American Elephants


Let’s Remember Just Why the Affordable Care Act is such a Mess by The Elephant's Child
June 26, 2015, 6:42 am
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Health Care, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Harry Reid glumHere is a really important article laying out just exactly why Obama Care is such a mess. Now that Chief Justice Roberts has decided that the intent, the viability of the Affordable Care Act is more legally important than its actual language, it’s worth taking a few moments to remember just how the law was passed, and why the inconsistencies and internal contradictions were not just predictable, but inevitable.

Obama keeps calling it health care and assumes that he has given millions of people who lacked health care a great gift. But he has given them only health insurance, and really poor insurance at that. The American people did not want it, and it polled poorly. The Democratic leadership, fearful that the momentum was failing decided to rush a bill through the Senate before they left for Christmas 2009.

On December 18, Majority Leader Harry Reid merged two separate pending bills into a bill to be voted on by the Senate….  To meet the self-imposed Christmas deadline, Reid provided only six days for debate. The Senate bill passed on a strict party line vote, 60-39.

Few people, including Senators and their staffs, had time to read the whole 2,700 page bill, much less note any possible weaknesses, flaws, or ambiguities. Reid and other Senate Democrats weren’t terribly worried about this. The bill was set to go to the House, then back to the Senate, then to “reconciliation” between the House and the Senate versions, and then to the president for his signature. Everyone thought there would be plenty of opportunities to make changes.

But a major impediment arose soon after the Senate bill passed. Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy had died that past summer, and the January special election to replace him was won by Republican Scott Brown, who ran as a strong opponent of Obamacare. This deprived the Democrats of their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and meant that the Senate would not be able to pass a revised bill. The only way to pass Obamacare at this point was to have the House vote on identical legislation to the Senate bill, while engaging in legally dubious procedural maneuvering. And that’s what the Democrats did.

They passed the bill as is and a separate reconciliation bill with minor changes, eliminating some of the most obvious flaws, but leaving the rest intact. So they passed a Senate Bill that nobody wanted and that no one had read in its entirety, and no one understood. Obama and the Democrats believed that it would become increasingly popular and Democrats would continue to control both houses of Congress. Anything wrong with it could be quickly fixed.

Didn’t work out that way. The people never liked it and Republicans took over the House and then the Senate, partly because of ObamaCare. Republicans don’t want to fix a law that they unanimously opposed. The Court, it was hoped, would realize that those who rush through a mess of  a law that they haven’t read and don’t understand, with no political support from the other side have to live with the consequences. Instead the majority decided that when the law is unworkable as written they should help out the other branches.

So, you blithely promise Americans who don’t want any such thing that their cost of heath care will go down, that they can keep their doctors, that their medical care will be more efficient, add volumes of regulations and taxes, add a vast bureaucracy to manage it all and make more regulations — pay for the new bureaucracy, then add all sorts of gimmicks sure to reduce costs (that don’t work at all) wrap it up in a computer debacle that only the federal government could manage to come up with, and there you have it. Only a Democrat would believe that could work.



Call it ScotusCare! The Supreme Court Does Legislating From the Bench. by The Elephant's Child

The Supreme Court announced their decision in King v, Burwell. Conservatives are dismayed at the Court’s complicity in rewriting the Affordable Care Act. President Obama has been threatening the court for days attempting to cow the Supremes. What influence his threats had is not known, but hopefully is is none. Nevertheless, Chief Justice Roberts bypassed the separation of powers, and decided to help the Democrats out by assuming that the law didn’t mean what it said, and he would fix it by rewriting it. Essentially what he did the last time around. Rewriting the words of Congress to mean what they would have to say to make the law work — is making law.  The Supreme Court is supposed to decide whether the words as written are Constitutional, that’s the judicial function. Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting, called it “somersaults of statutory interpretation” but it is legislating, not judging.

Holman Jenkins got it right:

By one standard no government program can fail, and that’s the standard being applied to ObamaCare by its supporters: If a program exists and delivers benefits, the program is working.

The polls do show that 74% of ObamaCare’s eight million enrollees are satisfied with their plans, because 87% of them are getting taxpayer subsidies that amount to an annual $3,312 per recipient, which is a pretty good deal for the recipients, not so much for the taxpayers. Oddly enough, those who are basically in good health, but just need flu shots or treatment for some minor deal, a broken arm, a sore throat are pretty pleased with their health care.Taxpayers who find that their premiums are going up 20% – 30%. or who find out their deductible has gone up to $6,000 aren’t so happy, because they are paying their premiums and their full medical bills besides. Jenkins again:

The right question about any program is whether the benefits justify the expenditure of taxpayer money. ObamaCare’s cheerleaders provide not cost-benefit analysis but benefit analysis—as if money grows on trees or is donated by Martians or can be printed in limitless quantities by the Fed. …

In the meantime, however, no worthwhile thoughts about ObamaCare, pro or con, are to be heard from people who count a program as a success just because Americans enjoy receiving benefits at the expense of other Americans.



When Will They Ever Learn? When Will They learn? by The Elephant's Child
June 24, 2015, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Basic Economics. Connecticut is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to business taxes. The state is now looking at another round of business tax hikes. With their latest budget, the Connecticut legislature has now increased business taxes five times since 2011, forcing companies located in the state to pay the fifth highest tax rate in the nation.

With the latest increase, accountants will be working overtime to deal with the new budget that includes nearly $2 billion in tax increases, including a $700 million increase in business taxes.

Bright politicians know an opportunity when they see one. Governors Mike Pence of Indiana and Greg Abbott of Texas pay attention. Republicans both, the governors have written to the corporate leadership of GE, Aetna, and Travelers, inviting them to tour their states and investigate the tax advantages that Connecticut can no longer provide.

Bloomberg reported that Abbott’s letter boasted of a $3.8 billion tax-cutting package approved by the Texas legislature in May that included a 25 percent cut in the business franchise tax. That alone would save companies in Texas a total of $2,5 billion in the next ten years.

Pence wrote that “Businesses in Indiana grow with confidence, while businesses in high-tax states like Connecticut operate in fear of seeing their piggy banks raided,” wrote Pence. “On behalf of 6.7 million hardworking Hoosiers, we are constantly meeting with companies around the world that are choosing Indiana and enjoying an instant spike in earnings. With Connecticut taxes skyrocketing, it’s important to remind businesses that Indiana is here to help as a state that works.

Fifty percent of Connecticut residents in a poll over the last year said they would leave the state if they could, but they can’t sell their houses because nobody wants to move in because of taxes.

Legislative leaders Sharkey, Looney and Duff ( sorry, I couldn’t resist) Senate President is Martin M. Looney, Majority Leader Robert Duff and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, were all pleased with their budget which contains major property tax relief and long term investments in transportation. “A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today” said Gov. Malloy.

Texas and Indiana are standouts in the nation for their low taxes and successful economies. We’ll see how many Connecticut businesses decide to relocate..



I’m Getting Really Tired of My Government Lying to Me! by The Elephant's Child
June 24, 2015, 6:37 am
Filed under: Global Warming, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told an audience gathered at a White House conference that “normal people.” not “climate deniers” will win the debate on global warming. This is not the first time she has said that distinguished scientists were  “not normal people.” And of course “deniers” is the usual crude leftist language.

McCarthy’s remarks came as she was talking about the reasons why the EPA put out a report on the negative health impacts global warming will have on public health. She said the agency puts out such reports to educate the public, not answer critiques from global warming skeptics.

Ms. McCarthy is an administrator, not a scientist, and it shows. The agency hasn’t yet been able to come up with the science on which their regulations are based. When questioned at hearings, she doesn’t have simple answers to simple questions. One of my personal irritations is the frequency with which they attempt to sell their power grabs by claiming the number of lives (usually children;s) they will save in the future because of their actions. That’s disgraceful, and pure hogwash.

More hogwash: The EPA has released a report claiming “global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will bring fewer extreme droughts, floods, storms and wildfires. The report claims cutting emissions would result in billions of dollars in benefits for the U.S. and save thousands of lives every year. Floods, storms and wildfires are not caused by climate, future benefits can’t really be predicted unless the computer climate suddenly developed astonishing new powers. Ms. McCarthy, like far too many federal bureaucrats is on a power trip to grab new responsibilities, more funding and a bigger agency. Here she goes again:

Regardless, the EPA says a global effort to cut emissions would result in about 70,000 fewer people dying from extreme heat and poor air quality in the U.S., less damage from flooding and storm surges on coastal properties and other weather events by 2100.

More interestingly, the EPA said global emissions cuts would mean an “estimated 40%-59% fewer severe and extreme droughts” in the U.S. by the year 2100. The report adds that in “the Southwest, the number of severe and extreme droughts is projected to nearly quadruple by the end of the century” if nothing is done. But with emissions reductions, “the incidence of drought is not projected to change substantially from present day.”

She added “We can save tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars annually in the United States…” Hubris and hyperbole, and as I said — hogwash.

Speaking at a fundraiser in San Francisco on Friday, President Obama warned “Well within our children’s lifetimes, on our current pace, the oceans go up maybe two, maybe three, maybe four feet.”



You Voted for Republicans in 2014? The Community Organizer Strikes Back! by The Elephant's Child
June 22, 2015, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Economy, Education, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: , , ,

According to the Obama administration, in too many neighborhoods “housing choices continue to be constrained through housing discrimination, the operation of housing markets,[and] investment choices by holders of capital,” information directly from the Housing and Urban Development  — “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) proposed rule.

Obama apparently believes that your neighborhood may not be inclusive enough, so he has instructed HUD to issue a new rule to force communities to diversify.

Under Obama’s proposed rule, the federal government will collect massive amounts of data on the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of thousands of local communities, looking for signs of “disparities by race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability in access to community assets.” Then the government will target communities with results it doesn’t like and use billions of dollars in federal grant money to bribe or blackmail them into changing their zoning and housing policies.

Don’t misunderstand, this is not about housing discrimination, which has been illegal since 1968. It is unlawful to deny you a loan or prevent you from buying a home because of your race, creed or color. Socioeconomic status is another matter, and should be. If you want to buy a nice house in the suburbs, you have to be able to afford it. Obama apparently believes that this is unfair discrimination by the “holders of capital.” Remember that Obama’s previous chosen occupation was as a “community organizer,” a job heavily invested in claims of “red-lining” and banks’ loan policies.

The effort calls for HUD to set aside taxpayer funds to upgrade poorer communities with amenities such as better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as a means of gentrifying those communities. It also calls for using grant money to build affordable housing in wealthy neighborhoods.

The Left is deeply engaged in the pursuit of “equality.” Their goal of a future utopia where everyone is equal and lives together in perfect harmony dominates their dreams and motivates their political aims. Communitarian ideals, though it doesn’t seem to penetrate that it has been tried and failed over and over from Lenin to Venezuela and the communes of the Sixties. Those people just didn’t do it right. The Progressives would.

There is clearly a natural urge for “community.” How often do you hear the term “the Black Community?” But many cities have a Chinatown, Seattle has a Norwegian community, and it was true from the beginning — up-country South Carolina was heavily settled by the Scots-Irish. My German immigrant ancestors settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania itself was settled by Quakers, New England by Puritans. People who can afford it buy around a favored golf club, or buy waterfront around a lake. Are the rest of us harmed by that? Or does it drive a better economy that benefits everyone, with more people striving to succeed?

There is a human instinct for associating with like-minded people. Consider the retirement communities, where golf-carts are the usual transportation, and escape from loud rock music is welcomed. and homes for senior citizens where health care is part of the deal. Does low-income housing fit into the gated community in the name of diversity? Is a massive influx of immigrants or welfare recipients into a highly regarded school district called for in the name of correcting good schools in the name of discrimination?

The final regulations are due out this month and HUD is pitching them as a plan to “diversify” America. “HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” a spokeswoman for the agency explained.

The House has passed an amendment to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development Bill that prevents HUD from implementing their AFFH regulation, which has been issued in preliminary but not yet final form by the Obama administration. “AFFH repudiates the core principles of our constitutional system by allowing the federal government to usurp the zoning powers of local governments. Over time it would transform the way Americans live urbanizing suburbs and Manhattanizing cities,” according to Stanley Kurtz. This may well become a campaign issue. Anything to get the Iran deal off the airwaves. This represents the death of the neighborhood.

Obama wants to reengineer your neighborhood.” by Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post

“Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out: The Death of the Neighborhood” by Arnold Ahlert, Front Page Magazine

“Ultimate White House trolling: Obama to “diversify” wealthy neighborhoods” by Jazz Shaw, Hot Air



Only in America. Progressive Talking Points Trump Common Decency Every Time by The Elephant's Child
June 20, 2015, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Politics, Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: , ,

“Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. … We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” Barack Obama

What I find most interesting is the extent to which the Left depends on their customary talking points. “Only in America are innocent people killed with guns. We have to ban all guns.” America, you see, is a bad country to the Left: slavery, inequality, poverty, the Indians, corporations,inequality, greed, cruelty, war, torture, discrimination, inequality, diversity, and of late, microaggression and triggering, and, of course, offensive speech of all kinds. They are Progressives, which implies that they are progressing towards something — which seems to be an egalitarian utopia where they are in charge.

But President Obama, speaking angrily about the massacre at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, knew perfectly well that this type of mass violence does indeed happen in other advanced countries. When Behrigh Anders Brevic killed 75 people in Norway in 2011. Mr. Obama went to the Norwegian embassy to express his sympathy and the sympathy of the nation. When two gunmen entered the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and murdered 11 people and injured 11 more, killed a police officer, and another killer murdered five more in a kosher market and wounded eleven, the heads of state of most advanced countries went to Paris and marched in solidarity with the French. Obama skipped that one, perhaps because he didn’t want to be seen condemning Muslims when he was trying to make a deal with Iran.

The shootings in other advanced countries in recent years:*

Behring Anders Breivik killed 75, 2011, Norway
Mohammed Merah killed 7, 2012, France
Genildo Ferreira de França killed 14, 1997, Brazil
Michael Robert Ryan killed 16, 1987, UK
Eric Borel killed 15, 1995, France
Friedrich Leibacher killed 14, 2001,Switzerland
Christian Dornier killed 14, 1989, France
Ljubiša Bogdanović killed 13, 2013, Serbia
Derrick Bird killed 12, 2010, UK
Robert Steinhäuser killed 16, 2002, Germany
Tim Kretschmer killled 15, 2009, Germany
Wellington Menezes de Oliveira killed 12, 2011, Brazil
Bai Ningyang killed 12, 2006, China
Juhani Matti Saari killed 10, 2008, Finland
Huanming Wu killed 9, 2010, China
Ahmed Ibragimov killed 41, 1999, Russia
Ami Popper killed 7, 1990, Israel
Antoní Blažka killed 6, 2013, Czech Republic

Looking back a little further, there is the Holodomor in 1930s Ukraine, the Rape of Nanking, the Holocaust, the Bataan Death March, to mention only a few of the larger unpleasantnesses in advanced countries. Why would the presidential mind turn directly to Leftist political talking points? Because advocating gun control demonstrates empathy, which leaves the Right as the party that does not care — a popular accusation of the Left, but suggesting that bad things only happen in America, because Americans don’t follow the prescriptions of the Left, is pretty common too.

Progressive  progress toward greater equality leaves Republicans or conservatives defending inequality. Republicans don’t believe that you can make people equal, except in the Constitutional sense of equality of opportunity and equality before the law. Or to put it differently, Republicans recognize imperfect human nature. Some of us are smart, some are not, some are beautiful, some are not. Some are talented, some are not. Some are crooks, some are not. Progressives seem to believe that imperfect human nature can be fixed, with wise regulations and management by themselves. As is often said, inside every Leftist is a tyrant trying to get out. They want to control, to regulate, because smart people like them, who went to the right schools and think the right thoughts can better organize America to be more — progressive.

*list from Wayne Laugesen, Colorado Springs Gazette



There’s a Time for Politics, and There’s a Time to Just Shut up. by The Elephant's Child

America is shocked and horrified at the massacre in the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. People reacted with sorrow and shame that such a thing should happen at a peaceful prayer meeting.

It’s hard to find the right words to express sorrow and offer comfort for there is no comfort. Republican candidates on the campaign trail quickly cancelled their scheduled events, Senator Lindsey Graham flew back to South Carolina.

President Barack Obama quickly politicized the event. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” Obama said, adding “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” Um, tell that to Charlie Hebdo. Or perhaps the 2011 massacre at a summer camp for the youth division of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party. Anders Brevik massacred 69 young people. Just before that he had packed  a van with an explosive mixture of fertilizer and fuel oil. The explosion killed eight people. Germany has had more attacks on schools than we have. But don’t miss a chance to make a political point.

Hillary also called for gun control, while heading for a bunch of fundraisers. Obama, having made his point, headed out to California  for a $16,700 per person fundraiser in Pacific Palisades. Later he has another one in Beverly Hills. On Friday he has an interview with Marc Maron, then flies up to San Francisco for the U.S. Conference of Mayors followed by another couple of fundraisers. Obama frequently tells us how important empathy is to him.




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