Commentary Magazine


Topic: House Minority Leader

Disagreeing About Who’s Disagreeable

“During election season, I think, the rhetoric flies. And by the way, I’ve been guilty of that. It’s not just them,” President Obama told “60 Minutes,” referring to House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Part of my promise to the American people when I was elected was to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. And I think over the course of two years there have been times where I’ve slipped on that commitment.”

There certainly have been. And the comparison to Boehner and McConnell is hardly apt; they have been far more careful in their rhetoric against Obama and Democrats than Obama and Democrats have been against Republicans.

A skeptic will be tempted to assume that Obama’s words are tactical rather than heartfelt — part of his effort to rehabilitate (for political reasons) his shattered reputation for post-partisan, high-minded civility. Those more forgiving of Obama, or perhaps more naïve, will assume he’s learned his lesson and will change his ways.

All we know is what we know: for two years, the president has used hyper-partisan, deeply divisive rhetoric, language that was antithetical to his central campaign commitment. As for what lies ahead: we shall see. Another election season will roll around in 2012, this time with Obama on the ballot. There will be an enormous temptation for him and his lieutenants to dust off the Chicago Way one more time. That will be as good a time as any to judge just how serious Obama is about his newfound commitment to “disagree without being disagreeable.”

Here I suppose it’s worth bearing in mind a modern proverb: “Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me.”

“During election season, I think, the rhetoric flies. And by the way, I’ve been guilty of that. It’s not just them,” President Obama told “60 Minutes,” referring to House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Part of my promise to the American people when I was elected was to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. And I think over the course of two years there have been times where I’ve slipped on that commitment.”

There certainly have been. And the comparison to Boehner and McConnell is hardly apt; they have been far more careful in their rhetoric against Obama and Democrats than Obama and Democrats have been against Republicans.

A skeptic will be tempted to assume that Obama’s words are tactical rather than heartfelt — part of his effort to rehabilitate (for political reasons) his shattered reputation for post-partisan, high-minded civility. Those more forgiving of Obama, or perhaps more naïve, will assume he’s learned his lesson and will change his ways.

All we know is what we know: for two years, the president has used hyper-partisan, deeply divisive rhetoric, language that was antithetical to his central campaign commitment. As for what lies ahead: we shall see. Another election season will roll around in 2012, this time with Obama on the ballot. There will be an enormous temptation for him and his lieutenants to dust off the Chicago Way one more time. That will be as good a time as any to judge just how serious Obama is about his newfound commitment to “disagree without being disagreeable.”

Here I suppose it’s worth bearing in mind a modern proverb: “Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me.”

Read Less

The Itty-Bitty Presidency

Obama started his presidency as an international political rock star. Europeans swooned. They gave him a Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up. The campaign had a messianic quality, and the presidency at least offered a respite from the Bush-bashing and the Clinton-hating. Even if the expectations were overblown and unrealistic, the vision was high-minded.

But unlike the vision, the actual president has turned out to be exceptionally small-minded. His enemies list has grown long — Fox News, the Chamber of Commerce, the “professional left,” talk show hosts, the lazy liberal base, the 24/7 media cycle, Wall Street, the House minority leader, and on it goes. He persists in reducing the prestige of his office and decimating the image of himself as a unifier. As Ed Gillespie has pointed out: “This kind of rhetoric and behavior only reinforces the idea that [Obama] is not up for the office. … It’s just the latest in a long litany of demons that they’ve tried to attack, going all the way back to Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell … it’s what they do.”

It’s been a turn-off for independents, who find this sort of behavior unseemly, and it hasn’t — if this was the intention — managed to keep the base pumped up. Instead, Obama has elevated his opponents and further eroded his credibility. It’s a sign of tone-deafness both in the White House and in a president who temperamentally cannot tolerate dissent or criticism. He must vilify opponents, not simply rebut their arguments.

We will find out if this is a flawed strategy born of Chicago bully-boys or a reflection of the president’s core personality. The former is reversible, the latter probably isn’t. The liberal punditocracy has speculated that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are no match for Obama and that Congress will overreach by appearing too confrontational. There is always that possibility. But those theories assume that the president has a winning persona and is adept at staying above the fray. His first two years have shown just the opposite.

The 2012 GOP primary voters will be looking for many qualities in a nominee — conservative values, executive competence, etc. But they would do well to look for a happy warrior; the contrast between such a figure and Obama may be quite compelling.

Obama started his presidency as an international political rock star. Europeans swooned. They gave him a Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up. The campaign had a messianic quality, and the presidency at least offered a respite from the Bush-bashing and the Clinton-hating. Even if the expectations were overblown and unrealistic, the vision was high-minded.

But unlike the vision, the actual president has turned out to be exceptionally small-minded. His enemies list has grown long — Fox News, the Chamber of Commerce, the “professional left,” talk show hosts, the lazy liberal base, the 24/7 media cycle, Wall Street, the House minority leader, and on it goes. He persists in reducing the prestige of his office and decimating the image of himself as a unifier. As Ed Gillespie has pointed out: “This kind of rhetoric and behavior only reinforces the idea that [Obama] is not up for the office. … It’s just the latest in a long litany of demons that they’ve tried to attack, going all the way back to Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell … it’s what they do.”

It’s been a turn-off for independents, who find this sort of behavior unseemly, and it hasn’t — if this was the intention — managed to keep the base pumped up. Instead, Obama has elevated his opponents and further eroded his credibility. It’s a sign of tone-deafness both in the White House and in a president who temperamentally cannot tolerate dissent or criticism. He must vilify opponents, not simply rebut their arguments.

We will find out if this is a flawed strategy born of Chicago bully-boys or a reflection of the president’s core personality. The former is reversible, the latter probably isn’t. The liberal punditocracy has speculated that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are no match for Obama and that Congress will overreach by appearing too confrontational. There is always that possibility. But those theories assume that the president has a winning persona and is adept at staying above the fray. His first two years have shown just the opposite.

The 2012 GOP primary voters will be looking for many qualities in a nominee — conservative values, executive competence, etc. But they would do well to look for a happy warrior; the contrast between such a figure and Obama may be quite compelling.

Read Less

Feminists Rant While Women Get Rich

As the status of women in America has improved on all fronts, the leaders of the feminist movement look and sound increasingly foolish. Their main activity these days is excoriating male politicians for slips of the tongue or for compliments that offend the sensibilities of those perpetually offended. We now have this report:

EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock will go after House Minority Leader John Boehner in a speech to the Women’s National Democratic Club this afternoon, warning that the number of women in Congress could drop this year and empower “a party that believes that women belong in the kitchen.”

Actually, it appears to be a party that has more women running than ever before. And with Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Carly Fiorina, and Linda McMahon running for Senate, it’s hard even for a shrieking feminist to get much traction with the “belong in the kitchen” lingo.

Meanwhile, in the real world:

The number of women with six-figure incomes is rising at a much faster pace than it is for men.

Nationwide, about one in 18 women working full time earned $100,000 or more in 2009, a jump of 14 percent over two years, according to new census figures. In contrast, one in seven men made that much, up just 4 percent.

The legions of higher-income women have grown even faster in the Washington region, further burnishing its reputation as a land of opportunity for ambitious professional women.

It really is time for Emily’s List, NOW, and the rest of the grievance-mongers to pack up shop. There are three women on the Supreme Court, numerous high-ranking women who occupy positions of influence in government, and legions of women who are running for office. The recession has disproportionately impacted men. The pool of college applicants is heavily tilted toward women. It’s over, gals — we won. The only limitations on women are personal and biological. Neither of those are going to be mitigated one bit by the likes of Ms. Schriock.

As the status of women in America has improved on all fronts, the leaders of the feminist movement look and sound increasingly foolish. Their main activity these days is excoriating male politicians for slips of the tongue or for compliments that offend the sensibilities of those perpetually offended. We now have this report:

EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock will go after House Minority Leader John Boehner in a speech to the Women’s National Democratic Club this afternoon, warning that the number of women in Congress could drop this year and empower “a party that believes that women belong in the kitchen.”

Actually, it appears to be a party that has more women running than ever before. And with Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Carly Fiorina, and Linda McMahon running for Senate, it’s hard even for a shrieking feminist to get much traction with the “belong in the kitchen” lingo.

Meanwhile, in the real world:

The number of women with six-figure incomes is rising at a much faster pace than it is for men.

Nationwide, about one in 18 women working full time earned $100,000 or more in 2009, a jump of 14 percent over two years, according to new census figures. In contrast, one in seven men made that much, up just 4 percent.

The legions of higher-income women have grown even faster in the Washington region, further burnishing its reputation as a land of opportunity for ambitious professional women.

It really is time for Emily’s List, NOW, and the rest of the grievance-mongers to pack up shop. There are three women on the Supreme Court, numerous high-ranking women who occupy positions of influence in government, and legions of women who are running for office. The recession has disproportionately impacted men. The pool of college applicants is heavily tilted toward women. It’s over, gals — we won. The only limitations on women are personal and biological. Neither of those are going to be mitigated one bit by the likes of Ms. Schriock.

Read Less

Stop the Presses! John Boehner Sleeps, Eats, and Breathes

If you’d like to know why the New York Times – once an order of magnitude above any other paper in the country — is in such trouble today, look no further than today’s front-page story on John Boehner, the House minority leader. Appearing above the fold on page one, it fills up most of a page inside.

It seems — are you sitting down? — as though John Boehner deals with lobbyists. The shock! The horror! After reporting on a meeting with lobbyists regarding the bank-regulations bill that passed earlier this year, for instance, the article reads:

That sort of alliance — they won a few skirmishes, though they lost the war on the regulatory bill — is business as usual for Mr. Boehner, the House minority leader and would-be speaker if Republicans win the House in November. He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.

It is, of course, equally business as usual for all congressional leaders, Republican and Democrat alike. Members of Congress deal with lobbyists every day of their professional lives, striking alliances, raising money, seeking to influence public opinion and thus win votes in Congress. The Times, in effect, is accusing Mr. Boehner of practicing politics.

The story is astonishingly thin. Are his ties to lobbyists “especially tight”? Who knows? The Times gives no examples whatever of the dealings of other Congressional leaders with lobbyists. The Times writes, “From 2000 to 2007, Mr. Boehner flew at least 45 times, often with his wife, Debbie, on corporate jets provided by companies including R. J. Reynolds. (As required, Mr. Boehner reimbursed part of the costs.)” So he didn’t do anything against House rules, apparently. But how does his aeronautical hitchhiking compare with, say, that of Steny Hoyer, the Democratic majority leader, or Sander Levin, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee? The Times doesn’t bother to say, which raises the suspicion that Democratic leaders like flying around in private jets about as much as Republican ones do. To paraphrase Mrs. August Belmont, who, a century ago, was talking about private railroad cars, “A private jet is not an acquired taste. One takes to it immediately.”

The lede in the online edition of the story gives the game away. “As Democrats try to cast John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader, as the face of the Republican Party, his ties to lobbyists are under attack.” Of course, under House rules, the Speaker is nearly all-powerful and the minority party, and thus its leader, have almost no power. They are nearly irrelevant to the legislative process in the House. So it’s going to be up-hill work trying to make Boehner into the Republican Nancy Pelosi.

This article, which alleges no wrongdoing and gives no comparisons, is simply an attempt to further the Democrats’ plan to demonize Boehner. It is water carrying, plain and simple, proving only that the Times’s ties with the Democratic Party are especially tight.

If you’d like to know why the New York Times – once an order of magnitude above any other paper in the country — is in such trouble today, look no further than today’s front-page story on John Boehner, the House minority leader. Appearing above the fold on page one, it fills up most of a page inside.

It seems — are you sitting down? — as though John Boehner deals with lobbyists. The shock! The horror! After reporting on a meeting with lobbyists regarding the bank-regulations bill that passed earlier this year, for instance, the article reads:

That sort of alliance — they won a few skirmishes, though they lost the war on the regulatory bill — is business as usual for Mr. Boehner, the House minority leader and would-be speaker if Republicans win the House in November. He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.

It is, of course, equally business as usual for all congressional leaders, Republican and Democrat alike. Members of Congress deal with lobbyists every day of their professional lives, striking alliances, raising money, seeking to influence public opinion and thus win votes in Congress. The Times, in effect, is accusing Mr. Boehner of practicing politics.

The story is astonishingly thin. Are his ties to lobbyists “especially tight”? Who knows? The Times gives no examples whatever of the dealings of other Congressional leaders with lobbyists. The Times writes, “From 2000 to 2007, Mr. Boehner flew at least 45 times, often with his wife, Debbie, on corporate jets provided by companies including R. J. Reynolds. (As required, Mr. Boehner reimbursed part of the costs.)” So he didn’t do anything against House rules, apparently. But how does his aeronautical hitchhiking compare with, say, that of Steny Hoyer, the Democratic majority leader, or Sander Levin, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee? The Times doesn’t bother to say, which raises the suspicion that Democratic leaders like flying around in private jets about as much as Republican ones do. To paraphrase Mrs. August Belmont, who, a century ago, was talking about private railroad cars, “A private jet is not an acquired taste. One takes to it immediately.”

The lede in the online edition of the story gives the game away. “As Democrats try to cast John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader, as the face of the Republican Party, his ties to lobbyists are under attack.” Of course, under House rules, the Speaker is nearly all-powerful and the minority party, and thus its leader, have almost no power. They are nearly irrelevant to the legislative process in the House. So it’s going to be up-hill work trying to make Boehner into the Republican Nancy Pelosi.

This article, which alleges no wrongdoing and gives no comparisons, is simply an attempt to further the Democrats’ plan to demonize Boehner. It is water carrying, plain and simple, proving only that the Times’s ties with the Democratic Party are especially tight.

Read Less

Take Half a Loaf, and Demand the Rest

Obama, eight weeks before the election, has decided to adopt one of many ideas the Republicans put forth in February 2009: a tax break for businesses. As this report explains:

Companies can now deduct new investment expenses, but over a longer period of time—three to 20 years. The proposed change, which would let companies keep more cash now, is meant to give companies who may be hesitant to invest an incentive to expand, acting as a spur to the overall economy. …

Under current law, if a company spends $10 million on a new factory, it gets to deduct the full amount of the cost over a period of between three and 20 years, depending on the investment. So it cuts its stated pre-tax profits by a varying amount each year, thus reducing taxes until the cost of the investment has been written off.

Under the new proposal, the company would get to deduct the full $10 million in the first year. That would give it an immediate cash infusion to offset the costs of investment. It would also give certainty that the full tax benefit would be realized. Companies often don’t get to write off the full cost of an investment over an extended time.

It is not a bad idea, but it simply isn’t as critical as an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Republicans and business leaders were quick to point this out:

“The White House is missing the big picture. These aren’t necessarily bad proposals, but they don’t address the two big problems that are hurting our economy—excessive government spending, and the uncertainty that Washington Democrats’ policies, especially their massive tax hike, are creating for small businesses,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R, Ohio). …

The best thing to do is to get rid of uncertainty, and that includes the cliff we’re falling off with all these [tax] provisions that are expiring,” said Bill Rys, tax counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business group.

Many NFIB members also are concerned about a new requirement for reporting purchases of more than $600 to the Internal Revenue Service, he added. He questioned whether many business owners would choose to buy more equipment, at least until sales pick up.

It is, on the one hand, a giant concession that tax cuts matter. On the other hand, it leaves the Obama team without any reasoned defense for letting the Bush tax cuts expire — or, for that matter, loading up employers with new mandates. (“Many NFIB members also are concerned about a new requirement for reporting purchases of more than $600 to the Internal Revenue Service.”) As one businesswoman put it, “If this will be offered as a tradeoff for raising the top two rates, it’s a non-starter.”

Nor is it even clear that this is all that helpful at this point:

N. Gregory Mankiw, of Harvard University, and another former CEA chairman under President Bush, questioned whether the Obama proposal would have a big impact. Businesses can already take out a bank loan at extremely low interest rates to pay for new investments in plants and equipment, but they are not doing so, he said. It’s unclear why they would make those investments for a tax break.

And it is even less clear why we should be giving with one hand and taking away with the other. (Jay Timmons, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers: “The good news [is that] the administration recognizes that manufacturing is key to getting the economy back on track and ensuring we are able to sustain economic growth and job creation. But you can’t do that if you’re penalizing one sector of manufacturing while trying to incent another.”)

The most principled position for conservatives is to accept the president’s tax cut (on the Milton Friedman theory that we should support any tax cut, any time) and demand that the Bush tax cuts be retained. Really, if tax cuts are good and the economy is in the tank, why not?

Obama, eight weeks before the election, has decided to adopt one of many ideas the Republicans put forth in February 2009: a tax break for businesses. As this report explains:

Companies can now deduct new investment expenses, but over a longer period of time—three to 20 years. The proposed change, which would let companies keep more cash now, is meant to give companies who may be hesitant to invest an incentive to expand, acting as a spur to the overall economy. …

Under current law, if a company spends $10 million on a new factory, it gets to deduct the full amount of the cost over a period of between three and 20 years, depending on the investment. So it cuts its stated pre-tax profits by a varying amount each year, thus reducing taxes until the cost of the investment has been written off.

Under the new proposal, the company would get to deduct the full $10 million in the first year. That would give it an immediate cash infusion to offset the costs of investment. It would also give certainty that the full tax benefit would be realized. Companies often don’t get to write off the full cost of an investment over an extended time.

It is not a bad idea, but it simply isn’t as critical as an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Republicans and business leaders were quick to point this out:

“The White House is missing the big picture. These aren’t necessarily bad proposals, but they don’t address the two big problems that are hurting our economy—excessive government spending, and the uncertainty that Washington Democrats’ policies, especially their massive tax hike, are creating for small businesses,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R, Ohio). …

The best thing to do is to get rid of uncertainty, and that includes the cliff we’re falling off with all these [tax] provisions that are expiring,” said Bill Rys, tax counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business group.

Many NFIB members also are concerned about a new requirement for reporting purchases of more than $600 to the Internal Revenue Service, he added. He questioned whether many business owners would choose to buy more equipment, at least until sales pick up.

It is, on the one hand, a giant concession that tax cuts matter. On the other hand, it leaves the Obama team without any reasoned defense for letting the Bush tax cuts expire — or, for that matter, loading up employers with new mandates. (“Many NFIB members also are concerned about a new requirement for reporting purchases of more than $600 to the Internal Revenue Service.”) As one businesswoman put it, “If this will be offered as a tradeoff for raising the top two rates, it’s a non-starter.”

Nor is it even clear that this is all that helpful at this point:

N. Gregory Mankiw, of Harvard University, and another former CEA chairman under President Bush, questioned whether the Obama proposal would have a big impact. Businesses can already take out a bank loan at extremely low interest rates to pay for new investments in plants and equipment, but they are not doing so, he said. It’s unclear why they would make those investments for a tax break.

And it is even less clear why we should be giving with one hand and taking away with the other. (Jay Timmons, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers: “The good news [is that] the administration recognizes that manufacturing is key to getting the economy back on track and ensuring we are able to sustain economic growth and job creation. But you can’t do that if you’re penalizing one sector of manufacturing while trying to incent another.”)

The most principled position for conservatives is to accept the president’s tax cut (on the Milton Friedman theory that we should support any tax cut, any time) and demand that the Bush tax cuts be retained. Really, if tax cuts are good and the economy is in the tank, why not?

Read Less

A Sign of the Times

Representative Joe Donnelly, a sophomore Blue Dog Democrat from Indiana’s 2nd district, released a new campaign ad (on the subject of immigration) targeting not George W. Bush or Donnelly’s opponent, Jackie Walorski, but rather “the Washington crowd,” with the ad panning a photograph of President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader John Boehner. “I don’t work for them. I work for you,” Donnelly says. (H/T: TalkingPointsMemo)

Indiana, it’s worth recalling, voted for Obama in 2008. Now, less than two years later, Democrats are (implicitly) running against him and the Democratic Speaker. I imagine that Donnelly won’t be the last Democrat to do this between now and November.

Representative Joe Donnelly, a sophomore Blue Dog Democrat from Indiana’s 2nd district, released a new campaign ad (on the subject of immigration) targeting not George W. Bush or Donnelly’s opponent, Jackie Walorski, but rather “the Washington crowd,” with the ad panning a photograph of President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader John Boehner. “I don’t work for them. I work for you,” Donnelly says. (H/T: TalkingPointsMemo)

Indiana, it’s worth recalling, voted for Obama in 2008. Now, less than two years later, Democrats are (implicitly) running against him and the Democratic Speaker. I imagine that Donnelly won’t be the last Democrat to do this between now and November.

Read Less

Republicans Fumble Immigration

When asked about changing the Constitution to bar children of illegal immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens, House Minority Leader John Boehner said, “I think it’s worth considering.”

No it’s not.

I’ve previously laid out my reasons why this is a very bad idea. It’s worth adding that children must turn 21 before they can sponsor their parents for legal residency. It is simply not the magnet that people like Boehner and Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Jeff Sessions, and Jon Kyl insist. They are manufacturing an argument to create an issue.

There is plenty policymakers can do to curb illegal immigration (including securing the southern border, toughening enforcement policies, and expediting the legal process to cut the average deportation time) and improve our overall approach to immigration (including narrowing the scope of the family-reunification privilege to the nuclear family, adjusting upward our quotas for high-skilled labor, and making assimilation a central national priority). Pushing for altering the 14th amendment, though, is worse than unhelpful; it is substantively unwise and politically harmful.

Republicans are practicing the politics of symbolism in the worst way possible. They are embracing a policy that doesn’t have any realistic chance of becoming law, that will be unnecessarily divisive and inflammatory, and that, in the long term, will be politically counterproductive.

It is an approach that is, among other things, wholly at odds with the one embraced by the last two Republican presidents to win reelection, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan (see here).

Why Republicans continue to travel down this road is a mystery to me. This is not what the party of Lincoln should stand for.

When asked about changing the Constitution to bar children of illegal immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens, House Minority Leader John Boehner said, “I think it’s worth considering.”

No it’s not.

I’ve previously laid out my reasons why this is a very bad idea. It’s worth adding that children must turn 21 before they can sponsor their parents for legal residency. It is simply not the magnet that people like Boehner and Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Jeff Sessions, and Jon Kyl insist. They are manufacturing an argument to create an issue.

There is plenty policymakers can do to curb illegal immigration (including securing the southern border, toughening enforcement policies, and expediting the legal process to cut the average deportation time) and improve our overall approach to immigration (including narrowing the scope of the family-reunification privilege to the nuclear family, adjusting upward our quotas for high-skilled labor, and making assimilation a central national priority). Pushing for altering the 14th amendment, though, is worse than unhelpful; it is substantively unwise and politically harmful.

Republicans are practicing the politics of symbolism in the worst way possible. They are embracing a policy that doesn’t have any realistic chance of becoming law, that will be unnecessarily divisive and inflammatory, and that, in the long term, will be politically counterproductive.

It is an approach that is, among other things, wholly at odds with the one embraced by the last two Republican presidents to win reelection, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan (see here).

Why Republicans continue to travel down this road is a mystery to me. This is not what the party of Lincoln should stand for.

Read Less

OK, So It’s Not True

Over the last year or so, Obama has repeated dozens — perhaps hundreds — of times that his health-care “reform” would allow you to keep your existing insurance plan. It’s quite apparent now that this was false. Time magazine is the latest to report:

Now that regulations about existing employer-sponsored plans have been issued, it’s becoming clear that many of the 160 million Americans with job-based coverage will not, in fact, be able to keep what they currently have.

Republican critics of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act point to the Obama Administration’s own estimates that by 2013, 39% to 69% of employer plans will be subject to new regulations and not grandfathered in, or exempted from the new rules. House minority leader John Boehner issued a press release about the new regulations with the headline “New ObamaCare Tagline Should Be ‘If You Like Your Health Care Plan, Too Bad.’ “

While the reporter feels compelled to call GOP rhetoric “overheated,” she readily concedes that conservative critics have the facts on their side:

The truth is that employer-based plans, which many assumed would easily be categorized as grandfathered, will be subject to the full regulatory thrust of the new law if they are altered in ways that are standard practice in the industry. Plans that increase the percentage of costs patients must pay out of pocket — known as co-insurance — lose their grandfathered status. The same is true for plans that significantly decrease the percentage that employers contribute to premiums or those that significantly increase deductibles or co-payments. An employer that switches health-insurance providers also loses its grandfathered status. These kinds of changes are common year to year in the current marketplace, since employers are constantly looking for ways to limit their expenses in the face of rising costs.

The “keep your plan” hooey was as deceptive as the claim that ObamaCare would reduce the deficit. In short, ObamaCare was sold under false pretenses. In contract law, such a deal would be rescinded. In politics, the solution is for lawmakers to explain that the bill doesn’t do what it promised and repeal it so that they can start over. And what if Obama decides to veto the repeal of his handiwork? Well, there will be an election in 2012 and a campaign to debate just how misleading were Obama’s assurances.

Over the last year or so, Obama has repeated dozens — perhaps hundreds — of times that his health-care “reform” would allow you to keep your existing insurance plan. It’s quite apparent now that this was false. Time magazine is the latest to report:

Now that regulations about existing employer-sponsored plans have been issued, it’s becoming clear that many of the 160 million Americans with job-based coverage will not, in fact, be able to keep what they currently have.

Republican critics of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act point to the Obama Administration’s own estimates that by 2013, 39% to 69% of employer plans will be subject to new regulations and not grandfathered in, or exempted from the new rules. House minority leader John Boehner issued a press release about the new regulations with the headline “New ObamaCare Tagline Should Be ‘If You Like Your Health Care Plan, Too Bad.’ “

While the reporter feels compelled to call GOP rhetoric “overheated,” she readily concedes that conservative critics have the facts on their side:

The truth is that employer-based plans, which many assumed would easily be categorized as grandfathered, will be subject to the full regulatory thrust of the new law if they are altered in ways that are standard practice in the industry. Plans that increase the percentage of costs patients must pay out of pocket — known as co-insurance — lose their grandfathered status. The same is true for plans that significantly decrease the percentage that employers contribute to premiums or those that significantly increase deductibles or co-payments. An employer that switches health-insurance providers also loses its grandfathered status. These kinds of changes are common year to year in the current marketplace, since employers are constantly looking for ways to limit their expenses in the face of rising costs.

The “keep your plan” hooey was as deceptive as the claim that ObamaCare would reduce the deficit. In short, ObamaCare was sold under false pretenses. In contract law, such a deal would be rescinded. In politics, the solution is for lawmakers to explain that the bill doesn’t do what it promised and repeal it so that they can start over. And what if Obama decides to veto the repeal of his handiwork? Well, there will be an election in 2012 and a campaign to debate just how misleading were Obama’s assurances.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

But it was supposed to help the Democrats: “Gallup’s most recent polling of the generic ballot shows a net five-point bounce for the Republicans, post-health care passage. The poll of registered voters now shows a lead of 47%-44%; Republicans had trailed by a similar 47%-44% margin in the first and second weeks of March, and by a 47%-45% margin in last week’s tracking results.  The loss for the Democrats comes mostly from independent voters; the gain for Republicans comes from Republican and Democratic voters turning toward the GOP.”

But it hasn’t, explains Jeffrey Anderson: “The Democrats had optimistically claimed that turning a deaf ear to the American people and passing their unpopular bill would make it popular. But Scott Rasmussen observes that ‘the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed it before now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.’ Unfortunately for the Democrats, the former number is a lot bigger than the latter one.”

But Obama said voters would learn to love it once it passed: “In addition to sharing Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns about the bill’s failure to address healthcare costs, and sharing Republicans’ concerns about government intervention and costs, the majority of independents agree with Democrats that the bill doesn’t do enough to regulate the healthcare industry. As a result, independents concur with four of the five critiques tested, one more than members of either political party do.”

But Obama said voters didn’t care about “process”: Gallup asked “whether Americans believe the methods Democratic leaders used to secure passage of the bill represented ‘an abuse of power’ or ‘an appropriate use’ of the majority party’s power in Congress. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans see it as abuse of power, whereas a smaller majority of Democrats (70%) call it an appropriate use of power. The majority of independents agree with most Republicans on this question.”

But the Republican insiders told us that Charlie Crist was the “safe” choice: “Former FL GOP chair Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation after an audit showed he may have profited from party activity, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. … Under pressure from major donors and party elders, Greer announced in early Jan. he would resign in Feb. Donors had been upset with his stewardship of party finances, and with spending many saw as beneficial to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Greer’s major backer when he became chair. Greer is supporting Crist in the primary against ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), which did not sit well with the state’s activist base.”

But don’t they know that Henry Waxman will haul them in front of his committee to read them the riot act? “Boeing Co. will take a charge of $150 million due to the recent health care overhaul legislation, the aircraft maker said Wednesday. The charge will hurt earnings by 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. In 2013 Boeing will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction related to certain prescription drug benefits for retirees. Accounting rules require that the company take the charge during the period the legislation is enacted. Several other companies have said they will take accounting charges due to the health care reform bill including AT&T, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co.”

But what about the rest of the country? “The top House Republican says the White House’s decision to begin offshore drilling across huge expanses of ocean is a ‘positive step,’ but he’s still blasting the Obama administration for keeping areas on the West Coast closed to such exploration. House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that the administration ‘continues to defy the will of the American people,’ who he says supported a 2008 congressional decision to allow oil exploration off the Pacific Coast and Alaska.”

But Obama was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent and “pivot” from ObamaCare to job creation: “Private-sector employers unexpectedly shed 23,000 jobs in March, according to a measure of private-sector employment released this morning, reminding us of the very choppy nature of this recovery.”

But it was supposed to help the Democrats: “Gallup’s most recent polling of the generic ballot shows a net five-point bounce for the Republicans, post-health care passage. The poll of registered voters now shows a lead of 47%-44%; Republicans had trailed by a similar 47%-44% margin in the first and second weeks of March, and by a 47%-45% margin in last week’s tracking results.  The loss for the Democrats comes mostly from independent voters; the gain for Republicans comes from Republican and Democratic voters turning toward the GOP.”

But it hasn’t, explains Jeffrey Anderson: “The Democrats had optimistically claimed that turning a deaf ear to the American people and passing their unpopular bill would make it popular. But Scott Rasmussen observes that ‘the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed it before now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.’ Unfortunately for the Democrats, the former number is a lot bigger than the latter one.”

But Obama said voters would learn to love it once it passed: “In addition to sharing Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns about the bill’s failure to address healthcare costs, and sharing Republicans’ concerns about government intervention and costs, the majority of independents agree with Democrats that the bill doesn’t do enough to regulate the healthcare industry. As a result, independents concur with four of the five critiques tested, one more than members of either political party do.”

But Obama said voters didn’t care about “process”: Gallup asked “whether Americans believe the methods Democratic leaders used to secure passage of the bill represented ‘an abuse of power’ or ‘an appropriate use’ of the majority party’s power in Congress. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans see it as abuse of power, whereas a smaller majority of Democrats (70%) call it an appropriate use of power. The majority of independents agree with most Republicans on this question.”

But the Republican insiders told us that Charlie Crist was the “safe” choice: “Former FL GOP chair Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation after an audit showed he may have profited from party activity, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. … Under pressure from major donors and party elders, Greer announced in early Jan. he would resign in Feb. Donors had been upset with his stewardship of party finances, and with spending many saw as beneficial to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Greer’s major backer when he became chair. Greer is supporting Crist in the primary against ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), which did not sit well with the state’s activist base.”

But don’t they know that Henry Waxman will haul them in front of his committee to read them the riot act? “Boeing Co. will take a charge of $150 million due to the recent health care overhaul legislation, the aircraft maker said Wednesday. The charge will hurt earnings by 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. In 2013 Boeing will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction related to certain prescription drug benefits for retirees. Accounting rules require that the company take the charge during the period the legislation is enacted. Several other companies have said they will take accounting charges due to the health care reform bill including AT&T, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co.”

But what about the rest of the country? “The top House Republican says the White House’s decision to begin offshore drilling across huge expanses of ocean is a ‘positive step,’ but he’s still blasting the Obama administration for keeping areas on the West Coast closed to such exploration. House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that the administration ‘continues to defy the will of the American people,’ who he says supported a 2008 congressional decision to allow oil exploration off the Pacific Coast and Alaska.”

But Obama was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent and “pivot” from ObamaCare to job creation: “Private-sector employers unexpectedly shed 23,000 jobs in March, according to a measure of private-sector employment released this morning, reminding us of the very choppy nature of this recovery.”

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Wondering where the American Jewish community is on Obama’s Israel-bash-a-thon? Well, being a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, whose fidelity, financial and electoral, all Dem administrations can and do take fully for granted” has its drawbacks.” But perhaps, just perhaps, some in the community are starting to notice “the ill wind blowing toward Israel from Mr. Obama’s office.”

Wondering why the House hasn’t voted on ObamaCare yet? “House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that Democrats don’t have the House votes to pass the healthcare bill. ‘If she had 216 votes this bill would be long gone,’ Boehner said of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’” (Rep. James Clyburn admitted that they don’t yet have the votes.)

Wondering if the Obama terror policy is losing steam? David Axelrod seemed less than vigorous about closing Guantanamo. (“We have made good progress. You know, when we got there, the legal status of many of the people there was unclear. We had to go through a process of really sorting all of these cases out. We are beginning to work those cases.”) Boehner was blunt: “I don’t think the Congress will appropriate one dime to move those prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States.”

Wondering if Virginia Democrats are nervous about going down with the Obama ship? “U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., said Friday he could not support health care reform legislation that includes heavy cuts to Medicare, a position he has held since his first vote against the package and his party’s move to push legislation through Congress.” Boucher, an at-risk Democrat, seems unwilling to sacrifice himself for the greater glory of Obama.

Wondering why the media and Democrats are so anxious to discredit the Tea Partiers? Michael Barone says there’s their “energy, political creativity and enthusiasm into a moribund and dejected political party, like the Democrats of 1968 and the Republicans of 2008.” And also this: “The Republicans for the last two decades have been a party whose litmus tests have been cultural issues, especially abortion. The tea partiers have helped to change their focus to issues of government overreach and spending. That may be a helpful pivot, given the emergence of a millennial generation uncomfortable with crusading cultural conservatism.”

Wondering just how inane the Obami’s argument is against political free speech? Axelrod: “Under the ruling of the Supreme Court, any lobbyist could go in to any legislator and say, `If you don’t vote our way on this bill, we’re going to run a million-dollar campaign against you in your district.’ And that is a threat to our democracy.” Threatening legislators with ads! What’s next — citizen protests?

Wondering how that “Republican civil war” is going? It isn’t. At the GOP state convention, Carly Fiorina: “Conservatives, independents, moderates, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, Libertarians – all of us now belong to one party: The ‘Had Enough Party.’ We have had enough, and we are at a critical point in history – in Ronald Reagan’s words: ‘a time for choosing.’ You and I will choose to make a difference this year. Not separately but together.” That was how Bob McDonnell did it. But Fiorina has a primary first.

Wondering where the American Jewish community is on Obama’s Israel-bash-a-thon? Well, being a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, whose fidelity, financial and electoral, all Dem administrations can and do take fully for granted” has its drawbacks.” But perhaps, just perhaps, some in the community are starting to notice “the ill wind blowing toward Israel from Mr. Obama’s office.”

Wondering why the House hasn’t voted on ObamaCare yet? “House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that Democrats don’t have the House votes to pass the healthcare bill. ‘If she had 216 votes this bill would be long gone,’ Boehner said of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’” (Rep. James Clyburn admitted that they don’t yet have the votes.)

Wondering if the Obama terror policy is losing steam? David Axelrod seemed less than vigorous about closing Guantanamo. (“We have made good progress. You know, when we got there, the legal status of many of the people there was unclear. We had to go through a process of really sorting all of these cases out. We are beginning to work those cases.”) Boehner was blunt: “I don’t think the Congress will appropriate one dime to move those prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States.”

Wondering if Virginia Democrats are nervous about going down with the Obama ship? “U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., said Friday he could not support health care reform legislation that includes heavy cuts to Medicare, a position he has held since his first vote against the package and his party’s move to push legislation through Congress.” Boucher, an at-risk Democrat, seems unwilling to sacrifice himself for the greater glory of Obama.

Wondering why the media and Democrats are so anxious to discredit the Tea Partiers? Michael Barone says there’s their “energy, political creativity and enthusiasm into a moribund and dejected political party, like the Democrats of 1968 and the Republicans of 2008.” And also this: “The Republicans for the last two decades have been a party whose litmus tests have been cultural issues, especially abortion. The tea partiers have helped to change their focus to issues of government overreach and spending. That may be a helpful pivot, given the emergence of a millennial generation uncomfortable with crusading cultural conservatism.”

Wondering just how inane the Obami’s argument is against political free speech? Axelrod: “Under the ruling of the Supreme Court, any lobbyist could go in to any legislator and say, `If you don’t vote our way on this bill, we’re going to run a million-dollar campaign against you in your district.’ And that is a threat to our democracy.” Threatening legislators with ads! What’s next — citizen protests?

Wondering how that “Republican civil war” is going? It isn’t. At the GOP state convention, Carly Fiorina: “Conservatives, independents, moderates, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, Libertarians – all of us now belong to one party: The ‘Had Enough Party.’ We have had enough, and we are at a critical point in history – in Ronald Reagan’s words: ‘a time for choosing.’ You and I will choose to make a difference this year. Not separately but together.” That was how Bob McDonnell did it. But Fiorina has a primary first.

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.