March 19, 2010

WSJ: ‘March Madness’ (See Update on Expanded Medicare Tax)

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:44 pm

Link:

Has there ever been a political spectacle like the final throes of ObamaCare? We can’t recall one outside of a banana republic, or, more accurately, Woody Allen’s 1971 classic “Bananas.” Capitol Hill resembles nothing so much as that movie’s farcical coup d’etat in San Marcos as Democrats try to assemble the partisan minimum of 216 House votes—if only for an hour or so at some point on Sunday—and no bribe is too costly, no deal too cynical, no last-minute rewrite too blatant.

… Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually told reporters this week that “nobody wants to vote for the Senate bill,” but she’ll do what it takes to impose it anyway.

… Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced on Tuesday that central California would get extra public water allocations. This was apparently the price for Democrats Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa to vote something other than their consciences. We will hear about many more in the coming days.

… By the way, to make the deficit numbers “work,” Democrats decided at the 11th hour to increase their new tax on investment income to 3.8% from 2.9%. Congratulations.

White House budget director Peter Orszag quickly declared that “The CBO score today should leave no doubt that we are operating in a new fiscal era,” and no kidding. One thing the score also made clear, however, is that Mrs. Pelosi’s reconciliation fixes could easily be blown to pieces in the Senate. While the Democratic strategy is already a wholesale abuse of the traditional reconciliation process, it now bids to violate the actual rules of reconciliation as well.

… Even the political panic over the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program, amid an incipient financial collapse and a Presidential election, looks like regular order compared to this ObamaCare mayhem. That the White House and Mrs. Pelosi are still running into such resistance after a year of pleading reveals what an historic blunder ObamaCare really is.

Are we sure that the tax on “investment income” is not also a tax on “retirement distributions”?

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UPDATE: We know that the 3.8% tax hits annuities (HT TaxProf Blog), which is one form for taking retirement distributions:

The rate is higher than the 2.9 percent President Barack Obama proposed in February. The new tax would apply to income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, capital gains and rents for individuals who earn more than $200,000 annually and joint filers reporting more than $250,000, according to the legislation.

“It’s a big deal,” said Clint Stretch, a tax analyst for the consulting firm Deloitte Tax LLC. “It extends dramatically the reach of the Medicare hospital insurance tax.”

Note that it also hits landlords. Anyone who doesn’t think this will affect apartment rental costs is kidding themselves.

A TaxProf commenter (direct link to comment not available; just scroll down), Alan Viard of the American Enterprise Institute, says that qualified plan distributions will not be hit with this tax. Fine, but it’s also the kind of thing that has been known to drop out of final bills (if there even is to be such a thing in this case).

Breaking: Boccieri Flips (UPDATE: ‘Go Local’)

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:12 pm

According to Fox, that’s vote number 215. Other assessments vary.

Anyone seeing this video from 2008 knew that Carpetbagger Boccieri would sell out his alleged pro-life beliefs when it mattered:

UPDATE: A suggestion from Pete Hoekstra (HT to an e-mailer) —

For health-care opponents getting a busy signal when calling the capitol, Rep. Pete Hoekstra has a message for you:

All politics is local, so swamp the phone lines of the state legislators too.

“If the people in Washington aren’t willing to listen, if the Democrats aren’t willing to listen, then call your local state elected officials and tell them that you’ll hold them personally accountable to what Nancy Pelosi is going to do the American people in Washington this week,” Hoekstra told The Daily Caller of his “Make it Local” idea.

Lickety-Split Links (031910, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:10 am

As is usual in a war, the first casualty is the truth, including who’s winning and losing.

Reports from the statist health care battlefield range widely, from Fox’s 214-217 to the 192-211 at Ace’s Place, which apparently substantially agrees with a far-lefty blog whose proprietor at one point opposed ObamaCare because it wasn’t radical enough.

Polite, relentless pressure remains the order of the day.

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If they need a reason to avoid using the up-down vote-avoiding Slaughter gambit, Obama, Pelosi and the rest of the 222 congresspersons who voted as they did yesterday might consider the points made in a promised lawsuit by Mark Levin’s Landmark Legal Foundation lawsuit that would be filed if it’s used to force statist health care down our throats.

Here’s the essence of the complaint:

Landmark has already prepared a lawsuit that will be filed in federal court the moment the House acts. Such a brazen violation of the core functions of Congress simply cannot be ignored. Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution is clear respecting the manner in which a bill becomes law. Members are required to vote on this bill, not claim they did when they didn’t. The Speaker of the House and her lieutenants are temporary custodians of congressional authority. They are not empowered to do permanent violence to our Constitution.

If statist health care is passed using the Slaughter gambit and the President signs such “legislation” as presented to him, the President and every congressperson will have attempted (if the courts do their duty and stop it) or actually done “permanent violence to our Constitution.”

Regardless, both congressional “passage” and the President’s signature would represent clear and irrefutable violations of the oaths they have sworn to uphold the constitution. Such offenses raise the possibility of — no, they really demand — impeachment and removal from office. Congresspersons who did not commit these offense would have the presumptive perogative — no, really the constitutional duty — to bring articles of impeachment against each and every one of them, and to remove each and every one of them from office. Each and every one of them will have demonstrated that they are unfit for the offices they hold. Their continued presence in those offices would represent a clear and present danger to our form of government.

The only open questions are whether there would be majorities in the House and Senate legitimately interested in doing their duty, and whether there would be the political will to do it. Given the developments in genuine grass-roots activism during the past 14 months, it would be a huge risk to assume that it won’t be there at crunch time.

Update: Jeffrey T. Kuhner at the Washington Times

The Slaughter Solution is a poisoned chalice. By drinking from it, the Democrats would not only commit political suicide. They would guarantee that any bill signed by Mr. Obama is illegitimate, illegal and blatantly unconstitutional. It would be worse than a strategic blunder; it would be a crime – a moral crime against the American people and a direct abrogation of the Constitution and our very democracy.

It would open Mr. Obama, as well as key congressional leaders such as Mrs. Pelosi, to impeachment. The Slaughter Solution would replace the rule of law with arbitrary one-party rule. It violates the entire basis of our constitutional government – meeting the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” If it’s enacted, Republicans should campaign for the November elections not only on repealing Obamacare, but on removing Mr. Obama and his gang of leftist thugs from office.

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If statist health care dies in the House, accurate history may end up concluding that President Obama put the nail in its coffin in his horrible “rope a dope” interview (transcript here; video here) with Fox News’s Bret Baier Wednesday.

If there were a Pulitzer for interviewing, Baier would get one. As it is, at least in the short-term, he appears to be in the running for leftist Public Enemy Number One. There’s a price to pay for exposing an ignorant punk for what he really is. Fortunately, Baier works for the network that is, in the word of his predecessor Brit Hume, “fair, balanced, and unafraid.”

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Twas the Eve of State Health Care’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

The original inspiration for the write-up was Nancy Pelosi’s statement last year that she wanted the House to make state-run health care a Christmas present to the American people. I don’t take kindly to people who tell me, “Here’s your gift, and here’s what you and your children and grandchildren owe me for it.”

Positivity: Chinese Catholics to have ‘great celebration’ for Feast of St. Joseph

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:55 am

From Beijing:

Mar 19, 2010 / 01:06 am (CNA).- Chinese Catholics are preparing for the Feast of St. Joseph with “great celebration.” Looking to Joseph’s example as a holy man and father, religious communities are preparing for final vows and immigrant workers have been invited to church. “Humility, generosity, unconditional devotion, enlivened by a genuine spirit of service, living in poverty, absolute obedience and chastity, all these virtues that distinguish St. Joseph, which the Church celebrates on March 19, are so relevant for men today,” a Beijing priest told his flock during a Lenten retreat, according to Fides.

Parishes dedicated to St. Joseph are especially preparing for the feast. The Parish of St. Joseph in downtown Beijing dates back to a church built by two Jesuit missionaries, Fr. Louis Buglio and Fr. Gabriel de Magallanes. The two were successors of pioneering missionary Fr. Matteo Ricci.

Marking the 400th anniversary of Fr. Ricci’s death, the parish has tried to unite the event with the figure of St. Joseph.

The diocesan religious congregation in Beijing dedicated to St. Joseph is preparing for the final vows of some sisters to be held on the feast day, Fides reports.

Priests have invited immigrant workers to help celebrate the patron saint of workers.

“Dear brothers and sisters, workers, the Church is your home, where you are received and where you breathe spiritual oxygen not only in the days of the Feast of St. Joseph, but all year,” they commented. …

Go here for the rest of the story.