PatriotPost.USFriday Digest 26 June 2009 Vol. 09 No. 25
THE FOUNDATION "Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." --Thomas Jefferson
The Leftmedia were in overdrive this week backing up their man Barack Obama on the issue of government health care. Before ABC even had the chance to broadcast a prime-time infomercial from the White House, The New York Times released a poll purporting to show that "Americans overwhelmingly support" health care changes, including that "most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector." Try not to spew coffee on your keyboard. In the end, "72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan."
As we have noted before, this is nothing more than pollaganda -- the use of polling to drive public opinion -- especially when, in this case, the poll is stacked two to one with Obama voters. ABC employed plain old propaganda in its special newscast from the White House Wednesday -- "Prescription for America." Reporter David Wright opened the broadcast by saying, "Expectations are low, but the need is obvious." And given that ABC was reporting on our "broken system," it was not surprising that, when asked, all 164 handpicked audience members agreed that "change" is needed. Depends on the meaning of change... Then, for 45 minutes, President Obama took a break from running the banks and automakers to explain to Americans why he should run health care too. No wonder the newscast was dead last in the ratings.
Besides the overarching problem that any government plan is unconstitutional, details of the plan remain sketchy -- a cause for alarm. In fact, House Democrats released another plan just days ago. Notably, the House plan includes a government-run option that will "compete" with private insurers and use Medicare rates for paying health care providers. The plan also calls for stricter regulations for employers, including a mandate that they must either provide coverage or pay a tax of 8 percent of their payroll. However, small businesses would be exempt, and those who do provide coverage would receive tax credits.
Naturally, as details shift, so does the estimated cost. Most estimates are still north of $1 trillion over 10 years, though paying for the plan is not yet part of the plan.
One of Obama's key claims is that "you can keep your plan if you want to." What he means is that the government won't specifically mandate that anyone lose coverage, but the effect of his policies would be to cause many individuals to lose their benefits. America's Health Insurance Plans, the nation's largest trade group for health insurers, warned of "devastating consequences" from a government plan. In a letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the lead author of the health care bill, the group said that a public health insurance option "would dismantle employer-based coverage, significantly increase costs for those who remain in private coverage, and add additional liabilities to the federal budget." This is painfully obvious to us, but the power brokers in DC aren't interested in a market-based approach.
In fact, though Democrats claim that the government would compete on a "level playing field" with private insurers, Obama says his plan "is an important tool to discipline insurance companies." As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute says, "The government can subsidize its plan with tax revenue from other taxpayers. The government can enact regulations that favor its plan over other private insurers."
Indeed, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) quipped, "Having the government compete against the private sector is kind of like my seven-year-old daughter's lemonade stand competing against McDonalds."
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"Why would [a government plan] drive private insurance out of business? If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they're offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That's not logical." --President Barack Obama
Cap and Tax Looms Large
In some measure, the present health care debate is a smokescreen for the upcoming cap and trade vote. Better named "cap and tax," the bill is headed to the House floor for a vote Friday thanks to a last-minute deal struck between Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN). Peterson was opposed to the bill's provision allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor its complex carbon offset and land use provisions. With Peterson's sway over the large farm-state voting block, Waxman was willing to allow the Department of
Agriculture to hold that power so that Peterson could deliver the necessary votes.
Still, passage is not a foregone conclusion. Near universal Republican opposition combined with regional pockets of Democrats fearful of high energy costs will make this vote an interesting one.
On the cost of energy, The Wall Street Journal writes, "The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment." Even billionaire Democrat donor Warren Buffet acknowledged that cap and tax is a "huge tax ... and a fairly regressive tax." And the Journal concludes, "Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history. Even Democrats can't repeal that reality."
News From the Swamp: The Perfect Stimulus Package
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released a report detailing 100 stimulus projects he defined as wasteful, including bike paths that could have been paid for with state money and $300 road signs that do nothing more than detail the amount of stimulus money spent on particular road projects. The U.S. Conference of Mayors also issued its own report stating that the nation's major metropolitan centers, which account for 73 percent of the GDP and 63 percent of the population, are receiving less than 50 percent of the transportation money.
In spite of the growing chorus of disgruntled recipients and the mounting evidence of wasteful spending, the administration is supremely confident in its work. The White House rejected every item on Coburn's list, stating that the administration has found no problems with any of the 20,000 projects that have been approved so far. And we're supposed to rest easy with that statement because the White House has put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of watching over the $787 billion goodie bag.
Sen. Coburn's spokesman, John Hart, probably said it best. "The notion that the vice president's vetting process has been perfect is laughable and an insult to taxpayers."
New & Notable Legislation
A bill being considered in the House seeks to add more oversight of the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence by establishing independent inspectors general who could not be fired by the heads of those agencies.
Furthermore, in a blatant act of politicization, those IGs would be subject to Senate confirmation. It is a move that Congress admits is meant to bring intelligence activities more under their control, and it will come at the price of effective intelligence gathering and analysis that is meant to be free of politics. Democrats will claim that such a thing didn't exist during the Bush years, but if this bill passes it certainly won't happen now.
America's nicotine-addicted president signed into law a bill that will allow the Food and Drug Administration unprecedented control over the tobacco industry. The FDA will now hold sway over the production, marketing and distribution of cigarettes in the U.S. President Obama said little about his own smoking habit except to add that he was "95 percent cured." Anyone who has ever beaten an addiction to anything knows that you can't quantify it and expect to beat it. You either smoke or you don't.
After taking heat from all comers, including The New York Times, over his broken campaign pledge to post legislation on the Internet for five days before signing it into law, Obama has decided to propose something a little more practical. Now, the White House will post the bills for public viewing a little earlier in the legislative process, though they made no indication as to when.
Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan government watchdog, questioned the whole controversy. "There isn't anybody in this town who doesn't know that commenting after a bill has been passed is meaningless." However, even if the bill cannot be changed by the public viewing stage, at least citizens have the opportunity to hold accountable legislators who slip in last minute items, and they can press the president to sign or veto.