Commentary Magazine


Posts For: December 12, 2009

Did Reid Kill ObamaCare?

Sen. Harry Reid threw a long bomb in an act of desperation. Recognizing that there was no deal on the public option, Reid resuscitated an old liberal gambit — expanding Medicare. But the questions and contradictions came flooding forth. How was this be paid for? Wouldn’t the buy-in cost be too expensive? How could we dump millions of older, sicker people into Medicare while slashing hundreds of billions in funding from the program? It frankly makes no sense.

At week’s end, a flurry of objections and criticism — from senators, the Medicare actuary, editorial pages, previously supportive business groups, doctors, and hospitals — together with shockingly negative polling on ObamaCare suggest that we may have finally reached a point when “doing nothing” (at least for a while) makes immense political sense for lawmakers. The public isn’t clamoring for health-care “reform” and they might even be pleased with lawmakers who insisted that their leaders not jam through a partisan, ill-conceived bill.

In a sense, Reid clarified what many suspected was going on. The Democrats had ceased trying to craft a workable bill and had decided to pass something, anything, and fix it later. By choosing an approach so obviously hare-brained, however, Reid deprived his party of the pretense that they were engaged in serious lawmaking. Perhaps Reid can put all the pieces together, respond to the substantive concerns coming from all sides, reassure his members that the polls don’t mean anything, and round up 60 votes before the end of the year. But now that seems a whole lot less likely. And if it all crumbles, conservatives will have Harry Reid to thank.

Sen. Harry Reid threw a long bomb in an act of desperation. Recognizing that there was no deal on the public option, Reid resuscitated an old liberal gambit — expanding Medicare. But the questions and contradictions came flooding forth. How was this be paid for? Wouldn’t the buy-in cost be too expensive? How could we dump millions of older, sicker people into Medicare while slashing hundreds of billions in funding from the program? It frankly makes no sense.

At week’s end, a flurry of objections and criticism — from senators, the Medicare actuary, editorial pages, previously supportive business groups, doctors, and hospitals — together with shockingly negative polling on ObamaCare suggest that we may have finally reached a point when “doing nothing” (at least for a while) makes immense political sense for lawmakers. The public isn’t clamoring for health-care “reform” and they might even be pleased with lawmakers who insisted that their leaders not jam through a partisan, ill-conceived bill.

In a sense, Reid clarified what many suspected was going on. The Democrats had ceased trying to craft a workable bill and had decided to pass something, anything, and fix it later. By choosing an approach so obviously hare-brained, however, Reid deprived his party of the pretense that they were engaged in serious lawmaking. Perhaps Reid can put all the pieces together, respond to the substantive concerns coming from all sides, reassure his members that the polls don’t mean anything, and round up 60 votes before the end of the year. But now that seems a whole lot less likely. And if it all crumbles, conservatives will have Harry Reid to thank.

Read Less

So Much for Home State Favors

The Obami have a holiday surprise for the president’s home state. Lynn Sweet reports:

Barring a last minute glitch, the Obama White House has settled on an Illinois prison to house detainees now at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, sources close to the decision told the Chicago Sun-Times. An announcement is expected shortly from the Obama administration to start the process to acquire the nearly vacant Thomson Correctional Center in northwestern Illinois.A leaked memo prepared by administration officials prompted speculation that the decision was finalized. An administration official said that memo was a draft and not to read anything into its existence because paperwork is readied just in case.

The memo declares that Guantanamo detainees will be transferred “as expeditiously as possible” to Illinois’ s Thomson Correction Center.

Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn say they are delighted, suggesting it will bring more jobs to the state. I suspect this will be a top issue in next year’s Illinois senate race. After all, Senate Democrats declined to block funding for this move. We’ll see how enthusiastic the good people of Illinois are when they learn about their new residents.

But more importantly, the question one must ask on the merits of this move is why? With whom are we supposed to be garnering “credit” for moving detainees from the relatively cushy environs of Guantanamo to the isolation cells of a Supermax prison? How long before the ACLU starts demanding that the terrorists enjoy computer access, letter writing, and visits from outsiders? The security concerns, the expense, and the risk of Islamic propaganda spreading among the general prison population should, one would think, weigh heavily against this move. But the lefty lawyers in the Justice Department have other ideas and will be setting a legal precedent which will burden other administrations.

Congress can still stop this recklessness. There are votes coming up in the Senate on the omnibus spending bill and the Defense Department appropriations bill. Both might be good vehicles to test whether senators really do want to enable another inexplicable move by the Obama administration, which seems insistent on returning to a judicial model for terrorism.

The Obami have a holiday surprise for the president’s home state. Lynn Sweet reports:

Barring a last minute glitch, the Obama White House has settled on an Illinois prison to house detainees now at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, sources close to the decision told the Chicago Sun-Times. An announcement is expected shortly from the Obama administration to start the process to acquire the nearly vacant Thomson Correctional Center in northwestern Illinois.A leaked memo prepared by administration officials prompted speculation that the decision was finalized. An administration official said that memo was a draft and not to read anything into its existence because paperwork is readied just in case.

The memo declares that Guantanamo detainees will be transferred “as expeditiously as possible” to Illinois’ s Thomson Correction Center.

Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn say they are delighted, suggesting it will bring more jobs to the state. I suspect this will be a top issue in next year’s Illinois senate race. After all, Senate Democrats declined to block funding for this move. We’ll see how enthusiastic the good people of Illinois are when they learn about their new residents.

But more importantly, the question one must ask on the merits of this move is why? With whom are we supposed to be garnering “credit” for moving detainees from the relatively cushy environs of Guantanamo to the isolation cells of a Supermax prison? How long before the ACLU starts demanding that the terrorists enjoy computer access, letter writing, and visits from outsiders? The security concerns, the expense, and the risk of Islamic propaganda spreading among the general prison population should, one would think, weigh heavily against this move. But the lefty lawyers in the Justice Department have other ideas and will be setting a legal precedent which will burden other administrations.

Congress can still stop this recklessness. There are votes coming up in the Senate on the omnibus spending bill and the Defense Department appropriations bill. Both might be good vehicles to test whether senators really do want to enable another inexplicable move by the Obama administration, which seems insistent on returning to a judicial model for terrorism.

Read Less

Holiday Over

African politicians storm in fury out of international conferences. Latin American dictators stage anti-Western rallies – complete with concerts and artistic performances – in the capitals of Europe. Global busybodies convene to panic in unison, certain that the cataclysmic demise of Planet Earth is on the horizon due to (check all that apply) wealthy nations, nations aspiring to be wealthy, the emission of natural gases, the emission of unnatural gases, warm temperatures, cold temperatures, population pressures, coal heat, incandescent light bulbs, plastic bags, and motor vehicles. Pariah regimes seek nuclear weapons. The “non-aligned” clamor for recognition. Pirates menace the seas. Islamist assassins and revolutionaries blame all the world’s ills on Israel and the U.S. In a running sideshow, America and Russia are negotiating a disputed follow-on to the START arms control treaty, which expired on December 5.

Are we back in the 70s? The question is not really a sarcastic one. Too many old patterns are reemerging. There was never really a “holiday from history” after the end of the Cold War, nor was the Cold War itself an interruption of history. Americans tend to think in terms of watershed years, like 1945 and 1991. But in truth, no major geopolitical trends of the last century either stopped or started in those years. The brutal collectivism, complacent progressivism, post-colonial nationalism, eco-apocalypticism, even America’s global ascendancy – all predated the “years of decision” and continued after them.

So it is discouraging to see exchanges like this one from the December 10 press briefing at the State Department:

QUESTION: On the START negotiations, do you expect them to move forward more quickly now that the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is out of the way? There’ve been some people who’ve suggested that the Russians didn’t want to give the U.S. a victory ahead of that. And do you think that – or is this —

MR. CROWLEY: That’s kind of a Cold War kind of a question. (Laughter.)

Well, OK. The question is frivolous, and would have been equally so during the Cold War. But in evoking the sense of an underlying strategic competition between Russia and the U.S., it’s actually quite acute. The competition itself can’t be dismissed as an outdated concept.

There’s better evidence of that competition, of course: Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new, overarching security framework for the whole Euro-Atlantic region, for example, along with dynamics like Russia’s determination to control the natural gas going to Europe, its cultivation of Latin American clients, and its relentless campaign to deter the U.S. missile-defense program. Russia’s competitive posture, like the restiveness of our radicalized Latin American neighbors or the discontent of the G-77, is very real.

Barack Obama has stepped forth to preside over a post-Cold War status quo that is already slipping away, and cannot be summoned back with his speech-and-ceremony political style. As Jennifer argues, he will have to prove himself on the commitments implied in his Nobel address this week – and the conditions he faces now are no longer the ones he campaigned on being anxious to transcend. Today, invoking the Cold War as an era we have to get beyond has the aroma of mothballs about it, like invoking Woodstock and the Nuclear Freeze movement. Most of us have moved on. It is not the Russia, Iran, or Islamist guerrillas of 30 years ago that we are concerned about, but rather the ones of today.

African politicians storm in fury out of international conferences. Latin American dictators stage anti-Western rallies – complete with concerts and artistic performances – in the capitals of Europe. Global busybodies convene to panic in unison, certain that the cataclysmic demise of Planet Earth is on the horizon due to (check all that apply) wealthy nations, nations aspiring to be wealthy, the emission of natural gases, the emission of unnatural gases, warm temperatures, cold temperatures, population pressures, coal heat, incandescent light bulbs, plastic bags, and motor vehicles. Pariah regimes seek nuclear weapons. The “non-aligned” clamor for recognition. Pirates menace the seas. Islamist assassins and revolutionaries blame all the world’s ills on Israel and the U.S. In a running sideshow, America and Russia are negotiating a disputed follow-on to the START arms control treaty, which expired on December 5.

Are we back in the 70s? The question is not really a sarcastic one. Too many old patterns are reemerging. There was never really a “holiday from history” after the end of the Cold War, nor was the Cold War itself an interruption of history. Americans tend to think in terms of watershed years, like 1945 and 1991. But in truth, no major geopolitical trends of the last century either stopped or started in those years. The brutal collectivism, complacent progressivism, post-colonial nationalism, eco-apocalypticism, even America’s global ascendancy – all predated the “years of decision” and continued after them.

So it is discouraging to see exchanges like this one from the December 10 press briefing at the State Department:

QUESTION: On the START negotiations, do you expect them to move forward more quickly now that the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is out of the way? There’ve been some people who’ve suggested that the Russians didn’t want to give the U.S. a victory ahead of that. And do you think that – or is this —

MR. CROWLEY: That’s kind of a Cold War kind of a question. (Laughter.)

Well, OK. The question is frivolous, and would have been equally so during the Cold War. But in evoking the sense of an underlying strategic competition between Russia and the U.S., it’s actually quite acute. The competition itself can’t be dismissed as an outdated concept.

There’s better evidence of that competition, of course: Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new, overarching security framework for the whole Euro-Atlantic region, for example, along with dynamics like Russia’s determination to control the natural gas going to Europe, its cultivation of Latin American clients, and its relentless campaign to deter the U.S. missile-defense program. Russia’s competitive posture, like the restiveness of our radicalized Latin American neighbors or the discontent of the G-77, is very real.

Barack Obama has stepped forth to preside over a post-Cold War status quo that is already slipping away, and cannot be summoned back with his speech-and-ceremony political style. As Jennifer argues, he will have to prove himself on the commitments implied in his Nobel address this week – and the conditions he faces now are no longer the ones he campaigned on being anxious to transcend. Today, invoking the Cold War as an era we have to get beyond has the aroma of mothballs about it, like invoking Woodstock and the Nuclear Freeze movement. Most of us have moved on. It is not the Russia, Iran, or Islamist guerrillas of 30 years ago that we are concerned about, but rather the ones of today.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Robert Reich doesn’t like ReidCare: “If you think the federal employee benefit plan is an answer to this, think again. Its premiums increased nearly 9 percent this year. And if you think an expanded Medicare is the answer, you’re smoking medical marijuana. The Senate bill allows an independent commission to hold back Medicare costs only if Medicare spending is rising faster than total health spending. So if health spending is soaring because private insurers have no incentive to control it, we’re all out of luck. Medicare explodes as well.”

Others don’t like it either. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actuary say it will increase health-care spending by $234B. And Sen. Bill Nelson says its a “non-starter.”

Ten senators write a letter complaining to Harry Reid about the deal, which doesn’t seem like it’s a deal at all.

Rasmussen tells us that Harry Reid trails all GOP challengers: “For now at least, his championing of the president’s health care plan appears to raise further red flags for the Democratic incumbent. Fifty-four percent (54%) of Nevada voters oppose the plan, while 44% favor it.”

Maybe that is Obama’s problem too: “Excluding the Rasmussen and Gallup overnight tracking polls, there have been seven major national surveys released this week. President Obama has recorded an all-time low job approval rating in six of the seven.”

Not good: “The last person to know that Sen. Max Baucus wanted a divorce may have been his wife of 25 years. It appears that Wanda Baucus was in the dark even as a member of Baucus’s staff — Melodee Hanes, the woman who is now his live-in girlfriend — was plotting out the senator’s life without a wife.” And it turns out Hanes got a political appointment at the Justice Department. Maybe it is time for him to go. “Say what you want about Republicans, but they have a much better sense than their opponents of when it’s time to grab one of their own and throw him off the sled to the wolves running behind.”

Makes you wonder what Chris Dodd was thinking when he asked for his help: “Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is ‘getting the living hell beat out of him, the living bejesus beat out of him.'”

An inconvenient poll: In the latest Ipos Public Affairs poll, 52 percent of adults think global warming isn’t happening or is happening mostly because of natural patterns while only 43 percent think it is due to human activity.

A very smart move Republicans should support: “U.S. President Barack Obama told lawmakers in private talks this week that he supported moving forward on stalled free trade deals with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.”

If you loved Orin Hatch’s Chanukah tune, just wait until we get to Purim. No, really, he’s thinking about it.

Robert Reich doesn’t like ReidCare: “If you think the federal employee benefit plan is an answer to this, think again. Its premiums increased nearly 9 percent this year. And if you think an expanded Medicare is the answer, you’re smoking medical marijuana. The Senate bill allows an independent commission to hold back Medicare costs only if Medicare spending is rising faster than total health spending. So if health spending is soaring because private insurers have no incentive to control it, we’re all out of luck. Medicare explodes as well.”

Others don’t like it either. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actuary say it will increase health-care spending by $234B. And Sen. Bill Nelson says its a “non-starter.”

Ten senators write a letter complaining to Harry Reid about the deal, which doesn’t seem like it’s a deal at all.

Rasmussen tells us that Harry Reid trails all GOP challengers: “For now at least, his championing of the president’s health care plan appears to raise further red flags for the Democratic incumbent. Fifty-four percent (54%) of Nevada voters oppose the plan, while 44% favor it.”

Maybe that is Obama’s problem too: “Excluding the Rasmussen and Gallup overnight tracking polls, there have been seven major national surveys released this week. President Obama has recorded an all-time low job approval rating in six of the seven.”

Not good: “The last person to know that Sen. Max Baucus wanted a divorce may have been his wife of 25 years. It appears that Wanda Baucus was in the dark even as a member of Baucus’s staff — Melodee Hanes, the woman who is now his live-in girlfriend — was plotting out the senator’s life without a wife.” And it turns out Hanes got a political appointment at the Justice Department. Maybe it is time for him to go. “Say what you want about Republicans, but they have a much better sense than their opponents of when it’s time to grab one of their own and throw him off the sled to the wolves running behind.”

Makes you wonder what Chris Dodd was thinking when he asked for his help: “Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is ‘getting the living hell beat out of him, the living bejesus beat out of him.'”

An inconvenient poll: In the latest Ipos Public Affairs poll, 52 percent of adults think global warming isn’t happening or is happening mostly because of natural patterns while only 43 percent think it is due to human activity.

A very smart move Republicans should support: “U.S. President Barack Obama told lawmakers in private talks this week that he supported moving forward on stalled free trade deals with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.”

If you loved Orin Hatch’s Chanukah tune, just wait until we get to Purim. No, really, he’s thinking about it.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.