Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: April 13, 2010

Legislate in haste, repent in leisure

That’s how Tom Mcguire describes this bit of a laugh about the bill nobody apparently read – health care reform:

The law apparently bars members of Congress from the federal employees health program, on the assumption that lawmakers should join many of their constituents in getting coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.

But the research service found that this provision was written in an imprecise, confusing way, so it is not clear when it takes effect.

The new exchanges do not have to be in operation until 2014. But because of a possible “drafting error,” the report says, Congress did not specify an effective date for the section excluding lawmakers from the existing program.

Under well-established canons of statutory interpretation, the report said, “a law takes effect on the date of its enactment” unless Congress clearly specifies otherwise. And Congress did not specify any other effective date for this part of the health care law. The law was enacted when President Obama signed it three weeks ago.

Yes it’s ironic – but it also pathetic.  It gives you an idea of how “carefully crafted” the bill was and how much time our legislators spent considering its consequences and weighing its impact.  Zip.  None.  Nada.  They didn’t even know they’d written themselves out of their present insurance coverage.  Can you imagine they know anything about what they’ve done to yours?

Of course we all know they’ll fix that – and if anyone doubts that, I have a great set of relics from Christian saints you might be interested in. Frankly I think they should be barred from doing so – but that’s just my opinion.  But this certainly indicates that the law of unintended consequences is not only loose, but running rampant in areas the legislators most likely don’t even know exist at this point in time.

Is this what you pay them to do?  Is this a reason to retain their services?

What would you do with an employee this freakin’ dumb and inept?

Unfortunately you can’t do it today – see you in November.



Tip of the iceberg

That’s the phrase I’ve been using for months to describe the Tea Party (TP) activists you see at protests.  They represent a small portion of those who actually identify themselves with the TP movement.   Rasmussen, today, releases a poll which confirms the assertion:

Twenty-four percent (24%) of U.S. voters now say they consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s an eight-point increase from 16% a month ago.

That is a significant chunk of voters. Note too the 8 point increase from a month ago? What was it that was passed into law a month ago? So there is proof that the passage of HCR didn’t at all cause the populist fire abate, but instead fueled it even more. Why is that? Rich Lowry gives as good a summation as anyone:

The tea-party movement is an act of pre-emption, based on the simple calculation that higher spending eventually means higher taxes. For all the tsk-tsking about its supposed irresponsibility, the movement is attuned to the future in a way that the president — who hopes to evade or hide the consequences of his budgetary choices for as long as possible — is not.

And the passage of HCR in the face of the TP outcry only added to the frustration the people are feeling. It also added to those who identifed themselves with the TP. Obviously, then the demonization of TP isn’t being terribly effective, is it?

Of course, as Lowry implies, the TP members figured out long ago what HCR really meant in terms of the size and scope of government and consequently what has to happen to pay for it. Lowry points out that the expiring Bush tax cuts will raise about $700 billion over 10 years – half the amount of the deficit for this year alone. So where will the rest come from? Obviously not from the rich.

Jennifer Rubin:

So we hear whispers now of a VAT. And the bipartisan commission will certainly suggest all sorts of “revenue enhancers.” The Tea Partiers saw this coming, and so will the general electorate. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the prospect of many more tax hikes will be up for debate in the midterm elections. And having violated their pledge not to tax those making less than $200,000 to pay for health care, Democrats are poorly situated to defend middle-class taxpayers.

There was talk for some time that the tax issue had faded. Republicans would have nothing to argue about, claimed the mainstream pundits. But alas, like so much else, Obama has done a yeoman’s work for conservatives. The tax issue is back. In a big way.

The 24% now identified with the TP (and, I’d guess another 5% who don’t formally identify themselves with the TP but do indeed share their beliefs) have known this was coming and are now being proven correct. The Democrats think HCR will fade from the public’s mind by the time the mid-term elections roll around in November. I don’t happen to share that belief (and this poll tells you why), but even if it did, look at the issue that won’t fade – the question that must continue to be asked by the TP and GOP is “how are we going to pay for all of this?” And use every means available to confront Democrats with that question and demand an answer. My guess is if they’ll do that, the TP numbers may swell to an even greater percentage by November and turn over the House.

But back to the title – Democrats reading the Rasmussen poll should understand one very important thing – each time you call the members of the TP things such as thugs, racists, homophobes, nazis, brownshirts and fascists, you’re addressing 25% of the voters. And yes, they will and have taken that personally. Great strategy – please, keep it up.



Your Tuesday “surprise”

And yes, I’m being sarcastic:

The U.S. Postal Service’s current business model “is not viable” and the mail agency should make deeper job and wage cuts, hire more part-time staff and consider outsourcing operations, according to a draft of a government audit acquired by The Federal Eye.

Auditors also urge Congress to remove restrictions on the Postal Service’s ability to cut Saturday mail delivery and close post offices, according to the report, which offers recommendations similar to the USPS’s own proposed 10-year business plan.

Lawmakers requested the Government Accountability Office report, set for a Monday release, as they prepare to consider the USPS plan, which was introduced last month. The proposals call for an end to six-day delivery and ask Congress to give the mail agency the ability to raise prices beyond the rate of inflation and close post offices if necessary.

Other than law, there is no reason the mail should be a government run service.  Nothing.  And especially now.  If ever a part of the government could easily be privatized, this is it.  Every single service it provides exists now in the private sector, and there’s not a single reason I can think of to continue subsidizing this fiscal black hole.  But as you’ll see, even as it loses billions of dollars a year, there is no appetite to shut it down.  Why?

Well of course there is the aspect of putting people out of work during a recession with high unemployment.  But even if that wasn’t a problem politically, would anyone seriously consider shutting this money loser down?  Instead, you, the consumer, will be faced with higher prices, less service and fewer locations.  How would you treat a private business that offered such a fix to their business problems?

You’d look elsewhere, of course.

That’s the power of monopoly of course – government granted monopoly.  It is against the law to compete against the post office.  But, as you can see, monopoly doesn’t grant guaranteed success or profit.  Everything the post office does can be and would be done by competing private firms to ensure the cheapest price and best service at that price point.  Instead you’re kept captive to an organization that is inefficient, unprofitable and overpriced.

So why isn’t the government at large at least putting a panel together (a favorite bureaucratic ploy to delay a decision – panel, report, furor has died down, results buried) to explore privatizing the post office?  Is it because the party in power isn’t in favor of shifting anything out of government’s control?  Then why aren’t the Republicans bringing it up?  If “smaller and less costly” government is the new standard, it would seem – given the report above and its recent history of loss – that the post office would be a perfect candidate for privatizing.  Or is it because politicians have so demonized the term “privatization”?

Why not shut it down and allow those who already do this privately to take it over?  Who would you depend on to get it to you if you had to bet on it – FedEx or USPS?  And would you object to FedEx (or UPS) doing it instead?  Yeah, me neither – and I’d bet, given most people’s experience with the private carriers, 90% of the rest of the country wouldn’t care either.

So what’s the hold up?