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12/31/2009
IS OBAMA BEING PRUDENT OR IS HE INCOMPETENT?

Dick Cheney got a bigger rise out of the administration than the underwear bomber.

That’s a legitimate conclusion one can draw when you read this:

David’s post below on the White House’s decision to accuse of all people, Dick Cheney, of being insufficiently critical of al Qaeda beggars belief. As Jim Geraghty quipped, “He’s beyond condemning [bomber Abdulmutallab]; he wants to waterboard him until his lungs qualify for a federal wetlands status.” We all agree al Qaeda’s attempts to blow up airplanes are bad — the question is what is the current occupant of the White House going to do about it?

But what I can’t wrap my head around is that it took the President four days to acknowledge what he termed a “catastrophic” national security failure, but Cheney criticizes the administration’s handling of the war on terror and they have a rapid response on the White House blog in a matter of hours? Priorities!

Then again, it took six days to respond to the riots in the streets of Tehran during their election, so four days seems about right for a barely averted domestic catastrophe.

Also, is the White House aware of how small they look when they are so obviously spooked by Cheney’s every utterance? Remember when the President rescheduled a press conference earlier this year to deliberately conflict with a pre-planned Cheney speech?

We could really use a steady hand on the tiller while dealing with national security matters, but the White House is still in campaign mode, worried about what a private citizen — who left office remarkably unpopular! — thinks of them.

The counter argument is that the president is being wise and prudent in taking his time to respond in a meaningful way to this terrorist attack.

In an unusually direct and aggressive blog post, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer today criticizes former Vice President Dick Cheney for his constant critique of the administration’s national security policies.

Pfeiffer wrote, “it is telling that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the Administration than condemning the attackers.”

Pfeiffer said that in his statement to Politico today Cheney makes a “clearly untrue” claim that Obama doesn’t realize we’re at war.

“I don’t think anyone realizes this very hard reality more than President Obama,” Pfeiffer wrote, detailing the times Obama and his top advisers have used the term.

“The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and - unlike the last Administration - we are not at war with a tactic (”terrorism”), we [are] at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. And we will prosecute that war as long as the American people are endangered,” he wrote.

Judging by the initial reaction of the administration - our clueless DHS Secretary telling us the system worked and that the bomber was a lone extremist - I would say that someone has to focus on criticizing the administration and it may as well be Cheney.

And why this liberal obsession with “chest beating?” Obama himself said he will not rest until all the perps are brought to justice. Isn’t that “chest beating?” If it isn’t, then they can hardly accuse their favorite whipping boy George Bush of chest beating because that’s about as rough Bush got in any of his rhetoric the last 6 years of his presidency.

These guys are still in campaign mode. They sure got out the hatchet quick enough to respond to Cheney. But our president can’t come off the links long enough to say something meaningful about a terrorist attack on Christmas Day with millions of people visiting friends and relatives and soon to be passengers using a suddenly vulnerable airport security system? No chest beating required. No exaggeration needed. No brave words and political solipsisms necessary. Just the facts, Barack, just the facts.

Prudence is one thing. Measured responses are welcome. But the president is also supposed to be reassuring in times like this and he failed that test miserably. Instead of disavowing his DHS secretary’s comical opinion of “the system,” he spun her words after the fact:

Mr. Obama appeared to be trying to contain the damage on Tuesday, offering “systemic failure” as a substitute diagnosis for “system worked.” He framed Ms. Napolitano’s statement by saying she was right that “once the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt, it’s clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions.”

Maybe. But Napolitano was not referring to any after action report. It was plain that she was referring to a failed bombing attempt proving the “system” worked when a reasonably aware 3 year old knew that it didn’t. Without those passengers taking action - never mind the crew, or homeland security systems, or aviation security - there would have been a lot of dead Americans on Christmas day.

He probably should have fired her on the spot. Instead, he became the second part of the joke.

And what’s up with Pfeiffer? Talk about breathing fire and doing some chest beating! His contention that the administration does indeed believe we are “at war” flies in the face of almost every statement, every action taken by this president since he took office. There was a conscious decision to downplay the “war” aspects of this conflict and substitute cooperation and law enforcement as the primary means to combat Islamic extremism - a term that continues to stick in the throat of Pfeiffer and his boss. We aren’t at war with abortion bombers or fat white guys out in the bush playing at being militiamen. We are at war with an ideology as insidious and odious as Nazism, Communism, or fascism. Islamism is not a religion, but a political ideology. And until we hear that acknowledgment pass the lips of Barack Obama, he and his flunkies can make all the claims they want about being at war but it won’t alter the fact that they appear to be unserious unless they brush up on their enemy identification.

It is typical that Pfeiffer would criticize form over substance by talking about “chest beating” rather than exactly who it is we are fighting in this “war” that they can’t seem to make up their mind to call a war. It wasn’t Cheney who came up with the ludicrous notion of calling a terrorist attack a “man caused disaster.” Nor did the former Veep rename the conflict an “overseas contingency operation.” Obsessing about form is something this administration is very good at. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda plots and our response is to force passengers to sit quietly in their seats the last hour of every flight.

Doing a heckuva job Janet. Your boss too.

No, Obama is not incompetent. Just muddle-headed. He can’t seem to figure out where political calculation ends and his job protecting Americans begins. His being the anti-Bush in his approach to governing doesn’t work every time. Nor does bending over backward to satisfy his rabid base on national security matters always make smart policy. The left may adore the fact that Obama is downplaying this latest terrorist attack. After all, what’s the worst that could have happened? A couple of hundred Americans incinerated in mid air is all. Nothing to get upset about. plenty more where they came from. Even if we had to endure a 9/11 attack every day, it wouldn’t make a sizable dent in our population. Better to get national health care passed than worry about such pinpricks.

If Obama had his druthers, that attitude would probably inform our anti-terror policy. But the American people have a little less nuanced approach to the “war” on terror; they don’t want to die. This really mucks things up because at the very least, the president has to be seen to be “doing something about the problem.” He can’t discuss the top secret stuff that is going on behind the scenes so we get screwy new regulations and searches at airports. I’m sure in his mind, he is doing all that is required to stop these attacks. But whether he feels this way or not, he is projecting a rather sanguine attitude toward the entire problem. Not “pretending” as Cheney charged. Just not as engaged as his predecessor.

Does this attitude filter down to the bureaucracy and was it partially responsible for the communications snafu that allowed the bomber to almost succeed? Andy McCarthy has made that argument - unconvincingly I might add. These guys at CIA and the FBI are pros and it is doubtful anything Obama says or does affects them in the performance of their jobs. But might a culture of risk aversion - not rocking the boat - 9 years after 9/11 still dominate in some quarters of the intelligence community? That to me is a more likely scenario and explanation for what went wrong. And no DCIA or other presidential appointee has ever been able to make a dent in changing it.

All we can do is hope whatever Obama and his team are doing works, regardless of their attitude or mindset about terrorism, and regardless whether they really think we’re at war or not.

By: Rick Moran at 11:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (35)

12/29/2009
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: TWO HOUR YEAR IN REVIEW SPECIAL

You won’t want to miss tonight’s Rick Moran Show, one of the most popular conservative talk shows on Blog Talk Radio.

Tonight, we’ll have a special two hour show - a “Year in Review” - featuring the top stories in politics and current events. Joining me will be Jen Rubin, Steve Green, James Lewis, Lorie Byrd, and Larrey Anderson.

The show will air from 7:00 - 9:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

The Chat Room will open around 15 minutes before the show opens,

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 4:09 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

WHEN INCOHERENCE STRIKES
CATEGORY: Blogging

I just deleted 1000 words of a blog post on terrorism and the Obama administration. The reason is simple; it was crap.

First of all, it was a crappy subject. In fact, any subject lately that requires a touch of nuance in understanding has been a waste of time in writing. To say that Obama is doing some good things in the fight against terror and some not so good things may be close to the truth but who wants to hear that?

Secondly, it was crappy thinking. I tried to draw a parallel between Obama’s policy and “Sitzkrieg” in World War II. Not even close. To say I tortured logic in trying to connect the two is an understatement. The connection is more in attitude than action which is difficult to quantify and impossible to expose.

Third, it was crappy writing. I’ve already forgotten everything I wrote so I can’t even quote from it. Suffice it say, it was brutally inane and without any of my usually redeeming snark.

Finally, I couldn’t end the piece. It just kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny as I desperately looked for the off switch. I couldn’t sum anything up because I didn’t really say anything.

I suppose I could blame all of this on my illness. But some of my best stuff was written when I crawled out of a sickbed to write, skewering someone or other for this or that with invective that would have made Tom Paine wince. Or perhaps I could point the finger at holiday ennui, where I could really give a good goddamn about anything or anyone. That excuse too, falls flat when I look at past years and see some mighty tasty writing between Christmas and New Year’s.

I am going to chalk this up to something that hits every writer - some more frequently than others.

Simple, unmanageable, incoherence.

There are days when I can get up and polish off 1500 words in an hour, effortlessly segueing from topic to topic, my thoughts pouring out organized like dominoes all in a row; elegant, logical, powerful, and eminently readable.

And then there are days like today.

To quote the great Chief Dan George from Little Big Man; “Sometimes the magic works. And sometimes it doesn’t.” Today, Houdini wouldn’t have been able to transpose my gibberish into something acceptable that I would put on this site.

You all should thank me that I had the perspicacity to spare you the ordeal of having to read something so awful. Tips are accepted and you can find the Paypal button below the comment box if you feel inclined to express in a more tangible manner what I’m sure is your overflowing gratitude.

Rick Moran
Proprietor

By: Rick Moran at 12:16 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

12/28/2009
A BRIEF TIRADE
CATEGORY: Politics

Brief is all I can muster at this point since I am laid up with a vicious bug of some sort. Nothing more fun than being sick at Christmas, he?

The target of my anger this morning is our president, Barack Obama, who I believe has made a wrong decision in not interrupting his golfing to make a personal statement about the events in Iran this past weekend.

No, he should not break off his vacation and come home. But with people being shot dead in the streets of Tehran, I think a statement of support and sympathy for the reformers from the elected leader of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy might be in order.

It can’t be that he still harbors hope for a breakthrough in talks with the Iranian regime. He gave it the old college try, sending private missives pleading for better relations to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. Both letters were publicly spurned and ridiculed. He sent envoys to multi-lateral discussions on areas of mutual interest. He set up the P5+1 talks in Geneva last October where he was shown first hand how the regime operates; they initially accepted an enrichment deal and then walked back from it until totally rejecting it about a month ago.

Clearly, the president gets an “A” for effort in seeking to engage the Iranians in talks to avoid war over the stockpile of enriched uranium held by the mullahs. We’ll let historians argue whether he has made the situation worse or not, or war more likely. But where we are now with Iran is the same place we were January 20, 2009 and no amount of spin will change that fact.

So his silence on the bloodletting in the streets is all the more puzzling. There are no relations to damage if he comes out four-square in support of the reformers and their goals. I understand the practical reluctance in being too gushy since the regime will point to that as proof that the demonstrators are in cahoots with the Great Satan. But the question is how much cred does the regime still have with Mohammed on the street? Not much, I’d wager.

What those kids dodging bullets in the streets need more than anything is a strong signal that the world is watching - even with all the restrictions the regime has placed on international reporting. They are feeling pretty lonely at this point and a strong statement from President Obama would be a morale booster, that’s for sure.

I can’t believe that Obama is naive enough not have resigned himself to imposing some kind of tough, multi-lateral sanctions against the regime (he will never get tough sanctions through the Security Council). He knows that there is a clock ticking in Tel Aviv and that he has to make every effort to force the Iranians to accept the modest proposals offered in Geneva last October or the very worst may happen and Israel would strike. The resulting backlash could be very, very bad for our interests and perhaps even peace in the Middle East.

The idea that sanctions of any kind would alter the regme’s stance was never more than a long shot anyway. So why not come down on the side of the angels in this one and wholeheartedly condemn the regime for everything from their non-cooperation on nukes to slaughtering their own children in the streets? I don’t see an upside to keeping quiet about the violence. A statement from the NSC or State Department doesn’t carry half as much weight as a personal statement from the president. He should know this and act accordingly.

While he’s at it, he might want to say a word or two about the failed terrorist attack. I understand this statement will be coming “soon,” which is fine but why not earlier?

Mark Ambinder:

There is a reason why Obama hasn’t given a public statement. It’s strategy.

Here’s the theory: a two-bit mook is sent by Al Qaeda to do a dastardly deed. He winds up neutering himself. Literally.

Authorities respond appropriately; the president (as this president is wont to to) presides over the federal response. His senior aides speak for him, letting reporters know that he’s videoconferencing regularly, that he’s ordering a review of terrorist watch lists, that he’s discoursing with his secretary of Homeland Security.

But an in-person Obama statement isn’t needed; Indeed, a message expressing command, control, outrage and anger might elevate the importance of the deed, would generate panic (because Obama usually DOESN’T talk about the specifics of cases like this, and so him deciding to do so would cue the American people to respond in a way that exacerbates the situation).

Obama of course will say something at some point. Had the terrorist blown up the plane, it’s safe to assume that Obama would no longer be in Hawaii. In either case, the public will need presidential fortification at some point. But Obama is willing to risk the accusation that he is “soft” on terrorism or is hovering above it all, or is just not to be bothered (his “head’s in the sand,” or “golfing comes first”) in order to advance what he believes is the proper collective response to a failed act of terrorism.

Let the authorities do their work. Don’t presume; don’t panic the country; don’t chest-thump, prejudge, interfere, politicize (in an international sense), don’t give Al Qaeda (or whomever) a symbolic victory; resist the urge to open the old playbook and run a familiar play.

To date, the Obama administration has failed to demonstrate they are as clever or nuanced as Ambinder makes them out to be here. And how would Obama saying a few words to the nation about this foiled attack panic the country? Or that a statement couldn’t easily avoid “chest thumping? Ambinder appears to be channeling his inner George Bush if he thinks there is no choice between giving al-Qaeda a “symbolic” victory and saying nothing. That’s a ludicrous position to take and it appears that Ambinder should have laid off the Christmas cheer before writing it.

The people want reassurance. Obama could have given that without resorting to histrionics or drama. He doesn’t have to interrupt his vacation to make a 3 minute statement assuring people that the skies will be made as safe as humanly possible, that this attack means al-Qaeda is still alive and kicking, and that our efforts in Afghanistan are worth it because of this.

On both Iran and the terror attack on flight 253, the country - and the world - needed to hear from the president. The fact that we didn’t, and probably won’t hear from him until later this week, is a disappointment.

By: Rick Moran at 12:29 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

12/25/2009
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM AN ATHEIST TO ALL YOU BELIEVERS
CATEGORY: Ethics, History

Atheism is usually its own worst enemy. By that, I mean there is a large number of unbelievers who make great sport of those who worship a divinity, mocking them, referring to them as “superstitious” and generally lording their supposed superior intellect and perception of the “real world” over those who see things differently.

Yes, there are times when Christians especially deserve this treatment. It becomes impossible to respect the beliefs of people who think that the AIDS virus or 9/11 were punishments from God. And forget the loony Muslims who believe it efficacious to live in the 8th century rather than embracing modernity. These believers have demonstrated that they are a clear and present danger to the west and everything we have built up over a thousand years of bloody wars over placing religion in its proper place in our society.

But true atheism takes the best thinking from religions and incorporates some of the more universal moral tenets into everyday life. For example, if you can get by the story of how they came into being, most of the Ten Commandments are an excellent starting point if you seek to live a moral life. At bottom, they are nothing more than common sense rules in how to organize a society around basic moral precepts. Don’t kill the fellow walking towards you even if he’s a stranger and not of your tribe. Don’t steal from your neighbor. Take care of your parents. Don’t play around with your neighbor’s wife. Workers deserve one day off a week. Don’t lie.

These commandments whether they are from God or man, are the basis for any moral community. Other religions such as Islam and Hinduism offer similar, if less well known strictures on behavior that has allowed their societies to flourish. The point being; recognizing inherent contradictions in these principles as they relate to one another does not obviate their value as moral guideposts for secular society. The Ur Christian teaching to “love thy neighbor” finds an echo in all great religions, as does Jesus’s related call to treat others as you yourself would be treated.

As far as Christmas is concerned, we have an apparent dichotomy between the biblical Jesus Christ, son of God, and the historical Jesus - son of Galilee, oppressed Jew living in Roman occupied Palestine, and someone who, probably not until near the end of his life, believed in his own messianic mission.

The historical Jesus has always been more attractive to me than the mostly sweet, syrupy, nice-guy Christ of the bible - even when I was still a believer. The real Jesus was a rabble rouser, a trouble maker, a guy who deliberately tried to get a rise out of the powers that be by challenging the nature of their authority. Not the Romans, mind you. But rather the priests and pharisees who ran Judea for the occupiers and who profited monetarily by this relationship. This Jesus was one tough cookie - at least he appears to have been tough minded, and his life in poverty inured him to physical hardship as well.

Whether he was out to “reform” Judaism as some scholars believe or whether he really had in mind an entirely new philosophy that would appeal to both Jews and gentiles is not clear from his teachings. His partial rejection of Jewish dietary requirements as well as some rituals places him in either camp.

He was almost certainly not born in Bethlehem. This seems to have been a construct of the early church who invented the idea of a Roman census (and Joseph’s ancestry?) in order to fulfill biblical prophecy about the origin of the messiah. There is some tantalizing evidence that he hooked up with caravans traveling to India and spent several years there, although most historians view this claim as apocryphal.

Regardless of the historical figure, we know a lot more in a general sense about how Jews lived in 1st century Palestine under Roman rule and specifically, how people in Jesus’s part of Galilee lived. For example, Nazareth was about 6 miles from the city of Sepphoris that scholars note rebelled against Roman rule either shortly before or shortly after Jesus was born. The Romans being Romans, and eminently practical about such matters, slaughtered the inhabitants and razed the city to the ground. This act would no doubt have caused an immense backlash against Roman rule in the area, especially when the Romans rebuilt the city with baths, theaters, and other Roman touches.

Now Nazareth was a poverty stricken place with life pretty much of a hand to mouth existence. The reform minded young Jesus would no doubt have absorbed not only the hatred for Romans but also have developed a burning desire to right what he saw as the evil of the huge gap between rich and poor. Poor people died at a frightful rate, barely living beyond their 20’s before some disease of poverty - leprosy, scurvy, and other disease of malnutrition - claimed them. Death would have been all around the young Jesus. His friends and neighbors, perhaps even family members, succumbing to the ravages brought about by their lot in life.

What has always attracted me to Jesus the man was that he apparently wanted to do something about this. His chastisement of the rich while taking to task the priests and pharisees who accumulated wealth at the expense of the poor was a large part of his teaching while also comforting the poor with the promise of eternal life in heaven. It was the former, of course, that led eventually to his death on the cross - a fate it can be inferred that he accepted as a price to pay for fulfilling his mission.

For in truth, this was a driven man, as most reformers are. Scholars have argued when and even if Jesus actually began to believe himself to be the messiah. The biblical references, written decades after Jesus lived, are suspect because the new Christians would have found it advantageous to have the central figure of their religion proclaim his divinity at some point. And it is generally accepted that Jesus had already come to the attention of both the Romans and the Jewish hierarchy prior to his arrival in Jerusalem - not necessarily because he proclaimed himself divine but because of his association with John the Baptist (executed state criminal) and his many healings that some in the leadership viewed as suspect because he claimed God had performed the miracle through his intercession - a notion perilously close to heresy.

But knowing all this, Jesus chose to go to Jerusalem where he faced the very real prospect of his death. This is the kind of courage shown by the best reformers in history - or the most fanatical. Whatever the reason, the incident in the temple - almost certainly planned in advance - sealed his fate. That attack on the money changers was a direct challenge to Caiaphas and his fellow collaborators. And the Romans no doubt took a very dim view of the incident also, given it was Passover - a time when the population of Jerusalem skyrocketed and Jewish sensibilities about the Romans were a tinderbox of resentment and hate.

This was a man that anyone, believer or non-believer can admire. And honoring him and his simple message on Christmas by exchanging gifts, and getting into the spirit of the season by trying to be a little nicer to people is perfectly in keeping with holding a secular outlook on the world, and preferring to live one’s life by following moral precepts that rise above any particular religion to reside in the tangled beauty of our imperfect, but rational minds.

Even though I don’t see this tough, driven, intelligent, yet gentle, and compassionate man as a God figure, I can celebrate his life by honoring traditions begun by those who, in fact, believe in Jesus as the Son of God. The “Spirit of Christmas” knows no religion. It has, as its basis, the enduring belief that that one can revere the spiritual without acknowledging the sacred.

So Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends. And to my fellow atheists, it wouldn’t hurt if you acknowledged the secular nature of the season while embracing those universal moral tenets taught by the Man from Galilee.

By: Rick Moran at 10:40 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

12/24/2009
THE WORST PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN MY LIFETIME

I must confess that the more I read of the health care reform bill that just passed the senate this morning, the more it grows on me.

Unfortunately, that growth is a cancerous tumor, one that will be impossible to excise once this God-awful monstrosity becomes law.

If the Democrats had stuck to their original intent - covering more people, covering those who are chronically ill and denied insurance, and trying to bend the cost curve on Medicare - I would probably have supported it. These things are necessary goals for America and legislation was desperately needed to address these problems.

But the overreach in this bill is incredible. Non-partisan outfits like CMS are saying that premiums will go up drastically, that the bill won’t do anything to reduce the cost of health care, that the quality of care will go down, and that even cuts in Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals (if they could be sustained which they haven’t been over the last 9 years) won’t have any effect on the cost curve.

As far as coverage, that same CMS report figures a net increase of 3 million Americans who will be insured - 12 million will lose their insurance through their employer while 15 million will gain insurance coverage that way. This doesn’t include the estimated 15 million who will now be eligible for Medicaid - an unfunded mandate (except for Nelson’s Nebraska and Landrieu’s Louisiana) that will top $60 billion according to some estimates. Increased state taxes to pay for new Medicaid coverage is not included in the cost of the bill.

The bill is profligate with the taxpayer’s money when it should have been niggardly. It places the heaviest hand imaginable upon health care consumers instead of the lightest touch possible. It’s strictures, rules, and regulations on insurers guarantee higher premiums. And it will take unfairly from the young and give to the old by forcing the “young invincibles” to purchase coverage they will probably not need in order to service seniors.

Seniors have their own problems with this bill - some of it ginned up outrage over nothing - but many of their concerns are well heeded. The destruction of supplemental insurance programs by cutting back on what they can cover, as well as increasing their costs will mean more out of pocket cash spent on health care by Medicare patients. This is the goal, of course; to discourage people from using the health care system. And the Medicare cost containment panel frightens many seniors with its mandate to discover the efficacy of specific treatments for specific diseases and conditions. Hardly a “death panel” - more like Obama’s “take an aspirin for the pain” panel.

If some of this would have accomplished some of the goals the Democrats set out to fulfill, there’s a chance that reasonable conservatives could have supported it. After all, no bill is going to be perfect, and the opposition, working with the material you have at hand in order to improve it, might have achieved at least the appearance of bi-partisanship.

It’s not the the Democrats were necessarily not interested in bi-partisanship as it was they were not interested in the gradualist approach favored by those few lawmakers in the GOP who would have supported health care reform. When even Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins wouldn’t get on board, this should have been a sign that what the Democrats were proposing was a bridge too far even for moderate Republicans.

Married to process rather than sticking to substance, Harry Reid then took a bad bill and made it infinitely worse by trying to please all segments of his caucus. The buy offs, the favors - all the little ornaments Reid added to this Christmas tree of a bill made it less fair, more complex, and more expensive.

Previously occupying the “Worst Piece of Legislation” niche in my mind was the 1981 tax cut bill - a bill that guaranteed huge deficits as far down the road as anyone could see by allowing every Congressman, every special interest group - even individual companies - to get a tax cut goodie written into law. If the coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats had stuck to the original intent of across the board tax cuts and a few business goodies like cutting the capital gains tax, the bill would have cost a third of what it eventually cost. Of course, the bill did jump start the economy, but at the cost of massive deficits that weren’t reined in until Clinton’s presidency a decade later. It should go without saying that the Republicans under Bush abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility and ran up record deficits - at least they were a record until this crew got into office.

And now, we’re looking at another “crapshoot” as one Democratic congressman referred to the tax cut bill nearly 30 years ago. (The GOP sage Howard Baker called it a “riverboat gamble.) Nobody can possibly know what the outcomes will be from playing with such a large chunk of the American economy. How much more will the bill cost than advertised? The CBO thinks $1.5 trillion while others see that figure doubled. What will be the effect of people being forced to buy insurance? Will enough of them buy into the system to help slow the rise in premiums (forget the idea they would come down - that’s baloney)?

How will all these changes in Medicare play out in the real world? How many people will take advantage of the increased eligibility (133% of the poverty level) for Medicaid? How will states pay for that increase? How will the exchanges work? What will happen to private insurance carriers who now must cover those with pre-existing conditions? How many companies will opt-out and pay the fine rather than cover their employees? What will happen to small businesses who will see their cost of doing business skyrocket, despite “tax credits” to assist them? What will be the effect of the cost control panel on the quality of care?

I could fill a page or two with questions about the future of health care in America. But the only question that matters is, with so many unknowns, what possessed supposedly sober, prudent lawmakers to pass this bill in the first place?

By: Rick Moran at 10:23 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

12/23/2009
BOOBS, BIRTHERS, AND BIRCHERS

Oh, we’re meetin’ at the courthouse at eight o’clock tonight
You just walk in the door and take the first turn to the right
Be careful when you get there, we hate to be bereft
But we’re taking down the names of everybody turning left

Oh, we’re the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Here to save our country from a communistic plot
Join the John Birch Society, help us fill the ranks
To get this movement started we need lots of tools and cranks

Now there’s no one that we’re certain the Kremlin doesn’t touch
We think that Westbrook Pegler doth protest a bit too much
We only hail the hero from whom we got our name
We’re not sure what he did but he’s our hero just the same.

(”John Birch Society” by Michael Brown)

Upon hearing that the John Birch Society was going to co-sponsor the Conservative Political Action Conference, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or put my fist through a wall.

The very first thing that came to mind was this hysterically funny Chad Mitchell Trio song from 1962 that captured the JBS perfectly:

A family favorite for more than 40 years, we never tire of singing it at reunions. “We’re Your Friendly, Liberal, Neighborhood Ku Klux Klan” was another CMT family favorite.

You’ll never recognize us, there’s a smile upon our face,
We’re changing all our dirty sheets and a-cleaning up the place.
Yep, since we got a lawyer, and a public relations man,
We’re your friendly, liberal, neighborhood Klu Klux Klan

Yes, we’re your friendly, liberal, neighborhood Klu Klux Klan
Ever since we got that lawyer and that public relations man.
“Course we did shoot one reporter, but he was just obscene,
and you can’t call us no filthy names. What does Anglo-Saxon mean?

As far as I know, the Kluxers have not as yet, been offered a booth in the exhibit hall, but you never know.

After laughing at the idea that responsible, mature, sane conservatives would invite into the mainstream this nest of kooks, crazies, and paranoid loons I then broke down in tears. The callousness of this move is unbelievable. Don’t these fools know what it took to wipe the stench of these freaks off of the conservative movement?

Why stop with the Birchers? Why not have a few seminars and panels on the birther issue? After all, news out of New York is that the birther convention went quite well last week:

Dear Friends:

Welcome to the Second National Conference on Barack Obama’s Missing Birth Certificate and College Records. Our meeting begins tomorrow in New York City! I am delighted to provide you with this second progress report.

[...]

3. Videotaping/Internet posting cancellation

Unfortunately, our plan to videotape the conference and post the proceedings on the network is stalled. We did not receive enough financial support to hire a professional videographer to tape the conference, so we have cancelled our reservation for a videographer. If late-in-the-day financial support still arrives, we will see if someone is available to tape. We can’t do more than the budget allows.

[...]

5. Obama: The Hawai’i Years

I had hoped we could finish editing our Hawai’i movie by early December but we are swamped with work and preparations for the conference. We will definitely show a rough cut of the movie on a laptop at the Conference and finish the film up for New Year’s.

The organizer and head honcho of this bunch is Andy Martin, perennial candidate for something or other, and an internet gadfly.

Mr. Martin, making a Quixotic run for the senate here in Illinois, claims his life story is “inspirational.” Indeed, it inspired me to almost lose my lunch. Careening wildly between right and left, the only constant in his life appears to be an overpowering ambition. In the end, it’s hard to tell whether he is sincerely nuts or has simply latched on to the birther movement for attention and a little cash.

No matter, this is a fellow that conservatives should embrace. After all, he’s only “asking questions” - like, where’s the “ribbon copy” of the birth certificate, Barry?

What I have asked Hawai’i officials to do is produce their original “ribbon” copy of Obama’s 1961 birth certificate. (For those of you not old enough to know what a “ribbon copy” is, ancient devices known as “typewriters” used “ribbons” to make impressions on paper. Cormac McCarthy’s original 1963 typewriter is about to be auctioned as an antique. The original copy of a document, i.e. the one which the typewriter ribbon actually touched, was known as the “ribbon copy.”)

Hawai’i officials have never released Obama’s ribbon copy of his birth certificate, despite many demands, lawsuits, etc. I am continuing my litigation for access. Because I am currently a candidate for U. S. Senator [www.AndyforUSSenator.com], I was unable to actively pursue the litigation in August-November, but we are gearing up to go back to Hawai’i to pry loose the original, 1961 document once funds are available.

Of course, if state officials ever released the “ribbon copy,” Martin and his ilk will probably want to see the actual typewriter ribbon on which the document was produced. You just can’t be too careful when you’ve got a reputation for truth and honesty.

Unlike some of Obama’s critics, I have been scrupulously honorable and honest in seeking only the truth about him, and trying to find only the facts about his past. Because of my passion for the truth and the facts, I seem to get under Obama’s skin, whereas his critics who float unsustainable theories are ignored. Obama wants to hide the truth; help us in our search for the facts.

Please help support these projects financially.

How can anyone resist someone so “scrupulously honorable and honest?”

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Andy shows up at CPAC with his hand out, piping his story all around the venue while the conspiracists follow him like rats leaving a sinking ship.

The birthers are only the latest paranoids on the far right. The Birchers have them beat by nearly 50 years. In addition to accusing Eisenhower of being a “conscious agent” for the red menace, over the years, the JBS has topped that lunacy by seeing goblins in globalization, and Communists everywhere, not to mention firmly opposing teh gay, as was made evident in this meeting sponsored by the JBS earlier this year in Oklahoma City:

Among the items in the agenda, Kern said, was getting the public to view homosexuality as a matter of taste, like a preference for strawberry or vanilla ice cream. She quoted the text: “The masses should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself.”

“You know,” Kern said. “I’ve done a lot of reading on this. I wish I could describe to you their behavior. I will not because I would be redder than this suit. It’s their behavior that we oppose.

“This theme of equality and freedom is the approach that the homosexuals are using today — totally perverting the true intention of what our Constitution meant. … The homosexuals get it — it’s a struggle between our religious freedoms and their right to do what they want to do.”

Around the banquet hall, Kern’s speech met with applause and calls of “Amen!” from a crowd stoked in a crucible of conspiracy and intrigue. For the whole day, the “Clouds Over America” conference, run and organized by the John Birch Society, held lecture after lecture Jan. 23 and 24 dedicated to explaining their various conspiracy-laden tenets. Here’s one — that a godless secret society, the Illuminati, has been battling against the founding of the United States of America and decent citizens to live in peaceful, worshipful freedom.

Kern called for a new “Great Awakening,” referring to a period of religious revivals from the 18th century considered precursor to the American Revolution.

“The solution is another Great Awakening, folks,” Kern said. “We need a spiritual revival, and that will only come if God’s people, especially you pastors, will stand in your pulpits and vocally preach the word of God and thus declare the Lord this sin, and preach it in love, only then does our nation have a chance of overcoming the scourge of AIDS, HIV and the devastating destruction that the homosexual lifestyle is bringing on your children and our grandchildren.”

The world is too complex to give these idiots a seat at the table. Let them rant on the internet. Let them spew on their tiny radio stations. Let them meet in the dark, exchange their secret handshakes, glance furtively over their shoulders for the government bogeyman, and run up their psychiatric bills.

People wonder why I think Glenn Beck is a dangerous clown. When you lie down with rabid dogs, people are going to think you’re one of them. Beck has spoken approvingly of the JBS on a number of occasions over the years, which only feeds the perception that his mindless meanderings about fascism coming to America with Woodrow Wilson’s presidency and other lunatic conspiracies are not aberrations but rather an entrenched part of his character.

But if you were to go to CPAC in February and take a poll, Beck would be wildly popular. I will never understand it, nor will I ever get used to it. A sizable segment of the right has lost its mind and embracing the John Birch Society is just one more indication that they are not going to find it anytime soon.

It would do no good to call for a boycott of CPAC. But I would hope that some principled activists and members of Congress would take that step. As for me, I will probably be covering the conference in some capacity but I already have my storyline:

We’ll teach you how to spot ‘em in the cities or the sticks
For even Jasper Junction is just full of Bolsheviks
The CIA’s subversive and so’s the FCC
There’s no one left but thee and we, and we’re not sure of thee

Oh, we’re the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Here to save our country from a communistic plot
Join the John Birch Society holding off the Reds
We’ll use our hand and hearts and if we must we’ll use our heads

By: Rick Moran at 10:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

12/22/2009
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: POLITICAL POTPOURRI

You won’t want to miss tonight’s Rick Moran Show, one of the most popular conservative talk shows on Blog Talk Radio.

Tonight, I welcome IDB’s Monica Showalter and scientist James Lewis for a discussion of Copenhagen and health care reform.

The show will air from 7:00 - 8:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

The Chat Room will open around 15 minutes before the show opens,

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 5:31 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

GOP: OUT OF GAS, OUT OF IDEAS, OVER THE CLIFF

Jonathan Chait at The New Republic:

In reality, both parties have plenty of ideas that they would like to implement if given the political power to do so. Republicans’ policy ideas primarily involve cutting marginal tax rates and regulations. The question isn’t whether the Republican Party has any ideas. The question is whether the party has any relevant ideas.

In the days following the 2008 election, some Republicans predicted that the party would retool itself in response to reality–not just political reality but the actuality of policy challenges. “Republicans,” wrote conservative Ramesh Ponnuru in Time, “will have to devise an agenda that speaks to a country where more people feel the bite of payroll taxes than income taxes, where health-care costs eat up raises even in good times, where the length of the daily commute is a bigger irritant than are earmarks.” Nothing like that rethinking has happened or will happen.

Whatever the merits of President Obama’s agenda, it is clearly a response to objectively large problems facing the country. The administration has selected three main issues as the focus of its domestic agenda: the economic crisis, climate change, and health care reform. The issues themselves offer a stark contrast with Bush’s 2005 crusade to reshape Social Security. While sold as a response to the program’s long-term deficit, the privatization campaign was actually motivated by ideological opposition to Social Security’s redistributive role. (Bush refused Democratic offers to negotiate a fix to the program’s solvency without altering its social-insurance character.) By contrast, it is impossible to dismiss the problems Obama has chosen to address. In all three areas, the Republican Party has adopted a stance of total opposition, not merely because it disagrees with aspects of Obama’s solutions, but because it cannot come to grips with the very nature of the problems of modern American politics.

Yahtzee!

I would take issue with Chait over the reason for Social Security reform - something the Democrats will now have to face in the coming years if, as I fully expect, they maintain their majority for a decade or so. Yes, my liberal friends, there is an unfunded mandate for social security that works out to about $17.5 trillion by 2050. By that time, the entire federal budget could be comprised of payments for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Don’t sit there and tell me that the only reason Bush wanted to reform Social Security by privatizing some of it was due to “ideological opposition” to the program. It was Republicans, I will remind Chait, who reformed SS in 1986 while he and his Democratic friends took potshots from the sidelines. Democrats have always, shamelessly, used Social Security fear mongering with seniors as an electoral club. And Chait is proving that nothing has changed.

As for the rest of Chait’s thesis, he is spot on. The GOP cannot meet the basic definition of a political party; a repository for ideas and principles that advance a particular political philosophy. Cutting taxes when we’re staring at a deficit of $1.5 trillion a year is not only irrelevant, it is reckless, suicidal, irresponsible policy. Claiming that government spending would be cut an equal amount as any tax breaks is ludicrous, not to mention a horrible idea in the midst of a deep recession. The cuts that would be necessary in discretionary spending - only about 28% of the budget (most of that in the defense sector) - would gash programs that benefit the poor and the middle class. It won’t happen so why discuss it? Any tax cuts enacted would add to the deficit substantially.

So much for “fiscal responsibility.”

Tax cuts aren’t the only idea that the GOP wants to implement but it seems that way sometimes. Cutting spending is another basic notion being pushed by the GOP, but so far, specifics have been lacking. Not so with the base of the party who not only can’t “come to grips with the very nature of the problems of modern American politics,” but would have trouble “coming to grips” with 19th century American problems. This is where Chait’s ideological animus by the GOP to government truly resides (although eliminating Social Security and Medicare are ideas relegated to the fringe right). Entire swaths of the government would be on the chopping block if many in the base got their way. And I am not talking about some kind of “super-federalism” where many programs would be “transferred to the states.” There is a belief that much of what the federal government does, individuals should be able to do for themselves. I am not unsympathetic to this basic premise, but the scope and breadth of what many on the right would like to see eliminated are several bridges too far for most rational conservatives.

And this points up the major reason why the GOP is in the barren intellectual state that it is in; a stubborn, (I would say hysterical) refusal to see the world as it is and develop counter-proposals and ideas that reflect the realities of 21st century America.

What’s so hard about that? Well, for starters, perhaps admitting you have a problem dealing with reality in the first place might help:

The writers of The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live (although I’m not convinced they’ve even had writers lately) can have February 18-20, 2010, off. The hosts can handle it themselves. On those dates, the jokes will practically write themselves as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) takes place — co-sponsored by the John Birch Society. Every liberal commentator needs to send a thank-you note to CPAC’s organizers for that monumentally stupid decision.

By having the John Birch Society sponsor it, CPAC can guarantee that 90% of the coverage regarding the conference will relate to JBS’ oh-my-god-look-a-conspiracy attitude rather than the heavy-hitters and rising stars of conservatism and libertarianism that speak there. Instead of focusing on politics, reporters will ask attendees for their response to the JBS controversy and will ask organizers whether they are in such financial distress that they had to embrace a fringe group for support.

This is beyond the “nihilism” Chait writes about with regard to what the GOP has become. I think a more technical term is in order to describe what is happening with the base and hence, with much of the Republican party.

Loony tunes.

You have to live in a different reality (or perhaps spend most of your time on another planet) to accept the notion that the John Birch Society today is much different than the bunch who questioned whether General Dwight David Eisenhower - American hero - wasn’t “pink.” Or that John Foster Dulles wasn’t deliberately hiding Communists in the State Department. (Yes, there were commies at state and defense but the idea that Dulles knew they were there is lunacy).

The JBS “core principles” include this gem:

The Society also labors to warn against and expose the forces that seek to abolish U.S. independence, build a world government, or otherwise undermine our personal liberties and national independence.

The problem as I see it isn’t necessarily that the John Birth Society is filled with kooks who think Obama is part of an international conspiracy to enslave America to the Communist ideal, it’s that they are a perfect fit for CPAC and the paranoid righties who are pursuing the birther matter, believe the president and the Democrats are out to “destroy the country,” believe there’s nothing much wrong with our health care system, and are not sure if Obama isn’t the antichrist.

Yes, that last is hyperbole but it’s easy to go over the top when you are trying to describe people who have tossed aside reason and embraced a kind of collective madness that is being promoted on talk radio, and some venues on Fox News. The world - the country - simply is not as it is described by Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the cotton candy conservatives who are cleaning up by playing to the fears of the ignorant and uninformed.

And then there are those who ape the worst of these:

It isn’t too much to ask for Byrd to step off for that great klavern in the sky before the Senate vote that may force this nation to accept government-rationed health care. Even a nice coma would do.

Without his frail, Gollum-like body being wheeled into the Senate’s chambers to cast the deciding vote, the Senate cannot curse our children and grandchildren with crushing debt and rationed, substandard healthcare.

I suppose some will be shocked and appalled that I’d wish for the former kleagle to die on command. I’d remind them that the party wheeling in a near invalid to vote in favor of this unread monstrosity of a bill is the one that should feel shame.

Yes, the health care bill as it has been so cynically and maliciously drawn up by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Democrats might easily be termed a “monstrosity.”

But it is grotesque, deformed thinking to wish for another human being to die for political gain. And not seeing that is a reflection not so much of Bob Owens, but of the casual, anti-reason, anti-rational thinking that has gripped the Republican party and made it an irrelevancy.

Can you govern without believing in the efficacy of government? I find it hard to imagine that, even if the Democrats and Obama screw things up so royally that the GOP wins a smashing victory and overturns both houses of Congress next year, that the Republicans are capable of doing anything to address the problems of 21st century America. Trying to reconstitute a nation that doesn’t exist anymore - a pastoral place where everyone was self-sufficient, went to church on Sunday, and dreamed the same dreams - does not equip a party or its members to deal with the complex, urbanized, less homogeneous country America has become.

To do that, one must actually live in the present rather than some ill-defined, half-imagined past that perhaps never was, but certainly will never be again.

By: Rick Moran at 11:00 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

12/21/2009
REFORM IS A TRIUMPH OF PROCESS OVER PRUDENCE

I suppose it is too much to expect that either party could deal effectively with the health care crisis. In fact, I would argue that our system was not set up to make such massive changes in American life so quickly, that the very nature of the legislative process prevents prudent lawmakers from overreaching and trying to do too much, too soon.

Part of that is the dance that occurs between the majority and minority. True, the atmosphere in Washington has been testy the last couple of decades. But beyond that, there are systemic checks on the majority - most of them built in to the very fabric of the House and Senate rules while others can be found in the Constitution. The Founders saw the People’s House as a place where men were governed by raw passion, and that the supposed elitists in the senate (chosen by state legislators), would put a brake on any imprudent measures passed in the lower chamber.

No, the filibuster is not in the Constitution. But I have no doubt the majority of the Founders would have approved of how it has been used in the past as well as how it is being employed now. When the GOP wanted to ram through some judges who were seen as being either poor jurists, or too extreme, the Democrats balked. The New York Times favored the tactic back in November of 2004:

The Republicans see the filibuster as an annoying obstacle. But it is actually one of the checks and balances that the founders, who worried greatly about concentration of power, built into our system of government. It is also, right now, the main means by which the 48 percent of Americans who voted for John Kerry can influence federal policy. People who call themselves conservatives should find a way of achieving their goals without declaring war on one of the oldest traditions in American democracy.

And they were right. Of course, now that the shoe is on the other foot, the filibuster is evil incarnate if you listen to many on the left. But the principle is sound; legislation that either doesn’t have the support of the people, or is flawed thinking, or whose consequences cannot be easily seen, deserves the “check” that the senate can place on it.

Does this mean that there shouldn’t be health care reform at all? Some on the right would argue this but I think I’ve made my own position clear over the last few months; when millions who want insurance, or need insurance, who are either too poor to afford it or can’t get it because of a chronic condition, something is wrong with the system. The other big reason for reform is the cost of health care - and thus, the cost to government who spends about 40 cents of every health care dollar - are out of control and desperately need to be reined in.

We can’t simply say to those who can’t get insurance, “Too bad if you get sick or hurt. Try bankruptcy, OK?” I don’t see health insurance as a “right” but neither is it fair for families to be burdened for the rest of their lives with a health care bill from a car accident or a serious childhood illness. It is the same reasoning we use for assistance to the poor. If through no fault of their own, someone finds themselves unable to pay for food or shelter, the government must step in. Again, do we say “Too bad you can’t eat. Try a church pantry, OK?”

I am of the school that sees government as an agent to fill in gaps where doing so is prudent and makes sense. Clearly, there is a role for government to play in addressing the health care problem. A purely free market solution does not prevent itself, although certainly applying market forces to the cost curve would seem to make a good deal more sense than the arbitrary manner in which the House and Senate bills address this aspect of the problem.

But government alone cannot address these problems - a position utterly rejected by the far left in the Democratic party who are driving this reform bill over a cliff. If the bill simply addressed the problem of insuring the uninsured and trying to “bend the cost curve” in health care spending, I have no doubt that many Republicans would have enthusiastically thrown themselves into the process. But the overreach written into the bill guaranteed from the beginning that the GOP would be on the sidelines.

You don’t need comity between warring parties to get something done on health care. What is needed is the application of common sense and a little prudence. Indeed, prudence has been sacrificed on the altar of process - the abandonment of the principle of “good government” in order to achieve a purely political triumph for the majority.

As a civic virtue, prudence is underrated.

Russell Kirk:

Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. As John Randolph of Roanoke put it, Providence moves slowly, but the devil always hurries. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be efficacious. The conservative declares that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.

I don’t see how anyone can apply the principle of “prudence” to this legislation. And please note that Professor Kirk is inferring the existence of a body like the United States Senate to place a check on the passions of the imprudent.

In truth, the senate has traditionally been a “conservative” body in that its rules and traditions allow for a more thoughtful and measured approach to legislation. After all, it used to be that these cloture votes would occur after hundreds of hours of talking, as an even smaller minority than the 40 GOP senators (the rules used to call for 66 votes in favor of cloture) could tie up the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” for weeks by reading cookbooks, the Congressional Record, and other time consuming tomes.

Cloture itself is a relatively recent invention. It was created prior to our entry into World War I when just a couple of senators could hold up the business of the senate simply by not yielding the floor (See Jimmy Stewart’s one man filibuster in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

The practical effect of all this talking was that bills were considerably watered down in the senate before going to conference. In order to achieve passage in the senate, the minorities concerns were addressed. And it prevented the kind of wholesale changes in American society that we are seeing with health care reform.

President Obama is not a prudent man. He is a reckless, arrogant ideologue who is so concerned with his legacy and his place in the history books, that he is willing to foist this very bad bill on the American people and damn the consequences. It is so big, so broadly drawn, encompasses so much, that it would be impossible for any group of bureaucrats to write rules and regulations that wouldn’t horribly infringe upon the liberties of the people.

There is no blueprint, no roadmap that would reveal what the long term consequences of passing this bill might be. Guessing at its cost is akin to looking into a crystal ball. And Harry Reid ain’t no gypsy. In fact, the Democrats have tried to hide the costs of the bill:

For starters, as CBO notes, the bill presumes that Medicare fees for physician services will get cut by more than 20 percent in 2011, and then stay at the reduced level indefinitely. There is strong bipartisan opposition to such cuts. Fixing that problem alone will cost more than $200 billion over a decade, pushing the Reid plan from the black and into a deep red.

Then there are the numerous budget gimmicks and implausible spending reductions. The plan’s taxes and spending cuts kick in right away, while the entitlement expansion doesn’t start in earnest until 2014, and even then the real spending doesn’t begin until 2015. According to CBO, from 2010 to 2014, the bill would cut the federal budget deficit by $124 billion. From that point on, it’s essentially deficit neutral — but that’s only because of unrealistic assumptions about tax and Medicare savings provisions. By 2019, the entitlement expansions to cover more people with insurance will cost nearly $200 billion per year, and grow every year thereafter at a rate of 8 percent. CBO says that, on paper, the tax increases and Medicare cuts will more than keep up, but, in reality, they won’t. The so-called tax on high cost insurance plans applies to policies with premiums exceeding certain thresholds (for instance, $23,000 for family coverage). But those thresholds would be indexed at rates that are less than health-care inflation — forever. And so, over time, more and more plans, and their enrollees, would bump up against it until virtually the entire U.S. population is enrolled in insurance that is considered “high cost.”

Chicanery in budgeting is not limited to the Democratic party. But it’s a question of scale, isn’t it? We’re not talking about fudging some numbers on a new jet fighter that might show a couple of tens of billions of dollars less over 5 years. We are discussing trillions of dollars in federal spending that are being covered up because if the true cost of this bill were known, it would be even more unpopular than it is now.

Prudence is a lost virtue in Washington. Neither party adheres to its meaning or even its spirit. Profligate, wastrel, wasteful, uncaring of the future - there is more broken in Washington than what passes for political discourse between the parties.

By: Rick Moran at 11:05 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (38)