Public option: good enough for us, but not for them

greggLast week the Senate committee drafting the upper house’s version of health care reform barely passed a provision that would require Congress to enroll in the “public option” and forgo their current health insurance program.

Ten of the 11 who voted against the amendment were Democrats:

In the health debate, liberals sing Hari Krishnas to the “public option” — a new federal insurance program like Medicare — but if it’s good enough for the middle class, then surely it’s good enough for the political class too? As it happens, more than a few Democrats disagree.

On Tuesday, the Senate health committee voted 12-11 in favor of a two-page amendment courtesy of Republican Tom Coburn that would require all Members and their staffs to enroll in any new government-run health plan. Yet all Democrats — with the exceptions of acting chairman Chris Dodd, Barbara Mikulski and Ted Kennedy via proxy — voted nay.

In other words, Sherrod Brown and Sheldon Whitehouse won’t themselves join a plan that “will offer benefits that are as good as those available through private insurance plans — or better,” as the Ohio and Rhode Island liberals put it in a recent op-ed. And even a self-described socialist like Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who supports a government-only system, wouldn’t sign himself up.

Rep. John Fleming is proposing a similar amendment in the House.

How quickly will the “public option” die if liberals in Congress are forced to sign up?

The only Republican senator to vote agains the provision was Judd Gregg, who said it “will be so bad that I don’t think anyone should be forced to join.”

Is it any wonder Gregg decided not to take that commerce job?

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Show David Keene the door

davidkeeneThe American Conservative Union and The Hill newspaper should fire David Keene — quickly.

The ACU’s executive veep, Dennis Whitfield, should go, too.

According to Politico, the two have been caught red-handed in a pay-for-play scheme asking FedEx for more than $2 million in exchange for the ACU’s support in the shipping company’s fight with UPS and labor unions.

In a letter from the ACU to FedEx, Whitfield offers a long list of services the organization had to offer. The list clearly shows that the ACU is for sale. What’s more disturbing, after FedEx declined, Keene and the ACU came out in favor of UPS’s position.

The statements from the ACU since the story broke don’t clear things up, nor do they answer the accusations. As Ed Morrissey notes:

Whitfield calls the Politico story “false,” but note that he never denies writing the letter to FedEx that promised that Keene would write supportive columns for FedEx’s position if they paid the ACU more than $2 million.  That’s not “receiv[ing] support from individuals and organizations,” that’s selling a service.  It certainly left FedEx with the impression that they could buy Keene’s public support, and when he acted (either as an individual or as head of the ACU) to oppose their position after FedEx declined to cough up $2 million, it looks a lot like Keene decided to exact a little revenge for FedEx’s decision.

It certainly doesn’t bode well for the ACU, which sponsors CPAC, to be for sale. How can we trust any of their positions? (As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Keene’s been caught selling his position.)

Most disturbing is this item on the list of services the ACU had to offer:

Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and / or other members of the ACU’s Board of Directors.  (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)

The Hill is a respectable publication and, as such, should stop running Keene’s column immediately. In fact, any publication should question whether to run any pieces written by Keene or any other member of the ACU’s board.

I once fired a columnist after discovering he had lifted a few paragraphs from another source. He begged me to keep him on (apparently the whopping $30 we paid him each week was important), apologized for the error claiming he “didn’t know” what was acceptable.

But I couldn’t trust anything he wrote after that. Likewise, knowing Keene whored himself out to FedEx, we can’t trust any of his positions. We can’t really trust any position taken by the ACU now, either. Whitfield and Keene have to go to save what integrity the ACU has left.

And The Hill’s editor, Hugo Gurdon, should also drop Keene’s columns to preserve the integrity of his opinion pages. Space in The Hill is not Keene’s nor Whitfield’s to offer for $2 million.

Pay-for-play isn’t anything new, and many suspect it goes on all the time, involving organizations from across the political spectrum. But the ACU has been caught. The group should seriously consider replacing its entire board (they’re services were offered up, too) and its executive staff.

At the very least, it’s time for Whitfield and Keene to take one of those 3 million jobs the Obama stimulus has created.

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Stimulus: Like Special Olympics

obama-bowlingRemember back in January and February how imperitive it was for Congress to pass the $787 billion economic stimulus package? President Obama constantly repeated his refrain that the U.S. had to move “swiftly and boldly” to get the economy back on track. He told us it would quickly create millions of jobs.

Now the White House is walking all of that back, claiming the “stimulus” was never actually intended to “stimulate” anything.

You can’t blame the president, really. The numbers show that, clearly, the stimulus hasn’t provided any kind of measurable boost to the economy thus far. The U.S. is still hemorrhaging jobs — the very thing the stimulus was supposed to provide, to the tune of 3 million or so, according to the presidet at the time.

The walk-back began last weekend, during the president’s weekly address. He said:

Now, I realize that when we passed this Recovery Act, there were those who felt that doing nothing was somehow an answer.  Today, some of those same critics are already judging the effort a failure although they have yet to offer a plausible alternative.  Others believed that the recovery plan should have been even larger, and are already calling for a second recovery plan.

But, as I made clear at the time it was passed, the Recovery Act was not designed to work in four months – it was designed to work over two years.  We also knew that it would take some time for the money to get out the door, because we are committed to spending it in a way that is effective and transparent.  Crucially, this is a plan that will also accelerate greatly throughout the summer and the fall.  We must let it work the way it’s supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity.

It’s a lie to say that he “made clear at the time it was passed” that it would not work in four months. In fact, he repeatedly said it would create jobs “immediately,” as this ad from congressional Republicans illustrates:

Then, in off-camera interviews on Thursday (off-camera so they couldn’t be used in ads like the one above, maybe?), administration officials attempted to say the stimulus was only meant to soften the economic fall. As the president’s chief spinner, Robert Gibbs, said:

This legislation was designed to cushion the downturn. That’s why we have always talked about this as one function of economic recovery.

Please. When the president was pitching the bill, he said:

That is why I have moved quickly to work with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will immediately jumpstart job creation and long-term growth.

What’s more, the White House continued to refer to it as a “stimulus” up until Thursday’s off-camera interviews.

Is it any wonder that Larry Summers uses Google trends to judge how well the stimulus is working?

The fact is, congressional Republicans were right. The stimulus bill had very little to do with stimulating the economy, and more to do with funding pet projects, expanding the size of government and rewarding Democratic contributors.

The question for everyone now is: Should we continue to believe the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress as they proceed to “reform” health care? The Congressional Budget Office — which typically underestimates the cost of new government programs — says the health care bill will end up increasing costs, not lowering them, as Obama says his “reform” will do.

Should we believe the administration when it says cap-and-trade will create jobs and “stimulate” the economy?

The answer is “no.”

The vice president famously said the adminsitration misread the economy. Not only did they misread the economy, they prescribed a solution that did nothing but help create the largest U.S. deficit in history.

We shouldn’t have any confidence in their health care promises. President Obama and his administration have shown they don’t know what they’re talking about or what they’re doing.

After the health care plan doesn’t work, will the president tell us it was never meant to “reform” health care?

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Say goodbye to your health care

If you believe the dribble from President Obama and the Democrats in Congress that everyone who’s happy with their current health insurance will be able to keep it under their “reforms,” then I’ve got 3 million jobs created under the stimulus for you and your friends to take.

The “keep your happy insurance” mantra was a complete lie to begin with, but with the proposal released today by Sens. Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy (well, his staff) we can see just how foolish and math-deficient the goons pushing the government plan really are.

The new Dodd-Kennedy plan comes in with an initial cost estimate that’s about $400 billion below the Congressional Budget Office’s $1 trillion price tag during the next decade from the initial proposal. While that estimate is definitely going to get bigger, it’s not the important part of the new plan.

Here’s the fun part:

Committee staffers reworked the bill — and added a new provision requiring most employers to contribute to the cost of health insurance — to arrive at the lower estimate. Under the new proposal, any business with more than 25 workers would be required to offer coverage or pay a $750 penalty per employee.

Gee. This sounds strikingly familiar.

Back in 2007, California’s esteemed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a similar plan. He would have required all employers in the state to provide health insurance for their employees or pay a 4 percent fine to the state to cover them instead.

After Schwarzenegger (really, we want to follow his lead?) proposed his plan, the publisher of the paper at which I was working remarked in a meeting that it was good news — he would have been more than willing to pay a mere 4 percent to the state than pay to provide insurance for all of us working in his newsroom.

The new, Obama-Dodd-Kennedy plan would have the same effect. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2003 American businesses spent between 6 percent and 9 percent of their payroll on health insurance. Going with the lower number, everyone working at any given company would need to make less than $13,000 a year for the $750 penalty to cost our bosses more than providing private insurance.

I remember back when I settled on making $13,000 a year. I think I had just turned 18 and demanded that I could take my summers off.

Median household income in the U.S. in 2007 was just over $50,000 a year. If that’s a two-income household, then employers are paying $1,500 to insure each of the two employees — about double the new fee for government to provide insurance. And again, that’s using the smaller estimate of how much employers spend to provide health insurance.

If you run a business, this will be an easy decision. Pay $1,500 per person in your employ and deal with the hassles of finding them an H.M.O., or pay half that amount to the federal government to do the job for you?

This is where Dodd’s and Kennedy’s numbers really go off the rails. They claim their plan will cost $611 billion during the next 10 years to provide coverage for a mere 39 percent of Americans who don’t have health insurance. Once companies begin dumping their employees into the federal system, just wait for the costs to balloon. There will be a lot more than 39 percent of the currently uninsured waiting in line at the government’s new medical clinics.

President Obama’s other health care lie is that all he wants to do is inject some more competition into the market — give those evil insurance companies a run for their money. “They need to be more competitive,” he says.

This plan is anything but about competition. If Obama thinks this is going to save health care in this country, spur the economy — as he said today — and make the market more competitive, then maybe he really did campaign in 57 states.

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Reality setting in?

President Obama is hinting that, perhaps, he is beginning to understand the realities of the U.S. relationship with Iran.

I say hinting and perhaps because one never knows. It took him about 11 days to condemn the Iranian regime’s crackdown on peaceful protests — so I’m loathe to get too optimistic.

But there are signs that Obama might be waking up from his “Sesame Street” dreams of everyone talking out their problems on “Oprah.”

First, according to this story, the president dismissed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s demand that Obama apologize for U.S. “meddling” in the disputed election. This is a clear reversal, since Obama was oh so happy to apologize for the United States on practically every occasion before this one.

Mr. Obama said he doesn’t take seriously Mr. Ahmadinejad’s request for an apology for the U.S. meddling in the June 12 election. He also said Mr. Ahmadinejad should instead “think carefully” about his obligations to those beaten, shot and killed in the post-election marches.

“The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. We see it and we condemn it,” Mr. Obama said an East Room news conference after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Then there’s this story, where the president said the open “dialogue” he had been seeking with Iran is going to suffer as a result of the crackdown.

Continuing this week’s harsh rhetoric, Mr. Obama, after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said “direct dialogue” with Iran will suffer as a result of the beatings and killings of protesters, though he didn’t spell out exact consequences. He said he remains vigilant to see how events play out.

Mrs. Merkel went much further, demanding a recount of the votes and saying the international community must identify the victims and make Iran account for their treatment.

“Despite the government’s efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we con-demn it,” said Mr. Obama, though he continued to say Iran itself must decide the election results. “If the Iranian government desires the respect of the international community, then it must respect the rights – and heed the will – of its people.”

It’s about time the president began pointing out the consequences for Iran.

One has to wonder whether Obama is coming to these conclusions himself, or is it after meeting with other world leaders (German Chancellor Merkel) that he then sees the need to change his tune? Clearly they were out in front of the president — condemning the Iranian violence outright.

Now he’s playing catch-up. At least, it appears, that now he’s playing for the right team.

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McCotter: ‘That’s what we do’

Thaddeus McCotter is quickly becoming my favorite member of Congress.

Here’s his floor speech from Today on the uprising in Iran. Below is the text … it’s definitely worth reading. Compare this to even the “stronger” statement of our wimpy-ass president today, and all you can do is shake your head in disbelief. How did the U.S. get to this point?

Her name was Neda. In Farsi, it means “the voice.” True to her name, she loved music; sought freedom; and she’s dead – shot down in the streets by the Iranian regime’s state sanctioned murderers. She must not have died in vain.

Today, Iranians and Americans face a generational chance for freedom – one that ensures a rogue regime’s implosion prevents a nuclear confrontation.

Regrettably, our president’s “post-American” foreign policy presumes talk can thaw the murderous mullahs’ hearts and attain a “grand bargain” for peace in our time; consequently, while Iranians demanded their freedom from a barbarous regime, the president vapidly opined: “It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be… We respect Iranian sovereignty.”

Then, as the crisis escalated, the president optimistically noted:

“You’ve seen in Iran some initial reaction from the supreme leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election… And my hope is – is that the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices, to express their aspirations.”

Tragically, the supreme leader’s deep concern drove him to step on the throats of pro-democracy demonstrators, like Neda.

Next, on June 20th, the president stated, “The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.” It was painfully evident just how far behind them he stood: “The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States.”

With these contradictory statements of support and appeasement, the president returned to square one: “The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.”

In truth, the Iranian people have already judged the regime and found it wonting. The supreme leader, his cleric cronies and their puppet government have never respected the dignity of the Iranian people or governed through consent. This is why the regime stole the election and shoots peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators. Implying otherwise mocks the Iranians risking and losing their lives for liberty.

As for the claim that American “meddling” in support of the demonstrators plays into the mullahs’ hands, the Iranian regime will claim this regardless, for as our president noted, “That’s what they do.”

Yet, what matters is not what the regime says about America, but what the demonstrators think about America. Presently, brave Iranians watch as our president still holds an open hand to the regime that opened fire on them…that opened fire on Neda. This is the passive, disastrous policy of Jimmy Carter that led to the rise of this rogue regime; not the courageous policy of Ronald Reagan that led to the demise of an evil empire.

The surest, safest termination of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and support of terrorism is to hasten this fanatical tyranny’s collapse by supporting its people’s liberty. Taking its rightful place amongst the community of free nations, a democratic Iran will necessarily realize and reverse the insanity of this terrorist regime’s homicidal obsession with nuclear weapons. Thus, for their liberty and our security, the United States and the world must do everything in our power to further the Iranian demonstrators’ sacred claim to freedom. We know Neda did.

Further, in the grand strategy of our War for Freedom over terrorism, how we aid pro-democracy Iranians’ will remind the world who we are – we are Americans: the revolutionary children of freedom who have lived and died defending our liberty and extending it to the enslaved and oppressed. We will do no less today in support of our Iranian brothers and sisters.

Today, Neda’s voice calls to our consciences and warns that the fate of Iranians’ liberty is entwined with the fate of Americans’ security. We must not miss this generational chance for freedom – again one that ensures a rogue regime’s implosion prevents a nuclear confrontation; and that Neda and all liberty’s martyrs shall not have died in vain. As Americans, we must seize this moment and help Iranians seize their freedom.

That’s what we do.

Via Big Hollywood.

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If only the Iranians were water-boarding terrorists

Michael Ramirez of Investor’s Buisiness Daily nails it today with his editorial cartoon.

Ramirez

Yes, the president’s statements on Iran have gotten stronger as time goes by. But true conviction doesn’t take more than a week to find its voice. Obama’s simply reading the sentiments of the American people and jumping along.

Goes back to that old story about what truly makes a leader. Leadership is not figuring out where your people are going and then jumping in front. It’s taking them there to begin with.

So we’ll shut down Gitmo, release the detainees into tropical paradise, diminish the efforts of the previous administration to advance the cause of freedom … and then dally while a totalitarian regime crushes free speech.

True conviction.

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‘All Americans are with her’
… well, not all.

John McCain tells the story of Neda on the Senate floor. He ends his short speech saying, “All Americans are with her.” Well, it’s not exactly clear how much the American president is with her.

While Barack Obama’s statements on the protests in Iran have gotten progessively stronger, it’s taken him more than a week to find any strength in his stance.

Does the United States of America support freedom for Iranians or not? It’s a simple question. Barack Obama doesn’t seem to have an answer … and who knows, it could change tomorrow.

So the leader of the free world seemingly is OK — or at least is so weak he won’t speak against — with a totalitarian regime publicly executing a woman because she simply spoke out, asking that her government count her vote honestly.

Shameful (via Hot Air).

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To think this guy won a Nobel Prize

paul-krugman

UPDATED

For someone who so often is praised for his superior intellect, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman lays a big, fat moronic turd today.

His column, titled “The Big Hate,” is so full of generalizations, distortions and grossly flawed arguments that one has to wonder whether the Swedes will be asking for the Nobel back (though, considering they’ve also given one to Jimmy Carter, they may be OK with it). He begins thusly:

Back in April, there was a huge fuss over an internal report by the Department of Homeland Security warning that current conditions resemble those in the early 1990s — a time marked by an upsurge of right-wing extremism that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Conservatives were outraged. The chairman of the Republican National Committee denounced the report as an attempt to “segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration” and label them as terrorists.

But with the murder of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, closely followed by a shooting by a white supremacist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the analysis looks prescient.

There is, however, one important thing that the D.H.S. report didn’t say: Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.

He then goes on to malign Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, John Voight, Mitch McConnell, The Washington Times and the Republican National Committee — suggesting in a fatuous assertion that all are to blame for the terror caused by “right-wing extremists.”

Krugman, a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University, is conveniently oblivious to the fact that James Von Brunn, Wednesday’s shooter at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, was anything but “right-wing.” He hated the Republican Party, John McCain, both presidents with the last name Bush and touted socialism as the “future of the West.”

What’s more, FBI agents visited the offices of The Weekly Standard, telling staffers they had found the conservative magazine’s address among Von Brunn’s effects. According to Krugman, The Weekly Standard must be a bastion of liberalism in order to be targeted by such a “right-wing extremist.”

Krugman is following the template of the left during the 1990s — when bad things happen, blame conservatives in the media. Back then it was used in pursuit of reviving the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” The argument rings just as hollow now as it did then.

He concludes his column like this:

… the analysts at Homeland Security fretted that things may turn out even worse than in the 1990s — that thanks, in part, to the election of an African-American president, “the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years.”

And that’s a threat to take seriously. Yes, the worst terrorist attack in our history was perpetrated by a foreign conspiracy. But the second worst, the Oklahoma City bombing, was perpetrated by an all-American lunatic. Politicians and media organizations wind up such people at their, and our, peril.

Krugman would have us believe that the “conservative media and political establishment” are responsible for the actions of Von Brunn and Scott Roeder, George Tiller’s shooter. According to Krugman’s senseless logic, conservatives are to blame for Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and their bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

If that’s true, then whom does Krugman blame for the actions of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who shot William Long — who died — and Quinton Ezeagwula outside a Little Rock military recruiting office June 1? Should we condemn President Barack Obama for his efforts to make nice with the “Muslim world?” Or how about Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid? What of MSNBC?

Whom should we castigate for inciting unibomber Ted Kaczynski? What of the terrorist attacks of Bill Ayers and the Weathermen? Do we blame the rhetoric of “liberal media” like The New York Times and the Democratic National Committee?

Should we then assert that Krugman be blamed for suicide bombings in Jerusalem because he shares the honor of winning a Nobel Prize with Yasser Arafat — who received his own in 1994?

No. That would be absurd.

And so is Paul Krugman.

UPDATE

Glenn Beck unloads on Krugman

I’m the biggest Beck fan, but he layed into Krugman pretty good, bringing up points about the Earth Liberation Front and others.

Via Allahpundit at Hot Air.

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From the mouths of babes: 13-year-old calls the crazies, well, crazy

You gotta feel sorry for George W. Bush. He’s in retirement in Dallas, doing is his best to show defference to his inept, naive replacement by staying quiet. But the nuts still follow him around.

Cindy Sheehan (of Crawford Ranch protesting fame) and her cohorts, apparently having forgotten that Bush is no longer our commander in chief, protested outside the 43rd president’s Dallas home yesterday.

“George Bush and his administration are mass murderers,” she told the crowd, using a loudspeaker. “People say, ‘Cindy, get over it.’ Well, there are still two wars raging. I don’t have an option of getting over it. … We have to keep it up so things like this don’t happen again.”

Well, dry your eyes, Cindy. Bush won’t be sending any more children of liberal whackos to die in vain any time soon — but Barack Obama might.

Mixed in with the protest was a 13-year-old, Steven Rasansky, and his friends practicing capitalism — they figured they could make some cash by selling lemonade and cookies to the protesting crowds.

The eighth-grader had the perfect summation of the protesters:

“I think this is crazy.”

Crazy, indeed.

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