American Elephants

They Produced a Budget by The Elephant's Child

After Four Years, Senate Democrats finally decided to obey the law. They produced a budget, and it’s no surprise that they wanted to keep their ideas hidden for so long. It is revealing. The Democrat’s Budget never balances; it increases spending by 62% over ten years; and it adds $7 trillion to the national debt, in spite of raising your taxes by $1.5 trillion.

The Budget Committee, Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA), unanimously opposed balancing the federal budget. Mrs. Murray was first elected in “the year of the woman” as “the mom in tennis-shoes.” That seemed to be her only qualification at the time, or since. Democrats advance by seniority rather than qualifications. Mrs. Murray will do exactly as she is told, as she has been doing for years.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulus, President Obama explained why he doesn’t need to balance the budget.

And, so, we don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.

Look, balancing the budget in part depends on how fast you grow. You remember– you were in the Clinton administration. The reason that you guys balanced it was a combination of some tax hikes, some spending cuts, and the economy grew.

And, so– you know, my goal is not to chase– a balanced budget just for the sake of balance. My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work, and if we do that we’re gonna be bringin’ in more revenue. If we’ve controlled spending and we’ve got a smart entitlement package, then potentially what you have is balance. But it’s not balance on the backs of, you know, the poor, the elderly, students who need student loans, families who’ve got disabled kids. That’s not the right way to balance–

Obama always shifts into folksy talk, droppin’ his gs and saying things like ‘gonna’ when he’s trying to come across as just one of the folks.

Someone seems to have been telling Obama that growth is just around the corner. He speaks of America becoming a magnet for good jobs — apparently meaning new jobs in new careers that aren’t invented yet. (Probably those magical green jobs that are always just ahead). When Republicans worry about spending, and balancing the budget, we might as well be talking in an alien language.

Obama counts only the jobs created each month, neglecting to subtract the growth in the population and the growth in the numbers of people who have dropped out of the labor force, so it looks like there has been real progress in putting people back to work, when that is not the case. He goes to new factories and sees promise of future wonders.  He sees the common core curriculum teaching our kids all to be able to read a complicated instruction manual. He sees government creating new technologies, new opportunities if he just has plenty of government money to “invest”in research and development, with no understanding that government is not good at new ideas.

Obama is a fierce competitor. He does not understand negotiation. He intends to win. Nobody believes in his “charm offensive,” not even his own people. He wants to force Republicans into an untenable position, so that he can win back the House in 2014, and complete his program.

He seems to have a movie running in his head that doesn’t match the reality that Republicans see. In that show, in which he is a hero, ObamaCare is the answer to Progressives’ long held dreams, and it will heal the sick and make everyone dependent on the government which will be much better for them, for the government knows best. Never mind that the cost of health care was slowly and continuously dropping, Obama is convinced that the problem is not excess spending, but the growing cost of health care. Yet ObamaCare will explode the cost, and eliminate many benefits.

The president is intent on weaning America off of nasty fossil fuels, to that end plans a big tax on carbon emissions. Since carbon does not pay taxes, this is a pure tax on the middle class, on whom he promised not to raise taxes. Carbon emissions are not responsible for global warming, for as carbon in the atmosphere has increased, there has been no warming at all for 16 years.

The movie promises to be a big flop at the box office. Lots of extravagant reviews, but it won’t make any money.

“Coolidge”: The Right Book at the Right Time by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has made it quite clear that he sees no possibility of reducing government spending. Every penny is necessary. Roger Kimball fortuitously described the president as “fiscally incontinent.”

Amity Shlaes’ magnificent new history of the Great Depression: The Forgotten Man, which all Democrats should have read, and few probably did, has been followed by a splendid biography of our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge., titled simply Coolidge. She calls him “The Great Refrainer.” “I am for economy.” he said. “After that, I am for more economy.”

George Will emphasized that it is the book needed now:

Were Barack Obama, America’s most loquacious president (699 first-term teleprompter speeches), capable of learning from someone with whom he disagrees, he would profit from Amity Shlaes’s new biography of Coolidge, whom she calls “our great refrainer” with an “aptitude for brevity,” as when he said, “Inflation is repudiation.” She says that under his “minimalist” presidency, he “made a virtue of inaction.” As he said, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”

Will added:

He met his wife, the vivacious Grace, after hearing her laughter when she saw through a window him shaving while wearing a hat. Shlaes’s biography would be even more engaging had she included this oft-repeated anecdote:

When President and Mrs. Coolidge were being given simultaneous but separate tours of a chicken farm, Grace asked her guide whether the rooster copulated more than once a day. “Dozens of times,” she was told. “Tell that to the president,” she said. When told, Coolidge asked, “Same hen every time?” When the guide said, “A different one each time,” the president said: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

Read this book, and send a copy to your favorite Republican legislator


When Will Journalists Ask What’s In It? by The Elephant's Child

I don’t understand the mainstream media. Theoretically, they are journalists, trained to dig into archives and conversations, to ask questions and conduct interviews. And granted, most are Liberals, but still…How come they miss so much? Only now that ObamaCare is coming fully into effect, a few media sources are beginning to notice that all is not as it seemed.

Headline: AP Exclusive: Applying for health care not easy And this is a surprise? The forms run to 15 pages for a three-person family. Online there are 21 steps with added questions. Three major federal agencies, including the IRS will scrutinize your application. That’s the first part that lets you know if you qualify for financial help. Then you have to pick a health insurance plan. Now your financial information is to be made available to the CIA as well.

HHS has put out a full 60 pages on its website to describe all the wonders of the 15 page form. Is this not typical of government?

The” Affordable Care Act” (you always knew that name was a joke) has 21 tax increases, and costs twice as much in new taxes as was advertised.  Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation pegs the price tag at over $1 trillion, almost twice the $570 billion suggested when the law was passed by legislative trickery three years ago.

The individual mandate was supposed to cost $17 billion. Looks more like $55 billion.

The “Cadillac tax” on higher-cost plans is $111 billion, not $32 billion.

The employer mandate is not the estimated $52 billion but a stunning $106 billion, and expect those estimates to continue to climb. Federal Programs are always vastly more expensive than estimated, often to and three times as much.

Conservatives warned in the beginning that the only federal government plan that had come in significantly cheaper than estimates was the much derided Bush  Medicare Drug Plan. And of course, Democrats removed the incentive that made the plan less expensive — the so-called “donut hole.” Democrats do not understand incentives.

Many employers will drop spouses from their insurance plans. People are able to keep their adult children on their policies until they reach age 26, which is an added cost for insurers. There is no requirement to keep spouses on the policies, and many employers are expected to drop them.

The country’s big health insurers say they expect premiums — the cost for insurance coverage— to rise from 20 to 100 percent for millions of people due to changes that will occur when key provisions of the Affordable Care Act roll out in January 2014.

When media people have to apply for their own health insurance, and pay for it, they may get interested in just what the act entails and how it will affect the American people. Of course when people really needed to know what they were facing, the media was either absent or uninterested. The closed doors behind which the law was being devised made a mockery of administration transparency claims, but nobody noticed.

I once went online to check out the Columbia Journalism School, and the classes all seemed to be “how to write an obituary,” or “how to write about global warming” (I made that up, there is a Society of Environmental Journalists that takes care of the science part. There isn’t any. They teach each other.) But there wasn’t a single class mentioned in journalistic ethics, or “how to be a government watchdog.” But then this was just an online list of classes, not an official catalogue.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky Clarifies Democrat Objectives by The Elephant's Child

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) favors not just background checks, but repeal of the Second Amendment. Keep in mind that she identifies herself as a Progressive, but is a far left radical, firmly in support of all things on the far left end of the spectrum. All is politics and politics is all.

Even Unions Blast Hidden Fees in ObamaCare by The Elephant's Child

There are all kind of little-noticed fees hiding here and there in the thousands of pages of the  Affordable Care Act. Should be titled ‘unaffordable care.’ The federal health care law will charge employers $63 for each person they insure next year. This is one of the clearest cost increases companies face when the law takes full effect.

Companies and other plan providers will together pay $25 billion over three years to create a fund for insurance companies to offset the cost of covering people with high medical bills. The fees will hit most large U.S. employers, and several have been lobbying to change the levy because it subsidizes individually purchased policies that will not cover their workers at all.

Insurance companies which helped to put the fee into the law, say the fee is essential to prevent rates from skyrocketing when insurers get an influx of patients with pre-existing conditions. This is all part of the plan to cover 30 million people with pre-existing conditions, who are expected to need far more care. Employers didn’t notice the fee and have been caught by surprise. They are understandably upset about it. $63 multiplied by large numbers of workers soon adds up to a big cost.

Boeing, for example, expects the fee will apply to about 405,000 workers and dependents it insures, costing the Chicago-based airplane company an estimated $25 million in 2014 alone. Some benefits experts expect that employers will at least partially pass on the $63 to workers.

The president of an insurer trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, claims that those with pre-existing conditions had been going to the emergency room. raising costs for everyone. A representative of an organization of emergency room physicians said some time ago that most visits to emergency rooms were by people with insurance, not the uninsured. HHS claims the high-risk program will lower the premiums for people who buy plans through the individual insurance market between 10% and 15%.

History offers clues — most federal programs come in costing vastly more than original estimates, often doubling and tripling, if not more. When insurance offers “free” care, people use more of it. Folks who would normally go to bed with a decongestant and a hot water bottle with a miserable cold, will, when it’s free go to the doctor’s office instead.  Mothers, alarmed when their kid seems to be sick,  rush off to the emergency room when it is free. Free is apt to trump common sense. Democrats don’t seem to understand incentives at all.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been generous with exemptions so far, but now that the law is about to go into full force, multiemployer insurance plans which are run jointly by unions and employers found that federal regulators told the plans the lacked the authority to exclude them from the levy. SEIU is also squawking. “The funds would be bearing additional costs without gaining any additional protections,” said the director of the Benefit and Pension Funds.

Every time this kind of thing comes up, I always return to the vision of Nancy Pelosi announcing smugly “We’ll have to pass the law so we can find out what’s in it.”  Uh huh. Surprise!

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