A budget-buster in the making

A budget-buster in the making

By David S. Broder
Sunday, November 22, 2009

 

It’s simply not true that America is ambivalent about everything when it comes to the Obama health plan.

 

The day after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) gave its qualified blessing to the version of health reform produced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Quinnipiac University poll of a national cross section of voters reported its latest results.

 

This poll may not be as famous as some others, but I know the care and professionalism of the people who run it, and one question was particularly interesting to me.

 

It read: “President Obama has pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our federal budget deficit over the next decade. Do you think that President Obama will be able to keep his promise or do you think that any health care plan that Congress passes and President Obama signs will add to the federal budget deficit?”

 

The answer: Less than one-fifth of the voters — 19 percent of the sample — think he will keep his word. Nine of 10 Republicans and eight of 10 independents said that whatever passes will add to the torrent of red ink. By a margin of four to three, even Democrats agreed this is likely.

 

That fear contributed directly to the fact that, by a 16-point margin, the majority in this poll said they oppose the legislation moving through Congress.

 

I have been writing for months that the acid test for this effort lies less in the publicized fight over the public option or the issue of abortion coverage than in the plausibility of its claim to be fiscally responsible.

 

This is obviously turning out to be the case. While the CBO said that both the House-passed bill and the one Reid has drafted meet Obama’s test by being budget-neutral, every expert I have talked to says that the public has it right. These bills, as they stand, are budget-busters.

 

Here, for example, is what Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group of budget watchdogs, told me: “The Senate bill is better than the House version, but there’s not much reform in this bill. As of now, it’s basically a big entitlement expansion, plus tax increases.”

 

Here’s another expert, Maya MacGuineas, the president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “While this bill does a better job than the House version at reducing the deficit and controlling costs, it still doesn’t do enough. Given the political system’s aversion to tax increases and spending cuts, I worry about what the final bill will look like.”

 

These are nonpartisan sources, but Republican budget experts such as former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin amplify the point with specific examples and biting language. Holtz-Eakin cites a long list of Democratic-sponsored “budget gimmicks” that made it possible for the CBO to estimate that Reid’s bill would reduce federal deficits by $130 billion by 2019.

 

Perhaps the biggest of those maneuvers was Reid’s decision to postpone the start of subsidies to help the uninsured buy policies from mid-2013 to January 2014 — long after taxes and fees levied by the bill would have begun.

 

Even with that change, there is plenty in the CBO report to suggest that the promised budget savings may not materialize. If you read deep enough, you will find that under the Senate bill, “federal outlays for health care would increase during the 2010-2019 period” — not decline. The gross increase would be almost $1 trillion — $848 billion, to be exact, mainly to subsidize the uninsured. The net increase would be $160 billion.

 

But this depends on two big gambles. Will future Congresses actually impose the assumed $420 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health programs? They never have.

 

And will this Congress enact the excise tax on high-premium insurance policies (the so-called Cadillac plans) in Reid’s bill? Obama has never endorsed them, and House Democrats — reacting to union pressure — turned them down in favor of a surtax on millionaires’ income.

 

The challenge to Congress — and to Obama — remains the same: Make the promised savings real, and don’t pass along unfunded programs to our children and grandchildren.

 

davidbroder@washpost.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama says it: There’s a chance he won’t run in 2012 Who’s Afraid of the big bad Palin??

Obama says it: There’s a chance he won’t run in 2012

President Obama in ChinaPresident Obama in China 

 

In an interview with CNN in China, President Obama opened the possibility to not running for re-election in 2012 — something that no president has done since Lyndon Johnson.

Here’s what he said:

“You know, if – if I feel like I’ve made the very best decisions for the American people and three years from now I look at it and, you know, my poll numbers are in the tank and because we’ve gone through these wrenching changes, you know, politically, I’m in a tough spot, I’ll – I’ll feel all right about myself,” Obama told CNN’s Ed Henry.

“I said to myself very early on, even when I started running for office, I don’t want to be making decisions based on getting re-elected, because I think the challenges that America faces right now are so significant,” the president also said.

“Obviously, if I make those decisions and I think that I’m moving the country on the right direction economically, in terms of our security interests, our foreign policy, I’d like to think that those policies are continued because they’re not going to bear fruit just in four years.”

But in the next breath the president quickly sounded like someone who would relish taking his case to the American people in 2012, saying he’s tackling big issues like health care and Iran that he’s confident will bear fruit in the future.

How far-fetched is this. The quick answer: pretty.

But consider that Obama was the most reluctant presidential candidate in modern times and that he has a young family.

So, yea, there’s a slim possibility that he’s a no-go next time.

Oh, Obama said he doesn’t have time to read Sarah Palin’s new book.

A failed presidency is now unavoidable

A failed presidency is now unavoidable

By Monty Pelerin, American Thinker

 Obama’s Weakness is showing to the whole world

For the past couple of months I have worried about the risks of a failed presidency. No one should want this, regardless of party affiliation. It is harmful and dangerous to our economy and country. However, it appears obvious to me that the royal regime known as Obama has ended.

Seth Leibsohn writing in the National Review summarized it this way: “This is reminiscent of the Jimmy Carter years – the last time the U.S. was seen as weak – unable to move and coax other countries, unable to reassure dependent allies, unable to have the respect of the world and, of course, unable to move the mullocracy of Iran.”

Even the liberal media are beginning to question the effectiveness of  the President. The media, in full Camelot mode, are slow to react and often lag what the populace started to recognize months ago. Quotes like these, however, suggest they are not far behind.

The NYT reports: “China held firm against most American demands. With China’s micro-management of Mr. Obama’s appearances in the country, the trip did more to showcase China’s ability to push back against outside pressure than it did to advance the main issues on Mr. Obama’s agenda, analysts said.”

Read More:

Upper-Bracket Tax May Be Needed for Afghan War Cost, Levin Says

Upper-Bracket Tax May Be Needed for Afghan War Cost, Levin Says

By Viola Gienger

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) — Higher-income Americans should be taxed to pay for more troops sent to Afghanistan and NATO should provide half of the new soldiers, said Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

An “additional income tax to the upper brackets, folks earning more than $200,000 or $250,000” a year, could fund more troops, Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said in an interview for Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.

White House Budget Director Peter Orszag has estimated that each additional soldier in Afghanistan could cost $1 million, for a total that could reach $40 billion if 40,000 more troops are added.

That cost, Levin said, should be paid by wealthier taxpayers. “They have done incredibly well, and I think that it’s important that we pay for it if we possibly can” instead of increasing the federal debt load, the senator said.

Other countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should bear responsibility for delivering half the additional troops needed to secure the conflict zone and train Afghan forces, Levin said. He didn’t predict how many troops President Barack Obama would add.

Levin also said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has faced calls for his resignation from Republicans in Congress, should stay as long as he has Obama’s confidence. The six-term senator said the administration was right to move the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to federal court in New York from a military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Troop Decision Near

On Afghanistan, Obama may decide within a few weeks whether to grant a request from the top commander in the field, General Stanley McChrystal, for 40,000 more troops to fight the Taliban, which harbored al-Qaeda before being toppled in the invasion following the Sept. 11 attacks. The U.S. contributes about 70,000 of the 110,000 foreign forces waging the Afghan war.

Levin, who has supported adding U.S. troops to the war mainly to train the Afghan army and police to assume more responsibilities, said he might back an increase closer to 40,000 under certain conditions. These include the proportion that would be used for training, a plan for preparing enough Afghan troops and a “major program” to provide equipment to their forces.

“There’s a lot of other things involved in showing resolve beside just a troop level,” Levin said. A key element to gain support will be “that whatever is announced, it be part of a NATO-Afghan initiative,” he said.

Conditions on Aid

The U.S. also should place conditions on aid that goes through Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government to ensure that he cooperates in fighting corruption, Levin said. Karzai won re-election by default when his main challenger dropped out of a planned runoff after the first balloting in August was marred by allegations of fraud.

Levin said that while he wanted to be “hopeful” that Karzai would take steps to weed out corruption, “I’m also skeptical.”

Levin, 75, commended Pakistan’s leaders for turning more of their attention from their conflict with India to the Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters sheltering near the other border with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s army and its citizens have “taken some very severe losses” in fighting the militants, he said.

“They’ve got a way to go,” Levin said.

He also praised India, saying leaders had shown “restraint” in dealing with “fanatics” who crossed over the border from Pakistan.

On the economy, Levin said Geithner has been “very helpful” on finding ways to support automakers to preserve the industry.

Tighter Regulations

The broader financial crisis has demonstrated the need for tightening regulations on Wall Street, Levin said. He called the Obama administration’s recommendations on this issue “very significant.”

“I think the failure to move forward on those reforms in the Senate is the Republican resistance to some of those proposed reforms from the administration, not Democratic resistance,” Levin said.

He also praised proposals for changes from Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Dodd “has put forth a very significant reform of Wall Street,” Levin said. “It is long overdue.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at vgienger@bloomberg.net

 

With Homeland Security, CIA and FBI recruiting Muslims Just wondering

With Homeland Security, CIA and FBI recruiting Muslims I thought back to the past
 
1, We didn’t recruit communist and fascists during the Cold War
2, We didn’t recruit Chinese communist during the Korean War
3, We didn’t recruit Viet Cong  during Vietnam
4, We didn’t recruit Nazis and Bolsheviks during WWII
 
Do you see anything wrong in the scenario ??????
Just wondering
 
Pass it on

Amazing: Palin’s book number one on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller list; Update: “It is truly unprecedented”

Amazing: Palin’s book number one on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller list; Update: “It is truly unprecedented”

posted at 6:58 pm on September 30, 2009 by Allahpundit
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Forty-eight days before the release and she’s already topped Dan Brown’s latest conspiracy-theory casserole at both top retailers. To put that in perspective, note that the book doesn’t even have a cover yet. So much for the Page Six hit piece about demand for her being slack.

No way to tell yet, obviously, whether the monster launch will have legs or whether it’ll deflate a bit next week after Palinistas are all done ordering their advance copies. But if it goes on to become a mega-seller, it’s a game-changer insofar as it’ll establish her unquestionably as the most prominent Republican in America, which leaves Huck and Mitt in an awkward spot before the primaries and presents the media with an interesting choice. Do they try to spin the sales as unrepresentative of her support among Republicans given that plenty of liberals are bound to buy the book for campaign dish and insight into the Palin “trainwreck”? Or do they follow lefty conventional wisdom that Palin would be the easiest person to beat in 2012 and talk up her appeal to Republicans to try to nudge her into a presidential run? (Righty conventional wisdom, of course, is that she’s the candidate the left most fears, but given their expectation of future Couric-type disasters during a campaign, I’m skeptical that that’s true.) Only one thing’s certain: If she hasn’t already been signed to write a second book, she will be soon. “Common Sense Conservatism” by Sarah Palin, perchance?

Update: Prognosis for mega-sales: Good.

HarperCollins will print 1.5 million copies for the book’s first run, the same number that was printed for late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s memoir “True Compass.”

Kennedy’s book, published earlier this month, currently stands at number six on the Amazon list.

A publishing industry source told POLITICO that they “cannot remember a non-fiction book taking off like this in the pre-order market. It became number one only a couple of hours after nothing more than a date announcement. It is truly unprecedented.”

Much of the 400-page book is based on journals Palin kept during her vice-presidential run.

Democrats worry about damage from Obama agenda—‘Initiatives in Washington come with steep political price tag’

Democrats worry about damage from Obama agenda

‘Initiatives in Washington come with steep political price tag’


 

By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of monthly “Freedom Index” polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.

Obama on China’s Great Wall

Democrats are starting to worry that President Obama’s “charge-and-spend” debt, new “cap-and-trade” tax and “apologize to the world” agendas are going to hurt them when they run for re-election, leaving the WorldNetDaily Freedom Index ticking up to 53.2 on a 100-point scale, despite a month of relatively few major controversies.

“What I think is going on here is that Democrats are growing slightly more concerned that the Democratic initiatives in Washington may come with a steep political price tag outside the beltway,” said Fritz Wenzel of Wenzel Strategies.

“This is especially true after the Democratic election losses in deep blue New Jersey and in swing state Virginia,” he continued.

“Those losses in the gubernatorial races represent a shocking reversal from 12 months ago, when Obama easily won both states in the presidential race, and discontent over Democratic efforts in Washington clearly played a part,” he said.

Get the prescription for reclaiming America’s heritage of liberty, justice and morality – Joseph Farah’s “Taking America Back,” autographed only at the WND SuperStore.

“The other major factor, I think, was the terrible economy, and voters clearly deciding it made sense to blame the Democrats for not fixing things.”

The monthly freedom index for November was only 53.2, up just a fraction from last month’s 52.2, the lowest figure ever for the measurement. The index is an assessment of how Americans feel about a basketful of libertie

       

The index was 57.6 in June, 53.2 in July, 54.2 in August and 56.4 in September before plunging in October.

Among the issues in Washington now are the Democrats’ plan to increase the government’s role in health care, “cap-and-trade” taxes on energy use and Obama’s repeated apologies to the world for the United States. The president stirred controversy over the weekend when he bowed to the Japanese emperor, as he bowed to the Saudi king in April.

The poll was conducted Nov. 13-16 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. The survey included 29 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 806 adult respondents and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Wenzel’s analysis showed that after a month in which Democrats and Republicans were split widely over several issues, including health care, members of both parties seemed to moderate their positions slightly.

“After a month in which the WorldNetDaily Freedom Index took one of its biggest one-month drops, it rebounds slightly and now stands at 53.2 on a 100–point scale. It remains four and a half points below its standing in the inaugural Index survey taken in June 2009,” the report said.

The report showed Democrats “made more significant moves to positions that reflected more skepticism about the freedoms Americans enjoy. For instance, while 46 percent said last month that they believed freedoms had increased greatly under President Obama, just 39 percent said the same this month.”

“And, while 61 percent of Democrats said last month that they felt there was a great deal of freedom for Americans to choose a form of religious worship without fear of penalty or retribution, just 47 percent said the same thing this month.”

The index is based on a repeating series of 10 questions that measure aspects of freedom, including freedom of speech, religion, assembly and association.

“There is no question that this has been a tumultuous year for the relationship between the U.S. government and its citizens, but it hit something of a comparative calm spot during the last month, as there were really only two flash points that would have been on the minds of likely voters nationwide as they participated in this survey: the U.S. House of Representatives passage of a massive overhaul of the nation’s health-care system, and the horrendous shootings at Fort Hood in Texas,” said Wenzel.

“You know it is a remarkable political year when you can say that a month with such events represents a calm spot, but I think that is true. The Freedom Index bumped up slightly this month, which is a mild movement and reflects the relative calm across the country. In this same survey, President Obama’s job approval rating remained the same as last month’s rating – at 44 percent positive.”

But he said the results make it clear “the economy may be masking some alarm over the details lurking inside the health-care bill and a proposed energy bill known as ‘cap-and-trade’ that threatens to seriously impact many freedoms Americans now exercise.”

“Should that bill resurface next year as expected, look for this index to plummet,” he warned.

He said while other Wenzel Strategies polling reveals a deep concern about health-care rationing, “for now, Americans are concerned most about the economy, and will render their judgments on these other initiatives once they learn more about them.”

“Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have done an effective job at masking important details of the health reform measure,” he reported. “Those details will eventually come out, probably sometime next year if the bill manages to become law. If they are as poorly received as one might expect, look for Republicans to clean up at the ballot box next fall.”

On the issue of increasing or decreasing personal freedoms under the Obama administration, those who have perceived a big decrease outnumbered those who have perceived a big increase 269-164. Among Republicans, the margin was 153-13 and among Democrats it was 36-115. Significantly, among independents, only 36 perceived a big increase in liberties while 80 felt the opposite.

Regarding an ability to associate with anyone, nearly 17 percent of Americans said they now have great fear, about the same percentage who have no fear.

More than 12 percent of the population fears punishment or penalty for the way they choose to worship, and one person in three considers the government “very intrusive” in its use of technology to monitor people.

Among independents, more than 15 percent said they often censor their own thoughts or statements on subjects because of fear of harm or punishment, even higher than the 13 percent among Republicans.