Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Well, Yes, But…

From Mitt Romney :

Former Massachusetts GOP Gov. Mitt Romney said Monday night that President Barack Obama’s “weak point” in getting re-elected is the economy.

Well, yes, that is certainly one of his weak points. In fact, whether you agree that he has or hasn’t focused enough energy and time on jobs, the weak economy and general feeling of unease in the country will be working against President Obama.

But, Mr. Romney, one of your weak points is Romneycare, and it’s a big one. Bigger this year than it was during the last election cycle. Bigger than you might expect.

I’ll be curious to see how you handle that one.

Read the story.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Can Still be Funny

Funny stuff and a funny site.


YOU WILL NOT die. Your health-insurance company is now obliged to keep you alive forever.

If you have a pre-existing condition, such as asthma or clumsiness, your name will be entered in the Pre-Existing Conditions Registry, and you are eligible for free ice cream.

Read the rest. Then check out the rest of the site.

Friday, March 19, 2010

And From the Left

I don’t agree with much I read at FireDogLake, but I do agree with Jane Hamsher on this: the health care reform bill is bad legislation and it will hurt more people than it helps.

Read her post.

Well. That Will Be Good for Job Growth.

I know that some people think that I, being the Republican that I am, oppose this health care reform package because I hate poor people (or words to that effect). This ignores the fact that I am poor people, that my wife and I already pay a pretty good amount for our health care plans and might well see our direct costs reduced by the plan, and that I don’t, in fact, hate poor people.

What I fear is that government doesn’t do much well, efficiently, or within budget. I fear the tax increases, the cost burdens that will be faced by the states, and the relentless drive toward the Federal government regulating our lives in new and exciting ways. I would suggest these are all reasonable worries.

Here’s another one: job growth.

Caterpillar Inc. said the health-care overhaul legislation being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives would increase the company’s health-care costs by more than $100 million in the first year alone.

In a letter Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio, Caterpillar urged lawmakers to vote against the plan “because of the substantial cost burdens it would place on our shareholders, employees and retirees.”
Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction machinery manufacturer by sales, said it’s particularly opposed to provisions in the bill that would expand Medicare taxes and mandate insurance coverage. The legislation would require nearly all companies to provide health insurance for their employees or face large fines.

The Peoria-based company said these provisions would increase its insurance costs by at least 20 percent, or more than $100 million, just in the first year of the health-care overhaul program.

The direct effect of having to spend that much more on health care, of course, is less money available for investment, development, research and hiring. It also makes it harder for a company to want to hire new full time employees by making the long term commitment even more onerous.

It’s obvious, but I feel like I have to say it: profit is not a bad word and a company has to make a profit to survive. Without that profit, there are no jobs, there is no company, and there are no taxes paid. For that matter, when it becomes too costly to do business here, will they simply move their operations somewhere else? Somewhere more friendly to businesses? Certainly that’s never happened before.

Read the rest.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rep. Perlmutter, Are You Listening?

This is the email I just sent to Ed Perlmutter.

I wanted to let you know that I, along with many of your constituents, oppose both this current version of health care reform and the maneuvers being used to push it through. This is not what democracy--even a representative democracy--should look like.

While I do support responsible health care reform, this is not the way to achieve that goal.

I pledge to you this: I will not vote for any elected official who votes for this health care reform bill.

Thank you.

I have no idea how many of these things they read. I have no idea if they are truly listening, but I do hope that our representatives are listening. While I know that many of my friends occupy the opposite political space on health care reform, and I hope that they are playing their part in our system, but I hope like hell that this thing dies.

For some of the reasons why, read this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rep. Markey, Are You Listening?

I only ask because I wonder if you knew how many of your constituents plan to vote against you if you vote for this health care bill.

58 percent of likely voters in a poll conducted in Colorado’s 4th District will likely vote against Congresswoman Betsy Markey if she votes for Barack Obama’s health care takeover bill this week. The poll was commissioned by Americans for Limited Government (ALG).
“These results are hardly surprising,” said ALG President Bill Wilson.  “Congresswoman Markey voted against the government takeover of health care in November, and her constituents are watching to see if she will hold the line.”

58 percent voters said they would be less likely to vote for Congresswoman Markey in November if she voted for the bill, which is projected to cost $2.5 trillion over ten years once fully implemented.  Only 38 percent would be more likely to vote for her.

Of those, 71 percent of Independent, unaffiliated voters said they would be less likely to vote for Congresswoman Markey if she voted for the bill.  Only 24 percent said they would be more likely.

See the survey results here.

And here’s another poll with interesting results for incumbents who might support this particular bill. (PDF)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Democrats, Take My Advice for What it’s Worth

In reference to the below, I have a little bit of advice for my friends on the left.

Today Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid asking him to push through a government-run health care plan through the reconciliation procedure.

Now, before we go any further, this isn’t concern trolling. Honestly. I’m just offering some strategic advice from the point of view of a guy who enjoys that aspect of politics and not just the partisan back and forth.

Of course, I’m also a guy who is going to be working to see you guys sent home come the next time you’re facing an election. Take it for what it’s worth.

First, if you feel the need to bulk up your left-leaning bonafides by threatening to use, shall we say, extreme measures to pass parts of the health care package, then go ahead and threaten away. It’s part of the game and it’s entirely understandable. It will probably buy you a few votes and a few dollars from the Daily Kos set, and, given the new sense of Republican competitiveness, you’ll need every advantage you can get.

But don’t try it. Actually attempting this kind of a bully maneuver would be a huge mistake. Why?

You’ll face opposition from your own party that might well make the maneuver impossible. Any Democrat facing a midterm election is feeling the pressure from the right and center right now, and that pressure is overwhelmingly opposed to passing any version of the current plan. What kind of support and cover will you expect from those folks?

It will be no surprise that I think you won’t get a single hand stretching across the aisle to give you even the slightest appearance of bi-partisanship. The GOP knows two things right now: that they have the political cover that they need to stand firm against the current versions of health care reform and that they need to work with the fiscal conservatives is they don’t want to face their own primary challenges in the midterms.

The Democrats have had a year of supermajority and have failed to achieve their biggest goals. The wasted political capital--both the effort spent in the trying and the feigned powerlessness when the electorate knows better--has left the great progressive movement weak, has left President Obama weak, and has left congressional Democrats weak. The triumphalism of a year ago is already faded in almost every corner and where it still exists it sounds remarkably out of touch with the great majority of America.

Nearly the entirety of the left seems to have misjudged the mandate that was handed to them in the last election, and the misjudgment lead to wild overreach. In politics, the biggest danger of both winning and losing elections is precisely the same: not understanding the reason that the election went the way it did.

Consider that reality deeply before you make a move that goes so powerfully against the poll trends. No, you don’t want to make decisions purely on focus groups and polling, but you don’t want to ignore the voices of the citizens, either. A decision like this--spearheading the subversion of the normal legislative process, ignoring the will of the citizens, and doing it all in a way that makes you an obvious target--is precisely the kind of thing that can ruin a political career and most certainly would haunt you in every election in the future.

Strategically speaking, from where I sit it seems like a pretty bad decision.

For that matter, I’m still not sure it would work, either. Is this the kind of thing that can actually be passed through the reconciliation process? I tend to think the answer is no, but I don’t know if it’s been tested, either.

As I said, take it for what it’s worth. I’m no fan of the health care ideas that have been coming from the left (and a bigger opponent of any public option), I’m a conservative, and I’m not the guy that the Democrats are courting. I’m not in the nebulous middle that moves with relative ease from party to party between election cycles--I’m not someone who they would consider to be “in play.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flashes of Zomby: The Ben Nelson Edition

Quit kicking the dog, indeed.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Okay, One Other Thing: Senator Lieberman, Litmus Tests, and the Occasional Reference to Nazism

Does anyone else find it irritating (or funny--I can’t really decide) to think that Sen. Lieberman may well get what he wants and the Democrat’s health care reform plan may well go forward. And then Republicans will be just as mad at Joe as the Democrats are right now.

I like Joe and have often thought of him as one of the more principled politicians in DC. That might seem like a low bar or a backhanded compliment, but it’s not; I like Joe. But…

Joe isn’t a Republican, Joe isn’t a small government guy, and Joe will get behind reform that most Republicans and conservatives won’t necessarily right. He is a truly moderate Democrat--seemingly rare these days--and regardless of his official party affiliation, a Democrat he will always remain. If the Dem leadership strips away enough of the big, new stuff, Joe may well sign off. The danger for us on the right isn’t just that the reforms won’t be the ones that we want, but that it will be the foot in the door for the reforms that the progressive really do want. A first step on the long path to a single payer, fully socialized health care system that most on the right consider both morally and fiscally unacceptable.

My friends on the left might wonder at that “moral” bit, but, trust me, for folks on the right it is a moral question as much as anything else. It’s just a different moral question than y’all might ask.

Anyway, we’re singing Joe’s praises right now, but he may well be our Brutus. If so, I hope that we treat him with a little more respect than his former allies on the left who were mocking Republicans for the very suggestion that there should be a litmus test for accepting party money, but who turned on Joe like rabid chipmunks (irritating, but not quite fatal) when he refused to hold the line on some of their favored plans. The value of a Republican litmus test is worthy of debate, but the claim that Republicans are using Nazi tactics is purely disgusting.

From that link, we get this little gem:

The last time we saw a political party demand ideological purity was Berlin 1933. It did not end well.

Firstly, his analysis and comparison is suspect. Secondly, if the Democrats don’t demand ideological purity, someone explain to me what happened to Joe Lieberman the last time he was up for election and what is happening to Joe now that he isn’t falling in lock-step with the folks who stabbed him in the back to begin with. The demand for loyalty from a politician that they’ve been kicking around in really nasty ways for the last few years is a little confusing.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Expensive Rights

For all the talk about making health care a “right” for all Americans (or, at least, everyone who happens to be sick, injured, diseased, or otherwise needy in a health care sort of way), it sure sounds potentially hazardous to fail to exercise your right in just the right way. If you take my meaning.

Prosecution is authorized under the Code for a variety of offenses.  Depending on the level of the noncompliance, the following penalties could apply to an individual:

• Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

• Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.”

I know that there are readers of this blog (and friends of mine) who are big supporters of the Democrat’s health care reform proposals, but the more I read about it the more disturbed I am. Good intentions don’t make good policy; what the Democrats are trying to pass right now might be with the best intentions, but I’m terrified that it will hurt our already bleeding economy.

If it does manage to pass, though, I’ll have an easy guide to who to vote against in the upcoming elections.

Read the rest.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Make Your Voice Heard

Organization for America is calling on its members to call their representatives and voice support for the Democrat’s health care reform ideas.

I’m hoping that those of us on the other side of the aisle won’t let our voices be drowned out. So, if you have a chance, call your representatives and let them know what you think. This fight is far from over. For anyone living in Colorado’s 7th District, here is a little contact information:

Sen. Mark Udall at 202-224-5941
Sen. Michael Bennet at 202-224-5852
Rep. Ed Perlmutter at 202-225-2645

For everyone else, you can use this to find your reps. And, yeah, in reference to that link: like sex in public places, sometimes it’s more fun this way.

Mr. President, You Haven’t Changed My Mind

Firstly, Mr. President, you argue in bad faith. When you assert that I and my fellow Republicans oppose health care reform because we want to score cheap political points, you are wrong. We oppose bad reform because we disagree with you over the proposed solutions. Most Republicans, and most Americans, want reforms, but we disagree wildly on what the best fixes should be.

Either you misunderstand our disagreement or you are intentionally miscasting it for, well, your own cheap political points.

With the country sinking in a hole of debt, I think this is a wonderful time to be skeptical of big, new government programs. While you, again, try to score cheap political points by tying the last administration as the bad guy whenever the debt question comes up, there are two things to realize: most of us understand that President Bush definitely helped the budget problems along, but most of us also understand the role that your administration has had in compounding the problems.

We don’t trust you with our money.

While we do our best to convey our opposition to things like the public option, you do your best to minimize our concerns by telling us to stop bickering. Let me explain something: voices are being raised because a sizable portion of the population is pretty sure you stopped listening. Instead, we are being told, in so many words, to “get out of the way.” With all due respect, Mr. President, I’m not much in the mood to get out of the way.

We don’t trust you to hear our voices.

The issue is compounded whenever I hear you talk about calling people out for spreading misinformation. While standing up and heckling isn’t much my style (at least, not outside my own home), I sympathize mightily with the sentiment because it seems that you are the one trying to mislead us.

When you tell us you’ll listen to constructive criticism and look at alternative plans, we know you aren’t telling the truth because you’ve continue to work to minimize our voices. When you tell us that you won’t sign onto a plan that will raise the deficit, we don’t believe you because it’s just another empty campaign promise, really, and the follow up that you’ll promise to make cuts to balance out new expenses if you prove to be wrong is simply laughable. Actually, it would be laughable coming from nearly any politician this side of Ron Paul, but from you it’s downright hilarious.

We don’t trust you to tell us the truth.

The left is absolutely right about one thing: Americans do want health care reform. That doesn’t we want the reform that they are selling, though, and it doesn’t mean that we have to sit down and shut up just because we are the minority party. To paraphrase one Van Jones, some of us have to get a little uppity.

Saddling the country with new debt and new regulations before we’ve even emerged from this recession is suicidal, and I don’t believe that he can achieve what he wants to achieve without adding new debt. Regardless of the feel good factor--and, yes, it would be lovely if we could live in a world where all the medicine and health care you needed was cheap and abundant and there weren’t any lines to get the good stuff--the reality is that government programs pretty much always cost more and do less than they were intended. If you want efficiency, then get government out of the way; if you want bureaucracy, long lines, confused consumers, and legislation that makes it harder to run your business, then, yes, more government is the answer for you.

You can keep pushing for this, Mr. President, but we will push back. We won’t be intimidated by union thugs or talk of “punching back twice as hard.” We won’t be shamed into submission for opposing legislation that would be harmful to the economy or to our health care system. And we don’t apologize for offering up our own solutions.

And let it be known: if it comes to a vote and the reform package is wrong, we damn well won’t vote for anyone, be they Republican or Democrat, who votes for that package. For a lot of us, this is the line.

Some other voices:
Bob Hayes on health care co-ops.
Doesn’t seem that De Doc trusts our government overly much, either (although this post is from a few weeks back).
A political cartoon on Protein Wisdom captures my thoughts nicely.
Thoughts from Rove via Sama. (And, as an aside, Sama is using Feed a Fever as his RSS Reader. Which is fun to say out loud.)
Roger Fraley has some thoughts.
Distributed Republic is, ahem, skeptical.
And then there’s the football-shaped, stuffed french toast issue. Which might have nothing to do with health care today, but give it a few years to harden some arteries.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Drink to Your Health? Protest, Anti-Protest, and Mini-Bash on Friday

Robert Hayes points to something that might interest all of us.

Join OFA [Organization for America] as we show how many support health insurance reform! The OFA national bus tour is stopping in key states to rally supporters in support of President Obama’s efforts to reform health insurance. NOW is the time to have our voices heard.

Time: Friday, August 28 from 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Host: Gabriel Lifton-Zoline
Tivoli Commons, Auraria Campus (Denver, CO)
900 Auraria Parkway
Denver, CO 80217

For some of y’all, you might want to show up and show your support. Me, I’d like to show up and remind folks that there are a lot of us who don’t like their ideas. Either way, it sounds like a good place and time for a little friendly shouting.

And, after, we can raise a beer to each other’s health at a near-by bar. If the Boiler Room at the Tivoli hadn’t closed, it would be the perfect place (at least, I think it’s closed--if anyone knows better, I’d be happy to hear). The default position, of course, would be Weinkoop, but I’m open to suggestion.

Let me know what y’all think, and spread the word.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Told You They Were Killing Themselves (In a Political Sense, That Is)

The post-election talk of a permanent Democratic majority is looking a little funny now--and, whenever I run across a true believer spouting the same kind of talk over the last few weeks in blogs and message boards, it’s downright hilarious. While the American public staged a painful spanking of the GOP, that doesn’t mean it isn’t noticing the bullying, hypocrisy, and overreach by an increasingly out-of-touch and belligerent Democratic majority. While we’re still a long way out from the actual voting, it would be pretty surprising if the right doesn’t take a big chunk out of that supposedly unassailable Democratic majority. Enough, in fact, that they might be able to function as a strong opposition party--a feat that they would be utterly incapable of right now if it weren’t for the left’s incompetence, increasing public outrage over government spending and the handling of some of President Obama’s signature policy issues (specifically, health care and cap-and-trade), and the blue dog Democrats who have made it possible for the Republican’s paltry numbers to be meaningful in this debate.

The GOP should be thanking Joe and Jane Public for taking interest in the political process this year and rank-and-file Democrats for treating Joe and Jane as if they were un-patriotic buffoons for daring to question their policy dictates.

Politically, for the left, the health care debate really is starting to look like political suicide.

It’s the highest stakes ever for a Nevada election, and former boxer Sen. Harry Reid is on the ropes early. Either Republican Danny Tarkanian or Sue Lowden would knock out Reid in a general election, according to a recent poll of Nevada voters.

The results suggest the Democratic Senate majority leader will have to punch hard and often in order to retain his position as the most accomplished politician in state history, in terms of job status.

Nevadans favored Tarkanian over Reid 49 percent to 38 percent and Lowden over Reid 45 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll.

As I’ve said before, though, if the GOP really wants to capitalize on this moment in a meaningful way, it needs to do more than sit back and watch the carnage. It needs to offer a meaningful and substantial alternative to the left’s excesses; it needs to be, again, a conservative party with principled conservative leadership that stands for something other than merely being better than the alternative (and not always even that).

For Democrats, it’s a tough situation. Any Democrat in a centrist or conservative state and any Democrat that won small in their last election probably wants some cover going into the mid-terms. They want the freedom to vote against unpopular legislation regardless of their own position on the subject. With health care, they aren’t getting that cover, and it may well be the defining issue going into the next elections.

It doesn’t help that the president is proving to be less popular and more divisive than many of his supporters expected. Staring down the muzzle of more than doubling the huge national debt over the next decade certainly isn’t helping his cause, but neither is the dismissive tone coming from the White House.

Before White House press secretary Robert Gibbs left town, he tried to clarify President Barack Obama’s comment that “everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up.” Gibbs explained to reporters that what the president meant was that they were a bunch of bed wetters who made too much out of the implosion of the White House health care strategy.

Gibbs has grown more sardonic and patronizing as the summer wears on and Obama’s poll numbers wilt.

The press secretary has lectured reporters on the nature of their jobs — apparently to defend the administration against “misinformation” rather than asking impertinent questions like “How will you pay for it?”

Is the Obama presidency already in danger? Hardly. The Democrats still have numbers and the public still harbors some mistrust of the GOP. But every week that goes by sees the president further and further back on his heels and he is in danger of losing the health care debate--a loss that would probably define him as more politically weak than anyone could have guessed.

For me, this is a tough thing to watch. I had hoped that Obama would govern well--that he would be moderate and careful, that he would reach across the aisle and help give the country some common cause to rally behind. I didn’t vote for him, but I wanted him to succeed (which, in case you’re reading this wrong, meant that I wanted him to have the right policies, the right ideas, and the right kind of leadership for our times). I don’t like watching any president fail because that means that the country is in worse shape at the end of his tenure than it was beforehand.

I’m becoming increasingly worried that we’re going to experience a profoundly failed presidency and that the damage is going to stretch far into our country’s future.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Democrats Want to Commit Suicide (Sadly, They’ll Try to Take the Rest of Us With Them)

It looks more and more like the Democrats will spearhead their health care plan without help from Republicans.

Republicans signaled Tuesday that dropping the public option would not garner additional GOP backing. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the second-ranking Senate Republican leader, criticized an alternative idea of creating a private insurance cooperative, calling it a “Trojan horse” that was effectively the same as the public option.

“It doesn’t matter what you call it, they want it to accomplish something Republicans are opposed to,” he said. “There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar bill.”

Kyl’s comments came as other conservative Republicans joined in to bash the co-ops idea. Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) said “a co-op that is simply another name for a public option, or government-run plan, will be rejected by the American people.”

One Democratic strategist involved in coordinating the pro-reform message among many like-minded groups said the Republican response was predictable.

“We were always concerned about leading with our glass jaw,” he said. “We felt we probably shouldn’t make health-care reform be about this because it falls so easily into the socialized medicine, big-government theme.”

Groups pushing for a public plan urged the White House on Tuesday to stick to its guns.

Which makes me happy: the Republicans should oppose what the Democrats have proposed (the various ideas, nebulous plans, and scads of talking points) on principle and will hopefully come back with their own, principles reform option. This would be a good time for the GOP leadership to make sure that they get their people in line and stand opposed to any plan that both won’t fix our health care problems and will likely cost the country billions of dollars that we can hardly afford.

The GOP shouldn’t be in the business of providing cover for the left’s mistakes. And bulling through a health care plan while the country is growing in opposition is a mistake that could well lead to a giant flip in the political make-up of the House and Senate after the mid-term elections. The down side to that is very simply that if they manage to pass the wrong reforms, losing their super-majority at the mid-terms will be too late to save us from the damage that the reform would cause.

The Democratic leadership seems intent on committing political suicide (and their progressive “allies” are standing beneath the ledge yelling for them to jump). Which, from where I stand on the right, would be a bit of fun theater if it didn’t mean they were going to do their best to take our economy down, too. The GOP lost big enough--and, in many ways, deservedly--that they can’t stop the legislation on their own; the rest of us have to hope that the blue dogs stand strong.

Steyn has it right on NRO yesterday:

...Right now, if I want a hip replacement, it’s between me and my doctor; the government does not have a seat at the table. The minute it does, my hip’s needs are subordinate to national hip policy, which in turn is subordinate to macro budgetary considerations.
I don’t think this is any time for NR to be joining the Frumsters and deploring the halfwit vulgarity of déclassé immoderates like Palin. This is a big-stakes battle: If we cross this bridge, there’s no going back. Being “moderate” is not a good strategy. It risks delivering the nation to the usual reach-across-the-aisle compromise that will get Democrats far enough across the bridge that the Big Government ratchet effect will do the rest.

No time for weak knees, no time for happy compromises; this is a time for principled opposition. The GOP will lose some big battles over the next couple years, but America will be better off by far if we can find some way to win this little war.

PS - Check out what Macomber has to say on the subject (and a few others, too).

Friday, August 14, 2009

About Those Right-Wing Extremists (Updated and Bumped)

Right Wing Extremists Descend Upon Town Halls Nationwide.

With a useful picture to help you spot said political terrorists. Which will be nice for congresswoman Betsy Markey (D-CO) when she finally gets around to talking to her constituents on the subject.

To be fair, I can’t say that I blame any of the Democrats--especially the freshmen or anyone in a more conservative district--who are being saddled with an increasingly unpopular set of shifting proposals on health care, who are watching opinion polls flipping on them dramatically, and who are faced with the probability of very angry voters showing up to their town hall meetings and putting them in the position of having to either say “no” to the Democratic party leadership or saying potentially saying “no” to their own re-election possibilities. I’d want to head off on a fact-finding mission, too; the Middle East seems safer for them.

Some folks--mostly deranged, right-wing extremists from what I hear--are doing their best to ensure that their representatives have a good opportunity to hear their thoughts, though. From a news release I received just a bit ago:

Concerned citizens are making it very easy for Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Tex., to keep his promise to meet with constituents regarding the health care reform bill.  Friday, “town meeting” style rallies will take place at all three of Edwards’ district office locations in Cleburne, Bryan, and Waco.  Simultaneous news conferences will be held at noon to discuss HR 3200, the so-called “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.”

“Americans are facing an unprecedented event in our history,” said Randy Shelton organizer of the Granbury Tea Party.  “Never before has the private industry that has made America so great been so threatened by a growing government. No where has a government take-over of a private industry worked out well for the private sector. Nowherehas it been successful.”

Edwards has told KBTX-TV in Bryan that he “will not vote for any bill that sets up a nationally socialized plan like Canadian health care, a one-size-fits-all.  That won’t work in America, I won’t support it, and I don’t think it’ll pass Congress.”

But Shelton said such a pledge is meaningless, since Congress isn’t considering moving directly to a Canadian-style system.

I know: crazy bastards. How dare they think they should have a voice in the political process?

Update: There’s an app for that. Awesome.

Is it just me or is PJTV getting better? Some of the stuff I’ve been seeing from them lately is really hitting a good note.

Now, go check out what Combs has to say about the town hall meetings. I suspect that he’s right: if you want your constituents to conduct themselves civilly, treat them with respect and be willing to listen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh, Yeah, Now I See It…

Now I see how some folks could believe that those town hall disruptions and the public’s antipathy toward the Democrat’s health care plan is planted solely in right wing loonies, paid big pharma flacks, and Republican party apparatchiks. The public support is, otherwise, overwhelming.

Or, wait, not it’s not.

New Rasmussen Reports polling shows public support for the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low. Data released yesterday shows that 51% fear the federal government more than private insurance companies. Thirty-two percent (32%) favor a single-payer health care system for the U.S. while 57% are opposed.

Because, no, Americans still aren’t fans of the idea of single payer systems and are highly skeptical of anything that might bring us there. Bullying techniques (and, yes, the push to pass something on some ridiculous timeline in a similar style as the cap-and-trade push absolutely is bullying) looked remarkably desperate. That the left had to abandon their efforts in the face of public push-back and party defections was, without a doubt, a big loss for the Democrats. Ridiculing protestors, calling them Nazis, and telling them that their opinions are manufactured and bought by insurance companies and the GOP hasn’t proven to be a good strategy for winning hearts and minds, either.

With a massive public debt, increasing unemployment, unprecedented Federal government spending, and a population increasingly worried about their own futures and the future of the country, now doesn’t seem to be a good time to be piling on a giant new public initiative. Some--like Paul Krugman--would disagree, but the town hall protests seem to show that a good portion of the public shares my concern. Democrats are betting that they bull through some kind of a package, and some are betting their futures on their constituents finally lining up behind whatever reform package that they pass.

That seems unlikely.

The Democrats are losing the mid-term elections right now. For that matter, Obama may well be losing his next election right now, too.

Speed Update:

This can’t help, either.

President Obama today suggested that the health care reform legislation for which he’s pushing has been endorsed by the American Association of Retired Person.

“We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors,” the president said.

At another point he said: “Well, first of all, another myth that we’ve been hearing about is this notion that somehow we’re going to be cutting your Medicare benefits.  We are not.  AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay?”

The problem?

The AARP hasn’t endorsed any plan yet.

Unforced error.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Well, if it’s Been Disastrous for Them, Think How it Must Feel for the Rest of Us

The Hill’s headline, “Analysis: July has been disaster for Obama, Hill Dems” almost made me laugh.


See, if July has been disastrous for Obama and the Democrats, then it’s been absolutely brutal for the people who have lost jobs, seen their housing values continue to decline, watched the dollar sinking, and wondered when the promised recovery would begin. Disaster for politicians mean bad poll numbers, potential ouster, and a multi-million dollar book deal supplemented by paid speaking engagements. For the rest of us, the disaster is a little more meaningful.

Not that the story is wrong. There is a sense that less than a year into his first term, the political ground is starting to shift away from Obama’s hope and rapid-fire progressive change, although what precise political rewards the GOP might gain from his administrations stumbling are still more than a year away. That’s a long time in politics. There is no doubt that some of the early “wins” are sapping the President’s political capital--the cap and trade bill was rammed through but the public is skeptical both of the bill and the tactics used to get it done, the stimulus seems more and more of a failure with every passing month that leads us to higher unemployment and economic uncertainty, and the prodigious Pile o’ Debt is doing a better job of scaring voters than it is in scaring up new jobs.

I think a charitable reading would be that the administration overplayed a few hands and are still paying the cost, but it will take a bit to understand the repercussions both for the administration and for those of us who have to live with their decisions.

None of which changes the fact that Republicans should be cautious. Not only are voters still distrustful of their governance, but when some of the plans fail the blame will be placed at the feet of the Republicans (regardless of the fact that if Obama could rally his troops effectively, there isn’t a thing the Republicans can do to stop legislation from powering through). So, if health care reform fails, the headlines during the midterms will be about the health care crisis and the obstructionist Republicans.

Which isn’t a reason to sell principles for votes--that is, there is no reason for principled conservatives to sign on to a reform package that doesn’t fit conservative principles. It is, however, a warning to both better explain why we’re opposed to these reforms and to find better solutions that do fit our principles. If we can’t explain why we oppose something and offer a better alternative, then we aren’t going to win any hearts and minds in the voting booths.

Strangely, there could be danger for Republicans in some of Obama’s failings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Colorado, Crisis, and a Larger Reflection (Updated)

Somehow this, from the Denver Business Journal:

A forthcoming report by a research center at the University of Denver says Colorado’s state government faces a looming financial crisis, DU said Monday.

The report from the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future at DU is titled “Colorado’s State Budget Tsunami.” It is to be formally released Tuesday.

“There is simply not enough money to pay for the government we have created,” the report says. “Barring a quick and dramatic turnaround of the economy, it appears that the current fiscal system cannot be sustained.”

In announcing the report’s findings, DU noted that “anticipated fiscal demands for K-12 education, prisons and Medicaid will swamp today’s revenue-generating tax and fee system” in Colorado.

Doesn’t square so happily with this, from this morning’s Denver Post:

Thousands of low-income Coloradans reliant on public assistance could get a free cellphone under a plan before the state Public Utilities Commission.

If approved, the plan by TracFone Wireless in Miami would make Colorado the 17th state it has settled into with free cell service for the indigent, a form of wireless welfare that proponents say taps into one of the last untapped markets for the telecom technology.

Certainly, the money comes from different buckets. Our financial crisis is one based around a general fund that doesn’t quite pay for the soup of services, handouts, freebies, and bureaucracy that voters and lawmakers have built up in Colorado. The free phones will be paid for by fees that the rest of us non-free users pay on our existing phones. Which is to say, those of us who actually pay for the service subsidize those who do not.

My problem, then, is philosophical in nature: in this country we continue to push the bar higher and higher on what constitutes a right even against all evidence that we can’t actually pay for what we promise. No service is unlimited, no pot of money is bottomless, and good economic times don’t last forever.

With our nation bleeding red (and my state’s politicians, who know that they don’t have the votes to raise taxes, finding creative ways to raise fees on everything from getting married to milking cows) why are we finding ways to spend even more money on things that can hardly be defined as core functionality for our government?

And that report about Colorado’s economy? It’s hard to imagine that you couldn’t read our nation’s future in its words, too.

The problem is that our government is built to constantly grow, but it doesn’t have a mechanism for pulling back when times get tough.

When you, as an individual, face a tough month, you probably cut back on eating out or some other indulgence. At the same time, you pay your electric bill, your mortgage, and make sure you still have some left over to buy food. You have a priority list that defines what you need instead of what you merely want. Or, at least, you should.

Government, as dumb a beast as there is in the world, doesn’t recognize the difference. Once a thing is voted on and the money starts flowing, it’s a perpetual need and it often contains some mechanism for automatic growth. The government almost never steps back and says, “Yeah, that’s a nice service, but I can’t afford it this year. Let’s just not do that for a bit.”

Colorado’s TABOR (Tax Payers Bill of Rights)--which requires votes for tax increases, sets standards for government growth, and contains a ratcheting mechanism to decrease spending in times of hardship--was meant to address that. And it does, but TABOR has been undermined by voters, too (quite likely by many of the voters who helped establish it in the first place). TABOR says that you can’t raise taxes without the consent of the citizens and that spending has to contract in bad times. Other spending bills over the years have mandated increases regardless of the economy. Which is why that study cited in the DBJ story goes on to say this:

“Education, prisons and health care consumed about 54 cents of every general fund dollar a decade ago. They now eat up nearly 76 cents of every general fund dollar, and that figure will jump to 91 cents in five years if the average growth rate continues. Eventually, at this rate, there would be no money for other programs.”

The solution, to me, would be found in fiscal responsibility or finding programs to cut. That wouldn’t be the government way, though. The government way is to find some backdoor path to the citizens’ wallets.

And it almost always starts with someone saying variation of, “We’re the richest country in the world. Why can’t we spend just a little more and buy lunches for poor students?”

Or buy cell phones for the poor. Or fund massive new health care mandates. Or “protects” us from climate change with a massive and complex system of taxes, payoffs, and giveaways that no one fully understands.

Republicans utterly failed to hold back the tide of spending when they held the House, Senate, and presidency; a failure that speaks volumes about the almost intractably expansionist nature of government and a broader failure of the GOP to actually embrace the conservative values that it has so long preached. It’s no wonder that the citizens didn’t trust Republicans to be good caretakers of the nation. That doesn’t excuse the left’s--especially the progressive left’s--bullying us down the road to ruin just that much quicker.

But it’s not all gloom. Some enterprising souls are still finding ways to grab with both hands.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado inserted a provision into the recently passed House climate change bill that would drum up business for “green” banks, such as the one he has invested in and his family and a political donor helped found in San Francisco.

The bill calls on bank regulators to promote green banking and says federal dollars should be used to support energy-efficient home improvements at government-funded housing projects.

Mr. Perlmutter, a two-term Democrat, has two investments in the 3-year-old New Resource Bank, which calls itself the nation’s first green bank. Among other environmentally conscious banking products, the bank offers home equity loans for consumers to make their homes more energy efficient, in addition to construction loans for green builders.

See? The American dream lives on.

Update: A similar question from Foundingbloggers. A wonderful site for conservatives (but you’re probably already a fan, aren’t you?).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not Everything That is Desirable is a Right

One thing that is sure to set me on a defensive path is to call something a “right” that most certainly is not.

Al Gore, since he lost his presidential bid, has become one of our nation’s most aggressive agitators. While I’m sure he isn’t abandoning the saving of the planet, I’m sure that his righteous pronouncements on progressive causes will be magnified by the magical sheen of his shiny new Nobel Peace Prize.

In a setting reminiscent of a bored college student making a video in his dorm room, Gore is shown proclaiming that healthcare in America “ought to be a matter of right,” addressing what he thinks to be an “immoral” healthcare situation.

No, sir, healthcare is not a “right”. Whether or not it is a desirable thing for our country to provide health care to the masses is an open debate. As our nation grows wealthier (and we have), it is reasonable to ask the question of how we will use that wealth to attend to public good--how much of our collective wealth are we willing to put into increased funding for education, infrastructure, and subsidized healthcare, for instance--or whether it is healthier for the economy and our society to keep that wealth in the private sector.

I think people know the direction I would be pointing, but that’s irrelevant. The truth is that every government expenditure is a balancing act; we can’t afford to do everything that everyone wants to do, nor should we try. I believe that there are some expenditures (national security, education, and infrastructure mainly--and not all of those in every situation) that are utterly necessary for the well-being of our nation. Most other things fall into the “yeah, that’s nice, but” category. As wealthy as our country is, our resources aren’t endless--even if money weren’t such a concern, there are still only so many doctors, so many nurses, so many MRI machines, and so many hospitals at our disposal.

And money is a concern. With the baby boomers now officially entering the Social Security system, our nation’s costs on entitlements are only going to increase while the pool of workers paying the bills for retirees will shrink proportionally. That means higher debt, higher taxes, or redirecting money from other areas. Bet on a mix of higher debt and higher taxes. Until we’ve managed to put together fiscally sound plans to handle our current budget problems, does it make any sense at all to even try to put in Gore’s preferred “universal single-payer government-provided or government-funded health care?”

What Gore is advocating is fiscally irresponsible--and crashing our already unbalanced (if impressively resilient) economy to satisfy some phantom “right” is insane. To pursue that end while calling our current system immoral is hypocritical: when the economy comes tumbling down, how will this new “right” be attended to?

Freedom of speech is a right. Freedom of association is a right. Freedom of religion is a right. I think you see where I’m going with this.

The government doesn’t have to spend a penny to provide those things to me (although it does spend considerable amounts preserving my opportunity to enjoy them). Health care will never and can never be equally distributed and truly universal in its coverage. Even countries that provide the kind of system that Gore prefers all practice some form of rationing and have seen secondary markets grow to attend to the needs that the government program can’t cover. Truly equitable, truly universal coverage is a myth because while free speech is boundless, health care is a limited resource. I think it’s good to understand the difference.

I’ll be happy to continue debating what health care subsidies are prudent and good for the government to provide. What I won’t do is accept that health care can ever occupy the same space as free speech and freedom of religion.

Unless, of course, this is one big misunderstanding and what Gore really meant is that health care is a right in the same way that we are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. That is, the government won’t buy me my H&K USP, but recognizes my right to ownership. I’m pretty sure that’s not the direction he’s traveling.

In sum: too much government spending bad, fiscal responsibility good. I put that last bit in for all the Republican leaders who might have lost their way.

Read the story.

Update: For the shorter response, read a little Steve Green. Then, for a laugh, read the “Correction” on his quickie post about Randi Rhodes unassaulted self. If Steve were a girl, his wife wouldn’t be able to trust me around the guy.

Or something like that.


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