Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: October 21, 2009


Public Option? Call It Medicare For Everyone

Well, the cat is finally out of the bag:

House Democrats are looking at re-branding the public health insurance option as Medicare, an established government healthcare program that is better known than the public option.

The strategy could benefit Democrats struggling to bridge the gap between liberals in their party, who want the public option, and centrists, who are worried it would drive private insurers out of business.

While much of the public is foggy on what a public option actually is, people understand Medicare. It also would place the new public option within the rubric of a familiar system rather than something new and unknown.

Everyone knows introducing a Medicare type program into the “public option” will indeed increase “choice and competition”. It will also do what?

Oh, yeah – swell the already unimaginable 52 trillion in unfunded liabilities by tens of trillions of dollars. I mean it should be obvious even to the economically unsophisticated that they just do a bang up job with the Medicare they have had.  Single-payer, here we come.

But don’t worry – it won’t cost you a dime in extra taxes and it won’t add a dime to the deficit.

Really.

He promises.

Hope and change.

~McQ


TARP Report – “We don’t even know where the money went”

So let’s give them health care too!

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. The quote in the title is from Democratic Representative Daniel Lipinski of IL. It’s a good preface to a Treasury Department Inspector General report issued today which was rather scathing. USA Today provides the “executive summary”:

A Treasury Department watchdog is warning that a key $700 billion bailout program has damaged the government’s credibility, won’t earn taxpayers all their money back and has done little to change a culture of recklessness on Wall Street.

Of course it also claims that the bailout is responsible for keeping the financial system from collapsing (which, of course, is still very debatable).

However:

“The American people’s belief that the funds went into a black hole, or that there was a transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall Street, is one of the worst outcomes of this program, and that is the reputational damage to the government,” said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), in an interview.

President Obama was doing a little fundraising with Wall Streeters last night trying to get a bit of the pelf into the coffers of the Democrats. As most Americans will most likely view it, a little quid pro quo (or a little “keep that pay czar away from me”.)

The report criticized Treasury’s implementation of the program and its lack of transparency, making 41 recommendations, 18 of which were implemented. Barofsky says it’s “extremely unlikely” that taxpayers will recover the $77 billion committed to the ailing auto industry or the $60 billion in TARP assistance to American International Group as part of a pledge of up to $180 billion in aid. An additional $50 billion to modify unaffordable home mortgages “will yield no direct return.”

But, but, but we were promised it would all be repaid – with interest.

Of course those of us who knew better lobbied against it in the first place. Unfortunately, this is one of those times you wish you had been wrong:

Financial experts say it’s no surprise that the government won’t be able to recoup all of its investment in TARP. “Anybody who said this was all secured lending that would surely be repaid was kidding himself,” says Lawrence White, economics professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

To be sure, 47 financial companies have repaid $72.9 billion to the government. And Treasury has received interest and dividend payments or sold warrants for an additional $12.4 billion.

Of course the come back is, “you can’t put a price on financial stability”, to which I say, “Yes. You can. And we paid about $700 billion more than it is worth”.

~McQ


Social Conservative handwringing at the Corner

Kathryn Jean Lopez frets about legalization of marijuana at The Corner:

Do moms on the Right want legalization? And are their children a driving motivator?

Even if you believe there’s a high chance that your teen will try or use pot, don’t you hope he doesn’t? And aren’t there decent reasons for that? That may not be the final determinant on what your position on legalization is, but it is so … right?

I would hope that any freedom-oriented thinker would understand that “what I want my children to do” is a completely separate subject from “what I think should be legal”.

No, I don’t want my teens smoking pot. Or smoking cigarettes. Or drinking.

But I don’t favor prohibition of alcohol. We tried that one. I don’t favor prohibition of cigarettes either; I think it would be even worse. And both of those substances are arguably more addicitive and damaging than pot.

Using protection of our children to justify controlling the behavior of adults is anti-freedom. We all make fun of it when the left does it. It’s no less silly when social conservatives do it.


White House Losing War On Fox News (updated)

The Obama administration is not doing well in two wars right now – a shooting war and a shouting war. Afghanistan continues on a downhill course while the president dithers, apparently incapable of making a decision. And on another front, he and the White House are looking both petty and foolish as they attack Fox News (one of the few things they’ve actually done during their time in office).

Tom Bevan makes some interesting points covering the latter war. Quoting Rahm Emanuel who said “The way the president looks at it – we look at it – it’s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective”, Bevan says:

And MSNBC doesn’t push a certain “perspective?” What about the New York Times? The idea that FOX News’s perspective disqualifies it as a “legitimate” news operation lays bare the manipulation and hypocrisy at work here. The White House is all for news organizations taking certain “perspectives” – so long as they’re favorable to the administration’s agenda.

The current presidency, as much perhaps as any in history, is built upon the foundation of the President’s personal popularity. President Obama has, out of necessity, become the Salesman-in-Chief for his progressive agenda. But as the White House continues to struggle adjusting to the reality of governing versus campaigning, it is either unwilling or unable to brook criticism of the President or his policies. Thus FOX News is targeted as the enemy.

As Bevan points out, it is a qualification without exception. All news organizations that I’m familiar with push a perspective – that can be found daily on their editorial pages or nightly on their opinion shows. The only difference between MSNBC and Fox is the “perspective” is favorable on the former and not as favorable on the latter.

And for most of America, who aren’t buying into the White House argument, there is no difference between MSNBC and Fox but their “perspective”. They’re quite aware both have them even if the White House enjoys pretending they don’t.

The second part of their ill conceived strategy is to try to delegitimize Fox News among other news organizations:

Axelrod went out of his way to suggest to Stephanopoulos that ABC News adopt the White House strategy and not treat FOX News as legitimate. “The bigger thing is,” Axelrod said, “other news organizations, like yours, ought not to treat them that way. We’re not going to treat them that way. ”

Emanuel suggested the same to John King later in their interview: “And more importantly is not have the CNN’s and others in the world basically be led and following FOX, as if what they’re trying to do is a legitimate news organization, in the sense of both sides and a sense of valued opinion.”

That approach brought a reproach from the grand old dame of the White House news corps, Helen Thomas, who makes no bones about her liberal “perspective”. And Jake Tapper from ABC was unimpressed as well. Both find the strategy to be offensive, petty and inappropriate.  So do most Americans.

The entire effort here is to cut Fox from the herd and isolate them (please review Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals“, specifically rules 5, 8 and 12) and destroy their legitimacy.  It isn’t working.  In fact Fox is enjoying a surge in viewership and the White House is losing face by appearing petty and vindictive.

Bevan concludes:

Such tactics may not be frowned upon by brass-knuckle operatives working for the political machine in a one party town. But it’s different when you’re the President of the United States. Most Americans of all political stripes don’t want to see the President using the majesty and power of his office for heavy handed attacks on any organization simply because it has been critical of the President.

Time for the White House to wave the white flag, call off the dogs and try to resurrect their flagging credibility. Meanwhile, Fox News should send Emanuel and Axelrod a nice little thank you note.

UPDATE: Allahpundit at Hot Air notes that this may all be about “containment”:

This seems so obviously correct that I feel embarrassed for not having figured it out sooner.

The rationale of the White House offensive against Fox News has been a topic of much puzzlement lately. Is this just the White House lashing out? Are they trying to rally the base?

But I think Mike Allen and Josh Gerstein nail the real explanation in their story today: The White House is working to prevent stories born on Fox from crossing over into more widely-viewed media. Most Americans still haven’t heard of Van Jones, for instance; and the strategy is now all about containment…

This makes sense in the wake of the Van Jones story and the fact that some talking heads at Fox are emboldened by the success of forcing Van Jones out of his position (consider the suddenly surfaced video of Anita Dunn praising Mao after she attacked Fox).

That sort of a strategy at least makes more sense than the trying to question the organization’s credibility because of their “perspective”. However it will most likely fail as well, since even to those organizations whose perspective they like, news is news and they are the ones who lose credibility if they don’t cover it (regardless of who uncovers it).

UPDATE II: Heh … “It’s a quagmire!”:

Despite the President’s promise of a swift and decisive victory, Obama’s War on Fox News has developed all signs of an unwinnable quagmire, making the White House even more isolated in its unilateral attempts to crush the growing media insurgency. As the war continues to grind on for a second month, public opinion is shifting towards a quick and complete withdrawal. While many observers still agree that the “War on Limbaugh” is a “just and necessary war,” even the former supporters of the war effort are now labeling the War on Fox an “unnecessary war of choice” and claim that the cable channel had nothing to do with Obama’s falling approval numbers.

~McQ