Legislative process

Nov 112010

Someone commented on the WSJ editorial, “A Deficit of Nerve : Obama’s commission has ideas that Republicans can use,” saying that many of the proposed budget cuts will kill people. My response:

Not making those cuts will kill people, too. Millions of lives could be at stake.

If we now have the histronics out of the way, maybe we can get down to serious discussion.

I agree with the editorial writers that there is much in the draft outline to build on. They makes the point that Canada doesn’t have a home mortgage interest deduction, yet has a higher rate of home ownership than we have. If this deduction can’t be zeroed out, I don’t know why it shouldn’t be reduced to say, $100,000 instead of the $500,000 suggested in the commission’s draft.

I also wish the commission had tackled the issue of health care reform. But it seems there were some taboo topics. According to the editorial:

More egregiously, the chairmen tiptoe around ObamaCare, which has led some on the right and left to claim that the commission is essentially endorsing the largest new entitlement in 40 years. We’re told the chairmen mostly dodged the subject because Democrats on the commission made that a nonnegotiable demand. A truly bold report would consider Congressman Paul Ryan’s model to make Medicare a defined contribution program. Instead, the chairmen settle for the familiar likes of “payment reforms,” which never work because of Medicare’s flawed political price-control model.

On that subject I posted the following comment:

Back in April, when setting up this commission, President Obama said everything needs to be on the table. But now we learn that the Democrats on the commission wouldn’t allow any health care reforms to be put on the table. It was non-negotiable. If they couldn’t accept the job they were commissioned to do, shouldn’t they have declined to serve on the commission, or if it was too late for that, resigned?

On the subject of taxes, I’m surprised they want to make our tax system more regressive by increasing the social security tax, of all taxes.

But there is one other item that would do more to reduce the budget deficit than any of their other proposals. Term limits would bring under control the budget distortions brought about by the power of incumbency. These limits wouldn’t need to be severe term limits to be effective.

We need a slogan: No justice, no peace.

Oops. Wrong slogan. It should be: No term limits, no tax hikes.

I’d say that if we eliminate ag subsidies (aka the root of all evil), zero out funding for NPR, and get a constitutional amendment to institute term limits for Congress, then we can think about a tax increase to get us out of our hole. If members of Congress are term-limited, we will have a better basis for trusting that they might really use new revenues for deficit reduction. Otherewise, that part should be just as non-negotiable as the Democrats’ refusal to reform our health care system.

Apr 012010

Not so long ago a health care bill had to be cobbled together and rushed through Congress while it was still being put together, before people had a chance to digest what was really in it. Now President Obama is suddenly in less of a rush and urges patience. Too bad he didn’t lead by example when he had a chance.

From a USA Today article:

President Obama urged Americans to wait and see how well his new health care plan works, chiding “pundits” who talk about “another poll or headline that said, ‘nation still divided on health care reform.’ “

Mar 222010

Headline: House Passes Historic Health Bill

You’d think the Obama media would be a little more cautious about putting up headlines that label last night’s congressional action (whether you want to call it a vote or something else) as “historic.” Here are a couple of other actions I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past few days, which have also been deemed historic:

  • Reichstag passes the enabling bill, 23 March 1933
  • The First Roman Triumvirate was formed, 60BC (but kept secret, somewhat like the provisions of the health care bills)
Jul 142009

Greg Hitt of the WSJ explains how the Democrats are working over Chuck Grassley to get his vote on their health care plan.

I presume this is as a prelude to throwing him out on the street once he’s outlived his usefulness to them, as has happened to other GOP Senators who’ve gotten in bed with Democrats. But who knows? Maybe they’ll still respect him in the morning.

In any case, what we’re seeing, which is no surprise to some of us, is that Sen. Grassley’s vote is a lot more important to the Democrats than is Al Franken’s. They phrase it like this: “The White House and top Democrats think a bipartisan bill would give the public added confidence in the legislation…”

In other words, the Democrats have very little confidence in their health care plans. They’re pretty sure that once they’re enacted, it will be necessary to lower expectations, just as has happened with the Stimulus Bill.

Remember when the stimulus was urgent and important? Now we’re being told that patience is the thing, and that things will get worse before they get better, etc. etc.

Democrats realize that the same thing will happen with health care, which is why they need Chuck Grassley and maybe one or two other Republicans. When the program has been in operation long enough to have results the opposite of what are now being advertised, they’ll need to save their jobs by pointing to these Republicans and repeating the word “bipartisan” to their constituents.

Mar 232009

Back in 2002 George W. Bush signed the McCain-Feingold bill, despite having said that parts of it violated the First Amendment. (So much for his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.)

Now in 2009 Barak Obama is telling us that the ex post facto tax on AIG bonuses is of doubtful constitutionality. That’s true and it’s good of him to point it out. But is he going to pull a George W. Bush and sign it anyway?

Feb 092009

Last week President Obama said to Republicans: “Don’t come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis.”

I wonder if President Obama has been informed that his own ideas are a bit long in the tooth, too. And that there are any number of people out there who have been explaining how his ideas, including the ones in the current “Stimulus” package, helped to create the current crisis in the first place.

He probably wouldn’t agree, but he should at least be open enough to agree that it’s an issue that needs to be debated. Instead, he’s trying to marginalize those who would like to hold this discussion.

It’s a far cry from the Obama who once said

Wisdom is not the monopoly of any one party

Jul 162008

It looks like Congressional Republicans aren’t completely worthless, after all. From the WSJ:

The Bush administration’s hastily arranged strategy to stabilize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac came under siege on Capitol Hill, as Republicans tried to slow it down and Democrats moved to marry it with a program the White House has threatened to veto.

They have some redeeming social value, at least for the moment. But I am reminded of the bad old days of the Clinton administration, when Republicans would on issue after issue threaten to do the right thing, but cave under pressure just after they made as many enemies as possible for threatening to do it. That way they could also make enemies for doing the wrong thing, and reap the worst of both worlds.

It’ll be interesting to see if this one follows that old pattern.