Archive for October 12th, 2009

Insurers Mount Attack Against Health Reform

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Don’t expect Democrats to listen.

WASHINGTON — After working for months behind the scenes to help shape health care reform, the insurance industry is now sharply attacking the emerging plan with a report that maintains Senate legislation would increase the cost of a typical policy by hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars a year.

A spokesman for Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., whose 10-year, $829 billion overhaul plan faces a final Finance Committee vote Tuesday, was quick to react Sunday, questioning the credibility of the industry’s late-in-coming cost estimate.

“It’s a health insurance company hatchet job, plain and simple,” said the spokesman, Scott Mulhauser.

The health insurance industry has been working until recently to help draft legislation, while publicly endorsing President Barack Obama’s goal of affordable coverage for all Americans. The alliance has grown strained as legislation advances toward votes in Congress.

Late Sunday, the industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans sent its member companies a new accounting firm study that projects the legislation would add $1,700 a year to the cost of family coverage in 2013, when most of the major provisions in the bill would be in effect.

Premiums for a single person would go up by $600 more than would be the case without the legislation, the PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis concluded in the study commissioned by the insurance group.

“Several major provisions in the current legislative proposal will cause health care costs to increase far faster and higher than they would under the current system,” Karen Ignagni, the top industry lobbyist in Washington, wrote in a memo to insurance company CEOs.

The study projected that in 2019, family premiums could be $4,000 higher and individual premiums could be $1,500 higher.

Baucus spokesman Mulhauser said the study is “seriously flawed” because it doesn’t take into account provisions in the legislation that would lower the cost of coverage, such as tax credits to help people buy private insurance, protections for current policies and administrative savings from a revamped marketplace.

White House health care spokeswoman Linda Douglass concurred. “This is an insurance industry analysis that is designed to reach a conclusion which benefits the industry, and does not represent what the bill does,” she said.

The Baucus plan faces a final committee vote on Tuesday. It got a boost last week when the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cover 94 percent of eligible Americans while reducing the federal deficit.

But the PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis attempted to get at a different issue — costs for privately insured individuals.

It concluded that a combination of factors in the bill — and decisions by lawmakers as they amended it — would raise costs.

The chief reason, said the report, is a decision by lawmakers to weaken proposed penalties for failing to get health insurance. The bill would require insurers to take all applicants, doing away with denials for pre-existing health problems. In return, all Americans would be required to carry coverage, either through an employer or a government program, or by buying it themselves.

But the CBO estimated that even with new federal subsidies, some 17 million Americans would still be unable to afford health insurance. Faced with that affordability problem, senators opted to ease the fines for going without coverage from the levels Baucus originally proposed. The industry says that will only let people postpone getting coverage until they get sick.

Other factors leading to higher costs include a new tax on high-cost health insurance plans, cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors, and a series of new taxes on insurers and other health care industries, the report said.

“Health reform could have a significant impact on the cost of private health insurance coverage,” it concluded.

Insurers played a major role in defeating then-President Bill Clinton’s health care plan in the 1990s. Sunday, the industry stopped short of signaling all-out opposition. “We will continue to work with policymakers in support of workable bipartisan reform,” Ignagni said in her memo.

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“Question for Nobel Appease Prize Winner” by Joseph Farah

Monday, October 12th, 2009

I have a question for Barack Obama, the Nobel Appease Prize winner, and the man who told us during last year’s presidential campaign that troops needed to be redeployed from Iraq to the “real” front in the war on terrorism – Afghanistan.

In case your memory fails you, here’s what he said in July 2008:

* “In fact – as should have been apparent to President Bush and Sen. (John) McCain – the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. That’s why the second goal of my new strategy will be taking the fight to al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

* “It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror. The Taliban controls parts of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia. If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned. And yet today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan.”

* “… as president, I will make the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win.”

* “We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region. And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.”

So what happened between then and now?

Well, Obama got his wish. He became president. He is now fully in command. He can divert any resources he wishes from Iraq to Afghanistan. He got to appoint a new commander for the Afghan campaign, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. And what did Gen. McChrystal advise?

He told Obama he needs “more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region” – exactly the prescription Obama was calling for more than a year ago during the campaign.

And what has been Obama’s reaction?

He’s shocked!

He can’t believe it.

He is mulling it over.

Mulling it over?

Isn’t this exactly what Obama said he wanted to do more than a year ago?

What has changed since then and now – other than the fact that Obama actually has the power to do what he advocated doing in July 2008?

Maybe it’s that Nobel Appease Prize?

I don’t know.

My guess is that it’s a lot easier being an armchair general when you don’t have the power to send men and women to risk their lives.

Maybe Obama really thought he could negotiate with al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Maybe he thought they would lay down their arms when he took office.

But reality is setting in.

Nine months after taking office, Obama has not greatly reduced U.S. forces in Iraq and he has only modestly increased U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Now he seems to resist doing what he pledged to do and what the general he placed in charge of the battlefield says must be done.

I guess it was a lot easier second-guessing President Bush and Sen. McCain than it is expanding a war that is unpopular with his base – and his own friends in Congress.

Suddenly, it seems, Barack Obama’s knees are getting wobbly.

Some questions for the White House:

How soon can we expect that decision now?

Will you be replacing your general and looking for a military recommendation you like better?

Are you waiting to send in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” brigade?

Will you be taking military command of the battlefield yourself?

Or will you be changing your mind – yet again?

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“How to Win the Nobel Peace Prize In 12 Days” by Tommy De Seno

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Editor’s Note: Although President Obama had only been in office for 12 days before the nominations for this year’s Nobel Peace prize closed the entire process actually takes a full year. According to the official Nobel Prize Web site invitation letters are sent out in September. Every year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee sends out thousands of letters inviting a qualified and select number of people to submit their nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The deadline to submit nominations is February 1. — Two hundred five names were submitted for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, 33 of which are organizations. A short list of nominees is prepared in February and March. The short list is subject to adviser review from March until August. At the beginning of October, the Nobel Committee chooses the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates through a majority vote. The decision is final and without appeal. The names of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates are then announced.”

Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize this morning. Over the last decade the only requirement to win the prize was that the nominee had to be critical of George W. Bush (see Al Gore, Mohamed El Baradei and Jimmy Carter).

President Obama has broken new ground here. Nominations for potential winners of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ended on February 1. The president took office only 12 days earlier on January 20.

Let’s take a look at the president’s first 12 days in the White House according to his public schedule to see what he did to deserve a Nobel Peace Prize:

January 20: Sworn in as president. Went to a parade. Partied.

January 21: Asked bureaucrats to re-write guidelines for information requests. Held an “open house” party at the White House.

January 22: Signed Executive Orders: Executive Branch workers to take ethics pledge; re-affirmed Army Field Manual techniques for interrogations; expressed desire to close Gitmo (how’s that working out?)

January 23: Ordered the release of federal funding to pay for abortions in foreign countries. Lunch with Joe Biden; met with Tim Geithner.

January 24: Budget meeting with economic team.

January 25: Skipped church.

January 26: Gave speech about jobs and energy. Met with Hillary Clinton. Attended Geithner’s swearing in ceremony.

January 27: Met with Republicans. Spoke at a clock tower in Ohio.

January 28: Economic meetings in the morning, met with Defense secretary in the afternoon.

January 29: Signed Ledbetter Bill overturning Supreme Court decision on lawsuits over wages. Party in the State Room. Met with Biden.

January 30: Met economic advisers. Gave speech on Middle Class Working Families Task Force. Met with senior enlisted military officials.

January 31: Took the day off.

February 1: Skipped church. Threw a Super Bowl party.

So there you have it. The short path to the Nobel Peace Prize: Party, go to meetings, skip church, release federal funding to pay for abortions in foreign countries, party some more.

Good grief.

Original Link.

“Obama’s Policies Bear Fruit” by Pamela Geller

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Obama’s policies toward Israel are bearing fruit.

An Israeli was shot in his car last month while traveling north of Jerusalem. A local Israeli leader, Avi Roeh, commented: “This attack is a direct result of the removal of roadblocks. It’s only by some miracle that the

Maybe Israelis were expecting miracles when the Israeli army began removing 100 roadblocks in Judea and Samaria. The Jerusalem Post said this was “an effort to make life easier for Palestinians.” They were all gone within a week. The official line was that the roadblock removal wasn’t related to Obama envoy George Mitchell’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which took place around the same time, but the Post said: “While Israeli sources said there was no direct link with Mitchell’s visit, they added there was an indirect connection because an improved West Bank economy was good for the diplomatic process.”

This attempt to show good will was met only with increased pressure on Israel from the US. US Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said that Israel should investigate bogus war crimes charges from the Goldstone Report: “We encourage Israel to utilise appropriate domestic (judicial) review and meaningful accountability mechanisms to investigate and follow-up on credible allegations. If undertaken properly and fairly, these reviews can serve as important confidence-building measures that will support the larger essential objective which is a shared quest for justice and lasting peace.”

So, the United States is now pressuring Israel to plead guilty to something it did not do, so as to “build confidence” with the jihadis in Gaza. Got that? It sort of echoes Ahmadinejad’s regime raping prisoners to “get a confession.”

At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Anne Bayefsky delivered a statement on behalf of both the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and the Hudson Institute. She said: “The Goldstone mission will go down in history as the 21st century’s equivalent to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – a notorious work of fiction which spun a conspiratorial web of deceit and distortion that has fueled hatred of Jews ever since. At its core, the Goldstone Report repeats the ancient blood libel against the Jewish people – the allegation of bloodthirsty Jews intent on butchering the innocent.”

Earlier, Barack Obama said at the UN: “We continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” He called for the establishment of a “viable Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people.”

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton called it “the most radical anti-Israel speech I can recall any president making.” He pointed out that Obama didn’t say that “new Israeli settlements” were illegitimate, but that “continued Israeli settlements” were illegitimate and unacceptable. Said Bolton: “That calls into question in my mind all Israeli settlements.” And a “contiguous” Palestinian state would cut Israel in two.

Bolton commented: “Do you think that matters to the Palestinians? That is the kind of approach to an issue that is attempting to decide the outcome to the negotiations, before the negotiations, that’s why I think that the Israelis should be worried. He’s laid it out where he wants it to end up.”

Bolton added: “The important thing is, when you have the Palestinians in as weak a position as they are now, and to have Barack Obama be their lawyer, in effect, puts them in a very strong bargaining place.” And Obama, said Bolton, has “made it very clear how much he wants to do through the UN.” How much? “An overwhelming percentage of our policy.”

Yet, the UN is now completely a tool of the Organization of Islamic Conference. What good has it done? Where is Gilad Shalit? What happened to the terms of Resolution 1701? Meaningless. Every condition, every promise made to Israel is flushed like so much toilet paper. Can someone point me to one condition met by the Muslims in

First under Yasser Arafat and then with succeeding terrorists in charge, not one condition was met by the Muslims, while Israel handed over piece after piece of Jewish land in an illogical and suicidal act of desperation and a desperate desire for peace. Islamic jihad exploits the goodness of the Jews and their love of life.

You cannot make peace with an enemy that lives for your destruction. American Jews were warned about Obama. But they wouldn’t listen. They cling to liberalism like the Palestinians cling to their fictional claims about “occupation.”

The shooting last month was just the beginning. Obama’s policies toward Israel are going to bear much more fruit than that.

Original Link.

“Obama Doesn’t Deserve Peace Prize” by KT McFarland

Monday, October 12th, 2009

The Nobel Prize Committee has done something extraordinary. It has awarded the world’s most prestigious prize for preventing and savings lives, for avoiding or ending conflict, for making the world a better and safer place, to a man who has…made some terrific speeches. It is the ultimate triumph of style over substance, of perception over reality.

But perhaps fitting nonetheless. The Nobel Peace prize is in itself the ultimate irony. Alfred Nobel was the man who invented dynamite – a destroyer of lives — yet his name bears the honor bestowed on those who would save lives.

One of the first to hail President Obama’s choice for “ nuclear disarmament” was Mohammed El Baradei, head of the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog group, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). El Baradei himself received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his efforts “to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes.” El Baradei, an Iranian, insists that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, and refuses to release IAEA reports declaring otherwise.

President Obama may well bring about nuclear disarmament, universal world peace and a permanent cessation of war. At this point, however, he has only made a handful of speeches about them. He has done nothing of substance — he has not halted one nuclear enrichment plant, stopped one missile program, converted one terrorist , signed one treaty or even softened one bellicose speech by an adversary.

In a world where there are real nuclear weapons and real enemies, the notion that the perception of peace matters more than its reality is not just absurd, it’s dangerous.

Ronald Reagan brought down the Iron Curtain, freed millions from tyranny, ended the Cold War, defeated the Soviet Union, ELIMINATED tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, and he didn’t even get an honorable mention from the Nobel Committee. Obama makes (by my count) 7 great speeches and he gets a Nobel Peace Prize. Go figure.

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