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Daily Archives: January 21, 2010

“100,000 pesky votes in Massachusetts”

That’s what the Democrats think about the voters of Massachusett(e)s who voted for Scott Brown and against HCR. And that’s why, per their brain trust, they’re going the reconciliation route. Screw-the-proles politics at its finest (via HotAir):

Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, tells National Review Online that House Democrats are planning to use of the budget-reconciliation process in order to pass Obamacare. “They’re meeting with each other this weekend to pursue it,” says Ryan. “I’ve spoken with many Democrats and the message is this: They’re not ready to give up. They’ve waited their entire adult lives for this moment and they aren’t ready to let 100,000 pesky votes in Massachusetts get in the way of fulfilling their destiny. They’ll look at every option and spend the next four or five days figuring it out.”

If the Democrats pass a health-care bill through reconciliation, it means they would need only 51 votes in the Senate for final passage. To start the process, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) would need to bring a new health-care bill to the House budget committee with reconciliation instructions, with the Senate doing the same. “They’d have to go back to the beginning of the process,” says Ryan. “They’d need to affix reconciliation instructions to a new bill.” Doing so, he says, wouldn’t be too hard. “There’s nothing we can do to stop this from a technical standpoint, since all they need is a simple majority vote and our ratio on the committee is terrible. What we can do in the budget committee is pass resolutions for the Rules committee to insist on certain changes in the bill and create a ‘vote-a-rama’ atmosphere.”

Got that? Your votes don’t matter. Your voice has not been heard. You are merely an impediment to Democrats bound for history, who have no interest in what you want. Say it with me: they only care about what they want you to want.

Just remember: this ain’t over, it’s just the beginning.

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Today’s Democrat healthcare strategy: Waiting until their opponents calm down [with update]

As noted in other posts, the Democrats have mostly given up on some kind of cram-it-down-the-throat option for healthcare legislation. They’re going to seat Scott Brown, and various Democrats such as Barney Frank have noticed that trying to outmanuveur the Republicans with tricks smacks of desperation, not to mention setting themselves up to get slaughtered in the fall.

So what is their strategy at this point? I’m not sure it’s well thought out, but from what I can tell, it’s simply this: wait for the furor to die down, and get back to business as usual. At least among the leaders, there’s no indication that they’ve given up.

For example, Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate version in the House. Nevertheless, her bottom line is still “We have to get a bill passed….” And then she follows that up with “We’re in no rush.” She must therefore feel that slowing down at this point has better chances than to keep pressing the urgency button.

As another example, here’s Obama in the New York Times (found via The Corner):

“Well, if you’ve got insurance companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars scaring the daylights out of people into thinking that somehow this is a government takeover of health care, that it’s unpaid for, that it means huge new taxes on them, that it’s going to mean higher premiums — if that’s the information you’re getting, shoot, I’d be against it, too,” the president told me. “Once this thing is passed and signed, then suddenly The New York Times and other newspapers are going to have a big article saying what does this mean for you, and people will take a look at it and say, ‘You know what, this is a lot better deal than I thought.’ And I think that will serve Harry very well.”

This is either delusional or outright lying. It is a large expansion of government control of healthcare, it could very well lead to a takeover (and various Democrats have admitted that), it isn’t paid for, it probably does mean higher premiums for many, especially those with so-called Cadillac plans, and it does mean a new tax because the penalty for not satisfying the mandate has been classified as a tax.

If Obama really believes what he says above, then he’s trying to play a longer term game of letting the dust settle and hoping against hope that the natural attraction of many people for something-for-nothing will kick in. I don’t see how that works; if his umptyump speeches so far have not gotten his message across, what hope does he have of doing it now, when opinions have mostly solidified?

The waiting game also carries huge risk for Democrats. The longer the healthcare game plays out, the closer we are to the elections and the more anger they are likely to engender in the electorate. With Brown’s election plus miscellaneous sudden retirements, it’s already apparent that incumbent Democrats are in big trouble. Do the Democratic leaders think it just can’t get much worse? I think it can.

Perhaps the go-slow game has become their default strategy because Obama and company have no good options at this point. Obama first squandered much political capital by passing a leftist and highly political response to economic problems in the form of the stimulus widely referred to as Porkulus. Then he squandered the attention span of the electorate by over-exposing himself with lackluster speeches about his desired laws, chiefly healthcare. Then he shattered the image of some kind of magical touch by gambling and losing twice in Copenhagen and once in Massachusetts.

One year ago Obama was almost a blank slate. He could have defined himself just about any way he wanted, riffing off his generic hope/change mantra.

He chose to define himself as a vigorous proponent of policies far left to those of the typical American. He inadvertantly defined himself as someone prone to wild gambles because he has no better ideas on how to get what he wants.

Anyone who works in marketing will tell you that it’s ten times as hard to change an existing perception of a product or service as it is to establish a new reputation for something previously unknown. That dynamic works in politics too. Obama is now defined in the public’s eye. Changing his own image in any signficant way is very, very hard, and perhaps impossible for someone as out of touch as he appears to be. Therefore his ability to bend the healthcare debate in his direction looks to me to be just about nil.

I conclude that:

1. The Democrats have indeed decided to go slower on healthcare, simply because they’ve had their face rubbed in the fact that the level of anger and pushback right now is too high to overcome.

2. They have not given up; they truly believe it’s the key to their long-term dominance of the electorate.

3. They don’t have a clue what to do with the current level of anger, and they were caught flat-footed by Brown’s victory.

4. The best they can think of is just to wait, hoping for the anger to die down and some tactic to become apparent that will allow them to move foreward.

5. That strategy is almost certain to fail, and carries grave risk for them.

We’re seeing Democrats like Evan Bayh start feeling out the options for walking back on healthcare, and by extension on other leftist causes such as cap-and-trade. It will only take a few such high-profile defections to begin a rush to the exits. At that point, Obama and Pelosi can be as delusional as they like, but they’ll just end up sitting around making up strategies they don’t have the ability to carry out.

** Update 2:04 PM CST **

Robert Gibb verifies that go-slow is now the current strategy for the Democrats:

Asked today if health care was on the back burner, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “The president believes it is the exact right thing to do by giving this some time, by letting the dust settle, if you will, and looking for the best path forward.”

Warren Buffet – Bank Levy Makes No Sense

Barack Obama was quite fond of quoting Buffet during the campaign. My guess is he’ll not be as willing to quote Buffet about his opposition to the President’s proposed bank tax:

“I don’t see any reason why they should be paying a special tax,” said Buffett, the chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in an interview on Bloomberg Television today. Supporters of the plan to tax the banks “are trying to punish people,” he said. “I don’t see the rationale for it.”

What he’s talking about, of course, is the tax Obama has proposed ostensibly to recover the losses incurred in the TARP program. Obama has targeted about 50 banks to make this repayment.

The levy would apply to firms with more than $50 billion in assets, including Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, two companies that Berkshire has investments in. It would exclude Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage lenders taken over by the U.S.

Look at the damage Fannie and Freddie caused, and they were run by the Congress,” said Buffett. “Should they have a special tax on congressmen because they let this thing happen to Freddie and Fannie? I don’t think so.”

Of course Buffet throws out a point, which I’ve put it bold, that the administration, Democrats in general and the media have studiously avoided. That’s the role that the two quasi-governmental organizations, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, played in the financial meltdown (and how much of the TARP money they sucked down). In fact, the tax is as much about recovering the money they required as anything. But pointing that out would be detrimental to the narrative the administration has been building about the “greed of Wall Street” and their unilateral culpability. According to Bloomberg data, Freddie and Fanny owe about $110 billion. Buffet, of course, is not so easily fooled:

The levy would apply to firms with more than $50 billion in assets, including Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, two companies that Berkshire has investments in. It would exclude Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage lenders taken over by the U.S.

“Most of the banks didn’t need to be saved,” Buffett said. “Including Wells Fargo.”

The bank tax would raise $90 billion over 10 years and, of course, be paid for by the banks customers. Also note that the sum of $90 billion is very close to the amount owed by Freddie and Fanny.

Obama is correct – “we want out money back”. But we want it back from the institutions which wasted it. Of course that’s impossible since taxing Freddie and Fanny is taxing ourselves. Of course, so is taxing banks. However, it is much more useful to demonize them, play the greed card and pretend the government is blameless than to tell the truth, isn’t it?

I mean, if they told the truth, they’d have to implicate Congressional Democrats like Barney Frank, wouldn’t they – and that would never do.

~McQ

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Tuesday’s Repercussions: A New Game

There’s a war going on within the Democratic party. And it is between the Krugman/Hamsher/Ed Schultz/Olberman wing of the extreme left and the more moderate (and politically aware) wing of the party. It’s focus is on health care. And the war was started Tuesday when Republican Scott Brown buried Democrat Martha Coakely and Teddy Kennedy’s legacy with a convincing defeat in the Massachusetts Senate special election. As I called it then, it was a game changer. The most immediate “game” it has changed is how to pass this health care monstrosity pending in Congress.

First the dawning awareness of what happened Tuesday to change the game from Lanny J. Davis (former counsel to Bill Clinton for two years):

Liberal Democrats might attempt to spin the shocking victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts by claiming that the loss was a result of a poor campaign by Martha Coakley. Would that it were so. This was a defeat not of the messenger, but of the message—and the sooner progressive Democrats face up to that fact, the better.

It’s the substance, stupid!

According to polls, fears about the Democrats’ health-care proposal played a prominent role in Mr. Brown’s victory yesterday. In the last several months, the minority congressional Republicans have dominated the message on health care—and stamped on the Democratic Party the perception that we stand for big government, higher taxes, and health insecurity when it comes to Medicare.

Perception? It’s 2000 pages of big government, higher taxes and “health insecurity” brought to you exclusively (since no Republicans have been allowed to participate) by Democrats. How is that just a perception, Mr. Davis?

But Davis is, at least, seeming to gain some insight as to what is going on. However, after saying “it’s the substance, stupid”, he claims that the reason for the public’s poor perception of the health care proposal is spin, not substance:

The Democrats have a simple message on health care that has still not really gotten through: If our bill passes, you never have to worry about getting, or losing, health insurance for the rest of your life. How is it that so few people have heard that message?

Very simply, it’s not gotten through because it’s not true. That certainly may be what Democrats hoped to accomplish, but that’s not at all what they’re crafted in this bill. So while Davis exhibits some inkling of what is going on, he’s still blinded to the reality of the true Democratic message. It is a big government, higher taxes and “health insecurity” monstrosity that the public rejects overwhelmingly.

Some Democratic Congressional types, however, are seeing the light. Here, for instance, is Senator Dianne Feinstein:

California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, for one, said the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts shows the fundamental political landscape has shifted and Democrats across the country have to take note, focusing on how to create jobs and keep people in their homes instead of trying to explain the need for sweeping social programs.

“I can tell you the situation has changed dramatically. And I think it’s a sweep across the country and I think that the (White House Economic Adviser) Larry Summers’s of the world have to see it, the administration has to see it and we have to see it. And Therefore everything is jobs and the economy and education. People are worried about education,” she said.

“You see anger. People are worried. And when they’re worried they don’t want to take on a broad new responsibility,” like health care reform, she said.

That is a politician in full survival mode sniffing the wind and determining how it is blowing. And she’d dead on right. She nails it. She’s figured it out. And that doesn’t bode well for HCR. It isn’t that the message hasn’t been presented properly like Davis claims. It is that the message has been rejected. The answer is “no”. The priorities have drastically shifted and it has taken a year for the out-of-touch Democrats to figure it out. But, as witnessed by DiFi (and Evan Bayh), some are beginning to do so.

That’s worrisome to the likes of Paul Krugman, as illustrated below, and to Joan Walsh of Salon.com:

Maybe House Democrats can pull this out, even with a gaping hole in White House leadership. Barney Frank seems to have thought better of his initial defeatism. But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.

Wow. If you recall, it was Ms. Walsh who claimed Republican criticism of Mr. Obama was “traitorous” and “un-American”. I’m sure since Walsh is doing it, this falls under “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” instead.  Walsh comes from the “damn the public’s wishes, full speed ahead” wing of the extreme left part of the Democratic party. She, like Krugman below (and I’d bet the words she used are really his, not hers – they’re very similar), want this travesty pushed through no matter what – precedent and rules be damned, pass the bill.

Her attitude reflects much of the netroots and a growing disillusionment with the Democrats in general, not just Obama. And it is possible that disillusionment may begin to effect the rank-and-file Dems as well. One of the things that was obvious in MA on Tuesday was the huge enthusiasm gap in the state. Congressional Democrats are well on their way to increasing that gap by their actions, or, more properly, lack of action:

So why even vote for Democrats now? Really – the Senate Democrats just made us ask ourselves that. Have a super majority is a very uncommon thing in the Senate, with the last time being in 1965. Now the Democrats are saying “well we can’t do anything unless we have a super majority again”, or in other words, “go ahead and stay home Democrats”.

This really shows that Democrats excel at one thing – being losers. We need a tidal wave of new blood in the party to push out the old farts, who are driving the Democratic party into the grave with them.

Final point – Republicans should take heart (the public’s reaction fits their ideology much better than it does the Democrat’s), but need to figure out quickly that this dissatisfaction and disillusionment doesn’t mean they are automatically validated as being the party of choice because of it. They’ve been the party of the only resort for the most part.

This is a rebellion of the independents which includes dissatisfied and disillusioned former Democrats and Republicans. Probably not the Democrats I cite above – as the writer indicates, they’ll stay home – but certainly those who would be characterized as “conservative” Dems. The movement is loosely called the “Teaparty” movement. Tuesday it elected its first major candidate. Unless the GOP realizes this and realizes it soon, they stand as good a chance as the Democrats to see incumbents go down in November. This movement is just as likely to back an independent candidate (NY 23) or an insurgent candidate (Rubio) as a party candidate.  That will become evident in the primaries.  This is no longer about party politics. This is about forcing an issue – smaller and less intrusive government, fewer taxes, more freedom.

Figure it out or join the unemployment line, Dems and GOP.

Fair warning.

~McQ

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Krugman And I Agree, But Not For The Same Reasons

Paul Krugman has made a vital discovery, captured in the title of one of his recent blog posts. Speaking of President Obama, he says:

He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For

You’re kidding, right Mr. Krugman? It took a year for this discovery? Heck, some of us have been saying this for 3 years. But enough “I told you so”. Why is Krugman so sure Obama’s not not man? Well not for the reasons you might think. If you’ve been reading Krugman, you know he’s of the opinion that the money Obama and Congress have thrown at the economy wasn’t enough and wasn’t well targeted.  So Krugman wants more spending.

Now, with health care, he is finally disappointed enough to toss Obama under the bus. Like much of the extreme left, he demands the will of the people, demonstrated most recently Tuesday night in Massachusetts, be ignored. He illustrates that by quoting Obama and then reacting:

I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don’t, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill. Now I think there’s some things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like.

Says Krugman:

In short, “Run away, run away”!

His advice, as it has been all year, is to double down, ignore the growing unrest, and “do it anyway”. Pass health care as it stands. Don’t give in to the will of the people because – and this is the hidden message among all of this – they’re too stupid to know what is good for them. Like Bill Clinton claims – they’ll love it after it’s passed. And, as every elitist knows, the job of elites is to rule, even if the masses don’t like it.

Krugman presents the perfect example of the transition we’ve seen of government from service to servitude. We’re here to do the will of government now, since it knows best, and not the other way around. Krugman and the extreme left embody the notion of government rule and want to expand it. What they’re discovering is that Obama is simply not the tool they thought he was for the accomplishment of that goal.  And they’re understandably disappointed.

But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.

This was a laugh out loud moment for me. Per Krugman he had doubts about Obama? Time to reread the gushing propaganda that flowed from the Krugman pen during the campaign season. If there were any doubts about Obama, he kept them under tight control and didn’t share.

Of course, what Krugman and the far left are finally discovering is the difference between a politician and a leader. Barack Obama is not a leader. He’s never been in a position to lead. He has no idea what it takes to lead. And he’s unlikely to figure it out while in the White House. Barack Obama presented himself as a blank slate and let people like Paul Krugman and the rest of those who chose too, write whatever they wanted on that slate. He duped them. He was whatever they wanted him to be, while really being nothing more than a very run of the mill politician who had the political sense to see an opportunity unfold, recognize he was in a unique position to seize it (unpopular president, attractive candidate, historical timing, great orator) and turn it into a win.

That’s been the high point of his presidency. It has been downhill since his inauguration. And a rage driven by his administration’s actions (not those of his predecessor as he loves claim) has built quickly in this country. Because of that anger and the politician’s expected reaction to it, Krugman, et al, see the opportunities they built into this presidency slipping away. Their advice, of course, is to move faster, do whatever is necessary, and, frankly, cheat if they have too – but get this done. But politicians, being what they are, are beginning to waffled and hedge and equivocate.

Of course Krugman doesn’t have to stand for election or answer for the results of his advice and my guess is he would find some way to blame others if it failed, just as he’s now trying to do by disowning Obama. But it is clear he and the extreme left are seeing their vested hopes going by the boards and they’re beginning, finally, to point fingers.

And he’s right – Obama is not the one “we’ve been waiting for”. Politicians rarely are. For those of us who didn’t choose to fit ourselves with blinders and took the time to objectively look at the man’s qualifications, we recognized him for what he is – an empty suit. Certainly a very attractive one, but empty nonetheless. The editor of the Harvard Law Review who never contributed anything to the Review. A failed community organizer. A state and US Senator who never initiated anything of substance and was content to follow the lead of others. Someone who, as we warned, had never “done anything or run anything.”

A reminder is necessary for the of Paul Krugmans of this world: This guy is your creation. You and all those who fell for the oratory and the promise and promoted it without checking out the substance of the man are to blame. So if you’re going to point fingers, find a mirror.

To quote Mr. Obama’s pastor of 20 years, “the chickens are coming home to roost”.

~McQ

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