Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rick Scott Is Wrong

Rick Scott Is Wrong

By Betsy McCaughey on 2.26.13 American Spectator

Governors buying into Medicaid expansion are acting venally and short-sightedly.

On Fox News’ “Special Report” columnist Charles Krauthammer said it was “honorable” for Florida Governor Rick Scott to recommend the state buy into the Obama health law’s Medicaid expansion, despite Scott’s earlier opposition. In truth Scott’s decision is venal and short sighted. If the Florida legislature agrees to expand Medicaid, it will doom Florida to bankruptcy and Floridians to enormous state tax hikes in the coming years. The expansion will add 42% to the state’s Medicaid enrollment.

Packing the Medicaid rolls is Obamacare’s primary way of dealing with the uninsured. The law lays out a red carpet for politicians to expand their state’s Medicaid programs, adding richer benefits and many more enrollees. The health law promises the federal government will pay 100% of the cost of the expansion until 2018, and then 90% of the cost thereafter. That’s a 9-to-1 match.

In the past, states have set eligibility rules based on what state budgets can handle. This expansion puts the feds in control, and it’s way beyond what states can afford.

That’s why this red carpet invitation is a trap. The federal government usually breaks its promises. What will happen then? It’s inconceivable that states will be able to undo the expansion and reduce the burden. Taking back entitlements is generally a political impossibility. Instead state taxpayers will be clobbered with huge new bills.

Despite this obvious peril, the red-carpet invitation has enticed even such conservative governors as John Kasich of Ohio and Jan Brewer of Arizona, an outspoken critic of President Obama and his health plan.

Earlier this month, both governors stunned the nation by announcing that they will participate in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Brewer said it would “inject $2 billion” into the state’s economy.

Brewer’s statement is typical of what politicians have done in the past. To most politicians, Medicaid is a verb. It means spend, spend, spend and then bill the federal government for part of the tab. In the past, that corrupt thinking led state politicians from both parties to spend excessively as a way of doing exactly what Brewer said, bring federal dollars into their state. The incentive then was the federal government matching spending 1 to 1. Imagine how much more wasteful Medicaid spending will be when the reward is 9 to 1. Watch as these politicians Medicaid everything in sight.

Not all governors are hurrying to the party. Wisely, 13 have refused and another 14 are reserving decisions. Kudos to the holdouts, including Texas Governor Rick Perry. Accepting the invitation would expand Medicaid enrollment 57% in Texas.

Last summer, a bipartisan State Budget Crisis Task Force, chaired by former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, warned states not to be lured by the Medicaid expansion’s pot of gold. It’s a mirage, the report cautioned. Any future Congress can undo the commitment.

Every deficit reduction plan being discussed in Washington, D.C. includes abandoning that 9-to-1 match soon, the Task Force warned. States that expanded Medicaid to comply with the Obama health law will be plunged into fiscal disaster.

Medicaid is already consuming a third or more of many state budgets. States would literally have to stop funding roads, public schools, and other essential services to pay for Medicaid.

Counting on venality to triumph over wisdom, President Obama is assuming most governors —Republicans as well as Democrats — will ignore this danger and opt for the Medicaid expansion.

If more governors capitulate, another health program will fall entirely under federal control, state politicians will be tethered to the president and his minions in the Medicaid bureaucracy, and taxpayers’ dollars will be lavished on anything politicians can Medicaid. That’s a verb, you know.

Betsy McCaughey is a former Lt. Governor of New York and author of Decoding the Obama Health Law.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Losing the Battle

If you have wondered why someone of no accomplishments like Hillary Clinton, who lied repeatedly and arranged the destruction of so many women who were attacked and/or harassed by her corrupt husband, could be admired by so many, while Sarah Palin, a beautiful, Christian mother and great governor, could be so hated, read this long article.

Yes, many Americans admired Al Capone, but he ended up in jail.

We are witnessing the end of the wonderful American experiment, in which our freedoms and our rights are “endowed by our Creator”, and not provided by a government of men. We need a great leader and/or writer who can expose the “Alice in Wonderland” mentality of the progressive ruling class. Some are hoping for a cataclysmic disaster that will reveal the inanity of the course we are on; I am not.

While the author below does not take into account the hard times being suffered by millions of Americans due to the housing crash erroneously attributed to George Bush, his observations are right on target.

Three Reasons Conservatives are Losing the Battle for America

By J. Paul Masko, III February 24, 2013 American Thinker

1. The Electorate

The Republicans may as well stop their soul-searching and look at the reality of the Democrat electorate. In addition to those Republican voters who stayed home on Election Day, the hard-core (so-called) progressives, the inadequate Republican ground game, and those who pay little or no federal tax and are happy to elect those who promise to take larger sums from those who DO pay, there's a more profound and possibly intractable problem. From my countless discussions with Democrats/liberals, it seems clear that many, many voters - we will never be sure of their numbers - neither hear, nor are interested in hearing, the stance of conservatives or Republicans. I'm often incredulous at the self-satisfied political ignorance and gullibility of successful, otherwise high-functioning and intellectually curious Democrats. The range and depth of their ignorance regarding easily ascertainable facts is astounding ("No, President Obama has NOT increased the deficit: that's a lie! For your information, President Obama has spent less than any President in history!"); and many, in my experience, cite the New York Times as their irrefutable source of information, with phrases like: "The Times didn't mention it so it can't be true or relevant...."

For these people, it really doesn't matter what conservatives or Republicans think or say: they won't hear it! Republican positions are totally lost - unheard and meaningless - to a growing number of the electorate, including huge swaths of highly-educated and effective leaders in society. It would be understating the issue to note that the Republican/conservative "brand" has been sullied - but it begins to convey the nature of the problem: it's more accurate to say that the Republican/conservative brand has been effectively nullified for many people. For a growing number of voters, it doesn't matter what Republicans say: they have bought into the idea - nurtured by the press, educators at every level, and almost the entire entertainment industry - that Republicans are the "bad guys". Furthermore, and possibly more disturbing, is the fact that this apparently mushrooming group of voters is largely unaware of and unconcerned about their stance.

Imagine trying to discuss the strengths of Judaism with members of the Hitler Youth, or the weaknesses of Mao's Great Leap Forward with a cadre of the Red Guard: would your ideas be heard and rationally considered? Or suppose you were running for office and these youngsters could vote: would they vote for you? When you discovered that you'd lost their vote and consequently an election, would you then ask yourself, for example, whether the ideas or nature of Judaism were at fault for your inability to persuade them?

That's about the level of it with much of the U.S. electorate: they've totally bought into the liberal stance - which these days includes refusing to hear or even consider ideas of the blacklisted opposition - and there's no indication that they'll be coming back to a more rational stance.

They proclaim themselves compassionate but really don't care if the "bad guys" are emotionally or physically hurt. And there's a typical structure to their answers in response to interrogations about their reputed compassion: first the distancing phrase, then the conjunction, and finally the seemingly reasonable explanation. (A couple typical answers: "Of course nobody would condone such violent behavior but I also don't hear too many people upset about his absence"...or... "We should never turn to violence as an answer but who can blame them for getting upset".) An example to illustrate the point: although You may recall that a couple Republicans were savagely beaten in apparent political violence in New Orleans after a Republican fund raiser in 2010, I can guarantee you that essentially none of your Democrat friends do.

To call these people "zealots" would be overstating their political energy, but calling them "partisans" is somehow off point. Many of them, but for their political stance, would be considered bright or knowledgeable, as I'm sure were many of the Hitler Youth, the Red Guard and members of like organizations, who were often specially selected for their academic, athletic and social skills.

While some of these people may have limited political knowledge, they all know something really, really well: Republicans and conservatives are bad guys, should not be listened to, and will make everything worse. If you're a Republican or a conservative, it doesn't matter what you say because, if it comes out of your mouth, it's wrong.

When I was young, it was a matter of pride that we'd try to familiarize ourselves with both sides of an argument: my teachers mostly attempted to present alternative views fairly and encouraged us to research opposing political stances independently. Now educators at every level mostly seem to expect adherence to the liberal/Democrat position, and both challenge (even threaten) those who disagree, and create an environment where alternative views and their proponents are mocked (or worse).

So Republicans and conservatives, I'd say the same thing to you that I'd say to a Rabbi rejected by the Hitler Youth: if you think that the Democrats heard, digested and rejected your arguments in the last election, you're deluded. Your brand is so soiled that you will not be heard by this generation...short of a calamity on the order of the one that befell the Nazis. Your misreading of the times and the situation is startling. You look like bewildered youngsters trying to please a psychotic mother, looking for cues in an electorate and media that derides and, in many cases, despises you. In terms of convincing the electorate of the good sense of your positions, there may not be workable solutions: but take a first step by facing the truth: you have allowed the culture to drift for decades, and one feature of the drift is the acceptability of determined mindlessness...including the mindless rejection of you and whatever it is that you proclaim. You still have a substantial choir to whom you preach...but probably a larger counter-choir that not only doesn't hear you but aggressively covers its ears when you speak.

2. Media Bias

The fact is that while there has never been a pure news delivery system, it was much, much cleaner 60 years ago. One could have argued the case several decades ago that there was such an entity as "news", but it makes no sense to call these groups "news" organizations anymore. A more sensible approach would be to say that there's hot, warm, cool and cold information, and that the mainstream press and the left are the arbiters of what will be hot, cold, etc. If the press decides that a particular story does not fit their world-view or plan, the story becomes "cold", is ignored and, to the acolytes, doesn't exist. Examples would be The New York Times ignoring the Benghazi story or "Fast and Furious" for extended periods; when they finally reported on these, they had lots of ways, as always, to effect their spin: story placement and flow, leaving out facts that might be inconsistent with their world-view, interviewing those with known sympathy to their stance and then editing the interviews for greatest New-York-Times-style impact. Since so many news organizations and acolytes look to the Times to define worthy/unworthy stories, advance the "proper" spin, etc., much of the country, including many Republicans, believe that they've heard the full story after having read The Times (and The Washington Post). I've been told several times - although it always amazes me - that a particular event "never happened"...with the explanation that "The Times didn't mention it...." Because this situation has been in place without effective challenge for so long, it's second-nature to the (so-called) reporters involved in creating and perpetuating it: to most of them, the idea that they have a political slant that finds expression in their news stories would be obviously bogus...not worth wasting a moment pondering.

"What?? Are you claiming that there's a conspiracy among these journalists???" No: it's group-think! Imagine the Jewish fellow noted above speaking to a Nazi Youth club and later finding that essentially all of them had a negative reaction to his presentation. Would that be a conspiracy? Or how about someone identified as a "Petit Bourgeois" delivering a roundly rejected lecture on the benefits of capitalism to a group of Bolsheviks: although they all found his ideas wrong-headed, would their rejection reflect a conspiracy? I don't think so.

Republicans and conservatives: you are playthings of the mainstream media and they can totally have their way with you, no matter your observations or objections. And the most interesting part of living in such a one-sided media environment for so long is that the vast majority of Republicans (and many conservatives) will, like obedient puppies, follow the media lead. The bottom line: you Republicans and conservatives are powerless in defining or moving the debate: the mainstream media along with the liberals and Democrats essentially totally define the issues, the responses to the issues, which events to focus on or ignore, etc. And their chosen topics and slants can be very bizarre indeed. But you have nothing to do with it! You're powerless! Impotent! The sooner you face this fact, the sooner you might find a productive path ahead.

And one other note about the mainstream media: because you Republicans and conservatives are so impotent and because they identify, define and massage (or ignore) the stories consistent with their world view, it stands to reason that anyone can be tarnished and destroyed by them. Anyone!: Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, a reincarnated Jesus Christ, and you and any of your colleagues: it's simply a matter of who is picked out and how thoroughly he or she needs to be destroyed. If the target will cooperate and absent himself or herself, it's often unnecessary - a waste of time and resources - to continue the assault.

Likewise, if the mainstream media and the left decide to ignore a scandal or other situation, for a large percentage of the population - including many who are otherwise well informed and high-functioning - it won't exist: there's essentially nothing that you conservatives and Republicans can do about it. In related fashion, if the left and mainstream media decide to re-route information or assign blame idiosyncratically, their version will quickly become the accepted explanation for a large percentage of the populace. It's why George W. Bush is largely to blame for the mortgage crisis, (supposed) global warming, increased violent crime, persistent racism and all manner of other difficulties. Scapegoats are a beautiful thing for people who don't want to face themselves or grow up and, in a lopsided information system like ours, there is neither a shortage of scapegoats nor a practical limit to the extent of blame that one scapegoat can absorb. If you think that this plum George Bush-Sarah Palin-scapegoat-era is over, think again. And, more to the point, you Republicans and conservatives have nothing whatever to say about it.

So stop with the, "If we'd only nominated" somebody, he or she would be "so much less vulnerable" to attacks than the person we nominated; and stop the, "It's such a shame that he keeps opening his mouth and sticking his foot in it...." If some other person had been nominated, he or she would have been destroyed if he didn't fit the media paradigm: and then you'd be complaining that yet another candidate should have been nominated. Face it, Republicans and conservatives: you have nothing to say about who gets pilloried in the press and who doesn't, or what the issues will be, and there's essentially nothing you can do to change it: all of that is decided by people who disagree with and often despise you. So you may as well stop your automatic genuflections to the liberals/Democrats by beating each other up. (From a distance, though, you have to admit that it must be a gas to be able to call the shots for your get them to hop and dance on cue, to self-flagellate, to start fighting with each other or join in the carnage.)

3. Techniques

A third element that makes the position of Republicans and conservatives almost untenable is the range of techniques for destroying them that are accepted by many Americans and the mainstream press. The most effective and destructive technique is so-called "political correctness", a method of silencing those who disagree with a group or party controlling the political agenda: it's a technique that depends on a constant reinforcing dialogue between the media and compliant citizens. Political correctness is a capital political concept because: the participants silently acquiesce to its dictates; it's a self-modulating system where groups of people self-monitor and groom each other into conformity; through unspoken or overt threats of censure, it propagates itself; and, among the willing, it inevitably leads to the control of thought. If we freely restrict our speech to only "allowed" topics, in short order we restrict our thinking as well. In the end there is no more powerful political tool than thought control, which is why mastery and management of information is a central issue in all totalitarian regimes. What has required the overt elimination or forced domination of media outlets in most autocratic regimes has been yielded up easily by our group-think media, who now march along in near lockstep while trumpeting their independence. Political correctness must be a beautiful thing to behold if you're a politician inclined toward domination.

Another technique is the investigation and censure of politicians and groups who don't fit the media or left wing paradigm, while ignoring or manipulating scandalous information on political allies. When potentially damaging information about left wing allies is ignored by the mainstream media, it simply "doesn't exist" to growing numbers of otherwise well-informed acolytes. This is why Sarah Palin is regarded as perhaps the most heinous and hated American politician today to a large portion of the population, while Bill Clinton is lionized and his wife may be the brightest woman in the western world. With enough investigation and diligence, anyone can be destroyed and almost anyone can be elevated. Again, who is destroyed and who idealized is totally within the control of the mainstream media and the left wing: conservatives and Republicans cannot substantially affect these processes because of the nullification of their brand advanced through the press, the entertainment media and educational institutions.

Two elements exacerbate this technique for conservatives and Republicans: the fact that the left wing, because it views itself as having an essential and morally-superior "mission", excuses its unscrupulous destructive strategies (like, for example, essentially inventing and repeating false stories until they become part of the political landscape [such as bogus Tea-Party threats toward Congressmen]; attacking family members of antagonists; somehow "discovering" legitimately sealed information and dropping it over the transoms of friendly media; etc.); and the fact that Republicans and conservatives, so inured to being cogs in the left-wing-driven information system, leap in to play their roles of unwitting enablers in the destruction of their own.

A third technique - another favorite of despotic regimes like the Soviets in Eastern Europe - is "selective violence": physically harmful acts meant to both stop a political opponent and send a message to like-minded potential opponents. This category includes such things as union attacks on Tea Party demonstrations; the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of the "Coptic Christian" on charges "unrelated" to his film; covert threats toward Chief Justice Roberts by national politicians on the eve of the health care decision; the use of government powers, like repeated, intensive tax audits against political enemies; etc. It must be a comforting and, unfortunately for the body politic, "liberating" position for politicians and left-wing groups to know that no matter how many or how severe their physical or administrative attacks, these will be ignored by the mainstream press and consequently "not exist" for much of the population.

In a word, we are observing the regression of a that is moving away from sophistication and proudly stepping backward from civilizing attempts. We have seen primitive behavior in our own culture and others: when people look to a label or a skin color as all that need be said about a person; when information from trusted sources of information are grossly biased so only one side is heard or even "exists"; and when physical or administrative violence against people is belittled, laughed at or ignored. It's a cultural regression and, as the unifying, reassuring legal structures and precepts wither, as information sources become untrustworthy, and as physical and administrative violence worsens, it becomes increasingly difficult to reverse.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Without Discipline, Conservatism Is Finished

Once the Democrats decided to agree on a position and then vote as a block, the conservative movement was overwhelmed, as we never can seem to do that. A great illustration is presented in the Hagel confirmation battle, a nomination that should never have been made and should not have a chance of succeeding; see “Dropping the Hagel Bomb”. Four Republican senators jumped ship from the Republican position and voted for cloture. Conservatives have independent minds, and that’s as it should be, but we will never be able to outflank and defeat the Democrats unless we can unite behind a position and a leader. We should argue out our ideas, reach a consensus, and unite behind it, not argue in public and undermine our leaders as we did to Boehner several times recently.

Another problem we have is that many good conservatives have belief systems that are 90% logical, but then often also have some ideas that would be ruinous to the party and to the nation. Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain come to mind, as well as our new star, Dr. Benjamin Carson. Dr. Carson swept us off our feet with his speech extolling solid, conservative values and ideas right in front of our exalted ruler, President Obama, but then he went on to advocate a flat tax. I know a flat tax appeals to some wealthy people and to academics, but supporting it would mean the end of Republicanism.

Hagel confirmation hits stumbling block

Rick Moran February 15, 2013 American Thinker (excerpt)

“There's not much chance that Hagel can be blocked. McCain and probably Lindsey Graham will join the Democrats on the next vote, thus giving Harry Reid his 60 senators. But it is certainly an embarrassment for Obama and it serves Hagel right for the inept and incomptent confirmation hearing he went through in the Armed Services Committee." American Thinker
Jewish Groups Must End Silence on Hagel

Jonathan S. Tobin February 14, 2013 Commentary (excerpt)

“To the shock of many Democrats who just days ago thought Chuck Hagel’s confirmation was a cinch, the effort to force a cloture vote on his nomination failed this afternoon in the Senate. That puts the Hagel nomination on ice for at least another 10 days until after the President’s Day Congressional recess. Had the White House been forthcoming with more information about the president’s actions during the terror attack in Benghazi, this might have been avoided. Several Republicans said the delay of the vote on Hagel would be lifted as soon as the administration relented on that point but it refused to do so and Majority Leader Harry Reid forced a vote that he knew he would lose.

It is possible that during the intervening week, the president will surrender the data that the Republicans want and that the vote on Hagel will take place later this month and, following the party line vote in the committee, he will be confirmed. But the delay will also allow senators more time to ruminate on the nominee’s hapless performance at his confirmation hearing as well as to digest other information that is coming out about even more disturbing comments that Hagel has made about Israel. As I wrote earlier today, our former colleague Alana Goodman’s reporting at the Washington Free Beacon uncovered an account of a 2007 speech given by Hagel at Rutgers University during which he claimed the U.S. State Department was being run by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

This hateful statement is actually worse than Hagel’s infamous complaint about the “Jewish lobby” intimidating Congress. It is not only absurd since the State Department has always been a stronghold of Arabists but a rehash of the old anti-Semitic myths about foreign Jews manipulating American policy. The only question now is whether the same Jewish groups that have been conspicuous by their silence about Hagel’s nomination will find their voices and help kill this unfortunate nomination once and for all." Commentary


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The End of Medicare

Last weekend a couple who are friends of mine told me that their doctor here in Florida had just informed them that they each had to pay him $135.00 per month to continue receiving care under Medicare. Florida does not have a law banning this practice. In Rhode Island, which does have such a law (called balance billing), doctors are abandoning in droves the treatment of Medicare-insured patients. This is the direct result of the financing of what we call Obamacare, and of the beginning steps of its implementation. Unless the nation rises up and demands the immediate demise of Obamacare, not only seniors, but almost everyone is doomed to lose the health insurance plan they had. In practice, the so-called Affordable Care Act is an abomination.

Wheels coming off

By BETSY MCCAUGHEY February 10, 2013 NY Post

The central parts of ObamaCare don’t roll out until 2014, but the wheels are already falling off this clunker. The latest news from four federal agencies is that 1) insurance will be a lot less affordable than Americans were led to expect, 2) fewer people than promised will get insurance and 3) millions of people who have coverage through a job now will lose it, thanks to the president’s “reforms.” Oh, and children are the biggest victims.

The Affordable Care Act is looking less and less affordable.

Start with the IRS’s new estimate for what the cheapest family plan will cost by 2016: $20,000 a year to cover two adults and three kids. And that will only cover 60 percent of medical bills, so add hefty out-of-pocket costs, too.

The next surprise is for parents who thought their kids would be covered by an employer. Sloppy wording in the law left that unclear until last week, when the IRS ruled that kids won’t be covered.

Starting in 2014, the law will require employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer coverage or pay a penalty. “Affordable” coverage, that is — meaning the employee can’t be told to contribute more than 9.5 percent of his salary. For example, a worker earning $40,000 a year cannot be required to pay more than $3.800.

But the law doesn’t specifically mandate family coverage — and now the administration says that won’t be required.

You can see why: If the lowest-cost family plan (again, two adults and three kids) is to run a whopping $20,000, and if the employee’s contribution is limited to $3,800, the employer’s tab would be $16,200 — adding about $7.40 an hour to the cost of that employee. Wisely, the IRS announced on Jan. 30 that employers won’t have to pay for dependents.

But the Congressional Budget Office’s much-cited prediction that ObamaCare would leave only 30 million people uninsured by 2016 was based on the assumption that kids would be covered by employers. At the very least, employers insuring their workers for the first time to avoid the penalty are unlikely to do that.

So how will the kids be covered? They won’t. The IRS shocked the law’s advocates by announcing that the insurance exchanges won’t provide subsidies for a child whose parent is covered at work.

Nor will these parents be penalized for not insuring their children — the IRS will kindly consider the kids exempt from the mandate.

Also exempt are millions of people who’ll stay uninsured because their state is wisely choosing not to loosen Medicaid eligibility.

Some background: Despite President Obama’s promises to help solve the problem of the uninsured by making private health plans more affordable, the law expands coverage mainly by forcing states to loosen their Medicaid eligibility rules. But the Supreme Court ruled that the feds can’t command states in this way.

At first, the CBO said that ruling would only prevent 4 million people from gaining coverage — but more states than it expected are refusing to go along; it could well be 8 million more without coverage.

Oh, and the CBO last week also doubled its previous estimate on how many people will lose the health coverage they now get through work, upping the figure to 8 million by 2016 and 12 million by 2019. Several top consulting firms put the figures even higher.

Yet the biggest setback is that most states are refusing to set up insurance exchanges. The exchanges are supposed to sell the government-mandated plans and hand out taxpayer-funded subsidies to most enrollees.

Here’s the glitch. The law says that in states that refuse, the federal government can set up an exchange. But the law empowers only state exchanges, not federal ones, to hand out subsidies. The Obama administration says it will disregard the law and offer subsidies in all 50 states anyway, but the case will likely go to the Supreme Court.

If the courts uphold the clear language of the law, then some 8 million people in the affected states won’t be eligible for subsidies to cover that $20,000 (or more) insurance bill. That’s another 8 million without coverage.

All in all, at least 40 million people could be uninsured in 2016, only 9 million fewer than before the law was passed.

Expect the momentum for repealing this law to grow as its flaws, perverse incentives and faulty predictions come to light.

Betsy McCaughey is the author of “Beating ObamaCare.”


AddThis Social Bookmark Button