HHS falls short of pre-existing coverage prediction by … 97.8%

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The crisis that wasn’t.

255 million: The number of Americans with existing health insurance coverage. 20 million: The number of Americans without any health coverage at all due to economic circumstances. 375,000: The number of Americans with pre-existing conditions HHS said would apply for coverage in the first year of ObamaCare, one of the main political arguments for its […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

The Deficit Commission: A Good Try That Falls Short

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

By Michael D. Tanner

My colleagues, Dan Mitchell, Jagadeesh Gokhale, Michael Cannon and Chris Edwards have already provided their thoughts on the chairman’s mark released yesterday by the bipartisan deficit reduction commission.  A few additional thoughts:

The commission provides a good-faith look at the magnitude of the problem we face, and the magnitude of cuts necessary to bring spending down to even 21 percent of GDP (and it really should be far lower).  In doing so they show just how unserious Republicans are in proposing a paltry $ 100 billion in spending cuts.  And the commission makes it clear, unlike Republicans, that both entitlements and defense spending must be on the table.

The commission also starts the debate in a useful direction by implicitly acknowledging that their need to be some limits to government spending—that government cannot consume an ever-increasing proportion of GDP.  (Without a change in policy, the federal government will consume 43 percent of GDP by 2050.)

But ultimately the report falls short because it fails to address the proper role of government.  In fact, it tacitly accepts the idea that government should be doing everything it is doing now.  It even acquiesces to the new health care law.  As a result, it fails to reduce the size of government sufficiently to avoid tax hikes, let alone permit tax cuts in the future.

Moreover, because the commission leaves the basic structure and role of government intact, it raises questions about the future viability of its proposed mix of spending cuts and tax increases.  History demonstrates that it is far too likely that tax hikes will be permanent, while spending cuts will last as long as the next year-end emergency appropriations bill.

As the commission moves toward a final report on December 1, members would be advised not to focus just on the details of these proposals, but to have a serious and deliberative discussion of what the federal government should and should not be doing.

The Deficit Commission: A Good Try That Falls Short is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog

Cato @ Liberty

Youth Vote Falls By At Least 50% From 2008 Numbers

November 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

According to preliminary reports, the percentage of voters between 18-30 who voted yesterday was about half of what showed up in 2008:

Based on CBS News’ preliminary national exit polling, Republicans are poised for significant gains in Congress. The youth vote-18-to-29-year-olds-who helped catapult President Obama into office makes up an estimated 9 percent of voters this year, compared to 18 percent in 2008.

This would appear to be a reflection of the sense of abandonment among younger voters that I wrote about earlier this week. It is also yet another confirmation of the general belief among political professionals that young voters simply cannot be counted on to show up and vote unless there’s a “star” like Obama on the ballot.

Outside the Beltway

A Recession-Driven Speed Trap in Falls Church?

November 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Ilya Somin)

Economic studies show that local governments often step up enforcement of minor traffic offenses during recessions in order to increase revenue. I seem to have been the victim of this kind of recession-driven revenue-mongering by the authorities in Falls Church, Virginia.

Twice during the past year, I have been ticketed for driving over the 25 MPH speed limit on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) near downtown Falls Church, Virginia. Both times, the officers claimed I was going over 40 MPH, even though there was heavy traffic and it would have been physically impossible for me to have gone that fast without hitting the car ahead of me (which,I didn’t come close to doing). I admit that it is quite possible that I was in fact going over 25 MPH. But this is a busy commercial thoroughfare where nearly all the traffic goes faster than that. As the officer in the second incident admitted to me, “all the cars [he] checked were going over 25 MPH.” Had I chosen to go much slower than the rest of the traffic, I would have endangered both myself and others. That’s why I got nailed in the second incident despite the fact that I knew to be careful in this area after what happened the first time.

During normal times, police generally let minor infringements of the speed limit go because they recognize that it is unrealistic to expect drivers to fully obey the speed limit and because they know that going much slower than the surrounding traffic is dangerous. During a deep recession, however, local governments pressure police to crack down and increase revenue. I suspect that such pressure is particularly likely in areas like Leesburg Pike where much of the traffic is by people who don’t live in the jurisdiction. That way, local governments can fleece drivers who can’t even punish them at the polls for doing so. Such behavior undermines the implicit social contract between police and drivers under which the former focus on motorists who pose a genuine threat to public safety, while the latter can be assured that if they drive safely, minor infractions won’t be punished. The implicit contract is especially vital in an area like this stretch of Route 7, where the posted speed limit is simply unrealistic.

Between 2003 and 2009, I lived in Falls Church and drove down the very same road hundreds of times. I didn’t do anything differently than I have over the last year. Yet I never had any problems with traffic police. Since leaving Falls Church in August 2009, I have been stopped twice in that location, despite going there far less often (no more than 10–12 times in all). It’s possible that I somehow became a much more reckless driver since the recession began (though social science data suggest that men become more cautious drivers as they pass into their thirties, and I am now 37). But it’s far more likely that it was enforcement that changed rather than me.

I was so angry that I actually contested the first incident in court, notwithstanding folk wisdom suggesting that I was wasting my time. Despite the facts that 1) the officer admitted that she misidentified the color of my Mazda 3, 2) both I and and my then-fiancee (who was with me in the car at the time) testified to the nature of the traffic, which made it impossible to drive 40 MPH, 3) the officer didn’t contest our testimony, and 4) the Mazda 3 is a very common car, the judge ruled against me. I don’t claim that these facts definitively prove that I was innocent. As I said, I don’t know for sure exactly how fast I was going. But they should surely have been enough to prove reasonable doubt, the standard of proof the judge was supposed to be applying.

I’m not an expert on traffic judges. But I suspect that people in that position tend to be biased in favor of the authorities, partly for the understandable reason that the police are usually right, and partly because local governments lobby for the selection of judges who will serve their revenue-raising interests. The driving public, by contrast, pays little attention to traffic courts because of rational ignorance. Moreover, even a completely unbiased judge can’t do much to protect drivers in cases where the driver really did exceed the speed limit, but in a way that should not have been punished. For these reasons, the judiciary may not be a very effective check against this kind of abuse.

I don’t have the expertise to propose any definitive solutions to this problem. But a few tentative thoughts occur. One possible option is to adopt speed limit laws under which speed limits automatically go up by, say, 5 MPH during a recession. That could offset the tendency towards overenforcement during such periods. Another option is to impose more rigorous state government control over speed limits in areas that get a great deal of traffic from outside the local jurisdiction. That might curb the ability of local governments to use speed traps to fleece out of towners.

Hopefully, those more expert in this field than I am can suggest more and better reforms than I can. In the meantime, I’m going to avoid driving near downtown Falls Church as much as possible. If you live in northern Virginia, you might want to do the same.

The Volokh Conspiracy

The anti-women left falls back on sexual slurs and dehumanization

October 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


Originally posted at David Horowitz’s NewsReal Last week, I attended the Smart Girl Summit in Washington, D.C.  The conference was filled with women of strength, of brains, of beauty and of fierce resolve.  Women from all walks of life who came together, fighting and trying to do what is best for their children and this […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

Another Republican Candidate Falls For the Birther Myth

October 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Despite the fact that it’s been wholly discredited on many occasions, there seem to be far too many Republican politicians treating the myths about the President’s citizenship as if they are a serious issue. The latest being former Congressman, and current candidate, Steve Pearce:

WOMAN: What is your position on Barack Obama, if he is in fact a Kenyan-born Indonesian Muslim?

PEARCE: Sure, you bet. Let’s take it backwards first. My position is that Barack Obama raised the most significant questions himself. He said, after he came to the U.S., that he traveled to Pakistan. Now at the point that he traveled to Pakistan it was not legal to go there with a U.S. passport. And so he, himself, raises the greatest questions. I think that those questions need to be asked. Now, then, my question would be to you all at what importance, what importance? You can typically fight two or three major battles in a year, major, and for me, if we don’t get our economy going, nothing else works.

As David Weigel points out, the truth is that there never was a travel ban in place against Pakistan during the time that Barack Obama traveled there as a young 20-something. So, the suggestion that he “must have” traveled there on a foreign passport is a blatant falsehood.

The fact that it’s being raised by a former Congressman is probably what’s most troublesome about this.

Outside the Beltway

RNC falls short of DNC in fundraising battle

October 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) – The Republican National Committee raised $ 10.3 million in September, dramatically up from their August total but far less than the $ 16 million the Democratic National Committee brought in last month.

An RNC spokesman confirmed the numbers to CNN Friday. Earlier Friday a Republican source with knowledge of the numbers put the total at $ 9.7 million, which was first reported by the Hill.

The DNC unveiled their fundraising figures Monday. Neither party committee is required to report its fundraising totals until later this month. But the Democrats were eager to promote their big cash haul, as try to hold onto their majorities in Congress in the midterm elections amid a tough political climate that appears to favor Republicans.

The RNC’s $ 10.3 million is about one million less that what had been projected for September. The RNC raised $ 7.7 million in August. The DNC brought in $ 11 million in August.

The September figures could be troubling for RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who has faced criticism for his handling of the committee’s finances during his nearly 20 months steering the RNC.

But the Republican Party’s Senate and House committees have been staying more competitive with their Democratic counterparts and outside groups, such as American Crossroads, have been raising millions and spending millions on political advertising and get out the voter efforts.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

(Updated 11:33 a.m. with additional fundraising numbers and sourcing)

CNN Political Ticker

VIDEO: Presidential Seal Falls off Barack Obama’s Podium During Speech

October 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The Presidential seal fell off Obama’s podium during a speech. This You Tube version is the best since it shows it in context rather than only shows 30 seconds:
Click here to view the embedded video.

And in the scheme of things, you know what is going to happen. If you go on the Internet or turn on (predictable) talk radio shows you’ll see this being turned into a way to go on the political attack. You’ll probably hear lines such as: a)It was God giving Obama him about his Presidency, b)Obama’s joking reaction shows he isn’t serious about the office of the Presidency, c) something about a teleprompter (from the folks who give Sarah Palin a pass for writing on her hand).

My reaction would be:

That’s what happens when you buy a podium and a U.S. Presidential seal made in China.

The Moderate Voice

L.A.’s ‘One Nation’ rally falls flat

October 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

‘One Nation Coming Together.’ Who are they trying to kid?
American Thinker Blog

Feingold Falls Further Behind in Wisconsin

September 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A new Rasmussen survey in Wisconsin shows Ron Johnson (R) with a 12 point lead over Sen. Russ Feingold (D), 54% to 42%. Two weeks ago, Johnson had a seven point lead.

With most polls showing him trailing, Ben Smith notes Feingold “flies against the trend” with a new ad that’s “an unapologetic defense of the specifics of the health care overhaul, and an attack on his opponent, Ron Johnson, for supporting repeal.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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