Well you all saw the new job numbers – 74,000 new jobs, 525,000 more workers drop out of the workforce and magically, the U3 unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% (“and the underpants gnomes … SCORE!”)
Trust … why wouldn’t you trust the BLS’s numbers when you continually see this formula add up to “less” unemployment? /sarc
In more ways than one, trust in government is being squandered by those in government.
For instance have you ever seen “leaders” who seem to know less about what their “minions” are doing than this latest bunch? Barack Obama is clueless as is, to a lesser extent, Chris Christie. And so we are witness to abuses of power on a regular basis. Most of those abuses can be linked to politics in general. But let’s face it, whatever the reason, we are seeing more and more abuse of power to the point that one might suggest that our government has become too powerful (“suggest” hell, it IS too powerful).
There’s another point that bothers me. I don’t know about you, but the way I’ve always been taught – in fact what I learned as a leader – is a leader is responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen on his watch.
And while we may apply that in our lives and jobs, “we the people” seem content with swallowing the “gee, I didn’t know that was going on” nonsense from politicians. I’ve never seen an occupation where they are given so many passes on things that in the normal business world – or any other “world” – would be the end of their career.
In terms of leadership, It really doesn’t matter what happened, it’s his or her problem and responsibility. Good leaders don’t let those sorts of problems crop up very often. That’s because it is the leader’s job to set the ethical and moral boundaries of his administration and to relentlessly patrol those boundaries and punish those who cross them.
But that doesn’t happen today in politics. Instead we just leave ‘em be when they say “uh, gee, I didn’t know a thing about this.”
Ignorance isn’t an acceptable excuse. It’s the 7 year-old’s defense, one we don’t accept from our own kids, and yet we let politicians who claim to be leaders pull it every single day.
Trust? How can you trust anyone you let lie to you daily? How can you trust anyone who has no apparent moral or ethical boundaries and are only sorry to be caught? How can you believe anything they say? More importantly, how can you let these people have any say over your life at all?
Just wondering …
The Affordable Care Act, the monstrosity of Democratic legislation with the Orwellian name, continues to lose supporters. And, as an added special feature, people in employer based programs are now paying more out-of-pocket for their medical expenses than before ObamaCare. Very “affordable”, no?
Support for the Affordable Care Act has plummeted since late last summer, and people with employer-based health insurance say they increasingly are paying more for out-of-pocket medical expenses, a new Bankrate.com survey released Wednesday revealed.
When Bankrate.com first polled people in September—right before the launch of Obamacare insurance exchanges, there was an even split between those who said they would repeal the Affordable Care Act if given the power to do so and those who would keep it: 46 percent each. (The rest either had no opinion or didn’t know how they felt.)
But three months later, after the botched launch of those government-run exchanges, the number of people who said they would gut Obamacare had risen to 48 percent, while the number of respondents who said they would keep it as law had plunged to 38 percent.
While the “botched launch” may have had some effect on that “plunge”, my guess is that hitting people’s wallet has pushed it down even more. Health care insurance isn’t some esoteric policy argument. It’s something that is important to everyone. It is about their family and trying to afford the best for their family’s health. When policy negatively effects real people, they react just as negatively (and I do hope that Democrats double down on their support of the law, since it is all theirs anyway) :
The survey also found that people, by a 2-to-1 margin, felt Obamacare had had a more negative than positive impact on their own, individual health care. The poll questioned 1,005 adults, and had a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.
His company’s survey also found that a total of 44 percent of people with employer-provided insurance said they are shelling out more dollars in deductibles and copayments than they were a year ago. And 47 percent of that group of people reported having more money deducted from their paycheck to pay the cost of those insurance plans than in 2012.
People earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually were the most affected group: with 64 percent of them reporting a bigger hit on their paychecks from health insurance. Just 38 percent of the people earning less than $30,000 reported paying more for insurance in payroll deductions as of 2013.
The great leveling. Apparently you’re “rich” if you earn between $50 and $75k, so it’s okay that you’re paying more – and besides, those “Cadillac plans” just aren’t fair (well, except for the exempt unions, of course … and Congress, and ….). Don’t forget the tsunami of cancellations that will hit employer based programs hasn’t yet happened.
Obviously it doesn’t take great powers of perception to realize that this is just going to get worse and worse as the months pass. And as those months pass, those supporting the legislation will become fewer and fewer. It will be a grand issue on which Congressional Republicans can run (if they actually can figure out how to do that successfully without the usual idiocy). Unfortunately, politics aside, it is going to be a building disaster for the American people.
Repeal is the best remedy.
Even Michael Moore thinks that ObamaCare is a disaster. And that’s saying something when a big government liberal (socialist?) finds a big government program to be … well, just awful. But, as Allahpundit over at Hot Air points out, what do you suspect Moore’s solution might be?
I was just thinking yesterday, “I wonder what a guy who supports CastroCare thinks we should do to fix ObamaCare?” If you can’t guess, read this. If you can, why bother? His big knock on O-Care is true enough — “affordable” care ain’t so affordable — but you already knew that, just like you already know what he thinks should be done about it. The solution togross mismanagement of the federal exchange, capricious deadline-shifting driven by political whim, and tens of trillions in unfunded Medicare liabilities is, obviously, a bigger role for government in health care. There’s no problem with liberalism that socialism can’t solve.
It doesn’t occur to Moore that the problem is two-fold – government’s inability to run any large program efficiently as well as the fact that because of it’s inefficiency, we can’t afford his solution. Not to mention that my health care isn’t any of the government’s business. Then, of course, in Moore’s case, there’s the fact that he was snookered by CastroCare.
But it all comes down to a fairly basic problem. Most on the left, Moore included, really don’t understand how an economy works, where money actually comes from and how markets make wealth possible. Apparently they actually believe that the government “has money” or it falls from the sky or whatever. Then there is this innate belief that big government is the solution to all our ills, despite the fact that they can’t point to a single example of where that is true and won’t acknowledge the fact that many of the problems we face today are a product of big government.
When you don’t understand how wealth is produced or how money is earned, you have a tendency to believe in underpants gnomes. The second part of the process is always an unknown or a mystery, but you’re sure that the result will be a positive. So you tend to believe in the fantasy of big government being both efficient and beneficial.
Be clear, I’m not saying that all government is bad or that there aren’t certain parts that are beneficial. There are very limited aspects of government that I think are both necessary and beneficial. But what we have today – this inefficient monstrosity that is in every area of our life run by an ossified bureaucracy more interested in its survival than serving the public and politicians who aid and abet that bureaucracy – is not at all necessary or beneficial.
Yet the Michael Moore’s of the world seem to think that the way you clean up a big government mess is by making government bigger. Apparently in the underpants gnome world of liberals, there’s a point where big government, if expanded enough, suddenly becomes efficient.
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.
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.
Global warming (and your wallet).
You’ve been warned.
It’s hard to describe this blinding stupidity as anything other than … well, blindingly stupid. I think this one sentence encapsulates the #Fail quite nicely:
This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout.
If you think Brooks is trying to get all counter-intuitive on you (a la Thomas Friedman’s wistful longing for Chinese authoritarianism), think again. It’s just full on stupidity.
Brooks’ argument is that Congress is too beholden to the “rentier groups” (i.e. moneyed interest groups and lobbyists) and that the judiciary is too involved in the process:
In the current issue of The American Interest, Francis Fukuyama analyzes this institutional decay. His point is that the original system of checks and balances has morphed into a “vetocracy,” an unworkable machine where many interests can veto reform.
First, there is the profusion of interest groups. In 1971, there were 175 registered lobbying firms. By 2009, there were 13,700 lobbyists spending more than $3.5 billion annually, and this doesn’t even count the much larger cloud of activist groups and ideological enforcers.
Then there is the judicial usurpation of power. Fukuyama writes, “conflicts that in Sweden or Japan would be solved through quiet consultations between interested parties through the bureaucracy are fought out through formal litigation in the American court system.” This leads to uncertainty, complexity and perverse behavior.
After a law is passed, there are always adjustments to be made. These could be done flexibly. But, instead, Congress throws implementation and enforcement into the court system by giving more groups the standing to sue. What could be a flexible process is turned into “adversarial legalism” that makes government more intrusive and more rigid.
In other words, because the power to form laws is relatively disbursed amongst constituents, elected officials and the court system, gridlock happens sometimes and that’s just totally unacceptable. Because, heaven knows that if Congress isn’t cranking out new laws at a fast enough pace, the world will end. (That seems to be the meme going around anyway.)
So what would be the benefits of more powerful Executive branch?
Here are the advantages. First, it is possible to mobilize the executive branch to come to policy conclusion on something like immigration reform. It’s nearly impossible for Congress to lead us to a conclusion about anything. Second, executive branch officials are more sheltered from the interest groups than Congressional officials. Third, executive branch officials usually have more specialized knowledge than staffers on Capitol Hill and longer historical memories. Fourth, Congressional deliberations, to the extent they exist at all, are rooted in rigid political frameworks. Some agencies, especially places like the Office of Management and Budget, are reasonably removed from excessive partisanship. Fifth, executive branch officials, if they were liberated from rigid Congressional strictures, would have more discretion to respond to their screw-ups, like the Obamacare implementation. Finally, the nation can take it out on a president’s party when a president’s laws don’t work. That doesn’t happen in Congressional elections, where most have safe seats.
Note the two “advantages” I’ve bolded. It’s as if things like Solyndra fiasco and the IRS targeting of conservatives never happened.
Lest there be any confusion about Brooks’ prescription, he sums it up as thus:
So how do you energize the executive? It’s a good idea to be tolerant of executive branch power grabs and to give agencies flexibility. We voters also need to change our voting criteria. It’s not enough to vote for somebody who agrees with your policy preferences. Presidential candidates need to answer two questions. How are you going to build a governing 60 percent majority that will enable you to drive the Washington policy process? What is your experience implementing policies through big organizations?
We don’t need bigger government. We need more unified authority. Take power away from the rentier groups who dominate the process. Allow people in those authorities to exercise discretion. Find a president who can both rally a majority, and execute a policy process.
At least he’s being honest about what the political and chattering classes truly want. As an added bonus, Brooks has inspired a better description of his cant than “blindingly stupid”: contemptible.
That’s primarily what politicians seem to want to do despite protestations to the contrary by some. They’re always looking for a new “revenue stream”. And since tax payers are the only folks who actually pay taxes, they’re constantly dreaming up new ways to “access” your wallet.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require the government to study the most practical ways of taxing drivers based on how far they drive, in order to help fund federal highway programs.
Blumenauer’s bill, H.R. 3638, would set up a Road Usage Fee Pilot Program, which he said would study mileage-based fee systems. He cast his bill as a long-term solution for funding highway programs, and proposed it along with a shorter-term plan to nearly double the gas tax, from 18.4 cents to 33.4 cents per gallon.
“As we extend the gas tax, we must also think about how to replace it with something more sustainable,” Blumenauer said Tuesday. “The best candidate would be the vehicle mile traveled fee being explored by pilot projects in Oregon and implemented there on a voluntary basis next year.”
Because, you know, taxpayers paid for the highways, taxpayers have funded the maintenance of the highways and now they should pay for the privilege of driving on them as well. So, many single moms, who can barely afford gas for the car, will likely be paying by the mile to go to work (as with most of these stupid schemes, the one’s who can afford it the least will get hit the hardest by it).
Brilliant! Aw, what the heck, they can take public transportation, huh?
And what about privacy? What business is it of government how far you drive. One assumes they’ll be able to verify your mileage somehow, no? Do you really think it will be up to you to voluntarily keep records and report to the government? Of course not. So somehow the system has to be able to track you and tally mileage.
In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a study that explored how a VMT system might work. That report suggested devices could be fitted onto cars that log how far they have traveled, and these devices could be electronically read at gas stations to general tax bills for drivers.
That’s what I want … a government tracking device on my car.
Where’s Orwell when you need him?
A primary reason for structuring our government with the checks and balances it has was to prevent a concentration of power. The POTUS was specifically limited because of the position’s duties, and the danger exercising them could mean to the freedom of the people. America didn’t want a king. Well, we may gotten one anyway.
The House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday on the Obama Administration’s exercise (or non-exercise) of it powers, and asked whether or not the Executive branch was properly following the “take care” clause of the Constitution. AllahPundit provides some commentary on the hearing, focusing Prof. Jonathan Turley’s testimony:
If you have time for only one snippet, though, skip to 2:33:00 for his list of Obama’s five most egregious violations of separation of powers. Some are familiar to you — declaring that he wouldn’t deport illegals who might qualify for DREAM, refusing to enforce the employer mandate, etc — but the ones about him shifting money around without regard to how Congress has appropriated it might not be. Turley makes two valuable points here. One: Courts tend to give the executive a wide berth in separation-of-powers challenges on the theory that Congress has the power of the purse and can defund any executive agency it likes. But that’s not true anymore, he says. Obama, by defying appropriations, has claimed some of that power for himself. What check does Congress have left? That brings us to point two: Even if Congress can’t stop Obama, the courts can. The problem there, though, says Turley, is that O and the DOJ have argued successfully in many cases that no one has standing to sue him because no one can show an injury from his power grabs that’s concrete enough to justify a federal lawsuit. So the courts can’t check him either.
The only check left, it would seem, is through elections. Which isn’t a check at all on a term-limited President. Of course, there’s always the impeachment route, but that doesn’t seem likely (despite what some in the media think). Turley thinks it’s not even being considered:
Now, I was the lead witness but I was testifying in through the haze of a raging flu. So I went back and checked. Impeachment was mentioned in passing but it was quickly discounted. Indeed, I specifically testified that, as someone who testified at the Clinton impeachment, I did not view such a measure as warranted given the ambiguity of past decisions. Indeed, the references to impeachment were made in the context of the loss of meaningful options for Congress to respond to such encroachments when the President reserved the right to suspend portions of laws and fought access to the courts in challenging such decisions. Yet, the Post simply reported that the word impeachment came up (not surprisingly) in a discussion of the options given by Framers to Congress in dealing with unlawful presidential conduct.
During the hearing, not only did I discount impeachment as an option, but a Democratic member specifically asked the panel about the references to impeachment. No one could remember how it came up but it was clear that no one thought it was a substantial issue — or significant part of the hearing.
In a discussion of checks on the presidency, impeachment is one of the enumerated options given to Congress. Notably, past judicial opinions involving such separation of powers controversies have also discussed impeachment with the power of the purse as devices given to the Congress. In discussing impeachment with these other powers, courts were not advocating impeachment or suggesting that it was a viable solution in that given case.
In the end, since the Senate is held by the same party as the President, impeachment isn’t a serious option. But the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress remains a serious issue. At this point, the only options left would seem to be either shutting the government down, or refusing to pass any new laws since the POTUS won’t execute them anyway. And whither goes the Republic.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I know you’ll rest much better knowing the ObamaCare website is now “fixed”. No. Really. They say so:
The White House announced on Sunday that it had met its goal for improving HealthCare.gov so the website “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.”
In effect, the administration gave itself a passing grade. Because of hundreds of software fixes and hardware upgrades in the last month, it said, the website — the main channel for people to buy insurance under the 2010 health care law — is now working more than 90 percent of the time, up from 40 percent during some weeks in October.
So there. We’re at 90% and have been declared to be “working smoothly”.
Well, except for the part that actually gets you enrolled in an insurance program:
The problem is that so-called back end systems, which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers, still have not been fixed. And with coverage for many people scheduled to begin in just 30 days, insurers are worried the repairs may not be completed in time.
“Until the enrollment process is working from end to end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group.
The issues are vexing and complex. Some insurers say they have been deluged with phone calls from people who believe they have signed up for a particular health plan, only to find that the company has no record of the enrollment. Others say information they received about new enrollees was inaccurate or incomplete, so they had to track down additional data — a laborious task that would not be feasible if data is missing for tens of thousands of consumers.
In still other cases, insurers said, they have not been told how much of a customer’s premium will be subsidized by the government, so they do not know how much to charge the policyholder.
Details, details. What’s wrong with you people. It’s fixed! We say so. This other stuff is, well, something that is the insurance companies problem. Or maybe Bush is at fault. Certainly the Republicans.
But now that the White House has declared all its problems addressed — and on time too — well they don’t want to hear anything more about it.
“Health plans can’t process enrollments they don’t receive,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
It’s fixed. End of story.
Time to move on. Change the subject.
Oh, and don’t call it ObamaCare anymore.
They’re finally “coming home to roost” as Mr. Obama’s favorite preacher might say:
According to a new CNN/ORC International survey, only four out of 10 Americans believe Mr. Obama can manage the federal government effectively. Fifty-three percent don’t view him as a strong and decisive leader. And 56 percent say he does not agree with them on important issues and he does not inspire confidence.
But the numbers on the president’s personal characteristics should alarm the White House most of all. More than half (53 percent) believe he’s not honest and trustworthy, while 56 percent say he’s not a person they admire.
Each of these figures are all-time records for Mr. Obama in CNN polling.
In their fascinating behind-the-scenes book on the 2012 election, Double Down, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann write that the campaign’s research showed “that there was a deep well of sympathy for Obama among voters.” In focus groups after the first debate, they write, “people offered excuse after excuse for his horrific presentation. In Florida, one woman said, almost protectively, ‘I just bet you he wasn’t feeling well.’”
That deep well of sympathy–that willingness to give the president the benefit of the doubt and the attachment and connection voters felt for Mr. Obama–has been crucial to his success for his entire political life. He has always been viewed as a likeable and decent man, even when his campaign employed fairly ruthless tactics. But the days of broad public faith and trust in this president appear to be over. And no wonder.
The fact that the president knowingly misled the public on such a crucial element of his health-care program so many times, over such a long period of time, with such apparent ease, has penetrated the public consciousness in a way nothing else ever has. Incompetence has now been twinned to mendacity. And not surprisingly, that deep well of sympathy is drying up.
The characteristics which have taken such a beating are the one’s that kill a reputation – honesty, trustworthiness and admiration. You can forgive a goof. You can even forgive a certain level of incompetence if you have a deep reservoir of admiration for someone based on your belief that they’re an honest and trustworthy person.
Obama’s killed that with this monstrosity he claims as his legacy. The Democrats too suffer from that albatross.
The usual excuse makers are having trouble ginning up the enthusiasm for attempting to support this president. Why? Because their honesty and trustworthiness are at stake if they do. Oh, sure, there are those that are so much a party hack that they’re going to sputter and spout the usual reality defying nonsense. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the poster children of this breed.
But as mentioned many times before, reality is a bitch and she has shown up after 5 years of this nonsense with a vengeance. She is taking no prisoners. I can think of a million cliches that fit this situation and none of them are complementary to the President or Democrats.
By the very way they went about putting this law through the legislative process, they deserve each and every negative thing that happens to them. It is so bad, that Obama and company are left with trying to hijack Thanksgiving in order to save this awful law.
Barack Obama is the lamest of lame ducks (and that pretty much includes internationally as well, for mostly the same reasons). Because what he messed with went so badly and the fact that what he messed with was so important and personal to all Americans, you better believe any “well of sympathy” has dried up. And according to some reports, the worst is yet to come (the possibility that up to 80 million Americans will be dropped from their employer plans).
It is difficult to survey the wreckage of his reputation and not realize that this was all brought on by his own incompetence, arrogance and narcism. What’s interesting is he is a product of his ideology. He is its crowning achievement. And he demonstrates better than any tome, op-ed or television piece how bankrupt that ideology is.
Whether anyone will really pick up on that is probably arguable. But there it is – he is indeed the prefect product of liberalism. And, as anyone who has eyes and a will to actually see, the emperor has no clothes.