Archive for June, 2012

Last night’s Almanac roundtable featured a trio of campus-based idiots. Chief among the idiots was David Schultz. Early in the discussion, Eric Eskola asked St. Olaf’s Prof. Hofrening if the ruling would rally the GOP base. Eskola also asked if Thursday’s ruling turned the election into a referendum on the ACA. Here’s Prof. Hofrenning’s response:

Well, I think that’s the big question. To what degree will this rally the base. The question is ‘what will this decision do to the conservative movement today’? Clearly, it will rally some TEA Partiers but I think we have to keep a close watch on the intensity of that rally.

Prof. Hofrenning, this ruling didn’t rally just the TEA Party wing of the GOP. It rallied independents. It rallied ‘establishment’ Republicans, too. Joe Trippi got it right on Hannity the other night when he said “This ruling has the Democrat base breathing a sigh of relief. It has the Republican base breathing fire.”

After that exchange, Mary Lahammer asked Kathryn Pearson what the ramifications of the ruling would be on congressional races. Here’s Prof. Pearson’s response:

Well, the congressional elections of 2012, each member will be fighting for his or her own seat and we’re already seeing some glimpses of this. Democrats not going to the Democratic National Convention, they’re looking out for themselves first. We’ll see the same thing from Republicans as well.

But Republicans are saying ‘Just give us a Republican president and a Republican congress’ but it isn’t that easy. One of the dangers of that message is that it moves away from the economy because the economy is the #1 issue in the election.

Another of the problems is that they aren’t offering an alternative plan. So if you look at many of the individual items, they’re quite popular

First, this will be another wave election. This won’t end well for Democrats. The ACA ruling just intensifies the disgust for the ACA amongst TEA Party activists, independents and establishment Republicans.

Second, while we see proof that Democrats aren’t attending the Democratic National Convention, there’s no proof that Republican legislators and candidates will stay away from Tampa.

That’s because Republicans, while many of us aren’t thrilled with Mitt, won’t treat him like toxic waste. Democrats like Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill are treating President Obama like toxic waste. Anyone who didn’t notice that shouldn’t be a political science teacher at a major university.

Third, while it’s true that the economy, specifically creating jobs and growing the economy, is a high priority, it’s equally true that the ACA has jumped up to being Issue 1A to the economy’s status as Issue 1.

I hope Mitt and congressional Republicans put out an alternative plan. That said, I don’t think it’s that important to offer an alternative plan at this point. Most people’s first priority after Thursday’s ruling is ridding ourselves of the ACA albatross.

Later, Mary Lahammer said that the GOP base “was lukewarm about Romney”, to which Schultz replied “That’s exactly the point is whether this translates into support for Mitt Romney in terms of they’ll really get behind him.”

Schultz then asked if Republicans would get behind the man who provided the model for the ACA:

This becomes a problem for Romney. How does he play this issue and I’m not sure he has alot of maneuver room on this one.

First, the fact that Mitt raised $5,000,000 in the 36 hours after the ruling should be more than an indicator to these geniuses that the base, and many independents, are steadfastly behind Mitt, especially since most of these contributions a) came through the internet and b) were small-dollar amount contributions.

Second, Mitt Romney has said repeatedly that he’ll repeal the ACA. Yesterday, Sen. Mitch McConnell said that he’d “repeal Obamacare” if he was the majority leader and Mitt was President.

He didn’t say that repeal would be a priority. Mitch didn’t say that they’d work on it. Mitch McConnell said that they’d repeal it.

Think of this as Mitt Romney’s and Mitch McConnell’s equivalent of Bush 41’s Read my lips moment. If they don’t repeal the ACA, history will record them as political failures. Their legacies will be tarnished.

A strong majority of the American people want the ACA repealed. That hasn’t changed since President Obama signed the bill into law. It’s consistently been that 55% of the people want the bill repealed. It’s consistently been that 40% of the people want it kept in place.

This will affect women’s reaction to the Obama administration. The townhall meetings of August, 2009 featured women who said that they’d never paid attention to politics before. That was the unofficial ‘birthplace’ of Sarah Palin’s Momma Grizzlies.

Health care reform awakened a sleeping giant. Most of the people in that sleeping giant were women that worried government-run health care would cost more while delivering lower quality care, which it will do.

Later in the roundtable, these ‘geniuses’ said that President Obama had to do a better job defending the ACA. That’s impossible. It’s impossible to defend the indefensible. It’s impossible to defend the 21-tax salute Congress and President Obama gave to the American people. It’s impossible to defend the massive growth in the federal government.

The problem isn’t that President Obama hasn’t done a good job selling the ACA. It’s that the ACA is a crappy product that a) the American people have rejected, b) was shoved down America’s throat despite the many monstrous TEA Party rallies and c) overpromises and underdelivers.

People will lose their health care plan because employers will drop people and pay the fine rather than continue covering their employees. Health insurance premiums will continue rising faster than the rate of inflation.

The first 50 hours after the ACA ruling shows that the intense opposition to the ACA hasn’t diminished since August, 2009. That’s a major problem for President Obama, Democrats running for re-election to the Senate and for House Democrats.

Prior to Thursday’s ruling, I’d said that I was confident Mitt Romney would defeat President Obama, partly because Democrats aren’t thrilled with him. Remember the convicted felon getting 42% of the vote in West Virginia? I do. Remember Undecided getting 41% of the vote in Kentucky? I certainly do.

Each election has 2 tracks in terms of polling. Daily tracking polls will reflect the blips covered during the news cycle. The weekly polling, however, shows the undercurrent that determines elections. People are frightened about the economy, the exploding national debt and dealing with the ACA.

That’s what these political science professors missed entirely. They don’t have a clue about what’s happening this election.

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President Obama’s Truth Team is ‘setting things straight‘ about the ACA:

#1 Republican distortion: “The President promised he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class by a penny with this health care law. Well, that’s been proven false now.”

The facts: President Obama has cut taxes by $3,600 for the average middle-class family over the last three years, and the Republicans fought him nearly every step of the way. From cutting taxes for every working American through the Making Work Pay and payroll tax cuts to the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a tax credit worth up to $10,000 to help families pay for four years of college, the President has put more money in the pockets of middle-class Americans.

President Obama’s ‘Truth Team’ is omitting a bunch of facts, which I wrote about here:

  • New tax on individuals who do not purchase government?approved health insurance
  • New tax on employers who fail to fully comply with government health insurance mandates
  • New 40% excise tax on certain high?cost health plans
  • Increase the Medicare tax on wages and self?employment income by 0.9%
  • New annual tax on health insurance
  • New 2.3% excise tax on certain medical devices
  • New 10% tax on indoor UV tanning services
  • New tax on insured and self?insured health plans

That’s almost $400 billion in tax increases that either are levied on the middle class or that affect their employers. That’s the cold, harsh fact of the matter. Apparently, President Obama’s “Truth Team” isn’t firmly tethered to the truth. Here’s another “Truth Team” distortion:

#2 Romney distortion: Romney said Obamacare meant “a larger and larger government, more and more intrusive in your life, separating you and your doctor.” 

The facts: This is one of the most dishonest claims in American politics. First, this isn’t about government. Obamacare builds on and improves the nation’s private health care system. Second, here’s what it fixes. Before Obamacare, insurance companies had free rein to arbitrarily cap and cancel coverage, and they could waste our premiums on overheads and big bonuses for CEOs. With Obamacare, there will now be clear rules of the road to give patients and doctors more control over health care. These rules will make sure that you and your doctor, not your insurance company, and certainly not a Washington bureaucrat, have control over your health.

Here’s reality:

  1. Grant program for consumer assistance offices (Section 1002, p. 37)
  2. Grant program for states to monitor premium increases (Section 1003, p. 42)
  3. Committee to review administrative simplification standards (Section 1104, p. 71)
  4. Demonstration program for state wellness programs (Section 1201, p. 93)
  5. Grant program to establish state Exchanges (Section 1311(a), p. 130)
  6. State American Health Benefit Exchanges (Section 1311(b), p. 131)
  7. Exchange grants to establish consumer navigator programs (Section 1311(i), p. 150)
  8. Grant program for state cooperatives (Section 1322, p. 169)
  9. Advisory board for state cooperatives (Section 1322(b)(3), p. 173)
  10. Private purchasing council for state cooperatives (Section 1322(d), p. 177)
  11. State basic health plan programs (Section 1331, p. 201)
  12. State-based reinsurance program (Section 1341, p. 226)
  13. Program of risk corridors for individual and small group markets (Section 1342, p. 233)
  14. Program to determine eligibility for Exchange participation (Section 1411, p. 267)
  15. Program for advance determination of tax credit eligibility (Section 1412, p. 288)
  16. Grant program to implement health IT enrollment standards (Section 1561, p. 370)
  17. Federal Coordinated Health Care Office for dual eligible beneficiaries (Section 2602, p. 512)
  18. Medicaid quality measurement program (Section 2701, p. 518)
  19. Medicaid health home program for people with chronic conditions, and grants for planning same (Section 2703, p. 524)
  20. Medicaid demonstration project to evaluate bundled payments (Section 2704, p. 532)
  21. Medicaid demonstration project for global payment system (Section 2705, p. 536)
  22. Medicaid demonstration project for accountable care organizations (Section 2706, p. 538)
  23. Medicaid demonstration project for emergency psychiatric care (Section 2707, p. 540)
  24. Grant program for delivery of services to individuals with postpartum depression (Section 2952(b), p. 591)
  25. State allotments for grants to promote personal responsibility education programs (Section 2953, p. 596)
  26. Medicare value-based purchasing program (Section 3001(a), p. 613)
  27. Medicare value-based purchasing demonstration program for critical access hospitals (Section 3001(b), p. 637)
  28. Medicare value-based purchasing program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 3006(a), p. 666)
  29. Medicare value-based purchasing program for home health agencies (Section 3006(b), p. 668)
  30. Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality (Section 3012, p. 688)
  31. Grant program to develop health care quality measures (Section 3013, p. 693)
  32. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Section 3021, p. 712)
  33. Medicare shared savings program (Section 3022, p. 728)
  34. Medicare pilot program on payment bundling (Section 3023, p. 739)
  35. Independence at home medical practice demonstration program (Section 3024, p. 752)
  36. Program for use of patient safety organizations to reduce hospital readmission rates (Section 3025(b), p. 775)
  37. Community-based care transitions program (Section 3026, p. 776)
  38. Demonstration project for payment of complex diagnostic laboratory tests (Section 3113, p. 800)
  39. Medicare hospice concurrent care demonstration project (Section 3140, p. 850)
  40. Independent Payment Advisory Board (Section 3403, p. 982)
  41. Consumer Advisory Council for Independent Payment Advisory Board (Section 3403, p. 1027)
  42. Grant program for technical assistance to providers implementing health quality practices (Section 3501, p. 1043)
  43. Grant program to establish interdisciplinary health teams (Section 3502, p. 1048)
  44. Grant program to implement medication therapy management (Section 3503, p. 1055)
  45. Grant program to support emergency care pilot programs (Section 3504, p. 1061)
  46. Grant program to promote universal access to trauma services (Section 3505(b), p. 1081)
  47. Grant program to develop and promote shared decision-making aids (Section 3506, p. 1088)
  48. Grant program to support implementation of shared decision-making (Section 3506, p. 1091)
  49. Grant program to integrate quality improvement in clinical education (Section 3508, p. 1095)
  50. Health and Human Services Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health (Section 3509(a), p. 1098)
  51. Centers for Disease Control Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(b), p. 1102)
  52. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(e), p. 1105)
  53. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(f), p. 1106)
  54. Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(g), p. 1109)
  55. National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council (Section 4001, p. 1114)
  56. Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health (Section 4001(f), p. 1117)
  57. Prevention and Public Health Fund (Section 4002, p. 1121)
  58. Community Preventive Services Task Force (Section 4003(b), p. 1126)
  59. Grant program to support school-based health centers (Section 4101, p. 1135)
  60. Grant program to promote research-based dental caries disease management (Section 4102, p. 1147)
  61. Grant program for States to prevent chronic disease in Medicaid beneficiaries (Section 4108, p. 1174)
  62. Community transformation grants (Section 4201, p. 1182)
  63. Grant program to provide public health interventions (Section 4202, p. 1188)
  64. Demonstration program of grants to improve child immunization rates (Section 4204(b), p. 1200)
  65. Pilot program for risk-factor assessments provided through community health centers (Section 4206, p. 1215)
  66. Grant program to increase epidemiology and laboratory capacity (Section 4304, p. 1233)
  67. Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (Section 4305, p. 1238)
  68. National Health Care Workforce Commission (Section 5101, p. 1256)
  69. Grant program to plan health care workforce development activities (Section 5102(c), p. 1275)
  70. Grant program to implement health care workforce development activities (Section 5102(d), p. 1279)
  71. Pediatric specialty loan repayment program (Section 5203, p. 1295)
  72. Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program (Section 5204, p. 1300)
  73. Allied Health Loan Forgiveness Program (Section 5205, p. 1305)
  74. Grant program to provide mid-career training for health professionals (Section 5206, p. 1307)
  75. Grant program to fund nurse-managed health clinics (Section 5208, p. 1310)
  76. Grant program to support primary care training programs (Section 5301, p. 1315)
  77. Grant program to fund training for direct care workers (Section 5302, p. 1322)
  78. Grant program to develop dental training programs (Section 5303, p. 1325)
  79. Demonstration program to increase access to dental health care in underserved communities (Section 5304, p. 1331)
  80. Grant program to promote geriatric education centers (Section 5305, p. 1334)
  81. Grant program to promote health professionals entering geriatrics (Section 5305, p. 1339)
  82. Grant program to promote training in mental and behavioral health (Section 5306, p. 1344)
  83. Grant program to promote nurse retention programs (Section 5309, p. 1354)
  84. Student loan forgiveness for nursing school faculty (Section 5311(b), p. 1360)
  85. Grant program to promote positive health behaviors and outcomes (Section 5313, p. 1364)
  86. Public Health Sciences Track for medical students (Section 5315, p. 1372)
  87. Primary Care Extension Program to educate providers (Section 5405, p. 1404)
  88. Grant program for demonstration projects to address health workforce shortage needs (Section 5507, p. 1442)
  89. Grant program for demonstration projects to develop training programs for home health aides (Section 5507, p. 1447)
  90. Grant program to establish new primary care residency programs (Section 5508(a), p. 1458)
  91. Program of payments to teaching health centers that sponsor medical residency training (Section 5508(c), p. 1462)
  92. Graduate nurse education demonstration program (Section 5509, p. 1472)
  93. Grant program to establish demonstration projects for community-based mental health settings (Section 5604, p. 1486)
  94. Commission on Key National Indicators (Section 5605, p. 1489)
  95. Quality assurance and performance improvement program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 6102, p. 1554)
  96. Special focus facility program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 6103(a)(3), p. 1561)
  97. Special focus facility program for nursing facilities (Section 6103(b)(3), p. 1568)
  98. National independent monitor pilot program for skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities (Section 6112, p. 1589)
  99. Demonstration projects for nursing facilities involved in the culture change movement (Section 6114, p. 1597)
  100. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1619)
  101. Standing methodology committee for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1629)
  102. Board of Governors for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1638)
  103. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (Section 6301(e), p. 1656)
  104. Elder Justice Coordinating Council (Section 6703, p. 1773)
  105. Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation (Section 6703, p. 1776)
  106. Grant program to create elder abuse forensic centers (Section 6703, p. 1783)
  107. Grant program to promote continuing education for long-term care staffers (Section 6703, p. 1787)
  108. Grant program to improve management practices and training (Section 6703, p. 1788)
  109. Grant program to subsidize costs of electronic health records (Section 6703, p. 1791)
  110. Grant program to promote adult protective services (Section 6703, p. 1796)
  111. Grant program to conduct elder abuse detection and prevention (Section 6703, p. 1798)
  112. Grant program to support long-term care ombudsmen (Section 6703, p. 1800)
  113. National Training Institute for long-term care surveyors (Section 6703, p. 1806)
  114. Grant program to fund State surveys of long-term care residences (Section 6703, p. 1809)
  115. CLASS Independence Fund (Section 8002, p. 1926)
  116. CLASS Independence Fund Board of Trustees (Section 8002, p. 1927)
  117. CLASS Independence Advisory Council (Section 8002, p. 1931)
  118. Personal Care Attendants Workforce Advisory Panel (Section 8002(c), p. 1938)
  119. Multi-state health plans offered by Office of Personnel Management (Section 10104(p), p. 2086)
  120. Advisory board for multi-state health plans (Section 10104(p), p. 2094)
  121. Pregnancy Assistance Fund (Section 10212, p. 2164)
  122. Value-based purchasing program for ambulatory surgical centers (Section 10301, p. 2176)
  123. Demonstration project for payment adjustments to home health services (Section 10315, p. 2200)
  124. Pilot program for care of individuals in environmental emergency declaration areas (Section 10323, p. 2223)
  125. Grant program to screen at-risk individuals for environmental health conditions (Section 10323(b), p. 2231)
  126. Pilot programs to implement value-based purchasing (Section 10326, p. 2242)
  127. Grant program to support community-based collaborative care networks (Section 10333, p. 2265)
  128. Centers for Disease Control Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  129. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  130. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  131. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  132. Food and Drug Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  133. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  134. Grant program to promote small business wellness programs (Section 10408, p. 2285)
  135. Cures Acceleration Network (Section 10409, p. 2289)
  136. Cures Acceleration Network Review Board (Section 10409, p. 2291)
  137. Grant program for Cures Acceleration Network (Section 10409, p. 2297)
  138. Grant program to promote centers of excellence for depression (Section 10410, p. 2304)
  139. Advisory committee for young women’s breast health awareness education campaign (Section 10413, p. 2322)
  140. Grant program to provide assistance to provide information to young women with breast cancer (Section 10413, p. 2326)
  141. Interagency Access to Health Care in Alaska Task Force (Section 10501, p. 2329)
  142. Grant program to train nurse practitioners as primary care providers (Section 10501(e), p. 2332)
  143. Grant program for community-based diabetes prevention (Section 10501(g), p. 2337)
  144. Grant program for providers who treat a high percentage of medically underserved populations (Section 10501(k), p. 2343)
  145. Grant program to recruit students to practice in underserved communities (Section 10501(l), p. 2344)
  146. Community Health Center Fund (Section 10503, p. 2355)
  147. Demonstration project to provide access to health care for the uninsured at reduced fees (Section 10504, p. 2357)
  148. Demonstration program to explore alternatives to tort litigation (Section 10607, p. 2369)
  149. Indian Health demonstration program for chronic shortages of health professionals (S. 1790, Section 112, p. 24)
  150. Office of Indian Men’s Health (S. 1790, Section 136, p. 71)
  151. Indian Country modular component facilities demonstration program (S. 1790, Section 146, p. 108)
  152. Indian mobile health stations demonstration program (S. 1790, Section 147, p. 111)
  153. Office of Direct Service Tribes (S. 1790, Section 172, p. 151)
  154. Indian Health Service mental health technician training program (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 173)
  155. Indian Health Service program for treatment of child sexual abuse victims (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 192)
  156. Indian Health Service program for treatment of domestic violence and sexual abuse (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 194)
  157. Indian youth telemental health demonstration project (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 204)
  158. Indian youth life skills demonstration project (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 220)
  159. Indian Health Service Director of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment (S. 1790, Section 199B, p. 258)

So much for the ACA not growing government. President Obama’s “Truth Team” is apparently quite adept at telling whoppers. That’s about all that they’re good at, IMHO.

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This morning, Sen. Mitch McConnell told Laura Ingraham that he’d repeal the ACA if he’s the majority leader next January:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared Friday that repealing the health care law would top his priority list if he controls the chamber come 2013.

“If [Mitt] Romney is in the White House and I am the majority leader of the Senate, I assure you repeal of Obamacare is the first item on the agenda,” McConnell on Laura Ingraham’s radio show Friday.

By using a budget process called reconciliation, a theoretical Senate GOP majority could successfully vote to repeal the law with just 51 votes, rather than a filibuster-proof 60. Republicans need to pick up four seats to win control of the Senate, or three if Romney wins the White House.

“We need to start all over and not make things worse, and I think that’s the message for the fall election,” McConnell said. “Give us a chance to repeal this monstrosity and we will start all over with much more modesty, much more respect for the federal system.”

Reconciliation is what Democrats used to pass the ACA. It’d be poetic justice to see Republicans use reconciliation to repeal the ACA.

The minute the ACA is repealed, Republicans must start hearings on replacing the ACA. Those hearings must include debate on how to contain costs, something that the ACA isn’t able to do. These hearings must also improve accessability to and portability of health insurance.

Eliminating the law that says you can’t buy health insurance across state lines would be a major help. Having state legislatures pass laws that limit the number of mandates would make it easier for consumers to buy competitively priced policies from other states’ insurance companies.

Another option is having governors sign compacts with other states that allows for the purchase of health insurance is another way of getting around legislatures passing health insurance reform.

There’s been a total sea change since the SCOTUS ruling. While I’m not thrilled with Chief Justice Roberts’ ruling, I’m thrilled at conservatives’ and TEA Party activists’ reaction to it.

I told a friend earlier today (or perhaps it was last night?), Chief Justice Roberts’ ruling essentially eliminated all of the public’s apathy on this subject. People are fired up, as evidenced by Mitt’s fundraising totals in the past 30 hours.

If you want more information on fundraising, check out this article is fantastic:

The Romney campaign claims to have raised $4.6 million after Romney promised to repeal “Obamacare” even though the Affordable Care Act is patterned after a plan Romney put into effect as governor of Massachusetts.

And money is moving from Macau to Main Street-U.S.A. Las Vegas-based casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has pledged $10 million to the Koch brothers. The oil billionaires are vowing to raise $395 million to support Romney and Republican candidates.

The Democrats better prepare for a tidal wave of epic proportions this year. They shoved the ACA down Americans’ throats in 2010. Now they’re paying the price for telling the American people that their opinions didn’t matter.

When the last votes are counted this November, President Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al, will have wished that they’d listened instead of following their political ideology into political ruin.

It couldn’t happen to a more deserving pack of tyrants.

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This morning, Democrats showed why they shouldn’t be trusted with anything anytime soon. During discussions on the ACA, most of which happened behind the locked doors of Nancy Pelosi’s, Harry Reid’s and Max Baucus’s doors, Democrats, including President Obama, insisted that the individual mandate wasn’t a tax.

When they got to court, both in the 11th Circuit and in the Supreme Court, this administration argued that the mandate was a tax.

Now that the ACA has been ruled constitutional because the mandate is a tax, Democrats have started shifting back to arguing that this isn’t a tax:

A top surrogate for President Obama insisted Friday that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act was not a tax, despite the fact that the Supreme Court narrowly preserved the law on those grounds.

“Don’t believe the hype that the other side is selling,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told reporters on a conference call.

“This is a penalty,” Patrick said. “It’s about dealing with the freeloaders.”

First, calling people freeloaders because they don’t have the type of health insurance that the government is mandating is reprehensible. Second, it isn’t just “the other side” that’s “selling” the ACA as a major tax increase. It’s the Supreme Court that’s saying it’s a major tax increase. Third, and most importantly, whether the mandate is a tax or not, the ACA has more than $675,000,000,000 worth of taxes in it.

I wrote here that DFL lawmakers from Minnesota and Democrats from across the nation gave the American people “a 21-tax salute” when they passed the ACA.

Democrats imposed

  • a 40% excise tax on the Cadillac health insurance policies that the UAW negotiated for their members
  • a “new 2.3% excise tax on certain medical devices” when they passed the ACA
  • “a new 10% tax on indoor UV tanning services”

. Those are verified facts, Gov. Patrick. They aren’t “hype that the other side is selling.” This AFP ad settles the point on whether it’s a tax or not: If the solicitor general in a Democratic administration argues that a bill passed against bipartisan opposition contains a tax, then it’s certain that this bill contains a huge regressive tax increase that hits the middle class hard. This thinking should frighten people:

But Patrick said that it was about keeping people from getting care in expensive emergency room settings rather than private care settings. Further, he said that it would affect about one to two percent of Americans. “By whatever name, it’s a solution,” Patrick said, still insisting that it wasn’t a tax.

How is a system that increases health care costs, that raises taxes on America’s middle class and that doesn’t appreciably shrink the number of uninsured “a solution”? That type of thinking isn’t stupid. It isn’t spin. It’s a bald-faced lie. That’s why Americans need to reject the Democrats this November. They’re disgustingly dishonest. They’re totally devoid of solutions that help the middle class. They’re utterly undeserving of positions of authority over anything.

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The longer President Obama and Mr. Holder refuse to comply with a federal subpoena, the longer the American people will see their behavior as disgusting.

Yesterday, following the House’s vote to hold him in criminal contempt of a congressional subpoena, Holder made this self-serving statement:

Holder was defiant in the face of the contempt votes Thursday, one criminal and one civil. He described it as “the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically motivated investigation during an election year.”

That spin is bullshit. The only reason this has become an issue during a presidential campaign is because Mr. Holder hasn’t complied with this congressional subpoena since Oct. 12, 2011:

Congressional investigators issued a subpoena Wednesday for communications from several top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, relating to the discredited “Fast and Furious” federal gunrunning operation.

The subpoena, issued by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also covers communications from Holder’s chief of staff, Gary Grindler, and from Lanny Breuer, head of the department’s criminal division.

Had Mr. Holder complied with the congressional subpoena a month after it was issued, which was certainly possible, this wouldn’t have become an election year issue.

Fast and Furious would’ve still been an issue this campaign. When an administration’s policies lead to the cold-blooded murder of a law enforcement officer, it will be an election issue.

Thanks to Holder’s reprehensible behavior, the gunrunning operation and the DOJ’s behavior in hiding behind executive privilege, this will now be used as a billyclub against this corrupt, inept administration.

Fast & Furious is going away. Unfortunately, we won’t put it behind us until after Romney defeats Obama this November.

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I wrote here that the Roberts opinion, while fatally flawed, might turn into a blessing for Republicans. Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion makes it official that DFL legislators in DC voted for a massive middle class tax increase, one of the biggest in US history.

Rest assured that Minnesotans will be repeatedly reminded of that through November.

This article includes quotes from Minnesota’s congressional delegation. This quote is repulsive:

Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “This law is a beginning, not an end, and I believe that improvements still need to be made. Moving forward I will continue to work to ensure the law is implemented in a way that is consistent with Minnesota’s high-quality, efficient health care system and ensure these reforms work for our state.”

How dare Sen. Klobuchar talk about moving forward after voting for a massive middle class tax increase. How dare she talk about moving forward after voting for a massive excise tax on medical device manufacturers like Medtronic and Boston Scientific.

The ACA doesn’t contain costs. It hides costs through subsidies. It doesn’t increase access to health care because it’s too reliant on Medicaid. That’s the health care kiss of death because doctors, clinics and hospitals get ripped off through Medicaid payments, thus causing doctors to stop seeing Medicaid patients.

Sen. Klobuchar’s votes for the PPACA set health care in Minnesota back at least a decade. Isn’t it ironic that she’s talking about moving forward? Thanks to the PPACA, it’s impossible to go much further backward.

This quote jumped out at me, too:

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-4th Congressional District): “It is now time for Republicans in Congress to end their vitriolic repeal campaign and work on effectively implementing this law to the benefit of the American people.”

Rep. McCollum’s statement jumps out because she’s essentially said that the biggest middle class tax increase in my lifetime benefits “the American people.”

Rep. McCollum, take a look at this abridged version of the tax increases you voted for. Please tell Minnesotans how they’re helped by an annual tax on health care providers. Please tell middle class Minnesotans how they’re helped by the excise tax on tanning sessions. Please tell Minnesotans how they’re helped by the fees imposed on self-insured health plans.

Keith Ellison’s disgusting email ranks right up there:

Even with MinnesotaCare, let’s remember that many Minnesotan families suffered without health care coverage for decades. The Court’s decision to uphold this law President Obama proposed and Congress enacted shows dramatic change can happen when the American people demand that change. Now we need to be vigilant in implementing the law. We have made an important step toward the goal of making sure all American families have the health care they need and deserve and I promise to continue working until that happens.

Despite today’s victory, opponents of universal health coverage will continue their assault on health care access for the American people. Throughout this year, GOP lawmakers have tried to repeal or decrease health care benefits, including Medicare and Medicaid. We must continue to work together to protect vital reforms that will improve the health of every American.

It’s a myth that we’ve achieved or ever can achieve universal health coverage. Medicaid is broken because the federal government rips off doctors, clinics and hospitals. In North Carolina and Virginia, rural hospitals shut their doors rather than participate in the Medicaid ripoff.

Unfortunately, what isn’t myth are the gigantic tax increases that were included in the PPACA.

These Democrats, along with Sen. Franken, are the biggest losers through all this. That isn’t a prediction that they’ll lose their seats. Their votes, though, won’t be easy to defend.

Republicans, though, should benefit from Thursday’s ruling. First, they didn’t vote for a health care plan that raised taxes on the middle class. They didn’t vote for a health care plan that doesn’t control costs. They didn’t vote for a health care plan that doesn’t insure the millions of uninsured.

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In today’s landmark decision, Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion was badly wrong from a constitutional standpoint. The vast majority of Americans think that the PPACA is horrible legislation and terrible policy.

That isn’t why I’m arguing that Chief Justice Roberts got it wrong. Instead, I’m arguing that Chief Justice Roberts got it wrong because he’s essentially ruled that the courts have the right to rewrite the legislation.

In the original draft of the legislation, there was a specific section of the legislation that dealt specifically with taxes. It’s absurd to think that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court can simply rewrite legislation.

That’s what Chief Justice Roberts did. Congress didn’t include the mandate in the section on taxes. People remember President Obama’s interview with George Stephanopoulos where President Obama repeatedly insisted that the mandate wasn’t a tax. Only when it got into the courts did they start calling it a tax.

Chief Justice Roberts might make many wonderful rulings during his time as Chief Justice but his legacy will be sullied by this ruling. He didn’t just call balls and strikes this time. Instead, he appropriated for himself the authority to rewrite the PPACA.

That’s what activists do. Judicial historians will note that.

Most importantly, the American people will be repulsed by the decision, mostly because it kept intact legislation that hurts the American people.

Aside for the activist aspects of this ruling, the reality is that this ruling gives employers another major reason to not hire. It gives small businesses with 40-45 employees justification not to hire that fiftieth employee.

There are two bits of good news despite this ruling. One tidbit of good news is that other cases are working their way through the system. The other tidbit of good news is that this will motivate voters to defeat the people that initially gave us this job-killing monstrosity.

There’s no question that President Obama will get a temporary surge after this ruling. There’s no question, though, that this is a net negative for President Obama because he’s got to defend this terrible legislation the next 4 months.

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The increasingly desperate coalition of progressives trying to mount a campaign against the Photo ID ballot question have enlisted 2 politicians from Minnesota’s past for the fight:

Former Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale and former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson became the public faces Tuesday of a fight against a proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment requiring voters to present photo IDs at the polls.

The legislature voted to improve Minnesota’s election system, something that delegates to the DFL State Convention agreed was needed.

At the DFL State Convention, delegates debated whether to allow absentee ballots for their presidential straw poll, starting in 2016.Here’s what Rick Varko, a delegate to the DFL convention from SD-64, said about using absentee ballots:

I don’t believe that the Central Committee can come up with any mechanism that will genuinely prevent somebody from printing out a stack of absentee ballots, submitting them and getting them improper votes for a candidate.

Rick Varko’s statement implies that it’s possible to stuff ballot boxes. What Varko’s statement implies, Chuck Repke’s statement says explicitly:

You’re setting yourself up for absolute insanity at the caucus level. The potential exists for someone from the Citizens United type to pack our caucuses with bought and paid for ballots. Absolutely guarantee the destruction of the precinct caucus process. There is no way to protect against that, folks, because we allow anyone to attend the caucus. We would therefore also have to let any absentee ballot to attend our precinct caucuses, regardless of which Koch Brother paid for it.

The trio of high profile politicians that Our Vote Our Future picked as their co-chairs have high name recognition. Unfortunately, their information can’t be verified. In fact, it’s easily discredited.

The biggest disappointment about this organization is that it’s dishonest. This is a great example of their misinformation:

End Same-Day Voter Registration As We Know It.
Requiring a Photo ID to vote would end same-day registration as we know it, affecting the half-a-million voters who use it in general elections.

That’s exceptionally misleading. While it’s true that approximately 500,000 people use EDR on general elections, photo ID simply requires an adjustment on these voters’ behalf. It isn’t impossible for same day registrants to vote. People that use EDR have the option of presenting a state-issued Photo ID. Those people can cast a ballot immediately. People who use EDR that don’t have a state-issued Photo ID can cast a provisional ballot. People casting a provisional ballot then have to return with their state-issued Photo ID, at which time their provisional ballot is counted. Here’s why that’s a worthwhile, important provision:

According to MN Secretary of State information, after the 2008 presidential election, about 26,000 postal verification cards sent to same day voter registrants were returned as undeliverable…no such person or no such address. Meantime, their votes were cast and counted! In total, during the 2008 calendar year, about 38,000 were returned as undeliverable.

According to Our Day, Our Vote’s website, approximately 500,000 people use EDR (Election Day Registration) each general election. That means between 1 in 15 and 1 in 20 EDRs are filled out by people that we can’t prove exist. What thoughtful person thinks that these people aren’t committing voter fraud?

Here’s another misleading tidbit of information:

Doesn’t Solve a Problem.
Voter impersonation is the only type of voting fraud Photo ID would prevent. And there have been exactly zero cases of voter impersonation convictions here in Minnesota. ZERO.

It’s impossible to find what Mr. Ritchie and Mr. Mansky refuse to look for. IMPOSSIBLE.

Also, that statement is totally misleading. The PVCs that were returned weren’t filled out by people making honest mistakes. They were filled out by people intent on committing voter fraud.

Photo ID would’ve prevented voter fraud because the people that didn’t present a state-issued Photo ID would’ve cast a provisional ballot that’s only counted after the person’s identity has been verified.

Also, voter impersonation isn’t the only type of existing voter fraud that Photo ID will stop. It’ll prevent this type of voter fraud:

RICK SMITHSON: On this particular night, between 10 and 13 people showed up for same day registration. They had all claimed that the local laundromat address as their residence. When we challenged it, we called the State Auditors Office and we were told that there was nothing we could do about it. We were told that we couldn’t interfere with their right to vote but we could make note of it.

Three things are inescapable:

  1. Voter fraud exists.
  2. Not requiring a provisional ballot for EDRs makes counting corrupt ballots inevitable.
  3. Only Photo ID will eliminate this form of election fraud.

Vice President Mondale, Gov. Carlson and Rep. Penny can talk till they’re blue in the face about how Minnesota’s election system is airtight. Their statements can’t refute the facts I’ve just presented. This lie is so disgraceful that it utterly discredits these so-called elder statesmen:

The Photo ID amendment seeks to take away the voting rights of law-abiding citizens, preventing the elderly, our troops stationed abroad, students, people of color, veterans and countless others from voting.

There isn’t an ounce of truth in any of those statements. That’s typical of the Left, though. It’s their habit to accuse their opponents of being evil when their opponents defeat them in a fair debate.

Whether it’s calling people racists or whether it’s alleging that conservatives want to take people’s right to vote away, it’s inevitable that progressives will attempt to villify people they disagree with. Don’t pay attention to the 3 high profile politicians. Pay attention to the discredited agenda they’re pushing.

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This questionnaire is the candidate survey sent out to New Hampshire Legislative Candidates from the American Federation of Teachers in New Hampshire. To say that it isn’t about the children is understatement. Here’s a sampling of the most anti-taxpayer questions in the questionnaire:

  • Would you vote for any weakening or repeal of collective bargaining laws for NH’s public employees?
  • Would you vote for any legislation that would limit the ability of a union to collect dues through a payroll deduction?
  • Would you vote for any measures that would block the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act?
  • Do you support any proposed constitutional amendments such as CACR6 which would prohibit any increase in a tax or fee without a supermajority of lawmakers (60 percent) approving it?
  • Do you support and would vote to provide an annual COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) for retirees of the NH Retirement System?
  • Would you vote to retain the current structure of the NH Retirement System as a defined benefit program or a defined contribution (401-k type) plan?
  • Do you support so-called “voter-id” legislation that would create additional requirements for voting in NH?
  • If elected, would you become a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)?
  • Do you support diverting funds to charter schools?
  • Would you vote for school vouchers?

There are 25 questions in the questionnaire. I just picked out the 11 most offensive questions. It isn’t surprising that AFT-NH would include questions about charter schools and vouchers.

It’s offensive, though, that they’d ask whether legislators would “divert funds to charter schools.” The elected officials that represent the people have the authority to do what the people want. If they decide that funding charter schools will improve educational outcomes, then that’s what they should do.

Wording it that funding charter schools is diverting money from union schools is offensive. I could argue that union schools are diverting money from higher quality schools.

It’s painfully obvious that AFT-NH will fight hard to retain their defined benefits retirement plans. Potentially, that’s a fight of epic proportions between the NH legislature and AFT-NH. The fight for automatic COLAs will potentially be a fight of epic proportions, too.

If NH is like most states, their PEU pension plans are badly underfunded. Within a decade, they’ll have to take money from the state’s general fund to meet their defined benefit plan obligations. That most likely means raising taxes so that other budgets don’t get cut.

What’s puzzling is why AFT-NH is interested in a politician’s views on Photo ID. This questionnaire unquestionably looks out for the union’s rank-and-file. Still, it tells us that AFT-NH’s goals aren’t society’s goals. That’s why their agenda isn’t likely to get passed.

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Despite Chip Cravaack’s fight to keep airplanes safe, President Obama intends to cut funding for the Federal Flight Deck Operations, aka the FFDO:

The Obama administration’s hatred for the Second Amendment has reached new heights. After nearly a decade of safe operation, the White House is looking to reduce the number of pilots who provide an extra layer of security against airborne terror by packing a pistol in the cockpit. This plan shouldn’t fly.

The federal flight-deck officer program was put in place as a direct response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists barged into the cockpits and seized control of airliners. The initiative provides $25.5 million for weapons training for pilots, including for cargo carriers and private charters. President Obama’s budget would slash the amount in half.

Uncle Sam spends about $4,800 per pilot for the training administered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but aside from that, it doesn’t suffer from the usual bureaucratic bloat. Participants must pay their own travel, lodging and meal expenses. About 10,000 pilots have been certified, but the Obama administration’s goal is to see the number of armed aviators dwindle.

God forbid that President Obama let a successful, well-run program continue. Chip Cravaack has the facts on his side. He used those facts to grill DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano:

Chip Cravaack took the training. He flew these flights. He’s an expert on this issue. Instead of listening to an experienced expert, President Obama and the most incompetent DHS secretary in US history essentially said “we know better.”

With all due respect, they don’t know better. If this decision is a matter of who’s best equipped to make this decision, then it should be Chip Cravaack, not a pair of ideologues who don’t have the first clue about this program.

This fits the pattern. President Obama’s ego won’t let him admit that he should listen to the experts. Secretary Napolitano’s incompetence won’t let her admit that she should let experts make the important decisions.

The reality is that this administration, especially Secretary Napolitano’s part of it, is exceptionally incompetent. When this administration’s epitaph is written, the word incompetent will have a prominent place in that epitaph.

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