Senate Leaders Begin Difficult Task of Merging Health Care Reform Bills

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: health care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

All eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Reid, who has said he wants to complete the wedding quickly and get historic health care overhaul legislation onto the floor the week after next.

WASHINGTON — Health care talks slip back behind closed doors Wednesday as Senate leaders start trying to merge two very different bills into a new version that can get the 60 votes needed to guarantee its passage.

All eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who has said he wants to complete the wedding quickly and get historic health care overhaul legislation onto the floor the week after next.

Both bills were written by Democrats, but that’s not going to make it easier for Reid. They share a common goal, which is to provide all Americans with access to affordable health insurance, but they differ on how to accomplish it.

The Finance Committee bill that was approved Tuesday has no government-sponsored insurance plan and no requirement on employers that they must offer coverage. It relies instead on a requirement that all Americans obtain insurance.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill, passed earlier by a panel in which liberals predominate, calls for both a government plan to compete with private insurers and a mandate that employers help cover their workers. Those are only two of dozens of differences.

President Barack Obama acknowledges it’s not going to be easy. Speaking Tuesday in the Rose Garden, Obama called the 14-9 Finance Committee vote “a critical milestone” toward getting a health care overhaul this year. The legislation won its first Republican support when Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine broke ranks with her party, saying she was answering the call of history.

Obama wasn’t ready to bask in the bipartisan glow.

“Now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back,” he said. “Now is the time to dig in and work even harder.”

There was no victory lap either for Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana. “The bottom line here is we need a final bill, a merged bill, that gets 60 votes,” he said. “Our goal is to pass health care reform, not just talk about it.”

Read the rest @ FoxNews.com

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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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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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Senate 2010: Most endangered seats

Posted on October 11, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By CHARLES MAHTESIAN

The 2010 Senate landscape is almost evenly split down the middle: Republicans will be defending 18 seats, while the Democrats will be defending 19 seats, including the January special election in Massachusettes for the full watch list.
Connecticut

Chris Dodd, a five-term Democrat, is arguably the party’s most vulnerable Senate incumbent — just look at the lengthy list of Republicans who are champing at the bit to take him on. Dodd has experienced marked improvement in his poll ratings in recent months, a development no doubt assisted by the Senate Ethics Committee’s August dismissal of complaints alleging that Dodd and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) had received special mortgage deals from Countrywide Financial. Yet the committee also noted that the two should have “exercised more vigilance” to avoid the appearance that they received preferential treatment, so the issue isn’t entirely wiped away. Leading the crowded GOP field is former three-term Rep. Rob Simmons, who was defeated for reelection in 2006. Simmons has led Dodd in head-to-head polling matchups for months; Quinnipiac had him at a 5-percentage-point advantage in mid-September.

Nevada

The only thing stopping Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from being rated as the most vulnerable Democratic senator is the quality of his opposition. Republicans struggled for months to come up with a top-tier challenger to Reid, despite his anemic ratings in the polls. Now the GOP has at least three prospective challengers — former state Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden, state Sen. Mark Amodei and businessman Danny Tarkanian — but none of them has ever run a race quite like this or against a smash-mouth opponent quite like Reid. If the GOP nominee turns out to be equal to the task, the general election may end up resembling the epic 2004 South Dakota battle between then- Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Republican John Thune, fueled by national money and contingent on whether the challenger can convince voters that Reid’s power hasn’t translated into results for Nevada — which is suffering from high unemployment and foreclosure rates.

Read more: Politico.com

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Krauthammer:Young Hamlet’s Agony

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

 
by Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON — The genius of democracy is the rotation of power, which forces the opposition to be serious — particularly about things like war, about which until Jan. 20 of this year Democrats were decidedly unserious.

When the Iraq War (which a majority of Senate Democrats voted for) ran into trouble and casualties began to mount, Democrats followed the shifting winds of public opinion and turned decidedly anti-war. But needing political cover because of their post-Vietnam reputation for weakness on national defense, they adopted Afghanistan as their pet war.

I was part of the 2004 Kerry campaign, which elevated the idea of Afghanistan as ‘the right war’ to conventional Democratic wisdom,” wrote Democratic consultant Bob Shrum shortly after President Obama was elected. “This was accurate as criticism of the Bush administration, but it was also reflexive and perhaps by now even misleading as policy.”

Which is a clever way to say that championing victory in Afghanistan was a contrived and disingenuous policy in which Democrats never seriously believed, a convenient two-by-four with which to bash George Bush over Iraq — while still appearing warlike enough to fend off the soft-on-defense stereotype.

Brilliantly crafted and perfectly cynical, the “Iraq War bad, Afghan War good” posture worked. Democrats first won Congress, then the White House. But now, unfortunately, they must govern. No more games. No more pretense.

So what does their commander in chief do now with the war he once declared had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by Bush?

Perhaps provide the resources to win it?

You would think so. And that’s exactly what Obama’s handpicked commander requested on Aug. 30 — a surge of 30,000 to 40,000 troops to stabilize a downward spiral and save Afghanistan the way a similar surge saved Iraq.

That was more than five weeks ago. Still no response. Obama agonizes publicly as the world watches. Why? Because, explains national security adviser James Jones, you don’t commit troops before you decide on a strategy.

No strategy? On March 27, flanked by his secretaries of defense and state, the president said this: “Today I’m announcing a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He then outlined a civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And to emphasize his seriousness, the president made clear that he had not arrived casually at this decision. The new strategy, he declared, “marks the conclusion of a careful policy review.”
Read the rest on Page 2- Townhall.com

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Dem: House GOP is “80 percent male, 100 percent white”

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Glenn Thrush

The National Republican Congressional Committee is urging Gen. Stanley McChrystal to put House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “in her place” for weighing in on Afghanistan — prompting one female Pelosi ally to  blast the House GOP as “80 percent male,” “100 percent white” — and completely out of touch.

On Monday night, Pelosi told Charlie Rose “should go up the line of command” instead of publicly opining on strategy — prompting a swift, sneering reaction from the GOP committee.

Mocking the first female speaker as “General Pelosi,” an NRCC spokesman wrote, “If Nancy Pelosi’s failed economic policies are any indicator of the effect she may have on Afghanistan, taxpayers can only hope McChrystal is able to put her in her place.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is close to Pelosi, could barely contain her anger.

“I think the place for a woman is at the top of the House of Representatives,” said Wasserman Schultz.

“It’s evidence they long for the days when a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Now a woman is third in line for the presidency… But it’s not surprising, coming from a party that’s 80 percent male and 100 percent white,” she added, referring to the composition of the House GOP conference.

NRCC Spokesman Ken Spain was unrepentant, telling POLITICO that Pelosi is “playing out of her league,” and questioned the reluctance of Democrats to call for McChrystal to testify in a hearing on the war.

Spain: “Spare us the lectures and mock-outrage. The Speaker of the House is taking on a highly decorated general who has outlined a strategy in Afghanistan that she once claimed to advocate… [S]he’s playing out of her league and she knows it.”

Read more Politico.com

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Or We Could Make It Simple and Cheap

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: health care | Tags: , , , |

Jennifer Rubin

The monstrously complicated Democratic health-care bills costing upward of a trillion dollars are churning through Congress. They are too complicated for the average voter to fully comprehend and too voluminous for the average lawmaker to read. They spend money we don’t have and create enormous new bureaucracies to regulate, limit, control, and, yes, ration care. The actual cost of health care (as opposed to what the government will pay for it) isn’t addressed in any meaningful way. Medicare Advantage, a popular program, will be slashed. And millions will have huge new tax liabilities. There is something for everyone to hate, and a lot of people do.

Republicans and a few Democrats have offered insightful critiques. There are many, many ideas and proposals swirling from, among others, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Tom Price, and Rep. Paul Ryan. But now Jeffrey Anderson has gone to the trouble of culling the best ideas and putting them on a single page. Yes, one page. These ideas have appeared in one form or another in Republican proposals and in pundit columns. And here’s the kicker: it doesn’t really cost a lot. Here’s the short version of the already short version of conservative health-care reform suggested by Anderson:

1. Leave employer-provided insurance as it is and give individuals a $2,500 tax credit to equalize tax treatment for individuals who buy their own insurance.

2. Allow individuals to buy insurance across state lines.

3. Extend COBRA for up to 30 months, allowing people to keep their insurance if they leave a job.

4. Remove government regulations limiting insurers from offering premium breaks for healthy lifestyle choices.

5. Enact real malpractice reform (limit punitive damages to $250,000 and all noneconomic damages to $750,000).

6. Provide help to encourage insurance pools for the hard to insure.

That’s it. Over 10 years Anderson’s plan would spend $75B and include $345M in tax cuts. The Baucus bill (one version of it, at least) would spend $856B and include a net increase of $352B in tax hikes and $47B in fines. Both the Anderson and the Baucus plans would insure 95 percent of Americans.

There is something to be said for simplicity — and a lot to be said for achieving the same results as Democrats are promising without a massive tax hike, a government takeover of health care, another massive hit to the budget, and thousands of pages of new federal regulations.

Commentary magazine

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Big ‘D’ Democrats thwart small ‘d’ democracy

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: American people | Tags: , , , , , , |

By David Limbaugh

The signature of Obama’s (uppercase “D”) Democrats is their systematic betrayal of (small “d”) democratic principles. Just look at today’s news for a flavor of their pattern of flagrantly ignoring the popular will to cram down our throats policies we clearly reject.

As much as Obama pretends to be a man of the people, he is a man for himself — a man who will get his way, the will of the people be damned. The same is true of many of his congressional lieutenants, including Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who recently said that Congress will pass Obamacare despite the public’s objections, because it is so important. Important to whom? To Democrats — that’s who.

Obama’s Democrats add insult to injury in their steamrolling style of governance by using appealing language to mask their true intentions and pretending to govern in a manner that’s precisely the opposite of their actual practice. They use free market language to sell their socialistic schemes and promise transparency while concealing their legislative misdeeds.

Need proof? Glad to oblige.

–Sen. Jim Bunning’s proposal to require the Senate Finance Committee to post the final language of the nearly trillion-dollar health care bill, along with the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill, on the committee’s Web site for at least 72 hours prior to a vote on the bill was voted down 12-11, with only one Democrat voting for it. Now, why would that bill be objectionable to Democrats when their president promised long ago to follow just such a policy? Simple: The less advance notice we have the less chance we have to block their scheme.

–Human Events reports that Democratic senators are so determined to pass Obamacare over the public’s dissent that they’re considering utilizing a rare parliamentary trick to bypass conventional Senate rules. The sham involves first merging an unwritten health care bill with an already passed measure from another committee — the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — and then attaching that bastardized piece of legislation to an unrelated House bill — a bill to tax bonuses on certain TARP recipients.

Read the rest @ GOPUSA

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Opposition to Health Care Reform Grows

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

FOX News Poll: Opposition to Health Care Reform Grows

A majority of Americans oppose current health care legislation and think the plans being considered cost too much, give too much power to Washington and take decisions away from them and their doctors.

As Congress takes action on health care reform, public opinion on the issue remains divided and, at times, contradictory. The latest FOX News poll shows a decline in support for health care reform over the past two weeks.

Currently, one-third favors the legislation being considered (33 percent) and a slight majority (53 percent) opposes it. This compares to 38 percent favoring and 48 percent opposing the legislation two weeks ago (15-16 September 2009).

Americans are split along party lines in their support of health reform. A majority of Democrats favors the legislation (60 percent) while a large majority of Republicans opposes it (85 percent). Independents, an important swing group, are more likely to oppose health reform than favor it (57 percent oppose and 27 percent favor).

Click here to see the poll.

The poll was conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corp. from September 29 to September 30 for FOX News among 900 registered voters. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

Americans’ beliefs about what would happen if health care reform legislation were to pass sheds light on why opposition may be growing. Majorities agree the plans being considered cost too much money (62 percent), give too much power to Washington (60 percent) and take decision-making away from them and their doctor (54 percent).

This last number is particularly important. The failure of President Clinton’s attempt at health care reform is often attributed to the public’s belief that it would lead to a loss of personal control over health care decisions.

However, while Americans are concerned about what will happen to their own health care if reform passes, they are also concerned about what will happen to others if reform does not pass. Three out of four are concerned that Congress will pass reform legislation that is bad for them and their family (49 percent very concerned and 25 percent somewhat concerned).

At the same time, a large majority (70 percent) is concerned that if Congress fails to pass health reform, many Americans will be left without insurance (41 percent very concerned and 29 percent somewhat concerned).

A majority of Americans are also willing to pay more for their health insurance in order to provide insurance for all Americans (60 percent). Just over one in three would pay $100 more per year (35 percent), while about one in five would pay $500 or more (25 percent). One-third of Americans (33 percent) volunteer the fact that they would pay nothing extra.

Click here for the raw data.

Tami Buhr is a senior project manager at Opinion Dynamics Corporation Fox News.com

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Obama Eyes Economic Triage for Unemployed

Posted on October 3, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Obama Eyes Economic Triage for Unemployed

The Obama administration has begun talks with congressional Democratic leaders on moves to extend health insurance subsidies, the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and jobless benefits, congressional and administration officials told FOX News late Friday.

After another grim jobless report, President Obama is turning his attention to extending a lifeline to the unemployed and making the case that his health care plan would create jobs by making small business startups more affordable. 

The Obama administration has begun talks with congressional Democratic leaders on moves to extend health insurance subsidies, the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and jobless benefits, congressional and administration officials told FOX News late Friday.

Meanwhile, in his weekly radio and Internet video address Saturday, the president linked one of his biggest challenges — joblessness — with passage of far-reaching changes to the nation’s health care system.

The economic moves were recently pulled together by White House economic advisers as an act of economic triage aimed at millions of chronically unemployed Americans. The White House is loathe to call this emerging package a second economic stimulus.

Read More On Fox News.com

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