Conservatives – We’re a Family, Not a Collective

Today’s Democrat Party is the Borg – remember when they were first introduced? The big bad. There was simply no way to stop them. But of course, the Federation won. More than that, the crew of the Enterprise won – because they behaved like the family that they are.

The power of a family to stop a collective is well known – even to the statists that created the Star Trek world.

We have to realize that we’re a family, and define ourselves clearly, as we really are, and use that power to win. It’s not easy, of course, but it is possible.

We discuss all of that, with geekiness and humor.

It’s all in the podcast


Your hosts

THIS WEEK’S LINKS:

http://www.thepartyofchoice.com/articles1/family-versus-collective-by-andy-peth

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/420055/conservatism-definition-difficult-produce

Seven Liberal Pieties That Only the Right Still Believes

Liberals Outraged At Mike Rowe Again. His Best Response Ever…

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5 Ways Bush Helped Elect Obama

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1) Bush’s support of the minimum wage increase.

The minimum wage is a socialist policy.  Any time the Government tries to exert force over the market The vast majority of business leaders start at the bottom.

(which is made up of individuals), it’s exerting tyranny over the people.  Minimum wage controls, do not help disperse poverty, or increase the labor force.  They decrease the labor force, increase poverty, and decrease future business leadership.

Higher minimum wages lead directly to the rise in unemployment. (Fox Business News, source of image)

I have much more to say about the minimum wage, and why it’s unnecessary and will do so in a future blog post.  Briefly, it doesn’t fix poverty, it displaces labor, it creates grey and black markets for labor. Since the Republicans supported the minimum wage increase then, why don’t they know?  Do they hate the poor, like the left proclaims?

 

Henry J. Kaiser Foundation

 

2) Bush’s policies of Medicare Part D and Various Federal aid programs, that Democrats complain about, but refuse to repeal.
Throughout the 2006 to 2010 election cycle the Democrats complained 1). This includes the Iraq War and Medicare Part D.  Medicare Part D, for all intents and purposes is another 800 pound gorilla of debt.  Like Obamacare, if not cut it will bankrupt America. The Bush administration over eight years added 33% to the national debt (by 2012).

 

The Democrats don’t really want to cut it, they just use it as a wedge issue, to blame Republicans for massive spending. As far as African aid goes, it would be better spent from the private sector.  Most government aid, to every country is wasted money.  It’s also the reason those countries don’t spend the free money very well.
As well meaning as all of these programs are, they become more and more unsustainable as we go forward.  It doesn’t matter which party passes well meaning laws, if we run out of money, we run out of money.

 

Associated Press

3) Bush’s Democracy projects, to try and change the world.

We won the war in Iraq against Saddham Hussein.  After 8 long years, Obama finished the policies (badly, which I’ll get to.) declaring that the mission has been accomplished.

But what is the result of that accomplishment?  Thousands of lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring savages “democracy”.  As if Democracy is a sacred goal?  Democracy is tyranny of the majority.  You know what the majority in Iraq wants?

Tyranny of the Caliphate.

news.vice.com

Not Bush’s fault you say?  Certainly not completely, Obama left Iraq a vacuum of power.  However, the people of Iraq, by a majority are okay with the Islamic Caliphate of ISIS taking control of Iraq.  If Saddham Hussein was still in control of Iraq, there would be no ISIS.

The people have spoken.  Democracy is a dangerous ideal, our founders despised direct democracies. (That’s why we’re a Republic) This is again an issue of empathy versus money. We simply can’t free every country from their brutal dictator, and like Iraq, many of these people will just choose another brutal dictator.

associated press
Conservatives criticize Obama’s stimulus, but not Bush’s?  You wonder why the American’s don’t see the Republicans as an alternative to the Democrats?
The stimulus delayed the recovery in 2003. Greenspan blamed the war, it was Keynesianism that delayed the recovery.  The recovery kicked in to high gear, in late 2004 after the stimulus spending died down. It didn’t work for FDR, why would it work now (or then for Bush)?How can we consistently be against Obama’s stimulus, if Bush’s was okay?

 

michellemalkin.com

5) The attack on the freedom to fail (TARP, GM Bailouts, etc)

Michelle Malkin and Reason both, had great write ups on how Bush completely abandoned the free market principles that made this country great to “save” the free market system.  In fact, he set in place policies and government expansion that allowed Obama and his cronies.  The Financial Regulations put in place by Barney Frank, and his equally idiotic compatriot Chris Dodd.  The two buffoons who didn’t see a problem with Fannie and Freddie, wrote 2500 pages of regulations for the banking industry.

It’s not talked about much, however the Dodd-Frank financial bill is the Obamacare of the financial world.

Clarion Ledger – Marshall Ramsey

It happened, because Bush started the path allowing the Federal Governmetn to control private banking through TARP.  The goal?  Fix a problem caused by Democrats, Government and Obama.

While this may seem very negative of former President Bush, it’s brutally honest.  If I had a choice, I’d still vote for Bush over Gore or Kerry in 2004.  Just look at the colossal joke that John Kerry is in our State Department.  Reflection of past mistakes is necessary if we expect to improve.  Bush like Hoover, was a “pre-socializer”.  Hoover tried to expand Government
to help those suffering from the recession.  He even started the New Deal.  In my opinion, part of being a Constitutional Conservative or Libertarian is being a student of history, and seeing where policies fail, and where they are repeated.  Obama similar to FDR tried massive spending to save the economy. By his own graph, we’d be better off today without the stimulus.  That doesn’t even take into account that Obama’s BLS has changed the way the U6 is reported.  Labor Force Participation hasn’t been at 62.8% since Jimmy Carter.

Remember though, all of the acceptance for Obama’s policies came from Bush doing it first.  As childish as it is to point your finger at the other guy, and spout, “HE STARTED IT!”, Bush truly did start it.  Ultimately, that’s why Romney was a bad choice for competing for that seat.

Romney passed the predecessor to Obamacare.  Ryan accepted stimulus spending for Wisconsin.  If the Republican party doesn’t differentiate itself from the Democrat party, why would anyone vote for them?

The Band-Aid Presidency

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Last night, in the most classic way imaginable, the Obama administration dumped a 800 lb lump of coal into the stockings of liberal America on the eve of the Christmas holiday.

The Administration announced that any person who had their health insurance cancelled late this year are no longer obligated to legally abide by the individual mandate, the central taxation component of the Affordable Care Act.  Additionally, these same people could satisfy the mandate requirement by purchasing catastrophic insurance alone, which previously was not considered sufficient to satisfy the mandate requirements.

The argument that the administration is making is ironic in so many ways.  They argue that the individual mandate, arguably the most important cog to the workings of Obamacare, is a ‘hardship’ to millions of Americans.  Furthermore, they are arguing that because of this hardship, they will simply delay that part of the law.

Think about the legality for a second:  President Obama is issuing a hardship exemption for something the Supreme Court has defined…as a tax.

Can you imagine the fun a Republican President can have with that power?

Let us also remember that this invalidates virtually every Democrat and liberal argument against a deal to avert October’s congressional shutdown.  Let us not forget that Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee put a proposal on the table to avert the shutdown if the administration simply agreed to a 1 year delay to the individual mandate.  Yesterday, Barack Obama did just that…proving that much of his stance on the shutdown was political theater, nothing more.

In the larger picture, this type of policy change largely defines the entire Obama Presidency. The pattern is as follows:  Obama and liberals propose a policy that, any common sense would tell you, cannot function in the real world. They pass this policy, often distorting the facts to the American public to get their support.  Once passed, they all of a sudden realize the idiocies contained in their plan, and rush to distance themselves from the plan they were recently advocating.  Once the policy becomes active, they realize that reality is more powerful than ideology, and thus, look for any and all ways to get themselves out of the mess they created.   And they use every ‘Band-Aid’ measure possible to cover-up the mess they have created.

The Band-Aids are piling up, and it does not only refer to health care.  Look no further than foreign policy this.  Obama’s Syria ‘Red line’ policy is a perfect example.  Obama talked a good game, but then realize that there was no way to enforce his red-line in the real world.  He quickly ran away from that policy, only to end up with a policy that, ironically, strengthened the power of a man Obama said was ‘evil’, Bashar Assad.

If you want to go further back, the Obama stimulus often had many of these characteristics as well. They passed statutes for ‘shovel-ready’ projects, and later realized there was no such thing.  They then pumped out the money, regardless of effect, to lackluster consequences.

Think of the fallacy of this latest Band-Aid on Obamacare.  The administration is arguing that they have imposed a hardship on at least 5 million Americans who lost their health insurance because of Obamacare.  So, to help these people, they are going to exempt them from the individual mandate.  However, these same people argued during the shutdown that any delay of the individual mandate would be catastrophic to the functionality of the entire ACA system.

Furthermore, the hardship claim is dubious.  Is Obama actually saying that it is more a hardship for people to lose their insurance and have to purchase it on his own exchange, than the hardship of forcing the previously uninsured to dig deep in their pocketbooks to purchase that very same insurance on the exchanges?  He is saying the previously uninsured have no burden of hardship as well?

Another liberal fallacy also dies: the argument that these were ‘substandard’ insurance policies.  Obama has now stated it is o.k. for people to move to catastrophic insurance, when the majority of this cohort had comprehensive insurance prior to Obamacare coming into effect.  In other words, Obamacare diminished  the quality of health insurance plans in America, and Obama is not legitimizing that change.

Each of the policy changes are chinks in the armor of Obamacare; that armor is now thin and rusting. This is a virtual universal delay of the individual mandate for 2014, no matter how liberals spin it.  They will never politically be able to argue that those that lost their insurance because of Obamacare bear more hardship than the uninsured do, and thus, they will be forced to exempt all Americans.  Ted Cruz wins the policy debate.

Even worse, this fixes nothing long-term.  This is a classic Obama ‘Band-Aid’.  Sure, it theoretically stops millions of people from being required to pay approximately $95 in tax penalty this April. But the real issue is not the tax, but the health care exchange.  By exempting all of these people, the administration makes the entire insurance system much less financially stable.

Insurers who were already dubious of the administration’s competence on this are now outright furious at being lied to, time and again.  They fear this will further push the risk portfolios of their insurance plans to the extreme, and thus, will increase their costs. That further increases cost pressures on health insurance premiums across the board, increasing costs for everyone. The Obamacare upward bending of the cost curve continues.

The ‘Band-Aids’ are all for show.  Ultimately, the problem is that the law itself was inherently broken.  These temporary measures actually fix nothing in the system. They are a political attempt at cover.  But nobody can protect Democrats from the onslaught of public anger that is going to arise when they realize what the ACA does, when the Band-Aids finally come off.

What Really Worries Democrats About Obamacare

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Ignore the media, and the liberal spin.  There is one simple political reality:  Democrats across the board are extremely worried about the Affordable Care Act, and its effect on the 2014 elections.

I have quite a few connections to staffers and other behind-the-scenes people in the Democrat Party.  Talking to them, there is a consensus: they are in trouble.

Some of them fully believe that Barack Obama, Kathleen Sebelius and the rest of the President’s administration can right the ship, and some make the Obamacare system functional enough to please the public.

Most, however, don’t believe anything of the sort.

There is a reason for this:  for all the bluster and hot air about the Obamacare website debacle, that is the least of the worries for liberal supporters of the health insurance reform plan.  In fact, the failure of the website may actually be hiding some of the more pernicious aspects to the health care law.

So here is a timeline of the largest hurdles  the supporters of Obamacare face over the next twelve months:

 

November through December 2013

The enrollment numbers for the first month were terrible, and that is unlikely to dramatically change any time soon.  Initial numbers stated the total enrollment nationwide for October was a meager 50,000 or so.  That is less than 1/10th of 1% of the total necessary to keep the system sustainable.

Obamacare defenders will try to spin that the tens of thousands added on to the Medicaid system as a sign of success, but even people not familiar with the ACA understand it is easy to give away free stuff; It is another thing entirely to get Americans to pay their hard-earned money into the system, when that system may not provide them any great benefit in the near term.

The website functionality is going to be an ongoing challenge as well. President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius both promised that the website would be working by the end of November.  That now appears to be another ‘incorrect promise’ and frankly, most IT experts I talk to would be surprised if the system is up and running before February.

Website Security will be an issue as this process continues as well. Consumer Reports and others already warned Americans that they should wait until major fixes in the security loopholes were corrected. On 11/19/13, there was testimony that the website places user data at “critical risk” despite recent government assurances it is safe to use.   Several security experts have predicted a large-scale breach in security. Imagine millions of Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, along with IRS tax data and health data being breached.

Amazingly, the entire ACA Payment system also has to be built, after three years.  There is no system at present to transfer funds from the Federal government to the states or to insurers.  And even more shocking? On November 18th, the head of the IT for the ACA admitted that at least 30% of the ENTIRE IT INFRASTRUCTURE still needed to be constructed.

To compound matters, the system also has a nonfunctional subsidy calculator.  What does this mean?  Right now, they are only estimating individuals expected subsidies.  However, if the estimate is incorrect and over estimates your subsidy, you could be liable for hundreds or thousands of dollars more in premiums next year.  This would be problematic in the best of situations.

To compound this problem, the administration is trying to shunt customers to private insurance websites, as a ‘work around’ for  the broken Federal exchange.  The problem is, it is technically against the law for purchases outside of the exchanges to receive federal subsidies.  What happens if a legal entanglement results in those subsidies to be ultimately rejected?  Customers could be in for a real disaster if they agree to purchase insurance, only to find they are not eligible for subsidies.

 

January through June 2014

The first problem is one I have already written about:  Obama will have to break his promise that If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  This promise could never have held true in the market that Obamacare creates, because as predicted, many of the policies purposefully eliminate expensive and elite institutions.

I personally have been booted off of several health care plans because of a cancer center I work at.  I know many doctors stating similar experiences at elite institutions such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and other prestigious institutions. The most famous case was a cancer patient in California who wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, and who could no longer see her oncologists and other treating physicians, because the California exchange had no policies that would include all of her physicians.

The next major debacle will be the surprise of high deductible payments. The majority of the policies being sold are the cheaper ones on the exchanges; the so-called Bronze and Silver plans.  The average yearly deductible, after paying your premium for these policies, is around $5,000.  There is a high degree of variability, but on average these are high deductible plans.  What will happen the first time there is a sick child, and a $5,000 deductible stands between that poor family and a life saving procedure?

One interesting twist will be the use of Obamacare Navigators.  This was a program the administration started to ‘guide’ customers through the process.  Sounds great.  Except for one problem:  many of the Navigators were not appropriately screened, and there has already been a fair amount of fraud in this group of government workers. Undercover videos of Navigators telling customers to defraud the government have already surfaced, and I am sure you will see dozens of those as time goes on.

 

July through September 2014

This is actually when the rubber meets the road.  By this point, no matter how incompetent the administration’s IT experts are, virtually everyone that wants to have insurance should have insurance.  The website problems, even if they still persist, should no longer be relevant.

The first question that will arise is how many people chose to pay the penalty?  For many of the lowest income persons, a penalty of $95 was all that was required to opt out; with the high expense of many plans, a fair number of people will choose this option.

More important is the ratio of healthy individuals compared to sick ones in the exchanges.  For the exchanges to survive, they require a very high ratio of healthy people buying in, in order to subsidize the rest of the population.  Recent data from Kentucky (supposedly a liberal success story) shows that the ratio of healthy to sick is closer to 1:4 than the close to parity required for financial sustainability.

What happens if this does not occur?  Insurers will enter the oft talked about ‘death spiral’.  They will be required to raise their future premiums in 2015, because the cohort of patients in their insurance pools are less healthy, and thus, more expensive to treat.  The death spiral occurs as young, healthy persons realize that the increased costs of their insurance is not worth it, and opt out…further increasing the ratio of sick persons in the insurance pools, and further increasing costs.  This is the scenario that most scares Obamacare proponents.

The irony of all this is this presumes that the individual mandate  is not delayed.  Right now, the Upton and Landrieu bills sit in Congress, and Obama has announced his executive order to ‘fix’ the problem of policy cancellations.  The more delay of the individual mandate, either by legal methods or presidential signature, the more likely it is that insurers will have costlier insurance pools that will drive up premium costs moving forward.

The next problem is how this huge new population of insured patients will be treated by a system that is already overburdened.  A doctor shortage very well could arise.  Something similar, but to a lesser scale, occurred during Romneycare’s implementation in Massachusetts.  Massachusetts was more prepared than most states, as it has the highest ratio of doctors to patients in the country.  Even then, access to physicians, especially specialists, was restricted substantially.  Now imagine the states with low doctor to patient ratios, and you can imagine the complications that could arise.

That doesn’t even take into consideration that many physicians are likely to opt out to the largest expanding health care insurance program in the country:  Medicaid.  Already in states like New York, about a third of doctors have opted out.  Many physicians, especially those tied to hospitals, cannot opt out.  But this decrease in available primary physicians to handle this huge new number of Medicaid patients (who are among the sickest and poorest patients around) could be a disaster, and there is no short term solution to this problem.

 

October through December 2014

This is where all the real excitement occurs.  Let us assume some how, some way, Democrats have survived the year without any major catastrophes, and are holding their head above water as the midterm elections come.  There are several huge hurdles still remaining.

The first, and largest by far, will be the kicking in of the employer mandate. Remember that this mandate was supposed to occur this year; however, because of the completely broken and unworkable system, Obama delayed it (outside of legal bounds no less).  But the employer mandate is the crux of the entire system; the majority of Americans get their insurance through their employer, and insuring this mandate is vital to that majority.

The problem arises in the fact that in the same way that millions are losing their private insurance plans today, even a greater number of employees are likely to either lose their plans or see drastic changes next year.  This was predicted by the Department of Health and Human Services as far back as 2010.  Now is when that change kicks in.

Furthermore, millions of small business owners will have to decide whether to pay for insurance, or send their employees into the exchanges; the same exchanges that are so far struggling to handle the volume and load.

For employers that are going to continue their insurance plans, another problem: they will likely get notices from insurance companies that the plans they currently purchased no longer exist.  Sound familiar?  And insurers will, under Federal law, have to do that a minimum of 60 days before cancellation, meaning…the beginning of November, at the very latest.

And, remember the ‘death spiral’ we discussed above?  If insurers face that hurdle, they are likely to raise rates across the board.  Here is the biggest problem of all: for all the talk about these changes affecting only the people on the exchanges, if and when a ‘death spiral’ or anything like it occurs, costs will rise for everyone.  That means increased premiums for businesses, which will likely be passed on directly to employees.  Some employers will also likely choose the easy option, which is shifting their employees to the exchanges.

And all this will be announced just weeks before the election.

 

After all of this, you begin to understand why those that truly understand the steps necessary in the next year to implement the full-scale of the Affordable Care Act are worried.  Right now, we are seeing the tip of the iceberg: gross incompetence in establishing a website for entry into this behemoth government monstrosity.

But once you enter this behemoth, you start to understand that there are numerous interweaving and interconnected cogs that will need to work relatively smoothly, or the system as a whole will flounder.

That doesn’t even tell the political story.  Every week, if not daily, there will be a story about individuals who are being harmed by the ACA.  Those stories will drown out any of the positive stories, because we know that ultimately the media highlights the negative.  As stated above, when a child or young mother is denied life saving treatment because of restrictions placed upon them by Obamacare, who takes the blame?

Liberals are trying to circle the wagons, to keep sustainable political support for the plan, in the hopes that the Obama Administration can fix the problems in short order.  But as you can see above, there is no simple fix.  Many of the ‘problems’ with Obamacare are inherent to the system that Democrats devised.  These were intended results.  How do you fix the plan, when it is the intent of the plan that is the problem in the first place.

So batten down the hatches, America…it is going to be a bumpy ride.

 

Obamacare Rollout: What We Know, 1 Month Later

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So, as November 1st arrives, we were supposed to get a good feel if the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was going as planned, trajectory of insurance purchasers, relative cost comparions, etc.

We really have none of the above.

The website debacle has basically brought the entire process to a standstill.  People either were unable to purchase insurance, or were so turned off that they didn’t bother.

So what we don’t know, and the data lacking therein, far outnumbers the things that we demonstrably do know.

So, to get past the political spin, what data is there? What, if any, conclusions (partial or otherwise) can we make?  What do we know, for certain?

1.  The Website has issues; major issues. 

The website problem is not a simple fix.  Testimony this week on Capitol Hill clearly demonstrated that.  The officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as contractors paid to build the web platform, didn’t agree on much, but they did agree on that.

A repeated promise was made in hearings however:  that the website would be operational by November 30th.  That is a dubious promise.  If the problems that exist in the website are as reported, it is not simply fixing a few lines of code that will make everything all right. There are major isuses, not only with the code but the basic structure of the system, the transfer of data from the web platform to-and-from major databases, and communication with the insurers themselves.

It will take a Herculean effort to truly make the system operational by the end of November.

Furthermore, the tech surge that President Obama largely seems to be rhetoric, as the majority of those chosen to run the new effort are long term Beltway insiders.  If anything should give you pause, that should.

2.  Medicaid enrollees are far outnumbering purchasers of insurers. 

This may be the most worrisome part of what has happened over the last month, even more than the website issues.  Fundamentally, the entire premise of the ACA rests on the balance of having new people buy insurance on the markets, to partially ‘subsidize’ those millions being added to the Medicaid rolls.

As a Washington Post article today noted, on many of these exchanges, Medicaid enrolles are ounumbering purchasers 9:1. That is a death knell for the system if it continues.  As the CBO reported from the beginning, we need closer to a 1:1 ratio (the CBO says the ratio of Medicaid enrollees:insurance purchasers should be approximately 9.1:7.9, to be precise) to maintain fiscal sustainability.

However, we simply don’t know if this is a short term blip or a long term trend.  This could all be a result of the poor website functionality, which then had a ripple effect in the marketplace.  Or it could honestly be that purchasers don’t like what they see, and may choose option B, the Obamacare tax penalty…which would be fiscally disastrous for the system.  That would be the leading edge toward the ‘death spiral’ that the Administration and insurance industry fears so much.

3.  The Administration has come catch up to do to make their enrollment targets for 2014. 

To maintain the system, they need a minimal number of paying customers in the Exchanges, as described above.  The number the CBO has stated is approximately 7 million by the target date (which, after the White House pushed it back, is now the end of March).

They had expected to sign up about 500,000 people by the end of October.  That number will be missed by a large margin.  Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius refused to release the numbers, but most estimates state that the number of policies actually sold will be far less than 100,000

That number is not going to significantly improve in the month of November, because the website is still largely nonfuctional. Then comes the busy month of December, with the intrusion of the holidays.

My guess (and it is only a guess) is that they may not meet their goal for October 31 of 500k purchasers even as of January 1, 2014.

If that holds true, or even if they do better than expected and get up to 1 million person mark, that means that they will have to sign up 6 million persons in three months time.  That is a huge hill to climb.

4.  Liberals blaming Republicans for this mess don’t really have many facts backing up the claim.

Liberals to this day are blaming the ‘intransigence of Republicans’ for the failures in the system.  However, this has been simply disproven:  go to a number of states that have Democrat Governors and legislatures, that have been implementing Obamacare from the beginning, and see if they are doing better.

For the most part, they are not.  Take Oregon, who as of earlier this week, had not had any purchasers of insurance through their exchanges, though they have had tens of thousands of enrollees in Medicaid.  California, New York and others are not much better.

This is largely not a political problem at this point, but a problem of managerial competence or lack thereof.

5.  We have anecdotal evidence of people paying more for insurance after losing their insurance.

This is ONLY anecdotal evidence at this point; and that makes it very hard to really analyze.

Definitely millions of people are losing their current insurance because of the ACA and associated retgulations that are term limiting those insurance plans.  Democrats can blame the insurers, but that is a lie:  the full responsibilty of that process lies with the ACA.  The vast majority of these plans would still exist today if not for the ACA; it is as simple as that.

As for increased health care premiums, we won’t know for a long time if that is a systemic problem, or an isolated one.  Democrats claim those cases are the exception, Republicans claim they are the rule.  The truth is neither side has enough data to make such absolute claims.  And that data will take a long time in coming.  It may take months, but more likely years to know if the ACA is bending the cost curve up, down, or has no effect.  I have my suspicions, but there are only that:  suspicions.

6.  Conservatives should not rejoice; the plan can still be saved.

I know, this is a shocking statement coming from me, considering I have been so pessimistic about the system as a whole.  But the truth is, if there were competent managers in charge of this, this rollout could have gone much better.

The website debacle has a snowball effect, to be sure. We don’t know how many people, but certainly hundreds of thousands of people if not more would have gone on to the exchanges and, most likely with the help of subsidies, purchased insurance if they were allowed to.

Incompetence prevented that.

Where the rubber meets the road is getting people who will not receive a significant subsidy to purchase on the exchanges.  Now, this is really the hard part for Democrats.  So far, from what little I have seen, the insurance plans on the exchanges are more expensive and provide less financial coverage than many plans that were available prior to the ACA.

Democrats will counter that these plans provide ‘more’ coverage.  There is some truth to that, but much of that coverage is not really beneficial to the majority of consumers.  Furthermore, remember that the primary demographic that they must convince to open their pocketbooks and purchase insurance, instead of paying the penalty, is the young, healthy American.  How many of these people are thinking about ‘better’ coverage when they don’t use the coverage they have today?  Are they going to be willing to pay $100-$200 more a month for something they don’t use?

We simply don’t know the answer to that.

Overall, it has clearly been a rough month for supporters of Obamacare, as nothing seemingly has gone right in their rollout.  Can the system be saved? Yes, but it will take not only a Herculean task on the IT side, but a lot of selling by President Obama and the White House, along with a lot of luck, to convince people to do what is not in their short term interest (i.e. purchasing more expensive health insurance) while promising dubious long term benefits.

Why Right Now, I Think Chris Christie Is Our 2016 Nominee

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O.K., before I get too far into this, DO NOT ATTACK ME.  I predict I will get hate through my comment section, twitter and elsewhere quite quickly.  Chris Christie posts do that, much like Mitt Romney posts got me kicked off of various conservative websites a few years ago.

This is not an endorsement; in fact, you could in some ways call it an ‘antiendorsement’.

But I think we are facing the very real possibility of Chris Christie surging ahead to become the 2016 GOP nominee.  And quite honestly, we really won’t have anyone to blame but ourselves.

If there was a big winner in the Obamacare defunding episode, Gov. Chris Christie was it.  In many ways, he benefits far more than any Democrat, and is ideally placed to take advantage of the political winds of the day.

Why do I say this?  First, let us review what the basic political trends of the past few weeks have been.

For the most part, the GOP marginalized itself.  We can argue whether defunding was a good or bad strategy, but the worst strategy of all is one where the party is going in three different directions, had no leadership or spine, and ultimately capitulates on every issue.  That is precisely what happened here.

Furthermore, for the large part of the populace that wasn’t really paying attention to the intricacies involved, the GOP looked like the radical party, shutting down government against the hapless President.  Yes, I stipulate that this is not the reality, but that is what the public saw.  And they made the decision to blame everyone in Washington, D.C….including President Obama.  However, let us also stipulate that they blamed Republicans more.

Third, the public is sick and tired of our broken political system.   They have basically declared a pox on both houses of both parties, and although the GOP has taken a larger hit, it isn’t by as much as many think.

So is the result of this scenario that I have drawn up?

Most importantly, it elevates an outside of the beltway executive who runs against the grain, fights the system, and is a different type of politician, who can declare that he/she is against both parties to a certain extent and will bring a new kind of politics to the White House.

Chris Christie, enter stage right.

To be sure, there are many others that could benefit from this as well.  Every reasonable GOP Governor could stake a claim on this same argument.  Rick Perry, Scott Walker, among others could make this argument.  But Christie has one added advantage:  he is not beholden to the Tea Party.  And for moderates and independents who are not beholden to the conservative base, that is a positive.

I know at this point my conservative brethren are ready to blow an aneurysm.  Christie is a Republican who basically stabbed our prior Republican nominee in the back on the eve of the 2012 election, a man who has questionable standing on some of our most basic foundations of conservatism (government spending, 2nd amendment rights, abortion, Obamacare, etc), and here I am still telling you he may triumph as the Republican nominee in 2016?

Hey, don’t blame me.  I just call them as I see them.

Conservatives (and I mean real conservatives, not just Republicans) better get their act together.  We want a chance to run a true conservative in 2016?  We better have policies that are acceptable to Americans.  We must base our campaign on policies that speak to middle America, that hit at the heart of the economic despair that ravages this country.  We better put out a face of the future, a person that can speak conservatism to the masses.  We need a new type of conservative candidate, and we have to find that person quickly.

Otherwise, enjoy Christie 2016.

Obama’s Redemption?

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Conservatives love to despise Barack Obama.  The first reason is because he was a neophyte with little experience that rose to the top leadership position in the world, mostly riding his media status.  Second, because he is arrogant and espouses his moral superiority, even when being a hypocrite about it.  Third, because his own analysis of his leadership skills is woefully incorrect.

On most of the grand issues of the day, Mr. Obama has taken the wrong path. He could have built a stimulus program in early 2009 that actually promoted job growth.  He could have pushed Democrats to build a health care plan that reduced and restrained costs instead of increasing them.  And then for the last two years, he could have pushed tax reform and entitlement changes instead of reverting to the classic tax and spend mantra that has haunted liberals for decades.

But he has always taken a pass.

Last week proves hope springs eternal.  Mr. Obama invited a group of Republican Senators to dinner to talk about how to move forward in his final four years as an American President.  And according to reports, Obama was more open and honest than he has been in the past.

Despite liberal whining about how much Barack Obama has had to endure from Republicans, the reality is he has never faced an opponent greater than himself.  Obama’s primary problem through out his Presidency is the inability to tell everyone, including his own party, to ‘Go to hell’, and simply lead on an issue.

Leadership, true leadership, begets public support.  See Rand Paul’s crusade on civil rights and drones last week, ironically occurring the same time as Obama’s dinner round table with the GOP.  This wasn’t an issue that the media, Republicans or Democrats for the most part cared about.  But the public did care.  There is a growing unease of the every expanding power of the President when it comes to such things as drones.  Paul simply was willing to take a stand, even if he knew there was no path to victory in his endeavor.

Obama has never done that.  Can you think of a stand Obama took that was not cautious, thought out, and strategically positioned in such a way that Obama could either back down or blame someone else for its failure?

During his dinner with the GOP, Obama seemed reluctant to lead on the issues, again.  From Peggy Noonan, from an unnamed Senator at the meeting:

Senator No. 1: When pressed on the question, the president seemed to step back. “His idea of a process is, ‘You guys figure it out and work with my staff, and if you need me call me.’ But in the end, unless the president really gets engaged and forces meeting after meeting, I don’t see how you get past the logjam.”

…or this…

Senator No. 2: “At the end I mentioned, ‘Share [with us] how you see this going forward.’ ” Here the president “got hazy. . . . I told him this will never work without adult supervision from the White House. I don’t think he comprehends that this is part of getting something done.”

Senator No. 2 said he planned to “press” the president in coming days “to lead, to exert authority.”

Obama, at this moment, has a chance to lead.  What does he honestly have to lose?  He was a solid victory for re-election, is the undisputed leader of his party, with Democrats (even if they disagree with him) willing to go to the mat for him.  He will never face election again, and the only thing remaining in his future his his legacy, which at the moment, is mixed.

But is the President willing to use that political capital?  The above quotes lead you to believe the answer is ‘No’.  A report from the Politico states more than half of the Democrats in Congress oppose any changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which is fiscally insane.  Another quote from Noonan’s article:

At certain points in the conversation the president, according to the senator, said that even if he wanted to agree with the Republicans on certain specific questions there would be a rebellion in his own party: “He said that a few times. But that’s an abdication. You have to lead! You have to educate as only a president can with a bully pulpit, you have to bring your party along.”

Tuesday was the first time that I can remember that President Obama speaking to his liberal caucus, and telling them hard truths. Obama met with Senate Democrats, and was up front for the need for entitlement reform.  He stated his need to exchange entitlement cuts for more taxes.  We can debate the numbers and the actual specifics, but for Obama to tell liberals they will have fundamental changes to entitlement programs is some what of a breakthrough.

A tremendous amount of opposition to this kind of plan exists among the liberal base, and I am not sure that the President realizes what kind of fight he is in with his own party if he is honest about achieving these goals.  And of course, from our side, we conservatives have a huge trust deficit with this President, after 5 years of having the football pulled out from under us, Charlie Brown-style.  Mr. Obama will have to be forthright and honest through out the process to build enough respect and faith to get such a big deal done.

I have long said this is not an intellectual barrier for the President, but a psychological one.  Barack Obama has long been a cautious person, unwilling to take public stands that reflect poorly on his character or his public persona. Maybe this is what comes from being America’s greatest African American politician; maybe it is a reflection of African American society today to avoid risk.  I don’t know.  But I know that reality exists for this man.

So ultimately, Mr. Obama could lead.  He could get a grand bargain of tax reform, entitlement recalculation, and budgetary changes that could put the country on a long term path of fiscal sanity and economic prosperity.  It would mean he would have to compromise with the GOP and push back against liberals in his own party.  Ironically, I seem to believe the latter is much harder for this President than the former.

This was cross posted at Neoavatara

Why Obama Can’t Override The Debt Ceiling

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No, this is not a blog post about the legal implications of Obama’s alternatives to avoid the debt ceiling.

That is a nice discussion to have, but basically that comes down to this:  14th amendment solution is likely not legal, and even if it is, it is a terrible idea; the platinum coin solution is probably legal, but makes Obama look like the head of a banana republic.  It would be no different than the Federal Reserve and Treasury printing another $1 trillion in dollars, and depositing it.  In other words, a brilliant inflationary solution, but nothing more.  Luckily, the Treasury has said they will not even consider the coin.

No, this post is the real reason why Obama can’t use either of the two above alternatives:  practical reality.

Yes, I know. The Beltway loves to ignore practical realities as much as any organization in the history of mankind.  They avoid truths and facts like it were a leper colony.  But in this debate, there is a practical reality Mr. Obama cannot ignore.

For all the talk on the left, Obama realizes he has four more years of having to deal with a House that most likely will be controlled by Republicans, and more than likely by John Boehner.  The math is clear:  barring a wave election, it is far more likely that Republicans take the Senate than Democrats take the House.

So what would any of these alternatives bypassing Congress do?  They would make the partisan divide deeper and wider.  They would give the conservative wing of the Republicans more, not less, voice as we go forward, as they argue that there is little reason to compromise with such a radical executive in charge.

Liberals can whine and moan as much as they want (as they often do).  But a simple fact remains: not much can get done without the Republicans compromising.  And any avoidance of Republicans on this issue would make compromising on anything going forward almost impossible.

But hey,  never underestimate the stupidity of those within the Beltway.

This is crossposted at Neoavatara

They Hate Us. Now What?

What is it with GQ lately? First there was the Marco Rubio interview, and the ensuing kerfuffle. Here’s the relevant quote:

GQ: How old do you think the Earth is? 

Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

Then came the inevitable media response:

How old is the Earth? Scientists say 4.5 billion years. But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) isn’t a scientist, so he’s not sure….

…he’s a politician, and a member of a party that long has pandered to biblical fundamentalists, including “young Earth creationists” who insist that the Earth is between 5,700 and 10,000 years old. Dissing Charles Darwin is second nature to Republican politicians who should (and maybe do) know better.

Yup, Rubio is either stupid or he’s a science hating Bible thumping fundamentalist. Or both. Whatever.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, GQ (there they go again) has recently placed Mitt Romney at the very top of their list of the Least Influential People of 2012. Talk about kicking a man while he’s down.

Tony Lee has an excellent post over at Breitbart detailing the Rubio kerfuffle and other recent media tactics aimed at discrediting Republicans (War on Women, etc).  Lee does a good job of detailing the problem, but stops just short of the most important question: So what?

It’s one thing to recognize media bias. Despite claims to the contrary, media bias is a fact. You can’t have a majority of TV executives and employees donating to Obama and the Democrats in 2008 and expect their bias not to creep into their reporting. But what do you do about it?

The first thing the GOP needs to realize about the mainstream media: THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS. I don’t care how nice they are to you at any given time. I don’t care how positively they seem to receive you and your message. I don’t care what they offer you. When it suits them, the media will turn on you. They will try to bury you. The sooner Republicans understand and accept this fact, the better.

Second, STAY ON MESSAGE. This is an area where Democrats excel. Don’t let the person interviewing you pull you down a rabbit hole. How old is the Earth? Do you want to ban contraceptives? How’s your family? Seen any good movies lately? Stay on target. If a particular question doesn’t pertain to the topic at hand, skip it. If it is otherwise irrelevant, call them out for asking something so blatantly ignorant.

Third, DO NOT FEAR THEM. A big part of the GOP’s media problem is the fear of any kind of backlash from a “wrong” answer. Republicans want the media to like them. I got news for you: It ain’t gonna happen. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, they will hate you. Be strong, be solid, be conservative. In short, be everything they don’t want you to be. That message will carry beyond anything the media can throw at you.

(Don’t believe me? Take a look at some recent moderate presidential candidates: George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain. Know what they have in common? They were all moderates, and they all lost. The media hated Ronald Reagan. He won in two landslides.)

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Remember me?

Finally, LEARN TO CIRCLE THE WAGONS, NOT THE FIRING SQUADS. For better or worse, Democrats are known for their willingness to defend their own as long as possible. David Wu and Anthony Weiner both eventually resigned in the wake of scandals. Key word: Eventually. They denied everything as long as they could, until their respective scandals grew too big to ignore. More importantly, the Democrat leadership covered for them as long as they could, too. While I am NOT advocating turning a blind eye to any and all wrongdoing, I do believe Republicans are a little too quick to eat their own.

The same concept can be applied to conservatives in the media; Limbaugh, Levin, Hannity, Breitbart, Malkin, etc. These people are very vocal. As a result, they are heavily attacked. All too often, the knee jerk response from Republicans is to distance themselves from these “extremists.” Knock it off. The Old Media hates your guts; you need friends wherever you can find them. The New Media is on your side, if you’ll allow them to be.

The time for being submissive and defensive is over. The GOP must learn how to deal with a media that wants to defeat them. The list above is just a start.