Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: December 16, 2009


The Plan: Compromise Anything To Pass Health Care Reform

Something to consider.

Rhetoric:

During the presidential election campaign, candidate Obama said, about re-importing drugs from foreign lands that cost less:

“We’ll tell the pharmaceutical companies ‘thanks, but no, thanks’ for the overpriced drugs—drugs that cost twice as much here as they do in Europe and Canada,”

Reality?

Democratic senators got a bit closer to passing health care reform last night, but not without first voting down a controversial proposal that would have allowed for the direct importation of prescription drugs, a cause many of them once pushed for.

[…]

Supporting the measure might have broken a deal the White House made with drugmakers—they’d support the overhaul efforts if the administration didn’t push them to give up more than $80 billion in revenue—and yesterday Obama pushed Democratic senators not to let small issues get in the way of passing the health care legislation.

So. As progressives will be glad to point out, “Big Pharma” wins. Well, yes and no. Essentially what happened is the status quo was left intact here in exchange for Pharma not dumping billions in opposition to health care. It’s a bribe. And something libertarians and the right need to understand is big business has no qualms or problems whatsoever going into cahoots with big government if they can help write the legislation to protect themselves or hurt their competition. In this case, it was a matter of self protection. And, unsurprisingly, Obama went along with it despite his promise not too. I only point out the fact that he completely flipped on the subject as a matter of record, not that it is particularly surprising or unexpected.

More disturbing is the highlighted sentence. That’s the quarterback calling an audible at the line. Pass anything, we’ll add to it or fix it later, but get something passed into law immediately.

Which brings us to the point of the ‘rhetoric v. reality’ part of this. The rhetoric will say “we’re dropping the Medicare buy-in and the public option”. Reality –and history (see SCHIP)- says that passing something called health care without them only means that they’ll do so to get a law on the books, and then you can count on them attempting again to pass both a further Medicare buy-in and the public option.

Their aim is a single payer system – by any means necessary.

~McQ


The Debacle In Copenhagen

If I were at all amenable to the climate change arguments and felt there was a need to reach an agreement concerning greenhouse gas emissions, I’d still be embarrassed by what is going on in Copenhagen right now. According to the Politico, it appears to be “to be imploding from within and exploding from without on Wednesday.” Protests are turning violent outside and rhetoric is heating up inside (I wonder how much CO2 they’re contributing with their tantrums and tirades?).

But of course, the spin is there are “green shoots” in the talks:

Despite the gloom, U.S. officials told POLITICO they made incremental progress in a variety of areas during marathon sessions Tuesday night and cautioned that all previous climate conferences have experienced similar turbulence. And late Tuesday, negotiators announced a major breakthrough on a deal to preserve wetlands and forests.

Translation: They come to an agreement on how to take your property rights away in the name of “saving the planet”.

Of course that’s not the purpose of the conference, is it (although “progressives” will be happy with just about any collectivist control they can manage out of this, I’m sure)?

On Tuesday, Hedegaard made an emotional appeal for countries to put aside their differences to finalize a deal — after the G-77 bloc of developing nations accused her of trying to ram through an agreement amenable to the U.S. and other big industrialized nations.

But no sooner had Rasmussen assumed the presidency than those tensions burst out in the open again, with China, India, Bolivia, South Africa and Sudan saying they would block attempts by the Danish delegation to produce a draft text favored by most Western countries.

Minutes after taking the gavel, Rasmussen angrily denounced developing countries for seeking to delay consideration of the text, accusing them of focusing on “procedure, procedure, procedure.”

He was immediately rebuked by a representative of China, a member of the G-77 bloc, who said moving forward too quickly was tantamount to “obstructionism” and a bullying attempt by the West.

“I think the matter isn’t ‘procedure, procedure, procedure.’… You can’t just put forth some text from the sky,” the representative said.

Someone should caution the representative from China that using such language isn’t wise – it might remind others that since the “science” is “from the sky” there’s no reason that the language can’t also be from there.
Anyway, as you can tell, Politico’s characterization of “chaos in Copenhagen” isn’t far from the mark. The “developing world” isn’t seeing the type of long term cash pay-off developing as they’d like and the industrialized nations, assuming they learned from Kyoto, aren’t really amenable to hard target emission reductions. And the result is – well the UN displaced to Copenhagen. Sound and fury, but little to show for it. And we still have the circus of world leaders showing up for the final grip and grin to go.

Just lovely.

~McQ


Obama: Lack Of Leadership And Accomplishment Beginning To Take Their Toll

An ABC News/Washington Post poll has some poll numbers which has to have the Obama White House concerned:

Fifty percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of the president’s work overall, down 6 points in the last month; nearly as many, 46 percent, now disapprove. On the economy, 52 percent disapprove, a majority for the first time. On the deficit, his worst score, 56 percent disapprove.

Such numbers aren’t unexpected; Ronald Reagan, in similar economic straits, dropped to 52 percent overall approval at this point in his presidency. But it’s not just the economy: Fifty-three percent also disapprove of Obama’s work on health care, and the public by 51-44 percent now opposes the reform package in Congress – both more than half for the first time in ABC/Post polls.

Despite the attempt to temper the plunge in approval by claiming that Ronald Regan had similar numbers in overall approval, this doesn’t feel like the Ronald Regan era. In fact, it feels more like Regan’s predecessor’s era of governance – leaderless. If Obama shows up on TV in a sweater telling us to turn down the thermostat, you’ll know precisely who I’m talking about.

But consider that in just a month in which he made his Afghanistan speech (which supposedly gave him a small bounce) and accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, he managed to lose 6 points in approval. The approval rating speaks to an overall feeling of satisfaction with his performance. And, as has been asked ad nauseum, he can give a pretty speech, but what has he really done?

Now this is a double edged sword. Frankly I don’t want him to do what he’s said he wants to do so technically I should be approving of his job performance. As long as he stays ineffective and impotent, I “approve”. Which means, some of his disapproval comes from those who want to push the aggressive “progressive” agenda they believe he’s behind and are disapproving of the fact that nothing has been done in almost a year of complete power in Congress and the White House.

The point, of course, is to note that his “disapproval” rating is just as soft as his “approval” rating and could change in a heartbeat. But this is an interesting snap shot that I think says more about his leadership, or lack thereof, than anything.

Economically, the numbers may be a little harder than the overall approval rating. You don’t have to be a PhD to know that economically things aren’t good and despite all the happy talk, really aren’t getting much better. So 52% disapproval isn’t unexpected. But, with the dip in his personal approval rating, it indicates that the public is beginning to hold him responsible for the condition of the economy. The drop in approval and the majority disapproval on the economy signal that Democrats and Obama no longer have George Bush as a convenient fall guy.

Another reason for that is found in the “deficit” number, where 56% disapprove. That number is strictly and obviously a product of Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration. 787 billion “stimulus”. 1+ trillion omnibus spending bill. Raising the debt ceiling by 1.8 trillion. All Democrats, all the time.

His lack of leadership has also had an effect legislatively (although obviously the in-fighting among Democrats hasn’t helped their case either) where a majority oppose Obama’s overall health care effort and the specific health care legislation Democrats are trying desperately to push through Congress as we speak.

This could all change within a few weeks or months. But I just don’t see it happening. Some people know how to lead. Others know how to build coalitions. And others know how to charm their way into positions of power. Essentially Barack Obama is a charmer who recognized a once in a life time opportunity where the stars lined up for someone like him to grab for the brass ring of the presidency without having to have any other qualification than meeting the age requirement in the Constitution. He took it and he won. And that says something about both him and the celebrity worshiping public that elected him, which is a subject for another post.

As someone who has been in leadership positions all my life and has professionally assessed leaders for over 20 years, I can say without equivocation, that Barack Obama is not a leader. At best he’s a coalition builder and he’s been rather poor at that as well. However he’s a man who has always reached for the next rung in the ladder and obviously enjoys the trappings and perks of the offices he holds. But again, looking back on his life, what has he really done? What has he really ever accomplished? What has he led?

To some, I’m sure, these numbers come as a surprise. I’m not sure how. They are, to me, a portrait of the person those of us who kept noting his lack of experience and accomplishment painted before the election. I expect the numbers to go down even more. He’s not a leader and I don’t expect one to emerge while he’s in office. I certainly hope the nation wakes up and recognized that “hope and change” were really “hoax and change” and make the man a one-term president. We can’t afford him, in many ways, for 8 years.

~McQ


Quote of the Day

From Lord Monckton, as he takes apart climate alarmists:

The fact is, they’re crooks. That’s what they really are. I call them the traffic light tendency. They call themselves green because they’re too yellow to admit they’re really Reds.

It’s at about 8:25 in the video. But watch the whole thing, even though it’s about half an hour. It’s worth it if you want a no-holds-barred slamming of the climate Cassandras. Charts and graphs included, no extra charge.

(Via Samizdata.net.)