Monday, March 01, 2010

GOP senator, friend of president, says ObamaCare will “divide and bankrupt America”

Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and personal friend of President Obama’s, on Saturday took a highly public stand against the president’s health care plan and against his intentions to “ram” a bill through Congress, warning that such a move will “divide and bankrupt America.” Coburn, chosen as the Republican lawmaker to deliver the party’s regular weekend address to the nation, cautioned Obama against supporting the use of “reconciliation,” a legislative maneuver Democrats could execute to pass a bill through the Senate with 51 votes instead of the 60 usually required to overcome a filibuster.

The senator, himself a physician, said that the day-long health care meeting Thursday between Democratic and Republican leaders, hosted by the president, had been the beginning of a true exchange of ideas that he said have been missing for much of the last year. “If the president and the leaders in Congress are serious about finding common ground they should continue this debate, not cut it off by rushing through a partisan bill the American people have already rejected,” Coburn said.

Republicans have cited significant opposition in almost every poll over the last several months to the Democratic bill, while Obama and Democrats say that polls also show support for individual components of their plan. “The majority now has a choice. We can continue to make progress like we did at the summit. Or, they can try to ram through a partisan bill that will divide and bankrupt America,” Coburn said.

Obama, in his weekly address, said that a “spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship” is needed to pass the reform bill he wants. “But I also believe that we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge,” the president said, again signaling his intent to move forward with or without Republicans. “The tens of millions of men and women who cannot afford their health insurance cannot wait another generation for us to act.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that Obama will make an announcement this coming week, likely Wednesday, about how he plans to proceed.

Despite his call for bipartisanship, the president, in his address, went after Republicans, saying the GOP does not think health insurers “should be held accountable when they deny people care or arbitrarily raise premiums.”

Republicans said this claim by the president was factually incorrect. “This is what Democrats would call a George Bush argument: You’re either with us or you’re with the insurance companies. Nonsense. We have a different way to hold insurance companies accountable in our bill,” said Coburn spokesman John Hart.

Obama said his plan “will bring down the cost of health care and give Americans more control over their insurance.” But Coburn said the Democrats’ plan “includes a half trillion dollars in new tax increases, a half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare, job-killing penalties for employers, taxpayer funded abortion and new boards that will ration care to American citizens.”

Republicans, Coburn said, “have put forward several proposals that … are patient-centered, not government-centered.” “We believe in expanding options, not government; increasing access, not taxes; and reducing costs, not quality.”

And while Coburn said he was “proud” of work he and Obama accomplished together in the Senate, and said he shares Obama’s “desire for more civility and bipartisanship in Washington,” he fired a shot across the president’s bow. “True civility, however, is measured by actions, not words,” Coburn said.

Coburn and Obama have a friendship that is unusual, to say the least, by Washington standards and something of a historical anomaly. The two men are worlds apart ideologically and politically, but bonded during their time together as senators and remain close personally. Coburn said in an interview last fall that he writes the president personal, handwritten notes “fairly often” that are not about politics or policy. “We have a relationship that’s based on a friendship, not on our political positions,” Coburn said.

Hart, the Coburn spokesman, said the senator’s national address Saturday was nothing more than a policy disagreement. “It’s not a public break at all. He strongly disagrees with the overall bill and the process but he’ll continue to strive to find common ground,” Hart said. “There’s a proverb that says ‘wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses.’ In Washington, people who only tell you what you want to hear often are not your friend.” Hart said.


Why Obama's Great Bet Will Fail

by Kevin McCullough

This week when President Obama concluded the seven-hour, made-for-television faux summit on health reform, and more or less announced his intention to cram his signature bill through the Senate in the form of reconciliation, he sealed his choice in moving forward with a great wager. This is a bet that he is hedging to see if the electorate will be more forgiving of him once he's able to claim that he's accomplished something--anything--in his first two years in office. As I was the first person in American punditry to predict this President's success to elected office, let me again go out on the prediction limb to say on this, "he will fail."

I'm basing my gut feeling on two polls recently released by a news organization. And nope, it's not Fox News. It's CNN! The CNN/Opinion Research poll released the middle of this last week was the first shocking poll. Only 25% of Americans want the current Obamacare bills (either one of them) to be passed and turned into law.

The Republicans attempted to point this out to the President, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority leader. They attempted to point it out to the minority leader and to the remainder of the Democrats gathered who were supposedly called there to "listen" to the Republicans share their health care ideas. "Supposedly listen" because the Republicans were given less than two full hours, of the seven and a half the event took to actually speak.

Maybe it's just me, but five and a half hours for one side and one hour and fifty-four minutes for the other doesn't seem like much "listening." But I digress...

The CNN poll also showed that 48% of Americans wished the President and Congress would scrap the current bills and start the discussion and process on health care reform all over again. Something else Senators Lamar Alexander and Tom Coburn were particularly skilled at pointing out. The Democrats, however, acted as though they could not hear them.

The same CNN poll showed that another 25% of Americans wished the federal government would drop health care reform for the time being--altogether. My hunch is that these are folks who believe, like most of us, that if you fix the jobs problem, then more people will automatically get health care.

Since it is unlikely that the jobs numbers will change anytime soon, the President chose to double down and go for the jugular on health care. In a sense, he's sort of backed into a corner. He hasn't improved the economy, the unemployment situation has not stabilized--much less improved, Gitmo is still open, four terror attacks against the U.S. have happened on his watch, and people are tired of all of his speeches--while seeing no results.

He's also created another monumental issue that he will have a hard time overcoming if he does push health care forward, and even blinks in the direction of cap and trade legislation.

According to another CNN/Opinion Research poll out towards the end of this past week, a majority of Americans now feel like the government cannot be trusted. Specifically 56% of the American people believe the government is intruding upon the basic rights of its citizens. The survey shows that 4 in 10 democrats feel that way as well as 6 in 10 independents.

The entire debate around the cronyism of the stimulus bills, the takeover of private enterprise in the bailout programs, the usurpation of the free market on the health care debate, and the desire to raise the most punitive taxes against consumers ever imagined in the cap and trade legislation all contribute to this feeling.

The youth vote, the vote that gave Obama his 4% win in the electorate (beating McCain by 40% in the demographic), feel this "intrusion" effect most acutely. That's why the actor Stephen Baldwin, my media company partner, and myself founded the XPAC experience at CPAC this year. We sensed this restlessness coming on.

That's why CPAC had an 11% increase in attendance this year, nearly 61%, by people who were under 30 years of age. That's why the state Republican party in California has asked us to bring the XPAC experience to their state-wide convention in San Diego this August.

The American people are telling CNN, not Fox News, that they do not like the President's priorities, nor his policies. The young Americans that are being asked to shoulder these nightmarish realities for their future are agitated. And the voters in America are more aware of the legislative score than Obama lets on.

So, if he pushes reconciliation to pass a bill that 75% of the nation does not want just to get it through the Senate, what will his trick be when he gets it in front of the House where Nancy Pelosi is now 21 votes short of passage?

Meanwhile the 2010 election clock is ticking...


ObamaCare And The Irrational Behavior Of Incumbents

Kim posted below on Andy McCarthy's article at The Corner. I had prepared earlier a post on the same subject with a different take, so herewith on the issue of irrational behavior and political self interest.

Will moderate Democrats obey Speaker Pelosi's orders to charge into the breach while she tells them she is right behind them? Not a chance. I've made this point here before so I guess it's time to double down. At the end of the day most if not all politicians do what is in their self interest. Why? Because that is what people do in their careers and that is what they do with their own money. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous. The ObamaCare reconciliation gambit is a bet wagered by safely ensconced liberal power brokers like Speaker Pelosi, who would forget the names of moderate Democrats thrown out of office in the 2010 mid terms in a heartbeat. However, these moderates are wise to this folly and that is why reconciliation will fail.

Would a vote against ObamaCare by these moderates save their jobs? No, it will not. But this is where the interesting dynamic of self preservation and self interest goes to work. The moderate Democrats in the House and more than a few in the Senate are the political equivalent of dead men walking. Their fate was sealed in 2009 when voters understood the full measure of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid policy agenda. They are engaged now in a process of political survival which necessarily includes anticipating a run for political office after the debacle that will be the 2010 midterms. These moderate Democrats are political animals that will not abandon en masse their proclivity for power (Republicans are no different).

Prepare for six weeks of bluster and harrumphing by the power elite in Congress, then watch the little people in the Democratic Caucus vote with their own pocketbooks and try to save their careers and any future they might have in national politics. Speaker Pelosi, safe in her San Francisco district, is estranged not only from an electorate that is energized but also from moderates in her own Party. She is manifesting the same characteristics and symptoms of failed Congressional leaders past like Jim Wright, Tom Foley and Tom Daschle. The difference this time is about fifty Democratic moderates that cling to some hope of a future after the 2010 elections. They will not willingly end their own careers as Speaker Pelosi is asking them to do.


Obamacare: applying Alinsky

by Alan Caruba

After seven and a half hours of the Republicans trying to introduce some rationality into the discussion of Obamacare, the "reform" of Medicare that actually takes trillions out of the present system and adds millions of people into it, the ordinary American can be excused for being confused, frustrated, and angry.

That's exactly where President Obama, the Chicago political mafia around him, Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want people to be. At one point in the pointless all-day meeting on Thursday, she even claimed that passing Obamacare would create four million jobs overnight! Even for Speaker Pelosi, that's a new level of insane babble.

Nothing coming out of the leadership in the White House or Congress makes a grain of sense and it is calculated to making the public so hopeless that, in the end, when they manage to bribe their way to a "reconciliation" vote to pass it, the public will feel defeated by all their efforts to date and ripe for more legislative horrors such as Cap-and-Trade.

Those efforts were seen in the heated town hall meetings during the summer, a march on Washington, D.C. in September, the elections of Republican governors in Virginia and New Jersey, and a Senator from Massachusetts. In very obvious ways, the public is shouting No! No! No!

Forgotten and unreported in all this are the "Rules for Radicals" by the godfather of all radical community organizers, Saul Alinsky. The President who began his political career as a community organizer and whose entire approach to politics is based on his book, said "It was that education that was seared into my brain. It was the best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard."

Alinsky taught that Americans must be overwhelmed with a never-ending barrage of crisis, emergencies, and unworkable 'solutions' that exacerbate problems. This is why Rahm Emanuel, the President's Chief of Staff, famously said that a crisis should never be wasted.

It may even explain why the financial crisis conveniently occurred in the last weeks of the Bush term and during the campaign for the presidency.

It also explains why the so-called "stimulus" bill has done nothing to create jobs and, in fact, why some ten million Americans have lost their jobs in the past year while billions were allocated to countless political pork projects rather than taking steps to lower the taxes on corporations and small businesses in order to actually stimulate hiring and growth.

Alinsky also preached the importance of intimidation and of ridicule to achieve one's goals. Though guarded, the President used both at the meeting to discuss Obamacare. Just ask Senator John McCain or Rep. Eric Cantor.

Again, because the mainstream media, still in love with a President whose approval ratings now stand at only 44% and heading south, neither vetted him as a candidate, nor analyzed the Alinsky approach that he cites as the greatest influence in his life. The public can be forgiven for not knowing that Alinsky's book is dedicated to "the very first radical", none other than "Lucifer" a.k.a. Satan

Now perhaps you can understand why, when the 2,400 page bill was actually put on display during the meeting, President Obama dismissed it as "political theatre" and "a prop", but it was neither. How can one discuss such a massive bill without, at least, bringing it to the meeting allegedly intended for that purpose?

The bill, however, contains some of the most wrenching and damaging changes to the nation's healthcare system and the insurance programs involved with it that it cannot and must not be so casually dismissed.

If Obamacare passes, the healthcare system that Americans value will be destroyed and turned into one resembling the failed systems in neighboring Canada and in Great Britain where horror stories of delayed and denied care are routine.

Barack Obama is the apotheosis of Saul Alinsky's gameplan to destroy the republic and replace the Constitution with an all-powerful socialist central government.

First we must, by drowning Congress in calls, faxes, and emails, make it abundantly clear that we are opposed to Obamacare. We must sway as many fence-sitters as possible.

Then, in November, we must vote out of office those incumbents who have supported and voted for it.

And lastly we must return power in Congress to the Republicans who have been chastened and learned from their mistakes in the 2006 and 2008 elections. The nation's future depends on it.


Obama is trying to do too much too fast

"There have been a lot of comments from every Republican about the polls," President Obama said near the end of the mind-numbing White House summit on health care reform. "What's interesting is when you poll people about the individual elements in each of these bills, they're all for them."

What Obama was addressing was a dilemma that drives Democrats crazy. Polls show the public supports some parts of the Democratic national health care reform plan, but adamantly opposes the comprehensive bill now dying a slow death on Capitol Hill.

Just look at the latest survey from CNN and Opinion Research. When asked if they support "preventing health insurance companies from dropping coverage for people who become seriously ill," 62 percent say yes. When asked whether they support "requiring all large and midsized businesses to provide health insurance for their employees," 72 percent say yes. And when asked if they support "preventing health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions," 58 percent say yes.

On the other hand, asked what Congress should do on health care -- pass the current bill, start work on an entirely new bill, or stop working on the issue altogether -- a huge majority opposes the Democratic proposal now on the table. Just 25 percent of those surveyed want to see the bill passed. Forty-eight percent want Congress to start over, and 25 percent want lawmakers to stop working on health care altogether. Put those last two together, and an overwhelming majority of 73 percent do not want Congress to pass the current bill.

The White House is cherry-picking the news it likes; that's what Obama was doing when he said the public is "all for" elements of the bill. But bring up the polls showing people just don't want the current bill, and the administration gets a little dodgy.

"Who knows what is in those polls, how they were taken, when they were taken?" White House health care spokeswoman Linda Douglass told Fox News during a break in the summit.

But why do people support some elements of the bill while opposing the bill overall? Some Democrats blame Republican misinformation. Some believe it's because the bill isn't yet a reality, and people would love it, if it were only passed. Others say the public is just stupid.

Few Democrats can accept the possibility that voters are telling them their whole approach is wrong. Big, comprehensive legislative proposals just make people nervous. "We don't do comprehensive well," Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said at the health summit. "We've watched the comprehensive, economywide, cap and trade. We've watched the comprehensive immigration bill ... we've watched the comprehensive health care bill. And they fall of their own weight."

That's what's happening now. And it's something Democrats would know, if they had listened to one of their leading pollsters. Back during the 2004 presidential race, there was a debate going on inside the John Kerry campaign. Should the Democratic candidate push bold, far-reaching proposals, or should he balance boldness with more modest initiatives?

Pollster Stanley Greenberg did some research. He found that, when considered individually, Kerry's most sweeping plans were more popular with voters than his more modest ones. "Voters are ready to respond to new ideas, particularly bold ones," Greenberg wrote. To further test the idea, Greenberg put together a hypothetical Kerry agenda -- he called it "Bold Kerry" -- which included all of the candidate's bold ideas.

Voters balked. They were uneasy with the big agenda, even though they liked some elements of it. "While voters are clearly open to bold initiatives to major problems, they may be less attracted to the candidate who wants to act boldly in every area, without exception," Greenberg concluded. "All together, that may have suggested an expanding scope for government beyond what people felt they could trust."

And that is what is happening now with health care. Ever since Inauguration Day, the White House has acted on the assumption that, because voters elected Barack Obama, they want "Bold Obama." All the evidence suggests that is wrong.

At the end of the summit, Obama said that if he can't reach an agreement with Republicans -- and there's no chance if the existing bill stays on the table -- then "we've got to go ahead and make some decisions." That means jamming the bill through Congress against the public's wishes. And if there's still dispute, Obama said, "that's what elections are for."

He's right. This is an issue that won't be fully settled until November.


Cuba’s Free and Fabulous Healthcare

Back in August 2009 BB (Before Scott Brown) CNN was frantically producing infomercials for Obama’s healthcare plan. Lucky for them Michael Moore had a handy supply of valuable footage from his infomercials for Castro’s healthcare plan. So on the August 6 edition of CNN’s “Newsroom,” while Morgan Neil “reported” on location from a Potemkin Havana hospital, gushing about Cuban healthcare's "impressive statistics!" the broadcast included clips from Michael Moore's Sicko, adding much oomph to the propaganda montage. CNN's "Cuba's infant mortality rates," reported Neil, "are the lowest in the hemisphere, in line with those of Canada!"

"Amazing!" probably gasped the type of person who watches CNN nowadays "No wonder Colin Powell said "Castro had done some good things for his people!" No wonder Barbara Walters hailed Castro for “bringing great healthcare to his people!” No wonder Michael Moore catches so much grief from those insufferable Miami Cubans! Before Castro only they could afford doctors, as Cuba's huddled masses languished in sickness and poverty!" And indeed, according to UN figures, Cuba's current infant mortality rate places her 44th from the top in worldwide ranking, right next to Canada (the lower the rate the higher the ranking).

What CNN left out is that according to those same UN figures, in 1958 (the year prior to the glorious revolution), Cuba ranked 13th from the top, worldwide. This meant that robustly capitalist Cuba had the 13th lowest infant-mortality rate in the world. This put her not only at the top in Latin America but atop most of Western Europe, ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Today all of these countries leave Communist Cuba in the dust, with much lower infant mortality rates.

And even plummeting from 13th (Capitalist) to 44th (Communist), Cuba's "impressive" infant mortality rate is kept artificially low by Communist chicanery with statistics and by a truly appalling abortion rate of 0.71 abortions per live birth. This is the hemisphere's highest, by far. Any Cuban pregnancy that even hints at trouble gets "terminated."

In April 2001, Dr. Juan Felipe García, MD, of Jacksonville, Fla., interviewed several recent doctor defectors from Cuba. Based on what he heard, he reported the following: "The official Cuban infant-mortality figure is a farce. Cuban pediatricians constantly falsify figures for the regime. If an infant dies during its first year, the doctors often report he was older. Otherwise, such lapses could cost him severe penalties and his job."

This might lead a few people to question Cuba's official infant-mortality figures. But such people would not get a Havana bureau for their news agency, much less a visa to film a documentary.

According to a report by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, more than 75% of “doctors” with Cuban “medical degrees” flunk the exam given by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates for licensing in the U.S. Most Cuba-certified doctors even flunk the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates’ exam for certification as “physician assistants,” making them unfit even as nurses. None of this is meant to disparage these hapless men and women who were simply cursed by fate to be born under a Stalinist tyranny.

Ninety-nine percent of Cubans have no more experience with hospitals like the one Michael Moore featured in Sicko and CNN's Morgan Neill visited, than Moore has with a Soloflex. Most Cubans view these hospitals the way teenage boys used to view Playboy magazine and husbands view a Victoria's Secret catalog: "Wow! If only. . ."

The Castroite propaganda in Sicko so outraged people cursed by fate to live in Castro's fiefdom that they risked their lives by using hidden cameras to film conditions in genuine Cuban hospitals, hoping they could alert the world to Moore's swinishness as a propaganda operative for a Stalinist regime.

At enormous risk, two hours of shocking, often revolting, footage was obtained with tiny hidden cameras and smuggled out of Cuba to Cuban-exile George Utset, who runs the superb and revelatory website The Real Cuba. The man who assumed most of the risk during the filming and smuggling was Cuban dissident -- a medical doctor himself – Dr. Darsi Ferrer, who was also willing to talk on camera, narrating much of the video's revelations. Dr Ferrer worked in these genuinely Cuban hospitals daily, witnessing the truth. More importantly, he wasn't cowed from revealing this truth to America and the world. (A recent samizdat reports that the black Dr. Ferrer is currently languishing in a Cuban prison cell --not far from Gitmo, by the way-- undergoing frequent beatings.

Originally, ABC's John Stossel planned to show the shocking smuggled videos in their entirety, during a 20/20 show. Alas, on Sept. 12th 2007, the 20/20 show ran only a tiny segment on Cuba's "real" healthcare, barely 5 minutes long and with almost none of the smuggled video footage. What happened? Well, the Castro regime got wind of these videos and called in ABC's Havana bureau for a little talking-to, stressing that ABC's "bureau permit" might face "closer scrutiny" if they showed the blockbuster videos. ABC wimped out.

Enter Fox News, and Sean Hannity in particular. Your humble servant here contacted Hannity's producers regarding the smuggled videos and they immediately requested a look. Within hours they jumped on them and produced a blockbuster of a show. Seen here. And here. Fox viewers saw naked patients covered with flies while lying on "hospital beds" consisting of a bare mattress. They saw a building that would be condemned by the health board of any U.S. municipality serving as "hospitals." They saw and heard Dr. Darsi Ferrer along with other Cubans who described their inability to obtain something so basic as aspirin.

In case some have forgotten, Cuba is a totalitarian state almost perfectly patterned on the Stalinist model. I say "almost" because in the early stage Castro and Che deviated somewhat by actually jailing more political prisoners per-capita than Stalin. As such, material rewards are granted exclusively by the regime and relentless police-state control is the regime priority.

"Health care" is important only so far as a function to bamboozle foreign press agencies, academics and filmmakers (which has proven a laughable cakewalk). So the rewards issued by Castro's Stalinist regime to Cuba's doctors (a monthly salary of $22) are dwarfed by those awarded to the dedicated and intrepid staff of Cuba's Ministry of the Interior. (spies/secret police.) These latter perform the vital functions in maintaining the viability of Castro’s fiefdom.


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