Archive for March, 2010

ObamaCare: Now for the hard part (Updated with Perdue comments)

So, step one of the Democrats’ health-care overhaul is over. Now for the hard part:

1. The Senate still has to pass the reconciliation bill that the House passed. And it has to pass it word-for-word, or else the House faces another vote — this time with fewer illusions about what the Senate will and won’t accept; with even more consternation among House Democrats, both the arch-liberals and the moderates, that they aren’t getting what they thought they were getting; and with less time remaining before the November elections. There is reason to believe this is exactly where we’re heading.

2. Once President Obama signs the first bill, state attorneys general will file suit(s) to overturn parts of it. Several parts of the bill will receive close scrutiny from the courts. Locally, it will be extremely interesting to see how Attorney General Thurbert Baker, running for the Democratic nomination for governor, handles the issue. Given the pressure Gov. Sonny Perdue put on certain …

Continue reading ObamaCare: Now for the hard part (Updated with Perdue comments) »

A candidate for governor you don’t know, but should

I say “Austin,” you say: Texas? Powers? Scott?

Wait — Scott?

For someone who has served 14 years in the Legislature and who last summer took a 1,068-mile state tour by foot, Austin Scott is not terribly well known north of the gnat line.

But he’s running for governor. And even if you end up voting for someone else — as I may well do myself — you ought to know about him. At the very least, he brings a different voice to the Republican primary.

In some ways, Scott is a stock character in politics: The candidate who won’t promise too much; who pledges to shoot straight about government’s limitations; who describes a campaign and administration at arm’s length from lobbyists.

And who never breaks 5 percent in the opinion polls or the eventual election.

Yet this might be the year for such a character to seize a leading role. The public is stewing at the political establishment. The GOP gubernatorial field, in a state that remains fairly red, is somewhat …

Continue reading A candidate for governor you don’t know, but should »

ObamaCare: $2 trillion, or 2.5 ’stimulus’ bills

To show you how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone, Democrats were pleased yesterday when the Congressional Budget Office gave the two ObamaCare bills — the Senate bill plus the “reconciliation” bill the House would use to “fix” it — a combined cost of “only” $940,000,000,000 over 10 years (see page 8). But as you already know if you’ve been paying attention to this blog, there’s more here than the headline number suggests.

First, as the Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey Anderson points out, CBO begins the 10-year clock in 2010. What year is it right now? Oh yes, 2010. When did the 2010 budget year begin? Oh yes, Oct. 1, 2009 — more than five months ago.

Granted, this is not an unusual CBO convention. But it is a special case because the vast majority of the new ObamaCare expenditures don’t kick in for four more years — which is unusual for a piece of legislation. So, the inclusion of a cheap year rather than a full-price year makes a huge difference in the cost estimate.

For the …

Continue reading ObamaCare: $2 trillion, or 2.5 ’stimulus’ bills »

GOP must move on ethics reform

The Ghost of Speakers Past still stalks the Gold Dome.

That statement will ring oddly for some denizens of the Georgia Capitol. The 2010 session, despite grim budget numbers, has in many ways been a modern Era of Good Feelings. And much credit flows to the present speaker, David Ralston.

“He has just been a breath of fresh air,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said in an interview last week. “He’s very measured, he’s tempered, he’s a person that wants to build consensus, wants to see the two branches of government, the legislative and executive side, work very well together. He has been true to his word and I just can’t tell you what a difference that has made.”

Suffice it to say, neither Cagle nor many others offered such hosannas for Ralston’s turf-guarding predecessor, Glenn Richardson. And Cagle is not alone in praising the new speaker this way. Ralston has changed the tone, building interinstitutional trust.

Yet the story of Richardson’s demise — a past affair …

Continue reading GOP must move on ethics reform »

Health care: The main reason it won’t be Romney in 2012

Grace-Marie Turner has a devastating piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about the failure of the health-reform plan that Mitt Romney installed while governor of Massachusetts. Describing health reform as “the defining political battle of our time,” Turner goes on to enumerate the ways in which RomneyCare has failed.

First, Turner identifies several key similarities between RomneyCare and ObamaCare:

Both have an individual mandate requiring most residents to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Most businesses are required to participate or pay a fine. Both rely on government-designed purchasing exchanges that also provide a platform to control private health insurance. Many of the uninsured are covered through Medicaid expansion and others receive subsidies for highly-prescriptive policies. And the apparatus requires a plethora of new government boards and agencies.

The emphasis in Massachusetts has been on subsidizing coverage for the uninsured, to the point that “[m]ore …

Continue reading Health care: The main reason it won’t be Romney in 2012 »

Lyndon Johnson’s lost war

That would be the “War on Poverty,” which President Johnson launched 46 years ago today. At National Review Online, Robert Rector says this battle consumes ever more resources — a total of $16.7 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1964 — but has barely inched toward its goal: “not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it,” as LBJ himself put it (my emphasis).

First, the costs:

After adjusting for inflation, welfare spending today is 13 times greater than it was then. Means-tested welfare spending was 1.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1964; by 2008, it had reached 5 percent of GDP.

President Obama plans to sharply accelerate the growth in welfare spending. In FY2007, total government spending on means-tested welfare was a record-high $657 billion. By FY2011, total government spending on means-tested aid will rise to $953 billion, nearly a 50 percent increase in four years.

Means-tested aid is targeted largely …

Continue reading Lyndon Johnson’s lost war »

He’s a dictator. There, now throw me in jail

If you thought radical leftists believe in the same concept of democracy as the rest of us, Sean Penn is here to disabuse you of that notion. From London’s Guardian newspaper:

Sean Penn has defended Hugo Chávez as a model democrat and said those who call him a dictator should be jailed.

The Oscar-winning actor and political activist accused the US media of smearing Venezuela’s socialist president and called for journalists to be punished.

“Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it. And this is mainstream media. There should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.”

Of course, if you believe journalists ought to be jailed for saying disagreeable things, and are smitten with the only South American country whose reporters are deemed “not free,” and you think it’s acceptable for presidents to have their term limits abolished, then I suppose you would consider Chávez a “model democrat.”

The article reveals …

Continue reading He’s a dictator. There, now throw me in jail »

ObamaCare ‘typos’: Betcha can’t find just one

Here’s an interesting admission about the Senate health-care bill from Mother Jones:

As the battle for health care reform enters the endgame, abortion foes in and out of Congress are trying mightily to block the bill. And one small mistake—essentially, a typo in the drafting of the bill—has given them a major piece of ammo. An accidental one-sentence omission in the Senate’s version of the legislation has provided anti-abortion crusaders an opening to claim that the bill could lead to “hundreds of thousands of abortions per year that taxpayers would be forced to pay for,” as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops puts it.

The debate over the abortion aspect of the bill is heating up, despite the fact that Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently will try to push through the bill without a dozen anti-abortion Democrats including Rep. Bart Stupak (and despite the fact that they don’t seem to have the votes without those dozen members). I find it disingenuous, however, to suggest …

Continue reading ObamaCare ‘typos’: Betcha can’t find just one »

Go much past I-285, and transportation bill’s road is bumpy

It turns out that you still can’t spell “transportation” in Georgia without T-R-U-S-T. Honk, spelling champs among us, if you see a problem.

It is an article of faith in metro Atlanta that legislators must finally pass a transportation funding bill this year. When the leaders of the House and Senate stood beside Gov. Sonny Perdue last month as he unveiled such a bill, the new plan looked set for a smooth ride.

But since then a familiar tension has resurfaced: Atlanta versus the rest of the state.

I’ve found very few people who dispute that the governor’s plan works for metro Atlanta. Some speed bumps would remain: What about the MARTA penny? Is eight years enough time for a penny sales tax for transportation? Would local governments have enough say in the project list? But these issues can be resolved.

People outside metro Atlanta, however, view the plan more skeptically.

Some regions are dominated by a single city. In the River Valley region, Columbus/Muscogee …

Continue reading Go much past I-285, and transportation bill’s road is bumpy »

ObamaCare: ‘Where’s the bill?’ ‘Ah-ha!’

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted this morning that President Obama will delay his departure for a trip to Indonesia and Australia — which he originally set as the deadline for Congress to pass his health-care bill — by three days, to March 21. ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that the delay “speak[s] volumes about how the votes are not yet there for health care reform.” (H/t to Hot Air.)

But didn’t Speaker Nancy Pelosi say just Wednesday that the votes are already there to pass health care, “if we took it up today”? So why delay Obama’s trip next week if the votes are there today? I’m feeling another movie reference coming on…

Saul: A man goes into a restaurant. He sits down, he’s havin’ a bowl of soup. He says to the waiter; “Waiter, come taste the soup.”

Waiter says; “Is there something wrong with the soup?”

He says; “Taste the soup.”

He says; “Is there something wrong with the soup? Is the soup too hot?”

He says; “Will you taste the soup?”

“What’s wrong is the soup …

Continue reading ObamaCare: ‘Where’s the bill?’ ‘Ah-ha!’ »