Monday, January 31, 2011

The damage has already begun from ObamaCare

The damage has already begun - By SALLY PIPES

Repeal of ObamaCare can't come soon enough -- as several damaging provisions are set to take effect this year.

For starters, it has effectively stopped the construction of physician-owned hospitals throughout the country.

Section 6001 of the health-care law required physician-owned hospitals to obtain their Medicare certification by the end of last year. Without it, they can't treat Medicare patients. And the facilities needed to be open to get that certification.

So construction halted at 45 hospitals as the New Year arrived. Work on countless others will never start, having been effectively banned by ObamaCare. This will limit competition in the health-care marketplace, driving up costs for patients.

Of course, patients may have trouble finding not just a hospital, but a doctor. A Physician's Foundation survey revealed that 40 percent of doctors plan to "drop out of patient care in the next one to three years." Sixty percent said ObamaCare will "compel them to close or significantly restrict their practices to certain categories of patients" -- typically those on Medicare or Medicaid.

Health reform will force many folks to give up their current insurance, too.

New rules requiring insurers in the individual and small-group markets to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical claims are intended to ensure that consumers get good value for their money. Instead, they'll push many plans out of existence. And with fewer competitors to keep them honest, the insurers that survive will have an easier time raising rates.

Other measures kicking in are petty -- but punitive. For example, people can no longer use tax-free Health Savings Accounts on basic over-the-counter drugs. Instead, they must pay for a doctor's appointment -- and then get a prescription for a pricier pharmacist-dispensed drug.

Consider the case of Claritin, an allergy medication that recently was approved for OTC use. A report from the National Center for Policy Analysis found that longtime users of the drug saw their daily costs fall 80 percent, from about $2.50 to just 50 cents. ObamaCare reverses this trend by encouraging people to opt for higher-priced prescription drugs when a cheaper OTC medication would work just as well.

And some measures are cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face punitive -- like the new $2.5 billion excise tax on pharmaceutical companies. Drug manufacturers won't simply swallow this new bill; they'll pass it onto consumers in the form of higher prices.

Thus, by (for example) increasing the cost of care for patients who need cholesterol-lowering statins or cancer-fighting meds, ObamaCare harms our health.

Public discontent with ObamaCare will only grow as its provisions begin to take effect this year. Congress should repeal it with all due speed.

Sally C. Pipes is president and CEO at the Pa cific Research Institute. Her latest book is "The Truth About ObamaCare."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just as things were looking up, Obama's annual job approval average puts him near the postwar bottom

Just as things were looking up, Obama's annual job approval average puts him near the postwar bottom

As if the poll showing improved approval of Congress under partial Republican leadership wasn't discouraging enough, now comes a new survey showing President Obama's second-year job approval near the bottom of presidents elected in the last six decades or so.

Heading into the president's crucial 2011 State of the Union address next Tuesday evening, Gallup finds that Obama's second-year job approval averaged only 46.7%.

That really looks pathetic when compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush's second-year average job approval of 71.3%. Or to the next highest second-year postwar job approval of 66.8% held by -- oh, look! -- another president named Bush. Of course, both of them were Republicans.

Even Richard "I Am Not a Crook" Nixon had a majority 56.2% approval after two years.

But don't forget that fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter also had a miserable second-year job approval of 45.3%. And he fought back from that basement approval to win a resounding second term. Oh, no. wait. He didn't. He got crushed in 1980, even with a third-party candidate.

Anyway, despite Congress, the current Democrat in the Oval Office still has 655 days to right the SS Job Approval. Bill Clinton (45.9%) and Ronald Reagan (43.3%) pulled it off for second terms, though both of them had been experienced governors, not untested legislators.

According to Gallup, Obama is on the high end of approval declines from first to second years (a slide of 10.5 points), behind only Carter (down 16.6 points) and Reagan (down 13.8 points).

Not surprisingly, Gallup finds the third-year average approval is key to reelection in the fourth year. Of the three presidents most similar to Obama's second-year showing, two improved the third year -- Reagan and Clinton. They were reelected. The third declined. That was Carter. Enough said.

-- Andrew Malcolm

We Are All Rhetoricians Now; even Reagan got crap from O'Neill

We Are All Rhetoricians Now

 A Google News search on "heated rhetoric" yields 3,650 results; "harsh rhetoric" turns up 1,490, "rhetoric" 22,300. Just about everyone seems to think that we are living in an era of vituperation. Steve Hayward provides a useful corrective to that amnesiac perspective. Hayward notes Chris Matthews' silly yearning for the days when "Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill...managed to temper their philosophical divide with a public, and sometimes personal, cordiality." Right. Either Matthews is too young to have lived through the Reagan administration or he has an unusually poor memory. Hayward writes:

[H]ere's a public comment from O'Neill about Reagan that seems not to be in Matthews's archive:

"The evil is in the White House at the present time. And that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations of America, and who likes to ride a horse. He's cold. He's mean. He's got ice water for blood."

That's just a warm up. Democratic Congressman William Clay of Missouri charged that Reagan was "trying to replace the Bill of Rights with fascist precepts lifted verbatim from Mein Kampf." Who can forget the desperate Jimmy Carter charging that Reagan was engaging in "stirrings of hate" in the 1980s campaign. Los Angeles Times cartoonist Paul Conrad drew a panel depicting Reagan plotting a fascist putsch in a darkened Munich beer hall. Harry Stein (nowadays a conservative convert) wrote in Esquire that the voters who supported Reagan were like the "good Germans" in "Hitler's Germany." In The Nation, Alan Wolfe wrote: "[T]he United States has embarked on a course so deeply reactionary, so negative and mean-spirited, so chauvinistic and self-deceptive that our times may soon rival the McCarthy era."

Then, as now, the most vicious rhetorical flourishes were all coming from Democrats. That seems to be a constant through our history, going back to the days when Abraham Lincoln was an illiterate gorilla. Sarah Palin should take comfort from the fact that the Democrats haven't said much of anything about her (gender differences accounted for, of course) that they didn't also say about Lincoln.

Krugmania strikes deep--alternate liberal reality

Krugmania strikes deep  by Scott Johnson/Powerline 

Yuval Levin addresses Paul Krugman's most recent New York Times column. According to Krugman, the Republican opposition to Obamacare represents a "war on logic." Here is Levin contra Krugman:

Let's get clear on the basics. Everyone agrees that Obamacare involves a massive increase in spending and a massive increase in taxes. Defenders of the law, including Krugman, want to suggest that the massive tax increases are larger than the massive spending increases, so the bill would reduce the deficit overall. Immense tax and spending increases certainly make for an odd path to deficit reduction, but this is their argument in defense of the law's fiscal merits. To allow for that case, the law was designed to game the CBO scoring system, and to impose some very implausible assumptions of massive entitlement spending cuts by future congresses. Even with these assumptions, neither the CBO nor the Obama administration's own CMS actuary argues that the law will actually reduce health-care spending or the rise of health-care costs--which are the actual problems at the core of our health-care dilemma and the reason why insurance has moved out of the reach of a growing number of American families. The solution to the problem, therefore, is not a new entitlement program modeled on the ones that are already bankrupting the government but rather a means of empowering consumers to make purchasing decisions and therefore to put a downward pressure on costs for a change. Republicans have proposed to repeal Obamacare (a repeal that, as the CBO has said, would constitute a massive spending cut and a massive tax cut over the next ten years), and have offered an array of ideas to better empower consumers to reduce costs and extend access to coverage.

Levin's post has more, including relevant links.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Americans do not want the federal debt ceiling raised

Unsustainable  by John Hinderacker/Powerline
A Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that by a 71-18 percent margin, Americans do not want the federal debt ceiling raised. I am not sure whether that is a viable option, but the message the public is trying to send is clearly correct. The country's debt has been rising at an accelerating rate for some time. Whatever one may have thought of the debt prior to the time the Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007, it is beyond dispute that the debt we have been racking up since that time is unsustainable. At The Corner, Veronica DeRugy offers this graph, which charts both federal debt and the statutory debt limit; click to enlarge:

The problem, obviously, is the debt, not the debt limit. But the public's focus on the debt ceiling presents both an opportunity and a hazard for Republicans--an opportunity, if they can extract substantial spending cuts and other relief in exchange for what I assume is an inevitable increase in the limit; and a hazard if they can't, and if voters perceive an extension of the limit as evidence that Republicans aren't following through on their promises.

Joe Biden Explains Social Security

Joe Biden Explains Social Security  by John at 5:07 PM

In USA Today, Joe Biden writes: "Payroll tax cut will create jobs." An inquiring reader has some questions and observations:

"So let me get this straight.....the payroll tax cut --- got that?...for this propaganda purpose the double talk requires that it be a "tax" whereas in other contexts it is always a "contribution" --- will "save and create" jobs! It will be a "boost" to the economy. Slow Joe describes in language that can only be described as suitable for fifth graders how the tax cut will be "injected" into the economy resulting in a wonderful cascade of beneficial spending and employment....but hold on a minute, Joe.....doesn't this imply both that the tax was, prior to the cut, a DRAG on economic performance?.....and that when it is restored in two years it will then BECOME a drag?

"More broadly, given the regressive nature of this tax --- as Joe says it's "real money for real people" --- can we not assume on the basis of Joe's present claims that the Social Security/Medicare payroll tax regime is and has been a systematic drag on the economy? And if this is so why don't we have a BIGGER and permanent payroll tax cut? I'd sure like to hear Joe or whoever he is currently plagiarizing explain all that.

"But wait, there's more! This wonderful tax cut, presumably unlike bad Republican tax cuts, won't increase the deficit at all! That's because we're going to restore the tax in two years, see....and in the meantime, see, Uncle will just apply general revenues to the Social Security Trust Fund [sic] so Bubba doesn't have to worry about that either! I am a bit confused, though, Joe....when we restore the payroll tax cut we won't actually be recovering the foregone payroll tax revenue from the two year period of the cut, will we? And we're not increasing other taxes --- we're preserving all of the Bush tax cuts!! --- or reducing either there is a large revenue hole for the two year period and perforce an increase in the deficit....OR we will claw back the cut in which case what possible economic stimulus effect will there be if Bubba has to pay back the payroll tax holiday on top of the restored payroll tax going forward ? Help me out here, Joe.....

"And I love the sly reference to "[c]critics [who] have been spreading misinformation that the payroll tax cut will threaten the solvency of Social Security". And who would those "critics" be? The left! Democrats! The Obama administration's putative supporters, that's who! And, Joe, thanks for spreading the disinformation about the "general revenues" going "into" the Trust Fund [sic], too. But, admittedly, here you do have a point--"the payroll tax cut will have no financial impact on Social Security"--but that's because, as I am sure you know, Joe, the whole funding side of Social Security is a sham anyway! There is no "Trust Fund" in any meaningful sense and Social Security is more-or-less bankrupt and insolvent on an actuarial basis already, so it couldn't be affected.

"It is unbelievable to me that such brazen, disingenuous propaganda can be published direct from the VPOTUS....and in at least some quarters treated as other than utterly risible.

"The payroll tax cut is a great idea --- a great conservative idea --- but please, Joe, if you want to defend the tax cut --- against your own supporters! --- and if you want to stand on the ramparts until the last dog dies defending Social Security as Harry Reid apparently does, be my guest....but please don't insult our intelligence like might give you a bad reputation!"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Poll: 53% of Americans support repeal of ObamaCare

Poll: 53% of Americans support repeal of ObamaCare via Laura Ingraham's Staff

Rasmussen reports:

Following the House's repeal of the national health care law last week, sending the issue on to the Senate, most voters continue to favor repeal, but support has fallen to its lowest level since late October. Fewer voters also now believe the law will force them to switch their health insurance coverage.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 53% of Likely U.S. Voters favor repeal of the health care law, including 41% who Strongly Favor repeal. Forty-three percent (43%) oppose repeal of the law, with 32% who are Strongly Opposed.

Support for repeal has ranged from 50% to 63% in weekly tracking since Democrats in Congress passed the law in March of last year.

Where Did the Stimulus Go?

Where Did the Stimulus Go? by John F. Cogan and John B. Taylor (Commentary)

During the recent recession, the U.S. Congress passed two large economic stimulus programs. President Bush’s February 2008 program totaled $152 billion. President Obama’s bill, enacted a year later, was considerably larger at $862 billion. Neither worked. After more than three years since the crisis flared up, unemployment is still very high and economic growth is weak. Why have such large sums of money failed to stimulate the economy? To answer this question, we must look at where the billions of stimulus dollars went and how they were used.

Keynesian stimulus packages come in three basic types. In the first type, the federal government puts money directly into the hands of consumers. The hope is that consumers will use the money to increase their purchases of goods and services. In the second type, the federal government directly purchases goods and services, including infrastructure projects, equipment, software, law enforcement, and education. In the third type, the federal government sends grants to state and local governments in the hope that those governments will use the funds to purchase goods and services.

In each case, according to Keynesian theories, the increase in purchases will stimulate additional economic activity over and above the initial increase in purchases. The 2008 stimulus was mainly of the first type, while the 2009 stimulus was a mix of all three types.

Let’s start with the effort to put money temporarily into the hands of consumers. In the 2008 stimulus, the U.S. Treasury began issuing one-time payments to households in the spring. This temporary boost in income was designed to jump-start personal consumption of goods and services and thereby increase production and jobs at the firms that produce those goods and services. It didn’t work.

Take a look at Graph 1, which shows both income and consumption in the economy as a whole from the start of 2007 to the present. You can see the big blip in disposable personal income in the spring of 2008 as checks were sent out. But consumption did not increase at all around the time of the stimulus payments. What happened to the money? It went to pay down some debt or was simply saved rather than spent on consumption.1

This should not have surprised anyone. Long ago, the Nobel Prize–winning economists Milton Friedman and Franco Modigliani explained that individuals do not increase consumption much when their income increases temporarily. Instead, they save most of the funds or use the money to pay back some of their outstanding debts. Friedman and Modigliani demonstrated that most people, when deciding how much to consume, consider more long-lasting, or permanent, changes in income. Because one-time increases in transfer payments and temporary tax rebates are, by their very nature, temporary, people should not have been expected to alter their consumption patterns. The Friedman-Modigliani theory, called “the permanent income” or “the life-cycle” hypothesis, profoundly influenced macroeconomic thinking for decades. It was, oddly, ignored in the development and enactment of the stimulus of 2008.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) repeated this mistake. The amount paid out to households was smaller and delivered over a longer period of time than the 2008 stimulus, but the largest portion of increased payments was made in the spring of 2009. You can see the resulting blip in income in Graph 1.

Again, there was no noticeable effect on consumption. Instead, individuals used the money to shore up depleted bank accounts or pay off overextended credit card bills. As had been true a year earlier, the temporary cash payments failed to create consumption and, as a consequence, failed to increase production and employment.

Graph 1 also illustrates the failure of another recent stimulus attempt: the 2009 “cash for clunkers” program. For a temporary period, this program provided a one-time subsidy if individuals purchased a qualifying new car and simultaneously traded in their old car. The program’s objective was to increase the demand for new cars to spur production and employment.

By definition, a one-time subsidy cannot cause a permanent increase in consumer demand. So what happened? Consumers merely shifted forward in time the purchase of a new car by a few months. This behavior is evident in the lower-right-hand part of Graph 1. Consumption rose sharply as consumers responded to the temporary subsidies, then came right back down. There was no net increase in consumption to bolster the recovery.2

(Read the rest to understand exactly, incontrovertibly, how it is that the stimulus spending has failed to improve the economy or joblessness):

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 30% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Thirty-five percent (35%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -5 (see trends).

Other than yesterday, this is the president’s best Approval Index rating in nearly a year.

President Obama will try to translate those improved ratings into support for his agenda during tonight’s State-of-the-Union Address. He may have some skepticism to overcome. Eighty-eight percent (88%) say it’s important to cut the federal budget deficit in half but only 22% believe that’s likely to happen. That deficit reduction effort was one of the president’s primary objectives articulated in his first major budget address to Congress.

Democratic voters are looking forward to the president’s speech more than the Super Bowl. Republicans are more excited about watching the football game. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of voters prefer a government with fewer services and lower taxes rather than a more active one with more services and higher taxes.

The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve. It is updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update). Updates are also available on Twitter and Facebook.

Overall, 52% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. That’s his highest level of total approval in fifteen months, since October 2009.

Republicans enjoy a five-point advantage on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

Poll: Most Americans want action on the deficit immediately

Poll: Most Americans want action on the deficit immediately via Laura Ingraham staff

CBS News reports:

Most Americans believe the massive federal budget deficit is a very serious problem that will create hardships for future generations, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

Sixty-four percent say they are very concerned the deficit will create hardship in the future, and another 26 percent are somewhat concerned. Just eight percent say they are not concerned.

Fifty-six percent say the deficit needs immediate action, while 38 percent say efforts to address the deficit can wait until the economy has improved. Republicans and independents were more likely to push to deal with the deficit now, while Democrats were more likely to say it can wait.

So how do Americans propose to address the deficit? By cutting programs, not raising taxes. Sixty-two percent would prefer to cut programs from which they benefit, including 81 percent of Republicans. Just 29 percent want taxes raised, including 42 percent of Democrats.

Pollsters asked Americans which of three programs - the military, Medicare and Social Security - they would be willing to change to cut government spending. The military was by far the top choice, cited by 55 percent. Twenty-one percent cited Medicare, and 13 percent Social Security.

A plan begins to form: $2.5 Billion in cuts are listed

A plan begins to form: $2.5 Billion in cuts are listed

Via Laura Ingraham Staff

US News and World Report reports:

Moving aggressively to make good on election promises to slash the federal budget, the House GOP today unveiled an eye-popping plan to eliminate $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Gone would be Amtrak subsidies, fat checks to the Legal Services Corporation and National Endowment for the Arts, and some $900 million to run President Obama's healthcare reform program.

What's more, the "Spending Reduction Act of 2011" proposed by members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, chaired by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, would reduce current spending for non-defense, non-homeland security and non-veterans programs to 2008 levels, eliminate federal control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, cut the federal workforce by 15 percent through attrition, and cut some $80 billion by blocking implementation of Obamacare.$2.5-Billion-in-cuts-are-listed/-661450602901027806.html

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

GOP: Don't Back Down, the Voters Are With You

GOP: Don't Back Down, the Voters Are With You

Congressional Republicans arrived in Washington with a mandate from voters to shake things up. While compromise is inevitable, given that the Democrats control the Senate and the White House, Republicans should do all they can to sharpen the differences between themselves and the Dems. They should be encouraged to stand their ground by today's poll data indicating that likely voters trust Republicans over Democrats on every key issue, often by stunning margins--nine points on the economy, fourteen on health care, ten on Social Security (!), fifteen on national security, nineteen on taxes:

It is not hard to see where the Democrats' enthusiasm for "bipartisanship" comes from. In the end, compromise will be necessary on most issues. But Republicans nevertheless should press their positions hard and with clarity, so that voters can see that Republicans are doing everything they can to fulfill their campaign promises.

Interviewing Thomas Sowell On Basic Economics

Interviewing Thomas Sowell On Basic Economics

Late last year, I wrote a column for Townhall called 10 Life Changing Books To Give This Christmas. One of those books is Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics 4th Ed: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy. Note the "4th Ed" part. That's relevant because the book has recently been re-released. If you want a phenomenal, readable book about economics, you could not do better than Basic Economics 4th Ed: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy.

Happily, because Thomas Sowell's promoting his book, I had yet another opportunity to interview one of the finest minds living on the subject he's better than anyone else at explaining, the subject of economics. Enjoy!

We're getting very close to the point where we could have states default on their debts for the first time. What should happen then?

They should go bankrupt. I'm looking forward to it.

There are three possibilities -- bankruptcy or bailouts or ruinous taxations. Of the three, bankruptcy is the one that makes the most sense because it's the one that conveys the most accurate knowledge -- which is that they've run out of money and couldn't cover all the promises they made. That fact should be revealed to all for future reference. The other thing about bankruptcy is that it's the only thing I know of that can get rid of these ruinous public sector union contracts with these extravagant pensions. Those pensions are so popular because the politicians can promise the pension now and get votes now without losing the votes of taxpayers now, because they don't set aside enough money to cover the pensions. Then they simply kick the can down the road and leave it to somebody else to figure out what to do when the money runs out.

Well, related question to that -- certainly we should allow unions in society. Should we be allowing government workers to unionize?

Oh, I don't know about allowing them to unionize, but they certainly should not be allowed to strike -- and there was a time when they weren't allowed to unionize. There's a whole atmosphere in which a strike is regarded as some kind of sacred thing. A strike is not simply a refusal to work. We all can refuse to work whether we're unionized or not. A strike is a refusal to let other people do the work that you refuse to do and I don't know why anybody should have that right.

Yes, I agree. There's a worry that China could essentially engage in economic warfare against the United States because they hold so much of our debt. Should we be greatly concerned about that?

Yes. For years, the Keynesians loved to downplay the importance of debt by saying we owe it to ourselves. There are problems with that which I go into in Basic Economics. But there are even bigger problems when in fact, we don't owe it to ourselves, and something like 40 something percent of American debt is owed to foreigners. That means that at some point in the future, all those trillions of dollars worth of real goods and services in output of the American people will have to be shipped overseas to pay back the debt that we borrowed.

Well, speaking of trade issues, the United States has a rather sizable trade deficit. But you say in Basic Economics that the way it's measured is very misleading and it's really not that big of a problem. Tell us why that is.

Well, a product or trade is defined as the movement of physical goods across a national frontier, international trade that is, across national frontiers. But of course, that's just one aspect of international economic relations. If the Japanese send us more cars than we send them and, therefore, they have a trade surplus, they're not going to just put the money in the bank and let it gather dust. They're more likely to buy assets in the United States, including such assets as automobile manufacturing plants -- so they can build their Toyotas here instead of shipping across the Pacific. So the bigger picture, of course, is the financial picture.

But in general, I think the crucial evidence against the importance of international trade is during the Great Depression in the 1930s. For that entire decade, we had an export surplus. That didn't seem to do the economy any good. I'm not saying it did any harm either. By the same token, during the 1990s when we had great prosperity, we had a trade deficit. So those things have to be looked at in terms of the specifics of the time and place. They're not good things or bad things, just in general.

A related question to that: Over time people have gotten very concerned about manufacturing jobs being lost in the United States to other nations, where the employees work for very low wages. Should people be extremely worried about that?

I have never understood why a manufacturing job is different from a job in an insurance company or a bank or anywhere else. I mean it's just one of those arbitrary things that people manage to get themselves worked up over.

So it's really not a big concern?

Not to me certainly. I don't know how many manufacturing jobs there are in say, Switzerland, where there's a big financial sector. But just because we don't get cuckoo clocks from Switzerland as often as before perhaps, there's no reason why the Swiss should worry or why we should worry. What matters is the general prosperity of the country, not this particular sector where that prosperity happens to be concentrated at the moment.

Now, in recent years we started to hear more people calling to get rid of the Federal Reserve. Good idea, bad idea? What are your thoughts?

Good idea.

Good idea? What do you think we should replace it with? What do you think we should do?

Well, it's like when you remove a cancer, what do you replace it with? I understand the wonderful theories about the great things the Federal Reserve can and should do. That's totally different from what the Federal Reserve has done and is likely to do in the future. It's painful to read Woodrow Wilson's glowing words when the Federal Reserve was set up, about the things it was supposed to do -- like keep the money supply from either contracting suddenly or having runaway inflation or having bank failures and so forth.

All those things empirically have become worse after there was a Federal Reserve System. So, there's no question that there are good things the Federal Reserve could do just as there are good things that the government could do. But people who say that never seem to want to look at the record and say, "Never mind what they could do; what have they actually done and what are they likely to do, given the incentives?" The incentives are there for both the Fed and for the political branches to interfere with the economy, to the detriment of the economy.

The tax that has certainly caught everybody's eye in Washington, that they're all talking about now, is a value added tax. Good idea, bad idea? Is that something that Americans should want or be scared of? What do you think?

Adding value is not something you should penalize. I mean, if I have a swimming pool built alongside my house that raises the value of the house -- therefore, they tax me more. Now is the world worse off if I added a swimming pool?

No. OK, two more questions. We've gotten to a point in our society where almost half the country pays no income tax. Healthy for the nation?

No, enormously unhealthy. It shows again the shortsightedness of Republicans, in that they will allow this to happen over and over again because they're so scared of being regarded as the party of the rich, which they're going to be regarded as anyway, regardless of whether there's a speck of evidence for it or not.

I think it's very unhealthy to have people who think of the government as simply a dispenser of largesse for themselves at no cost to themselves. Now I remember a time when I was - this was back in the 1940s, when I was a young man making $25 a week and $2-1/2 of that went for taxes. Now, I was very outraged whenever I discovered that politicians were wasting that $2-1/2 that I could have sorely used. I was probably angrier than any millionaire. But I think there needs to be nobody in the society who has nothing to lose when the government wastes money.

Absolutely. Last question. What do you say to the claim that we can't afford to do anything to reduce deficit spending right now because it may slow down economic growth?

Well, if deficits were going to speed up economic growth, we would have runaway economic growth after all the TARP spending, the stimulus spending, and now the so called QE2 by the Federal Reserve. So I think there's no basis for that. If spending money was going to do it, I mean, the Weimar Republic would have been one of the most prosperous nations of all times because they had, I think it was, 1,700 printing presses running at one time, turning out money.

Well, Mr. Sowell, thank you very much.

Thank you. Bye-bye.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe: 14 paragraphs, $3 Trillion in cuts

Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe: 14 paragraphs, $3 Trillion in cuts by staff/Laura Ingraham

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The primary economic challenge today is that our government spends too much money it doesn't have, and it is involved in too many things it cannot do well and shouldn't do at all. This burden is manifested by a $1.3 trillion annual deficit and a $14 trillion national debt. The more pernicious effects of this fiscal drag are unseen: a debased dollar, massive (and hidden) unfunded liabilities, and a crushing burden on would-be job creators.

Milton Friedman correctly argued in 1999 that the "real cost of government—the total tax burden—equals what government spends plus the cost to the public of complying with government mandates and regulations and of calculating, paying, and taking measures to avoid taxes." He added, "Anything that reduces that real cost—lower government spending, elimination of costly regulations on individuals or businesses, simplification of explicit taxes—is a tax reform."

Since 2007, Congress has been on an unprecedented spending binge. That means a first and obvious budget-cutting step would be to return discretionary spending to the baseline before things got so out of control. If Congress returned to the baseline before the supposedly "temporary" stimulus bill of 2009, $177 billion per year would be saved, according to calculations by FreedomWorks based on figures from the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). If spending went back to the 2007 baseline, the beginning of the first Pelosi Congress, $374 billion would be saved. Over 10 years, that is $748 billion and $1.56 trillion in savings, respectively.

Repealing ObamaCare is another obvious source of reduced spending. The absurd claim that this government takeover of health care produces budget savings is based on budget gimmickry—such as assumed Medicare cuts that, according to estimates by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would put 15% of our hospitals out of business, and thus will never happen. The claim also ignores the historically explosive growth in other similar programs. Medicare grew nine-fold larger than was projected during its first 25 years. In its first 10 years alone, the program experienced a 700% cost overrun.,-$3-Trillion-in-cuts/834322701506458172.html

Obama's approval rating remains stagnant

Obama's approval rating remains stagnant

The Wall Street Journal reports:

President Barack Obama’s “shellacking” in the midterm elections and the flurry of legislation he passed afterward hasn’t changed public perceptions about the job he’s done in the Oval Office.

The latest poll from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows 46% of Americans approve of the job he’s doing, a two-point drop from a similar poll taken last June, while 44% disapprove. The numbers are similarly static when it comes to his handling of specific issues, from health care to Iraq to the budget deficit.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed a slightly bigger bounce in his approval ratings, with 48% of those polls approving of the job he’s doing, up from 44%. But the trend was still relatively flat from polls taken in the months heading up to the election.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Spending does not = jobs; duh!

How NOT To Create Jobs: Spend More Money  by John Hinderacker/Powerline
Word is that President Obama will focus on jobs in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. No surprise there: jobs are the American people's top public policy concern. Obama reportedly will propose new and expanded federal spending programs as the means of job creation. No surprise there either: what else do liberals have to offer?

Yet if there is one thing we know with an empirical certainty, it is that increasing federal spending will not, on balance, create more jobs. Of course, whenever the government spends money someone is employed, or, at least, gets to cash a check. This is what Obama had in mind when he said--in a moment of supreme cluelessness--"spending equals stimulus." What Obama apparently does not understand is that government spending consumes resources, often inefficiently, that could better be used elsewhere. Whenever the government wastes resources, the country grows poorer and job growth is suppressed. This, in crude terms, is why the ballooning public expenditures of recent years have not caused a boom in the job market.

To illustrate this point, I created this simple chart. It plots federal spending from 1998 through FY 2011, on a scale of $1 trillion to $4 trillion, against the total number of non-farm jobs in January of each year, in thousands, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Click to enlarge:

It is blindingly obvious that spending does not equal stimulus, and increasing federal spending will not create jobs. There are two possibilities here. One is that Obama is one of the last people in America who have not figured this out. The other is that Obama knows his proposals are dumb, from an economic standpoint, but doesn't care. The one thing that more government spending will accomplish is to slide more money to Barack Obama's cronies and to various constituencies of the Democratic Party. Maybe that is all Obama ever wanted.

‘Every Dollar Should Be on the Table’

‘Every Dollar Should Be on the Table’ - By Robert Costa - The Corner - National Review Online

By Robert Costa

Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the House Majority Leader, on NBC’s Meet the Press:

The key exchange:

MR. GREGORY: But you don’t have–if you say serious spending cuts, you clearly have–don’t have something specific in mind, right? You–in other words, you’ll, you’ll know it when you see it, is that the approach?

REP. CANTOR: No, no, that’s not true. First of all, David, we’re going to have a vote on the floor on Tuesday of this week directing our appropriations committees to go about deliberating on where those cuts are. Now, we know that there are hundreds of programs that are going to need to be cut. When you’re talking about cutting $100 billion, you’re going to have hundreds of programs in the thousands pages of spending plan that the federal government has. This week we will vote on an issue having to do with the Presidential Election Fund. We’re going, we’re going to vote to cut that. That’s a $500 and some million expenditure. We’re going to see hundreds of programs experience analysis and cuts just like that.

MR. GREGORY: But let’s deal with the–you know, $500 million is really a drop in the bucket in the federal–I, I realize it’s real money, but in terms of the federal–the, the budget, that’s nothing. You’re not really tackling the big three. You’re not tackling entitlements. What about defense? Is defense on the table, defense cuts on the table? Do they have to be?

REP. CANTOR: I’ll get to entitlements in a second if you want.


REP. CANTOR: But I can tell you, we’ve always said this, too: Every dollar should be on the table. And I’ve said before…

MR. GREGORY: Including defense cuts.

REP. CANTOR: I’ve–absolutely.


REP. CANTOR: I’ve said before, no one can defend the expenditure of every dollar and cent over at the Pentagon. And we’ve got to be very serious to make sure that they’re doing more with less as well.

MR. GREGORY: But look at The Wall Street Journal, the piece by Dick Armey of Freedom Works, the tea party group. He said, “What Congress Should Cut,” and the sub-headline says this: “Let’s scrap the Departments of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development, end farm subsidies, and end urban mass transit grants, just for starters.” Would those be on the table?

REP. CANTOR: Everything, David, is on the table. I mean, we’ve got to do with…

MR. GREGORY: Cancer research is on the table.

REP. CANTOR: We’ve got to–listen, we’ve got to do what families in this country are doing, what businesses are doing. You’ve got to learn to do more with less. You can’t afford to sustain this level of borrowing and spending. Everyone knows that. So we’ve got to be very, very good and disciplined to make sure that we are cutting what needs to be cut and focused on growing this economy so America can maintain its competitiveness and we can see jobs grow in the private sector.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reports of Obama comeback greatly exaggerated

An Obama Comeback?  by John at 11:53 AM

We've heard a lot lately about President Obama's political resurgence. It started, we are told, with the lame duck session of Congress and got another boost from the Tucson shootings. Contrary to that narrative, some, like Byron York, saw Obama's performance at the Arizona memorial service as an act of political opportunism:

[S]ince it was impossible to tie the violence in Tucson to Republican rhetoric, the president couldn't very well use the shootings as the premise for a national conversation about the tone of political debate, could he? Yes, he could. It might seem like a stretch -- even to a calculating Democratic strategist -- for Obama to portray Jared Loughner's insanity as the proper starting point for a national debate about civility in politics. Yet that is what he did. ...

In Tucson, Obama played good cop to their bad cop by assuring everyone that rhetoric had not motivated the violence. But he still brought up the topic because, he said, it had "been discussed in recent days." Of course, it would not have been discussed in recent days had his supporters not made so many unfair accusations.

Some Democratic strategists hope Obama can capitalize on Tucson the way Bill Clinton capitalized on Oklahoma City. Perhaps he'll be able to, and perhaps he won't. But he's already trying.

I've been following Rasmussen Reports for a while now, watching for evidence of an Obama resurgence in the eyes of voters. Has it happened? Well, sort of. This graph of Obama's "approval rating"--the difference between the number of those who strongly approve of his performance and those who strongly disapprove--shows the trend:

The number who strongly approve of Obama's performance--a distinct minority--has remained rather constant. What I find interesting is that the number who strongly disapprove, a plurality of the electorate, has been trending downward ever since the November election. I don't think this is because conservatives and moderates are finding Obama's policies any more palatable. Rather, I suspect it is because, after the Republicans' November sweep, they are finding the Democrats in general, and the President in particular, less threatening. As a result, strong disapproval is softening into garden variety disapproval.

This interpretation is supported by Obama's overall approval/disapproval numbers, which currently stand at a weak 44-55. (There may be some background noise in today's numbers, as Obama has generally done a little better than that lately.) Somewhat ironically, it appears that the main trend we have seen since November in the public's attitude toward President Obama has been a mellowing in the negative views of conservatives and moderates.

In short, if Obama's Tucson speech gave his public standing a boost, there isn't yet any clear sign of it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Top Five Things Obama Has Done to Raise Gasoline Prices By Steve Everley

With gasoline currently above $3 per gallon nationwide and economists expecting that price to rise even further in 2011, America should be getting serious about producing more of its own resources. But instead of focusing on how to bring more relief to American motorists, President Obama has imposed massive new regulations, restrictions, and even threatened higher taxes on American energy, all of which negatively impact domestic production.

What follows is a list of the five most egregious actions on the part of the Obama administration that have contributed to higher gasoline prices and greater dependence on foreign dictators for our energy:

Cancelling existing permits: Immediately after taking office in 2009, President Obama's handpicked Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ken Salazar, canceled 77 leases for oil and gas drilling in Utah. The fact that this was one of the administration's first regulatory decisions meant that American energy companies were immediately concerned about their ability to produce oil and gas in the future, injecting a level of uncertainty into the market that moves the country away from job creation and economic recovery. One year later, the administration canceled 61 more leases, this time in Montana, as part of President Obama's war on global warming.

Needlessly delaying offshore leasing: Not long after Ken Salazar canceled the Utah leases, he decided to extend for another six months the public comment period for new offshore drilling. As allowed by law, the public had already been given 45 days to comment on the federal government's pending lease sale to offshore energy producers, after which time the administration would begin developing plans for new leasing. But the Obama administration was so opposed to oil and gas drilling that it wanted to drag the process out further, which meant offshore producers would have to wait even longer before they could start drilling. This was in addition to the 25 years that no drilling was allowed for most of the Outer Continental Shelf due to a congressional moratorium that ended in 2008. Adding insult to injury is that the additional public comments for which the White House asked actually supported expanding offshore drilling by a two-to-one margin, a fact that the administration deliberately kept hidden from the American people. Put simply, the Obama administration did not want any additional offshore drilling, and the fact that the public overwhelmingly opposed them wasn't going to stop them from pursuing their ideological goal.

Pushing for more taxes on American energy: When the Pelosi-led House of Representatives passed its massive cap and trade energy tax, the Obama administration celebrated. After all, it was then-candidate Barack Obama who happily declared that under his plan of cap and trade, energy prices would "necessarily skyrocket." Although his target was primarily the coal industry (which suffered badly in 2010 under President Obama's watch), imposing a tax on carbon dioxide would also heavily impact oil and natural gas production. In fact, there was a new gasoline tax in the most recent cap and trade bill in the Senate, legislation President Obama helped negotiate and would have happily signed had both chambers of Congress passed it. A study from Harvard University found that a carbon cap that was less stringent than what Congress was considering could send gasoline prices soaring to $7 per gallon. When all efforts to pass cap and trade legislatively failed miserably, Obama ignored the message -- that Americans strongly oppose new energy taxes -- and moved instead to impose a carbon cap administratively through the EPA. Such regulation targets all sectors of the economy, including transportation and oil production and refining, which ultimately means higher gasoline prices at the pump.

Imposing a moratorium on oil and gas drilling: Immediately after the Gulf oil spill began in April 2010, the White House began soliciting input from drilling experts in the National Academy of Engineering as to what the proper response should be. The Obama administration then imposed a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling, claiming that the experts they consulted had advised them to take such an action. Except they hadn't. The experts stated publicly that they never supported such a moratorium, and that the White House had manipulated their opinions and expertise solely to advance a political agenda. Because the administration had no basis for its ban, two federal courts stated on three separate occasions that the moratorium was unjust. The Obama administration ignored the experts and the courts and kept the ban in place; Salazar said that lifting the moratorium would make him "uncomfortable." Such a decision ultimately led drillers to relocate their rigs (and hundreds or even thousands of good paying jobs) to other parts of the world, and the long-term impact on domestic production will no doubt be devastating for consumers.

Issuing a new offshore drilling ban: Within weeks of announcing that the moratorium had come to an end, the White House announced a new executive ban on offshore drilling, a ban that is almost identical to what was in place until 2008 when gasoline prices began their climb past $4 per gallon. Amid mounting grassroots opposition to that ban -- led by American Solutions' 1.5 million-member "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" effort -- then-President Bush lifted the executive ban in July 2008, and Congress ended its own quarter-century long legislative ban a few months later, after which gasoline prices plummeted. But President Obama completely ignored that lesson (and the pain consumers felt) and has set the stage for a repeat of the 2008 gasoline crisis by trying his hand at imposing his own ban. Meanwhile, in the few areas where the White House approves drilling, the administration has completely halted new permitting, a de facto moratorium in and of itself. All told, the Energy Information Administration projects that offshore oil production will decline in 2011 by about 220,000 barrels per day (before the Obama administration's bans, the EIA had actually predicted an increase in production for 2011.)

Why has President Obama led the charge to restrict American energy? The answer is elusive, and it's anyone's guess what his administration will do (if anything) to fight for lower gasoline prices. But if past statements from him and his administration are any indication, the U.S. could be stuck (absent major legislative and regulatory changes) with prohibitively high gasoline prices: Then-Senator Obama said on the campaign trail in 2008 that he doesn't object to high oil prices as long as they come about gradually, and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu once famously said he hoped the U.S. would "boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," where prices are currently about $7 per gallon.

(Go to original for multitude of source links)

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Deplore This Call To Violence In The NY Times

The NY Times has a huge farewell kiss for outgoing liberal fave and firebrand Alan Grayson of the House. If readers can recall a similar eulogy for a departing righty I would be curious.

In any case, I deplore this call to violence by the famously outspoken Grayson:

A Bronx native with a fondness for steel-toed cowboy boots (the better to kick Republicans with, he jokes)...

Ha hah! He was only joking! And since he is a lefty, he gets a pass.

Well.. I blame the left's hateful, eliminationist rhetoric.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Obamacare Ends Construction of Doctor-Owned Hospitals

Obamacare Ends Construction of Doctor-Owned Hospitals By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON

"Construction Stops at Physician Hospitals," Politico reports today that "Physician Hospitals of America says that construction had to stop at 45 hospitals nationwide or they would not be able to bill Medicare for treatments." Stopping construction at doctor-owned hospitals might not seem like the best way to boost the economy or to promote greater access and choice in health care, but that exactly what Obamacare is doing.

Kenneth Artz of the Heartland Institute explains, "Section 6001 of the health care law effectively bans new physician-owned hospitals (POHs) from starting up, and it keeps existing ones from expanding." Politico adds, "Friday [New Year's Eve] marked the last day physician-owned hospitals could get Medicare certification covering their new or expanded hospitals, one of the latest provisions of the reform law to go into effect."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Keep Your Laws Off My Body

Keep Your Laws Off My Body - By Jonah Goldberg - The Corner - National Review Online

By Jonah Goldberg

I’m something of a product of my times. In the 1980s and 1990s I heard a lot of putatively honest liberals insist that the one zone of life that was absolutely sacrosanct was our own bodies. The state simply had no business getting involved in “our bodies.” Admittedly, this was mostly the rhetoric of abortion. I still remember Anna Quindlen on one of those Fred Friendly seminars waxing terribly righteous about the absolute sovereignty of a woman’s body. There was some spill-over into such topics as euthanasia and assisted suicide (remember “Whoes Life Is It Anyway?”), but the passion and heat was over abortion.

One irony, of course, is that abortion is actually the one area of public policy where there are at least two bodies — and two lives — in question and in conflict. Or at least that is the claim of many.

Flash forward to today and pretty much the entire edifice of liberalism insists that our bodies — what we put into them, how we maintain them — are fair game not just for Congress but for bureaucrats. I know there are a lot of arguments I’m skipping over and exceptions one might make to all this. But at the end of the day, I still have a hard time reconciling yesterday’s passion of the “Keep your laws off my body” crowd with today’s passion for enmeshing everybody (or every body) in a lifetime of legal paperwork and government red tape via such things as a health-insurance mandate and end-of-life counseling. That is unless, it was all smoke and mirrors designed to make the pro-abortion stance sound more highfalutin.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Comprehensive List of Tax Hikes in Obamacare

Comprehensive List of Tax Hikes in Obamacare  From Ryan Ellis

 Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on an historic repeal of the Obamacare law. While there are many reasons to oppose this flawed government health insurance law, it is important to remember that Obamacare is also one of the largest tax increases in American history. Below is a comprehensive list of the two dozen new or higher taxes that pay for Obamcare’s expansion of government spending and interference between doctors and patients.

Individual Mandate Excise Tax(Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following (See chart in linked article).

Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS)

Employer Mandate Tax(Jan 2014): If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2000 for all full-time employees. This provision applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer).

Combined score of individual and employer mandate tax penalty: $65 billion/10 years

Surtax on Investment Income ($123 billion/Jan. 2013): This increase involves the creation of a new, 3.8 percent surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single). This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income (See chart in linked article).

Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans($32 bil/Jan 2018): Starting in 2018, new 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans ($10,200 single/$27,500 family). For early retirees and high-risk professions exists a higher threshold ($11,500 single/$29,450 family). CPI +1 percentage point indexed.

Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax($86.8 bil/Jan 2013): Current law and changes: (See chart in linked article)

Medicine Cabinet Tax($5 bil/Jan 2011): Americans no longer able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin)

HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike($1.4 bil/Jan 2011): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Flexible Spending Account Cap – aka“Special Needs Kids Tax”($13 bil/Jan 2013): Imposes cap of $2500 (Indexed to inflation after 2013) on FSAs (now unlimited). . There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education.

Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers($20 bil/Jan 2013): Medical device manufacturers employ 360,000 people in 6000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax. Exemptions include items retailing for less than $100.

Raise "Haircut" for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI($15.2 bil/Jan 2013): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI; it is waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only.

Tax on Indoor Tanning Services($2.7 billion/July 1, 2010): New 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons

Elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D($4.5 bil/Jan 2013)

Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tax Hike($0.4 bil/Jan 2010): The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues are spent on clinical services

Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals(Min$/immediate): $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new "community health assessment needs," "financial assistance," and "billing and collection" rules set by HHS

Tax on Innovator Drug Companies($22.2 bil/Jan 2010): $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year.

Tax on Health Insurers($60.1 bil/Jan 2014): Annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year. The stipulation phases in gradually until 2018, and is fully-imposed on firms with $50 million in profits.

$500,000 Annual Executive Compensation Limit for Health Insurance Executives($0.6 bil/Jan 2013)

Employer Reporting of Insurance on W-2(Min$/Jan 2011): Preamble to taxing health benefits on individual tax returns.

Corporate 1099-MISC Information Reporting($17.1 bil/Jan 2012): Requires businesses to send 1099-MISC information tax forms to corporations (currently limited to individuals), a huge compliance burden for small employers

“Black liquor” tax hike(Tax hike of $23.6 billion). This is a tax increase on a type of bio-fuel.

Codification of the “economic substance doctrine”(Tax hike of $4.5 billion). This provision allows the IRS to disallow completely-legal tax deductions and other legal tax-minimizing plans just because the IRS deems that the action lacks “substance” and is merely intended to reduce taxes owed.

Read more:

Paul Krugman's totalitarian temptation | Examiner Editorial | Editorials | Washington Examiner

Paul Krugman's totalitarian temptation Examiner Editorial Editorials Washington Examiner

Paul Krugman's totalitarian temptation

President Obama encouraging murder during his 2008 campaign when he said, "If they bring a knife ... we bring a gun"? Was he encouraging political violence when he said more recently of the new Republican House majority that "we are going to have just hand-to-hand combat up here on Capitol Hill"? Of course not. Similarly, former Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Paul Kanjorski was speaking allegorically in October when he said Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott should "be lined up against a wall and shot." Such remarks are often hackneyed or tasteless, but reasonable people understand they are not incitements to violence.

Jared Loughner, the gunman charged with wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and murdering six others in Tucson on Saturday, held bizarre beliefs about "conscious dreaming" and government mind control imposed through English grammar. No serious person would connect his belief system to a mainstream political ideology. But then there's New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. He places the blood libel of blame for the Tucson murders squarely on the shoulders of "the crowds at the McCain-Palin rallies" and "right-wing extremism." It's the Republicans' fault because "the purveyors of hate have been treated with respect, even deference, by the GOP establishment." Krugman's solution is for "decent people" to "shun" those he holds accountable. But the logic of his argument leads straight to calling for official restrictions on political speech after shunning inevitably fails to do the job. The totalitarian temptation is an ever-present possibility with people like Krugman.

Another self-righteous voice in this debate is left-wing blogger Markos Moulitsas, who said in June 2008 that he was placing a "bull's-eye" on Giffords' and other Democratic moderates' districts because of their vote on an intelligence bill, by which they had "sold out the Constitution." Last week, a Kos diarist even wrote an angry rant about Giffords, declaring, "My CongressWOMAN voted against Nancy Pelosi! And is now DEAD to me!"

Let's be clear: The Tucson crimes were not encouraged by any such heated rhetoric. Neither Kos with its rhetorical bull's-eyes, nor the cross hair graphics on Sarah Palin's Web site, nor the cross hairs used in the ads of nearby Arizona Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell's campaign in 2006, nor the bull's-eyes used by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to "target" Republicans in 2009 have any relevance to this discussion. Their elimination for the sake of political correctness would not have saved -- and will not save -- a single life. Even if we find some political rhetoric repellent, this has nothing to do with murder. Unless our endgame involves burning books, banning certain kinds of speech and censoring the Internet, lest something someone says or writes might inspire some crazy person to kill someone, the discussion about "toxic political rhetoric" is a waste of time. Unless your aim is to use it as a pretext to repeal somebody's First Amendment rights.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Obamacare: A Uniquely Vicious Form of Corruption

Obamacare: A Uniquely Vicious Form of Corruption  by John Hinderacker/Powerline

If you haven't already seen it, don't miss Karl Rove's column in today's Wall Street Journal. Rove explains the vicious strategy at the heart of Obamacare: pass terrible legislation, and then collect a toll by exempting your friends--those who pay you lots of money--from that legislation, while your enemies have to live with it. We have had various forms of corruption over the years, but I don't believe we have had, within memory, anything quite this disgusting. The worst malefactor here, besides President Obama himself, is AARP:

The Obama administration's behavior to date suggests that it will not hesitate to take care of its friends. The Senate Republican Policy Committee's health policy analyst, Chris Jacobs, points out that the administration has already given an extravagant gift to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), a key player in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The AARP provided a big chunk of the $121 million spent on ads supporting the bill's passage, as well as $21 million on lobbying in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. HHS's proposed regulations on Dec. 21 exempted the AARP's lucrative "Medigap" plans from the rate review and other mandates and requirements. ...

The AARP is also exempt from the new law's $500,000 cap on executive compensation for insurance executives. (The nonprofit's last CEO received over $1.5 million in compensation in his last full year, 2009.) It won't pay any of the estimated $14 billion in new taxes on insurance companies, though according to its 2008 consolidated financial statement, it gets more money from its insurance offerings than it does from dues, grants and private contributions combined. Nor will it have to spend at least 85% of its Medigap premium dollars on medical claims, as Medicare Advantage plans must do; the AARP will be held to a far less restrictive 65%.

It's not hard to connect the dots. The Obama administration is using waivers to reward friends. On the flip side, business executives will be discouraged from contributing to the president's opponents or from taking any other steps that might upset the White House or its political appointees at HHS.

We've heard a lot about "crony capitalism" in recent years, but this is something worse--crony socialism. The Obama administration is running, in effect, a protection racket--nice business you have here, too bad if something should happen to it. We're passing legislation that may destroy your business, but don't worry--if you pay us our protection money, we will give you a waiver. By American standards, this is corruption of a uniquely vicious sort.

The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010

The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010

By Michelle Malkin • January 10, 2011 03:19 AM

The Tucson massacre ghouls who are now trying to criminalize conservatism have forced our hand.

They need to be reminded. You need to be reminded.

Confront them. Don’t be cowed into silence.

And don’t let the media whitewash the sins of the hypocritical Left in their naked attempt to suppress the law-abiding, constitutionally-protected, peaceful, vigorous political speech of the Right.

They want to play tu quo que in the middle of a national tragedy? They asked for it. They got it.

The progressive climate of hate: A comprehensive illustrated primer in 8 parts:





V. LEFT-WING MOB HATE — campus, anti-war radicals, ACORN, eco-extremists, & unions



VIII. HATE: CRIMES — the ever-growing Unhinged Mugshot Collection

(Go to Michelle's website for the entire collection with photos, YouTubes, mug shots):

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Partisan Identification Continues to Swing Toward GOP

Partisan Identification Continues to Swing Toward GOP  by John Hinderacker/Powerline
Scott Rasmussen finds that self-identified Republicans now outnumber Democrats among American adults by a 3.3% margin, 37.0%-33.7%. This is the GOP's best showing since 2004, and the lowest number ever recorded for Democrats in Rasmussen's tracking, which began in 2002:

Likely voters no doubt lean more strongly Republican.

Why the Left Lost It--calculation and belief in foes' evil

Why the Left Lost It

The accusation that the tea parties were linked to the Tucson murders is the product of calculation and genuine belief.


There has been a great effort this week to come to grips with the American left's reaction to the Tucson shooting. Paul Krugman of the New York Times and its editorial page, George Packer of the New Yorker, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and others, in varying degrees, have linked the murders to the intensity of opposition to the policies and presidency of Barack Obama. As Mr. Krugman asked in his Monday commentary: "Were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?"

The "you" would be his audience, and the answer is yes, they thought that in these times "something like this" could happen in the United States. Other media commentators, without a microbe of conservatism in their bloodstreams, have rejected this suggestion.

So what was the point? Why attempt the gymnastic logic of asserting that the act of a deranged personality was linked to the tea parties and the American right? Two reasons: Political calculation and personal belief.

The calculation flows from the shock of the midterm elections of November 2010. That was no ordinary election. What voters did has the potential to change the content and direction of the U.S. political system, possibly for a generation.

Only 24 months after Barack Obama's own historic election and a rising Democratic tide, the country flipped. Not just control of the U.S. House, but deep in the body politic. Republicans now control more state legislative seats than any time since 1928.

What elevated this transfer of power to historic status is that it came atop the birth of a genuine reform movement, the tea parties. Most of the time, election results are the product of complex and changeable sentiments or the candidates' personalities. What both sides fear most is a genuine movement with focused goals.

The accusation that the tea parties were linked to the Tucson murders is the product of calculation and genuine belief.

The tea party itself got help from history—the arrival of a clarifying event, the sovereign debt crisis of 2010. Simultaneously in the capitals of Europe, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and elsewhere it was revealed that fiscal commitments made across decades, often for liberally inspired social goals, had put all these states into a condition of effective bankruptcy.

This stark reality unnerved many Americans. The tea partiers' fiscal concerns were real. Despite that, a progressive Democratic president and congressional leadership spent 2009 and 2010 passing the biggest economic entitlement since 1965 and driving U.S. spending to 25%, or $3.5 trillion, of the nation's $14 trillion GDP. A public claim of that size hasn't been seen since World War II.

They expected to take losses in November. What they got instead was Armageddon. Suddenly an authentic reform movement, linked to the Republican Party, whose goal simply is to stop the public spending curve, had come to life. This poses a mortal threat to the financial oxygen in the economic ecosystem that the public wing of the Democratic Party has inhabited all these years.

The stakes for the American left in 2012 couldn't possibly be higher. If then, and again in 2014, progressives can't pull toward their candidates some percentage of the independent voters who in November abandoned the Democratic Party, they could be looking in from the outside for as many years as some of them have left to write about politics. A wilderness is a terrible place to be.

Against that grim result, every sentence Messrs. Krugman, Packer, Alter, the Times and the rest have written about Tucson is logical and understandable. What happened in November has to be stopped, by whatever means become available. Available this week was a chance to make some independents wonder if the tea parties, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Jared Loughner are all part of the same dark force.

Who believes this? They do.

Linking the tea parties to Tucson is both calculation and genuine belief.

The divide between this strain of the American left and its conservative opponents is about more than politics and policy. It goes back a long way, it is deep, and it will never be bridged. It is cultural, and it explains more than anything the "intensity" that exists now between these two competing camps. (The independent laments: "Can't we all just get along?" Answer: No.)

The Rosetta Stone that explains this tribal divide is Columbia historian Richard Hofstadter's classic 1964 essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." Hofstadter's piece for Harper's may be unfamiliar to many now, but each writer at the opening of this column knows by rote what Hofstadter's essay taught generations of young, left-wing intellectuals about conservatism and the right.

After Hofstadter, the American right wasn't just wrong on policy. Its people were psychologically dangerous and undeserving of holding authority for any public purpose. By this mental geography, the John Birch Society and the tea party are cut from the same backwoods cloth.

"American politics has often been an arena for angry minds," Hofstadter wrote. "In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority."

Frank Rich, Oct 17: "Don't expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day—no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they'll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow."

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Tuesday in the Huffington Post: "Jack's death forced a national bout of self-examination. In 1964, Americans repudiated the forces of right-wing hatred and violence with an historic landslide in the presidential election between LBJ and Goldwater. For a while, the advocates of right-wing extremism receded from the public forum. Now they have returned with a vengeance—to the broadcast media and to prominent positions in the political landscape."

This isn't just political calculation. It is foundational belief.

So, yes, Tucson has indeed been revealing. On to 2012.

Write to Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Importance of Issues--voters trust Repubs over Dems 7 of 10

Importance of Issues

Voter Concern About Economy Hits Highest Level In Over Two Years

With a new Congress scheduled to swing into action this week, the number of voters who rate the economy as a Very Important issue has reached its highest level since early August 2008.

A new national telephone survey finds that 87% of Likely U.S. Voters view the economy this way, well above the importance they place on any other issue on a list of 10 regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The new finding is up five points from 82% in late October and has consistently been the issue voters place the highest level of importance on since regular tracking began several years ago.

Republicans will have majority control of the House in the new session of Congress, and voters continue to trust the GOP more than Democrats on the issue of the economy as they have since June of last year.

Voters trust Republicans more on seven of 10 issues, with the two breaking even on the issue of health care which earns the second highest level of concern: 71% of voters describe it as a Very Important issue.

Separate polling finds that voters still strongly support repeal of the national health care law passed by Democrats last March, to update and in mid-December, a majority of voters for the first time since March said they believe the law will be repealed by the new Congress.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Death Threats Against Bush at Protests Ignored for Years

Death Threats Against Bush at Protests Ignored for Years

Go to linked article for text and multitude of photos:

A disgrace to nuts everwhere

A disgrace to nuts everwhere  by Scott at 9:24 AM

The race is on to place Jared Loughner among conservatives and attribute responsibility for yesterday's murders to the political opponents of President Obama. It is a handy device to stifle resistance to the left. As you might expect -- see, e.g., "Don't Leave it to Cleaver: Last call" -- the folks at McClatchy News have pulled out all the stops. Fox News Sunday even hauled out Rep. James Clyburn, a cog in the wheel of the "Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressmen" lie, to play his accustomed role.

The evidence doesn't quite fit the first prong of the syllogism. More than anything else, Loughner appears to be victim of severe mental derangement. He appears to belong to the free floating assembly of nuts that inhabits a big country. Loughner is a disgrace to nuts everywhere, but I doubt that is a message we'll be hearing much of from other anyone other than the attorneys who end up defending him.

Byron York puts it this way: "Journalists urged caution after Ft. Hood, now race to blame Palin after Arizona shootings." Greg Farrell, a Power Line reader and close student of the left, puts it this way:

The murders yesterday in Arizona were a despicable act of murder and hopefully the gunman and accomplices if any will be executed after a trial without delay. All condolences go out to the families of the deceased and the wounded. With that being said, a line must be drawn in the sand hard and fast against the slew of irresponsible journalists and left-wing political activists, in the rare case the two are different, and their attempts to pin blame on conservative Americans who advocate for the role of a smaller government.

The party of ELF, ACORN, ECO-TERRORISTS, THE BLACK PANTHERS, THE NEW BLACK PANTHERS, THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, THE WINTER SOLDIERS, MUMIA ABU-JAMAL and his supporters, CAIR, LAMONT HILL, VAN JONES, SAUL ALINSKY, CODE PINK , RASHID KHALIDI , REV WRIGHT, BERNARDINE DOHRN the cop killing wife of Obama confidant, proud domestic terrorist, cop killer accomplice BILL AYERS whose hero SIRHAN SIRHAN assassinated Robert Kennedy, must never get away with trying to blame a senseless isolated act of violence against an entire political group or advocates for a political group such as the Tea Party, Glenn Beck and/or Rush Limbaugh.

This incident should not be turned into a political issue. That is the lecture we get from left-wing advocates every time an Islamic terrorist or left-wing soldier with obvious political connections commits or attempts to commit an act of murder, violence and/or terrorism. But right on cue, the first chance the radical left has to become hypocritical while constantly lecturing the majority of America not to jump to conclusions in most other incidents, left-wing soldiers in the media and in the national spotlight (again in the rare case that there is a difference) are out there putting the blame on conservative personalities and political parties.

With more of an eagerness to make false political points to stir up anger against the Tea Party rather than reporting the story and showing respect for this tragedy, soldiers such as Paul Krugman of the NY TIMES, are already out there demanding people like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party be held to account. This can not and will not go unchallenged this time.

Although we really have no power to control what they say or write or desire it like the radical left wants with the fairness doctrine or an overreaching FCC, we do have the power of response and must [respond]. If the party of "GET IN THEIR FACES" want to try to spin this into a conservative vs liberal incident they must be met with fierce intellectual resistance.

For over a year now the radical left and the media (again in the rare case that there is a difference) have been trying to lay the foundation of belief that the Tea Party and its advocates are racists, violent, and a threat to the nation. With the constant bombardment of false allegations, trumped up charges and flat out made up stories of racist chants and violence which ironically have been found many times on the left and ignored by the leftwing media this is the type of incident they need to connect to their false template.

Starting with their emails, Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, people like Paul Krugman must be relentlessly bombarded with emails and posts confronting their false accusations....The network switchboards of any news division that tries to link this incident to the Tea Party of conservative personalities should be bombarded with emails and phone calls in opposition. It is the left that is turning this into a political issue with the hope of sparking a national crisis.

And Rick Moran asks: "Is Daily Kos to blame for Gifford attack?" Rick's report features a screen capture of a post Kos dispatched to the memory hole yesterday as soon as it became inconvenient.

UPDATE: Jennifer Rubin elaborates some related points.

(Go to original for a multitude of source links):