American Elephants


A Bully at Home, Feckless in Foreign Policy. by The Elephant's Child

Daniel Henninger began his column in the Wall Street Journal today thusly:

By the time the second World Trade Center tower collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, the whole world was watching it. We may assume that Vladimir Putin was watching. Mr. Putin, a quick calculator of political realities, would see that someone was going to get hit for this, and hit hard.

He was right of course. The Bush presidency became a war presidency that day, and it pounded and pursued the Islamic fundamentalists of al Qaeda without let-up or apology.

During that time, it was reported that Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer in East Germany, deeply regretted the fall of the Soviet Union’s empire and despised the Americans who caused it to fall. But no one cared what Mr. Putin thought then.

Mark Steyn added:

That’s true. A couple of days after September 11th, the Bush Administration called Moscow and demanded the Russians agree to letting the US use military bases in former Soviet Central Asia for their planned invasion of Afghanistan. That must have been quite a phone call. Washington was proposing not only to do to the Afghans what the Kremlin has so abysmally failed to do, but to do it out of the Russians’ old bases. And yet Moscow understood that, for once, America was serious. And so, presented with a fait accomplis, they agreed to it.

Back to today, Daniel Henninger again:

Sometimes world affairs go off the grid. Diplomats may give reasons why it is not in the interests of Mr. Putin or Russia to take this course. Vice President Biden told the Poles in Warsaw Monday that Mr. Putin’s seizure of Crimea was “flawed logic.” It is difficult for men embedded in a world of rational affairs to come to grips with Mr. Putin’s point of view: He doesn’t care what they think.

And everything Obama does confirms to Putin that the Crimea is his, so why stop there. So Putin will roll on, reassembling the Russian Empire. The Obama Administration pursues its own foreign policy priorities:

Secretary Kerry says the U.S. will send scientists to discuss homosexuality with the President of Uganda.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice wants to take affirmative action in the legal sense on behalf of women. The post of U.S. ambassador to Russia has been vacant for three weeks. Al Kamen of the Washington Post says Ms. Rice would like to place a woman in Moscow. It was rumored that White House press secretary Jay Carney who once worked in Moscow for Time magazine wanted the job of ambassador.

Russian forces invade the Ukraine Naval Base.  President Obama reveals his “Final Four” picks. Joe Biden is in Eastern Europe conferring with our allies there, and trying to convince them that we are serious.

Conservatives who note the stark difference between Obama’s domestic legally questionable hardball and his passive international posture must wonder whether Obama behaves as he does because he is naive or just because he wants the U.S. to have less say in the world. His stated foreign policy objectives are to keep the U.S. out of war and transform America’s image from that of unilateralist bully to a nation that plays well with others.

The trouble is that under Obama the U.S. does not play well with others. Obama’s view of the world is extraordinarily naive, as is the substance and the style of his foreign policy.



There’s No Mention of “Rising Costs” in Obama’s Sales Pitch by The Elephant's Child

The recession (the worst since the Great Recession, they always add) officially ended in June of 2009. Really. Poverty has increased every year. The numbers of long-term unemployed keep increasing. At some point, it should become clear that Democrats just aren’t very good at economics. If you keep that in mind, it explains a lot.

Insurance companies set their premiums based on experience. When they lack experience, as with constantly changing ObamaCare, they have to make assumptions. They hire actuaries, who are people who are really, really good at math, to come up with those assumptions based on history, and worst possible situations, and economics.

Those who designed the Affordable Care Act knew from the beginning that they would have to sign up all those healthy young people who would not require much actual care so their premiums would pay for the older, not-so-healthy people who would need more care. They estimated there were something like 40 million uninsured that they needed to sign up — so they designed in a mandate to force them to purchase insurance. Then they designed in what seemed to be a useful idea that allowed those who hadn’t managed to sign up, to sign up  when they actually got sick, so they could be covered at the last minute. (I told you they weren’t very good at economics). Then when it turned out that all those healthy young people who hadn’t signed up because they were healthy, decided not to sign up because they were healthy, and they couldn’t afford the insurance. How many aren’t signing up? Around 40 million.

Americans buying health insurance outside the new ObamaCare exchanges are being forced to swallow premiums up to 56 percent higher than before the health law took effect because insurance companies have raised the cost to cover all the added features of the new “Affordable” Care Act.

A report on costs from eHealthInsurance, a nationwide online private insurance exchange, shows families are paying an average of $663 a month and singles $274 a month — way more than before ObamaCare kicked in. Most buyers are choosing the lowest level of coverage, the so-called “bronze” plans. In California, for example, some families are paying a high of $2,504 a month, and in New York, $1,845.

The shocking surge in prices show what Americans not in ObamaCare or covered by their employer are paying as they look for lower premiums. Typically they are not eligible for subsidies that ObamaCare offers to those with low incomes.

Premiums are increasing because of the new required provisions for 2014 Affordable compliant plans — including guaranteed issue, essential health benefits, modified community rating and minimum actuarial values. It is likely insurance companies expect additional risk because people with pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage, and have priced their plans higher to cope with this risk.

The Hill reports:

Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration. The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.

Kathleen Sebelius has tried to downplay concerns about rising premium costs but her comments baffled insurance officials, who said it runs contrary to industry consensus. The Obama administration has embarrassed itself in trying to recruit young people with a “Between Two Ferns” interview, with “Pajama Boy,” and “Angry Mom.” Obama has been rewriting the law as fast as he can to delay any unpleasantness until after the election, but insurers must present their premium increases to state officials for formal approval this summer.

In Iowa, which hosts the first presidential caucus in the nation and has a competitive Senate race this year, rates are expected to rise 100 percent on the exchange and by double digits on the larger, employer-based market.

I think ObamaCare is on life-support, but brain-dead. They just aren’t ready to admit it’s hopeless.




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