Paul Ryan on the House Floor

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 21, 2010 by Cannon

This is one congressman who is on top of things.

Progressives’ Love for Old Fashioned Entitlements

Posted in Conservatism, Economy, Health Care, Politics with tags , , , , , on March 21, 2010 by Cannon

It’s odd that leftists call themselves “progressives” while they continue to utilize the oldest tricks in the book in hopes of capturing constituents.  Way back in the 1930’s, FDR used Social Security as a payoff of sorts for voters.  Lyndon Johnson continued in the 1960’s with Medicare and Medicaid.  Now we have Obama, Pelosi and company bringing us this massively expensive health care bill.  Just another stab at utopia.  It’s another entitlement we’ll have all kinds of hell getting out from under once it’s proven that we can’t cure all our ills with the magic wand of the federal government.  I have no doubt this is the conclusion that most reasonable people will draw at some point in time.

You can give people health insurance or make them purchase it or whatever.  You can tax “the wealthiest among us” under the guise of helping those who are less fortunate.  However, you cannot improve actual health care by providing insurance.  It’s not the same thing, but, then again, this isn’t about saving people or improving the lives of American people.  This is more about a desire to shape the country into one where the educated elite decide what’s best for everyone.  One might call it a power grab.  Underestimating the intelligence of the general public is a mistake that leftists continually make.  The country is swinging back to the right.  My only hope is that we can undo some of the damage created by these misguided attempts at central planning.  Sadly, its this type of damage that conservatives have failed to remedy, and many times have contributed to, in the past.

There’s nothing “progressive” about nationalized health care.  It’s from an old old playbook.  One that should be burned and forgotten.

Paul Ryan’s Health Care Alternative

Posted in Health Care, Politics with tags , , , on March 21, 2010 by Cannon

One of the rallying cries utilized by the Democrats has been that the Republican Party in is “the party of no.”  Certainly, this is correct when discussing the ruling party’s current health care plan.  But to say that Republican’s have offered no alternatives is factually incorrect.  Paul Ryan has worked, over the course of several years, on an alternative.  A short summary is available here.  There are links to more health care information at Ryan’s site.  I’ve become a fan of Ryan’s.  I intend to read more of the congressman’s work.

Though it looks like the Democrats are going to get the current bill through the House (Bart Stupak and others jumping on board as I write), they can’t sincerely say that it’s the only plan.  Democrats still have more to do to transform the bill to law.  We’ll see what happens.  Paul Ryan’s plan is solid and easily understood.  The addition of many moving parts isn’t necessarily a positive.  If you’ve seen Ryan in action, his tight grasp of the issues, especially ones concerning the budget, is obvious.  He’s the guy that Democrats don’t want to debate.

My opinion is that the Democrat plan is a huge mistake fiscally, and it will likely damage what works in our current health care system.  Despite what some liberal “strategists” are saying, the party looks to be in big trouble come election time.  It’s difficult to get the bulk of the American public to agree on much of anything, but Democrats have achieved public consensus in terms of health care.  The public’s disdain for their health care reform is quite apparent.

The Obama-Fox Health Care Collision

Posted in Health Care, Media, Politics with tags , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Cannon

I’m not referring to the former Mexican president, Vicente Fox.  Earlier this week, Bret Baier of Fox News interviewed President Obama.  The topic of conversation, of course, was health care.  What else is there, right?  I’ll start by addressing Geraldo Rivera and others who feel that Baier failed to show the president the proper amount of respect.  If you watch the interview, you’ll see Baier pitch short, to the point questions followed by Obama unleashing long, vague explanations about the virtues of his reform.  On several occasions Baier interrupted the president’s filibuster attempt with hopes of steering Obama back to the question at hand.  That’s what I saw, anyway.  I suppose some are of the opinion that the president should not be interrupted at all costs, and that’s fine.  I just don’t know what the point of an interview is if that rule must be followed.  As Dana Perino – a person vehemently despised by much of the left-wing echo chamber – suggested, the administration should have scheduled a press conference during the hour of Baier’s show.  The Fox audience would have been reached, and the president would have largely avoided difficult questions.

The more important, and unsurprising, conclusion that one can draw from the interview is that Obama isn’t going to get into any specifics about how this health care reform thing is going to achieve its stated goals.  It’s supposed to save money by extracting inefficiencies from the current system.  Amazingly, the federal government hasn’t been able to perform this magic on the postal service, Medicare, Social Security or the plethora of other endeavors ventured into by politicians.  It’s unbelievable that Democrats can tout this selling point with a straight face; it’s so absurd.

But wait, people currently suffering without insurance will have insurance.  The reason why many don’t have insurance is that it’s cost prohibitive.  The president can’t wave a magic wand and make health coverage cheaper while simultaneously increasing the quantity of care.  Someone must pay in some form or fashion.  There have to be people profiting by directly providing care (think doctors and nurses), and there also have to be bodies providing financial backing (think consumers via insurance companies and/or the federal government).  It would seem that the sensible thing to do would be to streamline the system, making it easier for patients to obtain care while cultivating a system that’s attractive for providers.  The Democrats’ answer is to squeeze insurance companies and empower the helping hand of big government to take from some to provide for others.  Despite what proponents of the current plan(s) state, adoption of a bill resembling what’s passed the Senate will lead to both more deficit spending and a permanent drag on the private sector due to the government trying to recoup expenses through taxes of all kinds.  With no natural rationing device like price, the government will have to find a way to ration services unless more health care professionals can be produced to meet the needs of all the new customers.

You just know that there has to be all kinds of taxes, fees, dictates, etc. in what’s probably several thousand pages of political gibberish.  It’s kind of like a credit card application.  There are likely some draconian fees in there if you can just find them.  It does appear that Democrats aren’t going to use the “Slaughter rule.”  The use of the aptly named procedural tactic would be the perfect topping on already unseemly cake.

Recent Government Initiatives Given Negative Assessments

Posted in Economy, Politics with tags , , , , , on October 29, 2009 by Cannon

From Edmunds:

Edmunds.com, the premier resource for online automotive information, has determined that Cash for Clunkers cost taxpayers $24,000 per vehicle sold.

Nearly 690,000 vehicles were sold during the Cash for Clunkers program, officially known as CARS, but Edmunds.com analysts calculated that only 125,000 of the sales were incremental. The rest of the sales would have happened anyway, regardless of the existence of the program.

Now, that’s not much bang for the taxpayer buck.  What about the homebuyer tax credit?  From the Brookings Institution:

So let’s assume that 15 percent of homebuyers will not receive the new tax credit, so there is no change in baseline sales for these people. Of the remaining 85 percent, let’s assume the median house sale price is $180,000 (compared to the $200,000 median price including the high earning buyers). Assuming a price elasticity of -0.65, this implies an increase of about 253,000 (= $15,000 / $180,000 * 0.65 * 0.85 * 5.5 million) additional sales at an estimated tax expenditure of $73.9 billion (= $15,000 * 4.928 million), implying a cost-per-additional-sale of about $292,000. Using NAHB’s implied price elasticity of -1.7, we get about 662,000 additional sales at an estimated tax expenditure of $80.0 billion, implying a cost-per-additional-sale of about $121,000.

If the goal of extending and expanding the homebuyer tax credit is to spur housing sales, an optimistic assessment is that we will spend $121,000 in tax revenue per additional housing sale. Again, this is a very poorly targeted subsidy.

I should note that neither Brookings nor Edmund’s are known as right-wing outfits.  Certainly, Brookings could be described as “left of center.”  Government programs like these only invite and exacerbate inefficiencies in the economy by utilizing artificial incentives to promote growth.  There will certainly be negative consequences to these actions in the future whether they’re eventually abandoned or not.  As the excerpts above effectively argue, these expansive government policies do more to waste tax dollars than promote growth.

Missing the Point With “Too Big to Fail”

Posted in Economy, Media, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by Cannon

If you’ve been paying much attention to financial and quasi-financial news, you’ve probably been bombarded on numerous occasions with the phrase “too big too fail.”  Matter of fact, I just started reading Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book by the same name which is really pretty damn interesting and worth checking out if you’re at all interested in the mortgage crisis.  Sorkin’s book is beside the point, however.  At some point in time, it was decided by the politicians, regulators, and the media that the size of the financial institutions are to blame for the melting down of the economy.  Supposedly, banks like Citigroup, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and related financial firms like Goldman Sachs and AIG are so large that their very existences put the rest of the financial system at risk.  We can’t let them fail due to the cascading turmoil which would likely infect the other, smaller institutions and eventually the entire economy.  It’s like the banking version of H1N1.

Without a doubt, these massive companies play an integral role in the American financial landscape.  I would hate to see one of them fail.  Banks provide much of the infrastructure for the business transactions which occurr every second of everyday.  Because they’re so important, the federal government stands behind them with the FDIC and the extremely powerful Federal Reserve.  If, perhaps, the bulk of depositors of any commercial bank were to decide one day to withdraw their funds for whatever reason, the bank in question could not cover them without the help of the Federal Reserve.  As everyone knows, a bank’s not just an elaborate-looking safe.  It must take the funds deposited there and loan them to others (businesses, individuals, municipalities, etc.) in order to be profitable.  That’s sort of banking at it’s most basic level.  Banking, however, has evolved – some might prefer the term devolved – over the years. Continue reading

Obama’s Strong-Arm Tactics

Posted in Media, Politics with tags , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by Cannon

Kim Strassel adeptly encapsulated the White House’s treatment of those who dare to disagree with their policies – talk radio, Fox News, politicians of both parties, and the Chamber of Commerce to name a few.  To wit:

What makes these efforts notable is that they are not the lashing out of a frustrated political operation. They are calculated campaigns, designed to create bogeymen, to divide the opposition, to frighten players into compliance. The White House sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity on health care and climate. It is obsessed with winning these near-term battles, and will take no prisoners. It knows that CEOs are easily intimidated and (Fox News ratings aside) it is getting some of its way. Besides, roughing up conservatives gives the liberal blogosphere something to write about besides Guantanamo.

The Oval Office might be more concerned with the long term. It is 10 months in; more than three long years to go. The strategy to play dirty now and triangulate later is risky. One day, say when immigration reform comes due, the Chamber might come in handy. That is if the Chamber isn’t too far gone.

White House targets also aren’t dopes. The corporate community is realizing that playing nice doesn’t guarantee safety. The health executives signed up for reform, only to remain the president’s political piñatas. It surely grates that the unions—now running their own ads against ObamaCare—haven’t been targeted. If the choice is cooperate and get nailed, or oppose and possibly win, some might take that bet.

While these smear campaigns and freeze outs may yield fruit in terms of rallying the liberal base, I can’t see it doing any long-term good with the bulk of voters.  Ms. Strassel is completely correct in her speculation that the president will likely want, or need, the help of some of the very people he’s chosen to vilify.  It may be easy for Obama and company to say one thing one day and then completely change course the next, but the memories of most are at least a bit longer.  He’s won the presidency.  It’s time to do a little more presiding and a little less campaigning.  Of course, the fray between the Obama team and Fox might also serve as a smoke screen of sorts to divert the public’s attention from the proposed health care bill.

I will give a tip of the hat to the major network’s and CNN for standing up to the White House and thwarting their plan to keep Fox from interviewing the “pay czar”  while allowing the others in the media pool time with Mr. Feinberg.  Go here to read more on that.  Whether you like Fox or not, the actions of the White House in limiting them access are way out of line.  It’s a far cry from the openness espoused by President Obama during his presidential campaign.  At least, the other major media outlets seem to be recognizing this now.

If Fox can be frozen out, the same tactics can easily be applied to other networks and journalists.  Either they stand up now or risk being pawns of the Obama team for the duration of the next four years.  Cowhering from a bully generally doesn’t result in a viable outcome for the one being bullied.  I wish “progressives” felt more of a call to bully those who want to destroy the United States (Iran comes to mind) instead of focusing their scorched earth techniques on domestic opposition (and perceived opposition) to their ideology.  What’s so “progressive” about wanting to squash civil debate, anyway?