The Senate Cloakroom: Nov. 30 – Dec. 4

November 29th, 2009 Dan Holler

Analysis –

Health care will dominate the Senate this week, and probably the entire month of December. Everyone will be watching Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Ben Nelson (D-NE), all three of whom have threatened to prevent the bill from moving to final passage (i.e. they would filibuster) if their concerns are not addressed. Senators are also likely to weigh in on the President’s Afghanistan announcement, which is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Major Floor Action –

On Monday, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Jacqueline Nguyen to be U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California.
Senators will spend the remainder of the week debating health care reform.

Major Committee Action –

The Banking Committee will hold a hearing on financial regulatory reform and the reappointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on derivatives and systemic risk.

The Energy Committee will hold a hearing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Armed Services Committee may hold hearings on the President’s plan for Afghanistan.

More from Heritage…


Rating: 3.7/5 (3 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Video: Obamacare is Not a Good Fit for Women

November 27th, 2009 Gerrit Lansing

Click here to view the embedded video.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s video on health care reform raises important issues about female patients who are falling through the cracks of the U.S. health care system. It’s not a perfect system, but Nina Owcharenko explains that ObamaCare would take women and the rest of the country in the wrong direction. Having to depend on politicians or faceless bureaucrats to make decisions about their care doesn’t empower women or improve their health care situations. Plus, the Obama health reform agenda isn’t what women want. A majority of female respondents told the Independent Women’s Forum in a recent survey that they don’t think government-run health care is best for them or their families.


Rating: 1.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Senate Votes Obamacare One Step Closer to the Finish Line

November 21st, 2009 Brian Darling

The Senate voted on Saturday by a 60-39 majority to commence debate on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill that would radically expand government control over private health care decisions. The bill is over 2000 pages long, costs an estimated $2.5 trillion over the first ten years of implementation and carries a half trillion dollars in new taxes. Many Americans have to be thinking right now — they have heard from their dissenting constituents at Town Hall meetings and have seen the poll numbers for Obama’s health care bill dropping like a rock so why would they keep moving this bill forward?

This debate will center around many issues including huge taxes increases, economy-killing employer mandates and:

1. Abortion: Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) offered an amendment to the House bill to ban all federal funds flowing into the health care system from funding abortion. Senator Reid put language in the bill that allows some funds to go to abortion services by using an accounting gimmick. This issue could take the bill down, because the House approach is far different from the Senate approach. If this bill becomes a referendum on abortion policy, it may fail.

2. Cost: Senator Reid has promoted his bill as costing the federal government $849 billion and as a budget cutting bill. Conservatives in the Senate have pointed out that the costs are more accurately $2.5 trillion over the first 10 years of implementation because the benefits are not even scheduled to be paid out until 2014. There is a huge disparity between the two sides as to the cost of the bill and if it gets bigger and bigger on the Senate floor, then it may suffer a legislative implosion.

3. The Public Plan: Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) has pledged to support a filibuster of any bill containing the public option. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will only accept a public option with a trigger. Other Senators have expressed reservations about different permutations of the public option. A bill with a too strong public option may not have the support to pass the Senate.

4. Wild Card: As with all these debates, there may be an issue that comes out of the blue and becomes central to the bill. There were debates over “death panels” during initial stages of the debates and controversies over coverage for illegal immigrants. Some other issue may be offered as an amendment or may be buried in the 2000 pages of the bill that may become the next controversy to prevent passage.

The week after Thanksgiving, the Senate will start the process of considering and voting on amendments to the bill. This process may go in one of two directions. It is possible that Reid uses the amendment process to buy just enough votes to pass the bill through targeted special interest amendments. Expect Connecticut, Nebraska, Arkansas, and, yet again, Louisiana to receive special treatment in the amendment process. If Senator Reid is able to buy support during this process, the bill will pass and the President will sign Obamacare before his State of the Union.

Scenario two kicks in if opponents of the bill play hardball. If opposing Senators offer non-germane amendments, like the legislation to restore the 2nd Amendment in the District of Columbia or a resolution of disapproval for Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try Kahlid Sheik Mohammed in federal courts, then the Senate would be mixing some volatile issues into the health care mix. Regardless the course of action, this bill will either pass or fail as a direct result of the actions of a handful of Senators.

Read more about the five major flaws of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care bill here and at FixHealthCarePolicy.org.


Rating: 2.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Comparing Senate Democrats’ Health Care Reform Bill to HCR Bill Passed by House

November 20th, 2009 Tax Foundation - Tax Foundation's "Tax Policy Blog"

Late Wednesday night, the Congressional Budget Office released its report on the proposed piece of legislation: the gross price tag for the coverage provisions is $848 billion. It would cut the deficit by $130 billion if fully enacted, according to CBO estimates. The main financing mechanisms would be cuts to Medicare, a new excise tax on high-valued “Cadillac” health insurance plans, a 1/2 percentage point increase in the Medicare tax rate for high-income earners, and various tax hikes imposed on the health care sector including fees on manufacturers and insurance companies.

Meanwhile, the CBO has released an update to its estimate of the House health care bill that passed two weeks ago. That House health care reform bill’s financing differs from the version outlined by Senate leadership. In addition to the House bill having a larger gross price tag (over $1 trillion), the House bill is financed largely via a surtax on high-income taxpayers, which the Senate bill does not include. Furthermore, the House bill has more cuts to Medicare than the Senate bill, although the Senate bill does cut more non-Medicare spending than the House bill.

For a pie chart comparison of how the two bills are financed, click here for the Senate bill and click here for the House bill. The table below also presents the data that is in the pie chart.

Note that all figures are from the most recent CBO scores of the two bills. Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Financing Mechanism Senate Bill
(as proposed by Reid)
House Bill
(as passed by the House)
     
Medicare Cuts to Providers (Net) $331 billion $440 billion
Other Health Care Spending Cuts (Net) $150 billion $14 billion
Surtax on high-income taxpayers $0 $460 billion
Excise Tax on Cadillac Plans $149 billion $0
Fees/Taxes on Medical Devices, Manufacturers & Insurers $102 billion $22 billion
Penalties on Individuals/Businesses for no insurance $36 billion $168 billion
Other Taxes and Revenues $156 billion $88 billion
Increase in Medicare Tax Rate for high-wage earners $54 billion $0
     
Gross Price Tag $848 billion $1,052 billion
Deficit Reduction $130 billion $138 billion

More from the Tax Foundation


Rating: 1.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Health Care Hoops

November 19th, 2009 Billy Hallowell

CMPI had released another excellent health care video.  See how a simply game of hoops compares to the one’s you’ll be jumping through once the government takes over the American health care system:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video


Rating: 2.8/5 (5 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Mr. Attorney General, Where Would You Put Osama bin Laden?

November 19th, 2009 Mike Brownfield

In today’s Morning Bell, we wrote about the historically bad decision Attorney General Eric Holder made in announcing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other terrorists would be tried in a civilian court in New York City rather than before a military tribunal.

Edwin Meese III, the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy and Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation as well as the United States Attorney General between 1985 and 1988, called Holder’s decisions a “a tragic mistake.”

In the video below, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questions Holder on his decision during yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight hearing of the U.S. Department of Justice. His questions illustrate why trying terrorists in civilian court is such a tragic mistake.

Click here to view the embedded video.


Rating: 1.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Senate Republicans’ Lack of Unity Paves Way for Judicial Radicals, Fuels GOP Dissatisfaction

November 19th, 2009 Carter Clews

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 70-29 to invoke cloture on Judge David Hamilton, clearing the way for a confirmation vote for the controversial Obama nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Senator Jeff Sessions had a hold on the nomination for weeks and demanded the cloture vote, citing the judge’s radical judicial record.

In a recent speech to the Federalist Society, Senator Sessions quoted Hamilton as saying a judge’s job is to “write footnotes to the Constitution.” And Sessions also criticized Hamilton for arguing that judges “need to empathize” with the parties of cases rather than dispassionately and equitably applying the rule of law.

Ten Republicans broke ranks with their party on this vote: Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John Thune of South Dakota.

This differs drastically with the Senate Democrat caucus. They voted in lockstep—all 60 members—for cloture, demonstrating a party loyalty and discipline that has been lacking for Republicans in the current Congressional session.

Though, in hindsight, it is clear that Republicans did not have the votes to sustain the filibuster, that does not excuse the GOP defectors. As ALG President Bill Wilson commented yesterday, “Every election cycle, Republican candidates for Senate state their commitment to bringing judges to the federal bench who will help restore the role of constitutionally limited government in American jurisprudence. Instead, Republican and conservative constituents have been betrayed by their own Senators.”

Hamilton was clearly no strict legal constructionist. A coalition letter from 24 conservative leaders late last week urged all members of the Senate to filibuster Hamilton because of his views on the law. According to the letter, Judge Hamilton has ruled “that prayers to Jesus Christ offered at the beginning of legislative sessions violate the Constitution, but that prayers to Allah do not”, chose to follow mandatory sentencing guidelines, overturned a sex offender registry law, and had “urged the President to grant clemency for a police officer who had pled guilty to producing child pornography”.

The Republicans’ lack of unity will have repercussions—it sends a message to the current White House that it can push through even the most outrageously radical appointments to the bench. And with two of the nine Supreme Court justices now in failing health, that bodes ill for future High Court nominees.

Unless Republicans muster the courage to stand strong – and focus on persuading conscientious Democrats to join with them — they will not be able to block a single Obama judicial nominee, giving the White House carte blanche to easily stack the federal bench with radicals. And as that occurs, it will be the Senate Republicans, as well as the Democrats, who must shoulder the blame when decisions are handed down from federal judges like Hamilton restricting religious expression, protecting child predators, and turning a blind eye to the usurpations of a federal government out of control.

In a recent Rasmussen Poll, 74 percent of Republicans nationwide said GOP members of Congress are out of touch with their base that elects them. The Hamilton vote suggests the grassroots Republican dissatisfaction with their representatives will only continue to grow.


Rating: 3.7/5 (3 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Global Warming Ate My Homework: 100 Things Blamed on Global Warming

November 17th, 2009 Nick Loris

Late for a party? Miss a meeting? Forget to pay your rent? Blame climate change; everyone else is doing it. From an increase in severe acne to all societal collapses since the beginning of time, just about everything gone wrong in the world today can be attributed to climate change. Here’s a list of 100 storylines blaming climate change as the problem.

1. The deaths of Aspen trees in the West
2. Incredible shrinking sheep
3. Caribbean coral deaths
4. Eskimos forced to leave their village
5. Disappearing lake in Chile
6. Early heat wave in Vietnam
7. Malaria and water-borne diseases in Africa
8. Invasion of jellyfish in the Mediterranean
9. Break in the Arctic Ice Shelf
10. Monsoons in India
11. Birds laying their eggs early
12. 160,000 deaths a year
13. 315,000 deaths a year
14. 300,000 deaths a year
15. Decline in snowpack in the West
16. Deaths of walruses in Alaska
17. Hunger in Nepal
18. The appearance of oxygen-starved dead zones in the oceans
19. Surge in fatal shark attacks
20. Increasing number of typhoid cases in the Philippines
21. Boy Scout tornado deaths
22. Rise in asthma and hayfever
23. Duller fall foliage in 2007
24. Floods in Jakarta
25. Radical ecological shift in the North Sea
26. Snowfall in Baghdad
27. Western tree deaths
28. Diminishing desert resources
29. Pine beetles
30. Swedish beetles
31. Severe acne
32. Global conflict
33. Crash of Air France 447
34. Black Hawk Down incident
35. Amphibians breeding earlier
36. Flesh-eating disease
37. Global cooling
38. Bird strikes on US Airways 1549
39. Beer tastes different
40. Cougar attacks in Alberta
41. Suicide of farmers in Australia
42. Squirrels reproduce earlier
43. Monkeys moving to Great Rift Valley in Kenya
44. Confusion of migrating birds
45. Bigger tuna fish
46. Water shortages in Las Vegas
47. Worldwide hunger
48. Longer days
49. Earth spinning faster
50. Gender balance of crocodiles
51. Skin cancer deaths in UK
52. Increase in kidney stones in India
53. Penguin chicks frozen by global warming
54. Deaths of Minnesota moose
55. Increased threat of HIV/AIDS in developing countries
56. Increase of wasps in Alaska
57. Killer stingrays off British coasts
58. All societal collapses since the beginning of time
59. Bigger spiders
60. Increase in size of giant squid
61. Increase of orchids in UK
62. Collapse of gingerbread houses in Sweden
63. Cow infertility
64. Conflict in Darfur
65. Bluetongue outbreak in UK cows
66. Worldwide wars
67. Insomnia of children worried about global warming
68. Anxiety problems for people worried about climate change
69. Migration of cockroaches
70. Taller mountains due to melting glaciers
71. Drowning of four polar bears
72. UFO sightings in the UK
73. Hurricane Katrina
74. Greener mountains in Sweden
75. Decreased maple in maple trees
76. Cold wave in India
77. Worse traffic in LA because immigrants moving north
78. Increase in heart attacks and strokes
79. Rise in insurance premiums
80. Invasion of European species of earthworm in UK
81. Cold spells in Australia
82. Increase in crime
83. Boiling oceans
84. Grizzly deaths
85. Dengue fever
86. Lack of monsoons
87. Caterpillars devouring 45 towns in Liberia
88. Acid rain recovery
89. Global wheat shortage; food price hikes
90. Extinction of 13 species in Bangladesh
91. Changes in swan migration patterns in Siberia
92. The early arrival of Turkey’s endangered caretta carettas
93. Radical North Sea shift
94. Heroin addiction
95. Plant species climbing up mountains
96. Deadly fires in Australia
97. Droughts in Australia
98. The demise of California’s agriculture by the end of the century
99. Tsunami in South East Asia
100. Fashion victim: the death of the winter wardrobe

And the list goes on. The truth is climate change is causing some of these events, but the earth’s average temperature has been increasing and decreasing since the beginning of time. Maybe the increase in UFO sightings can’t be pinpointed to climate change but certainly animals will adapt to new habitats as the climate changes. But climate change and adaptation to it is nothing new. There’s an underlying assumption that human activity is causing the climate to change in many of these stories, but the scientific consensus on what causes climate change is anything but a consensus. Temperatures have risen and fallen many times before and the earth was cooling as recently as the period from the 1940s to the 1970s giving rise to fears of a coming ice age:

“At the first Earth Day celebration, in 1969, environmentalist Nigel Calder warned, “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.” C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization said, “The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.”

The other implication of this list is that a reduction in Co2 with cap and trade policies like Waxman-Markey and Boxer-Kerry will cure problems as disparate as hurricanes, wars, crime, hunger and…cow infertility. The problem is that no one can actually claim that a reduction of Co2 will prevent these occurrences; one can only speculate that they will be worse in a world that has more rather than less Co2. Given cap and trade’s massive economic consequences and negligible effects on the earth’s temperature, this is a bold and potentially very costly speculation.

Katie Brown co-authored this post.

More from the Heritage Foundation


Rating: 3.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Political Theater Can’t Create New Jobs

November 14th, 2009 Carter Clews

From the Washington Examiner:

It’s no coincidence that the White House announced a forum to talk about unemployment a day after Gallup reported that voters now favor Republicans over Democrats going into the next congressional election. The political maestros in the West Wing can read the data as well as anybody else, and they realize many Americans think President Obama’s priorities are mixed up. While Obama spends time on Capitol Hill extolling his plan for massive growth of government spending and taxes by nationalizing health care, unemployment reaches 10.2 percent, its highest level since 1983. He’s already driven the deficit up to an unprecedented $1.4 trillion. His health care reform proposal will take trillions more out of the economy at the worst possible time.

Contrary to the president’s fairy tale that his $787 billion stimulus program has “created or saved more than a million jobs” and slowed the growth of unemployment, the reality is that the month-on-month increase in unemployment from September to October was four times as big as job losses from August to September. The losses in manufacturing and retail jobs accelerated in October, and most of the increase in new unemployment claims came among adult men. The economy is sick and getting sicker.

So the president calls a “forum on jobs and economic growth.” If this routine sounds familiar, it’s because the Obama team did something quite similar a week after the stimulus package was approved. And what will they do at the White House forum on unemployment? “We’ll gather CEOs and small-business owners, economists and financial experts, as well as representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups, to talk about how we can work together to create jobs and get this economy moving again.” In other words, they will … talk.

Obama’s forum announcement came within days of something else — an avalanche of media reports about the fraudulent data behind the claim that a million jobs were created or saved. As The Examiner’s Mark Hemingway reported in a Beltway Confidential post headlined “The return of lies, damned lies and stimulus jobs,” journalists across the country examined Obama stimulus job claims and found them full of what appeared to be purposeful misrepresentations in at least 13 states.

Instead of trying to sell a bogus stimulus program with dishonest data and convening a White House talkfest, Obama should follow the examples of John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan: Stop taking money out of the economy, cut taxes, get rid of bureaucratic interference, and free businesses small and large to do what they do best, which is expand the economy by making things and providing services people need and want. It’s a proven formula, and the White House should stop pretending it won’t work again.

More on NetRightNation…


Rating: 3.3/5 (4 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!

Government Cable

November 13th, 2009 Billy Hallowell

The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest has an excellent (and hilarious) video that focuses on American health care and where we may be headed.  Check it out:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video


Rating: 2.7/5 (7 votes cast)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please subscribe to my blog!