Archive for the ‘The Rounds’ Category

  • The Rounds: Obamacare back in the Spotlight


    As the GOP race for the nomination continues to slog along with no clear front-runner, people are now seriously looking at ways the decision might be rendered in Tampa. Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner states that:

    Is it too late for a new candidate to enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination? Absolutely not. Is it probable? No. But it is much more likely than many Washington insiders let on.

    Obamacare and its progenitor, Romneycare, continue to play a huge role in the race. Mitt Romney’s health reform law in Massachusetts remains a drag on his campaign. Dr. Milton R. Wolf, writing in The Washington Times, feels it’s time for Romney to stop defending it and issue a mea culpa:

    “Despite Mr. Romney’s current lead in the primaries, he just cannot seem to close the sale… If the former governor would like to reach out to the conservative Republican base, I suggest he start by finally acknowledging the obvious: Government has no business interposing itself between you and your doctor. He should begin his Romneycare mea culpa with these three words: I was wrong.”

    Speaking of Obamacare, Americans in increasing numbers simply don’t like it and more than 50% want it repealed. As the question of its constitutionality moves to the Supreme Court, the op-ed wars are heating up again.

    While President Obama’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients, may have undercut the legal defense of Obamacare by stating that the fine for violating the insurance mandate would not be considered a “tax”, it was the fight over contraception coverage mandates that dominated the news.

    Obama’s decision to force the Catholic Church to provide contraception coverage, including the morning-after pill, sparked widespread outrage.

    From Charles Kadlec in Forbes:

    “Before our very eyes, President Obama is on the verge of establishing the principle that the right to religious freedom comes not from our Creator, but from those who rule us. A government endowed right granted to women now trumps our unalienable right to act in accordance with our religious beliefs and conscience. Not only does this overturn the First Amendment, it also tramples the nation’s founding principles as announced in the Declaration of Independence. Such an achievement would be the true audacity of power.”

    In The Wall Street Journal, Rivkin and Whelan state that:

    “In an effort to rally its base in the upcoming November election, the Obama administration seems more interested in punishing religiously based opposition to contraception and abortion than in marginally increasing access to contraception services. It is the combination of the political motive, together with the exclusion of so many employers from the mandate, that has profound constitutional implications. It transforms the mandate into a non-neutral and not generally applicable law that violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.”

    Also in The Wall Street Journal is a nice snapshot of various left-wing defenses of Obama’s mandate on the Catholic Church and other religious entities.

    Charles Krauthammer, writing in The Washington Post, chides the GOP for not mounting a strong opposition to Obamacare beyond pledging to repeal it.

    “In 2010, when all this lay hazily in the future, the sheer arrogance of Obamacare energized a popular resistance powerful enough to deliver an electoral shellacking to Obama. Yet two years later, as the consequences of that overreach materialize before our eyes, the issue is fading. This constitutes a huge failing of the opposition party whose responsibility it is to make the opposition argument. Every presidential challenger says that he will repeal Obamacare on Day One. Well, yes. But is any of them making the case for why?”

  • The Rounds: Debt limits, Obamacare crushed our economic recovery, and more on IPAB


    The debate over raising the debt limit is dominating the news cycle. With a deal near, The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot thinks Obama’s spending cuts aren’t what they appear to be:

    One of President Obama’s advantages in the debt-limit talks has been his ability to sound like a born-again spending cutter in public while the details of what he’s willing to accept remain secret. The reality is that the White House offer on spending reforms was much less than publicly advertised, and by the end it even included $136 billion in new spending proposals over 10 years.

    While spending is the major issue, our continued economic slump isn’t helping our nation’s fiscal matters. Obamacare is now a clear root cause of our economic woes. The Heritage Foundation has released a new study: Economic Recovery Stalled After Obamacare Passed. Just as the economy was on the mend, Obamacare sank it again, the study says, pointing to statistics explaining the unemployment and growth challenges. The Weekly Standard also looks at Obamacare’s effects on the economy and refers to the Heritage study.

    Also in The Weekly Standard, Terry Eastland takes a close look at the legal basis for challenging Obamacare, and the prospects of SCOTUS finding it unconstitutional. There’s hope in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy:

    Notably, Kennedy’s opinion makes the point that “laws enacted in excess of delegated governmental power” are problematic if they “direct or control” the actions of individuals, for then their “liberty is at stake.” One can expect this and other portions of Bond will be quoted to the Court when it reviews Obamacare.

    [The Bond decision] provides reason to think that Kennedy will see the Obamacare mandate as a law too far—one that exceeds the enumerated powers of Congress, cuts into the authority of the states, and violates individual liberty.

    In Reason, Peter Suderman takes a look at the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which I’ve discussed. Suderman explores why IPAB is already a mess, unconstitutional, and nearly impossible to repeal. The Goldwater Institute has filed a lawsuit claiming that IPAB is unconstitutional because, according to Diane Cohen of The Goldwater Institute, the organization filing the suit, “Congress cannot delegate away its legislative responsibilities under the Constitution.”

    Congress made repeal of IPAB very difficult as well by setting time limits on introducing repeal legislation and requiring a supermajority to pass it.

    Remember the story that President Obama told repeatedly during the 2008 campaign about how his mother spent her dying months battling with her insurance company because they claimed she suffered from a pre-existing condition? It turns out that the story was fabricated, and Michelle Malkin has the scoop.

    The state-level health insurance exchanges under Obamacare go into effect in 2014, and the Wall Street Journal takes a closer look. Should Republicans refuse to participate in creating exchanges as an act of civil disobedience?

    In an editorial, looks at the prototype of Obamacare, former Governor Mitt Romney’s health insurance reform in Massachusetts. In addition to not achieving universal coverage, “…the cumulative cost of RomneyCare is nearly $8.6 billion. The promise of cost-containment has not only been broken, it’s been ripped asunder in spectacular fashion.”

  • The Rounds: Obamacare sinks; Medicaid battles, and proud new owners of the economy


    Real Clear Politics’ David Paul Kuhn looks at the prospects for Obamacare in the coming few years and why Obama’s definitive “achievement” is in jeopardy (court battles, legislative prospects), along with his legacy. We can only hope.

    In the New York Post, Betsy McCaughey explains how Obamacare is destroying our privacy with a new national health database:

    Section 1311 of the Obama health law says that private health plans can pay only doctors who implement whatever the federal government dictates to improve “quality.” This is the first time the federal government has asserted a broad power to control how doctors treat privately insured patients.

    In The Washington Post, George Will calls Obamacare a “travesty of constitutional lawmaking”.

    The point of [Obamacare] is cost containment. This supposedly depends on the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, which is a perfect expression of the progressive mind, is to be composed of 15 presidential appointees empowered to reduce Medicare spending — which is 13 percent of federal spending — to certain stipulated targets. IPAB is to do this by making “proposals” or “recommendations” to limit costs by limiting reimbursements to doctors. This, inevitably, will limit available treatments — and access to care when physicians leave the Medicare system.

    Shikha Dalmia looks at the numbers to compare Obamacare with Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal and comes to the following conclusion:

    ObamaCare is the worst thing that could happen to seniors in their old age; inaction is the next and RyanCare is the least bad. As a senior in the making, if those were my only options, I would ignore Democratic demagoguery and take RyanCare in a heartbeat. ObamaCare, however, I’d avoid like the plague.

    Obamacare continues to sink in the court of public opinion. Keith Koffler points to a new Rasmussen poll:

    The survey of likely voters finds that 54 percent at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law while 35 percent are at least somewhat opposed. And the passion is with the opponents. Some 41 percent strongly favor appeal compared to 28 percent strongly oppose it…. Obamacare remains a political weakness for Obama, and not one he is likely to solve before Election Day.

    This week, 29 GOP governors joined together to call for relaxation of federal rules on Medicaid spending.

    Across the country, governors are concerned about the burgeoning cost of Medicaid, which in fiscal 2010 consumed nearly 22 percent of state budgets, according the National Association of State Budget Officers. That’s larger than what states spent on K-12 public schools.

    More on Medicare: Politico reports that Senate Democrats are having a tough time resisting GOP efforts to reform and save the program.

    Economist Lawrence B. Lindsey does a great job in the Weekly Standard explaining the financial straightjacket America finds itself in.

    Right now, thanks in large part to Federal Reserve policy, Uncle Sam can borrow at an average cost of just 2.5 percent. The average borrowing cost over the last three decades was 5.7 percent. Our debt is now $14 trillion and scheduled to grow to $25 trillion by the end of the decade. If interest rates normalize over that period, the added interest costs in 2021 alone will be $800 billion—more than 20 times the mere $37 billion in budget cuts that tore up Congress in March… we are stuck in a world in which the Fed must keep rates artificially low in order to prevent a budget disaster.

    Read Lindsey’s full article, where he deftly dissects the structural issues with Medicare and Medicaid.

    Patrick Buchanan likens the Obama Administration’s position to that of France early in World War II when the Germans smashed their initial defenses and had no reserves to call upon:

    The Obama administration… has drawn and played all its cards: the $800 billion stimulus bill, three straight deficits averaging $1.4 trillion, the Federal Reserve’s mass purchases of bad paper from the world’s banks, and QE2, the monthly purchase of $100 billion in Treasury bills that ends June 30. Yet, from the numbers that came in from May, Obama looks to be holding a losing hand. The anemic growth of the first quarter of 2011 seems to have stalled, and the prospect of a double-dip recession looms.

    About one of those cards played, President Obama chuckled that “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected” when asked about the anemic results of all his economic stimulus initiatives.

    And when DNC chief and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stated that the Democrats now “own the economy”, Investors Business Daily agrees, and it doesn’t look good for the President or his party.

    Let’s face it. Obama and the Democrats own this economy and the destruction of our great health care system. They own the blame. The misinformed that voted for him are “on to him”. Even his once solid base is turning on him. Is there any question why our economy isn’t improving?

  • The Rounds: Rep. Ryan Exposes Mediscare, Unconventional Wisdom and a Tale of Two States


    As the 2012 campaign for the White House and Congress heats up, health care has moved to the forefront once again, along with the typical “Mediscare” tactics which I previously discussed. Rep. Paul Ryan, the architect of the GOP’s “Roadmap” budget, rightfully and effectively exposes the latest round of Mediscare attacks, using independent analyses from Politifact, Factcheck, and even the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog. Read Ryan’s piece here.

    The conventional wisdom, especially after the GOP’s loss in the special election in New York’s 26th district, is that Rep. Ryan’s plan to save Medicare will be a political liability for the GOP in 2012. The Weekly Standard has a different take after looking at polling data and correctly pointing out that “Ryan’s plan would preserve Medicare’s sinking ship, keeping it afloat for future generations.”

    The fact is that Ryan and the GOP are the only ones serious about solving our nation’s looming fiscal disaster and saving Medicare. Even the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, while believing this may be a short term political advantage for the Democrats, points out that at least the GOP is serious about proposing plans to save Medicare.

    The problem for Democrats is, if they want to get serious about reforming the entitlement program, they are putting their own necks on the chopping block AND giving up a hugely potent political issue.

    Andrea Tantaros of the New York Daily News has another takeaway from the NY26 special election: The GOP should attack Obamacare more strongly. Rather than spend time defending Rep. Ryan’s “courageous” plan to save Medicare, the GOP must go on the offensive against Obamacare.

    The GOP has a strong case to make, and it should be out there making it. But instead of defending Ryan’s plan, they should be poking holes in Obamacare. Only then will the benefits of their alternative become clear to the American public.

    Read it here.

    On to Obamacare. Ralph R. Reiland of The American Spectator continues to expose the Obamacare waivers handed out to the politically-connected. It helps if you live in Nancy Pelosi’s district.

    I again ask the question: If Obamacare is so great, why the need for any waivers at all?

    What about the prototype for Obamacare? looks at the failure of Romneycare in Massachusetts.

    Taxes, costs, and political interference in medical decisions have all increased, while access to medical care has deteriorated. It’s now apparent Romney did not give Massachusetts universal private health coverage. Instead, he put the state on a glide-path to a single-payer, government monopoly health system—the same path Obamacare now follows at the national level.

    On the rising costs of health care in Massachusetts under Romneycare, Peter Suderman of Reason explores how the state’s explorations in universal, government-mandated care is working out and provides an ominous forecast:

    The Obama administration has explicitly stated on numerous occasions that RomneyCare was the model for the federal overhaul. Given the Bay State’s spiraling costs, it seems more and more likely that, thanks to ObamaCare, we can all expect higher health insurance premiums in our future.

    Finally, last week I looked at California as an example of where America is headed under Obama. Walter Russell Mead has an excellent piece in The American Interest where he concludes California is now a failed state.

    Let there be no mistake: when you produce so many criminals that you can’t afford to lock them up, you are a failed state.  Virtually every important civil institution in society has to fail to get you to this point.  Your homes and houses of worship are failing to build law abiding citizens, much less responsible and informed voters.  Your schools aren’t educating enough of your kids to make an honest living.  Your taxes and policies are so bad that you are driving thousands of businesses away… California used to be the glory of this country, the dream by the sea, the magic state.  Now it produces so many criminals it can’t pay to keep them locked up.

  • The Rounds: The Budget Battle and Health Reform


    As the budget standoff in Washington steers us towards a government shutdown, health reform, and Obamacare in particular, has moved to the center of the debate.

    Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has been featured here before as he has consistently demonstrated he is one of the few Members of Congress who is truly serious about attacking our nation’s fiscal ills. Ryan is making news again with his budget plan that puts repeal of Obamacare front and center.

    In his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Ryan addresses his approach to Medicare:

    The open-ended, blank-check nature of the Medicare subsidy threatens the solvency of this critical program and creates inexcusable levels of waste. This budget takes action where others have ducked.

    While Ryan does not discuss Obamacare in his WSJ piece, his plan clearly targets it. Michael Cannon of CATO states that:

    On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released a budget blueprint that tackles the three big health care challenges facing the federal budget — ObamaCare, Medicare and Medicaid – with a strategy of repeal, vouchers and block grants. Done properly, those steps would simultaneously improve health care and help balance the budget within a decade.

    In other news, the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) regulation details were released and everyone’s pouring over them. These outline how health delivery organizations must comply with Obamacare starting in 2012. It’s the details, and there’s likely many devils contained within.

    Finally, Investors Business Daily calls out AARP, which I just blogged about.

    The tax-exempt seniors group that pushed hard to get ObamaCare passed stands to reap a billion-dollar reward over the next decade as ObamaCare destroys the competition to the products it endorses.

    The long saga of Obamacare continues. Let’s hope it ultimately has a happy ending. One with repeal in it.

  • The Rounds: Obamacare Birthday Edition


    Rarely does a law receive so much attention on its first birthday as Obamacare. One year in and the debate over its merits and whether it should be repealed rages unabated.

    The Washington Examiner asks “What a difference a year makes.” In addition to being a big reason why the Democrats lost the house, the Examiner states that:

    Perhaps the most revealing change in the year past, however, is the reaction of the employers who face mandates under Obamacare that impose massive new costs and mountains of red tape. As a result, more than a thousand employers, including Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofits, labor unions and small businesses, have requested and received one-year waivers to buy them some time to figure out how to cope with Obamacare’s demands.

    Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson

    The Weekly Standard looks at how Obamacare is polling now versus a year ago when it was passed. Here’s a hint: It’s bad for Obamacare supporters. One example is a recent Bloomberg poll has repeal support at 52 percent (and the poll respondent mix is heavily skewed to Democrats!).

    In a touching piece in the Wall Street Journal, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson asks whether his daughter would have survived under Obamacare. His daughter was born with a serious heart defect and he thanks God he and his wife “had the freedom to seek out the most advanced surgical technique. The procedure that saved her, and has given her a chance at a full life, was available because America has a free-market system that has advanced medicine at a phenomenal pace.”

    The defects with the president’s health law are so serious and widespread that the administration has already granted over 1,000 waivers to protect businesses, labor unions and other organizations from its most onerous provisions. We need to recognize that the finest health-care system in the world is at risk—and repeal ObamaCare before it’s too late.

    Hear hear! Here’s hoping Obamacare don’t live to see birthday #2!

    Photo Credit: Mike Roemer

  • The Rounds: Vinson’s Agitation, Obama’s “Olive Branch”, and a “Scary” Defense


    Faced with multiple lawsuits from states challenging Obamacare, President Obama has offered them options:

    “If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act does – without increasing the deficit – you can implement that plan,”

    The Wall Street Journal calls this “olive branch” a mirage.

    In Massachusetts, a state that has been the testing ground for Obamacare with it’s version, Romneycare, The Boston Globe points to skyrocketing health care costs, where premiums have gone up 25-30% year over year.

    If Massachusetts is the model, then national health care reform is ultimately doomed.

    On the legal front, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson, who you recall found Obamacare unconstitutional and voided the entire act claiming the individual mandate is unseverable, is becoming impatient with the Obama Administration’s lack of a timely reaction. After delay, Obama asked for a “clarification,” prompting Vinson to “chastise” the administration for stalling.  He wrote:

    “It was not expected that they would effectively ignore the order and declaratory judgment for 2 1/2 weeks, continue to implement the act, and only then file a belated motion to ‘clarify'”.

    The National Review has more on Vinson’s “clarification”.

    More on the legal front: Rich Lowry points us to “the scariest defense of Obamacare” yet, Judge Gladys Kessler’s assertion that the charge that the individual mandate is unconstitutional because it attempts to regulate “non-activity” is wrong because choosing not to engage in commerce is a “mental activity” and therefore fair game. Lowry points that even Obamacare’s most strident defenders didn’t think this one up.

    The sophists in Eric Holder’s Justice Department must be embarrassed that they didn’t themselves dredge up this killer rejoinder.

    The Wall Street Journal has a nice round-up themselves on the mess of Obamacare and the mayhem that’s resulting.

    Finally, The Hill reports that the total number of Obamacare waivers exceeds 1,000. If it’s so great, why do so many companies need waivers?

  • The Rounds: SCOTUS Looming


    That Obamacare will wind up in the highest court of our great land has never been in doubt. But now that numerous conflicting rulings have been issued by our lower courts — including two unconstitutional decisions — the health law’s date with The Men in Black surely draws near.

    This fight ironically has the left decrying “judicial activism” as the sinister force behind these unconstitutional rulings. In, Thomas Sowell explores this phrase and how the left is trying to redefine it for their purposes.

    Also in Townhall, Lee Habeeb uses the Vinson decision to highlight the importance of the courts and why we need to pay attention.

    Yes, indeed, judges do matter. And what we need in this country are more Roger Vinsons. Keep that in mind when you rally friends to vote in 2012. Show them this opinion, and let them know that a few men in robes hold the economic life of our country in their hands. Judges matter. And the Presidents who appoint them.

    Fred Barnes, in the Weekly Standard, gives us a snapshot of the national mood that is coalescing around Obamacare as the legal front zeroes in on the Supreme Court.

    What began in 2009 as scattered protests against Obama’s plan for overhauling America’s health care system and soon became the touchstone for Republican victories in the November 2 election has now evolved into a national uprising. Last week’s refusal by the Senate to ratify the House’s repeal of Obamacare is unlikely to quell the uprising or even slow it down.

    As the attention focuses on the courts, we should not lose focus on the legislative front. There is no guarantee of a SCOTUS victory , and any such complacency must be quelled. The new GOP leadership in the House and the strengthened Senate GOP must press forward to repeal this law.

    Cartoon: Walt Handelsman

  • The Rounds: Obamacare Ruling Reax


    In The National Review, Avik Roy states that “Indeed, Judge Vinson has penned a persuasive, well-researched, and tightly-reasoned opinion, one that will surely have some impact on what the Supreme Court eventually ends up doing.” Roy does a nice job of summarizing the ruling and states that it “could go down as an important landmark in the history of American liberty” if it’s upheld by the US Supreme Court.

    It’s well known that Members of Congress didn’t read the bill, and John S. Baker, writing for AOL, states that “One thing federal judges always do — even if members of Congress do not — is read the legislation brought before them.” Good point!

    Rep. Fred Upton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, states in The National Review that he believes this ruling is an important “pivot point” and outlines next steps in the House.

    The Washington Post is reporting that Senate Republicans are planning on forcing a vote for repeal this week. Also, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan will introduce a repeal of the burdensome “1099 provision”.

    At The White House, Stephanie Cutter continues the amusing trend among Obamacare proponents of usurping the right’s opposition to “judicial activism”. She, of course, is confident the US Supreme Court will somehow find a way to rule Obamacare constitutional.

  • Post House Vote Rounds (1.21.11)


    With the historic vote in the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare in the bag, what’s next?

    In the National Review, Charles Krauthammer continues to expose the ridiculous and faulty line that repeal will increase our nation’s debt and suggests the GOP go after President Obama and the Democrats on the costs of the massive new entitlement and their manipulation of the CBO in their bid to defend it.

    Byron York in the Washington Examiner lays out the House GOP’s three-part plan to rid us of Obamacare.

    House Republicans are pursuing a three-part strategy. Part One was repeal; they promised to do it, and they did it. Part Two is replace, which in coming months will involve House votes on a series of GOP health care measures. And Part Three — since full repeal can’t win in the Senate — is another series of votes on measures to repeal individual parts of Obamacare. The net result will be that Republicans gradually push more and more House Democrats — and perhaps some in the Senate — away from an all-or-nothing defense of Obamacare.

    It’s going to be a long fight, and one that will surely run up into the 2012 elections and provide one of the key issues for contests nationwide. Our elected officials need to know they have the support of the people to fully repeal Obamacare before it’s too late.

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