Posts Tagged ‘WSJ’

22nd March
2010
written by Sean Noble

Speaker Pelosi muscled the Democrat health care bill through to passage Sunday night on a 219-212 vote giving President Obama a major legislative victory and very likely sacrificing the political careers of at least 30 House Members and maybe even the Democrat House majority.

While Democrats say the American people are the winners, the real winners are the big insurance and the big drug companies.  This bill is yet another big bailout of corporate America.

The insurance companies will receive subsidies to the tune of $400 billion and guaranteed customers because the government will now force nearly every American to buy their product.  Drug companies will continue to make record profits because they were given a sweetheart deal that prevents generic drugs from coming to market.

This Wall Street Journal editorial lays out what is in store. It’s not pretty.

This week’s votes don’t end our health-care debates. By making medical care a subsidiary of Washington, they guarantee such debates will never end. And by ramming the vote through Congress on a narrow partisan majority, and against so much popular opposition, Democrats have taken responsibility for what comes next—to insurance premiums, government spending, doctor shortages and the quality of care. They are now the rulers of American medicine.

The process to passage wasn’t pretty either.

While liberal Democrats are fulfilling their dream of a cradle-to-grave entitlement, their swing-district colleagues will pay the electoral price. Those on the fence fell in line out of party loyalty or in response to some bribe, and to show the party could govern. But even then Speaker Nancy Pelosi could only get 85% of her caucus and had to make promises that are sure to prove ephemeral.

Most prominently, she won over Michigan’s Bart Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats with an executive order from Mr. Obama that will supposedly prevent public funds from subsidizing abortions. The wording of the order seems to do nothing more than the language of the Senate bill that Mr. Stupak had previously said he couldn’t support, and of course such an order can be revoked whenever it is politically convenient to do so.

We have never understood why pro-lifers consider abortion funding more morally significant than the rationing of care for cancer patients or at the end of life that will inevitably result from this bill. But in any case Democratic pro-lifers sold themselves for a song, as they usually do

We also can’t mark this day without noting that it couldn’t have happened without the complicity of America’s biggest health-care lobbies, including Big Pharma, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Business Roundtable and such individual companies as Wal-Mart. They hope to get more customers, or to reduce their own costs, but in the end they have merely made themselves more vulnerable to the gilded clutches of the political class.

While the passage of ObamaCare marks a liberal triumph, its impact will play out over many years. We fought this bill so vigorously because we have studied government health care in other countries, and the results include much higher taxes, slower economic growth and worse medical care. As for the politics, the first verdict arrives in November.

11th January
2010
written by Sean Noble

This editorial in the Wall Street Journal is too good to not post in full. Dead on.

The 60th Senate Vote

The special election in Massachusetts and the Democratic agenda.

When Ted Kennedy died last August, Democrats said they’d honor him by finally passing the national health care he had long campaigned for. What an irony it would be if the race for Kennedy’s successor in Massachusetts denied Democrats the 60th vote to ram their federal takeover into law on a partisan basis.

That prospect isn’t as implausible as it once seemed in that most liberal of states, as Republican Scott Brown has closed to within striking distance of Democrat Martha Coakley in the January 19 special election. A Boston Globe survey released this weekend showed Ms. Coakley with a 15-point lead, but a survey by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found the race a dead heat, with Mr. Brown up 48% to 47%. The scary prospect for Democrats is that the race is even this close on their home ideological turf, and turnout is always difficult to predict in special elections.

That’s especially true in midwinter and with a voting public that is increasingly opposed to the Democratic agenda in Washington. The Public Policy Poll found that likely Bay State voters oppose the Democratic health plans by 47% to 41% and that they give President Obama only 44% job approval. This in a state he carried by 26 points only 14 months ago. It also found Republicans much more motivated to vote than Democrats.

Mr. Brown, a state senator who is little known state-wide, has been running against Washington’s blowout spending and has called for a freeze on the wages of federal employees. “It’s not right that less-paid private sector workers suffering through a recession have to pay for expensive government salaries,” he says, noting Ms. Coakley’s many union endorsements.

He’s also hit on taxes, including Ms. Coakley’s comments in November that “We need to get taxes up.” One of his TV ads shows film of Massachusetts son John F. Kennedy describing his 1962 tax cut bill, saying that “The billions of dollars this bill will place in the hands of the consumer and our businessmen will have both immediate and permanent benefits to our economy.” It’s been a long time since any national Democrat said anything like that.

Regarding ObamaCare, Mr. Brown notes that 98% of the state is already insured so any national bill will hurt Bay Staters. He’s right, with the sweetheart Medicaid deal that Ben Nelson cut for Nebraska being Exhibit A. But more fundamentally, the Democratic bills would impose federally mandated rules and benefit limits that would strip states of regulatory flexibility.

Ms. Coakley is the state attorney general and ran to the left of other Democrats to win the Senate primary. She would be a reliable liberal vote for Majority Leader Harry Reid on every issue. These columns have a particular interest in Ms. Coakley’s judgment from her days as district attorney for Middlesex County when she inherited the child molestation case against Gerald Amirault long after it had been shown to be fictional.

When the Governor’s Advisory Board on Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to commute Amirault’s sentence in 2001, Ms. Coakley went to great lengths to see that he remain in prison. The same woman who organized protest meetings to ensure that Amirault stay behind bars now argues that would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab and other jihadists should not be held as enemy combatants. She is more zealous for politically correct causes than for national security.

The Democrat remains the favorite in such a liberal state, especially now that the unions and national Democrats have become alarmed by the polls. Bill Clinton will campaign for Ms. Coakley this week, and Mr. Brown can expect an assault linking him to George W. Bush, if not Herbert Hoover. But a sign of their worry is that Democrats are whispering that even if Mr. Brown wins, they’ll delay his swearing in long enough to let appointed Senator Paul Kirk vote for ObamaCare.

The mere fact that Democrats have to fight so hard to save Ted Kennedy’s seat shows how badly they have misjudged America by governing so far to the left.

27th October
2009
written by Sean Noble

John Fund, writer extraordinaire for the Wall Street Journal, is a smart, connected and a fixture in the D.C. – New York power corridor. And sometimes he finds the most obscure stuff to expose in a pretty darn funny way. This is from a recent WSJ Political Diary piece.  There is nothing I can add to this.

Here, Kitty, Kitty . . .

Is it time to eat Fluffy in order to save the planet?

I’ve always wanted to read an environmental book that was brutally honest about the size of the sacrifices the greens are demanding of average people. Now Brenda and Robert Vale, two professors at New Zealand’s Victoria University and winners of a United Nations Global 500 Award for Environmental Achievement, have filled that market niche. Their new book is provocatively titled: “Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living.”

They argue that the carbon pawprint of a typical canine is twice that of an SUV that’s driven 6,000 miles a year. The main reason is all the energy that goes into producing meat for its diet. Keeping a cat is the equivalent of owning a Volkswagen Golf. Two hamsters are as bad for the planet as owning a plasma TV.

In order to stave off global warming, the Vales suggest pet owners swap dogs and cats for creatures they can eat, such as chickens or rabbits. “There is certainly some truth in the fact that if we have edible pets like chickens for their eggs and meat, and rabbits and pigs, we will be compensating for the impact of other things on our environment,” the authors write.

The authors issue a dire warning about the eco-hazards of a wealthy lifestyle. If everyone shared the standard of living of Americans, they say, humanity would need five planet Earths to sustain itself. Thus it’s allegedly time to take drastic measures: People should ride bikes for all but the longest errands, and they should give up holidays. The authors even offer marriage advice: Don’t get divorced until you find a new partner so you can save the environmental cost of maintaining two homes.

Robert Vale says the couple wrote their book because current efforts fall so pitifully short in tackling the world’s environmental problems. “There are so many wussy sustainability books out there. It’s a bit more complex than grocery bags and light bulbs.”

I agree. That’s why getting people to think about eating Fido will help clarify just how far-reaching the aims of radical environmentalists are.

— John Fund

1st August
2009
written by Sean Noble

I was sitting in Sen. Jon Kyl’s Whip office off the Senate floor last week visiting with him when he jumped up and said that he was “going to go get McCain off the floor.” 

 

A few minutes later I overheard Sen. Kyl saying, “Yes, he’s here and he looks great.”  In walked Sen. McCain and he shook my hand and said, “Wow, you do look great!  I guess that’s what happens when you are relaxed in an accident from drinking and driving.”  He laughed his McCain laugh, as his mini-me, Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was in tow, looked a little perplexed, not getting the joke that is all the more funny because I’m Mormon.

 

It was classic McCain, taking a somewhat serious issue (my health and well-being after a car accident that led to me getting my spleen removed) and finding the humor in it.

 

The article below by Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal also exposes classic McCain: fiscal conservative warrior, fighting the Obama’s attempts to have the federal government takeover as much of private enterprise as possible.  It is a must read.

 

By STEPHEN MOORE

John McCain is red in the face and hopping mad. I’m sitting in his office in the Senate Russell Office Building, and he’s just rushed in after delivering a speech on the Senate floor where he seethed about the earmarks in the Homeland Security Bill.

“Can you believe they are putting $6 million of pork into Homeland Security?” he asks with his trademark clenched-fists. “They promised they wouldn’t do that. Ben Nelson [the Democratic senator from Nebraska] just inserted a $200,000 museum in Omaha into the legislative branch appropriations bill. These earmarks are a creeping disease. First members condemn them, then they condone, then they embrace them.” Then Mr. McCain adds, “Eight or nine Republican appropriators routinely vote for this pork.” Shaking his head he says, “It’s killing our party.”

If you thought that the senior senator from Arizona would ride off into the political sunset last November, inconsolable after losing his bid for the presidency, think again. He’s over it. And he’s as energized and spry as ever I’ve known him.

I interviewed John McCain for these pages four years ago when he was just launching his presidential campaign. Now I’m here to see how he is coping with defeat, and what his priorities are this year.

Many feared he’d become the Obama administration’s ambassador to the Republican Party, cutting deals to get things done. On the contrary: He’s emerged as one of the lead critics of Obamanomics.

He says he has worked to keep his relations with President Barack Obama “cordial,” but he pulls no punches criticizing the president’s economic policies. “Never. Never have I seen such a transfer from the private enterprise system to the government of such massive scale,” he says. He goes through the list: car companies, banks, insurance firms owned by government, and he especially grimaces when he mentions the $787 billion stimulus package.

Not much has improved because of the stimulus. Mr. McCain scoffs, “And now, the answer is, according to the Obama economists, we didn’t spend enough.” He’s referring to the notion that we should have a second stimulus. This is not something the senator favors.

Asked about the deficits, his response is blunt. “I think it’s the biggest problem we’ve ever faced.”

Ever? “Yep,” he replies. “The only time where we amassed greater debt was during World War II, and that was temporary spending. We won the world war and then cut back. But now . . . the spending is permanent.”

“Look, this is a very popular, attractive, and eloquent president,” he continues. “But I think he was elected to govern in a centrist fashion. And instead,” he says, the administration is “governing from the far left.” Mr. McCain thinks this approach will capsize. “They don’t get that this is a right-of-center nation. Sooner or later, it becomes increasingly clear to the American people that he’s out of sync with the majority.” The latest polls are already showing some of this slippage: Mr. Obama’s favorable rating is now just over 50%, down from 70% his first weeks in office.

Will Mr. Obama ever move to the center as President Clinton did? “He will try to, but he’s got an overwhelmingly liberal Congress and his political instincts are to move to the left. It’s not an accident that he has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate,” he says, reciting a line from his campaign. On health-care reform, Mr. McCain calls the Pelosi bill “a fish in the sun” that smells more rotten the longer it sits. But he’s worried that this may end badly. The administration has “co-opted the hospitals, he’s co-opted the pharmacists; he’ll co-opt AMA [American Medical Association]. And by the way, if the pharmaceutical companies can save us $100 billion, why don’t they do it now? For the love of God, doesn’t this mean that they’ve been ripping us off?”

In the 2005 interview, Mr. McCain told me rather famously that “I don’t understand economics very well.” The Obama team echoed that phrase throughout the campaign. It’s still stuck in his craw, and it’s one of the first topics he brings up.

“Could I mention, Steve, that I kept hearing during the campaign the stuff about McCain being weak on economics. They obsessed about this in the media. They never said Obama is weak on economics. I came to Washington as a Reaganite limited government tax cutter.” He’s right about the media treatment. Neither candidate had a strong command of economics—certainly not Mr. Obama, as events have shown. Mr. McCain was simply being honest.

He seems perplexed that his pals in the media turned on him in 2008 after years of worshipful press treatment. “In 2000 [when he ran against George W. Bush] I used to go chat with reporters on the back of the bus, and we would have these long, pleasant conversations . . . . I was the underdog clawing my way up. But then in 2008, I noticed that it would be kind of a gotcha session with the press—a totally more hostile attitude.”

Yet conservatives had warned Mr. McCain that he would remain a media darling up until the moment he won the GOP nomination, at which time they would rip him apart. I’m only surprised that he was surprised this happened.

Mr. McCain is initially reluctant to talk about the campaign, but he provides me with snippets of what went right and wrong. He believes that he could have won the election had it not been for the market collapse in mid-September. “We were three points up on September 14. The next day the market lost 700 points and $1.2 trillion in wealth vanished, and by the end of the day we were seven points down. We lost the white college graduate voters, who became profoundly disillusioned with Republicans. And by the way, that was the way it ended up. We lost by seven points.”

He certainly was dealt a lousy hand. But I challenge him on whether he might have played that hand better. During the first days of the financial crisis, Mr. McCain looked indecisive and worse, a creature of Washington insider politics. Why did he suspend his campaign, and why did he vote for the $700 billion bank bailout plan, which was wildly unpopular with voters?

“You have no idea the pressure I was under,” he says. “I remember being on the phone with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the Treasury secretary and [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke. They assure me the world financial system is going to collapse if I don’t vote for the bill. So I do the impetuous and rash thing by saying, look, I have got to go back to Washington and see how I can help. And by the way, so did Obama—but it was McCain that was the impetuous one. Obama came back to Washington.” Mr. McCain grumbles, “He was at the White House with me. But he wasn’t impetuous.” This is the only time in our interview he shows any bitterness about the campaign.

He feels he was misled by the Bush economic team. He wanted the focus of the rescue plan to be on housing and home owners under water—not the lenders or the big banks. “Paulson and Bernanke both told me on the phone, our primary focus is going to be on the housing crisis. That’s our primary focus. And then three days later they switched their whole priorities around.” Instead, the Bush administration got a $700 billion check from Congress to save banks, investment houses and eventually car companies.

Had he been president, Mr. McCain says he would have done things differently. “Small business has been ignored in this whole bailout. You know, I hate to use the word but it seems to me that the philosophy of Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke is trickle down, you know? Save Wall Street, save these financial institutions and then maybe they’ll have enough money to loan to the small business person. Wall Street seems to be doing okay. The executive salaries are fine.”

He continues: “But I just came from driving down Central Avenue in Phoenix and saw closed up storefronts because they’re too small to save, but these giant banks are too big to fail.” This is vintage John McCain, the economic populist fighting for the little guy.

If the market crash was the low point, I ask him for his best memory from the campaign. “The high point, I think, was the convention, the selection of Sarah Palin, and the enthusiasm that was generated all over the country.” His fondness for Mrs. Palin and her family strikes me as from the heart; he believes she was a net asset for the ticket.

“Let’s face it,” he says, “she galvanized our base in a way that I couldn’t. Everywhere she went she drew enormous and enthusiastic crowds like a rock star.” He says his only regret in selecting the Alaska governor was that no one on the campaign predicted the ferocity of the assaults against her. “To the liberal left, particularly the feminists, she is their worst nightmare.”

Since Mr. McCain was the co-sponsor of the McCain-Lieberman bill last year to limit CO emissions through a cap-and-trade system, I ask him about the climate change bill that passed the House last month and he surprised me with his opposition. “I believe climate change is real . . . but this 1,400-page bill is a farce. They bought every industry off—steel mills, agriculture, utilities,” he says.

So you wouldn’t vote for the House bill? “I would not only not vote for it,” he laughs, “I am opposed to it entirely, because it does damage to those of us who believe that we need to act in a rational fashion about climate change.”

A s Mr. McCain keeps circling our discussion back to fiscal responsibility, I ask him if the trillion dollar deficits are a sign that America is an empire in decline. “I think there’s a risk of that . . . unless we change. I’m a student of history. The shift in power from the British to the United States took place when the economy and the world’s gold reserves shifted and Britain went from the world’s [creditor] to a world debtor. The same thing could be happening now. I emphasize ‘could.’”

My last question is about the possibility for a 2012 rematch against Mr. Obama. “No chance,” he says.

But the good news for those who admire this maverick is that he’s likely to stay in the Senate for years and is focusing single-mindedly on holding back Obamanomics. For now, that means trying to stop budget busters like ObamaCare, but also saving a few million dollars at a time by cancelling museums in Nebraska, turtle crossings in Florida, and the endless flow of dollars to Democratic Rep. John Murtha’s airport to nowhere in Johnstown, Pa.

And then Mr. McCain is out the door—running to vote on another anti-pork amendment.

Mr. Moore is a senior economics writer for the Journal.