Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obama health reform team to drop public option

The team for health care reform appear to be ready to drop the public option because of the huge opposition to it.
Read story

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Press Largely Ignored Incendiary Rhetoric at Bush Protest News outlets that are focusing on the incendiary rhetoric of conservatives outside President

News outlets that are focusing on the incendiary rhetoric of conservatives outside President Obama's town hall meeting Tuesday ignored the incendiary rhetoric -- and even violence -- of liberals outside an appearance by former President George W. Bush in 2002.

When Bush visited Portland, Ore., for a fundraiser, protesters stalked his motorcade, assailed his limousine and stoned a car containing his advisers. Chanting "Bush is a terrorist!", the demonstrators bullied passers-by, including gay softball players and a wheelchair-bound grandfather with multiple sclerosis.

One protester even brandished a sign that seemed to advocate Bush's assassination. The man held a large photo of Bush that had been doctored to show a gun barrel pressed against his temple.

"BUSH: WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE," read the placard, which had an X over the word "ALIVE."

Another poster showed Bush's face with the words: "F--- YOU, MOTHERF---ER!"

A third sign urged motorists to "HONK IF YOU HATE BUSH." A fourth declared: "CHRISTIAN FASCISM," with a swastika in place of the letter S in each word.

Although reporters from numerous national news organizations were traveling with Bush and witnessed the protest, none reported that protesters were shrieking at Republican donors epithets like "Slut!" "Whore!" and "Fascists!"

Frank Dulcich, president and CEO of Pacific Seafood Group, had a cup of liquid thrown into his face, and then was surrounded by a group of menacing protesters, including several who wore masks. Donald Tykeson, 75, who had multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair, was blocked by a thug who threatened him.

Protesters slashed the tires of several state patrol cruisers and leapt onto an occupied police car, slamming the hood and blocking the windshield with placards. A female police officer was knocked to the street by advancing protesters, badly injuring her wrist.

The angry protest grew so violent that the Secret Service was forced to take the highly unusual step of using a backup route for Bush's motorcade because the primary route had been compromised by protesters, one of whom pounded his fist on the president's moving limousine.

All the while, angry demonstrators brandished signs with incendiary rhetoric, such as "9/11 - YOU LET IT HAPPEN, SHRUB," and "BUSH: BASTARD CHILD OF THE SUPREME COURT." One sign read: "IMPEACH THE COURT-APPOINTED JUNTA AND THE FASCIST, EGOMANIACAL, BLOOD-SWILLING BEAST!"

Yet none of these signs were cited in the national media's coverage of the event. By contrast, the press focused extensively on over-the-top signs held by Obama critics at the president's town hall event held Tuesday in New Hampshire.

The lead story in Wednesday's Washington Post, for example, is headlined: "Obama Faces 'Scare Tactics' Head-On."

"As the president spoke, demonstrators outside held posters declaring him a socialist and dubbing him 'Obamahdinejad,' in reference to Iran's president," the Post reported. "People screamed into bullhorns to protest a bigger government role in health care. 'Nobama Deathcare!' one sign read. A young girl held up a sign that said: 'Obama Lies, Grandma Dies.' Images of a protester wearing what appeared to be a gun were shown on television."

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that a Democratic congressman discovered that "an opponent of health care reform hanged him in effigy" and was confronted by "200 angry conservatives." The article lamented "increasingly ugly scenes of partisan screaming matches, scuffles, threats and even arrests."

No such coverage was given to the Portland protest of Bush by The New York Times or the Washington Post, which witnessed the protest.

Palin got it right Democrats can take a lesson on cap-and-tax By Rep. Don Young | Sunday, August 9, 2009

On July 24, Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and John Kerry of Massachusetts took to The Washington Post to attack former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's opposition to the Waxman-Markey cap-and-tax legislation and her overall energy philosophy.

Mrs. Palin correctly criticized the scheme presented in the legislation sponsored by Democratic Reps. Henry A. Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. By only citing a report from the left-of-liberal Center for American Progress, Mr. Kerry and Mrs. Boxer naively underestimate the effects the legislation will have on the American economy. Other, more mainstream organizations, such as the Brookings Institution and the Black Chamber of Commerce, disagree.

Waxman-Markey artificially creates competition between cheap, abundant energy and unreliable, expensive renewable forms, compelling utilities to use heavily subsidized, politically correct "renewable energy" while thousands who work producing traditional energy lose their jobs.

All the while, American industry will flee to other countries where they can power their assembly lines with cheaper energy. Because nearly four decades of obscene subsidies for wind and solar power haven't worked, Waxman-Markey ups the ante and engages in societal re-engineering and fundamental restructuring of America's energy supply.

According to the Energy Information Administration, wind and solar receive 55 times more in subsidies than coal and 100 times more than oil and natural gas. Yet today, wind and solar barely make up 1.5 percent of America's electricity supply and 0.5 percent of the total U.S. energy supply, while 85 percent of the U.S. energy supply originates from fossil fuels. These figures make clear to what extent the Waxman-Markey bill must give a leg up to wind and solar to force their success. The simple fact is that these so-called industries would not survive without mandates and subsidies.

Mrs. Boxer and Mr. Kerry seem ignorant of the fact that wind and solar fail to power America's trucks, planes, trains and ships. In reality, wind and solar will not displace the energy necessary for moving people and products around the country.

Nevertheless, while mocking Mrs. Palin's good sense, they choose to advocate legislation and policies that will drive U.S. dependence on foreign oil through the roof. The senators seem oblivious to the fact that nearly one-fourth of every barrel of oil goes to producing the asphalt on which their electric cars drive, the lubricants that enable the blades on their windmills to spin and the plastics that are used in the medical supplies, fabrics and raw materials Americans cannot live without.

In 1995, Congress passed legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas development. In fact, legislation to open ANWR has passed the House 10 times and the Senate once. Unfortunately, President Clinton vetoed that attempt, and today, Americans fail to enjoy the hundreds of millions of barrels a year that would be flowing had the bill become law.

Now, for the first time since 1982, we have the ability to develop our offshore resources. In 2008, President George W. Bush let the Executive Moratorium on Outer Continental Shelf Development expire, and Congress did not renew the legislative moratorium. However, the Obama administration and the radical environmentalists have other plans, and a de facto moratorium remains.

American energy marvels such as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) are the real drivers of the American economy. TAPS didn't require a government mandate; it required the federal government to get out of the way. This pipeline would never be built today. TAPS was successful only because of the oil embargo and, more significantly, because the legislation curtailed the ability of environmentalists to file lawsuits to block the project -- an effort in which, unfortunately, they have become well versed. This summer, as TAPS prepares to send its 16 billionth barrel to the consumer, I am reminded that Sarah Palin is correct and Mr. Kerry and Mrs. Boxer are again on the wrong side of energy issues.

Healthy markets succeed when the federal government steps back, not when it picks winners and losers. If history has demonstrated anything, it's that economies cannot be centrally planned by legislative bodies or bureaucrats -- even though some in the majority party seemingly disagree. The market, coupled with the ingenuity and enduring spirit of hardworking Americans, always wins.

Cheap energy means a strong economy. This is something we've learned firsthand in Alaska. In our villages, where gasoline or heating oil can top $7 a gallon, jobs are hard to come by.

The senators write that climate legislation will "ensure that the United States -- not China or India -- will be the leading economic power in this century." But the truth is, they already are.

The United States was the dynamic economic power in the 20th century without cap-and-trade. I know Mrs. Palin and I are both committed to ensuring that America's economic dominance continues into the 21st century rather than embarking blindly down the road to serfdom offered in Waxman-Markey and by the aforementioned senators from Massachusetts and California.

A Duke Professor Explains What the Health Care Bill Actually Says

"This bill is 1017 pages long. It is knee-deep in legalese and references to other federal regulations and laws. I have only touched pieces of the bill here. For instance, I have not considered the establishment of (1) 'Health Choices Commissioner' (Section 141); (2) a 'Health Insurance Exchange,' (Section 201), basically a government run insurance scheme to coordinate all insurance activity; (3) a Public Health Insurance Option (Section 221); and similar provisions. This is the evaluation of someone who is neither a physician nor a legal professional. I am citizen, concerned about this bill's effects on my freedom as an American. I would rather have used my time in other ways -- but this is too important to ignore. We may answer one question up front: How will the government ... pay for all this?

"Higher taxes, more borrowing, printing money, cutting payments, or rationing services -- there are no other options. We will all pay for this, enrolled in the government 'option' or not." So, when we talk about how we're going to pay for it, "How will the government ... pay for all this?" it's all of the following: "Higher taxes, more borrowing, printing money, cutting payments, or rationing services -- there are no other options" to pay for it. "We will all pay for this, enrolled in the government 'option' or not." The first question that he wanted to discover here is: "Will the plan ration medical care?" Then he cites the relevant passages from the bill and then evaluates the passages in real language, not the legalese that he found. This section, rationing medical care:

"1. This section amends the Social Security Act. 2. The government has the power to determine what constitutes an 'applicable [medical] condition.' 3. The government has the power to determine who is allowed readmission into a hospital. 4. This determination will be made by statistics: when enough people have been discharged for the same condition, an individual may be readmitted." In other words, there's nothing personal about this. That's why Obama's answer to the woman with the 100-year-old mother, "Are you gonna take into account the spunk and spirit, the will to live?" was, "I don't think we can do that." It's going to be statistic based. "5. This is government rationing, pure, simple, and straight up."

There is no other way to analyze this section of the bill. "6. There can be no judicial review of decisions made here. The Secretary is above the courts." All this language is in this piece. The language from the bill is from the piece. I'm not just going to read that to you. I'm reading his evaluation, stripping away the legalese, what it all means. "7. The plan also allows the government to prohibit hospitals from expanding without federal permission: page 317-318." The next question that the classics professor at Duke researched is: "Will the plan punish Americans who try to opt out?" and then he gives the relevant portions from the bill as it's written followed by his evaluation. Number one... Remember the question here is: "Will the plan punish Americans who try to opt out? ... 1. This section amends the Internal Revenue Code.
"2. Anyone caught without acceptable coverage and not in the government plan will pay a special tax." Now, this we know. We've seen this ourselves. "3. The IRS will be a major enforcement mechanism for the plan," as written in this bill. The IRS will be a major enforcer. The next section that he analyzed: "What constitutes 'acceptable' coverage?" Because, in the previous passage the bill said: "Anyone caught without acceptable coverage and not in the government plan will pay a special tax" So, what is "'acceptable' coverage"? Here are the relevant passages, sentences from the bill. "Evaluation of the passages. 1. The bill defines 'acceptable coverage' and leaves no room for choice in this regard. 2. By setting a minimum 70% actuarial value of benefits, the bill makes health plans in which individuals pay for routine services, but carry insurance only for catastrophic events, (such as Health Savings Accounts) illegal."

Let me read that again: "1. The bill defines 'acceptable coverage' and leaves no room for choice in this regard. 2. By setting a minimum 70% actuarial value of benefits, the bill makes health plans in which individuals pay for routine services" out of their own pockets, "but carry insurance only for catastrophic events ... illegal." That is one of the solutions to the problem we have now. Pay for what you want -- a standard checkup, a standard visit to the doctor -- and catastrophic insurance for when that could break your bank. Doing that will be illegal in the House bill. In other words, paying for your own routine day-to-day services but only having insurance for catastrophic events will be illegal. The next section that our classics professor, an average citizen, was curious about: ""Will the PLAN destroy private health insurance? Here is what it requires, for businesses with payrolls greater than $400,000 per year. (The bill uses 'contribution' to refer to mandatory payments to the government plan.)

"Pages 149-150, SEC. 313, EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTIONS IN LIEU OF COVERAGE," and then the relevant passages from the bill. Here is the evaluation of those passages. Again, what we're talking about here is: "Will the PLAN destroy private health insurance?" "1. The bill does not prohibit a person from buying private insurance. 2. Small businesses -- with say 8-10 employees -- will either have to provide insurance to federal standards, or pay an 8% payroll tax. Business costs for health care are higher than this, especially considering administrative costs. Any competitive business that tries to stay with a private plan will face a payroll disadvantage against competitors who go with the government 'option.'" Now, let me explain this. Small businesses, say eight-to-ten employees, will either have to provide insurance up "to federal standards." If they don't, they will pay an additional 8% payroll tax.

"Business costs for health care are higher than [what will be charged], especially considering administrative costs. Any competitive business that tries to stay with a private plan will face a payroll disadvantage against competitors who go with the government 'option.'" If they go to the government option, they're fine. If you don't and you stay private, you're going to pay a penalty. The penalty will make it ridiculous and stupid business-wise to stay with your private plan. Therefore, you will -- your small business will -- be forced out of private insurance onto the government option. "3. The pressure for business owners to terminate the private plans will be enormous," the financial pressure, the business pressure. "4. With employers ending plans, millions of Americans will lose their private coverage, and fewer companies will offer it."

Now, none of this is anything new. Everybody showing up at these town halls knows this. This is nothing that has already been learned when discussing it. That's why when Obama is saying, "If you like your plan you can keep it, it's not true, because the meat and potatoes of the bill is going to make it impossible." If your private plan is from an employer, your employer is going to find it very difficult to hold onto private insurance and remain competitive with businesses that opt out and go in the government option. When Barney Frank or Obama himself says, "We can't do this immediately. It's going to take 10 to 15 years," this is what they're talking about: Eventually forcing small businesses and others out of private insurance because they won't be able to remain competitive with competitors who go the public option.
"5. The Commissioner (meaning, always, the bureaucrats) will determine whether a particular network of physicians, hospitals and insurance is acceptable" even if you do stay private. "6. With private insurance starved, many people enrolled in the government 'option' will have no place else to go" if they don't like it. So all this talk from Obama about adding to competition is the exact opposite, which is what everybody who's read this understands and which is why they know he's lying to them when he says, "If you like your plan you can keep it." Another way to look at that, "If you like your plan, you can keep it," is: What if everybody decided to do that, but he says the health care plan, the system we have now is unsustainable. It's horrible.

Yet if you like your plan you can keep it? How do those two go together? The next question that our classics professor at Duke wanted to figure out by reading the bill: "Does the plan TAX successful Americans more THAN OTHERS? Here is what the bill says, pages 197-198, SEC. 441. SURCHARGE ON HIGH INCOME INDIVIDUALS 'SEC. 59C. SURCHARGE ON HIGH INCOME INDIVIDUALS," and then it has the legalese. Here's the evaluation of what it says: "1. This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code. 2. Tax surcharges are levied on those with the highest incomes. 3. The plan manipulates the tax code to redistribute their wealth. 4. Successful business owners will bear the highest cost of this plan." Successful small business owners, will bear the highest cost of this plan.

"Does THE PLAN ALLOW THE GOVERNMENT TO set FEES FOR SERVICES? What it says, page 124, Sec. 223, PAYMENT RATES FOR ITEMS AND SERVICES," and then the legalese of the bill. The analysis or the evaluation: "1. The government's authority to set payments is basically unlimited. 2. The official" commissioner, bureaucrats "will decide what constitutes 'excessive,' 'deficient,' and 'efficient' payments and services. Will THE PLAN increase the power of government officials to SCRUTINIZE our private affairs? What it says, pages 195-196, SEC. 431. DISCLOSURES TO CARRY OUT HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE SUBSIDIES," then the legalese in the bill.

The evaluation: "1. This section amends the Internal Revenue Code 2. The bill opens up income tax return information to federal officials. 3. Any stated 'limits' to such information are circumvented by item (v), which allows federal officials to decide what information is needed. 4. Employers are required to report whatever information the government says it needs to enforce the plan," meaning your medical records, your employment records, how you're living your life, what kind of risk that's posing to the health care system. Next: "Does the plan automatically enroll Americans in the GOVERNMENT plan? What it says, page 102, Section 205, Outreach and enrollment of Exchange-eligible individuals and employers in Exchange-participating health benefits plan," then the legalese. Here's the evaluation: "1. Do nothing and you are in" the government plan. "2. Employers are responsible for automatically enrolling people who still work. Does THE PLAN exempt federal OFFICIALS from COURT REVIEW?

"What it says, page 124, Section 223, PAYMENT RATES FOR ITEMS AND SERVICES," then the legalese and the evaluation. "1. Sec. 1123 amends the Social Security Act, to allow the Secretary to identify areas of the country that underutilize the government's plan 'based on per capita spending.' 2. Parts of the plan are set above the review of the courts." So the question, "Does THE PLAN exempt federal officials from court review?" and parts of the plan do. This is Mr. Lewis again. His name is John David Lewis, professor of classics at Duke University. He's a common, average citizen. He's not a lawyer, not a doctor. What this goes to show is, just about anybody can figure out what's in this bill if they just take the time to read it. And a lot of people have, and the people showing up at these town hall meetings saying "no," already know what this bill says and the elements to it, or of it, that I just shared with you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hypocracy of liberals

“I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate, and you disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic and we should stand up and say, ‘We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree – with any administration!’”

Do you know who uttered the above statement?

In thinking about it, perhaps it was a conservative who’s fed up with Barack Obama? Or, it simply had to be a conservative Senator who has had enough of Obama’s Chicago-style politics, right?

What if we told you the above quote was actually uttered by Hillary Clinton – in 2003?! This in fact is the case! She says it’s patriotic to exercise your freedom of speech and assembly.

…Now, fast-forward to August 10, 2009:


That’s what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says of the demonstrators and protestors at health care town halls taking place across the country.

Who do you agree with?

That’s right – Hillary Clinton was correct when she stated we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration. That is why American Future Fund is encouraging our members to attend town halls across the country – and make your voice heard!

By clicking HERE, you can view a list of all town hall meetings for August - November.

Like Hillary Clinton says – you’re patriotic if you disagree with ANY administration. This includes Barack Obama’s.

Attend a town hall and make your voice heard!

CLICK HERE to find out when and where!


Typical liberals do what I say not what I do

Article from Chuck Norris about intrusive govt. in the health care reform bill

Health care reforms are turning into health care revolts. Americans are turning up the heat on congressmen in town hall meetings across the U.S.

While watching these political hot August nights, I decided to research the reasons so many are opposed to Obamacare to separate the facts from the fantasy. What I discovered is that there are indeed dirty little secrets buried deep within the 1,000-plus page health care bill.

Dirty secret No. 1 in Obamacare is about the government's coming into homes and usurping parental rights over child care and development.

It's outlined in sections 440 and 1904 of the House bill (Page 838), under the heading "home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children." The programs (provided via grants to states) would educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills.

The bill says that the government agents, "well-trained and competent staff," would "provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains ... modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices," and "skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development."

Are you kidding me?! With whose parental principles and values? Their own? Certain experts'? From what field and theory of childhood development? As if there are one-size-fits-all parenting techniques! Do we really believe they would contextualize and personalize every form of parenting in their education, or would they merely universally indoctrinate with their own?

Are we to assume the state's mediators would understand every parent's social or religious core values on parenting? Or would they teach some secular-progressive and religiously neutered version of parental values and wisdom? And if they were to consult and coach those who expect babies, would they ever decide circumstances to be not beneficial for the children and encourage abortions?

One government rebuttal is that this program would be "voluntary." Is that right? Does that imply that this agency would just sit back passively until some parent needing parenting skills said, "I don't think I'll call my parents, priest or friends or read a plethora of books, but I'll go down to the local government offices"? To the contrary, the bill points to specific targeted groups and problems, on Page 840: The state "shall identify and prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families."

Are we further to conclude by those words that low-income families know less about parenting? Are middle- and upper-class parents really better parents? Less neglectful of their children? Less needful of parental help and training? Is this "prioritized" training not a biased, discriminatory and even prejudicial stereotype and generalization that has no place in federal government, law or practice?
Bottom line: Is all this what you want or expect in a universal health care bill being rushed through Congress? Do you want government agents coming into your home and telling you how to parent your children? When did government health care turn into government child care?

Government needs less of a role in running our children's lives and more of a role in supporting parents' decisions for their children. Children belong to their parents, not the government. And the parents ought to have the right -- and government support -- to parent them without the fed's mandates, education or intervention in our homes.

Kids are very important to my wife, Gena, and me. That's why we've spent the past 17 years developing our nonprofit KICKSTART program in public schools in Texas. It builds up their self-esteem and teaches them respect and discipline. Of course, whether or not they participate in the program is their and their parents' choice.

How contrary is Obamacare's home intrusion and indoctrination family services, in which state agents prioritize houses to enter and enforce their universal values and principles upon the hearts and minds of families across America?

Government's real motives and rationale are quite simple, though rarely, if ever, stated. If one wants to control the future ebbs and flows of a country, one must have command over future generations. That is done by seizing parental and educational power, legislating preferred educational methods and materials, and limiting private educational options. It is so simple that any socialist can understand it. As Josef Stalin once stated, "Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed."

Before so-called universal health care turns into universal hell care, write or call your representative today and protest his voting Obamacare into law. Remind him that what is needed in Washington is a truly bipartisan group that is allowed an ample amount of time to work on a compromise health care law that wouldn't raise taxes (for anyone), regulate personal medical choices, ration health care or restrict American citizens.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Who is going to be the govt. God who decides who gets to live and who gets a pill?

World's oldest dog turns 26

In dog years the terrier-cross is 182, the equivalent of being born in 1827.

He lives in Louisiana in the United States of America.

"I never spoiled Max," said his owner Janelle Derouen.

"I've never fed him anything but Kiddles and Bits [brand of dog food] and a few treats like those beefy doggy bones.

"We don't give him any food from our table," added Janelle, 49, who lives with her husband Billy, also 49, in New Iberia.

Max, who is greying, has a veterinary birth certificate to prove his age and is awaiting official confirmation from Guinness World Records.

Janelle and Billy bought Max from a local sugar cane farmer in 1983.

"He was the only one in the litter that was brown and I liked the colour so I took him home," said Janelle.

Max has been visiting the same vet since birth at the Robichaux Veterinary Clinic in New Iberia. An 80s puppy Max's birth was formally logged in 1983.

Until recently it was believed that Chanel, a geriatric Daschund-cross from New York was the oldest dog alive but Chanel, who turned 21 in May, is a full five years junior to Max.

Chanel is riddled with health problems, struggling desperately to see, walk and hear.

But Max is still in fine health and only suffers from mild arthritis and some cataracts. His secret, says Janelle, is not worrying about anything at all.

"He's a very, very laid back dog," said Janelle.

"He likes to lie down, relax, nap, sleep a lot and keep life simple. He'll play with the kids for a bit but if they bother him too long he'll wander off.

"He doesn't have any fancy toys, just a bit of rope and a regular squeaky ball."

Janelle and Billy held a special birthday party for Max on Sunday.

"We spoiled him just a little bit that once," said Janelle.

Bachmann Seeks Transparency in Bailout Operations

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I recently had the opportunity to question Elizabeth Warren, the Chair of the panel that was charged with oversight of the $700-billion Wall Street bailout operations. I was then, and remain today, concerned that this panel is not operating with full transparency. It seems to me that a panel that was commissioned with giving taxpayers insight into how their money is being spent on the Wall Street bailout should itself be a model of openness.

Today, I followed up with my questioning with a letter to Ms. Warren. The text of my letter is below for your review:

Ms. Elizabeth Warren
Chair, Congressional Oversight Panel (COP)
732 North Capitol St., NW
Rooms C-320 and C-617
Washington, DC 20401

Dear Ms. Warren,

I was disappointed to hear that for a third time, the Congressional Oversight Panel (Panel) has rejected a motion by Congressman Jeb Hensarling to improve the Panel’s transparency and accountability measures.

As you know, this motion would have required that within 20 days of each Panel meeting, both an official transcript and minutes be made available to the public, including those conducted by telephone. The motion also included a confidentiality safeguard which stated that the Panel could refrain from making certain meetings public with a simple majority vote. In my view, this is more than reasonable and I urge the Panel to reconsider the motion.

The Panel’s main objective is to shed light on how the U.S. Treasury is spending the $700 billion of taxpayer money authorized under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). This is a serious responsibility. The public outrage against the TARP was, and still is, undeniable, and the taxpayers footing the bill for this program deserve to have access to all the oversight resources available. I’m very concerned about the signal the Panel has sent to the American people and Members of Congress by rejecting this transparency motion. In fact, I find it ironic that a panel created to provide oversight is rejecting oversight of its own operations. Your rejection of these very reasonable accountability measures seems contrary to your very mission.

Additionally, I’m concerned that the Panel’s oversight of the TARP is not sufficient. The Panel’s website clearly shows that it has only held on average one public hearing per month since December 2008. Until last Monday, the Panel had held no public hearings with the largest TARP recipients and has yet to question the largest financial institutions about their administration of TARP funds. And, only one hearing over the past 8 months included Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner – the main administrator of the TARP. How can the Panel achieve its oversight mission given this schedule?

There also seems to be a level of secrecy surrounding the basic functions of the Panel. As you made clear at the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on July 22, 2009, the Panel has no specified budget for its operations. And when I request two fundamental pieces of information, a public phone number and official transcripts of the Panel’s meetings, you responded with some confusion and stated, “We don't have official transcripts… We have typing that comes back from someone who listened to our tapes, who is not part of our panel, not part of this process, and no one has verified the accuracy of any part of it.” Your responses make a strong case that Congressman Hensarling’s transparency motion is critical to improving the Panel’s accountability.

For a Panel tasked with examining the transparency and effectiveness of the TARP, I am concerned that the Panel’s own operations are lacking in this very area. On behalf of the taxpayers that I represent, the Minnesotans who are footing the bill for the TARP, I would appreciate a written explanation as to why you voted against Congressman Hensarling’s motion for greater transparency. They deserve to know what is happening with their money.

I look forward to working together to strengthen the oversight of the TARP and ensure that the Panel’s activities are open and accessible to citizens across our nation. I appreciate your consideration of these concerns and look forward to hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.


Michele Bachmann
Member of Congress

What Does Health Care Reform Mean for the Most Vulnerable Amongst Us?

Michele Bachmann

When Congress returns to Washington from its district work period, the President’s health care reform proposal is expected to be at the very top of our agenda. Much of the discussion so far has been in sound bites and debate snippets and about numbers and sterile ideas. But, health care reform should be about people.

It’s important that we look deeper into statements of some of the Administration’s top advisors to get some insight into where the legislative proposals on the table may lead us. Betsy McCaughey, former Lieutenant Governor for New York and founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, recently shared some statements by two of President Obama’s top advisors in the New York Post that should give us pause about the very human consequences of health care reform.

I encourage you to read her column from July 24th (Deadly Doctors: O Advisors Want to Ration Care):

THE health bills coming out of Congress would put the decisions about your care in the hands of presidential appointees. They'd decide what plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have and what seniors get under Medicare.

Yet at least two of President Obama's top health advisers should never be trusted with that power.

Start with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. He has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

Emanuel bluntly admits that the cuts will not be pain-free. "Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality are merely 'lipstick' cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change," he wrote last year (Health Affairs Feb. 27, 2008).

Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others" (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008).

Yes, that's what patients want their doctors to do. But Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else.

Many doctors are horrified by this notion; they'll tell you that a doctor's job is to achieve social justice one patient at a time.

Emanuel, however, believes that "communitarianism" should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those "who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens . . . An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia" (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. '96).

Translation: Don't give much care to a grandmother with Parkinson's or a child with cerebral palsy.

He explicitly defends discrimination against older patients: "Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years" (Lancet, Jan. 31).

The bills being rushed through Congress will be paid for largely by a $500 billion-plus cut in Medicare over 10 years. Knowing how unpopular the cuts will be, the president's budget director, Peter Orszag, urged Congress this week to delegate its own authority over Medicare to a new, presidentially-appointed bureaucracy that wouldn't be accountable to the public.

Since Medicare was founded in 1965, seniors' lives have been transformed by new medical treatments such as angioplasty, bypass surgery and hip and knee replacements. These innovations allow the elderly to lead active lives. But Emanuel criticizes Americans for being too "enamored with technology" and is determined to reduce access to it.

Dr. David Blumenthal, another key Obama adviser, agrees. He recommends slowing medical innovation to control health spending.

Blumenthal has long advocated government health-spending controls, though he concedes they're "associated with longer waits" and "reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices" (New England Journal of Medicine, March 8, 2001). But he calls it "debatable" whether the timely care Americans get is worth the cost. (Ask a cancer patient, and you'll get a different answer. Delay lowers your chances of survival.)

Obama appointed Blumenthal as national coordinator of health-information technology, a job that involves making sure doctors obey electronically delivered guidelines about what care the government deems appropriate and cost effective.

In the April 9 New England Journal of Medicine, Blumenthal predicted that many doctors would resist "embedded clinical decision support" -- a euphemism for computers telling doctors what to do.

Americans need to know what the president's health advisers have in mind for them. Emanuel sees even basic amenities as luxuries and says Americans expect too much: "Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy . . . physicians' offices are typically more conveniently located and have parking nearby and more attractive waiting rooms" (JAMA, June 18, 2008).

No one has leveled with the public about these dangerous views. Nor have most people heard about the arm-twisting, Chicago-style tactics being used to force support. In a Nov. 16, 2008, Health Care Watch column, Emanuel explained how business should be done: "Every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health-care reform agenda. If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration's health-reform effort."

Do we want a "reform" that empowers people like this to decide for us?

The Economic Impact of The Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade Bill on Western States

Testimony before
The House and Senate Western Caucus

July 30, 2009

My name is Ben Lieberman. I am the Senior Policy Analyst for Energy and Environment in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own, and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation.

I would like to thank the House and Senate Western Caucus for the privilege of participating in today's hearing. I'll be discussing the costs of the cap-and-trade approach to addressing global warming and The Heritage Foundation's economic analysis of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey). As you know, the House narrowly passed this bill, which is similar to, but has more stringent targets and timetables than, the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill that was rejected by the Senate last June.

It is clear that cap and trade is very expensive and amounts to nothing more than an energy tax in disguise. After all, when you sweep aside all the complexities of how cap and trade operates--and make no mistake, this is the most convoluted attempt at economic central planning this nation has ever attempted--the bottom line is that cap and trade works by raising the cost of energy high enough so that individuals and businesses are forced to used less of it. Inflicting economic pain is what this is all about. That is how the ever-tightening emissions targets will be met.

The only entities directly regulated by Waxman-Markey would be the electric utilities, oil refiners, natural gas producers, and some manufacturers that produce energy on site. So the good news for the rest of us--homeowners, car owners, small business owners, farmers and ranchers--is that we won't be directly regulated under this bill. The bad news is that nearly all the costs will get passed on to us anyway.

What are those costs? According to an analysis we conducted at The Heritage Foundation, an updated version of which will be out shortly, the higher energy costs kick in as soon as the bill's provisions take effect in 2012. For a household of four, energy costs go up $436 that year, and they eventually reach $1,241 in 2035 and average $829 annually over that span. Electricity costs go up 90 percent by 2035, gasoline by 58 percent, and natural gas by 55 percent by 2035. The cumulative higher energy costs for a family of four by then will be nearly $20,000.

But direct energy costs are only part of the consumer impact. Nearly everything goes up, since higher energy costs raise production costs. If you look at the total cost of Waxman-Markey, it works out to an average of $2,979 annually from 2012-2035 for a household of four. By 2035 alone, the total cost is over $4,600.

Beyond the cost impact on individuals and households, Waxman-Markey also affects employment, and especially employment in the manufacturing sector. We estimate job losses averaging 1,145,000 at any given time from 2012-2035. And note that those are net job losses, after the much-hyped green jobs are taken into account. Some of the lost jobs will be destroyed entirely, while others will be outsourced to nations like China and India that have repeatedly stated that they'll never hamper their own economic growth with energy-cost-boosting global-warming measures like Waxman-Markey.

Since farming is energy-intensive, that sector will be particularly hard-hit. Higher gasoline and diesel fuel costs, higher electricity costs, and higher natural gas-derived fertilizer costs all erode farm profits, which are expected to drop by 28 percent in 2012 and average 57 percent lower through 2035. As with American manufacturers, Waxman-Markey also puts American farmers at a global disadvantage, as other food exporting nations would have no comparable energy price-raising measures in place.

Overall, Waxman-Markey reduces gross domestic product by an average of $393 dollars annually between 2012 and 2035, and cumulatively by $9.4 trillion. In other words, the nation will be $9.4 trillion poorer with Waxman-Markey than without it.

It should also be noted that the costs are not distributed evenly. Low-income households spend a disproportionate share of their incomes on energy, and thus would be hit harder than average by Waxman-Markey. Of course, the bill has provisions to give back some revenues to low-income households, but it is likely that these rebates will amount only to some portion of each dollar that was taken away from them in the first place in the form of higher energy costs and higher costs for other goods and services. Waxman-Markey also disproportionately burdens those states, especially in the Midwest and South, that still have a substantial number of manufacturing jobs to lose, as well as those that rely more heavily than others on coal for electric generation. In addition, because the bill raises energy costs, it hurts rural America much more than urban America. Rural Americans, farmers and non-farmers, spend an average of 58 percent more on energy as a percentage of income than their urban counterparts, and those costs would go up.

The disproportionate burdens affect the West. Coal mining will be very hard-hit, so Montana and Wyoming and other coal-producing states will see this important sector of their economies shrink significantly. Western oil and natural gas producers will face higher costs as well. The promise of oil shale in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming will never be realized under Waxman-Markey. As I mentioned, agriculture is hard-hit, and that particularly includes things common in parts of the West that are not well positioned to partially defray their costs by availing themselves of offsets, like ranching on federal lands, fruits and vegetables, and potatoes. And of course the long distances rural Westerners have to drive in the course of each day means that gasoline and diesel price increases hurt them more than other Americans.

In conclusion, it is not surprising that support for Waxman-Markey is heaviest in those parts of the country, the urban centers in the West Coast and Northeast, that are least harmed by it. Even there, the economic damage would be bad enough, but the citizens in the rest of the country and their representatives, and especially those who represent the rural West, should really be asking many tough questions about the economic impact of cap and trade.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Health Reform and the Polls


For all the back and forth about the “public option,” Congressional Budget Office estimates and proposed tax hikes, the fundamentals are really what make health-care reform a hard sell to American voters. As members of Congress head home for the August recess, they should take a close look at some poll numbers before they attempt to pass any new legislation.

The most important fundamental is that 68% of American voters have health-insurance coverage they rate good or excellent. That number comes from polling conducted this past weekend of 1,000 likely voters. Most of these voters approach the health-care reform debate fearing that they have more to lose than to gain.

Adding to President Barack Obama’s challenge as he sells health-care reform to the public is the fact that most voters are skeptical about the government’s ability to do anything well. While the president says his plan will reduce costs, 53% believe it will have the opposite effect.

There’s also the reality that 74% of voters rate the quality of care they now receive as good or excellent. And 50% fear that if Congress passes health-care reform, it will lead to a decline in the quality of that care.

Advocates of health-care reform on Capitol Hill are up against something bigger than voters’ reactions to a variety of specific proposals. Our polling in February found that by a 2-1 margin, voters believe that no matter how bad things are Congress can always make matters worse. That’s one reason 78% believe passage of the current congressional health-care proposals is likely to mean higher taxes for the middle class.

However, there are some numbers congressional Democrats can celebrate. Specifically, 63% of voters agreed with the president earlier this year when he said, “We must make it a priority to give every single American quality affordable health care.” Yet while they agree in theory, only 28% are currently willing to pay higher taxes to achieve that goal.

Another point in the reformers’ favor is that a significant number of the voters we polled in May had experienced financial hardship brought on by health issues. One in four Americans—26%—say that health-care costs have at some point caused them to miss credit-card, rent or mortgage payments. That figure includes 21% of those who have health insurance coverage.

Finally, voters strongly believe that medical care should be provided when needed, regardless of insurance coverage. In May, Rasmussen Reports found that just 31% of voters believe young and healthy adults who choose not to buy health insurance should be forced to do so. But a follow-up question asked: “What if those who chose not to buy health insurance end up needing emergency room care?” Only 16% said treatment should be denied; 74% said they should be treated even if they did not have insurance.

Taken together, the data shows that at this point voters are pretty evenly divided. Last week’s polling showed that 47% at least somewhat favored the plan while 49% are somewhat opposed.

Though voters are torn about reform, there is intensity among the opposition. Just 25% strongly favor the reform effort, while 41% are strongly opposed. And that gets back to the very first point: 68% currently have good or excellent coverage. It’s going to be hard to generate passionate support for change among this group of voters.

Those opposed to Mr. Obama’s reform appear to have momentum on their side. Polling last weekend showed that 48% of voters rate the U.S. health-care system as good or excellent. That’s up from 35% in May and up from 29% a year ago. Only 19% now rate the system as poor, down from 37% a year ago. It appears that the prospect of changing health care has made the existing system look better to a lot of people.

Beyond the intensity of the opposition and its momentum, there is also a huge partisan gap that puts congressional Democrats in a very difficult position. Currently, 76% of Democratic voters favor the health-care reform plan proposed by Mr. Obama and the congressional Democrats, and they are counting on their representatives to deliver.

But delivering for the Democratic base has the potential to hurt the party’s standing among independents. Among the unaffiliated, 35% are in favor of the Democrats’ health-care reform initiative, and 60% are opposed. Notably, just 16% of unaffiliated voters strongly favor the legislative effort; 47% strongly oppose it.

As the Democrats scramble to pass a health-care reform bill by the fall, they appear to have two choices. One is to stick with the broad outlines of the plan that has been laid out by various congressional committees. Those proposals would be well received within the party, but will cause some angst beyond it.

The other option would be to pass smaller scale reform and declare victory. That approach would probably be well received by voters in the middle, but create turmoil within the party.

In political terms, the most important reality will be how the reform affects the 68% who say they have good or excellent health-insurance coverage. If they end up having to change their coverage, pay significantly higher taxes, or encounter some other unpleasant reality, congressional Democrats will look back on this August as a time when they should have listened more closely to the folks back home.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pelosi Rallies for a Vote on Health Care this Week!

Please continue calling your Representative and Senators and tell them to oppose the Obama plan!
July 28, 2009

Don't be fooled by reports that the so-called "fiscally conservative" Blue Dog House Democrats have killed Obama's plan for a government takeover of the American health care system. Roll Call reported today that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is more determined than ever to bring the House bill, H.R. 3200, to the floor for a vote by the end of this week. She is reportedly turning up the pressure on the House Energy & Commerce Committee as well as the Senate Finance Committee to reach a "deal" on the 1,000 page, $1 trillion-plus bill and to "pull the plug" on Sen. Max Baucus' (D-MT) bipartisan negotiations altogether and just jam it through for a vote.

As Democrats attempt to frame Republicans as the party of "No," congressional liberals have revealed their health care bill to be the nightmare that its critics have claimed all along. Over the past two weeks, Democrats have defeated and said "NO" to 31 common-sense Republican amendments to H.R. 3200, including:

* Preventing bureaucrats from making personal medical decisions for patients (offered by Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-GA).
* Requiring all Members of Congress to get their health insurance through the proposed government-run plan (offered by Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV).
* Protecting Americans from "hurry up and wait," the rationing mechanism when average waiting time for a medical treatment exceeds the average wait times in private plans (offered by Rep. Kevin Brady, R-TX).
* Preventing taxpayer-funded health benefits from going to illegal immigrants (offered by Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV).
* Specifying that Congress should read the health care bill before voting on it (offered by Rep. Kevin Brady, R-TX).
* Ensuring that workers who like their current health plan can keep it (offered by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-IL).
* Stopping seniors from being stripped of their health care choices, as the Democrat bill cuts the Medicare Advantage program (offered by Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-FL).
* Allowing states to opt out (offered by Rep. Tom Price, R-GA).
* Allowing Americans to continue to enroll in private individual market health plans (offered by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-WA).
* Waive the employer mandate if it will cause layoffs, worker salary cuts, or reductions in hiring (offered by Dave Reichert, R-WA).

A recent Rasmussen poll found that a majority of Americans oppose Obama's plan for government-run health care, an ever increasing trend as more details of the bill, and information about defeated amendments which most Americans would support, are disclosed.

Since our last action alert on this topic, many more dangerous provisions have surfaced in the text of H.R. 3200, particularly those that target senior citizens by cutting funding for Medicare and by mandating "end of life" counseling, which should be seen as the beginning of a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia. Even President Obama told the The New York Times in an interview about his health care plan: "The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here...There is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place." So-called "universal health care" depends on a rationing mechanism, and in the Democrats' bill, the rationing will begin with and directly affect the elderly.

H.R. 3200 also provides for the following seriously concerning items:

* Government real-time access to individual's finances and a national health care ID card (p.58).
* Government use of left-wing community groups, such as ACORN and AmeriCorps, to register individuals for the government health care plan (p. 95).
* No company or business can sue the federal government for price fixing, which means that there will be no judicial review against a government monopoly of the health care industry (p. 124).
* Any nonresident alien is exempt from the individual taxes, insurance purchasing mandates, and fines which are required of every legal, U.S. citizens (p. 170).
* Government will restrict the enrollment of special needs people (p. 354).
* Government mandates Advance Care Planning Consultation-that is, end-of-life counseling on "the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration" and other end of life treatments. (Section 1233).
* "Advance Care Planning Consultation" may include a government order for end of life plans (p. 429).
* Government Marriage & Family therapy sessions (p. 489).
* Government will design and implement the Home Visitation Program for families with young children and families expecting children, parenting counseling is included (p. 838-845).
* Government-established National Medical Device Registry (p. 1001).

Make no mistake, Obama's and congressional liberals' goal is to vote before the August Recess because they know that when their Democrat colleagues return to their states and districts to hold townhall meetings, they will not be able to avoid the outrage of opposition from their constituents!

Take Action!

It's now or never to turn up the heat on your representative and your two Senators to defeat this bill! The phone lines on Capitol Hill are nowhere near jammed, so we need you to keep up the pressure (remember, phone calls are best) and not allow Nancy Pelosi to bring this bill to a vote this week.

The August Recess is scheduled to begin at the end of Friday, July 31st, so there is no time to waste-start calling now! We cannot allow Pelosi, Obama, or their liberal allies in Congress to think that the opposition has cooled down!

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121