Obama, Democrats show command of health care votes

Obama, Democrats show command of health care votes

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent David Espo, Ap Special Correspondent 49 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Triumph in their grasp, President Barack Obama and House Democrats demonstrated command of the votes needed to pass landmark health care legislation Sunday night, a climactic chapter in a century-long quest for near universal coverage.

The House argued its way through a thicket of Republican objections toward a late-evening vote on the bill to extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.

“Today is the day that is going to rank with the day we passed the civil rights bill in 1964,” said Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, a member of Congress since 1955. “Today we’re doing something that ranks with what we did with Social Security or Medicare. This is a day of which we can all be proud if we vote for that legislation.”

Republicans said it was nothing of the sort, warning of a government takeover of the health care system, financed by a trillion dollars in higher taxes and Medicare cuts combined.

“There is dirty deal after dirty deal after dirty deal in the bill this House will vote on,” said Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan. “It is a disgrace.”

The measure cleared a critical early test vote, 224-206, a few hours after Obama and Democratic leaders struck a compromise with anti-abortion lawmakers whose votes had left the outcome in doubt. The president issued an executive order pledging that no federal funds would be used for elective abortion.

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and a handful of fellow abortion opponents said they were satisfied and announced their support for the bill. A spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed skepticism that the presidential order would satisfy the church’s objections.

A shouting band of protesters outside the Capitol dramatized their opposition, and one man stood up in the House visitor’s gallery yelling, “Kill the bill” before he was ushered out — evidence of the passions the tumultuous yearlong debate over health care has stirred.

Passage of a central health care bill already cleared by the Senate would send it to Obama for his signature. That still would leave one more step, a companion package of changes would go to the Senate.

For the president, the events capped an 18-day stretch in which he traveled to four states and lobbied more than 60 wavering lawmakers in person or by phone to secure passage of his signature domestic issue. According to some who met with him, he warned that the bill’s demise could cripple his still-young presidency.

Far beyond the political ramifications — a concern the president repeatedly insisted he paid no mind — were the sweeping changes the bill held in store for millions of individuals, the insurance companies that would come under tougher control and the health care providers, many of whom would face higher taxes.

For the first time, most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, and face penalties if they refused. Much of the money in the bill would be devoted to subsidies to help families at incomes of up to $88,000 a year pay their premiums.

The measure would also usher in a significant expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor. Coverage would be required for incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, $29,327 a year for a family of four. Childless adults would be covered for the first time, starting in 2014.

The insurance industry, which spent millions on advertising trying to block the bill, would come under new federal regulation. They would be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions and from canceling policies when a policyholder becomes ill.

Parents would be able to keep children up to age 26 on their family insurance plans, three years longer than is now the case.

A new high-risk pool would offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion would go into high gear.

Passage of a central health care bill already cleared by the Senate would send it to Obama for his signature as early as Monday. That still would leave one more step, a companion package of changes still needing Senate approval.

After more than a year of political combat — certain to persist into the fall election campaign for control of Congress — Democrats piled superlative upon superlative across several hours of House debate.

Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York read a message President Franklin Roosevelt sent Congress in 1939 urging lawmakers to address the needs of those without health care, and said Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Richard Nixon had also sought to broaden insurance coverage.

Republicans attacked the bill without let-up, warning it would harm the economy while mandating a government takeover of the health care system.

“The American people know you can’t reduce health care costs by spending $1 trillion or raising taxes by more than one-half trillion dollars. The American people know that you cannot cut Medicare by over one-half trillion dollars without hurting seniors,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.

“And, the American people know that you can’t create an entirely new government entitlement program without exploding spending and the deficit.”

Obama has said often that presidents of both parties have tried without success to achieve national health insurance, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.

The 44th president’s quest to succeed where others have failed seemed at a dead end two months ago, when Republicans won a special election for a Massachusetts Senate seat, and with it, the votes to prevent a final vote.

But the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. soon came up with a rescue plan that required the House to approve the Senate-passed measure despite opposition to many of its provisions, then have both houses pass a fix-it measure incorporating numerous changes.

To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000. A new excise tax on high-cost insurance policies was significantly scaled back in deference to complaints from organized labor.

In addition, the bills cut more than $500 billion from planned payments to hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other providers that treat Medicare patients. An estimated $200 billion would reduce planned subsidies to insurance companies that offer a private alternative to traditional Medicare.

The insurance industry warned that seniors would face sharply higher premiums as a result, and the Congressional Budget Office said many would return to traditional Medicare as a result.

The subsidies are higher than those for seniors on traditional Medicare, a difference that critics complain is wasteful, but insurance industry officials argue goes into expanded benefits.

____

Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

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Democrats in the Deathmobile

Democrats in the Deathmobile

By on 3.19.10 @ 6:09AM

Does anyone else remember what happened Jan. 19? Did anyone else watch the confetti fly and hear the band play in the ballroom of Boston’s Park Plaza Hotel two months ago? Or was the election of a Republican to the Senate seat held for more than four decades by Ted Kennedy merely a dream?

Scott Brown won by pledging to be the Senate’s “41st vote” against Obamacare, but Nancy Pelosi and her fellow House Democrats seem intent on pretending that Brown’s historic victory in Massachusetts never happened as they prepare to enact the president’s health care plan By Any Means Necessary.

Pelosi’s implacable determination in the face of such clear indicators that voters oppose this measure has left opponents straining for analogies to describe the arguably unconstitutional process. Lindsey Graham insulted the Japanese by comparing Democrats to kamikaze pilots “liquored up on sake” for a suicide mission. It might be more diplomatic to compare Democratic maneuvers to the Animal House scene of Delta Tau Chi brothers crammed inside their hurtling Deathmobile: “Ramming speed!”

It would all be comical were it not for the possibility that this slapstick legislative fraternity prank — perpetrated by the “Slaughter Solution” with Enron-like accounting gimmicks from the Congressional Budget Office — might yet become law.

How did we arrive at this juncture? Health care was endlessly debated by Obama and the other Democratic presidential candidates during the 2007-08 primary season, creating a partisan consensus that something must be enacted, with only relatively minor details separating the White House rivals. By the time the general election rolled around, however, the campaign focus had shifted to how to deal with the economic meltdown.

When Obama was sworn into office in January 2009, it was understood that fixing the economy was his biggest challenge. His massive $789 billion “stimulus” bill was pushed through Congress with relative ease. He was overwhelmingly popular — in early March last year, he had a 64-percent approval rating in the Real Clear Politics average — and it seemed nothing could stop him from enacting his agenda. In mid-May, Pelosi promised that health-care legislation would “be on the floor by the end of July, I am quite certain,” and the president declared, “We’ve got to get it done this year.… The stars are aligned.”

Despite such favorable astrological omens, when Obama returned two months later from an overseas trip that included a G-8 summit in Rome and visits to Russia and Ghana, Pelosi’s promise was nowhere near fulfillment and Democrats offered hints of panic at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. After a White House huddle, Sen. Max Baucus said, “The urgency barometer is going up,” and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “There was a strong agreement by everyone in the room that we can get a bill done before the start of the August recess.”

Yet neither the House nor Senate had produced a bill when the August recess arrived and, during town-hall meetings in their districts, members of Congress were besieged by angry citizens whom the Democratic National Committee denounced as “angry mobs” of “right-wing extremists.” Right-wing or otherwise, the widespread anger stemmed from indignation over out-of-control deficit spending and the belief that the Democrats’ focus on passing the health-care bill had distracted them from the more urgent task of fixing the economy.

Unemployment kept rising and it seemed nothing — not even a massive Sept. 12 Tea Party march on Washington — could get Democrats to listen. Just days after Republicans scored victories in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections, Pelosi finally got the House to pass the health-care bill on Nov. 7. Reid held the Senate hostage to get approval for a much different version of the bill on Christmas Eve.

Even then, Scott Brown was driving his Dodge truck through the snow en route to the Jan. 19 Senate victory that most political observers at the time believed was the final death-blow to this unpopular legislation. Could there be a more decisive electoral verdict than for a Republican to be elected in liberal Massachusetts on a promise to stop the health-care bill?

Well, the voters be damned. Evidently swayed by White House arguments that “the fate of [Obama’s] presidency” requires passage of the bill, House Democrats seem determined to ignore the meaning of Brown’s election. With the “41st vote” to prevent the Senate from approving a bicameral compromise version of Obamacare, the House is now heading toward a weekend scenario in which they will vote on a completely different piece of legislation while pretending to pass the Senate bill — and then hope that the Senate will play along with the charade.

“They’re obviously not doing this for policy reasons,” one GOP operative who worked on the Brown campaign said last night. “This is political, but nobody can figure out the politics of it.”

Administration arm-twisters are reportedly telling House Democrats that the bill, once passed, will magically overcome the unpopularity that has hitherto plagued it, and that by November voters will forget the extraordinary machinations by which Pelosi accelerated her legislative Deathmobile up to “ramming speed.”

At this point, however, the arguments for passage resemble another Animal House scene, with Obama in the role of Otter when he announces, “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.” It remains to be seen whether House Democrats will supply Bluto’s famous answer: “We’re just the guys to do it.”

Letter to the Editor

topics:
Obamacare, Scott Brown

Robert Stacy McCain is co-author (with Lynn Vincent) of Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party (Nelson Current). He blogs at The Other McCain.

Switching Sides

Switching Sides

By Pamela Geller

In a stunning and historic reversal of American foreign policy, the United States is now backing one of the same horses it fought during World War II. Instead of fighting against Nazism and racism, Obama has effectively joined the jihad waged during World War II by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.


Hamas has called for a new intifada
against the Jewish people. This is the fruit of Obama’s pro-jihad policies. The American-Israeli relationship has suffered its deepest rift in decades: a dispute over new Jewish homes that are being built in northern Jerusalem, just north of the Sanhedria neighborhood. This is not Arab “East Jerusalem,” as the mainstream media keeps saying. And as Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers at checkpoints and Muslims rioted throughout Jerusalem, an increasingly pathetic Hillary Clinton said that Israel “must prove it is committed to peace ‘with actions.'”
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying, “With regard to commitments to peace, the government of Israel has proven over the last year that it is committed to peace, both in words and actions.” According to Haaretz, “The statement cited as examples Netanyahu’s inaugural foreign policy speech made at Bar Ilan University, the removal of hundreds of roadblocks across the West Bank, and its decision to freeze temporarily construction in West Bank settlements. The latter, said the statement, was even called by Clinton an ‘unprecedented’ move.”
The Muslims are free to live in Israel, but Jews cannot live among Muslims or in Muslim lands. This is what America is standing up for?
The world has been down this road before. Tuesday, Muslims fought police in Hebron, which was the site of a Muslim massacre of Jews in 1929 — one of many jihads in Hebron. Obama is placing America on the side of those who revere and imitate Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, whose central role in the Holocaust has been ignored by historians for decades. Maurice Pearlman’s forgotten 1947 book, The Mufti of Jerusalem, exposes the Mufti and shows what will be the outcome of Obama’s bullying of Israel and support for the Palestinians.
“It was not known until after that war,” writes Pearlman, “that Haj Amin’s anti-Jewish activities had extended beyond the incitement stage.” In fact:
It has now also been established that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini, played an active role in that unprecedented massacre of a people. Records found in Nazi archives and evidence produced at the Nuremberg trial reveal in specific terms that the ex-Mufti was a leading henchman of the SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, principal executive officer in the liquidation of European Jewry. It is now established that, but for Haj Amin, the scale of murder might not have been so extensive, and hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives might have been saved.
A hint of the Mufti’s complicity in the Holocaust came in a radio address he made on September 21, 1944 (the Nazis had given him his own radio show, which he used to preach Jew-hatred to the Arabs). He asked, “Is it not in your power, O Arabs, to repulse the Jews whose number does not exceed eleven millions?”
Pearlman explains:

Why “eleven millions”? No one outside Germany knew at the time the scale of Jewish extermination. It was known that before the war the Jewish population numbered nearly seventeen millions. The ex-Mufti’s figure was written off at the time as a slip of the tongue, or an error in the script. But now the facts are known. It was no arithmetic error. Haj Amin knew then what only Hitler, Himmler and Eichmann knew: that more than five million Jews had been liquidated.
Dieter Wisliceny, a close associate of Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann, stated that al-Husseini

repeatedly suggested to the various authorities with whom he has been in contact, above all before Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, the extermination of European Jewry. He considered this as a comfortable solution of the Palestine problem. In his messages broadcast from Berlin, he surpassed us in anti-Jewish attacks. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and has constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard say that, accompanied by Eichmann, he has visited incognito the gas chamber at Auschwitz.
Yet of all those who planned the Holocaust and put the plans into effect, only the Mufti after the war remained free and unpunished. All the others were executed or tried in absentia. Among the Palestinians today, the Mufti is a hero, and his Jew-hating rhetoric is echoed on a regular basis on official Palestinian TV.
Obama has nothing to say about that. Instead, he is pressuring Israel.
In this, Obama is staying true to his hard-left pedigree. The left in America has become sick with Jew-hatred. Foreign Policy is reporting that Israel’s intransigence could cost American lives. The jihad that is murdering tens of thousands of infidels across the world and is demanded by the Quran is now the fault of the Jews. How very Muslim.
Obama brought this on. His anti-Semitism is well documented in my soon-to-be-released book (with Robert Spencer), The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War On America, which is coming this July from Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster.
In putting America’s power and prestige on the side of the Mufti’s ideological kin as this new intifada begins, Obama shares the responsibility for the massacres of Jews that are sure to come. 

Pamela Geller is the editor and publisher of the Atlas Shrugs website and is former associate publisher of the New York Observer. She is the author (with Robert Spencer) of the forthcoming book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster).

Hoyer This Morning: We Don’t Have The Votes Yet

Hoyer This Morning: We Don’t Have The Votes Yet

March 21st, 2010 Posted By Pat Dollard.

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Politico:

The House majority leader said Sunday Democrats were “low single digits” away from getting the votes needed to pass their health care bill.

“We’re going to get the votes – low single digits certainly – but we’re going to get the votes and we’re going to have the votes this afternoon,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

90 Seconds to Gov’t Run Healthcare

An explaination of the process Nancy Pelosi and Democrats are using to take away your healthcare

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brh-hGr8mXo

America’s new standing in the world

America’s new standing in the world

Thomas Lifson

Barack Obama promised to change America’s standing in the world, and he has delivered results. Unfortunately for us, the change has made us a doormat – a nation whose Secretary of State can be humiliated in front of the world’s press with impunity.

Jennifer Rubin of Commentary notes:
While Hillary Clinton congratulates herself for the state of U.S.-Israeli relations, she is, for now, on the receiving end of what one might genuinely call an affront. It seems that Vladimir Putin read her the riot act  – in front of the onlooking news corps. Oh, yes. ABC News reports:
When reporters traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Moscow were informed that a last-minute meeting with Russia’s Prime Minister Valdimir Putin had been added to the schedule, they were told they would only get to see a few seconds of handshakes before being ushered out.
Instead, with cameras rolling, they watched Putin spend six minutes rattling off a number of complaints he has with the United States.
He barked about trade and scolded her about the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment. “Reporters were surprised at the length of Putin’s list of issues and the fact that he did it in front of the Russian and American press corps, a pool reporter noted.” In other words, Putin went out of the way to bully the U.S. Secretary of State in public. Just to show who is boss? And this follows the announcement that, instead of cooperating to isolating Iran, Russia will build a nuclear power plant for the mullahs – an announcement issued to “greet” Hillary.
In short, the Russians have now shown us what resetting the U.S.-Russian relationship means. Putin has figured out that there is no risk – so long as you aren’t a small democratic ally of the U.S. – of incurring the wrath of the Obami. No condemnations or even frowns will be forthcoming. This is, you see, what comes from throwing ourselves at our adversaries’ feet and scorning our allies. Adversaries learn to take advantage of us while friends learn not to trust us.

Double Cross Obama

Double Cross Obama

Peter Landesman

In order to secure 2 votes for his health care bill, President Obama has directed the Department of the Interior to allow water to flow back into the San Joaquin Valley. The new announcement  asserts “the Bureau of Reclamation’s 2010 Central Valley Project Water Supply allocations have increased throughout the valley as a result of additional precipitation, improved snowpack, and improved storage at Shasta Reservoir.”

This clearly implies that now after 2 years of indecision there is enough water for both the Delta Smelt and the farmers. Thus the decision to allow the water to flow is irreversible as the river currents.
Having restored the water supply to their districts, California Democratic representatives Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa should now change their votes to “No” on the healthcare bill before them to achieve a double victory for their district: water flow and no government controlled healthcare. A promise to an unethical deceptive person is not promise at all.

Peter Landesman
(mathmaze@yahoo.com) is the author of the 3D-maze book Spacemazes, with which children can have fun while learning mathematics.