Monday, November 17, 2014

Cruising the Web

President Obama is now denying that his administration misled people in order to get Obamacare passed. What about those repeated promises that those who liked their health care could keep it? What about the promises that this would "bend the cost curve down"? And Obama is denying that the loquacious Jonathan Gruber was never on "our staff." Well, that's just being Clintonian. He might not have been officially on the administration's staff, but he sure had a part in designing the bill. Politico isn't buying the President's weaseling.
While Gruber was not a staffer, he was a paid consultant whose models were used to help assess the impact of various policy changes being considered as part of health care legislation. Official logs show he visited the White House about a dozen times between 2009 and this year.

Despite Obama’s dismissive tone toward Gruber, the president has acknowledged that some of his own statements about the law were ill-advised, in particular his repeated promises that if Americans liked their health care plans they could keep them. In fact, many plans were deemed inadequate under the law, leading people to get notices that their plans were being canceled. As Peter Wehner writes, "We have a president who is lying about his lies."
As the WSJ writes Obamacare was passed by gaming the CBO. Gruber admits this now; conservatives knew it back when the bill passed.
Recall five years ago. The White House wanted to pretend that the open-ended new entitlement would spend less than $1 trillion over 10 years and reduce the deficit too. Congress requires the budget gnomes to score bills as written, no matter how unrealistic the assumption or fake the promise. Democrats with the help of Mr. Gruber carefully designed the bill to exploit this built-in gullibility.

So they used a decade of taxes to fund merely six years of insurance subsidies. They made-believe that Medicare payments to hospitals will some day fall below Medicaid rates. A since-repealed program for long-term care front-loaded taxes but back-loaded spending, meant to gradually go broke by design. Remember the spectacle of Democrats waiting for the white smoke to come up from CBO and deliver the holy scripture verdict?

On the tape, Mr. Gruber also identifies a special liberal manipulation: CBO’s policy reversal to not count the individual mandate to buy insurance as an explicit component of the federal budget. In 1994, then CBO chief Robert Reischauer reasonably determined that if the government forces people to buy a product by law, then those transactions no longer belong to the private economy but to the U.S. balance sheet. The CBO’s face-melting cost estimate helped to kill HillaryCare.

The CBO director responsible for this switcheroo that moved much of ObamaCare’s real spending off the books was Peter Orszag, who went on to become Mr. Obama’s budget director. Mr. Orszag nonetheless assailed CBO during the debate for not giving him enough credit for the law’s phantom “savings.”
Both sides have gamed the CBO. Perhaps this might be an opportunity to get some realism for CBO analyses for the Republicans.

Kyle Smith explains how Obamacare is deceit all the way down.
Gruber’s jocular tone wasn’t surprising. In explaining why a huge tax increase was disguised to conceal it from the American people, he was admitting what was obvious to close observers: The law is really just a redistribution scheme.

Even the Democrats didn’t think ObamaCare could pass by being so described.

That’s why deception, as Gruber says, was central to its design.

Except Gruber got it wrong: The people weren’t actually fooled. Most Americans are not wonks. They simply suspected that the law was too good to be true.

ObamaCare will cut your premiums? By $2,500 a year? And reduce the deficit? While giving gold-plated coverage to tens of millions more people? Who won’t have to pay much? And none of this will result in anyone losing their current plan?

To the average person, Obama sounded like a used-car dealer shouting, “Free Ferrari. Gets 100 miles to the gallon! Did I mention it runs on rainwater?”

Americans didn’t buy it. Never did. At no time has approval for ObamaCare hit 50% in the Gallup poll.

So the Democrats pushed the program through anyway, without a single Republican vote, via legislative legerdemain.

No program of similar scope had ever been rammed through without bipartisan support. The only thing bipartisan about ObamaCare was the opposition: 34 House Democrats joined all of the Republicans to vote against it.

What’s important about Gruber’s words is that they highlight the fact that ObamaCare isn’t just “controversial” or “divisive” or “hotly debated.” It is fraudulent. Being based on lies, it is illegitimate.
Smith quotes the contortions that liberals are going through to try to excuse what Gruber admitted happened. And then wonders what would be the reaction if any Republican tried to use that sort of excuse-making for their errors. And, as Smith points out, Obamacare was designed to fix a problem that didn't exist.
And all of this to solve a problem that was as overhyped as “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
In July 2009, six months into the Obama era, a Time magazine poll found that while there was widespread consternation with something called “the system” (i.e., what people were told about others, from news reports), 86% of Americans approved of their own personal health care.
Eighty-six percent! Abraham Lincoln wishes his approval ratings were that high. We’re talking about something that Americans liked at least as much as motherhood, the Grand Canyon and summer.
But it had to be completely redesigned, because there just wasn’t enough for the Jonathan Grubers and Jonathan Chaits of the world to do.
The reason liberals consistently mislead, or try to mislead, the public on their policies is that they don’t pass the common-sense test.
It would have been better to have designed a much more limited reform to address the much smaller number of people who couldn't get health care instead of turning the entire system upside down.

Byron York examines how Jonathan Gruber's remarks have revealed how Obamacare made a lot of people, including Gruber, extremely wealthy. He sure was paid a lot by the federal government for a man that Obama is now trying to disassociate his administration from. And then he made even more from individual states. All in all, Gruber earned over $2 million for his work for the national and some state governments.

A new report from Pew Research Center looks at who the 92 million Americans are who aren't looking for a job. They're more likely to be young people and women.

Two-thirds of Oregon voters didn't want to give illegal immigrants drivers' licenses as they voted to cancel a new state law that had done just that. NNot what you'd expect from Oregonians, is it?

Having spent time and effort after the 2012 election to improve their polling techniques for overestimating how Romney was doing, the Republicans are now having to figure out what they did wrong since their polling underestimated how well GOP candidates were doing in 2014. Maybe polling is just becoming an impossible task given how many people refuse to talk to pollsters.

Joel Kotkin looks at how progressive policies are so damaging to suburban residents.

William Voegeli, author of the very perceptive Pity Party, offers up his description of "liberal bullshit" which involves putting forth arguments that phony.
Criticizing Republican proposals to cut spending on Head Start and other educational programs, for example, President Obama said, “We know that three- and four-year-olds who go to high-quality preschools, including our best Head Start programs, are less likely to repeat a grade, they’re less likely to need special education, they’re more likely to graduate from high school than the peers who did not get these services.” The first part of Obama’s statement is not bullshit, because it does nothing worse than employ the politician’s constant companion, the selectively revealed half-truth. Children who attend the best Head Start programs show positive results but, as we have seen, Head Start attendees overall are no better off than peers not enrolled in the program. Obama invokes the sunny side of the law of averages without acknowledging its grim side: If children who attend the best Head Start programs do better than their peers, children who attend the worst programs must, necessarily, have developmental problems even more severe than those afflicting children in a control group who never enrolled in the program at all.

The more interesting part of Obama’s statement, for our purposes, is the generic political prescription, the assertion that government program X will solve problem Y. Prescription lends itself to bullshitting if, following Frankfurt, the prescriber has a lack of connection to a concern with efficacy. Both kinds of bullshitters, de-scribers and prescribers, are more concerned with conveying their ideals, of which idealized understandings of their true selves are a central component, than with making statements that correspond scrupulously to empirical or causal reality. A bullshit description may be, at least in part, factually accurate, but any such accuracy is inadvertent. The accurate data were incorporated into the spiel not for the sake of correctness but because it helped express the speaker’s “values” or “vision.”

A bullshit prescription, by the same token, might actually work to some degree, but any such efficacy is inadvertent and tangential to the central purpose: demonstrating the depths of the prescriber’s concern for the problem and those who suffer from it, concerns impelling the determination to “do something” about it. As the political project that exists to vindicate the axiom that all sorts of government program X’s can solve an endless list of social problem Y’s, liberalism is always at risk of descending into prescriptive bullshit. Liberal compassion lends itself to bullshit by subordinating the putative concern with efficacy to the dominant but unannounced imperative of moral validation and exhibitionism. I, the empathizer, am interested in the sufferer for love of myself, Rousseau contended. Accordingly, an ineffectual program may serve the compassionate purposes of its designers and defenders as well as or better than a successful one....

Conservative critiques of liberalism sometimes concede that liberals’ aspirations are laudable before insisting that the means liberals favor are insufficiently practical and at least potentially destructive. The way liberal compassion lends itself to liberal bullshit, however, argues for a less forgiving interpretation. Liberals’ ideals make them more culpable, not less, for the fact that government programs set up to do good don’t reliably accomplish good. Doing good is often harder than do-gooders realize, but doing good is also more about the doing and the doer than it is about the good. Too often, as a result, liberals are content to treat gestures as the functional equivalent of deeds, and intentions as adequate substitutes for achievements.
It is time to judge policies by their results and not their benign intentions.

Fred Bauer poses ten very pertinent questions for President Obama on the proposed executive action on immigration. A sampling:
1) Mr. President, you often blame congressional Republicans for Congress’s inability to pass immigration reform. However, your party held Congress during 2009 and 2010. If the need for immigration reform is so great, why did you not work to pass it during that period?

2) Mr. President, it is no secret that many top Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and former vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, are very sympathetic to passing immigration reform. Why do you think, then, that your administration has struggled to pass an immigration package during this Congress?

3) For years leading up to this decision, you denied that you had the ability to bypass Congress and implement changes to U.S. immigration policy unilaterally. Yet now you seem to be claiming that you do have the power to go it alone on immigration. Were you wrong when you earlier denied that you had this power? Were those earlier statements “speak-os,” as Jonathan Gruber might put it?

4) Many on both the right and left have asserted that your potential executive action on immigration could set a dangerous precedent, allowing future presidents to essentially nullify portions of the law that they disagree with as a policy matter. They have posed hypotheticals relating to tax policy, environmental laws, and so forth. Are you in any way concerned about setting such a precedent? How could you procedurally differentiate your action on immigration from a future president’s potential decision to stop enforcing parts of the tax code?
Read the rest. Of course, what are the chances any reporter would ask any of these questions?

More undeserved honors for Chelsea Clinton who has to be the princess of undeserved benefits. And Katie Couric is touting her as "Mom of the Year" for the unheard of ability of having given birth six weeks ago. No other young woman could possibly have accomplished that, right?

Glenn Reynolds writes about the stupidity of objecting to the shirt that a scientist wore on the day that the ESA landed a probe on a comet.
So how are things going for feminism? Well, last week, some feminists took one of the great achievements of human history — landing a probe from Earth on a comet hundreds of millions of miles away — and made it all about the clothes.

Yes, that's right. After years of effort, the European Space Agency's lander Philaelanded on a comet 300 million miles away. At first, people were excited. Then some women noticed that one of the space scientists, Matt Taylor, was wearing a shirt, made for him by a female "close pal," featuring comic-book depictions of semi-naked women. And suddenly, the triumph of the comet landing was drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage about ... what people were wearing. It was one small shirt for a man, one giant leap backward for womankind.

The Atlantic's Rose Eveleth tweeted, "No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt." Astrophysicist Katie Mack commented: "I don't care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn't appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in STEM." And from there, the online feminist lynch mob took off until Taylor was forced to deliver a tearful apology on camera.

It seems to me that if you care about women in STEM, maybe you shouldn't want to communicate the notion that they're so delicate that they can't handle pictures of comic-book women. Will we stock our Mars spacecraft with fainting couches?
Larry Correia sums up how absurd this brouhaha was.
(Link via Ed Driscoll.)

The UNC acadmic fraud scandal has taken a deliciously ironic turn. It wasn't only the African-American Studies department that was taking athletes and other students into phony classes. Apparently, the Philosophy department was also in on it. Philosophy? Yup. There is a professor of - sports ethics - who was also offering paper classes. The Daily Tar Heel reports on the absurd number of independent study classes she was offering. You can't make this stuff up.