economy, but they can also plummet when there's a foreign debt crisis or other far-flung problem and investors aren't sure such shocks are over. When it might happen: When the Fed stops worrying, in late 2011 or early 2012, but short-term run-ups are possible any time.
· You feel better. Consumer confidence usually tracks key indicators like the unemployment rate and the stock market, but there are many intangibles. Ordinary Americans would probably start to feel more optimistic if Washington politicians started solving problems instead of bickering, if health care and education got more affordable, and if people's quality of life felt like it was improving. With Americans eager for something to feel good about, small improvements might start to seem big. When it might happen: In the distant future, or any day now; you decide.
The economy will have recovered only when all indicators are positive and people feel optimistic about the future and are willing to invest in the future.
(“How to Tell When the recessions Really Over” by Rick Newman dated September 15, 2010 published by US News & World Report at http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/flowchart/2010/09/15/how-to-tell-when-the-recessions-really-over.html )
Just weeks before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a.k.a ObamaCare, passed, the President urged Congressional Democrats to make a final push for the bill, and asked them to schedule a vote as quickly as they could and the bill passed, but the case was never made or believed. Since Obama signed the bill into law, its unpopularity has held steady, with roughly 48% of the public opposed. Now the Obama administration and its allies are launching a multimillion dollar ad campaign intended to sell the public on the law’s virtues. The President and his administration, it seems, are still doing everything they can to make the case for reform. The problem is that so much of that case will never pay off. Here are seven empty promises made about ObamaCare:
· If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. In June 2009 in order to ensure health plan continuity, the law included a “grandfathering” provision that allows employers and insurers to continue offering plans that already exist without subjecting them to new rules and regulations, but the requirements that plans must meet in order to keep their grandfathered status are particularly strict. Meanwhile, the new law may also force more than 3 million seniors to switch their Medicare drug plans, regardless of whether they like them or not. Recent administration estimates that 51% of all employees and 66% of workers in small businesses would have their current plan changed within three years as a result of new mandates.
· It will put Medicare on better fiscal footing. In August 2010, the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services released a report claiming that the PPACA would “extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years.” The CBO said that “to describe the full amount of HI trust fund savings as both improving the government’s ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings.”
· It will cost around $900 billion. In September 2009, Obama told a joint session of Congress that his health care plan would cost “around $900 billion over ten years.” An updated CBO report estimated that the law will actually require about $115 billion in additional discretionary spending, putting the official price tag well over $1 trillion.
· It won’t cut Medicare benefits. At a 2009 AARP panel, President Obama brushed away the idea that his health care plan might cut Medicare benefits, telling the audience that “nobody’s talking about reducing Medicare benefits.” However according to the Congressional Budget Office, thanks to $130 billion in planned cuts to companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans, the health care law will “reduce the extra benefits that would be made available to beneficiaries through Medicare Advantage plans.” Roughly 25% of Medicare recipients use Medicare Advantage plans.
· It will be paid for “mostly” by shifting around money that we’re already spending. One of the least popular aspects of the PPACA was its sky high cost. The President said that, although the bill would cost “about $100 billion per year,” most of that money would “come from the nearly $2 trillion a year that America already spends on health care.” Actually, the majority of the money from the bill’s official scored cost comes from new taxes. According to the CBO, “the legislation was estimated to increase mandatory outlays by $401 billion and raise revenues by $525 billion.”
· It will give consumers more access and greater choice. Obama’s campaign organization, claims that the new health care law will result in “more choices...for millions of Americans.” Early signs indicate that, as a result of the law, patients and consumers will have fewer options for doctors and health insurance. Most experts expect that the health care overhaul will result in a serious doctor shortage, particularly amongst primary care physicians, waiting longer for care, and may not get to see the doctor they want to see.
· It will bring down the price of insurance. Obama said that “my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions." The CBO predicted that the law will cause average health insurance premium prices to rise by 10-13% in the individual market. And a recent survey indicates that most businesses expect insurance prices to rise as a result of the PPACA. In June of 2009, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf warned Congress that its proposals would bend the curve in the wrong direction.
For the first time in recorded history, Medicare's Chief Actuary found it necessary to append a dissent to the laboriously named "Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds" that contests the claim that the Act "improves the financial outlook for Medicare substantially." According to the Actuary, the trustee's projections "do not represent the best estimate of actual future Medicare spending," and the assumptions that are the basis of the trustee's optimism are "implausible." Higher health care costs; Cuts to seniors' health care; Higher taxes, penalties and fines on employers that keep them from creating the new jobs we need; These are the realities of ObamaCare. The reality is that this administration ad campaign is all part of an orchestrated, well-financed effort to mislead the American people as to the facts on ObamaCare, but should not be surprising since the American people have been terribly misled about this bill since before it was passed.
(“Seven Empty Promises About ObamaCare” by Peter Suderman dated September 9, 2010 published by Reason Magazine at http://reason.com/archives/2010/09/09/seven-empty-promises-about
“Opposing view on medical inflation: Repeal and replace” by George Pataki dated September 14, 2010 published by USA Today at http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2010-09-13-editorial13_ST1_N.htm
“Medicare and ObamaCare” by Marcia Sielaff dated September 17, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/09/medicare_and_obamacare.html )
* 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 issue sections:
· Philosophy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/philosophy.php
· Homeland Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php
· Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php