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Even so-called moderates like Collin Peterson admit that Congress doesn’t know what’s in the bill. With the August recess looming, they’ll be able to read every single page of it:

A Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, agrees. “The members don’t even understand what’s in it,” he confessed of the legislation. As for his constituents? They are “not exactly sure what this is about, and they’re not really sure whether they like it or not.”

It’s been a bad week for Collin Peterson. First he said that his district is infested with 9/11 Truthers. Now he says that legislators don’t know what’s in the bill, which means that his constituents don’t know either.

I think it’s time that Peterson should spend the first part of the August recess reading the bill. He shouldthen spend the second part holding townhall meetings with his constituents explaining the bill to them. The townhalls would allow his to constituents to learn about the bill just like it would allow him to reconnect with them.

That sounds like a win-win situation to me. Now let’s see if he completes his assignment.

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Yesterday, while doing my daily reading, I noticed that the top post on Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit was a memorial to Jim’s mother Dorothy, who passed away Wednesday morning. Jim penned this moving tribute to his beloved Dorothy:

Dorothy Hoft loved God and her nine children. She loved the magnolia tree in the backyard.

My dear friend and mother passed away this evening at 10:16 PM.
She suffered a devastating heart attack 17 days ago. We put her on hospice late last week. She died at home in my arms. She was with her family.

This beautiful woman moved into my home in 2001. I was so blessed every day to watch her and care for her; to cook for her and clean for her. I was honored to serve her. I learned how to comb a woman’s hair. I learned how to help a woman put on earrings. I learned how to care for someone else. I learned how to love more.

We watched TV together. We prayed together. We laughed. She had a wonderful sense of humor. It felt good to see her smile when I came home from work, just like when she smiled at me as a child. She would sometimes sit on the porch and wait for me. I was so lucky. It was fun to have the rest of the family, her other 8 children, over for the holidays. She loved to be with her sons and daughters, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was a blessing to care for this brilliant woman.
My life will not be the same without her.
I miss her dearly.

I don’t need to tell people that Jim is one of the best bloggers around. That’s obvious to anyone who reads his blog. As you can see from his tribute to his mother, it’s obvious that Jim is also one of the classiest, most dignified people in the blogosphere.

Follow the above link to read more about Dorothy and to express your condolences if you’re so moved.

This time last year, I hoped that Sen. McCain would pick John Kasich as his running mate. Now I’m thankful that he didn’t, partly because we were introduced to a conservative rock star named Sarah Palin, partly because Kasich is now running to unseat incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio. During a campaign stop in Youngstown, OH, Kasich laid out his solutions for Ohio:

Ohio’s biggest problem is an economic environment that either drives people out of the state or doesn’t provide reasons to come here. The first thing that needs to be done, Kasich said, is lower the barriers to entry, beginning with stabilizing the budget, “which is in freefall,” he said, and reduce the tax burden once the economy regains stability and offer incentives for employers to create jobs in the state.

He said he would meet with the local business leaders to discuss building on the assets in Youngstown. “People here were born to make things,” he said. “Well, what is it that we can make that’s not going to be a commodity business? That can push us up the value chain? That can provide more high-paying jobs?”

If elected governor, Kasich said he would be “intimately involved” in bringing business to Ohio by following the model of another Republican governor of the state, James A. Rhodes. “I’m going to be the [unofficial] economic development director,” Kasich said. “I’m going to scour the country for opportunities because we just have to create jobs in our state. If we don’t, we’ll continue to spiral down.”

Ohio isfortunate to have John Kasich as their gubernatorial candidate. His credentials as a reformer, job creator and tax cutter are impressive to impeccable. The crowning achievement of his time as chairman of the House Budget Committee was his work in creating a budget surplus for five straight years, something that was thought to be impossible. Those surpluses were made possible by the Clinton-Kasich budget creating 22,000,000 new jobs in eight years.

Gov. Strickland was a good fit for Ohio as governor in 2006 because people considered him to be an ethical man. Now, though, he’s seen as incompetent at creating a prosperous economy for Ohioans. With the economy being the top issue this year, Gov. Strickland is looking more like the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thank goodness that John Kasich is the right guy in the right place at the right time for Ohioans. Two years from now, Ohioans will be happy with their pick of John Kasich.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Here’s Tarryl’s first fundraising appeal after officially joining the race for Michele Bachmann’s House seat:

Frankly, the thought of Tarryl talking about creating jobs is laughable. The DFL’s threats to raise taxes on small businesses, which Tarryl enthusiastically supported in the Minnesota Senate, has sent businesses fleeing the state. When Ann Lenczewski tried raising taxes on alcohol, Tom Bakk protested, saying that raising the alcohol tax would drive people into Wisconsin:

Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said eliminating the current mortgage interest deduction could hurt Minnesota’s high rate of home ownership and higher alcohol taxes would drive some liquor shoppers across the Wisconsin border.

I asked then what I’ll ask now: If raising taxes on alcohol will drive consumers into Wisconsin, why won’t DFL legislators, including Tarryl, admit that raising taxes by thousands of dollars on small businesses will send those companies fleeing to South Dakota?

The DFL’s frequent refrain is that Minnesota has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state in the nation. While that’s technically accurate, it’s also exceptionally misleading. The headquarters are still here but those Fortune 500 companies are expanding in other states. It’s time people called the DFL on that.

There’s a reason why the Fortune 500 argument is insignificant from a job creation standpoint. The lion’s share of job creation comes from small businesses. The DFL, including Tarryl, have repeatedly voted to raise taxes on small businesses. As a result, businesses have left the state.

Why would any small business want someone in DC who would vote to increase taxes on small businesses nationwide? It’s bad enough that Tarryl and her tax-happy DFL allies voted to raise raxes on small business during difficult economic times. It’s worse when you consider the fact that Tarryl thinks governnment is there to do “many good things.” She also believes that there’s never enough money going to it to get many good things done.

It’s time to stop the ‘Tarryl Train’ before she adds to the financial difficulties facing this nation. The last thing we need in DC is another retired lobbyist who took up elected politics. We had one of those last cycle.

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These days, poll-reading Republicans should find plenty of reason to be optimistic about the 2009 and 2010 elections. First, the out party is always helped by a president’s low approval rating. This cycle will be no different, especially if the polls keep trending the way they have recently:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 29% of the nation’s voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-nine percent (39%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -10. The President’s Approval Index rating is down four points over the past week and 11 points over the past month (see trends).

As bad as those numbers are, these are worse news for the White House:

Just 23% believe health care costs will go down if health care reform is passed. Most (53%) expect prices would rise and 50% expect the quality of care would decline.

As if that isn’t enough to get the gloomiest conservative a bit optimistic, there’s this polling:

Support for Republican and Democratic congressional candidates changed little this week in the latest edition of the Generic Ballot.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 42% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 39% would opt for their Democratic opponent.

Support for Democratic candidates is up one point from last week, while Republican support remains unchanged.

These trends are changing the landscape for specific 2009 elections, too:

A new SurveyUSA poll of the Virginia gubernatorial race finds Republican Bob McDonnell leading by 15 points over his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds. This represents the largest margin either candidate has enjoyed in any poll since the June 9 primary.

The GOP candidates for lietenant governor (which is voted on separately from the governor) and attorney general also lead by double digits.

Deeds led in the first poll taken following his darkhorse primary victory, but McDonnell has led in every other head-to-head survey taken over the last seven months. McDonnell defeated Deeds in the 2005 attorney general race by just more than 300 votes.

McDonnell 55
Deeds 40
Und 5

President Obama carried Virginia in 2008. Since then, his dropping support is costing Creigh Deeds points in his campaign against Bob McDonnell. If President Obama doesn’t turn things around quickly, then he’ll be an anchor around Democrats’ necks. His unpopularity is the biggest reason why Republicans are leading the Generic Ballot Question and why Democrats are struggling so mightily.

Frankly, I think it’s already too late for Creigh Deeds to turn things around. I’m counting on that returning to GOP control.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Washington’s buzzing with excitement after news broke that Rep. Henry Waxman rolled the Blue Puppy Democrats with a few minor trinkets and Mike Ross agreed to a compromise on health care reform. This proves, to me at least, that the Blue Dogs as conservative Democrats are more fiction than reality. Here’s details of the compromise:

As a result of the deal, party leaders have agreed to put off a House vote until the fall, giving members more time to digest the legislation, and opponents more time to attack it.

The Blue Dogs also succeeded in cutting $100 billion from the overall cost of the bill, bringing the total price tag under $1 trillion. The legislation will now exempt small businesses with a payroll less than $500,000 from paying for any government-sponsored health coverage, double the $250,000 in the initial draft. Doctors and other health care providers would also be allowed to negotiate their payment rates with the government-sponsored health care arm.

The new version of the bill also has a breakthrough on the concept of health care “co-ops,” seen by some as an alternative to a public plan. States would be allowed to create co-ops for residents to buy private insurance. But the Waxman-Ross deal will also keeps the “public option” of government-sponsored health care.

The most appalling thing in this compromise is that Waxman and Pelosi kept the public option intact. As long as that provision is in health care reform, the legislation should be thought of as rat poison, albeit in this case watered down rat poison. Trimming $100,000,000,000 off the legislation sounds significant but it isn’t.

It isn’t because there still aren’t provisions in this bill that deal with health care costs. There still aren’t provisions in this bill that prevent rationing of care for seniors, which will happen with the public option.

Here’s what conservatives need to focus on through this development:

1. Any plan that includes a public ‘option’ guarantees rationing for seniors.
2. This bill does nothing to slow down health care cost inflation. Price controls aren’t the same as cutting the cost of health care.
3. This bill does nothing to introduce ‘level-playing-field’ competition. The only ‘competition’ included is the slanted battlefield competition of government-takeover health insurance and private sector competition.
4. The only thing that Chairman Waxman cared about throughout these negotiations was keeping the public option intact. He got that so he won this fight.
5. Blue Dog Democrats’ priorities in this fight weren’t about real reform based on competition, quality and improved access. The Blue Dog Democrats’ highest priority was in negotiating a lower sticker price to sell to their constituents. Everything else was unimportant to these Democrats.

What’s essentially happened is that Blue Dog Democrats admittee that they’re liberals who are concerned with image more than they’re concerned with putting legislation together that reforms the health insurance system.

After the Blue Dogs got rolled on Waxman-Markey, aka the National Energy Tax, I called them the “Thirty Pieces of Silver Democrats.” I admit that that’s a little undeserved but today’s deal proves yet again that the words Blue Dog Democrats and conservatives don’t belong together. Blue Dog Democrats are still liberals. They just aren’t as liberal as people like Maxine Waters, Barney Frank, John Conyers and Speaker Pelosi.

It’s time that the NRCC started targeting Blue Dogs with ads highlighting their conservative talk when they’re in their district vs. their votes in THE DISTRICT.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Saturday afternoon, King led a riveting debate on the many undiscussed facets of health care reform. It’s important that we put this complicated puzzle together so we see the big picture and the fine details.

To do this, we need to know the key policies and players in the equation. It’s important to start with Ezekiel Emanuel. Emanuel is the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. He’s also head of the Department of Bioethics at The Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health. He’s “on extended detail as a special advisor for health policy to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.”

Most disturbingly, he’s written some disturbing things on euthanasia. This is what he wrote in November, 1994:

Human life is sacred, but only to the extent that it contributes to the joy and happiness of the one possessing it, and to those about him, and it ought to be the privilege of every human being to cross the River Styx in the boat of his own choosing, when further human agony cannot be justified by the hope of future health and happiness.

It’s important to remind people what President Obama is saying about Medicare. That’s possible because Betsy McCaughey wrote extensively about it in this WSJ op-ed. Here’s what she said:

Since Medicare was established in 1965, access to care has enabled older Americans to avoid becoming disabled and to travel and live independently instead of languishing in nursing homes. But legislation now being rushed through Congress, H.R. 3200 and the Senate Health Committee Bill, will reduce access to care, pressure the elderly to end their lives prematurely, and doom baby boomers to painful later years.

The Congressional majority wants to pay for its $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion health bills with new taxes and a $500 billion cut to Medicare. This cut will come just as baby boomers turn 65 and increase Medicare enrollment by 30%. Less money and more patients will necessitate rationing. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 1% of Medicare cuts will come from eliminating fraud, waste and abuse.

The assault against seniors began with the stimulus package in February. Slipped into the bill was substantial funding for comparative effectiveness research, which is generally code for limiting care based on the patient’s age. Economists are familiar with the formula, where the cost of a treatment is divided by the number of years (called QALYs, or quality-adjusted life years) that the patient is likely to benefit. In Britain, the formula leads to denying treatments for older patients who have fewer years to benefit from care than younger patients.

When comparative effectiveness research appeared in the stimulus bill, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., (R-LA) a heart surgeon, warned that it would lead to “denying seniors and the disabled lifesaving care.” He and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) proposed amendments, to no avail, that would have barred the federal government from using the research to eliminate treatments for the elderly or deny care based on age.

Why didn’t Congress adopt language that would’ve prevented the rationing of care for the elderly? That should’ve been a total no-brainer.

Here’s two other bothersome questions:

  • What the definition of a QALY (Quality-Adjusted Life Year)?
  • Who establishes that definition?
  • Why did the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress cut $500,000,000,000 from the Medicare budget, especially when Baby Boomers will be enrolling in the program in unprecedented numbers?

Cutting Medicare by $500,000,000,000 while Medicare enrollment is dramatically increasing is irresponsible. If genuine cost-savings were resulting from real reforms, a respectable argument might be able to be made. The health care bills being discussed won’t cut costs. In that context, it’s important that we ask the Obama administration to explain how they’ll cut Medicare funding by 10 percent while Medicare enrollment is increasing by 30 percent.

Telling us to trust them isn’t acceptable, either.

Finally, the Obama administration needs to have Ezekiel Emanuel explain what this statement means:

Human life is sacred, but only to the extent that it contributes to the joy and happiness of the one possessing it, and to those about him…

I’d want to hear Dr. Emanuel explain which human life is precious and which isn’t. I’d also want to hear how he arrives at his decision. Finally, I’d want to know why it’s the government’s decision, not the patient, his/her doctor and the patient’s family’s.

The Obama administration hasn’t properly explained these things and Congress has acted like a bunch of lapdogs in not demanding answers to these questions. Proper oversight on these questions is important. Thus far, the Democrat-controlled Congress isn’t performing its oversight responsibilities.

That should scare us all. After all, this isn’t something that we should fix later. This is something that should be done right the first time.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Monday, the dream matchup that DFL and GOP activists have been dreaming about got one step closer to reality. Tarryl Clark filed her official papers to run for the DFL endorsement to run against the CD-6 seat currently held by Michele Bachmann.

This matchup has been the subject of gossip since late June. I first heard about it right before the 4th of July. With this matchup now in place and with Gov. Tim Pawlenty not seeking a third term, Minnesota will get lots of media attention in 2010. the only other state that will attract as much initial attention is Ohio, where Republican John Kasich is attempting to unseat incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland and where Rob Portman is running to keep George Voinovich’s senate seat in GOP control.

I said in this post Tarryl will have some positives going for her but also some significant negatives. On the positive side, Tarryl has built a base even out in conservative Rockville and in St. Cloud. She’s been running for various offices since the mid-1990s so her name recognition is solid.

The things that will give her trouble in MN-6 is she’s staunchly pro-choice and she’s voted for every job-killing tax increase since 2007, many of which hurt small businesses. Tarryl’s always tried portraying herself as a moderate but the reality is that she’s had one of the most liberal voting records in the Minnesota Senate since arriving via special election in 2005.

Before she faces Michele Bachmann, though, she’ll have to defeat Maureen Reed, the former Independence Party Lt. Gov. candidate, and 2008 DFL candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg. Reed’s raised alot of money in a short period of time. Her test will be in continuing her prolific fundraising or whether Tarryl’s entry into the race causes her funding to dry up, which I think is a distinct possibility.

Rep. Bachmann also has some positives that will help her but also a few things that might hurt her. Rep. Bachmann is a dynamic campaigner, a great conservative voice who excites the activists. She’s also a prolific fundraiser, a true fiscal and social conservative. You don’t get more pro-life than Rep. Bachmann. Rep. Bachmann has a sizeable and loyal following in MN-6′s small business community, too.

Her biggest downside is her penchant for making controversial statements. That’s really her only weakness, though, which is why I still expect her to defeat Tarryl in an entertaining fight to the finish.

Small businesses appreciate how Rep. Bachmann fights for lower income tax rates and spending sanity, a trait that can’t be ignored at a time when trillion dollar deficits are becoming the new normal. That will also hurt Tarryl because she’s voted for one big spending increase after another since joining the Senate.

If Michele does the required in-person constituent maintenance in the rural areas west and south of St. Cloud, then she should defeat Tarryl. That will require alot of work and discipline. The other thing that she needs to do stop giving her opponents so much material to attack her with.

I’m not going too far out on a limb by saying that 2010 should be an exciting year in the Sixth District, especially when the candidates start their face-to-face debates.

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When Collin Peterson screws up, he doesn’t go half way. When he voted for the national energy tax legislation, he said he supported it even though it will cause his constituents to pay higher gas prices and higher electricity bills. The latest Peterson screw-up is about 9/11 Truthers in his district:

“Twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down,” said Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat who represents a conservative Republican district in Minnesota. “That’s why I don’t do town meetings.”

Why does Peterson think the people in his district even have an opinion on this? How would he know that’s what they think if he isn’t in touch with them? Is he suggesting his district offices are getting flooded with phone calls demanding that Congress launch an investigation into the Twin Towers tragedy?

I’m betting that this is just Rep. Peterson having a disdain for his constituents. That’s what happens when people ignore their constituents, which he admits he’s done by saying that he doesn’t do townhalls. That’s what happens when they’ve been in DC too long. There’s only one cure for DC-itis: a long exile from that sewer of bassackwards thinking known as DC, followed by actually listening to your constituents. (This also works to prevent the onset of DC-itis.)

There’s something else worth noting about this, which is that Rep. Peterson’s DC-itis has apparently caused him to think he knows his constituents even though he hasn’t met with. That’s a foolish assumption. It’s also extremely arrogant on Rep. Peterson’s behalf.

By itself, this isn’t enough to get Peterson defeated but it’s one of the most boneheaded things I’ve heard him say in his public career.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton called on Peterson to apologize for his statements in this press release:

St. Paul- Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Tony Sutton today called on DFL Rep. Collin Peterson to immediately apologize for offensive and outrageous comments he made to Politico.com in which he said, “Twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down. That’s why I don’t do town meetings.”

“Collin Peterson must immediately apologize for the outrageous and offensive comments he made about his own constituents. By stating that ‘twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down’ and that’s ‘why I don’t do town meetings,’ Peterson revealed just how out of touch and disconnected he has become in Washington. Given his liberal voting record, the real reason Peterson doesn’t hold town hall meetings is because he is afraid to face the residents of his district.”

Peterson loves portraying himself as a moderate Blue Dog Democrat. That might be his inclination but his vote is for sale anytime they need it. The term Blue Dog Democrat is a little too fierce for my way of thinking. Blue Puppy seems more apt because he’s got little bark and virtually no bite.

All it took to roll Peterson on the National Energy Tax was a couple minor concessions. His rural constituents will get carbon credits for manure disposal. Unfortunately, they’ll still get hit with high gas prices at the pump and outrageous electricity prices at home.

I think Tony Sutton is exactly right. I think Collin Peterson knows that he doesn’t fit his district anymore. I also think it’s possible that Collin Peterson has been in DC so long that he’s more interested in DC things than in district things. If Peterson’s first concern was his constituents in CD-7, a young Collin Peterson wouldn’t have sold out for a few trivial concessions. He would’ve held fast and told Speaker Pelosi to take a hike.

The people of MN-7 deserve someone that’ll represent them first, the state second. Representing Speaker Pelosi shouldn’t fit into Peterson’s top 10. Based on his recent past votes, I’d say Peterson puts a higher priority on obeying Speaker Pelosi than he puts on serving his constituents.

That’s bassackwards thinking if ever I heard it.

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Yesterday, Dave Thompson made a great argument about the inherent flaws in the Democrats’ plan when he explained the difference between lowering the price of health care and lowering the cost of health care.

The way Dave made his case is that he highlighted the fact that prices would drop if Congress passed a law that set the maximum price of a gallon of gas at $1 a gallon. He rightly said that the maximum price of a gallon of gas would drop to $1 a gallon but that wouldn’t mean that the cost of a gallon of gas would drop a penny.

In a capitalist society, which President Obama appears determined to change, operating at a loss can’t be sustained very long. I’d suggest, in that environment, oil company executives would shut down production rather than attempting to produce oil at a loss.

Dave also argued that we should eliminate the vast majority of government mandates for health insurers and health care providers. His DFL opponent argued that we need regulation, which is true to an extent. I’d argue, though, that mandates and regulations aren’t the same as oversight.

Regulating something simply means that government is setting the law by what health insurance companies and health care providers can do. Oversight by properly informed legislators can actually ask health care providers about adherence to or development of best practices. All the regulation in the world won’t inspire consistently developing new best practices. Rigorous oversight potentially can inspire developing new best practices.

What government bureaucrat tucked away in the recesses of the HHS building spends time rigorously questioning best practices? I’d bet none. If a legislator is told by his constituents that constant oversight of health care best practices was a priority, it’s a good bet that they’d get that legislator’s undivided attention pretty quickly. If the legislator didn’t take their demands seriously, the people could remove that legislator at the next election.

BTW, rigorous oversight of best practices means health care consumers would get the greatest value for their health care dollars, something that everyone thinks is important.

UPDATE: Welcome to HotAir readers. I’m all over the health care reform issues on a daily basis. I’m working on another post that will give everyone serious pause about the reforms.

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