Archive for August 20th, 2009

I Have Set the LORD Always Before Me

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8 (New International Version)

“Hypocrisy?” By Nathaniel Givens

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

The only example of blatant hypocrisy I’ve seen in the healthcare debate so far is liberal politicians refusing to sign on to their own public option. It’s sort of like walking into an Apple Store and seeing all the store employees listening to Zunes and typing up emails on Dell and HP laptops. I guess being good enough for us everyday Americans doesn’t make it good enough for our civil servants.

But the hypocrisy accusation is a Democratic political reflex. Don’t have a better idea? Start shouting “hypocrite!” while you give yourself time to think of something better. Sort of like a political Twix, I guess.

So while liberal politicians spend the summer recess huddled behind locked doors trying to avoid their constituents by substituting minimally advertised teleconferences for town-halls it’s no surprise to see the old hypocrisy charge get thrown around.

The spin is so clumsy and lame that I have no doubt it’s just something to do while their PR consultants put in overtime with the focus groups to try and come up with a real strategy, but since it seems to be the only strategy they have at the moment it’s what I’m going to talk about. Here are the two variants of the hypocrisy story that I’ve seen so far:

1. Protesters are personally hypocritical because so many of them are on Medicare
2. Republican politicians are hypocritical because they aren’t supporting a bill to end Medicare

The first line of attack is epitomized in opinion pieces like this one from Darren Hutchinson at Salon where he derides older protesters as wanting “Big government for me, but not for you.” Here’s a thought that has apparently never occurred to progressive bloggers: maybe Medicare beneficiaries oppose an expansion of government-run healthcare because they have first-hand experience of what it’s like.

It would only be hypocritical of seniors to oppose a public option if they were taking Medicare benefits of their own free will, but what choice do many seniors have? Because healthcare is so closely tied to employment in this country it’s very hard for people who have retired to get healthcare coverage other than on Medicare. Incidentally – why is healthcare tied to employment? Oh yeah… government intervention via the tax code.

So just to recap: our brilliant government decides to set up a tax disparity for health insurance that basically guarantees retired people can’t get insurance, and then they come up with a government solution to the government problem. And now they want to do it again.

This seems pretty simple to me. Older Americans got pushed into Medicare, and now it’s their only option. It’s a lot better than no option, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good option. Now the government wants to take the program they all use, and make it bigger.

Imagine that you were considering whether or not to buy a product, and a large number of people who owned a similar product loudly proclaimed that it was a bad idea. Would it make sense to call them hypocrites? Or to take their opinions seriously?

Next we get to the charge the Republican politicians are the real hypocrites. This one was clever, because it allows Democrats to use the hypocrisy charge while not advertising the fact that they think the American people are essentially children to be alternately patronized and scolded. Doubtless ambitious young Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY, 9th District) was very pleased with himself when he put this one together and offered an amendment to the healthcare bill that would have eliminated Medicare. What a clever scheme!

When Republicans helped shoot down the grandstanding proposal it provided fodder for pieces like this one from ThinkProgress.org. After calling Medicare “well-loved” they went on to say that:

By not voting for Weiner’s amendment, conservatives are acknowledging that their supposedly substantive claims about health care reform are nothing more than crass political fear-mongering.

Because obviously if you don’t vote to yank the plug on a program you have no right to oppose a similar program, right? Here’s a fun, if unrealistic, analogy that exemplifies how messed up their logic is:

Imagine that there’s a patient in the hospital for some routine tests. A doctor decides that he needs to try out a new heart bypass machine. The patient strenuously objects, but they go ahead and open him up, remove his perfectly healthy heart, and put him on bypass anyway. The good news is that at least the machine works well, and it keeps him alive. (Guess that means it’s “well-loved”, right?)

After the surgery the doctor comes back and says, “If you were so against this idea in the first place, how would you like it if I yanked the power cord right now?” The patient yells, “Don’t do it!” The replies derisively “You are such a hypocrite.”

Here’s the point: once the government decides to take over a niche in the economy you can’t easily go back to the way things were before because they wipe out whatever market once existed in that niche. Before the government took over education private schools were within the grasp of almost all Americans, but since the advent of government-run schools only the wealthy can afford them. FedEx and UPS may compete for package delivery, but the USPS got started with door-to-door letter delivery and no one even tries to compete for that market.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a government-run monopoly is necessary. The textbook example is national defense. We don’t have a bunch of competing private air forces, and that’s OK.

But it is bordering on sheer stupidity to close your eyes to the fact that once the government takes over an economic niche you can’t just stick the genie back in the bottle and pretend it never happened. There’s nothing hypocritical about refusing to pull the plug on Medicare while trying to prevent government from expanding its power. It’s sort of like the poor guy on the heart bypass machine fighting to keep the crazy doctor from taking out his lungs next. Of course he probably also wants off of the bypass machine, but not until they put his heart back in!

These charges of hypocrisy — against ordinary Americans standing up in the political process and Republican politicians voting responsibly — are so pathetically weak they really highlight the extent to which the liberal wing of the Democratic party has misjudged the mood of the American people. This country voted for Obama because of the myth he represented, not because his liberal pipe dream policies were ever remotely popular.

Having said that, I agree with Randy: now is when things get interesting. The fact that Obama got elected without popular support for his policies is a reason to have hope that Americans will stand for what is right, but it’s also a reason to fear the capacity of the political left and their allies in the MSM to con everyday Americans into betraying their own principles and self-interest on a massive scale.

—————
Nathaniel Givens is classical liberal and a devout Mormon. He is currently studying economics in graduate school. He and his wife work as business analysis consultants, and they live as undercover conservatives with their two small children in a liberal bastion of a college town. Nathaniel maintains a public Facebook Page, and he has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.

Original Link.

Abiding by the Constitution

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

The Founders Alliance will kick off their initiative today at the Texas State Capitol building in Austin. The group will deliver its Contract with Texans to elected state officials in The Lone Star State for their signature.

Jessica Hughes is president of the organization. She says it is all part of a movement to involve concerned citizens who want to restore the principles of governance that made the U.S. great.

“All of our legislators and elected officials take an oath to uphold the constitution, but…the constitution is treated sometimes as a choose-your-own-adventure by those lawmakers,” she contends. “We wanted something that was a clarification that when you uphold the constitution, you’re going to uphold those principles of limited government, personal responsibility, and individual liberty.”

Original Link.

Congress’ New ‘Villains’ — Insurers

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Politico reported Wednesday that Democrats have sent a three-page letter to the country’s top insurance providers. The letter is no warm greeting. It’s a clear attempt to intimidate an industry that has been demonized by a political party, the same one that is heavily invested in railroading the country into a government health care system that it doesn’t want.

The Democrats’ “request” is reminiscent of an East German Stasi agent asking a suspected dissident for his papers. It compels insurers to produce “detailed compensation data for board members and top executives.” It’s an implied threat.

The letter also asks for a “table listing all conferences, retreats or other events held outside company facilities from Jan. 1, 2007, to the present that were paid for, reimbursed or subsidized in whole or in part by your company.”

Politico reports: “For employees or officers making $500,000 or more, the committee wants information on salary, bonus, options and pension.”

An industry source who wisely kept his name out of print told Politico what everybody knows: “This is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded fishing expedition designed to silence health plans.”

The providers, hooks deeply in their mouths, have until Sept. 14 to provide the documents. The most American and patriotic response the companies could provide would be to band together and thunderously say “No.” Persecution is not welcome in this country. Ugly displays of power from elected officials should be answered with an unapologetic defense.

One would like to ask letter signers Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., just who do they think they are making such a demand of the private sector?

But that would be a waste of time.

They’re not going to admit they are bullies hiding behind the color of authority, desperately trying to sway public opinion against the insurance industry and browbeat companies into submission. They would simply use the moment to further vilify an industry that provides a needed service while employing millions.

Neither Waxman, Stupak nor any member of Congress has reason to believe that the insurance companies have acted criminally.

Yet the Democratic leadership is acting as if it’s conducting a criminal investigation. While Congress does have investigative and subpoena powers, the Waxman-Stupak reach is wildly beyond the bounds of decency. It’s political harassment, plain and simple.

If this assault on insurance companies were simply an attempt to root out institutionalized corruption, Congress need not look beyond its own halls to find graft.

Original Link.

“Selfdealingcronyismhypocrisy” by Jeff Schreiber

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

As usual, Mr. Schreiber is right on target.

Assigned Reading: Obama-tied Firms Benefit from Health Care Push (FROM: Bloomberg)

Two firms that received $343.3 million to handle advertising for Barack Obama’s White House run last year have profited from his top priority as president by taking on his push for health-care overhaul.

One is AKPD Message and Media, the Chicago-based firm headed by David Axelrod until he left last Dec. 31 to serve as a senior adviser to the president. Axelrod was Obama’s top campaign strategist and is now helping sell the health-care plan. The other firm is Washington-based GMMB Campaign Group, where partner Jim Margolis was also an Obama strategist.

This year, AKPD and GMMB received $12 million in advertising business from Healthy Economy Now, a coalition that includes the Washington-based Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, that is seeking to build support for a health-care overhaul, said the coalition’s spokesman, Jeremy Van Ess.

I don’t know if I can cover this any better than did the cable shows tonight, and I’m fairly certain that one of the writers will be adding something about this issue shortly. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make it any less egregious.

I’d say “shocking,” but is anyone surprised?

Actually, to be completely honest, I’m not as offended by the blatant self-dealing, conflict of interest and cronyism here–that’s to be expected with this Chicago-style White House–as I am with the hypocrisy.

For example, when George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq to oust a brutal dictator, the political left insisted that it was carefully crafted so he and Dick Cheney could benefit, financially, from their contacts in the oil industry and the latter’s ties to Halliburton. Yet, here, there’s no mention of any wrongdoing or self-dealing by Axelrod. Noooooo. That would be . . . consistent.

Nor is there any attention paid to the fact that the White House has been accusing ordinary concerned Americans attending town hall meetings of being “astroturf,” members of a faux grassroots movement organized by groups like Conservatives For Patients Rights, yet it is the White House which has returned to its organizational roots. It was Axelrod and his flunkies who sent out e-mails–including to people who didn’t want them, like me–urging union members and Obama supporters to attend at least one town meeting; It was Obama’s own “Organizing for America” group that has been bussing in supporters from outside congressional districts. And it was Obama’s own campaign ad firms which have been creating and flooding the airwaves with advertisements filled with falsehoods promoting health care reform.

The corruption and self-dealing I’ve grown accustomed to. It’s the hypocrisy that still makes me shake my head.

Original Link.

Democrats May Force Government Health Care Down Our Throats Despite Protest and Massive Opposition

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Democrats, please, please, please do this. I’m begging you to do this. If you do, there won’t be a Democrat in Washington by 2012. So by all means, go ahead and force this socialized health care down our throats. Please continue to show your true colors to our nation. Please continue to destroy yourselves. That works for me.

The latest trial balloon being floated on a massive health care overhaul suggests that congressional Democrats may try to pass legislation without Republican input or clear-cut popular support.

Faced with a public relations fiasco over chatter that Democrats want to create a government-run health insurance plan that would “pull the plug on grandma,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told The New York Times in Wednesday’s editions that Republicans ginned up opposition to the “public option” as a political calculation.

“The Republican leadership,” Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”

But the White House began walking that idea back early on Wednesday, when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said a bipartisan solution is not off the table.

“I don’t know why on August 19th we declare on something that the possibility is only 51 votes,” he said, referring to the number of votes that would pass a bill in the Senate. Gibbs said the White House is still hoping that a bipartisan consensus will be reached.

Gibbs told a group of reporters that the Senate Finance Committee is still working on its version of a bill, and the president is speaking regularly with members on both sides of the aisle.

But he accused some Republicans of being unwilling to participate in health care reform that would cut costs and insure millions of Americans.

Senate Democratic leadership aides told FOX News on Wednesday that they’ve made no decision yet to go it alone and that the Sept. 15 deadline for a bill — imposed by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus before the August break — remains operative.

Democratic congressional aides also said they understand the White House rhetoric about going it alone was prompted by comments from Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Grassley, and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., key negotiators in the “gang of six” bipartisan group of lawmakers instrumental in negotiating a middle ground in the Finance Committee, have recently expressed angst on the emerging health care deal.

Grassley last week announced that negotiators had dropped consideration of end-of-life counseling being included in the finance panel bill after taking an earful from Iowans complaining about it and the “public option” mandating a government-run health insurance system.

But the “gang of six” members will be meeting via phone on Thursday in hopes of hammering out some areas of agreement.

With Democrats painting the GOP as obstructionist, Republicans are emphasizing their expressed willingness to keep negotiating. On Wednesday, Grassley said he’d prefer the deal not come down to Democrats jiggering the final details in a House-Senate conference. He also lamented talk of abandoning efforts to include Republicans.

“I’ve said all year that something as big and important as health care legislation should have broad-based support. So far, no one has developed that kind of support, either in Congress or at the White House. That doesn’t mean we should quit. It means we should keep working until we can put something together that gets that widespread support,” he said in a statement.

But House Minority Leader John Boehner suggested the go-it-alone approach is something familiar to Democrats.

“Democratic leaders find themselves all alone in support of a plan that will drive health care costs higher than ever, increase the federal deficit, slash Medicare, and let government bureaucrats make personal medical decisions that only patients and doctors should make,” Boehner said in a statement.

“The more the American people learn about this plan, the less they like it. It’s time for President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and congressional Democrats to scrap this costly plan, start over and work with Republicans on reforms that make health care more affordable and accessible,” he said.

Democrats in the House could push through a plan with a government-run insurance plan option and negotiate it with Senate lawmakers during a reconciliation process. Gibbs said that is an option that is still available.

Even if a deal is reached without Republicans, opposition to going the reconciliation route also has come from Democrats, including West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, who said in March that while he is the author of “reconciliation” language, “putting health-care reform and climate change legislation on a freight train through Congress is an outrage that must be resisted.”

But a deal would also have to satisfy moderate Democrats who have heard vocal opposition to government-run insurance during many town hall meetings this summer. If opposition is too loud, Democrats, through the leadership of Sen. Harry Reid, may have no choice but to go the route of health care “cooperatives,” which are member-owned, non-profit groups that provide health care.

Budget analysts say to make them work, cooperatives would need about 500,000 members each. Lawmakers have floated the idea of dropping $6 billion into funding those start-up cooperatives.

Obama plans to discuss his push for health care overhaul Thursday when Philadelphia-based conservative radio talk show host Michael Smerconish broadcasts his program from the White House. It will be the first time that the president has spoken on the issue since the weekend, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius drew Democratic ire by suggesting the public option could be out.

While the president has made no plans to cut short his vacation or to make an appearance on Capitol Hill in September, Gibbs said Wednesday, “I think he’d orbit the moon if it would help.”

Original Link.