Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Why Has Barack Obama Refused To Accept International Help To Clean Up The Oil Spill In The Gulf Of Mexico?
As the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico enters a third month, many are now asking how in the world Barack Obama can keep refusing offers from other countries to help clean up the oil spill. The truth is that cleaning up oil spills is not rocket science. There have been massive oil spills in other areas of the world before and there are some folks that have some real expertise when it comes to cleaning them up. But Barack Obama and BP have been stumbling around as if they are trying to reinvent the wheel. So exactly what in the world is going on here? When it comes to Obama's approach to this crisis, there are really two options. Either this is one of the most extreme examples of presidential incompetence in modern American history, or Barack Obama is using this crisis for a particular purpose (such as advancing a particular agenda). In either event, Obama's actions during this crisis have been completely and totally unconscionable.
The truth is that 13 different countries have offered to help clean up the oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
Barack Obama turned all 13 of them down..... Read more here
Monday, June 21, 2010
By THOMAS SOWELL Posted 06:13 PM ET
When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.
Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.
"Useful idiots" was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.
Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.
In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.
The president's poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.
Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.
And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP's oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.
But our government is supposed to be "a government of laws and not of men."
If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion — or $50 billion or $100 billion — then so be it.
But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without "due process of law."
Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.
With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.
If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don't believe in constitutional government.
And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a "crisis" — which, as the president's chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to "go to waste" as an opportunity to expand the government's power.
That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country's wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard's restrictions on the printing of money.
At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law "for the relief of the German people."
That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.
If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.
The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP's money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed "czars" controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.
Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power — vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom — are the "useful idiots" of our time. But useful to whom?
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
If you listened to the campaign rhetoric during the 2008 election you could be forgiven for thinking that health reform would mainly mean insuring people who cannot afford insurance on their own; in the process there would be no tax increases or benefit cuts for the middle class; and, “If you like the plan you are in, you can keep it!”
Turns out, the reality is 180 degrees different. Things are likely to change least for low-income people. About 18 million of them will be herded into Medicaid. But with no new doctors or nurses, they will face greater access problems than ever before and they will show up at hospital emergency rooms in increasing numbers.
It is for middle-class families who already have insurance that things will change the most
- Within the next few months senior citizens will be getting notices that their Medicare Advantage plans are being cancelled, and for those who continue there will be premium increases and benefit cuts. Over the next decade, 7.4 million Medicare Advantage enrollees will lose coverage they otherwise would have had.
- By September, between 1 million and 2 million people with limited benefit insurance are likely to lose coverage because their insurance doesn’t comply with the “no lifetime limit on benefits” regulation.
What about health plans that were supposed to be “grandfathered,” and thus immune from onerous, cost-increasing regulatory burdens? A draft of the proposed regulations, leaked all over Washington over the weekend and finally made public on Monday shows the news isn’t good. Under a “mid-range” estimate, more than half of all workers will not be in grandfathered plans within three years. Under the worst case scenario, the number will be two-thirds. Here is the full table:
Table source: Department of Health and Human Services
Under the most likely scenario, 87 million Americans will no longer be able to retain the health plan they have and the number could be as high as 117 million. Small businesses will be especially hard hit. As many as 80% will lose their grandfather status by 2013, for example. One reason: any change of insurers (say, to take advantage of lower premiums) will cause a loss of such status. By contrast, a self-insured union plan is free to change its third-party administrator and still keep its grandfather status.
Also, it now appears that “grandfathering” was never intended to be a long-term phenomenon. Eventually, all firms will lose their grandfather status.
Moreover, as I wrote in The Wall Street Journal the other day, even if you are in a grandfathered plan, your employer could drop your coverage anyway. As we previously reported here, the number of workers who will lose their employer-provided insurance is estimated at 9 million to 10 million by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 14 million by the Medicare Chief Actuary and 35 million by former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
AT&T, Caterpillar, John Deere and Verizon have all made internal calculations, according the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to determine how much could be saved by a) dropping their employer-provided insurance, b) paying a fine of $2,000 per employee, and c) leaving their employees with the option of buying highly-subsidized insurance in the newly created health-insurance exchange.
AT&T, for example, paid $2.4 billion last year to cover medical costs for its 283,000 active employees. If the company dropped its health plan and paid an annual penalty for each uninsured worker, the fines would total almost $600 million. But that would leave AT&T with a tidy profit of $1.8 billion.
Economists say employee benefits ultimately substitute for cash wages, which means that AT&T employees would get higher take-home pay. But considering that they will be required by federal law to buy their own insurance in an exchange, will they be net winners or losers? That depends on their incomes.
A CBO analysis of the House version of ObamaCare, which is close to what actually passed in March, assumed a $15,000 premium for family coverage in 2016. Yet the only subsidy available for employer-provided coverage is the same one as under current law: the ability to pay with pretax dollars. For a $30,000-a-year worker paying no federal income tax, the only tax subsidy is the payroll tax avoided on the employer’s premiums. That subsidy is only worth about $2,811 a year.
If this same worker goes to the health-insurance exchange, however, the federal government will pay almost all the premiums, plus reimburse the employee for most out-of-pocket costs. All told, the CBO estimates the total subsidy would be about $19,400 — almost $17,000 more than the subsidy for employer-provided insurance.
In general, anyone with a family income of $80,000 or less will get a bigger subsidy in the exchange than the tax subsidy available at work.
But will the insurance in the exchange be as good? In Massachusetts, people who get subsidized insurance from an exchange are in health plans that pay providers roughly Medicaid rates plus 10%. That’s less than what Medicare pays, and a lot less than the rates paid by private plans. Since the state did nothing to expand the number of doctors as it cut its uninsured rate in half, people in plans with low reimbursement rates are being pushed to the rear of the waiting lines.
The Massachusetts experience will only be amplified in other parts of the country. The CBO estimates there will be 32 million newly insured under ObamaCare. Studies by such think tanks as Rand and the Urban Institute show that insured people consume twice as much health care as the uninsured. So all other things being equal, 32 million people will suddenly be doubling their use of health care resources. In a state such as Texas, where one out of every four working age adults is currently uninsured, the rationing problem will be monumental.
Even if health plans in the exchange are identical to health plans at work, the subsidies available can only be described as bizarre. In general, the more you make, the greater the subsidy at work and the lower the subsidy in the exchange. People earning more than $100,000 get no subsidy in the exchange. But employer premiums avoid federal and state income taxes as well as payroll taxes, which means government is paying almost half the cost of the insurance. That implies that the best way to maximize employee subsidies is to completely reorganize the economic structure of firms.
Take a hotel with maids, waitresses, busboys and custodians all earning $10 or $15 an hour. These employees can qualify for completely free Medicaid coverage or highly subsidized insurance in the exchange.
So the profit-maximizing arrangement is for the hotel to fire the lower-paid employees, and contract for their labor from firms that employ them but pay fines instead of providing health insurance. The hotel could then provide health insurance for all the remaining, higher-paid employees.
Ultimately, we could see a complete restructuring of American industry, with firms dissolving and emerging solely based on government subsidies.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I had this podcast available exclusively for subscribers through the day, but now we are releasing it for everyone. This is an example of the special media subscribers receive as Tammy Army Members. Subscribers make this blog and Tammy Radio possible, and we’d love to have you with us! Thank you all for your support, and I hope you enjoy the interview.
With Special Guest Appearance by Piper Palin!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Sent to you by Ed via Google Reader:
Did you know that the federal government spent $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly? Were you aware that Washington is on track to spend $30,543 per household in 2010? What about a recent audit that classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper, fraudulent, or embezzled?
The federal government is addicted to spending our money and can't seem to kick the habit. Heritage scholar Brian Reidl has released a new paper chronicling all this spending. Our latest video highlights just some of the startling figures he uncovered and makes the case that we must get government spending under control if we want to restore America's fiscal health.
Please take a moment to watch our video and share it with friends and family. America needs to know the scope of the problems we face.
Things you can do from here:
- Subscribe to The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. using Google Reader
- Get started using Google Reader to easily keep up with all your favorite sites
There should have been nothing puzzling about his response to anyone who has paid even modest critical attention to Mr. Obama's pronouncements...
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
In an interview aired yesterday (6/08), President Obama admitted that he hasn't met with or spoken directly to BP's CEO Tony Hayward. His reasoning: "Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he's gonna say all the right things to me. I'm not interested in words. I'm interested in actions."
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Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Sunday, June 06, 2010
Saturday, June 05, 2010
What powers of federal authority could cap the well? What actions could have saved wildlife, or the shorelines?
Maybe the greatest casualty, will be a further stranglehold on energy production in the United States, and consequently, our economy, our prosperity.
Of course, the stimulus didn't work. The promise was 3.5 million new jobs. Instead, 3.5 million have been lost. Reich doesn't offer any substantive argument as to why he believes the stimulus worked. The numbers simply are not there. What's Reich's solution? More of the same:We're falling into a double-dip recession.
The Labor Department reports this morning that the private sector added a measly 41,000 net new jobs in May. But at least 100,000 new jobs are needed every month just to keep up with population growth.
In other words, the labor market continues to deteriorate.
The average length of unemployment continues to rise -- now up to 34.4 weeks (up from 33 weeks in April). That's another record.
More Americans are too discouraged to look for a job than last year at this time (1.1 million in May, an increase of 291,000 from a year earlier).
Of the small number of jobs created by the private sector in May, many came from temporary help services.
...Why are we having such a hard time getting free of the Great Recession? Because consumers, who constitute 70 percent of the economy, don't have the dough. They can't any longer treat their homes as ATMs, as they did before the Great Recession.
Businesses won't rehire if there's not enough demand for their goods and services.
The only reason the economy isn't in a double-dip recession already is because of three temporary boosts: the federal stimulus (of which 75 percent has been spent), near-zero interest rates (which can't continue much longer without igniting speculative bubbles), and replacements (consumers have had to replace worn-out cars and appliances, and businesses had to replace worn-down inventories). Oh, and, yes, all those Census workers (who will be out on their ears in a month or so).
So what's the answer? In the short term, more stimulus...
In the longer term, we need a new New Deal that will bolster America's floundering middle class. Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and extend it up through the middle class. Finance that extension through higher marginal income taxes on the wealthy, who have never had it so good.Never had it so good? Right now the bottom 47% of wage earners pay no income taxes at all. Adding tax credits will simply give them money back. As I wrote over a month ago: Not only does bottom 47% of taxpayers pay no federal income tax, but the bottom 40% GET MONEY BACK! That goes right along in consistency with a prior post of mine: 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll: 50% of Americans that don't pay taxes thinks 'rich' people ought to pay more, even though top 1% pay more than bottom 95%
Note that the bottom 50% pay almost no taxes, while the top 5% pay about 60% of the federal tax bill. I agree with one thing - this isn't fair. But I think it is the rich that are paying too much, only to be sneered at by those that pay nothing at all and get OUR money back from the government. It's now gotten so bad, so unfair, that the top 1% pay more in federal taxes than the bottom 95%: The rich are paying far more than their fair share, and instead of being thanked are demonized by Reich and his ilk. This is the same Robert Reich, mind you, who wanted to mandate racial discrimination in the stimulus bill just over a year ago (Mandating Discrimination with Stimulus Funds):