Monday, April 18, 2011

Quick Update

Just wanted to give a quick update now that the votes have been counted:
It wasn’t quite party-line — four Republicans (Ron Paul among them) joined the Democrats in opposition — but it was awfully close, an amazing achievement for the House GOP given the potential toxicity of this vote. DCCC chief Steve Israel is already chortling that today’s roll will return Democrats to the majority, a distinct possibility once The One hones his Mediscaring technique on the stump. But that’s beside the point: This debate has to happen and there’s no other way to force it. Obama’s perfectly content to let the country’s finances continue to melt down as long as he gets reelected, ... so unless the “Gang of Six” pulls a rabbit out of its hat, this is it. If doing nothing to reduce the country’s catastrophic debt except lying about the rich’s capacity to pay it down turns out to be a big political winner for Democrats, then good luck to them. I’m sure they’ll do a fine job implementing America’s emergency austerity plan a few years from now.
So, it's official, and passed in the House. It will almost certainly be killed in the Senate, but that'll just make for even more GOP campaign ads rightly pointing out which party is the one full of adults trying to seriously address a critical problem, and which party is full of dunderheaded idiots bent on national self-immolation as long as they burn last.

One of the more intriguing aspects of this budget was that it cut funding for a couple of Obamacare components and four of Obama's czars. But...not really:

You didn’t seriously think he was going to abide by the will of Congress, did you? Such is The One’s personal awesomeness that he can order the bombing of Libya without so much as a heads up to the legislature in advance. Surely he wasn’t about to be tripped up by a duly enacted bill that dares to cut off the money he uses for his auxiliary cabinet.

I have to say, of all the Bush policies recycled by Obama, this one’s my favorite just because it’s such a gratuitous offense to his base. You can spin many of the others on expediency grounds — he had to ramp up the drone strikes in Pakistan to crack down on terrorists, he had to keep Gitmo military tribunals going because the Republicans tied his hands — but this one’s pretty much a pure no-apologies betrayal. The bad news: Legally, it’s highly dubious. The good news: It should provoke another classic what-happened-to-the-Barack-I-knew Andrew Sullivan lament.

One rider – Section 2262 — de-funds certain White House adviser positions – or “czars.” The president in his signing statement declares that he will not abide by it.

“The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority,” he wrote. “The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it. Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President’s ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”…

In other words: we know what you wanted that provision to do, but we don’t think it’s constitutional, so we will interpret it differently than the way you meant it.

Remember, one of the big advantages of using “czars” is that they perform cabinet-type functions without being subjected to cabinet-type confirmation hearings. Which means, in this case, not only is he reserving his right to skirt congressional scrutiny of important appointees, he’s reserving his right to force Congress to pay for it by ignoring their own funding strictures. He’s been using signing statements for a long time now, but I’m not sure there’s ever been an example this egregious.

Now, anyone with half a working brain and an accurate understanding of Obama's governing philosophy could have seen this sort of thing coming. GOP Majority Leader John Boehner did not, and this signing statement has him really hacked off. Yay for that show of emotion, but really? You're surprised and upset that the guy who's lied, flip-flopped, and misrepresented his way through his entire political career lied, flip-flopped, and misrepresented things on this? It's no wonder more conservatives are looking for a true conservative to lead the GOP rather than Boehner.

Throughout the entire budget/speech episode, one thing that went virtually unreported was this bombshell:

While everyone else was focused on Barack Obama bashing Paul Ryan, I noticed that he took full ownership of death panels yesterday. Naturally, Obama did not call them death panels. He called them “an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers.” But his description hits dead on with what his death panels will do.

According to Barack Obama yesterday, the death panels “will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need.”

We already know what they’ll recommend as “the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending”. Barack Obama’s own advisers have told us. They will prioritize giving health care to healthier people and let sicker people die. At end of life, they will deny people life sustaining treatment because, after all, they’re going to die anyway. Note his phrasing: “protecting access to the services seniors need.” Dying people, according to Obama’s advisers, need hospice not hope. They certainly do not need expensive treatments that may buy them time to see the birth of a new grandchild or other reasons.

“We will change the way we pay for health care – not by procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results. . . . If we’re wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare,” Obama said. At a time Democrats are saying Republicans want to starve old people to death, Democrats are intent on embracing a cost savings model for Medicare that incentivizes doctors to encourage people to die and, when all else fails, gives a death panel “the authority to make additional savings by” ensuring the dying elderly die quickly.

“Our approach lowers the government’s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself,” Obama said. Really? The only way that will happen is by rationing. You may not like the use of the phrase “death panel,” but make no mistake about it — at the end of your life, in Barack Obama’s America, his death panel will throw you under the bus in a way much closer to reality than metaphor.

You heard it here.

Finally, after all the *cough cough* hard work of taking credit for the 'compromise', Barack Obama turned to other Presidential duties like comforting and providing aid to the families of dozens of Americans killed by tornadoes dealing with another suicide bomber on an American military base playing golf. That's the 64th round of golf he's played as President. By my count, that adds up to about 2.4 rounds per month. Do you play that much? Probably're too busy.


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