Politico Spins Anti-Obamacare Poll

Here’s a post by Jeffrey H. Anderson at http://www.nationalreview.com/ about how Politico spun their recent anti-Obamacare poll. 

When the Democrats were defying public opinion in March 2010 and passing Obamacare, they presumably would have been horrified to look into a crystal ball and see a poll from September 2014 finding that, if given a choice between repealing Obamacare or keeping it as-is, Americans would support repeal by a tally of well over two-to-one (44 to 17 percent). Well, unfortunately for Obamacare supporters, that’s the finding of a new Politico poll.

The poll, which surveyed likely voters in battleground races, didn’t even ask respondents whether they’d prefer an alternative to Obamacare. In fact, it didn’t mention an alternative at all — as if the Republicans’ stated position (Obamacareneeds to be repealed and replaced) weren’t even an option on the table. No matter: In a three-way race involving straight repeal (44 percent), keeping Obamacare as is (17 percent), or making undisclosed “modifications” to it (38 percent), straight repeal won with a clear plurality. Respondents preferred the thought of repealingObamacare to trying to fix it. Many more presumably would prefer to repealObamacare and replace it with real reform.

In all, this is a pretty miserable polling result for Obamacare.

So how did Politico report it? With this headline: “NEW POLL: MORE WANT TO KEEP ACA THAN REPEAL IT.”

Politico then wrote,

Whatever the GOP’s ambitions may be, a new POLITICO battleground poll provides more evidence that most Americans don’t support repeal. About 55 percent of likely voters in the most competitive House and Senate races said the law should stay — although 38 percent wanted ‘modifications.’  Forty-four percent support outright repeal.

This is pretty brazenly biased reporting from a “disinterested” outlet, but it doesn’t change the findings of the poll. According to the polling results, even without an alternative on the table, something approaching half of all Americans in battleground races support repealing Obamacare, less than two-fifths want to try to fix the unfixable, and only a sixth want to keep the president’s signature legislation as-is.

Repeal is not only in the cards but is the winning play. Now Republicans just need a winning alternative.

 

 

In the war on poverty only the bureaucrats won

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute believes that the only winners in the war on poverty were the bureaucrats. Here’s why:

We know the welfare state is good news for people inside government. Lots of bureaucrats are required, after all, to oversee a plethora of redistribution programs.

Walter Williams refers to these paper pushers as poverty pimps, and there’s even a ranking showing which states have the greatest number of these folks who profit by creating dependency.

But does anybody else benefit from welfare programs?

Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation explains in the Washington Times that the War on Poverty certainly hasn’t been a success for taxpayers or poor people. Instead, it’s created a costly web of dependency.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty. …Since then, the taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s war. Adjusted for inflation, that’s three times the cost of all military wars since the American Revolution. Last year, government spent $943 billion providing cash, food, housing and medical care to poor and low-income Americans. …More than 100 million people, or one third of Americans, received some type of welfare aid, at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient.

Here are some of the unpleasant details.

The U.S. Census Bureau has just released its annual poverty report. The report claims that in 2013, 14.5 percent of Americans were poor. Remarkably, that’s almost the same poverty rate as in 1967, three years after the War on Poverty started. How can that be? …When Johnson launched the War on Poverty, he wanted to give the poor a “hand up, not a hand out.” He stated that his war would shrink welfare rolls and turn the poor from “tax-eaters” into “taxpayers.” Johnson’s aim was to make poor families self-sufficient — able to rise above poverty through their own earnings without dependence on welfare. The exact opposite happened. For a decade-and-a-half before the War on Poverty began, self-sufficiency in America improved dramatically. For the past 45 years, though, there has been no improvement at all.

The final two sentences of that excerpt are the most important words in Robert’s column.

We were making lots of progress in the fight against poverty in the 1950s. That’s because we relied on the private economy and self sufficiency, as seen on the right side of this Chuck Asay cartoon..

But once politicians decided government was responsible for fighting poverty, progress ceased.

Why did progress stop? Because, as Robert explains, the welfare state creates a dependency trap and enables self-destructive behavior.

The culprit is, in part, the welfare system itself, which discourages work and penalizes marriage. …The welfare state is self-perpetuating. By undermining the social norms necessary for self-reliance, welfare creates a need for even greater assistance in the future. President Obama plans to spend $13 trillion over the next decade on welfare programs that will discourage work, penalize marriage and undermine self-sufficiency.

By the way, being “poor” in America rarely means material deprivation.

Most Americans who live in “poverty” have much higher living standards that people elsewhere in the world.

The actual living conditions of households labeled as poor by Census are surprising to most people. According to the government’s own surveys, 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television; half have a personal computer; 40 percent have a wide-screen HDTV. Three-quarters own a car or truck; nearly a third has two or more vehicles. Ninety-six percent of poor parents state that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food. …As a group, poor children are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children, and in most cases is well above recommended norms. …the average poor American has more living space than the typical nonpoor individual living in Sweden, France, Germany or the United Kingdom.

By the way, don’t be surprised by the final sentence in that excerpt. Most people have no idea that Americans have far higher living standards than their cousins in Europe.

For more information on how best to help the poor, watch this video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

Bono actually agrees that capitalism is the best approach to fighting poverty. Too bad the Pope lacks the same insight.

P.S. Here’s a map showing which states have the biggest welfare benefits.

P.P.S. If you want to see an utterly dishonest approach to public policy, read how the OECD tried to exaggerate poverty in the United States, so much so that it even tried to imply that there was more poverty in America than Greece.

P.P.P.S. Thomas Sowell has wise thoughts on how the welfare state hurts the less fortunate.

P.P.P.P.S. Some libertarians have suggested a “basic income” to replace the dozens of inefficient and failed welfare programs in Washington. For what it’s worth, I think there’s a better alternative.

Jobs Data Signals GOP Victory

Dick Morris firmly believes that the current jobs data signals an impending GOP victory in the November mid-term elections. Here’s his reasoning:

Amid the media focus on the basic data in the August jobs report — that the economy “added” 143,000 jobs — is the figure that will underscore the Republican efforts to take the Senate.

During the month of August, the economy added about 659,000 jobs that went to foreign-born Americans (naturalized citizens, green card holders and illegal immigrants combined). At the same time, it lost about 643,000 jobs that had been held by native-born Americans.

Indeed, since President Obama took office, the number of foreign-born Americans who have jobs has risen by 2.9 million while the number of domestically born Americans who are employed has grown by only 1.2 million.

In other words, about three out of four jobs created during the Obama presidency went to immigrants.

When the president was inaugurated in 2009, 14.9 percent of all employed Americans had been born outside of the 50 states. At this point, the number has risen to 16.8 percent.

The average American worker might not know these numbers (they are not publicized by the liberal media), but he feels the data in his gut. He is coming to realize that there will be no income growth or real employment increase, unless the U.S. limits immigration.

The immigration issue has now morphed into the economic issue and the terror issue.

Our wide-open back border is encouraging both wage stagnation and joblessness in the United States and inviting terrorists to cross over and to create havoc in our country.

Reports indicate a difference of opinion between leaders in the United Kingdom and the United States on how to cope with nationals who have left to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. News accounts suggest the British want to keep them out of their country lest they commit acts of terrorism, while our government would rather admit them, track their movements and interrogate them. Is the difference because we cannot keep them out? Is it because we don’t really have a southern border, and there is no way to close a door that has been effectively removed?

Historically, it was Republicans who favored open borders in their effort to accommodate their robber baron patrons with an ongoing supply of cheap labor. It was that propensity, in part, that encouraged the growth of urban labor unions and led to their affiliation with the Democratic Party.

Now it is the Democratic Party that is opening the gates to foreign workers. Their unions remain opposed to bringing in low-wage workers, fearful that the competition will lower the incomes of their members. But no matter. The honchos of the Democratic Party, led by the president, could care less. They want Latino voters, and they are willing to make their union supporters walk the plank in order to get them into the country.

Any analysis of income inequality has to focus on the two factors that lower working-class incomes: immigration and foreign trade. Even as Obama protests inequality and highlights marginal remedies like raising the minimum wage, he turns a blind eye to China’s currency manipulation, permitting artificially low-priced imports to undercut the price of products made in the USA.

For how long will America’s workers let Obama get away with this game? How long will they tolerate Democratic policies that encourage immigration, legal or not, and do nothing to stop illegal currency manipulation to get us to buy foreign products?

This post was originally published in The Hill.

The Obama Administration is Targeting the Constitution

Constitution_Pg1of4_AC1379457610-247x300Barack Obama, the one-time instructor in constitutional law, swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States twice when he took the oath of office. Yet, he almost immediately began to violate not only its spirit but its letter. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz  gives us his point of view in a post at the Washington Post.

It is now well known that the IRS targeted tea party organizations. What is less well known, but perhaps even more scandalous, is that the IRS also targeted those who would educate their fellow citizens about the United States Constitution.

According to the inspector general’s report (pp. 30 & 38), this particular IRS targeting commenced on Jan. 25, 2012 — the beginning of the election year for President Obama’s second campaign. On that date: “the BOLO [‘be on the lookout’] criteria were again updated.” The revised criteria included “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

Grass-roots organizations around the country, such as the Linchpins of Liberty (Tennessee), the Spirit of Freedom Institute (Wyoming), and the Constitutional Organization of Liberty (Pennsylvania), allege that they were singled out for special scrutiny at least in part for their work in constitutional education. There may have been many more.

The tea party is viewed with general suspicion in some quarters, and it is not difficult, alas, to imagine the mindset of the officials who decided to target tea party organizations for special scrutiny. But federal officers swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It is chilling to think that these same officials who are suspicious of the tea party are equally suspicious of the Constitution itself.

What is most corrosive about this IRS tripwire is that it is triggered by a particular point of view; it is not, as First Amendment scholars say, viewpoint-neutral. It does not include obfuscating or denigrating the Constitution; only those “involved in … educating on the Constitution” are captured by this criterion. This viewpoint targeting potentially skews every national debate about politics or government. And the skew is not strictly liberal; indeed, it should trouble liberals as much as conservatives. The ultimate checks on executive power are to be found in the United States Constitution. Insidiously, then, suppressing those “involved in … educating on the Constitution” actually skews national debate in favor of unchecked executive power.

For example, this IRS tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the NSA should collect the phone records of every American citizen. But it would be triggered by teaching that the Fourth Amendment forbids “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the president should unilaterally suspend politically inconvenient provisions of federal law, like ObamaCare. But it would be triggered by teaching that, under Article II, section 3, the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” This tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the president should appoint NLRB members unilaterally. But it would be triggered by teaching that, under Article II, section 2, such appointments require “the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” This tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the president should target and kill U.S. citizens abroad. But it would be triggered by teaching that, per the Fifth Amendment, no person shall “be deprived of life … without due process of law.” This tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the president should declare war unilaterally. But it would be triggered by teaching that, under Article I, section 8, “Congress shall have Power … To declare War.” In short, the IRS was “on the lookout,” not for those who preach unlimited executive power, but for those who would teach about constitutional constraints.

Even more to the point, perhaps, this IRS tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the IRS should discriminate against the tea party. But it would be triggered by teaching that such discrimination constitutes unfaithful execution of the tax laws. And thus, alas, there is a perverse logic to targeting constitutional educators alongside tea party organizations. Political discrimination in the administration of the tax laws is not merely “outrageous,” as Obama has said; it is an assault on our constitutional structure itself. For an official who has chosen to go down this road and target the tea party, there is an Orwellian logic to targeting constitutional educators as well. After all, they are the ones who might shed light on this very point.

This is a new low for American government — targeting those who would teach others about its founding document. Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon went to great lengths to try to conceal the facts of his constitutional violations, but it never occurred to him to conceal the meaning of the Constitution itself, by targeting its teachers. Politicians have always been tempted to try to censor their political adversaries; but none has been so bold as to try to suppress constitutional education directly. Presidents have always sought to push against the constitutional limits of their power; but never have they targeted those who merely teach about such limits. In short, never before has the federal government singled out for special scrutiny those who would teach their fellow citizens about our magnificent Constitution. This is the new innovation of Obama’s IRS.

“We the People” do not yet know who first decided to target “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” But there is at least one person who does know. Ironically, though, Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, is making full use of her own constitutional education: “I have been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify …. One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I’m invoking today.”
Five years ago, Obama, our constitutional law professor-in-chief, presented his first, ringing Constitution Day proclamation: “To succeed, the democracy established in our Constitution requires the active participation of its citizenry. Each of us has a responsibility to learn about our Constitution and teach younger generations about its contents and history.” Quite so. Perhaps this year, Obama could explain why his IRS would target those who answered this call.
Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz is a Professor of Law at Georgetown, a Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, and an occasional Broadway producer.

Americans Continue to Say a Third Political Party Is Needed

The Gallup Organization has recently published its survey on Americans view of the need for a third party. Here is the post by Jeffrey Jones at http://www.gallup.com/ with the survey and their analysis.

PRINCETON, NJ — A majority of U.S. adults, 58%, say a third U.S. political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties “do such a poor job” representing the American people. These views are little changed from last year’s high. Since 2007, a majority has typically called for a third party.

Americans' Opinions of a Need for a Third U.S. Political Party

The results are based on Gallup’s Sept. 4-7 Governance poll. The first time the question was asked in 2003, a majority of Americans believed the two major parties were adequately representing the U.S. public, which is the only time this has been the case. Since 2007, a majority has said a third party is needed, with two exceptions occurring in the fall of the 2008 and 2012 presidential election years.

The historical 60% high favoring a third party came in a poll conducted during the partial federal government shutdown last October. At that time, 26% of Americans said the parties were doing an adequate job. That figure is up to 35% now, but with little change in the percentage calling for a third party.

Americans’ current desire for a third party is consistent with their generally negative views of both the Republican and Democratic parties, with only about four in 10 viewing each positively. Americans’ views toward the two major parties have been tepid for much of the last decade. However, even when the party’s images were more positive in the past, including majority favorability for the Democrats throughout 2007 and favorability for the GOP approaching 50% in 2011, Americans’ still saw the need for a third party.

Independents Maintain Solid Preference for Third Party

Political independents, as might be expected given a lack of allegiance to either major party, have shown a far greater preference for a third political party than those who identify as Republicans or Democrats. Currently, 71% of independents say a third party is needed, on the upper end of the trend line. That compares with 47% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans who say the same.

Support for a Third Major U.S. Political Party, by Political Party Affiliation

For most of the past 11 years, Republicans and Democrats were about equally as likely to favor a third party. From 2003 to 2006 — when Republicans had control of the presidency and both houses of Congress — Democrats were more likely than Republicans to see the need for a third party. And in 2011, after the rise of the Tea Party movement, Republicans were a bit more inclined than Democrats to see a third party as necessary.

Implications

Although Americans express a desire for a viable alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties, third political parties have had little success in American politics. The U.S. political system makes it difficult for third parties to hold elected office given the Electoral College system of electing presidents and election of members of Congress from individual states and districts based on the candidate getting the most votes. Such a system generally favors two parties — a center-right and a center-left party — that have the ability to assemble a winning plurality or majority in districts and states across the country. Also, some states have restrictive laws on ballot access that make it difficult for third-party candidates to appear on the ballot.

Third parties have had success in other countries when they had strong support in a particular region, or if members of the legislature were allocated proportionately to the nationwide vote each party received. This allowed third parties to hold seats with national vote shares usually well less than 30%.

Given the U.S. political system, those whose ideology puts them to the left of the Democratic Party or the right of the Republican Party are better served trying to work within a major political party than establishing their own party. Supporters of the Tea Party movement generally took this approach, with some success, by trying to get their preferred candidates nominated as Republicans in the last few election cycles. But as with most U.S. third parties historically, the Tea Party’s influence appears to be waning as the movement did not play a pivotal role in the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and was less successful in defeating more moderate Republican candidates in the 2014 congressional primaries than in 2010.

Though the desire for a third party exists, it is unclear how many Americans would actually support a third party if it came to be. Americans’ preference for a third party may reflect their frustration with the way the Republican and Democratic parties are performing, as well as the idea that the system ought to be open to new parties, regardless of whether this is viable in practice.

Survey MethodsResults for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 4-7, 2014, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View survey methodology, complete question responses, and trends.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

 

Liberal Incivility and Gabby Giffords

Gabrielle GiffordsOn January 8, 2011, a week into her third term, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was a victim of a shooting near Tucson, which was reported to be an assassination attempt on her, at a supermarket where she was meeting publicly with constituents. She was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head; thirteen people were injured and six others were killed in the shooting, among them federal judge John Roll. 

Here is a commentary by  at http://www.commentarymagazine.com/ about Ms. Gifford’s political activities since her recovery.

When a gunman attempted to murder Rep. Gabriel Giffords in January 2011, the country was shocked by what was widely interpreted as an act that symbolized the incivility that had transformed American politics. That assumption, which was primarily aimed at undermining the Tea Party movement that had swept the midterm elections months before in the 2010 midterms, was soon debunked when we learned the shooter was an apolitical madman. But liberals have never ceased yapping about the implications of their opponents’ alleged meanness. Now it turns out the person who is doing the most to give the lie to this assertion is Ms. Giffords.

Giffords’s plight in the wake of the shooting engendered the support of all Americans as she struggled to recover from catastrophic wounds that forced her to abandon her political career. Like James Brady did a generation before, Giffords’s valiant recovery from a severe head wound made her the object of the nation’s sympathy and warm wishes. That wasn’t diminished by her activism on behalf of controversial gun-control laws. But as Giffords has begun to realize that empathy for her situation doesn’t translate into a willingness by the majority of Americans to embrace her positions on gun control, her intervention in political races is now taking on the aspect of a political attack dog rather than that of a sympathetic victim.

As Politico reports today in a story that runs under the headline “Gabby Giffords gets mean,” the former congresswoman has taken off the gloves in a series of political ads aimed at taking out Republicans she doesn’t like. In them, her super PAC seeks to exploit the suffering of other shooting victims but twists the narrative to make it appear that people like Martha McSally, the Republican woman running for Giffords’s old seat, were somehow involved or even complicit in violent shooting of a woman named Vicki by a stalker.

As Politico notes:

Some longtime supporters are starting to cry foul. On Friday, the Arizona Republic’s editorial page, which is typically liberal leaning, called the “Vicki” ad “base and vile.” The commercial, the newspaper said, put the murder “at McSally’s feet, as if she were responsible. A murder indictment implied. But, of course, McSally had nothing to do with” the death.

This is rough stuff by any standard but for it to be the work of a woman whose shooting elevated her to the status of secular saint is particularly shocking. Other ads that her group has produced pursue the same specious line.

All may be fair in love, war, and politics but there’s a lesson to be learned here and it’s not just that sympathetic victims can turn nasty if they don’t get their way on policy questions.

The liberal conceit that conservatives have fouled the political waters with their strident advocacy for accountability in terms of taxes and spending was always something of a stretch. While the Tea Party, like every other American political faction, has its share of rude loudmouths, despite the libels aimed at it from the liberal mainstream media it is no more a threat to democracy than its counterparts on the left. But modern liberalism has its core a deep-seated intolerance of opposition. It was never enough for them to criticize the positions of conservatives or Tea Partiers; they had to skewer them as anti-democratic or supportive of political violence, despite the lack of evidence to support such wild allegations.

Nor are liberals deterred by the irony of their efforts to defame conservatives. As I wrote back in January 2012, even as she issued a call for political civility, Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz falsely linked the Tea Party to the Giffords shooting. So why should we be surprised that Giffords would play the same card as she seeks to demonize and defame those who would frustrate her pro-gun control efforts?

Part of the disconnect here is due to a misunderstanding about Giffords’s personality. Though she is rightly praised for her hard work in recovering from her wounds, prior to the shooting Giffords was never shy about using the most incendiary rhetoric aimed at demonizing her political foes.

The point here is not so much to debunk the stained-glass image of the plucky Giffords in the aftermath of her ordeal. Rather, it is to understand that those who seek to characterize political differences, even over issues as divisive as guns, as those between the advocates of good and those of evil are always doing a disservice to the country. Liberals and many of their cheerleaders in the media take it as a given that conservatives are mean-spirited ghouls who don’t care about the poor or are in the pay of malevolent forces. They then take great offense when some on the right pay them back in kind with similarly over-the-top allegations.

The kind of gutter politics practiced by Giffords’s advocacy group does nothing to further a productive debate about guns or any other issue. But it does bring to light the hypocrisy of liberals who believe their good intentions or inherent virtue should allow them to defame opponents in a manner they would decry as incitement to violence if it were directed at them.

The good news, however, is that voters aren’t stupid. As much as they may sympathize with Giffords, they understand that the good will she earned can be easily dissipated if it is to be put in service to sliming those who disagree with her. Just as trotting out Giffords or the families of the Newtown massacre victims won’t convince Americans to trash their Second Amendment rights, neither will the former politician’s ads enable her to get away with sliming another woman with a mind of her own. Sadly, Giffords’s hold on America’s heartstrings may be over.

Ezekiel Emmanuel: We Should Die at 75

Recently Ezekiel Emmanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare wrote an op-ed which was titled Why I Hope to Die at 75. Here’s a commentary by Wesley J. Smith at http://www.lifenews.com/ with his point of view on Emmanuel’s assertion.

Ezekiel Emmanuel is one of the nation’s premier Obamacarians. He has the president’s ear. He is for health care rationing. And now, he wants us to die at 75.

He doesn’t put it quite like that, writing in the first person. But make no mistake: That is his essential message. From, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” in The Atlantic:

elderlypatnt8Here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived.

It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life.

This is the quality of life ethic in action. It is an expression of the increasing bigotry we are witnessing against the aged. It is egotistical in that the only thing that matters is what Emmanuel wants without regard to the impact it might have on others. It is fearful of difficulty. It denies the equal dignity and importance of elderly human life. It embraces the idea of elderly people as burdens and disdains the value others may derive when caring for their elderly loved ones. It more than implies that living with limitations isn’t worth living.

Emmanuel is free to think what he wants, of course. But the article is important because it expresses the value system upon which Obamacare and other healthcare public policies will be predicated if the Ezekiel Emmanuels get their way.

In other words, it won’t be so much about choosing not to receive expensive care after 75, but being unable to get it even if that is what you want.

LifeNews.com Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exceptionalism.

 

Obamacare is hurting the American people

As we approach the midterm elections The Republican Party may have a new opening in the fight to repeal Obamacare. Sarah Ferris at The Hill outlines the two avenues open to the Republicans.

Obamacare insurers

Republicans have found a new opening against ObamaCare after struggling for months to craft a fresh strategy against a healthcare law that now covers millions of people.

Lifted by a pair of federal audits that found major flaws with the law’s implementation, Republicans see their first chance in months to launch a serious attack against the law.

“The news that we’ve seen over the last week and a half really emphasizes what conservatives and Republicans were trying to do last year, which was preventing a lot of this from happening,” said Dan Holler, a spokesman for the conservative political group Heritage Action for America.

“What I hope happens is that the Republican Party as a whole says, ‘Yes, there is a reason besides politics that we’re fighting ObamaCare: It’s hurting people,’” Holler said.

One report by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that some insurers were ignoring federal rules that prevented women from paying for abortions through their subsidized plans – one of the most divisive pieces of the law.

A second GAO report found security weaknesses in HealthCare.gov, the website for the federal exchange.

GOP lawmakers and activists say the reports lend legitimacy to their opposition of the law, even if they are no longer talking about a repeal.

They are using the fresh ammunition to fire new accusations against the Department of Health and Human Services for potentially compromising personal information for millions of people.

The security of HealthCare.gov is also becoming a public concern. About 54 percent of people said they are worried about the security of the website, according to a poll released Wednesday by Morning Consult.

Each person who signs up for ObamaCare must provide their Social Security number and home address, as well as income and tax information.

The website security issue – as well as the finding that abortion coverage was included in more than 1,000 plans nationally – could shed new attention on healthcare reform after it was largely ignored by the GOP this year.

The House has held just one vote on a bill to undermine ObamaCare since April. That vote took place this week, supporting a bill from Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that would allow people to keep cheap group health plans even if they don’t meet federal requirements.

Democrats also claimed victories for ObamaCare this week.

The administration announced Thursday that 7.3 million people were still paying for their plans after the initial sign-ups, a figure that exceeded expectations. It also released new numbers on the nation’s uninsured, which reached the lowest level since the 1990s, though the figures don’t reflect final enrollment figures from ObamaCare.

Paul Ginsburg, a health policy analyst at the University of Southern California, said enrollment was ObamaCare’s most crucial test – and it has largely passed. With that challenge out of the way, he believes issues such as website security will get worked through.

“There’s still lots of room for attacks, but the attacks aren’t going to say, ‘Let’s repeal this.’ I think that’s no longer politically attractive because of the large number who are now benefitting from the law,” said Gisburg, who is the former president of the Center for Studying Health System Change.

Despite an imperfect sign-up system, polls show that most people who signed up for ObamaCare are happy with their plans.

Nearly 70 percent of people who are enrolled in the federal marketplace say they are satisfied with their plans, according to a poll released this week by the nonpartisan think tank, Commonwealth Fund.

Still, two-thirds of people said they were not happy with their experiences using the federal exchange.

“People are willing to put up with some of the difficulties that they faced in order to get the coverage,” said Sara Collins, executive director of healthcare for the Commonwealth Fund, who analyzed the findings.

She added that there is still work to be done by federal and state officials to ensure the marketplaces are running smoothly, but said the demand for coverage is clear.

Strong enrollment numbers could quiet future GOP attacks, said Peter Cunningham, a health policy researcher at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Despite some of its “rough edges,” Cunningham said the healthcare law is largely working the way it was intended.

“The issue is that a lot of people have received coverage, most people are apparently satisfied with that coverage, so for people who continue to criticize the law, the question is, what’s your alternative? Is it really an option at this point to repeal the law and terminate the coverage of millions of people?” he said.

The War on Poverty Has Been a Colossal Flop

It’s been fifty years since Lyndon Baines Johnson and his Democrat allies began the so-called War on Poverty. Here’s Robert Rector’s take on the effort as it appeared in The Daily Signal. Although no one doubts the sincerity of President Johnson his program to erase poverty was a typical top-down attempt by a distant federal government.

LBJ’s War on Poverty. President Lyndon Johnson shakes hands with an Appalachian resident. May 7, 1964. (Photo: Newscom)

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual report on poverty. This report is noteworthy because this year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty. Liberals claim that the War on Poverty has failed because we didn’t spend enough money. Their answer is just to spend more. But the facts show otherwise.

>>> Full Report: The War on Poverty After 50 Years

Since its beginning, U.S. taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s War on Poverty (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusting for inflation, that’s three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution.

One third of the U.S. population received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013.

The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. These programs provide cash, food, housing and medical care to low-income Americans. Federal and state spending on these programs last year was $943 billion. (These figures do not include Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance.)

>>> INFOGRAPHIC: 9 Facts About How the Poor in America Live

Over 100 million people, about one third of the U.S. population, received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the U.S.

rectorchart

But today the Census will almost certainly proclaim that around 14 percent of Americans are still poor. The present poverty rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 1967 a few years after the War on Poverty started. Census data actually shows that poverty has gotten worse over the last 40 years.

How is this possible? How can the taxpayers spend $22 trillion on welfare while poverty gets worse?

The typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in its home.

The answer is it isn’t possible.  Census counts a family as poor if its income falls below specified thresholds. But in counting family “income,” Census ignores nearly the entire $943 billion welfare state.

For most Americans, the word “poverty” means significant material deprivation, an inability to provide a family with adequate nutritious food, reasonable shelter and clothing. But only a small portion of the more than 40 million people labelled as poor by Census fit that description.

The media frequently associate the idea of poverty with being homeless. But less than two percent of the poor are homeless.  Only one in ten live in mobile homes. The typical house or apartment of the poor is in good repair and uncrowded; it is actually larger than the average dwelling of non-poor French, Germans or English.

According to government surveys, the typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in his home. Forty percent have a wide screen HDTV and another 40 percent have internet access. Three quarters of the poor own a car and roughly a third have two or more cars. (These numbers are not the result of the current bad economy pushing middle class families into poverty; instead, they reflect a steady improvement in living conditions among the poor for many decades.)

Infographic by Kelsey Harris/The Daily Signal

The intake of protein, vitamins and minerals by poor children is virtually identical with upper middle class kids. According to surveys by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the overwhelming majority of poor people report they were not hungry even for a single day during the prior year.

We can be grateful that the living standards of all Americans, including the poor, have risen in the past half century, but the War on Poverty has not succeeded according to Johnson’s original goal. Johnson’s aim was not to prop up living standards by making more and more people dependent on an ever larger welfare state. Instead, Johnson sought to increase self-sufficiency, the ability of a family to support itself out of poverty without dependence on welfare aid. Johnson asserted that the War on Poverty would actually shrink the welfare rolls and transform the poor from “taxeaters” into “taxpayers.”

Judged by that standard, the War on Poverty has been a colossal flop. The welfare state has undermined self-sufficiency by discouraging work and penalizing marriage. When the War on Poverty began seven percent of children were born outside marriage. Today, 42 percent of children are. By eroding marriage, the welfare state has made many Americans less capable of self-support than they were when the War on Poverty began.

Bono Quote, free enterprise

President Obama plans to spend $13 trillion dollars on means-tested welfare over the next decade. Most of this spending will flow through traditional welfare programs that discourage the keys to self-sufficiency: work and marriage.

Rather than doubling down on the mistakes of the past, we should restructure the welfare state around Johnson’s original goal: increasing Americans capacity for self-support. Welfare should no longer be a one way hand out; able-bodied recipients of cash, food and housing should be required to work or prepare for work as condition of receiving aid. Welfare’s penalties against marriage should be reduced. By returning to the original vision of aiding the poor to aid themselves, we can begin, in Johnson’s words, to “replace their despair with opportunity.”

Obamacare’s ‘Quiet Summer’ is About to End

Here’s a post from Guy Benson at Townhall.com about why Obamacare’s quiet summer is about to end.

Dan wrote up yesterday’s (September 9th) Washington Post/ABC News poll, which was jammed with crooked numbers for President Obama.  Most striking was the (30/55) majority deeming Obama’s presidency “a failure,” along with the prevailing opinion that he’s divided the country, and his unsightly leadership score.
The survey also included a dreadful (38/56) presidential approval rating on the implementation of Obamacare; support for the law itself was also underwater, with an outright majority opposed, despite this polling series’ silly question wording that omits any mention of ‘Obamacare’ or the ‘Affordable Care Act.’
A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll produces similar findings, with support for the president’s signature domestic accomplishment swamped by opposition. It’s been this way for years, across hundreds of national surveys.

One major reason for the enduring opposition is that the law has violated virtually every major promise erected in dishonest ideologues’ sales pitch.

Another is that an ongoing parade of unpleasant developments continues to make headlines, including the recent revelation that Healthcare.gov was hacked last month.

Apologists can cherry-pick useful data points to try to convince the public that Obamacare is reducing premium costs and driving down costs, but that’s simply not the case.  Individual market premiums exploded in 2014, and are expected to grow by roughly eight percent in 2015 (with many consumers confronting double-digit spikes) — to say nothing of high out-of-pocket costs and narrow coverage networks. Overall health spending continues an upward climb.

The law was billed as a dramatic premium reducer that would also bend down the so-called “cost curve.”  Healthcare industry expert Bob Laszewski is out with a must-read post on next steps for Obamacare.  He argues that the law may have been largely out of the news for the last few months, but a fresh round of cancellations and the coming open enrollment period are about to change all that:

To say this fall’s 2015 Obamacare open-enrollment has the potential to be problematic is an understatement. The HealthCare.gov backroom is not built yet––a year and counting after it should have been. How many people are enrolled in Obamacare? Without a government to insurance company accounting system yet built, no one knows. While the open-enrollment is now scheduled to begin until 11 days after the November election there will be plenty of renewal and cancellation letters going out in October––not the least will be more pre-Obamacare policies being cancelled this year now that their one-year extension is up––carriers aren’t necessarily allowing policies to be extended further…Does this all sound confusing? Just wait until we approach the next open-enrollment with millions of people hearing about all of this complexity and having just four weeks to get their enrollment validated for January 1. The Obamacare anxiety index is going to be off the charts well before November 15th.  Add to all of this bigger deductibles for 2015 (those go up with cost trend as well as the rates) and more narrow networks as well as generally larger rate increases for the plans that got the most enrollment and there will be lots to talk about…The last couple of months have been very quiet for Obamacare. That is about to end.

Click through for a thorough debunking of recent pro-Obamacare spin on “baseline plan” premiums, as well as a reminder that many new Obamacare consumers — a significant percentage of whom have dumped their coverage — will have to either change their plans again for face much higher rates next year.

More upheaval is on the way.  Numerous polls have consistently found that roughly twice as many Americans say they’ve been personally hurt by Obamacare than helped.  Most consumers, however, have responded that they haven’t been impacted one way or another.  That, too, will be changing for millions in the coming months and years.  The Washington Post reports:

Large businesses expect to pay between 4 and 5 percent more for health-care benefits for their employees in 2015 after making adjustments to their plans, according to employer surveys conducted this summer. Few employers plan to stop providing benefits with the advent of federal health insurance mandates, as some once feared, but a third say they are considering cutting or reducing subsidies for employee family members, and the data suggest that employees are paying more each year in out-of-pocket health care expenses. The figures come from separate electronic surveys given to thousands of mid- to large-size firms across the country by Towers Watson, the National Business Group on Health and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, consulting groups that engage with businesses on health insurance issues. Bracing themselves for an excise tax on high-cost plans coming in 2018 under the Affordable Care Act, 81 percent of employers surveyed by Towers Watson said they plan to moderately or significantly alter health-care benefits to reduce their costs.

Higher costs and reduced benefits are on the way for many who are among the the large majority of Americans receiving health coverage through their employers.  And I’ll once again direct your attention to this news package, which quotes a prominent Obamacare designer and supporter cheerfully predicting that 80 percent of employer-based plans will “disappear” within the next ten years:

An independent study cited in the piece projects that number at 90 percent.The White House knew this was coming, and Senate Democrats voted downa Republican effort to reinforce the president’s “keep your plan” promise, which continue crashing down around consumers for years to come.  Bottom line: Think the Obamacare mess is in the rear-view mirror, or that you’ve escaped its impact?  Just wait. I’ll leave you with one additional polling point:

 

New: WSJ/NBC polls shows Americans still aren’t sold on Affordable Care Act, with 34% in favor and 48% against. http://on.wsj.com/1qePzrM