Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Liberalism, Statism | Tags: The Newspaper of Record?, Journalism Today, An Economist Speaks
Professor of Economics Donald J. Boudreaux of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University wrote a letter to the New York Times, which he posted at Cafe Hayek:
Your headline today reads “Under Health Care Act, Millions Eligible for Free Policies.”
More accurate wording would be “Under Health Care Act, Millions Eligible to Free Ride at Other People’s Expense.” That the people actually paying for all this “free” health insurance are faceless does not make them unreal – only invisible. And being invisible, the people footing the bill are ignored by Pres. Obama and other politicians preening publicly over their faux-generosity in spending other people’s money to bribe voters with promises of “free” health insurance.
The ethics of this situation are abominable, and the economics are no better. Hippopotamuses will fly before reams of rococo regulations, taxes, and sanctions will prevent recipients of “free” policies from over-consuming and inefficiently using health-care resources - and, hence, from driving health-care costs to astronomical heights or health-care availability to dangerous lows.
Donald J. Boudreaux
I loved his phrasing, particularly the “politicians preening publicly over their faux-generosity in spending other people’s money to bribe voters with promises of “free” health insurance.” Delicious.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Politics, Progressivism, Statism, The United States | Tags: A Great Product, It Will Save You Money, No Expectation of Truthiness
Oh dear. President Obama’s spirited defense of ObamaCare today in the Rose Garden didn’t exactly go well. He had a group of people behind him who supposedly had successfully become insured under ObamaCare, but they actually turned out to be people who intended to sign up really soon, rather than those who had completed the process.
The government won’t release the numbers of people who have succeeded in signing up until the numbers are big enough to actually look good. That’s not what anyone said, but the inevitable conclusion. The president was intent on putting a good face on the problems, but not his face. Not his fault, and he’s really disappointed with the problems.
But the problem has been that the website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. And there’s no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by that than I am — precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work. I want the checkout lines to be smooth. So I want people to be able to get this great product. And there’s no excuse for the problems, and these problems are getting fixed.
This is the usual Obama response. It is not his fault, he minimizes the problems, joins with you in disapproval — but it’s a great product, will save you money, and preexisting conditions, affordable and preexisting conditions.
The commentary from across the media has been devastating. Maureen Dowd said “he assumed his favorite role of the shining knight hectoring the benighted: Sir Lecturealot.” James Taranto called it “Vaporcare” and said Obama delivers an infomercial when an accounting is due.” And the parodies and mockery are on the rise and growing. I loved this one. Just click on the Apply button.
The administration would do much better to just admit that they have a giant fiasco, and tell the people what they are going to do about it. They should have taken the Republican offer of a year’s delay, but they didn’t recognize a good offer when it was presented to them.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: Overspending, The National Credit Card, The Unknown Cost of ObamaCare
“Obama has taken a no-negotiations stance on the debt ceiling debate, sending the true signal to the market that he is willing to default on debt if Republicans do not fund the government in accordance with his wishes,” according to John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress. Obama lost last time on the sequester, and he has been fuming ever since. He is deeply offended by any limitation on his ability to spend.
We are $17 trillion dollars in debt, and Obama wants to take out another credit card so he can pay the current debt and charge some more.
We have had lots of clues, but not paid much attention. Obama announced that he wanted 100 million electric cars on the road by 2015, and everybody shrugged. General Motors told him that the Volt was an experimental car, not ready for prime time, but Obama insisted that they produce them. Daniel Greenfield has reported that General Motors is losing $59,000 on every Chevy Volt. The Obama administration knew back in 2010 that Fisker Automotive was in trouble, but continued to allow them to draw on the half-billion dollar loan, even as Fisker failed to meet key milestones including the launch of the company’s signature $100,000 Karma hybrid had been achieved. A fairly obvious question would be why is our government supporting the production of a $100,000 car? But nobody asked the question.
Obama products from electric cars to charging station manufacturers, battery makers, solar-cell makers, have flooded the bankruptcy courts with business. Wind farms and solar arrays have been promoted and funded and failed to produce anything but vastly more expensive energy. Evidence has been available for several years that government investments in alternative energy were disastrous to those government’s economies, but we seem unaware of that which is proven not to work elsewhere, and insist on doing it ourselves because it will somehow be different because Obama is doing it.
The current administration believes in a command-and-control economy. They believe that a wise government filled with smart people can make better decisions than the free market, which they do not trust, in most cases because they have never been exposed to real profit and loss statements, or the need to please customers. They do not regard this as in any way necessary. Perhaps it isn’t, but it results in a massive healthcare system in which you must enroll by computer.
So when they set about making a massive internet technology website to be used by some percentage of 300 million people, they just signed up with an outfit that had done some work for the Canadian system. No competing bids, No verifying that their claims of expertise were true. Just O.K. The budget is $94 million. When cost overruns and glitches and who knows what had run the bill up to $634 million, nobody said stop! After three years and all sorts of waivers issued, mandates delayed because nothing was ready on time, they rolled it out on the due date, but they didn’t bother to do a test run to verify that it worked, and — it didn’t work.
Am I mixing up two separate issues, the debt ceiling and the ObamaCare rollout? We are facing a $17 trillion debt, and Obama wants another credit card. We simply do not know how much he is going to put on the Affordable Care Act credit card. Since nothing works after a $634 million investment, is it going to take another $634 million to fix it? Despite assurances by Ms. Sibelius, what’s wrong is not just a glitch that can be fixed over a couple of weekends. it’s buried in faulty code and basic design. John McAfee, CEO of the computer security company, predicts that hackers will empty ObamaCare enrollees’ bank accounts. There are no safeguards to protect Americans from scams. Even those enrolling are told that there is no privacy. Your name, address, Social Security number and other intimate information is open to all. Connections to the IRS to verify income and health-insurance status aren’t working, so they are going to operate on an “honor system” basis. That bodes well for the credit card.
Horror stories about the increase in individuals’ cost for health insurance abound. People are faced with increases in their cost that they cannot afford. HHS just awarded a $380 million contract at the end of September to manage appeals from consumers fighting for benefits that the insurance plans have denied. In September the Minnesota state health-insurance exchange inadvertently disclosed several thousand Social Security numbers before the exchange even opened.
As for medical care, the current ObamaCare software doesn’t even try to let consumers match the health plans on the exchanges with their particular medical needs, or with their providers, at the point of enrollment.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Election 2014, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Statism, The United States | Tags: Sally Jewell, The American Autocracy, The National Park Service
This is Sally Jewell, the new Secretary of the Interior. She is the former President of REI, Seattle’s Recreational Equipment Co-op, and as an avid outdoorswoman actually more qualified to lead the Park Service than most Interior secretaries. When she spoke to her new department, she announced “I hope there aren’t any “deniers” in this department,” which illustrates both an intolerance for disagreement and an unfamiliarity with the science of climate change. We don’t do “denial,” we do skepticism, which is the route of the scientific method. Things are proved by observation, and always open to questioning.
This an awkward time for the Secretary of the Interior. She has allowed the National Park Service to act as the political arm of the Democratic Party, and forced Park Service employees to perform political acts that may be abhorrent to them—like blocking 90-year-old World War II veterans from visiting their monument, throwing an elderly couple out of their home because you have to pass through federal land to get there, and stranding a dozen or so tourists in Cooke City, Montana because 14″ of early snow closed the Chief Joseph Highway and the Park Service won’t let them go through Yellowstone Park. Tour buses of senior citizens have been expelled harshly by armed park rangers, and forbidden to take pictures of a herd of bison by an armed ranger who told them they were not allowed to ‘recreate.” And it’s Park Service agents who have closed the ocean in Florida. This is petty, malevolent treatment by an autocratic president.
Humiliating work that Park Service employees are forced to do. Government workers are supposed to be doing the country’s business, not doing politics for the Democrats. So that’s another department totally disgraced, following in the wake of the IRS, Homeland Security, HHS, EPA, Justice and State. Is there anyone in this government that we can trust? Anyone that tells the truth?
Maybe this is what Obama meant by fundamentally transforming the country. Fall in line and do what I want or the full force and power of the United States government will go after you. Disagreeing with the acts of an administration is usual and the way it is expected to be. We were meant to argue and disagree. Life is uncertain and the way forward is never clear.
Having to be afraid of your government is something new and different for Americans.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Liberalism, Progressivism, Statism, The Constitution | Tags: An Angry President, Demands His Own Way, No Limit On Spending
President Petty is at it again. As Mike Flynn noted over at Breitbart, “This is governing by temper tantrum.” As I mentioned yesterday, I Own the World had a wonderful Photoshop of two helicopters hovering in place, holding a giant drape over the faces on Mt. Rushmore so people could not see them during the ‘shutdown.’ Satire has a way of being trumped by reality. The National Park Service has lined the highways where there is a view of the monument, with traffic cones to prevent anyone from parking at the side of the road to look. No viewing. Forbidden by the government that works for you.
Millions of veterans are planning to turn up in Washington to protest the closure of the World War II monument to veterans. They will be joined by millions of truckers. Should be interesting.
Just before the weekend, the National Park Service informed charter boat captains in Florida that they could not take clients fishing in Florida Bay until the shutdown is over. Boats have to cross the bay to get to the ocean. Biscayne Bay is also closed. President Petty is closing the ocean to use by the public. This includes anyone with a license to conduct business in the park like tour guides and paddling guides. Enforcement rangers will be on duty, armed.
This is all so petty that it makes Obama look a fool on the world stage. Trying to close the oceans is really a step too far. Americans declared war on England over a simple matter of a stamp tax. Americans are not a timid people accustomed to fearing their government. Americans in many quiet acts of civil disobedience, removed barriers for cars, cut police tape and walked across barriers after parking on grass verges or adjacent suburbs.
Obama blocked easy access to the Potomac — federal barriers were set along 20 miles of the Washington Memorial Parkway on a sunny 80º weekend. The gateway to the bridge to Roosevelt Island was locked. In several places Americans gathered together to park in large groups around knocked-aside barriers.
The administration has embarked on a perilous path. I’d sure like to see an accounting of the funds dispersed to stage such an elaborate shutdown of anything that might annoy American citizens. Does the National Park Service have a warehouse full of millions of traffic cones to keep the public in line? I’m not sure their efforts are making any one but the most brain-dead, low-information voters blame the shutdown on anyone but this arrogant president. He has overreached once again.
A longtime New York Times reporter said “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Foreign Policy, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Statism, The United States | Tags: Coming to Agreement, Negotiating With the Enemy, The Art of Politics
Was there a point in Mr. Obama’s life when he decided that his experience was sufficient, that he no longer had to change his opinions or revise his convictions? Or is it that he misconceives the nature of the office of the presidency? Has there ever before been a president who reminds us quite so often that he is President of the United States? The underlying assertion is that he is the most important man in the world, and we really have to stop disagreeing with him.
Dan Henninger, in today’s Wall Street Journal, takes up the same point:
We should admit the obvious: Barack Obama is the most anti-political president the United States has had in the post-war era. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter (even), Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. All practiced politics inside the tensions between Congress and the presidency that were designed into the system by the Founding Fathers. Not Barack Obama. He told us he was different. He is. …
Some things remain in his mind, like the economic benefits of public infrastructure spending, which appeared one more time in Monday’s post-Navy Yard speech on the lessons of the financial crisis and Congress’s obligations to agree with him. Some things enter his mind and then depart, like red lines in the Syrian sand.
From where he sits, it is the job of the political world outside to adjust and conform to the course of the president’s mental orbit. Those who won’t adjust are dealt with by the president himself. They are attacked publicly until they are too weak politically to oppose what is on his mind.
In the course of things, the president drew a red line in the sand, then he surprised Washington by announcing that he would seek congressional support for taking action against Assad in Syria. After meeting with the president the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader, John Boehner and Eric Cantor expressed public support for such action. Public opinion was against it, so the Republican’s support was a big deal.
Then Mr. Obama changed course again, and decided he could negotiate a chemical-arms reduction agreement with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Since Russia has enthusiastically sold weapons of all sorts to Syria, and still has their own stocks of chemical weapons left over from the Cold War, President Putin seemed fairly unlikely as a benign go-between.
ABC’s Johnathan Karl reported that neither Mr. Boehner nor Mr. Cantor got a heads up from the White House on the U-turn toward Russia. Not exactly good political manners or good sense just before heading into negotiations with that speaker on funding the government, extending the debt ceiling, or the future of your pet legacy achievement — ObamaCare.
On Monday, Mr. Obama spoke on the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, but the majority of the speech was concerned with ripping into the Republicans in Congress.
“The problem is at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on how to grow the economy and build the middle class. I say ‘at the moment’ because I’m still hoping that a light bulb goes off here.”
“The last time the same crew threatened this course of action . . . .” The same crew? As a bonus, we’re getting a post-modern presidential vocabulary. “. . . they’re willing to tank the entire economy.”
“Are they really willing to hurt people just to score political points?”
Let me repeat. Vladimir Putin has been selling weapons to Syria and supporting Bashar Assad for some time. Russia has never abandoned, demolished or discarded their own stock of chemical weapons remaining from the Cold War and earlier. He is not really likely to be delivering a chemical-arms reduction treaty, nor could anyone believe it if he did. Obama is being played in a major way on the international stage by President Putin with headlines in the New York Times, demonstrating the weakness of the American foreign policy and American determination.
Nevertheless, Obama will negotiate with Mr. Putin. It’s Congress with whom he refuses to negotiate. He will not stand for any attempt to reduce his spending. He will not stand for any attempt to reduce his spending. Don’t even attempt it. Even those who mistrust him say that he is an accomplished politician. This is not true. Politics is the art of negotiating, trying to bring opposing views to a consensus that both sides can tolerate in an effort to do the right thing for a divided country. For Obama it’s his way or the highway — there are other names for that.
Filed under: Architecture, Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Environment, Junk Science, Liberalism, Statism | Tags: Dense Cities-No Suburbs, Life As A Sardine, Obama's Self-Agenda
Those of us on the right who have spent time puzzling over the supposed agenda of the Left and the Greens and where they intersect, have run into their idea that cities should become much more dense, with corridors connecting the large cities (think high-speed rail) with lots of environment in between. No suburbs. Where the small towns and the farms go, I’m not sure — they will, I assume still need to eat if all food is not grown in a laboratory.
Whether we sardines still get to go out into the environment for pleasure is questionable. Just what the environment contains is not clear. National Parks without people? Abundant wildlife — unmolested? Certainly no drilling for fossil fuels, that’s already off the agenda. I always considered it the fantasies of the loony left and the green dreamers, but there is evidence that it is not entirely deranged fantasy.
The libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation last week filed a lawsuit against the Obama-supported bureaucrats who have created “Plan Bay Area,” an ambitions blueprint to block the creation of new suburbs and force the next 30 years of development in the nine-county San Francisco metropolitan region into a few hyper-dense Manhattan-style enclaves.
Stanley Kurtz describes the agenda: The bureaucratic name for “this kind of social engineering is TOD, Transit Oriented Development,” short for letting suburban highways deteriorate while squeezing as many apartments and businesses as possible into tiny neighborhoods around subway stations, so people stop using their cars.”
With help from the Obama administration, ambitious plans to impose TOD are about to drop on the Minneapolis–St Paul metropolitan area. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new “fair housing’ rule is laying the groundwork for the nationalization of TOD.
The Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit slams TOD as a bunch of “draconian development prescriptions” designed to “micro-manage people’s lifestyle choices.” There is a way forward, Pacific Legal says “without curtailing people’s freedom to live in detached homes in suburban and rural areas with lawns and gardens.
Shall we say that — not everyone’s idea of trying to do the correct thing for the common good — is the same? No, that is far too mild. Do read the whole article . Stanley Kurtz is a serious scholar who has laid out the history, philosophy, and strategy behind Obama’s second-term assault on America’s suburbs in his latest book Spreading the Wealth. An earlier post explains how the plan is advancing in San Francisco. In the Twin Cities, Katherine Kersten, a conservative journalist, writes about the situation in Minneapolis–St. Paul. I guess you file this under “That Sinking Feeling” or”I Can’t Handle One More Thing to Worry About.”
Obama does not like suburbs. He’s a city person. (Nevermind the multimillion dollar residences he chooses for vacations and where he is presently installed). This is the area where the Left goes all haywire. They feel tremendous empathy for the poor and the underclass. They want them to be equal to everyone else, so no one will discriminate, because discrimination is bad. Making them equal involves taking the undeserved wealth of the very rich and big corporations and using it to fix the poor and the underclass. They keep trying different things, and assume that if they can just give them the accoutrements of the middle class, and enough stuff, then their pathology will disappear.
They have had “the War on Poverty,” Welfare, AFDC, Head Start, SNAP, Free Phones, Job Training, raised the minimum wage, Busing, Affirmative Action, taxed the rich, tried a Luxury Tax, given more and more money to the public schools, subsidized student loans, added program after program. Today they are forcing everyone on ObamaCare which will force the people to demand single-payer government health care so we can match Britain’s worst in the world health care. Program on top of program — and there are still poor people and still an underclass. It has been said recently that if you just junked all the poverty programs, you could give each poor family $69.000 a year to get by on, and save money. I can’t vouch for the numbers.
The Welfare to Work program from the Bush administration worked. Women who had never worked held jobs, got paid, moved up, and felt pride and accomplishment in getting off welfare. Welfare may help needy people get by, but it is also demeaning. Temporary help for those in need is one thing; becoming a dependent of the government is quite another. A healthy growing economy offers opportunity for all. Most of the social pathology exhibited by the underclass has its origin in ideas that have filtered down from the intelligentsia. Long-term poverty is caused by a dysfunctional set of values that is continually reinforced by an elite culture searching for victims.
The Obama Agenda does not offer opportunity, nor hope, nor change. Oh, he speaks with focus-group tested words, but Obama’s agenda is a self–agenda, He has lots of programs — the usual ‘infrastructure’ (that aren’t shovel ready) the green jobs, but the high-paying jobs on the Keystone pipeline will have to wait. They have passed out lots of free phones, but the jobs-training programs don’t lead to jobs, and the green jobs don’t exist, And opportunity? There’s not much of that around for anybody.