Thursday, December 31, 2009
President Bush, for all his mistakes and miscalculations, never allowed his U.N. representatives to participate in such negotiations. But President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed course and agreed to join the negotiations.
Secretary of State Clinton announced in October that the U.S. would join the negotiations "if they are based on consensus," implying that the U.S. could exercise a veto if negotiations went off course. That implies that the U.S. would reject any treaty that violates our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. The problem is she can't make that promise or guarantee that outcome.
The truth is it is very dangerous for the U.S. to go down this road no matter how many assurances are given by President Obama and his minions. Once committed to the "process of negotiations," it is hard to reject a product based on "international consensus."
There are good reasons why the U.S. ought to stay out of such negotiations, and many good reasons to be wary of any international treaty on the subject.
To put this whole matter in perspective, ask yourself how well existing arms-control agreements are working and how well international agencies are enforcing those agreements.
There is an existing conventional arms-control treaty among nations in Latin America. How well is that working? Does it prevent the Mexican drug cartels from buying advanced weapons on the black market in Asia and Europe? Hardly. Does it prevent Hugo Chavez from buying arms from Iran, North Korea and Russia and providing them to rebel groups in Colombia and Central America? No.
Has the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency stopped Iran from developing a nuclear-weapons program? Shouldn't we expect some semblance of success from such existing agreements before launching new ones?
What conventional arms treaties do is constrain the actions of law-abiding nations and law-abiding citizens while allowing outlaw nations and leftist guerrilla groups to build their arsenals.
If you think such international treaties apply only to sales and exchanges among nations and not to individuals, you have not been paying attention to the Obama administration's agenda and to what activist judges have been doing in American courts.
What is especially galling is to hear gun-control advocates use the Mexican drug cartel violence as an excuse to further restrict gun sales among private citizens inside the United States. This is exactly what the Obama Justice Department and its sister agencies have been doing lately.
The federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been claiming that 90 percent of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels come from the United States, and have added new manpower to north-to-south border inspections on the U.S.-Mexico border. Curtailing illegal arms smuggling is a good idea, but to claim that the U.S. is the main supplier of the Mexican cartels is deliberately misleading and dishonest.
That much-used 90 percent statistic is based on only the guns that are turned over to the U.S. for tracing. The truth is over 80 percent of the guns seized from the cartels and from crime scenes are not traceable to the U.S. The Mexican government will not admit that huge quantities of guns and vehicles and body armor used by the cartels come from – are you ready? – the Mexican government itself.
This example of outright distortion and dishonesty by the Obama administration is important because it reveals the hidden agenda. If the U.S. Department of Justice will conspire with the Mexican government against the interests of American gun owners, what can we expect when federal agencies can cite "standards" and "obligations" under an international treaty? The drug cartels are laughing, but American gun owners are not.
It is reasonable to assume that any international treaty on "small-arms trafficking" will be used by domestic gun-control advocates and liberal judges to further restrict the ownership, use and exchange of firearms by individual citizens.
This past month we saw a new demonstration of U.N. arrogance and hypocrisy at the Copenhagen conference on Climate Change. The Third World nations that now dominate the U.N. are eager to impose obligations of hundreds of billions of dollars on the U.S. and Europe to pay for their compliance with carbon-emissions targets.
But we need not speculate about future U.N. actions. We have the record of its malfeasance in following existing mandates. Does anyone want to trust the U.N.'s Human Rights Council to tell Americans how to shape civil-rights laws?
Public officials and political leaders in the U.S. have an obligation to oppose further erosion of American sovereignty in the face of U.N. designs and ambitions.
Teddy Bear Song:
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Whether or not the Bill of Rights can ever be an effective means of limiting the government is open to debate. However, the Bill of Rights does offer a fairly good outline of a free society, and it shows how far our country has strayed.
In an America with a full respect for the Bill of Rights, there would be no Federal Communications Commission regulating the airwaves and forbidding certain speech, no Federal Election Commission limiting how much Americans can donate to political candidates or what they can say in independent political ads, no Food and Drug Administration harassment of pharmaceutical and wine producers regarding their commercial speech, no federal laws that have anything to do with religion whatsoever, and no federally established "free-speech zones."
There would be no federal laws disarming Americans, prohibiting airlines from allowing pilots or passengers to carry guns on planes, or limiting how much ammo or what kind of firearms people can buy and own.
There would be no Patriot Act, no secret searches, no spying on telecommunications without a warrant.
There would be no civil asset forfeiture, no horrendous eminent domain abuses, no kangaroo courts, star chambers and phony hearings for the accused.
There would be no torture in America's "terrorist" dungeons.
There would be no federal laws against starting a business without a license, buying and selling drugs, competing with the government to provide its "services" at a better cost and higher quality, or seceding from the central state.
There would be no federal programs not authorized by the Constitution: no Departments of Energy or Education, no Medicare or Social Security, no Federal Reserve or Selective Service, no farm subsidies or corporate welfare.
We've come a long way, haven't we?
If either the ninth or tenth amendment alone had full recognition, almost everything now done by the federal government would come grinding to a halt. A government that obeyed the Bill of Rights would cost a small fraction of its current size, and would not require an income tax to fund. The young would be liberated from Social Security and any fear of conscription ever coming back. The streets would be safer, free from the violent crime augmented by the War on Drugs and gun control. America would no longer have a higher per capita prison population than Saudi Arabia, Russia and North Korea. The free economy would be unleashed to produce the largest revolution in technology and commerce and greatest increase of the American standard of living since the Industrial Revolution. The productive sector would no longer be persecuted by the political class for producing too much, not enough, or not according to the specifications of central planning.
Many if not most political tensions would be decentralized down to the state level, and after that, competition and experimentation among states would likely point the way to the benefits of liberalizing and shrinking government at all levels.
The blessings of free association would again sweep America, as people's rights to hire, fire, work for, and enter business and organizations with whomever they wanted would allow economic productivity to balloon, and religious, ethnic and racial hostilities to decline. Immigration would no longer be seen as such a threat as decisions to associate or not to associate would be left to the states and, much more ideally, private-property owners.
Healthcare would be more affordable and of a higher quality. The price of food staples would plummet, as the feds would no longer subsidize clumsy agricultural practices with price supports, and even the poorest workers would have far greater access to necessities and luxuries than almost anyone in the history of the world.
Many tens of thousands of federal employees would have to find honest work.
With the Bill of Rights respected and enforced, the War on Terror as we know it would be impossible. The federal government would no longer have any powers not delegated to it by the Constitution -- rendering such unconstitutional projects as Iraq and Afghanistan totally prohibited. Americans would stop dying in foreign wars, and foreigners would have far less reason to attack the United States.
Americans would become more responsible, tolerant, caring, cooperative, industrious, wealthy and safe. A lot of problems would still exist, but without the amplification that they now get in the political process.
If today you hear an elected official mention the Bill of Rights -- a politician besides Ron Paul, that is -- try to imagine which Bill of Rights he's referring to. Which Bill of Rights is it that allows for three-and-a-half-trillion-dollar budgets, airport Gestapo, thousands of gun laws, a federal war on drugs, No Child Left Behind, bailouts of Wall Street, stimulus spending, Obamacare, Cap and Trade and McCain-Feingold? Where in the Bill of Rights does it say that the president can disqualify suspected terrorists from their rights to a trial, an attorney, and due process?
The officials who violate the Bill of Rights are breaking the very law that supposedly brings their jobs and the government that employs them into existence. And yet we are supposed to take them seriously when they talk about "the rule of law," "law and order," and "justice."
I celebrate Bill of Rights Day, not out of some delusion that we have the enumerated and unenumerated freedoms protected by the document, nor with some nostalgia for a past when the Bill of Rights was perfectly obeyed. It never was. George Washington and John Adams violated the Bill of Rights. Ever since Lincoln, the document has suffered major violence, and eight years of Bush and one year of Obama have probably done more harm to the freedoms in the Bill of Rights than this country has seen in several generations.
But Bill of Rights Day is still a good time to think of that document, which comes as close to a perfect founding legal charter for a free society as any in the world. Celebrate Bill of Rights Day, if only to think of the great freedoms that might exist, that could exist, and that can exist, one day, in fuller force and greater glory than ever before.
Adapted from an article by Anthony Gregory that ran on LewRockwell.com in 2004
The Holly And The Ivy:
Monday, November 30, 2009
for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes
all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body,
he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now.
He dictated this letter to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president.
Dear President Obama,
My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year. People meeting me for the first time don't believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.
I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly
before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos'n Mate. Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.
One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.
So here goes.
I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.
I can't figure out what country you are the president of.
You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:
" We're no longer a Christian nation"
" America is arrogant" - (Your wife even
announced to the world,"America is mean-
spirited. " Please tell her to try preaching
that nonsense to 23 generations of our
war dead buried all over the globe who
died for no other reason than to free a
whole lot of strangers from tyranny and
I'd say shame on the both of you but I don't think you like America nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do for the obvious gifts this country has given you. To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.
After 9/11 you said," America hasn't lived up to her
Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British ? Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War ? I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers,husbands,and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII,because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around because we stand for freedom.
I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.
Take a little advice from a very old geezer,young man.
Shape up and start acting like an American.If you don't, I'll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue .You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.
And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor inMassachusetts who was putting up a fight ? You don't mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don't want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are,terrorists.
One more thing. I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life but you're the Commander-in-Chief now,son. Do your job. When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him. But if you're not in this fight to win, then get out. The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you're thinking of.
You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president.
You're not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy. That's not our greatest threat. Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now. And I sure as hell don't want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle.
Harold B. Estes
When a 95 year old hero of the "the Greatest Generation"
stands up and speaks out like this, I think we owe it
to him to send his words to as many Americans as
we can. Please pass it on. Absolutely!
It Was A Very Good Year:
Friday, November 27, 2009
Were Swine Flu Death Projections Hyped?
By Adam Murdock, MD
The 2009 H1N1 swine flu "pandemic" may turn out to be one of the most overblown and expensive medical crises in modern history. Indeed, this particular swine flu may be one of the weakest in history. The most recent figures show that the number of flu cases are already dropping in the U.S., England, and elsewhere.
It is a mild illness in most but occasionally can lead to severe complications due to bacterial superinfections. In the UK, under 200 people have died from the virus and in the US a debatable 4 thousand people have died. The number of deaths in the US greatly expanded from 1,200 to 4,000 after the CDC recently decided to lump in bacterial infections and "flu-like illnesses" with confirmed swine-flu related deaths.
Even with these inflated numbers, in comparison to previous pandemics or even compared to seasonal flu epidemics, this has been a relatively mild illness. The Spanish H1N1 flu of 1918 was estimated to have killed up to 50 million people. In 1957-58, the Asian HN2 flu caused the death of 1.5 million to 2 million people. Only a decade later, this was followed by the Hong Kong H3N2 in 1968-69 which is thought to be responsible for one million deaths. So far the 2009 H1N1 flu has only been implicated as the cause of death for a few thousand people.
What is striking is that just six months ago, officials in the US and UK were predicting tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of deaths from this swine flu. Since that time officials have had to revise their numbers downward on many occasions.
According to the UK Independent, "Britain's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, published a worst-case scenario suggesting the country should plan for up to 65,000 deaths. That planning assumption has since been revised downwards twice. In September the ‘worst case’ was cut to 19,000 deaths, and in October it was cut again to 1,000 deaths. This compares with an average annual toll of 4,000 to 8,000 deaths from seasonal winter flu."
A similar revisionist trend has occurred in the United States.
As a result of the original nightmare "pandemic" scenarios, governments around the world have spent billions of dollars to stockpile antivirals (ie. Tamiflu) and to propagandize, produce, and distribute H1N1 vaccinations. The most notable change in how government has tackled this flu emergency has been how they have used the media to spread panic amongst the citizens of the world. Just take the example of Kathleen Sebelius who is the US Health and Human Services (HHS) director. She has publicly gloated over the US Federal Government’s campaign to spread H1N1 flu information on children’s television programming. This has included putting flu messages and even creating whole television shows devoted to government flu propaganda on programs such as Elmo’s World on Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid, and ESPN. They have also spread their reach into internet social networks like Facebook. In her testimony before Congress, she remarked that she is particularly proud of hearing stories of children that are now correcting their misinformed parents after they had watched the government programming. This propaganda campaign is in addition to direct advertising and almost continuous hysteria from supposed health experts on prime time television. The advice from these individuals is sometimes so obviously biased that it can be nauseating.
How could the estimates have been so wildly exaggerated? Unfortunately, it all comes down to power, money, and prestige. In order to get to the bottom of why swine flu hysteria was so overblown one has to simply ask: Who is profiting from the whole swine flu hysteria?
In answer to that question one has to look no further than the drug companies and the medical research establishment. As I have reported previously, drug companies are in line to make billions of dollars over this pandemic and are preparing to expand vaccinations for years to come. As drug companies have already produced vaccinations for most of the other infectious diseases that cause significant mortality in the western world, they are now looking for a new crop of diseases that could become potential vaccine candidates. In fact, facing the prospect of curtailed drug spending, pharmaceutical companies foresee vaccination expansion as one of their greatest areas of focus and future profit. According to the Associated Press (AP), "vaccines are seen as a critical path to growth for drugmakers, as slowing prescription medicine sales and intensifying generic competition put pressure on company bottom lines."
In addition to drug companies, as reported in Reuters, medical researchers have had to respond to "accusations" that the "pandemic has been ‘hyped’ by medical researchers to further their own cause, boost research grants and line the pockets of drug companies." In response to this, researchers have maintained that "we need to know a lot more to conquer the virus, and funding for new research and drugs is vital to be equipped for future pandemics."
Where this comes full circle is with the government. The great majority of medical research spending is sponsored by government. It is well known that funding from the US National Institute of Health (NIH) and other international governmental bodies favors "pertinent" or as I like to call it "trendy" research. This funding favoritism is especially true of research that can be used to support government policy positions. Most recently, this has been seen in the great expansion of government sponsored global warming research. Now, vaccine experts and their infectious disease cohorts are likely to profit greatly in terms of research grants for preparing for "future pandemics." One only has to hope that those future pandemics will actually deserve all the attention and expense that this one has.
Finally, central governments profit greatly from supposed pandemics such as this one. It permits them to try to justify their existence as our "great guarantors" of health and safety. It also allows them to continue to expand their tentacles of influence and power to an even greater extent in individual lives as they try to remove our medical freedom by making health care decisions for us. Remember that the government, as President Obama’s top economic advisor Rahm Emanuel puts it, "never" likes to "waste a good crisis" by not effecting a change that they would ordinarily not be able to accomplish. In this case, governments are trying to expand their mandate as the sole provider of health care because they were the only ones able to protect us from a supposedly horrific swine flu pandemic. Even if the truth has been that their efforts have been largely fruitless, the vast majority of people will remain oblivious to this fact. In the future the government will never cease to congratulate itself for coming to our rescue.
The way government has reacted to this flu reminds me greatly of Orwell’s "doublethink" as employed by the totalitarian government in his book Nineteen eighty-four. In terms of the swine flu, the H1N1 "doublethink" means that government says one thing but the reality is the exact opposite. This "doublethink" says that freedom from death from the swine flu means surrendering your medical freedom to a government health bureaucracy. The reality is that government intervention will have proven to do little more then spend our tax dollars and come at the expense of our health care freedom. This is evidenced by the fact the governments have used this mild flu and hysteria surrounding it to create medical emergency acts that would grant powers to forcibly vaccinate citizens despite their objections.
One has to ask the question — would government, researchers, and drug companies been able to justify billions of dollars of expenditures and encroachments on our freedoms if realistic swine flu death projections were used from the beginning? In addition, would the public have been so eager to tune into government and media flu propaganda, or support totalitarian pandemic emergency power bills, or shown up for mass vaccinations if they knew the truth and not the worst? Would they have done any of these things if they had known from the beginning that this pandemic would amount to a few hundred deaths? Surely, the answer would be no.
Many health professionals agree that the original estimates were unreasonably high. According to the UK Independent, "Dr Steven Field, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘I thought the original predictions for the number of deaths were incredibly high.’"
As with the avian flu scare before it, these groups have great incentive to inflate worst case scenarios because they have the most to profit from the hysteria. There is really no reason why this inflationary pattern will not continue so long as government can use the hysteria to justify increased expansion, drug companies can produce the needed pandemic vaccines, and researchers need a reason to justify massive pandemic research grants.
In the end, I urge you to resist the temptation to sacrifice any of your freedoms for any ounce of government "well-meaning" slavery, especially over a contrived "pandemic’ such as with the 2009 H1N1 swine flu.
Copyright © 2009 Adam Murdock
If I Were A Carpenter:
Friday, November 20, 2009
You Should Know About Harry Reid’s Government-Run Health Care Experiment
1. $493 Billion In Tax Increases On Health Insurance, Medical Innovation, Payroll And Small Businesses Would Pay For The Bill. (Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Senator Harry Reid, 11/18/09)
2. Americans Won’t See Benefits Of This Health Care Experiment Until 2014, But They Start Paying For It In 2010. (Page 13, Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Senator Harry Reid, 11/18/09)
3. Reid’s Bill Allegedly Reduces The Deficit By $130 Billion In Ten Years, But The Obama-Reid-Pelosi Spending Agenda Produced Deficit Of $176 Billion Last Month Alone. (Table 3, Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Senator Harry Reid, 11/18/09)
4. $465 Billion In Medicare And Medicaid Cuts Would Pay For Two New Unsustainable Entitlements. (Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Senator Harry Reid, 11/18/09)
5. Health Care Costs For The Federal Government – And Your Family – Would Increase, Not Decrease. (Page 16, Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Senator Harry Reid, 11/18/09)
6. A New Medicare Commission Of Unelected Bureaucrats Would Ration Care. (Sec. 3403, H.R. 3590, Amendment In The Nature Of A Substitute, “Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act,” Introduced 11/18/09)
7. The “Doc Fix” Provision That Would Add $250 Billion To The Deficit Is Not Included In The Democrats’ List Price For Their Health Care Experiment. (Page 17, Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Senator Harry Reid, 11/18/09)
8. Taxpayer Dollars Would Fund Abortions. (Sec. 1303(a), H.R. 3590, Amendment In The Nature Of A Substitute, “Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act,” Introduced 11/18/09)
9. A New Entitlement Program For Long-Term Care That One Democrat Senator Called “A Ponzi Scheme” Would Be Created. (Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Senator Harry Reid, 11/18/09; Shailagh Murray & Lori Montgomery, “Centrists Unsure About Reid's Public Option,” The Washington Post, 10/28/09)
10. States Burdened With $25 Billion In Unfunded Mandates From Medicaid That Would Force Them To Increase Taxes. (Page 7, Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Senator Harry Reid, 11/18/09)
Cold Cold Heart:
The latest statistic on reading in the United States is a terrifying one - a scant 3/4 of Americans read one book a year. Note that we are talking about one book, not 100. 25% of Americans go 365 days without reading a single page. If that doesn't shock or scare you, there is something wrong with you. The global elites have carried out their plan of mass ignorance and de-education with stunning success. Most Americans watch several hours of television a day; engorging themselves with corporate propaganda like pigs at the trough.
It is no wonder that America is so ignorant and uninformed when one looks at such horrifying statistics. When one looks at what so-called "books" are for sale today, these people might as well just not read. No longer do Americans read classic pieces of literature. No, now we read biographies and "tell-all" books about idiots profiling their acts of idiocy. Every celebrity has at one point or another published a meaningless tome (a long pamphlet, really) about their worthless lives and the stupid things they have done. Out of the 75% that actually read something, 50% are probably reading these books. So, essentially, less than half of America reads a worthwhile book a year. I'm just filled with optimism about our future, aren't you?
On a similar, but not entirely related front, many Americans haven't even read the Constitution and even more are confused as to what it actually contains in the way of civil liberties. Most Americans think the mythical monolithic wall of separation between church and state is actually spoken of in the Constitution. The words "separation of church and state" are nowhere to be found in the Constitution; they were written in the private letters of Thomas Jefferson. Of course, you can't expect the Kool-Aid drinkers to put down the television remote for a fraction of a second to pick up the Constitution and read about their rights.
I have never understood why people are so ignorant of the Constitution. Seeing as it grants us our rights against the tyranny of the State, you'd think people would take it a little more seriously and be vigilant of intrusions on their civil liberties. They obviously haven't been watching too closely, seeing as the federal government has been shredding the Constitution since at least 1933, when FDR raped the Constitution (repeatedly) with his wildly unconstitutional New Deal programs. And yet, FDR, President-for-Life and the first dictator of the American State, is almost unilaterally praised as a great patriotic Hero. After all, he got us ot of the Depression didn't he? Well... actually, no, he didn't, but that's a debate we can have at a later date.
No, I've changed my mind - we'll get past that one right now. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was not, is not now, and never will be an American hero, patriot, or anything remotely good. His massive New Deal set of reforms was blatantly unconstitutional, and many of his reforms were shot down by the Supreme Court during the 1930s for that reason. That led to his threatening of a very unconstitutional action - the packing of the Supreme Court. He threatened to "pack" the Supreme Court with justices that supported his unconstitutional actions, so that if any of his reforms were set to be reviewed, they would be ruled legal in spite of their blatant illegality.
Also, they really didn't help the economy, and they certainly didn't jumpstart it, as some liberal sycophants would have you believe. If you look at just the facts, economic growth and the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) from 1933 to 1940 wasn't that impressive. The truth is that World War Two and the booming armaments industry dragged America out of the Great Depression. If it weren't for things like the Lend-Lease Act and the war itself, the depression would've likely dragged on throughout the 1940s.
That's enough for a while; now let's get back to the original topic, which is that Americans are constantly distracted by pop culture so they don't see what is actually going on in Washingon. If only they knew... Americans would take to the streets overnight in an armed show of righteous indignation. But if current trends continue, that will only take place far off in some isolated revolutionary's dreams.
The biggest distractor is sports, by far. Sports, which were meant to be recreational activities played occasionally on the weekend with your friends when you had free time, have now morphed into a multi-billion dollar industry. As far as I know, sports were originally meant to be played in the backyard, not to be watched in an arena full of imbeciles who pay in excess of $100 for a ticket and a moldy looking hot dog. What's worse is that a man, probably an ex-criminal, can become a football player and make more than the President of the United States, despite the fact that his IQ is lower than the speed limit in most cul-de-sacs. While the free market creates such a disparity of wealth, it is acceptable provided it is what the market will bear. If the fans didn't waste their money on stupid memorabilia such as jerseys, the outrageous salaries of the players would plummet.
So if most of America wastes it's time watching a bunch of uniformed man-children kicking various balls down fields, what does it do in between games? Most usually spend this precious time watching.... their kids? Yeah, right... the answer is celebrities. While most Americans don't know who the Speaker of the House is, they can tell you the names of the 30 or so Kenyan children adopted by Angelina Jolie. Ahh... I love it when people have their priorities in order.
More people, sadly, care about Britney Spears and her exploits, such as shaving her head to reveal a face fitting of a hermaphrodite, than current events such as our foreign policy. After having our military forces deployed in Afghanistan for almost a decade, less than 10% of Americans can point out Afghanistan on a world map. But geography is such useless knowledge, right? After all, which is more important - fixing our beleaguered economy, or being able to know the words to every rap song recorded in the last twenty years?
If you don't believe these statements all it should take to convince you is to watch the ridiculous behaviors that come from both sides of those that run our country. These people that run our government get into arguments over whether there should be a Michael Jackson day or not... in the middle of trying to resolve how best to create a Health Care Bill very few of the actual citizens supported or wanted. These people no longer care about you, the citizen... they only care about doing things that make you think they care and keep them in power or meet the utopia of their own design. In they end... as long as they are in government they can do what they want when ever they want. One more clue as to the division between them and the common folk... they made sure that when they took the power they put in clauses that made them excluded from the effects of the laws they passed. I am willing to bet that if our federal government would be saddled with the same coverage the current Health Care Bill provides, the amount of individuals willing to vote it into being would drop significantly. As for which side they are on... it is all a mask. They are on neither side. It is all the costume they wear to appeal to the public that will put them in power. If the state is red, they dawn the red cape and profess to be a conservative... and likewise for a blue state. They make promises they may or may not ever fulfill, so long as they gain that groups support to give them the power.
So what can we informed citizens do to turn the rising tide of ignorance and save our sacred Republic from tyranny? First, we can rouse our friends and family from the slumber they've been in for so long. Then we can join a local patriot group or, better yet, the Constitution Party, one of America's fastest growing third parties. While many of you would consider joining the Libertarian Party, I cannot because I am pro-life and the Libertarian Party sadly is not. The Constitution Party is dedicated to reigning in big government and restoring the Republic, which is on it's deathbed as we speak.
Many people are fearful of Big Brother and hesitant to stand up to the federal government. Most fear retribution and retaliation from the likes of the IRS and others, who have a history of harassing the detractors of big government. However, those fears, at least for the time being, are unwarranted. But we must stand up now before it actually is a crime to criticize the government. We must remember that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
Now is the time to rise up (via peaceful demonstrations, not violent revolution) and throw off the yoke of oppressive government! Now is the time to throw down the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and demand that the federal government uphold the Constitution! Now is the time to demand answers from our elected officials! Now is the time - for we have nothing to lose, but a world to gain!
Puppet On A String:
Monday, November 16, 2009
I cannot begin to do this story justice and to tell the truth I'm afraid if I voiced my opinion as to Mr. Obama's actions I'd have several men in dark suits and glasses coming to ask me my intentions toward our President. Needless to say this infuriates me. So on to the story
"President Obama created a new presidential precedent when he bowed to the Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko Saturday.
No president of the United States in the more than 230 years since the country was founded in 1776 had ever bowed to a member of royalty. That was until Barack Obama's presidency.
In April, President Obama bowed to the Saudi king during the G-20 meeting. At the time, Obama's deferential bow was somewhat obscured, and the White House insisted that the president simply had leaned forward to shake the king's hand.
But the president's recent demonstration of royal deference to the Japanese emperor and empress suggests his earlier action was no aberration.
What should we make of this? Is it trivial to worry about what on its face could easily be interpreted as nothing more than a polite gesture by our president to respect the culture of a country?
America was founded on republican virtues, small "r", that is. Like the French Republic, our nation does not recognize royalty or social rank, especially from officials of the republic.
The conduct of our president when he deals with foreign leaders is a serious matter. After all, he represents the American people and our Constitution.
Indeed, when President Obama bows before a foreign leader, the whole country bows with him.
It is difficult to grasp what President Obama's motives are for bowing to foreign royalty (it would be nice if a reporter asked his press secretary Robert Gibbs why he does it).
But Obama's motives do not really matter when we consider his behavior.
What matters is how the rest of the world will interpret his actions. When it comes to bowing before foreign leaders, there is a fine line between showing politeness and servility, between respect and weakness.
The United States leads the free world, and it goes without saying that our president as commander in chief is duty bound to protect the nation, and our allies by treaty. He should act in such a way that strengthens, not weakens, his position.
If we as American citizens wonder about how our president should act with foreign leaders when he meets with them in person, let us look to the history of the United States for guidance.
First, there is our cherished Constitution. When the Founding Fathers wrote it, they made abundantly clear their distaste of the hereditary forms of government that then dominated Europe.
Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states: "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State."
As the nation's first constitutional leader, President George Washington set the tone. When it was proposed that he be called "His Highness the President of the United States of America and the Protector of Their Liberties," Washington scoffed at the idea and demanded he be called simply, "Mr. President."
No president better exemplifies the republican virtues of the country than Thomas Jefferson, who had a purely American disdain for the pretensions of royal power which he believed were not legitimately derived from the people.
As he stated so eloquently in the Declaration of Independence, power was not derived from bloodlines or royal coronations. Instead he argued that since "all men are created equal" a government should exist by "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Jefferson's breezy indifference to the English monarchy was on display during his first days in the White House.
When the monarch's new ambassador to the United States called for the first time to present his credentials he was not required to bow in front of the nation's sovereign. In accordance with American values, he was assumed to be an equal, not a subject.
And so all he had to do was walk up to the White House and knock on the door (there were no guards or royal attendants).
Once he was beckoned inside, "a tall, high-boned man came into the room. He was dressed, or rather undressed, in an old brown coat, red waistcoat, old corduroy small-clothes much soiled, woollen hose, and slippers without heels. I thought him a servant," said the visitor, "when General Varnum surprised me by announcing that it was the president."
According to the historian Henry Adams, the casual dress and easy-going manners of the new president were more important than they might seem at first glance.
"The seriousness of Jefferson's experiments in etiquette," Adams observed, "consisted in the belief that they were part of a political system which involved a sudden change of policy toward two great powers. [They] were but the social expression of an altered feeling which found its political expression in acts marked by equal disregard of usage."
The British ambassador and other diplomats to the United States were offended by Jefferson's refusal to follow the rules of the Old World, but that did not matter to Jefferson or his countrymen, who re-elected him with a resounding majority of popular support.
Jefferson understood that symbolism was important.
Another president who promoted this egalitarian ideal was Franklin Roosevelt.
In 1939 he invited the king and queen of England to visit the United States to bolster Anglo-American unity in the face of the growing fascist threat. Roosevelt never bowed to the king or queen. or any foreign royalty, for that matter.
On this special occasion, he simply demonstrated American hospitality.
As the British journalist Alistair Cooke detailed: "Roosevelt took them [the Royal couple] off to Hyde Park [his Hudson River estate] and drove his own hand-run automobile into the grounds and gave them a hot dog lunch. Well, this was a shocker to the British, but it's the thing he would do. You see, he was a natural aristocrat, Roosevelt was. He didn't have to put on airs."
Roosevelt was also an American through and through and secure in his standing as a world leader.
There is a lesson here for President Obama, who appears intent on upending more than two centuries of American protocol. When he as president bows before a Saudi king or a Japanese emperor, he is sending an implicit message to millions of people around the world that the leader of the free world accepts the notion that some people are born to a higher rank than others.
But when our president stands up straight and extends his hand in friendship to all civilized nations, there is no danger, there is only opportunity, opportunity to communicate the values and spirit that Jefferson so eloquently conveyed to the rest of the world, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.""
Love Potion #9:
In The Year 2525:
Friday, November 13, 2009
As I wrote in this blog yesterday I believe that myself and the American people have been lied to by both Mr. Obama and our elected federal officials.
I'm tired of being lied to by scheming, busybody politicians. President Obama and the Democrats, our own Indiana 2nd district Representative Joe Donnelly included, promised there would be NO new taxes on the middle class. But everywhere I look I see middle class tax increases.
To be fair to Congressman Donnelly he was allowed to vote against H.R. 2454, (i.e. The Cap & Trade bill) and I voiced my appreciation for that at the time. Wish he'd had that opportunity with H.R. 3962, but you know Ms Pelosi and Mr. Obama want to give the country a Christmas present this year. Why did Oliver Twist asking for more gruel just flash thru my mind
The healthcare bill is full of tax increases, and the cap-and-trade bill is NOTHING BUT a middle class tax increase. It will raise my gasoline and electric bills to accomplish a supposed public purpose (as defined by you guys). That's a tax, by any definition (except a politician's).
I'm tired of you guys playing fraudulent word-games to avoid responsibility for your actions. For example, I'm offended by this ABC interview from September 20 between George Stephanopoulos and President Obama:
STEPHANOPOULOS: "I don't think I'm making it up (that you're going to raise taxes). Merriam Webster's Dictionary: 'Tax: a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.'"
OBAMA: "George, the fact that you looked up Merriam's Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition."
This is evidence that moral rot has taken hold with the President.
Does he believe that words should be defined to suit his personal needs, instead of by common usage as reflected in an authoritative dictionary?
- The "cap and trade" scheme is for a public purpose (as defined by you guys)
- It will cost me more money, therefore . . .
- It's a tax -- a tax INCREASE that the middle class will have to pay in violation of the promises we were made
I know you folks don't read your bills, and neither you nor I can be certain that your staffs are really telling you everything you ought to know about the legislation you pass, so maybe you should read this post by Declan McCullagh at CBS News.
The "cap and trade" scheme could cost American families $1,761 a year - equivalent to a 15% income tax increase! Your staffs should also brief you on the European experience with "cap and trade." It hasn't capped emissions -- they've grown instead. Cap-and-trade is both a failure and a tax increase.
Look, I have to be frugal during hard times. But I can't do that if you guys increase my taxes. Stop breaking my budget! Scrap the "cap and tax" bill!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I want Congress to scrap the healthcare bill the House just passed, and the similar bill pending in the Senate.
It seems to me that Mr. Obama and many other Democrats lied to win election (just like the Republicans did before them). We were promised . . .
- No mandates requiring Americans to buy health insurance
- No tax increases on Americans earning less than $250,000 a year
- A tax cut for the middle class
The House and Senate healthcare bills break these promises.
The Baucus bill in the Senate contains the following language on page 29: "The consequence for not maintaining (health) insurance would be an excise tax."
This is both a mandate and a tax increase -- two broken promises in one short sentence.
Congress wants to force all Americans -- including those who earn less than $250,000 a year -- to buy government mandated insurance (a tax!), or pay a tax penalty if we don't. Either way we're going to pay higher taxes to comply with your wishes, or face a policeman's gun if we refuse.
To make matters worse, the Congressional leadership wants to force me to include the IRS in my personal healthcare decisions. The Baucus bill requires . . .
- Individuals, health insurers, employers, and government health agencies to report detailed health insurance information on all Americans to the IRS.
- The IRS to report my personal income level to state exchanges, insurance companies, and employers, as part of a scheme to control how much insurance I can have, and how much I can spend out of my own pocket.
Complying with these regulations will cost money. That's another tax, and another broken promise.
It get's worse. The Baucus plan actually depends on the non-compliance tax to fund itself! A report issued by the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office projects the federal government will raise about $2.8 billion from these individual mandate penalties.
I will also have to pay the cost of employer mandated coverage, or the tax penalty employers will pay if they don't provide coverage. This mandate/tax scheme will increase the prices I pay for goods and services. I could even lose my job if my employer can't afford to buy the mandated insurance, or has to pay the penalty for not buying it. But this part of the scheme is even worse than it sounds, because . . .
The employer mandate/tax is rigged to hit hardest on small businesses that employ workers from low-income families. But there's more . . .
The Senate bill expands Medicaid by $37 billion. The states fund most of Medicaid. Where will they get the money? . . . from the Martians? No. They'll get it from me by raising my state taxes at the behest of Congress.
And, of course, these increased state taxes are likely to fall on people who earn less than $250,000!
First the Republicans promised us fiscal restraint and no nation building. We gave them power and they broke their promises. Then the Democrats promised us middle class tax cuts, no middle class tax increases, and no expensive health insurance mandates. We gave them power and they too broke their promises. PLEASE STOP LYING TO US!
Scrap the healthcare bills! DO IT NOW!
May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose:
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
After digging some I have found a statement from Congressman Donnelly as to his reasoning.
This one is straight out of Mr. Obama's play book:
If you have health coverage and like it, the new bill will not force you to change your plan or your doctor. The goal is to protect the doctor-patient relationship and the doctor's decision-making ability, which is critical to effective health care. For those who do not have coverage, the bill creates a national marketplace of competing insurance plans, offering minimum benefits, as well as a limited public plan for the uninsured and small businesses. Since 2000, premiums have more than doubled, including for most small businesses. These rising premiums have become one of the largest cost concerns for our small businesses, and the goal of this bill is to foster greater competition among insurers and lower premiums.Problem is with that if your employer decides to pay the taxes imposed by this bill, (much less expensive and will not have to undergo re-approval of the Health Choices Commissioner), instead of maintaining their employee healthcare plan, ( IF it was approved by the Health Choices Commissioner), then even if you love your healthcare plan it will be gone and you will be forced to find another.
With the limitations placed on the approval of plans and if it is what the Health Choices Commissioner thru review thinks is best for you...well chances are your only option will be, WONDER OF WONDERS, the government public option.
Want to foster competition among insurers? LET THEM COMPETE. The tightening of the rules do not force competition. allowing them to compete head to head does. i.e. across state line
This bill DOES NOT improve or maintain the doctor-patient relationship and the doctor's decision-making ability. It gives it over to the TOTAL CONTROL of the the Health Choices Commissioner.
To me this Health Choices Commissioner is sounding too much like a mix of Heinrich Himmler, Richard Darré with a touch of Mengele thrown in for "fun"
This new all-powerful “health choices commissioner” would be entrusted with more power than most superheroes. The laundry list of that special power is proof that it’s a government takeover of health care.
This presidential appointee will both control the new government-run insurance plan AND decide how private insurance companies are to operate, by creating the standards for their coverage and enforcing compliance. Likewise, employer-run health plans would answer to super-czar.
In other words, this health czar will control both the government plan and all of its competition. So much for claims about a level playing field!
Rather than having Medicare dictate payment amounts to doctors and hospitals (as Pelosi originally intended), her new 1,990-page bill says the czar will “negotiate” rates. That will take an an awful lot of staff. America has 788,000 active doctors and 5,708 hospitals.
But that’s not all. The new czar would also:
- Oversee the millions of Americans who would qualify for insurance subsidies
- Audit the country’s 1,300-plus health insurers
- Have power to collect whatever data the office deems necessary, which could involve review of medical records
- Assess fines
- Define our terms for us. This commissioner/czar would dictate all the definitions used in health insurance policies. After all, if you control the language, you control the debate
- Appoint a national health ombudsman to examine consumer complaints, but only in “a linguistically appropriate manner”
“The House health care reform bill would establish a new entity called the Health Choices Administration, headed by a presidential appointee to be called the Health Choices Commissioner. Sounds wonderful, right? A government official whose only job is to make sure you have health care choices, right?
“No. If you read the bill, . . . it turns out that the Health Choices Commissioner’s job is, essentially, to make your health choices for you.”
The new super-bureaucrats may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But they can put a lot of tall barriers between each of us and our doctors.
As to not forget ...
No insurance? Fine and jail time.H.R. 3962 contains:
Section 59B. TAX ON INDIVIDUALS WITHOUT ACCEPTABLE HEALTH CARE COVERAGE.
‘‘(a) TAX IMPOSED.—In the case of any individual who does not meet the requirements of subsection (d) at any time during the taxable year, there is hereby imposed a tax equal to 2.5 percent of the excess of—
(1) the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross in come for the taxable year, over
(2) the amount of gross income specified in section 6012(a)(1) with respect to the taxpayer."
‘(1) TAX LIMITED TO AVERAGE PREMIUM.—
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—The tax imposed under subsection (a) with respect to any tax payer for any taxable year shall not exceed the applicable national average premium for such taxable year.
Still in doubt? Take a read of the reply that Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI) received from the Joint Committee on Taxation. My ONLY piece of mind is that it is enforced thru the Internal Revenue Code. That's one piece of unconstitutional BS enforcing another.
In response to the JCT letter, Camp said: “This is the ultimate example of the Democrats’ command-and-control style of governing – buy what we tell you or go to jail. It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately.”
Key excerpts from the JCT letter appear below:
“H.R. 3962 provides that an individual (or a husband and wife in the case of a joint return) who does not, at any time during the taxable year, maintain acceptable health insurance coverage for himself or herself and each of his or her qualifying children is subject to an additional tax.” [page 1]
- - - - - - - - - -
“If the government determines that the taxpayer’s unpaid tax liability results from willful behavior, the following penalties could apply…” [page 2]
- - - - - - - - - -
Prosecution is authorized under the Code for a variety of offenses. Depending on the level of the noncompliance, the following penalties could apply to an individual:
• Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.
• Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” [page 3]
When confronted with this same issue during its consideration of a similar individual mandate tax, the Senate Finance Committee worked on a bipartisan basis to include language in its bill that shielded Americans from civil and criminal penalties. The Pelosi bill, however, contains no similar language protecting American citizens from civil and criminal tax penalties that could include a $250,000 fine and five years in jail.
“The Senate Finance Committee had the good sense to eliminate the extreme penalty of incarceration. Speaker Pelosi’s decision to leave in the jail time provision is a threat to every family who cannot afford the $15,000 premium her plan creates. Fortunately, Republicans have an alternative that will lower health insurance costs without raising taxes or cutting Medicare,” said Camp.
According to the Congressional Budget Office the lowest cost family non-group plan under the Speaker’s bill would cost $15,000 in 2016.
Once more:Because I don't buy insurance, but choose to pay for my own health care from my earnings, I will be punished by being forced to buy or pay a fine that I can't afford?
The cheapest plan available to me per HR 3962 is $442 a month. What? I can't afford that along with my living expenses.
I don't buy insurance, so I'm fined 2.5% of my income, that's $1125. What? On top of my current income taxes. I can't afford that either.
So my only other option is to what? Go to jail for 5 years and pay $250,000. Again, What?
I don't pay for insurance for my employee so 8% payroll tax. What? So I guess I'll cut his hours or let him go.
This bill will cripple the economy, the private sector, less jobs.
This bill is crippling my Liberty and my Pursuit of Happiness.
This bill is un - Constitutional!!!
I've gone far afield from my opening. but I needed to vent these truths, and make no mistake, THEY ARE TRUTHS. Please people read...dig ...study for yourselves and do not take just my word.
Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying:
Saturday, November 7, 2009
HR3962 passes. How'd your representative vote? Joe Donnelly voted in support of socialism and throwing you in jail if you don't want health insurance
Mine, Joe Donnelly of Indiana's second district, just like he did on the bail out legislation last fall, has chosen to ignore the vast majority of his constituents and voted for the 2000+ page health care bill that will if it clears the senate will give the government control of another 18% of business in this country. Let me say it a little different. If this passes the Senate it will give the GOVERNMENT full or partial ownership in nearly 48% of all business in this country.
I can't be the only one that sees an issue with this?
Congressman Donnelly, I find it hard to believe that you actually contemplated this issue as you claim to have. Even if you did, you most certainly did not listened to your district on what they thought. Every poll I seen from your district showed a MAJORITY of people here AGAINST health care reform as was being pressed by this congress. The staff member I spoke to Wednesday at your office made it very clear that the majority of calls you were receiving were asking you not to vote for this bill. So whats the story?
Know what ...never mind I'll read it in my local edition of Pravda.
For those of you who would like to know who it is you should vote out this next election follow the link and if they voted Aye I personally believe they should be voted out and gone this next election. Too bad for us that Indiana isn't a recall state.
Myself I am going to find out who is running against Congressman Donnelly and do my best to see they win here in Indiana District 2. Well...that is if they allow us elections or we haven't been thrown in jail for not having the "approved" insurance, or having a blog that speaks in dissent, or refusing the H1N1 shot, I'm sure a reason will be found if needed.
Hit The Road Jack:
Make The World Go Away:
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
My wife and I joined for the benefits when we were eligible, but as soon as I can contact a representative we will be cancelling it.
On both their website and the message that is on their voice system they are trumpeting that they bring their 40 million members in support of this. I Do Not!!!
I would ask that if you are a member of AARP and believe as I do, that you also cancel your membership and be sure they know it is because of them not representing their membership or at least asking their membership what it believes.
You can send an email or go to their contact page on the web or call their support line at 1-888-687-2277 to cancel or voice your opinion.
The Oldest Swinger In Town:
It Was A Very Good Year:
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
First is an Analysis of Life Provisions from American United for Life:
The new version of health care reform unveiled by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi fails to exclude abortion funding and coverage – in fact, it explicitly includes it. Below is AUL’s legal analysis of the abortion provisions in the bill, as well as an analysis of the conscience protection, Comparative Effectiveness Research, and End-of-life provisions in the bill.
The new House health care bill, H.R. 3962 includes the same problematic provisions found in the Capps Amendment added to H.R. 3200 (the former House health care reform bill). The new bill:
- Allows private health insurance plans that cover elective abortion to receive government subsidies (Section 222(e)(2)) (The bill also includes the Capps provision that purports to segregate the “federal dollars” from “private dollars” that are used to pay for abortions (Sections 303(e)(2); 341(c)(3)) – but nothing alters the fact that this provision allows government dollars to go to private plans that cover abortion);
- Permits the public option to include abortion coverage (Section 222(e)(3));
- Ensures that one plan in every coverage area covers abortion (Section 303(e)(1)(A)).
H.R. 3962 also states that funds provided for school-based clinics cannot be used for abortions (Sec. 399Z-1(c)(2))) and that school-based clinics are defined as not providing abortions (Sec. 399Z-1(l)(3)(E)). However, this provision does not prohibit abortion referrals.
Finally, Section 804 ties Indian Health Services (IHS) funding for abortion to the Hyde Amendment (added annually to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Bill). Therefore, if the Hyde Amendment is not added to the HHS Bill in a given year, there will be no ban on abortion funding under the IHS.
II. Conscience Protection
Initially, H.R. 3962 appears to contain strong conscience protection. Section 259, entitled “nondiscrimination on abortion and respect for rights of conscience,” mirrors existing law, i.e., the clear protections for those who oppose abortion provided through the Hyde/Weldon conscience amendment (which must be added to an appropriations bill annually). However, Section 304(d) protects abortionists from “discrimination” by pro-life insurance plans who want to participate in the exchange, but do not want to contract with abortionists.
The question becomes how these two provisions will be reconciled. Section 259 provides that an insurance company cannot be discriminated against for not covering abortion. However, Section 304(d) provides that an “exchange participating plan” cannot discriminate against a health care provider/entity that provides abortions. Who wins – the abortion provider or the pro-life insurance company whose conscience prohibits them from contracting with abortionists?
III. Comparative Effectiveness Research
Section 1401 addresses the use of Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER). CER is used to compare the benefits and harms of methods to prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor a clinical condition and improve delivery of health care. At AUL, we believe that any CER provision must include language to ensure that the results of CER will not be used to mandate or encourage the withdrawal or curtailment of effective life-sustaining treatment for the terminally ill, the chronically ill, or the permanently disabled.
Section 1401(h) provides that CER will not be used to “mandate coverage, reimbursement, or other policies for any public or private payer.” It also provides that none of the CER reports “shall be construed as mandates, for payment, coverage, or treatment.” Furthermore, the section provides that “nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize any Federal officer or employee to exercise any supervision or control over the practice of medicine.” AUL continues to evaluate whether these provisions are sufficient to prevent the inappropriate use of CER.
IV. End of Life
Section 240 requires the dissemination of advance care (end of life) planning information by Qualified Health Benefits Plans (QHBP). Section (a)(3) provides that a QHBP “shall not promote suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.” The information disseminated “shall not presume the withdrawal of treatment and shall include end-of-life planning information that includes options to maintain all or most medical interventions.”
Section 240(b) provides that nothing in this section shall be construed to require an individual to complete an advanced directive or a physician’s order for life sustaining treatment or other end-of-life planning documents, to require an individual to consent to restrictions in medical benefits, or to promote suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.
Section (d)(1) prohibits materials distributed by QHBP’s from listing assisted suicide as an option. Section (d)(2) clarifies that nothing in (d)(1) applies or affects any options for withholding treatment, nutrition, palliative/hospice care. Finally, section (d)(3) provides that the bill doesn’t preempt state laws.
While these protections appear strong, H.R. 3962 does not provide definitions for terms such as “assisted suicide,” and the broader language that included a prohibition on providing materials that promoted the intentional “hastening of death” which was adopted in the Energy and Commerce Committee was removed from H.R. 3962. Broader language is necessary because while Oregon and Washington have laws permitting assisted suicide, the laws state that what they permit is not assisted suicide. Language must me explicit and broad to ensure that this provision does not create a large loophole for the promotion of assisted suicide.
Section 1233 creates “advance care planning consultations” as a new optional Medicare-covered benefit. The consultation must be between a physician or other health care professional and the patient, and may be conducted every five years or more often if the patient’s condition deteriorates.
The section specifies that “[n]othing in this section shall–…encourage the promotion of suicide or assisted suicide.” However, this section, like Section 240, fails to define “assisted suicide.” Therefore, states that have legalized assisted suicide by another name may argue that Medicare should pay for end-of-life counseling that includes assisted suicide as an option (under another name, like “death with dignity”).
There are two good provisions relating to abortion in the bill — Section 222(e)(1) prohibits the Health Benefits Advisory Committee from recommending the inclusion of abortion or the Secretary from including such services in the minimum benefits package, and the commissioner may not require such services for a qualified health benefits plan to participate in the exchange. Also, Sections 258(a) and (b) provide that there is no preemption of state laws on abortion or of federal protections for conscience.
From Life And Health, National Underwriter comes these tidbits including that Rep. John Dingell is attaching on a Bio-fuels credit(?) as a part of amendment. What that has to do with anything in this bill you've got me.
Rep. John Dingell has filed a "manager's amendment" to the main House health bill that could affect health insurers' ability to increase rates starting in 2010.
Dingell, D-Mich., is one of the lead sponsors of H.R. 3962, the 1,990-page Affordable Health Care for America Act bill.
The manager’s amendment to the AHCAA bill will add another 42 pages.
For health insurers, one amendment section of interest is Section 104, which relates to “Sunshine On Price Gouging By Health Insurance Issuers.”
The section authorizes the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services to work with the states to set up a process for reviewing proposed health insruance rate increases starting in 2010.
“Such process shall require health insurance issuers to submit a justification for any premium increase prior to implementation of the increase,” according to the amendment text. “Such issuers shall prominently post such information on their websites. The Secretary shall ensure the public disclosure of information on such increases and justifications for all health insurance issuers.”If a state insurance commissioner finds that a health insurer has a pattern of imposing “excessive or unjustified premium increases,” the insurer could be shut out of the proposed “health insurance exchange” program, according to the amendment text.
H.R. 3962 calls for using a new health insurance exchange system to help individuals and small groups shop for standardized health insurance plans. The exchange also would help administer a health insurance premium subsidy program.
The Section 104 provision would let the HHS secretary give states up to $1 billion in rate review program grants during a 5-year period that would start in 2010.
Here are some of the other provisions in the manager’s amendment:
- Section 555, which starts on page 14, would create a “second generation biofuel producer credit.”
- A section that starts on page 9 appears to incorporate the text of a measure proposed by Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., that would limit the effects of a health care antitrust provision. The provision would block health insurers and medical malpractice insurers from using the insurance industry antitrust exemption in the McCarran-Ferguson Act. The Lungren measure would ensure that insurerers could continue to work together to collect historical loss data and determine loss development factors based on historical loss data. Actuaries could perform actuarial services if doing so did not involve restraint of trade.
- Section 2538, which starts on page 31, calls for the HHS secretary to establish a program that would provide mental health screening, treatment and referral services for individuals in primary care settings. The HHS could create and run the program by awarding grants to, or entering into contracts or cooperative agreements with, a “public or private nonprofit entity” that “provides primary health services” and “seeks to integrate mental health and substance abuse services into its service system.”
- Section 1707A, which starts on page 35, would have the government create offices of minority health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Food and Drug Administration.
- Section 2594, which starts on page 39, would start a diabetes screening collaboration and outreach program that could involve trade groups and professional societies.
From the Congressional Budget office we find that Most of the supposed cost saving is smoke and mirrors.
The Congressional Budget Office says even low-end health coverage would still be expensive if the House health bill worked as expected, and that repealing health insurers’ “antitrust exemption” would do little to cut costs.
CBO analysts have come to those conclusions in reports generated at the request of the lawmakers who are reviewing H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act bill.
In one report, the analysts answer a question from House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., about what enrollees would pay for coverage if they bought a “relatively low cost plan” through the new health insurance exchange system that H.R. 3962 would set up.
The House bill would provide subsidies for eligible individuals and families earning less than 400% of the federal poverty level, and the bill would adjust the eligibility levels for inflation.
For taxpayers who earn more than 400% of the FPL and are not eligible for subsidies, the cost of coverage would be high in a post-H.R. 3962 world.Individuals earning $50,100 per year, for example, or 425% of the FPL, would pay about $5,300 per year in premiums, and they would be responsible for an average of $2,000 per year in deductibles, co-payments and other “cost sharing,” according to CBO estimates.
A family of four earning 425% of the FPL -- $102,100 per year – could expect to pay $15,000 per year for coverage and take responsibility for an average of $5,500 per year in cost-sharing, the CBO estimates.
But House leaders contend that the full, unsubsidized cost of the coverage is lower than it would be if the country fails to implement a health reform bill.
The $15,000 annual premium bill for a family of four “is well below the $24,000 family premium expected if Congress fails to act and premiums grow as projected under current law,” House leaders say.
Meanwhile, the CBO has released another report stating that repealing the limited antitrust exemption accorded health insurers and medical malpractice insurers under the McCarran-Ferguson Act “will have no significant effect” on the premiums charged for private health insurance.
The H.R. 3962 antitrust repeal provision would offer “safe harbors” for some joint industry activities, such as compilation of historic loss data, and insurance groups say antitrust repeal proponents have exaggerated the effect of the existing provision on market concentration.
Based on information from the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, consumer groups, private attorneys and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., the CBO estimates that the effect of the H.R. 3962 antitrust repeal provision “would be very small, and thus that enacting the legislation would have no significant effect on the premiums that private insurers would charge for health insurance.”
If the bill would prevent insurers from engaging in prohibited practices, it might do something to lower premiums, the CBO says.
But “that effect is likely to be small because state laws already bar the activities that would be prohibited under federal law if this bill was enacted,” the CBO says.The CBO analysis refutes claims by consumer groups that antitrust repeal could cut insurance costs by 20%, according to the Physician Insurers Association of America, Rockville, Md., which represents medical malpractice insurers owned by physicians’ groups.
From the MFIB
1. Employer Mandate
The bill includes an employer mandate that will require employers to offer healthcare to full-time and part-time employees. An employer mandate does not address the No. 1 issue facing small businesses: unsustainable costs.
2. Payroll Tax Penalty
Payroll taxes are an especially onerous tax because they tax labor. No matter how profitable or unprofitable a business might be, they are forced to pay this tax. The legislation requires that all employers with a payroll of $500,000 or more pay a payroll tax of up to 8 percent if they do not provide “qualified” health insurance to their employees.
3. Pay-or-Play, Pay-and-Pay and Offer-and-Pay
The legislation establishes a confusing multi-part test that hits both employers who do and do not offer health insurance.
A non-offering employer will pay a payroll tax of either 2, 4, 6 or 8 percent.
Offering Employers must meet all of the following:
A. Offer “qualified” individual and family coverage
B. Meet premium contribution requirements of at least
a. 72.5% for individuals and
b. 65% for family plans
C. Offer a “qualified” plan as defined by a government-appointed board
* If an employee declines coverage from their employer, and is able to obtain coverage in the exchange, then the employer must pay a payroll tax penalty of up to 8 percent.
* If an employer (unknowingly) offers coverage other than the “qualified” plan, they can be assessed a penalty of up to $500,000 a year ($100 per day).
4. A “Minimum” Plan with a Big Price Tag and New Mandates
Today, among firms of 3 to 199 workers, 86 percent who offer coverage offer only one plan. H.R. 3962 gives a political board the power to define “coverage” and will determine whether an employer plan is “acceptable.” The bill does nothing to ensure that the new plans will be less costly than what small employers are paying today and even requires some small employers to cover benefits that are not currently mandated under federal law.
5. Government-Run Public Option
The public option outlined in H.R. 3962 fails to deliver what small employers have long sought – a reformed, private insurance marketplace that can provide businesses and employees with more affordable coverage and a sustainable choice of plans. Instead, the public option is an “easy way out” for legislators who decided to simply grow the size of government. NFIB is deeply concerned that a “public option” will further compromise the viability of private insurance and restrict choice to a single plan: the government-run plan, which will ultimately be funded on the backs of small businesses.
6. New Onerous Reporting Requirements
H.R. 3962 places a new tax-compliance paperwork burden on all small businesses. Called “corporate reporting,” this expansion of the current information reporting requirements increases the cost of operating a small business and diverts resources away from growing the business and creating jobs. Tax paperwork is already the most expensive paperwork burden the federal government places on small business – costing small employers more than $83 an hour These new requirements will only add additional costs to already struggling small businesses.
7. The Surtax: A Tax on Job Creation
Seventy-five (75) percent of small businesses are structured as pass through entities and pay their business taxes at the individual level. More than one-third of small businesses employing 20 to 250 employees would face the proposed surtax. When added to upcoming expected tax increases (like the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts), the overall federal tax rate for these businesses will be 45 percent, which is 10 percent higher than the current corporate tax rate. Finally, since the tax is not indexed for inflation, the tax will affect more and more businesses each year.
8. Jeopardizes Existing Solutions for Small Business
H.R. 3962 prohibits individuals from using HSA, MSA and HRA funds to purchase over-the-counter health products (except for insulin). This further limits the utility of this health insurance option, making it harder for people to “keep what they have.” The bill also limits contributions to FSAs and increases penalties on non-medical HSA withdrawals.
9. An Employer Tax Credit with Limited Value
While some small businesses can be helped by tax credits, the structure of the credit is critical to its success. The small employer tax credit is limited to small businesses with 25 or fewer employees. To qualify for the credit the employer would be required to pay for 50 percent of their employees’ premium, the firm would have to have an average annual compensation per worker of $20,000 or less to get the full subsidy, and the credit would phase out at $40,000. U.S. Census data from 2007 notes that the average wage of full-time employees at businesses with fewer than 10 employees is more than $30,000, meaning that in many cases the value of the credit is already cut in half.
10. Auto-Enroll Mandate
The auto-enroll mandate requires employers offering healthcare to auto-enroll employees into that healthcare plan. This burden will mean that the employer must develop a new system to ensure that employees are either enrolled in the plan or are informed about how they may opt out. Unlike larger firms, small businesses are less likely to have an HR department to handle new mandates like this, meaning that resources would need to be diverted from the day-to-day operations of the business to comply with this requirement.
11. All Powerful Insurance Commissioner
The unelected commissioner will have unbridled authority to institute rules and regulations
that greatly affect small employers, including the ability to define the terms: employer, employee, full-time and part-time employee. The commissioner will also be able to establish “counting rules.” These thresholds would be subject to continual changes, leaving small business owners in constant fear of ever-changing compliance requirements and more mandates.
12. You Can’t “Keep What You Have…”
Despite assurances from elected officials and pundits, H.R. 3962 sets forth a new standard for what qualifies as employer-based coverage and requires all employer plans to meet that standard within a five-year period. While you may “keep what you have” now, you probably can’t keep it forever.
13. Creates New and Expands Existing Government Programs
H.R. 3962 provides multiple examples of new government programs and expansions of current programs. From increasing the Medicaid program to creating a new government pool for the pre-Medicare population to creating a government-run public option to establishing government-run boards to define “acceptable” health benefits, the massive growth squeezes out private options, increases costs and expands reliance on the government.
14. Small Employers Exposed to More Lawsuits
Throughout the text of H.R. 3962 there are “rules of construction” that provide “green lights” for trial lawyers seeking to file lawsuits against small employers.
15. Studies that Paint a Grim Future For Small Employers
A number of government studies are laid out in H.R. 3962, including: a study to “recommend that laws don’t incentivize small and mid-size employers to self-insure” (p. 98), and a study allowing for recommendations to “improve and strengthen employer-based health plans sponsorship, employer responsibility…that would enhance the delivery of health care benefits between employers and employees” (p. 278). These studies are both costly and create a pathway for more government involvement in the workplace.
I hope this clears the air on what is actually being proposed here. I will post more as I read and find.