Views on the News
December 26, 2009
Views on the News*
Obama has broken his campaign pledges to be a different kind of leader from the beginning of his Presidency, revealing himself as just another in a long line of Chicago partisan politicians. He pledged to be a leader who listened to those who elected him. He even pledged on the night he won the vote to listen to those who opposed him. Yet here we are and he is listening to no one, and doing so at our great peril. The recent Survey USA poll shows that 58% of Americans believe that decisions by the Obama administration have been “bad for America.” Voices from the center, left and right have barraged their Senators offices indicating their displeasure with the lack of transparency on the process (meeting in closed room sessions) and substance (the bill has not yet even been fully written and the Senators know "enough" to vote on it) of the health care legislation. President Obama was willing to play games with America's safety in threatening Nebraska's Ben Nelson that a strategic and vital military base, one that is responsible for heavy lifting on America's continental security, would be shut down if Nelson did not vote with him. President Obama was going to put a bullet in the operations of our national security simply to score a point, serve a little vengeance, and punish with a little payback. Congressional Democrats stepped forward this week confessing that if they had not voted with the President's legislation, that the administration had threatened them, it would be watching, and that the administration was "keeping score." There is no majority of American people that believe this bill is sound. There is no majority of American people that believe this bill is helpful. There is no majority of American people that believe it will bring down costs. Rasmussen poll found that 57% of Americans say it's better to pass no health care bill at all than to pass the current bills. And we've learned from the Congressional Budget office that earliest estimates indicate they will go up significantly. Presently, even with all the problems of the uninsured walking into emergency rooms America provides health services to everyone within its borders. The cost of how we do it now is roughly 1.3 trillion dollars. The cost of ObamaCare is conservatively estimated at tipping 4 trillion dollars... to cover the exact same number of people. Now, when poll after poll across America demonstrate that two-thirds of the American people are solidly against ObamaCare, the President is ready to jam it down American's throats. On virtually every single issue polled, the Obama administration appears to be completely out of step with the prevailing views of the American people. The Survey USA poll further showed that 64% of voters think the government is too big and that 62% think that bigger government leads to more corruption. Rasmussen reports that 66% of Americans favor smaller government with fewer services and only 22% favor more services and higher taxes. Threatening his friends, shutting out his opponents, and getting laughed at on the world stage (for the third time in his first year), has to take a toll on a real man eventually.
(“Hope & Change, Gangsta Style” by Kevin McCullough dated December 20, 2009 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/KevinMcCullough/2009/12/20/hope__change,_gangsta_style
“Nearly 60 percent Say President Obama’s Decisions ‘Bad for America’” by Fred Lucas dated December 21, 2009 published by Cybercast News Service at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/58787
“When Liberal Dreams Collide with Public Opinion” by Michael Barone dated December 21, 2009 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/12/21/when_liberal_dreams_collide_with_public_opinion__99625.html )
With all 60 Democrats voting YES, and all 40 Republicans voting NO, the simplistic homily that there is no difference between the parties has now proven to be a very costly fallacy. When campaigning for office in 2008, candidate Obama promised the American people a new era of post-partisanship, where he would bring Democrats and Republicans together to solve the nation's problems. There was nothing in Obama's ultraliberal background to suggest he would be remotely capable of this. President Obama's first initiative, the almost $1 trillion supposed "stimulus" bill, was passed on a virtual party-line vote, with almost all of the Democrats and almost none of the Republicans. Obama refused to make any significant concession to any Republican ideas for restoring economic growth. A couple of weeks later, Congressional Democrats passed a $400 billion Omnibus spending bill on another party-line vote, pumping up federal spending even more. A couple of weeks after that, Congress passed President Obama's budget on a party-line vote, again with no concessions to Republicans to gain bipartisan support, again in violation of his campaign promise to voters. A few weeks after that, the same thing, as the House passed the President's cap and trade tax bill on a virtual party line vote. Then the House did the same with its health bill, and now we have the completely partisan Senate vote as well. The health care bills prove the Republicans accurate in their argument that the Democrats are the party of Big Government bureaucracy and runaway government spending. The health care bills would create over 100 new bureaucracies and government programs, and spend $2.5 to $3 trillion over the first 10 years of full implementation. The central promise of President Obama's campaign last year was that he wouldn't increase taxes "in any form" on those making less than $250,000 per year. The health bill includes increased taxes on health insurance, drugs, and medical devices that will be paid by consumers. It also imposes a mandate that individuals must buy insurance and pay the soaring costs, or else pay income tax penalties. If President Obama signs this bill violating his central campaign pledge, wouldn't it be reasonable to ask him to resign now, instead of waiting another 3 years to vote him out of office? Only the American people can fix this, and they can start by demanding resignations from those who have not been honest with them, then to vote out those who don’t leave voluntarily.
(“Too Many Democrats in Washington” by Peter Ferrara dated December 23, 2009 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2009/12/23/too-many-democrats-in-washingt )
There has been a lot written recently about state and local budget shortfalls, much of which has been blamed on the recession but ignoring the real economic problems. Governments have responded by issuing furloughs and, in some cases, cutting back days of operation. Yet they’re not even close to facing the central challenge, and, as a result, budget problems will continue into perpetuity unless serious changes are made. When revenues started falling, states predominantly took half measures to temporarily control their costs. Cutting back work days proved to be a stopgap answer. More importantly, they went crying to Congress and pleaded for money to keep state and local operations going. The feds responded by doing exactly the wrong thing - they included money in the federal “stimulus” bill to cover the shortfalls, reinforcing their bad behavior. Because it is actually illegal for most states to run deficits – a limitation that obviously doesn’t apply to Washington – the budget problem just continued up the food chain. The states need to face reality as their revenues keep falling by setting their highest priority to be a reassessment of the breadth and operations of governmental services. Though there is certainly a constituency for each and every “vital” function, they cannot all be funded by a shrinking revenue base. Choices need to be made, with priorities placed on public safety, transportation and education. Legislatures have to act as grownups and slash programs that don’t meet the essential mandate. It amazes me that individuals and families make these hard decisions every day, but our government appears to be incapable of demonstrated this same fiscal responsibility. The only solution to state government overspending is for voters to put a stop to this by first living with less government and then by electing officials to fulfill that mission.
(“They Have No Interest in Balanced Budgets” by Bruce Bialosky dated December 21, 2009 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/BruceBialosky/2009/12/21/they_have_no_interest_in_balanced_budgets )
The ugly truth is that “universal health care coverage,” Obama-style, is a burdensome “individual mandate” that will hit low-wage workers the hardest. The federal government is handing down a punitive tax on anyone who dares to allocate their limited resources to things other than one-size-fits-all health insurance. “Universal coverage” in the real world would be another unfunded mandate handed down by the federal government. The Democrats like to tout the expansive new subsidies they would offer to make insurance “affordable,” but the truth is that the vast majority of workers would get no such help. They work for employers who would be forced to offer them insurance, and they will have no choice but to take it. Although the employers would pay much of the premiums, it’s really the employees who would shoulder the burden in the form of lower take-home pay. The Lewin Group, a consulting firm, examined the impact of the Senate bill and not surprisingly, they found that the individual mandate would be very costly for the middle class. Households with at least one uninsured resident would see an average increase in their costs of $1,205 per year, assuming full implementation. For uninsured households with incomes between $40,000 and $50,000 per year, costs would jump $1,841 annually, on average. Those with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 would pay $2,100 more each year. That’s not the kind of change the public believes in. They were promised painless reforms that would weed out inefficient care and direct the savings to more coverage. Instead, what they would get is onerous new federal requirements, taxes, fines, and fees, all to pay for a program that promises fewer choices, more bureaucracy, and lower-quality care. It’s no secret why the public has turned decisively against the congressional plans, because they would deliver less for more. “A New Tax on the Uninsured” is not exactly a catchy slogan, but it is an accurate description of what ObamaCare’s individual mandate would deliver.
(“The Ugly Truth about the Insurance Mandate” dated December 18, 2009 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NGEzYmI0NmM4NjkxY2ZjNjBhZmVlNmY3Y2RiMzk5Mzg= )
The Senate health care bill was passed on a party-line vote and will make major changes in payments to doctors, hospitals, and medical professionals in Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs; establish new federal agencies, bureaus, and commissions to oversee various aspects of the health care system, including how physicians and other medical professionals deliver care; and alter the relationship between the federal government and the states, transferring massive regulatory power to the federal government while reducing the flexibility of state officials to manage Medicaid and limiting their capacity to initiate health insurance reforms within their own states. The 2,074 page Senate bill with its 383 page amendment was read totally by no one and is being passed to meet an arbitrary White House deadline, and would impose over a dozen new taxes totaling $406.2 billion. The new taxes range from a tax on branded drugs to a tax on medical devices. The bill uses budget gimmicks, unrealistic assumptions, and highly unreliable projected savings to stay under President Obama’s $900 billion threshold and to appear “deficit neutral.” The spending cuts and taxes used for this calculation, all over the 10 years of 2010-2019:
· "Spending changes" (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, S-CHIP cuts): $483 billion.
· Excise tax on high-premium plans: $149 billion.
· Savings from "other sources" (like penalties for being uninsured): $108 billion.
· Other "revenues" (e.g. taxes on drugs, medical devices and health insurance providers and a hospital insurance tax): $264 billion.
More transparent accounting indicates that the bill will cost $2.5 trillion over the first 10 years, but the truth is that no one really knows how much ObamaCare will cost because its assumptions on paper are so unrealistic. Senate Democrat arm twisting secured the votes for this bill by politically prostituting (“Cash for Corruptocrats”) deals for each vote (current cost: $100 million per vote), that other states must in turn shoulder, further driving up the overall costs. Senator Schumer admitted that every state was bribed with special treatment in the final bill. Many of the special deals expire after a few years, but Senators expect voters to have short memories. After the first 10 years, as costs escalated, Congress would need to impose additional major tax increases and impose major cuts in benefits to pay for this health care agenda. To make matters worse both bills include institutionalizing discrimination provisions with “priority” given only to “preferential” treatment for “underrepresented minorities” (liberal code for “Asians need not apply.”) with racist and sexist quotas sanctioned by the federal government. Instead of protecting patients, the bill would stifle patient choice by transferring most decision-making authority to a collection of federal agencies, bureaus, and commissions. The Senate bill would produce the greatest concentration of political and economic power over a sector of the U.S. economy in the nation’s history. 85% of Americans are happy with their current health care and 57% think no reform is better than the bill in Congress. A Quinnipiac University poll found 53% of respondents opposed to healthcare overhaul and only 36% in favor. This bill is also opposed by a margin of almost 2 to 1 in the latest CNN poll. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put its support at freezing, 32%. The American people want and need health reform, but the Senate bill is clearly not what they have in mind, and a widening majority of Americans oppose the proposed legislation.
(“An Analysis of the Senate Democrats’ Health Care Bill” dated December 18, 2009 published by The Heritage Foundation at http://www.heritage.org/Research/HealthCare/bg2353.cfm
“Payoffs for states seal Senate deal” by Chris Frates dated December 19, 2009 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30815.html
“Merry Christmas, from Harry” by Randall Hoven dated December 20, 2009 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/merry_christmas_from_harry.html
“Change Nobody Believes In” dated December 20, 2009 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704398304574598130440164954.html
“Legislating Discrimination” by Hans A. von Spakovsky dated December 22, 2009 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NmM2YTFmOGQ1MzVhODNjNGRiM2JlYzc1YmY1NjA0M2Y=
“Schumer Says Every State Got Special Treatment in Health Bill” by Jonathan D. Salant dated December 23, 2009 published by Bloomberg at http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a_et4JAdyG4g )
In the spirit of the season, the Senate has given us lumps of coal for our Christmas stockings. Here are the “Top 10 List of Things You Don't Want From Health Care Reform This Christmas - But Will Get Anyway From Congress:”
1. Higher premiums: If you pay for your own insurance, your premiums will cost 10% to 13% more than if the bill didn't pass. 60% of the newly insured are being enrolled in Medicaid, the public program for the poor.
2. A cost you can't afford and can't avoid: Though moderate-income families will get subsidies, buying insurance is mandatory. A family earning $54,000 will be expected to pay $9,000 (17% of pre-tax income) for the premium, co-pays and deductibles. If you don't enroll, the IRS will find you and penalize you.
3. A one-size-fits-all health plan: Your benefit package will be prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Whether you choose basic, silver or gold, and whether you pay for it yourself or qualify for a subsidy, your benefits are the same.
4. A sin tax on your generous plan at work: The Senate bill puts a 40% tax on Cadillac plans, (about one-fifth of employer-provided plans fall into that "luxury" category). The CBO predicts that employers will downgrade your coverage to avoid the tax or reduce your take home pay.
5. Government controls on your doctors' decisions: The Senate bill bars doctors from participating in the private insurance system unless they implement whatever regulations the secretary of health and human services chooses to impose to "improve health care quality."
6. Hospitals closed to seniors: The House and Senate bills slash payments to hospitals and other institutions that care for seniors.
7. Bare-bones hospital care: Patients will suffer when hospitals are in financial distress. Hospital budget cuts will mean shortages of nurses, equipment and cleaning staff.
8. Future Medicare cuts: The Senate bill establishes an Independent Medicare Advisory Commission to make automatic spending reductions in future years while insulating Congress from the political fallout.
9. A new social agenda: Money is allocated for adult preparation activities, including lessons on positive self-esteem and relationship dynamics, friendships, dating (and) romantic involvement. The Senate bill hands low-income legal immigrants government subsidies as soon as they get here, instead of waiting the five years Medicaid requires.
10. A tell-all relationship with every doctor you see: What happens in your doctor's office must be recorded in an electronic data base that can send the information to insurers and other medical offices. Every doctor you see will have access to your medical history.
I hope you like these changes, because this is the health care system that Congress has envisioned to placate and control the American public. Remember that Congress has exempted itself from any of these changes. The “Ghost of Christmas Future” has shown us congressional tidings that bring no comfort or joy, so we must save ourselves from Congress' power now that it has gone astray.
(“10 Lumps of Coal in the Health Care Bill” by Betsy McCaughey dated December 23, 2009 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/ArticlePrint.aspx?id=516146 )
President Obama heralded a last-minute, largely toothless UN global-warming summit deal just so he could say he accomplished “something,” that drew fast fire from all sides as a political sham. Despite President Obama’s desperate last-minute attempts to transform the UN’s climate change conference into “Hopenhagen,” even this administration’s talented pool of spin-doctors will find it difficult to convince global warming alarmists that the two-week event was anything other than what is now being called: an ”abject failure.” When the data with which you have tried to terrify the world is daily exposed as ever more phony, when the blatant greed and self-interest of the participants has become obvious to all beholders, when those pesky polar bears just keep increasing and multiplying -- what do you do?" Constrained by partisan politics at home, and quarrels between rich and poor nations abroad, he was determined to come home with a victory, no matter how imperfect. For the most part, even the most primitive of "third world" dictators saw through the “Copenhaggling” immediately, and joined in only as a way to board the latest gravy train of western guilt money. Almost no one was happy with the outcome of the two-week confab and even the President admitted that the pact doesn't legally commit any of the nations involved - the point of the summit in the first place. The Copenhagen agreements are "merely the repackaging of old and toothless promises." It’s a sad commentary on world affairs when the redistribution of $30 billion in wealth from industrialized nations to tin-pot dictators can be called a “victory,” but in an age of government bailouts and $787 billion stimulus packages, the latest climate accord is an absolute bargain. The agreements will give billions of dollars in climate aid to poor nations, but they do not require the world's major polluters to make deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions. The English-language China Daily newspaper called Obama's Copenhagen speech "grandstanding," and said it left non-governmental organizations at the summit disappointed. Years of planning, two weeks of effort, over 35,000 delegates, 193 countries represented, a carbon footprint equal to that of the state of Texas, and the result is a whimper that ends the AGW story. The best summation of the U.N. climate circus in Denmark comes from Andrew Bolt of Australia’s Herald Sun: “Nothing is real in Copenhagen — not the temperature record, not the predictions, not the agenda, not the ‘solution.’”
(“Obama raced clock, chaos, comedy for climate deal” by Charles Babington and Jennifer Loven dated December 19, 2009 published by Breitbart at http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9CMLVD00&show_article=1
“What Copenhagen Exposed” by David Warren dated December 20, 2009 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/12/20/what_copenhagen_exposed_99626.html
“Hopenhagen Goes Bust” by Rich Trzupek dated December 21, 2009 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2009/12/21/hopenhagen-goes-bust-by-rich-trzupek/ )
Never before in our history has an American president, deliberately and by design, risked our very survival to a maniacal enemy power sworn to remove America from the world. Obama’s determination to make the United States subservient to an international body of nations is now driving him to systematically reduce our nation to a mere shadow of its former power and influence. Obama is weakening rather than strengthening our missile defenses, dramatically weakening our military, leaving Iraq on its own, denying us the ability to win in Afghanistan and relinquishing our unpopular but all-important role as world policeman. The practical consequences of Obama’s extreme radical left agenda can only be to put our nation at the mercy of a new world order dominated by ruthless tyrants, thugs and spineless states who sell their souls for commercial gain. His first allegiance is to such an international order – not to the United States. Obama is not only unfit to serve as a war time commander-in-chief, he is a menace to our national security. Obama has an agenda that in my view is un-American, for it is absolutely contrary to the most fundamental and essential interests of our nation. No president has had a higher constitutional duty than to protect our nation against foreign attack, but by almost any standard, Obama is flagrantly guilty of dereliction of duty. Unless we demand a total reversal of our nation’s suicidal course, we could experience the apocalyptic end of the America we love and all western civilization paving the way for a nuclear doomsday.
(“America’s Survival Is At Stake” by Roger Chapin dated December 21, 2009 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/RogerChapin/2009/12/21/americas_survival_is_at_stake )
Sarah Palin is, clearly, carving out a national presence right now, and may be a power to reckon with in the future. She taps into a current of populist unhappiness in the country with Washington insiders, Big Money, and condescending elites in the media and popular culture. The Wasilla mom of five, married to the snow-mobile champ, is simply the antithesis of all that. She senses the general disgust with an insider class that has nearly bankrupted the country through insane federal spending and equally insane financial speculation. She resonates in this regard mostly through an authentic middle-class upbringing, the real-world living of Alaska, natural intelligence, spunk and drive that sent one from the Wasilla city-council to the governorship of Alaska - and common sense answers like less government, lower taxes, more self-reliance, and national confidence. Palin feels at ease with Middle America, and in a strange way is the antithesis to Barack Obama. Both are young, and charismatic, and appeal to populist constituencies. But whereas Obama came out of a Honolulu prep school and elite Ivy League hot-house, and had to acquire, quite artificially, his street credentials at the foot of Reverend Wright and in the Chicago scratch-back world of Valerie Jarrett and Mayor Daley, Palin was a true product of the working class and took on rather than swam into the status quo political structure. For 2008 and much of 2009 the left and the media successfully caricatured her as a creationist, white-supremacist, Christianist nut, but that demonization is wearing off. An NBC poll found that the Tea Party movement, who have been rallying against spending last spring and ObamaCare in the summer town halls, are viewed more favorably than the Democratic Party. The tea party movement has become a much-needed pressure valve for the frustrations over our federal government's unconstitutional acts and potential treason. Conservatives have to change the political system to (once again) reflect values of individualism, small government, and respect for the federal limitations in the Constitution. Sarah Palin represents these values of conservatism and may be the salvation of the, all but invisible, Republican Party. Quite simply, the more the public sees the real woman, the more it likes Sarah Palin as a leader.
(“The Palin Wonder” by Jamie Glazov dated December 18, 2009 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2009/12/18/the-palin-wonder-by-jamie-glazov/
“America’s Party” by Pat Buchanan dated December 22, 2009 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/PatBuchanan/2009/12/22/americas_party
“A Republican’s Airing of Grievances” by Andie Brownlow dated December 23, 2009 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/a_republicans_airing_of_grieva.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. Individual issue updates this week include: