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Free Markets, Free People

You Can’t Sabotage a Disaster

The Democrats’ newest line in the peeling onion of fail that is Obamacare is that its failure is all the Republicans’ fault because…they sabotaged it. This line has been taken up by Politico in an article by Todd S. Purdum.

From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it. Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court — which upheld the law, but weakened a key part of it by giving states the option to reject an expansion of Medicaid. The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president’s reelection, in a pattern of “massive resistance” not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954…

Most Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges — an option inserted in the bill in the Senate to appeal to the classic conservative preference for local control — forcing the federal government to take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states — far more than ever intended.

Then congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds to do all that extra work, leaving the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together by redirecting funds from existing programs. On top of that, nearly half of the states declined to expand their Medicaid programs using federal funds, as the law envisioned.

Then, in the months leading up to the program’s debut, some states refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law. And congressional Republicans sent so many burdensome queries to local hospitals and nonprofits gearing up to help consumers navigate the new system face-to-face that at least two such groups returned their federal grants and gave up the effort.

So, political opposition to a law that Republicans always opposed is now "sabotage’. That’s simply nonsense on stilts. The law was passed without a single Republican vote. That should’ve been a big signal to Democrats that the law was going to be on shaky ground, but of course, in their arrogance, it didn’t.

Back in 1993, when Hillary Clinton was working on Health Care Reform, Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave her some sage advice. He told her that without support from a large, non-partisan majority, no large-scale reform can ever be successfully concluded. She ignored him at the time, just as Democrats ignored that advice when they passed Obamacare on a strictly party-line vote.

But no Congress can ever bind a succeeding Congress. This has been a black-letter principle of American politics for two centuries. The only way a succeeding congress can be bound is if the support for a particular law is widespread and bi-partisan. And in the case of Obamacare, not only have the Republicans been opposed since the beginning so has a majority of the American people. Obamacare has never polled with majority support among the electorate, and as its implementation date has drawn closer, the majority of the electorate that opposes it has increased.

Howard Dean, recently suggested that Republican opposition to Obamacare is a sign that Republicans have  "forgotten that they’re actually supposed to serve the American people." But since, by all the polling results I’ve ever seen, a substantial majority of the public opposes Obamacare, it would seem to me that Republican opposition is actually the precise opposite of what Howard Dean suggests.

Defining opposition to Obamacare as "sabotage" is simply sour grapes from an arrogant political party that imposed an unpopular law against the apparent wishes of the electorate.

Obamacare is a disaster. I predicted it was an unworkable disaster before it was passed, as did anyone who took the time to look at the perverse incentives it created. The amount of wishful thinking that went in to passing this stupid law is incomprehensible to me. It could not have been more clearly prone to failure if it had been intentionally designed to fail.

Make no mistake: if you support Obamacare, you are a complete dolt, or so lacking in fundamental knowledge that your opinion about it is irrelevant. It is a law that literally cannot accomplish its stated purpose, because it ignores essential and fundamental economic and political realities. Moreover, it was passed in opposition to a majority of Americans.

Opposition to this disaster is not sabotage. It is the only rational response to the utter stupidity it encapsulates.

But framing opposition as sabotage does have a darker, more nefarious purpose. The whole point of such charges is to delegitimize the opposition. Frankly, it’s part of what I see as an ongoing Democratic strategy to define opposition to any policy they support as un-American, at the very least, if not somehow criminal. The Left in this country could not be doing more to foment a civil war if they were intentionally trying to do so.

I have very little hope for the future of this country. I have very little left but anger.

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Economic Statistics for 1 Nov 13

The ISM manufacturing composite index remained steady, with just a 0.2 point rise to 56.4 in October.

Markit’s PMI Manufacturing Index fell a point to 51.8 in October.

Vehicle sales were strong in October, coming in at a  15.2 million annual unit rate. Some of the sales increases reported: Chrysler 11%, GM 15.7%, Ford 14%, Toyota 8.8%.

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Blatant cronyism? Most likely, yes …

This on-line debacle that’s so embarrassed the Democrats and the Obama administration?  It is likely the result of blatant cronyism.  The inept hiring the incompetent:

A tech firm linked to a campaign-donor crony of President Obama not only got the job to help build the federal health-insurance Web site — but also is getting paid to fix it.

Anthony Welters, a top campaign bundler for Obama and frequent White House guest, is the executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, which owns the software company now at the center of the ObamaCare Web-site fiasco.

UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Quality Software Services Inc. (QSSI), which built the data hub for the ObamaCare system, has been named the new general contractor in charge of repairing the glitch-plagued

Welters and his wife, Beatrice, have shoveled piles of cash into Obama’s campaign coffers and ­apparently reaped the rewards.

Beatrice Welters bundled donations totaling between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama’s campaign during the 2008 election ­cycle, according to campaign- ­finance data compiled by Center for Responsive Politics.

Well, how sweet is that?  Give a little, get a lot!  And while this certainly isn’t the first administration or political party to practice cronyism, it certainly is the most open about it.  One would almost think they believe that they are entitled.  A spoils system of sorts.

UnitedHealth Group is one of the largest health-insurance companies in the country and spent millions lobbying for ObamaCare.

The insurance giant’s purchase of QSSI in 2012 raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, but the tech firm nevertheless kept the job of building the data hub for the ObamaCare Web site where consumers buy the new mandatory health- ­insurance plans.

QSSI has been paid an estimated $150 million so far, but officials couldn’t say how much more the company might collect on the ­repair contract.

Whatever happened to the belief that there should be a distance between politics and business?  Once, it was a point of integrity to ensure there was no shadow or hint of a possible conflict of interest?

Now?  Just line up at the trough, those that gave the most get the most.  As for the work?  Just like every other government program (except health care), they’ll be glad to overpay for shoddy work.

And here we are.

“I’m extraordinarily frustrated,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) ­after top Obama-administration officials gave Senate Democrats a private briefing on the state of the Web-site repairs.

He said they were losing confidence the site could be quickly fixed.

“I don’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the room. This is more of a show-me moment,” said Merkley.

I don’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the country – except, of  course, the “true believers”.


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Economic Statistics for 31 Oct 13

Initial jobless claims fell 10,000 last week, to 340,000. The 4-week moving average rose 8,000 to 356,250. Continuing claims rose 31,000 to 2.881 million.

The Chicago PMI accelerated sharply in October to 65.9 from the previous month’s 55.7.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.5 points to -37.6.

Farm prices rose 0.5% in October, but on a year-over-year basis were down -11%.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $4.4 billion last week, with total assets of $3.843 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $12.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply increased by $55.9 billion last week.

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Assessing the worst presidency in history

Okay, maybe I’m jumping the gun, but I lived through Jimmy Carter, and I’d take that mess again in a heartbeat over the one we’re currently living through.

It’s always interesting to read what is being said about Obama and the Democrats, especially by some of the usual cheerleaders for that bunch.  Here’s Michael O’Brien of NBC News:

“President Barack Obama’s seemingly hands-off management style is raising fresh questions and concerns that could upend his second-term legacy. Claims by the administration and other Democrats that Obama didn’t know about sensitive matters in his own administration — such as problems with the health care website and revelations of National Security Agency surveillance on foreign leaders — have many in Washington scratching their heads.”

More: “Even Democratic allies of the administration question why Obama didn’t know about the serious problems, and express concern about his personal response. ‘I think he might have been better off by standing up and saying this happened up on my watch and take responsibility for it. I think that’s better than saying he didn’t know,’ said veteran Democratic strategist Bob Shrum. ‘I think people expect the president, on his signature program, to be on top of it.’”

“Confronted with missteps in his own administration, President Barack Obama has frequently pleaded ignorance — suggesting he could not be at fault about things he did not know,” AP writes. “It’s an argument with clear benefits but also inherent risks for the White House. Used too often, the tactic emboldens critics who claim the president is incompetent, detached and not fully in control. Eager to protect Obama’s time and concentration, his aides deliberate intensively about what to tell the president, current and former White House officials said. His advisers act as a triage team for an endless flood of information coming into the White House, continually making decisions about which snippets of data Obama might need.”

“Upend his second-term legacy?”  Yeah, that’s what is important … his legacy.  And if I had to guess, his legacy is not going to be one any president would want to claim.

Secondly, his “hands-off management style” isn’t that at all – it’s a lack of leadership.  The man isn’t a leader in any sense of the word.  He hasn’t a clue how to lead.  He’s a petulant autocrat who fumes when he doesn’t get his way and blames everyone but himself when his programs fail.

Finally, he’s Richard Nixon II – out of touch and surrounded with advisors who are afraid to tell him the truth.  That’s what all that “triage” nonsense is about.  His advisors filter incoming information and then spin what they want him to see as positively as possible.  He’s in the bunker and thinks he has more divisions than he really does, if the analogy makes any sense to you.

Oh, and his approval ratings are at an all time low.  What we’re watching is the implosion of a presidency, such that it was.  If there’s anything positive about it, Barack Obama has finally proven the Peter Principle to be false.  He certainly rose well above his level of competency.  That would be funny if he was in any other job.  Instead, it’s just plain dangerous.

Meanwhile the Vice President’s clown car continues to roll: merrily on its way:

“Neither he and I are technology geeks, and we assumed that it was up and ready to run.”

Because, you know, leaders always assume and never check.  That’s how they become so successful.


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Economic Statistics for 30 Oct 13

The MBA reports that a dip in rates caused mortgage applications to rise 6.4% last week, with purchases up 2.0% and re-fis 9.0%.

ADP reports a smaller-than-expected rise in private payroll growth, at 130,000 in October, a disappointing number.

The Treasury reported a big $75.1 billion surplus in the month of September. This points to a substantially lower 2013 deficit.

The CPI rose 0.2% in September, with the core rate up 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, consumer prices are up 1.2% overall, and up 1.7% ex-food and -energy.

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Accountability–an unknown word in DC

Or so it seems.

Tell me, if a senior executive of any corporation had rolled out a product that was as bad as the ObamaCare website and had caused as much embarrassment and grief for the corporation as this roll out has produced for this administration, would they likely still be employed by the corporation?

Oh, I’m sure you can think of some “lifeboat” instance where it might happen, but for the most part, they’d have been sent packing immediately after the depth of their non-performance was ascertained. 

But not in this government.  I’m of the opinion that Kathleen Sebelius must have Obama’s college transcripts or something to still be employed.  That said, pressure for her ouster continues to build:

It’s Kathleen Sebelius’s turn now. On the Hill, they’re calling for her resignation and tossing around words like “subpoena.” Pundits are merrily debating her future. (She’s toast! Or is Obama too loyal to fire her so soon?) Her interviews, more closely parsed than usual, seem wobbly. Though never a colorful presence on the political scene, she’s suddenly a late-night TV punch line.

And on Wednesday morning, the embattled secretary of health and human services will submit to a quintessential station of the Washington deathwatch — testifying before a congressional committee — to discuss her agency’s failings in the botched rollout of the federal health-insurance Web site.

Granted, this is only part of the on-going debacle that is the Affordable Care Act, aka “ObamaCare”.  And while it will, in years to come, be cited as the perfect example of ineptitude coupled with incompetence, it isn’t the big problem right now.  The big problem, as pointed out yesterday, is the country was purposely lied too in order to garner enough support to push this monstrosity through Congress and make it law.

Lied too.  Point blank and with a smile.  Jonah Goldberg shares my opinion of Obama’s lie and goes a century or two more:

And that lie looks like the biggest lie about domestic policy ever uttered by a U.S. president.

Ever.  For those of you who want to cite Clinton, Nixon or some other president, Goldberg points out:

The most famous presidential lies have to do with misconduct (Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations”) or war. Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the slogan “He kept us out of war” and then plunged us into a calamitous war. Franklin D. Roosevelt made a similar vow: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Roosevelt knew he was making false promises. He explained to an aide: “If someone attacks us, it isn’t a foreign war, is it?” When his own son questioned his honesty, FDR replied: “If I don’t say I hate war, then people are going to think I don’t hate war. . . . If I don’t say I won’t send our sons to fight on foreign battlefields, then people will think I want to send them. . . . So you play the game the way it has been played over the years, and you play to win.”

Is that the case with Obama? Lying in order to pass some cherished legislation which won’t at all do what you promise it will do is “the game” and in politics, justifies “playing to win”?

Or is it, much more simply, damn the truth, the ends justify the means?

Yeah, that’s how I see it too.

As for accountability for the Obama lie, don’t hold your breath.  Sebelius may end up biting the bullet.  But the buck won’t even slow down at Obama’s desk.


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Economic Statistics for 29 Oct 13

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 3.6% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales drop of -0.4%, and a 2.2% increase on a year-over-year basis.

Producer prices fell -0.1% in September, but were up 0.1% at the core level. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI rose 0.3% overall, but up 1.2% at the core.

September retail sales fell -0.1% overall. Sales ex-autos were up 0.4%, and ex-auto and -gas sales were up 0.4% as well.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.9% in August, the first monthly increase since April.

Business inventories rose 0.3% in August, while a 0.4% rise in sales kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 2.90 for the third consecutive month.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index slumped to 71.2 in October from last month’s 79.9.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell to 95.7 in October from 101.4 in September.

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Lying liars and the lying liars who support them

I’m not one to use the word “liar” much since I consider it’s definition to be very specific, i.e. telling something you know to be false.

However, in the case of the ObamaCare lie – and that’s what it was when President Obama said “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” – I call it what it is.  And there’s no question about it now.

What I hate worse than a liar is someone who tries to rationalize or explain away a lie.  Like Steny Hoyer:

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer conceded to reporters today that Democrats knew people would not be able to keep their current health care plans under Obamacare and expressed qualified contrition for President Obama’s repeated vows to the contrary.

“We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage,” Hoyer said in response to a question from National Review.

Asked by another reporter how repeated statements by Obama to the contrary weren’t “misleading,” Hoyer said “I don’t think the message was wrong. I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”

So it was a lie to begin with, no one spoke up and now the lying liars are trying to spin the result.  You weren’t just misled – you were LIED too.  Purposely.  And shamelessly.

Welcome to politics and government today.  Utter disgust doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about the whole institution.


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