Chicago, Obama, and Health Care Reform

Chicago, Obama, and Health Care Reform

By Abraham H. Miller

There has been no lack of writing about the influence of Marxist Saul Alinsky on Barack Obama’s political ideology.  But what appears to have escaped notice is the influence of the political culture of Chicago on Barack Obama.  These influences, of course, are not the same.  Alinsky was a formidable opponent of the Chicago Democratic Machine.  Obama was, when necessary, a consummate machine insider.  

 

Alinsky for all his flaws would never have gotten into bed with the likes of Tony Rezko or joined a law firm that represented slum lords.

 

If you want to understand the political agenda of Barack Obama, forget Alinsky, stop calling Obama a “socialist,” and start thinking of Barack Obama as a guy who received his political baptism, not from the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, but from the Chicago machine.

 

Chicago politics is not about ideology.  It is about, “Who Gets What, When, and How,” to quote the inimitable Harold D. Laswell, one of the outstanding political theorists of the last century. 

 

The sine qua non of Chicago politics is power, getting it and keeping it.  Everything else is incidental.  Even corruption is a byproduct of power and is functional only if it enables you to stay in power. 

 

In Chicago politics, you don’t make waves, you don’t back losers, and you “don’t talk to nobody nobody sent.” Chicago politics is always about hierarchy and centralization.

 

Chicago politics is also parochial.  In the City of Neighborhoods, ethnic consciousness is strong.  An Irish machine, for years, ran a Polish city by making sure that the Poles got a big piece of the pie.  There is seldom a perception of a common good.  There is the amalgamation of different ethnic interests.  In Chicago, the whole is clearly the sum of its parts, and the lubricants for the parts are political spoils. 

 

If you want to understand Obama’s health care policy, you need to start where Obama starts.  You need to start with Chicago.  You need to look at constituent interests.

 

Obama won in 2008 because, among other things, he mobilized the electoral periphery.  He mobilized young voters and minority voters, people who traditionally had a lower probability of showing up on Election Day. Chicago politics is about mobilizing the vote. “Vote early and often” is the city’s sardonic refrain.  

 

Obama needs his newly socialized base.  He needs them to keep coming to the polls.  In the vein of Chicago politics, he needs to deliver benefits to them.

 

Unrewarded, the electoral periphery will revert back to apathy.  Health care is a reward to this base of people who are on the economic as well as political periphery.

 

Talk-radio host Sean Hannity can trumpet medical savings accounts on one day and talk about the forty percent of Americans who don’t pay taxes the next, and he will be immune to the inconsistency because Hannity’s listeners are taxpayers.  But a medical savings account means nothing if you don’t pay taxes. 

 

If you don’t pay taxes and don’t have health insurance, you want a card in your wallet that says someone else is going to pay.  You want a medical savings account and tort reform about as much as you want another Chicago winter in an unheated apartment.   

 

If you grow up poor and minority, everyone else’s gain is ill-gotten.  You expect the people you elect to take from them and give to you.  If they don’t, then there is no point in electing them.   You might as well stay home on Election Day.

 

Michele Malkin is upset that David Axelrod’s firm is doing the public relations for Obama Care.  Michele Malkin is a superb intellectual analyst of Chicago politics, but she has no visceral feel for it. When Mayor Richard J. Daley was confronted about the city’s insurance business going to a sole-source brokerage run by his sons, he responded that there would be no point in being in politics if he couldn’t throw a little business to his children. Why would Axelrod be in politics if he couldn’t profit from it? 

 

Chicagoans understood that just as Obama understands that his objective is to provide his base with the spoils of power — in this case insurance.  To do this, he has to massage liberal guilt and delude the great majority of Americans, who are content with their health insurance, into thinking their insurance is not going to be changed and that they have a moral obligation to acquiesce to a remaking of health insurance. 

 

A government option means government jobs, more rewards for the base. These jobs will be spread, as are those of all government programs, throughout the states.  Each potential job holder is a voter, so too are his immediate family members.

 

Yes, the current health care program does have problems.  To fix them requires a series of repairs — tort reform, portability, elimination of prior conditions as an impediment to insurance, and a safety net for people who don’t have insurance or lose their jobs. 

 

Health reform does not require a complete remaking of the system. If all that Obama wanted were to insure those who fall between the cracks, he could put them into the same wonderful program that Congress created for itself by subsidizing their premiums.  This would neither require a thousand pages of legislation nor a new series of bureaucracies.

 

But building a new power base resulting from the mobilization of the political and economic periphery requires redefining the nation’s health problems as the nation’s health catastrophe.

 

Health reform is Chicago politics on a national level. Welcome to the city.

 

Abraham H. Miller is emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati.  He is the author of a novel about the Chicago machine, Vorshavsky: A Chicago Story and has written extensively about ethnic politics.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/08/chicago_obama_and_health_care.html at August 26, 2009 – 11:20:51 PM EDT

Real US unemployment rate at 16 pct: Fed official

Real US unemployment rate at 16 pct: Fed official
Aug 26 02:25 PM US/Eastern
The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.”If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking — so-called discouraged workers — and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart.

He underscored that he was expressing his own views, which did “do not necessarily reflect those of my colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee,” the policy-setting body of the central bank.

Lockhart pointed out in a speech to a chamber of commerce in Chattanooga, Tennessee that those two categories of people are not taken into account in the Labor Department’s monthly report on the unemployment rate. The official July jobless rate was 9.4 percent.

Lockhart, who heads the Atlanta, Georgia, division of the Fed, is the first central bank official to acknowledge the depth of unemployment amid the worst US recession since the Great Depression.

Lockhart said the US economy was improving but “still fragile,” and the beginning stages of a sluggish recovery were underway.

“My forecast for a slow recovery implies a protracted period of high unemployment,” he said, adding that it would be difficult to stimulate jobs through additional public spending.

“Further fiscal stimulus has been mentioned, but the full effects of the first stimulus package are not yet clear, and the concern over adding to the federal deficit and the resulting national debt is warranted,” he said.

President Barack Obama’s administration has resisted calls for more public spending, arguing that the 787-billion-dollar stimulus passed in February needs time to work its way through the economy.

Lockhart noted that construction and manufacturing had been particularly hard hit in the recession that began in December 2007 and predicted some jobs were gone for good.

Prior to the recession, he said, construction and manufacturing combined accounted for slightly more than 15 percent of employment. But during the recession, their job losses made up more than 40 percent of all US job losses.

“In my view, it is unlikely that we will see a return of jobs lost in certain sectors, such as manufacturing,” he said.

“In a similar vein, the recession has been so deep in construction that a reallocation of workers is likely to happen — even if not permanent.”

Payroll employment has fallen by 6.7 million since the recession began.

 

 

Letter Details Kennedy Offer To USSR

Letter Details Kennedy Offer To USSR

[A repost of a S&L article from December 2006.]

This letter which details Senator Edward Kennedy’s offer to help the Soviet Union defeat Reagan’s efforts to build up the nuclear deterrent in Europe was unearthed by a Times of London reporter in the 1990s after the KGB files were opened.

It got little or no attention, however, until the publication of Paul Kengor’s book “The Crusader – Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.”

But even then the actual text of the letter (which is in the book’s appendix pp 317-320) has gotten short shrift:

Appendix
TEXT OF KGB LETTER ON SENATOR TED KENNEDY
_________________________________________ 

Special Importance
Committee on State Security of the USSR
14.05. 1983 No. 1029 Ch/OV
Moscow
On 9-10 May of this year, Senator Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant J. Tunney was in Moscow. The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Center Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.

Regarding Senator Kennedy’s request to the General Secretary of the Communist Party Comrade Y.V. Andropov

Comrade Y.V. Andropov

 

Senator Kennedy, like other rational people, is very troubled by the current state of Soviet-American relations. Events are developing such that this relationship coupled with the general state of global affairs will make the situation even more dangerous. The main reason for this is Reagan’s belligerence, and his firm commitment to deploy new American middle range nuclear weapons within Western Europe.

According to Kennedy, the current threat is due to the President’s refusal to engage any modification on his politics. He feels that his domestic standing has been strengthened because of the well publicized improvement of the economy: inflation has been greatly reduced, production levels are increasing as is overall business activity. For these reasons, interest rates will continue to decline. The White House has portrayed this in the media as the “success of Reaganomics.”

Naturally, not everything in the province of economics has gone according to Reagan’s plan. A few well known economists and members of financial circles, particularly from the north-eastern states, foresee certain hidden tendencies that many bring about a new economic crisis in the USA. This could bring about the fall of the presidential campaign of 1984, which would benefit the Democratic party. Nevertheless, there are no secure assurances this will indeed develop.

The only real threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations. These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign. The movement advocating a freeze on nuclear arsenals of both countries continues to gain strength in the United States. The movement is also willing to accept preparations, particularly from Kennedy, for its continued growth. In political and influential circles of the country, including within Congress, the resistence to growing military expenditures is gaining strength.

However, according to Kennedy, the opposition to Reagan is still very weak. Reagan’s adversaries are divided and the presentations they make are not fully effective. Meanwhile, Reagan has the capabilities to effectively counter any propaganda. In order to neutralize criticism that the talks between the USA and the USSR are non-constructive, Reagan will grandiose, but subjectively propagandistic. At the same time, Soviet officials who speak about disarmament will be quoted out of context, silenced or groundlessly and whimsically discounted. Although arguments and statements by officials of the USSR do appear in the press, it is important to note the majority of Americans do not read serious newspapers or periodicals.

Kennedy believes that, given the current state of affairs, and in the interest of peace, it would be prudent and timely to undertake the following steps to counter the militaristic politics of Reagan and his campaign to psychologically burden the American people. In this regard, he offers the following proposals to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Y.V. Andropov:

1. Kennedy asks Y.V. Andropov to consider inviting the senator to Moscow for a personal meeting in July of this year. The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA. He would also like to inform you that he has planned a trip through Western Europe, where he anticipates meeting England’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Mitterand in which he will exchange similar ideas regarding the same issues.

If his proposals would be accepted in principle, Kennedy would send his representative to Moscow to resolve questions regarding organizing such a visit.

Kennedy thinks the benefits of a meeting with Y.V.Andropov will be enhanced if he could also invite one of the well known Republican senators, for example, Mark Hatfield. Such a meeting will have a strong impact on American and political circles in the USA (In March of 1982, Hatfield and Kennedy proposed a project to freeze the nuclear arsenals of the USA and USSR and pblished a book on the theme as well.)

2. Kennedy believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize in August-September of this year, televised interviews with Y.V. Andropov in the USA. A direct appeal by the General Secretary to the American people will, without a doubt, attact a great deal of attention and interest in the country. The senator is convinced this would receive the maximum resonance in so far as television is the most effective method of mass media and information.

 

If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interview. Specifically, the president of the board of directors of ABC, Elton Raul and television columnists Walter Cronkite or Barbara Walters could visit Moscow. The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.

Furthermore, with the same purpose in mind, a series of televised interviews in the USA with lower level Soviet officials, particularly from the military would be organized. They would also have an opportunity to appeal directly to the American people about the peaceful intentions of the USSR, with their own arguments about maintaining a true balance of power between the USSR and the USA in military term. This issue is quickly being distorted by Reagan’s administration.

Kennedy asked to convey that this appeal to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is his effort to contribute a strong proposal that would root out the threat of nuclear war, and to improve Soviet-American relations, so that they define the safety of the world. Kennedy is very impressed with the activities of Y.V. Andropov and other Soviet leaders, who expressed their commitment to heal international affairs, and improve mutal understandings between peoples.

The senator underscored that he eagerly awaits a reply to his appeal, the answer to which may be delivered through Tunney.

Having conveyed Kennedy’s appeal to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Tunney also explained that Senator Kennedy has in the last few years actively made appearances to reduce the threat of war. Because he formally refused to partake in the election campaign of 1984, his speeches would be taken without prejudice as they are not tied to any campaign promises. Tunney remarked that the senator wants to run for president in 1988. At that time, he will be 56 and his personal problems, which could hinder his standing, will be resolved (Kennedy has just completed a divorce and plans to remarry in the near future). Taken together, Kennedy does not discount that during the 1984 campaign, the Democratic Party may officially turn to him to lead the fight against the Republicans and elect their candidate president. This would explain why he is convinced that none of the candidates today have a real chance at defeating Reagan.

We await instructions.

President of the committee
V. Chebrikov

Lest we forget in our grief.

The High Cost of Liberalism

 

  • AUGUST 24, 2009

The High Cost of Liberalism

Taxes too high? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

By PETE DU PONT

Congress is in recess and many Americans are on vacation, but all that will end when Labor Day has passed and the House and Senate are back at work.

And that means the Europeanization of America will again be in full gear, from expanding government control and regulation of as many things as possible, to raising taxes, expanding the size of government, and reducing the choices individuals are allowed.

The Treasury reports that our country’s federal debt has doubled in nine years, rising steadily, year by year, to $10.72 trillion from $5.67 trillion in 2000. Our deficit for the current year fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is expected to total $1.8 trillion, four times last year’s figure, leaving us with a federal debt of $38,500 for every U.S. resident. Our economy is doing poorly; it will shrink about 2.6% this year. Unemployment in July reached 9.4% and will likely further increase, and tax revenues are down $353 billion over the first 10 months of this fiscal year.

So we can easily see what is just around the corner. Earlier this month Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, opened the door, suggesting that taxes on all taxpayers will have to go up. As Stephen Moore noted in The Wall Street Journal, “it would take almost $16,000 more from every household in America to balance the budget this year.” We certainly won’t get to balanced budgets for decades, but substantially higher taxation seems inevitable.

All of which leads to the essential economic question: Which tax increases do the current administration and Congress intend to enact? There are more than a dozen, all of which would negatively affect our economy.

One has already been signed into law by President Obama: an increase in the tax on tobacco, to $1.01 a pack of cigarettes from 39 cents, and to as much as 40 cents a cigar from a nickel–increases of 159% and 700%, respectively. This is expected to bring in $8 billion a year. Next up is a possible increase in alcohol, beer and wine taxes, raising about another $6 billion annually, and perhaps another $5 billion a year on sugary drinks will be enacted.

Then come a series of substantial tax increases that are on the Washington agenda that, if enacted, will create real problems for our country’s economy.

First, allowing the expiration of the previous Bush administration tax cuts at the end of 2010. These reductions increased government tax receipts by $785 billion (just as the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts increased tax revenues) and gave us eight million new jobs over a 52-month period. The cuts go away if Congress does nothing, raising tax rates on the top earners will to 39.6% from 35%, and on the next-highest bracket to 36% from 33%. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that 55% of these tax increases will come from small-business income.

Next comes Rep. Charles Rangel’s additional tax increases, a part of the House health-care bill. The House Ways and Means chairman calls for a 1% surtax on couples with more than $350,000 in income, 1.5% on incomes more than $500,000, and 5.4% on incomes more than $1 million. The extra tax would kick in at lower levels for unmarried taxpayers. And if promised health-care cost savings don’t materialize, the surtaxes would automatically double.

The House health-care bill contains several tax increases that would hit couples earning under $250,000 a year, contrary to President Obama’s promises: $8.2 billion of tax increases for people using health savings accounts or other tax-free savings to purchase over-the-counter drugs; a “Comparative Effectiveness Research Tax” of $2 billion on all private and “public option” insurance, plus up to 8% paid by employers–mostly small businesses–that don’t offer health insurance. There is even a proposed tax on individuals who do not have health insurance.

Then come some other tax increases the administration has favored:

• An increased tax on American companies doing business in other countries.

• Raising or abolishing the wage cap on Social Security taxes, which would effectively convert Social Security into a welfare program.

• Reducing the tax benefit for itemized deductions like charitable contributions, which would reduce philanthropy.

And then there’s the Waxman-Markey “cap and trade” bill that has passed the House and will be taken up in the Senate this fall. It would give the government total control of the production, prices, availability and use of energy and add a global energy tax to imported goods–serious American protectionism. It would shrink America’s economy by $400 billion each year and cause the loss of some 2.5 million jobs. For a household of four it would cost an average of about $3,000 a year. By 2035 the total family annual increased cost would be $4,600 for power, food, supplies, gasoline and transportation.

All told, the administration and Congress are pushing massive tax increases. Without a specific proposal we don’t know how much taxes would go up if the Social Security ceiling is raised, but add the others up and we see up to $200 billion–and it could well be much more–in annual tax increases on businesses, individuals and the overall economy, which is already in recession.

The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger observes that “to an independent voter or moderate Democrat, President Everyman is starting to look like a salesman for the superstate.” These many proposed tax increases reinforce the point. They not only would be economically damaging, but chart a very scary course for our country.

An honest obituary of “Sir” Ted Kennedy you’ll never see in print

An honest obituary of “Sir” Ted Kennedy you’ll never see in print

August 26, 2009, 7:18 am

By Kevin “Coach” Collins

Senator Ted Kennedy has lost his battle to live. As a Christian I hope God has mercy on him. He suffered from a ghastly cancerous brain tumor that has apparently taken his life.

Obviously Kennedy will be canonized by acclamation in the media today and for days to come. The British Crown has already given him an honorary knighthood making him “Sir Edward” but genuine Americans know better.

These things said, I offer the following brief but honest obituary items which have no chance of appearing anywhere in the Democrat controlled media.

“It’s hard to think of anyone who singlehandedly did more damage to America than Ted Kennedy. Starting with his disgusting criminal conduct at Chappaquiddick when he abandoned Mary Jo Kopechne to die, Kennedy was always a destructive force in America’s public life. Because Kennedy was never prosecuted, as he should have been, his crime did enormous damage to America’s sense of justice and belief that “no one is above the law.”

“On signing the 1965 Civil Rights Law, Lyndon Johnson lamented, “We [Democrats] have lost the South for a generation.” This moved Kennedy to commit perhaps his most egregious acts when he sponsored two Immigration reform bills that slammed the door on Europeans who had traditionally brought industriousness and honor to America. Instead they cleared the way for millions and millions of legal and illegal aliens from elsewhere who often bring no skills but palpable contempt for America. Kennedy is responsible for the damage they have done.

“One of Kennedy’s most memorable quotes came in a rare truthful moment during a discussion about socialism he said, “[Socialism] hasn’t worked in 6,000 years of recorded history because it didn’t have me to run it.”

“Sir Edward’s family asks for donations to LaRaza or Moveon.org. groups he loved so dearly.”

Politically correct services in Sir Edward’s memory will be held in Boston New York and San Francisco. I won’t be attending any.

Do it for Ted

The Marxists will try to use Kennedy’s corpse as a platform to spring into action ram through Obamacare and “do it for Ted.” We have to redouble our efforts to stop this last assault by sycophantic liberal robots all snots and tears over their hero’s death. We can’t become slaves just to honor this man who has already done us some much harm. We can’t let Sir Edward assault us even from his grave.

“Sir” Edward was an enemy of everything that made America great and now he is gone. There is not much more to honestly say about him. Nevertheless, I hope God’s mercies showered him at his judgment.

Comments on this or any other Collins Report essay can be sent to kcoachc “at” gmail.com

New Budget Estimates Show Unsustainable Spending and Debt

New Budget Estimates Show Unsustainable Spending and Debt
WebMemo #2595

The Office of Management and Budget has released its annual mid-session review that updates the budget projections from this past May.[1] They show that this year, Washington will spend $30,958 per household, tax $17,576 per household, and borrow $13,392 per household. The federal government will increase spending 22 percent this year to a peacetime-record 26 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). This spending is not just temporary: President Obama would permanently keep annual spending between $5,000 and $8,000 per household higher than it had been under President George W. Bush.[2]

Driven by this spending, America will run its first ever trillion-dollar budget deficit this year. Even worse, the President’s budget would borrow an additional $9 trillion over the next decade, more than doubling the national debt. By 2019, America will be spending nearly $800 billion on net interest to service this large debt.[3]

Bigger Government and Higher Taxes

  • Since World War II, federal spending has generally remained between 18 and 22 percent of GDP. During the Bush Administration, spending increased from 18 to 21 percent of GDP. This year, President Obama will spend a peacetime-record 26 percent of GDP. Even by 2019, spending would still be 23 percent of GDP–not even counting the President’s proposed health plan.
  • The 22 percent spending increase projected for 2009 represents the largest government expansion since the 1952 height of the Korean War (adjusted for inflation). Federal spending is up 57 percent since 2001.
  • While the costs of the financial bailouts and economic stimulus bills are staggering, they are only a fraction of the coming costs from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that each year Medicaid will expand by 7 percent, Medicare by 6 percent, and Social Security by 5 percent. These programs face a 75-year shortfall of $43 trillion–60 times greater than the gross cost of the $700 billion TARP financial bailout.[4]
  • President Obama claims that “we have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade.” This is not true. The President first creates a fantasy baseline that assumes the Iraq surge continues forever (which was never U.S. policy) and then “saves” $1.5 trillion against that baseline by ending the surge as scheduled. It is like a family “saving” $10,000 by first assuming an expensive vacation and then not taking it. Another $1 trillion in “savings” is actually tax increases (in other words, savings for government, not taxpayers).
  • The President’s budget figures exclude his health care plan, which could add another trillion dollars in taxes and spending.
  • Tax revenues have historically remained between 17 and 19 percent of GDP. This year, the recession has reduced them to 14.7 percent of GDP. The CBO has estimated that once the recession ends, maintaining current tax policies would keep revenues at around 17.6 percent of GDP (slightly below the 18.3 historical average). President Obama’s proposed tax increases would push revenues up to 19.2 percent of GDP by 2019 (not counting his proposed tax increases to finance health care reform).
  • Federal spending per household (adjusted for inflation) remained constant at $21,000 throughout the 1980s and 1990s, before President Bush hiked it to $25,000. In 2009, Washington will spend $30,958 per household–the highest level in American history–and under President Obama’s budget, the figure will rise above $33,000 by 2019.
  • As the budget deficit increases over the next decade, so will net interest spending, from $173 billion (1.2 percent of GDP) in 2009 to a record-level of $774 billion (3.4 percent of GDP) by 2019. In fact, net interest costs will account for 84 percent of the 2019 budget deficit.
  • President Obama’s budget includes $1.4 trillion in tax increases, all of which would go toward new spending rather than deficit reduction.

The 2009 Budget Deficit[5]

  • Since World War II, the largest budget deficit recorded was 6.0 percent of GDP in 1983. The Bush Administration oversaw budget deficits averaging 2.0 percent of GDP. The projected 2009 budget deficit of 11.2 percent of GDP would nearly double the post-war record. The White House budget proposal would keep the budget deficit above 3.7 percent of GDP indefinitely. It has not reached that level since 1993.
  • The mid-session review projects a $1,580 billion budget deficit in fiscal year 2009. While this is $261 billion less than the White House projected in May, the entire reduction stems from Congress not following the President’s call for another round of TARP (which would have cost $250 billion in outlays), and $101 billion in savings from lower-than-expected deposit insurance costs. Excluding those two variables, the projected budget deficit actually increased.
  • The 2009 budget deficit will be larger than all budget deficits from 2002 through 2007 combined. More than 43 cents of every dollar Washington spends in 2009 will have been borrowed.
  • While President Obama claims to have inherited the 2009 budget deficit, it is important to note that the estimated 2009 budget deficit has increased by $400 billion since his inauguration, and the whole point of the “stimulus” was to increase deficit spending to nearly $2 trillion based on the unproven notion that would it alleviate the recession. This suggests that even if the President had not inherited a big deficit, he would have created one as a matter of anti-recessionary policy.

Future Budget Deficits

  • One would expect the post-recession deficit to revert back to the $150 billion to $350 billion budget deficits that were typical before the recession. Instead, by 2019, the President forecasts a $917 billion budget deficit, a public debt of 77 percent of GDP, and annual net interest spending of $774 billion.
  • The White House projects $10.6 trillion in new deficits between 2009 and 2019–nearly $80,000 per household in new borrowing.
  • Since World War II, the public debt has ranged from 23 percent of GDP to 49 percent. Large deficits are estimated to drive the debt ratio to 41 percent in 2008 and 77 percent by 2019–a peacetime record.
  • The public national debt–$5.8 trillion as of 2008–is projected to double by 2012 and nearly triple by 2019. Thus, America would accumulate more government debt under President Obama than under every President in American history from George Washington to George W. Bush combined.
  • The White House brags that it will cut the deficit in half by 2013. The President does not mention that the deficit has nearly quadrupled this year. Merely cutting it half from that bloated level would still leave budget deficits twice as high as under President Bush. Furthermore, three upcoming developments–the end of the recession, the troop pullout in Iraq, and the phase-out of the supposedly temporary “stimulus” spending–would, by themselves, cut the budget deficit in half.
  • The coming tsunami of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs are projected to push the federal public debt to 320 percent of GDP by 2050 and over 750 percent by 2083.[6]
  • The White House underestimates future budget deficits by trillions of dollars by (1) assuming that discretionary spending will be frozen to inflation for the next decade, (2) assuming that cap-and-trade revenues will be available to finance a Make Work Pay credit (the House-passed bill allocates those revenues elsewhere), (3) assuming health care reform will be deficit-neutral, and (4) assuming certain tax increases that are unlikely to be enacted.
  • The White House also likely overestimates long-term economic growth. Its forecast for real GDP growth in 2010 and 2011 is reasonable but exceedingly optimistic after the economic recovery. The Administration forecast exceeds that of the CBO every year by as much as 0.9 percentage points as late as 2015 and by a cumulative 3.9 percentage points over the 2012-2019 period. In effect, the Administration is assuming a full year’s additional growth over those eight years. The effect is to boost revenues significantly in each year and by as much as $160 billion in the 10th year and a cumulative amount of almost $680 billion.

Time to Stop Digging

The new budget spending estimates are alarming and absolutely unsustainable–and are the true cause of these appalling levels of deficit and debt. President Obama has proposed massive tax increases that still cannot keep up with the historic spending increases he has proposed. The result will be highest level of spending–and debt–in American history. Within a decade, Washington would have to spend nearly $800 billion annually just to pay the interest on the national debt.

In this budget context, the President’s and Congress’s brazen proposals to create a $1 trillion health care entitlement are reckless and unaffordable. Lawmakers should focus on capping federal spending, restraining entitlements, and eliminating wasteful and lower-priority programs.

Brian M. Riedl is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.


[1]The Congressional Budget Office has also released its annual update, showing 2009 estimates similar to the White House estimates.

[2]Figures adjusted for inflation.

[3]For more, see Brian M. Riedl, “The Obama Budget: Spending, Taxes, and Doubling the National Debt,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2249, March 16, 2009, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/bg2249.cfm;
Brian M. Riedl, “Federal Spending by the Numbers 2009,” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 63, July 27, 2009, at http://www.
heritage.org/Research/Budget/sr0063.cfm
.

[4]Brian M. Riedl, “A Guide to Fixing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2114, March 11, 2008, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/bg2114.cfm.

[5]Unless otherwise noted, all 2009 budget data comes from Office of Management and Budget, “Mid-Session Review: Budget of the U.S. Government: 2010,” August 25, 2009, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/
assets/fy2010_msr/10msr.pdf
(August 25, 2009). All pre-2009 budget data comes from Office of Management and Budget, “Budget of the United States Government: 2010 Historical Tables,” at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/
budget/Historicals/
(August 25, 2009).

[6]Congressional Budget Office “The Long-Term Budget Outlook,” June 2009, p. 6, at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/102xx/doc10297/06-25-LTBO.pdf (August 25, 2009). This represents the alternative fiscal scenario.

 

Ted Kennedy dead (updated)

Ted Kennedy dead (updated)

Rick Moran
This will be a “just the facts, ma’am,” post. Ted Kennedy succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 77.

Kennedy’s home town Boston Globe has the obit by Martin Nolan:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and a liberal ideology to the citadel of Senate power, but whose personal and political failings may have prevented him from realizing the ultimate prize of the presidency, died at his home in Hyannis Port last night after a battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” his family said in a statement. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness, and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”

I think it a fine epitaph that many, many conservative blogs repeat James Taranto’s quip:

Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

Consider the rest of this post an open thread.
 

Thomas Lifson adds:

 

Ted Kennedy was the poster boy for redemption by liberal politics — the sense that many on the left have that no matter how badly they behave personally, they have a claim on virtue because they support liberal policies. By mobilizing the power of the state to take money away from some to cater to the needs of others, they suddenly become great humanitarians.

Even the liberals on MSNBC this morning are framing their eulogies in terms of Teddy’s battle with his dark side (and concluding that in the end light won because he got the government to spend a lot more money).

But Ted Kennedy faces a Judge far more powerful than any pundit, or indeed the electorate now.  What any other mortal thinks of him now is irrelevant to his fate.

C. Edmund Wright adds:

A couple things stand out this morning. First is the unspoken irony that a Senator being hailed today as a “lifelong champion of the poor and working people” passed away at his home in Hyannis Port.” Enough said.

Second: As predicted many months ago by Rush Limbaugh, the left will use the death of their “liberal lion” to callously push health care reform in his memory. Already this morning one Democrat lawmaker has done just that. And I mean literally used his death for specifically that purpose.

 

Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York said on CNBC this morning that “I think his memory definitely will (play a role in the health care debate) .. and I would hope that this (meaning Kennedy’s death) would cause us to sit down like never before to pass a bill — and do it in a bipartisan way and do it in short order…that would be a fitting tribute to Senator Ed Kennedy.”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Cliff Thier adds:

 For those readers unfamiliar with the events at Chappaquiddick Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts in 1969, here are the salient facts:

After a party on the island, Senator Edward Kennedy was driving a young staff worker, Mary Jo Kopechne somewhere late that night. He later said he was driving her to her hotel. She had, however, left her hotel key and pocketbook at the party.
Kennedy drove off the bridge to the mainland and plunged the car into the Poucha Pond inlet.
Kennedy managed to extricate himself with the car which was filling up with water. He later claimed that he had tried swimming to the car several times. Instead of immediately notifying the police he called a “Kennedy advisor.” Kennedy spent the rest of that night huddled with “Kennedy advisors” to come up with a story. Later, Kennedy and two “Kennedy advisors” went to the scene of the accident and tried to swim to reach the car. None of the men thought they should notify the police.
Later Kennedy went back to his hotel room where he complained during the night that he couldn’t sleep because of a loud party. That next morning Kennedy chatted with the winner of a sailboat race. Then Kennedy met with the same two “Kennedy advisors.” The three men then went back to the scene of the accident. Still no one called the police. Using a pay phone there, Kennedy did call friends asking for advice.
Around that time fishermen had spotted the car in the water and called the police. A police diver later testified that, “Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim’s side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car”
Kennedy who was standing nearby at a pay phone and saw the police had discovered the body. The police had run the license plate and discovered that the car belonged to Kennedy.
At around 10:00 AM Kennedy presented himself (with “Kennedy advisors”) at the police station.
By the time he presented himself to the police a sobriety test was impossible.
The judge at the inquest decided that some of Kennedy’s testimony about the events that night were lies. Nevertheless Kennedy was not prosecuted for anything more than leaving the scene of an accident. He got a two-month suspended sentence. The judge said that Kennedy had an “unblemished record” and that he had “been, and will continue to be punished far beyond anything this court can impose.”
A man whose shtick was about fairness and equality was only too happy to be treated by Massachusetts officials in a manner no person not named Kennedy would be treated. The rest of us would have been sent to jail for criminally negligent homicide (at the least).
July 18, 2009 was the 40th anniversary of Mary Jo Kopechne’s homicide. She would have been 68 today.

Ed Lasky adds:

Yesterday, Randall Hoven pointed out that Barack Obama has insulted an amazing range of people. So it’s no surprise to note that he insulted Ted Kennedy, too.
In late, 2003, this is what Barack Obama had to say of Ted Kennedy on Kennedy’s efforts to pass a prescription drug bill:
He is getting old and getting tired.

Jack Kemp adds:

What is Dr. Ezekial Emanuel’s position on the late Ted Kennedy’s treatments?
 
As Noemie Emery states in the Washington Examiner about Sen. Kennedy:
“According to the Politico, some of his drugs may cost $50,000 for one treatment, while the Obama plan relies on trimming back the expense and the scope of the end-of-life treatments given the elderly when they become very ill.”

My more-than-rhetorical question for Dr. Emanuel is this: Do you consider these expensive treatments given to the late Sen. Kennedy a waste of the medical resources? Ted Kennedy’s Senatorial medical insurance was funded by the federal government. These days few private institutions do not benefit indirectly or directly from the federal governments expenditures on medical education, Medicare or other programs.
 
So I ask again, we know Dr. Emanuel’s general position against using extraordinary and expensive measures to extend the life of senior citizens. Does his position also apply to Sen. Kennedy’s situation and is he willing to say that in public?

David Jeffers adds:

 After the lionization is over; the casket is removed from the Capitol Rotunda, and the senator is laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery next to his brothers, the Democrats at the prodding of Rahm “never waste a crisis” Emanuel will come out with a revised health care plan in honor of the late and “great” Ted Kennedy.

As Thomas Paine once wrote, “these are the times that try men’s souls”, our elected Republican representatives in Congress are going to be tested.  Will they be able to stand up to the vitriol sure to come if they oppose TeddyCare?  Will they be able to overcome the wave of emotion during the Teddy hero-worship that will no doubt come from the Democrats and their public relations firm, the mainstream media?
The Republican Party will no doubt crumble under the pressure if we the people are not there to man the ramparts of their crumbling spines.
We conservatives are going to have to be the badge of courage our Republican Cowardly Lions are going to need in the days ahead.

Thomas Lifson adds:

Rush Limbaugh framed the story brilliantly. Conservatives should celebrate the way Kennedy lived and died. He held on to the end, taking advantage of all that American medicine offers. He and his loving family all understood that life is precious, so very precious.
Sen. Kennedy faced no death counselors; nobody went through the VA deathbook with him, asking if he ever is moody.
It would be a travesty, sheer hypocrisy, Rush posits, to put Kennedy’s name on a bill that offers Americans anything less than the treatment Kennedy’s valiant fight with death embodied.
This strikes me wonderful jiu-jitsu. Republicans celebrating Kennedy’s example at the end of life, his valiant spirit. The lion went out like a lion. The man of the people.

 Richard Baehr adds:

Well it did not take long.   West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd is out with a statement calling for the health care reform bill to be renamed the Kennedy bill.  And Speaker Nancy Pelosi is out with her press release on the need to pass health care reform to honor the recently departed Senator.
In all the talk of Kennedy’s health care legacy, and his long Senate career, and personal foibles, one story not receiving enough attention is a key part of the Kennedy legacy —  poisoning the Senate confirmation process for Supreme Court nominees, starting with his defamatory slander of Robert Bork.
“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is — and is often the only — protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy….”  ….
“President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of American. No justice would be better than this injustice”.  

Steve McCann adds:

Can we we now finally say good-bye to “Camelot” and the Jack Kennedy/Bobby mystique that was drapped by default around Ted Kennedy as the lone surviving brother. Ted owed his career and place in the pantheon of liberal icons thanks to an accident of birth. Please identify one major accomplishment of Ted Kennedy that has bettered the lives of the American people. Nonetheless may he rest in peace.

Cliff Thier adds:
A column by former CBS correspondent Roger Mudd from January 2008 illustrates just how much this country is indebted to Ted Kennedy. Because without Ted Kennedy’s behavior one evening in August 1980, the Soviet Union and might not have been toppled, thousands of nuclear missiles might still be on a hair-trigger aimed at the cities of the United States, and millions of people might not have been freed from slavery in Eastern Europe. The American economy in a Jimmy Carter-induced tailspin that year-with mortgage rates as high as 20-21%, and the US government having to pay 15.5% to borrow money – might not have been righted until many years later.
The scene was the Democratic National Convention in Madison Square Garden on August 14, 1980. Carter had just finished his acceptance speech. As the band played “Happy Days Are Here Again” and the delegates cheered, Carter and his vice-president, Walter Mondale, bounded about the stage, their hands together, their arms outstretched like two triumphant prize fighters. The podium began to fill with the powers of the Democratic Party, governors and members of the Congress, all waving, smiling, winking and clapping. That final convention photograph had become mandatory – the televised symbol of party unity, with the victor and his vanquished opponents on the podium in happy harmony. But on August 14th, the vanquished, Teddy Kennedy, was missing from the picture. (snip)
Kennedy did finally arrive at Madison Square Garden. He gave Carter a perfunctory handshake and then seemed to turn his back on the President, skirting around the edges of the podium as party officials tried to arrange a victory photograph. Jules Witcover and Jack Germond, in Blue Smoke and Mirrors, quote a Carter intimate as saying the President “looked like a puppy dog” trotting after Kennedy. They also quote party chairman, Robert Strauss, after a reporter told him the scene “looked like hell,” as saying “it looked worse than hell.” Carter himself never recovered. He carried five states and the District of Columbia. In his memoir, Keeping Faith, he wrote that the news stories about the podium scene “emphasized his [Kennedy’s] lack of enthusiasm as an indication that the spilt in our ranks had not healed. This accurate impression was quite damaging to our campaign, and was to linger for a long time.”

Maybe not quite the destroyer of Carter’s kingdom but close.

Senator Kennedy, I remember watching you that evening. I remember watching President Carter chasing you around the stage. Senator Kennedy, if not for your childish petulance the United States might never have elected Ronald Reagan. Thank you.

 
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