The CBO Findings-A Window into Party Perception
Let me start by saying I haven’t read the CBO report which states the ACA’s impact on future employment. All I’ve heard is the spin from both sides and it’s the spin that fascinates me.
Liberals say the CBO finding is good news. It means people will no longer be shackled to jobs they hate for fear of losing their health insurance. Conservatives say the ACA will provide yet another nanny state disincentive to work, proven by the CBO projections. I ask what is the more realistic and optimistic view?
Let’s talk reality. To afford even a heavily subsidized insurance premium people will have to work. This notion of folks just sitting back and not working doesn’t jibe with the realities of day to day life. But let’s also consider the optimistic vs pessimistic view of the American people. For all their patriotic screams of his-boom-ba, conservatives seem to view the American people as shiftless lazy loafers who will use any excuse not to work. What else could explain their reaction to the CBO report?
We WANT an economy in which number of jobs exceeds number of job seekers. It leads to lower unemployment and greater incentive for companies to make jobs more attractive to an employment pool that can now afford to be choosy. What could possibly be bad about a population that works for the joy of it and not because their health insurance is not portable?
I have to ask my conservative friends when we talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what about that last one do you not understand?
The Limits of Executive Power
Conservative leaders recently said they were reticent about going forward on immigration reform because they couldn’t trust the President to execute the law as passed. Normally I’d dismiss this as Republican excuse making but this time it made me stop and think. Obama has been explicit in his intent to do as much without Congress as possible. This makes any constitutionalist rightfully quake in their boots.
Here’s the catch. I believe our founders envisioned a Congress where matters were debated and progress coupled with compromise was achieved. I don’t believe they imagined the Boehner House, the least productive in recent history or the McConnell minority in the Senate making unprecedented use of the filibuster to stall legislation. What would they say is the obligation of the executive faced with the abject failure of the legislative?
I don’t share the sky is falling view of my more conservative friends. If Obama’s acts truly violate the constitution to a criminal extent then by all means he should be impeached. I believe in the long haul justice prevails. In fact a trial of Obama would be intersecting from this perspective.
From what I understand charges against Andrew Johnson were largely trumped up. Nixon faced impeachment for covering up a burglary. Clinton was tried for covering up a blow job. A trial of Obama would put to the test the true limits of executive power not involving petty crime and sexual scandal.
I’m not sure if Obama is overstepping his bounds. I am sure that Congress by neglect of their own duties has opened the door to greater executive authority. If they want to stop Obama they need to positively legislate, not simply oppose.
Why I’m (Almost) Through With MSNBC
Ahh I miss the old thrill I would get from a self righteous Keith Olbermannn speech. He could cover so much ground and scorch all the conservative patches of it. His only true obsession besides sports was his nemesis Bill O’Reilly. To watch primetime MSNBC the past few weeks you’d think the most vital issue in America today was New Jersey Bridgegate.
My conservative friends laugh at me and mock me because I considered MSNBC a fair source of commentary especially when compared to Fox News. Now they have every right to jeer. This Christie coverage is a transparent attempt to discredit the only credible rival to a Hillary Clinton 2016 candidacy. I’m not saying Christie’s record should not be scrutinized but the MSNBC coverage is way over the top.
Sadly, the network no longer stirs the fires in my political loins. I watch it now more for pure entertainment and by habit. There are nights when I’d just as soon watch the Food Network.
Enough About Hate Crimes
Let’s start with a simple thought experiment.
A black man is deliberately killed by a white man who hates black people.
A black man is deliberately killed by a white member of the NAACP.
Which black man is more dead?
This past week I heard yet another conjecture about whether the recent murder of a black man was a “hate crime”. I don’t remember the details and it doesn’t matter. The whole concept is absurd. It is based on the nutty liberal concept that you can legislate people into loving and accepting each other.
The surest way to turn a bigot into a bigger bigot is to self righteously lecture him about his beliefs. Hearts and minds don’t change via punishment. The hate crime distinction is actually counter productive in changing hearts and minds.
Intentional murder is intentional murder. Punish the crime. For the hate, you just have to wait for the bigots to die off and the younger generation to come along. We see examples of that progress every day.
It is July 22, 2009 and President Obama is holding a press conference on health care reform. As the press conference nears its end, reporter Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times asks the president what he thinks about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates outside of his own home in Cambridge MA.
Obama replies, “Lynn, first of all we’re here discussing health care reform so what’s with the off topic question? Second do I look like the friggin Mayor of Cambridge to you? Or even the Governor of Massachusetts? I’m the president of the United States. I don’t spend my time worrying about local issues. Or maybe you think you get to ask me my opinion on anything black? Is that it, Lynn? Stupid question, next.”
Sadly that is not how it went down. Obama answered the question and inserted himself into a local issue he didn’t belong in.
My preferred answer would have come from Chris Christie. Folks call Christie a bully but he calls out stupid when he sees stupid whether from a reporter or a potential voter.
“Bridgegate” will be hard for Christie to overcome if for no other reason then it shows his incompetence if not outright dishonesty. That’s a rotten shame because I would love to see a straight talking president who actually does inspire some fear in our enemies and even our Congress.
I LIKE the fact that Christie intimidates people. Perhaps he can overcome the bridge fiasco and we can get a much needed bully in the White House.
Here are my predictions for 2014.
Good Samaritans will continue to selflessly help others without ulterior motives or agenda.
Psychotic young men will continue go out and kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible and then most likely kill themselves.
Politicians will work toward noble goals regardless of ideology.
Men and women will pursue politics as a craven dash towards self promotion.
Children will be born and have a loving home with biological or adoptive parents.
Children will not get a chance to be born because their parents lacked the responsibility to do proper family planning and then lacked the courage to give that child the chance to find a loving home through adoption.
Employers will find creative ways to thrive and save the jobs of their employees whom they treat like family, like human beings.
Employers will lay people off with abandon pursuing the bottom line and pleasing the stockholders. Employees are just a “resource”, a cog in the wheel. Disposable.
Men and women of faith will follow the greatest teachings of their creed and will work toward the good of all people.
Men and women of faith will use their religion as an excuse to sow hatred, destruction and death.
I could go on but you get the picture. My prediction for 2014 is that nothing will change. Good will live alongside evil. One will win one day and one will win the next.
To my readers: may 2014 bring more happy tidings than sad. Thank you for taking a bit of time out of your life to read what I write. I truly appreciate it.
I have a running joke with myself (and those few who share my sense of humor) about the perfect selections for hold music on a suicide hotline. Just the notion of being put on hold on a suicide hotline makes me chuckle. In any case, I settled on such gems as “Dust in the Wind”, “Alone Again, Naturally” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. In recent months, however, I have discovered another resource not part of my sick imagination but very real that the clinically depressed should steer clear of. It is the PBS series “Moyers and Company“.
Bill Moyers, a participant in and observer of Washington since the days of LBJ is every liberal’s dream documentary host. He wears his heart on his sleeve as he shines a light on various flavors of American injustice. I enjoy him. I find him intelligent and genuinely curious about the world around him. When you watch him interview a guest, you get the feeling he is learning something new right along with you. The problem with “Moyers and Company” is it is long on problems and rather short on solutions. At the conclusion of each installment I find myself shaking my head in despair. Just a sample of episode titles is enough to send you to a shrink: “America’s Political Breakdown”, “How Dollarocracy is Destroying America”, “Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism” and the recent rebroadcast of “America’s Gilded Capital”.
In “America’s Gilded Capital”, Moyers interviews Mark Leibovich, the author of the Washington expose This Town. In the book (which I haven’t read) and the interview (which I did watch) Leibovich describes a Washington D.C. dedicated to job security. On every Congressman and Senator’s mind is first and foremost how to turn their time in government into some type of permanent gig, whether it be in government via reelection or outside of government in the private sector. The favorite private sector pastime of our elected officials is lobbying. Obama swore he would stop the “revolving door” of folks moving back and forth between government and lobbying firms, but his frequent exceptions have made the promise null and void. Leibovich describes a conversation he had with then Democratic Senator Chris Dodd who insisted he would never join a lobbying firm but ended up heading up the MPAA which has a strong lobbying entity. Then there is the story of Evan Bayh who left the Senate fed up with Washington dysfunction only to whore himself out to the Chamber of Commerce. And if you thought bipartisanship in D.C. was dead, think again. It breathes deep where there is money to be made, case in point liberal pundit Steve McMahon of MSNBC and conservative mouthpiece Alex Castellanos of CNN who together worked for a company called Purple Strategies and made lots of money helping BP repair its reputation after the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
This installment ended the way most episodes of “Moyers” end. This is just the way it is but we’ve done you a service by telling you about it. Word to the wise, watch this show with a stiff drink in one hand and a bottle of Prozac in the other.
A few random thoughts: Some of my more loyal readers who disagree with everything I write had some fun with an old post of mine recently. The post was from 2008 and was entitled “America Says Enough”. It was written in the immediate afterglow of Barack Obama’s election. The RL Blog “regulars” have had some fun mocking the piece in light of the 20/20 hindsight that shows Obama to be a bit in over his head, as demonstrated by his inability to shake off scandals, real and imagined, that have plagued him. Clearly the most recent example of gross incompetence is the botched technical roll-out of the ACA. Add to that the used car salesman rhetoric of “keeping your insurance and your doctor if you want to” and you have a beleaguered presidency that penetrates even the most rose-colored glasses.
With that said, I don’t take back a single word of what I wrote back in 2008. Back then Obama was a blank canvas upon which the right and left painted their worst nightmares and highest hopes respectively. But one thing I wrote in particular will never be sullied by Obama’s lackluster performance:
I can now look at my beautiful black daughter and tell her that she can be anything she wants to be, without exception, without caveat.
It cannot be underestimated just how many blacks like me never thought a dark-skinned man would be elected President in our lifetime. As much as I loved my country, I felt there were barriers that would not be breached for years, if not decades, to come. For anyone not to understand the emotion attached to seeing this barrier broken is to not understand the human condition. As moved as I was back then, I still felt that if Barack Obama had been Barry Johnson, great-grandson of slaves, he would not have been nominated much less elected. The very exotic nature of Obama (which has ironically fueled the birther movement) made him acceptable to those who might otherwise have dismissed him. Nevertheless the cosmetics of this half-white, half-first-generation-American of immediate African descent, evoked a visceral reaction in many, including me, and I don’t apologize for it.
Cosmetics do not a great President make. With a four-year record to look back on, I wrote a very different piece in November of 2012. In my piece “Three Open Letters”, I offer the President advice rooted in the reality of his reelection and the imperfections of his administration. The piece in 2008 and the piece in 2012 were informed by the facts on the ground at that time and the accompanying emotions. I stand by both pieces.
What I know about the problems in the Ukraine could fill not much more than this sentence but just on the surface, it is interesting to see a country whose leadership looks to “the dark side” (Russia) while its citizens want to align with the West. I’m just throwing darts here but could it be that social media and the democratization of information access makes it harder for a government to sell its agenda to its people?
On Thursday’s installment of “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart once again proves why he deserves every cent he earns. His take-down of Fox News’ war on Christmas coverage is classic in its humor and its truth. The Fox News coverage is so absurd that it is all Stewart can do to fit all the insanity into one segment. The ten minute segment can be found here and here and is worth a view.
Two unsettling things that Fox’s Megyn Kelly should remember: Santa Claus as we currently celebrate him, is neither white nor black — he doesn’t exist. Second, as Jon says, Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jesus looked more like Mohamed Atta than a latter-day version of the Door’s Jim Morrison.
In the wake of the debacle known as the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA aka Obamacare), everyone has a criticism but folks seem short on solutions. Time for me to write my own legislation. I won’t profess that these ideas are particularly original but they seem to be the right combination of things to cure what ails us, without the complicated big bang blow up of Obamacare. I hereby present the Lawson Insurance Act of 2014.
What should be our goals up front?
- Quality of health insurance
The first element of the plan is the establishment of the Health Insurance Oversight Commission, a government body modeled after the FDA and the FCC that audits and approves all insurance policies issued in the US. Most of us are thankful or take for granted that we have government entities that enforce minimum standards on the food we eat and the drugs we take and the publicly available communications that we consume. The HIOC would serve this purpose in the health insurance realm. Such popular provisions in Obamacare such as no disqualification due to pre-existing conditions would be enforced by the HIOC. The HIOC would also disapprove so-called junk insurance policies.
Some right wing zealots say we should be “free” to buy junk insurance policies if we so choose. This of course flies in the face of the widely accepted role of government in consumer protection. The only one who profits from a junk insurance policy is the insurance company. The folks who buy them, probably because they can’t afford better, don’t understand they are throwing their money away and are not protected from bankruptcy in the event of a serious illness. It is a proper role of government to keep these folks from being played for suckers.
Indeed Obamacare has attempted to do that with the horrific result that millions of folks are being summarily dropped from their substandard insurance policies and offered alternatives that are double or triple the premium. This is the very definition of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. So let’s move on to affordability.
Medicaid, not Medicare, For All
Medicaid is associated with the poor. I would submit the definition of poor in this country has changed. With so much wealth shifted to the top 1% of this country, we now have a whole new class of working poor who live paycheck to paycheck. I suggest that a needs based Medicaid expansion take place with the precise goal of bridging the gap between what people are charged for insurance premiums and what they can afford. With these supplements, we allow people to pay what they can truly afford for health insurance without placing downward pressure on the profit motive of the insurance companies. Call it a socialist buttress to capitalism. The supplements could be handled in either of two ways. We could pay these supplements to individuals who would file their insurance premium bills much as a businessman might file an expense report and then get reimbursed a certain amount based on need. The other method would be to pay insurance companies directly some sensibly calculated stipend which would allow them to pass reduced cost on to their customers. In this way the insurance company basically has two customers — the government who pays them to keep premiums affordable — and the policy holder who pays the affordable premium. Of course, insurance companies who not meet the minimum standards of the HIOC would not qualify for supplements at all.
Stop Protecting Insurance Companies From True Capitalism
Since health insurance is not a brick and mortar consumer item there is no reason for there to be a geographic constraint on its sale. All insurance companies should be required to accept policy holders from anywhere in the country. There should also be a push for a purely private insurance industry with employment-based insurance being completely phased out. There is no Earthly reason why affording health care should be attached to employment at any particular employer. Insurance companies should be exposed to the same risks and rewards of any other company competing in the capitalistic marketplace. We should be seeing health insurance commercials with Anthem battling it out with United Health Care to offer consumers the best quality for the most competitive price.
Did anyone notice I didn’t list universal coverage as a goal? It wasn’t an oversight on my part. I’m beginning to think that it is THAT goal that has sunk the ACA rollout. You can’t believe in capitalism and in the same breath say that EVERYONE can buy (or must buy) a particular product. Unless you go complete socialist on this and demand Medicare for all, then you must give up the universal coverage goal. The goal should be for government to put a bit of juice into the system so that the vast majority of people can afford quality health insurance. The goal should be to exploit the greatest virtues of capitalism (for example, competitive downward price pressure) to get as many folks insured as possible.
OK, the details are a bit fuzzy. I’ll admit that. I’m not a policy wonk or a legislator. I suggest that the above ideas are simpler and more understandable than Obamacare. Now it’s your turn to tweak this, tear it apart, reconstruct it. But there are two things you DON’T get to do.
You don’t get to trash it without your own solution.
You don’t get to settle for the status quo.
Tonight I post this blog entry from a conservative blogger who above all else has shown a pattern of fairness in his blogging over the years. This is just one excellent example.
I would also like to add a small elaboration on Sarah Palin. Today on “Face The Nation” Norah O’Donnell asked Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey (recently reelected in a landslide) what his thoughts were on the current nuclear talks with Iran. In a moment virtually NEVER seen on political television, Christie told O’Donnell that there were many folks better able to opine on this than he could. “I am the Governor of New Jersey”. He then refused to offer an opinion.
Now just imagine if Sarah Palin had been asked the same question. We would have gotten five minutes of word salad that would have impressed only those with the lowest of expectations.
There are times when the right answer is “I don’t know”.
So the Iowa pony shows are starting up and at this weekends Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalitions banquet two of the stars were Sarah Palin and Utah Sen. Mike Lee. The former showed she’s still little than a loud mouth rhetoric firebrand the latter showing the potential to be reading the tea leaves.
Sarah still stupid may seem harsh but I never liked this woman and like her even less when she opens her mouth lately. This weekend she exclaimed among other things the following:
“I want to encourage you to make your voice heard, to hold politicians accountable,”
The reality on the ground right now doesn’t change the fact that Representative Joe Wilson is a horse’s ass. However …
When the evil liberal media calls you a liar, Mr. President you’ve got a major problem. Obama told the American people repeatedly that “if you like your insurance you won’t have to change it.”
While Obama defenders split hairs about how many folks WILL have to switch policies the fact remains that Obama’s statement absent of any caveats was a flat out lie and the evil liberal media reports that this time Obama can’t claim ignorance. He knew he was lying.
You CANNOT implement sweeping ground breaking legislation and sell it with lies.
The nobility behind the ACA will have a hard time seeing sunlight so long as it’s buried under a pile of incompetence and dishonesty.