Tuesday, December 31, 2013

David Brooks for the win

Hit and Run: "2013's embarrassing glut of bad op-eds."

A law in name only

Megan McArdle has a very good article on the future of Obamacare: "Change is Obamacare's only certainty."  She goes on to write that all the twists and turns to avoid the fury of the voters has made the whole system untenable to the point that she (and I) believe that the individual mandate will not be enforced.
At that point, something called Obamacare would still exist, but it wouldn’t be anything like the comprehensive universal coverage its designers imagined. It would basically be a Medicaid expansion in some blue states, plus trivial tweaks to some insurance regulations.
And speaking of insurance regulations, how much more will insurance companies take?  Businesses need to predict and plan and nobody knows where this wheel of tweaks will land.

Extra - Vodkapundit: "I’ve written before that ObamaCare’s un-phased subsidies put an effective cap on middle class income, a point from which families simply can’t afford any additional income. Stay put, comrades — you’ve gone as far we feel you should."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The pending retirement crisis

As scattered readers of this blog know, Social Security is one of my pet topics, but the larger issue is how a whole generation of Americans is utterly unprepared for retirement.  The Associated Press has an article today that sums up a lot of the issues facing the world: "Under siege: The world braces for retirement crisis."

Yes, they use the word "crisis" and it boils down to shifting demographics and how they affect government, business, and workers.  Across the globe, governments are broke, companies are squeezed, and workers are irresponsible:
The crisis is a convergence of three factors:
-- Countries are slashing retirement benefits and raising the age to start collecting them. These countries are awash in debt since the recession hit. And they face a demographics disaster as retirees live longer and falling birth rates mean there will be fewer workers to support them.
-- Companies have eliminated traditional pension plans that guaranteed employees a monthly check in retirement.
-- Individuals spent freely and failed to save before the recession and saw much of their wealth disappear once it hit.
To the first point, I've noted how there's this irrational affection for a retirement program forged during the Depression when there were 42 workers supporting every retiree.  To the second point, like Social Security, it's well and good to long for the days when companies paid lifetime benefits, but they're gone.  It's in the past and wishing this was the 1950s won't make it so.  This makes the third point all the more heartbreaking: Americans should acknowledge this shifting reality and adjust accordingly.  But in the AP article provides one story of heartache that comes across as sheer brainlessness:
Leslie Lynch, 52, of Glastonbury, Conn., had $30,000 in her 401(k) retirement account when she lost her $65,000-a-year job last year at an insurance company. She'd worked there 28 years. She's depleted her retirement savings trying to stay afloat.
"I don't believe that I will ever retire now," she says.
No sh-t, Sherlock.  You have got to be kidding me: unless Ms. Lynch had her entire portfolio in Blockbuster Video stock, this is a shockingly irresponsible approach to retirement.  Assuming an extremely conservative annual return on investment of 4%, this means that she invested $50 a month - less than 1% of her annual salary - on savings for retirement.  Maybe Leslie believed the mythology built during the Great Society but younger Americans see the handwriting on the wall.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I intend to watch 12 hours of "A Christmas Story."

Buffalo Sabres, um, back in to a win


My own private Singapore

I've heard a lot of ideas to revitalize Detroit but none so audacious as this:
If these ventures sound idealistic, outrageous, and awesome, they pale in comparison to the scale and ambition of a project conceived by real estate developer Rod Lockwood. He has outlined plans to buy Belle Isle, a 982-acre public island park in the Detroit River, and transform it into an independent commonwealth with its own laws, regulations, and taxes (or lack thereof). Investors would buy the island from the city for $1 billion and then sell lifetime citizenship for $300,000. The extra $1 billion would help the city pay off its debts, and the lax regulations and low taxes would act as a magnet for investment, says Lockwood.
"We would expect a quarter of a trillion dollars in capital would be brought onto the island," says Lockwood. "Detroit would have its own Singapore in its backyard."
This reminds me of North Korea's little capitalist outpost.  Very Elysium-esque.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Yesterday's news

The Associated Press catches up to the blogosphere: "Health plan sticker shock ahead for some buyers."  Do tell.  It seems Americans are believing their lying eyes:
...a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that most Americans predict that the Affordable Care Act will actually result in higher prices for their own medical care.
If only there was an independent body that could have reported there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Related - Legal Insurrection: "No enrollment Plan B."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mostly in the Dakotas

Granted, they're starting from a lower baseline but it looks like gas and oil development is paying off: "Where in the United States is median income growing?"

The insurance companies are boned

A good roundup of the recent Obamacare opinions in "The death of the individual mandate."  With this week's "hardship" exemption, the basis for the health insurance cost model is falling apart and the health insurers will be left holding the bag.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

At what point does a law become a Presidential plaything?

There's a philosophical proposal called the "paradox of the heap" which goes like this: if you start with a heap of sand and then remove one grain at a time until you're left with one grain, you no longer have a heap.  But at what point did the pile of sand transition from "heap" to "not a heap"?

Obamacare is not a law.  A law is written by the Legislature and enforced by the Executive branch.  In this case of this so-called law, Obama simply waves his magic wand of "enforcement discretion" and declares "retroactive coverage" on top of shifting policies and sliding deadlines.  The letter of the "law" says that credits can be obtained only through "an exchange established by the state."  But, you know, nobody read that part of the law so state-federal-whatever.

Now, tonight, just four days before the word previously known as a "deadline", it's deja vu all over again:
The Obama administration Thursday night significantly relaxed the rules of the health-care law for millions of consumers whose individual insurance policies have been canceled, saying they could buy bare-bones health plans or entirely avoid the requirement that most Americans have health insurance.
The surprise announcement, four days before the Dec. 23 deadline for people to choose coverage that begins on Jan. 1, triggered an immediate backlash from the health insurance industry and raised new fairness questions about a law intended to promote affordable and comprehensive coverage.
Ace explains the new legislative process in Washington: "Obama creates more law with his mouth hole."
None of these fixes are designed to be fixes. They're designed to appear to be fixes, so when people are uninsured, Obama can say, "I tried. I gave them options."
Just never the option of what he promised: Of keeping health insurance they liked.
It's been said that the Supreme Court reads the newspapers too.  I hope that if Chief Justice Roberts gets another crack at this abomination he recognizes that it's not only unconstitutional, it's also not a law.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Not such a bad little tree

Director Bill Melendez recalls the premiere of "A Charlie Brown Christmas":
What the roomful of executives saw upon the first screening was a shock—a slow and quiet semireligious, jazz-filled 25 minutes, voiced by a cast of inexperienced children, and, perhaps most unforgivably, without a laugh track. “They said, ‘We’ll play it once and that will be all. Good try,’ ” remembers Mendelson. “Bill and I thought we had ruined Charlie Brown forever when it was done. We kind of agreed with the network. One of the animators stood up in the back of the room—he had had a couple of drinks—and he said, ‘It’s going to run for a hundred years,’ and then fell down. We all thought he was crazy, but he was more right than we were.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The gang that couldn't shoot straight

Peggy Noonan has a year-end summary of the Obama administration: "Incompetence."
It all looks so lax, so loosey-goosey. In the place of the energy and focus that would go into the running of things, the administering and managing of them, we have the preoccupation with spin, with how things look as opposed to how they are. The odd thing still is that the White House never misses a speech, a list of talking points, an opportunity to shape the argument on TV. They do the talking part, but the doing? They had 3½ years to make sure ObamaCare will work, three years to get it right top to bottom, to rejigger parts of the law that they finally judged wouldn’t work, to make the buying of a policy easy on the website. And they not only couldn’t do that, which itself constitutes an astounding and historic management failure, they make it clear they were taken aback by their failure. They didn’t know it was coming! Or some knew and for some reason couldn’t do anything.
Since we're reviewing the past year, I think it's useful to throw a spotlight on the Syria crack-up.  First there's a red line.  Then - wait a second - public opinion is turning against action.  But now America's credibility and resolve in the Middle East are on the line.  What does Obama do?  Well, at the behest of his deluded chief of staff, President Passerby decides to throw it back to Congress where a Syria resolution faces certain defeat.  It's all about maintaining the image:
The president's decision to seek congressional approval for a military strike against Syria came out of the blue — none of his national security team saw it coming, according to three senior administration officials.
Pfffft - who needs 'em?  In case you missed it, Assad is bombing Aleppo again and our nominal allies in the region are critical of this Administration's inchoate foreign policy.  I'm sure the mullahs in Iran are quaking in their sandals.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mail gone from the Yukon

With a billion fewer letters to deliver since 2006, Canada is phasing out home delivery.  The Economist: "The postman won't ring at all."

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Yorkers mugged by reality

Minuteman: "Peak Schadenfreude Alert"  "Were you worried that ObamaCare was maxing out as a source of comedy gold?"  With so many delicious quotes.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

We like stuff

Zero Hedge: "It would take 4.4 Earths to sustain a world full of Americans."

Lie of the year

PolitiFact has released its Lie of the Year and - no surprise - it's "If you like your health care plan you can keep it."
"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," President Barack Obama said -- many times -- of his landmark new law.
But the promise was impossible to keep.
So this fall, as cancellation letters were going out to approximately 4 million Americans, the public realized Obama’s breezy assurances were wrong.
Oh, you don't say?  The promise was "impossible to keep"?

Just curious, media hacks at Politifact: you're aware that there are search engines on the Internet?  Because it takes all of a millisecond to find that you once cited this exact same claim as "True."  Then as recently as last year, the claim was still half-true.  Oh well!  That's why pencils have erasers.

Extra - Via Hot Air.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sign-language guy says to steal second base, buy 10,000 shares of pork bellies

The guy at the Nelson Mandela funeral was a complete fake.  Kinda funny except for the context.

Welcome to the party, Oregon!

Washington Examiner: "Oregon signs up just 44 people for Obamacare despite spending $300 million."

The kids are gettin' wise to Obamacare

Here's George Will back in July:
What Obamacare requires for it to work - mass irrationality, both on the part of employers to ignore that incentive and on the part of young people who are supposed to pay 3, 4, 5 times more for health insurance than it would cost them to just pay the fine and ignore it.
Witness the adverse selection:
There’s bad news hidden behind the White House’s latest optimistic Obamacare report.
Few people are actually paying for the healthcare plans that they’ve picked on the partially-fixed Obamacare website, say industry insiders.
Also, too few young people are joining the plans offered by companies using the Obamacare website, said Robert Laszewski, a plugged-in insurance consultant.
Older clients, aged above 40, comprise 60 percent of the new Obamacare customers at one of his client health-care companies, Laszewski told The Daily Caller.
The skew is “very, very bad,” said Laszewski, who is president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, Inc.
What about all those hip "young invincibles" in Colorado with their snowboarding and marijuana?
No state has made a more aggressive--or more idiotic--effort to recruit young policyholders than Colorado. The Centennial State has a Democrat-controlled government and its own insurance exchange, not to mention legal recreational marijuana under a 2012 initiative. The wacky weed doesn't make an appearance in the ungrammatically named "Do You Got Insurance?" ad campaign, but it does use beer, wine, sex and sports--as well as less glamorous pursuits like pumpkin carving and bicycling--in an effort to sell insurance to those elusive invincibles.
The result, according to CNN: "As of November 30, just 11% of total enrollees in Colorado's exchange fall into the targeted 18 to 34 age bracket. The majority of new enrollees--more than 60%--are between 45 and 65." Total enrollment is only a bit more than 15,000, far less than the 250,000 policies being canceled according to an early November Denver Post report.
Of course most of these young'uns voted for their own demise so maybe they're gullible enough to sign up.  But probably not.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


On a slow news day, one cheer for Paul Ryan and Patty Murray: "House, Senate negotiators reach budget deal."  "House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on an $85 billion package to fund the government past Jan. 15, avoid another federal shutdown and end the cycle of budget crises that have dominated Washington for much of the past three years."

Monday, December 09, 2013

Slow on the uptake

Vodkapundit notes that the NY Times reported that Obamacare is expensive: "Leave it to the New York Times to take a story ObamaCare opponents have been reporting for four years, and call it “news.”"

I've said exactly this so many times

Robert Samuelson: "America's clash of generations is inevitable."  "The federal government is increasingly a transfer agency: Taxes from the young and middle-aged are spent on the elderly."  Now cough up your artificially-high Obamacare premiums, kids.

Spreadin' the wealth around

Except for his amen corner in the mainstream media (E.J. Dionne), virtually everyone ignored Obama's latest pivot to the economy and his income inequality prattle.  There's rarely been a more transparent attempt to shore up the populist base and distract everyone from Obamacare.  Mickey Kaus, however, took a deeper look in "4 Things the MSM Won’t Tell You About Obama’s Inequality Speech":
a. Five years into his presidency he so far hasn’t done anything to stop growing income inequality–the problem has gotten worse on his watch.
b. He doesn’t have any proposals (“It’s time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act”) that come close to solving the problem as he defines it.
c. His one big previous initiative to reduce inequality–the Affordable Care Act–may now be hopelessly screwed up due to his own inattention and non-competence.
d. His remaining big domestic initiative–”comprehensive” immigration reform–would almost certainly make inequality worse by vastly increasing the number of unskilled workers bidding down wages at the bottom of the income scale, with the profits from the cheap labor going to business owners at the top
Of course, Obama also lied about the economic effects of the minimum wage.  And despite a fairly progressive tax code, the Wealth-Spreader can't get this economy moving.  So...a speech, and one that elides the fact that he's been in charge of the show for five years now.

Remember when Steve Urkel would invite disaster and then quip: "Did I do that?"  Hilarious.

Extra - Glenn Reynolds: "Obama can't solve the jobs problem."

Friday, December 06, 2013

Intolerable tolerance

Matt Walsh: "The (fake) hate crime epidemic."

Can't possibly be true...and probably isn't

I've written about this before but sometimes a story comes along and it just doesn't pass the stink test.  Maybe it's the source, maybe it's the subject, but I just can't believe it.  And (patting my back now) I didn't believe the story that Obama didn't meet with Kathleen Sebelius in three years.

What's more, this reinforces everything I hate about the mainstream media.  For years, nutcase Teabaggers like me were warning that Obamacare could not possibly operate the way it was promised.  Now that things look bad - surprise! - the media (Politico no less!) decides it's time to pile on and run stories about how the President didn't meet with his HHS secretary for three years.  Why?  Because it's safe to pile on.

Not-so-golden state for California doctors

Here comes the big squeeze.  Washington Examiner: "Doctors boycotting California's Obamacare exchange."  "An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state's Obamacare health insurance exchange and won't participate, the head of the state's largest medical association said."

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Learn to love

The Sound of Music

Am I the only one hearing a loud background hiss?

Nelson Mandela passes

The scion of South Africa died at age 95 which is remarkable considering he was in prison for 27 years.  The memory I have of Mandela is that he was released only a couple of months after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Pension reform in Illinois

In rapid-fire votes, the Illinois legislature passed a pension overhaul bill to reform one of the most underfunded public pension plans in the country.  Gee, I wonder what spooked them into action.

Sorry, all full up

Big Government: "College Republican president rejected from White House youth summit."  Ah, it's probaby for the best.  It sounds like those youths are in for an Amway-style hard sell.

White House goal for Obamacare: just keep polishing that turd

Megan McArdle:
The administration has given up on success, as it might once have defined it. The object is no longer 7 million people signed up through the exchanges, with 2.7 million of them young and healthy, and the health-care cost curve bending back toward the earth. It is to keep the program alive until 2015. The administration's priorities are, first, to keep Democrats from undoing the individual mandate or otherwise crippling the law; second, to keep insurers from raising premiums or exiting the marketplace; third, to tamp down loose talk about the failures on the exchanges; and, only fourth, to get to the place where it used to think it would be this year, with lots of people signed up for affordable insurance. It is now measuring the program’s success not by whether it meets its goals, but by whether it survives at all. And all of its choices are oriented toward this new priority.
In case you missed it - since the NY Times buried the lede - the vaunted Obamacare tech surge amounted to "about half a dozen" nerds.  A billion dollars and four years of work, and all we have are traffic metrics on a security nightmare that is incapable of performing its most basic task.

Time to wave the white flag on competence and start the speeches.
And when you apply this to the ObamaCare debacle, suddenly it seems to make sense. The White House is so unformed and chaotic that they probably didn’t ignore the problem, they probably held a million meetings on it. People probably said things like, “We’re experiencing some technological challenges but we’re sure we’ll be up by October,” and other people said, “Yes, it’s important we launch strong,” and others said, “The Republicans will have a field day if we’re not.” And then everyone went to their next meeting. And no one did anything. And the president went off and made speeches.
Because the doing isn’t that important, the talking is.
Rinse and repeat.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Iron Bowl

I'm not a huge college football fan but - damn - that Alabama-Auburn game was one for the ages.  With one second left on the clock, Alabama tried an improbable 57-yard field goal that fell short then Auburn ran the short kick back 100+ yards to win the game.  Crazy.

Hard sell in FLA

Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard followed around some "nonpartisan" advocates for Obamacare as they tried to get Floridians to sign up.  The story reaches this pitiful denouement:
All told, even with all the hand-holding Navigators, I’m assured by members of the two Navigator groups who worked the session that of the 100 or so prospects in attendance, exactly none walked out with a completed enrollment.
If you read the article, the issue wasn't the glitchy website (which was glitchy).  It was sticker shock which is a problem that will not be fixed no matter how smoothly Healthcare.gov operates.

Smarter - so much smarter - than everyone

Ed Rogers in the WashPost: "Why would Obama say he is not ideological?"
It appears that President Obama believes that dissenting views are irrational or the result of clouded, lesser thinking.  Being blind to his own ideology makes him unable to respectfully deal with others who might readily embrace an ideological point of view. The president’s inability to effectively work with Congress, orchestrate Washington, or build strong alliances or even friendships overseas probably stems from his belief that others should defer to his clear thinking without many questions or objections. He doesn’t see politics as a great debate with multiple possibilities among equal voices.
Obama constantly intones that there's "no reason" to oppose something he supports, as if the other side isn't entitled to dissent and the opposition springs purely from political or more nefarious motives.  Recall how he berated the media for providing "false balance" by even giving attention to these other voices.  And, to a large degree, the media went along.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Western Massachusetts update

The town of Palmer is close to where I live - too close - and for years they've been trying to get Mohegan Sun to build a casino.  One small issue: the voters said "no" and today they had the recount and the answer is still "no."   Whew.  Thank heaven.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Out of the loop

Atlantic: "Why did President Obama Say the Healthcare Website Would Work?"  "Once again: It does not seem credible that Obama was unaware that failure was likely. And if he really was unaware, the implications are extremely unflattering. Either he failed abjectly to ask the right questions of a staff that was also derelict in informing him, or else he asked the right questions and his staff misled him."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

But don't call it socialism

It's just government control of one-sixth of the economy coupled with a redistribution of wealth.  But, heavens no, don't call it socialism.

The 2014 box canyon

Tom Maguire notes that the Obama administration pushed back the health insurance enrollment requirement in 2015 until after the election to avoid headlines over sticker shock.  But the real problem for Obamacare is that - by law - insurers must give policy holders 90-days notice that they're losing their coverage.  That means a little more than a month before the 2014 elections, millions of Americans will be getting cancellation notices.
Obviously, the next step would be for Obama to waive the 90 day notice requirement, but the legality of that would be laughable.
Don't sell Obama short!  Maybe it's time for some more "enforcement discretion" that's all the rage nowadays.

The transformation to Jimmy Carter is now complete

With his domestic agenda in complete shambles, Obama now takes his bull-in-a-china-shop act to foreign affairs.  Everything you need to know about our "agreement" with Iran is in Judith Levy's "Deal with the Devil":
The short version of the interim deal just struck between the P5+1 countries and Iran is this: Iran gave away almost nothing, got a major financial payoff, and will retain its entire nuclear infrastructure. The US got a check mark on Obama's legacy ledger, under the column Stuff I Did That Looks Reasonably Good If You're Myopic Or Uninterested But In Fact Conceals a Seething Cauldron of Awful That Will Probably Not Affect Me Personally, Since I Will Be Out of Office When the Full Magnitude of This Failure Becomes Manifest.
Read the whole thing: the mullahs are laughing their asses off at us.  Iran does not need to stop uranium enrichment, the heavy water reactor at Arak will be unaffected (although there will be a six-month cessation in "construction activities"), and sanctions will be eased so trade can resume and up to $10 billion in Iranian assets will be released.  What the hell, let's throw in another $4.2 billion for good measure.

The only ally that matters - Israel - is furious about the deal and some have started a betting pool as to when they'll start bombing.  At least there's a certain value to knowing you're alone.

So you have a President who is desperate to divert attention from the Obamacare debacle coupled with a blowhard Secretary of State who wants nothing more than to burnish his image and you end up with this awful deal so the White House can put out a press release.

Peace for our time, indeed.

Extra - Daniel Pipes: "Barack Obama has made many foreign-policy errors in the past five years, but this is the first to rank as a disaster. Along with the health-care law, it is one of his worst-ever steps. John Kerry is a too-eager puppy looking for a deal at any price."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

The "expand Social Security" craze

I normally don't bother with Paul Krugman who has a long history of being wrong and never admitting it.  But now he's in my wheelhouse with "Expanding Social Security."  The transparent ploy here is that since Social Security is on a path towards bankruptcy the entitled Left isn't going to play defense - it's playing offense.  It's a shame this argument is based on such a dearth of facts.

First, the Krugtron tells us that raising the retirement age is wrong because it benefits the wealthy who have the advantage of living longer.  But Social Security is supposed to be a universal system, one that benefits Americans equally and proportional to the taxes paid into the system.  There's already a degree of progressive scaling to Social Security but Krugman wants it to be a full-on welfare program.  Because that shows you care.  I say that in the same tone of disdain that Krugman holds for those of us who think that adding a trillion dollars in debt every year is "austerity."

The second point Krugman makes is that Americans have done a terrible job of saving for retirement and only Social Security can save them from penury.  Maybe Americans could have saved more if they weren't having 6.2% (or 12.4% depending on your point of view) siphoned away to a program only to have automatic benefit cuts kick in the moment they retire.

But let's assume for a nanosecond that - yes - we should expand Social Security.  Who will pay for this expansion?  Surprise surprise, Krugman doesn't say and neither does Elizabeth Warren.  Because it's all about rights and benefits paid for by mysterious benefactors.  They both know that if Americans were asked to support a Social Security expansion by, say, raising the FICA tax by 2% nobody but nobody would support it.

But it's fun to play the populist.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dr. Nick will see you now

WashPost: "Insurers restricting choice of doctors and hospitals to keep costs down."  "As Americans have begun shopping for health plans on the insurance exchanges, they are discovering that insurers are restricting their choice of doctors and hospitals in order to keep costs low, and that many of the plans exclude top-rated hospitals."  If you like your affordable doctor, you can keep your affordable doctor.  Quality is another matter.

Spool, darn you, spool!

In school I had an awful dot-matrix printer, so I laughed at this:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Your Obamacare factoid of the day

Colorado has signed up more dogs than Oregon has signed up people.

The dog is a 14-year-old Yorkie so it's not one of the "young invincible canines" the exchange is looking for.

New rights

Hit & Run: "The Constitutional right to conscript a wedding photographer."

Can't possibly be true

Sometimes I read a story and say: "Can't possibly be true."  Yesterday it was the story that the Census Bureau manipulated the jobs report before the 2012 election.  Nope - I don't buy it.

But what about this statement from an official from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services?  Hot Air: "CMS tech officer: Roughly 30-40% of the ObamaCare exchange system still needs to be built — including the payment system."

What?  Three-and-a-half years after starting, eight months after warnings that there were serious problems at Healthcare.gov and only a couple weeks after assurances everything would be cool by December, now - now? - we hear that one-third of the programming still needs to be done?  No.  Can't be.  He must have misspoken.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

When Obama says he's working 24/7, he means 24 minutes and 7 seconds

If you're like me and Patterico, you're getting pretty sick of this guy telling us how hard he's working.  Oh, he's always working 24/7 and we're "working around the clock" and "as long as I’ve got the honor of having this office, I’m just going to work as hard as I can."

By his own admission, he was meeting with people working on the health care rollout "once a month."  Once a month for the single most significant legislation in his administration.  Patterico again:
So he’s meeting with “folks” about the health care Web site once a month, and playing golf more than twice a month.
It gets worse. His rounds of golf last six hours. Do you figure the health care meetings lasted six hours every month? I’ll bet my house they didn’t.
Me too.  I'll bet President Box Checker didn't spend a half-hour a month on Obamacare.  This guy has never run a major project and has never heard of a benchmark or a Gantt chart.  A normal person who is cognizant of his own shortcomings might spend extra time trying to understand what's going on but that would mean he's not the smartest guy in the room.  Can't have that.

Rest assured, though, that Mr. 24/7 - appropriately chastened by the disastrous rollout of Obamacare - is newly dedicated to the arduous labor required to make everything right.

Or not.  USA Today: "Obama has a sporting Sunday: Golf and Basketball!"  (I added the exclamation point)
President Obama is having a sporting kind of Sunday, featuring golf and basketball.
In the late morning, Obama hits the links at the Andrews military base near Washington, D.C.
Early Sunday evening, the president and his family will attend a college basketball game between the University of Maryland and Oregon State University, which is coached by Obama's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson.
It's good to be the king President.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Everybody's doing it

Illegal plans are still illegal

The blog post of the day goes to Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy and "The Legality of the Latest Obamacare Fix."  Adler sidesteps the question of whether Obama's "enforcement discretion" is legal (it's not) - rather he asks why insurance companies would open themselves up to the liability of an illegal plan:
..under Section 300gg-6 insurers are barred from offering health insurance plans in individual and small group markets that do not include the essential health benefits package. This obligation remains. Would it affect the enforceability of such an insurance policies terms in private legal dispute in state court? It’s understandable if insurance companies will be in no rush to find out.
Today on NPR, the person reporting the story of the Upton bill was dismissive about the legislation because it supposedly does exactly what Obama proposed.  She further opined that Obama wouldn't rescind his discretionary enforcement because - well, I didn't hear - because I was laughing out loud.  Putting aside the established point that Obama believes that his Constitutional duties are flexible to his political well-being, this is completely aside the point.  As Schoolhouse Rock taught us, a law is a law and Congress decides; it's the President's duty to enforce the law...even his own.

Obama's pinkie-swear to let everything slide is just another blame-shifting ploy.  Who is fooled by this farce?

Extra - Ace: "The only way to even have a chance to get these policies offered is if they're officially legal, like legal legal, not illegal, but I'll ignore it for now "legal.""

More - From the Lonely Conservative.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Can anybody find me somebody to blame?

Only two days ago, Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner had an article titled: "Obama won't make insurers his punching bag because he needs them."  My reaction at the time: oh yeah?  Watch.  He can't blame Bush anymore, none of the Republicans in Congress voted for Obamacare - so who's left?  Oh yeah, those insurance companies.  Why they're the ones who aren't going to let you keep your insurance policy!

One thing about that: after making a deal with the devil to comply with Obamacare, the insurance companies are not ready to play the fall guy.
We have expressed these concerns with the Administration and are concerned by the President’s announcement today that the federal government would use its “enforcement discretion” to delay enforcement of the ACA’s market reforms in 2014 for plans that are currently in effect.  This decision continues different rules for different policies and threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond.
That "enforcement discretion" by the way is a clever way to say "I'm ignoring my oath to uphold the law."  Because...Republicans.  So now, knowing that insurers either cannot or will not invite an insurance death spiral, Obama gets to say "hey, I tried!"

The blame has been shifted, now check that box.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Obamacare and the great Al Dunlap flim-flam

In case you haven't heard, the administration is going to inflate the number of Obamacare enrollees by counting applicants who placed health plans into a shopping cart but never checked out.  Because an intention to maybe buy something is as good as a sale!

Hmmm...I think I've heard this story before.  Back in the mid-1990s, Al Dunlap took over as the CEO of Sunbeam Corporation and, only a year into his tenure, Sunbeam reported record earnings.  It turns out that Dunlap was engaging in "channel stuffing" to make sales numbers look better temporarily.  Wikipedia explains the rest:
However, industry insiders were suspicious when they discovered certain seasonal items were being sold at higher volume than normal for the time of year. For instance, large numbers of barbecue grills were being sold during the fourth quarter. It turned out that Dunlap had been selling products to retailers at large discounts. The products were stored in third-party warehouses to be delivered later. This strategy, known as "bill and hold", is an accepted accounting practice as long as the sales are booked after delivery. However, Dunlap booked the sales immediately.
To recap: a bunch of products were being held in limbo, likely never to be sold, but the head honcho re-defined a "sale" to make his numbers look better.  The main difference is that Dunlap was brought up on charges by the government for fraud.

Extra - Me and Iowahawk, GMTA.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Great photo gallery of the real men and women of the military over at The Brigade.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

It's funny because it's MSNBC

Mediate: "Former MSNBC Host’s Health Plan Cancelled, New Plan Costs 3.5 Times More."

He's sorry...you can't appreciate how awesome he is

Slate (!) offers up this critique: "A sorry apologyPresident Obama wants to apologize without taking responsibility. That’s not how apologies work."
Not only did the president not meet the Daschle standard in this case, but he bubble-wrapped it with lots of explanations and rationalizations—his broken promise only affects 5 percent of the population, insurance companies are offering subpar plans, there’s churn in the market, and so on. All of this may be true, but when your apology sputters out at the end of a list of mitigating conditions, it lacks much punch. It seems grudging. So do the people going through this feel better? Probably not. Does it look like the president was trying to make himself look better? Yes, it does.
If it helps, Chuck Todd says that Obama doesn't believe he lied.  So you can stuff your sorry in a sack, mister!

Friday, November 08, 2013

First they came for the individual market

From NPR's Marketplace: "Now small businesses are receiving health insurance cancellation notices."
On Tuesday, the Dunns received a letter from their health insurer, Humana. It was labeled, "Important information regarding your coverage."  It informed them that they would not be able to continue with their current medical plan in 2014,  as it did not meet all of the ACA requirements.  The letter included information on a new Humana medical plan did comply with the ACA's standards, but it would raise the Dunns' premiums by 60 percent. 
The Dunns' business has only 13 employees so they can cancel their employees' health plan.  That's an option on the table.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Damn those fear-mongerers!

Hot Air: "Obama promised on Sept. 26th that people in individual market would keep their plans."  He regrets that you misunderstood this very specific claim.

Obama's you-a culpa

There's a Simpsons episode where Bart dupes Mrs. Krabappel into a blind date with a fictional man.  Later, when he sees his dejected and humiliated teacher after being stood up, Bart says: "I can't help but feel partly responsible."

If you've seen Bart's reaction then you'll understand the non-apology that Obama offered up in this interview with NBC's Chuck Todd.  People are losing their health plans and, boy, he regrets those events that seem to have happened but maybe I didn't explain things very well.

That's the gist.

Extra - Ace: "I'm sorry you're sorry."  Yeah.

More - From Iowahawk.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Hippies in a snit - insurance clipped by nitwit

Ricochet: "Obama voters learn the hard way"...that there's no free Obamacare lunch.
Massive governmental interference creates unintended consequences? Get out!
So far, there are scarce intended consequences.

Future heart attack victim speaks out

Fox News: "Michael Moore: Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people."

Western Massachusetts update

The only vote I really cared about last night was the vote in nearby Palmer whether to allow Mohegan Sun to develop a casino.  Turnout was huge and the measure failed by 93 votes.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

NY Times doubles down on beclowning

In case there was ever any doubt, the reason Obama has been able to get away with outrageous lies is that he can always depend on media outlets like the New York Times to protect their guy.  In the wake of a general pushback on their boot-licking editorial in defense of Obama, the Gray Lady's Public Editor had to address the issue: "Editorial is under fire for saying President "clearly mispoke" on health care."
On Monday, I asked the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, about the wording.
“We have a high threshold for whether someone lied,” he told me. The phrase that The Times used “means that he said something that wasn’t true.” Saying the president lied would have meant something different, Mr. Rosenthal said — that he knew it was false and intended to express the falsehood. “We don’t know that,” he said.
Emphasis mine.  The editorial in question appeared in the November 3rd edition.  A week earlier, NBC News ran this story: "Obama admin. knew millions could not keep their health insurance."  And only a day before, the Wall Street Journal ran an extensive story "Aides debated Obama health-care coverage promise" in which "political aides" decided it would be better to deliberately deceive Americans about whether they could keep their health plan.  The only explanation the Times could adopt to explain their position is that the Smartest President Ever didn't understand his own legislation, his own aides kept him in the dark, and he just mouthed the words that appeared on his teleprompter.

Hmmm...on second thought.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The New York Times beclowns itself again

I always love to read stories like this because the so-called "Paper of Record" should go bankrupt.  The NY Times editorial page is a sycophantic carbon-copy of White House press releases and its principles - such as that word conveys - depend entirely on political affiliation.  If you were wondering if they would, for once, call out Obama for his unequivocal lie that "you can keep your health plan", wonder no more:
Congressional Republicans have stoked consumer fears and confusion with charges that the health care reform law is causing insurers to cancel existing policies and will force many people to pay substantially higher premiums next year for coverage they don’t want. That, they say, violates President Obama’s pledge that if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it. 
Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that.
He "misspoke."  Wow.  Take note that the Times wastes no time to let readers know where the real problem lies, those Congressional Republicans who didn't vote for Obamacare, consistently warned about its genuine faults, and urged for an implementation delay, one that Obama should have leapt at.  The remainder of the editorial indicates that words don't really matter because, hey, those insurance policies that people liked were no good so Obamacare is doing everybody a favor.

This is how tyranny spreads:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis
Nixon once said "it's not illegal if the President does it."  In the eyes of the New York Times, there's no word or action from this President worthy of rebuke and no position they won't defend.  The only saving grace to this servile editorial is the comments section where most are a variant of "don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."

Extra - Patterico: "The NY Times is way beyond parody."

More - Power Line: "NY Times editorial board hacked by the Onion."

And this - Twitchy: "Boot-licking fail."

Plus - American Power, The Other McCain, and Rick Moran: "In an editorial as flagrantly partisan as any this full-fledged arm of the Democratic Party has ever published, the editors of the Times want you to know that you’re stupid for buying an insurance policy that wasn’t as wonderful, as comprehensively sweet, as just plain good as those being offered as a result of changes made by the Affordable Care Act."

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The new Obamacare spin

Now the White House is tweeting with the great news that no insurance company can drop you as a customer.  Hot Air de-spins:
Obama never really promised that you could keep your same insurance plan, but rather that you could keep your same insurer. If you don’t actually want to purchase one of the more expensive, more ‘comprehensive’ plans that your insurer is now offering after they were required to cancel your previous plan, well, that’s your problem.
Yeah, so get with the program.

Freedom of speech-free zones

Legal Insurrection: "Brown University professor recalls when a real fascist came to campus, calls Ray Kelly shout down 'a shameful day'."

Different Drum

Here's a interesting story from the WSJ on Linda Ronstadt's first big hit: "When the red light went on at Hollywood's Capitol Studios in 1967, singer Linda Ronstadt was scared. There to record "Different Drum"—her first lead-vocal single as a member of the Stone Poneys—Ms. Ronstadt was expecting to sing an acoustic ballad version of the song accompanied by her two bandmates."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Go Red Sox!

Condescending? Not this White House!

Hit and Run: "The Obama Administration's response to insurance plan cancellations is misleading and condescending."  "What President Obama told the public over and over again wasn’t true. But now that people are finding out that it isn’t true, the administration’s response is to shift the blame to third parties, and to imply that the millions of people who are losing plans they like are too stupid to know what’s actually good for them. In short: If you like your plan, and lose it, it's not our fault. And besides, you didn't really like it anyway."  So pretty much same-ole, same-ole.

Nobody is more upset than me about my pickup truck crashing into that liquor store

Iowahawk has a series of Obamacare-inspired spin lines for every occasion.  It means never having to say you're sorry!
Perhaps I could have been more precise when I promised that my pickup would never again crash into the liquor store. But let's move forward.
Instead of yelling, the liquor-store owner could be working in a bipartisan manner to get my crushed pickup out of his walk-in cooler.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Equal distribution of poverty

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." - Winston Churchill

Wall Street Journal: "The Obamacare Awakening."  "None of this is an accident. It is the deliberate result of the liberal demand that everyone have essentially the same coverage and that government must dictate what that coverage is and how much it costs. Such political control is the central nervous system of the Affordable Care Act, and it is why so many people can't keep the insurance they like."

Twas the insurance company in the bedroom with a candlestick

Well, Harry Reid, Jay Carney and Rasputin are all on message: it wasn't Obamacare that forced all those Americans to lose their health insurance: it was the insurance companies...who had to comply with the dictates of Obamacare.

Now the ass-kissing Left would like us to forget that Obama lied repeatedly about "keeping your plan" and that all the warnings should be forgotten now because settled law and shut up, racist.

Question: if I throw Ezra Klein out of a window, it's the asphalt that really killed him, right?

Extra - From Doug Ross.

More - Legal Insurrection: "A lie is just the truth that wasn't precise enough."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Not much and when he saw it on TV

Dana Milbank: "What did Obama know and when did he know it?"  "For a smart man, President Obama professes to know very little about a great number of things going on in his administration."

For Obama, "Being There" is enough.  Roger Simon: "Obama should be impeached...for cluelessness."

Extra - From Twitchy: "Didn't know he didn't know what was going on."

More - Jen Rubin: "What didn't Obama know and for how long?" "You would think the president at some point would be embarrassed to be the least-informed man in Washington, D.C."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The deadliest movie review

Legal Insurrection: "60 Minutes confirms Benghazi is a real scandal and you've been lied to."  Well, it was important to get past the election first.

Extra - From Power Line who has tweets from 60 Minutes.  And here's the transcript from tonight's show.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

That was a nice National Anthem

Waiting for the Red Sox-Cardinal game and Colbie Caillat did an absolutely fabulous rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, accompanied by acoustic guitar.

Go Red Sox!  Beards over birds.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Don't date robots!

Japan is exploding its own demographic bomb as the birth rate approaches a record low.  It seems that the youngsters there have little interest in relationships and less in starting a family.  As for sex, well, there are options available.

Green Monstah

Let's go Red Sox!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hands off

This is unsurprising.  CNN: "HHS chief: President didn't know of Obamacare website woes beforehand."  "President Barack Obama didn't know of problems with the Affordable Care Act's website -- despite insurance companies' complaints and the site's crashing during a test run -- until after its now well-documented abysmal launch, the nation's health chief told CNN on Tuesday."

In other words, he gave it the full attention he gave to Benghazi.  Now let's campaign!

Flashback - President Passerby learns about stuff on TV.

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's up to you New York, New York

Reason's Hit and Run links to a Heritage Foundation study: "Health insurance premiums projected to soar in 45 states under Obamacare."  The big winner among the Favored Five is the Empire State which shows rates will drop about 29% for individuals and 6% or so for families.

Wow, what a great deal!  Except for this.
In New York, one of only 16 states that has its own exchange, not one person had succeeded in using the site to enroll in a plan as of Friday.
Start spreadin' the news.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Out of time and out of money

Megan McArdle: "Fight over default is fight over new normal."  "We can’t just gently restrain the growth of a few programs and wait for rising GDP to bail us out. Many of the factors that are making us grow more slowly, like an aging population, are making government outlays grow more quickly than usual. Someone is going to have to pay -- or lose what they've been counting on getting."

Greatest speech evah

I re-subscribed to The Atlantic and they've started an informal poll on the back page called "The Big Question."  This month it's: "What was the greatest speech, historical or fictional, ever given?"  Among Churchill, Lincoln, Jesus, and various Shakespeare soliloquies, General Stanley McChrystal chose the rousing words of Brother Bluto of the Delta House: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?  Hell no!"

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Generational theft - the college tour

Oh man how much do I love this guy?  The Wall Street Journal has a weekend interview with former hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller: "How Washington Really Redistributes Income - The renowned money manager goes back to school to explain how entitlements are helping the Baby Boomers rip off future generations."
While many seniors believe they are simply drawing out the "savings" they were forced to deposit into Social Security and Medicare, they are actually drawing out much more, especially relative to later generations. That's because politicians have voted to award the seniors ever more generous benefits. As a result, while today's 65-year-olds will receive on average net lifetime benefits of $327,400, children born now will suffer net lifetime losses of $420,600 as they struggle to pay the bills of aging Americans.
One of the great ironies of the Obama presidency is that it has been a disaster for the young people who form the core of his political coalition. High unemployment is paired with exploding debt that they will have to finance whenever they eventually find jobs.
Druckenmiller is touring college campuses to make kids aware of the debt trap they're marching into.  If entitlements are not reformed, they'll be reformed for us as the trust funds run dry and higher interest rates drive up debt service.

You can pay now or you can pay later, but you're gonna pay.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I like this movie

"Moneyball" is on FX tonight.  Jonah Hill is good in an understated way.

That's all I got on my mind tonight.  Meh.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Facts overcome confirmation bias

Politico: "Eureka! Tea Partiers know science."  Shorter version: Yale professor is shocked to find that conservatives score higher on science literacy test than liberals.  You might say that this insulated, ivory tower egghead's stream of thought on this matter was laminar and then suddenly - bam! - his Reynolds number hit 2000 and everything was turbulent.

Whoops, I kinda veered into Tea Party-speak there.  For my liberal friends, it was like he thought one thing but then he was like, whoa, that's not what I thought.

Yeah, this is depressingly spot-on

Vodka Pundit: "Shutdown autopsy."  The Republicans stumbled into this crisis and had no "plan B" once they were in too deep.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My deceptions have been quite clear

Associated Press: "Delaware health exchange gets first enrollee."  As Delaware's native son Joe Biden would say: "It's a big deal!"  The First State's first enrollee, by the way, doesn't exactly fit the profile of a "young invincible" that's needed to keep this scheme afloat.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Longtime Kossite achieves instant troll status

You know a story from Daily Kos is going to full of sweet, sweet schadenfreude when it's linked over at Ace of Spades.  It seems that this fellow applied for Obamacare and his monthly premium is going to double.  He petulantly claims he's cancelling his insurance and won't pay a penalty.  Then all the commenters attacked him for his apostasy.  Noice!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Accelerating generational war

I've long argued that the inexorable rise of the entitlement state will leave today's young Americans kneecapped for the future.  Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the national debt comprise a growing share of mandatory government spending that is being paid by borrowing from future generations.  The trust funds will run dry in a little more than a decade.  Now throw Obamacare into the mix and "community rating" which basically mandates that young, healthy Americans subsidize older Americans at a much higher rate than in the past.

How much longer will this go on?  The L.A. Times says "Don't trust anyone over 60 - Mandatory health coverage could be the catalyst for a new generational war."
America's healthcare system for the elderly (Medicare, plus Medicaid for nursing-home care) is already edging the country toward generational war because Washington will sooner or later be forced to choose between drastic limitations on coverage in those programs or drastic increases in taxes on the decreasing portion of working Americans. Now we're adding a parallel obligation on younger workers to subsidize healthcare for fiftysomethings.
I really wish I could convince the kids that they're being led into a fiscal Punji stick trap but they all voted for Obama because "fairness" and "hope" and junk.  And if you're an American politicians looking to get elected, to whom will you make your appeal?  The grey army that votes in huge numbers or the youngsters holding down their 29-hour work week?  Keep the machine running until it all breaks down.

Extra - Laurence Kotlikoff: "Oh, and by the way, our government is totally broke."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Default by another name

Interesting bit of history in the WashPost as James Grant explains that "America's default on its debt is inevitable."  Why?  Because it's been done before in technical ways that devalue the dollar and leave creditors taking a haircut.  Excerpt: "In other words, the value of money has become an instrument of public policy, not an honest weight or measure. In such a setting, an old-time “default” is impossible. How can a creditor cry foul when the government to which he is lending has repeatedly said that the value of the money he lent will shrink?"

Obamacare event draws just enough so that "you" is a plural pronoun

Weekly Standard: "Only 2 people attend 'Obamacare and You' event in South Carolina."

Friday, October 11, 2013

An underrated Tarantino film

I got nothing to say, news-wise.  It's gonna go to the wire then there will be a kick-the-can moment.  In the meantime, "Jackie Brown" is on IFC right now.  What a great film, what a great soundtrack.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

It's hard out there for an Iranian scientist

You know they're already in short supply and threatened on all sides.  Fox News: "Internal plot, not Israel, eyed in latest hit on Iranian scientist."  "When a key Iranian scientist was gunned down last week, many observers figured Israeli spy agency Mossad had struck again. But new signs point to deadly intrigue within the rogue nation’s fractious leadership."

Monday, October 07, 2013

Jack Lew pays the bills

If Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by around Oct. 17, Lew, who has been in the job less than a year, will have to sit at his desk and figure out how to make due on roughly one-third less in the way of government funds for the bills he has to pay. Because he can no longer borrow, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, government spending will fall by about 32 percent, or $108 billion in the first month.
Am I the only one around here shocked to discover that the federal government is borrowing one-third of every dollar it spends?  In this partial government shutdown, we're holding back on 17% of spending when we would have to nearly double that amount of cuts just to break even.

Alice in Blunderland

The Corner has the chat session transcript of poor Alice who ventured into a discussion with PGSTX0534, who assured her that there are a lot of visitors on the Obamacare web site.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sticker shock hilarity ensued

The San Jose Mercury News had an article titled "Obamacare's winners and losers" and you can see where this story's gonna go when it opens like this:
Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.
What's that phrase about a conservative is a "liberal mugged by reality?"  A price increase of $10,000/year (not a decrease of $2500) will do that to a guy.
"I was laughing at Boehner -- until the mail came today," Waschura said.
Stop it, Tom, you're killing me!  But just like freelance artist Marilynn Gray-Raine, you'll be paying for my treatment.

Super cool

Fox News: "US military forces conduct 2 major terror raids, seize Al Qaeda leader behind 1998 embassy bombings."  "Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that a pair of raids conducted in Africa by U.S. special forces signaled the ongoing determination of the United States to bring terrorists to justice and sent the message that "members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can't hide."

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Reminder for Bay State Amazon customers

Starting on November 1st, Amazon will start collecting Massachusetts sales tax.  So do your Christmas shopping early.

In the meantime, we have a non-shutdown

Here's Mark Steyn:
This week’s “shutdown” of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. “Mandatory spending” (Social Security, Medicare, et al) is authorized in perpetuity – or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress’s so-called federal budget process. That’s why you’re reading government “shutdown” stories about the Panda Cam at the Washington Zoo and the first lady’s ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.
Hat tip: Axis of Right.

There will be no government

In terms of debt and our feckless national media, you could do worse than this paragraph from Niall Ferguson in the WSJ: "The shutdown is a sideshow."
Yet, entertaining as all this political drama may seem, the theater itself is indeed burning. For the fiscal position of the federal government is in fact much worse today than is commonly realized. As anyone can see who reads the most recent long-term budget outlook—published last month by the Congressional Budget Office, and almost entirely ignored by the media—the question is not if the United States will default but when and on which of its rapidly spiraling liabilities.
"Long-term economics is boring!" whines the media.  "Call us when we hit the iceberg."
True, the federal deficit has fallen to about 4% of GDP this year from its 10% peak in 2009. The bad news is that, even as discretionary expenditure has been slashed, spending on entitlements has continued to rise—and will rise inexorably in the coming years, driving the deficit back up above 6% by 2038.
President Says Stuff like to point out that discretionary spending is hitting new lows - which is true - but this is only because mandatory spending is crowding out the federal budget and we're still running huge deficits.  Should we reform entitlements to preserve some spending on schools and aircraft carriers?  Heavens, no.
A very striking feature of the latest CBO report is how much worse it is than last year's. A year ago, the CBO's extended baseline series for the federal debt in public hands projected a figure of 52% of GDP by 2038. That figure has very nearly doubled to 100%. A year ago the debt was supposed to glide down to zero by the 2070s. This year's long-run projection for 2076 is above 200%. In this devastating reassessment, a crucial role is played here by the more realistic growth assumptions used this year.
Don't worry: thanks to the partial government shutdown, President Says Stuff has recharged his blame-shifting game.  Down, down, down we go.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Only person in America who signed up for Obamacare...didn't

Reason Online has the story: "But in an exclusive phone interview this morning with Reason, Chad's father Bill contradicted virtually every major detail of the story the media can't get enough of. What's more, some of the details that Chad has released are also at odds with published rate schedules and how Obamacare officials say the enrollment system works."  Truthiness: good enough for the MSM.

Extra - Mediaite: "Chad Henderson exposes the media."

More - Twitchy: "MSM enablers promote lying liar's Obamacare fable, fail to issue corrections."

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

100% mandatory spending

Boo-hoo, there's no government.  Get ready for the real thing, sooner than you think.  Kevin Williamson: "The real debt ceiling - What will happen in a decade or so, when default becomes inevitable?"
Interest payments are the only truly mandatory spending our federal government does, even though it treats a rather large category of outlays — from such minor expenditures as the presidential salary to big-ticket items such as Social Security and Medicare — as “mandatory.” Assuming that the CBO’s less-optimistic debt-service projections are somewhat accurate, then by 2023 those outlays will be quite close to projected revenues — and that’s absent any sort of economic crisis or interest-rate spike. Put another way, if we assume that Social Security checks and other entitlement liabilities are just as sacrosanct as interest on Treasury bonds, then we are already locked in on a course in which the cost of past promises will likely match or exceed present revenues, not at some far-off point in the future, but around the time today’s elementary-school students head off to college.
But remember that the Tea Party is the real enemy here.