Archive for October 12th, 2009

Keep It Simple- What a Republican health-care plan should look like.

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: health care | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Jeffrey H. Anderson

The American people haven’t been shy about expressing their views on health-care reform. In the polls and at public events nationwide, they’ve made it clear that they don’t want a behemoth bill that would fundamentally transform a health-care system that works well for most Americans and which offers a level of care that is largely the envy of the world. But they are also understandably concerned about health care’s rising costs, its lack of portability, and the ten percent of Americans who are uninsured. They want to see these pressing problems be addressed, but in a sensible and moderate way.

The bill proposed by Senator Max Baucus does not answer Americans’ call. The Baucus bill is the real health-care bill, the bill on which the Obama administration is implicitly pinning its hopes. But it defiantly turns a deaf ear to the American people.

Seniors have been quite vocal in their concern that health-care legislation would degrade the quality of Medicare, yet the Baucus bill would gut the popular Medicare Advantage program and would pay for its own huge price-tag primarily through cuts to Medicare and related federal health programs. Seniors won’t relish robbing from Medicare to pay for BaucusCare, especially when Medicare is perhaps already the least fiscally solvent program in the United States. But the Baucus bill treats Medicare as if it were a money tree, providing a steady supply of cash to spend elsewhere.

Americans have said that they want more choice and freedom in health care, yet the Baucus bill would mandate that all Americans buy a government-approved insurance plan and would fine them if they don’t. Americans are weary of the federal government’s profligate spending and intrusiveness, yet the Baucus bill is full of Byzantine regulations that only a lawyer could love, and–according to the Congressional Budget Office–it would cost a mind-boggling $2.9 trillion over 20 years while increasing taxes by $2.0 trillion over that same span.

Furthermore, Americans want insurance to be more affordable. Yet the Baucus bill’s requirement that insurers cover all comers–at the same price, at any time–would lead millions to pay the government its fine (still much less than the cost of a premium), quit carrying insurance year-round, and repurchase it only when the immediate need arises. Everyone else’s insurance premiums would skyrocket.

The American people don’t want any of this. They don’t want a huge bill. Instead, they want a small bill that addresses their central concerns without opening the door to far greater..

Read more at the Weekly Standard.com

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Job Creation 101

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

A hiring tax credit returns from the dead.

The White House is finally coming to realize that taxes affect job creation. Terrific. Its solution seems to be to bribe employers for hiring new workers, albeit only for a couple of years. Less than terrific.

Alarmed by the rising jobless rate, Democrats are scrambling to “do something” to create jobs. You may have thought that was supposed to be the point of February’s $780 billion stimulus plan, and indeed it was. White House economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein estimated at the time that the spending blowout would keep the jobless rate below 8%.

The nearby chart compares the job estimates the two economists used to help sell the stimulus to the American public to the actual jobless rate so far this year. The current rate is 9.8% and is expected to rise or stay high well into the election year of 2010. Rarely in politics do we get such a clear and rapid illustration of a policy failure.

This explains why political panic is beginning to set in, and various panicky ideas to create more jobs are suddenly in play. The New York Times reports that one plan would grant a $3,000 tax credit to employers for each new hire in 2010. Under another, two-year plan, employers would receive a credit in the first year equal to 15.3% of the cost of adding a new worker, an amount that would be reduced to 10.2% in the second year and then phased out entirely. Why 15.3%? Presumably because that’s roughly the cost of the payroll tax burden to hire a new worker.

The irony of this is remarkable, considering the costs that Democrats are busy imposing on job creation. Congress raised the minimum wage again in July, a direct slam at low-skilled and young workers. The black teen jobless rate has since climbed to 50.4% from 39.2% in two months. Congress is also moving ahead with a mountain of new mandates, from mandatory paid leave to the House’s health-care payroll surtax of 5.4%. All of these policy changes give pause to employers as they contemplate the cost of new hires—a reality that Democrats are tacitly admitting as they now plot to find ways to offset those higher costs.

Alas, their new ideas are little more than political gimmicks that aren’t likely to result in many new jobs. Congress doesn’t want to give up revenue for very long, so it would make the tax credits temporary. Thus anyone who is hired would have to be productive enough to justify the wage or salary after the tax-credit expires—or else the job is likely to end. An employer would be better off hiring a temp worker and saving on the benefits for the same couple of years. read the rest in opinion Wall Street Journal

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AHIP report to take whack at SFC bill; UPDATE: WH feels “misled”

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: health care | Tags: , , , , , , |

Look for this on the Hill as early as Monday: A report commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans alleging that the Senate Finance Committee legislation would cause health care costs to go up faster than under the current system.

The report, which was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, has caused some buzz among Hill GOP aides. It was described to Pulse by a person familiar with the findings. (UPDATE: Here it is.)

The report will drop ahead of a crucial vote on the bill Tuesday in the Finance Committee, and could figure into the discussion there. At the very least, expect to hear a lot more about the report from Republicans, who are looking to slow any kind of momentum for the Democratic health care reform proposals after the Congressional Budget Office’s positive analysis last week.

The CBO concluded the Finance Committee bill would reduce the deficit by $81 billion in 2019, allaying the concerns of centrist senators for whom cost is a chief issue. 

It’s interesting that the report comes from AHIP, which has spoken publicly in favor of overhauling the health care system, but has worked behind-the-scenes to kill aspects of the president’s plan, including attempts to create a government competitor to private plans, Insurance companies have also balked at the watered-down individual mandate in the Finance bill.

Read the Rest of the story Posted by Carrie Budoff Brown on Politico.com

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President Obama’s Porpoise Show

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Obama | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Harold Witkov

When I was in elementary school back in the early 1960’s, I remember my entire 5th grade class going on a fun field trip to Brookfield Zoo.  The highlight of the trip was something that had only come recently to the zoo, and that was the Porpoise Show.

I remember the Porpoise Show audience being virtually all teachers and students, and the whole lot of us sitting together shoulder to shoulder like sardines in a can. I remember the porpoise tricks, the leaps, the playing with the ball, and the intentional and playful splashing, all to the delight of the crowd. Most of all, I remember studying the trainer with his voice commands and hand signals to the porpoises awaiting instruction.  I remember the trainer’s nearby bucket and the fish chunk rewards he liberally doled out to each porpoise after every trick.  “How cool to be a porpoise trainer,” I thought.

When the show was over the crowd filed out, passing near the edge of the pool. As fate would have it, I was able to get the attention of one of the porpoises. I raised my right hand to shoulder height and, pretending I had a piece of fish between my closed fingers, I began a horizontal zigzag motion with my wrist.  To my shock and astonishment, the porpoise began vertically rising out of the water.  With my classmates screaming and my teacher turning menacingly to see whom it was causing the commotion, I lowered my hand down by my side as quickly as I could and the porpoise correspondingly dropped in the water.

The excitement was over as fast as it had begun.  But what I remember most of the incident was the porpoise watching me as I filed out of the complex with the rest of my classmates.  I could swear that porpoise was giving me the dirtiest of looks for not having tossed him his duly earned fish chunk.

Looking back at my experience, I see it as a type of metaphor for today’s political situation.  I see the porpoise trainer as President Barack Obama, the audience representing the world, and the porpoises in the pool as the American people.

Plucked from the freedom of some vast ocean and to the cheers and delight of the world, President Barack Obama is taking away our liberties and training us to be world pleasers, rather than world leaders. Look how entertaining we can be with every trick he gets us to perform.  Through his techniques of behavior modification, look how he weakens our military, takes over our banks, our auto companies, and before you know it, our health care! Watch us jump through his hoops and make a big splash. Do what he says and get your fresh stimulus fish chunk handouts. Be careful though. If you do not perform to his liking or choose to cause trouble, you might just go without. 

Read the rest at The American Thinker.com

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Top Twenty Things Obama Doesn’t Say

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

by Jill S. Sprik

 Despite countless speeches and news conferences, did you ever hear President Obama express the following ideas?

  1. Not everything is a federal issue; some things are for the states to decide.
  2. I hear what you’re saying and you have a good point.
  3. One of the beautiful things about our constitution is the liberty given to individuals to pursue their dreams.  There is great opportunity in our country to succeed.
  4. In an effort to stimulate job growth and despite the objections from my party, I am working with Congress to reduce taxes for small businesses.
  5. I am saddened by the cycle of poverty that exists in our major cities, and here is a way we can empower the next generation to break the cycle and fulfill their God-given potential….
  6. The folks at the town hall meetings and those who came to Washington on 9/12 were exercising one of the greatest rights we have as Americans, freedom of speech.
  7. Stop already with all forms of ‘cult of personality’ behavior.  I am a public servant, just like all those who have served before and all who will come after my term is complete.  It’s not about me, it’s about the country.
  8. I heard a great message Sunday morning at church.
  9. History teaches us that evil exists in the world; for this reason the United States must remain strong, ready to defend itself and its allies.
  10. I didn’t realize a communist was part of my administration.  It won’t happen again.
  11. The billions siphoned out of health care into lawyers’ pockets never healed a single person.
  12. No other country on earth offers its citizens the opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as does the United States of America.
  13. The experts have looked at the proposed (fill-in-the-blank) program, and when it is extrapolated out beyond just the initial offering there is clear evidence it will cost too much money and will eventually fail.
  14. I disagree 100% with the Cloward-Piven strategy of increasing the welfare rolls and overwhelming the financial system, and I am not affiliated in any way with the implementation of such an idea.
  15. I don’t know the answer to your question but I will give it some thought.
  16. The goal of my presidency is not to implement a political ideology, but to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
  17. Every person has value regardless of age, gender, color, physical characteristics, or any other factor.
  18. Any healthcare bill I sign must include a provision to exclude the rationing of care, keep the door open for competition among insurers, and promote the opportunity for our young people to pursue an education in the medical fields to ensure future supply meets future demand.
  19. It is important for legislators to remember that what helps someone in the short-term may actually hurt them in the long-term, and we must avoid this kind of scenario.
  20. It has become clear to me after meeting with military experts that their recommendations should be implemented in our current situation; this is not an area in which politics can be allowed to interfere.

 

The list could continue, but you get the point:  by not saying the kinds of things that show – read the rest of this great article at The American Thinker.com
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Obama WH falsely downplaying risks of retreat in Afghanistan: Military, intel sources

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

by Ed Morrissey

Sources within both the intelligence and military communities tell McClatchy that Barack Obama’s White House has not been honest about the risks of moving away from a robust strategy of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.  Obama and his advisers have begun publicly discussing the Taliban as a moderate alternative to al-Qaeda in terms of enemies, but the latest intelligence shows just the opposite.  Taliban leadership and AQ have integrated even more tightly than ever since 9/11 and act in concert on strategy and tactics:

As the Obama administration reconsiders its Afghanistan policy, White House officials are minimizing warnings from the intelligence community, the military and the State Department about the risks of adopting a limited strategy focused on al Qaida, U.S. intelligence, diplomatic and military officials told McClatchy.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have found that the Taliban and other Pakistan-based groups that are fighting U.S.-led forces have much closer ties to al Qaida now than they did before 9/11, would allow the terrorist network to re-establish bases in Afghanistan and would help Osama bin Laden export his radical brand of Islam to Afghanistan’s neighbors and beyond, the officials said.

McClatchy interviewed more than 15 senior and mid-level U.S. intelligence, military and diplomatic officials, all of whom said they concurred with the assessments. All of them requested anonymity because the assessments are classified and the officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Bob Kerrey openly wonders why the White House has begun to tread the ground of retreat, in an op-ed for today’s Wall Street Journal:

Yet despite these setbacks, our leaders must remain focused on the fact that success in Afghanistan bolsters our national security and yes, our moral reputation. This war is not Vietnam. The Taliban are not popular and have very little support other than what they secure through terror.

Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.

When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more then your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments. This is the real test of presidential leadership. I hope that President Obama—soon to be a Nobel laureate—passes with flying colors

Read the rest at HotAir.com

 

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Top Economist Says Unemployment Could Peak at 10.5 Percent

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: unemployment | Tags: , , , , |

Mark Zandi warns on “FOX News Sunday” that the recovery will continue to be “halting” and “fragile,” backing up estimates from other economists that show unemployment peaking next summer and hovering above 8 percent four years down the road.

Unemployment will continue to rise and could peak at 10.5 percent, one of the nation’s top economists said Sunday. 

Mark Zandi, co-founder of Moody’s Economy.com, warned on “FOX News Sunday” that the recovery will continue to be “halting” and “fragile,” backing up estimates from other economists that show unemployment peaking next summer and hovering above eight percent four years down the road. New figures released last week showed unemployment rose to 9.8 percent in September, the highest since 1983. 

But Zandi, one of the foremost economists cited by the Obama administration and Congress during the push for the $787 billion economic stimulus package in February, argued that despite the dismal economic predictions the recovery package was still a success and has prevented a massive problem from becoming even worse. 

“10.5 percent is a very reasonable expectation for the peak in unemployment, but I think it would be measurably higher if not for the stimulus package,” Zandi said. “The stimulus in my view is working. It’s just gotten overwhelmed by the magnitude of the economic crisis.” 

Zandi said the presumably slow recovery means stimulus benefits should be extended into 2010. 

He said unemployment benefits, first-time home buyer credits and state aid should all be continued. 

“If you’ve got 10 percent-plus unemployment, people are going to be out of work. They’re going to need more help,” he said. 

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, whose state’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation at 15.2 percent, agreed that unemployment benefits should be extended. The Democratic governor said that the stimulus has helped, even though “unemployment is at a ridiculously high level.” 

But Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said the stimulus has not yielded the benefits it advertised months ago. 

“It’s coming very slowly, if at all,” the Republican told “FOX News Sunday.” “The stimulus, I didn’t oppose the idea of it, but I don’t think you can point to much effect so far.” 

More great stories on FoxNews.com

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Senators Escalate Call for Obama to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

The Obama administration is deep in deliberations over whether to build on its counterinsurgency strategy with thousands more troops in Afghanistan or focus more on taking out top Al Qaeda targets, particularly in Pakistan. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining Senate Republicans in calling for the president to approve the request for more troops. 

Top Republican senators escalated their call Sunday for President Obama to grant Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan, and one prominent Democrat warned that a failure to do so could jeopardize U.S. forces. 

The Obama administration is deep in deliberations over whether to build on its counterinsurgency strategy with thousands more troops in Afghanistan or focus more on taking out top Al Qaeda targets, particularly in Pakistan. The bloody clash this weekend at the Pakistan army headquarters, where commandos freed dozens of hostages early Sunday after militants attacked the facility, underscored the instability in the region. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the attack emphasized the “danger of the Taliban not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan as well.” 

But he said any attempt by the administration to scale back the fight against the Taliban in favor of a tactical battle against Al Qaeda would damage security. 

“They are different. But they are inter-connected,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” 

He said Republicans would “almost overwhelmingly support” the president if he opts to grant McChrystal’s request for more troops, estimated to be for about 40,000. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said the counterinsurgency strategy pursued by McChrystal is “really critical.” She said the American people don’t have the stomach to stay in Afghanistan for another 10 years, but that the mission there is in “serious jeopardy” and Obama has an obligation to follow his commander’s advice. 

“I don’t know how you put somebody in who was as crackerjack as General McChrystal, who gives the president very solid recommendations, and not take those recommendations if you’re not going to pull out,” Feinstein said on ABC’s “This Week.” 

“If you don’t want to take the recommendations, then you put your people in such jeopardy.” 

She suggested some elements of the Taliban could be won over, but warned that the Taliban in Afghanistan will have a “dramatic impact” on Pakistan if allowed to flourish. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Taliban and Al Qaeda will become “inextricably tied.” 

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the president is right to take his time and deliberate but that a failure to accept the advice of his military commanders would be “an error of historic proportions.” 

But many Democrats are pushing back on a call for more U.S. troops, questioning whether a larger U.S. military footprint will help change the course of the war. 

Read the rest of the story at FoxNews.com

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What did I tell ya? Lindsey Graham signs on to cap-and-tax

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Cap & Trade | Tags: , , , , |

By Michelle Malkin

I hate to say “I told you so.”

But, well, I told you so.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham has signed on to the Democrats’ massive green redistribution scheme masquerading as a planet-saving, national security-enhancing “energy independence” scheme.

Can John McCain and the rest of the Climate Change Republicans be far behind?

First, a quick trip down GOP eco-sellout memory lane:

Ugh: McCain & Company melting on cap-and-tax By Michelle Malkin • October 8, 2009 10:41 AM

Beware the Climate Change Republicans By Michelle Malkin • September 21, 2009 12:14 PM

McCain on offshore drilling: For it before he was against it before he was for it again; Update: McCain’s astounding flip-flop on windfall profits tax, plus a new global warming alarmist ad By Michelle Malkin • June 16, 2008 04:28 PM

McCain’s “climate change” tour bypasses cooler heads By Michelle Malkin • May 12, 2008 10:43 AM

Digging deeper: The enviro-nitwit-ization of the GOP By Michelle Malkin • December 13, 2007 02:08 AM

Now, the announcement of Graham’s alliance with Big Government Democrats. In the NYTimes, natch:

…we refuse to accept the argument that the United States cannot lead the world in addressing global climate change. We are also convinced that we have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution.

Our partnership represents a fresh attempt to find consensus that adheres to our core principles and leads to both a climate change solution and energy independence. It begins now, not months from now — with a road to 60 votes in the Senate.

It’s true that we come from different parts of the country and represent different constituencies and that we supported different presidential candidates in 2008. We even have different accents. But we speak with one voice in saying that the best way to make America stronger is to work together to address an urgent crisis facing the world.

This process requires honest give-and-take and genuine bipartisanship. In that spirit, we have come together to put forward proposals that address legitimate concerns among Democrats and Republicans and the other constituencies with stakes in this legislation. We’re looking for a new beginning, informed by the work of our colleagues and legislation that is already before Congress.

Read the rest at Michelle Malkin.com

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White House Tells CNN They Are Punishing Fox News

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

In an interview with CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” White House Communications Director Anita Dunn elaborates on comments she made in Time magazine about Fox News, calling the network “opinion journalism masquerading as news.”

During the interview, Dunn admits the White House is punishing Fox News for its “negative” coverage of the president–including the exclusion of Fox during Obama’s weekend media blitz last month.  Despite not giving any examples of actual inaccurate reporting on Fox’s part, Dunn whined that “Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.”

As ridiculous as that sounds, somehow I doubt Fox is losing sleep over the White House’s one-man boycott; the network now claims all top 10 show slots in the cable news ratings race:
Posted by: Meredith Jessup On Townhall.com see video

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