American Elephants


What Recovery? by American Elephant
September 7, 2010, 10:03 am
Filed under: Economy, News, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

New ad from the NRSC. Pretty much nails it.



So Much for Hope! by American Elephant
August 28, 2010, 12:49 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Election 2010, News, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

U.S. birthrate lowest in a century.

The United States birthrate has fallen to its lowest level in at least a century as many people apparently decided they could not afford more mouths to feed.

And before Obama blames Bush, which seems to be the only thing he is capable of:

The situation is a striking turnabout from 2007, when more babies were born in the United States than in any other year in the nation’s history.

I can’t think of a more objective measure of how much hope Americans are feeling — and the truth is that Obama has not brought hope, he has destroyed it, as he destroys everything he touches.

(h/t HotAir)



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.



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.



Promises, Promises, Hollow Promises. by The Elephant's Child

As Democrats seek the biggest expansion imaginable of the government nose in the relationship of Americans to their doctors and their health care, the biggest selling point has been the need for everyone to have health insurance.  The long-held goal of “universal health care” will, according to the Congressional Budget Office, still prove elusive.

As many as 23 million people could still be without insurance by 2018, says the CBO.

The ranks of the uninsured would include many who choose not to get health insurance although they can afford it.  Starting in 2014 individuals would face fines if they do not buy insurance, some may still refuse.

About a third would be illegal immigrants. States spend millions caring for them at hospitals, where emergency rooms accept patients regardless of coverage.  Democrats support covering illegals, but haven’t yet admitted it. An annoying fact is that illegal aliens get “free” medical care when American citizens don’t.

Oh well, promises, promises.  There must be some reason why a small percentage of Americans still think that ObamaCare is a good deal.



Reckless, Arrogant, Partisan Politics Inflicted on an American Public that Wants No Part of It. by The Elephant's Child
December 22, 2009, 2:00 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Law, Taxes | Tags: , , ,

This is depressing.  The Senate voted at 1:00 a.m. to end debate on the most partisan piece of legislation ever proposed.  Nobody really knows what is in it, for it has been changing ever since it was revealed 38 hours previously. Language and details have been shifting as sweetheart deals and bribes were put in place to secure the necessary 60 Democrat votes. Not one Republican voted for cloture.

It has been a deeply dishonest and legally corrupt bill from the start. Even the liberals admit that it is awful, but say that once they get it passed, they can start fixing it.  Here are the enticements that got them to the magic number:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.)
—$1.2 billion over ten years for a permanent exemption from Nebraska’s share of the Medicaid expansion. The only state so exempted under the bill.
Exemption for Nebraska from an excise tax on non-profit insurers.

Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.)
—Exemption from the non-profit excise tax for Michigan insurers.
Michigan and Nebraska were the only two states so exempted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)
—$10 billion for “community health centers”.
—Protections from cuts to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Vermont.
—$250 million over six years in expanded federal Medicaid funding.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.)
—$300 million increase in Medicaid funding in Louisiana.

Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), Sen. Paul Kirk (D., Mass).
—Three years of expanded federal Medicaid funding.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.)
—Special treatment for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D., Hawaii)
—billions in new funding for something called “Disproportionate Share Hospital” (DSH) payments (financed, in large part, by $18.5 billion in cuts to DSH payments in other states).

Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.), Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.)
—Higher federal Medicare reimbursement rates for low-population “frontier” states (also qualifying under the bill’s definition of frontier states are Utah and Wyoming, represented in the Senate by Republicans).

There is an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, except when those plans belong to favored Democrat groups like the longshoreman’s union and other union interests such as miners, construction workers, electrical linemen or  EMTs and others who are absolved from this tax.

The excise tax also does not apply to the 17 states with the highest health costs, if that makes any sense.

If Congress passes the legislation — probable — it will not control costs.  It will make the budget outlook far worse.  It will lead to higher taxes.  And it will still leave at least 24 million without health insurance, probably far more.

The media is trumpeting an endorsement by the American Medical Association which represents only a minority of doctors, not all of whom agree with the AMA endorsement.

Health benefits are widely overstated.  Long-term economic costs are widely understated. The country will be far worse off for its passage.  It reeks of partisan politics and influence peddlers, and the American people want no part of it.



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.



How Do You Pass a Bill that The Majority of Americans Don’t Want? by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2009, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Statism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

If you desperately want to pass a bill nationalizing one-sixth of the economy, destroying the best health-care system in the world, raising the costs of health insurance for everyone in the country, and raising taxes on everything that moves — and you have some reluctant blue dog Democrats that might not go along — what do you do?

In the case of Mary Landrieu (D-LA),and you need her vote,  if you are Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), you add a little section on page 432 of your health care bill to increase Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The bill takes two pages to define which states would qualify, as those stated during the preceding seven fiscal years have been declared a “major disaster area.” All of which manages to apply to just one state — Louisiana, the home of said blue dog reluctant Democrat Mary Landrieu, and presents Louisiana with a Medicaid subsidy of $100 million taxpayer dollars.

That’s how you buy votes.

ADDENDUM: Mary Landrieu didn’t want to be known as aavailable so cheaply. It cost $300 million to buy her off.



Unending Analysis of the Amazing Environmental Benefits of “Cash-for-Clunkers.” by The Elephant's Child
November 5, 2009, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Economy, Environment, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

Every time I think that there is not another word to be said about  the “Cash for Clunkers” program, another bit of information turns up, demanding to be mentioned:

WASHINGTON — The most common deals under the government’s $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program, aimed at putting more fuel-efficient cars on the road, replaced old Ford or Chevrolet pickups with new ones that got only marginally better gas mileage, according to an analysis of new federal data by the Associated Press.

The single most common swap — which occurred more than 8,200 times — involved Ford F 150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade in their old trucks for new Ford F-150s.  They were 17 times more likely to buy a new F-150 than, say, a Toyota Prius.  The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, and improvement of just 1 mpg to 3 mpg over the clunkers.

Well, that worked out well.  You might want to keep this bit of Congressional competence in mind.  It’s not getting better as the bills get bigger.

 



Coming to America… by American Elephant
August 2, 2009, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Energy, Freedom, Politics | Tags: , ,

lightbulb

Germans hoarding incandescent light bulbs:

As the Sept. 1 deadline for the implementation of the first phase of the EU’s ban on incandescent light bulbs approaches, shoppers, retailers and even museums are hoarding the precious wares — and helping the manufacturers make a bundle.

The EU ban, adopted in March, calls for the gradual replacement of traditional light bulbs with supposedly more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). The first to go, on Sept. 1, will be 100-watt bulbs. Bulbs of other wattages will then gradually fall under the ban, which is expected to cover all such bulbs by Sept. 1, 2012 (see graphic below).

Hardware stores and home-improvement chains in Germany are seeing massive increases in the sales of the traditional bulbs. Obi reports a 27 percent growth in sales over the same period a year ago. Hornbach has seen its frosted-glass light bulb sales increase by 40-112 percent. When it comes to 100-watt bulbs, Max Bahr has seen an 80 percent jump in sales, while the figure has been 150 percent for its competitor Praktiker.

“It’s unbelievable what is happening,” says Werner Wiesner, the head of Megaman, a manufacturer of energy-saving bulbs. Wiesner recounts a story of how one of his field representatives recently saw a man in a hardware store with a shopping cart full of light bulbs of all types worth more than €200 ($285). “That’s enough for the next 20 years.” [read more]

No, it’s not unbelievable Werner, it’s what happens when you ban things that people want. Black markets will follow.

Democrats have passed an identical ban in the United States where incandescent light bulbs will become illegal starting with the 100-watt bulb in 2012, and ending with the 40 watt light bulb in 2014.  The same hoarding will happen here. I know. I intend to buy enough incandescent light bulbs to last a lifetime.

What’s unbelievable is that American’s are allowing the nonsensical ban to begin with.

Addendum: According to a recent Rasmussen poll, only 18% of Americans think it’s the government’s job to dictate what kind of light bulbs people can use, while 72% think its none of the government’s damn business.

Precisely why the GOP should make the dictatorial nature of the Democrat party one of their chief campaign issues — starting yesterday.



Is It True What They Say About Healthcare? No it Isn’t! by The Elephant's Child

househealthbilllongrun_thumb

(click to enlarge)

If you are listening to Congressional Democrat claims, or the claims of the administration: No, it’s not true.

The House Democrats unveiled their plan on July 14, with the aim of passing it by July 31, the last day before their August congressional recess.  There had been months of vague claims, but despite promises of “transparency” all legislation was drummed up behind closed doors.  The bills were introduced as close as possible to the date of the expected vote.  The majority wanted to minimize the time available to actually read and consider the bills, so there would be little time for debate, and perhaps the momentum would be enough to carry it through.

Things have not gone as intended.  The public is concerned, with much justification.  The Democrats want to spend $1.5 trillion over a decade, impose an $800 billion tax increase during the worst recession in many years, increase federal borrowing by at least $239 billion (added to the $11 trillion that the Obama budget already imposes on us). Taxing “the rich” will not raise enough money, so the language on not taxing the middle class is becoming increasingly squishy.

In making his case for a government takeover of the U.S. health care system, President Obama has made a number of frequently repeated pledges:

“If you like your current health-care plan, you can keep it.” White House spokesmen say that this pledge” isn’t meant to be taken literally.”  Most Americans will be forced to change insurance plans.  House bill, page 145, Line 15-17, An employer MUST automatically enroll employees into a public option.  No choice.   Page 149, Lines 16-24, ANY employer with a payroll $400,000 and above who doesn’t provide the public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.  Page 150, Lines 9-13, A business with a payroll between $251,000-$400,000 pays a 2-6% tax on all payroll.

“You will pay less.The Congressional Budget Office has made it clear that the “reform” plans now being debated will significantly increase overall health-care costs. Nancy Pelosi said “We will have a cap on costs, but we will have no cap on benefits.”  Page 50, Section 152 in House health care bill,  health care will be provided to all non U.S. citizens, illegal or otherwise.  You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and ‘free’ care for all. Simply doesn’t work.

The Director of the Congressional Budget Office testified that none of the health plans coming from Capitol Hill would control long-term spending.  The administration’s latest money-saving proposal of a “Independent Medicare Advisory Council” has already been turned down by the CBO as increasing Medicare spending instead.  Obama’s had a bad week.

Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal said “After his TV appearances [White House Budget Director Peter Orzag] went straight to the Senate Finance Committee, where he spent three hours with committee aides brainstorming about how to pay for the trillion dollar legislation.  At one point, they flipped through the tax code, looking for ideas. (Now there’s a statement to give you pause).

“Quality Will Improve.” How could any sentient being think that this mess of mandates, and commissions, councils, offices, departments. corps, programs and boards will make health care improve?  We have the highest quality health care in the world. 85 percent of Americans are quite satisfied with their health insurance.

Putting more decisions in the hands of Dr. Eziekel Emanuel (Rham Emanuel’s brother) who has been advising Congress?  Dr. Emanuel has written that he favors rationing for older Americans,  favors abolishing the Hippocratic Oath,  thinks private rooms should be abolished, and hates fancy waiting rooms. For him the way to cut Medicare costs is simply to pay doctors and hospitals less. The only problem is that many doctors will not accept Medicare patients now because they cannot afford to. Seniors will have an increasingly harder time finding a doctor.

Our survival rates for cancers are better, our patients are happier.  Our health care costs are not “spiraling out of control”, but have risen very much in line with the rest of the world.  We have some people who do not have health insurance, but far fewer than the Democrats claim. It’s probably somewhere around 1o million, not the 45.7 million claimed, and a good percentage have just chosen not to buy insurance because they are young and healthy.

The costs of emergency room treatment are not excessive.  There is nothing whatsoever in the House Democrats health care plan that will improve quality in any way.

What you will lose is your freedom.  Your freedom will be served up to members of Congress who will meddle constantly, while not participating in the health care plan they’re sticking us with.  If you plan on getting old, old age will be less comfortable because Democrats have found one way to cut costs.  The last years of life cost the most.  The remedy is just to ration the care.  Over 65, if it’s expensive, forget it.  If you are young and healthy this will be of no concern to you unless you have parents and grandparents, or plan on getting old yourself.  Since proposed cuts in elder care will not pay for the plan, there will be more cuts and more rationing.



They Lie, and Lie, and Lie in a Raw Grab for Power. Are You Going to Let Them Get Away With It? by The Elephant's Child
July 16, 2009, 2:51 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Law, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

President Obama is trying to push ObamaCare through Congress before the House and the Senate go home for the August recess. In 15 days?

Mr. Obama has tried mightily to make us think that the Democrats’ Health Care Plan must be passed right now. That it is so urgent to control spiraling costs that we really don’t have time to discuss it or debate it, or even find out what the hell in in the bill!   But “urgent” is a lie, and “spiraling costs” are a lie as well.

They are trying to do it again.  The Stimulus Bill was so urgent that nobody had time to read it– Congress had to get those funds out into the economy to keep the unemployment rate from reaching 8 percent. It’s now over 20 percent in Oregon, Michigan and California.  There were all those “shovel ready” infrastructure projects just waiting for a “go”.  Except that was all a lie.

There weren’t many shovel ready projects, and the jobs were reserved for the union members who financed Obama’s campaign.  Only a small part of the stimulus funds have been spent — there wasn’t any rush, since most of the funds won’t be spent until next year, just before the mid- term elections.  $787 billion!

Then there was cap-and-trade, the utterly stupid climate change bill that had to be passed in a big rush to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, except that was a lie too.

Wind and solar produce electricity, a very small amount of electricity, which has nothing whatsoever to do with foreign oil — which powers our transportation. The bill will enrich some large corporations, kill millions more jobs and raise the cost of living for all of us.  It’s about QUICK!! LOOK OVER THERE!!!  As they try to distract you from what they are really doing — which is just a raw grab for power.

Now they want to push through the biggest change Americans have ever seen in their health care, from a consultative relationship with your doctor, to a socialist relationship ordered and determined by faceless bureaucrats in Washington.  The House’s  “Health Care for All Americans” bill appeared yesterday when the 1,018 page bill first appeared in public.  As Investor’s Business Daily says: “Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.” So that whole thing about ” If you like the health insurance you have, you’ll be able to keep it” that Obama promised —that was a lie too.

The nonpartisan Lewin group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their coverage at work, and would end up in a public program. Which would cause the market for private insurance to gradually die out.  “What wasn’t known,” IBD says, “is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by  not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law.”

The legislation will also probably mean the end of health savings accounts — something that has been a Democrat aim for years.

This is a straightforward advance of soft tyranny.  Free people should be outraged.  And Congress has excused themselves from participating in it in any way.

Michael Moore claims at the beginning of the video that Canadian Health Care is free. That, like most of his other pronouncements, is just another lie. We’re only beginning to realize the extent and consequences of all the lies.




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