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Waxman: You’re darned right we Democrats will pursue cap-and-trade next year September 15, 2010

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

by Barry Carr

Democrats across the country are running against their own party, when they bother to mention their party affiliation at all.  To hear their ads and speeches, they are all fiscal conservatives angry at the arrogance of power in Washington … even when they’ve been a part of it.  Don’t fall for it, says Henry Waxman. If we leave Democrats in charge of Congress, they will pursue cap-and-trade and the rest of the current agenda:

The campaign to pass climate legislation will continue on Capitol Hill in 2011 – if Democrats are still in charge, that is.

That’s the word Tuesday from a top House Democrat who led the charge over the last two years to pass a major cap-and-trade bill.

Asked if he’d push climate legislation next year if he’s still in a majority leadership position, Waxman told POLITICO, “If we haven’t done the job completely this year, we’ll continue to fight it next year through the House and the Senate.”

Some of the House Democrats from heavy industrial districts who voted for the Waxman-led climate bill are now under fire on the campaign trail, a point that the congressman from Beverly Hills also bemoaned.

“I think we’ve got to get away form looking at this issue as a partisan issue,” Waxman said. “Unfortunately it has become partisan, as has everything become partisan. Even the Republican voters seem in their minds to identify the [climate] science as somewhat partisan. But I think the issue is becoming more and more serious and people are realizing it, which I hope will increase the pressure on the Congress to take the actions we need to.”

Waxman finds it odd that Republicans would make top-down government control of energy production a “partisan issue”?  He’s either being disingenuous or actually believes that everyone wants government running everything — or perhaps a little of both.

And besides, it’s not just a partisan issue.  Had that been the case, Democrats could have passed the House cap-and-trade bill in the Senate with their 60 votes in the summer of 2009.  Enough Democrats objected to it that they couldn’t get a vote on it, and the Senate had to write their own version of it, which has gone nowhere.  Senators representing coal-producing and coal-reliant states in both parties have balked at the massive scheme, which not only would create massive inflationary pressure on the economy but wouldn’t reduce carbon emissions anyway, as Europe’s failed system has demonstrated.

While Democrats around the country run against the Nancy Pelosi/Barack Obama agenda, Waxman reminds voters what they will really do if voters leave Congress in their hands.  That will make a great public service announcement for the midterms.

Pelosi took in twice as much lobbyist cash as Boehner September 14, 2010

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , 1 comment so far

by Barry Carr

The White House eagerly tweeted the link to a New York Times hit piece on John Boehner that accused him of taking in loads of lobbyist cash.  They called his connections to lobbyists “especially deep” — but not, apparently, if one compares them to current Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate.  As Timothy Carney reports for the Washington Examiner, not only has Nancy Pelosi taken in twice as much lobbyist cash in this election as Boehner, but Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer have collected more in the last six months than Boehner has in six elections:

Here’s what they mean: from 1999 until today, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Boehner has raised $299,490 from lobbyists.

For comparison, Harry Reid, Blanche Lincoln, and Chuck Schumer have each raised more money from lobbyists in this cycle alone.

This election cycle, Boehner is not even in the top 20 recipients of lobbyist cash. He’s raised less than $40,000 from lobbyists this cycle — compared to Nancy Pelosi’s $71,000 from lobbyists.

This isn’t the first time that the Gray Lady has worked as an arm of the Democratic Party.  Don’t forget their attempt to smear John McCain with allegations of marital infidelity just as he wrapped up the Republican nomination for President.  The newspaper’s public editor ended up scolding the Times and its editors for publishing a hack job based on unsupported allegations from disgruntled former staffers.  It wasn’t their only effort at tilting the election, either:

In this case, the use of the phrase “especially deep” shows that the Times wanted to make Boehner look as though he was on the extreme outlier of the common practice of fundraising among lobbysists.  Whatever one thinks of that practice, it’s one of the truly bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill.  But in this cycle, the top five recipients are all Democrats, including two in Senate leadership (Reid and Schumer), as well as six of the top ten (3 Republicans and Charlie Crist being the others), and eleven of the top 20 — and one of the Republicans on that list, Lisa Murkowski, is no longer a Republican candidate.

In the list of current House members, Roy Blunt tops it, probably because of his run for the Senate.  Democrat Kendrick Meek follows him for the same reason, and Democrat Charlie Melancon comes in fourth as he runs for the Senate in Louisiana.  Otherwise, this is a Democratic field, with Steny Hoyer and Charlie Rangel leading the list of those running for re-election in the House.  Nancy Pelosi comes in at 9th overall.  Where does Boehner rank?  He’s not even in the top 20, whose last member — Sander Levin (D-MI) — has taken $59,211 from lobbyists in this cycle.  There are only two Republicans on this list; the other 18 are Democrats.

So with that in mind, why did the New York Times decide to focus on John Boehner instead of all the bigger targets in the House and Senate?  Quite obviously, they’re attempting to run interference for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi by pushing a distorted, irresponsible, and highly inaccurate picture of Boehner as some sort of lobbyist lackey.  It’s exactly the kind of political reporting that we’ve come to expect from the Times: unethical, biased, and sloppy.  In their headline, they accuse Boehner of being “tightly bound” to lobbyists, but clearly it’s the New York Times that is “tightly bound” to this White House and the Democratic Party.

Sebelius: insurers who criticize ObamaCare may get locked out of system September 12, 2010

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by Ed Morrissey

    “Shut up,” she explained.

Does ObamaCare trump the First Amendment?  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius must think so.  Yesterday, after apparently tiring of criticism of the new law from the companies it will eventually put out of business, Sebelius offered to expedite that process for those who don’t take an opportunity to shut their mouths:

President Barack Obama’s top health official on Thursday warned the insurance industry that the administration won’t tolerate blaming premium hikes on the new health overhaul law.

“There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby.

“Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections,” Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They’d lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.

By those standards, Sebelius would have to exclude Medicare as well.  Four months ago, Medicare — which is under Sebelius’ authority — released a highly misleading brochure about the impact ObamaCare has on its consumers.  It stated that Medicare Advantage patients would “still receive guaranteed Medicare benefits,” which was never in question, but made it sound as though they would suffer no reduction in services or benefits from the $500 billion in cuts to the program.  It also bragged about changes in ObamaCare that had nothing to do with Medicare, including the mandate that insurers keep “children” on family policies until age 26 — a provision that does not include Medicare, for obvious reasons.

Rarely have we heard a Cabinet official tell Americans to stay out of political debates at the risk of losing their businesses.  It points out the danger in having government run industries and holding a position where politicians can actually destroy a business out of spite.  It also demonstrates the thin skin of our current administration, where Hope and Change means keeping your mouth shut and pretending that everyone is happy while businesses slowly circle the drain.

Of course, maybe Sebelius won’t go as far as to lock them out of the state exchanges for disputing the Official Smiley-Face Rhetoric Enforcement Squad at HHS.  Perhaps she’ll just send them to a re-education facility instead.

White House aides owe IRS over $800,000 September 11, 2010

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by Ed Morrissey

So what exactly did “draining the swamp” mean, anyway? Apparently, it meant taking power and promoting such examples of ethics as Timothy Geithner to high office. The Washington Post notes that the IRS has a locus of tax evaders to pursue, and not coincidentally that locus happens to be in their neighborhood:
Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes at the end of last year, a sliver of the $1 billion owed by federal workers nationwide but one with potential political ramifications for members of Congress.
The debt among Hill employees has risen at a faster rate than the overall tax debt on the government’s books, according to Internal Revenue Service data. It comes at a time when some Republican members are pushing for the firings of government workers who owe the IRS and President Obama has urged a crackdown on delinquent government contractors.
The IRS information does not identify delinquent taxpayers by name, party affiliation or job title and does not indicate whether members of Congress are among the scofflaws. It shows that 638 employees, or about 4 percent, of the 18,000 Hill workers owe money.
The average unpaid tax bill is $12,787 among the Senate’s delinquent taxpayers and $15,498 among those working in the House.
Barack Obama may want a crackdown on federal contractors who are delinquent, but those in glass Oval Offices should probably not throw stones. Andrew Malcolm parses the data and discovers that Obama’s team owes almost a million dollars to the IRS, too:
Privacy laws prevent release of individual tax delinquent’s names. But we do know that as of the end of 2009, 41 people inside Obama’s very own White House owe the government they’re allegedly running a total of $831,055 in back taxes. That would cover a lot of special chocolate desserts in the White House Mess.
Desserts? Nah, that’s just the appetizer:
At the Labor Dept., where Secy. Hilda Solis’ husband had some backtax problems before her confirmation, 463 owe $7,481,463. Eighty-one workers for the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors owe $1,076,733.
Over at the Justice Department, which is so busy enforcing other laws and suing Arizona, 1,971 employees still owe $14,350,152 in overdue taxes.
Then, we come to the Department of Homeland Security, which is run by Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona who preferred to call terrorist acts “man-caused disasters.” Homeland Security is keeping all of us safe by ensuring that a Dutch tourist is onboard every inbound international flight to thwart any would-be bomber with explosives in his underpants.
Within that department, there reside 4,856 people who owe the tax agency a whopping total of $37,012,174.
The executive branch total for IRS delinquencies, with the White House included? A whopping $59,781,577 in back taxes. It can’t all be Turbo Tax. However, with the example set by appointing Geithner to run the IRS, it’s no small wonder that the IRS has trouble collecting from the administration’s aides and employees.

ObamaCare bends the cost curve … upward September 10, 2010

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by Ed Morrissey

Remember when Barack Obama promised that his health-care overhaul would “bend the cost curve downward” and arrest rapid increases in costs?  The Wall Street Journal has an advance look at a report from the federal government that shows no slowing in costs to the government as a result of the ObamaCare bill.  In fact, the analysis will show that the bill’s passage actually results in an increase in outlays over what had been projected for the next decade:

The health-care overhaul enacted last spring won’t significantly change national health spending over the next decade compared with projections before the law was passed, according to government figures set to be released Thursday.

The report by federal number-crunchers casts fresh doubt on Democrats’ argument that the health-care law would curb the sharp increase in costs over the long term, the second setback this week for one of the party’s biggest legislative achievements. …

Regardless of the health law, national health spending has been rising in recent years and economists expect that to continue. In February, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected that overall national health spending would increase an average of 6.1% a year over the next decade.

The center’s economists recalculated the numbers in light of the health bill and now project that the increase will average 6.3% a year, according to a report in the journal Health Affairs. Total U.S. health spending will reach $4.6 trillion by 2019, accounting for nearly one of every five U.S. dollars spent, the report says.

“The overall net impact is moderate,” said lead author Andrea Sisko, an economist at the Medicare agency. “The underlying impacts on coverage and financing are more pronounced.”

Here is the chart of the day:

 

The Journal reported earlier this week that insurers have already begun raising premiums in response to the front-loading of ObamaCare benefit mandates by the White House.  That report sent Democrats into fits of anger, threatening to “ratchet up pressure” on insurers.  Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) blamed “greed” for price increases instead of the higher costs imposed by the mandates — a completely predictable consequence of adding more mandates to insurance coverage.

Perhaps these same Democrats can put pressure on themselves to explain once again how the higher costs in ObamaCare meets their promise of bending the cost curve downward.  Not only does the cost curve literally go upward more under ObamaCare for overall spending as percentage of GDP in comparison to the pre-ObamaCare trajectory, it consistently pushes it upward for private insurance, and especially Medicaid.  It only bends downward for Medicare and slightly downward for out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

Medicare’s trajectory does look slightly better under ObamaCare, but there’s a reason for that.  The slowdown comes from lower reimbursement rates for Medicare services, which means it comes out of the pockets of doctors.  The result will be fewer participating providers in Medicare, which will mean longer wait times, more difficulty in getting treatments, and most likely higher out-of-pocket payments as those consumers pay retail for their medical care more often.

ObamaCare fails to deliver on its promise in yet another way, and this is only the beginning.