Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: December 8, 2010


Always nice to find things like this

Guide to Online Schools has compiled its list of their pick of the top 50 political blogs.  It is an interesting list as much for who it included as who  it didn’t.  Anyway my favorite part was this:

The Top Five Political Blogs
  • Barefoot and Progressive: Barefoot and Biting would be another fitting name (or even Barefoot and Snarky, but that’s not alliterative). B and P writes a sharp liberal blog with a slight emphasis on Kentucky politics.
  • Beers with Demo: A good conservative blog for newcomers, this is, "a blog for people who don’t read blogs." Beers with Demo tells the story without letting his opinion crowd out the facts.
  • Think Progress: Think Progress is a liberal blog with multiple, well-informed authors. All authors write in a professional manner about their respective topics, but none are afraid to let their feelings show.
  • Pundit and Pundette: A la the 1940′s plucky reporters, Pundit and Pundette laude or rend passing current events. This blog combines typical blog entries with Tumblr style image, video and article sharing.
  • Questions and Observations: Politics from the oft-overlooked libertarian perspective. Q and O holds the guilty accountable and is unafraid to intelligently rip into their opponents.

Yeah, that’s right – "top 5". And even if you don’t agree with the other four, that last blog is definitely belongs in the top 5.

Heh…

Anyway, thanks to Guide to Online Schools for the honor.  And because of it, we’ll pop their widget up there – at least for this post:

Hopefully those who go there to use the resources of the website will also discover QandO.

~McQ


If ObamaCare is so good, why all the exemptions?

The short answer, of course, is it is a monstrous bill law those effected by it are just beginning to understand. And maybe it’s just me but when you begin to grant waivers to the law, a) you’re playing special interest politics (it applies to the little people but not the politically well connected) and b) the law is obviously flawed.

The total of exemptions granted by the Obama administration has now swelled to 222  (list here).

One of the more recognizable business names included on the newly-expanded list of waivers issued by the feds is that of Waffle House, which received a waiver on November 23 for health coverage that covers 3,947 enrollees.

Another familiar name was that of Universal Orlando, which runs a variety of very popular resorts in the Orlando, Florida area. Universal was given a waiver for plans that cover 668 workers. These waivers deal with limited health benefit plans, sometimes referred to as "mini-med" policies, which companies as large as McDonald’s use for some its employees. The plan have limits on how much can be paid out in coverage, limits which would be phased out under the new health reform law.

The feds though have granted waivers from that law, amid concern that certain groups would drop their health insurance programs entirely. Those waivers are good for one year, and can be considered for renewal.

That final line is important because, of course, it gives the government leverage to push for changes in coverage within the companies it has to this point exempted. If not, it simply lets the exemption expire. But that doesn’t change the fact that the only the politically connected to this point have been exempted. Instead of admitting the problem with the law and issuing a blanket exemption to all businesses that are effected like the favored few, the administration prefers to do “favors” for those that apply.

Among those so favored to this point are – surprise – a number of unions:

Several weeks ago, critics singled out a number of unions which had received government approval for exemptions from certain provisions of the law dealing with annual medical spending limit requirements.

And there are more unions who have received waivers in this latest batch, like the Bricklayers Local 1 of MD, VA and DC, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, the Indiana Teamsters Health Benefits Fund, Service Employees International Union Local 1 Cleveland Welfare Fund, and more are listed.

This, of course, is a result of poorly written legislation that wasn’t debated, vetted or carefully considered.  It is a mish-mash of liberal wishes and desires bundled in a huge and unread document and shoved through the legislative process in a most underhanded way.  The fallout has been gradual but building as more and more companies get into the nitty-gritty of what this will mean to them.  And the waiver apps are flying.  Since mid-November, the waivers granted has doubled from 111 to 222.   And there’s no reason to believe that’s going to slow down as the implementation dates near.

It is also another in a long line of reasons the business climate in this country remains unsettled.  The fact that a company gets a waiver doesn’t mean that within a year the administration will decide it must comply.  I’m sure these businesses have already calculated the cost to them of such a demand.  Would you do any major hiring or expansion with that hanging over your head?

Yeah, neither would I.

~McQ


Politics now takes center stage as tax deal moves to Congress

Let’s get a few things straight, shall we?   For the most part, this deal between Obama and the GOP on the Bush era tax rates isn’t a “tax cut”.  It is a maintenance or extension of the current tax rates.  There is nothing – absolutely nothing – permanent about any tax rate.  They’ve ranged all over the place in the history of the income tax and are, in fact, subject to the whims of Congress.  Within this package  there are some tax cuts (payroll taxes for a year) and tax giveaways (EIC, etc).  Other than that, it’s about keeping the current tax rates for everyone in a time of economic hardship.

Consequently it isn’t costing the government anything except a few rosy revenue projections if it had been able to increase taxes on the wealthy.  And consequently, at least that part,  adds nothing to the deficit.  Got that?  Nothing.  What adds to the deficit is spending based in borrowed money.

And that problem is found in the extension, again, of unemployment benefits.  So if there’s a spending negative, that’s it.  Some may argue that it’s necessary.  I personally wonder about that. 

Anyway, it is important, as the spin begins to come out on both sides about this deal that the basics be understood.

Yesterday a petulant president tried to defend the deal at a hastily called news conference.   Once into questioning, a bit of bitterness began to show through.  This particular quote struck me:

And I will be happy to see the Republicans test whether or not I’m itching for a fight on a whole range of issues.  I suspect they will find I am.  And I think the American people will be on my side on a whole bunch of these fights.  But right now I want to make sure that the American people aren’t hurt because we’re having a political fight, and I think that this agreement accomplishes that.

It reminded me of the kid picking himself up off the dirt of the playground after getting his rear end kicked and yelling “next time your butt belongs to me” at his antagonist.   Obama then goes on to call John Boehner a “bomb thrower” and compare the Republicans to hostage takers (to be fair, he was none to kind to the “professional left” and even took a shot at the New York Times).

But the bottom line remains, the GOP succeeded in getting the tax rates extended for all to include thousands of small businesses who would have otherwise been hit with higher taxes.  And what Obama is left saying is, “you know that line in the sand about doing away with tax cuts for millionaires, the one I drew 3 years ago and have promised to do away with ever since?  Yeah, well, wait till 2012, by gosh”.

Another interesting quote from the newser was this:

So the issue — here’s the choice.  It’s very stark.  We can’t get my preferred option through the Senate right now.  As a consequence, if we don’t get my option through the Senate right now, and we do nothing, then on January 1st of this — of 2011, the average family is going to see their taxes go up about $3,000. 

Is that a fact?  What have we heard for years concerning what the left continues to call the “Bush tax cuts”?  That they were primarily “tax cuts for the rich”.   Of course, they were much more than than and as is obvious, Democrats can’t allow them to expire or that nasty little truth would suddenly become widely known.

Finally, this struck me the wrong way:

This country was founded on compromise.

No.  It wasn’t.  It was a nation founded in a principle – that which said people have the right to be free from oppressive government and have the right to do what is necessary to accomplish that.  Any compromise had to do with the particulars of accomplishing the principle, not in the principle itself.  Obviously politics is the art of compromise.  What isn’t to be compromised is that founding principle and it is the ongoing compromise of it – or at least an attempt to do so – that has people figuratively up in arms.  Those Gadsden flags are waiving for a reason.

Anyway, each side is busily spinning a “win” for themselves on this particular deal.  All the while, political resistance is forming on both sides of the aisle in Congress.  Pelosi and Reid both seem less than enthusiastic about it and have signaled by their language that they may not have the votes to pass it.

Politically, the next few days should be interesting.

~McQ

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