Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cruising the Web

Put this under the category of things it would have been nice to know earlier if you were going to support GOP brinksmanship on defunding Obamacare.
A few days ago Republican Sen. Tom Coburn asked the Congressional Research Service to look into what would happen to the implementation of Obamacare if the government were to shut down. On Monday, Coburn got his answer: Obamacare would likely go on, whether the government shuts down or not.

The CRS report explains that Congress created a variety of sources of mandatory funds — money that would continue to flow even in a government shutdown — that the administration could use to fund Obamacare. Because of threats of a shutdown last year, the administration has already studied ways to keep Obamacare going, and CRS pointed toward several sources of money the administration is using for the job now. Among them: $235 million from the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund; $454 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (which has a permanent appropriation in Obamacare); $450 million from the Department of Health and Human Services Nonrecurring Expenses Fund; and $116 million from the HHS secretary’s authority to transfer funds within the department.

Even though the administration has asked Congress for more money to implement Obamacare, the CRS concludes: “In the event that congressional appropriators do not provide any of [the requested] funds, or in the event of a temporary lapse in discretionary appropriations that results in a government shutdown, it seems likely that the administration will continue to rely on alternative sources of funding to support ACA implementation activities.”

The CRS report also notes that the Internal Revenue Service would still have the legal authority to collect taxes and user fees for Obamacare in the event of a shutdown. The government would also still have the authority to hand out the subsidies that are the heart of Obamacare. And the report says the state and federal exchanges would continue to operate during a shutdown.
I think that Ted Cruz would do well to pay closer attention to Tom Coburn. Ideologically, they should be close and Coburn is, above all, an honest man devoted to reducing spending. It should have raised a red flag for Cruz that Coburn was ridiculing Cruz's tactics.

Jonah Goldberg finds some intriguing similarities between Ted Cruz and Barack Obama.
In 2012, President Obama said the "most important lesson" of his first term was that "you can't change Washington from the inside." What is required is populist pressure from the outside. This was an odd claim on two counts. First, it's not true. His signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, was an entirely inside affair, an ugly partisan one involving mercenary horse-trading and countless backroom deals with industry and unions. Second, Obama, the community organizer, always believed salvation lay in organizing a movement. It was the premise at the heart of his 2008 campaign in which he told adoring throngs, "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

Still, this conviction led Obama to turn his presidential campaign into a private political army intended to rally his base for his legislative agenda. That effort has failed utterly. Organizing for America couldn't even organize a congressional vote on gun control, and Obama has ordered his Environmental Protection Agency to implement his climate agenda unilaterally.

Cruz's fight to defund Obamacare rests on an outsider approach. As he recently told radio host Hugh Hewitt, "The strategy on this all along has been directed not towards Washington but towards the American people. It has been directed towards building a grass-roots tsunami."

If Cruz's effort fails — and I fear it will — it will be for the same reasons that Obama's second term has been such a legislative dud. The way you bring change to Washington is through elections. After the elections, change comes from the unsightly sausage-making processes of politics. Both Cruz and Obama have palpable disdain for the consensus-building and glad-handing that these processes require.

Of course, there are huge differences between Obama and Cruz — the most important is that they have completely divergent philosophies. That may matter most, but it isn't everything. The inside game matters too. Cruz likes pointing out Obama's failures; he should also learn from them.
This is the problem with how liberals see the world. Check out this headline from Time Magazine about the possibility of Obama and Iranian president Rouhani meeting at the UN.
Obama and Rouhani: A Handshake that Could Shake the World
Really? Really? Do the deep thinkers at Time Magazine actually believe that a handshake at the UN could change anything regarding Iran? Don't they know anything about Iran?

And, of course, the handshake didn't happen since Rouhani snubbed Obama's willingness to meet and shake his hand. The Iranian president made sure to be busy any time that he and Obama could have actually met. So all that huffing and puffing about Obama's desire to engage the new Iranian president diplomatically with a handshake that "could shake the world" were just puffs of wishful thinking from the west. The Iranians had no interest in even a handshake with the President of the United States.

As the WSJ writes about Rouhani's snub, "He's just not that into you." And that snub tells us a lot about Iran's supposed interest in any sort of negotiated end to their nuclear program. They let the White House talk publicly about Obama's willingness to shake Rouhani's hand and got the media all pumped up about the symbolism of such a meeting. And then they figuratively flipped Obama off.
Politics in the normal sense doesn't exist in Tehran, where the rules are set and the players chosen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who is accountable to nobody. What Iran's leaders do understand is how to humiliate adversaries they consider to be weak. We hope Mr. Obama appreciates how he has been schooled.
Jim Geraghty notices that the media only seem to care about a candidate's tax returns when it is a Republican's tax return. When it is a Democrat who is not being forthcoming about his finances, they just don't seem all that curious.
This year, the Democrats’ candidate for Senate in New Jersey, Newark Mayor Cory Booker allowed their hand-picked reporters to look at his tax returns for three hours, with no copies or photographs...

In Virginia, the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe still hasn’t released any of his tax returns; choosing to release summaries of his financial information.

Booker and McAuliffe are two wealthy guys, with lots of business ties to companies that have business before the Newark city government and Virginia state government. The possibility of conflict-of-interest or financial misdeeds is at least as great for these two as it was for Romney.

And yet neither Booker nor McAuliffe have received even one-hundreth of the grief Romney received from their local or state press.
Every day we see at least one, if not more, stories about how Obamacare is not going to turn out as the Democrats have promised us. Today's revelation from the USA Today
A "family glitch" in the 2010 health care law threatens to cost some families thousands of dollars in health insurance costs and leave up to 500,000 children without coverage, insurance and health care analysts say.

Or check out this story about how one family is affected by Obamacare.
Insurance for the Mangiones and their two boys,which they bought on the individual market, was going to almost triple in 2014 --- from $333 a month to $965.

The insurance carrier made it clear the increase was in order to be compliant with the new health care law.

"This isn't a Cadillac plan, this isn't even a silver plan," Mangione said, referring to higher levels of coverage under ObamaCare.

"This is a high deductible plan where I'm assuming a lot of risk for my health insurance for my family. And nothing has changed, our boys are healthy-- they're young --my wife is healthy. I'm healthy, nothing in our medical history has changed to warrant a tripling of our premiums.

"Well I'm the one that does the budget,” said his wife. "Eventually I've got that coming down the pike that I gotta figure out what we're gonna cut what we're gonna do, to afford a $1,000 a month premium."

Their insurance company, Humana, declined to comment, but the notice to the Mangiones carried this paragraph:

" If your policy premium increased, you should know this isn't unique to Humana -- premium increases generally will occur industry-wide.

"Increases aren't based on your individual claims or changes in health status," it continued. "Many other factors go in to your premium including: ACA compliance, including the addition of new essential health benefits."

ACA, of course, is the abbreviation for the President's new law, the Affordable Care Act -- which for the Mangiones will be anything but affordable because the law adds a new tax on every insurance policy and requires a list of additional benefits the Mangiones didn’t want to pay for.
Not what Obama promised a zillion times about how no one who had health insurance now would see their coverage change.

Holman Jenkins predicts how the implementation of Obamacare will lead to even more battles that could eventually erode support for Medicare.

Obama's own former secretaries of Energy and the Interior state that fracking is safe.

Oh, geez! Don't Nancy Pelosi or her speechwriters know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

Yesterday, I was showing my AP Government and Politics students a video from 2004 looking at the history of presidential and vice-presidential debates with Chris Matthews and Tom Brokaw providing the commentary. (I know, I know.) As my students watched the clip of Lloyd Bentsen pulling his "I knew Jack Kennedy and you're no Jack Kennedy" crack at Dan Quayle, Matthews and Brokaw discussed how asking Quayle what he would do first if he became president was a key question since he was so inexperienced and people were doubting whether he had the experience to be vice president, I couldn't help pondering how differently the media would greet the candidacy of Barack Obama. Obama started running for president almost as soon as he hit the Senate to Dan Quayle who already had two terms in the House and seven and a half years in the Senate before being put on the Bush ticket. Although Quayle didn't have any great accomplishments on his resume in the Congress, neither did Obama. And Obama was running for the top spot. All he had were two books about himself and a speech at the 2004 convention. And his much acclaimed autobiography is filled with made-up stories and outright lies. And that was enough to make thrills run up Matthews' leg. How standards change when the ideology changes, eh?