American Elephants


They Just May Not Have the Votes for Cap-and-Trade. by The Elephant's Child

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the leading climate skeptic in the Senate, said Thursday that upcoming cap-and-trade legislation can muster no more than 26 votes.  Climate change is far down on Americans’ list of concerns.  Only 33 percent believe that human activity is responsible, and 48 percent say global warming is caused by long-term planetary trends.

Evidence continues to appear indicating that cap-and-trade is ruinous for an economy, accomplishes nothing for climate change, and is aimed only at societal control.  President Obama’s efforts to sorta-kinda-maybe suggest that we might have a bit of support for nuclear power  or offshore  oil-and-gas drilling, were offset by all the areas that he put firmly off-limits, so that can be considered as thrown under the bus.

According to a Pew poll released Sunday night, trust in the federal government to do “the right thing” most of the time has fallen to a near all-time low of 22 percent.

How odd.  When the public is concerned about spending, the federal government pursues a health care bill that the majority of the public oppose.  When the public is concerned about spending and jobs, the federal government pursues climate change alarmism.  When the public is concerned about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the federal government gets an agreement from Canada to send us their enriched uranium.  Why would we conceivably trust the federal government to do “the right thing.”



Where Is My Free Health Care? by The Elephant's Child
April 17, 2010, 8:45 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Taxes | Tags: , ,

President Obama promised that he could convince a reluctant public that his very own health-reform plan was somehow a good thing after all.  Public animosity towards  ObamaCare is getting stronger, with Rasmussen showing that 58 percent want it repealed.

More facts emerge regularly as people sort through the voluminous rules and regulations that were forced through Congress on an overly partisan vote.  People can see the destructive path ahead.  Even members of Congress are not sure that they will continue to be able to keep the health care that they like so much.  The Congressional Research Service is dubious.

1. Where is my free health care? eHealthInsurance, the online broker for health insurance, has been flooded with calls from people who ask: “Where do we get the free ObamaCare, and how do I sign up for that?”  They are unaware that the new insurance does not begin for four more years, though the massive tax increases will begin right away, but won’t even make a dent in the cost of ObamaCare.

2. There will be shortages of Doctors. At current graduation and training rates, there will be a shortage of up to 150,000 physicians in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

3. People with pre-existing conditions can purchase insurance when they get sick. This may seem “nice” but it negates the whole idea of insurance, which is that spreading the risk over large numbers of people over time, keeps costs down.   Legislators react by ordering insurance companies not to raise rates.  This will put insurance companies out of business.

4. Poorly written and poorly thought out regulations impose mandates on states that are already in deep financial trouble. Rules require the states to ensure the provision of “the care and services themselves,”opening state liability to floods of lawsuits.

5. Constitutional challenges continue and expand. There is no Constitutional authority for Congress to require citizens to purchase anything.

6. As the clever ways Congress made the bill seem to cost less begin to unravel, the real massive cost increases will kill jobs, depress economic growth, and taxes will continue to be raised. The Bush tax cuts expire, and as the huge tax increases necessary to pay for health care become apparent, public animosity will really increase.  Health care does not arrive for four years, but we start paying for it immediately.

7. Congress has made a big bet on “preventative care,”in the illusion that preventing disease will make health care cost less.  Multiple studies show that preventative care costs far more, not less, and does not prevent illness.  It helps to study consequences before passing the law.

Massachusetts health care was carefully thought out, and it has taken just 3 years for it to fall apart.  Many physicians have left the state, some hospitals have closed.  Premiums in the state are the highest in the country.

Governor Deval Patrick is in a battle with health insurers.  He will not allow them to raise their rates to cover the added costs of the state’s universal coverage law.  They will not stay in business if they can’t cover their costs.  Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is shocked that the new law does not give Congress the power to block increases in health insurance premiums.  Basic economics is not a Congressional strong point.

The American people wanted the administration to cut spending and reduce the debt, and cut taxes to encourage growth and create jobs.  Instead the administration has forced through, in the most reprehensible backroom deals, a health care plan that nobody wanted.  American health care is the finest in the world, with the best outcomes and most innovation.  It has been expensive because it is the result of individual choices by millions of Americans, not because of overcharging by insurance companies as President Obama tried to claim.

Creating straw-men to blame is a specialty of this president, but his ability to sell that kind of hype is growing old and stale.  The truth, as they say, will out.



Who Gets to Choose What Information You Get? You, or the Government? by The Elephant's Child

The Federal Communications Commission is holding an “inquiry” on “The Future of Media.”

As the nation’s expert agency involved in media and communications policies, the FCC has begun an examination of the future of media and the information needs of communities in a digital age. The objective of this review is to assess whether all Americans have access to vibrant, diverse sources of news and information that will enable them to enrich their lives, their communities and our democracy.

The Future of Media project will produce a report providing a clear, precise assessment of the current media landscape, analyze policy options and, as appropriate, make policy recommendations to the FCC, other government entities, and other parties.

Apparently the free marketplace of ideas just isn’t good enough.  They want Big Government to pick views with which they happen to agree.  Once, alleged scarcity was the reason for the FCC to impose the “Fairness Doctrine” on radio without running afoul of the First Amendment.  Now, it’s not scarcity but abundance that is the “problem.”

America is at a critical juncture in the history of communications. Information technology is changing our lives in ways that we cannot easily foresee.

The digital age is creating an information and communications renaissance. But it is not serving all Americans and their local communities equally. It is not yet serving democracy fully. How we react, individually and collectively, to this democratic shortfall will affect the quality of our lives and the very nature of our communities.

The layoffs of thousands of journalists have prompted concern from a wide variety of independent analysts and groups that we may end up with fewer “informed communities.”

The failure of many newspapers and layoffs of journalists certainly has the laid-off journalists upset, and the journalism schools aren’t too happy either.  Many people no longer feel the need to subscribe to a daily newspaper.  That fact should prompt some soul-searching among editors, journalists and academics, but that is not the way things work.

Much easier, and more comfortable than self-examination, is to request the hand of government to fix things.  Tell those stupid people what they should read, and eliminate any distressing news.   The free marketplace of ideas is entirely too threatening.

Freedom is, to be sure, frightening.  There is no telling
what values someone will choose to hold.
Decent and well-meaning guardians of values were horrified
by the monstrous principles  of the Declaration of Independence.
It is, of course, out of fear that the guardians preach the inculcation of values,
fear of knowledge and thought.
(Richard Mitchell)



The Health Care Drama in Massachusetts is Turning to Tragedy, or Farce. by The Elephant's Child
April 9, 2010, 11:58 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Taxes | Tags: , ,

The health care drama in Massachusetts continues.  Governor Deval Patrick kicked off his re–election campaign by rejecting most of the premium increases that the state’s insurance companies had asked regulators to approve.   Mr. Patrick rejected the increases, and now claims that price controls are the correct response to “industry greed.”

In Massachusetts, all of the major insurance companies are nonprofits.  Three of the largest four posted operating losses in 2009.  In an emergency lawsuit in Boston superior court yesterday, they argued that the arbitrary rate cap would result in another $100 million in collective losses, and make it impossible to pay the expected cost of claims.  Even the solvency of some companies may be threatened. So, until the matter is settled, the insurers have just stopped selling new policies.

State officials have demanded that the insurers resume offering policies, under threat of fines or regulatory punishment.  Amazing!  The situation is so bad that the Governor has to threaten companies to make them sell their products at less than market cost.

The state’s Attorney General and his insurance regulators have concluded that the reason why Massachusetts insurance premiums are the highest in the nation is the underlying cost of health care, not greedy insurance companies that Mr. Patrick and Mr. Obama like to cite.

Central to Massachusetts health care are mandates requiring insurers to cover anyone who applies regardless of their state of health or pre-existing conditions, and to charge everyone the same rate.  Surprise! This allows people to wait until they’re about to face major medical bills to purchase insurance.  Between April 2008 and March 2009, about 40% of new enrollees at Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan stayed with it for fewer than five months and on average, ran up costs about 600% higher than the company would otherwise expect.  Blue Cross Blue Shield has had similar experience.

This kind of thing will soon be coming to your insurance market.  Democrats chose to regard all Republicans’ warnings about unworkable mandates, underestimated costs and ignored savings as simply more right-wing troublemaking.  Keep watching Massachusetts.  It will be instructive.



It’s About The Spending!!! by The Elephant's Child
April 8, 2010, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Taxes | Tags: ,

Just a quick reminder.  The Liberals in Washington are concerned about more taxes,  bringing in more income,  finding new things to tax and new ways to tax. Taxing wheelchairs seems more than a little crass.  Taxing Tanning Salons seems silly, a VAT is terrifying, but anything is better than having to cut spending.

The British Government’s response to the financial crisis is to pay no attention, the Irish Government is taking quick decisive action. Ireland had embraced policies of low taxation, and transformed from one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the richest.  Financial services had become a huge part of Ireland’s economy— leaving the country vulnerable.

The world recession has hit Ireland hard.  Finance Minister Brian Lenihan rejected resorting to a rise in taxes, saying “We will not create jobs by increasing the penalty on work and investment.”

Perhaps we could embroider that line on little samplers and send them off to Congress.

Highly paid public sector workers face 20 percent pay cuts, the Taoiseach is taking a huge cut in salary.  Everyone else gets their salary cut,  in decreasing amounts as salaries get smaller.  Only pensioners do not get a cut.

Meanwhile, back in England — The voters say “Don’t raise taxes, cut spending,” and give Tory leader David Cameron an 11 percent lead.



Big Government Intrudes in Your Life, Part IV. by The Elephant's Child
April 5, 2010, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Law, Statism | Tags: , , ,

In Part II, we discussed the Obama administration’s EPA’s new rules forcing automakers to increase their vehicles’ fuel economy by 40% in five years. This will cost Americans a bundle — raising the price of a car from $1,000 to $5,000 more, kill jobs in the auto industry and incidentally kill a lot of people on the highways by forcing car makers to make lighter, more vulnerable cars. That happened on April 1.

The next day, the same EPA favorably reviewed an ethanol fuel mandate that would force cars to get up to 5 percent poorer fuel efficiency. Fifty two ethanol producers known collectively as “Growth Energy” (Big Corn) want the EPA to boost existing requirements that gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol to 15 percent.  That change would mean billions more in government subsidies for companies in the business of growing corn and converting it into ethanol.

For the rest of us, it means significantly higher gasoline prices, higher food prices (you have no idea how many things contain corn), and gasoline that contains less energy and won’t go as far. Ethanol is an inefficient fuel.  It reduces gas mileage by 5.3 percent.  Repair bills will climb because engines are not designed to handle 15 percent ethanol.  Vehicle warranties specifically exclude damage from the use of unapproved fuels, so the costs will fall on drivers.  How much damage, I don’t know.

The policy is distorting the market for food.  “Big Corn” wants the government subsidies, because without the government mandate, who would buy ethanol?  There is no justification  for this intervention. This is not the time for useless “green” games.  The EPA should reject “Big Corn’s” rent seeking, and Congress  should repeal all ethanol subsidies.

Actually, Congress should repeal the EPA.  What a useless organization!



Nancy Pelosi Said Wait Till the Bill is Passed, And Find Out About the Unemployment Implications! by The Elephant's Child
April 4, 2010, 12:16 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Statism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Nancy Pelosi was quite clear.  The Health Care bill would create 400,000 jobs. She also said that we’d have to wait till we passed it to find out what’s in it.  She was, at least dimly, aware that the voters are concerned about jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “This, of course, was a health bill.  But it was also a jobs bill.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared, “It will create millions of jobs and strengthen our economic security by keeping America competitive and igniting innovation and entrepreneurship.” If we ever needed proof that Democrats do not understand how jobs are created, there it is, laid out for all to see.

The 2006 law that created the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit also authorized payment of a 28% federal subsidy, up to $1330 per retiree, tax-free, to each company for each retiree who took part in a company drug plan.  Because of that subsidy, the retirees did not participate in the Part D prescription drug plan and saved the government some money.  The subsidy was also tax-deductible.

The health care bill repeals that credit, which raises corporate tax bills and lowers after-tax income.  Companies must immediately announce the write-downs . Consulting firm Towers Watson anticipates write-downs of approximately $14 billion.  Reduced profits and retained earnings may mean fewer jobs.

A levy on the production of medical devices is meant to help pay for health care. Starting in 2013, an excise tax of 2.3% of the sales of taxable medical devices will be imposed.  The tax is estimated to raise about $2 billion a year. Congress supposedly believed that the health care bill would expand the market for medical devices through the individual mandate thereby increasing revenue to the medical device companies.  The real reason is that Democrats were desperate for revenue so that the bill would be scored as reducing federal budget deficits — something it could not do without some budget gimmicks.

The medical device industry exported more than $31 billion of devices in 2008 to such markets as Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and Germany.  And the U.S. also imports devices.  The hit on the industry is estimated to be about $20 billion.

Zoll Medical Corporation  in Massachusetts, a maker of defibrillators, had a 2009 profit of $9.5 million.  They estimate their tax at $5 million  to $10 million a year.  They employ 1800 people, 1600 in the United States.  They will have to change — raise prices, but the government is demanding that they cut costs — or shift jobs to lower cost countries.  Manufacturers can close plants in this country and relocate offshore.  Medtronic has announced that it may lay off workers as a direct consequence of the bill.

Taxes and mandates and fees all have consequences.  There are a lot of job losses resulting from the consequences of the health care bill.  Unfortunately Nancy Pelosi’s “millions of jobs” and “economic security” just aren’t in it.



217 Democrats Vote to Destroy America by American Elephant

Happy Dependence Day!

Mark Steyn sums up my feelings well, with far fewer expletives. Read his piece. I know many people don’t understand how destructive this bill is. Steyn’s piece is a good starting place. We can either be a nation of free independent people, or we can be a nation of welfare recipients. We cannot be both. It doesn’t work.  Our founders (and others) understood what Obama and the rest of the socialists do not:

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”

~ Benjamin Franklin

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

~ Alexander Tytler

Obama and the Democrats have just lurched us towards decline. We were a very abundant, very generous nation. Democrats and Obama are using greed and selfishness to try to skip straight to dependency, Dependency on Democrats. It truly is evil.

I’ll write more when I recover my optimism. The Elephant’s Child chose today to have computer problems. She’ll hopefully be back tomorrow.

Until then, America WILL overturn or repeal this. If not because we still cherish liberty, than at least because the punishment in higher premiums, higher costs, higher taxes, less employment, less opportunity will start long before any supposed benefits.



Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! by American Elephant

ACORN to file for bankruptcy?

The community organizing group Acorn, battered politically from the right and suffering from mismanagement along with a severe loss of government and other funds, is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy, officials of the group said Friday.

Unfortunately they will only reorganize under another name and come back twice as corrupt as before.  But for now, congratulations to Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe for doing their job — something  the corrupt media refuses to do.

UPDATE: Obama administration quietly orders government to resume funding ACORN, while Americans are distracted by health care battle.

Gee. You think the one has anything to do with t’other?



Threaten Democrats With Sunlight by American Elephant

Your health care is at risk, my health care is at risk, the very nature of the relationship between Americans and their government is at risk because power-hungry Democrat cockroaches in Washington DC are making dirty deals in dark backrooms for votes on Obama’s wildly unpopular socialist health-care Trojan Horse.

Rush said today that Obama wouldn’t dare hold a press conference right now because the rank corruption that is going on can only happen in secrecy. He’s right. Cockroaches thrive in the dark. What America desperately needs right now is some sunlight to make these cockroaches scatter!

Unfortunately, minority Republicans aren’t currently in a position to cast much sunlight on Democrats’ corrupt dealings.

But they will be.

After next November’s elections, if Republicans take back control of one of both chambers on Capitol Hill as many predict they will, they will gain subpoena power, control committees, and direct the agenda of at least one chamber of congress.

And that is a powerful weapon that Republicans can and should use to kill this horrendous bill — and they should use it now.  Americans already know Pelosi and Obama are bribing Democrats to get them to vote yes on Obamacare. Some of their corrupt dealings have already been exposed.  GOP leaders should immediately hold a press conference, citing those corrupt dealings and the sleazy, corrupt  manner in which this bill is being passed,  and threaten wavering Democrats by promising that if Republicans win next November, they will investigate any and all evidence of corruption, bribery and even the appearance of impropriety surrounding the passage of  this unpopular bill. They should threaten to subpoena records, hold hearings if necessary, and promise that they will expose the Democrats involved, punish unethical behavior and prosecute anything illegal.

Democrat fence-sitters will be MUCH more reluctant to make shady deals and accept promises of cushy jobs if they fear their golden parachutes might be made public, get them investigated or land them in jail.

Sunlight is not only the best disinfectant, it also makes cockroaches scatter!

And even the threat of future sunlight may be just what Republicans need to scare enough wavering Democrats to kill this cancerous bill.

I hope you will call and write your Representatives and the Republican leaders and ask them to immediately hold a press conference and publicly promise to cast sunlight on ALL the Democrat’s dirty deals.

[updated March 16, 2010, 10:12 pm]



The System is Not Broken. This is How It’s Supposed to Work! by The Elephant's Child
February 20, 2010, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: , , ,

Even Democrats recognize that things have gone wrong in this last year.  They have two excuses responses.  The first is that America has become “ungovernable.” Charles Krauthammer responded to that yesterday.

In the latter days of the Carter presidency, it became fashionable to say that the office had become unmanageable and was simply too big for one man. Some suggested a single, six-year presidential term. The president’s own White House counsel suggested abolishing the separation of powers and going to a more parliamentary system of unitary executive control. America had become ungovernable.

Then came Ronald Reagan, and all that chatter disappeared.

The tyranny of entitlements? Reagan collaborated with Tip O’Neill, the legendary Democratic House speaker, to establish the Alan Greenspan commission that kept Social Security solvent for a quarter-century.

A corrupted system of taxation? Reagan worked with liberal Democrat Bill Bradley to craft a legislative miracle: tax reform that eliminated dozens of loopholes and slashed rates across the board — and fueled two decades of economic growth.

Later, a highly skilled Democratic president, Bill Clinton, successfully tackled another supposedly intractable problem: the culture of intergenerational dependency. He collaborated with another House speaker, Newt Gingrich, to produce the single most successful social reform of our time, the abolition of welfare as an entitlement.

It turned out that the country’s problems were not problems of structure but of leadership. Reagan and Clinton had it. Carter didn’t. Under a president with extensive executive experience, good political skills, and an ideological compass in tune with the public’s, the country was indeed governable.

The excuse that this is a communications problem — interesting for a president who has made more speeches in his first year than any other — is denied by Charlie Cook, mild-mannered Democrat pollster:

This is a reality problem. And I think they just made some grave miscalculations and as it became more clear that they had screwed up, they just kept doubling down their bet. And so I think, no, this is one of the biggest miscalculations that we’ve seen in modern political history.

He also says that” it’s hard to come up with a scenario where the Democrats don’t lose the house.”

There remains not the slightest indication that the Democrats have any intention of changing their approach, or even doing a little soul-searching.

The two-party system was designed to promote discussion and dissension so that the problems of policies could be worked out in debate before being enacted into law.

It wasn’t intended that one domineering party should rule by bullying and closing down argument, and meeting behind closed doors to make secret agreements.    Hard to convince those who are determined to get their own way.



After the Election is Over, You Have to Perform. by The Elephant's Child
February 13, 2010, 4:26 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Education, Taxes | Tags: , , ,

If you live in a low performance state, you probably know it. Unemployment is high, so the legislature is raising taxes.  Companies are moving out-of-state to locations friendlier to business.  Wealthy households are moving out, and fewer wealthy households are moving in.

In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell won a high-profile gubernatorial race. He has unveiled an ambitious proposal to expand the number of charter schools.  He also wants to create virtual schools in which students can learn outside of traditional classrooms, as well as laboratory schools that would benefit from partnerships with Virginia colleges and universities.  All three proposals must be approved by the General Assembly in a session that ends next month.

He is sticking to his no-tax pledge, and he is pushing ahead with an effort to sell off  state-owned liquor stores.  States which have privatized their liquor sales have gained million of dollars in new tax and license revenues, and cut millions of dollars in government expenditures.  In other words, he’s doing what he said he would.

In New Jersey, newly elected Republican Governor Chris Christie is also doing just what he promised.  He has appointed a school-choice advocate to the howls of the teacher’s union. And he has announced a real spending freeze on $1.6 billion of unspent money.  He was blunt. “Today we come to terms with the fact that we cannot spend money on everything we want.  Today, the days of Alice in Wonderland budgeting in Trenton end.”

A new study by Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy looked at the decade from 1999 to 2008.  It found that in the decade’s first half, New Jersey was booming with a $98 billion net influx of capital due to wealthy households moving into the state.

Then the trend reversed.  From 2004 to 2008 there was “a large decline in the number of wealthy households entering New Jersey” as well as “a moderate increase in the outflow of wealthy households leaving.”  How come?  The study doesn’t say, but the top income tax rate went from 6.37% on incomes over $500,000 to 8.97% — a 40% increase.

Basic economics:  when you tax something you get less of it — in this case wealthy  households that help to create jobs and increase charitable capacity. The out-migration went to New York and Pennsylvania which have lower top tax rates. The third most popular destination was Florida which has no income tax and no estate tax.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,427 other followers

%d bloggers like this: