Archive for October, 2009

According to this press release, Christian conservatives are enthusiastically rallying to Doug Hoffman’s campaign. This certainly doesn’t fit the Democrats’ template that Christian conservatives are hurting the GOP’s chances of electoral victories. For that matter, it doesn’t fit the template of many just-barely-center-right Republicans like Lindsey Graham, either.

Social conservatives are expanding their efforts to support Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in next week’s special election for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. The Susan B. Anthony List, in partnership with the National Organization for Marriage, is leading the social conservative effort to mobilize votes for Hoffman. The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List has spent over $125,000 in the race so far, including over $50,000 in pro-Hoffman radio ads. Hoffmann materials and signs are being distributed so fast that the organization had to order an additional 50,000 pieces of candidate comparison literature just to keep up with demand.

“Doug Hoffman’s surge in the polls matches a corresponding surge in action by enthusiastic grassroots activists across the district,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “It’s amazing how many veteran political observers got it wrong, spinning this story in the conventional ‘conservatives as GOP electoral spoiler’ narrative. To the contrary, there is a unique reason so many are endorsing a third party candidate for the first time, the GOP choice was the least desirable of the three candidates. Doug Hoffman provides pro-life people a viable choice.”

The Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, in partnership with the National Organization for Marriage, is organizing the conservative grassroots ground program in the district. Field staff are recruiting over 200 volunteers to staff polls on election day, canvass churches, and distribute literature, lapel stickers and yard signs across the district. The fund is also sponsoring over 150,000 robocalls and live GOTV calls to identified pro-life voters in the district.

“Our efforts on the ground give a voice to the thousands of voters in the district who believe that life, marriage, and fiscal responsibility all matter. We didn’t create these people. They were there all along, despite being ignored by the Republican Party. This is not an issue of making perfect the enemy of the good, but the good as the enemy of the unacceptable. And if things continue on this track the good guy, Doug Hoffman, will prevail on November 3rd.”

That’s the type of enthusiastic GOTV operation that every candidate dreams of having. There’s a lesson in this if the GOP is willing to listen. (Unfortunately, I’m not certain they are willing to listen.) That lesson is that milquetoast traditional candidates don’t inspire people to work passionately for them. We needn’t look further than John McCain’s campaign for proof.

Another lesson worthy of the GOP’s attention is that picking true conservatives in districts where they have a good shot at winning will make fundraising immensely easier. After seeing the Obama administration’s spending/bailout spree, people are looking for fiscal conservatives more than ever before, more than they were looking for one when Reagan entered the national stage.

Settling for candidates like Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Charlie Crist and Dede Scozzafava is the best way to pour cold water on the fire that the TEA Party activists and townhall goers are generating. If the GOP embraces the TEA Party activists, they’ll score a resounding victory in 2010. That’s because they’ll be on the positive side of the enthusiasm gap that Democrats had in 2006 and 2008.

Carly Fiorina thinks that free speech needs regulation. Charlie Crist thinks that wasteful federal spending is the right economic elixir. These aren’t the best candidates available. In fact, if the Heffley-Hitler-Crist scandal continues growing, which I’m betting it will, Crist might be forced to end his campaign.

Here’s another lesson that national GOP strategists must learn ASAP: Pick the candidate with gravitas and charisma over the candidate with the built-in fundraising network and name recognition. We’ve seen what Ron Paul and Howard Dean did through the internet fundraising network. Anyone caring to wager that Jason Chaffetz, Marco Rubio and Doug Hoffman won’t be properly funded in 2010 should contact me ASAP. I can use the easy money I’d make on those bets.

UPDATE: WOW!!! I didn’t see this coming:

Dede Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence parties candidate, announced Saturday that she is suspending her campaign for the 23rd Congressional District and releasing all her supporters.

The state Assemblywoman has not thrown her support to either Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, or Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate.

“Today, I again seek to act for the good of our community,” Ms. Scozzafava wrote in a letter to friends and supporters. “It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so. I am and have always been a proud Republican. It is my hope that with my actions today, my party will emerge stronger and our district and our nation can take an important step towards restoring the enduring strength and economic prosperity that has defined us for generations.”

Saying that this changes the dynamics of the race is understatement. WOW!!!

UPDATE II: My Representative in the U.S. House, Michele Bachmann, issued this statement on Dede Scozzafava’s dropping out of the race:

First I want to thank Dede Scozzafava for her hard-fought campaign in this special election. And, I’d especially like to thank her for dropping out of this race for the good of the Party. I’m certain that it was not an easy decision for her to make, but it was the right one.

I’d also like to urge anyone who can help Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in that race, to mobilize all their energy and resources to ensure Hoffman’s victory next Tuesday.

The polls all show that Hoffman’s message of fiscal responsibility and conservatism are resonating strongly with the voters in that district. I am very hopeful that they will send him across the finish line in first place Tuesday night.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Ever since last November’s elections, it seems like the Democratic Party is stuck on stupid. The WSJ’s Daniel Henninger suggests that it’s more like they’re stuck in the stone age in some important respects:

If you’re an elected Democrat anywhere to the right of Barney Frank, and trying to defend a competitive seat next November, you’ve got to be starting to sweat.

You wake up in the morning and just like every other morning as far as the eye can see the only thing in the news is the president’s health-care reform. It’s starting to look like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are leading the Donner Party, the snowbound emigrants who bogged down in the Sierra Nevada winter in the 1840s and resorted to cannibalism to survive.

The betting is that with raw political muscle and procedural magic, the Congressional Democrats will pass something, call it reform and hand Barack Obama a “victory.” Maybe, but I think what we are seeing with this massive legislation is that the Democrats in Washington have a bigger problem: Their party is looking so yesterday.

In a world defined by nearly 100,000 iPhone apps, a world of seemingly limitless, self-defined choice, the Democrats are pushing the biggest, fattest, one-size-fits all legislation since 1965. And they brag this will complete the dream Franklin D. Roosevelt had in 1939.

In an age of customization, the Democrats are pushing a one-size-fits-all health care model. Speaker Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama must know that they’re leading their party off an electoral cliff, especially Thursday’s release of a gigantic 1,990 page health care bill in the House. They’ve got to know that alot of Democrats who were elected in swing districts will get defeated.

During his address to the joint session of Congress, President Obama said that the bill he’d sign couldn’t cost more than $900,000,000,000 and it couldn’t add a penny to the deficit. According to CBO, it fails on both counts. According to CBO’s scoring, the bill costs $1,055,000,000,000:

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday a U.S. House health-care system re-write would extend health insurance to 96% of the nonelderly U.S. population by 2019, and spend $1.055 trillion to do so.

Penalties imposed on individuals who did not purchase insurance, and employers who did not offer coverage to their workers, would raise $161 billion over that time-frame. That brings the net cost of the bill to $894 billion through 2019, CBO said.

The CBO just admitted what the Democrats don’t want you to hear: that penalties to employers or employees account for $161,000,000,000. Americans for Tax Reform has put together a list of taxes included in this bill:

Employer Mandate Excise Tax (Page 275): If an employer does not pay 72.5 percent of a single employee’s health premium (65 percent of a family employee), the employer must pay an excise tax equal to 8 percent of average wages. Small employers (measured by payroll size) have smaller payroll tax rates of 0 percent (<$500,000), 2 percent ($500,000-$585,000), 4 percent ($585,000-$670,000), and 6 percent ($670,000-$750,000).

Individual Mandate Surtax (Page 296): If an individual fails to obtain qualifying coverage, he must pay an income surtax equal to the lesser of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) or the average premium. MAGI adds back in the foreign earned income exclusion and municipal bond interest.

Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 324): Non-prescription medications would no longer be able to be purchased from health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). Insulin excepted. Cap on FSAs (Page 325): FSAs would face an annual cap of $2500 (currently uncapped).

Increased Additional Tax on Non-Qualified HSA Distributions (Page 326): Non-qualified distributions from HSAs would face an additional tax of 20 percent (current law is 10 percent). This disadvantages HSAs relative to other tax-free accounts (e.g. IRAs, 401(k)s, 529 plans, etc.)

Denial of Tax Deduction for Employer Health Plans Coordinating with Medicare Part D (Page 327): This would further erode private sector participation in delivery of Medicare services.

Surtax on Individuals and Small Businesses (Page 336): Imposes an income surtax of 5.4 percent on MAGI over $500,000 ($1 million married filing jointly). MAGI adds back in the itemized deduction for margin loan interest. This would raise the top marginal tax rate in 2011 from 39.6 percent under current law to 45 percent—a new effective top rate.

Excise Tax on Medical Devices (Page 339): Imposes a new excise tax on medical device manufacturers equal to 2.5 percent of the wholesale price. It excludes retail sales and unspecified medical devices sold to the general public.

Corporate 1099-MISC Information Reporting (Page 344): Requires that 1099-MISC forms be issued to corporations as well as persons for trade or business payments. Current law limits to just persons for small business compliance complexity reasons. Also expands reporting to exchanges of property.

Delay in Worldwide Allocation of Interest (Page 345): Delays for nine years the worldwide allocation of interest, a corporate tax relief provision from the American Jobs Creation Act.

Limitation on Tax Treaty Benefits for Certain Payments (Page 346): Increases taxes on U.S. employers with overseas operations looking to avoid double taxation of earnings.

Codification of the “Economic Substance Doctrine” (Page 349): Empowers the IRS to disallow a perfectly legal tax deduction or other tax relief merely because the IRS deems that the motive of the taxpayer was not primarily business-related.

Application of “More Likely Than Not” Rule (Page 357): Publicly-traded partnerships and corporations with annual gross receipts in excess of $100 million have raised standards on penalties. If there is a tax underpayment by these taxpayers, they must be able to prove that the estimated tax paid would have more likely than not been sufficient to cover final tax liability.

That’s thirteen tax increases. In the Senate Finance Committee bill, texcise tax on medical devices totaled $121,000,000,000, which drew the ire of Tim Pawlenty, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. Sen. Klobuchar is drafting legislation to eliminate that tax because it would hurt Minnesota companies like Boston Scientific and Medtronic.

That’s before we talk about the $245,000,000,000 in Medicare cuts that won’t happen. Yes, it’s the same $245,000,000,000 that was defeated 47-53. Not only couldn’t Harry Reid not get close to ending the filibuster, he didn’t even get 50 Democrats to vote for this sleight of hand gimmick.

Adding back in the $245,000,000,000 of Medicare cuts adds to the $1,055,000,000,000 initial price tag, putting the total at $1,300,000,000,000. After subtracting out the $245,000,000,000 in Medicare cuts that won’t be realized (which Pelosi’s bill promises) and the $121,000,000,000 in medical device tax increases adds up to $366,000,000,000 of deficit spending.

Meanwhile, the bill does nothing to drive down defensive medicine costs, does nothing to eliminate lawsuit abuse and does nothing to give single people and families the flexibility they insist on.

Only in Washington, DC could something like this be considered a reform.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

According to this Strib article, Tarryl Clark is raising money in Minnesota. It sounds like her campaign is thinking of this as a non-endorsement endorsement:

What does the candidate’s staff say about the non-endorcement endorsements? “We are proud to have the support of thousands of Minnesotans in this campaign, including many whom Tarryl has a long history of working alongside,” Clark spokeswoman Andrea Mokros said via e-mail.

It’s been obvious from the outset that Tarryl would be able to raise alot of money in challenging Michele. The questions that still remain are whether she’s a good fit for the district and whether she’s able to catch up with Michele in CoH. My opinion is that the right answer is no to both questions.

Tarryl would have faced a tough fight had she run for the SD-15 state senate seat again because she’d lost most of her support from the St. Cloud business community. Now she’s facing a similar dilemma but on a bigger scale. Twin Cities businesspeople have seen her voting for the biggest tax increases in state history.

They’ve also read about her enthusiastic support of the pro-choice position. That isn’t a good mix in a district that’s been called “Minnesota’s Bible Belt.” While Tarryl has worked hard to portray herself as a centrist, her voting record SHOUTS that she isn’t.

Meanwhile, Michele is a near-perfect fit for this district. Michele’s portrayed herself as a conservative from Day One. She’s consistently voted that way from the outset. Her conservative credentials are impeccable. Almost as important as Michele’s voting record is that she’s who she’s always said she was: a social and fiscal conservative.

In a district that’s socially and fiscally conservative, that’s a great advantage.

Another thing that Michele’s got going for her is her celebrity. She’s the darling of the Club For Growth, conservative talk radio and FNC. Michele’s got a strong, national fundraising circuit to draw from. That will help her maintain a CoH advantage over Tarryl.

It’s too early to predict a winner in this race but it isn’t too early to say that Michele starts with several advantages over Tarryl, including fundraising. After that, it’s a matter of who’s a better fit for this district and who runs the better campaign. If a Stuart Rothenberg or a Charlie Cook was rating this race, they’d categorize it as leans GOP or strong GOP. They wouldn’t rate it a tossup.

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One thing that’s clear from Tim Pawlenty’s interview with Greta Van Susteren is that he isn’t a fan of Harry Reid’s latest gimmick to sell the public option:

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: It seems like a simple question, but apparently it isn’t. What is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care plan? Senator Reid says a government-run public option will be in the bill but states will be allowed to opt out of the plan. But what does that really mean?

Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty runs a state, as we just noted. Hopefully, he can answer some of those questions. The Governor is here with us. Governor, what is this opt-out plan? I understand if you don’t want to be in something, you can opt out. But what does it really mean?

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY, R-MINN.: Well, we don’t know yet, Greta, but what we know for sure is this. Government-run health care is a bad idea. I hope it gets killed. But now they’re offering up the opt-out as an alternative. The Democrats are. And I think it’s going to end up being a sham because there are reports that I’m getting, at least, from Republican sources that the opt-out is going to require you to pay the money ahead of time, in other words, pay increased taxes for four years, then the program will fully kick in four years out. And even if you do opt out, your state and your citizens have to continue to pay their share of the bill.

It isn’t much of an opt-out if you’re still required to pay taxes on something that you aren’t using. That sounds more like a rip-off. What incentive is there to opt out?

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know any governors who have come forward or said, Hey, that sounds like a great idea, even a Democratic governor?

PAWLENTY: Well, I am sure there are many who do like government-run health care, most of the folks on the other side of the aisle. I do not. I think we’ve got a, you know, philosophical problem here and a financial problem. I don’t like the idea of the government taking stuff over. Like I said before, what’s next? If you’re concerned about toothpaste prices, are we going to have government-run Wal-Marts? If we’re concerned about gasoline prices, is the government going to take over the gas station down the street from my house? This is a very slippery slope and it’s inconsistent with the tradition that this country’s economy was built on.

The notion that the government is simply a competitor is insane. Instead, they’re a predator. They don’t need to make a profit. Instead, they’ll just raise taxes to make up for their inefficient operations. That’s what they’ve always done. That’s what they’ll always do. It’s the nature of the beast.

VAN SUSTEREN: What you think possesses Senator Reid? Because the thing that I find the most curious about it is that there are, there were hearings held, and the hearings coming out of the Senate Finance Committee and the HELP Committee in the Senate, HELP Committee came out with a public option, not with a trigger, not with an opt-out, but just a public option. The Senate Finance had no public option. And then suddenly, essentially, Senator Reid goes behind closed doors, and suddenly, there’s new provision, this opt-out. What possessed him to do this?

PAWLENTY: I think, Greta, if you know anything about Democrat party politics, within their party, the universal health care or single-payer health care or government-run health care part of their party is very militant. And this is not just, you know, an accident or good public policy. This is driven by partisan, liberal, bare-knuckled pressure and politics. And that’s what’s driving this decision making. It’s a bad idea. The country doesn’t like it. But they won’t let go of it, I think, because of internal liberal politics.

I’ve said before that this is the Democrats’ Holy Grail, their crowning achievement. If they passed this, they’d die contented. It isn’t that it’s good policy. It’s that they’ve wanted this so badly so long that they just want it so bad they can taste it.

I’ve said before that it’s better to approach it from an affordability standpoint so more people think it’s worth buying, whether they’re young people or middle class folks that think it isn’t worth buying AT CURRENT PRICES.

It’s time that Washington started over with a different premise.

Gov. Pawlenty just couldn’t let it go without needling Greta for being a Packer fan:

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned the word jersey, and I got to go, but I just have to point out one other thing. I’m going to be on a plane. I’ll be out of the country. I’m going to miss the game this weekend with your Minnesota Vikings against the Green Bay Packers. But I’ll be anxious to see what happens, Governor.

PAWLENTY: Well, I will, too. But I think it’ll look a lot like that game in the Metrodome that broke your heart.

VAN SUSTEREN: I’m not so sure! I mean, you know, this is one of the peculiar things where, you know, I love to watch Brett Favre play because he loves the game. And of course, I got a long history with the Packers, so I’m very conflicted on this one. But Governor, thank you very much. Thank you, sir.

Tim Pawlenty’s sense of humor will serve him well in Iowa and New Hampshire.

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Tim Pawlenty made it official Monday. He officially endorsed Doug Hoffman to be the next representative for NY-23. RedState’s Erick Erickson made this statement about Gov. Pawlenty’s endorsement:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is now adding to the momentum becoming the first sitting Republican Governor to endorse Hoffman. This comes on the heels of Sarah Palin’s endorsement from last week.

What makes this stand out even more than the Palin endorsement is that Pawlenty has not been seen as diverging with the Republican establishment. He’s not seen as the maverick that Palin is.

But Pawlenty has a huge amount of stature inside the Republican establishment, more so than Palin. That he is now willing to come out in favor of Hoffman is going to resonate among the Republican establishment in ways Palin’s endorsement will not.

People have questioned Gov. Pawlenty’s ties to the GOP establishment. Clearly, he wasn’t seen in the same light as Sarah Palin as an outsider out to clean up the political establishment. Because he’s been seen as a party man, this move changes people’s perspectives.

Here’s the statement Gov. Pawlenty sent to RedState:

“We cannot send more politicians to Washington who wear the Republican jersey on the campaign trail, but then vote like Democrats in Congress on issues like card check and taxes. After reviewing the candidates’ positions, I’m endorsing Doug Hoffman in New York’s special election. Doug understands the federal government needs to quit spending so much, will vote against tax increases, and protect key values like the right to vote in private in union elections.”

The momentum is clearly shifting in Hoffman’s favor. Getting Pawlenty’s endorsement adds to that momentum.

It also helps his fundraising down the stretch. It doesn’t say that FFPAC contributed to his campaign so I won’t speculate on that. Still, every day that a new endorsement goes his way keeps Hoffman as the story. He’s essentially sucking all the oxygen out of the race, which means he’s got a legitimate shot at winning.

That must be getting under the NY GOP’s party bosses’ skin. They thought they could pick a liberal without worrying about consequences. That’s clearly not the case. In 7 days, the will of the people will be known. I doubt that the party bosses’ priorities will be the same as the voters of NY-23.

Thanks to Pawlenty’s endorsement, Hoffman’s chances of winning are getting better every day.

Erick is quick to point out in this post that there are consequences for not endorsing Doug Hoffman:

At a time when the conservative brand is ascending and the Republican brand is still in the gutter, candidates like Romney and Huckabee have a chance to man up and stand with the base of the GOP, a base that is tired of TARP, No Child Left Behind, indictments, and out of control spending.

If candidates step up before noon Wednesday, we should applaud them for their help. An endorsement by that time can still have a meaningful, positive impact on Doug Hoffman’s candidacy.

But know this: waiting until after noon on Wednesday is a clear indication that the candidate is endorsing for show, and not really to help. We in the conservative movement want leaders who will stand with us, not suck up to us. Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty are breaking with the party at a key moment.

Perhaps Romney and Huckabee think that there’s an advantage to being the establishment, go-along-to-get-along candidate. They’re badly mistaken if they think that. We’re living in a TEA Party world. Establishment isn’t where the action is. Establishment is where candidates like Romney and Huckabee go to their political graveyard.

I’ll differ with Erick in this: Even if Romney and Huckabee endorse Hoffman, I’ll still wonder whether their endorsements are nothing but political opportunism. It isn’t like it’d be the first time with either of these gentlemen.

That’s what sets Palin, Pawlenty, Fred Thompson, Rick Santorum and others apart from the Romneys and Huckabees of the GOP universe.

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According to this Politico article, Democrats are pushing that more of the ‘benefits’ of their health care system be delivered in 2010, assuming that it passes by then. The reason why the Senate Finance Committee legislation passed CBO muster is because it counted 10 years of tax increases but only delivered 5 years of coverage.

Couple that with the fact that the Doctor Bribe will have to be included in the Senate’s legislation at a cost of $247,000,000,000 and you’ve got legislation with massive deficits easily in the hundreds of billions dollars range. That’s before counting the actual cost of the bill. Right now, the Senate Finance bill is the cheapest at ‘only’ $829,000,000,000 before the Doctor Bribe.

Democrats are pushing Senate leaders and the White House to speed up key benefits in the health reform bill to 2010, eager to give the party something to show taxpayers for their $900 billion investment in an election year.

The most significant changes to the health care system wouldn’t kick in until 2013, two election cycles away. With Republicans expected to make next year a referendum on health care reform, Democrats are quietly lobbying to push up the effective dates on popular programs, so they’ll have something to run on in the congressional midterm elections

I wrote here that the CBO’s scoring is vital to final passage. If CBO says health care reform is both expensive and adds new deficits to the projected budget deficits, Democrats like Lincoln, Pryor, Bayh, Landrieu, Lieberman and Ben Nelson will vote against it in the interest of self-preservation.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the strategy was a transparent attempt to paper over the less palatable aspects of the bill. There are billions in new taxes on insurers, device manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies that come due in 2010.

This is fixing to be a Democrat’s worst nightmare. People are tired of hearing about the next spending thing that adds hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit. They’re exhausted to hear about another round of tax hikes that will hurt the middle class and small businesses. The simple fact is that they’re skeptical that government can run something as complex as health care efficiently.

This afternoon, Harry Reid announced that the Senate bill will have a public option, then admitted that they don’t have the votes for invoking cloture. That’s likely because he can’t get people like Mary Landrieu, Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson to sign off on the public option.

Reid, Sen. Schumer and Pelosi are sounding confident but I suspect that they’re acting confident rather than being confident in the hopes that they win over a wobbly or two. It’s all about exuding an air of inevatibility. It isn’t about true confidence.

Legal Insurrection agrees.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

If this WSJ article is right, Democrats are opening themselves up for a huge new flood of well-deserved criticism. They’re also heading for a constitutional challenge. Here’s what the WSJ is reporting:

Top Senate Democrats are close to finalizing their health bill and could unveil a measure as soon as early this week that would include stiffer penalties on employers who fail to provide health coverage.

Senate leaders plan to submit the bill to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate as soon as Monday, and make the legislation public as soon as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The CBO score is partially predictable in that this mandate won’t add to the federal deficit. Still, the bill won’t be effective because it’s still cheaper to pay a $750 fine than buy health insurance for employees.

Most importantly, Democrats still haven’t explained how their legislation will make health care less expensive. They won’t talk about that because they can’t explain it. That’s because their plan doesn’t make health care less expensive. I wrote here that “the Democrats’ legislation will make things worse for the vast majority of people.” We’re mired in a deep recession and the Democrats are proposing to raise small businesses’ operating cost one way or the other. How stupid is that?

I don’t know of a thoughtful economist who thinks that adding to small business’s expenses during a deep recession is a good way of creating jobs. I’m betting that King could rattle off a long list of economists that think the best way to create jobs that pull us out of this recession is to decrease small businesses’ expenses.

Mr. Reid spent the weekend shoring up support for the bill from Democrats in the chamber. But some key moderate Democrats signaled Sunday that they remain uneasy about main planks of the legislation. “I certainly am not excited about a public option where states would opt out,” Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

I haven’t seen a statement by Evan Bayh but I’m betting that he won’t support the Democrats’ plan. Another senator sure to influence the debate is Mary Landrieu. Here’s what she recently said:

Health care reform is necessary to drive down costs for consumers and businesses, but it must not be allowed to increase the federal debt, Landrieu said. Moderates in Congress have succeeded in making that principle a priority, she said.

She said she backs more tax credits for small businesses and wants to let small businesses pool together to buy insurance. She opposes plans to require employers to pay for coverage. She also wants to make sure reform legislation gives states more flexibility in making their own health care changes. “We cannot fall into this same old same old one-size-fits all” approach, she said.

That certainly puts her opposite this emerging proposal. Sen. Landrieu hasn’t had a high profile thus far in the health care debate but that’s about to change. As chairlady of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, she’ll be asked by small businesses to stand up for them. Her opposition will give other moderates the political cover they need to oppose Reid’s bill.

As usual, Ed nails the Democrats’ problems with this post:

Typically, businesses could pay more than $750 per month for some health insurance plans for each employee. The cheap fine allows businesses to opt out altogether at a very low cost, forcing employees into the public option.

Also, this looks like a bribe of sorts to keep employers out of court. An employer mandate may have similar constitutional problems as an individual mandate, at least for those employers whose business does not cross state lines. However, businesses can afford to hire more and better lawyers than individuals in order to challenge it. If they see this as a cheap mechanism to dump medical coverage costs, we can expect them to cheer it rather than sue and put the whole scheme in jeopardy of a Supreme Court reversal.

However, the optics of this look bad, and will look worse in practice. The Senate will create a huge out for the business world at the expense of the individual workers, and when they take it, people will realize they’ve been had, especially the class warriors that comprise the narrowing base of the Democrats. The only people stuck with an onerous mandate will be individuals, forced for the first time in American history to purchase a product in order to legally reside in the US.

When we look back at the path health care legislation took, we’ll realize that this is just another attempt by Democrats to force single-payer down our throats. The bad news for Democrats is that bloggers like Ed and myself will be there next November to remind voters that the Democrats wanted to stick small businesses and individuals with additional expenses when they could least afford it. (Let me know how that works out for you, Democrats.)

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Marybeth Juetten of the AFL-CIO has an LTE in this morning’s St. Cloud Times that’s long on DFL talking points but devoid of logic.

Members of Congress shouldn’t be confused about which way they’re going to vote on this issue. To me and other constituents, it’s clear cut: Will you stand with big insurance companies, or will you stand with us?

Working families need health care reform that will control costs, guarantee coverage and finally hold insurance companies accountable. The public insurance plan option is the best way to do that.

First, and most importantly, what assurances do we have that the Democrats’ bill will control costs? It’s more accurate to say that their legislation only hides the cost increases:

To ease the burdens of the insurance mandate, the reform proposals call for varying levels of subsidy. In some versions, such as the current Senate bill, subsidies are handed out to families with incomes as high as $88,000 a year. How long will it be before just about everyone wants further assistance, and this new form of entitlement spending spins out of control?

Families making $88,000 don’t need a subsidy, though I’m certain they’ll accept the subsidies without hesitation. After thinking this through, after putting 2 and 2 together, I realized that the Democrats’ subsidies are meant to hide the insurance premium increases.

The Democrats’ plan doesn’t control costs. That isn’t just opinion. It’s what the CBO says. What would happen if the Democrats didn’t offer subsidies for these middle class families? Isn’t it likely that the people would quickly turn on the Democrats?

What does Ms. Juetten mean when she says that the best way to “finally hold insurance companies accountable” is with a “public insurance plan option”? Doesn’t that sound like she’s suggesting that insurance companies are making too much of a profit? She says not but I’m not biting:

No one begrudges insurance companies or any other business for making a profit, but they shouldn’t be allowed to do so at the expense of families and the good of our country.

I’m not buying it because Speaker Pelosi said that their profits are obscene:

“I’m very pleased that (Democratic leaders) will be talking, too, about the immoral profits being made by the insurance industry and how those profits have increased in the Bush years.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who also welcomed the attention being drawn to insurers’ “obscene profits.”

This is what Chris van Hollen said about profits:

“Keeping the status quo may be what the insurance industry wants. Their premiums have more than doubled in the last decade and their profits have skyrocketed.” Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, member of the Democratic leadership.

The AP’s Calvin Woodward ran the numbers. Not surprisingly, the numbers tell a substantially different story:

Profits barely exceeded 2 percent of revenues in the latest annual measure. This partly explains why the credit ratings of some of the largest insurers were downgraded to negative from stable heading into this year, as investors were warned of a stagnant if not shrinking market for private plans.

Making a profit margin of 2.2 percent isn’t exactly making a windfall profit.

Here’s another inaccurate DFL talking point worth exposing:

After years of raising premiums, denying claims and rejecting people who need care due to pre-existing conditions, insurance companies now are playing the victim.

Actually, Medicare denies more claims than private insurance companies do. Medicare rejects 6.85 percent, followed by Aetna at 6.80 percent, then Anthem at 4.62 percent, Health Net at 3.88 percent, CIGNA at at 3.44 percent with the rest coming in in the 2’s. I’m not willing to let the insurance companies play the victim card but I’m not buying the Democrats’ assertions that insurance companies are making obscene profits, either.

After reviewing the facts, it’s impossible for me to assign any credibility to Ms. Juetten’s LTE. I’d be more inclined to think that this was just another recitation of the Democrats’ talking points.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This NY Times article proves that Democrats think we’ll buy whatever spin they put out there. Here’s what they’re saying:

The bad economy is good for President Obama and Democrats as they try to reinvent the health care system with scant Republican support.

That is the conclusion of many Congressional Democrats, who say that economic insecurity and high unemployment stoke public support for their proposals to guarantee insurance for millions of Americans.

Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, said this was one of the biggest differences between the health care wars of 1993-94 and the battle today. When Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton fought for universal coverage, Mr. McDermott said, the economy was on an upswing, in the early stages of a 10-year economic expansion, which proved to be the longest in American history.

First off, Rep. McDermott is a far left idiot if he thinks that Hillarycare went down in flames because of the economy. It went down in flames because Americans didn’t want to surrender control of that part of their life to government. Unfortunately, that thought doesn’t enter the thoughts of control freaks like Rep. McDermott.

There’s a reason why Democrats won’t use the term government-run. It’s the reason why they’ve resorted to using the euphemism public option. Americans love liberty and options. They despise overregulation. It’s part of America’s DNA to love liberty and choices.

I’d further suggest that things would have to get significantly worse before enough people would support the Democrats’ proposed government takeover of the health care system.

“The mentality in the country is different,” said Mr. McDermott, a psychiatrist who has served in Congress for two decades. “In 1993, we were talking about the uninsured as ‘them.’ Now it turns out this is for us. When a bank like Washington Mutual in Seattle lays off 3,000 people, they lose health insurance. Millions of people with insurance are asking, ‘What if I lose my job?’”

I’d disrespectfully disagree, mostly because most states have safety net health insurance plans. It isn’t something that people want to deal with longterm but they will if that’s what’s needed.

Simply put, this is Rep. McDermott projecting. It isn’t based in reality.

Democrats say a government-run insurance plan is the best way to allay fears about the loss of private insurance. Private insurers can increase premiums or withdraw from markets, they say, but a government plan will always be available and affordable.

Democrats say that government-run insurance is more affordable. Let’s examine the credibility of that statement. When the government-run option starts accumulating big deficits, which will happen, Congress’s first reaction will be to raise taxes. Will people care whether their premiums go up or whether their taxes get raised? I’m betting they won’t differentiate. Let’s do a side-by-side:

Democrats say “Private insurers can increase premiums. Republicans say that government can raise taxes to keep premiums lower. Both statements are true. What’s the difference?

Liberal Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi say that a public plan would put competitive pressure on private insurers to hold down premiums and costs.

To save money, they say, the public plan should use Medicare rates as a basis for paying doctors and hospitals. Private insurers negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals, which have substantial bargaining power. The Medicare rates, set by law and regulation, are lower.

According to this, Democrats are admitting that Medicare eliminates negotiating. Hospitals and doctors are forced to accept whatever the federal government sets the payments at. Typically, Medicare reimbursement rates don’t cover the cost of the cost of the visits/treatments. That’s why hospitals and doctors try limiting treating Medicare patients.

How is that a solution? Only a liberal cocky liberal would think that we’re stupid enough to think that their legislation is a solution.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This afternoon, the Vikings are locked in a slugfest in what promises to be the premiere matchup of the day. Just when I thought the Vikings offensive line was starting to assert itsel, Ben Roethlisberger throws a laser between the linebackers & the secondary & Mike Wallace is suddenly walking into the end zone.

This first quarter essentially was a feeling out period, with the game opening up alot in the second quarter. I’m hoping that the Favre magic to win the day (God that sounds good.) but I expect a slugfest right down to the last drive.

Is this what you expected Ed?

UPDATE: I was almost right. It came down to the next-to-the-last drive. Unfortunately, Chester Taylor didn’t catch a very catchable ball on a screen pass, the ball was intercepted by Pittsburgh, who took it in to make the final score Pittsburgh 27, Vikings 17.

Clearly, though, th Vikings answered alot of questions in losing. This is clearly a dominant football team. This is no longer a team that’s defense + AP. The Vikings have alot of weapons, chief among them Brett Favre & Sidney Rice. Sidney Rice is turning into a dominant receiver, something that Favre is planning on exploiting.

It’s only proper to give the Steelers their due. Their defense made the big plays when they needed them. Still, it’s impossible for me to say that they’re as good as last year’s Super Bowl Champions.

Most weeks, there’s one game that’s called that week’s premiere matchup. Sometimes that matchup doesn’t live up to the hype. Last week’s Giants-Saints game is a perfect example, with the Saints trouncing the Giants.

This week, though, lived up to the hype & then some.

Finally, don’t be surprised if there’s a rematch the first Sunday in February. These are two heavyweights.