Next time, ask the Reagan question before you vote

On January 1, 2019, as President Trump approaches his third state of the union address, people in America should pop the Reagan question: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Those in the United States should ask, for example:

“Is my health insurance costing me more out of pocket than under Obama? Am I getting better, more affordable benefits?”

“Can I still get health insurance?”

“Have work restrictions been placed on my Medicare benefits? Has my state limited Medicare benefits?”

“Has my property tax bill gone up or down?”

“Has the rusty bridge carrying my daughter’s school bus been fixed?”

“I live in a city. Has my child developed asthma in the past year?”

“What’s the interest rate on a new car now?”

“Do I have to pay more for my prescription medications?”
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Most conservatives don’t know “Obamacare’s” success, not failure, aligns with their agenda

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Conservatives, as usual, are conflicted. On the one hand, they’ve been mounting a massive assault against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called, as you know, ACA). Their arguments run something like this (taken from the subtitles to a series of Heritage Foundation papers): ACA … violates personal liberty, cuts jobs and wages, busts the budget, undermines state flexibility, raises premiums, crowds out private coverage (our cue to shed a few tears for health insurance companies), undermines seniors by cutting into Medicare Advantage, and, that old standby, reduces patient choice. Continue reading

Romney set to make campaign history? (#WTF alert)

Earlier this year, as the Man of the People® Tour rolled around the nation in search of new constituencies to offend, it became apparent that presumptive GOP nominee Thurston Howell III Mitt Romney is the sort of man who sometimes doesn’t think things through all the way. Which is bad for him, but fun for the political theater fans amongst us. Chevy Chase probably has his agent on the phone with Lorne Michaels right now. After what Chase did to the Gerald Ford campaign, it boggles the mind imagining what he’d do with Mitt.

Now this:

Romney steps away from Paul Ryan’s Medicare cuts Continue reading

GAO: U.S. government’s checkbook still too screwed up to audit

Consider the continual political warfare among tea partiers, Democrats, Republicans, President Obama, members of Congress, and anyone else with a media megaphone over size of the deficit run up by the American government. You’d assume they were confident the government knew how much money it took in and how much it spent. You’d assume the government knew how to keep its checkbook in order.

And you’d be wrong. According to the fiscal 2011 financial report by the nation’s bookkeeper, the Government Accounting Office, some government agencies cannot soundly manage their fiscal affairs.
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Who's serious about reducing the deficit?

Cut Medicare payments and tweak Social Security. Cut defense spending by directly reducing spending and getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Raise income, corporate, and payroll taxes. These issues essentially define what it means to be serious about eliminating the federal deficit, because all of them need to happen before the deficit can truly be brought under control. Serious people can debate how much of each is necessary and where to make the largest changes, but anyone who rejects even one of the issues is either ignorant of the scale of the problem, blindly beholden to their preferred ideology, or lying.

Yesterday we discussed these issues. Today we look in greater detail at the public statements of various individuals and organizations to see if they are actually serious about cutting the deficit, or if they just claim to be serious.

The Republican Party

Since President Bush II presided over a massive expansion of government during his eight years in office, the GOP has, in most respects, become the party of “spend and don’t tax.” Continue reading

How to tell who’s serious about reducing the federal deficit

The federal deficit is a major topic of conversation these days, both in the media and around the nation’s water coolers and copiers. In fact, many freshmen Republican Representatives and Senators believe that they have been sent to Congress specifically to shrink the deficit and the related national debt. But it’s become clear to me from reading and having multiple discussions about the deficit that not everyone is serious about actually addressing the problem. Sure, most citizens think they’re serious about eliminating the deficit, but because they don’t have any clue about the scale of the actual problem, they offer up “solutions” that aren’t even tenth-measures, never mind half-measures. And given the positions of the political parties and various politicians, it’s difficult to see how they might even think that their positions amount to a serious attempt to eliminate the deficit.

So how can we tell whether someone is serious about addressing the federal debt? Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

Democrats to Progressives: We're just not that into you

not_that_into_youA modest proposal, perhaps.

It’s been entertaining watching American public “discourse” since the election. (I use that word in its broadest, most ridiculous sense, since nothing that hinges so completely on self-absorption, rank ignorance and pathological dishonesty can be accurately characterized by such a noble word. But indulge me. I’ve been working on my irony lately.)

On the one hand you have conservatives fainting dead away that we’re now in the clutches of a “socialist” president. Never mind that these folks wouldn’t know a real socialist if he was gnawing their balls off. Never mind that most of these folks think “socialist” is the French word for Negro. Never mind that Obama demonstrably is to socialism what Joe the Plumber is to brie-sucking Northeastern intellectualism. As arch-conservative TV pundit Stephen Colbert says, “this is a fact-free zone.”

On the other you have the righteous outrage of the progressosphere, which feels six different kinds of betrayed by a president who promised them the moon and stars and has now left them to what looks like at least a four-year walk of shame. If I might borrow from an old fraternity joke, imagine the following scene from the Oval Office: Continue reading

Meet Satan's towel boy, Ralph Nader, and other famous rabblerousers in a call for open debates

He’s the man who caused Sep. 11, war in the Gulf, a million Iraqi deaths and probably mad cow disease too, as you’ve no doubt heard from disgruntled Democrats. Of course I’m talking about Evil Incarnate, consumer advocate and political gadfly Ralph Nader.

As evidenced by the comments to my piece on him way back when, he’s still roundly feared and loathed by countless Dems for supposedly helping George W. Bush, no matter how indirectly, steal the 2000 election from Al Gore and allowing everything that followed to pass. Well, he’s running for president again, and his anti-bigwig rhetoric has grown more pointed and caustic, just as the general lefty revulsion for him and his supporters has. Continue reading

Presidential passport breach: Why do contractors have easy access to sensitive data?

By Martin Bosworth

The accessing of private passport-based travel data of all three Presidential candidates by contractors working for the State Department has finally galvanized Capitol Hill to address the issue of privacy–something we’ve been begging them to do for years. Ron Wyden sums it up succinctly:

“The Government Accountability Office has been warning about this problem for a decade. And it seems to me in this administration, there’s been pretty much a culture of disregard for privacy, and that’s part of the problem,” he said.

Wyden may have been referring to a 2006 report from the GAO documenting the lack of oversight in sharing Social Security Numbers with contractors working for various federal agencies, including the IRS and the FBI, as well as within the private sector. It is but one of many reports the investigative agency has issued documenting the serious vulnerabilities our government’s mad drive to outsource its functions to the private sector has wrought–but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Continue reading

The candidates don't care about our children

Probably every candidate who has ever run for President has claimed to be running to improve the future. This is especially true about this election cycle because so much has gone horribly wrong over the last eight years. The idea that our children should have better lives than we ourselves have is part of the American mythos. Unfortunately, Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post points out in today’s commentary (Promises They Can’t Keep) that the candidates in this election are talking the talk, but singularly failing to walk this particular walk. The reason? Not a single electable candidate has proposed any solution to the coming tax increases and/or budget cuts. Continue reading

New Medicare prescription rules for tamper-proof prescriptions pads hopefully delayed

UPDATE: President Bush signed this extension into law.

Apparently medical professionals need to read every single line of every bill that Congress ever passes that the President approves, no matter how unrelated to medicine the bills actually are.

On October 1st of this year, all prescriptions for Medicare patients were supposed to be written on tamper resistant prescription pads. The idea is that this will cut down on prescription fraud and drug abuse. No more doubling the quantity, photocopying the prescription and changing the date, etc. And Medicare would not reimburse any costs of drugs that were not prescribed using these new pads.

Unfortunately, Congress has requested a six month extension, from October 1st to March 31st of 2008, because the vast majority of pharmacies didn’t realize that they had this new and very expensive requirement (the tamper-proof pads are very expensive to manufacture and pads’ manufacturers literally can’t print them fast enough) until the last few weeks, nearly 3 months after the law was passed. Continue reading