"Non-Enforcement: A Feature Or A Bug?Source Powerlineblog.com
March 29, 2010 Posted by John at 6:59 PM
[W]ithout an effective mechanism of enforcing the individual mandate, the entire system is likely to collapse. (The individual mandate is the "third leg of the stool" as many a liberal has been pointing out for months.) Given that the bill also bans insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, WHY WOULD ANYONE OBTAIN INSURANCE COVERAGE PRIOR TO NEEDING IT? This was already going to be a problem with the relatively low cost of the penalty, but take away any meaningful enforcement of it and it is a complete and total joke.
The net result will be an ever increasing shift of healthcare costs on to those who remain in the insurance system (or to tax payers), and possibly even the bankruptcy of the insurance industry.
Hmm. Bug or feature? We report, you decide. A reader writes:
Absolutely essential and fundamental to the very design of the Obamacare bill is the individual mandate to require purchase of prescribed health insurance. And yet in what is an amazingly revealing feature of the bill there is literally no provision for enforcement of the mandate. While this has been known for some time -- it was discussed a few weeks ago in NRO in the context of resistance or civil disobedience to the mandate -- it is only now getting the exposure it deserves.
As the linked article makes clear, while the bill does provide for fines to enforce the mandate through the income tax system....the IRS is explicitly prevented from collecting the fines by assessments, liens or seizures, no civil or criminal penalties attach to failure to pay such fines and no interest accrues from the date the fine is due!! This is actually amazing and cries out for explanation.
In my view, this is not the result of a simple oversight or error...quite the contrary. This is a feature, not a bug. We can be sure of this because they had to go to the trouble of specifying that enforcement was prohibited; silence would have meant that the normal IRS enforcement powers were available and presumed to be used to ensure that the mandate legislated by Congress was carried out. Normally the simplest explanation would involve stupidity, incompetence, error, haste or some other ordinary failure. In this case I think the explanation has to be, since it was intentionally put in the bill, that the architects of Obamacare intend that the individual mandate will fail....and guarantee it by actually affirmatively prohibiting enforcement.
Why would they do this? One reason is that, despite all the confident left wing bluster, they may very well be afraid that, given the extraordinary implications for the vast expansion of government power, the Supreme Court may well find, as they should, such a mandate to be unconstitutional. [Ed.: Unlikely, in my view.] That would undermine the whole program and is a complication that the Obama administration I am sure would prefer to avoid. As well as avoiding nasty scenes of property seizures or wage garnishments lack of enforcement would also prevent an individual desiring to make a test case from having standing to sue. (Why the approach taken by the Attorney General in Virginia in relying for standing on conflict of state and federal laws is clever.)
The real reason, I suspect, is more insidious -- quite simply to destroy the private health insurance industry and create an irresistible demand for expansion of the program to a public option and ultimately to single payer provision. It is undeniable that guaranteed issue of insurance at ordinary rates for those with preëxisting medical conditions is popular; but forcing insurance companies to cover them at average rates cannot possibly work unless healthy younger people are forced into the risk pool at rates higher than what their risk rating would otherwise be. Without the mandate, in other words, the insurance companies cannot possibly be viable and also cover preëxisting conditions at average premium rates.
Quite simply, Obamacare has created a ticking time bomb for the insurance industry. Those with preëxisting conditions will be covered.....and demand continuation of the coverage at prescribed rates....and those who ignore the mandate, presumably anybody at all affected by it, face no consequences. As costs spiral out of control, premiums will have to rise and subsidies increase. Insurance companies would have to either fold or shift costs....to those covered by employers....becoming a perfect target for left wing demagoguery and vilification. The only way out as more and more of those covered by employers get pushed into the exchanges as costs get shifted to them and employers no longer offer insurance -- yet another intended consequence -- is the public "option" or outright nationalization through a single payer plan.
We know that a single payer nationalized health care plan is the long term objective and intention for proponents of Obamacare and has been all along. They're completely disingenuous about how "incremental" and "modest" the program is. The astonishing fact that they deliberately prohibited enforcement of a critical component of the plan tells you all you need to know. It will intentionally create a crisis...a feature, not a bug....and a crisis is something this crowd never wants to go to waste."
"Joint Committee on Taxation Confirms that ObamaCare Does Not Enforce Individual Mandate
One of the more controversial elements of ObamaCare is the mandate for most individuals to purchase insurance beginning in 2014. There is really no precedent for a federal mandate of this scale requiring individuals to purchase a product or service. So not surprisingly a number of state Attorney Generals have indicated they will be filing suit questioning the constitutionality of this provision.
Of course the individual mandate is also very risky from a political standpoint, as the Democrats who orchestrated the passage of this bill are mandating not only that the young and healthy obtain insurance, but also that even their most fervent liberal constituents must purchase this coverage from the “evil”, private insurance industry.
Republicans for their part have focused on the fact that this mandate will be enforced via threat of a financial penalty (or tax), with the added assumption that it is the dreaded IRS which will be enforcing this. And sure enough, it’s already been reported that the IRS anticipates hiring possibly in excess of 15,000 additional personnel to deal with the collection of the individual mandate, and other tax related provisions within the bill.
However, it turns out that the Democrats who crafted this bill significantly – and I mean significantly – hamstrung the ability of the IRS or any other federal agency to enforce or collect on this mandate. Here is what the federal Joint Committee on Taxation had to say about this issue in a report released earlier this week:
Individuals who fail to maintain minimum essential coverage in 2016 are subject to a penalty equal to the greater of: (1) 2.5 percent of household income in excess of the taxpayer’s household income for the taxable year over the threshold amount of income required for income tax return filing for that taxpayer under section 6012(a)(1);67 or (2) $695 per uninsured adult in the household. The fee for an uninsured individual under age 18 is one-half of the adult fee for an adult. The total household penalty may not exceed 300 percent of the per adult penalty ($2,085). The total annual household payment may not exceed the national average annual premium for bronze level health plan offered through the Exchange that year for the household size…
The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly. The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.
According to a footnote in the report, “subtitle F of the Code” is the portion of the tax code which grants the IRS the authority to assess and collect taxes. In other words, as the law is written the federal government has no legal authority to enforce this mandate, nor will it have any recourse to collect any penalties that go unpaid!
This issue was actually the subject of a very amusing exchange between Rep. Anthony Wiener and Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday. While the facts seem to vindicate Rep. Wiener who argued repeatedly that the bill would not criminalize non-compliance with the individual mandate, this is actually the worst possible news for those who believe in the merits of the mandate and the bill in general.
Because without an effective mechanism of enforcing the individual mandate, the entire system is likely to collapse. (The individual mandate is the “third leg of the stool” as many a liberal has been pointing out for months.) Given that the bill also bans insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, WHY WOULD ANYONE OBTAIN INSURANCE COVERAGE PRIOR TO NEEDING IT? This was already going to be a problem with the relatively low cost of the penalty, but take away any meaningful enforcement of it and it is a complete and total joke.
The net result will be an ever increasing shift of healthcare costs on to those who remain in the insurance system (or to tax payers), and possibly even the bankruptcy of the insurance industry. Given all the double-talk the past year over the public option, and the demonizing of private insurers, it is hard not to wonder whether this was by design. But let’s give our Democratic friends the benefit of the doubt, in which case this represents an inexcusable level of incompetence from the people we have just entrusted with overseeing one-sixth of the economy. Nice job guys."
Just found this.
"It's Official - America Now Enforces Capital Controls
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/28/2010 14:27 -0500
Source Zero Hedge
"It couldn't have happened to a nicer country. On March 18, with very little pomp and circumstance, president Obama passed the most recent stimulus act, the $17.5 billion Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (H.R. 2487), brilliantly goalseeked by the administration's millionaire cronies to abbreviate as HIRE. As it was merely the latest in an endless stream of acts destined to expand the government payroll to infinity, nobody cared about it, or actually read it. Because if anyone had read it, the act would have been known as the Capital Controls Act, as one of the lesser, but infinitely more important provisions on page 27, known as Offset Provisions - Subtitle A—Foreign Account Tax Compliance, institutes just that. In brief, the Provision requires that foreign banks not only withhold 30% of all outgoing capital flows (likely remitting the collection promptly back to the US Treasury) but also disclose the full details of non-exempt account-holders to the US and the IRS. And should this provision be deemed illegal by a given foreign nation's domestic laws (think Switzerland), well the foreign financial institution is required to close the account. It's the law. If you thought you could move your capital to the non-sequestration safety of non-US financial institutions, sorry you lose - the law now says so. Capital Controls are now here and are now fully enforced by the law.
Let's parse through the just passed law, which has been mentioned by exactly zero mainstream media outlets.
Here is the default new state of capital outflows:
(a) IN GENERAL.—The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after chapter 3 the following new chapter:
‘‘CHAPTER 4—TAXES TO ENFORCE REPORTING ON CERTAIN FOREIGN ACCOUNTS
‘‘Sec. 1471. Withholdable payments to foreign financial institutions.
‘‘Sec. 1472. Withholdable payments to other foreign entities.
‘‘Sec. 1473. Definitions.
‘‘Sec. 1474. Special rules.
‘‘SEC. 1471. WITHHOLDABLE PAYMENTS TO FOREIGN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS.
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—In the case of any withholdable payment to a foreign financial institution which does not meet the requirements of subsection (b), the withholding agent with respect to such payment shall deduct and withhold from such payment a tax equal to 30 percent of the amount of such payment.
Clarifying who this law applies to:
‘‘(C) in the case of any United States account maintained by such institution, to report on an annual basis the information described in subsection (c) with respect to such account,
‘‘(D) to deduct and withhold a tax equal to 30 percent of—
‘‘(i) any passthru payment which is made by such institution to a recalcitrant account holder or another foreign financial institution which does not meet the requirements of this subsection, and
‘‘(ii) in the case of any passthru payment which is made by such institution to a foreign financial institution which has in effect an election under paragraph (3) with respect to such payment, so much of such payment as is allocable to accounts held by recalcitrant account holders or foreign financial institutions which do not meet the requirements of this subsection.
What happens if this brand new law impinges and/or is in blatant contradiction with existing foreign laws?
‘‘(F) in any case in which any foreign law would (but for a waiver described in clause (i)) prevent the reporting of any information referred to in this subsection or subsection (c) with respect to any United States account maintained by such institution—
‘‘(i) to attempt to obtain a valid and effective waiver of such law from each holder of such account, and
‘‘(ii) if a waiver described in clause (i) is not obtained from each such holder within a reasonable period of time, to close such account.
Not only are capital flows now to be overseen and controlled by the government and the IRS, but holders of foreign accounts can kiss any semblance of privacy goodbye:
‘‘(c) INFORMATION REQUIRED TO BE REPORTED ON UNITED STATES ACCOUNTS.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The agreement described in subsection (b) shall require the foreign financial institution to report the following with respect to each United States account maintained by such institution:
‘‘(A) The name, address, and TIN of each account holder which is a specified United States person and, in the case of any account holder which is a United States owned foreign entity, the name, address, and TIN of each substantial United States owner of such entity.
‘‘(B) The account number.
‘‘(C) The account balance or value (determined at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may provide).
‘‘(D) Except to the extent provided by the Secretary, the gross receipts and gross withdrawals or payments from the account (determined for such period and in such manner as the Secretary may provide).
The only exemption to the rule? If you hold the meager sum of $50,000 or less in foreign accounts.
‘‘(B) EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN ACCOUNTS HELD BY INDIVIDUALS.—Unless the foreign financial institution elects to not have this subparagraph apply, such term shall not include any depository account maintained by such financial institution if—
‘‘(i) each holder of such account is a natural person,and
‘‘(ii) with respect to each holder of such account, the aggregate value of all depository accounts held (in whole or in part) by such holder and maintained by the same financial institution which maintains such account does not exceed $50,000.
And, while we are on the topic of definitions, here is how "financial account" is defined by the US:
‘‘(2) FINANCIAL ACCOUNT.—Except as otherwise provided by the Secretary, the term ‘financial account’ means, with respect to any financial institution—
‘‘(A) any depository account maintained by such financial institution,
‘‘(B) any custodial account maintained by such financial institution, and
‘‘(C) any equity or debt interest in such financial institution (other than interests which are regularly traded on an established securities market). Any equity or debt interest which constitutes a financial account under subparagraph (C) with respect to any financial institution shall be treated for purposes of this section as maintained by such financial institution.
In case you find you do not like to be subject to capital controls, you are now deemed a "Recalcitrant Account Holder."
‘‘(6) RECALCITRANT ACCOUNT HOLDER.—The term ‘recalcitrant account holder’ means any account holder which—
‘‘(A) fails to comply with reasonable requests for the information referred to in subsection (b)(1)(A) or (c)(1)(A),
or ‘‘(B) fails to provide a waiver described in subsection (b)(1)(F) upon request.
But guess what - if you are a foreign Central Bank, or if the Secretary determined that you are "a low risk for tax evasion" (unlike the Secretary himself) you still can do whatever the hell you want:
‘‘(f) EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN PAYMENTS.—Subsection (a) shall not apply to any payment to the extent that the beneficial owner
of such payment is—
‘‘(1) any foreign government, any political subdivision of a foreign government, or any wholly owned agency or instrumentality of any one or more of the foregoing,
‘‘(2) any international organization or any wholly owned agency or instrumentality thereof,
‘‘(3) any foreign central bank of issue, or
‘‘(4) any other class of persons identified by the Secretary for purposes of this subsection as posing a low risk of tax evasion.
One thing we are confused about is whether this law is a preamble, or already incorporates, the flow of non-cash assets, such as commodities, and, thus, gold. If an account transfers, via physical or paper delivery, gold from a domestic account to a foreign one, we are not sure if the language deems this a 30% taxable transaction, although preliminary discussions with lawyers indicates this is likely the case.
And so the noose on capital mobility tightens, as very soon the only option US citizens have when it comes to investing their money, will be in government mandated retirement annuities, which will likely be the next step in the capital control escalation, which will culminate with every single free dollar required to be reinvested into the US, likely in the form of purchasing US Treasury emissions such as Treasuries, TIPS and other worthless pieces of paper.
Congratulations bankrupt America - you are now one step closer to a thoroughly non-free market."
h/t Jørgen and Panama Investor Blog"
"The Health Care Bill In A NutshellSource Powerlineblog.com
March 28, 2010 Posted by John at 3:09 PM
"Clean Government Now sums up the disaster that is Obamacare:
The essence of this bill is quite simple: It makes the health insurance industry an arm of the federal government by mandating (not regulating to be clear) the terms, conditions and comparative rates health insurers can offer. In short, it tells them how to run their business and then picks up the cost where those conditions prove uneconomic. We tried this experiment before. It is called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it is a major reason for the collapse of the financial system under the weight of $2T of bogus AAA securities.
When mandates replace competition, there is only one direction for prices to go: UP. Americans will not put up with rationing, and they have come to expect the best care in the world, so any pretense of cost controls is just that: pretense. Obamacare only expands the cancerous dynamics of the third party payer and creates more of a sense of entitlement to be paid for by the ever diminishing "other guy". ...
That is Washington: the bad ideas stick around like venereal disease. The good ones just ride off into the sunset like good soldiers who served us well, but whose time is too brief.
More disturbing is the reality that the comparative effectiveness of medical treatments will not be determined by medical practitioners and their patients, but rather Gucci-garmented lobbyists. ...
Beyond the inevitable failure of central planning, the unavoidable increases in premiums and overall costs, the abdication of personal responsibility and cost control through choice and consequences, the ultimate victim will be the quality of our health care.
It has only one direction to go and that is DOWN.
If you liked what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did to the mortgage market and the world financial system, you will LOVE Obamacare.
But it isn't too late. We have a three to four year window in which Obamacare can be repealed and replaced."
Not sure if this is photoshopped or a real sign. Could be any child .... but gets the point across.
Just picked this up from The Market Ticker. At the very least it should be thoroughly and impartially investigated.
"Truth Comes Out
March 26, 2010 Posted by John at 5:13 PM
"The consequences of the Democrats' health care takeover begin to be felt:
Remember the part in the ObamaCare pitch when they said if you like your current healthcare, it won't change?
Turns out it might.
Companies are already announcing that their healthcare premium costs are going through the roof. Some are responding by firing people. Some are cutting benefits. And some are presumably eating it.
But costs they are a-rising.
Examples include Caterpillar, which said Obamacare will cost it an additional $100 million in the first year; Medtronic, which warned that the new tax on its products "could force it to lay off a thousand workers;" and Verizon, which has told its employees that it "will likely have to cut healthcare benefits to offset the new costs."
Here's one more:
AT&T on Friday said it will record a $1 billion non-cash expense in the first quarter related to the newly passed health-care law, joining a growing list of large U.S. companies. ...
Among its many changes, the new health-care law eliminated a tax deduction that companies used to cut the cost of drug-benefit programs for retired workers. ... companies that still offer retiree drug benefits, mostly older industrial concerns or those with unionized employees, say the end of the deduction could force them to alter their benefit plans. In other words, they might curtail or even cancel them.
"As a result of this legislation, including the additional tax burden, AT&T will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company," AT&T said in a filing with the government on Friday.
So, people who like your employer-provided health insurance, get ready to pay more or get less.
So Obamacare will contribute to higher unemployment as well as worse and more expensive health care. My only question is: where were all of these companies when the Democrats' takeover plan was being debated?"
Just give us a few years for same song second verse.
"Annals of Government MedicineMarch 26, 2010 Posted by John at 7:52 PM
"Under government medicine, all health care is necessarily political. Why anyone would want to live in that world is beyond me. Here is the latest from Great Britain, where the Labour government is trying to keep budget cuts secret until after the election:
Tens of thousands of NHS workers would be sacked, hospital units closed and patients denied treatments under secret plans for £20 billion of health cuts.
The sick would be urged to stay at home and email doctors rather than visit surgeries, while procedures such as hip replacements could be scrapped. ...
Documents show that health chiefs are considering plans to begin sacking workers, cutting treatments and shutting wards across the country.
This one is especially scary:
In the East region, covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, up to £2 billion is to be cut. The SHA proposes shifting services out of hospitals and making social workers take over some treatments.
Hey, that makes sense: they have a shortage of doctors and a surplus of social workers, so let's have the social workers start diagnosing diseases and performing surgery. That's what I call a death panel!"
Linking back to a couple of articles previously posted. Conspiracy theory??? You decide.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
"Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis
Pinned by SteveQuayle.com Q News as Video of the Decade.
YouTube - We have failed to listen to America. And we have failed to reflect the will of our constituents
Interesting quote from Dem. Rep. Dingell.
"Government is enacting "health care reform" today not to reform health care, not to provide health care, but rather to impose an immediate tax on all Americans to attempt to pull up even harder on the monetary stick.
"How Far Down The Rabbit Hole Must We Go?
Sunday, March 21. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Editorial
Source The Market Ticker
".... before our citizens - and government - wake up?
If you remember in October of 2008 I put forward the following:
The Truth is that we now require about $5 of debt to generate $1 of GDP.
The Truth is that the reason you were not asked to approve $700 billion to capitalize 10 new banks, thereby creating seven trillion in lending capacity is that the economy cannot soak up that new lending capacity; each dollar of new debt generates almost no aggregate GDP. If this were not true then that would be the logical and effective cure for the 'credit crunch" - if the borrowing capacity and impact on GDP necessary to help existed. They do not.
The Truth is that you were lied to about the purpose of the TARP/EESA, because what you were sold was mathematically impossible. It is supposed to be unlawful to lie to Congress.
As I pointed out at the time, the reason they didn't create that $7 trillion in new credit issuance is that there was no more capacity to take on new debt in the private sector.
They knew it.
They lied about what "had to happen" for stability to be restored.
They lied because the alternative was that their friends - powerful friends - would have to go bankrupt.
But it gets worse. Some of the other points:
The Truth is that the absolute worst thing you can do when "in the hole" like this is to spend even more on a deficit basis, thereby driving the debt ratio higher and return-per-dollar-of-debt in GDP lower. The last eight years have been disastrous in this regard.
Yet that is exactly what we have done - we have replaced fully 10% of private GDP with public spending, and while the claim was made that this is "temporary" the CBO says it is not, Obama's budget says it is not, and the credit contraction that is continuing in the private economy says it is not.
Bernanke and Paulson, and now Geithner, know that this attempted "reflation" won't - and can't - work. They have put forward this path not because it is the right thing to do, but because the alternative means a lot of people with power and money will go bankrupt and the Government of The United States will have to change how it finances itself, removing the corrupt influences that have been used to "cook" the books - and outcomes - for the last 30 years.
We have blown three trillion dollars since these intentionally-wrong decisions were made, and we will continue to blow more and more money until the entire banking and economic system collapse unless we change course.
Nate has updated the debt-GDP contribution chart that I posted back in 2008 (and which was originally generated by Legg-Mason - it's not difficult to generate it from the Federal Reserve Z1) and it shows exactly what I was predicting - and why the policies of the government and Fed not only haven't but can't work:
Now let's be clear: Essentially all money is debt in our current system. As such attempting to "print" your way out, or attempting to "inflate" out, or attempting any act other than forcing the default of the bad debt in the system results in digging the hole deeper and deeper - that is, depressing private GDP further.
Government's efforts have not helped, they have destroyed the four years we had before "zero hour" was reached. Bernanke's interference in the mortgage market didn't "help" that market, he effectively entirely replaced the private market. The Government's "interference" in the private markets by borrowing and spending $3 trillion over the last two years - more than 9% of GDP annualized - is an attempt to "paper over" the insolvency of private actors in the markets - both borrowers and creditors.
These acts of interference did lead to a huge stock market rally, but just as with all forms of cooking the books they are false dawns and false hopes. They present a picture of "solvency" that does not actually exist. They present a picture of private demand in the economy that does not actually exist.
Since we are now below the "zero line" of GDP-contribution from further debt issuance we simply tighten the monetary flat spin by trying to further print or deficit spend.
The chart in the above link has been updated, of course. It now looks like this:
Despite all the printing, despite all the borrow-and-spend politics each new dollar of currency is representing a decreasing monetary velocity multiplier - that is, we now get less than one dollar for each dollar - the real rate of return is now NEGATIVE.
As in a flat spin in an aircraft, you cannot pull up and live. All pulling up does (printing or borrowing more money) is tighten the spiral. I identified this crossover in December of 2008, and warned of it months earlier.
We have tried it Bernanke, Paulson and Geithner's way and it has failed.
We will strike the ground unless immediate corrective action - that is, pushing forward on the stick - occurs.
Taking that corrective action will cause us to lose altitude faster for a while. If we wait until the ground is "too close", we will strike the ground and (economically) die. The precise point where there is no longer enough time (altitude) is not known in advance, but that we have far less margin now, more than a year later, than we did in December of 2008 is a mathematical fact.
To halt this process we must take the following actions now:
Government is enacting "health care reform" today not to reform health care, not to provide health care, but rather to impose an immediate tax on all Americans to attempt to pull up even harder on the monetary stick.
It won't work folks. It can't work. More than 18 months ago I identified the primary failure in the path that was being taken, and why. We have tried it Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner, President Bush and President Obama's way now for nearly three years, and yet there has been no resolution of the debt problem, no resolution of the housing market and no actual economic growth. Instead we have papered over insolvency and lied about the health of both our banking and economic systems.
Meanwhile the cracks in the dam continue to grow. Greece is not just "one little problem" over in Europe. Behind Greece is Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and even Great Britain. None of these nations have yet taken the actions necessary to resolve the problem, for the same reason we have not - it is politically very difficult to tell the entrenched banking interests "you must eat your own cooking - even if you choke on it."
We still have time to choose between bad and horrifically awful. We can choose between recognizing the Depression we are already in (private GDP has contracted by more than 10% from the peak, which is the definition of economic Depression) or we can risk Zombieland or Mad Max becoming reality.
Since Europe and the rest of the world show no desire or expectation to do the right thing, we must either firewall ourselves off from their collapse or we will inevitably go down the bowl with them.
We are risking severe civil unrest and the possible destruction of our republic by our continued refusal to face the mathematical facts, not just a "double dip" recession. What Greece and other nations are seeing now is nothing compared to what is on the horizon and will reach us if we do not act.
Mathematics yield to no political desire or arrogance wielded by man or woman. Those relationships described by mathematics inexorably come to pass, unless you change the equations. In a debt-backed fiat currency world continuing to load debt into a system that has too much debt in it related to production is a futile and self-destructive act, just as is an alcoholic deciding to chug yet another bottle of whiskey.
Economically we are facing liver failure and brain cancer unless we stop gorging on our drug of choice - debt. Whether the consequence of ceasing to do so is politically expedient or not is, at this point, immaterial. We are literally gambling with the ability of this nation to continue forward as a going and peaceful, civil concern.
We still have time to act and do the right thing to halt what will befall us should we continue on our present path, but that time is running out."
Someone sent this in email.
From Congressman Ted Poe, 2nd District, Texas
Tonight, in the last hour, politics trumped the people and the House passed the Senate bill by a vote of xxx-xxx. As promised, I voted NO.
Over the last year, our country has been more engaged in our government than ever before and because of that we remain united to fight another day. While tonight was a devastating assault on our constitutional rights, it is far from over. Lawsuits will be filed in every courthouse in America. I have spoken to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and he has the full support, and vigorous encouragement, of the Republican members of Congress to take immediate action on the state level.
As a former judge, I have an appreciation for the laws in our country. The government takeover of healthcare is unconstitutional. Our federal government does not have the authority to force us to buy anything. That's not allowed under any stretch of the law or imagination.
This power grab is not about health, and it's certainly not about care. It's about liberty. It's about federal government control over people's lives. The federal government has no right to dictate to the people their healthcare needs or any other goods or services they deem necessary.
Over 70 percent of the American people are against this bill. I will continue to fight along side of the people against government intrusion and champion real reform that fixes what is broken and improves the greatest healthcare system in the world. No one argues that we need reform, but this bill was not the answer. It was never about reform – it was always about government control.
Rest assured tonight, this is not over. Let me leave you with these words:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
God and Texas,
Member of Congress
Full credit to Time*treat for the link to this list.
FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 165(Democrats in roman; Republicans in italic; Independents underlined)
H R 3590 RECORDED VOTE 21-Mar-2010 10:49 PM
QUESTION: On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments
BILL TITLE: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
---- AYES 219 ---
Jackson Lee (TX)
Johnson, E. B.
Sánchez, Linda T.
---- NOES 212 ---
Lungren, Daniel E.
Seems the process is not quite over.
"Silver LiningsSource PowerLineBlog.com
March 21, 2010 Posted by John at 4:13 PM
"With Stupak's collapse, passage of the Democrats' government medicine bill is assured. This is a dark day in American history; one of the darkest. But there are many reasons for optimism. Here are a few:
* The health care battle is just beginning. Next, the Senate will try to enact the House's "fixes" to the original Senate bill. Some Senators say that won't happen. If not, then President Obama has the option of signing the original Senate bill--now passed by the House--Cornhusker Kickback and all. I assume he would do that, but the resulting blowback from House Democrats, not to mention the American people, would be something to behold.
* The health care bill's taxes will go into effect promptly, but its substantive provisions are, for the most part, deferred for four years. This means that we have plenty of time to repeal the legislation. Sure, it will take a new Congress and new President. But repealing this disaster of a bill will by a rallying cry for the American people for years to come. Moreover, even if the Republicans only take over the House in November, and not the Senate, won't it be possible to throw roadblocks in the way of the bill's implementation? Won't budget appropriations be necessary to sustain the various federal tentacles the bill seeks to establish? What will happen if the House simply refuses to fund them?
* I've never been prouder to be a Republican. The party's Congressional leaders have fought this battle to the end on behalf of the American people--with intelligence, toughness, persistence and good humor. The contrast between the parties has never been starker than in today's debate. If any intelligent Democrats were watching--there must be some left--they had to be embarrassed for their party.
* Paul Ryan has emerged as one of the conservative movement's strongest spokesmen. In the years to come, I think we will hear the words "I'm a Paul Ryan Republican" with increasing frequency.
* The health care debate has energized the conservative movement and awoken the sleeping giant, that is, the American people. The Democrats misinterpreted their electoral victories in 2006 and 2008 as a mandate for socialism. Now a majority of voters are intent on disabusing them of that misapprehension. Just about all of the political energy today is on the right--a remarkable fact, only sixteen months after the Democrats' high-water mark in November 2008.
* Barack Obama has used his political capital--pretty much all of it--on unpopular legislation that will continue to rile the voters for years to come. As a result, Obama is a remarkably unpopular second-year President. And he hasn't even experienced any bad luck yet. It is hard to see how he will be able to regain his footing.
So, be of good cheer. To paraphrase a great American, we have not yet begun to fight.
UPDATE: Tim Pawlenty tweets:
Hard to believe Congress would pass this mess of a health care plan. It will put us further into debt & dangerously expand scope of gov't.
PAUL adds: Repeal may not be out of the question, but my advice is to exercise more and improve your diet. Try to minimize your encounters with Obamacare and delay your encounter with the death panel in whatever form it takes."
Can you hear us now??????????????????
"Kill the Bill Rally In Progress
March 20, 2010 Posted by John at 2:30 PM
Thousands of Americans are rallying at the Capitol to urge Congress to defeat the Democrats' health care takeover bill. You can follow events on Twitter at #killthebill. This photo was taken at noon from the Speaker's Lobby and posted via Twitter. Click to enlarge
Poll is about 2/3 of the way down the page on the righthand side. There was no direct link to the poll or I would have posted it.
Question of the day
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said voters wouldn't differentiate if Congress OKs the health care bill by using a procedure instead of a traditional vote. Agree or not?
March 16, 2010
"Talking Points vs. Reality
By Thomas Sowell
"In a swindle that would make Bernie Madoff look like an amateur, Barack Obama has gotten a substantial segment of the population to believe that he can add millions of people to the government-insured rolls without increasing the already record-breaking federal deficit.
Those who think in terms of talking points, instead of realities, can point to the fact that the Congressional Budget Office has concurred with budget numbers that the Obama administration has presented.
Anyone who is so old-fashioned as to stop and think, instead of being swept along by rhetoric, can understand that a budget-- any budget-- is not a record of hard facts but a projection of future financial plans. A budget tells us what will happen if everything works out according to plan.
The Congressional Budget Office can only deal with the numbers that Congress supplies. Those numbers may well be consistent with each other, even if they are wholly inconsistent with anything that is likely to happen in the real world.
The Obama health care plan can be financed without increasing the federal deficit-- if the administration takes hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare. But Medicare itself does not have enough money to pay its own way over time.
However money is juggled in the short run, the government's financial liabilities are increased by adding this huge new entitlement of government-provided insurance. The fact that these new financial liabilities can be kept out of the official federal deficit projection, by claiming that they will be paid for with money taken from Medicare, changes nothing in the real world.
I can say that I can afford to buy a Rolls Royce, without going into debt, by using my inheritance from a rich uncle. But, in the real world, the question would arise immediately whether I in fact have a rich uncle, not to mention whether this hypothetical rich uncle would be likely to leave me enough money to buy a Rolls Royce.
In politics, however, you can say all sorts of things that have no relationship with reality. If you have a mainstream media that sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil-- when it comes to Barack Obama-- you can say that you will pay for a vast expansion of government-provided insurance by taking money from the Medicare budget and using other gimmicks.
Whether this administration, or any future administration, will in fact take enough money from Medicare to pay for this new massive entitlement is a question that only the future can answer, regardless of what today's budget projection says.
On paper, you can treat Medicare like the hypothetical rich uncle who is going to leave me enough money to buy a Rolls Royce. But only on paper. In real life, you can't get blood from a turnip, and you can't keep on getting money from a Medicare program that is itself running out of money.
An even more transparent gimmick is collecting money for the new Obama health care program for the first ten years but delaying the payments of its benefits for four years. By collecting money for 10 years and spending it for only 6 years, you can make the program look self-supporting, but only on paper and only in the short run.
This is a game you can play just once, during the first decade. After that, you are going to be collecting money for 10 years and paying out money for 10 years. That is when you discover that your uncle doesn't have enough money to support himself, much less leave you an inheritance to pay for a Rolls Royce.
But a postponed revelation is not part of the official federal deficit today. And that provides a talking point, in order to soothe people who take talking points seriously.
Fraud has been at the heart of this medical care takeover plan from day one. The succession of wholly arbitrary deadlines for rushing this massive legislation through, before anyone has time to read it all, serves no other purpose than to keep its specifics from being scrutinized-- or even recognized-- before it becomes a fait accompli and "the law of the land."
Would you buy a used car under these conditions, even if it was a Rolls Royce?"
"Huge (53%) Tax Increase On SAVERS
Source The Market Ticker Wednesday, March 17. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger
If you were wondering where the hidden taxes are in "Health Reform", guess what - President Obama has just given you something to sit on.
The forced march to pass ObamaCare continues, and all that matters now is raw politics. But opponents should go down swinging, and that means exposing such policy debacles as President Obama's 11th-hour decision to apply the 2.9% Medicare payroll tax to "unearned income."
That's what savings and investment income are called in Washington, and this destructive tax wasn't in either the House or Senate bills, though it may now become law with almost no scrutiny.
This is unbelievably destructive to capital formation.
For the person who is "short-term trading" (e.g. daytrading, etc) this is a relatively small tax, an increase of about 7% in the tax (2.9% applied to the 39.6% maximum rate on "ordinary income", which short-term capital gains are.)
But for the person who is INVESTING for the long haul, that is, who is holding stocks for more than one year, this takes the marginal rate from 15% to 17.9%, an increase of almost 20% in the tax owed.
This, of course, comes on the back of President Obama's fraudulently engineered "rally", which was created through Congressional intervention to permit - surprise surprise - legalized accounting fraud through "mark to model."
So you got your stock market rally, and now President Obama and The Democrats are going to cram a 20% tax increase down your throat if you profited from it - and at this point, being 2010, there's not a thing you can do about it.
It gets better. Since ordinary investors can only write off $3,000 in capital losses, when you lose you don't get a tax credit. Oh yeah, you get to carry forward the loss to future years, but you paid the tax on the gains already - this is a putative future credit back.
Oh, and let's not forget that there was already a huge tax increase coming this year - the long term capital gains rate goes to 20% at the end of this year anyway as the Bush tax cuts expire.
So in fact the rate goes from 15% to 22.9%, a fifty-three percent increase in the tax rate.
And oh, if your AGI goes over $200,000 by even a dollar you are subject to this tax from the first dollar of your investment income.
A fifty-three percent increase in taxes on long-term (that is, capital-forming, long-term investment) capital gains - exactly the sort of investment activity you want to form businesses and invest for the long haul in America's future, not to mention generating jobs by forming those enterprises.
That's slammed the door on any interest I might have in forming a new business as I did in the 1990s - ever - and I suspect I'm not alone.
When this goes into effect my capital, other than that which I can shelter from taxation, is no longer going to be put at risk in the markets. I'd rather live in a nice little cottage on the beach and simply expend what I have rather than contributing to capital formation in any way, shape or form under a punitive system like this.
Because if Congress demonstrates that it will put 53% on the capital gains rate once I've already committed my capital (thereby destroying my return) I will not take the risk of them doing it again and making the rate even more punitive."
"The truth about health insurance premiums and profits
Source The Daily Caller
"On a recent Fox News debate about health insurance, Democratic political strategist Bob Beckel explained that, “The president needed an enemy, and the insurance companies are it.”
Proving that point in a Pennsylvania stump speech, President Obama asked, “How much higher do premiums have to go before we do something about it? We can’t have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people.”
On February 20, President Obama used his weekly radio show to express outrage that a fraction of Californians buying individual Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plans “are likely (sic) to see their rates go up anywhere from 35 to 39 percent.” He used those figures to justify preempting state regulation “by ensuring that, if a rate increase is unreasonable and unjustified, health insurers must lower premiums, provide rebates, or take other actions to make premiums affordable.”
There was always something peculiar about this desperate effort to demonize certain health insurers. Individual plans account for only 4 percent of the insurance market. So why do they account for 100percent of the president’s fulminations about insurance premiums? Could it be because insurance premiums for the other 96percent have not been rising much?
Nonprofit BCBS plans account for a third of the private health insurance market. Michigan’s nonprofit asked for 56 percent premium hike without the national media taking that Hail Mary pass too seriously. But even Obama finds it difficult to accuse nonprofits of being too profitable, so he needed to pin his enemy badge on a for-profit firm – one of Wellpoint’s “Anthem” BCBS plans.
Anthem of California’s requested rate increase on individual policies was actually 20-35 percent. The only way it could get to 39percent would be if a policyholder insisted on a gold-plated Cadillac plan and also happened to move up into a higher age group. Besides, requesting a rate hike means nothing. Even Obama’s radio address mentioned two requests that had been cut in half. Many are denied.
So, how many Californians have actually been faced with a 39 percent increase in their premiums? Exactly zero.
How many are really “likely” to be faced with even a 35 percent increase after state insurance regulators have their say? My forecast: Zero.
The president highlighted the “likely” increases of “35 to 39 percent” to suggest insurance companies in general were asking for huge premium increases just to boost their lavish profits. He complained that in the $1.2 trillion health insurance industry, “the five largest insurers made record profits of over $12 billion.” But that puny sum includes WellPoint’s sale of its pharmacy benefits management company NextRX to Express Scripts for $4.7 billion last April. Adding that $4.7 billion to WellPoint profits is like saying a family’s income rose by $1 million because they sold a million-dollar home.
University of Michigan economist Mark Perry calculated that without the sale of NextRX, “WellPoint’s profit margin would have been only 3.9 percent, the industry average profit margin would have been closer to 3percent”— $100 per policy. Yet Obama concluded that, “The bottom line is that the status quo is good for the insurance industry and bad for America.”
The media echoed the president words endlessly, and wrote as though one company’s hypothetical request for increases of 35 percent-39 percent were a nationwide threat—even to those with group insurance—rather than an unique and highly unlikely request that might (if magically approved) touch a miniscule number in a hostile state for health insurers.
“It doesn’t take too many 39 percent increases, like the recent one proposed in California that has garnished so much attention, to put insurance out of reach,” exclaimed a New York Times report. That same paper’s editorial added, “The recently announced plan by Anthem Blue Cross in California to raise annual premiums by 35 to 39 percent for nearly a quarter of its individual subscribers is a chilling harbinger of what is to come if reform fails.” Really?
Grasping for confirmation of the 39 percent figure, some reporters cited a Feb. 24 memo about Wellpoint written by journalist Scott Paltrow for The Center for American Progress Action Fund. Paltrow gathered news clippings suggesting premiums are “expected to” increase by “up to” some scary number in various states. For California, however, Paltrow’s source was the president’s speech. This Action Fund is a is no “liberal think tank,” as the Wall Street Journal put it, but a 501(c)4 lobby which can participate in campaigns and elections. Founded by Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff John Podesta, it’s a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party.
A Wall Street Journal story about Wellpoint’s wish list for higher premiums cites the Department of Health and Human Services as its source. That means a shoddy four-page polemic at HealthReform.gov, “Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer.” That pamphlet, like another from the Commonwealth Fund, cites Duke Helfand, an L.A. Times reporter who wrote on Feb. 4 that, “brokers who sell these policies say they are fielding numerous calls from customers incensed over premium increases of 30percent to 39 percent.”
So, the president’s 39 percent figure came from Duke Helfand, who heard it from insurance brokers who, in turn, said they heard it from customers. The 39 percent figure referred to one person named Mary. After rounding Helfand’s 30 percent up to 35 percent, however, that was good enough for the president’s purposes.
Like Obama, the “Insurance Companies Prosper” pamphlet repeatedly confuses asking with getting. “Anthem Blue Cross isn’t alone in insisting on premium hikes,” it says; “Anthem of Connecticut requested an increase of 24 percent last year, which was rejected by the state.” So what? If you went to your boss and insisted on a 24 percent raise, would that constitute proof that wages are rising too fast?
If Obama has been reduced to basing the redistribution of health care on the cost of health insurance premiums, he will need much better facts. Fortunately, credible statistics on health insurance premiums are readily available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
CMS statistics (Table 12) reveal that the net cost of private health insurance – premiums minus benefits – fell by 2.8percent in 2008. Furthermore, CMS Health Spending Projections predict that spending on private health insurance will rise 2.5percent in 2010, while prices of medical goods and services rise by 2.8percent.
Consumers’ cost of health premiums is also part of the detailed consumer price index. After all the overheated rhetoric about “requested” or “expected” increases of “up to” 39 percent, who would have imagined that the average consumer cost of health insurance premiums fell by 3.5 percent in 2008 and fell by another 3.2 percent in 2009?
The president’s health insurance proposals hoped to use stern command-and-control techniques to run the health insurance system. It was all about minimizing free choice and maximizing brute force—forcing people to buy certain kinds of politically-designed insurance, forcing insurers to cover services many consumers do not want to pay for, and forcing insurers to curb or roll back premiums even as medical costs go up. The whole shaky apparatus was built upon even shakier statistics—including the purely hypothetical 39 percent increase in premiums that Mary’s insurance agent reported to Duke Helfand."
Alan Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute.
"Unconstitutional Procedure Being Used to Pass Unconstitutional ObamaCare
"House leaders are preparing to ram through ObamaCare this week without a vote. Not only is the legislation unconstitutional, but the process being used to pass it is unconstitutional. The House is preparing a rule that would consider the Senate-passed version of ObamaCare passed in the House even though members would never directly vote on it. That would violate Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution.
Here is how the trick would work: In the House, the Rules Committee sets up the parameters for debate on legislation. House leaders are considering a complicated rule that would be structured so that a vote on the rule setting down the structure for the ObamaCare debate would allow the Senate’s version of health care reform to pass without a vote. First, there would be a vote on a rule. If the rule is passed by the House, then the House would vote on a health care budget reconciliation measure that is an amendment to the Senate passed ObamaCare bill. If that reconciliation measure passes, then reconciliation goes to the Senate and the ObamaCare legislation is deemed passed without a direct vote. The plan for the legislation is unclear. House leadership will either structure the rule to either immediately present ObamaCare to the President for his signature or they will hold the bill and deliver it only if the Senate passes a health care reconciliation measure. Either way, the Constitution and the American people are the losers.
Understand that this procedure is drafted in a way so your average American can’t understand it. The simple way to understand the situation is that the House is trying to pass a bill without a vote.
The Constitution states that the House and Senate are supposed to pass identical versions of a bill before the President can sign it into law. One of the reasons for this tricky procedure is to provide cover for moderate Democrats who don’t want to vote for the Senate-passed ObamaCare bill because it includes the federal funding of abortion.
Michael McConnell, Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, explains it this way at the Wall Street Journal today:
Democratic congressional leaders have floated a plan to enact health-care reform by a procedure dubbed “the Slaughter solution.” It is named not for the political carnage that it might inflict on their members, but for Rep. Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.), chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, who proposed it. Under her proposal, Democrats would pass a rule that deems the Senate’s health-care bill to have passed the House, without the House actually voting on the bill. This would enable Congress to vote on legislation that fixes flaws in the Senate health-care bill without facing a Senate filibuster, and without requiring House members to vote in favor of a Senate bill that is now politically toxic.
McConnell is right. The Constitution says that:
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law.
If a branch does not vote on a bill, then that bill did not pass. This proposed procedure seems to be a clear violation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution. There will be debate on the proper remedy for this constitutional affront, but all can agree that, at a minimum, House members can raise a constitutional point of order against the rule.
Liberals in the House understand that this process is hard to defend. Chris Frates at Politico writes about a leaked memo drafted by Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) intended to provide talking points to Democrat members when challenged on the unconstitutional process.
The Van Hollen memo also advised members to avoid talking about the process. “At this point, we have to just rip the band-aid off and have a vote — up or down; yes or no? Things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL,” the memo says. “People who try and start arguments about process on this are almost always against the actual policy substance too, often times for purely political reasons.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the House Rules Committee have come up with a very complicated procedure to get ObamaCare to the President’s desk without House members having to vote directly on the bill. This procedure is going to be debated extensively this week and may be the key issue as to whether President Obama signs legislation to provide a de facto government-run health care system."
Long read but worthwhile.
"Dead Congress Walking
The Democrats are afraid of the voters and mad at each other. Their vaunted health care reform is going to do them in.
BY Noemie EmerySource WeeklyStandard.com
March 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 26
"A stranger moment in politics has seldom been seen. A vast expansion of government that affects every one of the country’s 300-plus million inhabitants may be passed by a hair against fierce and fiercely repeated public opposition by a Congress that no longer speaks for its voters—most of whose members are angry and scared. They are afraid of their voters, and mad at each other, or rather, the Democrats are: The liberals are mad at the centrists, the centrists are mad at the liberals. Democrats in the House are angry at those in the Senate, and deeply suspicious of being betrayed. The centrists are also mad at Obama, for picking the wrong cause (health care and not the economy), doing it in the wrong way (big and expensive, not incremental and smaller), and pushing them to risk their careers in backing a cause and a program neither they nor their constituents want.
For Obama himself, health care has been toxic, decimating his numbers, and ripping apart his mystique. In the course of the fight his approval ratings have dipped from near 70 to the mid-40s, his magic has vanished, and his words have gone flat. The coalition that elected him has fallen apart, as independents, mistakenly lured by his “conservative” temperament, have fled to the welcoming arms of the opposite party. Polling suggests that all the red and swing states Obama took from George W. Bush have now turned against him. The elections held since health care became the main issue have rendered votes of no confidence: In 2008, Virginia went to Obama by a 7-point margin; in 2009, it elected a Republican governor by 18, a 25-point recalibration. In 2008, New Jersey went to Obama by 15 points; in 2009 it went to Chris Christie by 4. Massachusetts, which went for Obama by 26 points (and which hasn’t had a Republican senator since the late 1970s), gave Ted Kennedy’s seat to a Republican who campaigned against health care, by a margin of 5 points. Respected nonpartisan political analysts now predict a “wave” election for the upcoming midterms, in which the out party wins one or both houses of Congress?—an event that is usually driven by a major calamity like the failure of the Clinton health care reform plan in the 1994 midterms plus congressional scandal or the 2006 loss for Republicans, triggered by congressional scandal and what looked then like a loss in Iraq. Democrats hold massive majorities—18 seats in the Senate, and 79 in the House—but many of the states and districts that they represent now poll as being against the health care proposal, creating a major democratic dysfunction, as many members are voting against the wishes and interests of their districts and states. This lopsided body, in which Democrats are clawing to eke out even a one-vote majority, is a dead Congress walking, out of step with most of its voters, who on this issue at least are temporarily represented by the naysayers on the Republican side of the aisle. Health care reform has dissolved the Democrats’ coalition, and with it much of their moral authority. If health care survives, it will have been passed by the shell of a Congress that outlived its own mandate.
Supporters of the current legislation on health care reform compare this effort to Social Security, Medicare, and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the mid-1960s, but the differences between them are stark. None of these passed with substantial majorities of the public strongly against them. None passed without substantial backing from the opposite party. None of them had the remarkable effect of uniting the opposition in monolithic resistance, while at the same time splitting their party, demoralizing it, and setting its various factions strongly at odds. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson never had to spend billions of dollars to pick up the votes of unhappy senators. Their stature was enhanced by passing these measures, not lessened and compromised. And their bills were passed on their merits, not on desperate appeals to save the party and president from a political pasting, which seems the main talking point being used on reluctant members of Congress now. “The crusade that is dragging itself toward the finish line doesn’t quite feel like a triumph, let alone the launch of a new New Deal,” wrote Howard Fineman in Newsweek, even before Scott Brown tossed his bombshell. “The reasons offered . . . have been ever-shifting. . . . By the time Bill Clinton met privately with Senate Democrats . . . it was . . . primarily about the political optics: the need to pass something, anything, to avoid defeat.” “Their sole remaining reason for completing the <snip>ed thing is that they started it,” writes George Will, noting that the main passion driving Democrats is a fear of repeating the 1994 wipeout, which they trace, perhaps incorrectly, to the failure to pass health care that year. At any rate, the main emotion among Democrats seems to be a balance of terror: fear of passing the bill against fear of killing it, making them face the wrath of the voters; or their party’s base, leaders, and president.
No party or president has ever put its members in a vise of this nature before. Or seen its backers make so many strange statements in trying to press a bill’s case. Back in the days before Scott Brown’s victory, when the Democrats still had their 60-man supermajority, the claim was that the fault lay in the “system” and the Senate, and never in the bill. “What precisely is the point of the United States Senate?” asked New York magazine’s John Heilemann. “If a popular, shrewd president coupled with a Congress with a strong majority in both houses held by the president’s party can’t get its program passed . . . something is structurally wrong.” What was wrong, however, wasn’t the structure. The president was not in fact shrewd and was no longer popular, the party wasn’t strong but split (at least on this issue), and the bill was disliked by much of the public, which made its objections often and noisily felt.
As for the Senate, it is a more representative body than Obamacare’s defenders believe. In many states having two Democratic senators, the health care bill polls very poorly; indicating not that the Senate rules give the minority too much power, but that in many states represented by Democrats, the senators aren’t giving voice to their voters’ ideas. Virginia, which has two Democrats (James Webb and Mark Warner), strongly opposes the president’s version of health care and gave Republican Bob McDonnell a landslide in the governor’s race to drive home the message. New Jersey, with two Democrats (Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez), elected Republican Chris Christie governor to make the same point. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas is in very deep trouble, as is her fellow Democratic senator, Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, who, when he got the Cornhusker Kickback, was jeered and hissed roundly by resident voters, and saw his numbers plummet. Massachusetts, which between 1978 and 2010 had no Republican senators at all in its delegation, and for eight years had no Republican members of Congress, elected Republican Scott Brown, on a pledge to fight health care. In this sense, John Kerry, Paul Kirk, and even Ted Kennedy, didn’t represent Massachusetts. The woes of the health care reform are not the fault of the Senate at all.
Another strange view now being floated is that the public in general is angry because the bill is held up in Congress, and nothing is now being done. Let’s back up and break this down into two different segments: The liberal base is angry because the bill is being tied up in Congress. The public in general is furious because the bill is still being brought up at all. If the bill is passed, the base will be pleased, but the public at large will be even more furious. And at the last calculation, the public in general was about three times as large as the base. A similar view is that the bill has to pass because it’s unpopular, because it’s only after its passage that its merits can be fully discussed. In this sense, the debate in itself is the primary obstacle. “We have to pass the bill, so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” says Nancy Pelosi. “Once they pass a plan, you can actually talk about a plan,” says E. J. Dionne. “No president can win the argument over health care prospectively because the country is not inclined to believe that Washington can reform a system this complex,” Ron Brownstein quotes White House flack Dan Pfeiffer. “The only way to sell comprehensive reform, Pfeiffer continued, is to pass it despite poor poll numbers, and then build support.” Usually, one builds support before voting, and then votes when one has it. But these are unusual times.
Strangest of all is the popular theory that if the bill passes?—by bribes, threats, and payoffs, and against fierce opposition—there will be a triumphant, Rose Garden signing, and then the whole issue will fade. Good luck with that. A bill forced through against such popular dissent is likely to start, and not settle, contention, for two big reasons.
First, this bill is not only disliked, it is disliked intensely, and across a wide swath of the population. Majorities not only dislike it, but majorities of those majorities dislike it intensely. Twice as many independents dislike as support it intensely, and the intensity of antipathy has only grown. They dislike it intensely because it will affect them intensely, on a personal level. Tax cuts don’t affect everyone equally. Very few people are ever on welfare. Most people who live long enough do get on Medicare, but not everyone does at the same time. Health care involves everyone, every day, on an emotional, primitive, life and death level. Everyone needs doctors. Everyone has had an experience, or has friends and relations who have had the experience, where the right or wrong medical treatment at the right or wrong time by the right or wrong doctor made the difference between life and death, between a full and a partial recovery, and an experience that was neither traumatic nor financially ruinous, or one that was hell on all counts. Everyone fears a system that could give them the wrong doctor instead of the right one at just the wrong moment, and everyone, no matter how rich, strong, well-connected, or seemingly healthy, knows that an accident or a bad diagnosis can come any day. Polls show that most people believe this plan will make their care more expensive, and at the same time, less satisfactory than what they already have. Add to this the fact that the bill by necessity trips a mare’s nest of hot wires—abortion, rationing, euthanasia on the basis of “social utility,” and the whole moral complex of beginning- and end-of-life issues—and one has no reason for thinking this issue will be laid to rest soon.
Second, the bill’s defenders say “process” themes don’t move the public, and they may be right. But what they call “process” in this case reads like “corruption” to others, such as the bribes, threats, and buyoffs with which the bill cleared the Senate. Three hundred million dollars to buy Mary Landrieu, over a billion to pay off Ben Nelson. Besides being corrupt, the administration is looking inept in the bargain: The past week brought Massapiece Theatre, along with the wavering Democratic congressman whose brother was offered a judgeship just as he was being asked to the White House for a collegial talk. This is beginning to look like The Godfather crossed with a Marx Brothers movie, a bad sign for an administration that came in touting competence and projecting the feel of a Frank Capra film.
In fact, the process is part of the problem, and stems from the bill’s weakness, which makes payoffs essential: “Because the legislation is frightening and unpopular, Democrats have had to resort to serial bribery,” writes George Will, correctly. “Massachusetts voted immediately after the corruption of exempting, until 2018, union members from the tax on high value” insurance plans. This and the Cornhusker Kickback helped fuel Scott Brown’s upset, which created the need for still more extravagant buyoffs: Each bribe makes the bill more unpopular, creating the need for more bribes. Senate rules may bore voters, but they find this arresting—one reason the strife will go on.
Other big bills may have been controversial, but most passed in the end by comfortable margins. No reform bill on this grand scale has ever passed in the face of such opposition, with solid majorities so firmly against it, with no votes at all from the opposite party, and with the party in power so split. No such bill had an organized opposition?—the tea party movement—in place against it, ready to march at the first opportunity. Opposition to health care has been very good to the Republican party, and as long as it is, the party will use and run on it. Legal challenges from the states, already in progress, will also add to the air of contention. This is a war that could go on for years.
Liberals say Democrats have to pass this bill to prove they can govern. But will the public see wasting a year on something that’s not a priority, then pushing a bill they don’t want through multiple payoffs, and ending up with something they think will make their lives worse as a species of “governing” they want anything more to do with? Meanwhile, the Democrats are in the intensive care unit, their president wounded, their members demoralized, their coalition in tatters. Come November, voters may decide they’d rather be much less “governed”—or governed by somebody else."
Noemie Emery is a Weekly Standard contributing editor and columnist for the Washington Examiner.
Dems sense of urgency to shove healthcare through reeks of desperation for money. Money to perhaps support yet another war via IOU's like were given to Social Security when they raided those funds years ago.
Could be I've been reading too many conspiracy theories. Decide for yourself.
"Is The US Preparing For "The Total Destruction Of Iran?"
Submitted byTyler Durden on 03/15/2010 15:23 -0500
Source Zero Hedge
"Is war just around the corner? While in theory it would make perfect sense to distract Americans from the long road to US insolvency, and other more pressing issues such as the endless criminality all around us, in practice we have so far heard merely rumors. The Herald of Scotland, however, may have credible proof that a US-led attack on Iran approaches and could be just days away. The newspaper has procured proof of an arms shipment to Diego Garcia, which consists of "of 195 smart, guided, Blu-110 bombs and 192 massive 2000lb Blu-117 bombs...put in place for an assault on Iran’s controversial nuclear facilities." Additional insight comes from Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London: “They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran. US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours." Is war imminent? And will Obama repeat Bush's mistake with Iraq, resulting in a huge spike in oil, coupled with a rush to safety in dollars and/or gold? If inflation will not start on its own, its has to be kindled: preferably by a Blu-117 bomb. Is the relatively long period of market stability and low volatility about to come to a sudden end?
More from the Herald:
Hundreds of powerful US “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.
The Sunday Herald can reveal that the US government signed a contract in January to transport 10 ammunition containers to the island. According to a cargo manifest from the US navy, this included 387 “Blu” bombs used for blasting hardened or underground structures.
Experts say that they are being put in place for an assault on Iran’s controversial nuclear facilities. There has long been speculation that the US military is preparing for such an attack, should diplomacy fail to persuade Iran not to make nuclear weapons.
Although Diego Garcia is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, it is used by the US as a military base under an agreement made in 1971. The agreement led to 2,000 native islanders being forcibly evicted to the Seychelles and Mauritius.
The Sunday Herald reported in 2007 that stealth bomber hangers on the island were being equipped to take bunker-buster bombs.
And it gets worse, when one considers the eerie similarities with Operation Desert [blank]. We all know how that whole fiasco ended.
Contract details for the shipment to Diego Garcia were posted on an international tenders’ website by the US navy.
A shipping company based in Florida, Superior Maritime Services, will be paid $699,500 to carry many thousands of military items from Concord, California, to Diego Garcia.
Crucially, the cargo includes 195 smart, guided, Blu-110 bombs and 192 massive 2000lb Blu-117 bombs.
“They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran,” said Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, co-author of a recent study on US preparations for an attack on Iran. “US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours,” he added.
The preparations were being made by the US military, but it would be up to President Obama to make the final decision. He may decide that it would be better for the US to act instead of Israel, Plesch argued.
“The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely,” he added. “The US ... is using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.”
According to Ian Davis, director of the new independent thinktank, Nato Watch, the shipment to Diego Garcia is a major concern. “We would urge the US to clarify its intentions for these weapons, and the Foreign Office to clarify its attitude to the use of Diego Garcia for an attack on Iran,” he said.
For Alan Mackinnon, chair of Scottish CND, the revelation was “extremely worrying”. He stated: “It is clear that the US government continues to beat the drums of war over Iran, most recently in the statements of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
“It is depressingly similar to the rhetoric we heard prior to the war in Iraq in 2003.”
The British Ministry of Defence has said in the past that the US government would need permission to use Diego Garcia for offensive action. It has already been used for strikes against Iraq during the 1991 and 2003 Gulf wars.
We are confident that the administration's diplomatic core is wildly spinning in advance of a possible incursion, and fully expect that Tehran will be exposed as a poison nest full of dirty, smelly CDS speculators who have been controlling the spreads on global credits ever since the late 70's, about the time Iran ceased being a most favored nation (forget that CDS did not come to the scene until the late 90's, at least Ollie North may get a cameo appearance as head CDS Novator). At worst, the Administration will coin a new term for the incursion's target, recycled appropriately from none other than the Oracle of Omaha: Weapons Of Mass CDS-based Destruction and Other Types of Mass Destruction that Speculators Do Good Too."
Michael Ramirez cartoon
"Pelosi: 'Once we kick through this door,' more reform will follow
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
03/16/10 1:56 AM EDT
Source Washington Examiner
"If you have any doubt that the Democratic leadership of the House views passing the current health care reform bill as the beginning, not the end, of the process of creating a national government health care system, just note what Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a group of bloggers on Monday. "My biggest fight has been between those who wanted to do something incremental and those who wanted to do something comprehensive," Pelosi said, according to an account by Washington Post reform advocate Ezra Klein. "We won that fight, and once we kick through this door, there'll be more legislation to follow."
But since the current bill is unpopular, and Pelosi at the moment does not have enough Democratic, much less Republican, votes to pass it, the door she will be kicking through is the back door. Pelosi told the bloggers she favors using the "self-executing rule" strategy in which the House would pass the Senate health care bill without going on the record as specifically voting for it. "I like it," Pelosi said of the scheme, "because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill." The strategy of passing the Senate bill while avoiding a direct vote, writes Klein, "is all about plausible deniability for House members who don't want to vote for the Senate bill."
In a particularly Alice-in-Wonderland moment, Pelosi argued that the debate over health care reform can begin after the bill is passed. "Pelosi said passing the bill would allow Dems to undertake a 'debate' with Republicans over 'what is the balanced role that government should have,'" writes another pro-reform blogger at the Post, Greg Sargent. According to Sargent, Pelosi explained, "We have to take it to the American people, to say, this is the choice that you have. This is the vision that they have for your health and well being, and this is the vision that we have." Again, in Pelosi's scenario, that debate would occur after the bill is passed.
Finally, Pelosi downplayed statements from her own team that she does not yet have the votes to pass the national health care measure. On "Meet the Press" Sunday, Democratic Whip Rep. James Clyburn said, "No, we don't have them as of this morning." Meeting with the bloggers, Pelosi said, "The reason [Clyburn] said that is we don’t have a bill yet." In the end, the Speaker declared, "I have no intention of not passing this bill."
"Another billboard mystery in Minnesota?
posted at 11:36 am on March 15, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Source Hot Air Blog
"Somehow, I think people will miss this man more than the one featured in the “Miss Me Yet?” billboard that appeared outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota last month. Another anonymous advertisement has appeared on the roadside of a major interstate freeway in the outer-ring suburbs of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolis area, on I-94 just outside of Albertville on the way from St. Cloud to Minneapolis. This ad recalls a President that never got his due in Minnesota:
Who paid for this ad? There are no indications on the sign itself, just as with the previous “Miss Me Yet?” sign with George W. Bush. Ronald Reagan never won Minnesota in either of his two national elections, but clearly someone recalls him fondly. It’s not cheap to pay for this kind of advertising, and it would be interesting to discover who’s behind this one.
Update: This is not a photoshop. I contacted Franklin Outdoor Advertising, who confirmed that they have this sign up at I-94. It was funded by a private effort, but the person to whom I spoke did not know who specifically that includes.
Update II: Also, just for some background, the “Miss Me Yet?” billboard was purchased through one of Franklin’s competitors.
Update III: Not sure why people are still insisting that this is a photoshop, but maybe King Banaian’s eyewitness account will help:
Ed posts about a sign on I-94. I saw it for the first time on Saturday morning as I drove to the Twin Cities for meetings and eventually the MOB party. … It gets very good visibility after you come out from under the Albertville overpass on the road traveling east. I did not realize how fresh the sign was, but Saturday was the first time I saw it.
King also recalls Reagan’s speech at Westminster in 1982. Be sure to read it."
"Obama Supports DNA Sampling Upon Arrest
"Josh Gerstein over at Politico sent Threat Level his piece underscoring once again President Barack Obama is not the civil-liberties knight in shining armor many were expecting.
Gerstein posts a televised interview of Obama and John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted. The nation’s chief executive extols the virtues of mandatory DNA testing of Americans upon arrest, even absent charges or a conviction. Obama said, “It’s the right thing to do” to “tighten the grip around folks” who commit crime.
When it comes to civil liberties, the Obama administration has come under fire for often mirroring his predecessor’s practices surrounding state secrets, the Patriot Act and domestic spying. There’s also Gitmo, Jay Bybee and John Yoo.
Now there’s DNA sampling. Obama told Walsh he supported the federal government, as well as the 18 states that have varying laws requiring compulsory DNA sampling of individuals upon an arrest for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. The data is lodged in state and federal databases, and has fostered as many as 200 arrests nationwide, Walsh said.
The American Civil Liberties Union claims DNA sampling is different from mandatory, upon-arrest fingerprinting that has been standard practice in the United States for decades.
A fingerprint, the group says, reveals nothing more than a person’s identity. But much can be learned from a DNA sample, which codes a person’s family ties, some health risks, and, according to some, can predict a propensity for violence.
The ACLU is suing California to block its voter-approved measure requiring saliva sampling of people picked up on felony charges. Authorities in the Golden State are allowed to conduct so-called “familial searching” — when a genetic sample does not directly match another, authorities start investigating people with closely matched DNA in hopes of finding leads to the perpetrator.
Do you wonder whether DNA sampling is legal?
The courts have already upheld DNA sampling of convicted felons, based on the theory that the convicted have fewer privacy rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that when conducting intrusions of the body during an investigation, the police need so-called “exigent circumstances” or a warrant. That alcohol evaporates in the blood stream is the exigent circumstance to draw blood from a suspected drunk driver without a warrant."
Every state is in a money grab for revenues because we're all suffering during the Great Depression II.
Cathy Cox Georgia State Superintendent of Schools has proposed a 50% increase in Georgia Lottery ticket prices. https://www.lotterypost.com/blogentry/38612
Mrs Cox may want to take a serious look at salaries of university employees before reaching into lottery players' pockets.
Tuesday, March 9. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Education at 19:56
Source The Market Ticker
"Then aim your "demonstrating" at the people who are bankrupting your state - and you personally.
I speak specifically of people such as those that The Daily Illini pointed out - all employees for the University of Illinois.
Let's see what we have here....
The head of the football team - the coach - makes $1 million. For coaching a college football team.
The "intercollegiate (sports) director makes $600,000.
The President of the University is just $50 large shy of a half-million.
A large number of Deans and Professors make $250,000 - or more.
Indeed, I have to get eight pages into this list before I drop below $200,000.
Oh, we also have two Lieutenants in the Police Department that make $192,545 - each - per year. Handing out tickets to scooter riders without helmets and issuing University Parking Citations (probably more than $200,000 worth of those) I'm sure.
Now maybe you can justify how it is that these fine bastions of American Government Employment earn these bloated salaries.
I will point out some demographics to readers for Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where the University happens to be.
The median home price is $159,900, which the top fifteen pages of these employees can afford to pay cash for with one year's salary.
The median income for a family is $52,628, while per-capita income according to the BEA is $31,354. Fewer than FIFTEEN PERCENT of the persons on the University Payroll make equal to or less than the median per-capita income for the city.
Oh, and let's not discuss retirement benefits. Legacy pensions anyone? How about medical care once one retires. And speaking of which, what's the retirement age?
There has been much written about overblown pensions, double and even triple-dipping and similar games. But this table, nicely sortable by salary, makes quite clear exactly who the system employs and how much they pay - and that the pay is, shall we say, ridiculous compared to the average private-sector prevailing wage.
This much should be clear: If you're curious about why you're being bankrupted with parabolic tuition and fee increases along with demands to take on outrageous amounts of debt to get a so-called "college education", you might discern from the above that the only "educating" you're getting in the UofI system is how to hold still while you're bent < snip>.
What you, Dear Student, who is being given the whaaaaambulance treatment by the Administration (the folks making those six-figure salaries that are all radical multiples of the average living wage in your town) do about that "education" is, of course, up to you."
Note this is a corrected post. I referenced the wrong person named Cathy Cox, Democrat, former Secretary of State who ran for Governor, in my previous deleted post which featured the same article below.
Kathy Cox, Superintendent of Schools State of Georgia and a Republican has proposed raising Georgia Lottery ticket prices from $1.00 to $1.50.
I personally want ticket prices to remain at current levels because Georgia has always captured lottery money from bordering states, from travelers on our extensive interstate system and from people flying through Hartsfield Jackson airport.
A 50% increase in ticket prices in our current Depression is shortsighted, money grabbing, and will not increase overall lottery revenues. Kathy Cox might want to consider trimming salaries of university employees, or simply raising sales tax. Would suggest contacting your respective state legislator if you're opposed to a ticke price increase.
Or you might want to email Mrs. Cox with a short polite message.
"Is Cox taking a gamble in suggesting raising price of lottery tickets to fund schools?
2:06 pm March 12, 2010, by Maureen Downey
The suggestion today by state school Superintendent Kathy Cox that lottery ticket prices could be raised by 50 cents to help support k-12 education in Georgia is bound to be controversial because it would shift a larger share of school funding on low-income Georgians.
My former colleague Jim Wooten contended that the lottery took “poor people’s butter-and-egg money.” I argued that all of us are entitled to waste our own money. (I come from a family where my aunts and parents were weekly lottery ticket buyers. I don’t buy them.)
When the AJC looked at lottery sales by zip codes in 2003, we found the areas where people tend to play the lottery most and benefit least from HOPE are substantially poorer than areas that receive the most HOPE scholarships. At the time, Zell Miller, the father of the lottery and the HOPE Scholarship, had a retort to that, saying that the lottery was a diversion.
Players “buy that lottery ticket instead of buying People magazine or the National Enquirer, ” Miller said. “They buy that lottery ticket instead of a six-pack sometimes. They buy that lottery ticket instead going to a baseball game.”
According to the AJC:
Cox said during an appearance Friday on CNN that hiking the price by just 50 cents per ticket could raise $350 million to help fill a massive hole left by state budget cuts in the last two years. Cox said raising prices would ensure K-12 got money while also preserving funding for the HOPE college scholarship and state’s prekindergarten program.
The state constitution already allows lottery revenue to go to technology and buildings for elementary and high schools, but lawmakers stopped allotting that money to K-12 in 2003. Cox said the state’s education budget has been slashed by nearly $3 billion in the last 19 months.
Article has charts to illustrate points, click link at bottom to access.
"Squeezing the Last Drop of Productivity from the American Working Class – 18 Percent National Underemployment and why Wall Street and the Government are Cheering Your Financial Failure.
Posted by mybudget360
Source My Budget 360
"The American financial press cheered on Friday when “only” 36,000 jobs were lost in February. This if you haven’t noticed now passes for good economic news. The unemployment rate remained unchanged because the actual workforce continued to show a decline yet Wall Street somehow viewed this as positive developments. And why not? The middle class is under assault from every angle. Things are so twisted with propaganda that many Americans now believe that the banking elite are actually looking out for the well being of American workers. As news of the job losses somehow echoed as positive developments, more and more Americans are continually being kicked out of their homes from banks they helped to bail out. Irony has no meaning to Wall Street.
And if we look at the details of the jobs report, it turns out that 17.9 percent of Americans are either unemployed or underemployed or flat out have stopped looking for work:
This wasn’t the only spin going on in the media. Before the jobs report came out there was a preemptive flow of information trying to justify the job cuts by blaming it on the weather. Yes, now instead of blaming the financial catastrophe on the actual perpetrators in Wall Street who systematically looted the American system and turned our economy into a giant casino that they leeched onto, we are now to believe people are losing their jobs because of the weather:
“(CNSnews) Ahead of Friday’s announcement, Goldman Sachs predicted that the storm might skew the job loss number by as much as 100,000 – a prediction that was embraced by officials in the Obama administration.
“The blizzards that affected much of the country during the last month are likely to distort the statistics,” Larry Summers, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said in an interview with CNBC. “So it’s going to be very important … to look past whatever the next figures are to gauge the underlying trends.”
If the storm caused a skewing of job loss numbers I wonder how many job losses can be linked to Goldman Sachs and their casino style gambling in the derivatives markets and mortgage backed securities? Then again, people should be happy that the unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent even though more Americans are working part-time with no benefits and many others have simply fallen off the payrolls. This is supposedly the new American dream for the middle class through the eyes of Wall Street who are selling capitalism but living in a world of corporate handout socialism.
There is a new show called Undercover Boss where a CEO goes undercover to work in the trenches with the proletariat. As it turns out, the middle class is being worked to death and as we all know, the CEO can’t even do the job most workers do on a daily basis. Even Henry Ford understood the interworking of the cars he was putting out. In the end the CEO reveals his identity and gives a nice little handout to the worker and all is well in TV land. The check is a token of what CEOs actually make. This is the ultimate reflection of our trickle down economy where those at the top act like sociopaths and rulers of the universe but when it comes to doing the daily tasks of their company, they have no clue. This is the de facto rule running on Wall Street. In fact, CEO pay has grown outrageously over the past few decades as the middle class has gotten poorer:
Source: American Progress
In reality, part-time employment has spread even to poor CEOs making 300 to 400 times the average American worker salary. Poor CEOs and Wall Street executives need time off to enjoy their tax payer funded yachts and all expense hedonism trips to the Caribbean. They would like to convince each other that the money they have is all through their will power and market prowess but in reality it is nothing more than being part of a corporatocracy and buying out the government with an army of lobbyist and insiders. You have to be a self indulgent narcissist to take the economy to the brink of financial destruction in the case of many Wall Street firms and still reward yourself with outrageous bailouts. The fact that average Americans are still not protesting in mass about this tells me that many actually believe what Wall Street is saying. You see this when many would rather blame the working class for the ills of today than focus their energy where it really needs to go.
Wall Street loves this economic crisis. They receive trillions in bailouts yet convince the public that what is occurring today is merely the “market” correcting itself. So as most Americans have more and more troubles keeping up with their daily bills, companies are squeezing every little excess from those currently working. Those that have jobs out of fear will work harder and probably demand less merit increases in the current economy. After all, the head guy is only making 300 times what you make even though he can’t even understand the main function of the organization. So what if the low level guy is selling toxic crap to some homeless person with no income and giving him access to a $500,000 loan. These Wall Street tycoons are big picture thinkers and can’t be worried with the day to day operations of the proletariat unless it means turning it into a caricature for mass viewing and quick TIVO access.
You don’t think productivity actually increased? Take a look at this:
This recession has been fantastic for productivity. Just look at the above chart. American workers have been doing their part during this recession. After all, now you can hire a cadre of “contract” workers and not have to pay them one cent in healthcare support or even contribute to their pension. Once the job is done you can kick them to the curb. After all, this is capitalism so long as those at the top have managed to setup sweetheart deals and golden parachutes. This is how the top 1 percent makes sure their hold on 40 percent of the nation’s wealth isn’t damaged. And if you think financial institutions deserve this bailout money and their outrageous bonuses then companies like Circuit City or Mervyns would still be around today if that model applied across the board. But this doesn’t apply to the general economy. This applies to Wall Street and somehow the absurdity of it all still goes on. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and not one solid reform has been enacted. 26 months of job losses and nothing. Who is running the show?
The rise of the part-time work force is nothing new as we become more and more like Japan. Japan bailed out their financial institutions after their failed stock market and real estate bubbles popped and today, their working class is made up of one-third part-time workers:
“(LA Times) In the world’s second-largest economy, the global financial crisis has forced part-time workers such as Kudo to face a harsh new reality.
Over the last few years, temporary employees have gone from being a rarity in Japan to accounting for one-third of the workforce of 67 million. They enjoy far fewer protections than full-time workers — placing their necks squarely on the layoff chopping block.
By March, the government predicts, 85,000 part-timers will fall prey to haken-giri, or temporary-worker cutbacks — a relatively small number compared with U.S. layoffs but high for a nation where job security has long been a staple.
On Wednesday, embattled Prime Minister Taro Aso made the plight of part-timers a major piece of a proposed stimulus package. Aso pledged to create 1.6 million jobs, partly by turning part-time jobs into full-time ones.”
Japan’s headline unemployment rate is 4.9 percent. Just like our headline unemployment rate, the devil is really in the details. If we continue on this path part-time work may be all that is left."
Wonder if how much tax payer money is being used to spike the numbers?
Amazing what exposure does to an issue. Check out the buy amount now down from 60% to 49% as of posting this link. Today, 11:51 am
"Here's Why You Should Take The Intrade Healthcare Betting Very Seriously
Joe Weisenthal | Mar. 9, 2010, 12:06 PM | 10,064
Source Business Insider
But this doesn't just reflect conventional wisdom. No, this is Washington DC insiders speaking here.
We reached out to InTrade CEO John Delaney, who confirmed that a lot of the trade volume on this particular contract is coming out of DC.
Specifically he said:
...it is a reasonably active market but atypically a lot of the trade is coming from the DC area when normally we might see trade coming from all the major urban areas.
Think of this as political insider trading.
When the insiders are talking, you should listen.
Update: We discuss the possibility that this is manipulation, here.
"Here's How Obama Is Going To Raise Your Taxes By $1.9 Trillion
$9.154 Billion: Disclosing all payments over $600 to anybody
What Is The Tax: By re-establishing reporting rules of deals over $600 between individuals or businesses, compliance in terms of paying proper taxes on such deals would increase making for fewer losses in the tax system.
Tax Revenue 2011-2020: $9.154 Billion
Source: Green Book 2011
Found this via Powerlineblog.com.
"Obama-Care Meets Obama-Ed
March 10, 2010 By Peter Wood
Source NAS - The National Association of Scholars
"Of President Obama’s three big takeovers—cap ‘n trade, health care, and higher ed—higher ed has garnered the least public attention. That may change now that the administration is attempting to impose its wishes by legislative trickery.
The health care bill that the Democrats hope to pass by “reconciliation” to avoid the normal Senatorial voting procedure is now being amended to include the administration’s Big Grab on federal student loans. If this works, we will have one bill in which the federal government not only takes primary control of American health care but also simultaneously takes practical control of American higher education.
Some background: last September, The Wall Street Journal (“The Quietest Trillion”) gave an early heads-up to the administration’s then-plan to move the Department of Education from a 20 percent to an 80 percent share of the student loan market. A bill passed the House that month that would have eliminated private lenders from the federally guaranteed student loan market by July 1, 2010. It came with a promise that taxpayers would save some $87 billion from substituting a government-run service for the rough-and-tumble of private lenders. In October, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to colleges and universities across the country advising them to get their institutions ready for a 2010 implementation of the new rules, dubbed “Direct Lending.” College officials, some House Democrats, and a few Republicans expressed their uneasiness at the new plan.
Duncandidn’t yield an inch. Here he is in a February op-ed in the Washington Postarguing his case that “direct student loans” will save taxpayers billions and make life easier for “educators, engineers and computer scientists—the backbone of the new economy.”
Not everyone is convinced. A few days ago, another Secretary of Education—Lamar Alexander—inveighed in WaPoon what the folks at Department of Education “haven’t told us.” Senator Alexander notes that DOE plans to borrow from the Fed at a 2.8 percent interest rate, lend to students at 6.8, and splurge with the difference with a massive new spending program. He reports that the Congressional Budget Office has lowered the estimated savings from kicking out the private lenders from $87 billion to something like $47 billion. Some 2,000 private lenders will be forced out of this business. Services to students driven by industry competition will be eliminated in favor of typical federal bureaucratic “efficiency.” And those “educators, engineers and computer scientists—the backbone of the new economy”? They will be spending years longer and paying lots more to pay back loans that are actually being used to fund Congressmen’s favorite edu-pork programs.
The effort to shoehorn the direct lending program into the health care reconciliation bill seems odd on its face. CBS News suggests that the maneuver is prompted partly by Democrats trying to get on top of the wave of student protest over college costs that surfaced during the March 4campus demonstrations. But CBS also thinks that the Democrats are just grabbing an opportunity that might not come again. “Reconciliation,” if it works, is a way of short-circuiting all the inconvenience of having to line up sixty votes for a controversial measure. Why not slide as much unpopular legislation as possible into one giant, unpopular, economy-ruining, budget-busting, anti-democratic bill?
Student loan “reform” slipped into the national agendarather quietly in January 2007 when New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began to investigate reports that Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest lender to students, had been engaged in some questionable practices. As it turned out, many private lenders had bribed college officials, and numerous colleges had abused their students by channeling them into disadvantageous loans. The scandal snowballed. It grew worse as then Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings appeared to stonewall inquiries and cover for the Republican-friendly Nelnet Corporation, a student loan re-financer that had gamed a DOE program to extract hundreds of millions of unwarranted payments. The mischief culminated in an ill-considered lawsigned by president Bush in September 2007, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, CCRAA, that cut the payments to private lenders in the federally guaranteed student lending business so drastically that many of the lenders—some sixty of them—simply quit.
That added more snow to the snowball by creating the prospect that students would have a much harder time finding loans the following year. Congress recognized its mistake and in May 2008 rushed through a billthat authorized the Department of Education to buy up “debt” from the private lenders. In many ways this was a rehearsal for the great economic collapse and bank bailouts that came later in 2008.
In a certain sense, the private lenders who participated in the federally guaranteed student loan programs brought the house down on their own heads. Corrupt practices combined with wildly imprudent financial dealings opened the way for the “reform” that President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and the Congressional leadership now intend to push through.
I don’t have much sympathy with those lenders, though surely only a minority was corrupt and imprudent. The real question is whether concentrating federal student loans in the U.S. Department of Education is really going to be an improvement. If the legislation passes, we may well be trading a flawed system for a disastrous one. With direct federal control of student loans will come, as surely as a hangover follows a binge, federal control over the content of higher education."
"If Democrats ignore health-care polls, midterms will be costly
By Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen
Friday, March 12, 2010
Source The Washington Post
"In "The March of Folly," Barbara Tuchman asked, "Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests?" Her assessment of self-deception -- "acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts" -- captures the conditions that are gripping President Obama and the Democratic Party leadership as they renew their efforts to enact health-care reform.
Their blind persistence in the face of reality threatens to turn this political march of folly into an electoral rout in November. In the wake of the stinging loss in Massachusetts, there was a moment when the president and the Democratic leadership seemed to realize the reality of the health-care situation. Yet like some seductive siren of Greek mythology, the lure of health-care reform has arisen again.
As pollsters to the past two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, respectively, we feel compelled to challenge the myths that seem to be prevailing in the political discourse and to once again urge a change in course before it is too late. At stake is the kind of mainstream, common-sense Democratic Party that we believe is crucial to the success of the American enterprise.
Bluntly put, this is the political reality:
First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.
Nothing has been more disconcerting than to watch Democratic politicians and their media supporters deceive themselves into believing that the public favors the Democrats' current health-care plan. Yes, most Americans believe, as we do, that real health-care reform is needed. And yes, certain proposals in the plan are supported by the public.
However, a solid majority of Americans opposes the massive health-reform plan. Four-fifths of those who oppose the plan strongly oppose it, according to Rasmussen polling this week, while only half of those who support the plan do so strongly. Many more Americans believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit. Never in our experience as pollsters can we recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data.
The White House document released Thursday arguing that reform is becoming more popular is in large part fighting the last war. This isn't 1994; it's 2010. And the bottom line is that the American public is overwhelmingly against this bill in its totality even if they like some of its parts.
The notion that once enactment is forced, the public will suddenly embrace health-care reform could not be further from the truth -- and is likely to become a rallying cry for disaffected Republicans, independents and, yes, Democrats.
Second, the country is moving away from big government, with distrust growing more generally toward the role of government in our lives. Scott Rasmussen asked last month whose decisions people feared more in health care: that of the federal government or of insurance companies. By 51 percent to 39 percent, respondents feared the decisions of federal government more. This is astounding given the generally negative perception of insurance companies.
CNN found last month that 56 percent of Americans believe that the government has become so powerful it constitutes an immediate threat to the freedom and rights of citizens. When only 21 percent of Americans say that Washington operates with the consent of the governed, as was also reported last month, we face an alarming crisis.
Health care is no longer a debate about the merits of specific initiatives. Since the spectacle of Christmas dealmaking to ensure passage of the Senate bill, the issue, in voters' minds, has become less about health care than about the government and a political majority that will neither hear nor heed the will of the people.
Voters are hardly enthralled with the GOP, but the Democrats are pursuing policies that are out of step with the way ordinary Americans think and feel about politics and government. Barring some change of approach, they will be punished severely at the polls.
Now, we vigorously opposed Republican efforts in the Bush administration to employ the "nuclear option" in judicial confirmations. We are similarly concerned by Democrats' efforts to manipulate passage of a health-care bill. Doing so in the face of constant majority opposition invites a backlash against the party at every level -- and at a time when it already faces the prospect of losing 30 or more House seats and eight or more Senate seats.
For Democrats to begin turning around their political fortunes there has to be a frank acknowledgement that the comprehensive health-care initiative is a failure, regardless of whether it passes. There are enough Republican and Democratic proposals -- such as purchasing insurance across state lines, malpractice reform, incrementally increasing coverage, initiatives to hold down costs, covering preexisting conditions and ensuring portability -- that can win bipartisan support. It is not a question of starting over but of taking the best of both parties and presenting that as representative of what we need to do to achieve meaningful reform. Such a proposal could even become a template for the central agenda items for the American people: jobs and economic development.
Unless the Democrats fundamentally change their approach, they will produce not just a march of folly but also run the risk of unmitigated disaster in November."
Patrick H. Caddell is a political commentator and former pollster. Douglas E. Schoen, a pollster, is the author of "The Political Fix."
I can't seem to reconcile how collecting global funds will diminish climate change which has been and always will be cyclical.
"IMF suggests how to raise climate change funds
"....... Strauss-Kahn proposed that countries adopt a quota system similar to the one the Fund uses to raise its own money, which could bring in money faster than proposals to increase carbon taxes or other fundraising methods. He only provided a broad outline of the plan, as the organization will release a paper within 10 days with full details. It is unclear how the proposal will be received.
The IMF raises funds from its 185 members mainly through a quota system that is based broadly on each country's economic size. The United States is currently the largest shareholder. ......."
I have permission to post this link.
I am not trying to advertise this site but it is often used to test the pulse of an issue ... how well or badly it's faring with public opinion. Hope this link opens to the chart showing bets on healthcare passage. Price has climbed some lately but doesn't seem a done deal yet.
Commerntary from Powerlineblog.com which seems to be the heart of this administration's government takeover of health care.
"Cause and Effect
"...........The answer is competition. Any company will--and should--raise the prices of its goods or services until they reach the point where they are constrained by competition. Our government has followed a perverse policy with regard to health care, by limiting the extent to which health insurers can compete against each other and thereby constrain each others' prices. The obvious solution, if we want to rein in health insurance costs, is to 1) broaden competition in the industry to the maximum amount possible, and 2) repeal all mandates that require insurance companies to charge for coverages that many people don't want.
If the Democrats took those two basic steps, they would significantly reduce the cost of health care. But they wouldn't dream of doing anything so effective to reduce costs, because they want health care costs to remain high. They need high costs to justify government medicine, which means, at its core, a radical restructuring of the relationship between the citizen and the state."
"Morning Bell: Dead Legislation Walking
"Another day, another stream of health care fantasy from the White House. A quick look at two health care events from yesterday, one in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and the other in Tawas City, Michigan, clearly exposes the yawing gap between the Obama administration’s health care rhetoric and cold hard legislative reality. First in Glenside, President Barack Obama turned up the volume on his already tired “final push” for health care reform. In addition to the usual litany of false claims about the legislation in Congress (in fact, you don’t get to keep your doctor, it isn’t paid for, it doesn’t reduce costs) President Obama also repeated his new line from his doctors-in-lab-coats address last week:
We have now incorporated almost every single serious idea from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care … Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill…
But, as we pointed out last week, there is one not-so-minor difference between the Senate bill and the President’s new proposal: the Senate bill actually exists. Now, Democrats may be telling their conservative counterparts that they will have reconciliation legislative text in front of the Budget Committee by tomorrow, but don’t hold your breath. The “fixes” that the White House is promising wavering House Democrats they will make all sound easy at first glance: 1) scaling back the tax on high-end health insurance policies; 2) closing the Medicare D loophole; 3) boosting insurance subsidies; 4) increasing Medicaid payments; and 5) fixing the Cornhusker Kickback. But when you take a second look, you see that all of these “fixes” will cost more money. Just look at the Cornhusker Kickback which the President chose to address, not by taking away Nebraska’s special Medicaid payments, but by extending those extra Medicaid payments to every state! Every single item in the President’s proposal either increases spending or reduces new revenues. And he didn’t put forward any way to pay for them. If passing health reform were as easy as giving away free candy, Obamacare would be law already. Finding a way to pay for all these fixes is going to be just as difficult as every earlier effort to pay for this bill. So don’t expect any solutions anytime soon.
And we haven’t even mentioned “abortion” yet, which brings us to Tawas City where Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) hosted his own health care townhall. Now the Associated Press headline may read “Stupak: Health bill abortion fight can be resolved” but then the AP actually reports “Rep. Bart Stupak said he expects to resume talks with House leaders this week…” In other words, there is no agreement yet. And what kind of timeline is Stupak looking at for such an agreement? WJRT reports: “[Stupak]’s confident a bill will pass sometime this year.” “Sometime this year” is a bit longer of a timeframe than the White House deadline of next Thursday. But even more importantly, look at the process Stupak suggests for final passage: “According Stupak, until the House and the Senate bills and the president’s proposals become one piece of legislation, health care will remain in limbo.” Considering that everyone agrees that abortion cannot be fixed in reconciliation, Stupak’s position is a total rejection of the White House’s current plan to have the House pass the Senate bill now on the promise that the Senate might come back and try and fix it sometime in the future. Stupak clearly wants “one piece of legislation,” and the only way to accomplish that is to scrap the current Senate bill and start over.
In the meantime, legislative “limbo” has not been kind to the Senate bill. Every day seems to bring news of yet another yes vote switching to undecided or no vote. Just yesterday, former-yes votes Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-NY), Dan Maffei (D-NY), Bill Owens (D-NY) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) all confirmed they were either now undecided or would vote no. And Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), who voted no the first time, said he would suspend his campaign for Governor just so he could come back to Washington to vote against Obamacare again. The President can travel the country talking about an up-or-down vote for “our proposal” all he wants, but the reality is he simply doesn’t have the votes in the House for the only piece of health care legislation that actually exists."
Ya think????? For anyone fretting about how we looked to the world with GW as President ........ this resembles a redneck bar fight midnight, full moon.
Please note polls cited have not been conducted by conservative pollsters.
"Poll shows Obama, Dems losing ground
By Joseph Curl
Source Washington Times
"A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than it was two years ago and think President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, a new poll finds.
The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin -- 51 percent to 41 percent -- Americans think the standing of the U.S. dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama's presidency.
"This is surprising, given the global acclaim and Nobel peace prize that flowed to the new president after he took office," said pollsters for the liberal-leaning organizations.
On the national security front, a massive gap has emerged, with 50 percent of likely voters saying Republicans would likely do a better job than Democrats, a 14-point swing since May. Thirty-three percent favored Democrats.
"The erosion since May is especially strong among women, and among independents, who now favor Republicans on this question by a 56 to 20 percent margin," the pollsters said in their findings.
A May 2009 survey by the pollsters found the public saw the Democratic and Republican parties as equally able to handle national security (41 percent trusted Democrats more, and 43 percent trusted Republicans more.) On conducting the war on terrorism, the two parties were tied at 41 percent.
The Democrats' gap on national security has widened on several other fronts:
• "Keeping America safe": Democrats now trail by 13 points (34 percent to 47 percent.) The gap was just 5 points in July 2008.
• "Ensuring a strong military": Democrats trail by 31 points (27 percent to 58 percent.)
• "Making America safer from nuclear threats": Democrats trail by 11 points (34 percent to 45 percent,) "despite the president's strong actions and speeches on steps to reduce nuclear dangers," the pollsters said.
The poll, conducted late last month, found "the administration's response to the Christmas Day terrorist attempt has contributed to the erosion."
"While public polling showed that initial approval of Obama's response was above 50 percent, two months of Republican criticism have taken a toll. Now a narrow 46 to 42 percent plurality of likely voters say they feel less confident about the administration's handling of national security because of how it responded to the incident," the pollsters said.
In addition, the detention of terrorist suspects and the Obama proposal to prosecute suspects in civil trials in New York City, which was later abandoned, also have taken a toll on the president's approval ratings.
"Whereas a majority of the public approves of the job President Obama is doing in most aspects of national security, a 51 to 44 percent majority of likely voters disapproves of his efforts on the prosecution and interrogation of terrorism suspects," the pollsters found.
Democracy Corps calls itself an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to making the government of the United States more responsive to the American people." It was founded in 1999 by former Clinton adviser James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, a leading Democratic pollster.
Third Way calls itself "the leading moderate think-tank of the progressive movement."
"Morning Bell: Obamacare’s Kabuki End Game
"The doctors in lab coats surrounding President Barack Obama as he gave his latest health care speech yesterday were not there to give the President a physical; that happened Sunday. No, these doctors were props, dressed to impress for what the White House claims is their “final push” for the President’s government take-over of the health care industry. The President again repeated the same old tired claims he has been making for months: “The proposal I’ve put forward gives Americans more control over their health care,” “our proposal is paid for,” and “my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions.” We, and plenty of others, have refuted all these claims before, but this time they are particularly easy to expose as patently false. President Obama gave away the game when he said:
Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next two decades. And those aren’t my numbers – they are the savings determined by the CBO, which is the Washington acronym for the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress.
But there is one huge difference between the Senate bill and what the President kept referring to as my/our proposal: the Senate bill actually exists. For all the talk in Washington about Democrats in the Senate using reconciliation to pass a final version of Obamacare, one key fact has been overlooked: no reconciliation bill exists. Not in the House. Not in the Senate. Nowhere. It simply has not yet been written, and there are plenty of reasons to believe it never will.
The White House is telling the public they expect the House to pass the Senate bill, and then both the House and Senate would pass the yet-to-be-drafted reconciliation, all before Easter recess. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) simply does not have the votes to pass the Senate bill. If she did, it would already be law. To convince her fellow wayward Democrats to vote for the Senate bill, the yet-to-be-drafted reconciliation bill is expected to: 1) scale back the tax on high-end health insurance policies (decreases revenue); 2) close the Medicare D loophole (costs money); 3) boost insurance subsidies (costs money); and 4) increase Medicaid payments (costs a ton of money). Where exactly do House and Senate aides writing this new bill expect to come up with the money to pay for all these new goodies? And they have to find that cash because all reconciliation bills must be certified by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to reduce the deficit by $1 billion over five years. And that CBO score will take at least a week, or possibly two to complete.
So when will the public get to see this reconciliation bill? The Wall Street Journal reports that “Democrats have started writing the formal reconciliation bill” and “intend to send it to the Congressional Budget Office for evaluation by the end of the week.” But The Los Angeles Times reports that: “Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill will not finish writing the reconciliation package until next week at the earliest.” Our advice: don’t hold your breath.
In the meantime Speaker Pelosi is bleeding the votes she needs to first pass the Senate bill, by an up or down vote, in the House. Just 220 members of the House voted for their version of Obamacare in November. Since that time, Reps. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) have left the House; Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) has passed away; and Joseph Cao (R-LA) has said he will vote against the bill. That leaves Pelosi 216 votes, which would be exactly enough to pass the Senate bill. But then there is Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) who will not vote for the Senate bill since it uses taxpayer money to fund abortion. And Stupak says he has a dozen other members that will switch from yes to no with him. And Rep. Michael Acuri (D-NY) now says he is likely to switch his vote from yes to no. And Rep. Shelly Berkley (D-NV), who voted yes the first time, says she is “not inclined to support the Senate” bill. And Rep. Gerry Connolly says he could “absolutely” switch his vote from yes to no. And now Congressional Progressive Caucus Rep. Raúl Grijalva, (D-AZ) says he’s less likely to vote for the final health care reform bill if the reconciliation bill contains the ideas President Obama outlined yesterday.
One House Democrat tells the LA Times why the White House is facing such a tough sell: “It’s a no-win situation for those of us in moderate districts. If you vote no, your base is upset. If you vote yes, everyone else is upset. You almost couldn’t design a legislative vise more damaging to moderate Democrats — or that puts our majority more at risk.” But don’t worry House Democrats, the Senate is going to do everything it can to convince you that you aren’t going to walk the plank alone again. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) tells Politico that Senate Democrats are planning a gesture some time next week that will guarantee to House Democrats the Senate will act: “I don’t know what the gesture will be but it will be a convincing gesture.” Kabuki theater indeed.
"Teen Paralyzed After Getting H1N1 Vaccine
Doctors Say Boy Developed Rare Condition
POSTED: 6:34 pm CST March 5, 2010
UPDATED: 8:00 pm CST March 5, 2010
CECIL COUNTY, Md. --
"A 16-year-old boy in Maryland was paralyzed from the chest down after getting the H1N1 flu vaccine at school, a doctor said.
In December, Robert Beckham lost feeling in both his legs and was rushed to Baltimore's Sinai Hospital, Baltimore station WBAL reported.
"Under very heavy treatment, not only did he not improve, he even got slightly worse," said Sinai pediatric neurologist Dr. Yuval Shafrir.
Shafrir said Robert is being treated for a rare condition called transverse mylitis in which a segment of Robert's spinal cord was destroyed by his own immune system.
Transverse mylitis is a disease that can occur after infection, but in this case, Shafrir said it was a medically unpredictable reaction to a vaccination that's being given in schools all over the country.
"The only obvious cause was the H1N1 vaccination," Shafrir said.
"I kept pestering my parents to get me this shot. I got it, and a month later, it went bad," Robert said.
"I'm still in shock from it. I can't believe that this happened to him," his mother, Belinda Beckham said.
Robert's parents are disabled and financially unable to bring him home from the hospital.
"If he had received the regular flu vaccine, the family would be able to file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program," said attorney Clifford Shoemaker. "But because it was the swine flu program, which falls under the same bill as terrorism … the family will get very little in compensation for what's happened to this child."
The family needs help making their home handicapped-accessible for Robert. There's a fundraiser this weekend at the Porters Grover Baptist Church. All donations can be made at Cecil Bank in care of Robert Beckham.
Meanwhile, Maryland Health Department officials are aware of Robert's case.
"Certainly, there are instances of adverse events -- they're very rare -- and it's something we want to monitor closely," said DHMH Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips.
While Robert Beckham's paralysis is heartbreaking, Shafrir said it shouldn't deter anyone from getting the vaccination."
An excellent reasoned discussion well worth the read. Quoted in full from Powerlineblog.com.
"An attack that goes too far
March 5, 2010 Posted by Paul at 8:33 AM
"Earlier this week, Fox News identified the seven Justice Department officials who, prior to being brought to DOJ by the Obama administration, provided legal services to terrorists and terrorist suspects, including Osama bin Laden's driver, John Walker Lindh, and Jose Padilla. The names of two other such lawyers were already known. DOJ has confirmed that Fox News got the additional seven right.
It was appropriate for Senator Grassley and others to seek this information. It is also approprirate to (1) point to the correlation between the presence of this many representatives of terrorists and terrorist suspects and the Holder Justice Department's policy on dealing with terrorists and (2) attempt to ascertain the extent to which these lawyers are making decisions about how to deal with terrorists.
Finally, it is appropriate to criticize lawyers who defend terrorists and terrorist suspects. Contrary to what Walter Dellinger would like us to believe, these lawyers have no professional obligation to represent terrorists and terrorist suspects. They did so by choice and this choice, like all others, is fair game for criticism.
However, it is entirely inappropriate to suggest that these lawyers share the values of terrorists or to dub the seven DOJ lawyers "The al Qaeda Seven." Unfortunately, this is what a video released by the organization Keep America Safe does.
I would rather give up my law license than represent Osama bin Laden's driver, for example. And I take a very dim view of the decision by Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal to undertake that representation.
However, I would not deserve to have a law license if my personal views on this matter caused me to launch vicious, unfounded attacks on lawyers who exercise their right to represent despicable clients.
SCOTT notes: I feel roughly the same way Bill Kristol , Liz Cheney and Debra Burlingame do about lawyers who undertake the representation of enemy combatants pro bono as a glorious professional cause. It is unfortunate Bill and Liz and Debra had to seek to shame the Department of Justice into identifying the seven previously unidentified Department of Justice officials who represented or advocated on behalf of Guantanamo detainees. The disclosure of their identities was pro bono publico too.
PAUL adds: The Huffington Post has a story about conservative reaction (or at least the reaction of a handful of conservatives) to the video. The story says I declared that what Cheney did is comparable if not potentially worse than the notorious anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It then quotes some of the things I told Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein.
The quotes themselves are accurate, but I think the characterization of what I said is somewhat misleading. In response to Stein's questions asking me to compare the video to "McCarthyism," I said the implication that the DOJ lawyers share al Qaeda's values is almost certainly false. I also said that some of McCarthy's assertions were true and others were false (or unfounded, I'm not sure which word I used).
That, if I recall correctly, was the extent of my willingness to compare the video to "McCarthyism." I don't think I said or implied that the video is comparable to or worse than the totality of what goes by the name of McCarthyism or to the "crusades" launched by Sen. McCarthy.
JOHN adds: Defending the poor, the friendless and the unpopular is a proud tradition of the American bar. I grew up with that tradition, as the son of a small-town lawyer. When criminal defendants needed representation and were indigent--as most of them were--the lawyers in town took turns representing them, for free or for a pittance. It went with the territory, just as doctors treated people for free when they couldn't afford to pay. On those rare occasions when a serious crime was committed, the local judge would ask one of the town's skilled trial lawyers to defend the accused to make sure that the defendant got not just a defense, but a competent defense. That's what happened in To Kill A Mockingbird, as I recall. The local judge asked Atticus Finch to defend the apparently-doomed black man who had been accused of rape. And Finch was duty-bound to accept, although the assignment could only mean trouble for him.
That noble tradition is invoked by those who defended terrorist detainees and who now have gone to work for the Justice Department. Properly so, perhaps. Yet I wonder whether that is exactly what is going on here.
The law firms that signed up to defend al Qaeda terrorists are among the most prestigious in the country. Large law firms of this sort are among our most powerful institutions. They brought vast stature and resources to the task of representing terrorist detainees. The situation is not quite as though a random lawyer in New York or Washington, D.C. had taken his dutiful turn at the thankless job of defending a client who couldn't afford to pay.
One wonders: do these firms, or these lawyers, normally make a practice of volunteering to defend criminal defendants? (These detainees were not criminal defendants, for the most part, but the analogy is nevertheless apt.) My guess is that they do not. What, exactly, drew them to the cause of the terrorist detainees? Was it a humanitarian impulse to defend the friendless? Or were the country's wealthiest and best-connected law firms lining up for the privilege of taking on the terrorists' cases? Were the lawyers who volunteered to represent terrorists driven by ideology? That is to say, were they part of that large segment of the establishment that tried to undermine the foreign and national security policies of the Bush administration? If so, what ideology do these individuals now bring to the Department of Justice? And what roles are they playing within DOJ?
These strike me as legitimate questions. I certainly don't question the right of these lawyers to volunteer their services where they choose, and normally, the motives of a lawyer who volunteers to work for free would be no one else's business. But when those same lawyers, a very short time later, are tapped to work at the Justice Department, isn't the ideology that they--and Eric Holder--bring to national security issues fair game? I think it is.
As for the video, the phrase "the al Qaeda seven" is perhaps unfair. But the point of the video was to pressure Eric Holder to release the names of the lawyers who have shifted over from representing terrorists to representing the American people. He has now done so. If, as is often said, personnel is policy, the fact that the Obama administration has brought not one, not two, but seven lawyers (or is it nine, altogether?) who represented al Qaeda terrorists into the Justice Department may well be worthy of further discussion."
"Green stimulus package should “buy American” argue senators
A group of four U.S. senators have announced legislation to amend last year’s energy stimulus package so that it will focus only on those green projects that support American companies
"The legislation was proposed in a letter signed by Democratic Senators Charles E. Schumer, Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown and Jon Tester, who criticized the current stimulus package for siphoning money off to overseas countries.
The new legislation, called the American Renewable Energy Jobs Act, would amend last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which released $800 billion in new investment designed to kick start the U.S. economy.
The new amendment would make the Department of Energy and the Treasury obliged to only award stimulus funds to clean energy projects that create and preserve jobs in the U.S.
In their letter to the Treasury the senators said: "We propose to stop Treasury from using American tax payer dollars to support foreign manufacturers and foreign jobs, and respectfully request that you placed a moratorium on distribution of section 1603 grants until our legislation becomes law."
Section 1603 of the Recovery Act allocates grants for energy property in lieu of tax credits.
The Senators have singled out a particular wind project in Texas for criticism. China's Shenyang Power Group, the U.S. Renewable Energy Group and a Texas company called Cielo Wind Power are involved in a joint venture to build a 648MW wind farm. The Senators says the project is on the verge of receiving $450 million in grants, despite the fact it uses Chinese-made turbines, and that the lion's share of jobs it creates are in China.
The letter will be embarrassing to the Obama administration, which worked hard to get the stimulus bill past the Republican party last year. So far, 38 percent of the total stimulus funding has been paid out."
Edited by Ellie Duncan`"
"Self-Proclaimed 'Psychic' Charged with Investor FraudMarch 04, 2010 6:03 PM
ABC's Matthew Jaffe reports from Washington:
A self-proclaimed psychic who called himself "America's Prophet" and claimed the ability to predict stock market changes was charged today by the Securities & Exchange Commission with multi-million dollar securities fraud.
Sean David Morton started to solicit investors in the summer of 2006 by promising to use his psychic abilities for investment guidance, the SEC alleged in the complaint.
"I have called all the highs and lows of the market, giving exact dates for rises and crashes over the last 14 years," Morton said in a newsletter to potential investors. Along with his newsletter, Morton also used his website, public speaking engagements, and appearances on a nationally syndicated radio show to promote his Delphi Investment Group.
According to George Canellos, director of the SEC's New York Regional Office, "Morton's self-proclaimed psychic powers were nothing more than a scam to attract investors and steal their money."
In all, Morton raised more than $6 million from over 100 investors in 2006 and 2007. Morton invested about half the funds with foreign currency trading firms and diverted some of the investor funds, including at least $240,000 into his and his wife's non-profit religious organization, Prophecy Research Institute.
Morton, his wife Melissa Morton, and three corporate entities that they own under the umbrella of the Delphi Associates Investment Group were the subject of the SEC charges.
The SEC complaint can be found HERE.
"Obama looking to give new life to immigration reform
In an effort to advance a bill through Congress before midterm elections, the president meets with two senators who have spent months trying to craft legislation.
By Peter Nicholas
March 4, 2010 | 6:18 p.m.
Source Los Angeles Times
"Reporting from Washington - Despite steep odds, the White House has discussed prospects for reviving a major overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, a commitment that President Obama has postponed once already.
Obama took up the issue privately with his staff Monday in a bid to advance a bill through Congress before lawmakers become too distracted by approaching midterm elections.
In the session, Obama and members of his Domestic Policy Council outlined ways to resuscitate the effort in a White House meeting with two senators -- Democrat Charles E. Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- who have spent months trying to craft a bill.
According to a person familiar with the meeting, the White House may ask Schumer and Graham to at least produce a blueprint that could be turned into legislative language.
The basis of a bill would include a path toward citizenship for the 10.8 million people living in the U.S. illegally. Citizenship would not be granted lightly, the White House said. Undocumented workers would need to register, pay taxes and pay a penalty for violating the law. Failure to comply might result in deportation.
Nick Shapiro, a White House spokesman, said the president's support for an immigration bill, which would also include improved border security, was "unwavering."
Participants in the White House gathering also pointed to an immigration rally set for March 21 in Washington as a way to spotlight the issue and build needed momentum.
Though proponents of an immigration overhaul were pleased that the White House wasn't abandoning the effort, they also wanted Obama to take on a more assertive role, rather than leave it to Congress to work out a compromise.
Immigration is a delicate issue for the White House. After promising to revamp in his first year of office what many see as a fractured system, Obama risks angering a growing, politically potent Latino constituency if he defers the goal until 2011.
But with the healthcare debate still unresolved, Democrats are wary of plunging into another polarizing issue.
"Right now we have a little problem with the 'Chicken Little' mentality: The sky is falling and consequently we can't do anything," Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in an interview.
Republicans are unlikely to cooperate. On Capitol Hill, Republicans said that partisan tensions had only gotten worse since Obama signaled this week that he would push forward with a healthcare bill, whether he could get GOP votes or not.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in an interview, "The things you hear from the administration won't be well received."
Schumer, speaking as he walked quickly through the Capitol, said he was having trouble rounding up Republican supporters apart from Graham. "It's tough finding someone, but we're trying," Schumer said.
On Thursday, Schumer met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who oversees the government's immigration efforts, to strategize over potential Republican co-sponsors.
"We're very hopeful we can get a bill done. We have all the pieces in place. We just need a second Republican," Schumer said in a statement.
Among proponents, there is a consensus that a proposal must move by April or early May to have a realistic chance of passing this year. If that deadline slips, Congress' focus is likely to shift to the November elections, making it impossible to take up major legislation.
"There's no question that this is a heavy lift and the window is narrowing," said Janet Murguia, president and chief executive of the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy group.
When it comes to immigration, Obama's strategy echoes that of healthcare. He has deferred heavily to Congress, leaving it up to Schumer and Graham to reach a breakthrough with the idea that he would put his weight behind the resulting compromise."
"Howard Dean: Health bill hangs Dem incumbents and Obama out to dry in elections
"Passing the healthcare proposals before Congress will "hang out to dry" every Democratic incumbent running for reelection this fall, Howard Dean said Thursday.
Dean, a physician by training who's a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), said that Democrats in Congress -- and President Barack Obama -- would do themselves more harm than good by passing the current healthcare bill.
"The plan, as it comes from the Senate, hangs out every Democrat who's running for office to dry -- including the president, in 2012, because it makes him defend a plan that isn't in effect essentially yet," Dean said during an appearance on the liberal Bill Press Radio Show.
Dean, who has clashed publicly with the White House over the healthcare proposals favored by the administration, said that by passing the bills under consideration, Democrats would essentially be conceding defeat to Republicans.
"It's easy to campaign on repealing something if no one knows what the something is," Dean said. "And fundamentally people don't understand what the president's healthcare plan is."
"And if it passes next week and get's signed into law the week after, we're not going to be able to explain it to people over the din of Fox News and the Republicans," the former Democratic party chairman added.
Dean said that the only solution to correct the bill was to offer a buy-in to Medicare for consumers, which had once been proposed in the Senate, but was ditched by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as unable to win enough votes to pass.
"The president needs a win here," Dean said."
Plain talk, interesting data.
Thursday, March 4. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Corruption
"Now Seniors Get To Feel The Bezzle
"Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?
Obama names brother of undecided House Dem to Appeals Court.
BY John McCormackMarch 3, 2010 6:15 PM
"Tonight, Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he's obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
“Scott Matheson is a distinguished candidate for the Tenth Circuit court,” President Obama said. “Both his legal and academic credentials are impressive and his commitment to judicial integrity is unwavering. I am honored to nominate this lifelong Utahn to the federal bench.”
Scott M. Matheson, Jr.: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Scott M. Matheson currently holds the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985. He served as Dean of the Law School from 1998 to 2006. He also taught First Amendment Law at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1989 to 1990.
While on public service leave from the University of Utah from 1993 to 1997, Matheson served as United States Attorney for the District of Utah. In 2007, he was appointed by Governor Jon Huntsman to chair the Utah Mine Safety Commission. He also worked as a Deputy County Attorney for Salt Lake County from 1988 to 1989. Prior to joining the University faculty, Matheson was an associate attorney from 1981 to 1985 at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C.
Matheson was born and raised in Utah and is a sixth generation Utahn. He received an A.B. from Stanford University in 1975, an M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1980.
So, Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?
The timing of this nomination looks suspicious, especially in light Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak's claim that he was offered a federal job not to run against Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. Many speculated that Sestak, a former admiral, was offered the Secretary of the Navy job."
"Head of 'Climategate' research unit admits sending 'pretty awful emails' to hide data
By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 2:08 AM on 02nd March 2010
"Scientists at the heart of the Climategate row were yesterday accused by a leading academic body of undermining science's credibility.
The Institute of Physics said 'worrying implications' had been raised after it was revealed the University of East Anglia had manipulated data on global warming.
The rebuke - the strongest yet from the scientific community - came as Professor Phil Jones, the researcher at the heart of the scandal, told MPs he had written 'some pretty awful emails' - but denied trying to suppress data.
On the spot: Professor Phil Jones being grilled by the Science and Technology committee in the Commons yesterday
The Climategate row, which was first revealed by the Daily Mail in November, was triggered when a hacker stole hundreds of emails sent from East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.
They revealed scientists plotting how to avoid responding to Freedom of Information requests from climate change sceptics.
Some even appeared to show the researchers discussing how to manipulate raw data from tree rings about historical temperatures.
In one, Professor Jones talks about using a 'trick' to massage figures and 'hide the decline'.
Giving evidence to a Science and Technology Committee inquiry, the Institute of Physics said: 'Unless the disclosed emails are proved to be forgeries or adaptations, worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research and for the credibility of the scientific method.
'The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital.'
Last month, the Information Commissioner ruled the CRU had broken Freedom of Information rules by refusing to hand over raw data.
But yesterday Professor Jones - in his first public appearance since the scandal broke - denied manipulating the figures.
Looking pale and clasping his shaking hands in front of him, he told MPs: 'I have obviously written some pretty awful emails.'
He admitted withholding data about global temperatures but said the information was publicly available from American websites.
And he claimed it was not 'standard practice' to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research.
'I don't think there is anything in those emails that really supports any view that I, or the CRU, have been trying to pervert the peer review process in any way,' he said.
Professor Jones, who was forced to stand down as head of the CRU last year, also insisted the scientific findings on climate change were robust."
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