Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

CNN: Senate Democrats unanimously voted for rule that kills private health care plans

Why didn’t CNN report on this in 2010, when the vote happened? Oh well, better late than never.

Excerpt:

Senate Democrats voted unanimously three years ago to support the Obamacare rule that is largely responsible for some of the health insurance cancellation letters that are going out.

In September 2010, Senate Republicans brought a resolution to the floor to block implementation of the grandfather rule, warning that it would result in canceled policies and violate President Barack Obama’s promise that people could keep their insurance if they liked it.

“The District of Columbia is an island surrounded by reality. Only in the District of Columbia could you get away with telling the people if you like what you have you can keep it, and then pass regulations six months later that do just the opposite and figure that people are going to ignore it. But common sense is eventually going to prevail in this town and common sense is going to have to prevail on this piece of legislation as well,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said at the time.

“The administration’s own regulations prove this is not the case. Under the grandfathering regulation, according to the White House’s own economic impact analysis, as many as 69 percent of businesses will lose their grandfathered status by 2013 and be forced to buy government-approved plans,” the Iowa Republican said.

On a party line vote, Democrats killed the resolution, which could come back to haunt vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year.

So those evil Republicans were actually trying to protect the American people from losing their health insurance, but the Democrats stopped them. This reminds me of when Bush was trying to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ahead of the housing crisis, and the Democrats blocked him because they claimed there was no mortgage lending crisis. Then later, they claimed that the mortgage lending crisis was caused by insufficient regulation.

Here is economist Larry Kudlow of CNBC to make sense of these policies at a higher level.

Excerpt:

Charles Krauthammer and the Wall Street Journal’s Dan Henninger noted in excellent recent columns that this whole Obamacare business represents the greatest-ever expansion of the liberal entitlement-state dream. But I don’t want that dream. And you shouldn’t either.

Here’s what else I don’t want: As a 60-something, relatively healthy person, I don’t want lactation and maternity services, abortion services, speech therapy, mammograms, fertility treatments or Viagra. I don’t want it. So why should I have to tear up my existing health-care plan, and then buy a plan with far more expensive premiums and deductibles, and with services I don’t need or want?

Why? Because Team Obama says I have to. And that’s not much of a reason. It’s not freedom.

It’s especially not freedom for thirty-something chaste single males like me. I don’t want it, I don’t need it, and if you force me to pay for it for other people, then don’t expect me to marry and have children, because I can’t afford to pay for the wards of the welfare state and a family. It has to be one or the other. Either I keep what I earn, or the government takes what I earn. Period.

So far I am exempt from this, but my turn is coming next year, as Kudlow notes:

Incidentally, equally punitive regulations will hit more than 90 million employer-sponsored health plans next year. It’s the same problem as the individual plan. Grandfathering won’t work. Moreover, replacing these plans with much more expensive products will constitute a major tax hike on the entire economy. This point shouldn’t be lost as Americans worry about being kicked from their plans. Obamacare is not only anti-freedom but anti-growth.

I had not read the Daniel Henninger column linked above before, but here’s a sobering snippet from that column:

What made ObamaCare an exemplar of progressive politics and policy is precisely what has been on view this week in news stories and the Sebelius hearing. It’s not that the health program was to be administered by the state or that it promised benefits to all. Liberalism did that for decades. What made it peculiarly progressive were themandates. And not just the law’s individual and business mandates to purchase their insurance. The essence of modern Democratic progressivism is: “You will participate in what we have created for you, and you will comply with the law’s demands.”

[...]American progressivism is politics by cramdown. Ask Jamie Dimon. Ask the coal miners the EPA is putting out of business. Ask the union workers waiting for jobs on the Keystone XL pipeline. Ask Boeing in South Carolina or the harmless tea party groups from towns no one has ever heard of that were shut down by the IRS, or the 20,000 inner-city parents and students who marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest obliteration of their charter schools by New York’s progressive mayoral candidate, Bill de Blasio.

I had blogged before about the Charles Krauthammer column that Kudlow mentioned. Check it out if you missed it.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Charles Krauthammer: what Obamacare is really about, and why Obama lied about it

This column from Investors Business Daily is a must-read. It’s by respected moderate conservative Charles Krauthammer. In it, he explains why Obama lied about people being able to keep their existing plans.

Krauthammer explains:

ObamaCare renders illegal (with exceedingly narrow “grandfathered” exceptions) the continuation of any insurance plan deemed by Washington regulators not to meet their arbitrary standards for adequacy.

Example: No maternity care? You are terminated.

So a law designed to cover the uninsured is now throwing far more people off their insurance than it can possibly be signing up on the nonfunctioning insurance exchanges.

Indeed, most of the 19 million people with individual insurance will have to find new and likely more expensive coverage. And that doesn’t even include the additional millions who are sure to lose their employer-provided coverage.

[...]Beyond mendacity, there is liberal paternalism, of which these forced cancellations are a classic case. We canceled your plan, explained Jay Carney, because it was substandard. We have a better idea.

Translation: Sure, you freely chose the policy, paid for the policy, renewed the policy, liked the policy. But you’re too primitive to know what you need. We do. Your policy is canceled.

Because what you really need is what our experts have determined must be in every plan. So a couple in their 60s must buy maternity care. A teetotaler must buy substance abuse treatment. And a healthy 28-year-old with perfectly appropriate catastrophic insurance must pay for bells and whistles for which he has no use.

[...]As for subterfuge, these required bells and whistles aren’t just there to festoon the health care Christmas tree with voter-pleasing freebies. The planners knew all along that if you force insurance buyers to overpay for stuff they don’t need, that money can subsidize other people.

ObamaCare is the largest transfer of wealth in recent American history. But you can’t say that openly lest you lose elections. So you do it by subterfuge: hidden taxes, penalties, mandates and coverage requirements that yield a surplus of overpayments.

So that your president can promise to cover 30 million uninsured without costing the government a dime. Which from the beginning was the biggest falsehood of them all. And yet the free lunch is the essence of modern liberalism. Free mammograms, free preventative care, free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke. Come and get it.

And then when you find your policy canceled, your premium raised and your deductible outrageously increased, you’ve learned the real meaning of “free” in the liberal lexicon: something paid for by your neighbor — best, by subterfuge.

That’s the point I really wanted to get clear – the paternalism and the redistribution of wealth. I don’t need any of the new required minimum coverages every health insurance plan must now have. It won’t make my coverage “better” if I have coverage for things like pregnancies and mammograms and drug addiction counseling and contraceptives and abortions and sex changes and breast implants and in vitro fertilization and tobacco cessation. I don’t need those things because I don’t have that lifestyle. But I’ll have to pay more for health insurance, so that other people can have those things. And those other people will be voting Democrat in 2014. That’s what this is really about. The Democrats can’t raise taxes to buy votes, but they buy votes in other ways – by redistributing wealth under the rubric of “health care”. We often hear a lot of complaints that men don’t want to marry and have children, but maybe that’s because so many people keep voting to waste the money they earn on other things.

Some good news

One interesting piece of news did come out that might help to reverse this mess. Although the administration is saying now that it has no idea how many plans were sold, it turns out that this is another lie. CBS News reports that in the first three days of Obamacare being activated, less than 300 policies were sold.

Excerpt:

For 31 days now, the Obama administration has been telling us that Americans by the millions are visiting the new health insurance website, despite all its problems.

But no one in the administration has been willing to tell us how many policies have been purchased, and this may be the reason: CBS News has learned enrollments got off to an incredibly slow start.

Early enrollment figures are contained in notes from twice-a-day “war room” meetings convened within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after the website failed on Oct. 1. They were turned over in response to a document request from the House Oversight Committee.

The website launched on a Tuesday. Publicly, the government said there were 4.7 million unique visits in the first 24 hours. But at a meeting Wednesday morning, the war room notes say “six enrollments have occurred so far.”

They were with BlueCross BlueShield North Carolina and Kansas City, CareSource and Healthcare Service Corporation.

By Wednesday afternoon, enrollments were up to “approximately 100.” By the end of Wednesday, the notes reflect “248 enrollments” nationwide.

The health care exchanges need to average 39,000 enrollees a day to meet the goal of seven million by March 1.

It doesn’t sound like they are going to make their target. If Obamacare fails fast and fails loud, then we might be able to do something about it in the 2014 elections. But we would need people to stop listening to the blaming coming from the President and stop listening to the liberal media and start thinking about what is really going on.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Thirteen cases where the Obama administration has acted outside the law

This is the most popular article on Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

  1. Aug. 14, 2013: The Obama administration delayed the provision in ObamaCare to cap out-of-pocket health care costs, picking and choosing parts of the law to enforce, which is to exceed its authority.
  2. July 17, 2013: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals joined the federal appeals courts in D.C. and Philadelphia in ruling President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board recess appointments — who by law must be approved by Congress — were unconstitutional. Thus far, the president has ignored the ruling.
  3. July 1, 2013: The Obama administration unilaterally decided to delay the employer mandate provision of ObamaCare for a year, which is to provide information to the feds about the extent of an applicant’s insurance. Never mind that the law states the mandate must go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 — they are now relying on the “honor system” from applicants to determine if they are qualified for subsidies.
  4. June 25, 2013: The Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County v. Eric Holder that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is “unconstitutional” and that “the formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdiction to preclearance.” Instead of complying with the ruling, Holder filed suit to order Texas to submit to preclearance, in defiance of Congress’ authority to legislate and the Supreme Court’s authority to rule on the constitutionality of the law.
  5. June 15, 2012: The Obama administration announced it will stop deporting illegal immigrants under the age of 30 in a “deferred action” policy to circumvent immigration laws. This comes after Congress rejected a similar measure about a year ago. Since then, more than 500,000 illegals have received the deferment and only 20,000 have been rejected. As for the law-abiding applicants who have been waiting in line, well, that’s Obama’s idea of “lawfulness.”
  6. May 20, 2013: A Washington Post article revealed that Fox News reporter James Rosen was investigated by the DOJ, which subpoenaed his phone records and emails in direct contravention of the First Amendment under the pretense of a leak investigation.
  7. May 13, 2013: AP reported the DOJ secretly collected phone records of AP reporters and editors, a move completely outside the realm of law. Even the AP — which up until then had been pretty submissive to the Obama agenda — was appalled by the breach.
  8. May 10, 2013: The IRS revealed it targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status beginning in March 2010, a direct targeting of political opponents through the tax laws. It’s one of the crimes that led Congress to impeach President Nixon.
  9. May 3, 2011: When asked when he first heard of Operation Fast and Furious, Attorney General Eric Holder falsely testified, “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” Head of the National Drug Intelligence Center Michael Walther told Holder about Fast and Furious in a July 2010 memo. Subsequent revelations showed he knew all along.
  10. March 27, 2012: EPA issued final rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions on electric utilities that require power plants to use nonexisting carbon capture-and-control technology to meet new emission standards, in defiance of the Congress’ rejection of cap-and-trade legislation.
  11. April 23, 2012: The administration postponed Medicare Advantage cuts by calling them a “demonstration project” and used funds not approved by Congress to delay effects of those cuts before the election.
  12. March 1, 2011: Attorney General Holder lied to Congress, saying “decisions made in the New Black Panther Party case were made by career attorneys in the department.” Associate A.G. Thomas Perrelli, an Obama political appointee, overruled a unanimous recommendation for prosecution by DOJ attorneys.
  13. Feb. 3, 2010: Judge Martin Feldman held the Obama administration in contempt for re-imposing an offshore drilling moratorium that was struck down by the courts.

Thomas Sowell talks about the political left in his books “The Vision of the Anointed” and “A Conflict of Visions”. He presents the view that the left believes that they are the “anointed”. They are morally superior, and therefore they do not have to care about the rule of law or consequences or the criticisms of the opposition, when they are implementing their policies. When the policies fail, they never blame themselves, they just go outside the law even more. You can see this in socialist regimes in other times and places. It can never be the case that the schemes of the anointed are wrong-headed. The solution is always to act more and more lawlessly, and to silence, coerce and purge all opposition until the policies work.

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EPA administrator boasts about crucifying oil and gas firms

Tom sent me this article from CNS News.

Excerpt:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) took to the Senate floor today to draw attention to a video of a top EPA official saying the EPA’s “philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies – just as the Romans crucified random citizens in areas they conquered to ensure obedience.

Inhofe quoted a little-watched video from 2010 of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, admitting that EPA’s “general philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies.

In the video, Administrator Armendariz says:

“I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said:

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.

“Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

“It’s a deterrent factor,” Armendariz said, explaining that the EPA is following the Romans’ philosophy for subjugating conquered villages.

Soon after Armendariz touted the EPA’s “philosophy,” the EPA began smear campaigns against natural gas producers, Inhofe’s office noted in advance of today’s Senate speech:

“Not long after Administrator Armendariz made these comments in 2010, EPA targeted US natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

“In all three of these cases, EPA initially made headline-grabbing statements either insinuating or proclaiming outright that the use of hydraulic fracturing by American energy producers was the cause of water contamination, but in each case their comments were premature at best – and despite their most valiant efforts, they have been unable to find any sound scientific evidence to make this link.”

We want to be careful with environmental regulations so that we don’t hurt job creators. We need to work to have money, and we shouldn’t have to give up our prosperity in order to make a few bureaucrats feel as if they are “saving the world”.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama using executive power more frequently to bypass Congress

From the ultra-liberal NewYork Times, of all places.

Excerpt:

One Saturday last fall, President Obama interrupted a White House strategy meeting to raise an issue not on the agenda. He declared, aides recalled, that the administration needed to more aggressively use executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism.

“We had been attempting to highlight the inability of Congress to do anything,” recalled William M. Daley, who was the White House chief of staff at the time. “The president expressed frustration, saying we have got to scour everything and push the envelope in finding things we can do on our own.”

For Mr. Obama, that meeting was a turning point. As a senator and presidential candidate, he had criticized George W. Bush for flouting the role of Congress. And during his first two years in the White House, when Democrats controlled Congress, Mr. Obama largely worked through the legislative process to achieve his domestic policy goals

But increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress.

[...]Each time, Mr. Obama has emphasized the fact that he is bypassing lawmakers. When he announced a cut in refinancing fees for federally insured mortgages last month, for example, he said: “If Congress refuses to act, I’ve said that I’ll continue to do everything in my power to act without them.”

Aides say many more such moves are coming. Not just a short-term shift in governing style and a re-election strategy, Mr. Obama’s increasingly assertive use of executive action could foreshadow pitched battles over the separation of powers in his second term, should he win and Republicans consolidate their power in Congress.

Recall that this is the same man who chastised George W. Bush for spending too much – then added more money to the national debt than all of the previous Presidents combined.

Remember this?

But then, as CBS News reports, this happened:

The National Debt has now increased more during President Obama’s three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency.

The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.

The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush’s last day in office, which coincided with President Obama’s first day.

The National Debt also now exceeds 100% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services.

[...]The federal budget sent to Congress last month by Mr. Obama, projects the National Debt will continue to rise as far as the eye can see. The budget shows the Debt hitting $16.3 trillion in 2012, $17.5 trillion in 2013 and $25.9 trillion in 2022.

Wouldn’t it be terrible for our children if we got fooled again by words, instead of looking at actions? What would happen in a second term in which Obama would not have to care about being re-elected?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

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