OBAMA’S HEALTH INSURANCE TAX: COMING SOON TO ALL POLICIES

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OBAMA’S HEALTH INSURANCE TAX: COMING SOON TO ALL POLICIES

By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN

Published on DickMorris.com on September 25, 2009

The Baucus healthcare bill provides for a tax on “gold-plated” health insurance policies. But, as with the Alternative Minimum Tax, once slated to be imposed only on the wealthy, inflation will make most Americans liable to pay the 40 percent tax in a few years.

The tax applies to all individual policies with premiums above $8,750 and families of four whose premiums exceed $23,000. But the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the average health insurance premium for families of four will reach $25,000 by 2018. The average premium should pass the thresholds in Baucus’s bill by 2016.

So, a few years after the bill takes effect in 2013, the health insurance premium tax will become virtually universal. And this tax is to be a 40 percent levy. So, in six years, the average family health insurance policy, now projected to cost $25,000, will, in fact, cost $35,000 due to the Obama-Baucus tax!

The Baucus bill tax threshold is, of course, not indexed for medical inflation or even for regular inflation. (Premiums have been rising at 10 percent for a decade and the average family premium now is 109 percent higher than it was 10 years ago.)

Will Congress act, in the future, to index the health insurance premium tax so it does not reach down to the average American’s policies? Not very likely. As costs rise under ObamaCare (as they have in Massachusetts, where they have more than doubled in two years), the pressure for increased revenue will dictate that Congress let the tax grow and expand its reach until it is a universal tax that pays for universal care.

Until now, the Obama plan has not meant much for the average American who now has insurance. While scarcity of doctors and medical care is a likely result, the harm was largely confined to the elderly, who will bear the brunt of the rationing. But now, the Baucus bill shows that the real story is quite different. In a few years’ time, most families will find their health insurance premiums 40 percent higher because of the new tax. Far from cutting the cost of health insurance, the bill will send it through the roof!

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Obama’s Dangerous UN Agenda

Obama’s Dangerous UN Agenda
By: Ben Johnson
Friday, September 25, 2009

 


Obama insulted his own country, promoted environmentalism, embraced unilateral disarmament, and declared counterterrorism a “law enforcement” matter.

Much commentary about Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations Wednesday has focused on his description of pre-Obama America as a deadbeat, lawless, foot-dragging country that tortures innocent Muslims, or did until his glorious ascension to the right hand of power. The predictable emphasis on the speech’s most offensive aspects overlooks more dangerous points yet: the president placed unilateral nuclear disarmament, the environmentalist agenda, and increased pressure on U.S. allies at the forefront of a globalist agenda, while relegating terrorism to a footnote – one that regards it as a “law enforcement” matter. (Yes, he used those words.)

 

The “I”s Have It

 

Obama has been accused of having a messianic view of his presidency. In 41 major presidential speeches before the UN address, Obama made reference to himself nearly 1,200 times, more than twice as often as every member of Congress combined. His UN address was similarly Obama-centric.

 

To highlight the glimmering hope his presidency embodies, he demonized America, B.B.O. (Before Barack Obama). He noted the international “belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally,” a belief he has made clear in other venues he shares; he said “America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy”;  and he declared the dark “days when America dragged its feet on [climate change] are over” – a less caustic version of his remark Tuesday at the Climate Change Summit that, under a certain unnamed predecessor, America suffered “too many years of inaction and denial.”

 

He then presented himself as the savior of international relations, touting “the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world.” He hastened to add these “expectations are not about me” but rather are “rooted in hope – the hope that real change is possible, and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change.”

 

Obama then equated “the character and cause of my nation,” with “the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.” During this time, he boasted, he “prohibited… the use of torture by the United States of America,” ordered “the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed,” determined “combat extremism within the rule of law,” joined the UN Human Rights Council, and “paid our bill” to the United Nations.

 

This leaves the impression the United States was a cheapskate nation that had turned its back on global human rights, and implicitly admits torturing and otherwise conducting a lawless anti-terrorism program. In reality, Gitmo is not closed, as Obama has acknowledged it contains a number of prisoners who can neither be released nor transferred, and he has no plan to deal with them. It is true that the Republican Congress voted to withhold a portion of UN dues twice B.B.O. (in 2001 and 2005) – over President Bush’s strenuous objections. Congress recognized the U.S. pays nearly a quarter of the UN’s budget, while 128 of its 192 member nations pay one percent, and it demanded reforms. This demand was in part motivated by the fact that Cuba, China, and Saudi Arabia sit on the UN Human Rights Council. Upon taking office, Obama paid nearly a billion dollars to the UN and rejoined the UNHRC – once again, without securing, or even asking for, anything in return. In general, his administration’s view is best elucidated by Susan Rice, who said “others will likely shoulder a greater share of the global burden if the United States leads by example, acknowledges mistakes…and treats others with respect.” Like generations of leftists, the Obama administration believes the U.S. is guilty of straining international relations for years, and our collective guilt explains the world’s “reflexive anti-Americanism,” which can now be put to an end because of…him. He does not believe, as did John Bolton, that the UN has been too accommodating to terrorism.

 

And his “counterterrorism” proposal reflects it.

 

Fighting Terrorism: A “Law Enforcement” Matter

 

The anti-terrorism portion of his speech took exactly one, excessively fuzzy paragraph. Its most specific proposal declared, “America will forge lasting partnerships to target terrorists, share intelligence, and coordinate law enforcement and protect our people.” Obama let the cat out of the bag; he shares John Kerry’s view that counterterrorism is “primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation.” This may account for his recent, public signs of faltering in Afghanistan. Although he campaigned on a promise to bomb Pakistan – if necessary, without Islamabad’s approval – in order to kill Osama bin Laden, he now speaks of returning to the law enforcement approach of the Clinton years that brought on the bombing of two U.S. embassies, the Khobar Towers, the USS Cole, and finally 9/11.

 

Against the backdrop of his public vacillation on Afghanistan, he insisted he “will never waver in our efforts to stand up for the right of people everywhere to determine their own destiny.” Later that evening, he was followed at the podium by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who jailed, beat, and “tried” Iranian protesters, even killing the nine-year-old son of a political enemy, with little more than a belated whimper from Obama. And although Poland and the Czech Republic had determined they wanted missile defense, he abandoned a long-negotiated U.S. agreement granting their request.

 

Similarly, when he turned to Iran and North Korea – all too briefly – he insisted the UN “demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise.” China has obstinately blocked him, and Russia is actively aiding Tehran’s nuclear program. Moreover, Obama became the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party precisely for counseling international law be disregarded when it came to enforcing more than a dozen resolutions about Saddam Hussein. But he showed a great deal more relish for other UN resolutions.

 

Mideastern Pre-“Occupation”

 

By far the biggest applause lines of his speech were his emphasis “that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements” and a vow to end “the occupation that began in 1967.” (Conversely, he received no applause when he described U.S. actions to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, H1N1, and global economic squalor.) He insisted, “the time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues:  security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem.”

 

Israeli President Binyamin Netanyahu has made it known returning to the pre-1967 borders is a non-starter.  So did Ariel Sharon. Even Ehud Olmert would not allow an unmitigated return to the old territory, because the 1967 borders are regarded as indefensible. Similarly, granting the “right of return” to all Palestinian refugees in UNRWA camps – most of whom never set foot in Israel – would end Israel’s history as a Jewish state and will never be accepted in Tel Aviv. Aside from Honduras, Israel is the lone nation the Obama administration has pressured; all others receive an “open hand” of friendship.

 

Obama believes Israel, like the United States, must “lead by example,” giving its enemies a little more each time, in the hopes of securing their approval. In the Left’s world, one’s enemies exist only because they feel frightened or endangered. This outlook is reflected in Obama’s anti-nuclear posture.

 

“You Can’t Hug with Nuclear Arms”

 

On Thursday, Obama chaired a meeting of UN Security Council, dedicated to nuclear disarmament, which produced a new (and meaningless) resolution to move toward a world without nuclear weapons. He reaffirmed Wednesday, “we must stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and seek the goal of a world without them.” To this end, he announced the ongoing U.S.-Russian missile reduction negotiations that began this week, hoped to end to the production of fissile nuclear material, and pledged to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), dispatching Hillary Clinton as a representative to its members’ conference.

 

Such a view is hardly new. In April, Obama told an audience in Prague, “the United States will take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.” (One sentence later, he said, “Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies – including the Czech Republic.”)

 

Although Obama may seek a “world” free of nuclear weapons – the Pollyanna hope of the Left and the self-interested hope of the Soviets since the 1960s – he can control policy only in the United States. As I noted last week, his motivation behind scrapping the long-range missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic was likely to encourage Russia to make deep cuts in its nuclear arsenal. The Guardian has since reported, “The abandonment of the US missile defence [sic.] already appears to have spurred arms control talks.” Russian “leader” Dmitry Medvedev said it was probable Russia and the United States would reduce their deployed warheads to 1,500 each by year’s end. To further “spur” negotiations, Obama rejected the Pentagon’s initial Nuclear Posture Review – its overview of how many warheads could be destroyed – on the grounds the Defense Department had not sufficiently decimated U.S. defenses. An administration official told the media, “Obama is now driving this process. He is saying these are the president’s weapons, and he wants to look again at the doctrine and their role.” He and his advisers, most notably Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher, share the view that the United States must demonstrate sincerity by exposing itself to increased danger.

 

The CTBT would further erode our national defense. Baker Spring of the Heritage Foundation wrote, “Once the CTBT is in force, the United States will be unable to maintain a safe, reliable, and effective nuclear arsenal.” The “ban” on fissile nuclear material also produces problems. Obama has repeatedly affirmed the right of every rogue nation, including Iran, to possess “civilian” nuclear reactors; unfortunately, this is precisely the cover North Korea used to create multiple warheads. Henry Sokolski notes another conundrum: “The French are now arguing that the only way to get such a ban going is to bribe China (which has not signed) by selling it a nuclear fuel plant capable of making 1,000 crude bombs’ worth of plutonium a year.”

 

Declaring a U.S. respite on nuclear production, ending nuclear testing with the attendant deterioration of existing warheads, and making a dramatic “goodwill” reduction of our weapons will entice other states to try to catch up to our diminishing levels. If they can come close to matching our lowered arsenal, they will become nuclear superpowers by default. The eradication of our stockpiles, which Obama and company seek, would leave America and the West vulnerable to nuclear blackmail by any state that can produce even one nuclear device – the more so if missile defense systems are abandoned.

 

This is the long-range security strategy at the heart of his foreign policy. But another policy guides him yet more strongly.

 

The Environment: “The Top of our Diplomatic Agenda”

 

Fighting terrorism is now passé. Global warming is seen as a much graver threat to the world’s survival. In recognition of this fact, Obama told the Climate Change Summit Tuesday, “we have put climate at the top of our diplomatic agenda when it comes to our relationships with countries as varied as China and Brazil; India and Mexico; from the continent of Africa to the continent of Europe.”

 

That he has. Upon taking office, Obama created the post Special Envoy for Climate Change within the State Department, appointing Todd Stern, a key negotiator of the Kyoto Protocol and mostly recently a senior follow at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress. Kyoto would have crippled the U.S. economy, costing an estimated $100-400 billion in productivity over ten years and increasing the cost of electricity by as much as 80 percent.

Obama’s shift in focus has been felt by every delegation visiting China. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once had an outstanding record on Chinese human rights. When she visited Beijing this summer, she made token statements on human rights but said her “focus was on climate change,” insisting, “protecting the environment is a human rights issue.” Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Ed Markey noted Madam Speaker’s strong role in emphasizing the administration’s overriding concern.

 

Obama alluded to it himself in the most dire part of his speech – predictably, not about terrorism or the likelihood of Iran or North Korea obtaining a nuclear weapon. Obama gave a mini-apocalyptic sermon:

 

If we continue down our current course, every member of this Assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders.  Our efforts to end conflicts will be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources.  Development will be devastated by drought and famine.  Land that human beings have lived on for millennia will disappear.  Future generations will look back and wonder why we refused to act; why we failed to pass on – why we failed to pass on an environment that was worthy of our inheritance.

 

The trouble, he believed, is that the UN “struggles to enforce its will,” another common statement of globalists. In Prague, he announced, “All nations must come together to build a stronger, global regime.

 

Holdren’s Influence?

 

Both his apocalypticism and his globalism echo Science Czar John Holdren. Holdren confirmed during his Senate confirmation hearings in February that “carbon dioxide-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020,”  and dire predictions about violent competition for resources are a longtime Holdren refrain. Other outlets that picked up my report on Ecoscience ignored another wrinkle in the story: Holdren has long called for planetary disarmament. As recently as January 2008, Holdren told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the world needs “a universal prohibition on nuclear weapons, coupled with means to ensure confidence in compliance.” In Ecoscience Holdren called for “a comprehensive Planetary Regime” to control all natural resources and determine appropriate population levels to bring this about. The United Nations was his intended agent.

 

Barack Obama’s UN speech advanced a doctrinaire left-wing foreign policy that will hamstring American defense, further sideline the economy, and leave the nation relying on “law enforcement” to chase down terrorists after the fact. His anti-American statements were offensive, but his substantive proposals could do far more damage.


Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Charitable Giving (2004).

Iran Reveals Existence of Second Uranium Enrichment Plant

Iran Reveals Existence of Second Uranium Enrichment Plant

By Michael D. Shear and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 25, 2009 9:18 AM

 

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 25 — President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain on Friday blasted Iran’s construction of a previously unknown uranium enrichment facility and demanded that Tehran immediately fulfill its obligations under international law or risk the imposition of harsh new sanctions.

“Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow,” Obama said, detailing how the facility at Qom had been under construction for years without being disclosed, as required, to the International Atomic Energy Association. “International law is not an empty promise.”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused Iran of “serial deception” that he said “will shock and anger the whole international community, and it will harden our resolve.”

“We will not let this matter rest,” Brown said. ” . . . Iran must abandon any military ambitions for its nuclear programs.”

Iran acknowledged the existence of the facility for the first time on Monday, in a letter to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. The letter said “a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country,” said Marc Vidricaire, a spokesman for the watchdog agency. “The letter stated that the enrichment level would be up to 5 percent.”

Vidricaire said the Vienna-based agency responded by asking Iran to quickly provide more specifics about the facility — “to assess safeguards verification requirements.” He said Iran told the IAEA “that no nuclear material has been introduced into the facility.”

White House officials said Western intelligence agencies have been tracking the facility for years. Obama said officials from the United States, France and Britain briefed the IAEA in Vienna on Thursday on what they knew about the facility. The three heads of state decided to publicly disclose the existence of the facility after learning that Iran had become aware the site was no longer a secret.

Iran’s report of the facility’s existence — and Obama’s plans to accuse Tehran of hiding it — were first reported Friday by the New York Times.

Obama, Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke in advance of the opening of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. Their remarks came a day after Obama chaired a United Nations Security Council session on halting the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the world. Although Obama referred to the nuclear ambitions of both Iran and North Korea during the Security Council session, diplomatic maneuvering kept any mention of the two countries out of a resolution that the council unanimously approved. The omission prompted passionate criticism from Sarkozy.

“How, before the eyes of the world, could we justify meeting without tackling them?” Sarkozy said. “We live in the real world, not a virtual world. And the real world expects us to take decisions.”

On Friday, he said Iran “is taking the international community on a dangerous path . . . Everything, everything, must be put on the table now. We cannot let the Iranian leaders gain time while the motors are running.”

Both Sarkozy and Brown said that if Iran does not come into compliance by December, it risks the imposition of stringent international sanctions. Obama, who spoke in more measured terms, did not mention sanctions specifically.

The global standoff over Iran’s nuclear program began in 2002 with the discovery of two large nuclear facilities in Natanz and Arak, with the Natanz facility devoted to uranium enrichment. U.S. intelligence had secretly provided the geographical coordinates of the facilities to the IAEA three months before an Iranian exile group drew attention to the facilities at an August news conference in Washington.

The public exposure led to demands that IAEA inspect the facilities, which it did in 2003, and ultimately to Iran’s admission that it had kept its nuclear program hidden for 18 years in violation of an international treaty.

A key question regarding the Qom site is whether Iran violated its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regarding when it has to inform international authorities of a new nuclear facility. Under the original treaty, such declarations were not required until six months before fuel was introduced into the facility.

In 1992, however, the IAEA board determined that six months was not enough time to organize required inspections, and amended the rule to require nations to inform it at the time the initial decision was made to build a facility, before construction began. The amendment, called “Code 3.1,” was mandatory; Iran and all other signatories agreed to it.

But in 2006, angered over an IAEA decision to refer its case to the U.N. Security Council, Iran said its parliament had decided it would revert to the non-amended treaty and six-month notification.

The IAEA took the position that no country could legally revert to the old system, and that Iran and all countries were bound by the new rule.

“This is not the first time that Iran has concealed information about its nuclear program,” Obama said Friday morning. “The size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.”

Obama and other Western leaders have been trying to increase pressure on Iran to disclose more about its nuclear ambitions in advance of international talks next week about Iran’s nuclear program. On Oct. 1, a senior Iranian diplomat will meet counterparts from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in Geneva.

“We expect a serious response from Iran,” during the talks, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said this week in a statement approved by the six nations. If such a response is not forthcoming, he said, the six nations will decide on “next steps.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview this week that he is willing to have Iran’s nuclear experts meet with scientists from the United States and other world powers as a confidence-building measure.

Ahmadinejad insisted that Iran is using nuclear technology only for energy and medical purposes and has no interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. He said he wants to buy enriched uranium from the United States that would be used for medical purposes.

The nuclear material Iran is now producing is 3 to 5 percent enriched and suitable only for energy purposes. Nuclear material for medical purposes must be 20 percent enriched — purchasing such material would require a waiver of international sanctions. While weapons-grade material is more than 90 percent enriched, making material for the medical reactor could put Iran on the next step to reaching that level.

In Tehran Friday, Iranian state television revealed the Sept.21 letter on its Arabic language news channel, Al-Alam, which is often used to transmit important official Iranian foreign policy decisions. The report quoted an unnamed source who described the letter as further evidence of Tehran’s transparency in dealing with the IAEA about its nuclear program. It repeated Iran’s long-held assertion that it is acquiring nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Wilgoren reported from Washington. Staff writer Glenn Kessler and Correspondent Thomas Erdbrink contributed to this report from Tehran