During an impromptu moment in the third hour of a recent nationally syndicated radio show, three doctors, practicing three different specialties, located in three different areas of the country called to bemoan the future of their profession under Obamacare. They spoke about how doctors are being driven from private practice into hospital practices by disparate reimbursement rates because hospital groups are easier for the government to control. They spoke about how hospitals are given financial incentives to reduce care to patients in a method similar to the unpopular HMO model of care promoted by the Clinton administration. They spoke about how increased electronic record keeping burdens are meant to calibrate and manage patient care so as to reduce the cost of care to the government rather than improve the quality of outcomes. Remember when Dr Obama told you to take the blue pill instead of the red pill? One doctor even spoke about how the Veterans Administration denies hip and knee replacements to young veterans. Since the “shelf life” of a prosthetic hip is 10-15 years, a young veteran would require more than one during the course of his lifetime.
This is occurring under the backdrop of rising private health insurance premiums, rising Medicare premiums, businesses large and small dropping full-time employees so as to minimize their health insurance burden under Obamacare, reports that 3/4 of policyholders could be hit by massive taxes on “Cadillac” health plans, labor unions relinquishing support for Obamacare and liberal media cheerleaders worrying that the failure to implement health insurance exchanges might turn the public against Obamacare even further as the cost of creating these exchanges continues to rise. An author of Obamacare in the United States Senate worried recently about a coming “train wreck!” even as President Obama proclaimed that most people are “already experiencing most of the benefits of the [Un]Affordable Care Act, even if they don’t know it.” These “benefits” include the loss of care for subsidized enrollees in California’s health insurance exchange, Covered California. Enrollees must not like their doctors very much because many will not be allowed to keep them!
Yet, rather than running for the hills allowing the Democrats that championed Obamacare’s passage to wear it as an albatross around their necks, Republican “leaders” in Congress seek to strengthen Obamacare while simultaneously negotiating to exempt themselves and their staffs from its effects. In a moment of obvious frustration, Chip Roy, Chief of Staff to Senator Ted Cruz, suggested in a private email leaked to an online newspaper, “The message [stinks]! We oppose Obamacare. Period. We will repeal it. Period.”
During this period of prolonged high unemployment where nearly 10 million Americans have left the workforce, it has become clear that even if Congress or the Obama administration were to grant an individual or a group an exemption from the mandates of Obamacare, there is no escaping its effects on the broader economy. Yet, rather than concentrating their efforts on plans to scale back Obamacare or directing voters’ attention to all of the ill effects that it will bring, many Republicans in Congress are focused on immigration reform proposals that were not a focal point of the recent election and barely 5% of the electorate consider important. Considering that the cost of Obamacare continues to be revised upward and the federal debt approaches $17 trillion, voters are puzzled as to why many Republicans are laboring to pass a $6 trillion boondoggle instead of fighting to scale back Obama’s nearly $2 trillion health insurance mess!
Given this administration’s recurring difficulty embracing the truth, it is amazing that Republicans do not push back more forcefully and more often against President Obama’s attempts to ‘fundamentally transform’ America. Chip Roy is incorrect. The Republican message does not stink. It is nonexistent.
The Message Stinks! http://t.co/HoclVDdZtB
— American Thinker (@AmericanThinker) May 30, 2013
Conservatives at the Republican National Convention and many of their allies back home have been up in arms the past several days about a proposed rule change that would allow the RNC and a winning Presidential candidate to unseat activist delegates and replace them with party insiders and donors to the winning campaign and the party. They claim this is unfair as a ticket to the convention is their reward for years of hard work. It is and they are correct. However, in making an uproar and threatening a floor fight, they are losing sight of the bigger picture.
Accompanying this rule change is another change specifying that the delegates from a given state must be awarded to candidates in proportion to the result of the primary election. Gone would be the days of ‘beauty contest’ primaries where one candidate was preferred by flesh and blood grassroots voters only to have his opponents be awarded more delegates at a state convention months later. Best I can tell, this injustice happened to all candidates during the 2012 Presidential election cycle.
Further, Republican National Conventions of modern years are largely four day parties where the Presidential candidate has been chosen months before. Attending a national convention has no bearing on the ability of a grassroots candidate to be elected to office at any level. If no Presidential candidate won a plurality of delegates prior to the national convention, this rule would not apply.
I have heard it argued that attendance at the convention is a reward for hard work. Maybe so. The grassoots activists I have heard make this argument have toiled just as hard or harder to elect conservative candidates precisely because these candidates promised to fight crony politics and end the awarding of such perquisites. I understand the desire of local activists to attend the convention. Is it worth sabotaging an opportunity to institute real democratic reform in the Presidential election process in order to attend a quadrennial party?
Personally, I would prefer that the grassroots opposition and the RNC split the difference and drop the offensive delegate change while keeping the change that institutes democratic reform in the election process. I found it offensive when political commentators dismissed the results of primary voters who braved foul winter weather by suggesting that their vote amounted to nothing more than a ‘beauty contest.’ If you are going to ask my opinion as to who should be President of the United States by holding an election, then respect my opinion by respecting the result of the vote win, lose or draw. Don’t change or skew the outcome at a state convention months later by altering the delegate allocation or skewing the result with votes by “super”-delegates. Why should a bunch of party insiders or a vocal minority of committed activists be able to effect a result that they were unable to achieve at the ballot box? If the Democrats had enacted such a rule, it is entirely possible Hillary Clinton would be running for re-election.
In reaction to what a vocal minority of committed activists were able to achieve at some state conventions, the RNC is attempting to implement real democratic reform in the Presidential primary process. Let us not miss this opportunity to enact it.
If Congressional Republicans want to know why people call politics the “second oldest profession” and view politicians with similar regard to used car salesmen, they need only look at the new mantra of Republican super committee members: “We will not raise your taxes as much as the other guys.” Congressional Republicans, who railed against President Obama for raising a trillion dollars of new taxes in the Obamacare legislation and professed that raising taxes in the middle of a recession is the surest way to prolong it, have pledged to raise half a trillion dollars in new taxes as their opening gambit in the super committee negotiations.
Congressional Republicans who refused to be sucked into the Marxist rhetoric of President Obama and the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd by voting down tax increases on millionaires and billionaires, have proposed raising taxes on families and small businesses making a fraction of that amount. Congressional Republicans who reminded us that we have a “spending problem” and not a “revenue problem” have thrown their lot in with Congressional Democrats. These Democrats mocked Republican Presidential candidates for refusing to accept a 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases while being unwilling to accept the recommendation of the President’s blue ribbon commission when it proposed a 4:1 ratio of tax cuts to spending increases. While this is terrible economic policy, the political implications for Congressional Republicans and the Republican Presidential candidate are even worse.
Republican super committee members have reportedly proposed eliminating or scaling back itemized deductions for mortgage interest, state and local taxes and charitable deductions in exchange for the permanent extension or a slight reduction in the Bush era income tax rates. Make no mistake, this will be a NET TAX INCREASE at the federal level. Whether taxing income or property, most states levy taxes in the neighborhood of at least 5-10%. Reducing the highest income tax bracket by no more than 10% would likely result in a net tax increase for most Americans in this income tax bracket, especially when combined with the elimination of the deduction for mortgage interest.
This tax increase would effect the overwhelming majority of small business income which, as Congressional Republicans continue to remind us, is responsible for most job growth. This does not sound like a prescription for reducing the country’s 9% unemployment rate. Even if Congress were to devise a formula so no one paid additional income tax, scaling back or eliminating the mortgage interest deduction would result in a dramatic reduction in home prices since home buyers would lose the benefit of the tax deduction. In an economy where people estimate that approximately 25% of homes are worth less than the value of their mortgage, this is a prescription for disaster.
As bad as the economic implications are for this proposal, the political implications are even worse. On the shoulders of the Tea Party movement in 2010, Republicans swept into office in the largest Congressional shift of power in the country’s history with a mandate to limit the size and scope of the federal government. This means reducing spending and lowering taxes. By agreeing to raise taxes by at least half a trillion dollars, Congressional Republicans will be turning their backs on the people who voted them into office. This will allow their Democrat opponents to claim correctly that ALL politicians support raising taxes.
Voting to raise half a trillion dollars of new taxes will cut the legs out from under the Republican Presidential candidates as well. Many candidates have offered plans that cut federal taxes and flatten tax rates dramatically. Voting to raise taxes in advance of the election will allow President Obama to label the Republican Presidential candidates as extreme because Republican Congressmen had just voted to raise taxes. In addition, voting to make the Bush era tax rates permanent before the election will prevent Congressional Republicans from pointing out that their Democrat colleagues did not support extending these rates beyond 2012.
Congressional Republicans may read polls that suggest that everyone would prefer that someone else pay for the federal government. Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans seem unable to read election results. Two weeks ago by a 2:1 margin in a state that President Obama won by nearly 10% of the vote in 2008, the voters of Colorado soundly rejected a measure to raise the state sales tax by 1/10th of 1% in order to pay for an increase in education funding. This is the same justification that President Obama and Congressional Democrats use to defend far greater tax increases.
Since Congressional Democrats have rejected their initial proposal, Congressional Republicans need to take a harder line in future negotiations. For the economic future of the country and their own political survival, Congressional Republicans should fear what happens if they raise taxes much more than if they get sucked into President Obama’s political narrative. President Obama is a sinking ship. The question for Congressional Republicans is whether they want to go down with him.