Much Ado About Nothing (As Usual)

The let’s-trap-Trump major media is getting old. The memes on Facebook are having a ball with some of the reporting. One meme stated that Trump should come out against the wall so that Democrats would support it. Things have gotten that bad. Last weekend there was a hair-on-fire story that totally illustrated how weird things have become.

Byron York posted an article at The Washington Examiner on Monday about the latest effort by the mainstream media to get Trump. I don’t know how the average voter reacted to the excited reports by the mainstream media, but to an informed voter, the reports were pathetic.

The reporting had to do with a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump, Jr., and Russian-born American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin; Irakly Kaveladze, a Russian associate of the businessman Aras Agalarov, who was involved in the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with the Trumps; British music promoter Rob Goldstone; Russian-born American translator Anatoli Samochornov; and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya (who gave written answers).

The article reports that:

…the Senate Judiciary Committee… also interviewed Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson, who did not attend the meeting but who met with Veselnitskaya both before and after the meeting and who prepared some of the material that Veselnitskaya presented.

Are you getting the feeling that this was a set up?

Donald Trump, Jr., was lured to the meeting on the premise that Veselnitskaya had incriminating information on Hillary Clinton. When he got there, the meeting was about Russian adoptions.

The article reports:

But when the meeting took place, the “information that would incriminate Hillary” was nowhere to be found. Veselnitskaya, who was connected to the Kremlin and at the same time working with Fusion GPS, spoke briefly and vaguely about some sort of distantly-Clinton-related tax matters in Russia — none of the Americans had any idea what she meant — and then quickly moved to the issue of adoption. When Russians like Veselnitskaya talk about adoption, they’re not really talking about adoption. They’re talking about the Magnitsky Act, the U.S. law placing sanctions on Russia. In retaliation for the Act, Russian President Vladimir Putin cut off American adoptions of Russian children. So from a Russian standpoint, the adoption battle is really about the Magnitsky Act, and the Magnitsky Act is about U.S. sanctions on Russia. Several participants told the Senate Judiciary Committee that much of the meeting was about adoption. Start off with Akhmetshin.

“How did you introduce yourself?” a Senate investigator asked Akhmetshin. “Do you remember?”

Akhmetshin said he told the Trump team: “‘I am Rinat Akhmetshin. I work for this organization in Washington that is trying to restart adoptions.”

Classic bait and switch. But I have one question. Why is the media so upset about Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting but not upset about the collusion with the Russians by the Clinton campaign involving the Russian dossier? Also, does anyone else think it odd that Glenn Simpson met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya both before and after the meeting. Remember the connection between Fusion GPS and Bruce Ohr. Seems like a bit of a double standard.

Sometimes You Wonder Who The FBI Is Working For

Yesterday Byron York at The Washington Examiner posted an article about Christopher Steele. It seems that Christopher Steele did not end his efforts to undermine and attack President Trump after the election.

The article reports:

Congressional investigators know that Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the Trump dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign, kept supplying allegations to the FBI after the 2016 election — and even after he was terminated as a source by the bureau for giving confidential information to the media.

Because he had broken his agreement with the FBI, bureau procedure did not allow agents to keep using Steele as a source. But they did so anyway — by devising a system in which Steele spoke regularly with Bruce Ohr, a top Obama Justice Department official whose wife worked for Fusion GPS, which hired Steele to search for dirt on Donald Trump in Russia. Ohr then passed on Steele’s information to the FBI.

In a highly unusual arrangement, Ohr, who was the fourth-highest ranking official in the Justice Department, acted as an intermediary for a terminated source for the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. His task was to deliver to the FBI what Steele told him, which effectively meant the bureau kept Steele as a source.

This is just ugly.

The article goes on to cite the exact times information from Christopher Steele was used:

There are a dozen 302 reports on FBI post-election interviews of Ohr. The first was Nov. 22, 2016. After that, the FBI interviewed Ohr on Dec. 5; Dec. 12; Dec. 20; Jan. 23, 2017; Jan. 25; Jan. 27; Feb. 6; Feb. 14; May 8; May 12; and May 15. The dates, previously unreported publicly, were included in a July letter from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to the FBI and Justice Department.

Congressional investigators have read the Ohr-Steele 302s. But the FBI has kept them under tight control, insisting they remain classified and limiting access to a few lawmakers and staff. Congress is not allowed to physically possess copies of any of the documents.

The cover-up continues.

The article concludes:

What would all of that show? It’s likely that the 302s and notes, if released, would show that the FBI was both still trying to get new information out of Steele after the election and that it was also trying to verify the information Steele had already provided in the dossier installments he handed over in preceding months. Remember, the FBI had already presented some of the dossier’s allegations as evidence to the FISA court. After going out on a limb like that, the bureau wanted to know if the allegations were true or not.

In a larger sense, the Ohr-Steele 302s could shed some light on how an effort — it certainly included Steele, but also others — to keep Trump from being elected morphed into an effort to keep Trump from being inaugurated and then morphed into an effort to remove Trump from office. A version of that effort is still going on, of course, even as some in Congress try to find out how it started.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. It is becoming obvious that incestuous relationships between various Washington bureaucrats comprise the deep state. Unfortunately that deep state does not represent the interests of the American people and often works against those interests. It is time to remove those people in the bureaucracy who believe they should have more power than American voters.

Sunshine Really Is The Best Remedy

Last night The Daily Wire reported the following:

House Republicans filed a resolution to impeach United States Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday, citing the Justice Department’s lack of transparency and obstruction of congressional oversight.

“I just filed a resolution with Jim Jordan and several colleagues to impeach Rod Rosenstein,” Meadows wrote on Twitter. “The DOJ has continued to hide information from Congress and repeatedly obstructed oversight–even defying multiple Congressional subpoenas.”

The lack of transparency is not the only problem–Rod Rosenstein signed one of the FISA warrants. He might be totally conflicted in deciding what documents to turn over to Congress.

The saga continues. Yahoo News reported today:

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday rejected a move by fellow Republicans to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, who oversees the federal probe of Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

“Do I support impeachment of Rod Rosenstein? No, I do not,” said Ryan, whose stance could make it easier for other Republican members to oppose the measure.

This is not a surprise. Paul Ryan will be stepping down from his role as Speaker and probably looking for a job in Washington. Although I believe the impeachment of Rosenstein would be appropriate (for conflict of interest as much as anything else), I don’t think Paul Ryan is willing to do anything that might rock the boat right now. He wants to stay friends with everyone. (That is probably why he should resign today!)

On Tuesday, Byron York posted an article at The Washington Examiner which outlined a solution to this whole sordid mess.

The article points out:

While the lawmakers support maximum declassification, they also gave the president another option: declassify two key sections of the application that Republicans believe are particularly revealing. In the letter, the GOP committee members made a very specific request.

“To enable the public to understand the DOJ’s and FBI’s basis for obtaining the FISA warrant and three subsequent renewals,” the lawmakers wrote, “we respectfully request that you declassify and release publicly, and in unredacted form, pages 10-12 and 17-34, along with all associated footnotes, of the third renewal of the FISA application on Mr. Page. The renewal was filed in June 2017 and signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.”

So what is on pages 10-12 and 17-34? That is certainly a tantalizing clue dropped by the House Intel members, but it’s not clear what it means. Comparing the relevant sections from the initial FISA application, in October 2016, and the third renewal, in June 2017, much appears the same, but in pages 10-12 of the third renewal there is a slightly different headline — “The Russian Government’s Coordinated Efforts to Influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election” — plus a footnote, seven lines long, that was not in the original application.

As for pages 17-34, there appear to be, in the third renewal, new text and footnotes throughout the section headlined “Page’s Coordination with Russian Government Officials on 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Influence Activities.” (That is the same headline as the original application.) The Republican lawmakers ask that it be unredacted in its entirety, suggesting they don’t believe revealing it would compromise any FBI sources or methods.

Clearly, the GOP lawmakers believe pages 10-12 and 17-34 contain critical information, so it seems likely that the release of those pages would affect the current public debate over the FISA application. That would, in turn, lead to charges that the Republicans were cherry-picking the application and did not want the public to see information that undercuts their position.

Which is why the application should be released in its entirety, or as closely to its entirety as is possible. Will that happen? At the moment, it appears the only person who can answer that question is Trump.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Exactly What Is A Confidential Human Source?

The careful use of words is one way to make a really bad situation sound not quite so bad. A tweet by James Comey yesterday is a great illustration of that concept. Twichy posted an article yesterday including the following tweets:

Byron York had the perfect response:

That says it all. Who was in charge of inserting a spy in the Trump campaign? Can you imagine the media going crazy if Watergate had been a spy instead of a wiretap attempt?

The Lies Just Keep On Coming

Breitbart posted a story today about The New York Times’ leak of the questions that Robert Mueller supposedly plans to ask President Trump. Hopefully President Trump will tell Robert Mueller to go pound sand. But, in case he doesn’t, there is an interesting back story on one of the questions. I really wonder if these are current questions, because they seem to be seeking evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. All reliable sources have stated that never happened–the Congressional report was recently released. But evidently Mueller is still looking.

One of the questions leaked is “What involvement did you have concerning platform changes regarding arming Ukraine?” Well, there is a presupposition there that is false. As the Breitbart article explains:

The conspiracy theory was debunked by Washington Examiner columnist Byron York in an extensive investigative article in March 2017 titled, “How pundits got key part of Trump-Russia story all wrong.”

York explained that the Republican platform not only retained its criticisms of Russian policy in the Ukraine, but that these were made even stronger during the process of drafting, including after instructions were allegedly received from “New York.”

This is the real story according to Byron York:

As it turns out, a look at the original draft of the platform — which has never been released publicly — shows that it always had tough language on Russian aggression in Ukraine. And not only did that language stay in the final platform — nothing was taken out — it was actually strengthened, not weakened, as a result of events at the convention.

Not long after the platform subcommittee meeting, the [Washington] Post’s “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine” story was published [here, in the opinion section], and a new conventional wisdom began to form: The Trump team, doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin, gutted the GOP platform’s position on behalf of Russia.

That is precisely the opposite of what happened. In the end, the platform, already fairly strong on the Russia-Ukraine issue, was strengthened, not weakened, as a result of the subcommittee meeting. The Trump campaign agreed to a platform condemning Kremlin belligerence, calling for continued, and perhaps increased, sanctions against Russia, for the full restoration of Ukrainian territory, for refusing to accept “any territorial change in Eastern Europe imposed by force, in Ukraine or elsewhere,” and pledging to aid Ukraine’s armed forces.

The article at Breitbart concludes:

It is odd that the Special Counsel, who presumably has access to the Washington Examiner and the underlying facts and witnesses, would taint his inquiry by including a debunked conspiracy theory among the questions to be put to the president.

The fact that Mueller did so — assuming the Times report is accurate — lends weight to claim that the investigation has become so partisan as to call its credibility into question.

It truly is time for Mueller to pack his bags and go home.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Real To Make The News

Yesterday Byron York posted an article at The Washington Examiner about the Trump dossier that received so much attention during the 2016 Presidential campaign. The article notes that the FBI has not verified the dossier.

The article reports:

FBI and Justice Department officials have told congressional investigators in recent days that they have not been able to verify or corroborate the substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign outlined in the Trump dossier.

The FBI received the first installment of the dossier in July 2016. It received later installments as they were written at the height of the presidential campaign, which means the bureau has had more than a year to investigate the allegations in the document. The dossier was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign and compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

An August 24, 2017 subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee to the FBI and Justice Department asked for information on the bureau’s efforts to validate the dossier. Specifically, the subpoena demanded “any documents, if they exist, that memorialize DOJ and/or FBI efforts to corroborate, validate, or evaluate information provided by Mr. Steele and/or sub-sources and/or contained in the ‘Trump Dossier.'”

It sounds as if Congress wants the dossier proven or disproven, but the FBI and the Justice Department are dragging their feet.

The article reminds us that some parts of the dossier have already been shown to be untrue:

Some Republicans point out that at least one group of assertions, the ones concerning Michael Cohen, have been convincingly debunked. (Cohen has produced proof that he was not in the Czech Republic, or even in Europe, when the purported meeting took place.) The dossier attributed the Cohen story to a “Kremlin insider” who was “speaking in confidence to a longstanding compatriot friend.” Investigators want to know if that insider-compatriot line of sourcing provided other, equally unreliable information in the dossier.

The article concludes:

That’s fine, as far as it goes — after all, investigators unanimously agree that Russia tried to influence the election — but what about the Trump campaign? What about all those specific allegations of coordination between Team Trump and the Russians? Those were the most explosive parts of the dossier. And they remain unverified.

The bigger question is whether or not the dossier was used as a justification to put the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team under electronic surveillance. If that was done without verifying the information in the dossier, the people who signed off on the surveillance should at the very least be fired.

Which Party Is The Party Of Old Politicians?

The Republicans have the reputation of being the party of ‘old white guys,’ but in this presidential cycle Democrats are becoming the party of ‘old white candidates.’ Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner last Thursday entitled, “Why is the 2016 Democratic field so old?” That is an interesting question. The presidency of Bill Clinton did not boost the influence of the Democrat party, despite the fact that he was generally a popular President. Despite his personal failings, Bill Clinton is a person most people would enjoy having a beer with. Barack Obama has also not increased the power of the Democrat party. Again, despite the failure of many of his policies, Barack Obama is a person most people would enjoy having a beer with. So why are the potential candidates for President in the Democrat party so old?

The article reports:

“It’s the snuffing out of young talent by the strength and size and sheer velocity of the inevitable nominee,” says a well-connected Democratic strategist. “The Clintons took all the air out of the collective Democratic room. There are a lot of people who would be running who are much younger, but they’ve got their future in front of them, and they don’t want the Clintons to ruin it, in this campaign or after this campaign. So they’re waiting for a moment when there is enough oxygen to run.”

“If Hillary Clinton weren’t running, we’d have a field that looks like the Republican field — young and vibrant and diverse.”

Dynasties are not a good thing in a republic–they tend to discourage young talent from rising through the ranks.

What Hillary Clinton Stands For

Hillary Clinton announced today that she is running for President. Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner listing five things she believes about her campaign.

First, Clinton indicated she believes 2016 will be another election about the economy.

Second, Clinton indicated that she doesn’t feel the need to re-introduce herself to the American people.

Third, Clinton indicated that she knows voters suspect she feels entitled to the job.

Fourth, Clinton indicated her campaign will be all about trying to keep the Obama coalition together.

Fifth, Clinton indicated she fully supports gay marriage and will work to win the support of gays unhappy with her slow (for a Democrat) change of mind on the marriage issue.

The decision is in the hands of the American voters.

When You Bury Your Head In The Sand, Something Else Is Exposed

In recent weeks, I have heard many Democrat party pundits (some disguised as news reporters) explain why the Democrats should not worry about the 2014 mid-term elections. Obviously these pundits have been proven wrong, but it might be a good idea to take a look at the reasons behind the statement.

Byron York at the Washington Examiner posted an article today entitled, “Voters‘ Verdict Explodes Democratic Myths.” These are the four myths the 2014 mid-term election destroyed:

1) The election wouldn’t be a referendum on President Obama.

2) Obamacare wouldn’t matter.

3) An improving economy would limit Democrats’ losses.

4) Women would save Democrats.

5) The ground game would power Democrats to victory.

So let’s take a look at these ideas. Most of the Republican candidates for Congress used campaign ads that tied the Democrat candidate to President Obama–often citing how often the Democrat candidate voted for President Obama’s policies. You could argue that it wasn’t a referendum on President Obama, but it was a referendum on his policies.

ObamaCare was not passed in a regular legislative process–the Democrats had to play parliamentary games to get it through–without one Republican vote. I believe the voters resented that, and that they will resent it even more when they see their new premium hikes. Many voters also resented the fact that they were not able to keep either their health insurance or their doctors (as they were promised).

Although President Obama claims that the economy is recovering due to his policies, Americans are not convinced. Under the Obama Administration, voters have seen the workforce shrink, the gap between rich and poor increase, and the income and wealth of middle class families decrease. The stock market may be roaring, but the average American is not seeing prosperity.

Women did not bring the Democrat Congressional candidates across the finish line. There are many women who do not feel that the government has to be their caretaker. Some of us resent the fact that the government is requiring private corporations to provide forms of birth control that include abortion. Not every woman wants the government to be her sugar daddy–some of us think we can make it on our own.

About that Democrat ground game. The ground game doesn’t work if you are selling a product no one wants. The special interest groups that voted for President Obama in 2012 have not been able to collect on what they were promised. The youth vote can’t find jobs and the unemployment rate in the black community is still very high. The naive youth vote has now lost its naivety. They are not likely to be fooled by empty promises again. Also, contrary to what the media has tried to tell us–Republicans are not stupid–they are as capable of getting out the vote as the Democrats–they just need to make sure they have a salable product.

This is a beginning. A beginning is nice, but more important is where we go from here. The national debt is spiraling out of control, the government takeover of healthcare is a disaster, and over regulation is stopping economic growth. It’s time to deal with these issues.

 

 

The Internal Revenue Service And Tax Fraud

On Tuesday, Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner website about widespread fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program.

The article reports:

“The Internal Revenue Service continues to make little progress in reducing improper payments of Earned Income Tax Credits,” a press release from Treasury’s inspector general for Tax Administration says. “The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.”

That’s not pocket change. Remember that these are the people who will administer the revenue part of ObamaCare.

The article explains that the IRS is not making any serious effort to end this fraud:

The new report found that the IRS is simply ignoring the requirements of a law called the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, signed by President Obama in 2010, which requires the IRS to set fraud-control targets and keep improper payments below ten percent of all Earned Income Tax Credit payouts. “The IRS continues to not provide all required IPERA information to the Department of the Treasury,” the new report says. “… For the third consecutive year, the IRS did not publish annual reduction targets or report an improper payment rate of less than 10 percent for the EITC.”

Let’s eliminate all bonuses paid to IRS employees until this fraud is at least under control. That might cause the IRS to develop some interest in solving the problem.

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Why We Are Still Investigating Benghazi

Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner yesterday explaining why Congress had formed a committee to investigate the Benghazi attack. In the article, he mentions two reasons that have been set forth by the Democrats as the reason to form an investigative committee–to destroy Hillary Clinton as a Presidential candidate in 2016 or some sort of weird Republican fixation. But he puts forth a much more logical reason for a Congressional probe–more than two years later, we still don’t know very much about the attack on Benghazi, why help wasn’t given to the people there, and what the attack was about. That’s why we need a committee.

The article reports:

Republican sources on Capitol Hill say that in general, the Pentagon’s cooperation has been a model of how to deal with such an investigation, while the State Department and White House have been models of what not to do.

If the rest of the administration had followed the military’s example, the Benghazi controversy would likely be over by now.

The probe started with three questions. One, was the U.S. adequately prepared for possible trouble abroad on the anniversary of Sept. 11?

Two, did the government do everything it could to try to rescue the Americans who were under attack for seven and a half hours?

And three, did the Obama administration tell the straight story about what happened?

Republicans in Congress have been reluctant to form an investigative committee–fearing that it would be seen as a political move. That changed with the recent release of emails obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information request that revealed a White House role in creating a misleading narrative about the attack. From my perspective, the attack and the fact that we did not send help is bad enough, but the political whitewashing and misleading the American people that went on afterward is a disgrace.

I look forward to the answers to the three questions above.

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The Law Of Unintended Consequences Strikes Again

Yesterday Byron York posted an article in the Washington Examiner about the coming increase in the minimum wage for federal contractors. The minimum wage for federal contractors will go from $7.25 and hour to $10.10 an hour. This will include fast food workers, laundry workers, and other low paying jobs on military bases. So what are the consequences?

The article reports:

In late March, the publication Military Times reported that three McDonald’s fast-food restaurants, plus one other lesser-known food outlet, will soon close at Navy bases, while other national-name chains have “asked to be released from their Army and Air Force Exchange Service contracts to operate fast-food restaurants at two other installations.”

…The administration is making it very expensive to do business on military bases, and not just because of the minimum wage. Under federal contracting law, some businesses operating on military installations must also pay their workers something called a health and welfare payment, which last year was $2.56 an hour but which the administration has now raised to $3.81 an hour.

In the past, fast-food employers did not have to pay the health and welfare payment, but last fall the Obama Labor Department ruled that they must. So add $3.81 per hour, per employee to the employers’ cost. And then add Obama’s $2.85 an hour increase in the minimum wage. Together, employers are looking at paying $6.66 more per hour, per employee. That’s a back-breaking burden. (Just for good measure, the administration also demanded such employers provide paid holidays and vacation time.)

These are the actions of an administration that does not understand or value our military and does not understand basic economic principles. The Obama Administration has already begun to make changes in the way the military exchanges are run that will change the savings our military get on food and clothing (see rightwinggranny.com). We need to elect leaders who value our military and take care of them.

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Once The Camel’s Nose Is Under The Tent

On Monday, Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner about the problems involved in getting rid of ObamaCare as it becomes entrenched in American medicine.

The article reports:

What is different about Republican calls for repeal today — as opposed to calls for repeal from 2010 to the end of 2013 — is that Obamacare is now in place. It exists. Exchanges are running — many of them badly, but running. Subsidies are being paid. Insurance companies have changed the way they do business. Medicaid has been expanded. Special taxes are being collected.

Even though the system is new, millions of Americans have gone to a lot of trouble to adjust to it, and it would be disruptive to them to just stop cold. Halt subsidies? Undo Medicaid expansion? Just as last fall, when millions of Americans received coverage cancellation notices, millions more would face new burdens under the repeal of Obamacare.

This is not good news for the American healthcare system, but it is not unexpected news. Just as ObamaCare was extremely disruptive to the system in place, repealing ObamaCare is going to be disruptive to what has been put in place since the law was passed.

Meanwhile, in an effort to avoid a stunning defeat in the mid-term elections, the rules of ObamaCare have been changed again.

The Washington Post reported yesterday:

The Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.

Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.

The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House officials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was firm. The extra time will not technically alter the deadline but will create a broad new category of people eligible for what’s known as a special enrollment period.

This is another example of the Obama Administration moving the goal posts when it is to their political advantage to do so. It would be nice if someone in Congress had the backbone to stand up for the Constitution.

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It’s Only A Surprise Because Most Of The Mainstream Media Didn’t Cover It

Yesterday, Byron York posted a story at the Washington Examiner about the shock many people are experiencing when their health insurance policies are cancelled. Byron York posted the transcript of a conversation between Christina Romer, then chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Representative Tom Price, who is also a doctor, at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing of June 23, 2009.

This is part of the transcript:

REP. PRICE: I’m asking about if an individual likes their current plan and maybe they don’t get it through their employer and maybe in fact their plan doesn’t comply with every parameter of the current draft bill, how are they going to be able to keep that?

MS. ROMER: So the president is fundamentally talking about maintaining what’s good about the system that we have. And —

REP. PRICE: That’s not my question.

MS. ROMER: One of the things that he has been saying is, for example, you may like your plan and one of the things we may do is slow the growth rate of the cost of your plan, right? So that’s something that is not only —

REP. PRICE: The question is whether or not patients are going to be able to keep their plan if they like it. What if, for example, there’s an employer out there — and you’ve said that if the employers that already provide health insurance, health coverage for their employees, that they’ll be just fine, right? What if the policy that those employees and that employer like and provide for their employees doesn’t comply with the specifics of the bill? Will they be able to keep that one?

MS. ROMER: So certainly my understanding — and I won’t pretend to be an expert in the bill — but certainly I think what’s being planned is, for example, for plans in the exchange to have a minimum level of benefits.

REP. PRICE: So if I were to tell you that in the bill it says that if a plan doesn’t comply with the specifics that are outlined in the bill that that employer’s going to have to move to the — to a different plan within five years — would you — would that be unusual, or would that seem outrageous to you?

MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing is, what kind of changes are we talking about? The president was saying he wanted the American people to know that fundamentally if you like what you have it will still be there.

REP. PRICE: What if you like what you have, Dr. Romer, though, and it doesn’t fit with the definition in the bill? My reading of the bill is that you can’t keep that.

MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing — the bill is talking about setting a minimum standard of what can count —

REP. PRICE: So it’s possible that you may like what you have, but you may not be able to keep it? Right?

MS. ROMER: We’d have — I’d have to look at the specifics.

That testimony took place more than four years ago. The mainstream media ignored the testimony, and the American voters were in the dark about what ObamaCare would mean to them. Because of the way the law has been written, Congress can keep their healthcare coverage, the President will keep his healthcare coverage, and most Congressional staffers will keep their healthcare coverage. When did we reach a point in America where there was one set of standards for the average American and another set of standards for the people who write our laws? Keep in mind that one reason a health insurance plan could be cancelled under ObamaCare would be that it did not provide pediatric dental coverage for a single man of twenty-five or a married couple in their sixties. I need someone to explain to me why a plan for those people without that coverage would be considered inadequate.

 

 

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Congress As A Last Resort

On Monday, Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner about President Obama’s decision to seek authorization from Congress for military intervention in Syria.

The article points out that President Obama first sought approval on the world stage. When it became apparent that the world stage was not interested in giving its approval, President Obama sought approval from Congress.

The article reports:

It was only after it became clear to Obama that he could not win acceptance in other, preferred, circles that he chose to go to Congress. Would he have sought congressional authorization if he had won United Nations approval for a Syrian attack? Highly unlikely. Would he have sought congressional authorization if the British Parliament had voted to join Obama’s action? Also unlikely. Even approval from the Arab League might have been enough for Obama to act.

So where are we?

Yahoo News posted an article today with the following statement by Vladimir Putin:

He said he “doesn’t exclude” backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without U.N. approval, saying it would represent an aggression. Russia can veto resolutions at the U.N. Security Council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.

It will be interesting to see how Congress votes on this.

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The Extra Zero That Changed The Bill

There has been a lot of talk recently about the immigration bill that Congress will be considering in the near future. There is one school of thought that says it is a political bill–not designed to pass, but designed to make House Republicans lose the 2014 election. Based on some recent changes to the original bill, that seems to be very likely.

Yesterday Byron York at the Washington Examiner reported that there has been a change in the original bill that significantly changes the cost.

The article reports:

The bill establishes a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund” to cover the various costs of reform.  It directs that when the bill is enacted, $6.5 billion will be transferred from the Treasury to the trust fund.  And then the bill specifies money to be appropriated for the start-up costs of the process to legalize the estimated 11 million immigrants currently in the country illegally.

The original bill said this: “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013, $100,000,000 is hereby appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury, to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department [of Homeland Security] to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this act.”

The substitute bill reads differently: “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013, $1,000,000,000 is hereby appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury, to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this Act.”

Wow. We went from $100,000,000 to $1,000,000,000, and the bill hasn’t even passed yet. Imagine where it could go if it were passed!

The article in the Washington Examiner includes an update:

UPDATE: After this item was posted, a Gang of Eight spokesman emailed to say that, “The initial $100 million number listed for startup was incorrect; $1 billion is needed to ramp up operations to handle 11 million applicants and other new visa programs.  The money will be refunded to the Treasury from fines collected, so it is deficit neutral over the next few years.”

Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better.

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Something To Think About As The Presidential Primary Races Continue

On Thursday, Byron York posted a column at the Washington Examiner that says a lot about where the campaign for the presidency has gone. If you are unhappy with the direction that President Obama and his administration have taken this country, this is a column you need to read carefully.

Remember, we are in a political war. The media is not on the side of conservatives. The media controls the dialogue both by the slant of the story and by what they do not report. They also control the debates by controlling the questions.

Byron York points out:

The days leading up to Wednesday night’s debate were filled with bad feelings, and the debate itself was filled with bad feelings. Santorum found himself the target of a media pile-on after reports of old statements about — astonishingly enough — contraception and Satan. Santorum’s advisers grew angry and frustrated, feeling he was being singled out for questions about religious views that were not also directed at Romney, Paul, and Newt Gingrich. Santorum lost precious campaign time explaining himself.

Byron York relates the story of another campaign event:

Santorum spoke at length about the Obama administration’s policies on Iran, Syria and Israel. He discussed his proposal to cut taxes for manufacturers and the more general issue of jobs. He talked a lot about immigration, both illegal and legal. He went into quite a bit of detail about energy — shale oil, the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, oil sands, the Keystone pipeline, fracking, and more. He talked about values and families — “This is what I know gets everybody on the secular left bonkers about my campaign: I say America is at heart a moral enterprise” — but he did not revisit the battles of the previous 48 hours.

It was, in other words, an entirely normal and wide-ranging campaign speech, full of substance. When it was over, Santorum took two questions. The first was about the health of his daughter Isabella. The second was about Social Security. No contraception, no Satan.

Guess which event got the most publicity.

We are in a battle for America. We can elect someone who respects our Constitution or continue with someone who generally ignores it. Unfortunately, the debates have not dealt with issues that impact Americans–debt, budget, energy, Obamacare, etc. It’s time to end the debates and begin talking about the things that matter. The Republicans have the answers to the issues–those answers are simply not being reported. One major media person commented during the 2008 election that media bias generally adds about 10 percentage points to Democrat candidates. We need to work hard to overcome that bias.

Republicans win in 2012 on the issues. The media is working very hard to keep the discussion away from those issues.

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Another Inconvenient Truth

English: Nancy Pelosi photo portrait as Speake...

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Yesterday Real Clear Politics posted an article containing a quote from Nancy Pelosi regarding Newt Gingrich:

“There is something I know. The Republicans, if they choose to nominate him that’s their prerogative. I don’t even think that’s going to happen.”

Aside from the blackmail and veiled threat aspect of this statement, there are a few other aspects that need to be examined.

Newt has responded to Ms. Pelosi before:

“First of all, I want to thank Speaker Pelosi for what I regard as an early Christmas gift,” he said at a press conference in New York.

“Well, if she suggested that she’s going to use material that she developed when she was on the ethics committee, that is a fundamental violation of the rules of the House and I would hope that members would immediately file charges against her the second she does it,” he continued. “I think it shows you how capriciously political that committee was when she was on it.”

Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner yesterday detailing what happened in the House investigation of Newt Gingrich in the 1990’s. Please follow the link to the article and read the details. The bottom line is that this was a political witch hunt driven by a man who had lost an election to Newt Gingrich (Ben Jones) and had a bone to pick. I also think that part of the problem was that Newt was a threat to both the Republican and Democrat establishment and neither one liked the changes he was making. I have not yet made up my mind who I am supporting in the Republican Primaries, but the fact that Newt is a threat to the Washington establishment works for him rather than against him in my book.

This is a quote from the Byron York article that describes the events that led to the end of Newt’s term as Speaker of the House:

Two days before Election Day 1994, with defeat in sight, Jones hand-delivered a complaint to the House ethics committee (the complaint was printed on “Ben Jones for Congress” stationery). Jones asked the committee to investigate the college course, alleging that Gingrich “fabricated a ‘college course’ intended, in fact, to meet certain political, not educational, objectives.” Three weeks later, Jones sent the committee 450 pages of supporting documents obtained through the Georgia Open Records Act.

That was the beginning of the investigation. Stunned by their loss of control of the House — a loss engineered by Gingrich — House Democrats began pushing a variety of ethics complaints against the new Speaker. Jones’ complaint was just what they were looking for.

At some point Americans have to grow up and do their own research. To accept blindly the charges being leveled at Newt Gingrich is naive at best and dangerous to the electoral process at worst. In recent years, the media has been working in concert with the Democrat Party on the politics of personal destruction. They have been very successful. If we the public continue to allow that to happen, a lot of good candidates will decide not to run for office. We need to remember that when President Obama won his election for the Senator from Illinois he did it by exposing highly personal irrelevant information on his major opponents in order to drive them out of the race. That has been his strategy in the past, we need to prevent him from using that strategy in the future. It is our job as voters to be careful what we believe and to refuse to accept blindly what we are told is the truth.,

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Watching The Foxes Moderate The Townhall Meeting They Held With The Chickens To Discuss Security In The Chicken Coop

"The Honorable Rick Perry (front right), ...

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. The fact remains that in order to get airtime on stations that cater to the left side of the political spectrum, Republicans are having to engage in some debates moderated by people who do not want them to win or to communicate their ideas to the American people. You are welcome to disagree, but that is the view from where I sit.

Byron York at the Washington Examiner posted his take on the debate early this morning. He felt that Rick Perry did well, but walked into two minefields that could be a problem for his campaign–in the past Governor Perry has called Social Security a Ponzi scheme (it is, but it’s not polite to call it that), and Governor Perry sees more value in boots on the ground at the border than a fence (true, but not always popular). Byron York sees the race as between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. I think that is generally the conventional wisdom.

During the debate, Governor Perry and Governor Romney discussed who had created the most jobs as governor. Guess what–nobody cares. We just want to know what you will do with the current unemployment situation.

Andrew Malcolm at the Los Angeles Times simply broke the debate into award categories. He listed both Rick Perry and Mitt Romney as winners. He also gave Newt Gingrich the award for most eloquent–noting that the loudest applause came when Newt chastised the moderators for asking questions to divide the candidates rather than contrast their views with the President’s.

To me, the debate illustrated the political and cultural divide we currently have in this country. When Brian Williams seemed concerned that the audience applauded the use of the death penalty in Texas, Rick Perry had to explain to him that they were applauding the concept of justice. There is a portion of our society that has lost the concept of justice and confused it with not being compassionate. I support compassion, but believe that without justice compassion is useless. I regret that a murderer is being executed, but I believe the family of his victim is entitled to justice. I don’t want to see a murderer back on the street in ten years. That almost guarantees future victims and is not compassionate.

All in all, I think the debate went well. I look forward to a debate in the future with a less biased moderator.

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We Knew This Was Coming

When the healthcare bill was being debated, President Obama told us, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” Well, I hope you weren’t counting on that.

Byron York at the Washington Examiner reports:

Now, it should surprise no one that more and more companies are exploring the possibility of dropping their employee health coverage in 2014. A new study from the benefits-consulting firm Towers Watson finds that nearly 10 percent of midsized to large companies are seriously considering doing just that, and another 20 percent are thinking about it. Still others don’t know. “Many are uncertain how they will respond to the looming impact of state-based insurance exchanges in 2014,” says Towers Watson.

The new healthcare system is designed to push people into healthcare exchanges, receiving healthcare subsidized by the government. This is the step toward the single-payer plan that Democrats in Congress was not able to pass. As private healthcare is phased out, government healthcare will be the only option.

The article reports:

The bottom line is that the new system appears designed to push more and more people into the exchanges, with more and more people receiving health coverage subsidized by the government. For the cynical, it might even appear that is what Obama and his Democratic allies wanted all along. Remember that Obama said, during a January 2008 debate that, “If I were designing a system from scratch, I would set up a single-payer system.” He couldn’t pass a single-payer system, or even a public-option system, even when he had filibuster-proof majorities in Congress. But he could enact a system that will take a slower route in that direction.

We need a Republican president and congress in 2012. Their first order of business should be to repeal Obamacare. Otherwise we will have government run healthcare with a year.

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If We Cut The Budget, There Will Be No Police, Parks, Teachers, Traffic Enforcement, Schools, Life On Earth As We Know It, Etc.

People opposed to cutting government spending always threaten that if the cuts are made, very visible necessities will abruptly disappear. It’s an argument that goes on all the time all over the country. No one every says, “If we cut spending, five employees whose jobs overlap with five other employees will be terminated.” Well, it is the silly season in Washington, and the truth is on vacation.

Byron York at the Daily Caller posted an article yesterday pointing out that our budget problems have to do with spending–not entitlements.

The article points out:

There’s no doubt federal spending has exploded in recent years. In fiscal 2007, the last year before things went haywire, the government took in $2.568 trillion in revenues and spent $2.728 trillion, for a deficit of $160 billion. In 2011, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the government will take in $2.230 trillion and spend $3.629 trillion, for a deficit of $1.399 trillion.

Mr. York concludes:

The bottom line is that with baby boomers aging, entitlements will one day be a major budget problem. But today’s deficit crisis is not one of entitlements. It was created by out-of-control spending on everything other than entitlements. The recent debt-ceiling agreement is supposed to put the brakes on that kind of spending, but leaders have so far been maddeningly vague on how they’ll do it.

This issue could be an important one in the coming presidential race. Should Republicans base their platform on entitlement reform, or should they focus on the here and now — specifically, on undoing the damage done by Obama and his Democratic allies? In coming months, the answer will likely become clear: entitlements someday, but first things first.

There will be an increase in government expenditures as the baby boomers retire. Restructuring Social Security is probably a good idea–but it has to be done in a way that keeps faith with the people who have paid into the program all of their working lives. Social Security should never be ‘means tested’–that would make it another welfare program. The people who paid into it should receive benefits from it. Remember that those who may be financially well off probably paid more into Social Security than those who made less during their lifetimes. Therefore, to ‘means test’ the program would simply make it a wealth redistribution program–not what it was originally intended to be. A large part of the problem with Social Security is the fact that Congress has spent all of the money. There is a part of me that wants to force Congress to reimburse the Social Security fund with their retirement money. It seems only fair.


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