"If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like," Mr. Obama said. "What we don't want to do is simply carve out one piece of it…but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done."
Any chance that his lips are moving, but what is coming out isn't the whole truth?
Mr. President, how is that 'piecemeal' fence coming along?
Know them by their deeds, not words. Although the old-school leaders of al Qaeda still rage against the US and jihadists welcome any chance to harm us, look at who the terrorists actually kill. We’re not the main target of Sunni extremists these days. Iran, along with its allies, tops the list.
Of course, we cannot let down our guard and should hunt down Islamist terrorists where we can, but the focus of the “field soldiers” serving al Qaeda’s most-active franchise in Syria and Iraq is on Iran’s ambitions and Shia Muslims, not on us.
To the horror of diplomats and theorists who’ve denied the role of faith in religious terrorism, we are witnesses to a regional conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims stretching far beyond the Syrian cockpit.
Yesterday’s suicide-bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, amplified the breadth of this distinctly uncivil war within Islam. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Lebanese al Qaeda franchise, claimed responsibility, citing Iran’s use of Hezbollah Shia militiamen to support the Assad regime in neighboring Syria. Wounding at least 140 victims, the attack killed 23 outright and appears, to this analyst, to have targeted the Iranian “cultural attaché,” who was killed while walking with a Lebanese security chief. In Iranian diplomacy, “cultural attaché” translates as “spymaster.”
Beyond the borders of nervous Lebanon, the slaughter has been under way for years, since Islamist extremists of multiple stripes hijacked Syria’s anti-Assad insurgency. Even earlier, the Sunni-Shia divide flared in Iraq as Iran moved to exert Shia hegemony.
Every day, with every local massacre, sectarian lines harden. In this multi-sided conflict, atop the maelstrom of the “Arab Spring,” people are killed not only for worshiping the wrong god, but for worshiping the right god in the wrong way. The unleashed hatreds are so intense that we’ve been pushed to the sidelines, still a desirable target, but far away. History’s law is that, while humans may relish hating a distant enemy, they generally prefer to kill their neighbors.
If we have been, for now, demoted to second place in the Great Satan Sweepstakes, Israel, too, has slipped down on the target list. The hate-rhetoric continues, but Hamas is basically quarantined in Gaza; the Palestinian Authority excites little active support; and external actors who had been rocketing Israel are vigorously butchering fellow Muslims.
Of course, the age-old Persian-vs.-Arab rivalry, power politics, local issues and even personal grudges complicate the spreading strife, but only a career diplomat could be so naïve as to deny that this, at bottom, is a contest between Islam’s two major branches. And there is nothing we can do to resolve it. We can only play on the margins — and we do so at our peril.
But crises sometimes offer opportunities. When Western and Iranian diplomats meet again this week to discuss the existential (certainly, for Israel) issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, our delegation should do the strategic math — which adds up to a desperate Iran.
To date, we’ve got it backward with the domestically reeling Obama administration frantic to sign a treaty it can claim as a success (you want it bad, you get it bad).
Sanctions on Iran are biting deep. That’s why Iran is willing to talk at all. But we need to grasp that Iran’s also struggling to maintain its sphere of influence in Syria and Lebanon, and sanctions play into that, too. Iran’s stretched thin, its economy grievously wounded.
We, not the mullahs, hold the winning hand. We would be foolish, indeed, were we to give the Iranians sanctions relief for empty promises.
Our diplomats obsess on obsolete borders and fail to connect a bombing in Beirut, the carnage in Syria and Iran’s pursuit of nukes with an overarching and gruesome sectarian struggle. Doing so would make Washington uncomfortable.
But thanks to the carnage in the Middle East and the sanctions regime, we’re in the strongest position vis-à-vis Iran since the fall of the shah. And in this perverse world, al Qaeda helped. Strike while the car-bomb’s hot.
"The Harlem Success teachers' contract drives home the idea that the school is about the children, not the grown-ups. It is one page, allows them to be fired at will, and defines their responsibilities no more specifically than that they must help the school achieve its mission. Harlem Success teachers are paid about 5 to 10 percent more than union teachers on the other side of the building who have their levels of experience.
"The union contract in place on the public school side of the building is 167 pages. Most of it is about job protection and what teachers can and cannot be asked to do during the 6 hours and 57.5 minutes (8:30 to about 3:25, with 50 minutes off for lunch) of their 179-day work year."
In the 2010, 29 percent of the students at the traditional public school were reading and writing at grade level, and 34 percent were performing at grade level in math. At the charter school, the corresponding numbers were 86 percent and 94 percent.
The simple fix is to legalize the plans that people actually want. ----------------------------------------------- How the GOP Should Fix ObamaCare Along the way Republicans can create real choice, real competition and real savings while protecting those who need help.
What can be done is Congress creating a new option in the form of a national health insurance charter under which insurers could design new low-cost policies free of mandated benefits imposed by ObamaCare and the 50 states that many of those losing their individual policies today surely would find attractive.
Rush reminded us he predicted the unemployment rate would magically dip below 8 well before the election. In fact I remember him saying this. I doubt that there was not one listener who did not agree with his prediction. I also doubt there was not one listener who also did not agree with his insinuation that the "books would be cooked" to achieve this "magical" number.
The MSM is silent. "oh these are career government officials" as though their integrity and honesty is above reproach.
Unfortunately there are no Nixon tapes of Obama and/or his henchman Axelrod to be discovered.
I guess only then could we speak of impeachment. Like the mafia. It is hard to connect the evidence to the masterminds pulling the strings.
Wesbury warned that the economy alone wouldn't be bad enough to defeat the President. But ccp is right, Rush predicted for a year that the manipulation of the data would magically happen coming into the election. Jack Welch also commented on the cooked books and the media, refusing any role as a watchdog, just lazily claimed the critics to be wearing tin foil hats. Now it turns out to be true, much worse than we thought, and there will be no consequence?
"Unfortunately there are no Nixon tapes of Obama and/or his henchman Axelrod to be discovered."
Yes there are, such as the IRS targeting communications contradicting the testimony and reports in the Federal Register exposing the President's lies. We just don't have them 'Obama administration tapes' yet because no one is demanding their release. We won't get them without an effective and relentless special prosecutor.
I keep pointing to this one example. A group called ACORN was banned from federal funding for their co-mingling of taxpayer dollars and political activities - and they have since reappeared under many different names. The head of ACORN said the co-mingling of funds was impossible due to the impermeable "firewall" (what a joke!) separating these activities, even though it was the same people working both sides in the same office. Yes there is attrition, but largely the same community organizers became the Census 2010 paid workers, learning everything about everyone in the neighborhoods, outside the constitution and at taxpayer expense, who then became the paid workers of the Obama 2012 campaign to 'get out the vote'. They called it a magical and top secret "data mining" operation. But they knew who was black. They knew who was Hispanic, and they knew who was in every other identifiable demographic group. They knew who relied on food stamps. They knew who was on Section 8. They knew who got medicaid and all other federal programs and they came to their doors with iphones and clipboards tracking voters, arranging rides and making sure all the targeted people voted. It was not data mining, it was illegal data sharing. I came from the people to the government, and then to the campaign. All the while, in a different agency of the same executive branch, conservative groups were targeted, questioned and prevented from organize in opposition, while in a third agency they were cooking the books to change the story line, and in a fourth agency they were covering up events overseas that contradict the President saying al Qaida was 'on the run' even though he slept while they were surrounding and killing Americans.
The idea that there is no trail to the top turned out to be false when we looked at the IRS. It went to the top, to a guy who had daily meetings with the White House.
If we investigate, subpoena evidence and compel testimony on the rest of these irregularities, we will find the 'Nixon tapes and much worse.
Woodward: The President’s motive here, even though there deep problems with the implementation, he wants to do something good for 30 million people and get them health insurance. So this isn’t Watergate. This isn’t Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Obamacare is designed to punish the 30 million that we want to help but won't sign up voluntarily.
What is monumental about this scandal is that it is on top of the other reelection scandals, IRS targeting conservative groups, blocking the Benghazi discovery, the Obamacare fraud and the use of government data in the reelection. Now the doctoring of economic data to influence the election. The executive executive branch and the campaign are one and the same, breaking laws and destroying the integrity of our nation. This calls for a special prosecutor and a RICO criminal prosecution (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) to connect all the different parts of a criminal organization.
Talk about a double standard, Scooter Libby went to jail without being being the source and Lois Lerner is a free woman 6 months after saying that the answers to routine questions might incriminate her. Watergate was a lie about a two bit burglary and this was an organized operation to break laws in the effort to reelect the President.
This list is kind of depressing. All entrenched players, no startups or innovators. I guess that makes sense from a guy who favors stomping out startups and innovation by way of the Buffet economic plan.
Moving on from healthcare lies, Benghazi lies, IRS targeting lies, fast and furious lies, and lies about his failed economic policies, President Obama aimed his weekly address at energy production - that he opposes!
A prescient June 2009 exchange between Georgia Rep. Tom Price and Obama CEA Chair Christina Romer. The exchange took place in a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on a draft of Obamacare. Price pressed Romer to cite a basis for the president’s ["if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan"] promise, and in the process predicted much of what would happen more than four years later, in late 2013. Obama’s promise fell apart right there in the hearing room.” Here is the exchange:
REP. PRICE: You also mentioned, as other folks have, that the president’s goal — and it’s reiterated over and over and over — that if you like your current plan or if you like your current doctor, you can keep them. Do you know where that is in the bill?
MS. ROMER: Absolutely. And things like the employer mandate is part of making sure that large employers that today — the vast majority of them do provide health insurance. One of the things that’s –
REP. PRICE: I’m asking about if an individual likes their current plan and maybe they don’t get it through their employer and maybe in fact their plan doesn’t comply with every parameter of the current draft bill, how are they going to be able to keep that?
MS. ROMER: So the president is fundamentally talking about maintaining what’s good about the system that we have. And –
REP. PRICE: That’s not my question.
MS. ROMER: One of the things that he has been saying is, for example, you may like your plan and one of the things we may do is slow the growth rate of the cost of your plan, right? So that’s something that is not only –
REP. PRICE: The question is whether or not patients are going to be able to keep their plan if they like it. What if, for example, there’s an employer out there — and you’ve said that if the employers that already provide health insurance, health coverage for their employees, that they’ll be just fine, right? What if the policy that those employees and that employer like and provide for their employees doesn’t comply with the specifics of the bill? Will they be able to keep that one?
MS. ROMER: So certainly my understanding — and I won’t pretend to be an expert in the bill — but certainly I think what’s being planned is, for example, for plans in the exchange to have a minimum level of benefits.
REP. PRICE: So if I were to tell you that in the bill it says that if a plan doesn’t comply with the specifics that are outlined in the bill that that employer’s going to have to move to the — to a different plan within five years — would you — would that be unusual, or would that seem outrageous to you?
MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing is, what kind of changes are we talking about? The president was saying he wanted the American people to know that fundamentally if you like what you have it will still be there.
REP. PRICE: What if you like what you have, Dr. Romer, though, and it doesn’t fit with the definition in the bill? My reading of the bill is that you can’t keep that.
MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing — the bill is talking about setting a minimum standard of what can count –
REP. PRICE: So it’s possible that you may like what you have, but you may not be able to keep it? Right?
MS. ROMER: We’d have — I’d have to look at the specifics.
"staying put and doubling up with roommates or living with Mom and dad" Hey young liberals, how is Hope and Change workin' out for you-all? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Economic woes for young people means less mobility By The Associated Press November 14, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. mobility for young adults has fallen to the lowest level in more than 50 years as cash-strapped 20-somethings shun home-buying and refrain from major moves in a weak job market.
The new 2013 figures from the Census Bureau, which reversed earlier signs of recovery, underscore the impact of the sluggish economy on young people, many of them college graduates, whom demographers sometimes refer to as "Generation Wait."
Burdened with college debt or toiling in low-wage jobs, they are delaying careers, marriage and having children. Waiting anxiously for their lucky break, they are staying put and doubling up with roommates or living with Mom and dad, unable to make long-term plans or commit to buying a home - let alone pay a mortgage.
Many understood after the 2007-2009 recession that times would be tough. But few say they expected to be in economic limbo more than four years later.
Among adults ages 25-29, just 4.9 million, or 23.3 percent, moved in the 12 months ending March 2013. That's down from 24.6 percent in the same period the year before. It was the lowest level since at least 1963. The peak of 36.7 percent came in 1965, during the nation's youth counterculture movement.
The past year's decline in migration came after a modest increase from 2011 to 2012, a sign that young adults remain tentative about testing the job market in other cities.
By metropolitan area, Portland, Ore., Austin, Texas, and Houston were among the top gainers in young adults, reflecting stronger local economies. Among college graduates 25 and older, Denver and Washington, D.C., topped the list of destinations.
Demographers say the delays in traditional markers of adulthood - full-time careers and homeownership - may prove to be longer-lasting.
Roughly 1 in 5 young adults ages 25 to 34 is now disconnected from work and school.
"Young adulthood has grown much more complex and protracted, with a huge number struggling to reach financial independence," said Mark Mather, an associate vice president at the private Population Reference Bureau. "Many will get there, but at much later ages than we've seen in the past. More and more we're seeing many young adults routinely wait until their 30s to leave the parental nest."
The overall decline in migration among young adults is being driven largely by a drop in local moves within a county, which fell to the lowest level on record. Out-of-state moves also fell, from 3.8 percent in 2012 to 3.4 percent, but remained higher than a 2010 low of 3.2 percent.
Young adults typically make long-distance moves to seek a new career, while those who make local moves often do so when buying a home.
While homeownership across all age groups fell by 3 percentage points to 65 percent from 2007 to 2012, the drop-off among adults 25-29 was much larger - more than 6 percentage points, from 40.6 percent to 34.3 percent. That reflects in part tighter lines of credit after the 2006 housing bust. Declines in homeownership for those ages 40 and older over in that five-year period were more modest.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution analyzed the figures: "Many young adults, especially those without college degrees, are still stuck in place." "For them, low mobility might be more than a temporary lull and could turn into the 'new normal.'"
A statement from Whistler said: "Thanks to oodles of snow, Whistler Mountain will open 13 days early this season. Whistler is renowned, season upon season, for being the number one ski resort for guaranteed snow - lots of it - and this winter will be no exception."
Americans are more conservative than they have been in decades
James Stimson knows as much about public opinion as anyone in America. He has been tracking the nation’s policy preferences for more than 20 years using a “policy mood” index derived from responses to a wide variety of opinion surveys involving hundreds of specific policy questions on topics ranging from taxes and spending to environmental regulation to gun control.
The latest update of Stimson’s policy mood series suggests that the American public in 2012 was more conservative than at any point since 1952. (Actually, since mood in each year is estimated with some error, it seems safer to say that the current level of conservatism roughly equals the previous highs recorded in 1980 and 1952.)
I admire her honesty, rather than running as a democrat and then voting as a socialist as the rest of the dems do.
That's right. Instead of the deception of the Obama phenomenon, Hillary and the rest, let's put actual socialism on the ballot and take an up and down vote. In Seattle this week, they did and it passed.
AG Holder asks for appeal in Fast and Furious case holding him in contempt
Attorney General Eric Holder wants to appeal a recent judge’s ruling that allows the House to continue with its contempt case, related to Holder’s refusal to turn over documents concerning the Justice Department’s failed Operation Fast and Furious gun-tracking program.
Holder made the request Friday night to U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, asking that the Justice Department be allowed to put the case in front of a federal appeals court before Jackson makes any final decisions.
In September, Jackson rejected the Obama administration’s request to have the case dismissed.
By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted June 14, 2010
Throughout the health reform debate, the President has been clear that we should build on the insurance system we have, keeping the parts that work and gradually fixing the parts that don’t.
The Affordable Care Act is designed to let Americans keep their health insurance if they like it while adding important consumer benefits to give businesses, families and individuals higher quality care at lower prices and more control over their own care.
Later today, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and I will announce the latest step we’re taking to implement the Affordable Care Act with the announcement of a new regulation that is a key part of this approach.
The new regulation will expand new consumer protections to all Americans with health insurance, moving us toward the competitive, patient-centered market of the future. This rule reflects the President’s policy that Americans should be able to keep their health plan and doctor if they want.
Here’s how the new rule will work:
Starting with health plan or policy years beginning on or after September 23, Americans with private health insurance plans will get some new consumer protections. For example, insurance companies will be prohibited from putting lifetime limits on your coverage. And they’ll no longer be able to cancel your insurance when you get sick just by finding an error in your paperwork.
Health coverage that was in effect when the Affordable Care Act was enacted will be exempt from some provisions in the Act if they remain “grandfathered” under a provision in the law. Under the rule issued today, employers or issuers offering such coverage will have the flexibility of making reasonable changes without losing their “grandfathered” status. For example, employers will be able to make some changes to the benefits their plans offer, raise premiums or change employee cost-sharing to keep pace with health costs within some limits, and continue to enroll new employees and their families.
However, if health plans significantly raise co-payments or deductibles, or if they significantly reduce benefits – for example, if they stop covering treatment for a disease like HIV/AIDS or cystic fibrosis – they’ll lose their grandfathered status and their customers will get the same full set of consumer protections as new plans.
The bottom line is that under the Affordable Care Act, if you like your doctor and plan, you can keep them. But if you aren’t satisfied with your insurance options today, the Affordable Care Act provides for better, more affordable health care choices through new consumer protections. And beginning in 2014, it creates health insurance exchanges that will offer individuals and small businesses better, more affordable choices.
I don't know Seattle but it has similarities with Minneapolis where Democrats hold all the city council seats and the only opposition to them comes from the left. What separates these two great cities from the fate of Detroit is probably only a matter of timing and circumstance.
Enter Kshama Sawant, just elected in a city-wide election to the council. She was a leader of Occupy-Seattle, an avowed hater of capitalism. Some Kshama Sawant quotes:
“Capitalists are criminals of our society”
“The Capitalist system itself…Is at the root of racism, hatred, and fear of black people, people of color, of poor people”
“We need to…put on trial capitalism itself”
So what does she do for a living? She teaches 'Economics' at a public university.
Normally a reliable shill for the Democrats, now he is saying almost exactly what Charles Krauthammer is saying:
MARK SHIELDS: [You can keep your plan] -- wasn't a true statement. And you're driven to one of two conclusions. Either the president was almost -- almost negligently uncurious in not asking about what the answer was, or he made the choice to trade his considerable reputation and record of integrity for short-term political gain. That's why they had to come and that's why there was such consternation in the ranks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you explain it, David, what happened, with the president acknowledging yesterday that he wasn't on top of it?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think it is politics. They knew that they -- getting this thing passed -- we were there -- it was hard. And so they were pulling out every political stop in the book. And a lot of those political stops have made it harder now. The first early one was, they were really late in issuing the regulations because they didn't want them to come out during the campaign so Romney could attack them.
As a result, the whole implementation got pushed back, and that's part of the reason the Web site is such a mess. And then they made this political calculation. Then they made the -- that they weren't going to tell you there will be losers here. And they made the political calculation there would be no deficit effects. They made a whole series of political calculations.
Shields didn’t think Obama made enough of a personal apology, like John F. Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and it looks grim:
SHIELDS: It wasn't this is mine and I'm going to make sure that it never happens again. I mean, this has got to work. Judy, this is beyond the Obama administration. If this goes down, if the Obama -- if health care, the Affordable Care Act is deemed a failure, this is the end -- I really mean it -- of liberal government, in the sense of any sense that government as an instrument of social justice, an engine of economic progress, which is what divides Democrats from Republicans -- that's what Democrats believe.
A day after they were caught off guard by President Obama’s proposal to prevent cancellation of insurance policies for millions of Americans, top executives of some of the biggest insurance companies emerged from a meeting at the White House on Friday, expressing mixed feelings about whether the idea could work in every state.
They did not discuss in detail how the president’s goal might be achieved.
The participants included executives of WellPoint, Aetna, Cigna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente, as well as several nonprofit Blue Cross plans.
After the meeting, Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, said only that it had been “very productive.”
1. “…what we’re doing to implement and improve the law.”.
Actually he has blocked any attempt to improve the law, and has insisted on making “administrative changes” – that is, ignoring the law and imposing what he chooses without approval by Congress. For example, the delay in the “employer mandate” – the House passed that but Obama instructed Reid not to take it up, and instead he made that change unilaterally, in violation of the ACA which he signed.
So no, he hasn’t worked to “improve the law,” he has fought efforts to do that.
2. “In the first month, more than 100,000 Americans successfully enrolled…”.
Not true. Based on published reports, about 106,000 have put a plan into their online shopping carts, but far fewer have actually bought the policies. And there is no way to know whether the others ever will.
If a CEO stated, “We sold more than 100,000 widgets last month.” when in fact far fewer had been sold, he could be charged with fraud.
3. “…more than 500,000 Americans could know the security of health care by January 1, many of them for the first time in their lives…”
No, these are not people who have “never known the security of health care,” they are people who either don’t have insurance, or who think they can get better or cheaper insurance through Obamacare. Health care is already available more or less to all of them.
4. “The other problem that has received a lot of attention concerns the Americans who have received letters from their insurers that they may be losing the plans that they bought…”
No, these letters (and I received one) don’t say we “may be” losing our plans. They say we are losing our plans, effective the end of the year. Implying that it is iffy is dishonest.
5. “I’ve said from the beginning, I’m willing to work with Democrats and Republicans to fix problems as they arise. This is an example of what I’m talking about.”
But it’s not.
He is not “working with Democrats and Republicans” to fix this. He is unilaterally stating how it will be, in violation of the ACA, which he signed into law. There are no Republicans involved in this, in any way. Saying this is an example of “working with Democrats and Republicans” to fix this is not true.
6. “[In the Obamacare exchange], [t]here is a good chance they will be able to buy better plans at lower cost.”
Not really. Prices there are very high. If your income is low, the cost may be borne partly by others, but it’s still high. Subsidies don’t lower cost, they just pass it on to somebody else.
7. “I’m not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to have health care for the first time…”
Actually two lies in one phrase here.
First, he’s again using “health care” to mean “health insurance. Almost all these people have had health care, just not insurance. It’s dishonest to imply that if you don’t have insurance you don’t get health care – that is almost 100 percent false.
Second, he is stating that these people have not had “access” to insurance, but most or all of them have had access to insurance, the same as they have had access to food, shelter, and everything else you buy with money. They may not have been able to afford it, or they may have chosen not to buy it, because they wanted to spend their money on something else. (I wonder how many of them smoke or drink…?)
8. “We’re at the opening weeks of a project to build a better health-care system for everybody.”
Again, at least two blatant lies here.
First, the ACA was passed in early 2010, and it presumably had a little thought before it was passed. So it’s been at least 3 1/2 years, not “weeks.”
Second, the bill is constructed to make insurance cheaper for some – those who have low income or pre-existing conditions – at the expense of others. It cannot possibly be claimed to be “better” for those who pay more to subsidize those who get the subsidies.
9. “It’s important that we’re honest and straightforward when we come up with a problem with these reforms and these laws that we address them.”
Not a lie exactly, but what would you call it if a worm said, “It’s important that we have arms and legs!”?
10. [His promise “If you like your plan you can keep it”] “…ended up not being accurate.”
No, it was false when he said it, and he knew that.
He lied, dozens of times.
11. “…premiums would go up an average of 15 percent a year.”
This one would take some research, but he offers no evidence to support this, and I don’t think it’s true. My insurance has been pretty flat for several years, til the ACA was imposed.
12. “…my expectation was that for 98 percent of the American people, either it genuinely wouldn’t change at all, or they would be pleasantly surprised…that proved not to be the case.”
Published reports show that he knew the reality – he was informed years ago – and he went ahead saying “If you like your policy you can keep it” anyway.
13. “The Affordable Care Act is not going to be the factor in what happens with folks in the individual market.”
Of course it is. If he thinks that insurance companies – having put a bunch of effort into re-designing their plans to comply with the ACA, that because he holds a press conference, and says that those parts of the law – which he did not specify – that are causing the problem, are somehow void – but only for 2014 – and that insurance companies will all turn on a dime, without any regard for what might come next – what the rules will be in 14 months – he is absolutely nuts. He can’t be that stupid, so he must be lying.
14. “…the status quo before the ACA was not working at all.”
I guess it all depends what “working” means, but any definition you could apply, if you apply that same definition to any other industry, you would find that nothing in America is “working”, because nothing is perfect. Which may be how Obama views things.
Of course it was “working” to some degree. Most of us were relatively satisfied with our insurance and it was affordable. (I always found that insurance companies’ customer service was horrible, but the products and prices were OK.)
Does he really claim that if everything in an industry isn’t perfect, then something like the ACA is justified? The implications are staggering.
15. “When I see people on Capitol Hill…who want to repeal it…”
Essentially he is claiming that if you favor repeal of the ACA, then you favor the status quo before it was imposed, which is not true at all.
He is pretending not to know that the House has already passed a number of reforms that would reduce cost and increase coverage. He can’t be that poorly-informed, so he must by lying.
16. “…and it certainly wasn’t working for the 41 million people who didn’t have health insurance.”
Of course it was working, for many of them. Some couldn’t afford insurance, but many of those 41 million simply chose not to buy it, because they believed – probably correctly – that it wasn’t worth the money. The President can disagree with them, but only if he looks at an individual’s situation and concludes that person would be better off with insurance. But even then, what counts is each individual’s values and choices – that’s what “better” is in a free society. So those who could afford it and chose not to buy it – for them, the system was working fine.
17. “Somebody sooner or later had to do it.”
He doesn’t say exactly what “it” is, but he was talking about the ACA, so presumably he means “Somebody had to impose something like the ACA.” and that’s obviously not true. The status quo was a viable option, or there were other reform options, like those passed by the House. Nobody “had” to do something like the ACA.
I notice he lies less when he answers questions than when he makes prepared remarks. When he answers questions, he rambles and repeats himself, but he seems to avoid direct lies.
Which suggests that he and his team must sit around, before he speaks in public, and write the lies; they are carefully prepared, not extemporaneous.
ACA Eliminates 98% of Plans Michael Tanner over at National Review brings us this ObamaCare tidbit: "According to HealthPocket, a health-insurance consulting firm, fewer than 2 percent of individual plans on offer today meet all ACA requirements." But this destruction isn't limited to the individual market. Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute says that 51% of employer-sponsored plans will get cancelled, as well. As we have said all along, ObamaCare is about remaking the "market," not preserving it.
The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any way affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many.
I caught a snippet of an interview with Ron Paul yesterday in which his vision for the Rep Party winning elections impressed me in its vision for reaching voter blocks currently cold to the Rep Party e.g. he saw Privacy issues as being a good natural fit for the Reps and that it would appeal to all, including the young.
Agree that people should be ready to embrace a right of privacy. Who knows about the young as they put everything out there on Facebook and Twitter. Still, it is they who decide what to broadcast and what to keep private, not a mandate out of Washington. ObamaCare is the most bold, egregious and obvious violation of privacy this nation has ever seen (IMHO). I have no idea how to convince anyone of the dangers of that if they don't already see it. NSA is another privacy problem. Security is necessary in a time of terror but combine that with the dishonesty and abuse witnessed in the IRS targeting scandal, Benghazi, Obamacare, Merkel spying etc., and the trust is gone.
Crafty posted the first part above in the thread, the link to part 2 follows my comment.
Words I have never before written, Thomas Sowell, I think you have this wrong. The concept is right. Choosing our battles, policies, tactics and candidates to support and oppose are all crucial to tea party success. The de-fund strategy was judged a failure. However, it did NOT cause the shutdown, the opponents did that by refusing to negotiate with the House - on ObamaCare. The rest was all funded by the House. The 'shutdown' was a 16 day, 17%, non-essential services, paid vacation. Other than giving ammunition to an already hateful mainstream media, almost no one can point to real damage done. On the plus side, it was made abundantly clear to everyone (again) that the Republicans oppose this train wreck and have at least a part of a backbone, and that Democrats were exposed as forcing their rule at all costs, on record refusing to negotiate and willing to close it all to get their prize possession. Now they own it. Immediate reactions are one thing, the tea party lost in the polls, but in one month following the generic party vote in one poll has swung back 11 points, from -8 to +3 R. That doesn't happen when people blame both parties. The so-called tea party took a stand, failed, and America lost out as a consequence. Now we at least we know where everyone stands.
CCP, You are right. The Benghazi lie is so much like the Obamacare lie. People knew it was a lie then. People know now. People tolerate it. Clarence Page (liberal columnist) said it aloud (about the keep-your-plan lie), it was a "political lie", meaning people expect that and he needed to do it to get bill passed and to get re-elected. The Benghazi lies were to get reelected, covering up a big hole in their foreign policy schtick. If 'we' want him re-elected, then it is okay. The IRS targeting was only about taking down opponents, that is still okay. But the keep-your-plan lie, as you say, now involves money out of our pockets. And the Benghazi lies involve deaths of people serving our country. The line has been crossed, even for the people with almost no political principles. The other factor is the media. After blowing it so badly and with reelection safely accomplished, they have a some credibility to re-establish. Now they are curious of what they previously ignored, even helped to cover up.
I still cringe at the image of Candy Crowley conspiring to sweep the Benghazi coverup under the carpet. That is when answers should have been forced out of this administration. Mr. President, where were you? Who ordered the stand down? Who approved the video excuse? What was the mission? Why wasn't security beefed up? A foreign policy debate in a Presidential election, and none of it asked! Instead she shot down the challenger with a blatant falsehood.
Everyone including our unaware President knows that small business is the driver of jobs and job growth. Yet...
"When those [businesses] with between 40 and 70 employees were asked about the 50 full-time-equivalent cutoff between having to offer those working at least 30 hours per week health insurance and not having to offer those employees health insurance, a majority plan to ensure they either remain below or drop below that threshold by 2015."
Who knew this would happen??!! ---------------------------------------- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association commissioned Public Opinion Strategies to conduct a poll of decision-makers at businesses, both franchise-owned and non-franchise-owned with 40 to 500 employees. The 414 surveyed, representative of the employers of over 25% of the populace and the group of employers most affected by the provisions of ObamaCare, give lie to the administration’s claim that ObamaCare will not negatively affect, and is not already negatively affecting, the job market:
- Many businesses are already seeing their health care costs increasing because of the law. To cope, 31% of franchise and 12% of non-franchise businesses have already reduced worker hours, a full year before the employer mandate goes into effect.
- Additionally, 27% of franchise and 12% of non-franchise businesses have already replaced full-time workers with part-time employees. Other cost control methods cited by survey participants included hiring only temporary help and cutting benefits and bonuses.
When those with between 40 and 70 employees were asked about the 50 full-time-equivalent cutoff between having to offer those working at least 30 hours per week health insurance and not having to offer those employees health insurance, a majority plan to ensure they either remain below or drop below that threshhold by 2015.
A Conservative Alternative to ObamaCare To avoid a lurch to the left if the current law fails, the time is right to present sensible, market-oriented reforms.
By Ramesh Ponnuru And Yuval Levin WSJ Nov. 14, 2013
As ObamaCare's failures and victims mount by the day, Republicans have so far mostly been watching in amazement. They expected the law to fail, but even among its most ardent opponents few imagined the scale and speed of the fiasco.
Seeing the pileup, Republicans might be tempted to step aside and let ObamaCare continue to disappoint and infuriate Americans. After all, the GOP doesn't have the power to repeal the law, or even to make meaningful changes to undo its worst effects. So why not just watch the Democrats pay the price for their folly?
But such passivity would actually protect the Democrats from paying that price. What Republicans can and should do is offer the public something better. Now is the time to advance a conservative reform that can solve the serious, discrete problems of the health-care system in place before ObamaCare, but without needlessly upending people's arrangements or threatening what works in American medicine. That the Democrats are now making things worse doesn't mean the public wants to keep that prior system, or that Republicans should.
The biggest Republican misconception about health care is that the system before ObamaCare was a free-market paradise. On the contrary: It has consisted chiefly of massive and inefficient entitlements that threaten to bankrupt the nation; the lopsided tax treatment of employer-provided coverage that creates incentives for waste and overspending; and an underdeveloped individual market struggling to fill the gaps.
Exploding health-care costs and millions left needlessly uninsured are a result of misguided federal policies. Solutions require targeted reforms to those policies.
The outlines of such reforms have been apparent for years. The key is to enable all Americans to purchase coverage and to approach health care as consumers: with an interest in quality and an eye on cost.
The first step of a plan to replace ObamaCare should be a flat and universal tax benefit for coverage. Today's tax exclusion for employer-provided health coverage should be capped so that people would not get a bigger tax break by buying more extensive and expensive insurance. The result would be to make employees more cost-conscious; and competition for their favor would make insurance cheaper.
That tax break would also be available—ideally as a refundable credit sufficient at least for the purchase of catastrophic coverage—to people who do not have access to employer coverage. This would enable people who now choose not to buy insurance to get catastrophic coverage with no premium costs. It also would give those who want more-comprehensive coverage in the individual market the same advantage that people with employer plans get.
Medicaid could be converted into a means-based addition to that credit, allowing the poor to buy into the same insurance market as more affluent people—and so give them access to better health care than they can get now.
All those with continuous coverage, which everyone could afford thanks to the new tax treatment, would be protected from price spikes or plan cancellations if they got sick. This guarantee would provide a strong incentive to buy coverage, without the coercion of the individual mandate. People who have pre-existing conditions when the new rules take effect would be able to buy coverage through subsidized, high-risk pools.
By making at least catastrophic coverage available to all, and by giving people such incentives to obtain it, this approach could cover more people than ObamaCare was ever projected to reach, and at a significantly lower cost.
The new alternative would not require the mandates, taxes and heavy-handed regulations of ObamaCare. It would turn more people into shoppers for health care instead of passive recipients of it—and encourage the kind of insurance design, consumer behavior and intense competition that could help keep health costs down. Redesigned and directed this way, the flow of federal dollars and tax subsidies would do much less to distort health markets than it has for the last several decades, while getting far more people insured.
Conservative policy experts have long proposed such approaches, but congressional Republicans, with a few honorable exceptions, have not taken them up in recent years. In 2009, for instance, House Republicans offered an alternative to ObamaCare that did nothing about today's market-distorting tax policy and thus did not do much to help the people whom that policy—by inflating premiums—has locked out of the insurance market.
Some Republicans think that political success requires nothing more than watching ObamaCare fail. But if the new system quickly implodes, that would be all the more reason to have an alternative on hand—other than another leftward move toward single payer. And it might not implode so quickly.
Other Republicans fear that any alternative would amount to ObamaCare Lite, just another big government health-care program. But a real market-oriented conservative reform would take us toward an actual functioning consumer market in coverage—and so to the right not only of ObamaCare but of the system that preceded it.
There has also been a fear among some Republicans that proposing an alternative would give Democrats a target and distract the public from the expected and now real failures of ObamaCare. But the absence of a credible alternative has been the GOP's greatest weakness in the fight against ObamaCare, and it is probably why polls show that even many people who are skeptical and concerned about ObamaCare do not support full repeal.
Defenders of ObamaCare are using the absence of a Republican alternative to suggest that their law is the only answer to the grave problems of American health care and that without it millions of Americans would continue to lack access to coverage. That argument is their final trump card. It is time for Republicans to take it away.
November 12, 2013 IPCC 's Bogus Evidence for Global Warming By S. Fred Singer
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the United Nations in 1988 and has been trying very hard to demonstrate the threat of a dangerous human influence on climate due to the emission of greenhouse gases. This is in line with their Charter, which directs the IPCC to assemble reports in support of the Global Climate Treaty -- the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) of Rio de Janeiro.
It is interesting that IPCC "evidence" was based on peer-reviewed publications - but (reluctantly) abandoned only after protracted critiques from outside scientists. E-mails among members of the IPCC team, revealed in the 2009 'Climategate' leak, describe their strenuous efforts to silence such critiques, often using unethical methods.
I will show here that the first three IPCC assessment reports contain erroneous scientific arguments, which have never been retracted or formally corrected, but at least have now been abandoned by the IPCC -- while the last two reports, AR4 and AR5, use an argument that seems to be circular and does not support their conclusion. Australian Prof. "Bob" Carter, marine geologist and paleo-climatologist, refers to IPCC as using "hocus-pocus" science. He is a co-author of the latest (2013) NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) report "Climate Change Reconsidered-II" www.climatechangereconsidered.org . We also co-authored a critique of the 2013 IPCC-AR5 Summary <http://heartland.org/sites/default/files/critique_of_ipcc_spm.pdf>
1. IPCC-AR1 (1990)
This first report of the IPCC bases its entire claim for AGW on the fact that both CO2 and surface temperatures increased during the 20th century -- although not in lock-step. They assign the major warming of 1910 to 1940 to a human influence -- based on a peer-reviewed paper by BD Santer and TML Wigley, which uses a very strange statistical argument. But the basis of their statistics has been critiqued (by Tsonis and Swanson) -- and I have demonstrated empirically elsewhere that their conclusion does not hold.
While this faulty paper has never been retracted, it is now no longer quoted as evidence by the IPCC -- nor accepted by the overwhelming majority of IPCC scientists: Most if not all warming of the early 20th century is due to natural, not human causes.
2. IPCC AR2 (1996)
This report devotes a whole chapter, #8, to "Attribution and Detection." Its main feature is what one might call the "invention" of the "Hotspot," i.e. an enhanced warming trend in the tropical troposphere -- never actually observed.
Unfortunately, the "evidence," as presented by BD Santer, was published only after the IPCC report itself appeared; it contains two fundamental errors. The first error was to argue that the Hotspot is a "fingerprint" of human influence -- and specifically, related to an increase in greenhouse gases. This is not true. The Hotspot, according to all model calculations, is simply an atmospheric amplification of a surface trend, a consequence of the physics of the tropical atmosphere.
[Technically speaking, it is caused by increased convective activity whereby cumulus clouds carry latent heat from the surface of the tropical ocean into the upper troposphere. In other words, the Hotspot is not human-caused, but arises from a "moist-adiabatic lapse rate" of the atmosphere. This effect is discussed in most meteorological textbooks and is widely accepted.]
How then did AR2 conclude that a Hotspot exists observationally? This is the second issue: The IPCC selected a short interval in the atmospheric temperature record that showed an increase -- while the general trend was one of cooling. In other words, they cherry-picked their data to invent a Hotspot -- as pointed out in a subsequent publication by PJ Michaels and PC Knappenberger [see graph below]
The matter of the existence of a Hotspot in the actual tropical troposphere has been the topic of lively debate ever since. On the one hand, DH Douglass, JR Christy, BD Pearson and SF Singer, demonstrated absence of a Hotspot empirically while Santer (and 17[!] IPCC coauthors), publishing in the same journal, argued the opposite. This issue now seems to have been finally settled, as discussed by Singer in two papers in Energy & Environment [2011 and 2013].
It is worth noting that a US government report [CCSP-SAP-1.1 (2006)] showed absence of a Hotspot in the tropics (Chapter 5, BD Santer, lead author). But the report's Executive Summary managed to obfuscate this result by referring to global atmosphere rather than tropical.
It is also worth noting that while the IPCC-AR2 used the Hotspot invention to argue that the "balance of evidence suggest a human influence," later IPCC reports no longer use the Hotspot argument.
Nevertheless, one consequence of this unfortunate phrase in AR2 has been the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. Even though Kyoto expired in 2012, it has managed to waste hundreds of billions of dollars so far -- and continues to distort energy policies with uneconomic schemes in most industrialized nations.
3. IPCC AR3 (2001)
AR3 attributes global warming to human influences based on the "Hockey-Stick" graph, using published papers by Michael Mann, derived from his analysis of multi-proxy data. The hockeystick graph [bottom graph below] claims that the 20th century showed unusually rapid warming -- and thus suggests a strong human influence. The graph also does away with the well-established Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, which were shown in earlier IPCC reports [see top graph below].
It was soon found that the Hockeystick graph was in error and did not deserve continued reliance. Canadian statisticians Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demonstrated errors in Mann's statistical analysis and in the use of certain tree-ring data for calibration. In fact, they showed that Mann's algorithm would generate a Hockeystick graph -- even if the input data was pure noise. [I served as a reviewer for M&M's initial paper in Energy & Environment 2003.]
It is worth noting that the IPCC no longer uses the Hockeystick to support human-caused warming, even though AR3 still claims to be at least 66% certain that greenhouse-gas emissions are responsible for 20th century warming.
4. IPCC-AR4 (2007) and AR5 (2013)
Both reports use essentially the same faulty argument in their attempt to support their conclusion of human-caused global warming. Their first step is to construct a model that tries to match the reported 20th-century surface warming. This is not very difficult; it is essentially a 'curve-fitting' exercise: By selecting the right level of climate sensitivity and the right amount of aerosol forcing, they can match the reported temperature rise of the final decades of the 20th century, but not the initial decades -- as becomes evident from a detailed graph in their Attribution chapter. This lack of agreement is due to the fact that their models ignore major forcings -- both from variations of solar activity and from changes in ocean circulation.
They then use the following trick. They re-plot their model graph, but without an increase in greenhouse gases; this absence of forcing now generates a gap between the reported warming and unforced model. Then they turn around and argue that this gap must be due to an increase in greenhouse gases. It appears to me that this argument may be circular. Even if the reported late-20th-century surface warming really exists (it is absent from the satellite and radiosonde records), the IPCC argument is not convincing.
It is ironic, however, that IPCC claims increasing certainty (at 90% in AR4 and at least 95% in AR5) for an attribution to human causes, which appears to be contrived. Additionally, while AR4 calculates a Climate Sensitivity (for a doubling of CO2) of 2.0 - 4.5 degC, AR5 expands the uncertainty interval to 1.5 - 4.5 degC. So much for the claim of increased certainty in the IPCC-AR5 Summary.
Yet, while claiming increased certainty about manmade global warming, both reports essentially ignore the absence of any surface warming trend since about 1998. Of course, they also ignore absence of any significant warming in the troposphere, ocean record, and proxy data during the crucial preceding (1979-1997) interval.
In spite of much effort, the IPCC has never succeeded in demonstrating that climate change is significantly affected by human activities -- and in particular, by the emission of greenhouse gases. Over the last 25 years, their supporting arguments have shifted drastically -- and are shown to be worthless. It appears more than likely that climate change is controlled by variations in solar magnetic activity and by periodic changes in ocean circulation.
There is no doubt about the existence of such a solar influence on climate. As shown in the graph below, cosmic-ray intensity (as measured by the radioactive carbon isotope C-14) and terrestrial climate (as measured by the oxygen isotope O-18) correlate in amazing detail over an interval of at least 3000 years (see graph below; the bottom graph is the central section, blown up to reveal detail)
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the US National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute. He co-authored the NY Times best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years.
Yes, unbelievable. That is what de-funding and zero-based budgeting should be all about. Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. If this is their work product, while competing for scarce resources, then out they go.
A Noble Lie? Why ObamaCare is worse than just a case of pathological altruism. By James Taranto November 13, 2013
This column has been following with amusement the various equivocations and rationalizations supporters of ObamaCare have offered to avoid acknowledging plainly that Barack Obama's central premise--"If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it"--was an out-and-out fraud. "Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that" is how a New York Times editorial put it last week. The Times's news side seems to have settled on "incorrect promise."
But if the Times editors are in the market for talent, they ought to find out who wrote Sunday's editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This thing is a masterpiece:
First of all, this is a problem of the president's own making. He did repeatedly say that if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. He was three words short of the truth. All he had to add was "in most cases."
It's unlikely that this extra frankness would have hurt the political effort to sell the legislation. People understand that not everybody can be left unaffected by such a sweeping change, and Mr. Obama should have been careful not to embellish the assurance.
Was it a lie? He should have known the facts. By definition, a lie is a deliberate misstating of the truth; it is not simply something that was wrongly stated with good intentions, in this case perhaps, to make the complicated simple for public consumption. Those who believe the worst of this president will conclude that he lied; those who do not will be more charitable.
This is savory for multiple reasons. For one, adding a weaselly phrase like "in most cases" does not constitute "extra frankness." Quite the opposite: It turns a shining promise into a foggy assurance with no clear meaning. Imagine if Obama tried that with his wedding vows:
Jeremiah Wright: Will you, Barack, take Michelle to be your wife, to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?
Obama: Yeah, most likely.
The Post-Gazette's claim that "it is unlikely" such equivocation "would have hurt the political effort to sell the legislation" is supportable only if one assumes the enactment of ObamaCare was not the close-run thing it seemed at the time--in other words, that Harry Reid would have been able to command 60 votes and Nancy Pelosi 218 even without whatever political cover the fraudulent promise provided the Democratic members of their respective chambers. If that is true, however, then the entire "political effort to sell the legislation" was a sham: The fix was in, and Congress was prepared to act with complete disregard for public opinion.
Now for the best part: "By definition, a lie is a deliberate misstating of the truth; it is not simply something that was wrongly stated with good intentions, in this case perhaps, to make the complicated simple for public consumption."
This is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Wall Street Journal established a week earlier that the pledge was the result of careful deliberation between "White House policy advisers" concerned about accuracy and "political aides," who prevailed because, as the Journal paraphrased a comment from an unnamed former official, "in the midst of a hard-fought political debate 'if you like your plan, you can probably keep it' isn't a salable point."
So this was a deliberate misstating of the truth. By raising the possibility of "good intentions," the Post-Gazette editorialists seem to be suggesting that it was a sort of noble lie. "The furor of the supposed great lie is an embarrassment to Mr. Obama," they concede in conclusion, "but it obscures the larger and more important truth that the Affordable Care Act remains good policy."
That evaluation seems increasingly delusional with every passing hour, but let's stipulate for the sake of argument that ObamaCare was a well-intended policy: that Obama pushed for it out of a sincere desire to help people. That would make its failure an example of what the scholar Barbara Oakley calls pathological altruism.
That seems to us, however, to give Obama too much credit. For one thing, it takes more than altruistic motives to justify lying. Suppose one could establish that Bernie Madoff sincerely wanted to make his clients wealthier. Would that mitigate his guilt for defrauding them?
Further, good intentions are not the same as pure intentions. People often have altruistic and selfish motives for the same action. Even if we assume Obama honestly wanted to help people and made his fraudulent promise in pursuit of that goal, it would be silly to deny he also made it in pursuit of his own aggrandizement--of the approbation that comes with a "legacy" of substantial "achievement."
Of course, that's not working out so well for him now. Whether or not this is a case of pathological altruism, it definitely is pathological narcissism.
The Truth about the 1 Percent The rich’s incomes aren’t surging, and inequality measures ignore growing government transfers. By Alan Reynolds November 11, 2013
Every year, new estimates of the incomes of the “top 1 percent” are reported with the requisite fanfare from Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley. And every year the press gets the numbers all wrong.
“Worry Over Inequality Occupies Wall Street,” writes Justin Lahart of the Wall Street Journal. An odd worry, when stocks keep hitting record highs. In reality, top income shares always rise and fall with the stock market because of capital gains, stock options, and bonuses and fees tied to stocks.
“Messrs. Piketty and Saez,” says Lahart, “show the top 1 percent captured 19.3% of U.S. income in 2012. The only year in the past century when their share was bigger was 1928, at 19.6%.” That comparison is incredibly misleading. Piketty and Saez don’t include $2.3 trillion of transfer payments in “U.S. income,” even though transfers accounted for over 16 percent of personal income in 2009 and almost zero in 1928.
Extolling Piketty and Saez as “everyone’s favorite inequality-tracking researchers,” Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post writes, “Shockingly — shockingly — what [Piketty and Saez] found is that while only 49 percent of the decline in incomes during the recession was born [sic] by the top 1 percent (whose income share fell to 18.1 percent due to the recession), 95 percent of income gains since the recovery started have gone to them.”
There is an interesting story in these numbers, but it is not a story journalists choose to report. It turns out that the same table Matthews reprinted from Piketty and Saez shows the top 1 percent’s real income fell by 36.3 percent from 2007 to 2009, then rose by only 31.4 percent from 2009 to 2012. The 36.3 percent decline, of course, was calculated from a much larger base than the subsequent 31.4 percent recovery.
Since top incomes fell more than they rose, you might expect the Post’s Mr. Matthews to note that over the whole period, the net change was a decline in top incomes rather than an increase. Down is not up, even in economic journalism. Yet every major media outlet, even The Economist and the Wall Street Journal, gullibly reported the data — adding up to a five-year decline — as evidence the rich are continually getting richer.
The table shown here — which uses Piketty and Saez’s data — shows the top 1 percent’s average real income fell by 16.3 percent from 2007 to 2012, and ended up 6.4 percent lower than it was back in 2000:
Average Real Income of the Top 1 Percent (2012 dollars) 2000 $1,350,006 2001 1,063,706 2002 933,878 2003 964,989 2004 1,143,104 2005 1,323,935 2006 1,414,985 2007 1,510,932 2008 1,213,199 2009 961,785 2010 1,076,379 2011 1,056,640 2012 1,264,065
What about the “other 99 percent,” whose income supposedly rose by only 0.4 percent from 2009 to 2012? Piketty and Saez compare real incomes at different income levels without including Social Security, unemployment and disability benefits, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. Government transfers totaled $2.3 trillion in 2012, up 24.6 percent in real terms from 2007 and up 68 percent since 2000. Because Piketty and Saez estimate only pre-tax, pre-transfer income, they also ignore $149 billion in Treasury checks to lower-income families from refundable tax credits. They’ll also ignore huge Obamacare subsidies next year.
Once transfers and taxes are properly taken into account, my own research for the Cato Institute shows no clear trend toward greater inequality after 1989, aside from the tech-stock boom of 1998–2000. Instead of any predictable trend, data on income shares are dominated by cyclical variations in which rich and poor rise or fall together: When the top 1 percent’s share rises, the poverty rate falls, and when the top 1 percent’s share falls, the poverty rate rises.
There are numerous conceptual and measurement problems with attempting to judge the relative living standards of the rich, middle-class, and poor by relying on income reported on individual tax returns (ignoring, for a start, income that’s unreported or reported on corporate returns).
Saez himself has hinted that the seemingly strong surge in top-percentile incomes in 2012, for example, was largely a matter of strategic tax timing — reporting bonuses and capital gains in 2012 to avoid higher tax rates in 2013. The same thing happened in late 1992, when professionals and executives arranged to cash in bonuses and stock options in December rather than in January 1993, when income-tax rates went up. It also happened in 1986, when investors rushed to cash in capital gains before the capital-gains tax went up, briefly inflating reported real income of the top 1 percent by 34.6 percent in a single year.
Because reported capital gains and bonuses were similarly shifted forward from 2013 to 2012, we can expect a sizable drop in the top 1 percent’s reported income when the 2013 estimates come out a year from now. The befuddled media will doubtless figure out some way to depict that drop as an increase.
I drove past the closest nuclear plant to us during the Fukushima catastrophe on a clear, still, beautiful, sunny day. This plant has produced over 4 trillion W·hr of electricity annually since 1971, a mind boggling amount, with a stellar safety record - and no harmful emissions. Try producing electricity at that cost and safety record with any other known source - it can't be done. But due to one tsunami in the Pacific, other countries are closing plants and scuttling plans to build new ones.
It is hard to express how safe nuclear energy is while Fukushima is still wrapping up, but the piece Crafty posted does a nice job of putting that disaster in proportion:
"The widely advertised fallout disaster after Fukushima never happened. Zero deaths resulted from the plant explosion or the radiation leakage from the accident, though some died in the panicky evacuation of the area."
Importantly, a new plant can be built to withstand that natural disaster, and most nuclear sites have no real possibility of ever facing such a test.
As stated in the article, people "confuse what nuclear bombs do with what nuclear energy does. So many of our ideas about fallout and cancer rates are tied to the former, not the latter."
Also well presented is the context of nuclear energy, "There is no way to produce energy that’s entirely safe. Worldwide, some 3 million people die each year from causes related to fossil-fuel use."
The magnitude of the show-stopping, nuclear waste issue is much smaller than we are led to believe: "All the nuclear waste generated in US history could fit in 10-foot-high barrels covering a single football field. Only about 1% of that material has a scary half-life." "Next-generation nuclear reactors will be able use recycled nuclear waste for fuel, making nuclear power a renewable resource and massively reducing the amount of waste on Earth."
Given that nuclear power is safer and we need the energy, it comes back to costs and emissions - and nuclear wins. Yet, at the expense of our economy and the environment, we dither instead of building new, state of the art facilities.
It certainly did NOT originate in the House, but likely falls under the Roberts Doctrine:
If you can find a way, no matter how irrational or contorted, to uphold an action of the legislative branch creating new government powers not authorized by the framers and stomping on individual liberties, then you, the Chief Justice and swing vote of the United States Supreme Court, must do so.
Year 2013, Revenues 2,774(B), Outlays 3,454, Deficit 680, Deficit % of GDP: 4.1%
For all the hoopla over budget improvement, deficit % of GDP is still 30% worse than 2008. Under this likely-to-be-temporary spending sequester in the last fiscal year before Obamcare, and taxing at the highest tax rates in recent memory, we are still spending 25% above and beyond what we take in! What could possibly go wrong?
Are we really going to just use less energy, or switch back to fossil fuels, bumping up our CO2 emissions, or pay 15 times too much with solar-wind strategies? Nuclear power has by far the safest track record including its setbacks. No one died at 3 Mile Island, Chernoble was a lesson in Soviet failure. Fukushima Daichi was caused a massive earthquake-tsunami, not likely in most locations, and provides the opportunity to build future facilities safer and stronger. Meanwhile we dither on nuclear and bark up the wrong trees on energy policy.
Enviros Suffering Nuclear Meltdown (by Steven Hayward)
I’ve written before here about the documentary film Pandora’s Promise, in which prominent environmentalists have changed their mind about nuclear power. Then a couple weeks ago several prominent climate alarmists, headed by the egregious James Hansen, put out an article advocating a return to nuclear power. Naturally this has upset the retrograde/reactionary environmentalists who are stuck in 1979 and can’t get over Three Mile Island.
Last Thursday CNN decided to broadcast Pandora’s Promise, and pair it with an episode of Crossfire about the topic between the fossilized Ralph Nader and my stylish pal Michael Shellenberger. Michael had called me in advance of the debate, saying he was a bit nervous about debating Nader, but I expressed confidence that he’d wipe the floor. If you have 10 minutes or so to spare, here are two of the Crossfire segments:
Out in the further reaches of the critical theory left, the necessity of denying objective reality extends to language itself. The deep-dish post-modernists declaim that language is just another subjective tool of the (white) power structure. Whenever I hear such drivel, I usually ask not only why are we having this argument, but how are we having this argument? (And if there is nothing but power in the world, I like to say: “Fine. How many guns you lefties got? Because I’ve got lots of them.” That’s when the whole subject is usually changed or dropped.)
It should not surprise us, then, that “progressives” (the new term for “liberals” since modern liberals have discredited liberalism) are obsessed with language, and think that merely changing words will change minds. George Lakoff has made a lucrative cottage industry out of this.
The latest entry in the glossolalia of progressivism is this post about how we need to ditch “big business,” “entitlements,” “free market capitalism,” “government spending,” and other hardy perennials. Some of the suggestions include:
(1). Big Business: (Also referred to as: Corporate America; Multinationals; Corporate Interests) When we use any of these words, we automatically sound pie-in-the-sky liberal. People think, “what’s wrong with that?” After all, they’d like their own businesses to get “big” and have no negative associations with the words “corporate” or “multinational” — which actually sound kind of exciting and worldly. Instead, progressives can try: Unelected Government. This puts big, global, multinationals in their proper context as unelected entities with unprecedented powers, whose actions have immense impact on our lives, and which we are powerless to hold accountable.
(2). Entitlements: I keep hearing reporters from National Public Radio and other liberal news outlets use the word “entitlements” and it makes me froth at the mouth. They’re not “entitlements” — which sounds like something a bunch of spoiled, lazy, undeserving people irrationally think they should get for nothing. Instead, we progressives should try: Earned Benefits. . .
(4). Government Spending: (Also referred to as: Taxes, Burden, and Inconvenient) Conservatives talk about “government spending” like it’s this awful thing, but the fact is, communities across America benefit from U.S. tax dollars, especially supposedly anti-government red states, which receive way more federal tax money than they contribute. Instead, progressives should try: Investing in America. Because, that’s what our federal tax dollars do.
(11). The Environment: When people talk about “the environment,” they often sound annoyingly self-righteous, as if lecturing people with dubious hygiene practices. Unfortunately, you can’t count on people to make environmentally friendly choices — especially when people are struggling financially and these choices cost significantly more. Instead, we progressives can try: Shared Resources.
(12). Welfare: When conservatives talk about “welfare,” they make it sound like this pit people wallow in forever, rather than a source of help that’s available when we need it – and that we pay for through our taxes. The majority of us need help at one time or another. Instead, progressives should try: Social Safety Net: When people think of a safety net, they’re more likely to think of a protection of last-resort, and one that they can instantly bounce out of like circus acrobats.
A keep-your-plan bill should include a clause to legalize other plans for other people as well. 'Grandfathering' in a few plans is unequal treatment and no way to treat the previously and currently uninsured who might like to buy lesser coverage than the O-care requirement too.
If Obamacare is a tax of a legal choice, and not a mandate, why aren't catastrophic plans allowed and available for those who chose to pay the penalty instead of buy the policy? What happened to the goal of getting more people insured? Isn't partial insurance better no insurance?. Maybe we can offer a partial penalty, something a little easier to repeal.
Anyone out there want to point out which article or amendment in the constitution authorizes the federal government to 'buy up' $1.25 trillion in 'mortgage backed securities' as a way of injecting purely inflationary money into the system in an attempt to 'stimulate' business and consumption in the economy? Good God, what have we become? ------------------------------
I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.
Five years ago this month, on Black Friday, the Fed launched an unprecedented shopping spree. By that point in the financial crisis, Congress had already passed legislation, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, to halt the U.S. banking system's free fall. Beyond Wall Street, though, the economic pain was still soaring. In the last three months of 2008 alone, almost two million Americans would lose their jobs.
The Fed said it wanted to help—through a new program of massive bond purchases. There were secondary goals, but Chairman Ben Bernanke made clear that the Fed's central motivation was to "affect credit conditions for households and businesses": to drive down the cost of credit so that more Americans hurting from the tanking economy could use it to weather the downturn. For this reason, he originally called the initiative "credit easing."
My part of the story began a few months later. Having been at the Fed for seven years, until early 2008, I was working on Wall Street in spring 2009 when I got an unexpected phone call. Would I come back to work on the Fed's trading floor? The job: managing what was at the heart of QE's bond-buying spree—a wild attempt to buy $1.25 trillion in mortgage bonds in 12 months. Incredibly, the Fed was calling to ask if I wanted to quarterback the largest economic stimulus in U.S. history.
This was a dream job, but I hesitated. And it wasn't just nervousness about taking on such responsibility. I had left the Fed out of frustration, having witnessed the institution deferring more and more to Wall Street. Independence is at the heart of any central bank's credibility, and I had come to believe that the Fed's independence was eroding. Senior Fed officials, though, were publicly acknowledging mistakes and several of those officials emphasized to me how committed they were to a major Wall Street revamp. I could also see that they desperately needed reinforcements. I took a leap of faith.
In its almost 100-year history, the Fed had never bought one mortgage bond. Now my program was buying so many each day through active, unscripted trading that we constantly risked driving bond prices too high and crashing global confidence in key financial markets. We were working feverishly to preserve the impression that the Fed knew what it was doing.
It wasn't long before my old doubts resurfaced. Despite the Fed's rhetoric, my program wasn't helping to make credit any more accessible for the average American. The banks were only issuing fewer and fewer loans. More insidiously, whatever credit they were extending wasn't getting much cheaper. QE may have been driving down the wholesale cost for banks to make loans, but Wall Street was pocketing most of the extra cash.
From the trenches, several other Fed managers also began voicing the concern that QE wasn't working as planned. Our warnings fell on deaf ears. In the past, Fed leaders—even if they ultimately erred—would have worried obsessively about the costs versus the benefits of any major initiative. Now the only obsession seemed to be with the newest survey of financial-market expectations or the latest in-person feedback from Wall Street's leading bankers and hedge-fund managers. Sorry, U.S. taxpayer.
Trading for the first round of QE ended on March 31, 2010. The final results confirmed that, while there had been only trivial relief for Main Street, the U.S. central bank's bond purchases had been an absolute coup for Wall Street. The banks hadn't just benefited from the lower cost of making loans. They'd also enjoyed huge capital gains on the rising values of their securities holdings and fat commissions from brokering most of the Fed's QE transactions. Wall Street had experienced its most profitable year ever in 2009, and 2010 was starting off in much the same way.
You'd think the Fed would have finally stopped to question the wisdom of QE. Think again. Only a few months later—after a 14% drop in the U.S. stock market and renewed weakening in the banking sector—the Fed announced a new round of bond buying: QE2. Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, immediately called the decision "clueless."
That was when I realized the Fed had lost any remaining ability to think independently from Wall Street. Demoralized, I returned to the private sector.
Where are we today? The Fed keeps buying roughly $85 billion in bonds a month, chronically delaying so much as a minor QE taper. Over five years, its bond purchases have come to more than $4 trillion. Amazingly, in a supposedly free-market nation, QE has become the largest financial-markets intervention by any government in world history.
And the impact? Even by the Fed's sunniest calculations, aggressive QE over five years has generated only a few percentage points of U.S. growth. By contrast, experts outside the Fed, such as Mohammed El Erian at the Pimco investment firm, suggest that the Fed may have created and spent over $4 trillion for a total return of as little as 0.25% of GDP (i.e., a mere $40 billion bump in U.S. economic output). Both of those estimates indicate that QE isn't really working.
Unless you're Wall Street. Having racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in opaque Fed subsidies, U.S. banks have seen their collective stock price triple since March 2009. The biggest ones have only become more of a cartel: 0.2% of them now control more than 70% of the U.S. bank assets.
As for the rest of America, good luck. Because QE was relentlessly pumping money into the financial markets during the past five years, it killed the urgency for Washington to confront a real crisis: that of a structurally unsound U.S. economy. Yes, those financial markets have rallied spectacularly, breathing much-needed life back into 401(k)s, but for how long? Experts like Larry Fink at the BlackRock investment firm are suggesting that conditions are again "bubble-like." Meanwhile, the country remains overly dependent on Wall Street to drive economic growth.
Even when acknowledging QE's shortcomings, Chairman Bernanke argues that some action by the Fed is better than none (a position that his likely successor, Fed Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen, also embraces). The implication is that the Fed is dutifully compensating for the rest of Washington's dysfunction. But the Fed is at the center of that dysfunction. Case in point: It has allowed QE to become Wall Street's new "too big to fail" policy.
Mr. Huszar, a senior fellow at Rutgers Business School, is a former Morgan Stanley managing director. In 2009-10, he managed the Federal Reserve's $1.25 trillion agency mortgage-backed security purchase program.
Interesting hypothetical, but I haven't seen any signs of devotion to the constitution, nor do we live in a Democracy.
The consitution IS living and breathing in the sense that it includes an amendment process.
I went to City Hall a few years ago to ask them to up hold their own laws and found out that the city was not governed by City Code, but the precedent of all the variances already granted by the council, allowing people to get around the laws as written instead of changing the law.
That same process was on display in the Supreme Court as they rationalize the basis for the Obamacare decision. This type of governance was UNTHINKABLE at the time of the framing and things have not changed so much that we now need Orwellian governance, while giving lip service to upholding a constitution with specific limits on federal government power.
Too bad that so many critics of the constitution happen to be Justices on the Supreme Court.