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Archive for March 4th, 2010

A Denver Post column hits the nail on the head regarding the Obama-Reid-Pelosi healthcare strategy. They will make lots of fake concessions and offer whatever bribes are necessary in order to put in place an infrastructure that inevitably leads to complete government control of the health care sector:

Once Washington gains a toehold — and considering government controls 49 cents on every health care dollar spent, by toehold I mean “bear hug” — it is an inescapable reality that whatever they come up with will be expansive and expensive. That’s the message Pelosi was telegraphing to her allies when — in addition to pointing out how itty bitty the bill would be — she added that it would be “big enough” to put the country on a “path” toward sustainable health care reform. The righteous “path,” naturally, ends at the gates of a single-payer system. The infrastructure to reach this objective — price controls, new entitlements and wide-ranging mandates — will be set in place once Democrats use reconciliation to pass the bill, deal with the short-term electoral consequences, and let history work itself out. …Remember that Congress estimated Medicare’s cost at $12 billion for 1990 (adjusted for inflation) when the program kicked off in 1965. Medicare cost $107 billion in 1990 and is quickly approaching $500 billion. Who’s going to stop it?

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I’ve definitely been off my game the past couple of days. I put a correction in a previous post, and now I feel compelled to issue a groveling mea culpa on another matter.

I did an interview earlier this week for NBC affiliate stations on the financial mess at the Postal Service. I haven’t spent any time on that issue, so I quickly scanned some material from my Cato colleagues Chris Edwards and Tad DeHaven and saw that Congress had given an indirect bailout to the Postal Service by suspending $4 billion of required pre-funding for retiree health benefits. I then went on the air and said that this was a taxpayer subsidy for the Postal Service’s lavish pay and benefits. The Postal Service does have lavish pay and benefits, and the indirect bailout may lead to a direct infusion of taxpayer money at some point in the near future, but what I said I was wrong because no taxpayer money is currently being allocated (and I would have avoided the mistake if I paid closer attention to what Chris and Tad wrote). So, please, postal workers, don’t go…um…postal on me.

I don’t know if this matches my most embarrassing moment, when my cell phone rang during  a live interview with Britt Hume, but I’m definitely feeling a bit sheepish.

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President Obama and many other politicians in Washington are big fans of pay-as-you-go budgeting, which means they want any new spending or tax relief offset (or “paid for”) with tax increases or spending cuts from other parts of the budget. Or at least that’s what they claim. But when Senator Bunning took them at their word and blocked a $10 billion spending bill because his colleagues were unwilling to make some tiny changes elsewhere, he was treated like a leper. Even his Republicans colleagues largely disapproved of his actions (so much for having learned any lessons from the drubbings they took at the polls in 2006 and 2008). Attacked from all sides, Bunning eventually relented in exchange for an offset vote (which was defeated, of course). What makes this episode interesting is not the specific policies that were being considered. As I posted earlier this week, Bunning was not even trying to shrink the size of government. Indeed, his “offset” was actually a tax increase (getting rid of a special tax break for paper manufacturing).

But this incident does expose the gross hypocrisy of the supposed deficit hawks in Washington. President Obama and the Democrats (and many Republicans) pretend they care about deficits, but their concerns magically disappear whenever there is a chance to buy votes by spending other people’s money. When tax cuts or tax increases are being debated, however, many of these same politicians piously declare their unwavering opposition to red ink (unless, of course, it’s a special tax break for a contributor). But perhaps it’s no surprise to discover that politicians think higher taxes are the solution to the over-spending problem in Washington.

What about the organizations that supposedly exist to fight deficits, such as the Concord Coalition and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (they should be fighting spending instead, but let’s set that issue aside). Folks from these groups often ask politicians to be courageous and make “tough choices.” So I want to the Concord Coalition’s homepage and was shocked, shocked to find nothing about Bunning’s effort. I checked the blog and the press releases and found lots of tough rhetoric, but not one word of praise (or one word of any sort) for a Senator who tried to put the Concord Coalition’s words into action. And what about the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget? Same song, second verse. Not a mention of Bunning on the homepage, blog, or in the press releases. [OOPS, CHECK MEA CULPA BELOW]

Anybody care to make any predictions whether these groups will be similarly silent when President Obama’s “Fiscal Responsibility Commission” unveils a big tax hike?

Mea Culpa: I am getting sloppy in my old age. Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget nailed me fair and square. CFRB did say something nice about Bunning on its blog back on February 26. I should have scrolled down farther. I did just check the Concord Coalition blog, all the way back to the beginning of the year, and was relieved (from a personal perspective, not on policy grounds) to find no mention of Bunning’s effort.

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