Archive for November, 2009
November 19th, 2009 at 3:35 pm
Obama Suddenly Discovers Being President Is “Hard”
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Gee, if only poor Barack Obama could have known that actually being President would prove this difficult when he rattled off easy promise after promise as a candidate.  Back then, it was quite fun to throw rhetorical rocks and thunder commitments from behind his teleprompter with his trademark raised chin.  But he wants us to know that the reality of living in the White House is just so…  hard.

The particular occasion for Obama’s lamentation was his admission that he won’t be able to fulfill his promise of closing Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center by January 2010 after all.  In an interview with Fox News’s Major Garrett (which is iteself another monumental capitulation to hard reality), Obama said that he is “not disappointed” that he can’t make good on his written closure order, because doing so is “just technically hard.”

Well, gosh, President Obama.  Who knew that closing Guantanamo, balancing the budget, winning the war in Afghanistan, persuading Iran and North Korea to forego their nuclear ambitions and achieving Middle East peace would be so tough?  It all looked so easy when someone else was in charge.

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November 19th, 2009 at 3:30 pm
Health Care Taxes as the New AMT?
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The recently passed House health care bill contains a plethora of tax hikes that would make any nanny-state liberal smile with appreciation.

Perhaps the biggest tax hike, in terms of revenue generation, is the new surtax on “high-income” earners.  However, even most Democrats realize that any new tax on income (amounts over $500,000 and $1 million) must be indexed for inflation to avoid hitting middle-class taxpayers.

If not, taxpayers could experience “bracket creep” similar to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), the inception of which was meant to target literally a few dozen millionaires, but could soon affect over 30 million taxpayers.  If income thresholds don’t change, in the year 2060 a $500,000 annual income won’t be rich but taxpayers will still have to pay both the AMT and the health care surtax.

For example, without changes, the CBO now estimates that “three-quarters of households would pay the AMT.”  The math for the potential surtax is just as frightening.

BlackBook Legal’s Sam Greenberg does the math on the new health care surtax and it’s not pretty.  Eventually, the 5.4% surtax could end up hitting millions of households.  Even if wages grow at the same rate as inflation (unlikely unless the economy continues to stagnate), the surtax will end up hitting at least 5 times as many households as was intended by House leaders.  Greenberg concludes, “A non-inflation linked tax is a convenient way to pass future tax hikes without any legislative action.”

This is just another unintended consequence of federal tax policy.  For those who remain confident that the surtax will eventually be indexed to avoid middle-class taxpayers, just look at the AMT.  Of course, when tax time arrives, you won’t have to look for it; the AMT will find you.

November 19th, 2009 at 10:55 am
New Health Care Bill: Still Awful
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Late last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the newest iteration of health care “reform.”  Seeking to outdo Speaker Pelosi’s 1,990 page bill, Reid’s version measures in at 2,074 pages, longer than War and Peace.  You can read and search through the full version here.

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have released cost estimates of the bill.  Don’t let Senate Democrats fool you, however.  The actual cost of the bill is not $849 billion, mainly because federal subsidies don’t even kick in until 2014.

When fully implemented, the actual cost of Harry Reid’s bill is over $2.5 trillion, from 2014 to 2023.

If you like tax increases, you’ll love the new bill.  It contains over $500 billion in new taxes.  The bill taxes health insurance, Botox, Health Savings Accounts, drug devices, and some employers and employees.  No one escapes Uncle Sam’s scalpel in Harry Reid’s version of “reform.”  Click here for a full list of tax hikes.

More analysis later.

November 19th, 2009 at 10:12 am
Botox Tax Back; Real Housewives Revolt
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Now they’ve finally blown it.  After getting away, so far, with screwing over just about everyone in the country, with hardly a peep, the Senate version of “healthcare reform” has now inappropriately groped a constituency that no sane male-dominated body dare touch:  real housewives of America.

That’s right, ladies. reports, before you’ve even had your coffee this morning, that the botox tax is back.  Five percent on all elective cosmetics surgery.  It is needed “to make the numbers work,” a Democratic Senate aide told Politico.

All we can do is warn Senators of the following:  Ladies who attend those Tea Parties that scare you so badly wear sensible shoes.  Real housewives wear four-inch stilettos, and they ain’t just for pretty.

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November 19th, 2009 at 10:04 am
Can E.J. Dionne Count?
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Here’s an exercise:  ask a liberal to identify a single commentator from the left who rivals such conservative commentators as George Will or Charles Krauthammer.  Their usual answer?  The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, Jr.  This is very revealing, because it appears that Dionne has difficulty counting, let alone rivaling his conservative counterparts in intellectual stature.

In his column today, Dionne attempts to excoriate Senate Republicans for their obstructionism, including their alleged tendency to filibuster.  In one passage, he states that, “the extra-constitutional filibuster is being used by the minority, with extraordinary success, to make the majority look foolish, ineffectual and incompetent.”

No, Mr. Dionne, the Democrats are doing a splendid job of that themselves.  But regardless, this commentary raises a larger question:  can Dionne even count?  After all, does he not realize that the Republicans don’t even possess the number of members sufficient to filibuster?

Somebody send this man a calculator.

November 19th, 2009 at 9:06 am
Morning Links
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November 18th, 2009 at 10:54 pm
Obama Desperately Tries to Lose World War II
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Given enough time, President Obama will probably find occasion to apologize for that act of wanton American aggression at Lexington and Concord during a state visit to the United Kingdom.

For now, however, the President is contenting himself with paying penance for America’s 20th century “sins”. When Obama’s Asia trip took him to Japan over the weekend, former New York Times military correspondent Richard Halloran noted that the President hinted at a press conference that he may accept an invitation that no previous Commander-in-Chief has ever entertained — a visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Per Halloran:

Many Japanese, particularly left-wing organizations, would most likely demand that the US apologize for dropping the bombs, which would stir up rancor in the US. That would call into question the judgment of President Harry Truman, who made the decision to drop the bombs. In turn, that would put President Obama in a politically difficult position.

Among Americans, veterans of World War II, especially survivors of Japan’s surprise attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, would be vigilant for any sign of remorse for an action that many believe ended World War II with Japan’s surrender, sparing the lives of tens of thousands of Americans poised to invade Japan.

And the veterans would be right.  Not only did Truman’s courageous decision prevent widespread American military deaths, it also likely prevented the millions of Japanese military and civilian casualties that would have resulted from the urban warfare that a ground invasion would have brought.  It also was almost certainly responsible for preventing the planned Japanese execution of Allied POWs  (a slaughter of 100,000 — or 2.5 times more than the initial death count from Nagasaki).

It’s bad enough that Obama would even entertain the notion of recoiling from the moral superiority of the Allied cause in World War II.  Even worse (if utterly predictable at this point) was his tortured use of Japan as a model for his dream of the world as a nuclear-free Fantasia:

“Indeed, Japan serves as an example to the world that true peace and power can be achieved by taking this path. For decades, Japan has enjoyed the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy, while rejecting nuclear arms development – and by any measure, this has increased Japan’s security, and enhanced its position.”

I wish there was a pithy one-liner to capture the stunning stupidity of that statement. Let’s just put it this way: Obama, his speechwriters, or both are historically illiterate.  Japan hasn’t ‘rejected’ nuclear arms development, so much as it has had the United States government preventing it from remilitarizing for nearly 65 years.  And were it not for the substantial American military presence and security guarantee enveloping the island nation, its nuclear neighbors in China and North Korea would have swallowed it years ago.

The lesson here is not about the benevolence of a nuclear-free world. It’s about the benevolence of American power. What are the odds we’d hear that message in presidential remarks at Hiroshima?

November 18th, 2009 at 8:35 pm
Obama’s Coming Immigration “Reform” Borders on Insanity

And now a word from Big Sister. With comprehensive climate change legislation tabled until next year and comprehensive health care reform on life support in the Senate, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the current immigration system is “unacceptable.” Translation? It’s time to pursue comprehensive immigration reform. (By the way, is there any issue area that doesn’t require a “comprehensive” solution? Whatever happened to incrementalism?)

Characteristically, the Obama Administration will not be advocating a fix that speaks to the fundamental issue in the debate. The primary criticism of the current system is that it attracts and rewards low-skilled workers living at the margins of mainstream American society. Compounding matters is the current system’s focus on “re-uniting” families; which over time has been expanded to mean any tangentially related family member overseas gets bumped to the front of the visa line.

Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute thinks this is a problem.

The more people who came and established residence here, the longer the so-called ‘family re-unification’ list of visa applicants grew as newcomers placed their own relatives on it. That put pressure on Congress to continually expand the family-visa category until it came to dominate our immigration system. It also sparked more illegal immigration because Congress could never enlarge the number of immigration slots fast enough to reduce wait lists for family members, which meant many people just came without permanent visas to join relatives and then hoped for the best.”

As Malanga advocates, a more far more sensible solution would be to follow the lead of countries like Australia, Ireland, and Canada who “tilted their policies towards focusing on those with skills and talents most likely to succeed in and contribute to a late 20th century developed economy.”

Instead, all indications are that Secretary Napolitano will claim that a year’s worth of border enforcement is not enough. She’ll then declare a need to “comprehensively” reform the system and the people who brought you nearly $2 trillion of stimulus and health reform will conjure up ways to sell amnesty as the only moral decision possible. Get ready for a spirited Spring congressional session!

November 18th, 2009 at 6:09 pm
Germany’s Merkel Gets It. Why Doesn’t Obama?
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It’s sad when American leaders must look to “Old Europe” for economic wisdom, but that’s where we stand with this Obama White House.

Speaking this week to media, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the worldwide recession demands tax cuts, not higher taxes and redistribution, to jump-start economic growth.  Impressively, she’s standing firm even in the face of fierce opposition, saying, “the government has opted for growth.  I indeed face very critical treatment, as does the whole government, regarding the course that we have chosen.”  A spokesman for Merkel’s partner Free Democrats added, “this is the right path.  This will create jobs and this is the condition for healthy public finances.”  Meanwhile, Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi offer more government, higher taxes and more regulation to somehow “stimulate” America out of recession.

Hmmm…  Perhaps this recent trend of economic sense out of Germany helps explain why Obama was so reluctant to visit Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall this month?

November 18th, 2009 at 5:31 pm
Predicting the Senate Health Care Vote
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With the Congressional Budget Office set to release its cost estimate of the Senate’s version of health care “reform” sometime this week, taxpayers continue to speculate over the whip count and the prospects for ObamaCare. has set up a virtual prediction market for the health care bill in the Senate.  Click here to make your predictions of ObamaCare’s future.  (Sorry, you can’t make any money off of your predictions.)

Let’s all hope that President Obama and leaders in Congress have a sudden change of heart and decide that more massive government won’t bring down health costs or reduce the federal deficit.

My prediction was 55-45 for final passage, but that doesn’t mean the bill will survive a filibuster attempt.

HT: Political Wire

November 18th, 2009 at 10:59 am
Dean of Harvard Medical School Pans ObamaCare
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The chorus of opposition to ObamaCare is growing louder among the ranks of medical academe.  Dr. Jeffrey Flier, dean of Harvard Medical School, says ObamaCare would receive a “failing grade” at Harvard.

He wrote:

Our health-care system suffers from problems of cost, access and quality, and needs major reform. Tax policy drives employment-based insurance; this begets overinsurance and drives costs upward while creating inequities for the unemployed and self-employed. A regulatory morass limits innovation. And deep flaws in Medicare and Medicaid drive spending without optimizing care.

His conclusion:

In discussions with dozens of health-care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health-care spending rather than restrain it. Likewise, nearly all agree that the legislation would do little or nothing to improve quality or change health-care’s dysfunctional delivery system.

November 18th, 2009 at 8:45 am
Morning Links
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November 17th, 2009 at 5:14 pm
Thank Goodness For Some Broken Obama Promises
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Since he was inaugurated last January, Barack Obama has broken almost all of the promises he earnestly made as a candidate, from pledges of bipartisanship to not raising taxes on anyone earning under $250,000.  Indeed, he even gave a preview to his future behavior when he jettisoned his pledge to abide by public campaign finance limits as soon as he secured the Democrats’ nomination.

But not all of Obama’s broken promises are bad.

Last November, he promised immediate action to impose climate change hysteria as official federal policy, saying, “now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all.  Delay is no longer an option.”

Well, maybe not.  This past weekend, Obama announced that there would be no international carbon cap-and-tax accord when world leaders meet in Copenhagen, Denmark next month.  That’s good news for strapped American taxpayers and businesses, but unwelcome news for sniveling Europeans, who are doing their left-wing Joe Wilson imitation by branding Obama a liar.

We would’ve preferred that Obama join Europeans in celebrating the Berlin Wall’s demise last week, but we can at least be thankful for the small blessing that he’s also offending the Euro global-warming alarmists.

November 17th, 2009 at 5:13 pm
Video: The End of ACORN
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Mike Flynn, editor of Big Government, explains how a few people with a camera brought down ACORN.


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November 17th, 2009 at 11:55 am
New Stimulus Jobs in Nonexistent Places

Boy, those fictitious Stimulus jobs just keep piling up.

Yesterday, we highlighted an analysis done by David Freddoso and Mark Hemingway of The Washington Examiner, which points out that at least 75,343 jobs the Obama Administration claims have been “created or saved” by “Stimulus” funds are bogus.

Now, Jonathan Karl with ABC News reports that at least some of those jobs “saved or created” are in Congressional districts that don’t even exist.  Karl writes:

Here’s a stimulus success story:  In Arizona’s 15th congressional district, 30 jobs have been saved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending. At least that’s what the Web site set up by the Obama administration to track the $787 billion stimulus says.

There’s one problem, though:  There is no 15th congressional district in Arizona; the state has only eight districts.

And ABC News has found many more entries for projects like this in places that are incorrectly identified.

Officials with the Recovery Board, which was set up by the Obama Administration to track Stimulus spending, are chalking up the mistake to “human error.”  Fine… but such an error, together with the ever-increasing reports of fictitious Stimulus job numbers, begs the question:  How are the American people supposed to trust an Administration that claims to want to create jobs when it can’t even perform due diligence to provide an accurate count of the jobs that may or may not have been “created or saved?”

The answer:  We can’t and we shouldn’t.  Not because of the aforementioned errors and inflated Stimulus job numbers, but because the laws of economics say so.  As the editorial page of The Washington Times reminded readers last week, “Jobs created by government come at the expense of the jobs lost when government takes wealth from one part of the economy and moves it to another.”

Here’s a not-so-unique but tried-and-true idea to stimulate job growth:   How about the Administration abandon its tax-and-spend agenda and just get out of the way? 

Hey Mr. President, maybe it’s time to give FREEDOM a whirl?

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November 17th, 2009 at 11:28 am
Iran Answers Obama By Constructing New Nuclear Sites
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Apparently, Iran never received Barack Obama’s “Hope and Change” memo.  Or, more worrisome, they did and opted to play him for a Jimmy Carter-like fool.

Yesterday, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that Iran may be constructing multiple covert nuclear facilities in addition to the Qom site disclosed two months ago.  Moreover, Iranian representatives have brazenly announced that they intend to commence operating the exposed Qom facility by 2011.  Making matters even worse, Iran is also wavering on its commitment following exposure of the Qom plant to ship its uranium to other nations for benign reprocessing.

The Obama State Department and IAEA reacted with their usual impotence, with the State Department saying that “now is the time for Iran to signal that it wants to be a responsible member of the international community.”  No, that time passed decades ago.

This endless cycle of Iranian duplicity and feckless response is beyond farce.  Obama brought false “hope” to international relations, but where’s the “change?”

November 17th, 2009 at 11:25 am
Democrats Have a Problem with Judges
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Republicans spent the last eight years trying to ensure an up-or-down vote for their judicial nominees.  Democrats, for the first time in history, decided to take the extraordinary step of filibustering all of the nominees that they deemed “out of the judicial mainstream.”

The Democratic standard for mainstream: ‘We don’t like them and we’ll do everything possible to keep them off the bench.’

Now, Democrats are having problems with the judicial confirmation process, even though they hold 60 seats in the U.S. Senate.

Today the Senate will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Judge David Hamilton to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Senate Republicans are currently mulling political payback and will likely filibuster Judge Hamilton’s nomination.  If successful, Hamilton’s nomination will wind up just like dozens of blocked judges during the Bush Administration.

It appears that Democrats, too, have a problem with judges.  What goes around comes around in Washington, D.C.

November 17th, 2009 at 9:58 am
Morning Links
November 16th, 2009 at 4:43 pm
Obama: More Free Speech in China, But Not America?
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This is rich.  Barack Obama told Chinese students yesterday that an uncensored society is healthiest.

“I’m a big supporter of non-censorship,” Obama said with an apparent straight face, because “it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear.”  He added, “I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger society becomes,” and “they can begin to think for themselves.”

This is the same Barack Obama who admonished anyone who opposes his policy agenda to “get out of the way,” expresses support for the “Fairness Doctrine” and whose White House hit men orchestrated a campaign to silence and marginalize Fox News, the Chamber of Commerce and health insurers who had the audacity to actually communicate critical information to their members.  One can only infer that Obama stands more willing to advocate freedom of speech for the Chinese than his own citizens.

November 16th, 2009 at 4:31 pm
Fear & Loathing in the West Wing

It may be that Barack Obama’s time in office serves to enhance Bill Clinton’s (personal) legacy among Democratic operatives.  For all his faults, The Man from Hope at least made many people he spoke to and worked with feel better about themselves.  Obama is a different cat.  During his campaign for president, several reporters who had worked around both men remarked that Clinton sees a person the way that person wants to be seen; Obama sees a person the way that person is.

And when it comes to working in the Obama White House, loyalty runs in only one direction.  The curious case of soon-to-be-former White House Counsel Gregory Craig is the most recent example.  Last Friday, the early supporter (and bridge builder to the Kennedy family) was forced to resign because of his apparent inability to close down immediately the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.  You know, the same site filled with terrorists no other country wants, including America?

Maybe the only thing different if this had occurred in the Clinton White House would be the inclusion of a teary-eyed hug on the way out the door.  Now that Craig is moving back to his white shoe D.C. law firm, maybe he’d appreciate knowing the president he helped elect still thinks he’s an effective lawyer.  While Craig separates his aspiration from his reality, he’s got plenty of company among those listing the ending date of Obama-related work on their resumes.