Monday, November 30, 2009

Baron Changes Health Care Plans, Moves to Plan for Members of Congress & Federal Employees

Baron HillBack during the same town hall where he snarled at a young girl for daring to ask a simple question about his no-taping policy, Baron Hill was asked a question about his own health care plan.

The Bloomington Herald-Times reported on the question:

When a man asked Hill why everyday people can’t have the same health care coverage offered to members of Congress, Hill said he and his wife were covered under his wife’s plan.

“When my wife retires, I will go to the health care exchange and pick a plan, just like all other Americans,” Hill said.

So Baron is on his wife's health care plan. And when she retired, he intended to go out and pick a plan like all other Americans.

Well, Baron's wife Betty just retired.

In an article in Friday's Courier-Journal, we find out what Baron did.

Here's a hint: it wasn't "like all other Americans."

One of the controversies in the congressional health-care reform debate has been the kind of coverage lawmakers are provided.

During the summer’s health-care townhall meetings, critics argued that members of Congress get such good plans that they cannot understand the problems of Americans unable to find affordable coverage.

But, in fact, members of Congress get the same coverage options available to all other federal government employees under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, choosing from an array of private companies, such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield or Louisville-based Humana.

Kentucky’s federal lawmakers, Indiana’s two senators and Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th District, Indiana, all get their private coverage through the federal employees’ program.

The CJ article sort of sells the coverage given to Federal employees short, making it seem like members of Congress are just like all other Federal employees.

First of all, Federal employees have better access to health care than many Americans (and better access than many Americans will have under ObamaCare). They also have ten choices for their health care providers (most people get only one choice from their employer; only 1% of employers offer their employees more than three).

Second of all, as the CJ article goes on to note, members of Congress really have "the federal plan-plus," because of their access to military hospitals and to special doctors on Capitol Hill.

The article goes on to note Baron's change in his health care plan:

Hill had been on his wife’s plan because it was better than the federal employees’ program. But after Betty Hill retired this year from teaching in the Seymour, Ind., school system, he signed up for Blue Cross/Blue Shield under the federal plan.

Hill spokeswoman Katie Moreau said that under Betty Hill’s retirement health insurance plan, the cost of adding the congressman “was astronomical.”

As for his new plan, “he’s had no experience with it. He’s a pretty healthy guy,” Moreau said.

So, the next time that you see Baron Hill, ask him about his Congressional health care plan and how he gets more health care choices than more than 99% of Americans, plus ready access to special doctors and military hospitals reserved for veterans and active members of the armed forces.

He won't have his wife to hide behind this time.

Obama Justice Department Disregards Congressional Ban on Federal Money Going to ACORN

Sort of makes you yearn for the blatant lawlessness and disregard for the legislative branch of the Bush years, doesn't it?

From ABC News:

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel this week posted a legal opinion saying that the Obama administration may continue paying the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) for contracts signed before Congress in September passed -- and President Obama in October signed -- legislation banning federal funds from going to ACORN.

The opinion was written on Oct. 23 by Acting Assistant Attorney General David Barron in response to a request for clarification from the deputy general counsel for the Department of Housing and Urban Development as to the full meaning of the legislative language, which states, "None of the funds made available by this joint resolution or any prior Act may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or allied organizations."

Barron said the language could be interpreted "categorically to prohibit any outlay of money to the identified entities, including pursuant to pre-existing contractual obligations," but, "one could also read the phrase not to prohibit payments made pursuant to a prior binding contractual duty."

Because of this perceived ambiguity, Barron concluded that the law "should not be read as directing or authorizing HUD to breach a pre-existing binding contractual obligation to make payments to ACORN or its affiliates, subsidiaries or allied organizations where doing so would give rise to contractual liability."

The federal government has given more than $50 million to ACORN since 1994, much of it in the form of HUD grants.

The ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., blasted the DOJ opinion as "political cronyism."

“The bipartisan intent of Congress was clear – no more federal dollars should flow to ACORN," Issa said. "It is telling that this administration continues to look for every excuse possible to circumvent the intent of Congress. Taxpayers should not have to continue subsidizing a criminal enterprise that helped Barack Obama get elected president. The politicization of the Justice Department to pay back one of the president’s political allies is shameful and amounts to nothing more than old-fashioned cronyism.”

Got to love the phrasing: "perceived ambiguity."

Perception, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Why would Obama or his minions want to perceive anything that might harm a group, such as ACORN, that did so much to get them elected?

Real Cost of ObamaCare Tops $6 Trillion

The Cato Institute digs deep into the numbers:

Congressional Democrats are using several budget gimmicks to disguise the cost of their health care overhaul, claiming the House and Senate bills would cost only (!) about $1 trillion over 10 years. Now that critics have begun to correct for those budget gimmicks, supporters of ObamaCare are firing back.

One gimmick makes the new entitlement spending appear smaller by not opening the spigot until late in the official 10-year budget window (2010–2019). Correcting for that gimmick in the Senate version, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) estimates, “When all this new spending occurs” — i.e., from 2014 through 2023 — “this bill will cost $2.5 trillion over that ten-year period.”

Another gimmick pushes much of the legislation’s costs off the federal budget and onto the private sector by requiring individuals and employers to purchase health insurance. When the bills force somebody to pay $10,000 to the government, the Congressional Budget Office treats that as a tax. When the government then hands that $10,000 to private insurers, the CBO counts that as government spending. But when the bills achieve the exact same outcome by forcing somebody to pay $10,000 directly to a private insurance company, it appears nowhere in the official CBO cost estimates — neither as federal revenues nor federal spending. That’s a sharp departure from how the CBO treated similar mandates in the Clinton health plan. And it hides maybe 60 percent of the legislation’s total costs. When I correct for that gimmick, it brings total costs to roughly $2.5 trillion (i.e., $1 trillion/0.4).

When we correct for both gimmicks, counting both on- and off-budget costs over the first 10 years of implementation, the total cost of ObamaCare reaches — I’m so sorry about this — $6.25 trillion. That’s not a precise estimate. It’s just far closer to the truth than President Obama and congressional Democrats want the debate to be.

It's interesting that Obama doesn't want his health care plan to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office under the same treatment given to Clinton's plan.

And yet, despite the subterfuge--and what Mitch Daniels rightly calls "the balloon payment" similar to a subprime mortage--the political fate of the two plans may be exactly the same (sensible people could hope, at least).

America's Mayor Leads Hillary's Replacement in New York Senate Polling

He has substantial leads in two recent polls.

Poll Tracker:

A new Rasmussen Reports poll has former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) up on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 53 to 40 percent among likely New York voters. The margin of error is 4.5 percent.

The poll, conducted Nov. 23, is nearly identical to a Marist poll of registered voters released last week that showed Giuliani leading Gillibrand 54 to 40 percent.

Giuliani has made no public indication that he will challenge Gillibrand, a freshman senator who was appointed to fill the Senate vacancy created when Hillary Rodham Clinton was named secretary of State. But his decision, rumored but not confirmed by his staff, that he will not run for governor in 2010 has stirred talk that he may run for Senate.

Giuiliani is more popular than Gillibrand -- he is regarded favorably by 63 percent of likely voters, including 29 percent who view him very favorably. Thirty-three percent view Giuliani unfavorably, 20 percent very unfavorably, Rasmussen found.

Gillibrand's favorable rating is at 46 percent, while her unfavorable is at 41 percent. But she generates less fervent emotions than Giuliani -- just 13 percent view her either very favorably or very unfavorably.

No word yet on whether Rudy will run (for Senate or for Governor). Republicans can only hope.

Howard Dean on ObamaCare: “Republicans Are Right”, Would Vote No

Wow.

Of course, his problem is that it doesn't go far enough, as opposed to it going too far. But even stopped clocks are right twice a day, and Dean seems to agree that the current legislation makes the problem worse, not better.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Abraham Lincoln on Thanksgiving

Proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, observed in the United States ever since:

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

"In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

"Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."

- Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

Regardless of your political leanings, I hope that you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baron Hill Took $5,600 from Indy Financier

Advance Indiana has a number of posts (most recently here and here) about the situation involving Indianapolis financier and socialite Tim Durham, who has given a not insignificant sum of money to a lot of politicians (mostly Republicans, it must be said) in the past.

Of particular note to voters in southern Indiana, however, are the contributions that Durham made to Baron Hill of $2,300 in September of 2007, $2,300 in December of 2007, and $1,000 in October of 2004. He also gave $3,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2000.

Mike Sodrel, it should be noted, got no money from Durham in his campaigns in those cycles (or any other cycle, for that matter).

Let's see Democrats mention that if they decide to make political hay out of this Durham matter. I doubt that Baron will be in any rush to divest himself of those campaign contributions.

“Stop — We Can’t Afford You”

A letter to the editor in the News & Tribune:

I want to publicly criticize Congressman Hill’s support of H.R. 3962 — just the latest in a long list of yes votes. Once again Rep. Hill follows the footsteps of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Rep. Henry Waxman. The state of California is bankrupt congressman. As a “Bluedog Democrat” you held your ground for about a week and a half. Congressman, you just placed one sixth of our economy in the hands of the government during the worse recession since the Great Depression.

Omnibus, stimulus, cap and trade and now, healthcare — congressman, you pride yourself on having voted for pay-as-you-go legislation and, once again, you contradict yourself. Your voting record would be like me buying a new home, vacation home, new cars, new swimming pool, new jewelry for my wife, running up my credit card bills and then making an announcement to my family, “From now on we don’t buy it, unless we can pay for it.”

Congressman, the FDIC funds are almost dry. We have reached the Congressional cap of deficit spending, 13 trillion dollars —$13,000,000,000,000. Stop — we can’t afford you.

— Jim Bass, Floyds Knobs

Shades of Versailles at the White House

Let them eat cake, said Michelle Antoinette Obama.

From ABC News:

Underneath a massive white tent, with a glass ceiling and eight chandeliers, President Obama noted during his first toast at his first state dinner that guests were celebrating the spirit of the U.S.-India partnership under the stars this evening.

“In India, some of life’s most precious moments are often celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent. It’s a little like tonight. We have incredible food, the music, and are surrounded by great friends," he said. "It’s been said that the most beautiful thing in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us. Mr. Prime Minister, today we worked to fulfill our duty to bring our countries closer together than ever before.”

Standing in full black-tie tux next to Prime Minister Singh of India, at the conclusion of their long day of festivities and meetings, Obama said they are drawn by ties that bind them together -- movements like that of Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King’s allowing each to stand in leadership today.

...

Michelle Obama wore a floor-length sparkling silver and gold strapless dress, by Indian-American designer Naeem Khan, for the dinner. She carried a chiffon shawl and wore a bunch of churis, the traditional Indian bangle bracelets.

Illegal Immigrants & ObamaCare, a Primer

Robert Rector, who was behind the very successful Republican welfare reform initiative passed in the 1990s, chimes in on illegal immigrants and ObamaCare:

The health care bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3962) clearly and directly contradicts the President's declarations and promises. Under H.R. 3962:

•Illegal immigrants are clearly permitted to pur­chase health insurance under the government health insurance exchange created by the bill.

•Illegal immigrants are permitted to receive cover­age under the "public health insurance option" created in the bill.

•Illegal immigrants are ostensibly barred from receiving taxpayer-funded "affordability credits" to subsidize their health care, but the verifica­tion procedures used to determine the legal sta­tus of those who receive credits are weak and subject to fraud.

•The bill expands the Medicaid program. Illegal immigrants are nominally barred from receiving most Medicaid services, but the verification pro­cedures used to determine the legal status of those who receive credits are also weak and sub­ject to fraud.

•All illegal immigrant women who do not have private health insurance and who give birth inside the United States will have the full cost of childbirth paid by the U.S. taxpayers. There will be no effort to have the mother repay any of the cost. Given the fact that nearly 400,000 children are born inside the U.S. each year to illegal immi­grant women, these costs could be quite large.

•The bill will provide tax credits to small busi­nesses to subsidize the purchase of health insur­ance for illegal immigrant employees. Under H.R. 3962, small businesses will be given tax credits to encourage them to purchase health coverage for employees; because firms are not required to verify the legal status of subsidized employees, both legal and illegal employees will receive taxpayer support.

•Illegal immigrants will continue to receive so-called emergency medical services under the Medicaid program.

Finally, any restrictions on giving taxpayer-funded health care benefits contained in the House or Senate health care bills are, in fact, irrelevant because President Obama and the current House and Senate leadership have promised to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. Amnesty would pro­vide legal permanent residence, and eventually citi­zenship, to some 10 million to 20 million illegal immigrants and their dependents. Amnesty would inevitably make illegal immigrants eligible for gov­ernment health care insurance and credits, Medic­aid, and all other welfare programs. (For example, the amnesty bills debated in Congress in 2006 and 2007 made amnesty recipients eligible, after a short delay, for the full range of U.S. welfare and entitle­ment programs.)

Granting illegal immigrants access to govern­ment health care and welfare would be enormously expensive for the U.S. taxpayer. The health care bills currently being debated in Congress would only increase those costs.

There's more at the link; footnotes and everything.

Quote of the Day

"We understand that in Barack Obama’s America companies are not allowed to fail and are instead propped up indefinitely by the government. Thankfully, we still live in Mitch Daniels’ Indiana where the interests of taxpayers come first."
- Frugal Hoosiers, noting Mitch Daniels' opposition to bailing out the Indy racinos

GOP Leads by 7 in Generic Congressional Ballot; Independents Favor Republicans by Better than Two-to-One

Good job kid, now don't get cocky:

Republican candidates have extended their lead over Democrats to seven points, their biggest lead since early September, in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 44% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 37% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.

Voters not affiliated with either party continue to heavily favor Republicans, 44% to 20%.

Global Warming Sunshine

Global Warming Sunshine

George and AJ

If you've ever seen the Disney and Pixar movie UP, then you'll get a kick out of this hilarious short cartoon:



If you haven't seen UP, the cartoon is still hilarious (and rent/buy/watch UP; it's a great movie).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baron's Big Medicare Lie

Baron Hill and Barack ObamaA letter to the editor in the News & Tribune:

I read the article in the Sunday newspaper where Baron Hill stated that health care reform won’t cut into Medicare. He also stated that groups such as 60 Plus Association have deceived the people with misinformation.

I have newsletters, letters and newspaper articles from groups such as Presidential Coalition, Senior Coalition, the Heritage Foundation, Christian Senior Voters Association, National Center for Policy Analysis, as well as people, even some doctors being interviewed on television, stating that Medicare will be affected!

Rep. Hill stated that money can be saved by cutting down on fraud and waste. For years I have heard about fraud and waste in Medicare, and fraud, waste and corruption in most areas of government, but nothing has been done to correct this. If it so easily corrected, why hasn’t it been done before?

Rep. Jim Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, is also quoted in the newspaper article. Please explain to me how two people can have such differing views on the same bill? What is Rep. Hill’s solution to the unfunded liabilities in Medicare of $37 trillion and $35 trillion in Medicaid? Also, explain to me how under health care reform 36 million new people are to be covered and still provide the same services at the same cost?

These numbers simply do not add up!

Congress has been trying for 40 years to pass health care reform. Did it ever occur to Congress that maybe, just maybe, the people don’t want health care reform. Also, don’t forget over one million people showed up in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 12 trying to tell Congress we don’t want government taking over our health care system!

I would like to know how government plans to take over health care and run it efficiently and cost effective. They have not run the U. S. Post Office very cost effectively, as it is deeply in debt, as is Medicaid and Medicare. UPS and Fed Ex make a profit — why can’t the post office make a profit?

A small program like Cash for Clunkers was not even run efficiently. The IRS hasn’t even collected back taxes from the man who was appointed to head this department. Can anyone give me just one instance where the government has run a program efficiently and cost effectively?

Rep. Hill ignored many people of southern Indiana with his vote for Health Care Reform. Even Governor Daniels asked Rep. Hill not to vote for this bill as it would cost the State of Indiana greatly.

— Donna Schad, New Albany

In Which I Actually Defend Todd Young

Todd Young with halo.Shocking, I know.

Pick your jaws up off of the floor; Young would be far and away a better member of Congress than Baron Hill.

Blue Indiana has a post up ripping Todd Young for, well, daring to say that things aren't going so well in the grand adventure that Baron and Barack have taken us on since the start of the year.

Where to begin...

The News and Tribune published a puff-piece a few days ago that took a look at the fledgling candidacy of Todd "I know Dan Quayle" Young, the political neophyte from Carmel Bloomington, Indiana who has pledged to run in the Ninth District next year.

The interesting thing about the interview isn't what Young says, as much as it is what he doesn't say. Namely, anything at all. Here's a sampling:

"There's no silver bullet to turn things around," he said. "But there are some common sense steps we can take."

Sounds great! Like what, Todd? The national debt, you say?

"Essentially our standards of living will go down," Young said. "We have to pay it off or it just gets passed on."

Continuing to add to the national debt will result in higher taxes which Young is opposed to. Debt is not just a financial dilemma - it's a moral issue to Young.

"We are better people than to borrow from our kids," he said.

Hm. Good point. So what are you planning to do about it?

National security is a top concern, though he wants to hear testimony before Congress from military leadership before stating his opinion on what America should do about Afghanistan.

At some point, Young believes definitive action will have to be taken to keep Iran from possessing nuclear weapons, but he said the situation hasn't escalated to that point yet.

Wait, what happened to the debt issue? Your plan to bring down the debt is military action in Iran? That doesn't seem to make much sen...

Americans should be free to shop for insurance across state lines, all businesses should be treated to the same tax breaks and medical liability reform needs to be pushed, Young said.

A combination of the three would bring more people under the health coverage umbrella, he said. But Young added the working poor could still not afford health coverage even with the plan he suggests, so Americans should accept the government will have to subsidize benefits for some, he said.

Wait, what about Iran and those nuclear weapons? And you're for subsidizing benefits? Now let me get this straight...

Young believes by touting fresh ideas and declaring his candidacy early, he'll be a formidable opponent for Hill next November.

...and, fin.

I'll give Todd some props, especially as the lowly law student I am -- he sure can spot some issues! The problem, of course, is when it comes to providing anything close to an answer to the problems facing the Ninth District, our humble Hoosier State, or the nation as a whole.

And lest you think the article left out Todd's slam-bang plans, a quick jaunt over to his faux-Obama website reveals an issue page that highlights little, and provides leadership on even less. This, for example, is the entirety of Todd's "plan" to solve not only the ballooning national debt, but any and all problems associated with the U.S. Constitution:

Make Congress deliberate before it acts. Congress will have to slow down. This means that Congress will give more careful consideration to how it spends your hard-earned tax dollars.

Empower citizens to participate. Bills will shrink, be less complicated, and contain fewer subjects, so that We the People can actually read them, too.

Stop the corrupt tit-for-tat Washington politics. Fewer bad proposals will be passed due to "log-rolling."

Restore transparency and integrity to spending. No more secret clauses or pork-barrel earmarks will be inserted into bills at the last moment.

Awe-inspiring, eh?

First of all, let me say that I won't go so far as to compare Young's website to that of Obama. Striking visual motif similarities aside, Young's website has no online community full of crazed Kool-Aid drinking lefties ready to drive the country into the ground.

But, anyway, there's a whole lot of selective quoting and quoting out of context going on in the Blue Indiana post. We also don't get to see the full text of the interview from the News & Tribune, so it's not clear whether anything more substantive on various issues was said by Young, but simply not included in the article for whatever reason.

The interview was done by the same reporter that last week did a story about Baron Hill's assertion that ObamaCare doesn't cut Medicare, but never checked to see if Hill's claim was true (it isn't). In light of that recent story from that particular reporter, one wonders about what was reported (and what wasn't) in Young's interview.

Young's website doesn't say more, it's true; it's strikingly devoid of in-depth examinations of the basic campaign bullet points. Sort of like many other campaign websites out there, including Baron's.

I'm particularly reminded of a cartoon I found and posted way back in April.

It sort of says it all:

Opposition
As Obama drives the car off the proverbial fiscal cliff, the Republican elephant screams "NOOOOO!!!!!"

Why? Because huge deficits that we can't pay for (many times the size of Bush's deficits, which Democrats spent eight years complaining about) are bad, particularly when they go on forever, aren't being reduced, and are going to get bigger with huge new spending plans and entitlements.

You don't need in-depth bullet points or campaign white papers or huge paragraphs on a website to want to shout "NOOOOO!!!!!" at the top of your lungs to the spending spree that Barack Obama and Baron Hill have embarked upon in the past year.

And regardless of who wins the primary in May and is the candidate on the ballot against Baron come November, they're going to be doing a lot of campaigning along the lines of "NOOOOO!!!!!"

When you're facing Baron and Barack's fiscal nightmare, what else is there to say?

Joe Lieberman Vows to Kill Public Option

From the Wall Street Journal:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, speaking in that trademark sonorous baritone, utters a simple statement that translates into real trouble for Democratic leaders: "I'm going to be stubborn on this."

Stubborn, he means, in opposing any health-care overhaul that includes a "public option," or government-run health-insurance plan, as the current bill does. His opposition is strong enough that Mr. Lieberman says he won't vote to let a bill come to a final vote if a public option is included.

Probe for a catch or caveat in that opposition, and none is visible. Can he support a public option if states could opt out of the plan, as the current bill provides? "The answer is no," he says in an interview from his Senate office. "I feel very strongly about this." How about a trigger, a mechanism for including a public option along with a provision saying it won't be used unless private insurance plans aren't spreading coverage far and fast enough? No again.

So any version of a public option will compel Mr. Lieberman to vote against bringing a bill to a final vote? "Correct," he says.

...

[Lieberman's] objection is based on fiscal risk: "Once the government creates an insurance company or plan, the government or the taxpayers are liable for any deficit that government plan runs, really without limit," he says. "With our debt heading over $21 trillion within the next 10 years...we've got to start saying no to some things like this."

I think that Harry Reid has his work cut out for him in the next month.

Mitch Says ObamaCare Cost Estimates Are “Fraudulent”, Compares Them to Subprime Mortgages

Poll: Support for ObamaCare Hits New Low

Rasmussen:

Just 38% of voters now favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That’s the lowest level of support measured for the plan in nearly two dozen tracking polls conducted since June.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% now oppose the plan.

Half the survey was conducted before the Senate voted late Saturday to begin debate on its version of the legislation. Support for the plan was slightly lower in the half of the survey conducted after the Senate vote.

Prior to this, support for the plan had never fallen below 41%. Last week, support for the plan was at 47%. Two weeks ago, the effort was supported by 45% of voters.

Bookended

Bookended

The Last Straw

The Last Straw

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Will Passing ObamaCare Motivate the Democrats Base Voters in 2010?

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight thinks so:

And rightly or wrongly, one of the greatest upsides to the Democrats in passing a health care bill is that it will help to activate the liberal base, in order to counteract the (already very active) conservative base in 2010. That upside will be diminished if the bill that Obama signs does not contain a public option.

I'm not certain that I agree with this. The health care vote is only going to serve to further motivate the conservative base, regardless of its outcome.

If it passes, the backlash will probably be greater than if it dies. If it dies, then the Democrats have lost momentum, but they have also dodged the bullet to some degree.

If it doesn't pass, it's true that the liberal base of the Democratic Party will be discouraged (what have you done for me lately, huge majorities, etc). If it does pass, the psychology isn't likely to be "work hard to keep these good guys in there." It's probably just as much going to be "what's left to do?"

Motivating the base isn't just about what the people you're voting for have done for you. It's just as much about what there is yet to be done.

The Republicans, to some degree, saw the worst of both of worlds in 2006 and 2008. There was much that the Republicans had accomplished in the past six years. There was also much yet to be done, and (of course) much that they were not able to do.

Democrats now face a similar Catch-22 in 2010. How that cuts remains to be seen, but it's nowhere near as cut-and-dried as Nate Silver makes it out to be. It's not just a matter of passing health care reform to show what you've been able to accomplish. It's making sure that people still are motivated to come out and vote (or give money or volunteer or what-have-you) because there's still work to be done.

Former CBO Director Warns about Deficits

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, in the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama took office promising to lead from the center and solve big problems. He has exerted enormous political energy attempting to reform the nation's health-care system. But the biggest economic problem facing the nation is not health care. It's the deficit. Recently, the White House signaled that it will get serious about reducing the deficit next year—after it locks into place massive new health-care entitlements. This is a recipe for disaster, as it will create a new appetite for increased spending and yet another powerful interest group to oppose deficit-reduction measures.

Our fiscal situation has deteriorated rapidly in just the past few years. The federal government ran a 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion—the highest since World War II—as spending reached nearly 25% of GDP and total revenues fell below 15% of GDP. Shortfalls like these have not been seen in more than 50 years.

Going forward, there is no relief in sight, as spending far outpaces revenues and the federal budget is projected to be in enormous deficit every year. Our national debt is projected to stand at $17.1 trillion 10 years from now, or over $50,000 per American. By 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis of the president's budget, the budget deficit will still be roughly $1 trillion, even though the economic situation will have improved and revenues will be above historical norms.

The planned deficits will have destructive consequences for both fairness and economic growth. They will force upon our children and grandchildren the bill for our overconsumption. Federal deficits will crowd out domestic investment in physical capital, human capital, and technologies that increase potential GDP and the standard of living. Financing deficits could crowd out exports and harm our international competitiveness, as we can already see happening with the large borrowing we are doing from competitors like China.

At what point, some financial analysts ask, do rating agencies downgrade the United States? When do lenders price additional risk to federal borrowing, leading to a damaging spike in interest rates? How quickly will international investors flee the dollar for a new reserve currency? And how will the resulting higher interest rates, diminished dollar, higher inflation, and economic distress manifest itself? Given the president's recent reception in China—friendly but fruitless—these answers may come sooner than any of us would like.

Mr. Obama and his advisers say they understand these concerns, but the administration's policy choices are the equivalent of steering the economy toward an iceberg. Perhaps the most vivid example of sending the wrong message to international capital markets are the health-care reform bills—one that passed the House earlier this month and another under consideration in the Senate. Whatever their good intentions, they have too many flaws to be defensible.

First and foremost, neither bends the health-cost curve downward. The CBO found that the House bill fails to reduce the pace of health-care spending growth. An audit of the bill by Richard Foster, chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, found that the pace of national health-care spending will increase by 2.1% over 10 years, or by about $750 billion. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's bill grows just as fast as the House version. In this way, the bills betray the basic promise of health-care reform: providing quality care at lower cost.

Second, each bill sets up a new entitlement program that grows at 8% annually as far as the eye can see—faster than the economy will grow, faster than tax revenues will grow, and just as fast as the already-broken Medicare and Medicaid programs. They also create a second new entitlement program, a federally run, long-term-care insurance plan.

Finally, the bills are fiscally dishonest, using every budget gimmick and trick in the book: Leave out inconvenient spending, back-load spending to disguise the true scale, front-load tax revenues, let inflation push up tax revenues, promise spending cuts to doctors and hospitals that have no record of materializing, and so on.

If there really are savings to be found in Medicare, those savings should be directed toward deficit reduction and preserving Medicare, not to financing huge new entitlement programs. Getting long-term budgets under control is hard enough today. The job will be nearly impossible with a slew of new entitlements in place.

In short, any combination of what is moving through Congress is economically dangerous and invites the rapid acceleration of a debt crisis. It is a dramatic statement to financial markets that the federal government does not understand that it must get its fiscal house in order.

What to do? The best option would be for the president to halt Congress's rush to fiscal suicide, and refocus on slowing the dangerous growth in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He should call on Congress to pass a comprehensive reform of our income and payroll tax systems that would generate revenue sufficient to fund its spending desires in a pro-growth and fair fashion.

Reducing entitlement spending and closing tax loopholes to create a fairer tax system with more balanced revenues is politically difficult and requires sacrifice. But we will avert a potentially devastating credit crisis, increase national savings, drive productivity and wage growth, and enhance our international competitiveness.

The time to worry about the deficit is not next year, but now. There is no time to waste.

I don't doubt that the Democrats believe in their hearts that their intentions are good.

But, as the old saying goes, the road to hell was paved with good intentions.

Obama Is No FDR

Obama Is No FDR

Saturday Night Live Rips Obama on Spending

Photo of the Day: Colleen Who, You Say?

Exactly.

But read the section entitled "auxiliary features"; "Steamboat Willie" was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon.


This clipping is taken from the January 6th, 1929, Washington Post.

"Steamboat Willie" came out on November 11, 1928. That makes Mickey Mouse eighty-one years old, last Wednesday. He's pretty spry for his age, and the entire world still knows who he is.

Back when this little newspaper article was printed, nobody knew who Mickey Mouse was.

Things change; today, nobody knows who Colleen Moore was.

Hat tip: Progress City, U.S.A.

Evan Bayh's Direct Email Leaked on Twitter

Jim Treacher put Evan Bayh's Blackberry email up on Twitter.

Here:

It doesn't matter which state you live in. If you live in America, his vote will affect you. Tell him to vote no: eb@bayh.senate.gov


Send the Senator an email telling him what you think of his health care vote last night, before he gets a new Blackberry or gets his email changed.

Come Monday morning, the Senate IT people will have given him a new email address, so take advantage of this opportunity before it goes away.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Photo of the Day: Anti-ObamaCare Rally Outside Evan Bayh's Downtown Indy Office

Sent by a reader, a picture of an anti-ObamaCare rally outside of Evan Bayh's Senate office earlier today in Indianapolis:

Anti-ObamaCare Rally Outside Evan Bayh's Downtown Indy Office

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Commander in Chief Obama to U.S. Troops: “You Guys Make a Pretty Good Photo Op”

Classy.

From the Washington Post:

Obama arrived on the base 3:19 p.m. local time (1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) and received a rousing welcome from 1,500 troops in camouflage uniforms, many holding cameras or pointing cellphones to snap pictures.

"You guys make a pretty good photo op," the president said.

Standing on a riser wearing a blue suit and red tie, with a cluster of troops and a large American flag behind him, Obama expressed "the gratitude of the American public" and said his meetings in four countries over eight days in Asia will help deliver a "safer, more prosperous world for all of us."

He got a huge cheer when he told them he was increasing military pay. "That's what you call an applause line," he said, before boarding his jet and taking off at 4:11 p.m.

All told, Obama spent all of 52 minutes with the troops to get a photo op out of them.

And he also hasn't made a decision about sending reinforcements to Afghanistan yet.

Oxley Senior in the Hospital

From the Courier-Journal:

INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Dennie Oxley, D-Taswell, missed the General Assembly’s Organization Day on Tuesday with an illness and is now hospitalized at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper.

Oxley, who is serving in his first two-year term at the Indiana House, was excused from Tuesday’s business after his wife called legislative leadership to say he was not feeling well, a spokesman for the Democratic caucus said.

Oxley, 59, was in the critical care unit at the hospital on Thursday. A family member – reached in the critical care waiting room – declined to release any information about his condition.

Please keep the elder Oxley in your prayers.

Republican Ties Democrat in California Gubernatorial Race, News at Eleven

From Poll Tracker:

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) has pulled into a tie with state Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) in a hypothetical general election match-up for California governor, according to a new poll by Rasmussen Reporters conducted Nov. 17.

Whitman and Brown each pull 41 percent of support among likely voters in the Democratic leaning state, the poll found. Three percent would support some other candidate and 14 percent are unsure. The margin of error was 4.5 percent.

Whitman trailed Brown 35 percent to 44 percent in the last Rasmussen poll.

EDIT: Typo in title.

Marlin Stutzman's First Ad

The Onion Rips the Patriots

Hilarious:

INDIANAPOLIS—As of press time, the New England Patriots, playing on the road against an undefeated Indianapolis team, are headed into halftime with an all-but-insurmountable 24-14 lead.

Barring an almost inconceivable and utterly out-of-character mistake by head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have virtually secured a week 10 win against their closest rivals for AFC dominance.

No Belichick-coached Patriots team has ever led by this much at halftime and gone on to lose the game.

"If we just keep playing smart Patriots football, I don't see any reason why we won't come out on top," Belichick told reporters, jogging to the locker room with his team as the second-quarter clock expired. "The only time they've been able to stop us is on on short-yardage passing plays, so if we're careful to execute and avoid any situation where we give Peyton Manning excellent field position, I'm extremely confident we'll leave here with a 'W.'"

"Really, very confident," the usually reticent Belichick added. "Very."

Under Belichick, the Patriots have come to be regarded as the team that is hardest to defeat when it carries a lead into halftime. No other coach is thought to share Belichick's calculating, almost mechanical ability to disregard emotion and analyze the situation on the field, and he is widely respected for always having confidence in his offensive or defensive unit to make the necessary play.

"We had hoped to get ahead quickly, but that just didn't pan out," said Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, whose eight-game winning streak is by any rational evaluation almost certainly over. "The Patriots are just too clever, and Bill [Belichick] is just too smart, too tough a customer."

"If you're going to wait for Bill Belichick to get overconfident and screw up, you're in for a long day," Caldwell added. "Just doesn't happen."

Thus far, both Brady's arm and the Patriots' receivers have been characteristically sharp. There have been few notable miscues, save a short two-yard pass to running back Kevin Faulk that was bobbled and dropped at the halftime two-minute warning, a mistake that was almost certainly noted by Patriots coaches and will be corrected for in second-half adjustments.

The Colts offense, however, with Manning's young receiving corps, has committed several significant errors. But the Indianapolis defense has fared even worse, and has only been able to stop pass plays of four yards or fewer, an insignificant advantage that a seasoned coach like Belichick will find easy to avoid.

"We have to do a better job in the second half, there's no question about that," Manning said while heading to the tunnel. "Problem is, the Pats simply never, ever, ever hand the game to you. You have to earn it. If we sit back and wait for them to screw up, we're sunk, plain and simple."

Sunday Night Football commentator Cris Collinsworth agreed, saying that the Patriots could basically ride Belichick's cool, conservative play-calling and their tremendously competent defense to victory.

"Even though the Colts scored first, Belichick has to be feeling good about the way his young defense is playing," Collinsworth said during his halftime breakdown of the game. "Holding Peyton Manning to just 14 points is no small feat. It must be great for them, knowing that their coach trusts them to make plays."

Sarah Palin Returns to Indiana

Sarah Palin Returns to Indiana
The cartoon might be more accurate if it showed them standing in line in the rain.

From the Courier-Journal:

Hundreds of people lined up Thursday at stores in Fort Wayne and Noblesville for a chance of meeting Sarah Palin.

Holding her 19-month-old son Trig, Palin climbed off a bus shortly before 6 p.m. at Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville, an Indianapolis suburb, to a crowd chanting her name as they waited in the rain.

"It's really good to be back here in Hoosier territory," she said.

Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president last year, is on a book-signing tour for “Going Rogue.”

About 700 people were in line at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at a Meijer store in Fort Wayne, waiting for Palin to show up at noon. Meanwhile, about 1,000 people waited at 7 a.m. at a Borders store in Noblesville. The first 1,000 people to buy copies of the book and line up were eligible for wristbands that entitled them to have Palin autograph their books.

Palin said she was excited to be back in Noblesville after last year's event at the nearby Verizon Wireless Music Center, where 24,000 people showed up during her vice presidential campaign.

Obama: Creating Jobs Not Goal of Jobs Summit

Well, then what would be the goal of this jobs summit, exactly?

AP:

President Barack Obama says creating jobs isn't the goal of a coming White House forum on jobs and economic growth.

The president told NBC News on Wednesday that the purpose of the Dec. 3 summit is to figure out how to encourage hiring by businesses still reluctant to do so.

The U.S. unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent last month, the highest in decades. Before departing on his trip through Asia, Obama said the high jobless rate is one of the biggest challenges for an economy that has begun to show signs of recovery.

Obama told NBC that the forum will give him and other administration officials a chance to talk to CEOs, small-business owners and other experts to find out what's going on.

I guess to some degree, it's heartening that Obama now realizes that businesses, not government, create jobs.

He only spent about eight hundred billion dollars of our money on the "stimulus" trying to have government create jobs.

That didn't work so well.

"A Junior Congressman from the 8th District of California"

A letter to the editor of the Corydon Democrat:

Hill lacks district's best interest

Lanesville, Ind.

Baron Hill's voted for the nationalization of our health care system in direct defiance of the will of the people of his district. Not only that, it is in complete odds with his responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution. This bill is the single biggest attack on personal liberty in the history of this Union.

Because he continues to vote in a manner that does not represent the best interest of his district, it is obvious to me — and it should be to all in Harrison County — that he should no longer continue to be our representative.

Regardless of the political party, the people of Harrison County and the Ninth District Indiana deserve a competent replacement in the 2010 elections, not a junior Congressman from the Eighth District of California.

Todd Turner
November 18, 2009

Senate Votes to Go Forward with David Hamilton Judicial Nomination

Obama will soon be conveying his thanks to Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh.

The Courier-Journal:

WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted Tuesday to overcome a GOP filibuster of the nomination of Indiana Judge David Hamilton to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court is the last stop before the Supreme Court for cases from Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The Senate voted 70-29 to allow the nomination to be considered. All Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them voted to end the filibuster, as did 10 Republicans, including Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

The Senate must still have a final vote on Hamilton's nomination. It's unclear how much of the maximum 30 hours of debate Republicans will insist on.

Hamilton, a federal district judge for 15 years and chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, was President Barack Obama's first judicial appointment.

Because Hamilton had the support of both Lugar and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, his nomination was expected to set a tone for less-contentious battles over judicial nominees. But conservatives criticized some of Hamilton's rulings and comments.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Hamilton's record is worse than that of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose nomination Sessions opposed but did not filibuster.

“I don't think I can vote for a nominee that thinks that they have a right to amend the Constitution,” Sessions said.

Sessions was referring to a 2003 speech in which Hamilton said judges write “footnotes to the Constitution.”

Hamilton said in his April confirmation hearing that his point was that judges are not trying to do something new, but must apply old principles and constitutional provisions to new situations.

Hamilton received the American Bar Association's top rating of “well qualified.” He's also supported by Geoffrey Slaughter, president of the Indiana Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

“Like most Hoosiers, David Hamilton is not an ideologue,” said Bayh, who hired Hamilton as his legal counsel when Bayh was governor. “It's only in the upside-down, hyper-partisan world of Washington, D.C., that the humble son of an Indiana pastor can be turned into a partisan zealot hostile to religion.”

Sessions also criticized Hamilton's 2005 decision that prayers recited at the start of Indiana House of Representatives sessions must not mention Jesus Christ or advance any religion.

Lugar, who defended Hamilton's ruling, said the confirmation process is “often accompanied by oversimplifications and distortions that are disturbing.”

“I believe our confirmation decisions should not be based on partisan considerations,” Lugar said, “much less on how we hope or predict a given judicial nominee will rule on particular issues of public moment or controversy.”

Poll: Republicans Would Rather Lose with Conservatives than Win with Moderates

CNN:

The poll indicates that a slight majority, 51 percent, of Republicans would prefer to see the GOP in their area nominate candidates who agree with them on all the major the issues even if they have a poor chance of beating the Democratic candidate. Forty-three percent of Republicans say they would rather have candidates with whom they don’t agree on all the important issues but who can beat the Democrats.

Democrats polled seemed to place a slightly higher priority on electoral victory: 58 percent say that they would like their party to nominate candidates who can beat Republicans, even if they don’t agree with those candidates on all the issues. Fewer than 4 in 10 Democrats say they would rather see their party nominate candidates who agree with them on all major issues, but have a poor chance of beating the Republican candidate.

“One reason for the difference between the parties: the Democrats have a relatively even split on ideological grounds. Thirty-four percent of Democrats are liberal, 40 percent are moderates and less than one in four call themselves conservatives,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

By contrast, 73 percent of Republicans questioned in the poll say they are conservatives, with only 26 percent describing themselves as liberal or moderate Republicans.

The search for ideological purity is all well and good in terms of electoral success when you have a big majority, or when you're in the minority and the other party is really screwing things up. The rest of the time? Not so much.

The Republican Party is going to keep having structural issues. The Democratic Party is going to keep having structural issues. What papers over the structural issues, from time to time, are the general fortunes of the party at the ballot box. Electoral victory has an interesting way of (at least temporarily) hiding ideological divisions and other structural issues in a political party.

Al Gore's Ignorance of Basic Science

John Derbyshire:

Al Gore on Conan O'Brien's show the other day:

Conan: Now, what about ... you talk in the book about geothermal energy ...

Al: Yeah, yeah.

Conan: and that is, as I understand it, using the heat that's generated from the core of the earth ...

Al: Yeah.

Conan: ... to create energy, and it sounds to me like an evil plan by Lex Luthor to defeat Superman. Can you, can you tell me, is this a viable solution, geothermal energy?

Al: It definitely is, and it's a relatively new one. People think about geothermal energy -- when they think about it at all -- in terms of the hot water bubbling up in some places, but two kilometers or so down in most places there are these incredibly hot rocks, 'cause the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees, and the crust of the earth is hot ...


[Me] The geothermal gradient is usually quoted as 25-50 degrees Celsius per mile of depth in normal terrain (not, e.g., in the crater of Kilauea). Two kilometers down, therefore, (that's a mile and a quarter if you're not as science-y as Al) you'll have an average gain of 30-60 degrees -- exploitable for things like home heating, though not hot enough to make a nice pot of tea. The temperature at the earth's core, 4,000 miles down, is usually quoted as 5,000 degrees Celsius, though these guys claim it's much less, while some contrarian geophysicists have posted claims up to 9,000 degrees. The temperature at the surface of the Sun is around 6,000 degrees Celsius, while at the center, where nuclear fusion is going on bigtime, things get up over 10 million degrees.

If the temperature anywhere inside the earth was "several million degrees," we'd be a star.

Hat tip: Power Line.

Quote of the Day

"Look on the bright side: Even if KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] is acquitted, they can always lock him up for failing to buy health insurance."
- Jim Treacher

Obama's Greeting

Obama's Greeting

The Amazing Bowing Obama

The Amazing Bowing Obama

Finally, a Culturally Literate President

Finally, a Culturally Literate President

Todd Young to Hold Hunting Outing Fundraiser

From the mail bag:

A Day in the Field with Todd Young
Candidate, Indiana 9th Congressional District

Let’s Exercise our Second Amendment Rights
& Send a Sportsman to Washington!

Hosted by: Brandon Butler, Indiana based outdoor writer

Saturday, December 12th
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lost River Game Farm
Orleans, IN

Each participant receives 4 pheasants, unlimited trap and skeet shooting, coffee with donuts and a catered lunch.
“Shoot as much as you want.”

Catered food from Smokin’ Jacks Rib Shack
Smokin’ Jack’s Famous Barbecued Pulled Pork and Pulled Chicken with baked beans and baked potatoes), cookies, iced tea and lemonade.

$250 per Person

Should make for a very interesting event.

The photos for the last "hunting outing" were noteworthy.

Todd Young hunting with a Hummer.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Interesting Observation about Redistricting

Presented for your consideration, two interesting items.

The first, a news article this past week from the Courier-Journal:

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly would wash its hands of legislative and congressional redistricting, leaving the job instead to an independent commission, under a constitutional amendment Senate Republicans will propose.

The amendment could not take effect until after the next redistricting scheduled for 2011, following next year’s census.

But Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Thursday his caucus will also push for changes that will make the maps lawmakers draw in 2011 more objective. Among the proposed guidelines: Making districts more compact and keeping like-communities within a district.

Second, a look at a recent Stanford study of redistricting from FiveThirtyEight:

Jonathan Rodden and Jowei Chen argue that Democrats are underrepresented in Congress and state legislatures because they tend to live in high-density areas. Geographically-compact districting plans will tend to pack Democratic voters into districts where they have 80% of the vote or whatever, thus wasting their votes. They do a voter- and precinct-level analysis of recent elections and find:

In contemporary Florida, partisans are arranged in geographic space in such a way that virtually any districting scheme favoring contiguity and compactness will generate substantial electoral bias in favor of the Republican Party. This result is driven largely by the partisan asymmetry in voters' residential patterns: Since the realignment of the party system, Democrats have tended to live in dense, homogeneous neighborhoods that aggregate into landslide Democratic districts, while Republicans live in more sparsely populated neighborhoods that aggregate into geographically larger and more politically heterogeneous districts. This phenomenon appears to substantially explain the pro-Republican bias observed in Florida's recent legislative elections.

So David Long's notion of wanting compact districts, wittingly or unwittingly, is a process likely (if this study is any indication) to result in a substantial electoral bias in favor of Republicans.

The reason for this is fairly intuitive. If the process mandates compact districts, the easiest place to form compact districts are in urban areas. Urban areas tend to be heavily Democratic. Rural and suburban areas, which are by definition less densely populated and thus much more difficult to make "compact," also tend to be more Republican.

Voters, in a sense, seem for socio-economic and demographic reasons utterly unrelated to politics to be gerrymandering themselves.

How To Divide a Party, In Three Easy Steps

Jay Cost outlines Obama's plan:

How To Divide a Party, In Three Easy Steps!

So, you've decided to become the leader of a big political party. Only one problem: it's too big! What to do?

Well, you've come to the right place. Here at the Horse Race Blog, we've developed a three-step guide to making that broad party a little more...narrow. Just follow these simple instructions and your majority party will be smaller and a little easier to handle in no time!

***

Step 1: Participate in a bitterly divisive nomination battle against a prominent opponent, making sure that you only win certain factions within the party. Leave your opponent to win other factions, even down to the very last contest. If possible, make condescending remarks about how bitter, clingy, and xenophobic some of those other factions in your own party are. This will ensure that they remain perpetually skeptical of your administration.

Having won the nomination, make no serious effort to unite this divided and fractured party. Do not nominate for vice-president somebody who is a prominent member of the opposing faction. For instance, if you're a Northern/urban candidate looking to alienate Southern/rural members of your party - make sure that the well-regarded governor of Tennessee does not find his way onto the ticket. Also, no unity tickets. Make your primary opponent swallow hard and endorse you, then give the veep nomination to somebody else.

If you complete Step 1 perfectly, you should see early signs of success. Namely, lifelong members of your party will vote for the opposition, perhaps for the first time ever. If they do this in an election that you win decisively anyway, all the better. That's how you know you're off to a good start.

Step 2: Design your cabinet so that there are few (if any) prominent members of the opposing faction installed in any important posts. If you followed Step 1 perfectly, it means your primary opponent is still out in the cold. You might have to nominate her to a prominent spot. That's less than ideal, but it is understandable. However, make no additional gestures to those other factions in the party.

That popular governor from Tennessee? He should be nowhere to be found. That senior statesmen from Georgia? Again, nowhere. How about that bipartisan bridge-builder from Louisiana? I don't know where he is, but he better not be at your cabinet meetings. After all, what you don't want are those hard feelings being softened because of the composition of your government.

Also, think big. It's important to be as broadly dismissive as possible. For instance, your cabinet should not only sample almost exclusively from the North, it should also draw heavily from urban areas. Bottom line: don't think one-dimensionally about your cabinet. It can be used to disgruntle multiple factions in your party at once!

Finally, it's smart to staff your West Wing with as many "hacks" from your campaign as possible. After all, these are the people who helped you split your party into two pieces in your quest to win the nomination. It's a good idea to keep them around, for there is a lot more work on that front left to do!

Step 3: These opposing factions in your party will now be thoroughly frustrated. Good work! It's time to kick it up a notch - by aggressively, relentlessly pursuing a legislative agenda that they obviously can't support.

Ideally, you'll want the leadership in the Congress to be chock full of fellow Northern/urban members. You can't control that yourself, but if you're so lucky as to have leaders equally committed to shrinking the size of your party - you can let them do most of the work. Take a back seat and just exhort them to follow their instincts. They'll know what to do!

Again, think multi-dimensionally. For instance, if the focus is on health care, encourage them to push through a massive expansion of government. That's bound to aggravate the South, which has never been too thrilled about the idea of a big federal government. But also, do not try to stop your urban allies if they push for a "robust" public option, which would be a particularly tough pill for rural members of Congress to swallow.

Other things like a massive government bureaucracy for "cap-and-trade," subsidization of the auto industries, and retaining your predecessor's bailout of (mostly Northern!) banks are all excellent ways to tweak those pesky Jacksonian "friends" of yours! Also, encourage those congressional leaders to help you blow a huge hole in the deficit, so that those Southern deficit hawks know that there's a new sheriff in town.

Ultimately, what you want are not simply defections for the major bills, but also defections on small ball procedural matters. That's a sign that your rank-and-file "allies" have realized that your legislative program is so unpopular in their districts that they must oppose you on every vote. Voting against the rule is halfway to joining the opposition, which means you're halfway to your goal!

***

Following these steps to the letter will ensure a nicely divided party heading into the midterm elections. Of course, the mainstream media will not notice this, as they will be obsessing over the comparatively insignificant divisions in the opposition. But take heart! You have now finished the hard work necessary for long term success: a smaller political party that is less able to build a majority coalition in years to come. Congratulations!

That's what you wanted, right?

Sounds like a plan to me.

He's with Them

Robert Kagan:

The New York Times reports that opposition protesters in Iran, in between beatings and tear-gassing from riot police and the regime’s hired thugs, have started a new chant: “Obama, Obama -- either you’re with them or you’re with us.”

In case you were wondering what the answer might be, the statement yesterday from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said it all. Gibbs declared that Obama administration officials were following reports of the unrest and “hope greatly that violence will not spread.” This was a great moment in the annals of diplo-speak. No mention of who might be committing the violence, or who might be its victims. Violence, it seems, has the capacity to spread without any human involvement.

The point of the statement, of course, was to avoid saying anything that might offend the rulers in Tehran or give any encouragement to the regime’s opponents. The Obama administration is locked into its approach on Iran and is seemingly impervious to changing circumstances. It has never adjusted to the unexpected rise of a nationwide opposition to the regime and still tries to move forward as if there were no turmoil and unrest in Iran.

But the excuses for remaining silent about the opposition are running out. When the administration first adopted this studiously indifferent stance after the fraudulent election in June, officials insisted it was for the opposition’s own good. The opposition allegedly didn’t want American support, even rhetorical. Many bought this argument at the time, but it ought to be unsustainable now. The opposition clearly would like support from Obama.

The regime is using the Obama administration’s overweening desire to talk -- and refusal to take “no” for an answer -- as a way of deflecting any international pressure regarding its domestic crackdown. And the regime's strategy is succeeding. The longer the Obama administration plays this game, the more time the regime will have to crush its opponents while the West looks on in self-imposed impotence.

Unpleasant as it may be for the president to hear, his policy is objectively aiding the Tehran regime and harming the opposition in their ongoing struggle.

The chanters are right. The United States can either be with them or against them. Right now, President Obama is against them. But it’s not too late for him to switch sides.

Let us recall Obama's inaugural address:

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

So when it comes to Iran, the question must now be asked of Obama:

What is he going to do if regimes like that in Iran don't unclench their fist while America's hand is extended?

Obama seems, at least by his behavior thus far, to believe that the hand should always be extended, even if the fist remains clenched.

The people of Iran are hoping that he changes.

Harry Reid's Monster

Harry Reid's Monster

Medicare Menace

Medicare Menace

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another Baron Lie: Cutting Medicare

Baron Hill and Barack ObamaIn response to an independent group running an ad in southern Indiana pointing out that Baron Hill has voted for legislation that will cut some $400 billion dollars in funding from Medicare, Baron decided it would be prudent for his office to put forward a statement.

This statement consists, essentially, of Baron claiming that the ad is untrue, citing someone that says it is untrue, and then launching into a bunch of talking points about how great the Pelosi health care bill really is.

But typical for Baron, the statement is itself a distortion. For example, Baron cites FactCheck.org as saying that the legislation does not cut Medicare. He even provides a quote from them to back it up.

The problem is that the quote is taken out of context. In multiple articles, FactCheck.org confirms that the legislation will indeed cut Medicare (though they frequently quibble with the amount of those cuts).

Baron's quote is taken from this FactCheck.org article. That article doesn't say that there won't be cuts in Medicare. It disagrees about the scope of the cuts, calling one characterization of the size of those cuts "simply rubbish" (the quote that Baron uses). At the same time, the article itself confirms that the legislation will cause Medicare cuts.

In fact, this is not the only FactCheck.org article that notes that the legislation Baron voted for will cause cuts to Medicare. This article says the same thing. Though (again) it disagrees with the scope of the cuts in question, it agrees that there will indeed be cuts in Medicare under the legislation that Baron voted for.

On top of FactCheck.org actually confirming the cuts to Medicare that Baron says they are calling "simply rubbish," other reputable sources have also recently noted that there will be cuts to Medicare.

Example in point, the nonpartisan Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (a government agency tasked with oversight of those programs), as reported in the Washington Post:

A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending -- one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama's proposed overhaul of the nation's health-care system -- would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.

Congress could intervene to avoid such an outcome, but "so doing would likely result in significantly smaller actual savings" than is currently projected, according to the analysis by the chief actuary for the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. That would wipe out a big chunk of the financing for the health-care reform package, which is projected to cost $1.05 trillion over the next decade.

More generally, the report questions whether the country's network of doctors and hospitals would be able to cope with the effects of a reform package expected to add more than 30 million people to the ranks of the insured, many of them through Medicaid, the public health program for the poor.

In the face of greatly increased demand for services, providers are likely to charge higher fees or take patients with better-paying private insurance over Medicaid recipients, "exacerbating existing access problems" in that program, according to the report from Richard S. Foster of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

I eagerly await the statement from Baron Hill's office accusing the Washington Post of lying and trying to scare seniors by reporting on nonpartisan government studies.

The Hill has the link to the full report from the CMS.

Page 7 of that report estimates total Medicare cuts (euphemistically spun as "savings") to equal some $571 billion.

Politico also has an article on the CMS report:

Democrats have promised that health reform would reduce health care costs, but legislation the House passed last week would increase costs over the next decade by $289 billion. By 2019, health costs would rise to 21.1 percent of GDP compared to 20.8 under current law, according to an actuarial report prepared by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“With the exception of the proposed reductions in Medicare payment updates for institutional providers, the provisions of H.R. 3962 would not have a significant impact on future health care cost growth rates. In addition, the longer-term viability of the Medicare update reductions is doubtful,” the report said.

In other words, outside of Medicare payment cuts to hospitals, the bill doesn’t curb increasing health care costs. And even the Medicare payment cuts will be difficult to sustain.

The analysis is more bad news for Democrats, who are facing increasing criticism that their reforms don’t do enough to control costs.

Not only does the CMS report confirm that there will be cuts to Medicare, it says that the legislation that the House passed--and Baron voted for--won't even lower health care costs as promised.

So there's a mountain of evidence out there to disprove the tissue of lies issued in that statement from Baron Hill's Congressional office.

Did anyone in the local media in the 9th District look into the facts of the matter before reporting on it?

Heck no.

They basically just ran Baron's statement without questioning any of it.

Case in point, the New Albany Tribune and the Jeffersonville Evening News.

And yet people still wonder why folks in southern Indiana aren't aware of Baron Hill's actual record, why earned media is impossible for challenger candidates to come by, and why if you want the truth heard you have to buy TV time and radio ads, or send mail pieces.

The two comments to the article posted (as of right now) over at the News & Tribune are both rather enlightening:

Barkley Nash wrote:
Folks, listen up. If Rep Hill says it's not going to cost you any money you better hang on to your wallet like grim death. This Health Care Bill is going to bankrupt this country. Hill is just one of the lemmings that are following the lead of Piped Piper Pelosi.

And:

Jeff Adams wrote:
Just trying to figure this one out. This comes across as an editorial, not a news story. If it's supposed to be an editorial, it should have said so. The writer only quotes Rep. Hill and none any of his constituents.

An interesting take on the subject could have been how does Hill justify a healthcare vote which is so out-of-step with his constituents' opinions. Or does Hill believe this vote along with his vote for the carbon cap and trade bill earlier this year will hurt his chances in the 2010 race.

How about your writers leave their opinions to the opinion pages and just do what Sgt. Friday would say on Dragnet years ago, 'Just the facts, sir.' Unless, of course, they think he needs their help!

Sort of says it all.

Good News for the Unemployed! Obama Will Hold a Summit about Jobs!

This is just sure to make everything better!

Why, summits solve all sorts of problems.

It's the same thing Obama did when he got himself into a little flub over his Harvard professor friend getting arrested. He had a summit with the professor and the cop that arrested him. That summit accomplished absolutely nothing other than revealing that Obama used a focus group to determine his choice in beer.

I'm just sure that there's absolutely no reason that a similar summit can't work for jobs, right?

ABC News:

As he prepares to depart on a week long 4-country excursion to Asia, President Obama will make remarks this morning in which he will address the nation's 10.2% unemployment rate and call for a White House summit on job creation to be held in December, called the "Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth," administration officials tell ABC News.

Invitees will be economists, CEOs, academics, small business owners, financial experts, and labor leaders "to talk about the best options for continuing to grow the economy and put Americans back to work," an administration official says. This summit has been kicked around as an idea by members of the president's economic team as a way to foster more ideas for economic growth.

If you're one of the 10.2% of Americans who are unemployed, you can sleep easy tonight, secure in the knowledge that Barack Obama is on the case.

He's going to have a summit to think deep thoughts about your problems, just as soon as he gets back from Asia and finishes bowing to all of those foreign monarchs.

Obama to Strip Pro-Life Amendment From Health Care “Reform” Bill

David Axelrod, on one of the Sunday shows:

White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod suggested Sunday that President Obama will intervene to make sure a controversial amendment restricting federal funding for abortion coverage is stripped from final health care reform legislation.

In doing so, the president would be heeding the call of abortion rights supporters like Planned Parenthood that have called the White House their "strongest weapon" in keeping such restrictions out of the bill.

The abortion amendment was tacked on to the House health care bill and was a key factor in securing the votes of moderate Democrats before the bill was approved by a narrow margin last weekend. The amendment, authored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., went beyond preventing the proposed government-run plan from covering abortion to restrict federal subsidies from going toward private plans that offer abortion coverage.

Axelrod said in an interview Sunday that the amendment changes the "status quo," something the president cannot abide.

"The president has said repeatedly, and he said in his speech to Congress, that he doesn't believe that this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion," Axelrod said. "This shouldn't be a debate about abortion. And he's going to work with Senate and the House to try and ensure that at the end of the day, the status quo is not changed ... I believe that there are discussions ongoing to how to adjust it accordingly."

Axelrod said the president believes that issue, as well as the ongoing dispute over what kind of government-run insurance plan, if any, should be included in the overhaul, "can and will be worked through before it reaches his desk."

Axelrod spoke on CNN's "State of the Union."

The president already said last week that he did not support the amendment.

The notion that the Stupak amendment upsets the "status quo" is a bunch of crap.

The Hyde Amendment, which has been around for over three decades (since 1976) has barred Federal dollars from funding abortions. The Stupak Amendment is basically a measure to ensure that the Hyde Amendment continues to apply should this government health care program become a reality.

Unsurprisingly, any restrictions on the unlimited abortion agenda don't exactly suit Obama, his liberal chief strategist or his liberal allies in Congress.