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October 29, 2009

The Pelosi Plan

James Capretta - The Insanity of the House Bill

At the beginning of this year, there was great hope in some circles that Congress would enact significant health-care reform that would address the central, vexing problem of today’s arrangements, which is rapidly escalating costs. That hope has waned considerably as the Democrats controlling the process have made a series of decisions revealing that their only real ambition is to get to a signing ceremony for something called “universal coverage.”

Still, there have been some true believers in the business, health, and policy communities who have thought it better to keep their powder dry and not criticize the emerging legislation based on the hope that some level of constructive engagement might improve matters. Fat chance. The bill unveiled today by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should put to rest for good the thought that this year’s legislative process will produce anything other than a total fiscal and health policy disaster.

To sum it up, the House bill is nothing but a massive, uncontrolled federal entitlement expansion — at a time when the central, looming threat to the nation’s long-term prosperity is the unaffordable health-care entitlements already on the federal books. To create the impression of fiscal responsibility, the bill is jury-rigged with budget gimmicks, implausible eligibility rules, and arbitrary, government-dictated price controls — that have been tried repeatedly without success — to make it look like it costs “only” $900 billion over a decade.

Read it all...and instead of weeping...call your Congressman.

Tevi Troy has a list of all the constituencies that will have a reason to hate this bill...there's something for almost everybody.

IDB editorial

October 21, 2009

Good Girl Mika

Unbelievable. CNN edited by the White House...on the air. At least there's no pretense about who's writing the script. Gives lapdogs everywhere a bad name.

Hot Air, on the not so secret briefing between Obama and his favorite media figures. Seems Keith Olberman and Rachael Maddow, MSNBC's divisive, partisan commentators were among the invited elite. Here's Allahpundit...

Needless to say, The One’s entitled to talk to whomever he wants, but playing pattycake with MSNBC’s primetime stars does further raise the question of why Beck and Hannity are problematic “opinion” shows while Olbermann and Maddow aren’t. And yes, that question is entirely rhetorical.

...and Gawker has MSNBC's latest gaffe...hard to remember which huckster they're having on today....as Gawker said...if Fox News did this, there would be sit-ins.

Ace is all over CNN's Gloria Borger's "analysis", written soon after she got her briefing from Obama...

Obama whines about FoxNews' "biased" coverage, and the media say nothing, as the rest of the media knows they offer this kind of biased, partisan "analysis" every single day.

Every. Single. Day.

Borger's piece isn't particularly remarkable, except for the suggestive timing of it coming out right after her chat with Obama, in which he surely whined about every Republican who won't "help him with the mopping."

The Head-Pat Media puts this crap out there every day. And then they have the gall to call FoxNews partisan?

It only seems partisan to them because it's the opposite of the partisan messaging they engage in every single day.

When Obama and his Liberal Spirit Squad talk about Republicans "offering solutions," what they really mean is "Republicans should offer their votes." Because that's what is wanted -- votes. Not input, not constructive criticism, just the rubber stamp of their votes.

And, of course, Borger goes through this whole essay without noting that Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of Congress and don't need a single Republican vote to pass anything they want, including defeating any and all filibusters.

But Democrats won't pass this. Thus the need for Republican votes. And just the votes, thank you -- Democrats want their at-risk members to be able to vote against this horror so that they can get re-elected. They want Republicans to vote for this obscenity so that they don't have to.

Republicans do have ideas about health care. Obama just isn't interested in listening.

Read Borger and Ace, but Borger's snarky reminder to conservatives about the cost of $40 billion to fully fund the 40,000 troops needed in Afghanistan comes off as incoherent, considering her network's cheerleading for a health care package 30 times that size, and the Dems scoffing at a mere $54 billion that would be saved through tort reform, a conservative initiative. Let's weigh the stakes of winning or losing Afghanistan against the benefits of creating another unsustainable government entitlement, (but first remind me again real quick what those benefits were.)

The Democrats are in a bind. A majority of Americans don't want their Obamacare reforms. It it gets strangled in the cradle, their leader and figurehead is politically damaged. If they pass a horrible bill, they will pay a price themselves at the polls. I am increasingly persuaded that conservatives should be wishing and working for the former. Not because I would take any great pleasure in seeing the president discredited. But because we will all have to live with the consequences of the legislation for many years, if it gets through.

But back to the war on Fox...

To their credit, WaPo's Ruth Marcus and Helen Thomas and ABC's Jake Tapper have spoken out against the White House attacks on a private media conglomerate. But the yawns emanating from the rest of the media are telling.

Where is the "liberal" in a media that sits silent, cowed and self-censoring in the face of a government openly singling out one of their number to delegitimize on the basis of political differences?

All Presidents do what they can to tailor the message through their favorite messengers. Just maintaining lists to track who's with you and who's against you used to be unconscionable. Nixon was pilloried for it, and Dems still gasp in horror at the memory. But the insinuation by this administration that they will be the arbiters of legitimacy in the media universe is hubris run rampant, and it is unprecedented. Still waiting for the outrage from the rest of the media.

And of course it's easier to manage the message effectively when the news room is willing to read your emails live on the air as soon as they hit the Inbox. But this president is signaling an intention to do a lot more insinuating of the state into the media. They talk a good game of supporting quality journalism, and now it's clear they plan to put themselves in charge of defining what that is. And what do you know? The one network willing to challenge them must be read out of polite society....turns out.

This group is especially adept at message control. It's the heart of campaigning, and that's what Obama and his team do well. Down the road in media-government cooperation.....well, the newspaper bailout will probably come eventually (and they'll promise to try to keep it under 900 billion). Taxpayer dollars will flow to those who stay on message. Maybe the bailout will be expanded to include other forms of media that show through their journalism that they merit government support. You know who you are. Now..in the meantime, who will rid them of this meddlesome network?

The new Head-Pat Media** arrangement turns the role of American journalism on its head. Does that bother anyone important in a media universe that used to take pride in being liberal...and knew what that meant? (** attributed to Ace)

Politico reports on the Obama administration strategy of marginalizing their most powerful opponents. Get it? There's no need to debate the opposition's ideas. The imperative is to destroy them. Jen Rubin comments, with excerpts from Politico in italics...

It is not simply Fox but any critic (e.g., business groups, citizen protesters, talk-show hosts) who must be treated as illegitimate, if not evil, and not on the merits of their arguments or on the subjects they address:
Obama aides are using their powerful White House platform, combined with techniques honed in the 2008 campaign, to cast some of the most powerful adversaries as out of the mainstream and their criticism as unworthy of serious discussion.

We were promised an end to business as usual, but instead we have a more vicious and personalized version of attack-dog politics:

All of the techniques are harnessed to a larger purpose: to marginalize not only the individual person or organization but also some of the most important policy and publicity allies of the national Republican Party. … The campaign underscores how deeply political the Obama White House is in its daily operations — with a strong focus on redrawing the electoral map and discrediting the personalities and ideas that have powered the conservative movement over the past 20 years.

This is straight out of the Rahm Emanuel playbook. Opponents are not defeated; they are destroyed. Forget about engaging on the issues; opponents must be vilified and disqualified from being taken seriously.

Post-partisan, I think they call it.

UPDATE 10/22:

Tucker Carlson:

The official White House position is that the rest of the media should join Team Obama in ostracizing a news outlet that the White House doesn’t like. This raises several obvious questions:

Since when does the federal government get to make programming decisions, much less decide what is and what is not a legitimate news organization?

Where did political consultants—people who spend their lives lying to reporters—get the moral standing to make pronouncements about journalistic ethics?

When did liberals agree it was OK to use government power to muzzle opinions they don’t agree with?

And, most of all, when did the press decide to go along with all of this?

UPDATE: Obligatory update after the other networks in the White House press pool stood up to Barack Obama when he tried to exclude Fox News from the pool interview with the pay czar. Good for them.

As Moe Lane put it: "White House tries to muzzle media; draws back a bloody stump."

Jen Rubin, quotable as ever...

...the administration is doing the impossible — offending the mainstream press and forcing some of Fox’s toughest critics to ride to its defense. Nice work, fellas.

[...] it’s disturbing that at a time when we still lack a strategy decision on Afghanistan, unemployment is sky high, and health-care reform is in disarray, this is what consumes the White House. For an administration that was supposed to transcend petty partisanship, it has become, yes, the spitting image of the Nixon White House — defensive, vengeful, and self-destructive.

And the obligatory Krauthammer column: Fox Wars

October 13, 2009

It's Up To Us

Roger Kimball says it's crunch time on health care. Check out the video of Robert Reich from 2007, as he candidly reveals the end game of a government controlled system.

More to read before you call or email your congressman...

Stephen Spruiell - Obamacare Dissected

Power Line's John Hinderaker - Dumb "Reform"

Gregory Conko at CEI - Political Malpractice

Andy McCarthy's "Killing Obamacare" , which warned back in August that "we could still blow this thing"

James Capretta on the Baucus plan's defects

More from Kimball, including this bit...

I have often quoted from a speech Obama gave the week before the election in which he told his cheering acolytes that they were only “a few days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” I think he was in earnest about that, and I find the prospect frightening. Were America to be remade according to Obama’s blueprint, it would, I am convinced, be poorer, less free, and less secure. It would also more heavily regulated, more drearily conformist, more politically correct.

Those are the things I keep in mind when I contemplate the proposed “reform” of health care. At issue are not just questions about what sort of health care will be available to whom. Those are, to be sure, important questions. But they distract us from the larger goal: what sort of life will be possible to whom in this country.

George Will, a month ago, on the increasingly bizarre and dishonest rhetoric emanating from the White House..

His [Obama's] incessant talking cannot combat what it has caused: An increasing number of Americans do not believe that he believes what he says.

He says America's health-care system is going to wrack and ruin and requires root-and-branch reform—but that if you like your health care (as a large majority of Americans do), nothing will change for you. His slippery new formulation is that nothing in his plan will "require" anyone to change coverage. He used to say, "If you like your health-care plan, you'll be able to keep your health-care plan, period." He had to stop saying that because various disinterested analysts agree that his plan will give many employers incentives to stop providing coverage for employees.

He deplores "scare tactics" but says that unless he gets his way, people will die. He praises temperate discourse but says many of his opponents are liars. He says Medicare is an exemplary program that validates government's prowess at running health systems. But he also says Medicare is unsustainable and going broke, and that he will pay for much of his reforms by eliminating the hundreds of billions of dollars of waste and fraud in this paragon of a program, and in Medicaid. He says Congress will cut Medicare (it will not) by $500 billion—without affecting benefits.

The claim that opponents of the president's plans propose only to "do nothing" is specious and lazy. Reason's Peter Suderman spent two minutes on Google and came up with lots of alternative proposals. He concludes...

...not all of these essays and books come with thousand-page pieces of legislation attached (thanks goodness!), but every one of them offers innovative ideas for how to administer health-care and how to pay for it—ideas that, by and large, Obama has ignored.

Why? It's impossible to say for sure, but I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with the fact that all of the ideas mentioned above would change health-care in ways that empower individuals, rely on markets, and emphasize patient choice and preference rather than government authority. No matter what the reason, however, it's just not true that reform opponents aren't proposing solutions. What seems a lot more likely is that Obama just isn't listening.

UPDATE 10/14:

James Capretta - The Baucus Death Spiral

Archive of WSJ articles on Obamacare

Sadly Loony

Like professional race hustlers Sharpton and Jackson, who could spot racism in a field of dandelions, some hawk-eyed lefty blogger spies race hate in a writer's photo of her pet. Patterico reports.

October 5, 2009

Of Junkin and Kuiper

Joe Posnanski reveals his Greatest Thing Ever.

October 3, 2009

Injecting Himself

A rare NYTimes link for a sample of web opinion about how Obama somehow made the IOC's decision be about Obama.

October 1, 2009

The Pose of Thoughtfulness

As the president dithers on Afghanistan and Iran, and outsources tough decisions on major domestic legislation to Congress, Jen Rubin says he remains in campaign mode...

Iran and Afghanistan policies are adrift while the president chases to catch up to unanticipated disclosures (from his own military and from Iran), foreign leaders push forward to assert themselves, and congressional leaders pull this way and that on everything from Afghanistan troop levels and funding to gasoline sanctions for Iran. The president mulls and meets, while others wrestle with breaking developments. The space usually occupied by a forceful commander in chief seems empty–and, as with all vacuums, will be filled by others.

On the domestic agenda, are we closer to a health-care reform bill than we were when Congress left for vacation in August? It doesn’t seem that way. Cap-and-trade? It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. And we’ll get new unemployment numbers on Friday, followed to be sure by some head-shaking and sympathetic words from the White House press room. But Obama will be in Geneva. Who’s in charge here? Certainly not the president.

This should come as no surprise to those who followed the campaign. This was precisely Obama’s modus operandi. He said nothing for days when Russia invaded Georgia and then slowly moved closer to his opponent’s position. He was mute on the economic crisis, letting John McCain knock himself out racing to and from Washington. Then he was praised for “calm” and his supposedly ”superior temperament.” But he was stalling–just as he is now. He allowed events to swirl and a sympathetic media to fill in the blanks. He met with panels of advisers but rarely said what he would do. He never asserted himself, perhaps because he didn’t know what to say or because he feared the criticism if he announced a position.

That, like so many other attributes, works fine in a campaign. It’s potentially disastrous for a president. We are now experiencing the consequences of electing an essentially passive figure who slipped by on charisma and the pose of thoughtfulness. At some point, presidents much choose, lead, negotiate, challenge, and direct. We elect someone to perform as chief executive and commander in chief, not as pundit in chief or media critic.

We see this in the workplace—someone is great in an interview but a poor job performer. Obama proved to be a world-class interview, but he’s quickly earning a reputation as an underachiever. If it keeps up, the people who hired him will start looking for a replacement.

Start looking?