I‘m headed to CPAC this week. Just thought it would be a good idea – there’s going to be quite a libertarian contingent there. Doug Mataconis from Outside the Beltway, Jason Pye from United Liberty (and an occasional contributor to QandO), as well as members of CATO.
There’s a reason I think it is important to go and that’s to see what is in store on the conservative side of things for the promise of smaller government and less spending. I’d like to join other libertarians in influencing that move toward both smaller (and less intrusive) government and much less spending.
But I’m certainly not going to line up very well with the social conservatives. Such is life – my bet is we can find common ground on the fiscal and governmental side of things. And, if you’re familiar with the neo-libertarian strategy, it is to try to work within the existing system to influence and change those things we can by pushing for change that enhances basic liberty. Call it a bit of putting my money where my mouth is.
That’s also what I characterize as "the pragmatic approach". The system we have is what we have – I can stand outside and throw rocks at it, or I can work inside and try to change it. And no, working inside certainly doesn’t mean I "accept" the system as the end product or am "validating" it by working within it. I’m simply pointing out that the most effective way, in my opinion, of changing things is to work with those of a like mind and create a synergy that finally makes that change. I see CPAC as a valuable forum for such action. Lots of those who are actually involved at a national level in doing such things will be there (Rep. Paul Ryan, for instance, and Sen. Rand Paul).
It’s also an opportunity to network with a lot of bloggers I’ve known peripherally- mostly through email – for years (and some I’ve met and know personally as well).
All that said I don’t feel "unwelcome". This is a struggle that goes on in every party. Don’t believe me? Check out the Democrats – especially in the South. They’re going through some major problems as many Democrats at a state level are switching parties in the wake of the November drubbing. The complaint? The Democratic party (national) has become too liberal and doesn’t reflect the values of the more conservative among them. Zell Miller, who made it clear he felt that way, was apparently only in the vanguard of the movement away from liberal Democrats. And those Blue Dogs left in Congress, now that they’re not needed by the majority, have all but been cut off from the Congressional Democratic leadership. They’re simply too conservative for the Pelosi crowd.
Anyway, this week should be interesting. CPAC is undergoing a bit of a controversy concerning the group GOProud being allowed at the table (it’s a gay Conservative group – well according to fiscal cons, social cons don’t buy that because of GOProud’s stance on gay marriage) and a new controversy which claims that the board of ACU, which puts on CPAC, has been infiltrated by Muslims.
And then there are the usual controversies.
Like I say, should be interesting. As the old saying goes, may the dragon you find be well fed.
Or so sayeth the CBO. Good thing they waited until today to announce it. Otherwise we might have heard snickering and outright laughter during the SOTU when our deficit-hawk President talked about how serious he was about reducing the deficit and the debt.
The budget deficit is now estimated to have widened this year to $1.5 trillion, the CBO said. That compares to a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The increase in the deficit would bring it to 9.8 percent of gross domestic product, the CBO said, following deficits of 10 percent and 8.9 percent during the previous two years.
Do you remember how he promised to half the debt by the end of his first term in office? Yeah? Well that means he could run a deficit of $750 billion and keep his word. Funny how that works out, huh?
The CBO’s projections assume that current laws remain unchanged. If the nation continues on its current path, the CBO said, the total national debt will rise from 40 percent of GDP in 2008 to 70 percent by the end of 2011, reaching 77 percent of GDP by 2021.
But hey, this is all the other guy’s fault, remember? Oh, and one more point, those of you on the left having fun with Rep. Paul Ryan’s factual response? Make sure you go find someone who can explain the ramifications of this to you, ‘kay? And have them point out who it is that the CBO agrees with in principle as well:
“To prevent debt from becoming unsupportable, the Congress will have to substantially restrain the growth of spending, raise revenues significantly above their historical share of GDP, or pursue some combination of the those two approaches,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a blog post announcing the report.
While you’re at it, have them explain the appetite for tax increases. Wait, I’ll save you the question – there is none. See December’s extension of the current income tax rates. Now, given that – try to focus. What does that leave? Yes, they’re left with “substantially restrain[ing] the growth of spending”. As in “no more new spending” and “cut back existing spending”. Precisely what Ryan has been saying, isn’t it?
So when Rep. Ryan makes the point that:
Under the terms of a House resolution passed Tuesday, Ryan is to set ceilings at 2008 levels or less.
He has a good reason, one backed by the facts of the situation and not some meandering mewling from Paul Krugman. This is the medicine for the addiction. America has said and is saying again that the voters are not willing to give you a single nickel more until government proves it can significantly cut it’s spending habit. No cuts, no increased taxes. In fact, if the cuts are indeed significant enough, the perhaps no new taxes are needed at all.
Yeah, I know, living within your means like all the rest of us have to do – what a concept.
The media has essentially played up the attempt at bipartisanship and the call for immediate action from President Obama’s health care reform proposal yesterday given with the usual background of lab coated “doctors”.
The two things stressed by the media are nothing new. In fact, nothing in the proposal is nothing particularly new. But it does provide, in a distilled example, why it is so much blarney. But you have to get to the proposals themselves to understand that. So:
Essentially, my proposal would change three things about the current health care system:
First, it would end the worst practices of insurance companies. No longer would they be able to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. No longer would they be able to drop your coverage because you got sick. No longer would they be able to force you to pay unlimited amounts of money out of your own pocket. No longer would they be able to arbitrarily and massively raise premiums like Anthem Blue Cross recently tried to do in California. Those practices would end.
So, first no pre-existing conditions, no ability to drop or deny coverage and unlimited payouts. But no ability to raise premiums (obviously without the fed’s say so) to account for the increased cost. A sure fire formula for financial health. Bring the sickest or those with the most chronic diseases on board, give them unlimited payouts and have no mechanism for recovering the cost they bring through premium increases.
Of course he’d have you believe this will work just fine in any government run system as well (the secret there is to cut payments to medical care providers). This part of the proposal should be known as the “big lie” because just like the spending rate of the US government at this point, it is an “unsustainable” program that will see private insurance go out of business within a decade or so.
On to number two:
Second, my proposal would give uninsured individuals and small business owners the same kind of choice of private health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves. Because if it’s good enough for Members of Congress, it’s good enough for the people who pay their salaries. The reason federal employees get a good deal on health insurance is that we all participate in an insurance marketplace where insurance companies give better rates and coverage because we give them more customers. This is an idea that many Republicans have embraced in the past. And my proposal says that if you still can’t afford the insurance in this new marketplace, we will offer you tax credits to do so – tax credits that add up to the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history. After all, the wealthiest among us can already buy the best insurance there is, and the least well-off are able to get coverage through Medicaid. But it’s the middle-class that gets squeezed, and that’s who we have to help.
The reason federal employees get a good rate is they number over a million and can do what the rest of us can’t – buy their insurance from whomever they wish. However, individuals only buy 6% of health insurance and small businesses don’t bring those sorts of numbers to a pool. Essentially Members of Congress exploit the buying power of the high number of federal employees and with a few twists of their own, get insurance not available to the general public because of laws they’ve written. Unless there is the ability to sell insurance across state lines where insurance companies actually compete for business, that’s not going to happen with his proposal. And, by the way, there’s nothing in the Senate bill which includes the mechanism for these “exchanges”, and it is that bill he’s calling for to be passed. So this claim is all smoke and mirrors.
Notice too he plans on pushing a good number of people onto Medicaid – a government system funded and run by the states. As we all know, financially, the states are in excellent shape and this burden won’t have any effect on their future financial stability, will it?
Obama goes on:
Now, it’s true that all of this will cost money – about $100 billion per year. But most of this comes from the nearly $2 trillion a year that America already spends on health care. It’s just that right now, a lot of that money is being wasted or spent badly. With this plan, we’re going to make sure the dollars we spend go toward making insurance more affordable and more secure. We’re also going to eliminate wasteful taxpayer subsidies that currently go to insurance and pharmaceutical companies, set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance, and make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of Medicare.
This is flat out disingenuous. A) no refusal, no payment caps, no premium increases, B) shoving people into Medicaid (thus it goes on state budgets) C) government subsidies. All for $100 billion a year? It will cost that much a year just to set up the bureaucracy.
And the benefits you get from this brilliance?
The bottom line is, our proposal is paid for. And all new money generated in this plan would go back to small businesses and middle-class families who can’t afford health insurance. It would lower prescription drug prices for seniors. And it would help train new doctors and nurses to provide care for American families.
You have to love the line, “all the new money generated in this plan”. It is the ultimate “something for nothing” scam. All these new benefits with no cost. In fact, as we eliminate pre-existing conditions, control what insurance companies can charge and require they pay unlimited payouts, we can expand Medicaid, lower prescription drug prices and train new doctors and nurses – and it’s all paid for.
Finally, my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions – families, businesses, and the federal government. We have now incorporated most of the serious ideas from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care – ideas that go after the waste and abuse in our system, especially in programs like Medicare. But we do this while protecting Medicare benefits, and extending the financial stability of the program by nearly a decade.
The eternal promise of every shady politician – “not to worry, we’ll just go after the 30% waste, fraud and abuse in the system we presently run to pay for all of this. We promise.” They never have and they never will. They don’t know how and if they do, they haven’t the capability to eliminate it or, apparently, make a significant dent in it. The problem has persisted at that level since the program’s inception. So have the promises. In the meantime they’ll do everything in their power to cripple the private insurance industry and eventually run them out of business.
And if there is a “biggest lie” in what he said yesterday, it is this:
Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next two decades. And those aren’t my numbers – they are the savings determined by the CBO, which is the Washington acronym for the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress.
Yeah, if you don’t consider the double counting, removal of the “doc fix” and any number of cheap accounting tricks that ended up putting Enron execs in jail. Paul Ryan took care of that bogus claim during the health care summit – it is worth your while to review his work.
Those are the Obama “proposals”. They essentially mirror the Senate bill which I and many others consider to be an abomination. This was Obama’s 31 or 32nd speech on the subject. Nothing has changed and the lies and distortions remain pretty much the same.
We have to hope that there are enough Democrats in the House that see that bill as something they can’t support. Obviously that’s the case at the moment (or it would have passed by now). Keep the pressure on, because the victory has to be in the House. The reconciliation nonsense is moot if it never leaves the House.
Talk about whatever strikes your fancy.
Some things that have caught my eye:
Is the Obama administration trying to unionize the government procurement process?
Speaking of unions, what is SEIU’s president, Andy Stern, doing on a Obama’s “deficit reduction” panel. Does that say “I’m serious about this” to you?
Anyone else see the irony in the Hillary Clinton claim that domestic political infighting is hurting America’s image abroad?
Brits aren’t buying the “January was the warmest month ever” nonsense.
Speaking of the Brits, is there a reason we won’t back their claim to the Falklands in a drilling-rights dispute?
Apparently some Dems are calling for Charles Rangel to step down from his House committee chairmanship because of ethics violations. Why isn’t Nancy “the most ethical Congress in history” Pelosi doing the same?
Paul Ryan was the rock star in the health care summit. To date no one has refuted his fiscal points.
The Obama administration has consistently talked about the Bush administration not counting the cost of war in its deficits. Well, it isn’t a war, but the Obama administration continues to nrefuse to cout the hundreds of billions going to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – primarily because it would bump this year’s 1.4 trillion deficit by another 300 billion.
And finally there’s some relatively good news. Jeremy Lott says there have been quite a few “quiet libertarian victories” here lately.
That’s what the Democrats think about the voters of Massachusett(e)s who voted for Scott Brown and against HCR. And that’s why, per their brain trust, they’re going the reconciliation route. Screw-the-proles politics at its finest (via HotAir):
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, tells National Review Online that House Democrats are planning to use of the budget-reconciliation process in order to pass Obamacare. “They’re meeting with each other this weekend to pursue it,” says Ryan. “I’ve spoken with many Democrats and the message is this: They’re not ready to give up. They’ve waited their entire adult lives for this moment and they aren’t ready to let 100,000 pesky votes in Massachusetts get in the way of fulfilling their destiny. They’ll look at every option and spend the next four or five days figuring it out.”
If the Democrats pass a health-care bill through reconciliation, it means they would need only 51 votes in the Senate for final passage. To start the process, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) would need to bring a new health-care bill to the House budget committee with reconciliation instructions, with the Senate doing the same. “They’d have to go back to the beginning of the process,” says Ryan. “They’d need to affix reconciliation instructions to a new bill.” Doing so, he says, wouldn’t be too hard. “There’s nothing we can do to stop this from a technical standpoint, since all they need is a simple majority vote and our ratio on the committee is terrible. What we can do in the budget committee is pass resolutions for the Rules committee to insist on certain changes in the bill and create a ‘vote-a-rama’ atmosphere.”
Got that? Your votes don’t matter. Your voice has not been heard. You are merely an impediment to Democrats bound for history, who have no interest in what you want. Say it with me: they only care about what they want you to want.
Just remember: this ain’t over, it’s just the beginning.[ad#Banner]