Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is the RNC Going on a RINO Hunt?

An internal discussion from the Republican National Committee regarding the funding of candidates continues the argument of the big tent. This is a discussion that has been ongoing for the Republican Party for several years now. The republicans on many levels seem fractured and lost in the wilderness. The party needs to decide if they are going to continue to fund candidates and sitting legislators that are voting against the party principles.  Another way to portray this is to ask if the party is going to go on a RINO hunt or not. 

This discussion has gained steam with the seemingly unimportant congressional election in NY-23. The party machine put up Dede Scozzafava as the republican candidate. While she has been an elected official in the conservative leaning district, her record is not one of a conservative. Her voting record made her much more a liberal democrat than that of even a moderate republican. The grassroots movement turned on this nomination and rallied for Doug Hoffman, the choice of the tea party movement and Sarah Palin; and others. While, as we all know that, Mr. Hoffman ultimately was unsuccessful in his bid for the seat, it has given more fuel to the discussion. Especially since the “party faithful” stood by Dede until she endorsed the democratic candidate after withdrawing from the race.

While the election is still a quite a ways away, the ground is fertile for the republicans to pick up quite a few seats. The pickup of seats on the senate side would be a very welcome thing to conservatives. The filibuster proof majorities in both the house and the senate make it much easier for the President to get his very left leaning agenda passed. I personally do not believe that they take back the house, but they can make it more balanced.

Among the positions the party is discussing are gun rights, defense of marriage act, opposition to the pork laden stimulus bill, and market-based solutions to the country’s needs in the areas of healthcare and energy.

The party members from more liberal leaning states are against this type of resolution. The northeast states tend to trend to the liberal side. While there are republicans from such states like Maine, they are very moderate. Olympia Snowe is the republican that President Obama is hoping to win over to his side on the vote for Obamacare. The reality remains that a staunch conservative would have a very difficult time getting elected to her seat.

The republicans do need to have a very cohesive message for the upcoming election season. With the economy remaining in the slowdown that it is currently in, funds are going to be harder to come by. People will not be able to make the same type of donations that they may have made in the past. This makes this discussion all the more important.

This is especially true of the senate race in Florida. Charlie Crist, the Florida Governor, is prime example of people that may very well be cut off if this resolution does indeed pass. The Governor is now backing away from his statements in the past of his approval of the stimulus bill earlier this year. His opponent, Marco Rubio, is a staunch conservative from the state legislator. His voting record and public statements would put him in the position to get the backing of the party and all that entails.

Another person on the cutting block could be Lindsey Graham. His statements on cap and trade, his voting for confirmation of judges such as Justice Sotomayor would put him in peril of losing the party funding and support. While established candidates can raise money on their own, they will lose the party machine. That machine is still necessary even if you can raise funds. The party is in charge of the get out the vote efforts. The state party is also in charge in getting out poll observers, putting up signs, and many other efforts that are necessary to win elections. The elections themselves are limited in the funds that they can spend, while the party is not.

My personal belief is that the party needs to make very clear where they stand on issues such as the national debt, taxes, spending, healthcare reform, market based solutions, and limiting the powers of the federal government. The social issues should be left to the state parties, candidates and the voters.

here for article

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Humor

A pretty little girl named Suzy was standing on the sidewalk in front of her home. Next to her was a basket containing a number tiny creatures; in her hand was a sign announcing FREE KITTENS.

Suddenly a line of big black cars pulled up beside her. Out of the lead car stepped a tall, grinning man.

"Hi there, little girl, I'm President Obama. What do you have in the basket?" he asked.

"Kittens." little Suzy said.

How old are they? asked Obama.

Suzy replied, "They're so young, their eyes aren't even open yet."

"And what kind of kittens are they?"

"Democrats," answered Suzy with a smile.

Obama was delighted. As soon as he returned to his car, he called his PR chief and told him about the little girl and the kittens.

Recognizing the perfect photo op, the two men agreed that the president should return the next day, and, in front of the assembled media, have the girl talk about her discerning kittens.

So the next day, Suzy was again standing on the sidewalk with her basket of "FREE KITTENS" when another motorcade pulled up, this time followed by vans from ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN.

Cameras and audio equipment were quickly set up, then Obama got out of his li mo and walked over to little Suzy.

"Hello, again," he said, "Id love it if you would tell all my friends out there what kind of kittens you're giving away."

"Yes sir," Suzy said. "They're Republicans."

Taken by surprise, the president stammered, "But... but... yesterday, you told me they were DEMOCRATS."

Little Suzy smiled and said, "I know. But today, they have their eyes open."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Narcissist in Chief - The Cult of Personality

On The White House website they have a photo gallery with photos that they highlight for the month. Here is one that they themselves decided needed to be highlighted.

Any person who wants to be President of the United States is arrogant. There is no way you could not be. The awesome responsibilities that come with making the decisions that are made in that office are, to say the least, over-whelming. To believe that you could do a good job at it, you must have a great deal of self-confidence that crosses over the border of arrogance. But, this one really takes it to an entire new level. This picture doesn't deserve to highlighted. This picture shows that the President has a cult like following that isn't healthy in our government. We are a government of "We the People" not about worshiping the dear leader.

I fully understand that people of color never had a chance to vote for someone that looked like them in the past, but this is a middle school student. This kid doesn't have a point of reference to the past. This kid is growing up in different country than his parents and especially his grandparents did. This is idolatry pure and simple. President Obama should be embarrassed that he is idolized in this manner. He also should realize that our country is bigger than the office of the presidency, even while he is sitting in it.

h/t to Conservative Teacher

A Day to Give Thanks for All We Have.

I have people in my life whom I love very much, and they love me back. 

I have enough money to survive.

I have friends who are amazing and great people.

The people in my life are employed.

I get to eat pie today.

I am healthy and happy.

I have passion in my life.

I have God-given talents.

I live in a great country. 

What are you thankful for?  Take the time to think about it today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tis the Season - Shopping Tips

This has nothing to do with poltics, but I had to get this off my chest. 

Every year at this time you hear people talk about how rude retail employees are. While I agree there is some truth to that, but let's examine another perspective. Here are a few hints to make your Christmas/Hanukkah shopping experience a better one.

1. People don't work in retail simply because they are stupid. There are many reasons that people work retail that have nothing to do with levels of intelligence.

2. The employees don't set policy, they just follow it.

3. Yelling at staff really only makes you look foolish. In this economy retailers are bending over backwards to get your limited funds. Providing good customer service is a large part of this. Simply and calmly asking to speak to a manager will more than likely have the same result. Major retailers audit what staff is doing to prevent internal theft. The computer systems are designed that overrides have to be done at the managerial level. The staff is simply safeguarding their jobs.

4. When asking to speak to manager, remember that they have other responsibilities and other customer complaints to deal with. It may take a few minutes for them to get there. Be patient.

5. If a person gives you a business card in a retail environment, they are commission. Please keep that in mind when you start asking different people in the same department for help. This is how they get paid.

6. If you have coupons or need a gift receipt tell the person before they start ringing the sale. If you don't, they will more than likely have to start over.

7. Get off your cell phone before you start asking for assistance.

8. It is not their job to watch your children.

9. There are only two ways for retail outlets to lower overhead; cut staff and inventory. This will be part of the shopping experience this year. If you are looking for very specific items, waiting until the last minute may not be a good idea.

10. When you drop something on the floor or throw it in a random aisle somewhere, remember that someone has to clean that up. More than likely for the 10th time that day.

11. When trying to return something that you purchased a year ago, don't lie about it. The employees are familiar with the inventory of their departments. They will know that you are lying.

12. If it is a large department store they will not have detailed information about departments that they don't work in. If you are expecting them too, you are just going to get annoyed.

13. If you want to wait until Christmas Eve to go shopping, please remember the employees have families too. They are not allowed to take the day off. It is a day that all employees must work.

14. They raise sale prices when they give out coupons in the vast majority of cases. You really are not saving any money.

15. There is a reason why pets are not allowed in stores. Don't put your dogs in bags and strollers. People have allergies.

16. One last thing, if you do chose to yell and scream in a store, just remember that the staff will be laughing at you in the break room. It is a form of entertainment.

Enjoy your shopping experience and for those that have never worked retail, remember they are doing the best that they can in a job that is much more difficult than you may think. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Hair Cut

The Hair Cut...

One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut.

After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.'

The florist was pleased and left the shop.

When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The cop was happy and left the shop.

The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Then a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I can not accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The Congressman was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.

H/T - Seville

Monday, November 23, 2009

Liberal Logic - Washington DC V. Catholic Charities

The Washington DC Council is currently putting through legislation that will legalize gay marriage in The District. This legislation doesn't just recognize same sex marriages, it forces everyone who does businesses within the city limits to recognize it as well, and this includes Catholic Charities.

For those you are not familiar with DC, it is a high population of low income people. Homelessness, gang violence, and poorly performing schools are just the tip of the iceberg. People literally sleep on grates only blocks away from The White House. It is truly disgraceful.

The District has very little power; the purse strings are basically controlled by Congress. If you have ever seen the license plates, 'taxation without representation". Due to this, the city relies heavily upon private charities to conduct much of the community outreach that is done within the city. Again, this is a city that is sorely in need of these services.

Catholic Charities has been told that if the same sex marriage legislation passes they will be forced into recognizing all marriages, including same sex. It seems to be irrelevant to the city that church doctrine prohibits same sex marriage. The archdiocese has a very intricate infrastructure to help the residents with HIV/AIDS. Washington DC has the highest rates of HIV positive people living in the United States. Since many of the residents living in the district live below or just above the poverty line, they are very dependent upon charities to get the life saving medications and services. The Catholic Church also runs homeless shelters, soup kitchens, clothing drives, meal delivery to the elderly and the ill. Adoption services are primarily handled by the church. The church is also very active in the foster programs across the city.

The church has told the city that the charitable arm is not willing to ignore one the tenets of the church to recognize gay marriage and will leave the city, taking all the services it provides with it. The gay marriage initiative has been gaining steam and the city council will be voting on this in short order. The council is unwilling to bring this to ballot for vote, because it is widely believed it would not pass. While Washington is about 90% democratic, the liberalism does not seem to extend to gay marriage. All polls show that the vote would not only fail, but fail by a large margin.

The district does not have the infrastructure to continue many of these services if Catholic Charities pulls out. The district, like many other cities, has a great deal of waste and fraud in the running of city programs. The city depends on private charities to funnel the money to the most vulnerable in an efficient manner. Catholic Charities records show that .90 of every dollar they get goes directly to the poor. The District has made a conscience choice to choose a statement about gay marriage instead of helping the poor and the ill.

After passing the city council, the bill would have to be approved by congress before being enacted.  One can only hope that they realize Catholic Charities will continue to thrive and grow if they leave. The needy in the district may not be so lucky.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Arrogance or Honesty? - Indian Study of the Himalayas

The deputy director general of The Geological Survey of India has released a report on the glaciers of the Himalayas. The United Nations Climate Change Panel (IPCC) has called him arrogant. Why, you ask? The 60 page report used data that has been collected for the past 60 years on the amount of ice from the glaciers. The report states that the evidence is not there that the glaciers are retreating.  

The IPCC is a panel that has been appointed by the UN's political arm, Greenpeace, and the Environment Defense Fund. The report flies in the face of the worldwide mantra that global warming is reaching a tipping point and must be addressed immediately or we are facing a worldwide catastrophe. The amounts of ice on glaciers around the world are constantly being pointed to as reason to pass legislation such as cap and trade. To further muddy these waters, people on this commission have also submitted data and reports that also show that the global warming community is using data that is incomplete or just outright incorrect.

Recently, the panel has also teamed up with Former President Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta. John Podesta has written editorials for the United States tax dollars to be given to poorer countries to help them establish "energy efficeniecy goals". One of the countries that Podesta believes we should be giving money to is China. The issues of China making decisions about working towards these goals have nothing to do with not having the money to do so. They lack the political will. The Chinese are unwilling to slow the growth of their ever growing economy on science that still remains inconclusive.

John Podesta is now a lobbyist. The companies that he lobbies for stand to make a small fortune if these types of policies pass. This in turn, will make him a very rich man as well.

This report and other collected data is calling into question the UN's assertion that The Himalaya's glaciers only have 25 years left before disappearing. The United Nations continues to prove that it is not a non-partisan body that is out for the good of all. It is uses it platform to push its own agenda. That agenda is a far left liberal one that is full of appeasement, corruption, and bigotry. So that leaves one to question who exactly is it that is arrogant, the scientist who has decades of experience studying these glaciers, or The UN?

The $100 Million Bribe - Harry Reid Pulling Out All the Stops

On page 432 of the Senate Health Care bill contains the nugget "certain states recovering from a major disaster." In order to qualify for this the state must have been declared a disater area in the past 7 fiscal years.  While Lousiana is not the only state that has had that declaration; notice the wording "certain states".  ABC News has been told that this line is directed only at Louisana and the wavering Senator Mary Landrieu.  Sen. Landrieu has been dodging the question of what she will or will not support.  She seems to be against a public option and federal dollars being used for abortion. 

This money will be almost impossible for her to turn down.  New Orleans and Louisana's outer parishes are still struggling to recover from Katrina, so it will be hard to explain why she would turn down funds to help people who lives were devasted.  It seems that she is being put into a very bad position.  This is bribe, there is no other word for what is going on.  Her choices seem to be allowing herself to be blackmailed by her own party's leadership or vote her conscience. 

The congress, at some point, will have to explain why it is building in bribes into legislation that effects 1/6 of our economy and will have a major impact on every person living in this country. 

Could this be the reason that approval ratings of congress is in the low teens?  How can they not see this is the reason for the tea party movement.  We have had about enough of congress doing what is good for party and to heck with the American people; their employers.  A very sad commentary on how our government works. 

Let's Say Thanks - Xerox and our Troops


If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them.

This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you's.

Thanks for taking to time to support our military!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

WTF - President Obama's Comment to our Troops This Morning

On his way home from his trip to Asia early this morning, the President stopped at Osan Air Force Base in South Korea to meet with the troops.  They were of course excited to see the commander-in-chief.  Here is his response

"You guys make a pretty good photo op," the president said.

Nice.  Can you imagine what the press reaction would be had President Bush used these words?  This is a very disrespectful view of the people who voluntarily put thier lives on the line to protect our nation.  We need to stop politicizing the troops.  We need the brave in order to remain the land of the free. 
This statement was put into a blog article in the Washington Post about the announcement today that the decision about troop levels in Afghanistan will not be made until after the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Republicans and Racism

I doubt this will help change the mind of anyone who is predisposed to think that republican equals racism.  But nonetheless it is an interesting link. 

H/T to right said fred

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Retailers and Political Correctness - AFA List of Christmas Friendly Major Retailers

If you do feel that retailers are becoming too politically correct in regards to Christmas, here is a list that has looked at the advertising for the upcoming sales for the Christmas season. They primarily are looking at ads for Christmas decorations such as trees and lights. Another good way to figure out how retailers feel about Christmas, look at their gift cards, if you cannot find one that says "Merry Christmas" they have made a decision that political correctness is more important.  

Companies FOR "Christmas"

updated 11-10-09
Bass Pro Shops
Bath & Body Works
Bed Bath & Beyond
Big Lots
Collective Brands
Dollar Tree
Family Dollar
Dollar General
Hobby Lobby
Home Depot
JC Penney
Michael's Stores
Neiman Marcus
Rite Aid
Super D Drug Stores
Toys R Us
Wal-Mart/Sam's Club

Companies marginalizing "Christmas"

updated 11-10-09

Best Buy
Hy-Vee Stores

Companies against "Christmas"

updated 11-10-09

Advance Auto Parts
Barnes &; Noble
Braum's Ice Cream
CVS Pharmacy
Dick's Sporting Goods
Gap Stores
Harris Teeter Stores
H.E.B. Stores
Home Shopping Network
Limited Brands
Office Depot
Olive Garden
Outback Steakhouse
Radio Shack
Victoria's Secret

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't Forget Our Troops this Holiday Season

When making out your cards this year, please remember our wounded troops. 

Here is an address to lift the spirits of our wounded warriors

A Recovering American Soldier c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington , D.C. 20307-5001

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ben Stein, Political Correctness, and Christmas

I found this nugget on Conservative Lakota's blog.  A great letter.  Something to make you think. 

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham 's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?'regarding Hurricane Katrina .. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'

In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem ( Dr. Spock 's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said okay.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it.... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Friday, November 13, 2009

Holder, Gitmo Detainees, The DOJ, and the Conflicts of Interest

The news broke today that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and three others will be transfered to American soil to stand trial in downtown Manhattan.  Only a few short blocks from ground zero. 

I am believer in our justice system, even though it is not perfect.  What I am not a believer in, is treating terrorists like they are common criminals.  What these men did was an act of war.  The fears that many had of the pre 9/11 mindset has come to pass with this decision. 

One of the most distrubing and rarely spoken about issues in this case is the fact that 5 of out the top 10 people at The Department of Justice have ethical and legal problems making these decisions.  Including Attorney General Holder himself.  The law firm Covington & Burling handled cases of 17 detainees. the sole purpose of the law firm's involvement was to get them out of Gitmo. This is where Holder worked.  Holder brought in people from his firm after taking over the justice department.  The rules governing how lawyers must behave are very clear.  Holder cannot be involved in these cases.  He has an obvious conflict of interest.  Another person, Jennifer Daskal, formerly worked at Human Rights Watch.  An organization that was working hard at freeing the men being held at Gitmo. 

So the question becomes who is making these decisions?  That is a question that must be answered by the justice department and the president. The families of the victims of 9/11 have the right to know.  

You Can't Fix Stupid

Poverty and the top ten cities

What do the top ten cities with the highest poverty rate all have in common?

Detroit , MI (1st on the poverty rate list) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1961;

Buffalo, NY (2nd) hasn't elected one since 1954;

Cincinnati , OH (3rd)...since 1984;

Cleveland , OH (4th)...since 1989;

Miami , FL (5th) has never had a Republican mayor; (They just elected a republican mayor last week)

St. Louis , MO (6th)....since 1949;

El Paso , TX (7th) has never had a Republican mayor;

Milwaukee , WI (8th)...since 1908;

Philadelphia , PA (9th)...since 1952;

Newark , NJ (10th)...since 1907.

'The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'

It is the disadvantaged who habitually elect Democrats --- yet are still disadvantaged

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It Isn't Just Conservatives - Australian Humor

Here are some cartoons from Australia.  Wouldn't it be nice if our press did things like this? 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

Say thanks to all that have served.  They make our way of life possible. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ooh, looky looky here. A dem supporter tells the truth about Obamacare

Some Vaguely Heretical Thoughts on Health-Care Reform

With the publication of H.R. 3962, the House Democrats’ mammoth, 1,990-page proposal to restructure the health-care system (the outlines of which can be found in this detailed summary), decision time is fast approaching in the big reform debate. Paul Krugman, in his usual forthright style, says, “History is about to be made—and everyone has to decide which side they’re on.” Democrats and progressives can line up behind the reform legislation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put forward last week, or they can help to kill reform for another generation by aligning with hard-line conservatives.

As political analysis, there’s something to be said for Krugman’s Manichean view of the world. But Krugman is also an economist—a very good one—and the economics of what is proposed bear inspection. The President is on the verge of fulfilling his campaign pledge to extend health-care coverage to many of the uninsured. He is doing this, however, not by transforming the existing system of private insurance, which gave rise to many of the current problems, but by extending it. The White House has reached a deal with the big health insurers, such as Aetna and CIGNA. In return for the industry’s agreeing to cover people with preĆ«xisting health conditions, and making various other more minor concessions, the government will force more than twenty million new customers into its arms.

I regard an expansion of the government safety net as ethically essential, economically justified, and long overdue. It is indefensible for a country as rich as the United States to fail to provide adequate health care for many of its citizens. In extending our health-care system, all we are doing is catching up with Otto Von Bismarck’s Germany, which recognized a hundred and twenty-five years ago that universal health and disability coverage, along with old age pensions and a system of public education, were essential elements of a modern society. Moreover, given the reluctance of “Blue Dog” Democrats, such as Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, to support anything that smacks of big government, and President Obama’s determination to coƶperate with moderate Republicans, the proposed reform may be the most that can be accomplished today. But we will be dealing with its consequences for decades to come, and I think it’s important to be clear about what the reform amounts to.

Let’s remind ourselves of the basics. There are two big (and linked) problems with the current health-care system. It excludes 46.3 million Americans, according to the Census Bureau, and it is inordinately expensive. The proposed reform purports to tackle both of these problems; in fact, it only addresses the first one in any systematic manner. The future cost savings that the Administration and its congressional allies are promising to deliver are based on wishful thinking and sleight of hand. Over time, the reform, as proposed, would almost certainly add substantially to the budget deficit, thereby worsening the long-term fiscal crisis that the country faces. Financing this measure alone wouldn’t break the U.S. Treasury. Other elements of the fiscal picture, such as the looming increases in interest payments on the national debt and an explosive growth in Medicare spending as the baby boomers retire—are far larger. But the numbers involved in health-care reform are still significant—perhaps one per cent of annual G.D.P.

The Pelosi bill, in particular, wouldn’t do much, if anything, to address the overall escalation in health-care costs, much of which is rooted in the nature of insurance, where individuals consume costly health services, and different people—the other members of their risk pool—pay for them. This is the “moral hazard” problem that the economist Kenneth Arrow identified as long ago as 1963. (For an easy-to-understand account of Arrow’s argument, see this riveting new book on market failure.) In the past twenty years, many ideas have been tried in the effort to restrict the growth of spending within a private insurance system, the most notable of which was the creation of H.M.O.s. Some have enjoyed temporary success. None have worked for long.

If you read through the briefing papers provided by the House Ways and Means Committee, the fiscal implications of the proposed reform are pretty obvious. Under the proposed legislation, people whose employers don’t offer health coverage will receive “affordability credits” that fall with income, tapering off at about eighty-five thousand dollars a year. A lower-middle-class family of four earning, say, forty-five thousand dollars a year would be entitled to a subsidy of, say, seventy-five hundred dollars a year, to enable them to buy a basic health insurance plan that would cost them, say, eleven thousand dollars a year on the proposed Health Insurance Exchange, These estimates are based on a table on page 3 of the summary document I referred to earlier, which says that families that earn between two hundred and two hundred and fifty per cent of the federal poverty level would have to pay a maximum of eight per cent of their income in insurance premiums. Some poorer families that couldn’t afford to buy coverage even with the generous new tax breaks and subsidies would become eligible for an expanded Medicaid program. Individuals and families that failed to obtain coverage despite these inducements would be subject to a fine of seven hundred and fifty dollars for each uninsured adult.

By any standards, the subsidies in the plan are big ones. For example, they dwarf the Earned Income Tax Credits for poor and middle-income working families, which have been steadily expanded since George H. W. Bush first introduced them. From an egalitarian perspective, the establishment of these generous subsidies would be an important moment in U.S. history. But two practical questions immediately arise. Who would police the new system, and how much would it cost?

The answer to the first question is the Internal Revenue Service. If you couldn’t prove to the I.R.S. that you hadn’t obtained coverage, it would add the seven-hundred-and-fifty-dollar fine to your tax bill. A healthy, single, self-employed person in his twenties would have the choice of buying an individual insurance plan for, say, five to six thousand dollars a year (considerably less than that if he were eligible for a subsidy) or paying the fine. Undoubtedly, some people will choose to pay the fine and go uninsured. According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of Pelosi’s plan, in 2019 there would still be about eighteen million uninsured adults. (In percentage terms, the share of legal nonelderly Americans with health coverage would rise from about eighty-three per cent today to about ninety-six per cent.)

According to the C.B.O., in summary, many more people will, with government assistance, buy private insurance coverage (some twenty-one million) and many others (about fifteen million) will become newly eligible for Medicaid, which is wholly financed by the taxpayer. Surely, this will cost considerable sums of money and add to the deficit. Or will it? The Democrat-controlled C.B.O. says that the Pelosi plan will actually reduce the deficit by a hundred and four billion dollars between 2010 and 2019, thereby satisfying President Obama’s claim that the reform will be deficit neutral. Furthermore, the C.B.O. suggests that the legislation’s impact on the deficit will continue to be negative in the following decade, from 2019 to 2029. I wish I could believe these figures, but I don’t.

Two large items underpin the Administration’s math: five hundred and seventy-two billion dollars of tax increases over ten years, and roughly the same amount of cost savings on Medicare and other existing government health programs. Most of the revenue increase would come from levying a 5.4 per cent surcharge on Americans individuals who earn more than five hundred thousand dollars a year and joint filers that earn more than a million dollars. I am a big supporter of progressive taxation, but at some point it becomes politically unsustainable. If health-care reform goes through, and the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011, top earners will face a marginal tax rate of forty-five per cent at the federal level. Add in state and local taxes, plus Social Security and Medicare payments, and wealthy people in New York, say, would be facing tax rates of about sixty per cent. As sure as night follows day, this would generate more tax evasion and a political backlash. Without a doubt, the next Republican-controlled Congress would reverse the changes.

If it decides to forgo soaking the rich, the Administration could return to its earlier proposal, which was included in a Senate Finance Committee bill that Senator Max Baucus put forward, to tax firms that provide their employees with costly “Cadillac” health-care plans. “A policy such as this is probably the number one item that health economists across the ideological spectrum believe is likely to stem the explosion of health-care costs,” Christine Romer, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a recent speech. But this idea wouldn’t work politically, either. To raise enough revenue, the tax on swanky insurance plans would have to be set as high as forty per cent. When labor unions, some of whose members enjoy coverage in these plans, learned about this punitive levy they objected loudly, prompting Pelosi to drop the idea, which, broadly speaking, amounts to taxing the upper middle class to provide benefits for the lower middle class.

What about the proposed cost savings? They, too, are questionable. Most of them consist of reductions in Medicare outlays, which, according to this C.B.O. analysis, would save four hundred and twenty-six billion dollars between 2010 and 2019 compared with current plans. Look a bit more closely, and you find that more than half of the Medicare savings (two hundred and twenty-nine billion dollars) come from cutting payments to providers of services under the regular program; most of the rest (a hundred and seventy billion dollars) come from changing the way payments are set in the Medicare Advantage program. Does anybody really believe that these savings will materialize? For decades now, Congress has been promising to reduce the growth of Medicare outlays, and yet every year they continue to go up. The reasons are straightforward: the population is aging; seniors are politically active; and health-care treatments, particularly for the aging, continue to evolve in complex and costly ways.

To be fair, contained in its reform plan, the White House does have a proposal to address these issues: the establishment of an Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC), which would provide Congress each year with cost-saving recommendations. “By removing some of the political pressure around such reforms,” Romer said in the same speech, “the IMAC would make it easier for improvements to be made year after year.” This statement can only be described as wishful thinking. I hope it will be proved right, but Washington is replete with now-defunct independent bodies and commissions that toiled dutifully, did good work, and made little difference.

So what does it all add up to? The U.S. government is making a costly and open-ended commitment to help provide health coverage for the vast majority of its citizens. I support this commitment, and I think the federal government’s spending priorities should be altered to make it happen. But let’s not pretend that it isn’t a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won’t.

Many Democratic insiders know all this, or most of it. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it (and many other Administrations before that) is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind. At some point in the future, the fiscal consequences of the reform will have to be dealt with in a more meaningful way, but by then the principle of (near) universal coverage will be well established. Even a twenty-first-century Ronald Reagan will have great difficult overturning it.

That takes me back to where I began. Both in terms of the political calculus of the Democratic Party, and in terms of making the United States a more equitable society, expanding health-care coverage now and worrying later about its long-term consequences is an eminently defensible strategy. Putting on my amateur historian’s cap, I might even claim that some subterfuge is historically necessary to get great reforms enacted. But as an economics reporter and commentator, I feel obliged to put on my green eyeshade and count the dollars

John Cassidy
The New Yorker
Supporter of Obamacare
Apparently at any cost

Stimulus and Lies

The California papers have done some investigation. While that in and of itself is headline news, what they found is also interesting. $268,000,000 was spent on teacher's jobs across the state. They (the government) have said that this saved more than 25,000 jobs. Let's forget for a second how much money we are spending per job, a closer examination of the so-called saved jobs finds that more than 1/4 of them were never in any danger.  

Just tell us the truth. Where is this money going and how is it affecting the everyday person? If this is the formula for all the stimulus spending we are in deep trouble. The money is being wasted and the government continues to lie and is working over-time to cover it up. Where is the transparency and the accountability that we were promised? What about broke doesn't this administration not understand?

Hat tip to the California papers for looking into this. It is refreshing to hear that the lame stream media is actually doing its job.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Face The Music - Senators who are up for re-election next year

Here is the list of senators who will be facing the voters in their states next fall.  We can work hard to get them worried. 

Bayh, Evan - (D - IN) Class III


(202) 224-5623

Bennet, Michael F. - (D - CO) Class III


(202) 224-5852

Bennett, Robert F. - (R - UT) Class III


(202) 224-5444

Bond, Christopher S. - (R - MO) Class III


(202) 224-5721

Boxer, Barbara - (D - CA) Class III


(202) 224-3553

Brownback, Sam - (R - KS) Class III (Not Running for re-election)


(202) 224-6521

Bunning, Jim - (R - KY) Class III


(202) 224-4343

Burr, Richard - (R - NC) Class III


(202) 224-3154

Burris, Roland W. - (D - IL) Class III (Not running for re-election, RINO Kirk Cap & Tax Voter is running for the republican nomination)


(202) 224-2854

Coburn, Tom - (R - OK) Class III


(202) 224-5754

Crapo, Mike - (R - ID) Class III


(202) 224-6142

DeMint, Jim - (R - SC) Class III


(202) 224-6121

Dodd, Christopher J. - (D - CT) Class III


(202) 224-2823

Dorgan, Byron L. - (D - ND) Class III


(202) 224-2551

Feingold, Russell D. - (D - WI) Class III


(202) 224-5323

Grassley, Chuck - (R - IA) Class III


(202) 224-3744

Gregg, Judd - (R - NH) Class III (He may not be running for re-election)


(202) 224-3324

Inouye, Daniel K. - (D - HI) Class III


(202) 224-3934

Isakson, Johnny - (R - GA) Class III


(202) 224-3643

LeMieux, George S. - (R - FL) Class III


(202) 224-3041

Leahy, Patrick J. - (D - VT) Class III


(202) 224-4242

Lincoln, Blanche L. - (D - AR) Class III (She needs to be on the top of the list for targets for not voting for healthcare)


(202) 224-4843

McCain, John - (R - AZ) Class III (As much as I love him as a person, time for him to go)


(202) 224-2235

Mikulski, Barbara A. - (D - MD) Class III


(202) 224-4654

Murkowski, Lisa - (R - AK) Class III


(202) 224-6665

Murray, Patty - (D - WA) Class III


(202) 224-2621

Reid, Harry - (D - NV) Class III (There is no way he will vote against it, but we can work hard to get him booted out next year)


(202) 224-3542

Schumer, Charles E. - (D - NY) Class III


(202) 224-6542

Shelby, Richard C. - (R - AL) Class III


(202) 224-5744

Specter, Arlen - (D - PA) Class III


(202) 224-4254

Thune, John - (R - SD) Class III


(202) 224-2321

Vitter, David - (R - LA) Class III


(202) 224-4623

Voinovich, George V. - (R - OH) Class III


(202) 224-3353

Wyden, Ron - (D - OR) Class III


(202) 224-5244

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