Thursday, January 28, 2010
The Obama Presidency entered the lame duck stage at the January 27th State of the Union Speech. For almost an hour and fifteen minutes he rehashed his inauguration speech wish list, blamed the Republicans for his failures and berated the Supreme Court justices for their recent ruling on campaign financing. While admitting that he hit a “buzz saw” on healthcare he still mistakenly believes it failed because the American people didn’t understand it. Everyone understands it including many Democrats, who will no longer provide the support it needs to pass. Last night’s speech was a clear admission that Obama is in way over his head. His failure to re-orient himself demonstrates he has no idea how to govern. The Obama Traveling Medicine Show has run out of Elixir and needs to find a new product line that includes jobs, tax cuts, deficit reduction, improved national security and a willingness to change course for the good of the nation. His failure to do so will make him the longest reigning lame duck President in the country’s history.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Five days before Scott Brown became the Republican who slayed the healthcare dragon, I wrote (A Perfect Storm?) that many Democrats were secretly wishing Brown would win so they could bow out of healthcare gracefully and still blame the Republicans for its failure. It didn't take but a few hours before the good-ship Healthcare was listing badly. Two days after the election Nancy Pelosi said she didn't have the votes for the Senate bill. The truth is the Democrats never had a bill that could pass and it took a year of trying to con the public into thinking they did before their vision of Single Payer collapsed. The President took this news poorly and said he was going to continue to push for it anyway. The point is that opponents of government health care must be vigilant and not fall into the trap of supporting options that continue adding the building blocks of government care. Both the moderate and extreme wings of the Democratic Party agree they have been fighting for national healthcare for more than sixty years. They started with Roosevelt and added Medicare twenty years later. Now every citizen over 65 must join the system. In the Clinton years they tried again for government healthcare. They failed, but they added children in the form of CHPS. So now they have adults over 65 and children under 18. The next building block is the Expansion to 55. It was offered by a little-known Representative or Senator as a potential option during the debate. It is an extremely interesting way to, as Solomon said, to "cut the baby." By expanding Medicare to include those above 55, they increase the size of the program by locking in another group of payers and at the same time; reduce the pool of potential customers for competitive healthcare services. Throw in some tort reform, open competition and liability limits and before you know it you have a compromise that both sides can accept. It'll be a regular "Lord of the Flies" bonfire with Republicans and the Democrats all dancing to the joys of cooperation, bipartisanship and re-election. Therein lays the trap. It permits an increase in the size of the government's involvement in something they should assist but not control. What the healthcare system needs to be more equitable is less government interference. Whatever savings may exist in government control is aggravated by the bureaucracy needed to extract those savings. That is just another way of saying it cost more when the government becomes part of the equation. Thinking people, whether they are liberal, moderate or conservative, recognize the wisdom of keeping government involvement in healthcare to a minimum. The failures of Medicare and Medicaid, which have almost $50 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and the substandard care that is part of the Social Medicine legacy, are proof enough that cost control, efficiency and innovation do not exist in government programs. Do not be fooled when the President makes a Healthcare push in his State of the Union speech this week. He and the Democrats will continue to pursue Single Payer until they are convinced it can never pass.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Hi. My name is Harry Reid and some of my best friends are Negros. I mean black. I mean African-American. After the book Game Change came out and it was revealed that I thought Barack Obama could be elected because he was light-skinned and had no Negro dialect unless he wanted to there was quite a commotion. It was not meant as a racist comment, but merely an honest appraisal of the political situation in America. We know that a dark-skinned black man, like Jesse Jackson for instance, could never be elected President. Even if we overlooked his racial grandstanding, his spitting in the food of white members of the country club where he worked in the kitchen, or his blackmail of corporate executives in exchange for racial harmony, the barriers for Jackson were too great because of his dark skin and heavy Negro dialect. Obama on the other hand, unlike Jackson, had a modest paper trail, a so-far ineffectual career and powerful friends in the right places that could put their money where their mouth was and help the party as well as Obama and me. I was impressed by his ability to turn on that Negro dialect when a line in his speech called for it. I knew his dual race background and his African ancestry would attract minority and special interest groups. I also knew his affiliation with ACORN and the union movement would help him in some of those primary states where Hilary would have a big advantage like Indiana. After all ACORN registered more than 800,000 voters in the Indiana Primary contest. And of course the presence of SEIU members at so many of his rallies, as well as the presence of armed members of the New Black Panther Party at polling places shows a willingness to do the things that must be done to be elected. As the book Game Change reveals it was me who called Barack to my office and recruited him precisely because I felt he could win for the reasons so far stated. So in a nutshell that is the reason he accepted my apology. I recruited him. He is President because of me. He owes me.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
While President Obama slams the banks and Wall Street bonuses, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives will pull down 42 Million in newly funded taxpayer bonuses and be exempt (for the time being at least) from the 15% fee that was announced on January 14. This new fee, called the “financial crisis responsibility fee,” is a 15 basis point surcharge on high-risk transactions, such as Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (CMO’s) and Principle Only (PO’s) and Interest Only (IO’s) Strips. These are the items that lead to the mortgage meltdown. Large banks and financial institutions that engage in these high risk derivatives and debt bond transactions will pay the fee in an effort to collect all of the TARP-derived deficits. It is significant that some the biggest beneficiaries of the TARP (GM, Chrysler, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) will not have to pay the fee even though most of the current TARP deficit is linked to the taxpayer-funded bailout of these firms. So despite all of Obama’s rage over the so-far un-announced Wall Street bonuses he is completely silent on the outrageous bonuses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives, who are not only exempt from what some are calling the revenge tax, but each organization was given over $100B in additional taxpayer funds to maintain operations in the current year. Did I mention they will be eligible for more if needed?
There are many Democrats secretly wishing that Scott Brown beats Martha Coakley in the race for, as David Gergen call's it, Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat. The Coakley crowd and the Democratic National Committee are sending in guns and money by the truckload, but there are many less strident Democrats hoping for the perfect storm in the January 19, election. If Scott Brown beats Martha Coakley the Democrats may be able to lay Healthcare’s failure at the feet of the Republicans and not have to take the blame for something that everyone can now see is a disaster waiting to happen: Payments starts immediately; benefits don’t start for 4 years; it’s filled with graft; and the Democrats own it all. If this passes they are cooked and they know it. You may placate some by getting them to believe support is for the greater good, but lots of people just want to come back after Election Day. Everybody’s in the pool up to their chins. Coakley may win with all the Democratic support she is now getting, but most thinking Democrats are rightly scared. This should have been a sweat-less walk. Instead it’s a 100-meter dash and it will be close.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
As a former resident of Massachusetts I encourage the election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate. He would be the first Republican senator from Massachusetts since the late Edward Brooke. Brown would break the string of hideously vain and corrupt politicians supported by the Massachusetts Democratic Party. People like Patrick Kennedy, Barney Frank and Gerry Studds, just to name a few. Attorney General Martha Coakley is probably a nice woman, but she is just another in the list of rubber-stamping politicos, whose allegiance to party is greater than their allegiance to the voters. The Democratic machine in Massachusetts, especially in Boston, has little concern for the residents of the state. The party’s support for big government, high taxes and cradle to grave social policies clearly reflect the view that government that governs most, governs best. It is a view championed by the state’s leading intellectual property Robert Reich. His long-winded lectures at Harvard and the views he currently espouses have not evolved since 1980. It is time for a change and Scott Brown can bring one to the state of Massachusetts.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Within hours of C-SPAN's Brian Lamb offering to televise the proceedings of the healthcare bill conference committee to assist the President in living up to his campaign promise of transparency, Mr. Obama responded by "prodding House and Senate Democrats to get him a final health care bill as soon as possible, encouraging them to bypass the usual negotiations between the two chambers in the interest of speed," according to a story in The Washington Times. In the final analysis it doesn't matter what gets passed as long as something does. The list of what is wrong with this bill is long and tedious. It is sufficient to say that it both Democrats and Republicans are not pleased but, as I have said in the past, it leads to the public option by way of raising prices, rationing care and overwhelming the system with red tape. After several years of this pre-planned debacle the Federal government will step in with the public option as a way to finally take it over completely and give us the third world health care they feel we deserve. As Michael Moore is wont to say healthcare is great and free in Cuba, failing to point out that its hospitals are filled with old and broken equipment, there is no medicine and good healthcare is reserved for members of Castro's party. The rest of the people get their medicine from their relatives who live in America. The trouble is that if we go the public route there is no one to get medicine and treatment from. Currently those who cannot get treated in their own country come here. Once America has the public option there will be no place to go. As if this is not bad enough the current bill is a sellout to insurance companies, pharmaceuticals firms, medical device manufacturers and hospitals, all of whom will profit handsomely from the bill because they will see the benefits immediately in the form of tax breaks and cost controls. On the other hand, taxpayers and the uninsured, which will begin paying immediately, will not see benefits for years and even then most of the uninsured that need care will not be covered and most of those who do not need care will have to pay anyway. Is this anyway to run an industry? If you are a bureaucrat the answer is YES.