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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’
July 31st, 2014 at 1:10 pm
House Passes Bill to Sue Obama

The House of Representatives made history today when it passed a bill allowing Congress to sue the President of the United States for failing to implement a federal law, reports the L.A. Times.

The legislation authorizes House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to file suit in federal court demanding that President Barack Obama enforce ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which requires companies with 50 or more full-time workers to purchase ObamaCare-compliant health insurance or pay a penalty.

House Republicans have been critical of President Obama’s unilateral delays in enforcing the mandate – now scheduled to go into effect in 2016 – because it spares Democrats and the Obama administration substantial political pain. If the law is so great, Republicans reason, then it should go into full effect.

As with other anti-ObamaCare measures to pass the House, this bill has virtually no chance of clearing the Senate where Democrats are in the majority. Still, it’s very presence helps Republicans draw a clearer contrast over where each party stands on the rule of law; in particular the president’s ability to pick-and-choose which parts of a statute he will – as he swore upon taking office – to faithfully execute.

July 28th, 2014 at 8:11 pm
A More ‘Proportional’ Response than Impeachment?

Add First Lady Michelle Obama and various members of the Democratic Party to the chorus of politicos discussing the possibility of impeaching President Barack Obama.

The First Lady warned a group of donors that, “If we lose these midterm elections, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to finish what we started because we’ll just see more of the same out in Washington – more obstructions, more lawsuits, and talk about impeachment.”

A series of fundraising email blasts was then sent on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee begging immediate donations to thwart a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. “ALL GIFTS TODAY ARE TRIPLE-MATCHED!” blared the emails.

Despite all this, impeachment is still seen in most quarters as far-fetched. Simple math says the GOP needs at least 67 senators to ensure conviction (since the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote). For context, the GOP needs to pick up six seats just to get 51 members and control of the chamber.

Beyond counting noses, there’s a concern that impeaching the president at this stage would be disproportionate. Better, say thoughtful critics like Byron York, for Republicans to pass legislation that overturns the executive orders and policy directives they loathe – such as deferred action – and dare Democrats in Congress to vote to defend Obama.

Though York doesn’t think impeachment should be an option at all, his ‘proportionate’ thesis dovetails nicely with what Andrew McCarthy has written about in his book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment. McCarthy says that although pursuing impeachment is justified, it won’t work unless the groundwork has been laid with the public to show conclusively that Obama can’t be trusted to follow the law. It’s hard to imagine a better way to make that case than with a string of presidential vetoes usurping Congress’ constitutional power to legislate.

Should that come to pass, perhaps the only proportionate action left to take would be impeachment.

July 24th, 2014 at 12:07 pm
For GOP, Successful 2014 Could Pave the Way for an Even Better 2016

There’s reason to be cautiously optimistic about a conservative ascendency on Capitol Hill this year.

Unless something unexpected happens, the House of Representatives looks safe to remain in Republican hands after the 2014 midterm elections.

The real question is whether the GOP can wrest control of the U.S. Senate. The party needs to pick up six seats – and defend all those it holds – to unite with the House against President Barack Obama’s liberal agenda.

How likely is it that Republicans can pull off the takeover?

“To win six or more Democratic seats, Republicans start with the best possible candidates in West Virginia (Rep. Sherry Moore Capito), South Dakota (former Gov. Mike Rounds), and Montana (Rep. Steve Daines),” writes Fred Barnes. “These open Democratic seats are regarded as near-certain GOP takeovers, but they wouldn’t be if Republicans were stuck with second-tier candidates or worse.”

In political jargon, first-tier candidates are people who can interact with the media well, raise money, avoid unnecessary errors and gaffes and generally present a likeable personality to voters.

In order to win control of the Senate, Republicans also need to compete in slightly more difficult races.

“Then there are the four red states with Democratic incumbents–Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Alaska,” says Barnes. “Once again, Republicans are blessed with able, attractive candidates. As a result, all five races are tossups or lean Republican.”

Controlling both legislative chambers would give Republicans the ability to show Americans a sharper contrast with Obama’s policies. For the first time since the president took office, the GOP – and in particular the conservative intellectual leadership that drives the party’s policy agenda – would be in a position to pass alternative solutions for job growth, health care, etc. Having two years to work out the details would be an excellent test drive for ideas ahead of the 2016 presidential contest when contenders could adopt the most popular proposals.

Come Election Night, we’ll see whether that process of refinement begins or is once again put on hold.

July 21st, 2014 at 8:11 pm
Rick Perry to Send 1,000 National Guard Members to Border

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry announced today that he intends to deploy up to 1,000 National Guard members to the state’s southern border to reduce crime in areas teeming with illegal immigrants.

The decision came after several failed attempts to get similar assistance from the Obama administration.

If implemented, the decision will cost Texas taxpayers about $12 million a month. Though he could empower Guard members to arrest and detain illegal immigrants crossing into Texas, Perry has not committed to doing so.

Instead, the Guard is likely to play an assistance role to federal Border Patrol agents. “We think they’ll come to us and say, ‘Please take us to a Border Patrol station’ [for processing],” says the head of the Texas National Guard.

The move makes sense since Texas has absorbed many of the 57,000 unaccompanied minors that have crossed the border with Mexico since last October. The additional hands will, if nothing else, beef up the law enforcement presence in places where crime is on the rise, giving Border Patrol agents much needed assistance in steering and clearing the area.

Given the federal government’s duty to secure the border and the Obama administration’s failure to do so, this is probably the best Perry – or any other governor – can do for the time being.

July 14th, 2014 at 4:42 pm
Illegal Immigration Cleanup Falls on Public Schools

“All politics is local,” goes the saying, and it looks like local public school districts will be the political entities dealing most directly with the surge in illegal immigration when classes begin.

“While politicians spend the summer fighting over how to turn back the tide, school leaders across the country are struggling to absorb a new student population the size of Newark, New Jersey,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “More than 40,000 children, many of them fresh from violent, harrowing journeys, have been released since October to stateside relatives as courts process their cases.”

The issues facing public school personnel include lack of immunizations, emotional distress caused by the trip north and an expected surge in non-English speaking students. The money and manpower required to meet these challenges is immense, but at least as far as local schools are concerned, also worthwhile. No one wants to perpetuate the trauma caused to the children who survive this experience.

It’s important to remember that each child is a person deserving of care and assistance, and one hopes that public officials will work with civil society organizations – including faith-based groups – to help each child heal.

That said, the fallout from the Obama administration’s deliberately poor management of the southern border is a profound object lesson in avoidable tragedy. As usual, the cleanup effort will be done by those that can least afford it.

June 30th, 2014 at 2:08 pm
Obama Goes Outside Military Brass, Medical Community for New VA Chief

Robert McDonald, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, is President Barack Obama’s nominee to run the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs.

McDonald’s nomination is catching some in the veterans’ community off-guard. Unlike previous VA Secretaries, he’s not a general – though he did graduate from West Point and serve for five years as an Army paratrooper before jumping to P&G.

He’s also neither a medical doctor, nor does he have experience administering a hospital; traits that some think would be useful for a person stepping into the nation’s largest health system with 1,700 facilities.

Indeed, the case being made for McDonald is that his background in brand management and customer service signals that Obama thinks the main problem at the VA is bad leadership.

Which brings us to an interesting question – Is McDonald’s job just to make the VA’s public face more attractive, or is it to get the sprawling department into tip-top, customer satisfaction shape?

The answer depends on how much latitude President Obama is giving McDonald to operate. For example, in places like Phoenix where staff and administrators falsified records to get performance bonuses, does McDonald have the authority to fire and hire political appointees as well as career civil servants? Does he have the flexibility to outsource patients to private medical providers in regions where the VA hospitals are overbooked?

Senate Republicans should ask McDonald these and other questions during his confirmation hearings. Veterans and their families deserve to know whether the VA’s new chief has the power to be a turnaround artist, or just a place warmer.

June 11th, 2014 at 7:34 pm
Surge in Illegal Immigration Triggered by Alleged Fed Govt. ‘Free Passes’

A Border Patrol memo obtained by the Washington Times and referenced today in a Senate hearing identifies the main reason Central American women and children are risking illegal entry into the United States – A guaranteed ‘free pass’ by federal government.

“The immigrants come seeking ‘permisos,’ which apparently are the ‘notices to appear,’ the legal documents given to non-Mexicans caught at the border,” reports the paper. “Those notices officially put the immigrants into deportation proceedings. The immigrants usually are released to await a court date, giving them a chance to fade into the shadows in the interior of the U.S.”

According to the Border Patrol memo, “This information is apparently common knowledge in Central America and is spread by word of mouth and international and local media.” It goes on to say that, “A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration ‘permisos’ until the end of June 2014.”

The only permissive immigration policy I’m aware of that is slated to end this month is President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – program.

In my column this week I explain how President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action program impels more illegal immigrants to bring or send for their children, hoping that once here the federal government will expand the de facto amnesty program.

Recently, President Obama announced that he is extending DACA another two years to the end of his presidency. That means we can expect to see increasing numbers of Central American and perhaps other illegal immigrants flooding into the country seeking those promised “permisos” that allow them to drift into the shadows and avoid deportation.

Given enough time to put down roots perhaps they’ll demand to come out of the shadows on a pathway to citizenship.

June 10th, 2014 at 5:26 pm
Interim VA Chief Adopts Boehner’s Private Option Fix

Last week House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) sent a letter to President Barack Obama demanding that “any veteran unable to obtain an appointment within 30 days [have] the option to receive non-VA care.”

This week it was revealed that 57,000 veterans have been waiting 90 days or longer for care from VA facilities.

But at a time when the White House is dithering, the acting VA chief is adopting Boehner’s approach.

“The interim VA secretary said he would spend $300 million to increase hours for VA medical staffers and contract with private clinics to see veterans who are unable to get care through VA medical centers,” reports the Washington Post.

Kudos to Sloan Gibson, the temporary VA secretary, for leveraging the private sector to care for those who’ve rendered the highest public service.

June 4th, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Boehner to Obama: All Vets on VA Wait Lists Should Get Private Option

“All veterans on waiting lists should be able to easily access care outside the VA without waiting for a potentially corrupt facility to approve their request,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) writes today in a letter to President Barack Obama. “Our veterans should not be left in limbo, relying on what your own audit acknowledges is a ‘systematic lack of integrity within some Veterans Health Administration facilities.’”

As an immediate remedy Boehner calls on Obama to support legislation coming from the House Veterans Affairs Committee that would allow “any veteran unable to obtain an appointment within 30 days the option to receive non-VA care.”

If the president and his congressional allies have a better alternative they better put it forward. Too many veterans are waiting.

May 30th, 2014 at 5:30 pm
The Right Choice for VA Secretary
Posted by Troy Senik Print

I wrote here last week that I was ambivalent as to whether Eric Shinseki should lose his job as Secretary of Veterans Affairs over the scandal involving VA hospitals. My reluctance owed not to any doubts about the gravity of the scandal — it’s utterly horrible — but to a long-held belief that firings should be targeted at the person most directly responsible for error. My feeling was that only if Shinseki either (A) was that person or (B) had knowingly enabled that person, he wasn’t necessarily the right person to get the axe. And, as I noted last week, it seems clear to me that the real problem at the VA has a lot more to do with the structure of the institution and the policies it employs than the management (though it’s utterly plausible that Shinseki wasn’t the right guy to address those deeper issues).

It’s all moot now, of course, as Shinseki’s resignation was announced this morning. This was probably for the best. If anything, I came to lean more towards thinking his departure was the right thing over the last week — not because of the underlying scandal but because Shinseki’s reaction to this outrage seemed muted almost to the point of drowsiness.

It’s nice to see someone in the Obama Administration finally be held responsible for failures (no doubt Kathleen Sebelius’s management of the ObamaCare rollout had a lot to do with her departure, but she was still allowed to leave on her own terms). That said, however, no one should be sanguine about what lies ahead. Sacrificing Shinseki to the media gods may have bought the Obama Administration some time, but it doesn’t solve any of the underlying structural problems at the VA.

One of the reasons that the VA scandal has had so much traction is that it’s utterly non-partisan. Everyone believes government should be doing everything in its power to assist those who’ve worn the uniform of their country. With that in mind, this would be a good time for President Obama to do something truly presidential and look for the best man for the job regardless of political affiliations. What he needs is a proven fixer, someone who can turn around a major organization and root out inefficiencies and rot throughout the system; someone who will do the job as a service to the country rather than as a stepping stone to greater visibility; someone who’ll take the charge seriously even after the story has dropped off the front pages.

There’s a guy out there who’s a perfect fit for this job. Barack Obama ran against him in 2012.

May 22nd, 2014 at 1:17 pm
Should Shinseki Go?
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In my column this week, I look at the controversy surrounding the VA scandal. As I note, it presents a problem for liberals, who can’t rationalize this failure on ideological grounds the same way that they did with Benghazi or the IRS. As the always astute Byron York notes today in the Washington Examiner, left-wing ideology may also play a role in whether or not VA Secretary Eric Shinseki loses his job over the debacle:

The retired general has for years been a particular hero to Obama’s supporters on the left for his conflict with the George W. Bush administration during the run-up to the war in Iraq.

In early 2003, as the U.S. was planning the invasion, Shinseki angered his superiors in the Pentagon and White House by saying he believed victory and post-war stabilization in Iraq would require far more U.S. troops than President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were planning to deploy. “Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required,” Shinseki told Congress in February 2003.

By [2007], Shinseki had become a legend to anti-war liberals, and all the more so by December 2008, when President-Elect Obama was choosing his cabinet. “By tapping Mr. Shinseki to run the VA, [Obama] has provided a sop to the left,” wrote the lefty blogger Steve Kornacki, now an MSNBC personality, when Shinseki’s appointment was announced. A poster at the leftist website DailyKos had a shorter reaction: “Hallelujah!” Even though Shinseki was not chosen for the military policy position some had hoped for him, the reaction to his appointment showed the enduring gratitude of many on the anti-war left.

This is, of course, an indefensible rationale for keeping someone in a position where they’re failing. Shinseki should be judged for present performance, not past positions.

That said, I’m ambivalent on the question of whether the VA Secretary should be given his walking papers. President Obama, like President Bush before him, is not inclined to reflexively fire people because of bad press. That can be a good instinct if it means you’re more concerned with actually solving problems than just creating the image of responsiveness for the press. But therein lies the problem.

Who serves as Secretary of Veterans Affairs is a lot less important than the makeup of the system they’re presiding over. Whether it’s Shinseki or someone else, they’ll still be responsible for managing a gargantuan single-payer health care bureaucracy. It’s a similar dynamic to the Department of Health and Human Services — don’t expect much to change because Kathleen Seblius is gone. The underlying policies and infrastructure remain the same. Whoever sits behind the desk is little more than a captive to the administrative behemoth.

Should Shinseki get the boot? I don’t know and I’m not sure it makes much of a difference. What would really help would be upending the entire process — for example, giving veterans vouchers for their health care, which would allow the federal government to still finance their treatment without actually providing it. John McCain recently suggested that step (as did Mitt Romney in 2012 — when he was pilloried for it). At the time, it was decried as inhumane. Anyone who wants to know what real inhumanity looks like ought to visit the VA in Phoenix.

March 29th, 2014 at 2:09 pm
The Obama-Ryan Double Standard

“Is something less true if a white person says it about black people?”

That was the question liberal comedian Bill Maher asked on his show in relation to Paul Ryan’s recent comments about the link between poverty and culture.

Just prior Maher read a quote which he attributed to Ryan “about how lazy kids are these days and how they need to aspire to be more than ‘ballers’ and ‘rappers,’” reports Mediaite. But then Maher revealed he was quoting Michelle Obama – not Ryan.

The point Maher made was that black political figures get a pass for speaking hard truths on certain issues while their white counterparts do not.

Rich Lowry gives even more examples of this double-standard by quoting then-Senator Barack Obama.

Imagine the reaction from liberals if Ryan had said the following instead of the current president: “We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households… We know the statistics – that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.”

Anyone who follows politics knows that had Ryan said this, the statement and the (completely unmerited) backlash that would greet it would likely define and limit the rest of his career. Aside from Barack Obama’s speechwriter at the time, no one else probably remembered he ever made these remarks until Lowry unearthed them.

The irony of the identity politics double-standard is that neither Barack Obama nor Paul Ryan has been able to speak truth to power and get results. Instead, Obama is ignored while Ryan gets flayed for motives he doesn’t have. The only way to break the logjam is for the president to defend Ryan’s diagnosis, even if he doesn’t agree with the House Budget chairman’s remedy.

Certainly then America would sit up and listen.

January 14th, 2014 at 6:10 pm
Obama’s “Pen-and-Phone” Strategy

Get ready for more presidential overreach.

Today, Barack Obama convened his first Cabinet meeting of the year. Unwilling to negotiate with Republicans in Congress, the President threatened to bypass the legislative process in order to impose his preferred policies through executive orders.

“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” CBS’ DC affiliate quotes the President telling Cabinet members. “And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.”

Quick, grab the pen and unplug the phone!

What Obama is promising is to intervene in every stage of an American worker’s lifecycle, without any input from the 535 people elected to represent their diverse interests in Congress. Instead, he will rely on the accumulated wisdom of the bureaucratic and trade association elites to impose change in a centralized, top-down fashion.

It’s as if after five years of running annual trillion dollar deficits, destabilizing the health insurance market, destroying the coal industry and presiding over the largest increase in food stamp use in history the President thinks he needs to increase his influence over the nation’s economy.

It would be better if instead of rushing to issue a flurry of short-lived orders President Obama instead took the remainder of his lame duck tenure for what it is: An opportunity to see the big picture and exercise some humility.

Republicans are interested in talking about poverty reduction. Obama – whose upcoming State of the Union speech is rumored to include a section on income inequality – should meet them half way. Have a real conversation. In private and in public. Elevate thoughtful opponents like Paul Ryan so that the American people see two powerful intellects engaging a serious issue in a respectful way. In short, dabble in statesmanship.

Obama’s executive orders will expire the moment he leaves office. They will also incite partisan opposition, and rightly so since each will represent an end-run around the lawmaking process.

Mr. President, you can do a lot better than your so-called “pen-and-phone” strategy. America deserves it.

January 13th, 2014 at 5:53 pm
Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Constitutionally Suspect Recess Appointments Case

Two years ago President Barack Obama decided to appoint three new members to the National Labor Relations Board, even though none of them could clear the U.S. Senate.

Blocked from getting what he wanted, President Obama installed the nominees anyway, arguing that the Senate was on recess; a move allowed under the U.S. Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause.

There was just one little problem. The Senate had not recessed.

Republicans in the chamber anticipated Obama’s move and negotiated an agreement with majority Democrats to keep the Senate open every three days during the Christmas and New Year’s break in order to conduct business. Thus, as far as the Senate’s own records are concerned, the body never went on recess. By refusing to give its consent, the chamber, in effect, told Obama to nominate three new people.

He declined.

The fight now is before the Supreme Court, which today heard oral arguments from the Obama administration and counsel representing 45 members of the Senate Republican caucus, among others.

While there are a host of arcane and at times interesting constitutional questions to consider this particular case boils down to whether the Court thinks the President or the Senate has the final say as to when the Senate is in session.

The answer should seem obvious, but don’t underestimate the Court’s ability to choose wrongly.

Victory for President Obama in this suit would be a body blow to the Constitution. The Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ role is designed to ensure that only those qualified for high governmental service actually serve in such posts. Yes, the confirmation process is political, but that’s the name of the game when one is a political appointee. Sometimes you lose.

Once again, we have an instance where President Obama, unwilling to compromise, is trying to impose his will by fiat, constitutional processes be damned.

The Court’s ruling is expected in late June. For the good of the republic, it should find a way to rein in an out-of-control executive.

December 19th, 2013 at 1:28 pm
Baucus Beijing Appointment Shows White House Running Scared in 2014
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Word leaked out yesterday that the White House is planning on nominating veteran Montana Senator Max Baucus (a Democrat) to become the new U.S. Ambassador to China. This continues this Administration’s long pattern of using the ambassadorial post in Beijing to take care of domestic political concerns rather than to strengthen our hand in international affairs.

Recall that Obama’s first appointment to the post was Jon Huntsman, then the Republican Governor of Utah. The Administration’s political hacks crowed at the time that this was a bit of Machiavellian genius, having sent Obama’s foremost potential rival for the 2012 presidential election halfway around the world. There were only two problems with that theory: (1) The Republican primary electorate had no real interest in Huntsman (Team Obama should have realized that anyone they saw as an appealing Republican would be a non-starter in a GOP election) and (2) Huntsman proved this fact by resigning the post a few years in and returning stateside to run against the president anyway. He was then subsequently replaced by Secretary of Commerce (and former Washington Governor) Gary Locke, whose primary qualification seemed to be his Chinese ancestry.

My first reaction to the Baucus appointment was precisely the one that NBC’s First Read highlights this morning:

Ever since Baucus said he wasn’t running for re-election — and after former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) took a pass on running — Montana has become a clear pick-up opportunity for Republicans, giving them a do-able shot at netting the six seats needed to win back the Senate next year.

But yesterday’s news means that the state’s Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, gets to appoint a replacement for Baucus, and most observers believe the replacement pick will be Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D), who is already running for Baucus’ seat.

Putting someone like Walsh in the Senate would boost his name ID, give him the benefits of incumbency (staff, official duties), and potentially clear the Democratic primary (although it seems like fellow candidate John Bohlinger is someone who isn’t easily persuaded to get out of a race).

At a minimum, Walsh — as an appointed senator — basically moves this race from Lean Republican to Toss Up.

This is a time-honored tradition of political gamesmanship, but one that I’m not sure will be adequate next year. In a normal election cycle, such humble benefits may be a difference-maker. In this one — which Republicans would be wise to make a national referendum on ObamaCare —it may not be enough to get it done. True, Montana often elects Democrats (though it consistently votes Republican in presidential races), but it’s a fundamentally conservative state. If there’s any year they’re going to look at Democrats with a jaundiced eye, it will be 2014. Republicans, of course, still need a viable candidate, but this is going to be tough sledding for the left.

This appointment shows us two things: (1) The Obama Administration is far too careless in making its foreign policy appointments and (2) they’re already scared to death of what the 2014 midterm elections will look like. The first is regrettable. The second may represent some rare interaction between this administration and reality.

December 9th, 2013 at 6:32 pm
O-Care PR Disaster Lacked Truth, Success and Credibility

A consensus is forming in the public relations world about what went wrong with Obamacare’s horrendous Healthcare.gov rollout.

In what Politico calls “a case study for crisis management consultants and their clients of what not to do,” three problems are clear.

First, the Obama administration wasn’t truthful. By downplaying the website’s crashes and error messages as “glitches” due to heavier-than-expected traffic, the White House misled the public on how bad the system actually was.

Second, updates lacked success stories. That’s probably because only 6 people successfully enrolled via the website on its first day.

Finally, despite more than three years to get ready Obamacare still lacks an effective spokesperson.

But that’s not quite right.

Until recently, President Barack Obama was a very effective spokesman when he told anyone who would listen that his signature bill would expand coverage, reduce costs and improve quality – all without requiring anyone to forfeit their current plans, doctors and hospitals.

Though the criticisms from PR consultants of the Obama administration’s handling of its latest fiasco are well-deserved, the problem with Obamacare runs much deeper than a textbook failure of crisis management. The problem with Obamacare is that it was designed by ideologues, implemented by amateurs and sold on a lie.

No amount of spin or surrogacy can fix that.

December 6th, 2013 at 4:26 pm
A Classless Act from President Obama
Posted by Troy Senik Print

The White House announced today that President Obama and the First Lady will be traveling to South Africa next week to pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela. That’s as it should be. While the media’s rush to canonize Mandela is a bit overwrought (his ultimate legacy was unquestionably positive, but that shouldn’t be allowed to obscure his many faults, which are presented in an admirably balanced fashion in National Review’s editorial on his life), his was still a deeply significant life, worthy of presidential recognition.

Given that sentiment, you may be wondering what the “classless act” I’m referring to in the title is. It’s not paying homage to Mandela; it’s the contrast with the events of eight months ago, when this happened:

Friends and allies of Baroness Thatcher expressed ’surprise and disappointment’ last night as it emerged President Obama is not planning to send any serving member of his administration to her funeral.

… a US embassy spokesman confirmed that no serving member of his administration would be present to pay their last respects, citing a busy week in US domestic politics.

Obviously, the President — with his signature policy initiative currently on life support — is no less pressed for time now than he was upon Lady Thatcher’s death. It doesn’t take too deep a dive into his intellectual biography to find the root cause of this double standard: Obama has been open about his identification with Mandela; Thatcher was clearly a figure he regarded as alien at best, an attitude he seems to apply to the British with some regularity.

Obama is perfectly within his rights as an individual to hold some world figures in higher esteem than others. As President, however, he ought to feel obligated to remember the importance of his ceremonial role — one in which he is a totem of the United States, even if it occasionally puts him in positions that make him squeamish. Nelson Mandela deserves his recognition; Margaret Thatcher did too. It’s a shame that he couldn’t rise above his own university campus provincialism to pay her that respect.

December 2nd, 2013 at 6:11 pm
Supreme Court Could Defund Obamacare

Federal subsidies are the lynchpin holding Obamacare together. Without them, insurance plans bought on state-run exchanges would be too expensive for most people to buy.

Which means there’s a huge gaping problem if you live in one of the 36 states that chose to let the feds run the exchange: You don’t qualify for federal subsidies.

“Congress was exceedingly clear that tax credits and subsidies are available to people whose plans ‘were enrolled in through an exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,’” argues Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, in the Wall Street Journal.

“Congress specified that credits and subsidies are only to be available in states that set up their own health-insurance exchange for a reason: It could not force states to set up exchanges. Instead, it had to entice them to do so.”

But if the enticement fails, then citizens are exposed to the full brunt of Obamacare’s increased cost structure for health insurance. That’s the risk the health law’s drafters took. Now the plain meaning of the text should result in a massively unpopular program.

The Obama administration is spooked. If the vast majority of Americans are forced to choose between paying the real price of Obamacare-related insurance or a hefty fine, there will be an electoral tsunami in 2014.

Here’s hoping Oklahoma’s lawsuit gets a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court sooner rather than later.

November 26th, 2013 at 4:44 pm
The Walls Close in on Civil Society
Posted by Troy Senik Print

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column here entitled “America’s Fascist Moment.” I generally try to avoid such loaded terms in print, but the reason I used that other F-word was precisely because we’ve allowed its common connotation to obscure its actual meaning.

People usually associate ‘fascism ‘with the worst kinds of authoritarians, especially Adolf Hitler. And, true enough, Hitler was an extreme example of a fascist at work. Generally, however, fascism is a bit more subtle than that (really, though, what isn’t more subtle than the Third Reich?).

What the term actually means is erasing the lines between the state and civil society; ensuring that everything we do is tied to the government. In the famous formulation of Benito Mussolini, it’s “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Needless to say, that’s about as far away as you can get from the traditional American notion of limited government, where the state is only valuable insofar as it serves the people, not the other way around (for the single best volume on this, I recommend Jonah Goldberg’s truly fantastic Liberal Fascism).

When history renders its ultimate judgment on the Obama Administration, any fair reading will note the deep fascist tendencies that pervade this Administration. If you need any proof, you need only look at the headlines of the past few days.

First, you’ve got the President exhorting his disciples to use Thanksgiving dinner to harangue family members about Obamacare, even going so far as to provide pages worth of printable talking points to his minions (I recently took this up at Ricochet).

Then you’ve got the Administration’s continued efforts to force employers to violate their consciences and provide birth control for their employees even if it violates the teachings of their faith, a fight that it was announced today will head to the Supreme Court in the spring.

Finally, there’s the news that Obama’s Treasury Department is proposing cracking down on tax-exempt status for non-profit groups that engage in what the Administration believes to be too much political activity. Liberals and conservatives alike should understand the grave danger that would come with giving the Executive Branch that kind of power to regulate political activity. There’s no such thing as a free polity where those in power get to punish those who aren’t simply for voicing their opinions.

Having a free society, however, doesn’t seem to be a priority for the Obama Administration. This is an Administration that would rather beat its enemies while violating the noblest traditions of American government than lose because they stood on principle. You’d be hard-pressed to think of another White House that ever threatened liberty so directly and so consistently.

November 20th, 2013 at 1:21 pm
First Goes the Insurance, Next Goes the Doctor

Time’s Swampland blog quotes a health care industry expert to confirm the obvious: “Many people are going to find out that the second part of the promise – that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor – just wasn’t true,” says a former George H.W. Bush Medicare and Medicaid official.

Fundamentally, Obamacare is designed to increase access to health insurance. It does this by increasing its costs and then transferring the extra money to eligible people in the form of insurance subsidies and enlarged Medicaid programs. To compensate, insurance companies will narrow their doctor networks. In many cases this will result in people losing access to the doctor of their choice.

In other words, the logical outcome of President Barack Obama’s law is to show that his promise of keeping one’s doctor is a lie.

Though the Swampland writer says “It’s unclear why the President made the promise about keeping your doctor,” it is abundantly clear that without such a promise Obamacare could not have passed. People were told they could get a flashy new entitlement at no cost to themselves. Now, they are finding out how truly wrong that promise was.