Monday, December 31, 2012

Obama: nation should now be “shook up enough” to pass gun control

Obama is now promising to put his “full weight” behind a “package” of gun control measures currently being crafted by a team of bureaucrats led by Joe Biden, and the president is promising to push that measure in the first year of his next term.

And for Obama, the question is not the constitutionally-recognized right to bear arms, or the constitutional guarantee that said right “shall not be infringed,” but whether or not the nation is finally “shook up enough” to ignore the Constitution and listen to leftists and statists who want to disarm the people.
The Hill reports,
President Obama on Sunday said he would make gun control a priority in his new term, pledging to put his “full weight” behind passing new restrictions on firearms in 2013.

“I’m going to be putting forward a package and I’m going to be putting my full weight behind it,” Obama said in an interview aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’m going to be making an argument to the American people about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again.” . . .
“I’d like to get it done in the first year.  I will put forward a very specific proposal based on the recommendations that Joe Biden’s task force is putting together as we speak. And so this is not something that I will be putting off.”

APNews reports the president as saying,
“I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can’t have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids. And, yes, it’s going to be hard.” . .
“The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away. It certainly won’t feel like that to me. This is something that – you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it’s not something that I want to see repeated.”
In addition to ignoring the Constitution, the president is ignoring some key facts:
1) It was already illegal for the severely psychologically-troubled Adam Lanza to possess a firearm.
2) It was already illegal in Connecticut to sell or possess an “assault weapon.

When Government Offers to Help, It Often Makes a Mess

There's a natural human impulse to help people who need a hand. In the political world, that often translates to an impulse to have government help people who need a hand. Who wants to argue with that?
But experience tells us that it's not always easy to help. Individuals' good intentions go awry. Government programs sometimes produce unintended consequences that make things worse for the intended beneficiaries.

Consider what could be called the three H's: health care, housing and higher education.
Over the last generation and more, government has stepped in to help ordinary individuals and those with special problems on all three issues. The results have been, well, not as good as intended.
Take health care. Just about every health care expert from right to left believes that government's first real foray into the field has been counterproductive.

That was the decision, made during World War II, when defense contractors were looking desperately for workers but were barred from raising wages, that the cost of health insurance policies would be deductible for employers and not taxable to employees.

Seven decades later, that's still the law. People whose employers provide health insurance effectively pay less for it than people whose employers don't.

And those with employer-provided health insurance tend to be insulated from knowledge of the costs of treatment. That's one of the things pushing health care costs up more rapidly than inflation.
In contrast, prices of health care procedures not covered by insurance -- Lasik eye surgery, cosmetic surgery -- have been falling because of technological advance and free-market competition.
Government's efforts to help people -- military contractors and their employees -- created a mess.
Then there's housing. For more than two decades, government policies have tried to make it easier for modest-income people, especially racial minorities, to get mortgages to buy houses. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations pushed this hard.

They were aided and abetted by the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose willingness to buy up such mortgages and sell them to investors pushed literally trillions of dollars into the housing market.

But this housing bubble burst when prices unexpectedly dropped and Fannie's and Freddie's mortgage-backed securities suddenly became unsaleable. This was the proximate cause of the financial crisis of 2008 that sent the economy into recession and created the new normal of slow growth.

Meanwhile, thousands of new homeowners, a large proportion of them Hispanic and black, faced foreclosure and eviction. Government's efforts to help people -- especially minorities with subpar credit -- created a mess.

Finally the third H, higher education. Going back three decades, government has subsidized college loans in a way that has pumped money into the nation's colleges and universities. The argument was that college degrees enabled people to make better livings and that government should help everyone who wanted one
But as government pumped more and more money in, institutions have been raising tuitions and fees faster than inflation for three decades. That leaves college unaffordable for almost every family without government-encouraged loans.
The result has been administrative bloat -- colleges and universities have had more administrators than teachers since 2005 -- and students with college loan debt that can't be discharged in bankruptcy.
Many students leave school without degrees but with plenty of debt. Many who do earn degrees do so in subjects that, in our sluggish new normal economy, don't lead to jobs after graduation.

But the debts remain and can build up for a lifetime. Government's efforts to help people -- young people seeking a college education -- have produced a mess.

 Not all policies attempting to help people produce such re
sults. The G.I. Bill of Rights providing higher education benefits and housing loans after World War II worked because it rewarded not only past service but also strenuous effort.
The original FHA home mortgage program worked well because it limited loans to those with good credit ratings.

But policies trying to extend the benefits of health insurance, housing and higher education that tended to sever the connection between effort and reward have backfired and hurt many of the intended beneficiaries.
Government policymakers failed to anticipate the responses of third parties attempting to game the system and grab some of the money government was making available.

The impulse to help those in need is one of mankind's better traits. But the impulse to have government help them is often self-defeating.

Government Dependents Outnumber Those With Private Sector Jobs In 11 U.S. States

us capitol building SC Government Dependents Outnumber Those With Private Sector Jobs In 11 U.S. States
America is rapidly becoming a nation of takers. An increasing number of Americans expect the government to take care of them from the cradle to the grave, and they expect the government to dig into the pockets of others in order to pay for it all. This philosophy can be very seductive, but what happens when the number of takers eventually outnumbers the number of producers? In 11 different U.S. states, the number of government dependents exceeds the number of private sector workers. This list of states includes some of the biggest states in the country: California, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Maine, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico and Hawaii. It is interesting to note that seven of those states were won by Barack Obama on election night. In California, there are 139 “takers” for every 100 private sector workers. That is crazy! The American people have become absolutely addicted to government money, and it gets worse with each passing year. If you can believe it, entitlements accounted for 62 percent of all federal spending in fiscal year 2012. It would be one thing if we could afford all of this spending, but unfortunately we simply cannot. We are drowning in debt, and we are stealing more than a hundred million more dollars from future generations with each passing hour. No bank robber in history can match that kind of theft.

Yes, we will always need a safety net. There are many people out there that simply cannot take care of themselves. We certainly don’t want to see anyone sleeping in the streets or starving to death.
But if the number of people jumping on to the safety net continues to grow at the current pace, the net will break and it will not be available for any of us.
For example, the number of Americans on food stamps grew from about 17 million in 2000 to more than 47 million today. It nearly tripled in just 12 years.
What will happen if it nearly triples again over the next 12 years?

Friday, December 21, 2012

DHS Delays REAL ID Implementation Indefinitely After years of kicking the can on the 2005 law, and just 13 states in compliance, Napolitano kicks it once again to a "suitable date."

The Department of Homeland Security has kicked the can on bringing states into compliance with the REAL ID Act, delaying yet again the implementation of uniform security requirements for drivers’ licenses.

DHS said today that just 13 states — Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming — have met the standards of the 2005 law, and “temporary deferment” has been granted for all other states and territoriet

The act established minimum national standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards in order to be accepted by the federal government as documents to establish one’s identity for activities such as boarding a plane or entering certain federal facilities.

DHS issued the guidelines for state compliance nearly five years ago — on Jan. 11, 2008. From 2008 to 2011, DHS handed out $263 million in grants to help states get up to snuff.

In March 2011, the department announced that the deadline for full compliance with the REAL ID Act had been extended from May 10, 2011, to Jan. 15, 2013.

And yet, just 13 states are ready for 2013.

“The Department commends these states on the substantial progress in working toward these goals and the improvements in security for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards since 9/11,” DHS said in its announcement.

“Other states have not provided sufficient information, at this time, for DHS to determine if they meet the Act’s requirements. These states will have an opportunity to respond with additional information before DHS makes a final determination. DHS will continue to receive and review state submissions on a rolling basis.”

Seven states have laws on the books prohibiting compliance with REAL ID. Several other states have passed resolutions opposing the law.

Some lawmakers chided DHS for not providing enough guidance about what would happen with existing IDs from noncompliant states as the deadline loomed.

New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall (D) and Jeff Bingaman (D) wrote Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday to request another extension for states that have yet to fall into line.

“The lack of guidance by the Department of Homeland Security is causing a great deal of anxiety for our constituents, who are seeing news reports that they may need a passport in order to fly on domestic flights after January 15. We have been expecting an announcement that your Department will extend the deadline or delay enforcement of the Act, but to date there has been no statement either way. Such delays mean that many people may alter or cancel their travel plans or bear the expense of obtaining a passport they do not need,” the senators wrote.

“If the Department intends to extend the deadline, please make such an announcement immediately. If the Department does not intend to provide such an extension, please issue a public statement as soon as possible to reassure the traveling public that you will work to mitigate the adverse impact of REAL ID.”

Today’s statement from DHS grants a “temporary deferment that will allow Federal agencies to continue to accept their licenses and identification cards for boarding commercial aircraft and other official purposes,” but its timeline is incredibly vague.

“DHS’s goal is to implement the REAL ID Act, as required by law, in a measured, fair, and responsible way. In the coming weeks and months, DHS will, in consultation with States and stakeholders, develop a schedule for the phased enforcement of the Act’s statutory prohibitions to ensure that residents of all states are treated in a fair manner,” the department said. “DHS expects to publish a schedule by early fall 2013 and begin implementation at a suitable date thereafter.”

Illegal immigration hawk Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said it’s just another stall tactic — and a broken promise by the administration that hasn’t given states any incentive to come into compliance.

On March 21, David Heyman, DHS Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy, testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security that DHS would not delay implementation of REAL ID any more.

“During an oversight hearing that this committee had last November, Secretary Napolitano refused to say whether or not the DHS would hold firm to the Jan. 15, 2013, deadline. Is DHS going to extend the deadline again?” Sensenbrenner asked at that hearing.

“We have no plans to extend the deadline,” Heyman responded.

“Earlier this year, the administration testified before a Judiciary Subcommittee hearing that DHS would not delay the deadline for states to comply with REAL ID. I am disappointed and extremely concerned that the Obama administration will not be honoring that commitment,” Sensenbrenner, who introduced the original REAL ID bill, said today.

“This is a dangerous reversal. The administration is not taking seriously the security risk of delaying REAL ID implementation further.”

REAL ID isn’t quite a party line issue, with GOP opponents over the years including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), and former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.).

“Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy. Law enforcement must be able to rely on government-issued identification documents and know that the bearer of such a document is who he or she claims to be,” the DHS said in its statement, which didn’t include direct comment from Napolitano.

The department says it’s “twice modified” the REAL ID deadline to compensate for “a period of declining state revenues.”

“Every step of the way, the administration has stonewalled implementation of this critical national security law. They have not given states necessary and timely guidance, encouraging states not to comply with delay after delay,” Sensenbrenner said.

“This is the fourth time DHS delayed implementation of something the 9/11 Commission said was critical to preventing another terrorist attack. The 9/11 hijackers had at least 30 pieces of identification on them,” he added. “We need the administration to implement the law and fulfill the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

States steer clear of health exchange About half leave it to federal officials

Almost half the nation’s states are refusing to set up health care exchanges — a major component of the federal Affordable Care Act — and instead will let the Obama administration run statewide health-insurance-buying programs.
With a key Friday deadline looming, 24 states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, say they will run exchanges either by themselves or in partnership with the federal government. Two states remain undecided.

A Pennsylvania health official told a congressional panel Thursday the exchange program’s “myriad of mandates and onerous procedural requirements” would be an enormous burden for his state.

“As mandates often are, they impose a one-size-fits-all approach and actually make our processes less efficient, not more efficient,” Pennsylvania Secretary of Public Welfare Gary D. Alexander told the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett a day earlier said his state won’t set up its own exchange, saying “health care reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning.”

Open enrollment for the exchanges is set to begin in October, with coverage to start in January 2014 — a schedule many states say is unrealistic because they’re waiting on more information from the federal government on rules, procedures and costs.

“The number of remaining concerns and unanswered questions simply do not give us the confidence needed to accept responsibility for this project,” Louisiana Health and Hospitals Department Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein told the House panel.

Louisiana also has decided to let the federal government run its exchange program — a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for the most affordable coverage and where many will get help from the government to pay their premiums.

But while 24 mostly Republican-controlled states say they will let the federal government run their state’s exchange, GOP governors in Nevada and Idaho this week said they prefer a state-run program.
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a longtime critic of President Obama’s health care plan, said Tuesday that a state-built health exchange is the best option for Idaho, though he left the final decision up to the state legislature, which convenes in January.

“There will be a health insurance exchange in Idaho,” the Republican governor said in a statement. “Our options have come down to this: Do nothing and be at the federal government’s mercy in how that exchange is designed and run, or take a seat at the table and play the cards we’ve been dealt. I cannot willingly surrender a role for Idaho.”
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval also vowed to create a state-run health insurance exchange.

“I have to look at Nevada,” he told The Associated Press this week. “I’m not going to compare myself to any other governor. I have to look at the consequences of this very complicated law.”

States have until Friday to notify federal authorities if they want to create and run their own insurance exchanges. They also can choose to set up an exchange under a state-federal partnership, with a decision on that option due Feb. 15. If any state is undecided after that, the federal government will run that state’s exchange.

The deadline for both decisions initially was last month, but the federal government offered an extension after some governors asked for more time.

Read more:
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The Coming Regulatory Black Hole Thousands of new proposed regulations, delayed by the election, will be issued over the next few months.

Forget the fiscal cliff. Sooner or later — probably later — Speaker Boehner and the president are going to come to an agreement that will raise taxes on the wealthy with a solemn, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die promise from the Democrats to cut an unspecified amount from the budget at an unspecified later date.
Just when the Democrats are going to screw over the GOP and refuse to make any significant budget cuts or engage in negotiations that would reform entitlements will also be unspecified.
But there is another looming crisis for the taxpayer and businesses large and small. It is the flood of new regulations that will be issued in the coming months. Delayed by the White House before the election because their implementation would have adversely affected business and cost jobs, thousands of new rules will be issued that will cost American business an estimated $100 billion. This is on top of the already gargantuan regulatory burden that theCompetitive Enterprise Institute estimates at $1.8 trillion — $215 billion this year alone.
Just how many new regulations will business have to deal with? We don’t know because the administration has failed to issue a report, required by law, that would set out Obama’s regulatory agenda. The Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz explains:

Congress mandated a regulatory agenda from each agency in 1980 under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The statute calls for release every April and October of a description of all rules likely to have a “significant economic impact” on a substantial number of small entities. A series of subsequent executive orders extended agenda requirements to all regulations under development or review by some 60 departments, agencies, and commissions.
Of course, the Obama administration is no stranger to flouting the law when it comes to deadlines. Senator Coburn pointed out that the administration has failed to meet dozens of deadlines when it comes to Obamacare alone. It also missed a budget deadline last summer, failing to send Congress a mid-session review. Most recently, the president was late with his report to Congress on the impact on departments and agencies of going over the fiscal cliff.
What is it with these people? They’re like college kids putting a major paper off until the last minute and then pulling an all-nighter to write it. But in the case of the regulatory agenda that is required by law to be submitted to Congress twice a year, the Obama administration fell asleep in the middle of the night and woke up a year later. Their last regulatory agenda report was in the fall of 2011.
The dog must have eaten the Spring 2012 report, and the Fall 2012 agenda must have been lost in the campus mail.
Senator Rob Portman was forced to send a scolding letter to the president, reminding him he’s not following the law:
“For nearly three decades, presidents of both parties have published their plans for new regulations twice a year,” Portman wrote to Obama today. “Now, with the spring plans still missing, the Fall 2012 Regulatory Agenda is also overdue. In light of this apparent trend, I am writing to inquire whether your Administration has chosen to abandon this tradition of transparency altogether.”
Now that the election is over, it is obvious why the administration has refused to update Congress on its regulatory plans. There are as many as 4100 rules in the pipeline ranging from the annoying to the tortuous. And the White House bottled them up for “review” until the president was safely re-elected because many of them are so onerous that they would have cost jobs.
One example is the inexplicable new regulations, courtesy of Obamacare, governing vending machines and restaurants, ordering them to display nutritional information. These regulations were expanded to include grocery stores and virtually all food service chains. The estimated cost: $1.1 billion with 1.4 million additional paperwork burden hours. These regulations have been “under review” for months but were delayed by the White House.
Another example comes from the American Action Forum:

[A] proposed rule requiring “Sound for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles” has a statutory deadline of July 5, 2012, but the regulation remains at the White House. There is no indication how much ‘artificial vehicle sound’ devices will cost automobile manufacturers. The public won’t know until the administration publishes the proposal.
Typically, a new regulation remains at the White House under review for 90 days. Some of the regs that will be published in the next couple of months have been tied up by the administration for a year or more. The reason is obvious, as the National Association of Manufacturers showed in a report on new EPA regulations in the pipeline
he report, issued in late November, said compliance costs for six major EPA regulations — including rules limiting air and water pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants — could total up to $111 billion by government estimates and up to $138 billion by industry estimates. Construction costs could total $500 billion, it said.
Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the manufacturing group, warned of a “devastating ripple effect” that could be felt throughout the U.S. economy if federal rules are not relaxed or delayed. Some manufacturers are likely to “close their doors for good” because of EPA rules, Timmons said.
One would imagine a lot of those lost jobs would have been in Ohio — something the Obama campaign just couldn’t countenance. Better to have those Ohio voters lose their jobs once the president was safe and sound back in the White House than lose them before the election and blame Obama for their suffering.
You have no doubt heard the term “unfettered capitalism” bandied about by the left over the last several years. This refers to the left’s idea that American businessmen are a bunch of robber barons who practice a kind of predatory capitalism not seen since the gilded age. Unrestrained by government, businesses cheat consumers, steal from grandma, rape the land, poison our water, pollute our air, deny opportunities to minorities because they’re racist pigs, and gleefully place workers in danger of their lives to make an extra buck.
It’s a cute bedtime story, but anyone who uses the term “unfettered capitalism” to describe how American business operates in the 21st century is an ignoramus. The Federal Register, published every week day and containing all proposed rules and regulations — most of which govern business activities — was 81,000 pages in 2011 alone. Many of those rules were never adopted, but the scope of business activity regulated by as many as 60 federal agencies and departments is breathtaking. According to the Heritage Foundation, as of 2008 there were 145,000 pages of regulations — the overwhelming majority of which affect American business.
Add to that state and local rules and one wonders how anyone could be so stupid as to charge that the problem with America is “unfettered capitalism.”
Surely there are many of those regulations that are needed and necessary. Businesses are run by human beings, and there are some shady characters who think nothing of dumping toxic waste, forcing employees to work in unsafe conditions, or of surreptitiously polluting air and water. Some regulations are burdensome but, as the Heritage article points out, many regulations actually increase competitiveness, protect property rights, and keep us safe from terrorists.
But few of these regulations that the Obama administration has sat on for months, waiting for the campaign to end, meet the “necessary” criteria. In fact, the reason that President Obama restrained his eager-beaver agencies was because of their detrimental effect on the economy.
This is not a regulatory cliff we’re approaching. It is a regulatory black hole where jobs and profit are sucked over the event horizon and there is no hope of escape.

In 11th-hour announcement, US, UK and Canada decline to sign UN Internet treaty .

The United States and several of its allies announced Thursday they will not sign an international treaty that threatens to give the United Nations greater control over the Internet.
The treaty, which isn’t legally binding and allows member countries to maintain their national sovereignty, would help countries coordinate initiatives to fight spam and broaden Internet access. It is being considered at the 12-day World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, which was organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to revise a key decades-old communications treaty.
But in an 11th-hour announcement late Thursday evening, U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, who serves as head of the U.S. delegation to the conference, categorically said the U.S. will not sign on.
I do need to say that it is with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the U.S. must communicate that it is not able to sign the agreement in the current form,” Kramer said. (RELATED: U.N. delegates affirm right to freedom of information online)
“Internet policy should not be determined by member states but by citizens, communities, and broader society, and such consultation from the private sector and civil society is paramount,” Kramer added. “This has not happened here.”
The 193 member states of the ITU in attendance at the Dubai conference have articulated two different visions for future of the Internet, with the majority of countries voicing support for increased government involvement in Web.
During a media call Thursday following his announcement, Kramer told reporters that, given that many countries are interested in the positive commercial impact the Internet could have on their domestic economies, the U.S. hopes these countries in the long term will be attracted to the benefits of an open Internet and liberalized markets.
The new version of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) is set to take effect January 2015, and Kramer said that between now and then, countries agreeing to sign the treaty might have “buyer’s remorse.”

Read more:

Census Bureau: 5 of 10 Wealthiest U.S. Counties Surround Washington, D.C.

Five of the Top 10 wealthiest counties in the United States are in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area--within commuting distance for the thousands of federal government workers, lobbyists, lawyers, defense contractors, think-tank experts and political operatives who work in and around the nation’s capital.
The five counties have median household incomes that are roughly double the national median of $50,502.
Loudoun County, Va., which lies to the north and west of the District of Columbia, topped the list in 2011, with a median family income of $119,525, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE), released Wednesday.
It was followed closely by Fairfax County, Va., which had a median income of $105,000.
Howard County, Md., which is located between Washington and Baltimore, and includes the city of Columbia, Md., was fourth-highest at $99,000.
Arlington County, Va., which lies directly across the Potomac River from the District of Columbia, was fifth on the list, at $98,000.
Montgomery County, Md., which stands at the top of the diamond-shaped District of Columbia, fell to eighth on the list.
Four of the remaining five Top 10 counties are in the New York City metropolitan area.
Only one county in the Top 10 lies outside of the Eastern Seaboard: Douglas County, Colo., is situated between Denver and Colorado Springs.
Here’s the Top 10 Counties with the Highest Median Family Incomes:
1. Loudoun County, Va. ------$119,525
2. Fairfax County, Va. --------$105,000
3. Hunterdon, County, N.J.----$99,216
4. Howard County, Md. -------$99,000
5. Arlington County, Va. ------$98,000
6. Douglas County, Colo.----- $95,973
7. Somerset County, N.J. ------$95,915
8. Montgomery County, Md. --$92,288
9. Morris County N.J. ----------$91,420
10. Nassau County, N.Y.-------$91,162
SAIPE combines the latest data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey with aggregate data from federal tax filings, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation, statistics from the 2000 and 2010 censuses and annual population estimates.

Health Care Law Is Still Fighting For Its Life.

Having survived the Supreme Court and the November elections, President Obama's health care law now faces an even bigger hurdle: the reality of making it work.

Implementation of any massive new program requires cooperation, something the health care law can't count on. Overall, just 46 percent of voters nationwide have a favorable opinion of the law, while 49 percent offer a negative view. The reasons are pretty much the same as they've been all along. Just 22 percent believe the law will reduce the cost of health care. Forty-eight percent believe costs will go up. By similar margins, voters expect the law to hurt the quality of care and drive up the federal budget deficit.    
Overall, just 28 percent believe the health care system will get better over the coming years, while 50 percent expect the opposite. Most Democrats believe things will get better, but few Republicans or unaffiliated voters agree.  
This skepticism might not matter except for the fact that the law counts on the cooperation of states to implement the federal plan. States were called upon to set up so-called health insurance exchanges that the president envisioned as a one-stop shopping place for health insurance products. However, the Dec. 14 deadline for states to sign up showed that fewer than half the states are willing to go along.    
The federal government will have to run the exchanges in those states, a task few believe it is prepared to handle. The timetable is challenging, to say the least. These exchanges must be ready to accept patients by Oct. 1, 2013, and be fully operational by Jan. 1, 2014. If that's not enough, the federal exchanges will need to rely on cooperation from state agencies in places that have officially refused to cooperate.    
If the president's health care law were popular, this kind of state-by-state resistance would provoke outrage and be dangerous to the politicians involved. But it has not. Only a third of voters nationwide even know whether their state has decided to open an exchange.    

Fewer than half (46 percent) of the nation's voters want their state to set up an exchange, and voters are evenly divided between whether they want their governor to support or oppose implementation. Generally speaking, Democrats want their governors to be supportive; Republicans want their governors to resist; and unaffiliated voters are divided.    

Last March, I wrote that the health care law was doomed regardless of what the Supreme Court decided. That still appears to be the case. With the re-election of the president and a Democratic Senate, formal repeal is not going to happen. However, the realities of implementation will provide many avenues for ongoing resistance. Some will be financial, as businesses and others evaluate their options. Some will be legal, as a number of cases continue to work their way through the courts.  
But the biggest challenge is more basic. Voters want more control over their own health care choices than either the status quo or the president's law allows. Voters are OK with the requirement in Obama's plan forcing insurance companies to offer comprehensive coverage, but 74 percent think everyone should also have the right to choose between expensive plans that cover just about every imaginable medical procedure and lower-cost plans that cover a smaller number of procedures.    

Giving consumers that kind of choice would be a popular reform. Giving them that kind of control over insurance companies would do more to reign in the cost of medical care than anything else.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Constitutional Credit Limit.

As the clock ticks away on the national debt limit, some folks on the left are suggesting that we take advice from Buzz Lightyear and raise the debt limit "to infinity and beyond." They may have a point. If every time the government reaches the maximum on its national credit card, and Congress simply raises it, what good is a debt limit?
In the real world of household finance, American consumers have to ask the credit card company for permission to raise their debt limit. Sometimes the answer comes back a resounding "No!" So when this happens, the consumer has to alter his or her spending habits and work within the reality of available funds. Unfortunately, this is not how Congress operates. History has shown that whenever the federal debt limit is reached, Congress just votes a higher limit without doing anything about its spending habits. The current debate over the debt limit will result in the same outcome. There is a solution to this perpetual spending and borrowing behavior, but it won't come from Washington.
As the New Year approaches, state legislatures all over the country are filing bills to be considered in the upcoming session. Among the normal bills concerning how to spend and how to cut at the state level, many states will also be debating a bill to amend the constitution with eighteen words.
"An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the several States."
If this were an amendment to the Constitution, then the States would be the credit bureau looking at the balance sheet with the ability to approve or disapprove a higher debt limit. The bill in question is the National Debt Relief Amendment. This bill calls for an Article V Convention. Article V of the U.S. Constitution is written so that the Constitution can be amended as needed. The Founding Fathers knew that the Constitution hammered out in Philadelphia, more that two hundred years ago, was not a perfect document. They acknowledged imperfection is in the first sentence " Order to form a more perfect Union...." So the Founding Fathers deliberately wrote Article V with exacting language; language that would be specific with regard to amendments only.
Our Constitution has been amended only twenty-seven times even though thousands of attempts have been made. The ratification process is such a monumental hurdle to overcome, only twenty-seven amendments have made it to the finish line. In each of these cases, Congress, by a two-thirds majority in both houses, has initiated the amendment process, but there is another way.
Article V of the Constitution provides for a way to circumvent Congress but it has never been tried. If, upon the application of two-thirds of the states (i.e. thirty-four states), there is a call for an Article V Convention (AVC), then the Constitution mandates very specifically that Congress must do the following:
"...shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which in either case, shall be valid....'
Notice the language here "... for proposing Amendments...." It does not say for rewriting the Constitution, as fearmongers on the left would have us believe. The leftists have successfully struck fear in the hearts of many concerning an AVC, claiming that it would result in a runaway Constitutional Convention (Con Con). But this simply cannot happen, since any AVC must comply with the 1973 Constitutional Convention Act (CCA) which, by law, limits the convention to the specific topics under which the application for the AVC was made.
The 1973 CCA also requires that each of the calls be identical in wording with no variations. To assist with this, the American Legislative Exchange Council has adopted model legislation so that the calls for the AVC, to adopt the National Debt Relief Amendment, will be valid.
The ramifications of altering the Constitution with the eighteen words above are profound. The balance of power between the Federal Government and the States would be restored, because, unlike other balanced budget amendments, this amendment has teeth. If Congress were to raise the debt limit without the consent of twenty-six states, and the Treasury Department were to issue bonds for sale, any one of the states that did not give consent would have legal standing to impound those funds, making them inaccessible to Congress. In other word the credit card reader would say "Declined." Then, like the American consumer, Congress would have to alter its spending habits and operate on available funds.

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5 Myths Liberals Have Created About Themselves

Liberalism is like a restaurant with ugly decor, terrible food, overflowing toilets and roaches scurrying across the floor -- that stays packed every night. Sure, liberals may be sanctimonious, mean spirited and advocate policies that don't work, but you can't help but admire the excellence of their public relations network. They can laud themselves for courage because they take a stand everyone they know agrees with, pat themselves on the back for their compassion as they maliciously insult someone that disagrees with them and congratulate themselves for their charitable behavior as they give other people's money away. Liberal mythology is one thing, but what it actually looks like is a different beast entirely.
1) Liberals love science: As Ann Coulter says, "Liberals use the word science exactly as they use the word constitutional. Both words are nothing more or less than a general statement of liberal approval, having nothing to do with either science or the Constitution." The liberal commitment to science consists entirely of talking about how important science is when they believe they can use it to further the liberal agenda. On the other hand, when science shows that adult stem cells actually work better than embryonic stem cells, millions in Africa have died because liberals needlessly insisted on banning DDT or the evidence shows AIDS is never going to take off in Western, non-drug using heterosexuals, liberals have about as much interest in science as they do in supporting the troops.
2) Liberals care about education: If you define "education" as doing as much as humanly possible to toss plums to the teachers’ unions who help fund and elect Democrats, liberals love education. Alternately, if you define education as the rest of us do, making sure our kids learn as much as possible and are prepared for the working world, liberals don't care about education at all. They fight merit pay, oppose firing bad teachers and try to kill even effective school choice programs. Any time there's a divergence between what's best for the teachers’ unions and what's best for the kids, the kids ALWAYS lose with liberals.
3) Liberals are tolerant: In a very real sense, liberals don't understand tolerance. To them, tolerance is promoting whatever position they happen to hold while excluding all competing views. So, if a conservative speaker shows up on a college campus, liberals try to shout him down. Liberals have tried to censor conservative talk show hosts with an Orwellian "Fairness Act." They work tirelessly to try to silence Fox News, which is the one center right network up against ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC. They block professors for their conservative views, blacklist conservative actors and lock conservatives out of almost every major newspaper in America. That's not open-minded; it's a level of dogmatic intolerance that could rival the most radical cult.
4) Liberals don't moralize: Liberals believe in allowing children to have abortions over the protests of their parents, they want to force churches to perform gay weddings that violate their Christian beliefs and they demand that the Catholic Church provide abortion and birth control over its strenuous moral objections, but then they turn around and deny that they're moralizing. Getting beyond that, they couch their arguments about tax rates, government programs and economics in distinctly moral terms. After all, what is the term "fair share" if not an appeal to morals? If liberals are going to continue to pretend that they don't moralize, at least they should admit that they’re morally inferior to conservatives.
5) Liberals love the poor: For both philosophical and practical reasons, conservatives believe in helping the poor escape poverty. We agree wholeheartedly with Ben Franklin's words of wisdom,
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
On the other hand, liberals "love" the poor like a cat loves mice. The cat gets fat off the mice and liberals get elected off of sadistically keeping as many Americans mired in poverty as they can. Then, they can give the poor just enough money to get by on while railing against those mean old conservatives who're claiming the destitute can have better lives when any "compassionate" person would realize food stamps and welfare are the best most of these people can ever do. That's not love; that's a gang of pushers trying to hook as many customers as possible.

World Begins to Heal with Taxes on Rich January 1st

The Age of Aquarius- long a goal for liberals- will begin in earnest on January 1st, 2013 when more of the planned tax increases on the wealthy created by Obamacare are implemented.
Here’s how it will work:
Finally, the low-down, dirty rich, who are responsible for all the world’s ills, including the short stature, pint-sized intellect and light caliber (pun intended) of Bob Costas, will start paying their fair share.
Time to cue the music from the play Hair:
“The 3.8% Net Investment Tax will be imposed against individuals, estates and trusts on their investment income,” croons “and the 0.9% Additional Medicare Tax applies to an individual’s wages and self-employment income, that exceed threshold amounts.”
Try singing that to the Age of Aquarius.
Not surprisingly, “threshold amounts” of income under Obamacare are the same that Obama and Boehner are using to define the “rich” under the fiscal cliff tax increases demanded by Obama’s newest income tax dictates.
Free healthcare, it turns out, is gonna be very expensive for those who have taken advantage of our free system and helped the US become the greatest, most benevolent, most generous country in the history of the world.
And now, to be fair, we have to stop those rich jerks from being so generous.  
I don’t know about anyone else, but liberals are sick of those rich people in America who give away close to $300 billion to charity annually, or roughly half the country’s defense budget. The government could really use that money to fritter away on things like $115 million for the United Nations program on democracy that funds “Promoting Political Tolerance in Malawi,” while suppressing political tolerance in the Unites States.     
“The two new taxes are two of the ACA’s 47 tax or tax-related provisions, some of which are already in effect,” says TaxNews. “Other provisions include individual mandate and employer mandate taxes, restrictions on the use of Flexible Spending Arrangements and Health Savings Accounts, the new tax on medical devices, the health insurance premium subsidy and new requirements for tax-exempt hospitals and group health insurance plans.”
That’s a long list of things to pay for. Just wait until we have a chance to pay for these things in places like Malawi.
Because, if you think the healing is going to stop with the rich in the US, you just don’t realize how much the earth needs to heal. Or how expensive the global version of Obamacare will be for you once there are no rich left in the US.
That’s when the rest of us who have worked hard to create the most just, racially tolerant, freest and most mobile society ever, will have to do our part too, rather than just sucking off the hard work of the technocrats at the World Bank, the IMF, the United Nations, and the OECD-M-O-U-S-E.
Middle class jerks, all of us!
I don’t know about anyone else, but liberals are sick of a rich America that gives away only $53 billion in foreign aid annually. The world could really use more money to fritter away on things like Cap and Trade, a program that can help fund China’s development of cheaper, dirtier fuels through subsidies by US consumers. 
It will only cost a lot more than $200 billion per year.
Because you see, in global perspective, everyone in the United States is really rich and is soaking everyone else around the world- by the very same economic logic liberals now use here at home
Once we screw up government run healthcare, retirement, banking, autos and insurance domestically, the next excuse we can expect to hear is that global failures are a result of America being too rich. And now we are going to have to pay our “fair share” of the growing global burden for _____________ (insert need here).
We are in the process of transforming the greatest, most benevolent, most generous country in the history of the world into the world’s primary care physician who will be responsible for the health of the rest of the world.
The National Intelligence Council, a government think-tank made up of US intelligence communities, already warns us that we must accept the mantle of the world’s doctor in a recently released report. The NIC is supposed to write intelligence reports made up of the most up to date, unbiased, accurate information, regardless of the views of the administration. So of course, they adopted Obama’s views in their latest report.      
The “most plausible worst-case scenario,” the report adds, involves the risks of interstate conflict increasing to the point that “the US draws inward and globalization stalls.” From there, “megacities [will] flourish and take the lead in confronting global challenges.”
Another possibility, the writers suggest, is as “inequalities explode as some countries become big winners and others fail. … Without completely disengaging, the U.S. is no longer the ‘global policeman’” according to the Council.   
Catch the rhetoric about “inequalities” exploding? OMG, we have to do something.
I’m not sure megacities- under the leadership of a King Bloomberg, no less- are the trend of the future.We have seen more and more cities of the non-mega variety failing for decades. They can't even educate 20 percent of our children to GRADE LEVEL, but they are going to lead us globally?
I do know one thing for sure, however: You thought it was expensive to be the global policeman as we have the last seventy years?
Wait until we become the world’s doctor over the next seventy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Answering Liberals' 'Gotcha' Questions.

As much as the establishment GOP would like for the "social" (I prefer "moral") issues to go away, liberals simply won't allow it.  But contrary to GOP establishment beliefs, this is not a bad thing.
So, as a public service to conservative Christians everywhere, but especially to those running for public office, this column is a primer for how to answer those "gotcha" questions that any candidate opposing a liberal will inevitably have to answer.
First of all, on the question of rape and abortion, as Mike Adams of points out, one should use significant caution when discussing such matters.  Next, I would advise an approach taken by Jesus Christ Himself.  Often, when doubters were attempting to trap Jesus with their "gotcha" questions, to reveal their ignorance and hypocrisy, Christ responded with a question of His own.
There are several such questions with which to respond when asked why one does not support abortion in the case of a pregnancy resulting from rape.  For example, almost certainly the person urging a rape exception does not really believe in the exception.  As Adams also points out, "[i]n order for there to be an exception to a rule banning abortions, there has to be a rule banning abortions. That much is obvious. It is also obvious that pro-choicers do not merely want abortion to be available in cases of rape. They want it available in all cases."
Thus, one should ask them: if I agree to the rape exception, would you then agree to ban abortion in all other cases?  Also point out that there are literally thousands of people alive today who were born as a result of a rape.  (A good idea would be to name a specific example.)  Ask if it would be acceptable to kill that person because of the circumstances of his or her conception.
Another good question, as I pointed out months ago, would be: instead of killing the innocent child in the womb, why not execute the rapist?  A follow-up would be: do liberals (or others) who support abortion in cases of rape also support the execution of rapists?  Perhaps the best question would be, why compound one evil deed with another?  Rape is a horrific evil, but so is the taking of an innocent life.
On the issue of marriage, conservatives are often asked if they support same-sex marriage (or, more sinisterly, a loaded question such as "Do you support marriage equality?").  The conservative response should be "No," immediately followed by, "How would you discriminate and define marriage?"
Most liberals want to define marriage as a union between any two consenting adults.  Of course, this ignores polygamy, polyandry, and other variations of multiples marrying.  The point is, any definition of marriage is "discriminatory"; it just comes down to whose definition you want to use.
It should also be pointed out that, once same-sex marriage has legal recognition and protection, businesses, schools, churches, and so on could then face legal consequences if they "discriminate" against same-sex marriage.  Same-sex marriage supporters should have to answer whether they would support such legal actions.
Then there is the dreaded "How old do you think the earth is?" question.  Once such a question is asked, any conservative worth his weight should seriously consider ending the interview/debate right then and there.
This question is nothing more than a blatant attempt by liberals and their apologists to paint conservatives as "religious nuts" or "anti-science bumblers."  As Paul Krugman of the New York Times put it after Marco Rubio was asked about the age of the earth, "[l]ike striated rock beds that speak of deep time, his inability to acknowledge scientific evidence speaks of the anti-rational mind-set that has taken over his political party."
Of course, what liberals are really trying to get at is whether their conservative target accepts Darwinian evolution (D.E.) as "the gospel" when it comes to how life began.  Without billions of years, D.E. is as dead as a dinosaur fossil.  This is why liberals are so committed to millions and billions of years.  Thus, the conservative retort should aim to redirect back to D.E.
Use questions such as: do you really believe that humans, monkeys, elephants, antelopes, lions, lizards, apples, apricots, roses, and rhododendrons all have a common ancestor?  Do you believe that all life on earth came into being without a Creator?  What does D.E. contribute to operational science today?  (In other words, what is D.E., other than an attempt to explain our existence without a Creator?)  If D.E. is so fundamental to science (as most evolutionists will claim), then why is it possible to reject completely D.E. and millions/billions of years and still operate perfectly well in any scientific field (including medicine)?  And similarly, as Rubio put it, what does D.E. have to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States?
It would also be worth pointing out (as I did last year) that two of the greatest scientists who ever lived, Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler, both calculated the earth to be only a few thousand years old.  Kepler calculated a creation date of 3992 B.C., and Newton firmly defended a creation date of about 4000 B.C.
The most important thing to remember when faced with difficult questions is that there is such a thing as absolute truth, and there is an Author of this truth.  When the conservatives who acknowledge this take up the courage of their convictions, they will have a much easier time combating the slew of "gotcha" reporters raring to fight them.

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