Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Environment, Freedom, Health Care, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: Department of Agriculture, Too Many Bureaucrats, Way to Intrusive
Just briefly looking around the USDA website convinced me that the Department of Agriculture has way too many bureaucrats employed, and their conception of what they should be doing is way too broad. I have never known anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the USDA’s guidelines as to just what we should be eating, which is just as well because they have mostly been wrong anyway.
The schools, unfortunately, have to pay attention because they get funding, but anyone who has ever visited a school lunchroom notices that enormous quantities of food end up in the garbage. The kids have mostly hated Michelle Obama’s school lunch program. The USDA’s high carb diet was all wrong, butter is fine, they’re still trying to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions” although carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is what makes plants grow, and apparently, according to the EPA, soon their mission will be to reduce cow flatulence.
The federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is currently working on updating nutritional guidelines to conform with Mrs. Obama’s ideas and new scientific evidence. Mrs. Obama has been behind the drastically altered school lunch menus and the federal push to change restaurants’ most popular items to healthier fare and add calorie counts to every menu. She also has a new nutritional food labeling scheme.
One of the committee members, Miriam Nelson, feels the guidelines shouldn’t be confined to nutrition, but should include the long-term sustainability and environmental impact of crops recommended for eating. Another committee member is pushing a “plant-based diet” — suggesting that meat eating is not sustainable.
Another new idea under consideration are federal phone texts to obese citizens warning them regularly of their unhealthy eating behavior.
I pay no attention to the “my plate” guidelines, and I’m sure you don’t either, but the work of this committee guides the food purchases by the feds for government cafeterias, school meals across the country, all branches of the U.S. military and the entire federal prison system.
Michelle has insisted that the White House chef change from sugar to fruit purees to sweeten foods, but the White House consumes six different kinds of pie for Thanksgiving, The state dinner for the president of France came in at 2,500 calories per plate — a more-than-healthy whole day’s allowance. Remember that when you get your text-message from the government telling you what to eat, and reminding you that you are officially categorized as obese.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law, Progressivism | Tags: Callous and Insensitive, Majority Leader Harry Reid, The Purpose of Health Care?
Poor Harry Reid is caught between a rock and a hard place, and he’s not up to defending his position. It’s difficult, he’s majority leader of the Senate, and he has to defend the disastrous ObamaCare policy. Really frightening stories are emerging, about cancer patients who are suddenly denied the doctors and the care that was giving them the hope that they might live, and all Harry can think of is to call them all liars. Callous and insensitive doesn’t begin to describe it.
Now he has dissed a fellow senator, a medical doctor who is himself battling cancer, because he pointed out ObamaCare’s disastrous impact on cancer treatment. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) noted that the majority of cancer centers in this country aren’t covered under ObamaCare.
“Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense. But I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill.”
When cancer patient Julie Boonstra appeared in a TV ad telling how Obamacare had jeopardized her treatment with rising and unpredictable premiums and co-pays. Reid took to the Senate Floor: “There’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue.”
He also coldly dismissed Edie Sundby, a stage four cancer patient, who was told that the plan that had paid out $1.2 million and helped her to survive, was substandard, and would be cancelled because it didn’t fit the one-size-fits-all ObamaCare standard.
Coburn said that under ObamaCare, out of “Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under ObamaCare.” Coburn said the cut-rate payments of the Affordable Care Act provides for those treatments. “You know, it’s a market,” Coburn said,”and what they’ve done is they’ve priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them aren’t going to participate because they don’t get paid [enough] to cover the costs.”
During the government shutdown, House Republicans wanted to pass a stand-alone bill to fund the National Institute of Health so children with cancer could continue to participate in clinical trials. Reid called that move “reckless and irresponsible” by those obsessed with this ObamaCare.” A reporter asked “If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?”
Reid said “Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. [because of the shutdown] They have a few problems of their own.”
I understand that for Senate Democrats, ObamaCare is about power, and more control of the American people. But for the rest of us it is about the American people getting the care that they have been promised, that the rest of us are paying for.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Politics, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: 70.1 Million Signed Up?, The Rose Garden Speech
President Obama addressed
the nation his supporters yesterday in the Rose Garden, obviously trying to reignite enthusiasm for the Affordable Care Act. He announced that 7.1 million people have signed up. His precise decimal point brought wide derision. But the speech was more of an angry pep-rally. How dare you not agree that ObamaCare is wonderful.
The key point came late in the speech: “It is making sure that we ae not the only advanced county on Earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.”
He added: “But today should remind us that the goal we set for ourselves—that no American should go without the health care that they need.” He said:” The Affordable Care Act hasn’t completely fixed our broken health care system, but this law has made our health care system a lot better—a lot better.“
Our health care system was not broken. By law, anyone, whether they could afford it or not, could go to any emergency room and be treated. The cost of health care had been declining steadily in recent years, and the decline had nothing to do with ObamaCare, but with new diagnostic treatments, new drugs that made a real difference in shorter hospital stays, preventing major illnesses, and keeping more people alive and in good health. Early diagnosis saves lives.
Democrats rely on World Health Organization numbers regarding our health care, meaningless numbers based on skewed information. WHO numbers rank us low for live births, because we call every birth with a live baby a live birth—including those too small to survive—or too premature— because we try to save them all, with pretty good results. Other countries do not count those as “live births,” and do not attempt to save them. We also have a lot of highway deaths because we have a lot of highways and a lot of vehicles. It’s a big country. The WHO also grades us down sharply because we don’t have free health care for all (socialized medicine).
What the president’s pep-talk largely showed was that he doesn’t really understand how insurance works. You have insurance for the big stuff: house fires, car crashes. Because those things statistically don’t happen to everybody regularly, everyone can pay a small amount which will go to the few who do have a big catastrophe, and you are protected against the time it happens to you. You don’t insure against a leaky roof, or needing new carpeting. You don’t insure against flat-tires or worn-out windshield wipers. The free contraceptives and free mammograms are the flat-tires of health insurance. Adding all the goodies makes the insurance unaffordable, as those forced onto ObamaCare will discover when they get their insurance costs for next year.
Back in the Bush administration, Democrats badly wanted a free drug plan for Medicare. As his price for signing the bill, Bush insisted on an incentive for seniors to, when possible, select a generic drug (way cheaper) than a brand name drug —all things being equal. Contrary to Progressive thinking, Seniors are not dummies. Incentives work. If the cost of your drugs added up to a significant amount, you had to pay the full price (unless you could not afford it, in which case there was government subsidy) until the cost reached another level, at which point they were free. That gap was, for most people, avoidable if they relied on generic drugs, and Seniors found it quite sensible to do so. This meant the Medicare Drug Plan was the only big government program in history that came in costing less than projections.
President Obama announced triumphantly that “We’ve closed a gaping hole in Medicare’s prescription drug plan. We’ve closed the donut hole“— in other words they have eliminated the incentive that kept the Medicare Drug Plan costs reasonably low, and costs will skyrocket. Some triumph!
“Despite this law, millions of Americans remain uncovered in part because some governors in some states for political reasons have deliberately to expand coverage under the law.” Well, yes they did. The federal government demanded that States dramatically increase the amount they spent on Medicaid. No federal help, just a demand that states come up with more funding, and raise taxes or whatever it took.
Some governors said their state could not afford it, and they were unwilling to raise taxes to meet the federal requirement that the feds wouldn’t pay for.
“And we didn’t make it a hard sell. We didn’t have billions of dollars of commercials like some critics did.” Bw-ha-ha-ha. Billions for commercials? Sebelius admitted to $677 million on the failed website up to October, but we don’t really know what it has cost— the work has continued. Hawaii’s ObamaCare spent $35,749 per ObamaCare enrollee— at a cost of $205,342,270. The District of Columbia spent $133,573,927 to sign up just 6,518 people. Cover Oregon spent over $200 million and has not enrolled a single person. Maryland has spent over $125.5 million on an unworkable website and is now considering buying Connecticut’s system.
The law is a disaster. We are already told that premium costs will double or triple next year. Insurers have pared costs back by narrowing the provider list and eliminating the ability to be covered when you travel. The despairing stories of people who have been significantly harmed continue to pile up. Americans must fight back. The president is out fund-raising again today.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Election 2012, History, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, Progressivism, The United States | Tags: An Obama Op-Ed, Hurricane Sandy, Obama's Political Ploy
When people express their political preferences, at least according to the polls, they identify the Democratic Party as the one that “cares about people like me,” or “cares about little people,” or “ordinary people.”
Republicans are apt to react to that with jaw-dropping astonishment. Isn’t it obvious that they couldn’t care less, that all the caring speech is just a pose? Well, no it isn’t, and that is a problem for Republicans. It’s pure politics.
President Obama had an op-ed in the Las Vegas Sun this weekend that really demonstrates the problem. And it may well be an essay that represents his sincere thinking. Democrats are not inclined to investigate the economics of a policy, nor consider carefully the unintended consequences. Politicians like to describe their ideas in prose that will make what they want to do as appealing as possible, so you can’t tell what Obama really believes by reading what he says.
“Honest work should be rewarded with honest wages” — whatever that means—if anything, sounds good, but just what is an “honest wage?” He continues: “That certainly means that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.” And that is true. No one who works full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour qualifies as being “in poverty.” The poverty level for an individual in 2014 is $11,670.
It is meant to be a “starter” wage for a person with no real skills, and that’s why it’s not worth much. The low-skilled need training. The majority get a raise within six months, as they become trained workers who know what they are doing. The federal minimum wage differs from the prevailing minimum wage in some locations, and states too have “minimum wages.” The minimum wage where I live is $9.25 an hour. Seattle is debating raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The president’s proposal would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016 in three annual steps. Republicans argue that this will kill jobs, because if government boosts the cost of labor, employers will buy less of it, and it will do little to reduce poverty. The CBO estimates that the higher minimum wage would reduce jobs by about 500,000. Wage increases would raise the incomes of families in poverty by about $300 annually.
Robert Samuelson says: “An administration serious about job creation has to sacrifice other priorities to achieve it.” The CBO has estimated that the health insurance subsidies in ObamaCare will discourage people from working resulting in a loss of an estimated 2.5 million full-time workers by 2014. There are choices. For the most part the White House has voted against job creation, a fact that it tries to hide. The proposed increase is much larger than most of the increases that have been studied, and the minimum would be indexed to inflation, rising automatically with prices. Also new.
The minimum wage has a great advantage as a political idea. If employers are forced to pay a “living wage” then no one will live in poverty. Low-information voters and reporters will go for that. Easy.
ObamaCare has been eliminating full-time jobs right and left, and transforming them into part-time jobs. A mandated minimum wage set at a level above what unskilled labor is worth, eliminates jobs. Teenage unemployment is now at 20.7 percent, black teenage unemployment is a horrendous 38 percent. The average family income of minimum wage earners is $48,000 a year. Raising the minimum wage accelerates the trend to automation and robotics.
If you can. go back and read the president’s op-ed and see how appealing it is, and how dishonest. That’s a major problem for Conservatives.
The picture above is Obama’s photo-op comforting Donna Vanzant, whose North Point Marina sustained widespread damage in Hurricane Sandy. Obama promised her “immediate” assistance, help from FEMA, and the photo went viral in the days before the election. Donna Vanzant suffered around $500,000 in damages. After his visit, and promise of help on national television, Donna Vanzant sent an email to President Obama. Many days later, she got a response—a form letter that thanked her for supporting the troops—the only response she ever received. The exit polls after the election showed the vote for Obama’s second term depended mostly on his compassionate response to Hurricane Sandy.
Filed under: Politics, Domestic Policy, Economy, Environment, Liberalism, Energy, Democrat Corruption, Progressivism, Capitalism, Junk Science, Regulation | Tags: Climate Change Ideologues, High-Rise Wooden Buildings, High-Rise Fires?
Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack announced a new partnership at the White House Rural Council last week, to train architects, engineers and builders about the benefits of advanced wood building materials, and plans for a forthcoming prize competition to design and build high-rise wood demonstration projects.
In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan
goal of preserving the role of forests
in mitigating climate change.
Secretary Vilsack is a former governor of the State of Iowa, which means he must know about farming and corn and trees, right? Actually, he doesn’t seem to have ever done anything but Democratic politics, but that makes him a good candidate for Secretary of Agriculture.
Wood may be one of the world’s oldest building materials, but it is now also one of the most advanced, said Vilsack. Building stronger markets for innovative new wood products supports sustainable forestry, helps buffer reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and puts rural America at the forefront of an emerging industry. Presently, the market for wood and other related forest products supports more than one million direct jobs, many in rural America. As these markets expand, so will the economic opportunities.
The Secretary also announced plans to launch a new prize competition, expected to begin later this year, for developers, institutions, organizations and design teams competing to demonstrate the architectural and commercial viability of using sustainable wood products in high-rise construction.
The lumber mills that provided employment for most of the small towns where I grew up are long gone. The log trains as well. Seldom see a logging truck. Back in the Clinton administration, one of his bright ideas was to ban roads in the woods. Of course that meant the hotshot crews had a harder time getting to the fires. Greens have had a hard time understanding that trees are a renewable resource. The time frame is just longer. Oddly enough, plentiful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a natural fertilizer, helps them to grow.
Perhaps you remember this 2008 video of a bunch of Earth First loonies in a stand of saplings wailing over one that has been cut down. I feel confident that they are all city apartment people whose connections with the out-of-doors are a little tenuous at best.
They usually don’t know much about the environment itself, only their emotional response to nature. We shut down the forests to save the spotted owl, who nests only in old growth, except that turned out to be false. And their declining numbers were due to their barred owl cousins, not evil loggers.
We must refuse to build the Keystone XL pipeline because a pipeline might someday spring a leak, but this pushes the transportation of oil onto trucks and trains which is much more dangerous. The newest protest is against the Cove Point facility in Maryland that is due to be the first to export liquified natural gas, which Europe needs badly for fuel to counter the risk of Putin’s blackmail with Russian natural gas. In the meantime, we are exporting wood pellets to England to fire the furnaces to keep the Brits warm. Go figure.
President Obama’s Climate Action Plan will do nothing to change the climate, but if Democrats keep talking as if it will, they will get $100 million from Tom Steyer who is a billionaire hedge fund climate activist. The promise of more subsidies for solar and wind will reward Obama’s supporters and accomplish nothing for our energy mix. Secretary Vilsack is a big ethanol supporter, which is probably what got him the appointment. If I have given the impression that nobody knows what they are doing, that’s what I had in mind. Actions have consequences. If you think things through, the consequences don’t have to be unfortunate unintended ones.
Filed under: Politics, Foreign Policy, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Progressivism, Immigration, Election 2014
Jason L. Riley reports in the Wall Street Journal:
At a fundraiser in Miami on Thursday, President Obama described his political opponents as “no less patriotic” than Democrats. “They love their families just as much. Many of them do wonderful things in their communities,” he added. Then he went on to describe Republicans as selfish ideologues who are indifferent to the needs of women and the less fortunate.
“[T]heir basic vision is that we don’t have an obligation, at least through our government, to help; everybody has got to just look out for themselves or the community that you’ve built in your church or synagogue or your block or your family,” said Mr. Obama of the Republican world view as he understands it. “We don’t have to worry about that kid on the other side of town. We don’t have to worry about that woman who is cleaning our house—which is why every initiative we put forward they say no to.”
He cited polls showing public support for preschool education, but he did not cite the multitude of studies that show that it does not confer any lasting benefit for the kids.
He bragged about polls showing that the public liked minimum wage increases, but forgot to mention that such increases are job destroyers and increase unemployment. You can’t just order a business to pay people more without figuring out where the money is going to come from — vastly increased prices, or getting rid of some employees.
He said polls showed that the public supports immigration reform, but didn’t mention what kind of reform the public supports. Since he refuses to support the immigration laws that are on the books, the reform the public supports may refer to first enforcing the laws.
He warned the donors to whom he was speaking (yes, he’s still campaigning, and never mind the mess in the Ukraine) that the midterm elections may not go well for Democrats. And he added:
The challenge is, is that our politics in Washington have become so toxic that people just lose faith and finally they just say, ‘You know what, I’m not interested, I’m not going to bother, I’m not going to vote.
As usual. It is not his fault that everything is going badly — that ObamaCare is a mess, that his weak posture on foreign policy has encouraged Putin’s adventurism, the debt is soaring, and there still are not any jobs. It’s those rascally Republicans refusing to do what he wants them to. At least he didn’t call us racist this time.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, History, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Russia, The United States | Tags: Repercussions., There Will Be Consequences, We Need to Pay Attention
“Secretary of State John Kerry warned that there will be serious repercussions for Russia on Monday if last-ditch talks over the weekend to resolve the crisis in Ukraine failed to persuade Moscow to soften its stance.” That’s the Washington Examiner. And the repercussions are? The New York Times said Russian Troops and armored vehicles were massing in at least three regions along Ukraine’s eastern border. Angela Merkel warned that the Russian Government must abandon what she called the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries or face diplomatic and economic retaliation from a united Europe. Retaliation?
Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov made it clear that President Putin is not prepared to make any decision regarding Ukraine until after the referendum on Sunday. (Washington Post) Putin was prepared to let the referendum go ahead despite warnings that it would violate both Ukrainian and international law. Kerry warned that “there will be consequences.”
Secretary Kerry said he offered assurances during the talks that the United States is not trying to threaten Russia.”We’re not trying to challenge Russia’s rights or interests” in Ukraine. But he said that he and President Obama are convinced that “there is a better way for Russia to pursue its legitimate interests in Ukraine.”
Lila Shevtsova, a member or the American Interest editorial board and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, says that we are falling into Putin’s trap.”Russia,” she says “is a ‘unique’ civilization and must contain the demoralized West: Russia can only exist as a galactic center, around which orbit satellite-statelets; Russia is the civilizational pillar whose mission is to defend ‘traditional values’ globally.”
Peggy Noonan notes in The Wall Street Journal that what is happening in the Ukraine is demanding our attention, demanding that we focus.
The most obvious Ukraine point has to do with American foreign policy in the sixth year of the Obama era.
Not being George W. Bush is not a foreign policy. Not invading countries is not a foreign policy. Wishing to demonstrate your sophistication by announcing you are unencumbered by the false historical narratives of the past is not a foreign policy. Assuming the world will be nice if we’re not militarist is not a foreign policy.
What is our foreign policy? Disliking global warming?