Friday, September 11, 2009
No. 2 Stands Alone
Joey Wilson's War
Trust Democrats to overplay a good hand.
Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" during President Obama's health care address has become the unofficial Republican response -- letting President Obama keep the offensive going. GOP congressional leaders are embarrassed. They asked Wilson to apologize; he only grudgingly accepted (South Carolina politicians have a history of not listening to other members of their own party).
A poll in his district shows that Wilson's previously perceived safe seat is now in danger. Rob Miller, Wilson's announced challenger, has been the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of donations in the immediate 48 hours after the outburst. (Wilson also raised money off the incident, but a whole lot less).
So, with all this going on, of course, the Democrats would just step back and let Wilson and the Republicans stumble around, right? They would follow that old adage of not getting in the way of your opponents when they're in the middle of self-destructing, right?
House Democratic leaders plan to bring a resolution to the House floor next week to admonish South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson if he does not apologize on the House floor for his outburst during President Obama's joint address to Congress, according to several House Democratic leadership aides.
"He's violated the rules of the House with inappropriate conduct and he's subject to reprimand," said Kristie Greco, spokeswoman for House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina.
Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said that Wilson violated House rules — but also said that it was "time for us to talk about health care and not Mr. Wilson."
Pelosi would be wise to get her troops in order and not let this resolution gather any steam. This looks like the Democrats piling on one member who has already apologized both in an official statement and in a personal call to the White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Obama took the high road Thursday, accepted Wilson's apology and said it's time to move on. Trying to keep the story going into a second week makes congressional Democrats look like they're more interested in crafting political advantage than in trying to uphold parliamentary protocol. Besides, a case can be made that Wilson might, technically, not have violated House rules. A determination would ultimately come down to a party-line vote. But do Democrats really want to have a lengthy debate that might come down to the parsing of the president's words in a speech -- and Wilson's interpretation of them? Probably not.
Go ahead, Democrats, turn Wilson into a victim in front of the entire country. While his outburst may have struck many as boorish, the fact that he did already apologize makes these actions against him seem rather petty.
8 Years Gone -- And Still No OBL
Friday in the Big Apple could not have begun more differently from the same date eight years ago, when a bright sun greeted New Yorkers as they prepared to vote in a mayoral primary. It was a day brimming with possibilities -- one that made you feel alive.
Eight years later, Sept. 11 features gray skies and a steady rain. A day well-suited for grieving and remembrance. As New Yorkers hear the solemn roll call of the 2,700 who died at the twin towers the Obama administration (following up on its predecessor) called for Americans to dedicate themselves to public service.
Trying to inspire meaning from such an awful moment, is laudable, but many Americans still long for something else: closure. No, not in the New Agey way of some emotional comfort. We want the man behind the hideous attacks brought to justice. We want Osama bin Laden -- preferably dead.
In the eight years since bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network launched war on the U.S., it's been routed from a safe haven in Afghanistan, turning the rugged land into something resembling a democracy. To some, that suggests that bin Laden is a "failure." Technically, that is true. But it does not obscure the glaring fact that our foreign policy and national security -- and much of our national sensibility -- is guided by the reality of this bogey man that perpetually lingers out there.
Would everything suddenly change if there was certainty that bin Laden was dead? Probably not. But something would change. There would be sense of real assurance that the primary mission coming out of 9/11 -- getting the mastermind behind the worst attack on American soil -- had been achieved.
For that matter, even definite evidence (more than some videotape that could be bootlegged from who-knows-where) that he is still alive could give Americans a new sense of renewed purpose and concrete resolve that there remains unfinished business.
Grieving is necessary. Service to one's fellow citizens is a good thing. But what Americans really need eight years down the road is some certitude. Where is Osama bin Laden?
Because unless he is dead, he most certainly is not where he belongs.
Labels: Osama bin Laden
Thursday, September 10, 2009
A Deficit of Ideas
Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid.No, our deficit problem is irresponsible politicians spending more than they get in tax revenue. Medicare and Medicaid are just two examples.
If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined.
Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close.
Medicaid is a welfare program, period. People who get Medicaid aren't paying for it. Even if they did pay taxes previously, that money was long gone by the time they actually received Medicaid benefits, since our politicians don't let money lie there unspent.
As for Medicare, if you think "I paid into it all my life", you are mistaken. You paid a tax, which the politicians spent on current Medicare expenses, and anything left over was spent on whatever else the politicians decided to spend. But you can be certain it was spent.There was no "Medicare lock box" which held your funds. Can you say "ponzi scheme"?
Even if you believe these programs are necessary, it is economically foolish to give away something for nothing. If grocery stores worked this way, would you be getting steak and lobster every night, or just the food you needed? So why would you expect people with no fiscal responsibility for their own health care to get just what they need when they can get far more? When this happens, the cost of health care rises, not only for taxpayers, but for everyone else who uses health care.
So when Obama proposes a plan which offers more free health care to more people, what do you think will happen to the costs?
[Insurance companies] will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime.
We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of- pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.
And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies.
Because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse.
That makes sense. It saves money, and it saves lives.
A simple question: Does anyone NEED preventive care in order to live? If they don't have the condition, then the answer is no. Do most people have conditions such as breast cancer or colon cancer? Again, the answer is no. So why should we provide free testing for conditions which will not affect the majority of the American public?
Before you call me heartless, consider this: What happens when you get an incurable cancer? You die. What happens if you DON'T get an incurable cancer? You die. What are we preventing by screening people for cancer? In the end, nothing.
Mind you, I am not insensitive to the horrors of cancer. I saw my mother die from it. But shouldn't we find better ways of treating people AFTER they have cancer? Screening for cancer is NOT 100% effective. Tumors will get missed. Unless you plan to screen everyone everyday, you will miss some. It is inevitable.
The most cost effective approach to cancer is to find a cure for those who have it. THAT will save money and lives.
Speaking of cost effective:
Finally, let me discuss an issue that is a great concern to me, to members of this chamber, and to the public, and that's how we pay for this plan.
Now, Here's what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits, either now or in the future.
I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit now or in the future -- period.
I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit now or in the future. Period. And to prove that I'm serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promise don't materialize.
How can Obama say he won't sign the bill "if it adds one dime to the deficit" in the future, and in the next breath claim there's a provision that requires spending cuts if savings don't materialize? We know how our legislators treat such provisions: They just override them as needed.
Consider our government's debt ceiling, which Obama & Co. are calling for raising once again, this time above $12 trillion (see this link).
Can Obama guaranty that any costs which raise our deficit will result in spending cuts? As Bill Clinton might have said, it depends on how you define "raising the deficit". Which spending do you consider within our current budget, and within our current deficit? Technically speaking, unless the total cost of this program exceeds our ENTIRE budget, then our politicians can say that NONE of it is increasing our deficit. It's all those other things we are already paying for that are above the current costs.
Very clever Obama. But Joe Wilson was right: You're lying.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Back To School Days
The NY GOP Blues
Thrifty Nation vs. A Spendthrift Government
Problem is, the aforementioned American people -- the other principal audience to which this address is directed -- seem to have adopted a priority that may ultimately be 180 degrees away from the president's.
To wit: The public has seemingly decided that fiscal health might be more important than guaranteeing physical health.
The signs are everywhere: Debt was cut by a record amount in July. And it wasn't even close -- debt was slashed five-fold from what economists were predicting. Consumers are turning more frugal in all areas. The back to school period -- traditionally the second-biggest sales period of the year (after pre-Christmas) -- has seen a clear drop since last year.
Besides cutting debt and adopting thrifty behavior from a bygone days, the public is also putting more cash into savings.
So, with all of this, President Obama will ask the Congress to approve a plan that will cost taxpayers at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years. And, yes, that's in the face of a projected 10-year deficits of $9 trillion.
Barack Obama, who adopted then-brand-new social media devices like Twitter and Facebook two years ago as he launched his presidential campaign, found novel ways to reach his voters and the public at large.
Alas, President Obama has forgotten the old Nietzsche phrase, "If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you." Just as individuals are achingly aware of their own financial circumstances, so too has this information-drenched age made the public as a whole much more painfully aware of how much the nation is now over-spending. Indeed, they are more worried about ballooning red ink than they are about whether health care will be overhauled. They're cutting up the credit cards in their personal lives and are beginning to wonder why the government can't start doing the same with their public dollars.
That's the reality to which President Obama speaks this evening. He may be able to corral enough of Congress to get members to go his way.
But what if that direction is completely different than the one the American people are going in?