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Archive for February, 2010

If I was any of the insurance companies being asked to justify the premiums they charge to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, I’d tell her to take a hike, that that isn’t her responsibility. There’s no chance that that’s what they’ll do but that’s what I’d do if I was in their position.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked the heads of five major health insurance companies on Wednesday to meet with her next month to explain why their premiums are on the rise.

Mrs. Sebelius’ move came as Democrats stepped up attacks on the health insurance industry ahead of a bipartisan health care summit Thursday they hope will jump-start President Obama’s stalled overhaul legislation.

At a contentious House hearing, Democrats confronted executives of one company that has sought rate increases of up to 39 percent in California and accused them of purging their sickest customers while spending millions on exorbitant salaries and retreats at ritzy resorts for executives. And the House neared a vote on revoking health insurers’ antitrust exemption.

It’s frustrating to watch these idiots’ grandstanding. The reason the rates increased is because the healthiest dropped their health insurance. When that happens, the people in the pool are mostly higher risk customers. That’s what’s driving insurance premiums higher.

If insurance companies were dropping high risk patients, that would produce a pool with a relatively low risk, which would drop insurance premiums.

Lost in all this is that Wellpoint in California got California’s insurance commissioner to approve the rate increase. It’s interesting that HHS Secretary Sebelius isn’t talking about the state health insurance commissioners, isn’t it? I wrote here that creating a new Health Insurance Rate Authority was a naked power grab being authored by the Obama administration.

Rather than trusting insurance commissioners to monitor and accept or reject insurance premium increases, President Obama wants Washington to strip that authority from the states. What could possibly go wrong? But I digress.

As usual, the Obama administration is ignoring the Tenth Amendment in their attempt to consolidate as much power in Washington as possible. The Obama administration has proven time and again that they’re perfectly willing to ignore the Constitution when it gets in the way of their agenda.

Even if health care is signed into law, it’s far from a settled thing because of the constitutional challenges it’s sure to meet. This Tenth Amendment challenge is just one aspect that would be challenged. The individual mandates will be challenged, too. The special treatment that the Nebraska Blue Cross and Michigan Blue Cross is constitutionally suspect, too.

Rep. Henry Waxman is using his authority as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to bully private companies:

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at a hearing on WellPoint Inc. that his panel’s investigators had received internal company documents showing that in 2008, 39 company executives received salaries of $1 million or more. And in 2007 and 2008, it spent $27 million for 103 executive retreats, which Democrats said included stays at fancy resorts in Hawaii and Arizona. “Corporate executives at WellPoint are thriving, but its policyholders are paying the price,” said the California Democrat.

I won’t defend Wellpoint’s profits but I will defend them from the standpoint that they are a regulated business who’s won approval of the rate increases fair and square. As I highlighted earlier, it isn’t the federal government’s job to regulate businesses that are regulated at the state level.

This is classic liberal overreach. They don’t have the constitutional authority to do something but they’re attempting to do something anyway. It’s time that these progressives were taught a lesson in constitutional limitations. If that happened, the federal government’s overreach would be limited and states could return to their proper roles as regulators closer to the people.

I smile anytime that accountability is brought closer to the governed. So did the Founding Fathers. That’s good enough for me.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Based on this article, the Strib is still pretending that Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a moderate. If Sen. Klobuchar is a moderate, then she’s either a spineless moderate or the definition of the word is meaningless in today’s media environment.

WASHINGTON – Rep. Keith Ellison feels energized. Sen. Al Franken says, “We need this now.” Pressure is building on moderates like Sen. Amy Klobuchar to push for a public option, while Republicans like Rep. John Kline warn of impending “political theater,” all while Congress girds for a presidential summit on health care that will play out on live television Thursday.

With all due respect to Sen. Klobuchar, she isn’t a moderate. Whether it’s been the pork-filled stimulus bill or the Senate’s health care legislation, Sen. Klobuchar voted the same way as self-proclaimed Socialist Bernie Sanders, (I-VT). TWICE. The stimulus bill did nothing to spur private sector job growth, which is what President Obama promised. The Senate’s health care bill, if enacted, would give the federal government the authority to regulate insurance premiums. That’s what the legislation would do until the Supreme Court ruled that that’s the insurance commissioners’ responsibility.

Let’s remember that Sen. Klobuchar thinks that Congress has the authority to order the Pentagon to draw up plans for withdrawing troops from Iraq:

In fact, the leaders of Iraq’s otherwise sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis agreed that there should be a time frame for the drawdown of American troops. If the president is unwilling to provide a plan, Congress should call upon the Joint Chiefs of Staff to do so.

There’s just this little problem with Congress demanding the Joint Chiefs of Staff draw up those plans: the Constitution says that giving orders to the military falls under the executive branch’s authority.

Have we defined moderate down to someone who either doesn’t know the Constitution or who refuses to live within its limitations is a moderate? Here’s Dictionary.com’s definition of moderate:

a person who is moderate in opinion or opposed to extreme views and actions

I’d say that a senator, who’s sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, who ignores or doesn’t know the Constitution holds extreme views. Just because she isn’t an irate extremist like Sen. Franken doesn’t mean she’s a moderate.

With or without the public option, Democrats like Klobuchar have signaled their support for the 51-vote reconciliation strategy as a way to pass a modified health care bill.

Is expressing a willingness to use the nuclear option to radically change America’s health care system an act of moderation? I’m betting the vast majority of Minnesotans wouldn’t agree that it’s an act of moderation. I’m betting that most Minnesotans think that’s what a tyrant would support.

One significant departure from both the House and Senate bills is that the new plan would give federal regulators the power to block rate increases by private insurers, a nod to those who say the health effort has paid too little attention to curbing health care costs.

Let’s remember that each of the 50 states has an insurance commissioner whose job it is to approve insurance rate increases. President Obama’s provision is a naked power grab designed to strip the states of their regulatory responsibilities while appropriating that responsibility to the federal government. Opponents of that federal power grab would have a powerful Tenth Amendment argument based on a history of this responsibility being the states’ responsibility.

When did we start believing that moderates supported unprecedented power grabs of this magnitude?

Just because someone has a pleasant personality doesn’t mean they’re a moderate. Just because someone doesn’t have Sen. Franken’s temper doesn’t mean that they’re amoderate. If a politician votes like Bernie Sanders, they aren’t a moderate.

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Unfortunately, there haven’t been nearly enough times in the last 5 years where I could say that Republicans did something I thought was brilliant. Apparently, that drought is ending:

Washington (CNN) -House Republicans will have a truth squad standing by to fact check during Thursday’s televised bipartisan White House health care summit, House Minority Leader John Boehner announced Wednesday. And Boehner’s truth squad has an unusual characteristic, more than half of the fact-checking team is made up of doctors.

Here’s a list of the House GOP doctors who will be standing by Thursday:

Dr. Paul Broun, R-Georgia
Dr. Michael Burgess, R-Texas
Dr. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana
Dr. John Fleming, R-Louisiana
Dr. Phil Gingrey, R-Georgia
Dr. Parker Griffith, R-Alabama
Dr. Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania
Dr. Tom Price, R-Georgia
Dr. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee

In addition to these 9 M.D.’s, Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Louisiana, will be part of the group representing House Republicans at the White House meeting.

On the Senate side, the GOP is also sending two more doctors to meet with President Obama: Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, and John Barrasso, R-Wyoming.

Since mid 2009, Coburn and Barrasso have been hosting “The Senate Doctors Show,” a twice weekly health care reform Webcast where the two lawmakers take questions submitted by the public.

I normally wouldn’t be excited about Parker Griffith being part of the GOP’s policy team but I’m ok with it since he’s a doctor talking about health care issues. Otherwise, I think the concept of a GOP Doctor’s factcheck team is brilliant. It’s guaranteed that the Democrats will be sticking with their talking points. That’s their entire presentation. Several of their talking points aren’t factually accurate.

Let’s start with President Obama’s statement that people that like their health care plan can keep it. It isn’t difficult to prove that isn’t true because people with HSAs can’t keep them. They can’t keep them because the Democrats’ health care legislation mandates everyone buying a government-approved policy. HSAs don’t qualify under the Democrats’ plans.

I wouldn’t just criticize President Obama about that. I’d have the GOP delegation press him on why HSAs weren’t allowed in the House or Senate bills. That’s how you pivot into presenting a positive solution that’s got lots of support with the people.

Another thing Republicans can ask is why President Obama keeps saying that no one making less than $200,000 a year will see their taxes increased when the Democrats’ health care bills is loaded with tax increases for people of all income brackets. I’d then use that criticism to highlight Paul Ryan’s Patients’ Choice Act, which actually reduces health care costs, lowers insurance premiums without raising taxes.

The point is that raising each objection should be followed with a solution that the American people like. You get the American people’s attention with a disagreement, stated calmly of course, then impress them with common sense solutions.

If the GOP follows that formula, they’ll win the day. They’ve already had one brilliant idea. Let’s see if they follow that up with a brilliant performance Thursday.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

I just finished participating in a blogger conference call hosted by Sen. John Barrasso, (R-WY). As most of you know, Sen. Barrasso operated an orthopedic clinic in Wyoming.

Sen. Barrasso talked briefly about what he knew about tomorrow’s health care summit at Blair House. Sen. Barrasso is planning on attending, mostly with the goal of fighting against government inserting themselves into the doctor-patient relationship.

One of the bloggers asked how Dr. Barrasso would argue against the Democrats’ sure charge that insurance companies are making record profits, etc. Dr. Barrasso said that he won’t defend the insurance companies. At the same time, he made it clear that he isn’t a fan of dealing with government bureaucrats, either.

I asked Dr. Barrasso what he thought about the Health Insurance Rate Authority that President Obama’s plan would create. I noted that all 50 states have insurance commissioners already. Dr. Barrasso said that we should be wary of President Obama’s provision creating that authority because the federal government shouldn’t replicate the responsibilities that the state already handles.

Dr. Barrasso then said that this is what happens when an administration operates from the standpoint of ‘never letting a good crisis go to waste.’ I then interjected that we shouldn’t let a good constitutional amendment, the Tenth to be precise, stand in the way of the Obama administration’s plans. Dr. Barrasso picked up immediately on my sarcasm, then said that that would be a great line in defense of letting state insurance commissioners make their decisions.

I also got in the last question of the conference call. I prefaced my question by saying that it was clear that, which he still had a practice that Sen. Barrasso wasn’t a fan of either government bureaucrats or insurance companies. I then asked if this isn’t why HSAs shouldn’t be a more prominent feature of health care reform going forward.

Sen. Barrasso said that HSAs should definitely be part of the health insurance reform equation. He then noted that the Demorats’ various plans don’t make use of HSAs to the point that people wouldn’t even be allowed to use them to buy things like OTC drugs or insurance premiums. He said that patients having a little skin in the game (my term, not Sen. Barrasso’s) is a good thing because it forces them to be better shoppers, which will drive down health care costs.

This isn’t the first time I’ve asked my HSA question. What I find interesting is that everyone that I’ve asked about them thinks that they’re an important part of health care reform. Sen. Barrasso is just the latest person who agrees with me and millions of health care consumers.

It’s encouraging to know that Senate Republicans are starting to utilize BCCs more and more. It’s my opinion that they’re slowly but surely getting in touch with voters. Sen. Barrasso was a great host, too, because his answers were direct and concise. They weren’t meandering and evasive like Bill Richardson’s answers the other night on Larry King.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This editorial by the St. Cloud Times’ Editorial Board is a study in how the Agenda Media attempts to appear fair-minded but is operationally supportive of the DFL. Here’s how they open their section on the DFL:

While DFL leaders should be praised for doing so much bonding “leg work” in advance of the session, those efforts do little good when the final product slaps the governor in the face, twice, hard.

Slap one was the amount. Pawlenty first said a bill should not top $685 million. A week ago he raised that to $725 million. Meanwhile, the DFL put forth plans at $1 billion-plus before agreeing Monday on a $999.9 million plan.

So much for finding middle ground.

Later in the editorial they admit that there’s a bunch of pork in the bill:

Not to be overlooked: While bonding bills are rich in “pork,” Pawlenty has a point in questioning a bill that funds sculpture gardens and volleyball courts ahead of prison facilities.

Fair enough. Until this part of the editorial:

Simple numbers tell the story of how Republican legislators are willing to let their party’s agenda outweigh what’s best for most Minnesotans. The bill passed the House 85-46 and cleared the Senate 47-19. Sixty-seven percent of lawmakers voted for it.

However, given overriding a veto takes five more (Republican) votes in the House, the reality is 2.5 percent of legislators are stopping passage of a bill that basically seven in 10 support.

The Times’ logic appears to be that putting tons of debt on the state’s credit card is ok because so many legislators voted to burden our state with pork. It obviously hasn’t dawned on the Times’ Editorial Board that the minority party did the right thing in opposing this irresponsible spending.

It’s also noteworthy that the Times didn’t mention that the bill passed in both houses with almost unanimous DFL support and almost no GOP support. I think that would be an important piece of information because it would tell people which party was supportive of spending money irresponsibly and which party voted against fiscal irresponsibility.

This is why people are abandoning newspapers. They’re starved for the information they need for making the right decisions. Leaving this information out sends a ‘there’s no difference between the parties’ message. As the Times admits, that isn’t supported by the facts. The DFL voted for fiscal irresponsibility by spending money that hasn’t been earned yet while the GOP, with a couple exceptions, voted against spending irresponsibly.

It’s time that the Times’ Editorial Board started telling the whole story, not just the parts that favor its storyline.

Finally, I can’t let it go that they cheapshotted Gov. Pawlenty like this:

Simply put, claims of “closed door” legislating ring hollow when you are in a different time zone.

I’d label that a cheapshot because the Times’ Editorial Board didn’t mention that Gov. Pawlenty was in DC for the National Governors Association meetings. It also didn’t mention that the NGA meetings included substantive meetings, including a session with First Lady Michelle Obama on the issue of childhood obesity and a meeting with President Obama.

It’s time that the Times started including important facts like that instead of omitting them for scoring cheap political points.

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Tarryl Clark is quoted in this article as saying that Gov. Pawlenty isn’t negotiating on the DFL’s annual stimulus bill. Here’s her exact quote:

Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, says Pawlenty is unwilling to engage in give-and-take. “He wants basically his bill, which isn’t a negotiation,” Clark said.

Clark says she’ll continue lobbying for the bill to retain its St. Cloud projects, especially $15 million to expand the St. Cloud Civic Center. Clark and other DFL lawmakers say the overall bonding bill would create 21,000 jobs and build up schools, parks and infrastructure while interest rates and construction costs are low.

First, the 21,000 jobs created is an AFL-CIO figure which can’t be verified by real economists. It might be right. Based on past projections, however, I’m more than skeptical of the AFL-CIO’s number.

Second, what’s the reason for negotiating over tens of millions of dollars of pork? That’s being fiscally irresponsible. That’s borrowing money that might lower Minnesota’s bond rating, which will make future bonding projects that much more expensive.

Third, why should legislators put things like parks, trails, renovations to the Ordway and Orchestra Hall on the state’s credit card? Shouldn’t those projects be paid outright by revenue generated by the Legacy Act?

The DFL won’t stop spending bonding money on the Ordway, Orchestra Hall and trails because it helps them spend more money. There’s no doubt that they could opt for using Legacy Act funds to pay for the Ordway and Orchestra Hall. They won’t do that, though, because that doesn’t help them fund other projects on their special interest allies’ wish lists.

It’s important that we understand that the DFL’s top priority, both this session and in all sessions, is to spend. Let’s recall the proof that Larry Haws gave us at the League of Women’s Voters Education Forum in September, 2007:

Steve Gottwalt had just said that we needed to do a better job prioritizing education spending, prompting Larry Haws to say “Maybe we do need to prioritize.”

I was there in the audience. When Larry said that, it wasn’t said in jest. It was apparent that he’d never considered prioritizing spending. That mindset is a prominant, possibly even the dominant, characteristic in today’s DFL.

It’s one thing to spend money that benefits the state in general. While I don’t agree with spending lots of money, I’ll admit that it’s possible to justify the expenditure. It’s another to spend money that helps the DFL’s special interest allies. There’s no justification for that.

If Tarryl wants to fight on this hill, that’s her choice. I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s fighting for a pork-filled bill at a time when the nation is rebelling against pork. Worse, she’s fighting that fight in a district that abhors wasteful spending.

If Tarryl wants to fight for pork, that’s her right as an elected official. It’s just that that sort of thing will, at minimum, suspend her political career.

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Tuesday night, Tim Pawlenty and Bill Richardson were Larry King’s first guests. Gov. Pawlenty shined while Gov. Richardson dutifully repeated the White House’s talking points. It was a pathetic performance by Richardson. Here’s an example of their performances:

KING: Governor, five Republican senators, including the new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, broke ranks with their party. They’re supporting a $15 billion jobs bill. A vote expected tomorrow. It could pass. Good idea, Governor Pawlenty?

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: Well, I don’t personally agree with that because I don’t like that particular bill and the approach that they took with it, Larry. But for those individuals, they’re doing what they think is right for the country ask that and, you know, that’s something that they’ve got to decide for themselves. And now we’ll see what happens with the bill and whether it makes a positive difference.

KING: Were you surprised that five Republicans went with it?

PAWLENTY: Well, you know, it’s, you know, it’s not the type of bill that is so polarizing. I think they were disappointed that they took out a bunch of the Republican tax cuts earlier from an earlier version. But I don’t think it’s a complete surprise or a total surprise they, that they got at least a few Republican votes for it.

KING: Governor Richardson, what do you think of the bill?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, I might note that Senator Brown, the new senator from Massachusetts, voted for it. I think it’s a good bill. It shows that President Obama is anxious for bipartisanship. This bill is needed. It — it covers unemployment insurance. It covers a number of other benefits that are needed right now to — to help people.

Hopefully, the next jobs bill is going to have some initiatives for small businesses to get capital, tax incentives for companies to create new jobs.

President Obama met with all of us governors yesterday and he was extremely bipartisan. It was a love feast. Republican governors were, Democratic governors thanking him for the stimulus bill, for the help that is coming to us, has come to us in highway jobs and education and keeping teachers and cops employed.

KING: But I was asking…

RICHARDSON: — so I…

KING: — only about the jobs bill.

RICHARDSON: Well, the jobs bill, I believe, is — is necessary. Hopefully, the…

KING: OK…

As you can see, Gov. Richardson’s answers were the meandering type. Watching it, it was obvious he wasn’t going to answer questions directly. He was nervous about answering questions directly. By contrast, Gov. Pawlenty answered King’s questions directly and on point. His answers were concise, too, which showed a comfort level in answering the questions.

Gov. Pawlenty’s reply to Gov. Richardson’s longwinded reply was succinct:

PAWLENTY: Well, Larry, can I just add one thing here, because I think this is very instructive to your larger question about is the government broken?

Not long ago, with a previous version of this bill. They had a lot of Republican support because they had some tax cuts in it. And then the Democrats removed those provisions from the bill and they lost almost all the Republican support over that maneuver, with a few exceptions that you noted. So instead of having a real bipartisan bill with lots of Republicans on the bill with the prior tentative agreement that they had, they basically, again, made it a very partisan bill — a mostly a partisan bill.

It didn’t take Gov. Pawlenty many words to highlight Harry Reid’s partisanship, did it?

On the subject of Thursday’s health care summit, Gov. Richardson’s answer was all over the place while Gov. Pawlenty’s was concise:

KING: Let me touch a couple of other bases. Governor Richardson, what do you expect out of that summit on Thursday? Is that all politics?

RICHARDSON: Well, no. The president has said he wants Republican ideas on health care. And I think you’ve seen Republicans basically reject his bipartisanship.

I am pleased that the president put forth a more modest bill that involves, I think, potential bipartisan compromises on preexisting condition, on insurance reforms, on insuring more Americans, on incentives for small businesses.

I believe it’s a — a good bill, a health care bill that hopefully will pass very soon in the House and Senate. And then we move on to more initiatives, as he said, on job creation, on the economy, on education reform.

He talked to us about standards and testing and improving our educational system as the core of our economy.

KING: Governor…

RICHARDSON: Again, I think, the president is — is more than extending an olive branch. I hope the Republicans have some good ideas tomorrow that might be incorporated in this new health care bill.

KING: Governor Pawlenty, are you optimistic about Thursday?

PAWLENTY: Well, the president and the first lady were very gracious to have the governors at the White House and we appreciate their hospitality, Larry. But he’s taken basically a 1970s jalopy and run it through the car wash and tried to declare it something new. It’s still a 1970s jalopy.

It’s a…it’s a start, it’s a discussion. But I think it’s a prelude to make it look like they’re reaching out to Republicans. Unless he actually incorporates some of our ideas and if he’s just going to ram through this what amounts to what was the Senate Democrat version of the health bill, that’s not bipartisanship. If he wants to be bipartisan, he could take some of the ideas, like medical malpractice reform or paying for performance rather than volumes of procedures and the like.

But so far, he’s just basically compromising between two Democratic positions. He hasn’t meaningfully incorporated some Republican ideas. And that would help a lot.

Summary: Richardson said that the summit was a great idea, that President Obama’s plan was new and full of great ideas. Gov. Pawlenty said that President Obama’s bill was a rehash of the Democrats’ bills from the House and Senate, only more expensive. That’s an accurate statement.

It’s significantly more expensive than the House or Senate bill because President Obama is extending the Louisiana Purchase to all 50 states. He’s also eliminating the Cadillac tax, which would’ve exempted the unions from approximately $60,000,000,000 over the next decade and untold billions more nationwide.

Thursday’s summit is a fraud wrapped up in gimmicks and mirrors. It isn’t a serious event. Nonetheless, I’ll be watching.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

It hasn’t been difficult to figure out what the DFL’s priorities are this session. Actually, I should say the DFL’s priority because, thus far, the DFL’s only priority has been to spend money. The DFL passed their annual stimulus bill, aka the bonding bill, Monday night. This time, they’re spending over $1,000,000,000 to stimulate Minnesota’s downtrodden economy. Based on recent past performance, I’m betting that the return on investment won’t be good.

If that isn’t enough, I found out that David Bly introduced a health care bill that will spend billions of dollars, which is money that we don’t have:

During the first three and a half weeks of this session, we have heard no bills that save any money toward solving Minnesota’s budget deficit. We have heard many bills that add to the cost or regulatory burden for Minnesotans. In fact, today, we will (again) hear Rep. David Bly’s proposal for a full-blown government takeover of health care in Minnesota, a bill that would nearly double our state budget ($30+ billion) with no way to pay for it. In the face of a deep state budget deficit, this bill is more than irresponsible; it is outrageous. Committee deadlines have been set early, and it appears the majority has no interest in balancing our budget.

As galling as the DFL’s spending is, what’s more galling is the DFL’s refusal to do anything in terms of fixing Minnesota’s budget deficit or building a entrepreneur-oriented, free market-based economy.

That the DFL hasn’t focused on fixing the deficit says that the DFL’s priorities have been corrupted by their special interest allies. They’ve put the interests of their construction union allies over (a) the need to fix the deficit and (b) the need to build a 21st century economy.

That isn’t being responsive to the people. That’s being responsive to their special interest allies’ wishes. That’s crony capitalism at its worst.

By comparison, Steve Gottwalt has again submitted his Healthy Minnesota Plan legislation for consideration:

We have also seen little willingness from the majority to work with the
Governor’s Office, or take up the helpful proposals and ideas the minority has offered, proposals that save real money toward responsibly balancing our state budget, and help sustain important state programs. These are not partisan “gotcha” proposals, but real, workable solutions that should be considered on a non-partisan basis.

For example, my bill to reform MinnesotaCare (HF3036) so we can continue helping low income Minnesotans obtain affordable health care coverage, saves $334 million per year, money that would help us keep the promises we’re making. However, the majority has so far declined to hear the bill, and has ignored invitations to work with us on a bi-partisan solution.

Last year, Steve’s bill passed the Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee with unanimous support, including from Tom Huntley and Paul Thissen. Steve’s bill would save Minnesota’s taxpers almost $700,000,000 per biennium. The reason it achieves those savings is because it’s based on free market principles.

Unfortunately, Speaker Kelliher and other members of the DFL leadership are unwilling to give Steve’s bill serious consideration. While that’s disappointing, it isn’t surprising. The DFL has been the status quo party since regaining the majority in the House. It’s accurate to say that they haven’t proposed any reforms since 2007.

It’s accurate to say that they still believe in a 20th century model of government. That only thing that changes are the costs and the new programs, each of which relies on old policies.

The time has arrived that we revamp and reprioritize government. It’s time that we ask hard questions on whether we need the programs that we’re currently paying for. It’s important to ask these questions because we must know whether there’s costly replication of services and what the extent is that there are programs meant to appease a political crony.

We shouldn’t be funding things that don’t make Minnesota more prosperous or more secure. We shouldn’t fund these things because we can’t afford it and because taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for paying off one’s political allies. It’s that simple.

The question facing the DFL is whether they’ll do the adult thing and get to work on fixing this year’s deficit while building tomorrow’s economy. I’m betting that they fail on both counts.

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Based on Gov. Crist’s failing poll numbers and the fact that key staffers are leaving Crist’s campaign, I’m betting that it’s just a matte of time before Gov. Crist’s campaign implodes. Here’s the latest news from the Crist campaign:

In the latest sign of turbulence for Charlie Crist’s wounded U.S. Senate bid, key staffers are starting to leave the campaign.

Political director Pablo Diaz, one of the first two staff members hired for the Senate campaign, is departing at the end of the month for “a new opportunity.” Sean Doughtie, a well-regarded new media consultant who had worked with Crist for years, stopped working for the campaign at the end of January.

“The campaign was going in a different direction,” said Doughtie.

Meanwhile, a poll released Monday pointed to Crist’s dire position six months before the Republican primary: Rubio was leading Crist by 18 percentage points, 54 percent to 36 percent, among likely Republican primary voters, according to a Feb. 18 Rasmussen Reports poll with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

There’s no denying that the Crist ship is sinking. The only question left unanswered is whether he’ll finish all the nationally-televised debates. Most likely, he will in the hopes that Rubio makes a major mistake but that’s a desperate Hail Mary strategy.

There’s little doubt that Gov. Crist will go increasingly negative:

“Now that he’s up in the polls, there will be more scrutiny and that’s great,” a cheerful Crist said Monday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he suggested that he’s more conservative than Rubio. “If you want to really see somebody’s character, give them power. Well, both the speaker and I have had power. While the speaker was there, he wanted to increase taxes $9 billion,” Crist said, referring to Rubio’s support of a plan to raise sales taxes and eliminate property taxes.

Crist, who neglected to mention that he supported a similar tax swap proposal, also noted that he vetoed more than $450 million in legislative spending initiatives passed while Rubio was speaker. “It takes leadership to do what’s right every single day and not just talk about it on the campaign trail the past six months and forget what your record was for two years,” the governor said, signaling the line of attack Floridians may be seeing on TV airwaves before long.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said the campaign is bracing for a barrage of negative attacks from Crist. “Charlie Crist has lost his credibility with Republican voters and his lead in the polls,” Burgos said. “The one thing Charlie Crist has left is to use the millions he does have to smear Marco Rubio with negative and dishonest attacks, a last-gasp strategy that was on full display this morning.”

I expected Gov. Crist to go negative but I didn’t expect that it would happen this soon. This, to me, is verification that Gov. Crist’s campaign is falling apart at an accelerating pace. It won’t be long before Gov. Crist’s political career is finished.

Because Gov. Crist’s campaign will likely implode, it isn’t likely that Florida Democrats would want him as their gubernatorial candidate. At this point, he’s damaged goods. I’m bettign that even the Democrats aren’t that desperate.

It’s sad that Gov. Crist’s campaign has unraveled this badly this fast. It’s an unprecedented implosion in terms of politics, though the Philadelphia Phillies’ collapse in 1964 might rival it in sports.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Many words will be spoken about President Obama’s health care legislation. Robert Gibbs undoubtedly will argue that it represents real compromise. It isn’t. Charles Krauthammer explained why last night:

KRAUTHAMMER: The plan that the President unveiled today is really a travesty masquerading as an outreach to the Republicans. First of all, it has nothing about tort reform, which is an important element. We know why because Howard Dean has said that the Democrats don’t want to anger the trial lawyers and tort reform has been estimated by the Massachusetts Medical Society that doctors who practice defensive medicine, a quarter of all tests, procedures and referrals…
BAIER: The President says that he’s willing to talk about tort reform.
KRAUTHAMMER: If you have a 2,600 page bill and you have nothing in it on tort reform, you’re not serious about it. Secondly, from the start, there’s nothing in it that nationalizes the market and purchasing across state lines. What the President does here is he tries to reconcile House and Senate differences but he does it by throwing more money at every difference. For example, the Nebraska Kickback, which is a federal giveaway on Medicaid for only Nebraska, every state now has it.

The editors at the Wall Street Journal have weighed in on President Obama’s unwillingness to compromise, too:

A mere three days before President Obama’s supposedly bipartisan health-care summit, the White House yesterday released a new blueprint that Democrats say they will ram through Congress with or without Republican support. So after election defeats in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts, and amid overwhelming public opposition, Democrats have decided to give the voters what they don’t want anyway.

Ah, the glory of “progressive” governance and democratic consent.

“The President’s Proposal,” as the 11-page White House document is headlined, is in one sense a notable achievement: It manages to take the worst of both the House and Senate bills and combine them into something more destructive. It includes more taxes, more subsidies and even less cost control than the Senate bill. And it purports to fix the special-interest favors in the Senate bill not by eliminating them—but by expanding them to everyone.

The bill’s one new inspiration is a powerful federal board that would regulate premiums in the individual insurance market. In all 50 states, insurers are already required to justify premium increases to insurance commissioners, who generally have the power to give a regulatory go-ahead, or not. But their primary concern is actuarial soundness and capital standards, making sure that companies have enough cash to pay claims.

President Obama, just like he always does, talks bipartisanship without being bipartisan. He talks about fiscal discipline without exercising fiscal restraint. More people distrust President Obama each day. They’ve seen his saying one thing, then doing the opposite too often. To say that his routine is wearing thin is understatement.

Recently, President Obama has complained about the 39 percent increase in insurance premiums in California. What he hasn’t mentioned is that California approved that hike. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why he omits that important detail.

Another important detail that President Obama omits is that it isn’t necessary to create a “new Health Insurance Rate Authority to review and rein in unreasonable rate increases” because, as the WSJ reports, all 50 states have insurance commissioners who do that already.

The only purpose for a federal Health Insurance Rate Authority is to strip away the state’s authority and give that authority to the federal government, thereby putting oversight responsibility one step further away from the people it purportedly wants to help. The Founding Fathers’ belief was that government closest to the people is the best form of governance because it’s most accountable to the people it governs.

President Obama apparently believes that the Founding Fathers were wrong in believing that.

The Dallas Morning News’ William Murchison weighed in on President Obama’s ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ compromise in this column:

The health care charade has gone on for a year. Polls suggest most Americans don’t want the measures now on offer. Republican leaders want to start the whole thing over again. The president says no, because he’s got his own plan and a date with the TV audience Thursday to explain why nothing his Republican guests will propose, unless it’s really small, deserves incorporation into the grand scheme that “We’re All Going to Buy Into Right Now. DO YOU HEAR ME, AMERICA?!!!!”

The Founding Fathers told us there would be days like this; they just hoped there wouldn’t be many such, with Congress entertaining the enactment of undigested proposals better suited to the goal of forging legislative majorities than that of actually making life better. But there we are. The thoughtless arrogance of the whole health “reform” enterprise makes the head spin.

This isn’t about compromise. It’s about President Obama’s Chicago thug-style politicking. There’s nothing about President Obama’s style that suggests that he’s a public servant. There’s ample proof to suggest that President Obama is most interested in implementing his radical leftist agenda despite what the governed think.

That stands the Preamble of the Constitution on its head:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Then again, this isn’t surprising. Progressives don’t put a high priority on heeding the Constitution’s principles because they often get in the way of their agenda.

If President Obama and his Democratic allies aren’t willing to listen to the American people while they’re writing legislation, which they apparently haven’t, then it’s time to make them pay attenion the first Tuesday this November. Until then, it’s time that John Q. Public to repeatedly and persistently visit their senators’ and their congressmen’s offices to voice their displeasure with them ignoring the will of the people.

As always, be polite during these visit. Don’t unload a laundery list of complaints. It’s better to state your complaint in concise terms. That’s the only way to clearly communicate the message.

It’s time to stop this trainwreck legislation in its tracks. We can’t afford more new spending, especially with the deficit likely to jump higher this year than last year’s record.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative