American Elephants


Obama’s Changing The Rules Again! by The Elephant's Child

That March 31st deadline to sign up for ObamaCare—they didn’t really mean it—if you started signing up and just couldn’t get done, or if you can offer some valid excuse (anything at all) well, you can finish up sometime in April. The law is completely fluid until we have enough people signed up to make this thing work.

The White House and congressional Democrats are ramping up a coordinated effort to celebrate the fourth anniversary of ObamaCare. The White House has provided members of Congress with packets that detail state by state benefits of the law and what the cost of repeal would mean for constituents within their districts. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-SF)  has provided members with data and sample language for members to use on new Medicare drug savings data.

The president and other senior administration officials will mark the anniversary through efforts to highlight the individual stories of consumers who say their families have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.

White House staffers will tweet a series of six graphics highlighting the dumb ideas that guarantee that the program cannot work: eliminating lifetime limits, prohibiting denial because of pre-existing conditions, and mandate free birth control and free mammograms. The graphics feature an image of the president’s very own signature on the ObamaCare bill.

Many Democrats would prefer “single-payer” which means that you can go to a doctor who is a salaried employee of the state and not have to pay at the point of service. Liberals think that is the ultimate good. Everyone is dependent on the government, which is their ideal, and you just raise taxes enough to pay for it. This makes our ruling class proud that they are doing this wonderful charitable thing for the people, but they really don’t care much about what kind of care the people are getting, and they will just issue regulations and directives to reduce costs.

Liberals like the warm, fuzzy feelings of doing good for others. It is really good, isn’t it with free contraceptives. Women can have all the sex they want with no consequences. But you will notice that already, before it has really even begun, the cost of the thing means you can’t have keep your doctor, your local hospital may not be available, you may be sent to a nurse-practitioner instead of a doctor, and your insurance doesn’t cover anything outside of your local program, so if you travel to another town and have a heart attack, you’re out of luck. Planning a trip to Europe? You will have to find a separate policy to insure you for the trip. And people are already saying that they cannot afford the premiums. Wait till next year.

The Ruling Class plays hardball. They want ObamaCare. They want to gradually move it to a single-payer plan specifically to glorify themselves. They will fight repeal tooth and nail, and attempt to “reform” it enough to make it palatable, and they will try to scare people that any Republican plan will probably kill them.

ObamaCare fails basic math and basic economics. The National Health Service in Britain is so dire that it is killing people, particularly the old and helpless. The French hate their health care. The Canadians have long, long waits for service and many of the diagnostic machines we count on are either unavailable or there is too long a wait for a diagnosis. The federal government runs Veterans healthcare, and has made a mess of it.The backlog of requests for appointments grew so long that they just dumped the requests and pretended they didn’t exist. The Indian Health Service is reportedly dreadful. The Secretary of the Interior just denied a needed road so a community of Aleuts could get out to get health service because it might disrupt the shorebirds.

The Democrat’s “narrative” is that Republicans are merely out to sabotage ObamaCare because they object to the race of the president. When they start crying “racism” you can tell they know they are in trouble. Kevin Williamson has a column today on “Antithought” — the “use of language as an instrument for concealing or preventing thought.”There’s a lot of that going around, and we must be on our guard.



The Goal Is Signing You Up, Not Giving You Good Care. by The Elephant's Child

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It’s all falling apart. Nancy Pelosi insisted that it is not “ObamaCare,” it’s the Affordable Care Act. It’s “Affordable, Affordable, Affordable” — just when a very large percentage of Americans rise up in a multi-million voiced scream: “No it’s Not! It is not affordable!” They really don’t get it. They do not understand what a mess they have made of things through their arrogance and conceit. And the insurance companies are warning that premium costs will double or triple next year.

Insurance is meant to protect you from the unlikely but possible catastrophe. Your house burns down. A tree falls on your car. The simple fact that it is statistically unlikely makes it possible for many people to buy protection from the unlikely event, because it won’t happen to most people. The modest amounts everyone pays for protection produce the funds to give to the poor soul who did have the house fire, and still allow the insurance company to make the profit that allows them to do business and stay in business.

It should work the same way with health insurance. If many people pay in modest amounts for protection from needing brain surgery, there will be enough to pay for the one who does. What the Democrats managed to contrive in their back rooms is sort of a mish-mash of pre-paid health care, where everybody has to pay for their own needs and also the needs of everyone who can’t afford to pay for their own care, and the new bureaucracy to run it.  And they claim it will save money, and be better care.

They neglected to include the cost of the vast federal bureaucracy that is to be added on top of the medical bureaucracy and the insurance bureaucracy. The Democrats thought that a lot of young, healthy people who didn’t really need much in the way of health care would than pay enough to cover all those extra expenses of giving everyone not only what they needed but whatever they might want or find convenient.

The young healthy adults who have been uninsured because they don’t want to pay for insurance— because they are healthy—are collectively saying that they have no interest in paying for everybody else. In other words they may be young and naive, but they’re not that stupid. Democrats continue to pretend that ObamaCare is quite wonderful and everybody will love it—eventually, or perhaps they believe that they can just reform it into single-payer without anybody noticing. Which, if Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), which the ObamaCare advisers love, is any example, which it is, kills way too many of its clients.

Other than that, the Democrats say that aside from some “minor glitches” it is all quite wonderful, any claims to the contrary are lies (Harry Reid), and as soon as Obama manages to revise it enough, everyone will love it.



Here Is What is Troubling Americans About Our Politics and Our Government by The Elephant's Child

I read a lot, but I seldom seem to get to the newest books when they are new, partly because I’m suspicious of blurbs and wait for reviews by people I trust. I’ve been fooled by blurbs once too often. So I didn’t get to Angelo  Codevilla’s book on “The Ruling Class” when it came out in 2010. It is a delight.

The people who run our government at the state and federal level have come to believe that—

Ever since the 1930s, as people who think this way have taken over more and more functions in an ever bigger government, they have become ever more inclined to dismiss the public’s opposition as ignorant and to believe themselves entitled to shape a new and different America.

Through their conception of their own superiority, and by accumulating power, they have made themselves into a bipartisan Ruling Class that now dominates public affairs and encroaches ever more into our lives’ most intimate details….

Hence, our Ruling Class’ first priority in any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems is to increase the power of the government—meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves. Secondly it is to recompense political supporters with public money, privileged jobs, contracts, etc. That is why our Ruling Class’ solution, not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for  hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming, has been to claim more power for itself.

Codevilla says “While Europeans are accustomed to being ruled by presumed betters whom they distrust, the American people’s realization of being ruled in the same way shocked this country into well-nigh revolutionary attitudes.”

Professor Codevilla spreads the blame around in bipartisan fashion, but if you surf the internet or listen to talk radio, you are well aware that this is a major concern of the American people and they are continually trying to  figure out just what to do about it. This lucid little book is a great help to understanding.



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.



Inequality, Hypocrisy, Pretense, Lies, and Politics of Course. by The Elephant's Child

The Democratic Party has made it clear that they are planning to run on “Income Inequality” in the 2014 midterm election. Liberal Washington Post writer Greg Sargent has suggested that this strategy is part of the reason for Harry Reid’s embarrassing war on the Koch brothers.

When all else fails, you rely on “class warfare.” Otherwise defined as “envy,” one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Liberals’ ideas about income inequality always involve higher taxes on the rich, and more government benefits for the poor. Most of the people who are currently suffering from income inequality would prefer to have a decent job. After six years Obama’s policies still aren’t  creating jobs.

The number of long-term unemployed increased by 203,000 — at the same time that Obama brags about total non-farm payroll employment increasing by 175,000 —  you see the problem. The labor force participation rate remains at only 63 percent, a level not seen since the stagflation of the 1970s, and well below the rate when President Obama took office.

Where is Income Inequality the greatest? The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States’ most prosperous and largest cities. The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average.

The one city that has hardly noticed a recession is Washington D.C.  There is plenty of income inequality, but more than half the members of Congress are millionaires. Members have long been  far wealthier than the typical American, but now a majority of members are, for the first time — millionaires.

So, if almost everybody is a millionaire, and Harry Reid certainly is, why is he at war with the Koch brothers? Liberal politics is seldom about what it claims to be about. The war on the Koch brothers is about discouraging any wealthy American from donating to the Republican party. That is what the IRS scandal is largely about — if you donate to the hated Republicans, we will attack you and make your name a poison among right-thinking people.

Democrats, on the other hand, are bountifully financed — contrary to all claims of thousands of small donations from regular folks — by the Democracy Alliance, a shadowy non-profit, self-described “liberal organization” which serves as a funding clearinghouse for progressive groups. DA members, called “partners,” include individuals and organizations alike. Partnership is by invitation only. There originally was an initial $25,000 fee, and $30,000 yearly dues thereafter. They must give at least $200,000 to groups which the Alliance endorses. There are at least 100 donor-partners. Members and staff have been working to establish subchapters in all 50 states.

There’s George Soros; Taco Bell heir Robert McKay; Tides Foundation founder Drummond Pike; Golden West Financial Corp. founders Herb and Marion Sandler; the AFL-CIO; Television producer Normal Lear; Progressive Insurance Co Chairman, Peter Lewis — for a sampling of partners. So you can see why attacking the philanthropic Koch brothers is so important. And why President Obama’s  IRS has gone to such lengths to illegally discourage donors to the Republicans with audits, searches and questionable investigations.

The man who professes solidarity with the poor has seen poverty increase every year of his presidency. His supporters and bundlers grow richer on government contracts, subsidies or grants to “green” start-ups that promptly go bankrupt. He claims to care deeply about the future of poor black children, yet teacher’s union opposition to charter schools trumps the most successful route to success for poor black kids. Charter schools have produced markedly better test scores than traditional public schools.

Inequality is no barrier to growth. There are no negative macroeconomic effects of inequality. We need to grow the ranks of working adults and shrink the rolls of those dependent on government.

The President’s latest big idea is “manufacturing hubs”— the first has been in operation in a once-abandoned furniture warehouse in Youngstown, Ohio. This  first in a series of ‘America Makes‘ operations is supposed to ensure “a steady stream of good jobs” into the 21st century. The focus is Three-D printers. The problem is that once they are programmed and loaded with raw materials, they work their magic with not a single human hand. If they are ever widely adopted, the main reason will be that they use less labor than traditional manufacturing.

Typical, typical, typical. The “ruling class” who are supposed to be ever so much smarter than any of us, have not, as usual, done their homework. Oh, they have some statistics, and some studies — but they are missing plain old common sense. So busy congratulating themselves on their brilliance, they have no understanding of how the world works; and the people they disdain as dumb, and needing job training, and food stamps, and welfare, and handouts, need government to get out of the way and give them a chance. Here’s the sleek new workplace of the future with an ever-declining need for workers. Go figure.

3D printers of all shapes and sizes fill the studios at America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio



Need Arguments for the Lefties in the Family? by The Elephant's Child

Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is one of my favorite Senators. As ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, he had a few choice words for Jack Lew when the Treasury Secretary appeared at a Budget Committee hearing on President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal.  Even more than usual, the president’s budget is based on ideological fantasy rather than substance, and dead on arrival. There is zero chance of it becoming the basis for federal spending next year, let alone the next then years. Senator Sessions said:

Thank you, Secretary Lew, for appearing before us today.

In 2009, the Administration wagered America’s financial future on the idea that a record increase in government spending and debt would revive the economy. Since then, government debt has increased 64 percent and is on track to double by the end of the President’s second term. What are the results?

* America is in the midst of slowest recovery since the end of World War II.
* Workforce participation has shrunk to a nearly 40-year low.
* The Labor Department reports that most occupations pay less today than they did when the President took office.
* Government debt has leaped from roughly $10 trillion to $17 trillion, yet median income has dropped $2,268 per household over that same time, and the decline has actually accelerated.

This is a huge disaster.

The justification for this unprecedented accumulation of debt was the claim that it would lead to prosperity. And yet now, we have none of the prosperity and all of the debt. This plan has proven to be one of the most costly failed gambits in American history. The White House’s average 2013 growth projection in their 2009 through 2012 budgets was 3.9 percent. Economic growth is critical for America’s workers—translating into higher wages and better jobs with benefits.

But actual growth last year came in at half what was projected, 1.9 percent—a huge difference with real impact on millions of Americans. For example, CBO has repeatedly said that the Administration’s $870 billion stimulus bill would be a long-term drag on the economy.

So what does the President propose in his new budget?

The plan increases spending growth by almost $1 trillion, bursting through the Ryan-Murray spending caps he signed into law only two months ago. So, while the military gets hammered, other agency budgets soar. The White House proposes the following increases next year:

* A 45% increase for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
* An 18% increase for the Legal Services Corporation.
* A 15% increase for the Department of Energy.
* A 30% increase for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and
* A 7% increase for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

The plan also raises taxes more than $1 trillion—in addition to the $1.7 trillion in taxes he’s already enacted. New proposed taxes include:

* Limit the value of itemized deductions to raise taxes by almost $600 billion.
* Raise the death tax and reduce the exclusion to increase taxes by over $100 billion.
* Increase taxes on unemployment insurance by $78 billion.
* Increase taxes on energy production by $49 billion.

So the President raises taxes to increase spending. It is a tax-and-spend budget that will never pass. Altogether, the White House budget plan would add another $8 trillion to our $17 trillion debt. [Ed.: And that assumes that all of the optimistic assumptions in Obama's ten-year plan come true--which has never happened yet.]

The seriousness of the situation is demonstrated by this fact: last year, we paid our creditors $221 billion in interest on our federal debt. Under the President’s plan, according to his own numbers, annual interest payments will nearly quadruple to $812 billion.

Rising interest payments represent arguably the gravest threat to our nation’s financial security. Should interest rates increase even slightly above projections, the costs of financing our debt would quickly surge to emergency levels. As the Director of the Congressional Budget Office warned, we face “the risk of a fiscal crisis.”

Clearly, we must pursue a new course that creates jobs and that does not add to our debt. Here’s how:

* Produce more American energy to create jobs right here in the U.S.
* Streamline the tax code and lower rates to make America more globally competitive.
* Eliminate every unnecessary regulation that destroys jobs.
* Adopt a trade policy that defends the legitimate interests of U.S. workers.
* Enforce an immigration policy that serves American workers.
* Turn the welfare office into a job a training center.
* Make government leaner, doing more with less.
* Balance the budget to restore confidence and growth.

Senator Session has solid judgment, and an excellent instinct for what issues deserve priority. This is an excellent summary of just how ObamaCare has contributed to the dismal economy. A clear majority of Americans know that more government spending and higher taxes hurt the economy.



“Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive.” by The Elephant's Child

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Hour Committee on Ways and Means about the White House’s 2015 budget proposal. To no one’s surprise, Ms. Sebelius was peppered with questions about the impact of the Affordable Care Act and its effect on insurance rates.

“I think premiums are likely to go up, but at a smaller pace than what we’ve seen since 2010,” Mrs. Sebelius said, adding that she thought the likely increases would be less significant than they had been in the years before the federal health-care law was enacted.

You are not going to see any Democrat admitting any time soon that the cost of health care had been declining for a number of years. New life-saving drugs, new diagnostic techniques, more people taking better care of themselves have made a difference. The mantra about the terrible escalating cost of health care being a reason for ObamaCare was always hype.

You already have people complaining that they simply cannot afford the premiums for ObamaCare. At a town hall for Spanish-language media recently, Obama was challenged by a viewer on the economics of it for low-income Americans who are now forced to buy comprehensive health insurance. On a $36.000 annual income, the requirement to buy the broad policy rather than hospitalization coverage combined with a Health Savings Account — which is now illegal, makes it impossible to comply.

The President replied smugly, “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell-phone bill — it may turn out that they just haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.”

According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, the health care law is reducing choice and increasing premiums.  Consumers are paying an average of 39% more than they did before the law was implemented.

Liberals just don’t get basic economics. Regulations imposed by the government have a cost of compliance. Whether it is retrofitting a process or installing new equipment, or just all the people who must be hired to deal with the government paperwork, bureaucrats seldom have any understanding of the costs involved in complying. When liberals want to make their health care policies more attractive by including benefits that are not customarily part of a health care policy — it makes the policies cost more. Whether it is free contraceptive pills, or including childbirth  and well-child visits in all policies for all ages, it raises the cost of the policies dramatically. And of course there is the cost of the vast government bureaucracy to administer the whole thing.

Sowell

The federal government is so desperate to get healthy young people to sign up that they are waiving the individual mandate — the detail that was supposed to make the whole thing work. Not only that, they are offering all  sorts of ways to avoid being fined or penalized — “hardship cases” loosely enforced. Just please, please sign up, and we’ll revise the law to make it work.

The whole thing is based on guesswork. The proportion of young Americans signing up for coverage through state and federal exchanges has remained below levels thought necessary to keep premiums stable. The administration said 4.2 million people enrolled in health-insurance plans but it doesn’t count unless they have paid up. That is far below the 6 to 7 million the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected would sign up.

Next year’s premiums are not set by the government, but by the insurance companies, who don’t really know what costs they have to base their premiums on. Oh well, if it doesn’t work, Obama will just issue some more executive orders. Laws are no longer fixed, but — fluid. Just keep delaying the bad stuff so nobody will know how it will work — until after the election.



ObamaCare On Life-Support, But Brain-Dead. by The Elephant's Child

Donald Verrilli

It was almost two years ago, when President Obama’s solicitor general Donald Verrilli told the Supreme Court that without the individual mandate, ObamaCare would fail. In his oral arguments before the court Mr. Verrilli made it clear that without the individual mandate ObamaCare would “make matters worse, not better”

He told the justices the “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” regulations at the heart of ObamaCare would not work if you allowed the  young and healthy to choose not to buy insurance. It turns out that if people can wait until after they get sick to buy insurance, and get it at a subsidized rate, most will do exactly that, resulting in an insurance premium death spiral. When Kentucky tried these reforms, “virtually every insurer left the market.” In New Jersey, insurance rates doubled, causing its market to collapse.

ObamaCare was supposed to avoid this because of the mandate and the tax penalty on those who did not buy insurance. After the cancellation fiasco last year, Obama added a one-year expansion to the mandate’s “hardship exemption” for anyone who’d  had policies canceled. Then last week, Obama quietly extended this loophole for two more years as the Wall Street Journal discovered. So people can claim an exemption if they’ve had their previous plan cancelled and “consider the other plans available unaffordable.” They just need a copy of the cancellation notice.

The rules are incredibly loose for exemptions. Someone claiming to have “experienced domestic violence” is automatically exempt without any need for documentation. Or just fail to pay a utility bill until a shut-off notice comes, and send that in. Instant hardship exemption.

Democrats also neutered the IRS’s ability to collect the penalty — avoiding political blowback, but giving the uninsured little incentive to pay. Sounds like it has already collapsed entirely, it’s just that nobody wants to admit that the corpse is truly dead.



Obama’s Budget Director’s Stunning Refusal to Admit to Reality. by The Elephant's Child

Cynthia Burwell, Director of the White House Office of Management And Budget testified before the Senate Budget Committee on the problematic problem of President Obama’s just submitted budget. Currently, federal discretionary spending is capped by the Ryan-Murray comprehensive spending bill that President Obama signed just 10 weeks ago. So ranking Republican Jeff Sessions asked Ms. Burwell whether the president’s budget increases spending above the Ryan-Murray level passed by Congress and signed by the president into law.

Cynthia Burwell, presidential appointee, refused to give a straight answer to a simple yes or no question. She implicitly acknowledged that the president’s budget does indeed pay no attention whatsoever to the agreement that Republican and Democrats agreed to less than three months ago. She kept claiming that it is “paid for.” That simply means that in addition to ignoring the spending caps, the president’s budget raises taxes to pay for it. Sleazy work from a sleazy administration that is choosing to ignore the limitations the Constitution places on his actions. Out of control and unrestrained by reality.

I am a great admirer of the fearless Senator Jeff Sessions.



Obama Delivers Dead-On-Arrival Budget a Month Late, and Lies About It. by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama

The President’s budget — released a month late, in the midst of a faltering, dismal economy, and amid rising global threats — and, he claims, in the midst of “an era of austerity”— he actually proposes a budget that would sharply cut defense spending and impose $1.8 trillion in tax hikes.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha. This is a budget request, and it demonstrates that Obama is not much connected to reality, which is worrisome.

His budget rests on the assumption that real GDP growth this year will be 3.1%/ The Congressional Budget Office suggests 2.7% and the consensus in the financial sector is for 2.5%.

He expects us to believe that — all evidence to the contrary — he can add $100 billion in spending on top of the “baseline” this year and next, but then he’ll get serious about spending restraint as he prepares to leave office.

The federal government is more than $17 trillion in debt. Obama’s budget proposal does nothing, nothing at all, to reduce that debt. Instead it adds hundreds of billions of dollars to it every year. The president’s rosiest economic projections say the budget would add $8.3 billion to the national debt, otherwise more. Obama says:

This budget adheres to the spending principles members of both Houses of Congress have already agreed to.

President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 into law on December 26,2013, a little more than two months ago. His budget breaks the spending caps by $56 billion in 2015, and by $791 billion over the ten years of the budget proposal. His budget will increase total spending by 63 percent from today’s levels over the next decade.

President Obama’s budget never balances — ever!

He wants to plow more money into repairing crumbling roads and bridges and into rail projects. He really doesn’t change his mind, does he.

He claims that his budget “ensures we maintain read, modern and capable defense forces to address any threats we might face, including threats from terrorism and cyberattacks.”Yet the only part of the government that sees real spending cuts is defense, which he wants to cut back to pre-World War II levels. Defense cuts  of $1.14 trillion over the next decade account for more than half of his proposed $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction. I think we’re in “shovel-ready job territory” here. Roughly half of the new taxes go to new spending rather than deficit reduction.

President Obama’s plan nearly quadruples interest costs — the fastest growing item in the budget. Interest this year will be $223 billion but would rise to $812 billion in ten years.

I’m pretty much done with these promises of, although we’re not reducing the debt by much this time, but —in the future it will be different. Uh huh.

Did you know that Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was an Economics major?



The Economy Is Not a Pie: It’s a Garden by The Elephant's Child

4990747-cottage-garden-full-of-lilac-blossoming-flowers

The most common metaphor for debates about growth and income distribution is a pie chart picturing the economy as a pie. The usual argument is how to divide up the pie and distribute the slices. What is fair? But this is another misleading metaphor.

A pie has a defined size. Economic growth and efficiency are about making the pie bigger. Equality is about the size of the slices. Keith Hennessey, Director of the National Economic Center under President Bush, explains in an essay for the George W. Bush Presidential Center:

The pie metaphor for the economy is misleading and damaging, especially if you place a high priority on economic growth.

A pie has a predefined size. A central authority (probably the baker) cuts up the pie before serving any of it. It’s a single pie to be divided. Indeed the popular economic debate analyzes what “share of economic growth over the past X years has gone to the top (or bottom) Y percent,” as if income or income growth is a single quantity that is centrally allocated among a population, to be later reallocated by policymakers. Because the market allocation is increasingly unequal, some argue we can and should simply re-slice the new, bigger pie to produce more equitable pieces. Those who do usually ignore that their actions would make the economy smaller. The pie metaphor contributes to this view because one cuts the pie only after it has been baked, after its size has been centrally chosen.

A flower garden is a better metaphor for looking at economic growth and income distribution. A flower’s growth depends on the individual characteristics of that type of flower and that particular seed. It also depends on common factors shared with other flowers in the same garden (e.g., the local climate, pests, the skill and diligence of the gardener) as well as its particular advantages relative to other flowers (better sunlight, soil, and water in this part of the garden than that part over there).

The economic challenge is to maximize the growth potential of the whole garden, the gardener helps, but flowers grow naturally, with a little fertilizer, sun and water. Policymakers and elected officials do not “create jobs” nor do they “increase economic growth.” Wise policymakers create the policies under which the whole economy can grow. Think incentives and freedom: maximizing the potential for those struggling to succeed. When you have vigorous economic growth, the whole economy blooms and income distribution ceases to be a problem.

Efforts to control by those who do not understand the workings of business, regulation by those who do not understand the results of over-regulation. Far too many politicians have never worked in the private sector and do not grasp the effects of the regulations they choose to employ.

An example is the current outcry over restaurant menus, and the federal requirement to list every ingredient with its calorie count. Think about the big menu on a lighted sign behind the cashier in a pizza place, a Mexican restaurant or an Asian restaurant. For restaurant chains, the signage problem is immense and costly. Multiple studies have shown that adding calorie counts to a menu have no significant effect on menu choices. But you knew that. You don’t go to McDonalds to reduce. You go to McDonalds because you want a hamburger and french fries. It’s a regulation in search of a purpose.



33,000 People Freed from Work by Obama’s Medical Device Tax by The Elephant's Child

ObamaCare’s Tax on medical devices has freed 33,000 people from the horrors of being required to get up and go to a job, according to a health care trade association. Nancy Pelosi thinks that frees them to, oh, do poetry, or paint, write songs. It is a good thing not to have a job.  Liberating. Real Freedom.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claimed this week that “there is absolutely no evidence … that there is any job loss related to the Affordable Care Act.”

White House health care adviser Phil Schiliro maintains that ObamaCare cannot be bad for jobs because some jobs have been created since it passed. “You can’t say the Affordable Care Act has killed job growth. In the 46 months since it passed, over 8 million jobs have been created … No one would say the Affordable Care Act created those jobs, but you can’t say the ACA has killed job growth,” he told an audience at a Kaiser Family Foundation presentation Wednesday. Uh huh.

What is a “medical device?” Anything from the CT Scanner, to Nuclear Medicine, soap dispensers, stethoscopes, bandages, Stryker beds, almost every article used in a hospital or doctor’s office or sold in a drugstore, like crutches or canes. A very inclusive list.

The Advanced Medical Technology Association surveyed its members to determine the number of lost jobs since the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices took effect in January 2013, raising about $3.8 billion a year to help pay for ObamaCare.

The survey found that nearly a third of respondents had cut research and development because of the tax, and almost 10 percent had moved manufacturing abroad. Job losses were put at about 14,000 with another 19,000 openings that were left unfilled.

And, of course, more to come. If you can’t say something good, just make it up. Change the meaning of words.  Insist that any critic is lying. Accept no blame. Blame your opposition. I think someone named Orwell once wrote a book about these tactics.

 




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