American Elephants


Another Violent Leftist Thug Attacks Peaceful Protesters by American Elephant

Another day, another violent leftist thug attacks peaceful protesters:

Obama goes on national television and says its time to kick some ass, and as usual, his violent goon squad is more than happy to comply.

Welcome to the Thugocracy!

What do you want to bet this guy is SEIU? What do you want to bet none of the “mainstream” media covers this, just as they ignored all the other violent leftist thugs?

(h/t BigGovernment)



The White House Understands Your Anxiety! They Will Cut The Budget By an Infintesimal Amount, to Make Obama Look Good. by The Elephant's Child

Public anxiety about government spending is becoming noticeable. Or at least, the White House  has finally noticed.  They are directing governmental agencies to develop plans for trimming a whole 5 percent from their budgets by identifying programs which “do not advance their missions or President Obama’s agenda.”

Peter Orzag and Rahm Emanuel are sending a memo to federal agencies, asking them to find spending cuts.  The memo says, gracefully, according to the Washington Post:

“The American people deserve a government that spends every taxpayer dollar with as much care as taxpayers spend their own dollars — where money is spent not out of inertia, but only when it contributes to achieving a clear national priority,” Emanuel and Orszag write in the memo, according to an early draft.

Oh my. Read that one again.  This is the government that spent $862 billion in a stimulus bill that did not stimulate, on Keynesian multipliers that didn’t multiply, on shovel-ready projects that weren’t shovel ready, and on projects that resulted in new jobs only by the mysteries of double and triple counting of imaginary people.  “Spends taxpayer dollars with as much care,” oh my.

To encourage cooperation, Obama also will ask Congress for new authority to let agencies keep half the savings they identify, administration officials said. The agencies could then put the cash toward higher priorities rather than surrendering it all for deficit reduction, as is typical.

Economist Veronique de Rugy puts it in terms that we can all understand:

Basically, it’s as if I tell my bank “I am massively in the red, I know, and from now on I will be reasonable. See, my plan is to cut $5.00 out of the $100 I spend per week. $2.50 will go to reducing my $300,000 deficit and $2.50 I will spend on more stuff. I need a little incentive after all my efforts.”

This is absurd, a joke.  Congress is attempting to pass a “jobs bill” or stimulus 3.0.  It won’t create any jobs either.  Then they want to ram through a cap-and-trade bill, and just before the election they want to send out another check for the seniors who always vote, and seem to be well represented at the Tea Party rallies — at least if the grey hair in the crowds is accurate.  Of course you can never tell with those violent tea-party activists. “Clear national priority indeed!”

This is a feel-good pretend effort to sway the masses, whom they think are too dumb to grasp the complicated details of budget trimming. The very painful exercise that millions of families are having to go through at the kitchen table as a result of President Obama’s agenda.



Cash for Caulkers Creates a Conflict of Interest! by The Elephant's Child

Remember way back when the War in Iraq began, and the media discovered that the company providing meals and laundry and putting up camps in Iraq was (gasp) Halliburton, and you know Dick Cheney used to be CEO of Halliburton and undue influence, crony capitalism, blah, blah, blah. The media desperately tried to find something untoward., but Mr. Cheney had severed his relations with the company which had a new CEO, and it was all a pack of nonsense.

So in the normal course of politics, each side keeps an eye on the other side for crony capitalism, favoritism, bribes and payoffs. It’s the way it is supposed to be, except the media is supposed to be an objective watchdog, which they have forgotten how to do.

The connections between the Obama administration and the unions seems to involve a number of those sins, and sooner or later, someone will write a book about the relationship. In the meantime, we have an interesting case of for-profit politics:

The Obama administration appointee who would run a proposed subsidy program dubbed “Cash for Caulkers” has intimate ties to a company that has lobbied for the bill and would profit from it.

Al Gore acolyte Cathy Zoi, the Energy Department official in charge of energy efficiency, has testified in favor of the caulkers bill, which the House passed last week. She would administer it if it became law and is married to an executive at a window company that has pushed for this legislation.

We have written before about Ms. Zoi’s troublesome potential to profit substantially from the activities she is supposed to administer.

The Chamber of Commerce — the embodiment of anti-government greed in Obama’s standard rhetoric — is lobbying hard for the bill, and has informed members of Congress that this will be one of the votes tallied on the chamber’s annual scorecard of lawmakers. Also working Congress in support of the measure are the National Association of Manufacturers, Dow Chemical, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the contracting industry and the window industry.

With all these supporters, Obama and the credulous media will declare it’s a consensus, and so it must be good. But really, the bill just spreads the corporate welfare strategically. It’s corporate welfare because the companies that sell the windows, insulation and services the bill subsidizes can now raise their prices, because consumers’ price tolerance goes up. So the subsidy is split between the companies and the homeowner. Americans without savings or equity with which to afford new windows are out of luck, as are renters. But they still foot the bill.

Well.  Conflict of interest.  Corporate Welfare.  Crony capitalism.  As Timothy Carney says, “when government injects itself more deeply into the economy, opportunities for cronyism come with the territory.”  It is still deeply unseemly.  Ms. Zoi should go, or the program should go, preferably the latter.  What a dishonest scam.



The Tea Parties — An Angry Mob of Racists? by The Elephant's Child
April 19, 2010, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Law, Taxes | Tags: , ,


Someone in some back room of the progressive political establishment thought that accusing the Tea Party movement of being racist, homophobic, and so on, and so on, all the usual smears, would be successful in demolishing the movement. Amid reports and videos of peaceful gatherings of people who were having a good time protesting, the accusations just weren’t working.   So they sent infiltrators with racist, homophobic, Nazi, and Klan signs to join the crowd and wave their signs whenever they saw a camera. That’s not working either.

It is becoming obvious that liberals just don’t tolerate disagreement. They are unprepared for honest debate, unprepared to consider the merits of other opinions, and in general just want the opposition to shut up. What an odd turn of events, when liberals control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The men who created the Constitution expected and wanted vigorous debate, and that has been our tradition. One must conclude that liberals are unprepared to honestly defend their ideas. Or defend their spending.

But then they don’t much like the Constitution either.



Want Health Care Summit Success? Start Over! From Scratch. by The Elephant's Child

The Health Care Summit is tomorrow, Thursday.  President Obama has set up the usual straw men, (some say), (there seems to be a set of people), (there are those who), and shot them down with the usual broad rhetorical flourishes. What exactly he hopes to accomplish with this summit remains unclear.   It is clearly not any bipartisan anything.  It seems to be a little theater to say my way or the highway.

Jennifer Rubin comments at Commentary magazine;

This is the essence of Obama: filled with grand plans and a grandiose conception of  himself, but short on workable plans, legislative prowess, and strategic thinking.  And underneath it all is a deep contempt for the wishes and concerns of average Americans.

Michael Gerson, in the Washington Post:

Americans have taken every opportunity — the town hall revolt, increasingly lopsided polling, a series of upset elections culminating in Massachusetts — to shout their second thoughts. At this point, for Democratic leaders to insist on their current approach is to insist that Americans are not only misinformed but also dimwitted. And the proposed form of this insistence — enacting health reform through the quick, dirty shove of the reconciliation process — would add coercion to arrogance.

Here are the most recent public opinion polls on support/opposition for the health care bill, according to assorted pollsters. (From Jim Geraghty)

Rasmussen: 41/56
Newsweek: 40/49
Public Policy Polling: 39/50
Pew: 38/50
Quinnipiac: 35/54
Ipsos/McClatchy: 37/51
NBC/WSJ: 31/46
CNN: 38/58
NPR: 39/55

With all the talk about “ramming it through,” “reconciliation,” President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are telling the American people that they are uninterested in their opinions, and just shut up.



Is Congress Exempting Itself From Health Insurance? by The Elephant's Child

That’s the question asked on the Heritage Foundation’s blog.  The Senate health-care bill got the unions on board by exempting union workers from the proposed 40-percent excise tax on “Cadillac” plans — those worth more than $8,000 a year for individuals.

It is not yet clear what the White House’s new strategy to pass health care will be in the wake of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts senate race.  Democrats, from their public utterances, are dismissing it as angry white men, angry stupid people, and badly misled people who don’t know what’s good for them.  The very definition of denial. What they say in private remains unknown.

But according to Federal News Radio, can’t have federal employees left out of the earlier compromise.  Just to make sure that the definition of a “Cadillac” plan for federal employees is fair, dental and vision insurance would not be counted towards the taxable cost of a policy.  This, of course, includes Members of Congress who blithely exempt themselves from anything unpleasant.

This is such stupid public policy that it boggles the mind.  They probably think we won’t notice.  They really do think we’re stupid, you know.



Why Do The Democrats Hate Free Speech? by The Elephant's Child

The Supreme Court handed down a major decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the “Hillary: The Movie” case that was first argued last March, reargued in September, and finally decided last Thursday, January 21, 2010.

Background: During the 2008 election campaign, the nonprofit group Citizens United wanted to make a film available on cable-on-demand that was critical of then-candidate Hillary Clinton.  Because Citizens United is organized as a corporation, under the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, its speech was banned.  The movie was not allowed to be shown, and the law was backed by criminal sanctions.  Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations — including nonprofit advocacy corporations — either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election.

Citizens United challenged this ban, and the Supreme Court struck down this provision of McCain-Feingold , reversing a previous ruling — Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce —that permitted the government to ban corporations and labor unions from promoting or opposing political candidates.

Paul Sherman, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which litigates free-speech cases nationwide points out:

The ruling in Citizens United is a straightforward application of basic First Amendment principles:  “When Government seeks to use its full power…to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought.  This is unlawful.  The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

The Democrats are OUTRAGED:  Corporations are not entitled to free speech, political expenditures are not “speech”, protections of the Free Speech Clause properly apply to individuals not corporations, this will corrupt the democratic process,  will radically increase powerful corporate influence in politics, blah, blah, blah. Democrats are afraid that corporations benefit Republicans, and free speech should not apply to anyone who might be critical of Democrats.

The First Amendment is about political speech, and if free speech only applies to speech that is pleasing to you, then it isn’t free, and it isn’t freedom — but tyranny.  You might find it interesting to keep track of the numerous and constant efforts of the Democrats to stifle speech that they don’t like.  For example, President Obama’s ban on Fox News continues.

Just watch.  There will be a concerted effort on the part of the Democrats to overturn or overrule this decision.  The “Democrats” aren’t much on Democracy, the Constitution (needs updating for modern times), especially the First Amendment — although that religion part is useful for getting rid of religious influences.  They’re fairly fond of the “establishment” bit but always, always, ignore the — making no law that might “prohibit the free exercise thereof” part.

Progressives are passionately fond of larger government, the growth of government, and the exercise of lots of government power.  The Constitution puts some firm limits on what government can and cannot do.  They don’t like that.



Nancy Pelosi Tells C-Span: “There Has Never Been A More Open Process” by The Elephant's Child

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA),  responding to C-Span’s letter to congressional leaders asking to film the debate on the health care bills in which the President’s promise of “transparency” was quoted, said firmly — when she emerged from the secret meetings behind closed doors:

“There has never been a more open process for any legislation.”

Do write that on a 4 x 5 card and tack it up where you can see it every day until the next election.

She also “hinted” that holding informal negotiations — likely without TV cameras — might be the “most practical” way to push the legislation through.

“We will do what is necessary to pass the bill.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md), assistant to the Speaker said the healthcare bill had been “subjected to unprecedented level of public scrutiny.”

“We don’t even know if there’s going to be a conference committee,” he said, alluding to the likelihood that Democrats will reconcile the two bills behind closed doors.



Study: Government Run Healthcare Denies Twice as Many Claims as Private Market by American Elephant

Once again, the truth is exactly the opposite of what Democrats claim. For months they have been telling us that we need government run care to protect people from big, bad insurance companies denying their claims.

The problem is that medicare denies nearly twice as many claims as the private market:

According to the American Medical Association’s National Health Insurer Report Card for 2008, the government’s health plan, Medicare, denied medical claims at nearly double the average for private insurers: Medicare denied 6.85% of claims. The highest private insurance denier was Aetna @ 6.8%, followed by Anthem Blue Cross @ 3.44, with an average denial rate of medical claims by private insurers of 3.88%

In its 2009 National Health Insurer Report Card, the AMA reports that Medicare denied only 4% of claims—a big improvement, but outpaced better still by the private insurers. The prior year’s high private denier, Aetna, reduced denials to 1.81%—an astounding 75% improvement—with similar declines by all other private insurers, to average only 2.79%.

Maybe there’s something to be said for the need to keep your customers satisfied in order to make that profit after all.

(h/t Say Anything via Hot Air)



Republican Senators Need Your Help by American Elephant
December 19, 2009, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Politics, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Republicans in the senate are doing an excellent job opposing Obamacare. They are united against this attempt to seize control over your health decisions. Even the most liberal Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are standing united in opposition. Republicans will continue to do all they can, they will use every parliamentary trick they have to block this vote, including forcing the entire bill and all amendments to be read aloud on the senate floor, but as we saw earlier this week, Democrats are even willing to break senate rules and destroy all precedent in order to cram this deeply unpopular bill down American’s throats.

But Republicans can only do so much. Democrats have reportedly reached an agreement with Ben Nelson which gives them the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Current plans are for the bill to be brought to a vote by Christmas eve.

It’s up to us.

Less than 35% of Americans support this bill, a solid majority oppose it — 61% according to CNN — and many Democrats are very nervous about voting for it. They can be swayed.

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) just watched a conservative landslide in his home state. He says he still hasn’t decided how he will vote. Call him and let him know he will lose his job if he votes for cloture on this bill, even if he later votes against it. (phone calls are more effective than email, but do both)

Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas also says she wont decide how she will vote until she sees what score the CBO gives the latest incarnation, and has said previously that she wont vote for a bill that ads to the deficit. CALL her and tell her you know that ALL these bills add to the deficit and that any claims to the contrary are nothing but dirty accounting tricks. (In order to say the bill is “deficit neutral” Democrats have to start taxing for the bill immediately, and postpone any benefits pay outs by several years. Which is like saying you can pay your rent for one month if you can have a rent free year to save up for it.)

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has also said she is waiting to see the CBO score.

Call your senators, and then call these senators and tell them you dont want this bill, Americans dont want this bill, and that if they vote for cloture you will devote your time, your money, your effort, your voice and your vote to ensuring they lose their jobs.Tell them it will do them no good to vote for cloture and then vote against the bill, that they must vote against cloture or they lose their jobs.

At least that is what you can still do to prevent this bill which, even without a public option, is designed to make health care so much worse, so much more unaffordable, that Democrats believe it will lead to people to conclude the only way to cheaper care is to let them take over the industry. THAT is what Democrats game plan has been all along. To constantly add more and more people to the government rolls, and constantly drive up the costs in the private market with regulation after regulation, until freedom in health care becomes too expensive for anyone to afford.

Don’t let them steal your freedom like that. Call your senators, and call these senators, and tell them they must vote against cloture on this bill.



A Tax-and Spend Bill of the Very Highest Order! Affordable Care Indeed! by The Elephant's Child

It looks as if Harry Reid has the 60 votes he needs to pass his health care bill to the floor.  This is a procedural vote, but an important one, and Republicans may not be able to keep the bill from passing.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has used every trick in the book to get the votes he needs. Scheduling the vote for a Saturday night when all the senators were anxious to be off on their Thanksgiving vacation provides an extra bit of urgency.   Bribes for reluctant Blue Dog Democrats ((moderates) like the $100 million for Louisiana Senator Landrieu’s constituents written into the health care bill show how it is done.

I would dearly love to see a quiz ordered, on the senate floor, to see just what the  senators know about the bill that they are voting for.  I suspect not much.  After all it has only been available for a couple of days, and it is 2074 pages long. No one has had time to read the whole thing, understand it and analyze its consequences.

The gimmicks (cheats) used to get a favorable rating from the Congressional Budget Office are quite amazing.  The “Doc-Fix” is a big one.  They cut the Medicare reimbursements to physicians for their services, and right now the payments to doctors are far under the doctors costs.  What happens when you do not reimburse doctors fairly?  They quit accepting Medicare patients.  (Same thing for Medicaid).  Senators know this, so will pass a separate bill putting back the reimbursements they removed.  Since only the cut is part of the bill, the CBO will find that it cuts costs. (Lie, Cheat, Fraud).

The CBO estimates costs over a ten-year period.  So the taxes and fees commence next year, but the bill doesn’t take full effect until 2014 when the costs begin.  That’s how you make it seem cheaper.  Over 20 years, the true costs will be $4.9 trillion, though every health care bill anywhere, Medicare, Medicaid, the States’ plans have all cost far more than estimated — except for the Medicare Drug Plan.  That came in costing less than the estimates because of the “donut hole” provision which encouraged seniors to make wise choices to keep the cost of their prescriptions down. The Democrats, of course, plan to eliminate the “donut hole.”  There is no end to their folly.

How about this bit:  according to Keith Hennessey, 16 million uninsured Americans  pay a penalty tax.  8 million uninsured illegal aliens will not have to pay a penalty tax.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have been increasingly popular. In 2006 only about 1% of adults with private insurance had HSAs, by this year it is up to 4%.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, whose members dominate the HSA market, says that enrollees are more likely than those with traditional insurance to be better consumers. They’re more likely to track expenses (63% to 43%), save for the future (47% to 18%), and search for information on physician quality (20% to 14%). They’re also more likely to participate and see results from wellness programs like weight loss, fitness and smoking cessation. This makes intuitive sense: They’ve got skin directly in the game.

David Goldhill, a media executive, recently wrote in the Atlantic Monthly that if a 22-year-old starts at his company today earning $30,000 and health costs grow at 3%, by the time he retires he’ll have paid out $1.77 million in premiums, lower wages, out-of-pocket costs and both sides of the Medicare payroll tax.

If all that money were instead available via an HSA, including by borrowing against future contributions, “wouldn’t you be able to afford your own care?” Mr. Goldhill asks. “And wouldn’t you consume health care differently if you and your family didn’t have to spend that money only on care?”

About 40% of tax-filers with HSAs earn under $60,000 a year.  Naturally the Democrats eliminate Health Savings Accounts.  And of course, the Reid bill subjects all private health insurance (you didn’t think you would escape this, did you?) to detailed Federal regulation.  Those clever bureaucrats (who can’t even read the bills they vote for) know better than you or your doctor what health care you should be allowed to have.

The Republican plan would shrink the deficit by $61 billion at least, without accounting gimmicks. Can’t have that!

ADDENDUM:  The National Federation of Independent Business has come out in full force against the Senate health care bill.  It does not address their number one problem: the unsustainable cost of healthcare.  They oppose it due to the amount of new taxes, the creation of new mandates, and the establishment of new entitlement programs.  The costs far outweigh any benefits that businesses might have reallized.  Why are they speaking up only now?  The bill has just become available — all 2074 pages.



Dan Mitchell Explains the Health Care Train Wreck by The Elephant's Child
November 20, 2009, 12:49 pm
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Law, Socialism | Tags: , , ,

The Cato Institute’s Dan Mitchell does an excellent job of explaining the problems and costs of the health care bills before Congress. The Democrats have wanted government-run health care for so long (why I do not understand) that they are willing to resort to all sorts of subterfuges to accomplish it.They are buying votes, reducing the Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimates by raising taxes for five years before the costs start to kick-in in 2014.

They are planning to force a vote on Saturday night when the Senate wants to leave for their Thanksgiving break in order to add urgency.  (Don’t you wish we got all the vacations Congress gives themselves?) The bill just appeared yesterday and they will have to once again vote without reading or understanding what is in the bill.

We have the best health care system in the world.  Their big ideas do nothing to improve it, but only start breaking it down. Do take the time to listen to Daniel Mitchell, you will be glad you did.




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