Friday, October 16, 2009


Glenn Beck is pretty upset, as well he should be. What is it, after all, about President Obama that so many of the people he surrounds himself with are people like White House Communications Director Anita Dunn? Ms Dunn announces in a speech to high school students that two of her favorite "political philosophers" are Mother Teresa (political philosopher?!) and Mao Tse Tung.

Perhaps there's another Mao Tse Tung out there that I don't know about. Ms Dunn can't be alluding to the same Mao who murdered some 35-70 million of his fellow Chinese. She can't be an admirer of the same Mao who during the cultural revolution had his enemies buried up to their chins and then bludgeoned to death, can she? What does it say about Ms Dunn that this most monstrous of men is one of her heroes? What does it say about President Obama that he brings people like Ms Dunn into his administration? What does it say about Mr. Obama that so many of his associates have been admirers of people who hate the U.S. and who have themselves been brutal thugs and murderers?

Beck offers an apt analogy at the end of the clip. He's absolutely right. Take a look:

Next we'll see President Obama jogging in a Che Guevara T-shirt.


What a Deal

The Hill has a column that states that despite White House claims of having created a million jobs via the stimulus bill passed last February they can only account for 30,083, most of which are probably temporary and/or government positions. Since only $16 billion of the stimulus has been spent so far, you and I have paid just under $532,000 per job. What a deal. And this from the administration that sold itself to the American voters on competency and intelligence.

Meanwhile, 3.4 million jobs have been lost since February and reports come out almost daily on the wasteful make-work and payback schemes toward which the stimulus is being applied.

The best thing that could happen would be for Congress to repeal the stimulus before we waste any more money that we don't have, but repeal won't happen as long as Democrats control both houses and the White House. November 2010 can't come soon enough.


SoJo on Health Care Reform (Pt. II)

As I mentioned yesterday, Sojourners' magazine editor Jim Wallis published an argument that seeks to provide the moral rationale for passing health care reform. While I certainly agree that we have an obligation to help those who suffer, I think there are several weaknesses with Wallis' case. We considered the first two of Wallis' five points yesterday. Today we'll consider his last three. He writes:

3. Patients not profits. No one should be discriminated against in their health care because they are sick. Our faith mandates that we give extra consideration and help to those who are sick, but every time an insurance company denies coverage for "pre-existing conditions," excluded ailments, or confusing fine print, their profits go up. Every doctor I know decided to pursue medicine to help people. Many insurance companies make a profit by not helping people, but our faith requires it.

Insurance companies are not in business to help people any more than grocery stores are in business to help people. They go into business to make a profit. There's nothing wrong or unsavory about that. It's absurd to expect insurance companies to accept customers who will cause them to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay outs because the customer has a pre-existing condition that's bound to cost the insurer vast sums of money down the road, Requiring insurance companies to accept new clients with pre-existing conditions who haven't paid a dime in premiums is like demanding that grocery stores give away free food. It's certainly proper to require that insurance companies not be allowed to back out of agreements or deceive customers, but the solution is not to add another "company," the government, to the list of malefactors. The solution is to prosecute those companies which refuse to write clear contracts or which abridge those contracts.

4. Life and liberty must both be protected. The health-care system should protect the sanctity and dignity of life in accordance with existing law and the current rules, and the prohibition on federal funding of abortions should be consistently and diligently applied to any legislation. Strong "conscience" protections should be enacted for health-care workers to ensure they have the liberty to exercise their moral and religious beliefs in their profession. Evidence suggests that supporting low-income and pregnant women with adequate health care increases the number of women who chose to carry their child to term -- if we reform health care in the right way, we can reduce abortions in the U.S. While religious people don't all agree on all the issues of abortion, we should agree that those differences must not be allowed to derail the crucial need for comprehensive health-care reform.

Wallis is right to demand that there be conscience protections and no federal funding for abortions - something Democrats are loath to include in their bills - but his argument that if their health care is paid for women will be less likely to have abortions, so we should therefore pay for their health care, is silly. If we just give a pregnant woman ten (or more) thousand dollars if she agrees to carry her child to term many, perhaps most, women would accept the offer. Doing this would probably prevent far more abortions than would paying for a woman's health care whether she agrees to have the child or not. If preventing abortions is the justification for subsidizing a woman's health care why not pass a law requiring each of us to chip into the ten thousand? Even if such a law were workable and didn't result eventually in having to pay every pregnant woman in the U.S. the money, any participation in it should be voluntary, not compulsory.

5. For the next generation, health-care reform should be based on firm financial foundations. Health care is a vital and wise investment for the future of our families and society. But the way we pay for it should be fair and equitable and seek to lessen the burden on succeeding generations -- both in bringing everyone into the system and by bringing the costs of health care under control over time. Our religious traditions suggest that social justice and fiscal responsibility must not be pitted against each other, but balanced together in sound public policy that is affordable for individuals and for society.

Wallis seems to imply that the current debate is about whether or not we should make health care more affordable. It's not. Everyone agrees that the cost of insurance and care has skyrocketed and needs to be reigned back. The current debate is about the best way to bring costs back down without compromising the quality of the system we have, and a government run system is surely not the best way to do that. One recent report, for example, shows that within ten years the average premium for a family of four will actually be $4000 higher under the senate's Baucus plan than it is now.

What we need to do to bring costs down is to make it cheaper for insurance companies and medical practitioners to do business. The best way to do that is to relieve insurance companies of state imposed mandates, allow for competition across state lines, and reform medical malpractice so that doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical manufacturers don't have to pay a fortune in malpractice insurance. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office has calculated that total savings to the entire medical industry if malpractice laws were reformed would be $110 billion over ten years, but tort reform is not in any of the Democrat plans.

They would rather, as DNC chairman Howard Dean admitted, keep their lawyer friends rich than make health care for you and I cheaper. That's the moral canker in this system that Wallis should be writing about, but it doesn't seem high on his list of concerns.

Jim Wallis would have a lot more credibility if he were as outraged by Dean's admission on this video as are most people who believe, as Wallis once wrote, that God is neither Democrat nor Republican.