Calif. water war spreads to Congress

Posted on October 16, 2009. Filed under: Claifornia | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By KEVIN FREKING,
 Associated Press Writer Kevin Freking,

WASHINGTON – It was the kind of legislation that rarely generates much debate in Congress: a bill to expand a local water recycling program.

However, the House spent more than three hours Thursday trying to decide whether to allow the creation of six recycling projects in the San Francisco area.

In the end, the bill passed easily, as everyone knew it would. The lengthy and often pointed debate amounted to a Republican gambit that increasing water supplies in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s backyard wouldn’t go over very well with voters in California‘s parched farm belt — and could help tilt some congressional races in the GOP’s favor next year.

Some of the nation’s most productive farmland has been idled because of a water shortage caused by three years of drought, as well as restrictions associated with protecting a native fish. Lawmakers from the San Joaquin Valley have described the economic devastation as their Hurricane Katrina, citing unemployment rates as high as 40 percent in some of the hardest-hit communities.

GOP strategists believe they have a winning plan for the next election by tying the economic woes to Democratic lawmakers.

“Water is going to be the issue in all the congressional districts that are part of the Central Valley,” said Joanna Burgos, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “When you have 40 percent unemployment because of a court order that could be solved by Congress, it’s hard to focus on any other subject.”

Previous water recycling projects have been noncontroversial. For example, Republican lawmakers Ken Calvert, Brian Bilbray and Elton Gallegly all sponsored legislation expanding or establishing recycling programs in their California districts. Those bills all passed overwhelmingly in the House.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., didn’t get such support. The recycling projects authorized through Miller’s bill would be located in the Bay area and would turn more than 7 million gallons of wastewater daily into water for parks, golf courses and landscaping.

In the long run, the program helps the farm belt, Miller said. If parks in his district need less water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, then more water could be made available for other uses, such as meeting the needs of farmers, he said.

“If you want to make it more difficult in the valley, then kill all the recycling projects,” Miller said. “If you want to make it less likely that water’s going to come to the valley, kill all the recycling projects.”

Opponents repeated the contention from San Joaquin Valley lawmakers that protections for fish are being given higher priority than people. Several mentioned San Francisco, Pelosi’s home, in their arguments.

“We are watering lawns in San Francisco and diverting more water to San Francisco,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, “and throwing dust in the face of the hardworking people in the valley.”

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., made it a point to note that the legislation provides millions of dollars for the speaker’s home turf. “All the while, tens of thousand of their fellow citizens suffer economic devastation just a few hours south and inland in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Such arguments could make life difficult for Democratic representatives from the San Joaquin Valley, primarily Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa. Republicans know that come Election Day, many of those voters will want to make a statement, said Dave Wasserman, an editor at the Cook Political Report.

“To the extent that these Democrats are voting with Nancy Pelosi on anything, Republicans are going to have leverage to tie them with her and to try to send her a message,” Wasserman said.

The two Democrats seemed to take his point to heart. Both voted against Miller’s bill.

Yahoo News/AP

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Magic Numbers in Politics

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

by Thomas Sowell

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, two Russian economists who had never lived in a country with a free market economy understood something about market economies that many others who have lived in such economies all their lives have never understood. Nikolai Shmelev and Vladimir Popov said: “Everything is interconnected in the world of prices, so that the smallest change in one element is passed along the chain to millions of others.”

What does that mean? It means that a huge increase in the demand for ice cream can mean higher prices for catchers’ mitts, among other things.

When more cows are needed to produce more milk to make ice cream, then fewer cows will be slaughtered and that means less cowhide available to make baseball gloves. Supply and demand mean that catchers’ mitts are going to cost more.

While this may be easy enough to understand, its implications are completely lost on many people in politics and in the media. If everything is connected to everything else in a market economy, then it makes no sense to have laws and policies that declare some given goal to be a “good thing,” without regard to the repercussions, which spread out in all directions, like waves that spread across a pond when you drop a rock in the water.

Our current economic meltdown results from the federal government, under both Democrats and Republicans, declaring home ownership to be a “good thing” and treating the percentage of families who own their own home as if it was some sort of magic number that had to be kept growing– without regard to the repercussions on other things.

We are now living with those repercussions, which include the worst unemployment in decades. That is the price we are paying for increasing home ownership from 64 percent to 69 percent.

How did we get from home ownership to 15 million unemployed Americans? By ignoring the fact that there was a reason why only 64 percent of families owned their own home. More people would have liked to be home owners but did not qualify under mortgage lending standards that had been in place for decades. Continued…TownHall.com

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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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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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Democrats stymie GOP efforts to pass immigration measures

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

By Walter Alarkon

Republicans failed this week to keep provisions addressing illegal immigration in the Homeland Security spending bill, the latest sign that Democrats want to hold off on that debate until next year.

GOP senators had succeeded in attaching a pair of border security and enforcement provisions to the Senate version of the appropriations bill: one would have completed the 700-mile fence authorized along the Mexican border and the other would have permanently extended a requirement for all federal contractors to verify their employees through a government database.

But Democrats stripped both provisions out in conference. They did extend the verification program by three years along with several expiring visa programs, including one for international medical graduates in rural states and another for religious workers.

“Clearly in our bill, we assumed nothing was permanent,” said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for Homeland Security. “We took some stop-gap measures.”

Lawmakers, Price said, know that immigration won’t be a top priority in coming months, when Congress is looking to pass bills on healthcare, climate change and financial regulations, and address the struggling economy. Price said he believed Congress had the political will to tackle immigration early in 2010 but that it would be hard to pass anything once campaigning for the mid-term elections begins next summer and the presidential race begins in 2011.

Leaving the provisions out will give advocates for a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in they country more leverage to win over centrists once the immigration debate begins.

The most recent immigration overhaul stalled in 2007 when lawmakers couldn’t agree, even though the effort was supported by President George W. Bush, Democratic leaders and centrist Republicans.

The path to citizenship, which was in that bill, ended up being a dealbreaker for conservatives, who view it as amnesty.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (S.C.), one of the Republicans who backed the immigration overhaul, said that the 3-year extensions of current policies were good steps but no substitute for broader reform.

“You may extend a program or two, but you’re never going to solve this problem piecemeal,” Graham said.

He suggested that compromises will be necessary to pass any legislation that realistically deals with the millions in the country illegally.

“I think America is ready to embrace give-and-take politics on this issue only if you can convince them that this will solve the problem,” he said. “That’s our challenge, to convince the American public that the border is more secure.”

Republicans who opposed the last immigration overhaul are again pushing for increased immigration enforcement provisions in the 2010 spending bills.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) failed to get an amendment attached last week to the Commerce, Justice and Science spending bill that would have barred local law enforcement groups from receiving federal money for community policing programs if they refused to report illegal immigrants they encountered to federal authorities.

Large police departments, including those in New York City and Philadelphia, have long objected to the proposal to end “sanctuary cities”. They say it would have a chilling effect on policing in immigrant communities, with potential witnesses to crimes avoiding police for fear they will be reported.

Senators voted to table the amendment on a 38-61 vote, with every Democrat opposing the measure.

Vitter said that he hasn’t seen any evidence that the gap between supporters and opponents of the comprehensive immigration overhaul has shrunk.

“I think there’s very much still the same divide in Congress,” Vitter told The Hill. “And I think there’s still very much the same support among the American people for getting serious first with enforcement.”

Great articles on The Hill.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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Labor Unions Battle High-End Policy Tax

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

By SEAN HIGGINS, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

Prodded by Big Labor, House Democrats are rising up against Senate Democrats’ efforts to pay for President Obama’s health care overhaul in part via a tax on high-end insurance plans.

A total of 157 House Democrats — over 60% of the party’s 256-member caucus — sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Wednesday announcing their opposition to the tax.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who organized the petition, said the tax would hurt too many middle-class people in addition to the wealthier people it is intended to hit.

“This would have an impact far wider than just the Paris Hiltons of the world,” Courtney told reporters Wednesday.

Their move creates the latest snag in the already-troubled efforts to pass a health care bill this year. Democratic leaders are struggling to balance various factions in crafting legislation. Now Big Labor is making its demands as well.

The Senate Finance Committee, led by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., last week included a 40% tax on insurance plans that would cost families more than $21,000 a year or individuals more than $8,000. The threshold would increase by 1% above inflation each year.

The thresholds would move to $26,000 and $9,850 respectively for people more than 55 years old and those in high-risk professions.

The tax would fall on insurers, but they would almost certainly pass that on to customers in the form of higher premiums.

Read the rest at Investors.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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Democrats try to pack the courts

Posted on September 30, 2009. Filed under: Jucicial | Tags: , , , , |

By THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Democrats aren’t satisfied with the one-party state in which they control Congress and the White House and can politicize the Justice Department and take over the banking and automotive industries. Now liberal Democrats are pushing a court-packing scheme as well.

A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the proposed Federal Judgeship Act of 2009 (S. 1653), which would create positions for 63 new federal judges – 51 in federal district courts and 12 in appeals courts. This proposal is nothing less than a sneaky equivalent of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried with his infamous court-packing power grab on the Supreme Court in 1937. The only slight difference is that this attempt is more under the radar.

Read more Editorial- Dems try to pack the Courts

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