Happy New Year!!!
So how did the "policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur" move us beyond the "politics of fear?" I just returned to South Carolina through the Detroit airport that was the scene of the near disaster from the underwear bomber. Fear is not far from the mind of any rational passenger.
SPIEGEL: Madame Secretary, in your first testimony to the US Congress as Homeland Security Secretary you never mentioned the word "terrorism." Does Islamist terrorism suddenly no longer pose a threat to your country?
Napolitano: Of course it does. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word "terrorism," I referred to "man-caused" disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.SPIEGEL: This sounds quite different from what we heard from the Bush administration. How will the new anti-terror policy differ from the previous one?
Napolitano: Our policies will be guided by authoritative information. We also have assets at our disposal now that we did not have prior to 9/11. For example, we are much better able to keep track of travellers coming into the US than we were before. The third thing is to work with our international partners and allies to make sure that we are getting information and sharing information in an appropriate and real-time fashion.
Until Monday, the president had not been heard from publicly since the Christmas Day scare. He was ordering stepped-up security measures and after-action reviews behind the scenes, but also enjoying his Hawaiian vacation with games of golf, basketball and tennis and trips to the beach.If Obama is so concerned that terrorists should have any "undue attention" which might encourage other attacks then why is he is bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to trial in New York where the world media will put him on a stage bigger than any Broadway hit?
He drew questions about his level of involvement by not getting his first briefing on the incident until two hours after it was all over - and then only for 15 minutes, when he departed for the gym.
Aides defended the low-key approach as purposeful, designed to not glorify the attempted attack with undue presidential attention and perhaps encourage other terrorists.
HONOLULU — There is a sense of déjà vu in the Obama administration’s response to the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. A by-now familiar pattern has been established for dealing with unexpected problems.And of course the Obama team always, ALWAYS finds a way to blame Bush for the problem:
First, White House aides downplay the notion that something may have gone wrong on their part. While staying out of the spotlight, the president conveys his efforts to address the situation and his feelings about it through administration officials. After a few days, the White House concedes on the issue, and perhaps Barack Obama even steps out to address it.
That same scenario unfolded over the summer, when Obama said Sgt. James Crowley, a white Cambridge, Mass., police officer, “acted stupidly” when he arrested Henry Louis Gates Jr., a black Harvard professor, in his own home. It happened in March when the public was outraged over AIG dishing out hefty bonuses. More recently the public witnessed the dynamic after a security breach at President Barack Obama’s first state dinner.
But the fact that the issue now is a terrorist incident — albeit an unsuccessful one — makes the stakes much higher, and the White House’s usual approach more questionable. That this test of his leadership comes while he’s on vacation in tropical Hawaii further complicates things.
After delivering his first public remarks Monday about a Nigerian man’s attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines jetliner over Detroit, the president motorcaded to the golf course at a nearby country club.
But contrast that C.Y.A. with the statement above by Janet Incompetano: "we are much better able to keep track of travellers coming into the US than we were before. "
“Obviously the procedures and the protocols employed in this instance are ones that we’ve inherited that had been built over the course of several years since 2003,” [National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough ]McDonough said. His comments echoed Obama, who pointed out that the review he ordered of the government’s terrorist watch-list procedures is of a system that “our government has had in place for many years.”
"Soft talk about engagement, closing Gitmo, these things are not going to appease the terrorists,” said Jim DeMint, a Republican senator from South Carolina.“They’re going to keep coming after us, and we can’t have politics as usual in Washington, and I’m afraid that’s what we’ve got right now with airport security,”So naturally, Sen. DeMint becomes a target of the Chicago attack machine which will spend more time trying to destroy DeMint, who is up for re-election in 2010 (campaign web site), than they will trying to protect Americans. Writing in the Washington Examiner, Mark Hemingway describes how "news" media allies of Obama are only too willing to cooperate:
DeMint's concern with Souther is his reluctance to state whether he would permit the workers in the Transportation Security Administration to become unionized. It's a national security issue as it relates directly to TSA's ability to restructure it's workforce and procedures in response to an immediate threat; something that would be impossible with union work rules. Think of it this way: why do you suppose we don't have unions in the military?
Democrats are trying to blame the Transportation Safety Administration's total failure on Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. News items are starting to appear along these
lines -- see this McClatchy story "Who's running the TSA? No one, thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint"; "Republican senator DeMint holds up nomination for TSA chief" at the Washington Post; and "GOP blame at TSA?" over at Politico. Our national security
apparatus may be in disarray, but thank goodness the Democratic spin machine is
in tip-top shape.
Democrats are trying to pin blame for the TSA breakdown on Sen. DeMint, R-S.C., who has placed a hold Erroll Southers, the Obama administration's nominee to head up the TSA. However, the Obama administration didn't even nominate Southers until September. It's pretty hard get indignant over DeMint for holding up Southers' nomination for three months -- if the post is so crucial, why did the Obama administration wait nine months to fill it? There are scores of other key administration positions that remain unfilled solely due to the Senate's obsessive health care focus, including a number of key Homeland Security and law enforcement positions.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was fairly blunt about the risks of unionizing TSA employees: "I'm not going to negotiate our national security or subject our national security to arbitration. Marines don't collectively bargain over whether they're, you know, going to end up being deployed in Anbar province or Baghdad."Of course we all know how dependent Obama and the Democrats are on the contributions from labor unions. But would they really put their own political interests ahead of national security?
And as I noted yesterday, DeMint questioned Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano earlier this month about her support for unionizing TSA employees. He asked her specifically how unionizing employees was consistent with safety, when "every previous administrator at TSA has said that collective bargaining is not consistent with the flexibility and the need to change." Napolitano did not answer the question.
Now that our attention is focused on airline security measures thanks to the failed airline attack on Christmas Day, it's worth mentioning that one senator took money away from aviation security to line the pockets of a constituency that supported his presidential campaign in a big way.Conservative Action Alert: Help Jim DeMint in 2010
Back in July, Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn., proposed an amendment reducing aviation security appropriations by $4.5 million in favor of firefighter grants -- a notoriously inneffective program. In fact, the money was specifically "for screening operations and the amount for explosives detection systems." The amendment was also sponsored by Sen. Lieberman, D-Conn., and Sen. Carper, D-Del., but Dodd deserves to be singled out here because the firefighters union is a pet constituency of his. In 2007 he campaigned all through Iowa with the firefighters union. It was one of the few distinguishable features of Dodd's ill-fated presidential
It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.Yeah. How'd that work out!
Sarkozy cool on relationship with ObamaWho would have thought we would live in an era when even the French think the U.S. President is weak and ineffective? What this article underscores is that our friends around the world depend on strong U.S. leadership and Obama isn't providing it. They might complain about U.S. actions when a strong president sits in the White House, but they miss it when it is gone.
By Ben Hall in Paris
December 27 2009
Nicolas Sarkozy, the most pro-American president of France for half a century, has gone cold on Barack Obama, the most popular American leader in France in generations.
A year ago Mr Sarkozy was engaged in a tussle among European leaders anxious to be the first to secure a meeting with the freshly elected Mr Obama. Mr Sarkozy described Mr Obama as “my friend” after meeting him just once as a senator.
“He has now shifted from a pro-Bush position to an anti-Obama position,” said Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, international affairs spokesman for the opposition Socialists.
The main acts of France’s rapprochement with Washington – a tougher line on Iran and a promise to rejoin Nato’s military command structure – came before Mr Obama.
Like his predecessor, Mr Sarkozy plays up differences with the US for domestic purposes. But there is a crucial difference. Whereas Mr Chirac’s stance towards the US was determined by suspicion of US power, current French frustration is aimed at Washington’s hesitancy or even weakness.
Death Toll Rises to 10 as Clashes in Iran Intensify
By ROBERT F. WORTH and NAZILA FATHI
New York Times
December 27, 2009
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Iranian police opened fire into crowds of protesters in Tehran on Sunday, killing at least 10 people and setting off a day of chaotic street battles that seemed poised to deepen the country’s civil unrest, as demonstrators in cities across Iran flooded the streets and fiercely fought back against security forces, witnesses and opposition Web sites said.
The protests, on the holiday commemorating the death of Hussein, Shiite Islam’s holiest martyr, were the bloodiest and among the largest since the uprisings that followed Iran’s disputed presidential election last June, witnesses said. Hundreds of wounded people were reported wounded, and the Tehran police said they had made 300 arrests.
The Iranian authorities’ decision to fire into crowds on the sacred Ashura holiday stunned many Iranians, and some said the violence appeared to be galvanizing more traditional religious people who have not been part of the protests so far. The Shah’s forces never fired on protesters during Ashura, wary of violating the day’s sanctity.
Reports: NWA passenger was trying to blow up flight into Detroit
By ZLATI MEYER AND NAOMI R. PATTON
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
A Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria, who said he was acting on al-Qaida’s instructions, tried to blow up the plane today as it was landing in Detroit, law enforcement and national security officials said.
A senior U.S. counterterror official says a passenger aboard a Delta Air Lines flight in Detroit was planning to blow up the plane but the explosive device failed, the Associated Press reported today.
Passengers subdued the man and may have prevented him from detonating the explosives, the officials said.
A White House official said the incident was an attempted act of terrorism.
Federal officials imposed stricter screening measures after the incident.
One of the U.S. intelligence officials said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.
For Their Next Trick . . .Is this the new kind of politics Obama said he would bring to DC?
The latest example of violating principles of transparency and accountability in the single-minded pursuit of legislative victory
By John Fund
Wall Street Journal
DECEMBER 23, 2009
Look for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to try to circumvent the traditional conference committee process by which the different versions of health care reform passed by each house will be reconciled. If so, it will be the latest example of violating principles of transparency and accountability in the single-minded pursuit of legislative victory.
Conferences involving members from both houses are messy things. They are usually conducted in public and often televised, and can produce a compromise version of the bill that leaves rank-and-file members tempted to vote against the final version. That could be perilous in the case of health care since it's likely to pass without a vote to spare in the Senate and the House's version passed by only five votes.
Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi would love to come up with a way to bash heads in private and skip any public discussion that further reveals just how incoherent and unworkable both the bills are. Luckily, there is a subterfuge readily available that wouldn't require the House to swallow the Senate's bill unchanged but also ducks the traditional give-and-take of the conference committee.
When Democrats took over Congress in 2007, they increasingly did not send bills through the regular conference process.
[S]erious dialogue isn't what Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are interested in right now. Look for the traditional conference committee to be replaced by a "ping-pong" game in which health care is finalized behind closed doors with little public scrutiny before the bill is rushed to the floor of each chamber for a final vote.
Running on (Almost) Empty
A Minnesota truck driver is miffed at the Post Office for sending him 300 miles with nothing in his trailer but a post card.
Roy Combs says he arrived in Louisville expecting to haul mail back to Chicago but was told another truck had picked up his load. So he was instead given a work order card and told to deliver that to the Windy City.
Because Combs' trucking company signed a contract with the Postal Service, he couldn't pick up another load despite the empty space. Combs says: "It's just a waste of time, a waste of money, a waste of fuel."
The Louisville Post Office branch says the mistake was an isolated incident and has nothing to do with the cuts in hours or cost-saving measures the Postal Service has been forced to make.
Rep. Stupak: White House Pressuring Me to Keep Quiet on Abortion Language in Senate Health Bill
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said the White House and the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives have been pressuring him not to speak out on the "compromise" abortion language in the Senate version of the health care bill.
“They think I shouldn’t be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language,” Stupak told CNSNews.com in an interview on Tuesday. “Well, I don’t need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with it. I know what it says. I don’t need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me here.”
The Michigan Democrat succeeded last month in getting 64 House Democrats to join him in attaching his pro-life amendment to the House version of the health-care bill. The “Stupak amendment,” as the provision is known, would prohibit the federal government from allocating taxpayer money to pay for any part of any health insurance plan that covers abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.
The current version of the Senate bill contains so-called “compromise” language crafted by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). This language does not bar taxpayer funding of health plans that cover abortion, but does create a firewall to supposedly keep federal money from being used to pay for abortions. Over the weekend, Stupak issued a statement calling the proposed Senate language "unacceptable."
"A review of the Senate language indicates a dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage," said the statement.
“We’re getting a lot of pressure not to say anything, to try to compromise this principle or belief,” Stupak said. “[T]hat’s just not us. We’re not going to do that. Members who voted for the Stupak language in the House – especially the Democrats, 64 Democrats that voted for it – feel very strongly about it. It’s been part of who we are, part of our make up. It’s the principle belief that we have. We are not just going to abandon it in the name of health care."
When asked if he has the votes he needs to stop the bill if, in its final version, it does not include the language of his amendment or nearly identical language, Stupak did not answer directly.
“Well, if all the issues are resolved and we’re down to the pro-life view or, I should say, no public funding for abortion, there’s at least 10 to 12 members who have said, repeatedly, unless this language is fixed and current law is maintained, and no public funding for abortion," said Stupak. "There’s 10 or 12 of us, and they only passed the bill by 3 votes, so they’re going to be short 8 to 9, maybe 6 to 8 votes. So they [Democrats] do not have the votes to pass it in the House.”
Griffith: "I was not sent to congress to represent a party. I was sent to congress to represent the people....Joining the Republican party is what is best for our country, best for Alabama, best for our children's future...After watching this agenda firsthand I now believe that the differences in the two parties could not be more clear and that for me to be true to my core beliefs and values I must align myself with the Republican party and speak out clearly on these issues."Our job of tossing Nancy Pelosi out of the Speaker's Chair just got that much easier!
Ensign, DeMint to Force Vote on Health Care Bill UnconstitutionalityI'm so happy to have voted for Senator DeMint and have him represent me in the U.S. Senate. I'm looking forward to the day when he has a major role in the Senate leadership!
December 22, 2009 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and John Ensign (R-Nevada), raised a Constitutional Point of Order on the Senate floor against the Democrat health care takeover bill on behalf of the Steering Committee, a caucus of conservative senators. The Senate will vote tomorrow on the bill’s constitutionality.
“I am incredibly concerned that the Democrats’ proposed individual mandate provision takes away too much freedom and choice from Americans across the country,” said Senator Ensign. “As an American, I felt the obligation to stand up for the individual freedom of every citizen to make their own decision on this issue. I don’t believe Congress has the legal authority to force this mandate on its citizens.”
“Forcing every American to purchase a product is absolutely inconsistent with our Constitution and the freedoms our Founding Fathers hoped to protect,” said Senator DeMint. “This is not at all like car insurance, you can choose not to drive but Americans will have no choice whether to buy government-approved insurance. This is nothing more than a bailout and takeover of insurance companies. We’re forcing Americans to buy insurance under penalty of law and then Washington bureaucrats will then dictate what these companies can sell to Americans. This is not liberty, it is tyranny of good intentions by elites in Washington who think they can plan our lives better than we can.”
Americans who fail to buy health insurance, according to the Democrats’ bill, would be subject to financial penalties. The senators believe the bill is unconstitutional because the insurance mandate is not authorized by any of the limited enumerated powers granted to the federal government. The individual mandate also likely violates the “takings” clause of the 5th Amendment.
The Democrats’ healthcare reform bill requires Americans to buy health insurance “whether or not they ever visit a doctor, get a prescription or have an operation.” If an American chooses not to buy health insurance coverage, they will face rapidly increasing taxes that will rise to $750 or 2% of their taxable income, whichever is greater.
The Congressional Budget Office once stated “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”
A legal study by scholars at the nonpartisan Heritage Foundation concluded: “An individual mandate to enter into a contract with or buy a particular product from a private party, with tax penalties to enforce it, is unprecedented-- not just in scope but in kind--and unconstitutional as a matter of first principles and under any reasonable reading of judicial precedents.”
A Parody of LeadershipObama is the only president in my lifetime to make Jimmy Carter look good by comparison!
By Robert Samuelson
Real Clear Politics
December 21, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama's quest for historic health care legislation has turned into a parody of leadership. We usually associate presidential leadership with the pursuit of goals that, though initially unpopular, serve America's long-term interests. Obama has reversed this. He's championing increasingly unpopular legislation that threatens the country's long-term interests. "This isn't about me," he likes to say, "I have great health insurance." But of course, it is about him: about the legacy he covets as the president who achieved "universal" health insurance. He'll be disappointed.
Even if Congress passes legislation -- a good bet -- the finished product will fall far short of Obama's extravagant promises. It will not cover everyone. It will not control costs. It will worsen the budget outlook. It will lead to higher taxes. It will disrupt how, or whether, companies provide insurance for their workers. As the real-life (as opposed to rhetorical) consequences unfold, they will rebut Obama's claim that he has "solved" the health care problem. His reputation will suffer.
It already has. Despite Obama's eloquence and command of the airwaves, public suspicions are rising. In April, 57 percent of Americans approved of his "handling of health care" and 29 percent disapproved, reports The Washington Post-ABC News poll; in the latest survey, 44 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved. About half worried that their care would deteriorate and that health costs would rise.
Obama's plan amounts to this: partial coverage of the uninsured; modest improvements (possibly) in their health; sizable budgetary costs worsening a bleak outlook; significant, unpredictable changes in insurance markets; weak spending control. This is a bad bargain. Benefits are overstated, costs understated. This legislation is a monstrosity; the country would be worse for its passage. What it's become is an exercise in political symbolism: Obama's self-indulgent crusade to seize the liberal holy grail of "universal coverage." What it's not is leadership.
Read it all here.
Sunday Take: For Democrats, health-care debate exposes deep woundsRepublicans may not win the battle in the Senate to derail health care. But they have won the fight for public opinion. If this keeps up, Democrats may have won the battle, but Republicans will win the war!
By Dan Balz
Sunday, December 20, 2009
... The health-care debate has split the Democratic coalition. Unity has given way to bitter infighting. This has been a moment for individuals to make war on one another.
Whatever goodwill existed among Democrats at the start of Obama's presidency has been fractured and will be difficult to put together again. The events of the past week underline that reality.
Joe Lieberman, who bolted the party in 2006 to salvage his Senate seat and then accepted the Democrats' generosity to maintain his committee chairmanship despite having backed Republican John McCain in last year's presidential race, held the party hostage in negotiations, infuriating many liberals.
Howard Dean, who has grievances about the way he was discarded by the Obama team after running the Democratic National Committee for four years, has led a vocal guerrilla war against the bill from outside the Congress, enraging the party leadership.
Democratic centrists have extracted costly promises to stay onboard, but still fear for their political future. Bloggers and progressive activists have counterattacked against them, vowing retribution. Labor is unenthusiastic to hostile.
Leading Democrats also think that, in the end, voters care less about the process than about the outcome. If, in the face of united Republican opposition, the Democrats produce historic changes in the availability of health care to millions more citizens and protect against some of the arbitrary practices of the insurance industry, that will override the messy path to success.
But there is something broader for Democrats to worry about as they try to finish their work this year and prepare for 2010 and the midterm elections. What began as an undercurrent of dissatisfaction has grown throughout the year. Disappointment with the president is dwarfed by discontent with Congress.
No Congress is ever loved, but the assessments of this Congress are striking in their negativity. In the most recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, only 7 percent rated the performance of Congress above average, and 34 percent called it one of the worst.
Two benchmarks put that number into perspective. In October 1994, shortly before Republicans ousted Democrats from power in the House and Senate, 16 percent called that Congress one of the worst. In October 2006, just before Democrats recaptured control, 25 percent called that Congress one of the worst. In the past five months, the percentage rating this Congress that low has jumped 11 percentage points.
A third finding underscores the problem for Democrats: Thirty-eight percent said their member of Congress deserves to be reelected, and 49 percent said it is time to give a new person a chance. That is identical to the percentage who said to give a new person a chance a month before the 1994 GOP landslide and slightly above the number a month before the 2006 Democratic takeover.
Why won't that anti-Washington sentiment fall equally on Republicans and Democrats? Because it rarely does. Republicans are hardly secure or popular, but Democrats are in control. If the public is ready for change again in November, Democrats will feel the brunt of that anger.
Sen. Ben Nelson announces support for health-care bill
By Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery
Saturday, December 19, 2009; 10:55 AM
Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, announced to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.
Democratic leaders spent days trying to hammer out a deal with Nelson, and worked late Friday night with him on abortion coverage language that had proved the major stumbling block. Nelson also secured other favors for his home state.
Under the new abortion provisions, states can opt out of allowing plans to cover abortion in insurance exchanges the bill would set up to serve individuals who don't have employer coverage. Plus, enrollees in plans that do cover abortion procedures would pay for the coverage with separate checks - one for abortion, one for rest of health-care services.
Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.
Full size version here.
OBAMA: You would not be here unless you – like me – were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. That much we know.Oh the sky is falling! Run for your lives! Aren't people getting a bit tired of Obama's habit of crying "WOLF?" Yes they are.
All the president's mendacityMeanwhile, Obama has had about as much luck in Copenhagen convincing China and India to curb their carbon emissions as he did with winning the Olympics for Chicago!
By David Harsanyi
December 18, 2009
President Barack Obama grimly warned America this week that if his health care plans fail, the nation will go "bankrupt."
Sure, adding another trillion-dollar entitlement program to our $12 trillion of debt may seem like a counterintuitive way to stave off economic ruin, but who are we to argue? The president's got smarts.
And as is the case with so many issues, Obama adorned his rhetoric with sharp warnings of calamity should he fail, fabricated consensus to buttress his case and a promise of rapture should he succeed.
You'll remember it was Obama who cautioned that failure to pass the stimulus boondoggle would "turn a crisis into a catastrophe." He claimed that a failure to act on cap and trade will lead us to "irreversible catastrophe" and that a failure to pass a government-run health care system will mean "more Americans dying every day."
It's like living the Old Testament. Scary.
Holy burning bushes! Did you know that everyone -- and I mean everyone -- agrees with the president? Obama stressed this week that you can "talk to every health care economist out there and they will tell you that ... whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce costs for families, businesses and government, those elements are in this bill."
Not "some" or "most" or "Peter Orszag on a two-day bender" but "every" health care economist in the entire world would tell you as much.
This sort of exaggeration reminds us of another whopper the president unloaded. While promoting the stimulus plan in January, he claimed that "there is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jump-start the economy."
No disagreement whatsoever ... until the Cato Institute found 200 economists from major universities across the country who did have a disagreement -- and judging from the stimulus plan's impressive impotence, perhaps Obama should have lent them an ear.
So when Obama says that "whatever ideas exist" to help with cost are featured in the health care bills, let's chalk it up to his propensity to exaggerate, embellish or worse.
Of course, ignoring the substantive ideas of the ideological opposition is not, in and of itself, new for presidents or politicians. But Obama's fondness for creating imaginary consensus and offering false choices to the American people has been something to behold.
Marco Rubio, 38, former Speaker of the Florida House, is also running for the GOP nomination for the 2010 Senate seat (campaign web site). In the latest polls he has pulled even among likely Florida GOP voters with statewide powerhouse Crist. Born to parents who immigrated from Cuba, Rubio speaks fluent Spanish and would be a valuable GOP asset in attracting more Hispanic votes. It's also a nice change to have someone who is not a gray haired old man representing the face of the future of the GOP.
Health deadline obstacles pile upOne cautionary note on the mutiny and objections from wavering Democrat senators: GOP Pollster Whit Ayres correctly describes much of this as "more bark than bite at this point." The fear is that some Dems may vote to end the filibuster and let the bill go to a final vote where only a simple majority is required for passage. They might then vote "NO" on the final bill which would still have the votes needed to pass. This would be similar to John Kerry's famous "I voted for the bill before I voted against it."
By: Carrie Budoff Brown and Meredith Shiner
December 17, 2009
...The net effect was the loss of any sense of inevitability surrounding the passage of health care legislation by the end of the year as Reid struggled to keep it on track.
"If we are going to get a bill out of the Senate, which will be very close to getting a bill enacted, we have to do it in 2009," said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who is working on the abortion compromise with Nelson. "Some might not think so, but what I would worry about is losing momentum."
"We're down to 48 to 72 hours," he said at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Reid needs a commitment - privately or publicly - from Nelson and other undecided senators by Saturday night, which is the drop-dead time at which the majority leader must begin the procedural steps necessary to finish the bill by Christmas Eve. The current timeline would have the Senate taking a series of votes: at 1 a.m. Monday, 7 a.m. Tuesday, 1 p.m. Wednesday and 7 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Sen. McConnell was equally outraged by the Dem's blatant rewrite of Senate rules which occurred on Wednesday preventing the full reading of the Amendment by Sen. Sanders (Socialist-VT). His speech on the Senate floor decrying that shocking episode is here.
Completely Reckless, Completely Irresponsible
from the Office of Senator Mitch McConnell
Thursday, December 17, 2009
‘And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen. That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private’
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Thursday regarding the importance of getting it right on health care reform:
“Senators on both sides acknowledge that the health care bill we’re considering is among the most significant pieces of legislation any of us will ever consider.
“So it stands to reason that we’d devote significant time and attention to it.
“Indeed, some would argue that we should spend more time and attention on this bill than most — if not every — previous bill we’ve considered.
“The Majority disagrees.
“Why? Because this bill has become a political nightmare for them.
“They know Americans overwhelmingly oppose it, so they want to get it over with.
Read Sen. McConnell's entire statement here.
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), South Carolina's always reliable conservative voice in the Senate, today joined with Coburn in the request to read the amendment. DeMint hints that he may demand the entire bill, which is currently being re-written AGAIN in secret, be read before voting on it:
Senate GOP slowing health debate; forces reading of 767-page healthcare amendment
By Alexander Bolton and Tony Romm
12/16/09 12:42 PM ET
Republicans have forced the Senate clerk to read aloud a 767-page amendment to healthcare reform legislation, paralyzing action on the chamber floor as Democrats approach a Christmas deadline.
Senate aides estimated that it could take 8 to 10 hours to read the massive amendment offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected to a request to dispense with the reading of the amendment, a courtesy that is almost always granted to fellow senators.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came under strong pressure from conservatives last week to do more to delay progress of the Democratic health bill.
Senators had been expected to vote on Wednesday but now the schedule is uncertain.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had hoped to file a motion to cut off debate on the healthcare bill by Friday so that the chamber could pass the measure by Christmas. But the new GOP procedural offensive raises serious questions over whether that timeline can be met.
Republicans have long threatened to use parliamentary procedure to slow down this year's healthcare debate. A memo authored by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) that surfaced last month reminded Republicans they could use such tactics as requesting an amendment's full reading to keep Democrats from offering new amendments, voting on proposals that have already been offered or proceeding to a final vote on the healthcare bill.
"We, the minority party, must use the tools we have under Senate rules to insist on a full, complete and fully informed debate on the health care legislation – as well as all legislation – coming before the Senate," Gregg wrote in that memo.
Ultimately, if Republicans continue invoking regular order and requesting the full reading of all amendments, Democrats could find themselves still locked in debate by Dec. 23.
DeMint Joins Effort to Make Senators Read the BillThe move comes in concert with a radio ad Michael Steele has released which is now playing in stations within my listening area:
Office of Senator Jim DeMint
December 16, 2009 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced his support for the procedural effort initiated by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) to require senators to read the health care bill.
"Democrats are playing a bait and switch trick -- wasting our time debating a bill they've rejected while writing a new one in secret. Right now, behind closed doors, Democrats are writing a brand new bill, thousands of pages long, and want to rush it through before Christmas.”
“Americans are tired of watching their leaders in Washington pass bills they haven’t even bothered to read,” said Senator DeMint. “If Senator Reid won’t slow down this debate, we will do it for him. This bill allows the federal government to take over our health care system, and it must be stopped. We will use whatever procedural tools are necessary to defeat this bill.”
Earlier today, U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) admitted that senators will not have time to fully read and understand the Democrat health care takeover bill. VIDEO HERE
Under Senate rules, the clerk is required to read aloud all bills and amendments offered on the Senate floor. Senators routinely waive this requirement by unanimous consent. Objecting to such requests forces the clerk to read them aloud.
With polls showing support for ObamaCare at the lowest level ever, the move by the GOP is smart politics:
Michael Steele: "The Democrats are accusing us Republicans of trying to delay and stonewall their government takeover of health care. You know what? They're finally right."
Senate Health Care Bill a "Jobs Killer."
On the same day that President Obama gathered a handful of business leaders at the White House for a phony "jobs summit" (how many jobs were created? ZERO!) Senate GOP leaders held their own jobs meeting to highlight the negative employment aspects of Obamacare. In contrast to Obama's photo op you probably didn't hear much about their efforts, so here's a 1:34 sample:
Big News: Top Medicare Official Declares Dem Plan Will RAISE Costs!
Obama and the Democrats have long insisted that their plan would lower the "cost curve" for health costs and insurance. In November the Congressional Budget Office said that individual insurance premiums will rise an additional 10% under the Democrat plan . Last week, the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the Health and Human Services Dept., declared that under the Dem plan health care costs would increase by $234 billion more than if no plan were enacted. Plus, many hospitals which are already on a financial knife's edge would be pushed firmly into the red.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said the report "confirms what we've known all along," arguing that the bill would "increase costs, raise premiums and slash Medicare." (1)
It's going to be a big week in the Senate. We'll see if the Congressional Budget Office returns a favorable report on the latest Dem plan to push millions more into an already financially troubled Medicare system. Even the New York Times admits Democrats have "hit a rough patch" over the past week with new "roadblocks." Those roadblocks didn't get there by accident.
UPDATE: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to vote NO on current bill! The job for Harry Reid just got harder!
Have Your Say: Satisfied with Senate GOP?
The question is: HOW LOW CAN HE GO?
Sunday, December 13, 2009
...Today is the second straight day that Obama’s Approval Index rating has fallen to a new low. Prior to the past two days, the Approval Index had never fallen below -15 during Obama’s time in office (see trends).
The 23% who Strongly Approve matches the lowest level of enthusiasm yet recorded. Just 41% of Democrats Strongly Approve while 69% of Republicans Strongly Disapprove. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 21% Strongly Approve and 49% Strongly Disapprove.
Among those who consider the economy to be the most important issue, just 26% Strongly Approve of the President’s performance while 39% Strongly Disapprove.
Among those who consider fiscal policy issues the most important, just 1% Strongly Approve and 81% Strongly Disapprove. [Mike's Note: Maybe they are worried about this?]
The President’s Approval Index rating is -2 among voters under 30 and -29 among senior citizens. From an income perspective, the President’s ratings are weakest among those who earn $40,000 to $100,000 annually.
Where is their stimulus? Where is their hope and change?
KRDO:COLORADO SPRINGS - Someone has put a lot of thought into a welcome sign that may surprise you, it's in front of a homeless camp and if you drive up the Cimarron Street on ramp to I-25 - you won't miss it.
Its message, "Welcome to Obamaville, Colorado's fastest growing community."
|The Gross National Debt:||
Obama campaigned on a promise of fiscal responsibility. He had the audacity to hold one of his White House "Summits" on fiscal responsibility in February where he once again promised: "We need to send a signal that we are serious" about solving these fiscal problems.
All this time the red ink flows like a Tsunami of proportions that have never been seen before.
Republicans Stand United and Firm in Opposition to Fiscal Irresponsiblity
Before Democrats can pass the 2,500 page omnibus spending bill to fully fund government operations for the remainder of this fiscal year they must pass the increase in the debt ceiling. Action starts in the House of Representatives where Republicans are standing firm:
I think it’s very credible to oppose increase in the debt ceiling, and you’ll see Republicans vote against it. And we’ll vote against it because of their trillion-dollar stimulus plan that hasn’t worked. We’ll vote against it because of all of this excessive spending that’s in this bill right here, a 12 percent increase with 5,000 earmarks -- all of it pushing the debt to record heights. And while I understand the political games that get played around here, it will be an opportunity for us to point out the excessive spending that’s going on in this Congress. (1)Since I know the "news" media is more interested in Tiger Woods than fiscal issues, I'll offer readers Boehner's three minute speech on the House floor here.
Before taking office, the President said he would go through the budget and these bills ‘line-by-line, page-by-page.’ After Congress passed the $410 billion omnibus spending bill with more than 9,000 earmarks, the President signed it, and said, ‘well that was last year’s business.’ Now the President says reducing the deficit is next year’s business – that we need to ‘spend our way’ out of this economic recession we’re in.
Well I think the President ought to go through this bill line-by-line and page-by-page, all 2,500 pages of it. And then maybe he’ll figure out, we don’t need to be spending this money that we don’t have and piling more and more debt on the backs of our kids and grandkids. Instead, our bond rating, our AAA bond rating is in jeopardy and our Democrat friends want to raise the debt limit next week by $1.8 trillion. Instead, let’s stop the madness and vote ‘no.’ (2)
--House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH)
Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) today introduced H.R. 4262, the Control America’s Purse-strings to Deliver a Better Tomorrow (CAP the DEBT) Act. Scalise’s bill would require a two-thirds majority in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in order to increase the national debt ceiling. His bill also repeals the Gephardt rule which currently allows lawmakers to increase the federal debt ceiling as an attachment to other budget resolutions.Over 50 members have already signed as co-sponsors to this bill. On Friday, a press conference where members expressed their support: