Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When You Wish Upon a Star

President Barack Obama is about to define himself with his first state of the union address. I don't mean politically. We know that President Obama likes big government. In fact, we know that he prefers the machinations of the government over the deliberations of the citizens. By anyone's reasonable definition, Barack Obama is a Progressive.

Barack Obama is about to define himself in a fundamentally more important way, in terms of his ability to be honest with the American people. Will he address real issues in a meaningful way, offering solutions that are most likely to work? Or will he cherry pick issues, and frame those in ways that fit his philosophy of government intervention, more spending and less individual freedom?

Will Obama take responsibility for his own mistakes or will he continue to blame predecessor George W. Bush? Tellingly, within the last few days, Obama has referred to “the last eight years” negatively; conveniently forgetting that the last of those years was the first year of the Obama Administration. President Obama continues to blame the now-retired George W. Bush, who is probably not simply retired but would be best described as “happily retired.”

I would like to see Obama meaningfully address unemployment, the housing market, homeland security, government bailouts of private industries, health care reform and the lack of promised transparency surrounding health care reform. I'd like to see him do so with candor and honesty, parceling out blame and credit fairly and honestly. I fully expect to be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Heathcare - Words and Numbers

From September 6, 2009

First, please pardon the misnomer, but if I had entitled this “Insurance Reform” would you have read even this far? Yet, the attention of the American people is rightly focused on “Healthcare Reform” even if they know the wording is wrong. The real topic isn’t healthcare; it’s insurance, and this verbal sleight of hand needs to be examined because it brings complete misunderstanding to the subject.

So, when liberals - including our President - state that 45.7 million Americans “are without healthcare” that is simply wrong. There are 45.7 million residents without health insurance. As you and I both know, those two things are staggeringly different.

Where did the number of 45.7 million come from? It’s based on a 2006 Census Bureau report of a survey which assumed that if you refused to answer the questions on insurance (2.5 million projected non-respondents nationwide) that you had no insurance. Also, if you had no health insurance for any part of the year, even if you had health insurance at the time of the survey, you were also deemed to be uninsured. We’ll take this information into account later.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Three Men of Massachusetts: The Meaning of Scott Brown's Election Win

Scott Brown's upset victory in the Massachusetts US Senate race is the current political story of 2010, but it also challenged some cherished long-time beliefs in the Bay State. Brown, a socially liberal Republican, opposed Obamacare because it was not good for his state economically. Massachusetts's current state heathcare system would gain little from nationalized medicine and pay dearly. By proposing what was best for his state, Brown dashed liberal dreams and halted the career work of his predecessor, Ted Kennedy.

Democrats in Washington and Boston reverently mentioned Ted Kennedy's name as though it were a holy mantra capable of staving off a public that had learned far too much about a healthcare plan crafted in cabal-like secrecy. Kennedy's widow, Vicki, and the remainder of the Kennedy clan were trotted out and displayed like the catch of the day to remind the public of its obligatory loyalty to the left. Yet the Kennedy name, even when combined with its far-left liberal tradition could not keep the Massachusetts people from rejecting further nationalization of medical care.

It is worth noting that those voters whose primary issue was healthcare did favor Democrat Martha Coakley by a thin margin over Brown. Brown made up that ground and much more on economic issues. Jobs and the Massachusetts economy trumped national healthcare.

Scott Brown may have put an end to Ted Kennedy's work on national healthcare, but he reinforced former US House Speaker Tip O'Neal's (D-MA) famous political maxim, "All politics is local."

O'Neal recognized that while people may occasionally rise above self-interest, that's not the way to bet. In the end, people voted for their own interests.

We won't understand what Brown's victory means until we know how the two parties react. Either party is capable of taking this outcome and making its own future – and our country's future – worse.

On the Republican side, Republicans must remember that though they have won all three statewide offices during the Obama year, they must earn the respect of voters. Constitutionalists are already reminding GOP officials that if they begin imitating Democrats, they will lose the support of the grassroots. If Republicans forget this simple lesson, then we may see the rise of third party candidates who will claim voters the GOP abandoned in favor of larger government.

The potential Republican disaster is less likely than the tsunami of rejection curling over the heads of the far left. Democrats have more power than the GOP, but this is about leverage and they will inherit far more of the blame for failure to respond to the desires of the American public. When Nancy Pelosi called Tea Party goers, “astroturf . . . un-American . . . fake” and made accusations of swastikas at Tea Party rallies, she shoved a pair of her Pradas past her tonsils and has yet to remove them.

Many liberals are blaming Democrat Martha Coakley for this loss, but factors beyond Coakley's ill-timed vacation were far more important to the outcome. Coakley was elected Massachusetts Attorney General in 2006 so she is not a stranger to a statewide election. But she was a stranger to the “help” she received from Washington.

Famed communications expert Marshall McLuhan's quote, “The medium is the message,” applies here. The medium delivering the Democrats healthcare package was not open, transparent government. Instead, people were treated to sneaky, preferential backroom deals cut with US Senators and unions while even some of our elected representatives were locked out of discussions. The message from Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi: “We will not tell you what we will do, but we will do as we please.“

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