ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Obama distorts opponents like Bush (Well, not really)

Washington Post has an interesting article "attacking" Obama for employing an all or nothing tactic against his opponents. They even compare him to Bush, which is where they lose any credibility with me:

Obama Paints America's Choice as His Plan or Nothing

By Michael D. Shear and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 11, 2009; A06

FORT MYERS, Fla., Feb. 10 -- President Obama likes to portray the battle over the economic stimulus package that passed the Senate on Tuesday as a stark choice between his approach and that of those who would "do nothing."

"Nothing is not an option. You didn't send me to Washington to do nothing," Obama told a gathering of 1,500 here on Tuesday, bringing the crowd to its feet as he campaigned for passage of the more than $800 billion package.

The president used the same language Monday in his first prime-time news conference, suggesting that lawmakers who opposed his prescription want the government to ignore the deepening economic crisis.

"There seems to be a set of folks who -- I don't doubt their sincerity -- who just believe that we should do nothing," he said.

But in truth, few of those involved in the stimulus debate are suggesting that the government should not take action to aid the cratering economy.

Many of the president's fiercest congressional critics support a stimulus package of similar size but think it should be built around a much higher proportion of tax cuts than new spending. Others have called for a plan that is half the size of the one headed for a House-Senate conference -- still massive by historical standards.

Even those who think that no new government spending is necessary do not advocate a stand-still approach. A newspaper ad by the Cato Institute, signed by 250 economists, argued for removing "impediments to work, saving, investment and production" and said that "lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth."

"I don't know of a single Republican in the House or Senate who thinks Congress should do nothing in the wake of this recession," Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said Tuesday. "We want to do something that will work."

But if Republicans express frustration about Obama's rhetorical device, they need only look back to the man he succeeded for precedent. George W. Bush was proficient at setting up straw men when arguing for his policies, only to tear down the positions of those phantom opponents as irresponsible, unworkable or downright shameful in comparison with his own.

During debates with Democrats about the Iraq war, Bush often cast his rivals as believing that "the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day." He sometimes derided critics of his health-care policies as people "who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care." Talking about the fight against terrorism, Bush often warned of those "who say we are not at war."
[...]

Now, what's the stark difference between Obama's recent use of characterizing his opponents positions on the stimulus vs. the exculpatory Bush examples provided by the Post?

Bush's characterizations weren't lies.

The War Is Lost was a common refrain of Democratic Party, especially by its leaders.

The Democratic Party also repeatedly pointed to the costs and called for an end (timetable for exit) regardless of the situation on the ground.

And who can honestly assert that the Democrats don't think that the federal government should have a clear responsibility for managing the health care system?

And finally, the term "so-called War On Terror" is not something that was coined by the right side of the aisle. When combined with the policies sought by the Democrats to undermine the War On Terror and extend protections typically provided to US criminals to foreign illegal combatants (aka those at war with us), I would say that this isn't a mis-characterization by Bush either.

Just saying...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Ideology vs. Pragmatism

This op-ed by Peter Ferrara in the WSJ is excellent and points to the fact that, despite the rhetoric, Obama's porkulus bill is guided more by partisan ideology than it is by "what works."

Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics
The current president wants higher taxes, more regulation, more spending and loose money.
By PETER FERRARA

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama said, "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified." Or as administration spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in January, the touchstone is, "What will have the biggest and most immediate impact on creating private sector jobs and strengthening the middle class? We're guided by what works, not by any ideology or special interests."

Unfortunately, this rhetoric is not true. Mr. Obama's economic policy is following not what has been proven to work but liberal ideology.
The first indicator that this was the case was the following statement by Barry: "I won."
The best way to understand this is to compare what's being proposed now with what Ronald Reagan accomplished. In 1980, amid a seriously dysfunctional economy, Reagan campaigned for president on an economic recovery program with four specific components.

The first was across-the-board reductions in tax rates to provide incentives for saving, investment, entrepreneurship and work. The second component was deregulation to remove unnecessary costs on the economy. [...]

Third was the control of government spending. In 1981, Reagan forced through Congress not only his famed, historic tax cuts, but also a package of budget cuts close to 5% of the federal budget -- equivalent to roughly $150 billion today.[...]

The fourth component of the Reagan recovery plan was tight, anti-inflation monetary policy, which was spectacularly successful. Inflation was cut in half to 6.2% in 1982 from 13.2% in 1980, and cut in half again to 3.2% in 1983.

It would seem that Obama thinks that the opposite of these 4 policy positions will produce results similar to those during the Reagan administration.

I expect they'll have the effect of Carter's policies .... squared.
We know such policies work because they turned around in just two years an economy far worse than today's. We were suffering from multiyear, double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment, double-digit interest rates, declining incomes, and rising poverty. In fact, what we suffer with today is not the worst economy since the Great Depression, but the worst economy since Jimmy Carter -- the last time liberals were dominant politically and intellectually.

The Obama administration's economic policies do not include any of the four Reagan components. In fact, the stimulus plan is the greatest increase in government spending in the history of the planet.

And I'd like to comment on Barry's ridiculous assertion that he was handed a $1 trillion deficit, therefore criticizing him for doubling the deficit is inappropriate.

What are you smoking, Barry?!?

Eight years of irresponsible spending (much of it bipartisan) does not mean that even more irresponsible (and partisan) spending is warranted.
Meanwhile, the Fed is furiously reinflating, sowing more havoc down the line. Mr. Obama is still promising future increases in tax rates by letting the Bush tax cuts lapse, because for ideological reasons he thinks even current rates are too low. And instead of deregulating for more energy production, he is still promising massive increases in regulatory barriers -- through global warming cap-and-trade legislation -- to increased production from proven energy sources to serve an extreme environmentalist ideology.

This is why America seems so hopeless right now, and so depressed. We are stuck going in exactly the wrong direction on economic policy because of currently dominant ideological fashions.

A natural economic recovery will begin sometime this year, not because of the president's policies, but because soon this will be the longest recession since World War II. However, thanks to the administration's retrograde policies -- cut from the cloth of the 1970s and even the 1930s -- the recovery will not be what it should be. Rather, unemployment will remain too high, and inflation will resurge, recreating the disastrous economic results we suffered the last time Keynesian policies were dominant
Those that forget (or ignore) history are doomed to repeat it.

Given the scope of the porkulus bill and the general malaise (a word not uttered since Carter) among average consumers, business leaders, etc, I am not as optimistic as Ferrara that the economy will recover sometime this year.

I don't expect to see an actual recovery until sometime in 2010, assuming that any negative economic results this year are not met with even more ridiculous economic policies.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fiasco - The "Stimulus" Bill

Well, here we are on the verge of plunging the country into massive debt, and for what?

I watched the President's presser last night with interest. He is impressive, no doubt about it, expecially after the eight years of W's fumbling such opportunities to persuade. He is impressive and at the same time more than a bit disturbing.

What disturbed me was the dishonesty. What he and the congressional Democrats are passing of as "stimulus" is little more than forty years of pent up liberal programs that could not pass on their own merits in the ordinary course of legislative business all swept together under the umbrella of this bill and sold as economic relief. The deception is astounding.

Example: health care. Never mind that health care has no place in a stimulus bill as it will not create job one, it is also a foot in the door to government guidelines to treatment and intrusion by the government into the doctor patient relationship. This will start with data bases of of what are known as procedure codes. These have been used for years by insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid for payment purposes. What is being proposed is to use these codes to get treatment modalities authorized on the basis of efficacy and cost effectiveness as determined by someone in government. As if that were not enough, YOUR treatment codes will be entered in that data base.

This is but one example. What did the President have to say about that last night? What else is in there with regard to global warming? Alternative energy? Education? Goodies for organized labor? What other intrusions on our liberty are buried in this monster?

And for all this, there have been NO hearings on this bill. We must rush it through or the world as we know it will come to an end. Perhaps there is a reason for the rush. Perhaps if folks knew what was really going on they would be up in arms.

In the words of Glenn Beck, "Be afraid, be very afraid."


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Here is the article that appeared on Bloomberg yesterday:

Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan: Betsy McCaugheyCommentary by
Betsy McCaugheyFeb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Republican Senators are questioning whether President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill contains the right mix of tax breaks and cash infusions to jump-start the economy.

Tragically, no one from either party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in without discussion. These provisions reflect the handiwork of Tom Daschle, until recently the nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department.Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the
stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008
book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to
Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo
practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.New PenaltiesHospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative
Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow
the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are
driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept
“hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises
Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Elderly Hardest Hit

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be
more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.
That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council (464).

The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.In 2006, a U.K. health board decreed that elderly
patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye
before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye. It took almost
three years of public protests before the board reversed its decision.

Hidden Provisions

If the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill passes the Senate
in its current form, seniors in the U.S. will face similar rationing. Defenders
of the system say that individuals benefit in younger years and sacrifice
later.

The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and
nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid.
The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy,
Marines, and Air Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181).

Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to
debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act
quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a
health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too
important to be stalled by Senate protocol.

”More Scrutiny NeededOn Friday, President Obama called it “inexcusable and irresponsible” for senators to delay passing the stimulus bill. In truth, this bill needs more scrutiny.

The health-care industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17
percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Yet the bill treats health care
the way European governments do: as a cost problem instead of a growth industry.
Imagine limiting growth and innovation in the electronics or auto industry
during this downturn. This stimulus is dangerous to your health and the
economy.

(Betsy McCaughey is former lieutenant governor of New York and is an
adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her
own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Betsy McCaughey at Betsymross@aol.com