Commentary Magazine


Topic: National Governors Association

Flotsam and Jetsam

A good question triggered by the assassination of the Hamas terrorist in Dubai and our decision to send an ambassador to Syria: “Will the safe haven Damascus continues to provide terrorists such as Mabhouh, who would erase Israel from the Middle-Eastern map—to say nothing of the foreign fighters trained by al Qaeda and/or armed by Iran who are still entering Iraq across the Syrian border to kill American soldiers—be a subject of discussion for America’s newly appointed ambassador to Syria once he’s presented his credentials?”

If you thought the Ivy League–educated Oval Office occupier Obama’s populism was fake: “If last year’s bailout of the financial industry caused you to start muttering words like investment banker and robber baron in the same sentence, it may cheer you to know that Timothy Geithner, the man responsible for crafting much of that bailout, agrees with you. ‘I am,’ he says, seated in his Washington, D.C., office, an intimidatingly ornate room worthy of a Hogwarts headmaster, ‘incredibly angry at what happened to our country.'”

A lot of people excited about a potential 2012 run by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will be excited to hear this: “During an interview at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association here over the weekend, Daniels said he has now been persuaded to keep open the door to a possible candidacy.”

Is Marco Rubio running away with the GOP Senate primary race? The latest Rasmussen poll has him up by 18 points.

Democrats are on the defensive in Illinois: “Illinois’ Republican Party is keeping up a steady drumbeat of pressure on Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias to answer questions about his family’s Broadway Bank. ‘Why is Alexi hiding?’ the party asked in an e-mail to reporters a week after the election and after news conferences Giannoulias had held in Chicago and Springfield. … In at least 10 e-mails sent out since the election, the party says Giannoulias is ducking questions about loans he authorized four years ago as vice-president of his family’s Broadway Bank and about the bank’s current troubled financial state.”

CATO’s Michael Tanner on the latest version of ObamaCare: “Faced with public opinion polls showing that 58 percent of the public are opposed to his health care proposal, President Obama has gone back to the drawing board and brought forth a new health care plan that looks almost exactly like his old health care bill. Actually that’s not quite true. This proposal is more expensive, pushing its cost up close to $1 trillion in the first 10 years, and raising taxes by some $629 billion.”

Some are in a tizzy: “Critics left and right are accusing Rahm Emanuel of disloyalty-by-proxy after a Dana Milbank column in Sunday’s Washington Post defended the White House chief of staff — while trashing reputed Emanuel rivals Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs. ” Actually, he’s been leaking his opposition to the entire anti-terrorism approach for some time, so this should come as no shock.

Thanks to the teachers’ union, the Los Angeles Unified School District has given up trying to fire bad teachers.

Oh good grief: “Last August, former Iowa Republican congressman Jim Leach took office as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  What exactly were his qualifications for this post, other than being an Obamaphile Republican and thus a safely ‘bipartisan’ appointment, was and remains a mystery. Since his appointment, unsurprisingly, Leach has appeared to take little interest in the actual work of the NEH—support for research, publication, and education in the humanities—and instead has been gallivanting around the country on a 50-state ‘civility tour,’ giving mostly forgettable speeches … whose goal seems to be to get Americans to stop criticizing Barack Obama in terms that offend Chairman Leach.”

A good question triggered by the assassination of the Hamas terrorist in Dubai and our decision to send an ambassador to Syria: “Will the safe haven Damascus continues to provide terrorists such as Mabhouh, who would erase Israel from the Middle-Eastern map—to say nothing of the foreign fighters trained by al Qaeda and/or armed by Iran who are still entering Iraq across the Syrian border to kill American soldiers—be a subject of discussion for America’s newly appointed ambassador to Syria once he’s presented his credentials?”

If you thought the Ivy League–educated Oval Office occupier Obama’s populism was fake: “If last year’s bailout of the financial industry caused you to start muttering words like investment banker and robber baron in the same sentence, it may cheer you to know that Timothy Geithner, the man responsible for crafting much of that bailout, agrees with you. ‘I am,’ he says, seated in his Washington, D.C., office, an intimidatingly ornate room worthy of a Hogwarts headmaster, ‘incredibly angry at what happened to our country.'”

A lot of people excited about a potential 2012 run by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will be excited to hear this: “During an interview at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association here over the weekend, Daniels said he has now been persuaded to keep open the door to a possible candidacy.”

Is Marco Rubio running away with the GOP Senate primary race? The latest Rasmussen poll has him up by 18 points.

Democrats are on the defensive in Illinois: “Illinois’ Republican Party is keeping up a steady drumbeat of pressure on Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias to answer questions about his family’s Broadway Bank. ‘Why is Alexi hiding?’ the party asked in an e-mail to reporters a week after the election and after news conferences Giannoulias had held in Chicago and Springfield. … In at least 10 e-mails sent out since the election, the party says Giannoulias is ducking questions about loans he authorized four years ago as vice-president of his family’s Broadway Bank and about the bank’s current troubled financial state.”

CATO’s Michael Tanner on the latest version of ObamaCare: “Faced with public opinion polls showing that 58 percent of the public are opposed to his health care proposal, President Obama has gone back to the drawing board and brought forth a new health care plan that looks almost exactly like his old health care bill. Actually that’s not quite true. This proposal is more expensive, pushing its cost up close to $1 trillion in the first 10 years, and raising taxes by some $629 billion.”

Some are in a tizzy: “Critics left and right are accusing Rahm Emanuel of disloyalty-by-proxy after a Dana Milbank column in Sunday’s Washington Post defended the White House chief of staff — while trashing reputed Emanuel rivals Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs. ” Actually, he’s been leaking his opposition to the entire anti-terrorism approach for some time, so this should come as no shock.

Thanks to the teachers’ union, the Los Angeles Unified School District has given up trying to fire bad teachers.

Oh good grief: “Last August, former Iowa Republican congressman Jim Leach took office as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  What exactly were his qualifications for this post, other than being an Obamaphile Republican and thus a safely ‘bipartisan’ appointment, was and remains a mystery. Since his appointment, unsurprisingly, Leach has appeared to take little interest in the actual work of the NEH—support for research, publication, and education in the humanities—and instead has been gallivanting around the country on a 50-state ‘civility tour,’ giving mostly forgettable speeches … whose goal seems to be to get Americans to stop criticizing Barack Obama in terms that offend Chairman Leach.”

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The System Is Working Exactly as Planned

Attorneys David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey rebut the punditocracy’s favorite theme these days: Washington is “broken.” Those annoyed with the failure to jam through controversial legislation bemoan the “gridlock” and urge all manner of parliamentary tricksterism to get what they want — the passage of Obama’s radical agenda. But Rivkin and Casey remind us that this is precisely how the system is supposed to work. It was designed to make swift passage of ill-conceived measures difficult, by “generally requiring a high level of consensus in support of governmental action.” The Constitution sets up an intricate framework of checks and balances and the Senate “did the framers one better” with the filibuster, which the Left wants now to abolish. The result, the attorneys explain, is that “the government established by the U.S. Constitution, as well as the document itself, is ‘conservative.’ Its default is the status quo, unless and until the advocates of change can secure a sufficient consensus to support their idea.”

The failure then is not of the “system,” but rather of the Obami and of the congressional Democrats — in eschewing the center and trying to push through a far-reaching agenda with no popular consensus, and, indeed, in the face of a great deal of opposition.

But the critics claim that we are then “doomed” to do “nothing.” Well, sometimes nothing is better than something horrible. But there are two obvious responses. First, come up with a shortlist of reforms that does enjoy bipartisan support. And second, look to the states. In addition to federal checks and balances, the Framers set up a federal system with power reserved to state governments, which until recently had primary responsibility for issues such as education, health care, and public safety.

As this report explains:

Some governors, frustrated by halted federal efforts to overhaul the U.S. health-care system, are introducing their own changes at the state level. “Most of what’s called health-care reform can be done at the state level,” Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri, a Republican, said on Sunday on the sidelines of an annual winter gathering of the National Governors Association here. . . A few states, such as Massachusetts, have sought their own solutions to address problems with the health-care system. More states appear to be pushing to take the initiative now, however, as they grapple with continued budget shortfalls, a big part of which is due to rising health-care costs, and as federal efforts to overhaul the country’s health-care system have faltered.

There are lots of good ideas and some bad ones out there. But let the states try these out, and figure out which work and which don’t. Pennsylvania is looking into requiring “medical facilities operate 24-hour non-emergency treatment centers that would offer services such as stitches for cuts. Mr. Rendell said he expected that savings generated from the operation of these centers could help pay for the new initiative.” Is he right? Who knows, but he and others can try out dozens of ideas. (“Other governors also suggested that the savings recouped from changes to the health-care system could help pay for new measures.”)

In sum, the system is far from broken. We simply have leaders who have failed in their jobs to garner popular support for reasonable reforms. If they can’t do it, maybe the states will, and then in the process remind us of the benefits of federalism and of the excessive reliance we have come to place on Washington to solve our problems with one-size-fits-all solutions.

Attorneys David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey rebut the punditocracy’s favorite theme these days: Washington is “broken.” Those annoyed with the failure to jam through controversial legislation bemoan the “gridlock” and urge all manner of parliamentary tricksterism to get what they want — the passage of Obama’s radical agenda. But Rivkin and Casey remind us that this is precisely how the system is supposed to work. It was designed to make swift passage of ill-conceived measures difficult, by “generally requiring a high level of consensus in support of governmental action.” The Constitution sets up an intricate framework of checks and balances and the Senate “did the framers one better” with the filibuster, which the Left wants now to abolish. The result, the attorneys explain, is that “the government established by the U.S. Constitution, as well as the document itself, is ‘conservative.’ Its default is the status quo, unless and until the advocates of change can secure a sufficient consensus to support their idea.”

The failure then is not of the “system,” but rather of the Obami and of the congressional Democrats — in eschewing the center and trying to push through a far-reaching agenda with no popular consensus, and, indeed, in the face of a great deal of opposition.

But the critics claim that we are then “doomed” to do “nothing.” Well, sometimes nothing is better than something horrible. But there are two obvious responses. First, come up with a shortlist of reforms that does enjoy bipartisan support. And second, look to the states. In addition to federal checks and balances, the Framers set up a federal system with power reserved to state governments, which until recently had primary responsibility for issues such as education, health care, and public safety.

As this report explains:

Some governors, frustrated by halted federal efforts to overhaul the U.S. health-care system, are introducing their own changes at the state level. “Most of what’s called health-care reform can be done at the state level,” Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri, a Republican, said on Sunday on the sidelines of an annual winter gathering of the National Governors Association here. . . A few states, such as Massachusetts, have sought their own solutions to address problems with the health-care system. More states appear to be pushing to take the initiative now, however, as they grapple with continued budget shortfalls, a big part of which is due to rising health-care costs, and as federal efforts to overhaul the country’s health-care system have faltered.

There are lots of good ideas and some bad ones out there. But let the states try these out, and figure out which work and which don’t. Pennsylvania is looking into requiring “medical facilities operate 24-hour non-emergency treatment centers that would offer services such as stitches for cuts. Mr. Rendell said he expected that savings generated from the operation of these centers could help pay for the new initiative.” Is he right? Who knows, but he and others can try out dozens of ideas. (“Other governors also suggested that the savings recouped from changes to the health-care system could help pay for new measures.”)

In sum, the system is far from broken. We simply have leaders who have failed in their jobs to garner popular support for reasonable reforms. If they can’t do it, maybe the states will, and then in the process remind us of the benefits of federalism and of the excessive reliance we have come to place on Washington to solve our problems with one-size-fits-all solutions.

Read Less




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