Thursday, December 31, 2009
The reason for the rapid decline is the highly prominently role he's played in the health care debate. He initially opposed the bill for its allowance of abortion coverage and its cost. Then quickly reversed course after cosmetic changes were made. Now he's going public to defend his vote to Nebraskans. That will only deepen the opposition to him by many Nebraskans who are already upset with him.
Will it cost him eventual re-election in 2012? That's hard to say because three years is a long time away in political terms. However, if the problems only grow for the party in power - the Democrats in this case - and I think they will for both things within and outside their control, he should be in trouble in 2012 as well.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Franken efforts to reinvent himself as a hard working, bipartisan sort of senator have been dropped in his reversion to the behaviors he exhibited as a comic, author and liberal radio talk show host -- sharp-tongued, anger and arrogance .
Al Franken, the Democrat from Minnesota who won election to the Senate after a successful career as a comic and author, has begun to show the sharp-tongued side of his personality by ripping into GOP staffers behind the scenes.I was somewhat surprised by the amount of self discipline he exercised during the campaign in his efforts to persuade Minnesota voters that he wasn't the mean spirited liberal author and talk show host. I started to wonder if he in deed had really reinvented himself for his new career as a US Senator, especially if he had national political ambitions. (Those ambitions seem to present in some of the books he previously wrote on policy issues and him picturing himself as president.)
Franken has worked diligently to keep a low public profile in Congress while focusing on wonky policy debates. But he has been unable to completely repress the fiery passion that made him a hero of the Democratic Party’s liberal base.Franken has teamed up with GOP colleagues to introduce a variety of legislation, something that may surprise fans who read his books, such as Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.But he has also pummeled Republican senators and their aides, showing a glimpse of the pugilistic style of his best-seller, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations.
"The Hill" article notes some of his recent activities.
Franken has surprised some of his colleagues behind the scenes by getting into heated tangles with GOP staffers.I think the quote from Minnesota political observer, Professor Larry Jacobs probably hits the nail on the head.
One such exchange took place in Franken’s office during a recent meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and his aides.
Franken invited Corker to his office to discuss an op-ed that Corker penned in a Tennessee newspaper opposing an amendment Franken offered to a defense bill. The measure gave the employees of defense contractors who suffer rape or sexual assault at the workplace the right to sue in court.
The meeting quickly deteriorated when Franken began berating one of Corker’s aides, according to GOP aides familiar with the incident. Franken’s sally was so harsh that Corker told Franken to lay off his aide and direct the comments at him instead.
Franken’s tough approach came as a surprise because Corker scheduled the meeting to mend fences after Franken confronted him about the op-ed during an angry exchange on the Senate floor.
Another GOP staffer, an aide to a Senate Republican leader, found herself at the sharp end of Franken’s wit at a recent reception in the Senate’s Mansfield Room. The tongue-lashing took place at an event to celebrate the swearing-in of GOP Sen. George LeMieux (Fla.).
After the conversation began ordinarily, Franken started to grill the aide about what he sees as the failings of the GOP. Franken demanded to know why it had become the "Party of No" and had exaggerated facts in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, according to another GOP leadership aide....
In addition to chewing out Corker over the op-ed, earlier this month Franken clashed loudly with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) on the Senate floor. The dust-up was spurred by Thune’s claim that Democratic healthcare legislation would impose new taxes immediately but fail to implement benefits for several years.
Franken derided Thune’s floor presentation and implied that he had fabricated some of his facts, a more personal confrontation than usual in the clubby Senate. An irate Thune walked off the Senate floor after Franken revealed a private conversation they had on the topic.
“I asked if he mentioned any of the benefits that do kick in [immediately] and he said, ‘Uh no,’ ” Franken said in front of C-SPAN television cameras.
“We are entitled to our own opinions; we’re not entitled to our own facts,” Franken said, raising his voice. “Benefits kick in right away, and if you’re going to hold up a chart that says when taxes kick in and when benefits kick in … you better include the benefits that do kick in right away.”
Franken later apologized to Thune.
And last week, Franken cut off Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) during his speech on the Senate floor. Lieberman, who has drawn the ire of liberals over his opposition to the public health insurance option, asked for an additional moment to finish remarks about amendments he planned to offer, but Franken, who was presiding over the Senate, refused to grant the routine request.
"In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object," Franken said.
"Really?" replied Lieberman.
A spokeswoman for Franken said that the senator was just trying to move along with the legislation, but at a press conference late last week, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed disgust with Franken, saying that Lieberman's request for more time to extend his remarks was "objected to by the newest member of the United States Senate in a most brusque way ... We've got to stop this kind of behavior. I have never seen anything like that and I hope that I don't see it again."
“There is a war within Al Franken,” said Lawrence Jacobs, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. “The Al Franken head tells him to steer away from the limelight and build his reputation. Then there is his heart, which is quite fiery."
Jacobs said Franken must be careful not to engage in too many political brawls, or it could “reinforce for independent voters what they feared about him, that he’s a hot-headed partisan.”
Friday, December 18, 2009
Because money is transferred and the baby can be created from third party sperm and eggs, it raises the specter of baby selling and designer babies.
I oppose the practice for these reasons and others. Ultimately, it messes with God's design for family and procreation. When one does that problems invariably result as the article points out.
The article also points out who it encourages to become parents.
The shift from traditional surrogacy, in which women carry their own biological children after artificial insemination, to gestational surrogacy, as well as the wide availability of donor eggs, has opened the possibility of parenthood to a variety of people who cannot have children of their own.
Manhattan, the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Centersponsors monthly seminars on having families through surrogacy. The well-attended sessions often feature speakers with children born through surrogacy arrangements.
In many of those cases, one of the male partners donates sperm that is used, along with a donor egg, to impregnate a surrogate.
Many of the people who have children through surrogates would have had difficulty adopting because of sexual orientation, marital status or age. Some foreign countries place upper age limits on adoptive parents. And birth mothers giving up their children in the
often hand-pick the adoptive parents of their children. United States
“The default position for young birth moms tends to be a mother and a father in a stable relationship and a white picket fence around the yard,” said David C. Cole, a
lawyer with Little Flower Adoptions, which also handles surrogacy arrangements. Dallas
The article points out that the practice is especially of interest to gays and lesbians who by definition deny the child a mother or a father and certain individuals based marital status and age who for various reasons wouldn't ordinarily have children. Interesting. Nature says at a certain age you can't have children. And that's good. Having a person who is likely to only be around for a short period of the child's life isn't a good idea. As for marital status. Society has, until recently, encouraged children be raised by a married couple. And that's good. Kids need their mother and father. Surrogacy allows for an end run around these appropriate expectations for raising a child.
One lesson I take away is just because something is technologically possible doesn't make it ethically right or good.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
"It's completely reckless, completely irresponsible." -- Throwing together and passing a health care bill affecting 16% of our nation's economy.
What else did Senator McConnell say about the bill?
‘And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen. That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private’....
How's this compare to other significant pieces of legislation?
“Senators on both sides acknowledge that the health care bill we’re considering is among the most significant pieces of legislation any of us will ever consider.
“So it stands to reason that we’d devote significant time and attention to it.
“Indeed, some would argue that we should spend more time and attention on this bill than most — if not every — previous bill we’ve considered.
“The Majority disagrees.
“Why? Because this bill has become a political nightmare for them.
“They know Americans overwhelmingly oppose it, so they want to get it over with.
“Americans are already outraged at the fact that Democrat leaders took their eyes off the ball. Rushing the process on a partisan line makes the situation even worse.
“Americans were told the purpose of reform was to reduce the cost of health care.
“Instead, Democrat leaders produced a $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page monstrosity that vastly expands government, raises taxes, raises premiums, and wrecks Medicare.
“And they want to rush this bill through by Christmas — one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history. They want to rush it.
“And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen.
“That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private.
“That’s what they intend to bring to the floor and force a vote on before Christmas.
“So this entire process is essentially a charade.
“But let’s just compare the process so far with previous legislation for some perspective. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve done and where we stand:
• The Majority Leader intends to bring this debate to a close as early as this weekend — four days from now, on this $2.5 trillion dollar mistake
• No American who hasn’t been invited into the Majority Leader’s conference room knows what will be in that bill
• This bill has been the pending business of the Senate since the last week of November — less than four weeks ago.
• We started the amendment process two weeks ago.
• We’ve had 21 amendments and motions — less than two a day.
He concludes with
“Now let’s look at how the Senate has dealt with previous legislation.
“No Child Left Behind (2001):
• 21 session days or 7 weeks.
• Roll Call votes: 44
• Number of Amendments offered: 157
“9/11 Commission/Homeland Security Act (2002):
• 19 session days over 7 weeks.
• Roll Call votes: 20
• Number of Amendments offered: 30
“Energy Bill (2002):
• 21 session days over 8 weeks
• Number of Roll Call votes: 36
• Number of Amendments offered: 158
“This isn’t an energy bill. This is an attempt by a majority to take over one sixth of the U.S. economy — to vastly expand the reach and the role of government into the health care decisions of every single American — and they want to be done after one substantive amendment. This is absolutely inexcusable.
“There is no justification for this blind rush — except a political one, and that’s not good enough for the American people.
“And there’s no justification for forcing the Senate to vote on a bill none of us has seen.
“Americans already oppose this bill. The process is just as bad.
“It’s completely reckless, completely irresponsible.”
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Rahm Emmanuel takes no prisoners. Reportedly threatens Sen. Nelson who objects to health care bill's authorization of taxpayer funding of abortion.
According to a Weekly Standard blog post:
While the Democrats appease Senator Lieberman, they still have to worry about other recalcitrant Democrats including Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. Though Lieberman has been out front in the fight against the public option and the Medicare buy-in, Nelson was critical of both. Now that those provisions appear to have been stripped from the bill, Lieberman may get on board, but Nelson's demand that taxpayer money not be used to fund abortion has still not been met. According to a Senate aide, the White House is now threatening to put Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list if Nelson doesn't fall into line.
Offutt Air Force Base employs some 10,000 military and federal employees in Southeastern Nebraska. As our source put it, this is a "naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson's vote." They are "threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?" asked the Senate staffer.
Indeed, Offutt is the headquarters for US Strategic Command, the successor to Strategic Air Command, and not by accident. STRATCOM was located in the middle of the country for strategic reasons. Its closure would be a massive blow to the economy of the state of Nebraska, but it would also be another example of this administration playing politics with our national security.
I wonder if this heavy handed approach will backfire with Senator Nelson, especially since it's now been publicized.
Monday, December 14, 2009
The story poked fun at Minnesota's adultery statute because it applies to a married woman who has sexual relations with another man but not a married man who has sex with an unmarried woman. (Tiger could have been tried under our state's fornication statute.)
The story highlights the liberal mindset of elites in Minnesota society. Senator Ellen Anderson, DFL'er from Minneapolis, was also interviewed for the story and was incredulous that we have a law on the books against adultery. She compared it to countries which stone people to death for things like adultery. She, therefore, thinks putting a person in jail for adultery is also ridiculous. We're a much too enlightened society for that.
That's interesting. I suspect she supports child support penalties, which include jail time for parents who fail to make child support payments. Yet adultery can be just as devastating to a marriage and child as a parent's failure to make child support payments. Why is adultery not that big a deal to her?
One has to look at her worldview. There's something unique about sex for Senator Anderson, I believe. Her record at the legislature shows she's more than willing to pass laws governing behavior in most areas of life, to social engineer. Yet sex is off limits for her. (Her thoughts on adultery are consistent with her previous efforts to repeal our state's anti-sodomy several years ago. She tried to do it through ridicule - lumping it in with other laws she considered archaic like a ban on Sunday auto sales and restrictions on traveling carnivals. The only problem was she couldn't get the support of other legislators. She said that "Anything which has to do with sex becomes a political football around the Capitol." )
Why is the area of sexual behaviors off limits for her? I think because she's a child of the sexual revolution and thus has an ideological commitment to the notion that anything goes sexually as long as it's consensual. Yet she and others have a blind spot for the enormous damage and harm to society, families, parents and children resulting from embracing the sexual mores of the sexual revolution. In fact, she and others at the legislature spend a good bit of their time attempting to deal with the fallout from marriage and family breakdown.
The decline of the family and marriage have enormous negative social consequences for every area of society: Poverty. Personal emotional, physical and psychological damage to spouses and children. Economic decline. Expanding size and cost of government. Epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. Over a million abortions nationally. Yet marriage and family are treated in a cavalier manner by sexual liberationists. Why? Because their worldview centers around a radical individualism. It's all about me - my pleasure, my personal satisfaction, my wants, my desires. The only transcendent law governing society is what satisfies the individual. I should be able to do anything I want, sexual or otherwise, as long as it's consensual.
In addition, they believe the state should make an effort to mitigate the consequences of one's poor choices. Have a kid of wedlock? Receive welfare support. Engage in promiscuous sexual behavior? Receive free contraceptives. Or maybe have your HPV vaccination paid for by the state. Get pregnant because your contraceptive failed and you don't want the child? Receive a abortion paid for by the state.
Yet this begs the question, why the public uproar about Tiger Woods and his apparent multiple adulteries? Isn't his behavior none of our concern? Isn't it a private matter? No. People know there is a moral law out there where some things are right and wrong and Tiger flagrantly violated this law. Tiger wasn't the poster child of the pro-family movement, so people were not upset with his hypocrisy. They know what he did was wrong and are concerned about the public message this public figure and his behavior sends to the rest of society.
Certainly, Tiger deserves our encouragement and prayers as he attempts to get his marriage and family life back in order. But we shouldn't say his adulteries are not a big deal.
As we know Kevin Jennings was the head of GLSEN, the group which promotes homosexuality and its acceptance in our public schools. Now he's heading up the President's safe schools office at the US Department of Education.
Well, some of the things he promoted through GLSEN before he went to the Dept. of Ed. were anything but safe - "fisting" and other bizarre, perverse, and unhealthy sexual behaviors.
Here's a link to an article which describes the outrageous practices promoted at a seminar put by Jennings' GLSEN group while he headed it up.
Here's a Hannity piece on Mr. Jennings previous activities.
Mr. Jennings' presence in the safe school position at Obama's Department of Education speaks volumes about the values and moral framework, or lack thereof, his Administration is operating from.
Friday, December 11, 2009
This time it's from the Chinese who are seeking to justify their ridiculous and dangerous one child per family policy.
Although China's family planning policy has received criticism over the past three decades, Zhao said that China's population program has made a great historic contribution to the well-being of society.
As a result of the family planning policy, China has seen 400 million fewer births, which has resulted in 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions a year, Zhao said.
The UN report projected that if the global population would remain 8 billion by the year 2050 instead of a little more than 9 billion according to medium-growth scenario, "it might result in 1 billion to 2 billion fewer tons of carbon emissions".
Meanwhile, she said studies have also shown that family planning programs are more efficient in helping cut emissions, citing research by Thomas Wire of London School of Economics that states: "Each $7 spent on basic family planning would reduce CO2 emissions by more than one ton" whereas it would cost $13 for reduced deforestation, $24 to use wind technology, $51 for solar power, $93 for introducing hybrid cars and $131 electric vehicles.
She admitted that China's population program is not without consequences, as the country is entering the aging society fast and facing the problem of gender imbalance.
China is facing a demographics mess with it's one child policy. Many more males than females - the females are more likely to get aborted if you can have only one child to support you. And a future demographics will be a royal mess.
Again misguided government policies and faulty ideology. We see the fruit of the materialist mindset - the problem is people so let's get rid of them and make sure we don't have many more.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Nat Hentoff of the Cato Institute points out that:
Much of the press coverage of the Democrats' health-care legislation, now fiercely embattled in Congress, focuses on the public option, the actual long-term costs and tax increases, and the amendment barring funding for abortions, but the cold heart of Obamacare is its overpowering of the doctor-patient relationship — eventually resulting in the premature ending of many Americans' lives for being too costly.
To call the dangers of this legislation "death panels" obscures the real-life consequences to Americans, not only the elderly, of a federal government-run health-care bureaucracy. In the Senate bill, for instance, Medicare doctors whose treatments of certain, mostly elderly, patients costs more than a set government figure each year, will be punished by losing part of their own incomes.
Not only Medicare doctors will be monitored for their cost effectiveness. In the House bill, as Cato Institute's health-care specialist Michael Tanner explains (New York Post, Nov. 8), "111 government agencies, boards, commissions and other bureaucracies — all overseen by a new health-care czar," the commissioner of Health Care Choices, will keep watch on what the president has called excessive, wasteful health-care expenditures.Moreover, President Obama has made clear that eventually he desires a U.S. equivalent of the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), a commission that decides which drugs and procedures for patients are within the national budget for health care. The current baseline expenditure for each Briton, according to Michael Tanner, is $44,305 per year.
In this country, bureaucrats keeping tabs on patients — without actually seeing them and their condition — will mean, as Tanner notes, that "every time a doctor decides on a treatment, he or she would have to ask: 'Does the government think I'm doing this too much? Will I be penalized if I order this test?'"....
Hentoff points to Harvard Medical School faculty who likewise believe that government control of treatment means bureaucrats will be directing health care decisions for all of us.
Harvard Medical School faculty members Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband bring the individual back into this crucial debate in "Sorting Fact From Fiction on Health Care" (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 31):...."If doctors and hospitals are rewarded for complying with government-mandated treatment measures or penalized if they do not comply, clearly federal bureaucrats are directing health decisions."
Also remember that these functionaries making decisions about your treatment and, in some cases, about the extent of your life span, have never met you. They do not know your name, have not spoken directly to your doctor and, of course, haven't the slightest idea of what your wishes are. Is this America?
And then another medical voice from NYU Medical Center:
Another doctor whose byline in the New York Post I try never to miss is Mark K. Siegel, a practicing internist and an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. In "Destroying the Doctor-Patient Bond" (New York Post, Aug. 3), he points to Section 123 of the House bill that "establishes a Health Benefits dvisory Committee, chaired by the surgeon general, which makes recommendations to the HHS secretary on what should be covered and what shouldn't.
"These rulings from on high," Dr. Siegel warns, "are problematic, since useful treatments or tests for one patient are not appropriate for another. Appeals are bound to be time consuming and largely ineffective. This is the government interfering directly with the practice of medicine."
While advocates of the health care legislation say they just want to give more people health care insurance, certainly a compassionate motivation, the way they do it will mean less care for those who really need it and ever rising health care costs for all of us. Of course, that's the necessary outcome of the socialist impulse. "We through the government can create a better world. Just trust us." The reality is something much different.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
In a story written by Maricio Roman on the website Inside Catholic:
Despite profits of $85 million in 2008, Planned Parenthood is facing serious financial difficulties...Internally, Planned Parenthood's difficulties stem from the uneven strength of its affiliates, and President Cecile Richards is worried.
According to the Harvard case, her organization faces "tough economic times, a hostile political environment, and limited ability to raise philanthropic dollars in a resource constrained area of the country."
The "hostile political environment" involves competition from crisis pregnancy groups.
What does Planned Parenthood see as the answer to their problems? Expanding the number of women seeking their "services".
For one thing, past government funding of crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-only sex education programs. No industry likes a product that can become a substitute for the one it sells. From this perspective, abstinence is a substitute for contraception, and adoption is a substitute for abortion. Unable to grasp that these are morally superior options to abortion, Planned Parenthood sees them only as threats to their established position.
It's not difficult to understand why: Young women seeking contraception account for 60 percent of Planned Parenthood's total clientele, while abortion is provided to 10 percent of its female customers. Even allowing for overlap, that's 60 to 70 percent of Planned Parenthood's customer base.
Happily, in some regions, Planned Parenthood is failing badly at its goal of countering the "hostile political environment."
The Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates (FAPPA) laments that "while we worked hard this session to zero-fund the $2 million appropriation for so-called crisis pregnancy centers in Florida, we were not successful in its defunding."
Difficulties such as these are driving down the number of Planned Parenthood affiliates, from 163 15 years ago to 91 in late 2009. And according to the Harvard case study, this consolidation is expected to continue with several of the remaining affiliates discussing mergers.
Yet Richards hopes to dramatically increase Planned Parenthood's client base. As she told the Harvard researchers, "If we see three million women and there are ten million more that need our services then our question is how do we get to them."
One obstacle to such expansion is the simple fact that most potential clients have low incomes and cannot pay for Planned Parenthood's services. Take, for instance, emergency contraception, a highly profitable new product line.
As a national organization, Planned Parenthood can negotiate a low price for such pills -- less than $5 -- and sell them for $25 on average, according to the American Life League. But even at this price, sales to low-income customers will be limited. In 2003, Planned Parenthood sold 750,000 emergency contraception kits. By 2006, sales had climbed to 1.4 million units. Yet the numbers remained largely unchanged in 2007, indicating that the market was saturated. If the organization wants to break that ceiling by expanding to lower-income women, they'll need government subsidies to do so.
Additionally, despite Planned Parenthood's strength as a drug distributor, the pharmaceutical industry is itself consolidating, which gives the remaining companies more power to set higher prices on new drugs. The Harvard case also reports that the number of generic contraceptives is increasing. As a result, Planned Parenthood faces both more competition and less per-unit profit.
Abortion remains a big deal for Planned Parenthood because it brings in lots of money.
The organization performed 305,310 abortions in 2007 -- at $400 each, that yields $122 million. So even though abortions account for only 3 percent of the services performed by Planned Parenthood, they provide 33 percent of the income from "health center" operations. Sales of emergency contraceptive kits add another $35 million to the top line.
Any business facing tough economic times needs to do three things to survive: retain customers, reduce costs, and increase sales of profitable products.
To ensure customer loyalty, Planned Parenthood has worked hard to enhance its brand awareness and confidence from actual customers -- most recently through its Web site, which dispenses "sexual advice" to 900,000 monthly visitors. To reduce costs, Planned Parenthood's affiliates have been pooling resources, merging their organizations, and closing less profitable clinics. Additionally, the organization has been aggressively promoting two of its most profitable products: "emergency contraception" and medical abortion (both kill unborn children).
Medical abortions -- which involve delivering the dead baby at home -- are promoted as cost-effective alternative to surgical abortions, which is especially appealing to financially fragile affiliates.
Take, for example, the Springfield, Illinois, location. In 2008, all of Planned Parenthood's affiliates in Illinois consolidated into a single affiliate and pooled their resources. This enabled the Springfield clinic to offer medical abortions -- something they were unable to do before, owing to lack of expertise.
Steve Trombley, CEO of Chicago Planned Parenthood, stated that the organization "will provide medication abortions in Springfield, rather than surgical abortions, because the medication approach requires less space, expense and other resources" -- while still fetching $400 in revenues for each abortion.
Such changes are expected to enhance the financial viability of the consolidated affiliate: Planned Parenthood of Illinois posted annual revenues of $24 million and a net loss of $2.5 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, Trombley said...
In the meantime, Planned Parenthood's financial difficulties are driving both its affiliate consolidation and its transformation into a tightly integrated chemical- and medical-abortion provider. With the expected financial backing of the U.S. government, they will continue to be a formidable foe to pro-life advocates.
Even though it's been going on for years, I still find the drive for abortion surreal, the intentional killing of innocent human life to simply make more money. This story points out why including abortion and contraceptives in the health care bill is so important. It would be a potentially huge cash cow. With abortion and contraceptive services part of the mandated benefits in medical plans, Planned Parenthood would have a steady stream of income for years to come.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Stories and op/eds in Monday issue of Star Tribune show why it's leftward political agenda is out of touch with people.
This is clear not only on their op/ed page but also in their general news coverage.
Among Monday's op/ed pieces we find:
- The editorial page editors push for passage of the health care takeover bill in Congress. "Status quo is risky health care strategy." The attitude is we have to pass the health care bill in Congress because of cost concerns. They of course don't consider whether the proposed changes are worse than the status quo. (I believe the status quo is unsustainable but what they're proposing is only more of the same.)
- They run a gun control related op/ed piece from the Los Angeles Times.
- Then there are two stories on animal rights. "Saving our pets must be a team effort".
- Then a mislabeled piece "One of the species endangered is man" which has nothing to do with man being an endangered species. It's only about animal species.
- And then a opinion piece by liberal columnist EJ Dionne we heard again a call for passage of the health care bill in Congress.
- Then there's a cartoon attacking Obama for his surge efforts in Afghanistan.
No wonder the Star Tribune is in such bad shape financially. People can and are getting their news from other sources; sources without such a leftward perspective.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
As the Congress prepared to vote to let us enter the world of waits for doctors, waits for specialists, waits for testing and waits for surgery, radiation and chemo, we should pause to consider the relative records of the private medical care system in the United States with the socialized system in the U.K.
In 2008, Britain had a cancer death rate 0.25% while the United States had a rate of only 0.18%. The UK cancer death rate was 38% higher than in the United States.
The Guardian, the UK’s left wing daily, estimated that “up to 10,000 people” are dying each year of cancer “because their condition is diagnosed too late, according to research by the government’s director of cancer services.” While many people die because of late detection due to their own negligence, there is no reason to believe this self-neglect is more common in the UK than in the US.
In Canada, the cancer death rate is 16% higher than in the United States.
I recollect reading an article where heart and cancer treatments are areas already targeted for regulation under the health care reform bill.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Minnesota state government faces growing budget deficit -- opportunity to change the way it does business or kick the can down the street.
State officials are now projecting another $1.2 billion deficit which have to be dealt with in the next year and half. However, there's an even bigger storm cloud on the horiz0n. A $5.2 billion deficit is being forecast for 2012-13, the following biennium.
The answer? Pawlenty will no doubt resolve it through spending cuts while House Speaker Anderson-Kelliher, who's now running for governor, wants cuts and tax increases. According to the Star Tribune,
Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the state must take a more holistic approach to restoring the state's financial health. She favors blending spending cuts and with revenue increases, but also wants to ensure the state is doing all it can to spur job growth.Pawlenty will no doubt accept no tax increases especially as he considers a run for president, and I'm sure Democrats realize that although. They'll push for tax increases to send a message to their constituencies that it's not "our fault we're having to cut more than we want".
"It's important to have balance in the way we solve these deficits," she said before the release of the forecast.
Like other Democrats, she criticized the governor's refusal to raise taxes, instead relying on deep cuts and one-time accounting maneuvers.
"Quick fixes and band aids are not doing it," she said.
Perhaps House Finance Committee Chairman Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, captured the outlook best: "All expectations are that this will be a very difficult biennium."
I think we've simply postponed making the necessary structural reductions in the size of government. Pawlenty's probably done as much as he could to address the size of government, given his narrow veto proof minority in the House. He's kept tax increases at bay but he hasn't been able to force deeper structural changes in the way government does business. The result is deficits keep coming back and the way and what government does hasn't changed. The result is another enormous deficit looming on the horizon, a year and a half away.
Frankly, I see the deficits as an opportunity to change how the government does business. Voucherize government programs and empower local governments to take more responsibility. Unfortunately, nobody who receives government monies wants any of that. As a result, the problem keeps getting kicked down the street.
The 2010 elections will be enormously significant. If Democrats keep control of both the state House and Senate and gain control of the governorship we will start seeing enormous tax increases in 2011. In the multiple billions of dollars. That would no doubt further harm any economic recovery which is critical for the return of jobs. It will be interesting to see whether Minnesotans will have similar concerns and vote accordingly when they go to the polls in 2010.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
In this Jim Klobachur column on MinnPost.com, Bernie discusses the Vikings Super Bowl prospects and makes the right call on an Adrian Peterson fumble during the recent Bears' game.
Bernie Kukar retired from officiating a few years ago to the less chaotic arbors of life in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina and on the North Shore of Lake Superior. In his last two years as an NFL official he was the Super Bowl referee, meaning he was recognized by the NFL as the best in the business. While we watched the Vikings' 36-10 destruction of the Chicago Bears Sunday. Kukar looked on with the repose of a man no longer threatened by a lynch mob of 60,000 as the price throwing a yellow flag on Sunday afternoons.
Somewhere in the second half when Peterson, battling for extra yards, lost control of the ball to the Bears' Hunter Hillenmeyer, the still-athletic old football warden didn't wait for the Vikings to demand a replay. "The Bear guy was obviously out of bounds when he covered the ball," Kukar said. "The Vikings will challenge and win."
Kukar also had some interesting things to say about Brett Favre.
Around here (the Vikings played and lost four Super Bowls in the 1970s) older folks say Super Bowl and still roll their eyes. But the peaking saga of Brett Favre, his remarkable blending with the Viking cast and his performance in the 19th season of an unparalleled career, captivates not only the NFL crowds but his peers and the platoons of media analysts who played against him.
To these add the name of Bernie Kukar, who officiated Favre's games for nearly two decades.
"I found that the greatest players, almost without exception," he said, "were the ones who played the game with respect from start to finish. Brett Favre is one of them and I think he's the toughest guy I ever saw in football. The blitzers would pound him and sometimes they came in high, but as the years went by you'd see some of the best of the rushers pull up after he released the ball, rather then follow through in a way that might have been legal but also might have hurt Favre. That's the respect they gave him. He never bellyached about a hit that I can remember."
Then there are his thoughts about Chicago great, Walter Payton.
Kukar remembers only one other player as fondly in his 22 years in pro football, the late Walter Payton, the Bears great running back. "Everybody who played with or against him loved him," Kukar said. "He played every down to the hilt. But he also was mischievous. I was un-piling five or six guys after one play, and there at the bottom was Walter Payton, untying my shoelaces. 'Walter,' I said, 'you've got to stop doing that.' But Walter, bless him, never changed his habits."
Neither, obviously, has Brett Favre.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Kersten notes that
In a report compiled last summer, the Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group at the U's College of Education and Human Development recommended that aspiring teachers there must repudiate the notion of "the American Dream" in order to obtain the recommendation for licensure required by the Minnesota Board of Teaching. Instead, teacher candidates must embrace -- and be prepared to teach our state's kids -- the task force's own vision of America as an oppressive hellhole: racist, sexist and homophobic.So this task force which thinks teacher's "lack of cultural competence" contributes to poor academic performance by minority students. The answer? Indoctrinate future teachers in radical ideas related to race, class and gender.
What form should this re-education take?
The task group is part of the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative, a multiyear project to change the way future teachers are trained at the U's flagship campus. The initiative is premised, in part, on the conviction that Minnesota teachers' lack of "cultural competence" contributes to the poor academic performance of the state's minority students. Last spring, it charged the task group with coming up with recommendations to change this. In January, planners will review the recommendations and decide how to proceed.
The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the "overarching framework" for all teaching courses at the U. It calls for evaluating future teachers in both coursework and practice teaching based on their willingness to fall into ideological lockstep.
The first step toward "cultural competence," says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize -- and confess -- their own bigotry. Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China's Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi.
The task group recommends, for example, that prospective teachers be required to prepare an "autoethnography" report. They must describe their own prejudices and stereotypes, question their "cultural" motives for wishing to become teachers, and take a "cultural intelligence" assessment designed to ferret out their latent racism, classism and other "isms." They "earn points" for "demonstrating the ability to be self-critical."
The task group opens its report with a model for officially approved confessional statements: "As an Anglo teacher, I struggle to quiet voices from my own farm family, echoing as always from some unstated standard. ... How can we untangle our own deeply entrenched assumptions?"
The goal of these exercises, in the task group's words, is to ensure that "future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression."
Future teachers must also recognize and denounce the fundamental injustices at the heart of American society, says the task group. From a historical perspective, they must "understand that ... many groups are typically not included" within America's "celebrated cultural identity," and that "such exclusion is frequently a result of dissimilarities in power and influence." In particular, aspiring teachers must be able "to explain how institutional racism works in schools."
After indoctrination of this kind, who wouldn't conclude that the American Dream of equality for all is a cruel hoax? But just to make sure, the task force recommends requiring "our future teachers" to "articulate a sophisticated and nuanced critical analysis" of this view of the American promise. In the process, they must incorporate the "myth of meritocracy in the United States," the "history of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values, [and] history of white racism, with special focus on current colorblind ideology."
What if some aspiring teachers resist this effort at thought control and object to parroting back an ideological line as a condition of future employment? The task group has Orwellian plans for such rebels: The U, it says, must "develop clear steps and procedures for working with non-performing students, including a remediation plan."
Multiculturalism is really social Marxism. Whether it's the Cultural Revolution in China or re-education in Cambodia, the goal is the same -- rid students of their "bourgeoisie" ideas.
And what if students' ideological purity is tainted once they begin to do practice teaching in the public schools? The task group frames the danger this way: "How can we be sure that teaching supervisors are themselves developed and equipped in cultural competence outcomes in order to supervise beginning teachers around issues of race, class, culture, and gender?"
Its answer? "Requir[e] training/workshop for all supervisors. Perhaps a training session disguised as a thank you/recognition ceremony/reception at the beginning of the year?"
When teacher training requires a "disguise," you know something sinister is going on.
This is the "soft despotism" of the Left in American society. Guns aren't being used to force compliance but threat of not getting a teaching job is.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox leaders issue bold statement on critical moral issues and ultimately civil disobedience. Add your name as well.
A summary of the Declaration on their webpage states:
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
- the sanctity of human life
- the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
- the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Maybe the most significant and new aspect of the statement is that it's a bold statement that they will not be forced to violate Christian convictions on important matters like abortion and marriage.
"Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; not will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage an the family. We will fully ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. but under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."
The Declaration raises the specter of civil disobedience. Christians will not be forced to participate in immoral activities.
I think it's new and significant that this concern is being raised front and center by a growing number of prominent individuals and church leaders across all denominational lines. I think the battle lines are being drawn between Christians and a culture and society which embraces values hostile to Christian values.
Individuals can add their name to the list of signers here.
David Barton from Wallbuilders has put out this brief summary of the history of Thanksgiving in America. He looks at the pilgrims and then the history of Thanksgiving proclamations in America.
In this time of revisionist history and political correctness it's always important to remind ourselves where our forefathers came from and what we have to be thankful for.
Celebrating Thanksgiving in America
The tradition introduced by European Americans of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America. For example, such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; 1 in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; 2 in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de Oñate and his expedition; 3 in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; 4 in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; 5 (and many other such celebrations). But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.
The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. 6 Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.” 7
That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, 8 reaped a bountiful harvest. 9 As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are far from want.” 1011 – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November. The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends
However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after that time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained:
It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. 12
The drought had been broken; the fall therefore produced an abundant harvest; there was cause for another thanksgiving. The Pilgrim practice of designating an official time of Thanksgiving spread into neighboring colonies and became an annual tradition. 13 And just as those neighboring colonies followed the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, so, too, did they adopt their practice of calling for a time of prayer and fasting. The New England Colonies therefore developed a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall.
The Thanksgiving celebrations so common throughout New England did not begin to spread southward until the American Revolution, when Congress issued eight separate national Thanksgiving Proclamations. (Congress also issued seven separate proclamations for times of fasting and prayer, for a total of 15 official prayer proclamations during the American Revolution. 14)
America’s first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789 with the commencement of the federal government. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, the first act after the Framers completed the framing of the Bill of Rights was that:
Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion. 15
That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who heartily concurred with the request and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring in part:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection. 16
That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church (of which President Washington was a member) announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” 17 Following President Washington’s initial proclamation, national Thanksgiving Proclamations occurred only sporadically (another by President Washington in 1795, one by John Adams in 1799, one by James Madison in 1814 and again in 1815, etc.); 18 most official Thanksgiving observances occurred at the state level. In fact, by 1815, the various state governments had issued at least 1,400 official prayer proclamations, almost half for times of thanksgiving and prayer and the other half for times of fasting and prayer. 19
Much of the credit for the adoption of Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular lady’s books containing poetry, art work, and articles by America’s leading authors. For nearly three decades, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, 20 contacting president after president until Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of that November. The Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Lincoln was remarkable not only for its strong religious content but also for its timing, for it was delivered in the midst of the darkest days of the Civil War, with the Union having lost battle after battle throughout the first three years of that conflict. Yet, despite those dark circumstances, Lincoln nevertheless called Americans to prayer with an air of positive optimism and genuine thankfulness, noting that:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. 21
That remarkable Thanksgiving Proclamation came at a pivotal point in Lincoln’s spiritual life. Three months earlier, the Battle of Gettysburg had occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. It had been while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he first committed his life to Christ. As he later explained to a clergyman:
When I left Springfield [Illinois, to assume the Presidency], I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. 22
The dramatic spiritual impact resulting from that experience was not only visible in Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation (and also his 1864 call for a day of prayer and fasting) but especially in his 1865 Second Inaugural Address.
Over the seventy-five years following Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, presidents faithfully followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day (but the date of the celebrations varied widely from proclamation to proclamation). In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of each November, and in 1941, Congress permanently established that day as the national Thanksgiving holiday. 23
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember to retain the original gratefulness to God that has always been the spirit of this – the oldest of all American holidays. (Below are representative examples of the scores of Thanksgiving proclamations penned by various Founding Fathers.)
[Congress] recommended [a day of] . . . thanksgiving and praise [so] that “the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join . . . their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, to forgive [our sins] and . . . to enlarge [His] kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” 24 Continental Congress, 1777 – written by SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION SAMUEL ADAMS AND RICHARD HENRY LEE
[I] appoint . . . a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God . . . to [ask] Him that He would . . . pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would . . . spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; . . . and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue. 25 GOVERNOR THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1779
[I] appoint . . . a day of public thanksgiving and praise . . . to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us . . . [by giving to] us . . . the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications...that He would forgive our manifold sins and . . . cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth. 26 GOVERNOR JOHN HANCOCK, 1790
Monday, November 23, 2009
Here's Jay Leno's take.
"The Postal Service announced last week the Post Office lost $3.8 billion last year. ... I've got a good idea. Let's put the government in charge of healthcare! Fantastic idea!"
Friday, November 20, 2009
Something liberals and conservatives can agree on -- health reform bills won't help keep costs down for middle class families.
A review of the House health care bill finds a massive marriage penalty for middle and upper middle income families. The result? An incentive not to get married in order to obtain health insurance. One observer said this will destroy marriage in the middle class just as welfare did for the poor.
Then there are analyses by a University of Minnesota economist and others that the health bills will not drive costs down for middle income families.
While both bills guarantee access to health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, neither one will do much to improve the affordability of health coverage for moderate to middle-income Americans in the individual market, according to wonks and critics across the political spectrum.In fact, what we have is a worsening of the health care crisis. For what purpose? One could say naivete or maybe a desire to create the circumstances where the government steps in and takes over the entire health care system. The push for socialism via the health care system is on.
In fact, some Americans eligible for proposed federal subsidies may fall into the category of "under-insured" because they would spend more than 10 percent of their income — a widely used affordability standard — for premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
So, despite all the historic efforts to clean up the individual health-insurance market, consumers could continue to be priced out of the market — and they could be penalized for not having insurance, potentially adding insult to injury.
"All that guaranteed issue is, by definition — and people forget this — is you are given a price for the insurance policy," said Stephen Parente, a University of Minnesota health economist who helped develop health policy for Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. "It doesn't change the fact that you might not be able to afford an insurance policy, at which point you are effectively denied."
Liberal analysts also worry about the question of affordability for moderate to middle-income people.
"Some people will be helped but there are going to be some people that fall just out of the benchmarks," said policy analyst Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the U of M.
Economists, policy analysts and congressional aides are still sorting through the details of the new 2,074-page Senate bill, but bills from the Senate Finance Committee and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee were similar in laying out how subsidies or credits would work. Both bills call for subsidies for folks earning up to 400 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines, although they vary on percentages of cost-sharing.
"Today we're carefully considering the provisions outlined in the bill that was introduced last night [Wednesday]," said Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman for Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who is a member of the HELP committee. "We're pleased that the merged bill has some marked improvements compared to the Senate Finance bill, including coverage for an additional 2 million people and lower premiums for families above 150 percent of the poverty level. Unfortunately, the bill has higher premiums than the Senate Finance bill for families between 133-150 percent of the poverty level."
Subsidies and caps
A Congressional Budget Office's analysis of subsidies [PDF] in the House's Affordable Health Care for America Act breaks down the share of premiums and out-of-pocket costs per income level. Higher-income individuals would pay no more than $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs (in addition to premiums) while families would pay no more than $10,000.
At the low end, a family of four with annual household income of $30,000 would on average spend no more than 4 percent of income on the insurance premium and out-of-pocket costs, and 97 percent of the premium would be subsidized. But once household income for a family of four reaches $54,000, the family's premium and cost-sharing would be 11 percent of income — exceeding the point where many analysts consider a moderate-income family to be under-insured. The total share climbs to as much as 18 percent for families of four making $78,000 to $90,100. (See chart below.)
The minority leader in the US House John Boehner points out that Reid government run health care bill in the US Senate bill includes an "abortion premium" fee.
Just like the original 2,032-page, government-run health care plan from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) massive, 2,074-page bill would levy a new “abortion premium” fee on Americans in the government-run plan.
Beginning on line 7, p. 118, section 1303 under “Voluntary Choice of Coverage of Abortion Services” the Health and Human Services Secretary is given the authority to determine when abortion is allowed under the government-run health plan. Leader Reid’s plan also requires that at least one insurance plan offered in the Exchange covers abortions (line 13, p. 120).
What is even more alarming is that a monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run health plan. It’s right there beginning on line 11, page 122, section 1303, under “Actuarial Value of Optional Service Coverage.” The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account – and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services.
Section 1303(a)(2)(C) describes the process in which the Health Benefits Commissioner is to assess the monthly premiums that will be used to pay for elective abortions under the government-run health plan and for those who are given an affordability credit to purchase insurance coverage that includes abortion through the Exchange. The Commissioner must charge at a minimum $1 per enrollee per month.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) has rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment and has substituted completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. "Reid seeks to cover elective abortions in two big new federal health programs, but tries to conceal that unpopular reality with layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping
The bill grants the secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to determine whether federal money is being used to fund abortions under the public plans, but doesn't ban those plans from offering the coverage. Reid's bill also explicitly requires insurers to separate private premiums from any public subsidies used to pay for that coverage to assure taxpayer dollars aren't used to fund the procedure - which is prohibited by the Hyde Amendment.
One way to understand what's up is the reaction of pro-abortion supporters. They're fine with the Reid language.
California Rep. Lois Capps, who tried to hatch a compromise on the Energy and Commerce Committee, commended Reid's language, saying, “I am pleased that the Senate has adopted a reasonable, common ground approach on this difficult question. It appears that their approach closely mirrors my language which was originally included in the House bill."
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
So what does the Harvard Medical School Dean think of Obama and Pelosi's health care bill? Disaster.
Dr. Jeffrey Flier in a Wall Street Journal op/ed piece said the following about the Democrats’ healthcare “reform” legislation.
“...as [the] controversy heads toward a conclusion in Washington, it appears that the people who favor the legislation are engaged in collective denial. …In discussions with dozens of health-care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that ... the final legislation ... 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… “Worse, [the] legislation would undermine any potential for real innovation … by overregulating the health-care system… There are important lessons to be learned from recent experience with reform in Massachusetts. Here, insurance mandates similar to those proposed in the federal legislation … increased total spending.”
Friday, November 13, 2009
More Americans now say it is not the federal government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage (50%) than say it is (47%). This is a first since Gallup began tracking this question, and a significant shift from as recently as three years ago, when two-thirds said ensuring healthcare coverage was the government's responsibility.
What's significant is support for the federal government's involvement in health care has dropped 22 percentage points from a high of 69% in the fall of 2006 to now 47% in the fall of 2009. The shift has accelerated in the last year from 54% support to now 47%.
With polls, it's always hard to know what's driving people's attitudes and whether they will last. I wonder if Americans are having second thoughts about the move towards socialism, European style. If so that's a very hopeful sign because we lose lots with socialized medicine. Costs and taxes rise and the overall quality of health care under socialized health care declines.
The bottom line?
The wording of the healthcare bill the House passed last Saturday explicitly states that one of the bill's purposes is to provide "affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans."
The current poll results indicate that, with the renewed healthcare debate since Obama took office, Americans have become less convinced that it is an appropriate goal for the federal government to take on the responsibility of ensuring that all Americans have healthcare coverage. It is possible that the current debate has increased the average American's awareness as to the nuances of the various roles the government could play in the healthcare system, helping make the generic "make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage" sound less appealing. Plus, the current debate may have produced more skepticism among Americans that the government's role in healthcare could or should be this broad.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
But what the story underscores is no laughing matter. It shows how ethically bankrupt so-called ethics centers really are, steeped as they are in a worldview devoid of any rational, objective basis for ethics or morality, that is in fact openly hostile to the mere suggestion that there IS an objective basis for ethics and morality.
That the Harvard ethics center would bring in someone like Spitzer to speak on ANY subject reveals how unqualified it is to say anything about ethics.