American Elephants

Controlling the American People With a $183 Billion Web of Regulation This Year Alone by The Elephant's Child

A-spiders-web-007Thanksgiving approaches — a major American holiday in which our attention turns to a brief reflection on the Pilgrims, and a major focus on turkey, stuffing and football. Everyone is looking forward to a day off. While we are distracted, the Obama administration released its plans for 2,224 federal rules on Friday. This is a preview of just how many more regulations the president intends to issue before he leaves office.

You probably thought we were already thoroughly over-regulated, which we are. It is a major drag on the economy, not just in make-work and annoyance, but financially. Michael Bastach is on the case at The Daily Caller. The Left has realized that to install socialism, they don’t need to own the means of production, they just need to control it, and this can be accomplished with a web of regulation.

Obama’s Fall 2014 regulatory agenda was released the Friday before Thanksgiving with 3,400 new regulations. Obama’s Spring 2015 agenda detailing the reach of 2,300 new federal rules was released the eve of Memorial Day weekend. You are not supposed to notice. There are new rules for coal mines, and rules banning common pesticides, major energy and environmental requirements, added to more federal control over U.S. waterways, new hydraulic fracturing rules and even stricter smog rules. Notice how many are from the EPA.

The last week’s batch of regulation imposes $1.8 billion in costs, according to the American Action Forum (AAF) which brings the total for 2015 to a startling $183 billion. Half of it comes from final rules and the other from proposed rules. The per capita regulatory burden is $570 for 2015, for every man woman and child. That’s 72,898 pages of regulations. Think of a busy spider spinning webs over  your family. At first you don’t even notice, but by the time you do, you are already wrapped up and stowed away on the web for dinner, later.

There is always some overreach, and organizations and businesses fight back, and some end up in court. The EPA has frequently been smacked down in court, but some of their rules stick. Are they accomplishing anything positive for society? No. We are already over-regulated. It isn’t about  improving anything, it is about control.     

You may have noticed that the progressives are a little weak in the economics department. They get all confused with Keynesian ideas about money multiplying as it circulates through the economy. They don’t get the burden that per capita $570 inflicts on us all, in higher costs for everything we use, the disappearance of small businesses that we patronized, the annoyance of new rules, the shrinking of our lifestyle, more unemployment, more national debt, and a shrinking economy.

The evidence is there, and very clear. Socialism does not work.  It will not be different this time, nor next time. Progressives are not interested in free markets, nor free people, but believe everything will mysteriously be  better when they are firmly in control.

Trust in Government is at an all-time low. Is anyone surprised?

Is This the Start of Something Big? by The Elephant's Child

—Knoxville, Iowa:  The town had placed a temporary memorial to fallen soldiers in their city park. It was a silhouette display of a kneeling soldier with a white cross, meant to help the town raise the soldier-memorial-knoxville-IA-WHO-HD-640x480money for a permanent memorial. A citizen, an atheist citizen, complained demanding that it be removed because of the Christian cross, claiming that it violated the separation of church and state. The city council promptly folded in fear of a court fight. In response some 2,000 small white crosses were planted in front yards all over town. The voters promptly voted out the town council.

—In the three states where the proportion of residents without health insurance declined the most, Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia, all elected Republican Senate candidates who oppose the Affordable Care Act. Control of the West Virginia House of Delegates flipped from Democrats to Republicans. Arkansas elected Republican supermajorities to both house and senate along with a Republican governor.

— Croatia’s conservative opposition won the country’s first election since it joined the European Union in 2013 in response to the migrant issue, seeking stricter border controls to manage the flow of people crossing the small Adriatic state of 4.4 million. This follows a landmark victory by opposition conservatives in Poland last month. The Polish Law and Justice party pledges to oppose mandatory quotas for relocation of migrants in the EU.

—Violence erupted in the streets of Berlin as thousands of 2E343CFA00000578-0-image-a-88_1446926053681anti-immigration protesters took to the streets to protest against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy. Refugees have turned out to be quite demanding, rejecting food not to their taste, and expecting full welfare benefits.

— Washington State voters have approved an initiative to cut the state sales tax if lawmakers don’t allow a vote on a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority for a tax increase. Voters in this left coast state have made it clear that they want the authority to amend their state constitution to require a supermajority to approve a tax increase. Voters have repeatedly approved ballot measures requiring a two-thirds majority for any tax hike.  The initiative specifies it will lower the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5% if the legislature does not follow through.

—Last November, President Obama expanded eligibility for a program the president set up in 2012 to allow immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to get “deferred action” status and be eligible to work legally. The new effort also included a new initiative to grant the same status to illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders. Up to 5 million people were estimated to be eligible. Republicans objected, claiming the president was exceeding his authority under the Constitution.  Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the effort nationwide, saying that the changes to immigration were so significant that the administration needed to put them out for official notice and comment before moving forward. Obama appealed. The 5th Circuit praised Hanen’s ruling, calling it “impressive and thorough.” The Appeals court said — you can’t do that. The Fifth Circuit asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else.

—Perhaps this is just a hungering for people to stand up and say, as the Court did to President Obama — You can’t do that! Europeans are beginning to stand up to the EU and to their governments who have gone too far. College administrators seem frightened by students behaving badly, and at a loss to know what to do. I’ve been nattering on about one example or another for quite a while. Are these examples signs of something or other, or is it just wishful thinking?

Nearly 500 Hospitals Have Misbehaved, Or Have They? by The Elephant's Child

hospHospitals in 43 states will pay a combined $250 million in fines to settle charges that they violated Medicare requirements when implanting cardiac devices in patients.

The heavy hand of government descended on 457 hospitals accused of implanting cardioverter defibrillators in patients between 2003 and 2010 before Medicare coverage allowed. It seems that Medicare will cover the devices, which cost around $25,000, but only if doctors wait the recommended 40 days after a patient has had a heart attack and 90 days after a patient has had bypass surgery to do the implant. The waiting periods are designed by some bureaucrat to “give the heart an opportunity to improve function on its own to the point that the defibrillator may not be necessary.”

The DOJ said most of the hospitals were named in a lawsuit brought on by whistleblowers under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the proceeds of any settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant.

The lawsuits were filed by a cardiac nurse and a health care reimbursement consultant in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The DOJ said the whistleblowers received more than $38 million from the settlements.

This may be all on the up and up. Over-cautious doctors disobeying the ordered 40 day wait time and costing Medicare money. The doctors motives for squandering Medicare money? The whistleblowers motives to go for $38 million? Did all or any of the patients survive? Don’t know.

Where are the whistleblowers who get big rewards from stopping, say, the EPA from wasting taxpayer money? With 457 different hospitals, the whistleblowers had no chance to observe incorrect wait times. Perhaps the doctor’s judgement is different?  I make no accusations. I just find it all odd, and sadly, I trust Doctors much more than I trust Medicare bureaucrats.


It’s Over. It Didn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

ARFBYK_2942681bYou have probably noticed that Democrats generally believe that most things are better done by the government than by the private sector. The federal government is not just a bureaucracy, but a bureaucracy of bureaucracies, thousands of agencies, departments. offices, all with their own cultures, rules, traditions, and all striving to grow in importance, size, and share of the federal budget. Service, not so much.

Whereas, the private sector strives to make a profit, clearly a dirty word. They haven’t been elected or appointed. They make too much money, they fire people —sometimes in massive numbers. The federal government tries to make them more responsible and keep corporations from doing bad things. Obviously the important things should all be done by a wise government who can help the common folk out there, who need all the help they can get.

So when the cost of health care seemed to be climbing, and there were people who didn’t have health insurance, of course the Democrats planned to take it over by showing just how good a health insurance plan could be and all the good things that they would include — as quickly as possible while they controlled Congress. Promises, big promises — more affordable, if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, all sorts of good things — and it just doesn’t work.

The co-ops that were going to save so much in costs are going belly-up at a tremendous rate, more every few days. A New York State audit finds that ObamaCare exchanges have enrolled hundreds of dead people and paid out benefits. Some of the dead people were enrolled after they died. A cover-up is in the works. ObamaCare premiums are projected to soar by 20.3 percent on average in 2016 instead of the 7.5 percent claimed by federal officials.

Supporters credit ObamaCare with helping nine million uninsured Americans find coverage in 2014, but a new paper from the Heritage Foundation suggests that the increase came from adding nearly nine million people to the Medicaid rolls. The wealthy can have health insurance, but at a higher price, but they can afford it. Many middle-class Americans are paying higher premiums that they can barely afford. Millions of other Americans  have found themselves forced out of affordable plans with their new premiums rising rapidly.

Regardless of whether there is a President Cruz or a President Rubio in January 2017, regardless of the existence or size of a Republican majority in Congress, the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has failed. The grand vision of an efficient pseudo-market in health insurance under enlightened federal management — the heart of Obamacare — is not coming to pass. Obamacare, meaning the operating model that undergirded the law that Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed with great fanfare — is dead, and it will not be revived. What remains is fitful chaos.

That’s Kevin Williamson at National Review.  His careful explanation for why it doesn’t work is very worth reading. Obama’s ‘promises’ of course have proved as improbable as all of his others. You can’t keep your doctor, It’s going to cost way more, not $2,500 less, and ObamaCare is adding a bundle to the deficit.

The architects of Obamacare are deeply distrustful of the role of for-profit companies in the health-care business because, in their nearly pristine ignorance, they falsely believe profits to be net deductions from the sum of the public good rather than measures of the creation of real social value.

Add in a complete lack of understanding of the role of incentives, some major innumeracy,  unbridled confidence in cost-saving gimmicks that were mostly wishful thinking. Republicans are a lot better at this sort of stuff, and they do mostly understand incentives. But they may want to rewrite it, in an attempt to repair the unrepairable.

What I am most concerned about is getting the federal government out of the health care business. They are totally incompetent at it and should never be allowed to have any responsibility for it. The Indian Health Service is a disgrace. The Veterans Administration is embroiled in scandal. Medicaid is a mess, and Medicare is rapidly going broke, along with Social Security. Even more, it is a political debacle as well.

Since it was first enacted, conservative think-tanks have been studying what works and what doesn’t. There are dozens of them, and top scholars have been working on better answers. Let’s get them all on the table. Ask the medical profession for their best ideas. Consult with the Health Insurance Companies instead of regarding them as the enemy to be punished and controlled.

The biggest mistake was to assume that you could take the health care system, layer on a vast bureaucracy of many agencies on top, each striving to increase their budgets, wrap it all up in a package of glitter with fancy logos and music and Life of Julia,  pajama boy, and unneeded gifts and expect it to be more efficient and cost less.

Hillary: Not to Worry, the VA Scandal Is Not a “Widespread” Problem. Only 40 Vets Died. by The Elephant's Child

2016_Split_Campaign_-06aa5Hillary is at it again. She said on Rachel Maddow’s show on Friday, that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs are real, but not nearly as widespread as the coverage would indicate.

She blamed Republicans for using the issue as part of an “ideological agenda” and said “they want the VA to fail.”

“Now nobody would believe that from the coverage you see, and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in – in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have,” Clinton said.

“They try to create a downward spiral, don’t fund it to the extent that it needs to be funded, because they want it to fail, so then we can argue for privatization.”

Veterans, she said, often report having a positive experience with the VA when they get treatment through the agency. “I don’t understand why we have such a problem, because there have been a number of surveys of veterans, and overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment.”

Translation: Those nasty Republicans are just on a partisan witch-hunt, and don’t care about the veterans. And that’s why they are having these partisan hearings about Benghazi, trying to blame me for my dear friend Chris Stevens death, and saying nasty things about me, when I worked so hard as Secretary of State and I was so proud of what I had accomplished. And when he died, I couldn’t sleep for weeks and weeks. It’s all because Republicans are such evil people.

The embarrassing facts: Extended wait times at VA hospitals have aroused public outrage. A VA Inspector General’s report last year found that veterans in Phoenix waited an average 115 days for an initial doctor’s appointment—while VA officials claimed the average wait time was only 24 days. The report also found that 1,700 veterans were intentionally kept off patient rolls and 40 veterans died while waiting for treatment at the Phoenix facility.

Senate Democrats blocked a  Republican bill to fund the VA earlier this month because Democrats wanted more funding for a bigger budget deal that would include more funding for things like climate change.

Hillary is a remarkably callous person. No problem using veterans problems with the VA to  pitch her own victim status. But then she never had much problem with the unnecessary death of four Americans at Benghazi, nor with lying to their parents about why they died. The VA taking vets off the wait list to make the VA official record of efficiency in treating patients look better, is not really a “widespread” problem — only 40 vets died because they couldn’t get treatment.

And it is still not fixed. Although General Shinseki was fired, the people responsible for the scandal were not. It’s a government agency. They don’t fire people.

There Are Some Problems With Obama’s Legacy by The Elephant's Child

Obama lecturingPresident Obama remarked the other day that if he were able to run for another term he was sure he would be re-elected. I imagine that he is confident because his policies are succeeding so well that everyone would look forward to a continuation. I’m not really so sure. Some of us are onto him.

The U.S. confirms Iran launched a “missile inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.” It’s only one example of President Obama’s nuclear deal unleashing the world’s foremost terrorist regime.

In announcing that Iran violated a United Nations Security Council resolution with its Oct. 10 launch of a ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear warhead, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power promised that the U.S. would prepare a report and swiftly raise the issue with the Security Council.

“The Security Council prohibition on Iran’s ballistic missile activities, as well as the arms embargo, remain in place,” Power said.

We did mention that the Ayatollah was fairly clear that he had no intention of hewing to the strictures of Obama’s Iran Deal.

ObamaCare enrollment will flatline this next year, The sixth health insurance co-op has gone belly-up. Train-wreck is a common description. In other words, enrollment will be about half what the CBO predicted. Enrollment will have declined from where it was in March. Rate increases have been skyrocketing and some have been as much as 50 percent. The fine for not buying government-approved insurance will go up to $695 per person or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greatest. Democrats thought the nonprofits would put downward pressure on premiums and arranged for billions ($761,947,628) in guaranteed loans to get them up and running. Obama says the program is working better than anyone expected.

Victor Davis Hanson notes that Barack Obama’s mistakes in the Middle East are so comprehensive they almost look deliberate.

How did Vladimir Putin — with his country reeling from falling oil prices, possessing only a second-rate military, in demographic free-fall, and suffering from an array of international sanctions — find himself the new play-maker of the Middle East?
Putin’s ascendancy was not foreordained. It followed a series of major U.S. miscalculations and blunders of such magnitude that it almost seems they must have been deliberate.
Dr. Hansen lists six major mistakes: 1) The reset with Putin. 2)The Skedaddle from Iraq; 3) The Red-Line Invitation into the Middle East. 4) The Iran Deal.  5) Estrangement from Our Friends. 6) Neglect of Oil.  Do read the Whole Thing. The likely consequences of the President’s mistakes will be really bad, and left for the next president to deal with.
The Left has plotted to impoverish America’s Middle Class and enrich Left-Wing billionaires. The environmental movement is the most corrupt in America.

Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, a 501 (c) (3) watchdog group, released an investigative report, Private Interests & Public Office: Coordination Between Governors, the Obama White House and the Tom Steyer-“Founded and Funded” Network of Advocacy Groups to Advance the “Climate” Agenda (and an appendix of source documents), revealing a vast, coordinated, three-track effort by public officials and private interests to promote EPA’s expansive, overreaching and economically devastating greenhouse gas rules, specifically the section 111(d) regulation to shut the nation’s fleet of existing coal-fired power plants, as well as the December Paris climate treaty President Obama is expected to sign to replace the Kyoto Protocol. …

In what is possibly the most intriguing element, seemingly out of an episode of “House of Cards,” Democratic governors’ aides repeatedly reference a plan of “creative engagement” to “compel” certain electric utilities — those subject to their jurisdiction whose businesses cross lines into states led by Republicans — to bring “red state” governors around to support the EPA rules: “[B]ecause there are key utilities whose service territories cross red and blue states Governors in these states could quietly engineer a breakthrough strategy that compels utilities in key red states to lead the charge to win over a key Governor, rather than rely on a standard NGO-shaming strategy that might not deliver.”…

“[W]hat is clear is that 1%-ers are using ‘climate’ policies to destroy politically disfavored industries in order to transfer wealth to the politically preferred,” said Craig Richardson, E&E Legal Executive Director. “The campaign by self-serving individuals must be made known to the public as policymakers consider this plan that will destroy parts of our economy and ruin the most efficient, affordable, and clean energy system ever created.”

The Grand Old Party and the Very Big Tent by The Elephant's Child

big-top2You have probably noticed that we are Republicans here. If you have ever clicked on the “about” button in the sidebar, you will see our big tent declaration. I don’t have a big “see how I discovered conservatism” story, I have always been a Republican. My great great grandfather wrote in the very first days of the Republican Party  “I am a quiet but interested member of the Republican Party.”Not exactly a rousing declaration, but there you are.

I’m a conservative, but most Republicans are, they just define “conservative” a little differently. On some subjects I agree with the libertarians, others with  the “establishment.” That’s what “a big tent” means. You agree on some things, not on others, and you fight about it. And at some point you finally discover that you can’t have your own way and you have to compromise. I get really annoyed by the constant battle by conservatives over who is conservative enough and who is not, and just how pure true conservatism must be.

That said, I believe that most Republicans are dismayed or horrified by the extent to which Barack Obama has attempted to radically transform the United States of America, and once his party was soundly defeated to give control of Congress to the Republicans, by executive order, executive note, refusing to enforce the law, and even going to the United Nations to get his own way. This is something new in American politics.

They are angry about the attempt to change the demographics of the country before the next election. They are frightened by the “Iran Deal” which the president mistakenly believes is a good thing. And that hardly even scratches the surface of a very long list. Republicans are united in their dismay, but all over the place about how to deal with it, about what is most urgent, and especially the correct strategy and tactics.

The fight is on and the Democrats are delighted. They call it “Chaos” and are sure that it is a signal of the coming, much desired demise of the Republican Party. They do want to shut us up, but they would prefer that we just go away — permanently. Here are four great pieces that hint that there’s still some life in the Grand Old Party:

—Kevin Williamson, writing at National Review: “OK. Let’s Fight

—Andrew Malcolm, writing at Investors: “Gee, that felt good to dump Boehner, McCarthy as Speaker, but now …

—David Harsanyi, writing at The Federalist: Relax. This Is Exactly How Congress Should Work, when it comes to the House, ‘chaos’ can be preferable to lockstepping.

—Noah Rothman, writing at Commentary: The Noble Goal of the Freedom Caucus


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