Archive for October, 2009

H.R. 3962 The Affordable Healthcare for America Act

This will be a running thread that will periodically update on the latest of the current healthcare reform efforts. This initial iteration includes the actually bill itself- happy reading- and preliminary comments from Mike Pence.

 

H.R. 3962 Affordable Healthcare for America Act

http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_ahcaa.pdf

 

Page 94—Section 202(c) prohibits the sale of private individual health insurance policies, beginning in 2013, forcing individuals to purchase coverage through the federal government

Page 110—Section 222(e) requires the use of federal dollars to fund abortions through the government-run health plan—and, if the Hyde Amendment were ever not renewed, would require the plan to fund elective abortions

Page 111—Section 223 establishes a new board of federal bureaucrats (the “Health Benefits Advisory Committee”) to dictate the health plans that all individuals must purchase —and would likely require all Americans to subsidize and purchase plans that cover any abortion

Page 211—Section 321 establishes a new government-run health plan that, according to non-partisan actuaries at the Lewin Group, would cause as many as 114 million Americans to lose their existing coverage

Page 225—Section 330 permits—but does not require—Members of Congress to enroll in government-run health care

Page 255—Section 345 includes language requiring verification of income for individuals wishing to receive federal health care subsidies under the bill—while the bill includes a requirement for applicants to verify their citizenship, it does not include a similar requirement to verify applicants’ identity, thus encouraging identity fraud for undocumented immigrants and others wishing to receive taxpayer-subsidized health benefits

Page 297—Section 501 imposes a 2.5 percent tax on all individuals who do not purchase “bureaucrat-approved” health insurance— the tax would apply on individuals with incomes under $250,000, thus breaking a central promise of then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign

Page 313—Section 512 imposes an 8 percent “tax on jobs” for firms that cannot afford to purchase “bureaucrat-approved” health coverage ; according to an analysis by Harvard Professor Kate Baicker, such a tax would place millions “at substantial risk of unemployment”—with minority workers losing their jobs at twice the rate of their white counterparts

Page 336—Section 551 imposes additional job-killing taxes, in the form of a half-trillion dollar “surcharge,” more than half of which will hit small businesses ; according to a model developed by President Obama’s senior economic advisor, such taxes could cost up to 5.5 million jobs

Page 520—Section 1161 cuts more than $150 billion from Medicare Advantage plans, potentially jeopardizing millions of seniors’ existing coverage

Page 733—Section 1401 establishes a new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research; the bill includes no provisions preventing the government-run health plan from using such research to deny access to life-saving treatments on cost grounds, similar to Britain’s National Health Service, which denies patient treatments costing more than $35,000

Page 1174—Section 1802(b) includes provisions entitled “TAXES ON CERTAIN INSURANCE POLICIES” to fund comparative effectiveness research, breaking Speaker Pelosi’s promise that “We will not be taxing [health] benefits in any bill that passes the House,” and the President’s promise not to raise taxes on families with incomes under $250,000

 

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=165774888892&id=6726182861&ref=mf

 

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Dithering

http://www1.ibdcd.com/image/ISStoon102909_C_345.gif

 

“If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned,” [Obama] said in a speech in Washington. “And yet today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan.”

“It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large,” [Obama] said. “Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror. The Taliban controls parts of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia.”

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2008/07/obama_afghanist.html

“The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism,” Obama said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/20/obama.afghanistan/

All of these statements were made by Obama during the campaign, blasting the Bush administration and Senator McCain for the war in Iraq as a distraction from the real war- Afghanistan. Ten months into his administration, six months since his strategy shift in Afghanistan, Obama continues to delay his response to his Afghan commander, General Stan McCrystal, request for an additional 44,000 troops- which was made two months ago.

Obama has said that he wants to see how the runoff elections in Afghanistan go before he makes a decision. What is not clear is how the runoff election has any bearing of the US’s current operations in Afghanistan. Will there be a difference in the US’s relationship with Afghanistan between Abdallah or Karzi? No. Will Afghan politics be any less corrupt? No. Will the reach and effectiveness of the Afghan government change? No. It frankly makes no difference to US operations who sits in power in Kabul.

I know this though, the delay in making a decision is affecting US operations. A colleague of mine, recently returned from Kabul, informed me that operational planners are waiting for Obama to make a decision. They can’t move forces around until they know what their force structure is going to be. They can’t commit logistical assets until they know what their requirements will be. They can’t conduct certain combat ops until the know what their hold force structure will be. Obama’s delay is affecting the US’s ability to operate, and for this reason alone, he needs to make a decision.

A Conservative Ascendency

There has been a lot made over a Washington Post/ABC News poll on party identification, showing a decline in those calling themselves Republican. The faults of the poll’s demographic metric aside, let us place this poll into context with the greater machinations that we’ve seen. But to do this properly, we have to consider this political environment with that of the last eight years.

 

We’ll start with 2002. The norm in mid-term elections is that the incumbent first-term President loses party seats, but in ’02- for the first time since 1934- the GOP made gains in both the House (229) and Senate (51). In ’04, not only did President Bush win reelection, but again his party made gains in the House (231) and Senate (55). All of this in the face of 9/11, the Iraq war, an economy still recovering from the tech bubble bursting and unprecedented 19.2% increase federal discrepancy expenditures.

 

Then came the Samarra Mosque bombing in Iraq and that conflict’s spiral into uncontrolled communal violence. This became the straw that broke the electoral back, with the electorate rebuking the Administrations mismanagement of the war and no longer turning a blind eye to the incumbencies failure at fiscal responsibility.

 

2006 saw a shift to the Dems in House (233) and Senate (51) leadership. The GOP continued to implode by putting forward a luke-warm candidate who had what will likely go down as the worst run presidential campaign in history. This, combined with Bush’s second-term 25.3% increase in federal discrepancy expenditures sealed the GOP’s fate in the presidential election as well as increased Dem control of the House (257) and Senate (59).

 

Seeing this, one might come to the conclusion that the country moved toward embracing the Dem party, but this ignores some key points identified in a couple of polls. In ’02, a national poll by Pew Research on party identification showed a break out of 34% Dem, 33% GOP and 32% Independent. Since the GOP made gains, it is obvious that the Independents went with the GOP. Again, the same thing happened in ’04- 35% Dem, 33% GOP and 32% Independent. In ’06, party identification was 35% Dem, 31% GOP and 34% Independent and in ’08 it was 36% Dem, 27% GOP and 37% Independent. These numbers show a migration from the GOP to the Independents and is reinforced by the aforementioned Washington Post/ABC News poll, which showed current party identification at 33% Dem, 20% GOP and 42% Independent. This is a dramatic change from what the poll recorded on election day in ’08 (35% Dem, 26% GOP and 30% Independent).

 

This brings us to the second poll by Gallup on political ideology. In 2002, the nation identified itself with conservatives (38%) and moderates (38%) over liberals (19%), and again in ’04 with conservatives (40%) and moderates (38%) versus liberals (19%). But in ’06 and ‘08, the nation identified its political ideology at conservative (37%) and moderate (38%) versus liberal (21%) and conservative (37%) and moderate (38%) versus liberal (22%), respectively. Essentially, the nation was fairly static in its political ideology, showing the nation as predominantly a center right nation. In the most recent poll, Gallup again identifies the nation as conservative (40%) and moderate (36%) versus liberal (20%).

 

So, what does all this mean? Well, it means several things, first of which is that don’t confuse Republicans with Conservatives. Conservatives vote with and for the GOP because the alternative- the Dems- is simply not acceptable. Independents decide elections, but they tend to call themselves conservatives or moderates. Secondly, liberals are clearly in the minority and are outnumbered 4 to 1 by conservatives and moderates.

 

Why is this important? Because this may be a bell weather to what we can expect in the 2010 mid-term elections. In a generic ballot, Gallup finds Dems with a slight lead over the GOP, 46% to 44%, but Rasmussen’s generic ballot poll shows the GOP leading Dems 42% to 38%.

 

An NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll finds that Congress has a 24% Approval rate with 65% Disapproving. 36% say the country is headed in the right direction, while 62% say its going in the wrong direction.

 

This same poll gives President Obama a 51% Approve, 42% Disapprove rating while a Gallup poll show’s Obama’s approval rating plummeting a record 9 points from inauguration to 53%. Rasmussen, which uses a Presidential Index comparing strongly approves to strongly disapproves, has shown Obama in negative territory since June with the current index at -11 (30% strongly approve to 41% strongly disapprove) and a general approval rating of 48% against 52% who disapprove.

 

On top of this, place into context the nation’s current mood on certain signature political issues. Rasmussen shows the nation trusts the GOP over Dems on ten key issues: Healthcare 46%/40%; Education 43/38; Social Security 45/37; Taxes 50/35; the Economy 49/35; Abortion 47/35; Immigration 40/33; National Security 54/31; Iraq 50/31; and Government Ethics 33/29. Gallup’s poll on Moral Issues shows a consistent shift to the right.

 

Here’s the bottom line, we’re seeing a conservative ascendency in this nation. The nation is becoming more conservative, not less, and this could potentially translate to huge gains for the GOP in 2010, provide they accept and embrace the founding principles of the party and the overall political ideology of the nation. The Dems recognize this, or at least White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel does, as this was part of the Dem strategy in ’06 to pull seats away from the GOP by running conservative or moderate dems in red districts. This was reinforced when Rahm criticized liberal groups who were targeting conservative Dems on healthcare.

 

But these conservative Dems are in dangerous waters now, as the White House and Congressional leadership, headed by radical liberals, force them to vote for bills that are increasingly running counter to the wishes of the American people. Dems can continue to ignore the writing on the wall, and more importantly the American people, but there is a growing ground swell of an anti-establishment movement in this country, and the figurative bulleye is on the incumbency.

The Constitutional Ignorance of Obama

We are now getting a somewhat better sense of Obama’s personal perceptions and beliefs- something that has been hid from the American people by both Obama and the mainstream media which has been overwhelmingly in the tank for him.

Joe Klein, reporting for Time, was allowed to see the first 10 pages of Obama’s Columbia thesis, title “Aristocracy Reborn”. In this, Obama wrote:

… the Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy.

Put this in context with what Obama said in a 2001 interview on Chicago’s public radio station WBEZ FM:

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be OK.  But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.

And that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.

While one could have been somewhat skeptical of the thesis quote, in context with this interview, I think we can safely assume its authenticity. Which is disturbing on several levels.

First off, we see the heavy emphasis, both then and now, on the redistribution of wealth. Taking something from person A to give to person B based on some calculus of perceived wrong doing.

Wealth redistribution is nothing short of thievery- it is taking from Peter to bribe Paul, with the notion that a happy Paul will continue to gladly screw Peter through the government. In this sense, Obama truly is a dick.

Secondly, is the premise that the Constitution is a negative document because it limits the governments authorities.

This is a fundamental flaw in the matrix of Obama’s thinking. The Constitution is anything but a negative document, it is a positive document because it positively states what the government can and cannot do. Any politician lamenting the restrictions the Constitution places on them is a tyrant in waiting.