Free Markets, Free People

Obama Administration


Why is Russia in the Ukraine? See Syria …

With the Olympics safely over, Vladimir Putin felt safe to invade the Ukraine and annex the Crimea.  Anyone want to take a guess why?

It has to do with “red lines” and words, not action.  Those red lines were first drawn in Syria.  And when they were crossed … nothing happened.  So:

“Putin smelled blood in the water when the airstrikes against the Assad regime were suddenly called off,” Oubai Shahbandar, a senior advisor to the Syrian National Coalition, the U.S.-backed opposition group, said of the Ukraine invasion. “We’ve seen this movie play out before, sadly, as Russian-supplied planes, tanks and even some mercenaries continue to arrive in Syria uninterrupted.”

“Hope won’t stop Russian aggression,” Shahbandar added.

Ah, but we’re talking about “hope and change”.  You know, the stuff that will calm the tides, still the wind and, well, fix anything.  All the Great One has to do is speak the words and the world trembles in fear. Our first post-modern President is of the ilk that believes talk equals action.  And he’s talked about it now, so its time to move on and bash Israel.
Meanwhile, all those red lines drawn and crossed in Syria rightfully have the Syrians leary of any promises from the US:

The Syrian opposition had long held out hope for significant U.S. support for their uprising, from heavy weapons and surface-to-air missiles to a no-fly zone. They argued that Assad’s main allies — Russia and Iran — had been steadfast in boosting his regime with arms and money, and in the latter case, with boots on the ground.

Many Syrians were deeply disappointed when Obama failed to enforce his famous “red line” on the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons with air strikes — opting instead for a Moscow-initiated deal for the regime to give up its stockpile of chemical arms. “Do not develop strategies that are based on any assumption that the U.S. or EU will demonstrate assertive leadership to deter Russian aggression,” said Amr al-Azm, a U.S.-based member of the Syrian opposition and a professor at Shawnee State University.

And Ukraine, that treaty you have the the US?

“The last thing anybody wants is a military option,” Kerry said Sunday.

Seems to me Russia has already used in Mr. Kerry.

Do I want our military involved in another war?  Not under this leadership, no.  When the leaders are both gutless and clueless, our troops need to stay home.  But that’s really not the point here.  The point is the happenings in the Ukraine are a direct result of some of the worst foreign policy ineptness we’ve had to suffer under in a couple of centuries.  It almost makes one pine for Jimmy Carter.

~McQ


It is official: Welcome to the Obama economy

We’ve been told over the last few years that our economy is in a slump but not to worry.  It’s temporary.  The administration is on it.  It’s going to be fixed.

What, we’ve had 5 recovery summers and are heading into our 6th?

Well, the CBO, that office the administration loves to cite when it suits them, has decided that this economy, the Obama economy, isn’t an outlier and we should get used to it:

The part of the past that you deem most relevant can be critical in determining your outlook for the future. And nowhere is that clearer than in the changing economic forecasts that come out of the Congressional Budget Office.

This year’s short-term and long-term economic forecasts are substantially worse than last year’s, even though the economy performed better than expected in 2013. What changed was that the C.B.O. economists essentially decided that they would no longer treat the recent years of poor economic performance as a sort of outlier. They have seen enough of a slow economy to begin to think that we should get used to sluggishness.

They think that Americans will earn less than they previously expected, that fewer of them will want jobs and that fewer will get them. They think companies will invest less and earn less. The economy, as measured by growth in real gross domestic product, will settle into a prolonged period in which it grows at an average rate of just 2.1 percent. From 2019 through 2024, job growth will average less than 70,000 a month.

So, how does it feel?  You’ve lived through the “Golden age” and are now relegated to … this.  Slow to non-existent job growth.  Regulation out the wazoo. Rising health care costs.  Taxes eating into earnings and no end in sight.

This is the economy this administration has helped fashion with an insensitivity to the economy and a policy cluelessness that is second to none.  The fact that they’re still pushing a raise in the minimum wage in the face of half a million job losses (conservative estimate) says it all.

You reap what you sow, or don’t sow, in this case.  What they didn’t sow was economic policies that would get the economy moving, create jobs and keep us in that Golden age.  Instead we got ideology first, regardless of the economic consequences.

And this is the result.

As CBO says, get used to it.

~McQ


Discounting human nature

One of the most ironic and, if it weren’t so serious, amusing aspects of central planners is how they come to the conclusion that their plan – despite thousands of years of human nature – will manage to overcome human nature.  What I mean by that akward sentence is they believe they can retrain us to like what they’ll make us do.  Screw human nature.  Screw the laws of economics.  Screw just about every immutable law of nature.  This crap sounded great in the beer haze of the dormitory among their liberal friends.

It’s a correlary of the “the only reason socialism hasn’t worked is we haven’t tried it my way” belief.  And I do mean “belief”.  An act of faith.  More underpants gnomes.

The case in point?  Megan McArdle brings it to us:

In December, I predicted that “doc shock” was going to be a major problem for the U.S. health-care overhaul, as people found out that the narrow networks insurers use to keep premiums low often don’t cover the top-notch doctors you’d like to see if you get really sick:

“If narrow networks could give everyone in the country access to health-care outcomes no worse than 90 percent as good as the folks with the best doctors at 75 percent of the price we’d pay for broader networks, the health-care wonks would jump on that deal as an unbelievable bargain. But I think it’s pretty clear that average folks don’t think like health-care wonks.

So what does ObamaCare do?  Force people into narrow networks despite it being clear to anyone with the IQ of a turnip and a couple of years observing how humans do things, that narrow networks are going to fail.

“So even if narrow networks actually were better, people would resist them. And they’ll fight with every fiber of their being when you tell them to take their kid with leukemia to a community hospital rather than the top-notch children’s hospital nearby. Expect the fight over doc shock to be bitter and long — and to end when insurers cave and start adding pricey doctors back to their networks.”

That’s right … you’re relegated to whatever backwater network of care the particular insurance company you’ve been forced to buy from (or pay a tax too if you prefer) has contracted with.  Want world-class care for your child?  Tough beans.  See your doc at the community hospital instead.

So what has happened?  Well exactly what happened before when something like this was tried:

However much good, sound policy sense narrow networks might make, they are political poison. Regulators and politicians are going to find it very hard to withstand the appeals of constituents who have been restricted to the bargain basement of our nation’s health-care system. I simply don’t think they’ll be able to stand it for very long. This is basically what happened to the managed-care revolution that held down cost growth in the mid-1990s — people in those plans complained bitterly, in their capacity as both voters and employees. A combination of legal and market pressure forced insurers to open up their networks and approve more treatments. And then costs started rising again. As people begin using their Obamacare policies and start running into restrictions, the same sort of pressure will begin to mount.

But did our estwhile leaders learn anything from managed care’s failure?

Nah.

Because, you know, they weren’t in charge at the time and besides, human nature is just overrated.

So, as with every other aspect of this nonsense, watch Obama do what is necessary to ensure the fewest number of people possible are hurt by this … until after midterms, at least and 2016 if Mr. “I can do whatever I want” can swing it.

~McQ


Well here’s a surprise – Obama’s Syria policy is failing

Yes, I called it a surprise facetiously.  Does Obama do anything that doesn’t fail (other than campaign)?

Meanwhile, two-faced government continues because, well you know, telling the real truth outloud just isn’t politically smart – especially with this administration’s record:

Two prominent Republican senators say that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told them — along with 13 other members of a bipartisan congressional delegation — that President Barack Obama’s administration is in need of a new, more assertive, Syria policy; that al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria pose a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland; that Russia is arming the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and is generally subverting chances for a peaceful settlement; that Assad is violating his promise to expeditiously part with his massive stores of chemical weapons; and that, in Kerry’s view, it may be time to consider more dramatic arming of moderate Syrian rebel factions.

Kerry is said to have made these blunt assertions Sunday morning behind the closed doors of a cramped meeting room in the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, as the 50th annual Munich Security Conference was coming to a close in a ballroom two floors below. A day earlier, Kerry, in a joint appearance with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the ballroom stage, gave an uncompromising defense of the Obama administration’s level of foreign engagement: saying that,“I can’t think of a place in the world where we’re retreating.”

Really, Mr. Kerry?

Obama/Kerry’s Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria and Russian policies have been failures.  Israel has taken to actually ridiculing US efforts.  Saudi Arabia is said to be looking for a new patron in the Middle East.

And yet, given all of that, Kerry is still the loyal waterboy making false claims when anyone with an IQ higher than warm spit can see that during the Obama administration we’ve done nothing but retreat.

Being charitable, maybe Kerry meant we’re no longer retreating because, well, we’ve retreated about as far as is possible to retreat.

Oh, and yes, I saw the Obama/O’Reilly interview.  It had the same gripping suspense and entertainment content as the Superbowl.  In the case of Denver it was safety, interception, fumble, collapse. Obama was deny, deny, deny, blame, deny reality some more and then cast even more blame.

Pitiful.

~McQ


The incredible shrinking presidency

Yes I know Peggy Noonan was one of “those” on the right to who thought Barack Obama would “deliver” (deliver what I’m not sure but she thought he’d be a welcome change to Bush).  And, in a weird and fascinating way it has been fun watching her discover how unbelievably wrong she was (not that it shouldn’t have been obvious from the beginning).  Frankly, it makes you a little skeptical concerning just about anything she might say that isn’t based in observable fact.

However, I think her opinion today is just about right:

Because when I imagine Barack Obama’s State of the Union, I see a handsome, dignified man standing at the podium and behind him Joe Biden, sleeping. And next to him John Boehner, snoring. And arrayed before the president the members, napping.

No one’s really listening to the president now. He has been for five years a nonstop wind-up talk machine. Most of it has been facile, bland, the same rounded words and rounded sentiments, the same soft accusations and excuses. I see him enjoying the sound of his voice as the network newsman leans forward eagerly, intently, nodding at the pearls, enacting interest, for this is the president and he is the anchorman and surely something important is being said with two such important men engaged.

But nothing interesting was being said! Looking back on this presidency, it has from the beginning been a 17,000 word New Yorker piece in which, calmly, sonorously, with his lovely intelligent voice, the president says nothing, or little that is helpful, insightful or believable. “I’m not a particularly ideological person.” “It’s hard to anticipate events over the next three years.” “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now.” “I am comfortable with complexity.” “Our capacity to do some good . . . is unsurpassed, even if nobody is paying attention.”

Nobody is!

Yeah, she hasn’t quite lost the “fan girl” crush she had on Obama, but the stark reality of what this man is … or perhaps isn’t … has finally begun to set in. Reality is a bitch and she doesn’t let you play pretend for long before she begins slapping you around the head and shoulders with what “is”. And what “is” with this presidency is “over”.

No one trusts this man. He’s been an incompetent buffoon. And the pity is, it was entirely predictable. In fact, we did predict it. We talked about the presidency not being an OJT position. That you needed experience having run a major organization before (you know, executive experience?). Or someone that had actually done something other than write his own autobigraphy at 40.  If not, you’re likely to be well above your competency level and it will show.

But some sort of ability to suspend disbelief infected the chattering classes and they began coughing, sneezing and throwing up a myth about this empty suit. At the end of the 2008 campaign he had somehow become magic.

In reality he was the Wizard and the Noonan’s of the world, 5 years late and trillions of dollars short have finally … FINALLY … begun to peek behind the curtain where the rest of us have been sending SOS’s for years. And they’re discovering he doesn’t even know what the levers are or do, much less how to pull them.

And this discovery has led to more discovery … such as that above. He’s mostly irrelevant and ignored. Someone we must suffer through to get back to business. And so when he speaks … well, no one listens. Oh, they may show up, and they may even feign paying attention, but when you’ve heard the same speech and all it’s variations for 5 years and nothing has happened that was promised (and a lot has happened that wasn’t promised and isn’t good), you tend to not pay attention any more.

For a speechifier who thinks words equal action, I can’t imagine a worse fate.

~McQ


Administration has no idea who has or hasn’t paid for ObamaCare

You remember the post a couple of days ago when I broadly hinted that you shouldn’t believe a single statistic (or most of anything else) this administration proffers?

More proof.  You might recall a number of administration spokespersons and Democrat mouthpieces telling us that millions have enrolled and paid?

Yeah, not so fast:

An official from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services admitted at a House hearing today that no one knows how many people have actually paid for Obamacare coverage.

“So we don’t know at this point how many people have actually paid for coverage?” asked a member of Congress.

“That’s right,” the CMS official conceded.

Inept, incompetent and unfortunately, in charge.

~McQ


US drops out of top 10 for economic freedom

I’m not sure that this will surprise anyone, given the size and intrusiveness of our government:

World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.

For 20 years, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.

Obviously the decline began before the Obama administration, but the policies of this administration have certainly hastened the decline and are certainly a primary reason for the US dropping out of the top 10:

Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil’s economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice.

It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket. The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity.

And that’s certainly been the case these past 5 years.  Regulation has exploded, government intrusiveness has increased, freedom is in retreat.

Bottom line:

Despite financial crises and recessions, the global economy has expanded by nearly 70% in 20 years, to $54 trillion in 2012 from $32 trillion in 1993. Hundreds of millions of people have left grinding poverty behind as their economies have become freer. But it is an appalling, avoidable human tragedy how many of the world’s peoples remain unfree—and poor.

The record of increasing economic freedom elsewhere makes it inexcusable that a country like the U.S. continues to pursue policies antithetical to its own growth, while wielding its influence to encourage other countries to chart the same disastrous course. The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom documents a world-wide race to enhance economic opportunity through greater freedom—and this year’s index demonstrates that the U.S. needs a drastic change in direction.

Drastic action needed, dithering and inaction expected, continued decline the result.

~McQ


ObamaCare’s net effect so far? More cancellations than enrollments

Not that anyone should be surprised:

Even without the full number of enrollments, Obamacare’s current net effect is clearly in favor of cancellations. Millions are already seeing Obamacare’s adverse effects — largely due to more mandates for more services.

The mandates?  Well they’re one of the major reasons for most of the cancellation notices – their plan just doesn’t have all the benefits your wise and caring public servants think you should have:

The health-care law requires that all insurance plans cover 10 “essential benefits,” eliminating millions of plans that don’t fit the bill and boosting costs for consumers that have to purchase coverage for services they may not want or need.

All plans must include maternity coverage, for example — including plans for men and post-menopausal women. Even customers without children must purchase plans that cover pediatric services. Other newly established essential benefits include hospitalization, mental-health services and preventive and wellness services.

While a grandfather clause allowed plans purchased before Obamacare passed in 2010 to continue, HHS estimated that 40-67 percent of plans would eventually lose their status and cost millions of Americans their insurance plans.

So you see little horror shows like this family’s acted out all over the nation.

And those cheap affordable plans?  How are they working out so far (if you can even get one).  Well with high deductibles, not so hot (but all the men have maternity coverage, that’s a plus):

Experts are worrying that some new enrollees will be discouraged from seeing doctors if they have to pay the full charge, rather than simply a copayment. In Miami, for example, 40 percent of bronze plans require consumers to pay the full deductible before coverage kicks in, according to an analysis by online broker eHealthinsurance.com, a private online marketplace, for Kaiser Health News. The average deductible among the examined bronze plans in Miami is $5,735.

Patients in those plans who haven’t yet met their annual deductibles would have to pay the full cost of the visits, unless they were for preventive services mandated by the law. A typical office visit can run $65 to $85, while more complex visits may cost more.

So, as Ed Morrissey puts it:

Put it this way: If the average deductible is $5,735 and a doctor visit is $85, it would take sixty-eight doctor visits before the insurance kicked in — more than one visit per week. And it would start all over again every year.

So how’s ObamaCare going?

About how you’d expect a politically driven piece of law from an incompetent administration to go.

However the apologists have a different reason in mind:

“[S]outhern White radicals vowed to stop implementation of the Obama-care law leading one to wonder if Tea Party members would oppose affordable healthcare if it came from a nonBlack [sic] President,” writes Browne-Marshall.

Yeah, that’s the reason.

~McQ


Coming in 2014 whether you like it or not

Just for an intro:

A Russian expedition ship carrying global warming scientists got stuck in ice earlier this week. Now a Chinese ice breaker sent to rescue the scientists is frozen too just miles away.

Yes friends, “global warming”, “climate change” or whatever the alarmists choose to call it next year, will be with us and with a vengeance.

You see, “if you like your insurance you can keep it” Obama has said it will be one of his highest priorities.  There’s gold in that thar air.  It is an as yet untapped revenue source that, well, he’s bound and determined to tap – science, or lack thereof, be damned.

Nevermind that 13 new Obama taxes go into effect this next year and will likely stunt economic growth … again.  Global warming produces an entire new opportunity to gouge taxpayers “for their own good” — you know, just like ObamaCare.  And, of course, the grab will be couched in language much like ObamaCare.  They’ll promise the moon.  They’ll deliver misery. The only institution which will benefit?  Government.

What will be chipped away?

A little more of your freedom.  Your liberty.

It is obviously okay now for government to just engage in bald faced lies and get away with it.  Obama’s “if you like your insurance …” lie led the parade of Pinocchio awards by that renowned right-wing rag the Washington Post. Result? Nada? Penalty? Nada?

Lesson learned by the perpetrators of the lie?

Hey, it’s okay, there are no penalties and it works.

Next up?

Global warming (and your wallet).

You’ve been warned.

~McQ


It took almost 6 years, but Peggy Noonan is finally waking up …

Seriously, if I were her, I’d be embarrassed to write this:

Everyone is doing thoughtful year-end pieces on President Obama. Writers and reporters agree he’s had his worst year ever. I infer from most of their essays an unstated but broadly held sense of foreboding: There’s no particular reason to believe next year will be better, and in fact signs and indications point to continued trouble.

I would add that in recent weeks I have begun to worry about the basic competency of the administration, its ability to perform the most fundamental duties of executive management. One reason I worry is that I frequently speak with people who interact with the White House, and when I say, “That place just doesn’t seem to work,” they don’t defend it, they offer off-the-record examples of how poorly the government is run.

“Have begun to worry?!”  Really?!  Just now?!

The guy has been clueless since the beginning and Peggy Noonan is just now beginning to worry.  My goodness where has she been?  We’ve watched a raft of failures in both domestic and foreign policy, an economy and job market that continue to suck, and an imperial presidency in which the incumbent prefers to rule by decree rather than as the Constitution outlines.  And then there’s his signature law – ObamaCare.

And Noonan is just now starting to worry.

Lord save us from the chattering class.  Blinders firmly in place, they’ve ignored this incompetence for all these years and now, when it is sort of safe to actually point it out, they’re “discovering” it.

They’re as clueless as this president.

~McQ