February 7, 2011

‘Not This Mitt Again’ Update: RomneyCare in Mass. Also Issues Arbitrary Waivers

Filed under: Lucid Links,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:59 pm

Bottom line, via the Boston Globe and Michelle Malkin: The waiver process currently in place in Massachusetts shows that Mitt Romney initiated what has predictably turned into a health care tyranny (“arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority”) in the Bay State.

Please, please, PLEASE:Not This Mitt Again

‘Spin Meter’ Out of Control; AP Claims Almost All Unspent Stimulus Money Can’t Be Touched

According to Brett J. Blackledge at the Associated Press, when it comes to unspent stimulus money, cue the MC Hammer (“U Can’t Touch This“) and go away.

In a Friday “analysis” in the wire service’s “Spin Meter” category (HT Sweetness & Light), Blackledge, using words which clearly communicate which side he’s on, in essence tells those whose goal it is to reduce federal spending to a more sustainable level that they’re going to have to go somewhere else to find money that can’t be spent.

There are a couple of silver linings in Blackledge’s otherwise leaden analysis. First, he admits in his very first sentence that the stimulus program is “politically unpopular.” Second, he notes that the government wasn’t able to spend the money as quickly as promised in the heady days of February 2009, when passage of the stimulus bill that no one had time to read was supposedly the only thing preventing economic Armageddon:

SPIN METER: Not much savings from stimulus money

Congressional Republicans say they want to cut federal spending by raiding $45 billion from President Barack Obama’s politically unpopular economic stimulus program. But they won’t be able to get their hands on most of that money.

At most, only about $7 billion of the $814 billion in economic recovery money awarded under the 2009 federal law hasn’t already been spoken for, according to the latest White House estimates. And Republican leaders now acknowledge they would be lucky to identify as much as $5 billion in stimulus-related spending cuts as part of a plan to save taxpayers $2.5 trillion over 10 years.

Where did the money go?

It’s not that all the stimulus money has been spent; it has been committed for specific projects and programs. In the confusing money flow from Washington to the rest of the country, there’s still about $168 billion in stimulus money that has not actually been paid out, according to the administration. But it says nearly all of that money already is tied up in contracts with companies, obligations with states and local governments, promised taxpayer relief and commitments to government programs.

For states, much of that money for Medicaid and education has been worked into budgets, so if Congress took it back it could leave shortfalls, said Raymond Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association. “That would be a serious problem, I think, because they’re depending on that money.”

The unspent money remains in the federal pipeline despite Obama’s promise that recovery spending would occur swiftly to stimulate the nation’s economy after Congress approved the program nearly two years ago.

Even the $7 billion the White House says is not yet obligated can’t readily be yanked back by Republicans as savings because, administration officials said, planning is well under way for the projects expected to benefit.

Gosh, you would think that the federal government has never altered the terms of a contract or failed to send money to people who were counting on it. I suspect that some of these contracts (perhaps most?) have “out” clauses saying that if Congress doesn’t provide the funding for the purchases involved, the government won’t be able to continue the contract (if they don’t, they probably should). S&L makes a related point:

Funny, but we never hear about such concerns when the Department of Defense is having its budget cut. Don’t they have contracts and obligations? Don’t they have commitments?

Of course they do. But “somehow” military programs in progress do get eliminated from time to time.

Following Blackledge’s illogic, how can that be?

Let’s also go after the AP spinner’s scare words:

  • Hey Brett, you want to talk about “raided”? How about Social Security, to the tune of over $2 trillion over a period of decades?
  • GOP and other legislators attempting to do something about the deficit aren’t “going to get their hands on” anything. Any spending reductions will only reduce projected deficits. But it doesn’t have the same impact if you say reducing spending “will slow down Ben Bernanke’s printing presses a little bit,” does it?
  • “Yanked back” is a ridiculous term as well, because the money hasn’t been spent, and Blackledge even acknowledges that all anyone has done in relation to the $7 billion is to “plan” for it. Big whoop.

But somehow, “U Can’t Touch” anything resembling a significant chunk of the $168 billion unspent stimulus money.

Blackledge’s weigh-in at the AP’s “Spin Meter” causes it to more closely resemble an industrial scale whose needle is in the red — because it’s overloaded with horse manure.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Mike DeWine’s Core Campaign Promise to Fight ObamaCare Remains Unkept (UPDATE: AG’s Response Requested)

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:49 am

From Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s campaign web site (saved here at my web host for the inevitable takedown; bolds are mine):

Protecting Jobs by Opposing Obama Health Care
I am going to fight for Ohio jobs by fighting against the Obama health care plan!

On my first day in office as Attorney General, I will join with the 20 state attorneys general that have filed a suit against Obama health care. I am committed to fighting for our rights and protecting every Ohioan.

Not only is the Obama health care plan an unconstitutional encroachment by the federal government, it is an Ohio jobs killer. It hurts our economy at a time when we can least afford it. It slashes Medicare benefits for seniors. And it is going to cost Ohioans $1.45 billion in new Medicaid spending in just the five years between 2014 and 2019!

I will not sit on the sidelines. It is ridiculous to think that Ohio should just wait, while other states litigate. There is simply too much at stake to just sit back and rely on others to act on our behalf.

I hope Mike DeWine doesn’t believe that his work is done, and that he’s kept his campaign promise merely by joining the now-successful legal action against Obamacare. I get the impression he may, despite the obvious fact that “fighting against the Obama health care plan” is far from over.

DeWine’s Attorney General web site has this brief press release issued last Monday in reaction to a Florida federal judge’s ruling on “the Obama health care plan,” and nothing else (bold is mine):

DeWine Praises Ruling Striking Down Health Care Law

1/31/2011

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida today ruled in favor of Ohio and 25 other states that challenged the constitutionality of the federal health care law. The judge found the law’s “individual insurance mandate” unconstitutional and declared the entire act void.

“This ruling confirms the alarming overreach made by the federal government and sends a clear message that the federal government cannot regulate commerce by forcing citizens into the marketplace to buy a product,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “The Constitution makes clear that the federal government does not have unlimited powers. This ruling helps protect the rights of all Americans by enforcing important constitutional limitations on federal authority.”

The DeWine press release’s final sentence is incorrect. The judge’s ruling doesn’t “enforce” anything.

Yes, the judge has told the Obama administration in no uncertain terms that “Obama health care” is unconstitutional, that the law is null and void, and as such, that the administration must cease and desist any and all attempts to implement the law.

But the ruling in and of itself does not have an enforcement mechanism.

Further, the Obama administration has made it clear (“Implementation will continue“) that it will spend tax dollars and other government resources as if the ruling never took place, either expecting to win on appeal (to my knowledge, it has not yet filed one) or perhaps (I hope not) defying the ruling and saying: “You don’t like it? We dare you to do come and do something about it!”

It is also clear that the administration expects the states to continue to be involved in implementing “Obama health care.” But, as Mark Levin observed last week, at least two states are saying they will not comply with that illegal expectation:

Now the states of Wisconsin and Florida, it appears, have decided that there’s no law for them to implement any longer. And they are in fact correct, since the last position of the law as it applies to Obamacare is that there is no law. And so the states should stop implementing this statute until there is a different ruling from a higher court. If the Obama administration wants to continue to violate the Constitution, to defy a federal judge, and play rope-a dope, then you states have no responsibility whatsoever to comply.

That’s exactly what Wisconsin’s AG is saying:

In a statement yesterday, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican opposed to the law and a participant in the Florida lawsuit, said he doesn’t believe the federal statute needs to be enforced following Vinson’s ruling.

“For Wisconsin, the federal health-care law is dead — unless and until it is revived by an appellate court,” Van Hollen said. “Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health-care law.”

If Mike DeWine agrees with Wisconsin and Florida, I haven’t seen or heard about it.

The state Attorneys General need to go further if they are to carry out their sworn duties. They need to serve as the enforcers of the constitutional limitations the judge recognized. They need to accumulate evidence of defiance, bring it to the judge, demand a contempt order, and demand that any and all punishments that follow from such an order, if again defied, be meted out against the administration in general and the individuals involved.

Unless and until Mike DeWine joins an attempt to stop the administration from any and all implementation of the voided health care law, he will not be meeting his campaign commitment of “fighting for our rights and protecting every Ohioan.” He will also not be meeting his obligation to carry out the duties of his office and his duty to Ohioans.

You’re the one who said, “I won’t sit on the sidelines,” Mike. Get off your duff and do something.

_________________________________________________

UPDATE: I have left a voice message for Lisa Hackley, the identified contact in the DeWine press release above, specifically asking her the following —

How is the Attorney General going to respond to the Obama administration’s defiant and clearly expressed plans to continue implementing the Obama health care law despite Federal Judge Vinson declaring it null and void?

I will update readers concerning any response or, if 48 hours goes by, any non-response.

How Bobby Kennedy Created the Reagan Phenomenon

Filed under: National Security,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:27 am

First, he had Reagan fired from his General Electric TV gig.

Son Michael Reagan told the story in an Investors Business Daily op-ed on Friday (bolds are mine):

If liberals had supported Ronald Reagan the actor, they wouldn’t have had to deal with Ronald Reagan the politician.

In 1954, my father Ronald Reagan began hosting a weekly TV series, “General Electric Theater.” The show aired Sunday nights at 9 on CBS, and consistently ranked in the top 10. Dad hosted the show and appeared as an actor in a number of episodes. Nancy made sure we watched it every week.

Under my father’s contract with General Electric, he toured the country by train and visited GE factories, local chambers of commerce and civic groups. The thousands of speeches he gave helped prepare him for bigger things to come.

… But I haven’t felt warm and fuzzy toward GE since that day in 1962 when Dad came home and told us he had just been fired by GE and his show, “General Electric Theater,” was canceled.

Dad explained that CBS hadn’t canceled the highly rated show. Instead, GE had pulled the plug. As the company was negotiating some government contracts, Bobby Kennedy, the attorney general of the United States, bluntly informed GE that if the company wished to do business with the U.S. government, it would get rid of “General Electric Theater” and fire the host.

Dad had criticized the Kennedy administration in some of his speeches, and the administration fought back through the president’s brother. Within 48 hours of Bobby Kennedy’s call, Ronald Reagan was out of a job.

So, in a backhanded way, Bobby Kennedy launched Ronald Reagan’s political career. It was a classic case of liberals outsmarting themselves. If Bobby Kennedy had let Ronald Reagan continue hosting his successful TV show, would my father have run for governor? Doubtful. And if he had not been elected governor, he certainly would not have run for president of the United States.

Sometimes the Law of Unintended Consequences is a good thing!

One can see that thuggery is a long-established Democratic Party tradition.

Five years later, Kennedy got his butt kicked in a national TV and radio debate with Reagan about the Vietnam War (transcript here), greatly enhancing Reagan’s national political cache, as described by Paul Kengor at National Review in 2007 (bolds are mine):

The Great Forgotten Debate
Reagan taught RFK a lesson that ought to be remembered.

On May 15, 1967, there was a fascinating debate between California’s new Republican governor, Ronald Reagan, and New York’s new Democratic senator, Robert F. Kennedy. The subject: the Vietnam War. The debate was titled “The Image of America and the Youth of the World,” and was billed by CBS as a “Town Meeting of the World.” It was broadcast from 10:00-11:00 P.M. EDT by CBS TV Network and CBS Radio Network. It was produced by later 60 Minutes brainchild Don Hewitt and hosted by CBS News correspondent Charles Collingwood. The debate was watched by a huge audience: 15 million Americans.

There was total agreement, including among media sources who revered Bobby Kennedy, from the San Francisco Chronicle to Newsweek, that Reagan overwhelmingly won the debate. “To those unfamiliar with Reagan’s big-league savvy,” reported Newsweek, “the ease with which he fielded questions about Vietnam may have come as a revelation.” Newsweek judged that “political rookie Reagan … left old campaigner Kennedy blinking when the session ended.” Not having a crystal ball into the tragic year ahead for Kennedy, Newsweek pondered whether the debate might be a “dry run” for a future set of “Great Debates” between these two promising presidential aspirants.

The late historian David Halberstam acknowledged that “the general consensus” was that “Reagan … destroyed him.” Lou Cannon, in a 1969 book on Reagan and California assemblyman Jesse Unruh, agreed that “Reagan clearly bested Kennedy.” Another of Reagan’s first biographers, Joseph Lewis, recorded that the “tanned and relaxed” Reagan “talked easily and precisely without a hint of uncertainty or hostility,” and “deflated” the “anguished” Kennedy, who “gulped in restrained agony” when answering questions. Kennedy, said Lewis, “looked as if he had stumbled into a minefield.”

Lewis’s metaphor was a good one, since the hostile questioners treated both Kennedy and Reagan like war criminals. Truthfully, this was not a debate between Ronald Reagan and Bobby Kennedy. Rather, it descended into a venomous America-bashing session by a panel of extremely rude international students, who seemed to bask in their big chance to unleash their torrent of anger on the two available representatives of the country they despised. Newsweek rightly described the leftist students as “interrogators.” Among them, there was one American student, Bill Bradley, the Princeton basketball star, future NBA all-star, and future U.S. senator, who at the time was studying at Oxford, and appeared troubled and overwhelmed by the level of bile directed at his country. Also among them was a beaming Soviet student, clearly thrilled with what he was witnessing from this group of young dupes who had obviously swallowed every dose of Kremlin propaganda hook, line, and sinker.

Reagan and Kennedy ended up debating the group of students, not one another. And it was there that Reagan was so effective, whereas Kennedy was passive, meek, and apologetic. Alarmed viewers looking for a defense of the United States as anything other than history’s greatest purveyor of global misery were frustrated by Kennedy’s lame responses but buoyed by Reagan’s strong retorts.

Newsweek … (noted) that Reagan “effortlessly reeled off more facts and quasi-facts about the Vietnam conflict than anyone suspected he ever knew.”…

… Especially notable, but forgotten by history, were Reagan’s remarks that evening concerning the Berlin Wall. The governor asserted: “When we signed the Consular Treaty with the Soviet Union, I think there were things that we could’ve asked in return: I think it would be very admirable if the Berlin Wall, which was built in direct contravention to a treaty, should disappear. I think this would be a step toward peace and toward self-determination for all people, if it were.”

Here was possibly Ronald Reagan’s first public call for the removal of the Berlin Wall, offered in May 1967, 20 years before his famous challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev.

… Reagan performed so well that his presidential boosters sought to use clips from the debate during the 1968 Oregon presidential primary, and requested a copy from CBS. Kennedy, however, reportedly did not want the video to be made available; CBS, naturally, acceded to his request. Kennedy himself conceded defeat to Reagan, telling his aides after the debate to never again put him on the same stage with “that son-of-a-bitch.” Kennedy was heard to ask immediately after the debate, “Who the f— got me into this?” Frank Mankiewitz was that aide, as Kennedy was quick to remind him a few weeks later: “You’re the guy who got me into that Reagan thing.”

We owe an incalculable debt of thanks to Bobby Kennedy. :–>

30 Years Later, David Mann Refuses to Acknowledge Historical Reality

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:50 am

ReaganFrom Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer:

The most famous protest during a Reagan visit to Cincinnati took place 10 months into his presidency.

In November 1981, the president and First Lady arrived at the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky International Airport on Air Force One and took a motorcade to the Westin Hotel downtown for a $1,000-a-plate Republican fund-raising dinner.

The country was in the middle of a severe recession; and, while Reagan’s presence guaranteed a packed ballroom of GOP donors, hundreds of people held a protest right across the street from the hotel. Fountain Square was full of people with bullhorns denouncing Reagan’s economic policies and waving anti-Reagan signs in full view of the Republicans looking down on the square.

A soup line was set up, and hundreds of people lined up for a cup of beef broth on the raw November night. One of them was the Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, David Mann, who made an anti-Reagan speech to the crowd.

For months afterward, Mann was pilloried by Republicans for showing disrespect for the president by joining the protest outside the hotel where he was appearing.

“Boy, did I hear about that,” said Mann, who later served a term in Congress. “And I still hear about it from time to time.”

The Reagan administration, Mann said “was pursuing policies that had a disproportionate impact on poor people in this city, and all over the country. I made a decision that my place was with the people on Fountain Square. It certainly wasn’t my place to be at a Republican fund raiser.”

Horse manure, David. Complete horse manure:

PovertyRatesUnderREagan

Once Reagan’s policies took meaningful effect in 1983, the poverty rate began to fall significantly and continued to do so until 1989, the last year his presidency’s policies had direct effect.

David Mann was wrong, and remains wrong. He still won’t Mann up and admit it.

Positivity: Catherine Pinkston, 90, was everyone’s mom

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

Catherine PinkstonFrom Montgomery, Ohio, north of Cincinnati:

Updated: 2:13 am | February 4, 2011

Born in rural Georgia with poor vision and declared legally blind, Catherine Pinkston had clarity throughout her life.

Bellies needed to be filled and enriched with a multitude of tastes, textures and nutrients. People needed to be cared for.

Mrs. Pinkston, who moved to Walnut Hills as a young woman, was a mom regardless of blood.

The Montgomery resident, 90, died Monday at Bethesda North Hospital.

To leave her final send-off for others to tend to wouldn’t be very Catherine “Maw” Pinkston-like.

Her clothes were to be blue, which they were.

Her casket was also to be blue, which it was.

And it was high time to shed those glasses that were forever perched to her nose.

So they were.

Mrs. Pinkston picked out the scriptures, the songs and the preacher. She even wrote her obituary.

“She was still taking care of us in death,” said her daughter, Gail Mundy of Sycamore Township.

Mrs. Pinkston busied herself in life boarding buses and running across town as both her husband and son fought the perils of diabetes for years. She volunteered at a rehabilitation center. For a handful of years, she worked as a teacher’s aide in Silverton and as an assembly line worker for the Cincinnati Association for the Blind.

But mothering and caring for others always came first.

Mrs. Pinkston was such an uplifting woman that many who thought they knew her had no idea she was in the midst of battling cancer herself, her friends and family said.

In fact, she had cancer three times.

Mrs. Pinkston pushed forward in life with clarity: She was a devout Christian, and she loved and cared for those around her.

“She was Maw,” said Lashell Sanks, who works in the admitting department at Drake Center. …

Go here for the rest of the story.