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Posts For: December 20, 2009

When the Chips Are Down, All Democrats Are Liberals

The Senate is moving slowly toward the first cloture vote around 1:00 a.m. on Monday, heading to a final vote on the health-care bill Thursday evening. At this juncture the most realistic avenue for upsetting the freight train is Rep. Bart Stupak, who unlike Sen. Ben Nelson, was not snookered (willingly or otherwise) into abandoning his pro-life constituents. As others have pointed out, Nebraska pro-life voters like voters in every state will, under the Harry Reid “compromise,” have their tax dollars go toward subsidizing abortions in states that choose not to “opt out” of abortion coverage.

There are several noteworthy aspects to all of this. First, we have heard a lot in the last year from some snooty ostensibly-conservative pundits who would like to rearrange the conservative coalition and dump social conservatives overboard. However, the health-care bill is as good an example as we will find as to why this is politically idiotic. Here we see that it is social conservatives who remain the last men and women standing against liberal economic- and social-engineering projects. The numbers may just not be there for Stupak to disrupt the juggernaut, but it is instructive that the final battle is likely to be over abortion subsidies, not taxes or any other economic issue. Perhaps it’s not a good idea for conservatives to tell some of their most stalwart allies to get lost.

Second, the Obama tax pledge — no tax hikes on families making less than $250, 000 — has been eviscerated by the bill. There are no less than seven categories of taxes on the supposedly non-rich and they are not insignificant. Union members with generous benefits, so-called “Cadillac” plans, are going to get smacked with new excise takes –unless of course they lose those generous benefits. This reality is not enough to sway supposedly moderate and conservative Democrats (and can we acknowledge when the chips are down they are all liberals?) to vote “no” when it comes to cloture, but it will certainly come up in the 2010 elections. (Five Democrats, including Nelson, voted to take the under-$250,000 tax provisions out, but their defense of the taxpayers evaporates when it matters.) Taxes are now a front-and-center issue in the run up to the 2010 election.

Third, we are spending of at least $871B (maybe $2.5 trillion over ten years) and raising about $500 billion in taxes. Nevertheless, we will still have, by the CBO’s estimate, some 23 million non-elderly uninsured residents. Insurance companies are no doubt doing the jig with the realization that the government is herding new customers their way. But that’s a huge transfer of wealth for not really solving the problem of the uninsured. We go from 83 percent of the population insured to 94 percent by taking money away from seniors’ Medicare funding and everyone else’s pockets.

We will, if this passes, see a massive sell-job by the administration and Congress to tout this “historic achievement.” But the American people may well recoil in horror. They are going to be taxed and bossed around, have their benefits disrupted and see what happens when government gurus begin to dictate what care they will receive. And it will be crystal clear who, when the chips are down, tried to stop the largest big-government power grab and tax-a-thon in decades and who rolled over. The opponents of those Democrats who rolled over will have a plethora of material for their campaign ads.

The Senate is moving slowly toward the first cloture vote around 1:00 a.m. on Monday, heading to a final vote on the health-care bill Thursday evening. At this juncture the most realistic avenue for upsetting the freight train is Rep. Bart Stupak, who unlike Sen. Ben Nelson, was not snookered (willingly or otherwise) into abandoning his pro-life constituents. As others have pointed out, Nebraska pro-life voters like voters in every state will, under the Harry Reid “compromise,” have their tax dollars go toward subsidizing abortions in states that choose not to “opt out” of abortion coverage.

There are several noteworthy aspects to all of this. First, we have heard a lot in the last year from some snooty ostensibly-conservative pundits who would like to rearrange the conservative coalition and dump social conservatives overboard. However, the health-care bill is as good an example as we will find as to why this is politically idiotic. Here we see that it is social conservatives who remain the last men and women standing against liberal economic- and social-engineering projects. The numbers may just not be there for Stupak to disrupt the juggernaut, but it is instructive that the final battle is likely to be over abortion subsidies, not taxes or any other economic issue. Perhaps it’s not a good idea for conservatives to tell some of their most stalwart allies to get lost.

Second, the Obama tax pledge — no tax hikes on families making less than $250, 000 — has been eviscerated by the bill. There are no less than seven categories of taxes on the supposedly non-rich and they are not insignificant. Union members with generous benefits, so-called “Cadillac” plans, are going to get smacked with new excise takes –unless of course they lose those generous benefits. This reality is not enough to sway supposedly moderate and conservative Democrats (and can we acknowledge when the chips are down they are all liberals?) to vote “no” when it comes to cloture, but it will certainly come up in the 2010 elections. (Five Democrats, including Nelson, voted to take the under-$250,000 tax provisions out, but their defense of the taxpayers evaporates when it matters.) Taxes are now a front-and-center issue in the run up to the 2010 election.

Third, we are spending of at least $871B (maybe $2.5 trillion over ten years) and raising about $500 billion in taxes. Nevertheless, we will still have, by the CBO’s estimate, some 23 million non-elderly uninsured residents. Insurance companies are no doubt doing the jig with the realization that the government is herding new customers their way. But that’s a huge transfer of wealth for not really solving the problem of the uninsured. We go from 83 percent of the population insured to 94 percent by taking money away from seniors’ Medicare funding and everyone else’s pockets.

We will, if this passes, see a massive sell-job by the administration and Congress to tout this “historic achievement.” But the American people may well recoil in horror. They are going to be taxed and bossed around, have their benefits disrupted and see what happens when government gurus begin to dictate what care they will receive. And it will be crystal clear who, when the chips are down, tried to stop the largest big-government power grab and tax-a-thon in decades and who rolled over. The opponents of those Democrats who rolled over will have a plethora of material for their campaign ads.

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Hiding from Scrutiny — with Good Reason

Stephen Hayes has a blockbuster story on the problem of terrorist recidivism by Guantanamo detainees who we’ve been released:

The Defense Department has now produced an updated version of Return to the Battlefield. According to four separate sources familiar with the study, the rate of recidivism is increasing. One source said there has been a “spike” in the number of former detainees involved in jihad against the United States and its allies. Another called the increase “significant” and ‘deeply troubling.” But the Obama administration–despite its -self-congratulatory claims of transparency–is refusing to release it. A Pentagon spokesman tells us the latest report is classified and there are no plans to release it.

The issue has all the telltale signs that we have come to expect from the Obami’s serial blunders on national security. The problem starts with moral sanctimoniousness and a determination to do the opposite of whatever George W. Bush was doing. If Bush detained terrorists in a secure, offshore location, the Obami would do the opposite. The Obami then engage in much posturing and braying, but they dread scrutiny. (“Many of the recidivists, moreover, are already known — there is no reason for the government to classify those details that can be sourced to newspaper accounts.”) That’s why we see Friday-afternoon document dumps and major announcements (e.g., KSM’s civilian trial). And it’s also why they would rather get tagged as hypocrites for lacking transparency than let the public get a glimpse of what they are up to. And finally, it’s getting impossible to argue that the Obami’s moves are making us safer. As Hayes details, in June 2008 we had 37 cases of “confirmed or suspected” detainees released who went back to terrorism; seven months later the number went up to 61:

In May 2009, when the last report was leaked to the New York Times, the DoD had found that those metric had risen further to 74 — exactly double the Pentagon’s estimate just 11 months before. At that rate, the Pentagon is identifying each month, on average, more than three former Gitmo detainees thought to have returned to terrorism.

But facts don’t deter this gang. On Friday we learned that six more detainees were being sent back to Yemen of all places (where Major Nadal Hassan’s favorite imam has set up shop), with perhaps another dozen to follow.

It is not surprising that the Obama administration is operating in secret and concealing their policies whenever they can get away with it. Any administration with policies this inimical to Americans’ safety and security would do the same.

Stephen Hayes has a blockbuster story on the problem of terrorist recidivism by Guantanamo detainees who we’ve been released:

The Defense Department has now produced an updated version of Return to the Battlefield. According to four separate sources familiar with the study, the rate of recidivism is increasing. One source said there has been a “spike” in the number of former detainees involved in jihad against the United States and its allies. Another called the increase “significant” and ‘deeply troubling.” But the Obama administration–despite its -self-congratulatory claims of transparency–is refusing to release it. A Pentagon spokesman tells us the latest report is classified and there are no plans to release it.

The issue has all the telltale signs that we have come to expect from the Obami’s serial blunders on national security. The problem starts with moral sanctimoniousness and a determination to do the opposite of whatever George W. Bush was doing. If Bush detained terrorists in a secure, offshore location, the Obami would do the opposite. The Obami then engage in much posturing and braying, but they dread scrutiny. (“Many of the recidivists, moreover, are already known — there is no reason for the government to classify those details that can be sourced to newspaper accounts.”) That’s why we see Friday-afternoon document dumps and major announcements (e.g., KSM’s civilian trial). And it’s also why they would rather get tagged as hypocrites for lacking transparency than let the public get a glimpse of what they are up to. And finally, it’s getting impossible to argue that the Obami’s moves are making us safer. As Hayes details, in June 2008 we had 37 cases of “confirmed or suspected” detainees released who went back to terrorism; seven months later the number went up to 61:

In May 2009, when the last report was leaked to the New York Times, the DoD had found that those metric had risen further to 74 — exactly double the Pentagon’s estimate just 11 months before. At that rate, the Pentagon is identifying each month, on average, more than three former Gitmo detainees thought to have returned to terrorism.

But facts don’t deter this gang. On Friday we learned that six more detainees were being sent back to Yemen of all places (where Major Nadal Hassan’s favorite imam has set up shop), with perhaps another dozen to follow.

It is not surprising that the Obama administration is operating in secret and concealing their policies whenever they can get away with it. Any administration with policies this inimical to Americans’ safety and security would do the same.

Read Less

Obama’s Achievements?

I commented the other day on Jessica Matthews’s defense of Obama’s foreign-policy record, which I found highly unconvincing. I am more impressed by this article by the Financial Timess Washington bureau chief, Ed Luce. Straying from the realm of security policy, he gives Obama credit for helping to stabilize the American economy — indeed, the global economy:

Mr. Obama began his term in the midst of the biggest economic maelstrom in two generations and a climate of panic. He ends his first year on the calm seas of an economy that has returned to moderate growth and a financial system returned to solvency (in the case of bonus pools, too much solvency for most people’s liking).

I think that’s right, and it’s an achievement that should not go underestimated. In this instance, Obama proved a deft crisis manager. But Luce also underscores the lack of substantive achievements from Obama’s stress on “diplomacy” as opposed to the presumed war-mongering of his predecessor. He concedes (as Matthews does not):

Mr. Obama’s trip to China last month looked amateur when it became clear his hosts interpreted his warm “G2” overtures as a sign of weakness. His attempts to revive the Arab-Israeli peace process were sincere but they have been badly handled. And Iran is no closer to coming to the negotiating table.

That’s right too. And the “grudging agreement” reached by participants in the Copenhagen climate-change conference won’t change that judgment substantially. As the New York Times notes: “Even President Obama, a principal force behind the final deal, said the accord would take only a modest step toward healing the Earth’s fragile atmosphere.”

I commented the other day on Jessica Matthews’s defense of Obama’s foreign-policy record, which I found highly unconvincing. I am more impressed by this article by the Financial Timess Washington bureau chief, Ed Luce. Straying from the realm of security policy, he gives Obama credit for helping to stabilize the American economy — indeed, the global economy:

Mr. Obama began his term in the midst of the biggest economic maelstrom in two generations and a climate of panic. He ends his first year on the calm seas of an economy that has returned to moderate growth and a financial system returned to solvency (in the case of bonus pools, too much solvency for most people’s liking).

I think that’s right, and it’s an achievement that should not go underestimated. In this instance, Obama proved a deft crisis manager. But Luce also underscores the lack of substantive achievements from Obama’s stress on “diplomacy” as opposed to the presumed war-mongering of his predecessor. He concedes (as Matthews does not):

Mr. Obama’s trip to China last month looked amateur when it became clear his hosts interpreted his warm “G2” overtures as a sign of weakness. His attempts to revive the Arab-Israeli peace process were sincere but they have been badly handled. And Iran is no closer to coming to the negotiating table.

That’s right too. And the “grudging agreement” reached by participants in the Copenhagen climate-change conference won’t change that judgment substantially. As the New York Times notes: “Even President Obama, a principal force behind the final deal, said the accord would take only a modest step toward healing the Earth’s fragile atmosphere.”

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama tells us that we are “bearing witness”? Hard to see how that differs from enabling a murderous regime to avoid scrutiny: “At the height of Iran’s bloody civil unrest this year, a young doctor named Ramin Pourandarjani defied his superiors. He refused to sign death certificates at a Tehran prison that he said were falsified to cover up murder. He testified to a parliamentary committee that jailers were torturing and raping protesters, his family says. He told friends and family he feared for his life. And on Nov. 10, the 26-year-old doctor was found dead in the military clinic where he lived and worked.” 

The editorially liberal Seattle Times says “no” to ObamaCare: “The public option is in then out; the Medicare buy-in for 55-year-olds is in, then out. When the congressional dance stops, the Senate may have 60 votes, but for what? It will satisfy neither Obama’s frugal promise nor progressives’ lavish hopes. Already the Democratic Party’s former chairman, Howard Dean, says the bill is not worth passing in this form.”

You can see why the Daily Kos kids feel betrayed: “Senate Democratic leaders say last-minute changes to the health care bill include giving nonprofit health insurance companies an exemption from the excise tax on insurers, a revision pushed by Sen. Carl Levin, who is a major recipient of campaign contributions form mega nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield.”

On the Right, they are mad too. I think he means Ben Nelson: “Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oka.) said it is ‘absolutely fictitious’ that there is an anti-abortion provision in the Senate Democrats’ reworked healthcare reform bill. ‘The negotiations, whoever did them, threw unborn babies under the bus,’ Coburn said.” From Sen. Richard Burr: “You have to compliment Ben Nelson for playing the price is right. . This isn’t the Louisiana Purchase. This is the Nebraska windfall.” Well, Nelson couldn’t have thought he’d keep his conservative supporters, right?

Huffington Post or National Review? “With unemployment at 10%, the idea that you can pass a bill whose only merit is that ‘liberals hate it’ just because the media will eat it up and print your talking points in the process is so cynical and short-sighted it’s hard to comprehend anyone would pursue it. It reflects a total insensitivity to the rage that is brewing on the popular front, which is manifest in every single poll out there.”

Headline from the Washington Post or Washington Times? “Health-care debate wearing on Democrats’ unity, popularity.”

Frank Rich or Rich Lowry? “Though the American left and right don’t agree on much, they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama’s brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger’s public image — a marketing scam designed to camouflage either his covert anti-American radicalism (as the right sees it) or spineless timidity (as the left sees it).”

James Carafano sums up the Obami’s spending priorities: “The White House priority is to push through a symbolic deal at Copenhagen which will justify spending hundreds-of-billions, cost up to two million American jobs and won’t actually really make us safe from the dangers of climate change…but they say we can’t afford spending two percent of the defense budget on missile defense which would provide real protection to a 13 trillion dollar economy.” Yup.

The Walpin scandal bubbles up to the surface of the mainstream media: “Congressional Republicans raised new concerns this week about the Obama administration’s firing of Gerald Walpin, who served as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service. GOP lawmakers said White House visitors logs contradict statements made by the former chairman of CNCS, the agency that oversees AmeriCorps.”

Robert Wexler’s pro-Obami spin on the settlement-freeze debacle is too much even for Lestlie Gelb, who asks incredulously “So the Administration never asked Israel for freeze across the board — West Bank, East Jerusalem — on every and all kind of settlement activity?”

Kathleen Parker has figured out that Obama has a “grandiosity” problem, “an inflated self-confidence and a sense of power exceeding one’s means.” So he is reduced to passing a shlock health-care bill: “Thus, the man who was going to remain above the political fray has revealed himself as pluperfectly political, ready to settle for the very kind of mandate (without the public option) that he opposed as a candidate challenging Hillary Clinton. Rather than inspiring confidence, he has inspired a groundswell of disapproval and a populist uprising that may allow Republicans to clean House come November. In the meantime, left and right finally have discovered a common foe. Too bad for the country that his name is Obama.” And too bad so many pundits flacked for him during the campaign.

Obama tells us that we are “bearing witness”? Hard to see how that differs from enabling a murderous regime to avoid scrutiny: “At the height of Iran’s bloody civil unrest this year, a young doctor named Ramin Pourandarjani defied his superiors. He refused to sign death certificates at a Tehran prison that he said were falsified to cover up murder. He testified to a parliamentary committee that jailers were torturing and raping protesters, his family says. He told friends and family he feared for his life. And on Nov. 10, the 26-year-old doctor was found dead in the military clinic where he lived and worked.” 

The editorially liberal Seattle Times says “no” to ObamaCare: “The public option is in then out; the Medicare buy-in for 55-year-olds is in, then out. When the congressional dance stops, the Senate may have 60 votes, but for what? It will satisfy neither Obama’s frugal promise nor progressives’ lavish hopes. Already the Democratic Party’s former chairman, Howard Dean, says the bill is not worth passing in this form.”

You can see why the Daily Kos kids feel betrayed: “Senate Democratic leaders say last-minute changes to the health care bill include giving nonprofit health insurance companies an exemption from the excise tax on insurers, a revision pushed by Sen. Carl Levin, who is a major recipient of campaign contributions form mega nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield.”

On the Right, they are mad too. I think he means Ben Nelson: “Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oka.) said it is ‘absolutely fictitious’ that there is an anti-abortion provision in the Senate Democrats’ reworked healthcare reform bill. ‘The negotiations, whoever did them, threw unborn babies under the bus,’ Coburn said.” From Sen. Richard Burr: “You have to compliment Ben Nelson for playing the price is right. . This isn’t the Louisiana Purchase. This is the Nebraska windfall.” Well, Nelson couldn’t have thought he’d keep his conservative supporters, right?

Huffington Post or National Review? “With unemployment at 10%, the idea that you can pass a bill whose only merit is that ‘liberals hate it’ just because the media will eat it up and print your talking points in the process is so cynical and short-sighted it’s hard to comprehend anyone would pursue it. It reflects a total insensitivity to the rage that is brewing on the popular front, which is manifest in every single poll out there.”

Headline from the Washington Post or Washington Times? “Health-care debate wearing on Democrats’ unity, popularity.”

Frank Rich or Rich Lowry? “Though the American left and right don’t agree on much, they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama’s brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger’s public image — a marketing scam designed to camouflage either his covert anti-American radicalism (as the right sees it) or spineless timidity (as the left sees it).”

James Carafano sums up the Obami’s spending priorities: “The White House priority is to push through a symbolic deal at Copenhagen which will justify spending hundreds-of-billions, cost up to two million American jobs and won’t actually really make us safe from the dangers of climate change…but they say we can’t afford spending two percent of the defense budget on missile defense which would provide real protection to a 13 trillion dollar economy.” Yup.

The Walpin scandal bubbles up to the surface of the mainstream media: “Congressional Republicans raised new concerns this week about the Obama administration’s firing of Gerald Walpin, who served as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service. GOP lawmakers said White House visitors logs contradict statements made by the former chairman of CNCS, the agency that oversees AmeriCorps.”

Robert Wexler’s pro-Obami spin on the settlement-freeze debacle is too much even for Lestlie Gelb, who asks incredulously “So the Administration never asked Israel for freeze across the board — West Bank, East Jerusalem — on every and all kind of settlement activity?”

Kathleen Parker has figured out that Obama has a “grandiosity” problem, “an inflated self-confidence and a sense of power exceeding one’s means.” So he is reduced to passing a shlock health-care bill: “Thus, the man who was going to remain above the political fray has revealed himself as pluperfectly political, ready to settle for the very kind of mandate (without the public option) that he opposed as a candidate challenging Hillary Clinton. Rather than inspiring confidence, he has inspired a groundswell of disapproval and a populist uprising that may allow Republicans to clean House come November. In the meantime, left and right finally have discovered a common foe. Too bad for the country that his name is Obama.” And too bad so many pundits flacked for him during the campaign.

Read Less




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