Tag Archives: freedom

Mort Zuckerman: Obama Is Barely Treading Water

The president’s problem is simple: the economy and jobs

By Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Posted: July 2, 2010

The hope that fired up the election of Barack Obama has flickered out, leaving a national mood of despair and disappointment. Americans are dispirited over how wrong things are and uncertain they can be made right again. Hope may have been a quick breakfast, but it has proved a poor supper. A year and a half ago Obama was walking on water. Today he is barely treading water. Then, his soaring rhetoric enraptured the nation. Today, his speeches cannot lift him past a 45 percent approval rating.

There is a widespread feeling that the government doesn’t work, that it is incapable of solving America’s problems. Americans are fed up with Washington, fed up with Wall Street, fed up with the necessary but ill-conceived stimulus program, fed up with the misdirected healthcare program, and with pretty much everything else. They are outraged and feel that the system is not a level playing field, but is tilted against them. The millions of unemployed feel abandoned by the president, by the Democratic Congress, and by the Republicans.

The American people wanted change, and who could blame them? But now there is no change they can believe in. Sixty-two percent believe we are headed in the wrong direction­—a record during this administration. All the polls indicate that anti-Washington, anti-incumbent sentiment is greater than it has been in many years. For the first time, Obama’s disapproval rating has topped his approval rating. In a recent CBS News poll, there is a meager 15 percent approval rating for Congress. In all polls, voters who call themselves independents have swung against the administration and against incumbents.

Even some in Obama’s base have turned, with 17 percent of Democrats disapproving of his job performance. Even more telling is the excitement gap. Only 44 percent of those who voted for him express high interest in this year’s elections. That’s a 38-point drop from 2008. By contrast, 71 percent of those who voted Republican last time express high interest in the midterm elections, above the level at this stage in 2008. And these are the people who vote.

Republicans are benefiting not because they have a credible or popular program—they don’t—but because they are not Democrats. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, nearly two thirds of those who favor Republican control of Congress say they are motivated primarily by opposition to Obama and Democratic policy. Disapproval of Congress is so widespread, a recent Gallup poll suggests, that by a margin of almost two to one, Americans would rather vote for a candidate with no experience than for an incumbent. Throw the bums out is the mood. How could this have happened so quickly?

The fundamental problem is starkly simple: jobs and the deepening fear among the public that the American dream is vanishing before their eyes. The economy’s erratic improvement has helped Wall Street but has brought little support to Main Street. Some 6.8 million people have been unemployed in the last year for six months or longer. Their valuable skills are at risk, affecting their economic productivity for years to come. Add to this despairing army the large number of those only partially employed and those who have given up their search for work, and we have cumulative totals in the tens of millions.

Many people who joined the middle class, especially those who joined in the last few years, have now fallen back. It’s not over yet. Millions cannot make minimum payments on their credit cards, or are in default or foreclosure on their mortgages, or are on food stamps. Well over 100,000 people file for bankruptcy every month. Some 3 million homeowners are estimated to face foreclosure this year, on top of 2.8 million last year. Millions of homes are located next to or near a foreclosed home, and it is the latter that may determine the price of all the homes on the street. There have been dramatically sharp declines in home equity, representing cumulative losses in the trillions of dollars in what has long been the largest asset on the average American family’s balance sheet. Most of those who lost their homes are hard-working, middle-class Americans who had lost their jobs. Now many have to use credit cards to pay for essentials and make ends meet, and they are running out of credit. Another $5 trillion has been lost from pensions and savings.

But it is jobs that have long represented the stairway to upward mobility in America. For a long time, it was feared they were vulnerable to offshore competition (and indeed still are), but now the erosion is from economic decline at home. What happens as those domestic opportunities recede? Middle-class families fear they have become downwardly mobile and have not hit the bottom yet. The financial security that was once based on home equity and a pension has been swept away.

In a survey just released, the Pew Research Center explored the recession’s impact on households and how they are changing their spending and saving behavior. Nearly half the adults polled intend to boost their savings, cut their discretionary budgets, and cut their debt loads. The report concludes that the present enforced frugality will outlast the recession and its overhang. Fully 60 percent of those ages 50 to 61 say they may delay retirement. What does that mean for the young would-be employees entering the labor force over the next few years?

The administration’s stimulus program, because of the way Congress put it together, has created far fewer jobs than anyone expected given the huge price tag of almost $800 billion. It was supposed to constrain unemployment at 8 percent, but the recession took the rate way above that and in the process humbled the Obama presidency. Some 25 million jobless or underemployed people now wish to work full time, but few companies are ready to hire. No speech is going to change that.

Little wonder there has been a gradual public disillusionment. Little wonder people have come alive to the issue of excess spending with entitlements out of control as far as the eye can see. The hope was that Obama would focus on the economy and jobs. That was the number one issue for the public—not healthcare. Yet the president spent almost a year on a healthcare bill. Eighty-five percent in one poll thought the great healthcare crisis was about cost. It was and is, but the president’s bill was about extending coverage. It did nothing about the first concern and focused mostly on the second. Even worse, to win its approval he accepted the kind of scratch-my-back deal-making that suggests corruption in the political process. And as a result, Obama’s promise to change “politics as usual” disappeared.

The president failed to communicate the value of what he wants to communicate. To a significant number of Americans, what came across was a new president trying to do too much in a hurry and, at the same time, radically change the equation of American life in favor of too much government. This feeling is intensified by Obama’s emotional distance from the public. He conveys a coolness and detachment that limits the number of people who feel connected to him.

Americans today strongly support a pro-growth economic agenda that includes fiscal discipline, limited government, and deficit reduction. They fear the country is coming apart, while the novelty of Obama has worn off, along with the power of his position as the non-Bush. His decline in popularity has emboldened the opposition to try to block him at every turn.

Historically, presidents with approval ratings below 50 percent—Obama is at 45—lose an average of 41 House seats in midterm elections. This year, that would return the House of Representatives to Republican control. The Democrats will suffer disproportionately from a climate in which so many Americans are either dissatisfied or angry with the government, for Democrats are in the large majority in both houses and have to defend many more districts than Republicans. In any election year, voters’ feelings typically settle in by June. But now they are being further hardened by the loose regulation that preceded the poisonous oil spill—and the tardy government response.

The promise of economic health that might salvage industries and jobs, and provide a safety net, has proved illusory. The support for cutting spending and cutting the deficit reflects in part the fact that the American public feels the Obama-Congress spending program has not worked. As for the healthcare reform bill, the most recent Rasmussen survey indicates that 52 percent of the electorate supports repeal of the measure—42 percent of them strongly.

It is clear that the magical moment of Obama’s campaign conveyed a spell that is now broken in the context of the growing public disillusionment. Obama’s rise has been spectacular, but so too has been his fall.

Advertisements

America’s Growing Vulnerability to Catastrophe



May 03, 2010

By Steve McCann

The major responsibility of those in government is to be certain that a country is capable of surviving a worst-case scenario such as war, massive economic downturn, or a catastrophic natural disaster.
It has been predicted that California has a 99% chance of a major devastating earthquake in the next thirty years. The central part of the United States extending to the east coast, in an area that has recorded four of the largest earthquakes ever in North America, could experience a cataclysmic earthquake sometime in the next fifty years. The cost of these events may well be in the trillions of dollars.
The economy, so wedded to the world financial structure and socialist economic policies, has a very high probability in the short- and long-term of repeating the scale of financial wreckage that the country has recently undergone.
Yet the current regime in Washington, D.C. does not seem to understand or care that the policies they are pursuing will leave no margin for error in the event of an apocalyptic natural or man-made calamity.
The wealth of the United States has always been its fallback position in order to come through wars and recessions or cope with natural disasters. The country’s enormous gross domestic product (GDP) has allowed the government to spend (by reducing taxes, if necessary, and borrowing) whatever monies were needed to offset the losses incurred from these events and/or to restart the engine of the economy.
This nation has had an unlimited credit card and until recently used it somewhat wisely, compared with what has begun under Obama. As long as the United States maintained a reasonable debt-to-GDP ratio (less than 50%) and kept the annual budget deficit to less than 3% of the GDP, then it always had the ability to survive a contingency of unimagined proportions.
The Obama administration and its fellow travelers in Congress appear to care little for the long-term survival of this country. They are in the process of squandering the nation’s wealth, and thus its well-being, in their headlong determination to “fundamentally change the country.”
This let the consequences (unintended or otherwise) be damned approach to governing will put the United States in a position where it will not have at its disposal the funding and economic activity necessary to recover from whatever catastrophe the country may encounter in the future.
At the end of 2008, the publicly held debt of the U.S. government stood at 40.2% of GDP.  In the four years of the Obama administration, the debt will increase $5.7 trillion (equal to the entire debt incurred by the United States since its inception up to and including 2008). This will result in the country having a debt to GDP ratio of 72% by 2012, a mere two years from now.
It has been acknowledged by a consensus of economists that unemployment, as a result of the Obama agenda, will remain in the double-digit range over the next three to four years. This government refuses to recognize the need for spending reduction, opting instead to adopt new entitlement programs and, as part of its war on wealth, dramatically raise any and all taxes on the citizens and the private sector. That component coupled with the massive new regulations already passed and proposed will result in inflation adjusted negative or stagnant GDP growth.
Without significant repeal of the Obama tax and regulatory policies and changes in the entitlement programs and overall reduction in government expenditures, the current spending proposals and impact of the trillions needed for ObamaCare, Social Security, and Medicare and interest payments will result in the debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding 100% by 2019.
Recently the bond ratings of Greece, Portugal, and Spain have been downgraded (Greece to junk bond status). Not only is the entire European Union threatened with collapse because of the excessive debt and budget deficit policies of these countries, but so is the entire world economy. In the case of Greece, the debt-to-GDP ratio is 125%, and the annual budget deficit is 13.6% of the GDP. Greece can no longer borrow money (except at excessively high interest rates) and must turn to the European Union for a bailout in order to pay debts due within the month.
By comparison, the United States, if it remains committed to the Obama agenda, will experience a debt-to-GDP ratio of 104% and an annual budget deficit of 9.7% of GDP by 2019. This nation will become the next Greece.
The United States, unlike Greece, will not have the European Union or the IMF to turn to. Where, then, will the monies come from if the worst occurs?
How would we pay the recovery costs associated with a catastrophic natural disaster? From whom could we borrow the money without paying a usurious interest rate and forcing the country into further decline? Can we expect our traditional allies, who will find themselves in a similar situation, to come to our aid?
As to a dramatic economic downturn, the traditional tools used to come through a recession or depression will not be available. Would the debt-holders of the United States’ bonds concur with significant tax reductions to spur the economy or would they agree to finance more debt as a stimulus?
Would the United States choose as an alternative hyper-inflation by printing more dollars in order to mitigate the debt in a potential repeat of the devastating experience within the Weimar Republic in the 1920s? This strategy would ultimately plunge the citizenry into a dramatically reduced standard of living and excessive unemployment.
These are the only choices the country will have, yet never in the history of this nation have we had an administration and a Congress so willingly and with no second thoughts place their agenda and philosophy ahead of the survival of the United States. This may well border on treachery of the worst sort, as it violates the allegiance owed by our elected leaders to preserve and protect the long-term welfare and well-being of the people and the nation.
This November, as the American citizens vote, they must ask themselves: Will the person I vote for fulfill his or her sworn obligations to make certain that the United States can survive any and all potential catastrophes?

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/05/americas_growing_vulnerability_1.html at May 03, 2010 – 05:17:18 PM CDT

//

Conservative protest is motivated by a love of what America stands for

The Wall Street Journal

  • APRIL 23, 2010

Liberals and the Violence Card

Conservative protest is motivated by a love of what America stands for

By RUSH LIMBAUGH

The latest liberal meme is to equate skepticism of the Obama administration with a tendency toward violence. That takes me back 15 years ago to the time President Bill Clinton accused “loud and angry voices” on the airwaves (i.e., radio talk-show hosts like me) of having incited Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. What self-serving nonsense. Liberals are perfectly comfortable with antigovernment protest when they’re not in power.

From the halls of the Ivy League to the halls of Congress, from the antiwar protests during the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq to the anticapitalist protests during International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, we’re used to seeing leftist malcontents take to the streets. Sometimes they’re violent, breaking shop windows with bricks and throwing rocks at police. Sometimes there are arrests. Not all leftists are violent, of course. But most are angry. It’s in their DNA. They view the culture as corrupt and capitalism as unjust.

Associated PressFormer President Bill Clinton smiles as he receives a medallion from Cathy Keating, wife of former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, as a part of the Reflections of Hope Award ceremony in Oklahoma City.

Now the liberals run the government and they’re using their power to implement their radical agenda. Mr. Obama and his party believe that the election of November 2008 entitled them to make permanent, “transformational” changes to our society. In just 16 months they’ve added more than $2 trillion to the national debt, essentially nationalized the health-care system, the student-loan industry, and have their sights set on draconian cap-and-trade regulations on carbon emissions and amnesty for illegal aliens.

Had President Obama campaigned on this agenda, he wouldn’t have garnered 30% of the popular vote.

Like the millions of citizens who’ve peacefully risen up and attended thousands of rallies in protest, I seek nothing more than the preservation of the social contract that undergirds our society. I do not hate the government, as the left does when it is not running it. I love this country. And because I do, I insist that the temporary inhabitants of high political office comply with the Constitution, honor our God-given unalienable rights, and respect our hard-earned private property. For this I am called seditious, among other things, by some of the very people who’ve condemned this society?

I reject the notion that America is in a well-deserved decline, that she and her citizens are unexceptional. I do not believe America is the problem in the world. I believe America is the solution to the world’s problems. I reject a foreign policy that treats our allies like our enemies and our enemies like our allies. I condemn the president traveling the world apologizing for America’s great contributions to mankind. And I condemn his soft-peddling the dangers we face from terrorism. For this I am inciting violence?

Few presidents have sunk so low as Mr. Clinton did with his accusations about Oklahoma City. Last week—on the very day I was contributing to and raising more than $3 million to fight leukemia and lymphoma on my radio program—Mr. Clinton used the 15th anniversary of that horrific day to regurgitate his claims about talk radio.

At a speech delivered last Friday at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., the former president said: [T]here were a lot of people who were in the business back then of saying that the biggest threat to our liberty and the cause of our domestic economic problem was the federal government itself. And we have to realize that there were others who fueled this both because they agreed with it and because it was in their advantage to do so. . . . We didn’t have blog sites back then so the instrument of carrying this forward was basically the right-wing radio talk show hosts and they understand clearly that emotion was more powerful than reason most of the time.”

Timothy McVeigh was incensed by the Clinton administration’s 1993 siege on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. It’s no coincidence that the bombing took place two years to the day of the Waco siege. McVeigh was not inspired by anything I said or believe and to say otherwise is outright slander. In the aftermath of the bombing, I raised millions of dollars for the children of federal employees killed in that cowardly attack through my association with the Marine Corp Law Enforcement Foundation.

Let me just say it. The Obama/Clinton/media left are comfortable with the unrest in our society today. It allows them to blame and demonize their opponents (doctors, insurance companies, Wall Street, talk radio, Fox News) in order to portray their regime as the great healer of all our ills, thus expanding their power and control over our society.

A clear majority of the American people want no part of this. They instinctively know that the Obama way is not how things get done in this country. They are motivated by love. Not hate, not sedition. They love their country and want to save it from those who do not.

Mr. Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host.

Mr. President, is a strong America a problem?

Mr. President, is a strong America a problem?
Friday, April 16, 2010 at 10:09am

Asked this week about his faltering efforts to advance the Middle East peace process, President Obama did something remarkable. In front of some 47 foreign leaders and hundreds of reporters from all over the world, President Obama said that “whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower.”

Whether we like it or not? Most Americans do like it. America’s military may be one of the greatest forces for good the world has ever seen, liberating countless millions from tyranny, slavery, and oppression over the last 234 years. As a dominant superpower, the United States has won wars hot and cold; our military has advanced the cause of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan and kept authoritarian powers like Russia and China in check.

It is in America’s and the world’s interests for our country to remain a dominant military superpower, but under our great country’s new leadership that dominance seems to be slipping away. President Obama has ended production of the F-22, the most advanced fighter jet this country has ever built. He’s gutted our missile defense program by eliminating shield resources in strategic places including Alaska. And he’s ended the program to build a new generation of nuclear weapons that would have ensured the reliability of our nuclear deterrent well into the future. All this is in the context of the country’s unsustainable debt that could further limit defense spending. As one defense expert recently explained:

The president is looking to eliminate the last vestiges of the Reagan-era buildup. Once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are “ended” (not “won”), the arms control treaties signed, and defense budgets held at historic lows while social entitlements and debt service rise to near-European levels, the era of American superpower will have passed.

The truth is this: by his actions we see a president who seems to be much more comfortable with an American military that isn’t quite so dominant and who feels the need to apologize for America when he travels overseas. Could it be a lack of faith in American exceptionalism? The fact is that America and our allies are safer when we are a dominant military superpower – whether President Obama likes it or not.

– Sarah Palin

Bill Clinton Links Talk Radio, Tea Parties to Non-Existent Terrorism

Bill Clinton Links Talk Radio, Tea Parties to Non-Existent Terrorism.

Two and a Half Cheers for Joe Lieberman

Two and a Half Cheers for Joe Lieberman    [Frank J. Gaffney Jr.]

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman announced that he has written President Obama’s homeland-security adviser, John Brennan, expressing strong objections to the administration’s systematic dumbing-down of its characterization of the enemy we face.  This has been manifested most recently in the leak last week that the National Security Strategy now being drafted by the White House will not use the term “Islamic terrorism” and similar formulations in describing the contemporary threat.  The senator noted that this practice flies in the face of “thousands of years” of sound military and intelligence practice, which makes accurate characterization of the enemy a prerequisite for developing and executing strategies for his defeat.

Senator Lieberman expressed frustration that he had failed in previous, evidently private, efforts to persuade the president and his senior subordinates to recognize the reality that “Islamist extremism” is the ideology that animates our enemies.  The Senator was particularly and properly contemptuous of the after-action report issued on the Fort Hood massacre, which failed even to mention the fact that the shooter, Dr. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was a Muslim — let alone that his business card called him a “Soldier of Allah,” that his thesis at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences explained why he was obliged to kill “infidels” who were going to kill Muslims, and that he shouted “Allahu Akhbar” (the Islamic martyr’s cry, meaning “God is great”) as he murdered his comrades.

Senator Lieberman is, of course, absolutely right that we have no chance of defeating the enemy unless we can properly identify him.  The senator deserves our heartfelt thanks for calling out the Obama administration for adamantly and repeatedly refusing to do that — and, thereby, for increasing dramatically the danger we face from such foes.

That said, it would be desirable if the distinguished senator from Connecticut, who chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, would refrain from characterizing the enemy as “Islamic extremists,” as a way of disassociating them from the many millions of Muslims, at home and abroad, who are not determined to destroy us.  Our foes are most accurately depicted as adherents to Shariah — the virulently intolerant, supremacist, and totalitarian ideology of authoritative Islam — not as “extremists” who are somehow, in the preferred formulation of Mr. Brennan, “hijacking” the religion of peace.

The political ideology known as Shariah is the fault line between Muslims who are enemies and those who are not.  Joe Lieberman is absolutely right in trying to move the Obama administration toward honesty, transparency, and accuracy in understanding and depicting the threat we face today.  If Senator Lieberman will, himself, be more accurate about its wellsprings and character, he will make an even more vital contribution to our national security and public safety.

— Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and host of the nationally syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio.

Obama in Rude Denial

By on 3.29.10 @ 6:09AM

IT’S ALL A GOP PLOT
The White House political and legislative operations were said to be livid with the announcement by several large U.S. companies that they were taking multi-million or as much as a billion dollar charges because of the new health-care law, the issue was front-and-center with key lawmakers. By last Friday, AT&T, Caterpillar, Deere & Co., and AK Steel Holding Corp. had all announced that they were taking the one-time charges on their first-quarter balance sheets. More companies were expected to make similar announcements this week.

“These are Republican CEOs who are trying to embarrass the President and Democrats in general,” says a White House legislative affairs staffer. “Where do you hear about this stuff? The Wall Street Journal editorial page and conservative websites. No one else picked up on this but you guys. It’s BS.”

On Friday White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett were calling the CEOs and Washington office heads of the companies that took the financial hits and attacked them for doing so. One Washington office head said that the White House calls were accusatory and “downright rude.”

The companies are taking the charges because in 2013 they will lose a tax deduction on tax-free government subsidies they have had when they give retirees a Medicare Part D prescription-drug reimbursement. Many of these companies have more than 100,000 retirees each. AT&T may have more than three-quarters of a million retirees to cover.

“Most of these people [in the Administration] have never had a real job in their lives. They don’t understand a thing about business, and that includes the President,” says a senior lobbyist for one of the companies that announced the charge. “My CEO sat with the President over lunch with two other CEOs, and each of them tried to explain to the President what this bill would do to our companies and the economy in general. First the President didn’t understand what they were talking about. Then he basically told my boss he was lying. Frankly my boss was embarrassed for him; he clearly had not been briefed and didn’t know what was in the bill.”

It isn’t just the President who didn’t understand his own proposal.  Late Friday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Rep. Bart Stupak, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations panel, announced that they would hold hearings in late April to investigate “claims by Caterpillar, Verizon, and Deere that provisions in the new health care reform law could adversely affect their company’s ability to provide health insurance to their employees.”

Neither Waxman or Stupak — who betrayed the pro-life community by negotiating for more than a week with the White House to ensure his vote on the health care bill — had anything more than a cursory understanding of how the many sections of the bill would impact business or even individual citizens before they voted on the bill, says House Energy Democrat staff. “We had memos on these issues, but none of our people, we think, looked at them,” says  a staffer. “When they saw the stories last week about the charges some of the companies were taking, they were genuinely surprised and assumed that the companies were just doing this to embarrass them.  They really believed this bill would immediately lower costs. They just didn’t understand what they were voting on.”

NOT WHAT THEY EXPECTED
So much for President Obama’s promises to build better relations with America’s friends and allies overseas. Just 15 months into his administration, Obama has managed to alienate most of the major European allies, this time having a State Department functionary announcing in Brussels that U.S.-EU summits will no longer be held annually, and only when there are particular issues to be decided.

State Department officials, some of whom were holdovers from the Bush Administration, say the reasoning for the U.S. to end the annual summits, which had been held since 1991, was in part due to Obama and his team’s feeling ” slighted” by European leaders and their staffs, such as French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, both of whom have come away less than impressed with Obama’s style and substance.

During Obama’s much heralded European visits last year, he and his team were met with lukewarm enthusiasm by his fellow leaders. Obama responded by, as host last November, meeting with his counterparts for only three hours and sending Vice President Joe Biden to spend the rest of the time in the summit, including the official lunch. Other than a 15-minute meeting in the morning with Merkel (which on the schedule was supposed to be a half-hour), the summit meeting, Obama had an almost open schedule on that day, with only a late-afternoon meeting with Sen. Blanche Lincoln on the agenda.

Then in February Obama announced that he would not attend a U.S.-EU Summit in Madrid, Spain, scheduled to take place in May, thus ensuring the meeting would be canceled.

The Obama Administration got off to a rocky start diplomatically when it embarrassed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown by giving him official White House presents — U.S. formatted DVDs that could not played in Great Britain due to different formatting, for example — that created the impression Obama didn’t seem to care much for Brown.  He later, in meeting Queen Elizabeth II gave her an iPod, loaded with podcasts of his major speeches.

“People may not have liked some of the Bush Administration’s style, but at least President Bush came to meetings and was gracious,” says a current State Department staffer. ” I won’t say that the Europeans are missing Bush, but they feel that President Obama just doesn’t care about the ‘special relationship’ that has existed between American and Europe. He’s made it worse, not better.”

Charles Krauthammer – Obamacare’s next trick: the VAT – washingtonpost.com

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, March 26, 2010; A25

As the night follows the day, VAT follows health-care reform.

With the passage of Obamacare, creating a vast new middle-class entitlement, a national sales tax of the kind near-universal in Europe is inevitable.

We are now $8 trillion in debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that $12 trillion will be added over the next decade. Obamacare, when stripped of its budgetary gimmicks — the unfunded $200 billion-plus “doctor fix,” the double counting of Medicare cuts, the 10-6 sleight-of-hand (counting 10 years of revenue and only six years of outflows) — is at minimum a $2 trillion new entitlement.

It will vastly increase the debt. But even if it were revenue-neutral, Obamacare preempts and appropriates for itself the best and easiest means of reducing the existing deficit. Obamacare’s $500 billion of cuts in Medicare and $600 billion in tax hikes are no longer available for deficit reduction. They are siphoned off for the new entitlement of insuring the uninsured.

This is fiscally disastrous because, as President Obama himself explained last year in unveiling his grand transformational policies, our unsustainable fiscal path requires control of entitlement spending, the most ruinous of which is out-of-control health-care costs.

Obamacare was sold on the premise that, as Nancy Pelosi put it, “health-care reform is entitlement reform. Our budget cannot take this upward spiral of cost.” But the bill enacted on Tuesday accelerates the spiral: It radically expands Medicaid (adding 15 million recipients/dependents) and shamelessly raids Medicare by spending on a new entitlement the $500 billion in cuts and the yield from the Medicare tax hikes.

Obama knows that the debt bomb is looming, that Moody’s is warning that the Treasury’s AAA rating is in jeopardy, that we are headed for a run on the dollar and/or hyperinflation if nothing is done.

Hence his deficit-reduction commission. It will report (surprise!) after the November elections.

What will it recommend? What can it recommend? Sure, Social Security can be trimmed by raising the retirement age, introducing means testing and changing the indexing formula from wage growth to price inflation.

But this won’t be nearly enough. As Obama has repeatedly insisted, the real money is in health-care costs — which are locked in place by the new Obamacare mandates.

That’s where the value-added tax comes in. For the politician, it has the virtue of expediency: People are used to sales taxes, and this one produces a river of revenue. Every 1 percent of VAT would yield up to $1 trillion a decade (depending on what you exclude — if you exempt food, for example, the yield would be more like $900 billion).

It’s the ultimate cash cow. Obama will need it. By introducing universal health care, he has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. Which is why all of the European Union has the VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19 percent. France and Italy: 20 percent. Most of Scandinavia: 25 percent.

American liberals have long complained that ours is the only advanced industrial country without universal health care. Well, now we shall have it. And as we approach European levels of entitlements, we will need European levels of taxation.

Obama set out to be a consequential president, on the order of Ronald Reagan. With the VAT, Obama’s triumph will be complete. He will have succeeded in reversing Reaganism. Liberals have long complained that Reagan’s strategy was to starve the (governmental) beast in order to shrink it: First, cut taxes — then ultimately you have to reduce government spending.

Obama’s strategy is exactly the opposite: Expand the beast and then feed it. Spend first — which then forces taxation. Now that, with the institution of universal health care, we are becoming the full entitlement state, the beast will have to be fed.

And the VAT is the only trough in creation large enough.

As a substitute for the income tax, the VAT would be a splendid idea. Taxing consumption makes infinitely more sense than taxing work. But to feed the liberal social-democratic project, the VAT must be added on top of the income tax.

Ultimately, even that won’t be enough. As the population ages and health care becomes increasingly expensive, the only way to avoid fiscal ruin (as Britain, for example, has discovered) is health-care rationing.

It will take a while to break the American populace to that idea. In the meantime, get ready for the VAT. Or start fighting it.

RealClearPolitics – Video – O’Reilly: Fears Over Loss of Freedom “Justified”

RealClearPolitics – Video – O’Reilly: Fears Over Loss of Freedom “Justified”.

“The controversy today is over freedom. The anti-Obama folks think the federal government wants to tell us what to do. The pro-Obama people want to correct what they see as unfairness in America.  Freedom is the crucial issue.  The NY Times is celebrating Obama-care and urging the President to keep going.  The NY Times wants the feds to take over in the areas of education, energy and banking.  Many Americans fear this will become a top-down society with the government telling citizens what to do.  The IRS will increase its power by monitoring what kind of health insurance you have.  If you don’t have any, you’ll be fined.  Your health records will be transferred to the federal government.  Do you wants bureaucrats knowing about your medical history.  The IRS tracking your insurance expenditures?  President Obama wants to impose his version of social justice.  He wants to consolidate power in Washington.  The President’s vision will be defeated.  Traditionally, Americans value individual freedom.  The feds have to regulate Wall St. criminals and predatory corporations.  The left in America wants a nanny state.  They don’t want to use persuasion.  They want to use force.

Bill O’Reilly

20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms

We’re all trying to understand the consequences of the new Healthcare legislation.  Written by David Hogberg of Investers.com, this summary breaks down the lost freedoms that will result.

By David Hogberg Posted 03/21/2010 03:24 PM ET

If some reports are to be believed, the Democrats will pass the Senate health care bill with some reconciliation changes later today. Thus, it is worthwhile to take a comprehensive look at the freedoms we will lose.

Of course, the bill is supposed to provide us with security. But it will result in skyrocketing insurance costs and physicians leaving the field in droves, making it harder to afford and find medical care. We may be about to live Benjamin Franklin’s adage, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”

The sections described below are taken from HR 3590 as agreed to by the Senate and from the reconciliation bill as displayed by the Rules Committee.

1. You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the “privilege.” (Section 1501)

2. You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Tough. You’ll have to pay for premiums that cover not only you, but also the guy who smokes three packs a day, drink a gallon of whiskey and eats chicken fat off the floor. That’s because insurance companies will no longer be able to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. (Section 2701).

3. You would like to pay less in premiums by buying insurance with lifetime or annual limits on coverage? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer such policies, even if that is what customers prefer. (Section 2711).

4. Think you’d like a policy that is cheaper because it doesn’t cover preventive care or requires cost-sharing for such care? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer policies that do not cover preventive services or offer them with cost-sharing, even if that’s what the customer wants. (Section 2712).

5. You are an employer and you would like to offer coverage that doesn’t allow your employers’ slacker children to stay on the policy until age 26? Tough. (Section 2714).

6. You must buy a policy that covers ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services; chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
You’re a single guy without children? Tough, your policy must cover pediatric services. You’re a woman who can’t have children? Tough, your policy must cover maternity services. You’re a teetotaler? Tough, your policy must cover substance abuse treatment. (Add your own violation of personal freedom here.) (Section 1302).

7. Do you want a plan with lots of cost-sharing and low premiums? Well, the best you can do is a “Bronze plan,” which has benefits that provide benefits that are actuarially equivalent to 60% of the full actuarial value of the benefits provided under the plan. Anything lower than that, tough. (Section 1302 (d)(1)(A))

8. You are an employer in the small-group insurance market and you’d like to offer policies with deductibles higher than $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families? Tough. (Section 1302 (c) (2) (A).

9. If you are a large employer (defined as at least 101 employees) and you do not want to provide health insurance to your employee, then you will pay a $750 fine per employee (It could be $2,000 to $3,000 under the reconciliation changes). Think you know how to better spend that money? Tough. (Section 1513).
10. You are an employer who offers health flexible spending arrangements and your employees want to deduct more than $2,500 from their salaries for it? Sorry, can’t do that. (Section 9005 (i)).

11. If you are a physician and you don’t want the government looking over your shoulder? Tough. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to use your claims data to issue you reports that measure the resources you use, provide information on the quality of care you provide, and compare the resources you use to those used by other physicians. Of course, this will all be just for informational purposes. It’s not like the government will ever use it to intervene in your practice and patients’ care. Of course not. (Section 3003 (i))

12. If you are a physician and you want to own your own hospital, you must be an owner and have a “Medicare provider agreement” by Feb. 1, 2010. (Dec. 31, 2010 in the reconciliation changes.) If you didn’t have those by then, you are out of luck. (Section 6001 (i) (1) (A)).

13. If you are a physician owner and you want to expand your hospital? Well, you can’t (Section 6001 (i) (1) (B). Unless, it is located in a country where, over the last five years, population growth has been 150% of what it has been in the state (Section 6601 (i) (3) ( E)). And then you cannot increase your capacity by more than 200% (Section 6001 (i) (3) (C)).

14. You are a health insurer and you want to raise premiums to meet costs? Well, if that increase is deemed “unreasonable” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services it will be subject to review and can be denied. (Section 1003)

15. The government will extract a fee of $2.3 billion annually from the pharmaceutical industry. If you are a pharmaceutical company what you will pay depends on the ratio of the number of brand-name drugs you sell to the total number of brand-name drugs sold in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the brand-name drugs in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2.3 billion, or $230,000,000. (Under reconciliation, it starts at $2.55 billion, jumps to $3 billion in 2012, then to $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018, before settling at $2.8 billion in 2019 (Section 1404)). Think you, as a pharmaceutical executive, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 9008 (b)).
16. The government will extract a fee of $2 billion annually from medical device makers. If you are a medical device maker what you will pay depends on your share of medical device sales in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the medical devices in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2 billion, or $200,000,000. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for R&D? Tough. (Section 9009 (b)).
The reconciliation package turns that into a 2.9% excise tax for medical device makers. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 1405).

17. The government will extract a fee of $6.7 billion annually from insurance companies. If you are an insurer, what you will pay depends on your share of net premiums plus 200% of your administrative costs. So, if your net premiums and administrative costs are equal to 10% of the total, you will pay 10% of $6.7 billion, or $670,000,000. In the reconciliation bill, the fee will start at $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, $1.9 billion in 2017, and $14.3 billion in 2018 (Section 1406).Think you, as an insurance executive, know how to better spend that money? Tough.(Section 9010 (b) (1) (A and B).)

18. If an insurance company board or its stockholders think the CEO is worth more than $500,000 in deferred compensation? Tough.(Section 9014).

19. You will have to pay an additional 0.5% payroll tax on any dollar you make over $250,000 if you file a joint return and $200,000 if you file an individual return. What? You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9015).
That amount will rise to a 3.8% tax if reconciliation passes. It will also apply to investment income, estates, and trusts. You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Like you need to ask. (Section 1402).

20. If you go for cosmetic surgery, you will pay an additional 5% tax on the cost of the procedure. Think you know how to spend that money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9017).