Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: October 20, 2009


Senators Divert Funds For Military Training, Ammunition and Fuel To Pet Projects (Earmarks)

They’re shameless when it comes to building personal monuments to themselves or to boosting their re-election chances – they’ll even take funds designated for a military fighting two wars to do it:

Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill: $25 million for a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

Senator Tom Coburn expresses my sentiment in a much more moderated tone than I’m feeling right now:

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, called the transfer of funds from Pentagon operations and maintenance “a disgrace.”

“The Senate is putting favorable headlines back home above our men and women fighting on the front lines,” he said in a statement.

Come on Senator – there’s an election approaching. Diverting money from training, fuel, maintenance and ammunition accounts to help their chances to retain power is much more important that the lives of our troops in combat.

Honoring a dead Kennedy certainly takes priority over teaching some young warrior how to avoid being killed in combat. Another museum in a key state is much more important than ensuring soldiers are able to maintain the equipment necessary to their survival. And, of course, they don’t need that much ammo – do they?

I’ll stop here, but my disgust for the political pigs engaged in this sort of looting knows no depth or bounds. They’d steal the coins off a dead man’s eyes if they thought it would help them politically.  And that disgust extends to those who do the same thing without endangering our troops. It is just a matter of degree, not kind.

~McQ


Bribing Doctors With Your Money

Of course this sort of political bribery isn’t necessarily unusual or confined to one party. It is just a particularly blatant example of the practice that is at the heart of the rot infecting our form of government:

The White House and Democratic leaders are offering doctors a deal: They’ll freeze cuts in Medicare payments to doctors in exchange for doctors’ support of healthcare reform.

At a meeting on Capitol Hill last week with nearly a dozen doctors groups, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would take up separate legislation to halt scheduled Medicare cuts in doctor payments over the next 10 years. In return, Reid made it clear that he expected their support for the broader healthcare bill, according to four sources in the meeting.

Quiz: What was one of the major means of “paying for” health care reform? That’s right – cutting payments to Medicare providers. What has Harry Reid et. al. just promised to do with this freeze? Give away those savings.

What does that then automatically do? Increase the cost of the legislation they’re proposing and making the CBO estimate of cost null and void. It also will most likely bend the cost curve up again (not that any serious person actually believed the current version would really bend it down in practice).

What does that mean? Well it means that President Obama, true to his word about not signing a bill which adds to the deficit, will veto this one if the promise is accepted.

When pig’s fly.

We all know that’s a promise he’ll be most pleased to break if he can get something – anything – to sign and call health care.

And, as an aside, making promises like this says to me that despite all the happy spin about how the administration and Democrats are regaining their health care mojo, they’re still short of what they need to pass the legislation.

~McQ


WaPo Tries To Spin Poll On Health Care

The Washington Post has a new poll out in which they declare that two of the most controversial aspects of the health care reform legislation working its way through Congress now enjoy majority approval. Those are the public option and the insurance mandate that requires everyone get insurance.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the support for the public option is based more on a fantasy than reality. I think that a majority, if there truly is one, have bought into the talking points of “choice and competition.” Neither will exist once the public option, as envisioned by Congress, is actually in place. What leads me to believe that’s the case is this sentence later in the WaPo story:

Independents and senior citizens, two groups crucial to the debate, have warmed to the idea of a public option, and are particularly supportive if it would be administered by the states and limited to those without access to affordable private coverage.

Essentially what that describes is Medicaid – not a public option. Medicaid is administered by the states. Of course removing restrictions which prohibit insurance companies from selling across state lines and removing state mandates which drive up the overall cost of a policy would most likely provide “affordable private coverage”. But as usual those provisions have been rejected by Democrats writing the legislation even though they’ve been brought up repeatedly by Republicans.

Now I don’t equate Medicaid with the “public option” that I’ve heard politicians talk about.

Interestingly, deeper in the story and after trumpeting a “majority” now backing the public option, the Post says:

Overall, 45 percent of Americans favor the broad outlines of the proposals now moving in Congress, while 48 percent are opposed, about the same division that existed in August, at the height of angry town hall meetings over health-care reform. Seven in 10 Democrats back the plan, while almost nine in 10 Republicans oppose it. Independents divide 52 percent against, 42 percent in favor of the legislation.

In other words, the headline could have just as easily been “Majority still opposes health care reform” and/or “Majority of Independents Not In Favor Of Health Care Legislation”.

Instead we get “Public Option Gains Support”. That’s really irrelevant if the total bill is seen as unacceptable not to mention the numbers of opposed vs. those in favor haven’t changed since August.

But then, it all depends on how you want to spin something, doesn’t it?

~McQ