The O’Nesky Report is a compilation of the latest stories for the Conservative with a Conscience. It is presented for those who want to stay current on the top issues impacting America and the conservative movement. It is the go-to news feed for those who have limited time but want to keep their finger on the pulse of conservative America.
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“When the state intervenes to insure the indoctrination of some doctrine, it does so because there is no conclusive evidence in favor of that doctrine.” – Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) Philosopher, educator, 1928
Republican Party leaders seem willing, anxious even, to walk away from the Tea Party, certain that such bedrock support will brand the GOP as extremist in voters’ eyes. If anything, polls show, the opposite is true. With 10 months to go before the crucial midterm elections, Republicans understandably will try to avoid screwing up their chances for victory.
Democrats have taken to vilifying any Republican who actually stands for something — such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — as a captive of what they’d like to label as the far-right fringe. This can be seen in the efforts of Sen. Charles Schumer of New York — the Democrats’ top political strategist — to, in the words of The Hill, “poison the Tea Party by driving a wedge between its rich funders and its blue-collar rank and file.”
This kind of hardball has Republicans in a bit of a panic. And in case you’re wondering, it’s a big reason why they supported the pork-filled $1.1 trillion spending bill this month, and why GOP leaders are talking about legalizing millions of illegal immigrants. But before they sell their souls to political expediency, they might want to look at a few recent polls that suggest the small-government, conservative ideals of the Tea Party are quite popular. To wit:
- A Quinnipiac Poll finds 53% believe the Obama administration has been incompetent at running the federal government. And 56% oppose ObamaCare, the Democrats’ signature accomplishment since 2008.
- In a recent Gallup Poll, almost two-thirds of Americans said the U.S. government has gotten too big and too powerful, and are unhappy with how it works.
- A Fox News Poll found 62% believing income inequality is acceptable “because that’s just how the economy works.” Another 21% agreed inequality was bad, but that the government “shouldn’t get involved.”
Get the picture? Average Americans show a strong preference for smaller, more-accountable government. And which group most closely fits that description in its basic beliefs? Why, the Tea Party, of course. Republicans would be wise to heed the people’s clear will and not fall for Democrat ploys to make them feel “extreme.” If anything, it’s the Democrats, now a party of the far left, who are the extremists.
Republicans shouldn’t look at them and say, “Me, too.” As a statesman once said, Americans deserve a choice, not an echo.
Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily – January 23, 2014
Pilots Stripped Of Constitutional Rights Forced To Transport Tens Of 1000s Of Illegal Muslims To US
This is a must watch video. “Adherents to Shariah are fundamentally and unalterably opposed to the survival of the Constitution of the United States.” -Tennessee state Rep. Rick Womick
“Tennessee state Rep. Rick Womick, who participated in a panel called “Defending Liberty in Legislatures,” is an Boeing 777 airline pilot who has flown five flights with Somali immigrants on board from London to New York City.”
ObamaCare’s Missing Uninsured
Most who have signed up already had insurance. The Medicaid numbers are no more reassuring. “I’m not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance for the first time,” President Obama declared in November. Echoing his boss, White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted that millions of Americans are now “able to avail themselves of quality, affordable health insurance . . . many of them for the first time.” The Affordable Care Act would right a great social wrong. Or so we were told. But reality is again intruding on the Obama administration’s narrative.
This newspaper reported Saturday that between 65% and 80% of those who have signed up for health insurance through the federal or state ObamaCare exchanges previously had coverage, according to insurers. A survey by McKinsey & Co. suggested that only 11% of those who purchased plans through the exchanges were previously uninsured.
Surprised? We shouldn’t be. This was forecast in a February 2011 study underwritten by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Researchers at the VA, Boston University’s School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School’s Mongan Institute for Health Policy focused on “crowd-out” effects in which employees and their families are moved “from private to public insurance without reducing the number of uninsured very much.” The study concluded that, over the long run, the Affordable Care Act “will shift increasing numbers of workers from employer-sponsored insurance to public insurance and federally-subsidized insurance purchased through exchanges.”
Crowding-out seems to have started earlier than anticipated. This is probably because the study (a) did not consider ObamaCare’s impact in causing the cancellation of many policies in the individual and small-group markets, or (b) its incentives for companies to drop employer-provided coverage, especially businesses with fewer than 50 workers. Whatever the explanation, most people getting private insurance under ObamaCare already had it, probably with lower premiums and deductibles…
It’s worth noting, too, that compared with the pre-ObamaCare period of July-September 2013, Medicaid applications in November were down 4.2% in states that expanded Medicaid and 15.2% in states that did not. One would expect all the hubbub about the new law, especially the availability of Medicaid in states that expanded coverage, would have produced more, not fewer, applications…
Did all these patterns continue in December? We don’t yet know. Although CMS reported November’s numbers on Dec. 20, Jan. 20 came and went without a CMS update for December. Perhaps they had a computer problem.
Regardless, most people signing up for the exchanges or Medicaid were already covered by private plans or eligible for Medicaid. This is not how it was supposed to be. Mr. Obama promised coverage for those without insurance and no disruptions for those already possessing it. Instead, tens of millions of Americans are not receiving coverage while there are massive disruptions for those who had plans before ObamaCare.
In doing great damage to our health-care system, Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats are also discovering there’s a big price for massive incompetence, hype and misdirection.
Karl Rove, The Wall Street Journal – January 23, 2014
Target To Drop Health Insurance For Part-Time Workers
Target said it will end health insurance for part-time employees, joining Trader Joe’s, Home Depot and other retailers that have scaled back benefits in response to changes from ObamaCare, says Bloomberg.
- About 10 percent of Target’s part-time employees, defined as those working fewer than 30 hours a week, use the company’s health plans now.
- Target said it would pay $500 to part-timers losing coverage and a consulting firm will help workers sign up for new ObamaCare plans…
National Center for Policy Analysis – January 23, 2014
Board Declares NSA Data Sweep Illegal, Says Program Should Be Ended
An independent board tasked with reviewing National Security Agency surveillance called Thursday for the government to end its mass data collection program and “purge” its files, declaring the program illegal in a major challenge to President Obama.
The president did not go nearly as far when he called last week for ending government control of phone data collected from hundreds of millions of Americans. In its report, obtained by Fox News and scheduled for release Thursday afternoon, The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) said the program ran afoul of the law on several fronts. “The … bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation,” the board’s report said, adding that it raises “serious threats to privacy and civil liberties” and has “only limited value.”
“As a result, the Board recommends that the government end the program,” the panel wrote. It remains to be seen whether Obama will accept all or part of the recommendations, but the findings could nevertheless be used as leverage in federal lawsuits against NSA spying. The report concluded that the NSA collection raises “constitutional concerns” with regard to U.S. citizens’ rights of speech, association and privacy.
“The connections revealed by the extensive database of telephone records gathered under the program will necessarily include relationships established among individuals and groups for political, religious, and other expressive purposes,” it said. “Compelled disclosure to the government of information revealing these associations can have a chilling effect on the exercise of First Amendment rights.” The panel added that the program “implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments.”…
The report also rejected claims that the program was necessary to cover up a gap in intelligence arising from a failure to detect Al Qaeda members in the United States prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. U.S. officials had claimed that the phone data collection program would have made clear that terrorist Khalid al-Mihdhar was calling a safehouse in Yemen from a San Diego address. “The failure to identify Mihdhar’s presence in the United States stemmed primarily from a lack of information sharing among federal agencies, not of a lack of surveillance capabilities,” the report said. “This was a failure to connect the dots, not a failure to connect enough dots.”
The board’s recommendations go well beyond the reforms ordered by Obama in a major speech last Friday, in which he said that the phone records database would no longer be held by the NSA. Obama also tightened restrictions on gathering and accessing phone data, but did not recommend the program’s end…
The oversight board was created at the urging of the independent commission on the 9/11 attacks as a key organizational reform needed to balance counterterrorism policy with civil liberties concerns. The board functioned fitfully for several years, often short on members because of Congress’ inaction. It finally won legislative approval last year for all five members and staff and took on its study of the NSA programs at the urging of Obama and congressional leaders.
AP, FoxNews – January 23, 2014
Moody’s Blames Obamacare For Downgrade In Health Insurers
Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday downgraded its outlook on U.S. health insurers from stable to negative, citing concerns with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In its announcement, Moody’s said that the Affordable Care Act has continued to “create uncertainty for the industry.” “While we’ve had industry risks from regulatory changes on our radar for a while, the ongoing unstable and evolving environment is a key factor for our outlook change,” said Stephen Zaharuk, a Moody’s Senior Vice President and author of the report. “The past few months have seen new regulations and announcements that impose operational changes well after product and pricing decisions were finalized.”
The past few months have been full of problems for President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. For much of October and November,website glitches led to low enrollment numbers. Though most of those website issues have been resolved, Moody’s cited concerns with the demographic breakdown of enrollments. Specifically, Moody’s said it was disconcerting that only 24% of enrollees so far have been between the ages of 18-34, when the original target for this group was around 40%. If the trend continues without enrollment from the young and healthy to balance out the older and sicker, it could lead insurers to increase rates.
Moody’s also cited a concern that insurers’ premium calculations could be insufficient to cover the industry assessment tax — the new tax on medical devices that begins in 2014. “These changing dynamics will have an uneven effect on insurers…
Brett LoGiurato, Yahoo Finance – January 23, 2014
The Majority Of Voters ‘Get It’
- 74 percent of U.S. voters say they feel that the nation is “still in a recession.”
- 69 percent say their friends and family do not resent people who make a lot of money.
- 62 percent accept the fact that some people make more than others because “that’s how our economy works.”
- 21 percent say this phenomenon “stinks” and 13 percent say it “makes them angry.”
- 55 percent say cutting federal taxes and reducing regulations will help the economy.
- 55 percent say that giving unemployment benefits for those unemployed “a long time” discourages them from finding work.
- 12 percent agree that “if someone becomes successful and makes a lot of money, it means that someone else has to make less money.”
Source: A Fox News poll of 1,010 registered U.S. voters conducted Jan. 19-21.
Jennifer Harper, Inside the Beltway – January 23, 2014
Oh, We Bad! Our Big-Boy President Takes To Trash-Talking al Qaeda
In his compelling and revealing new memoir, “Duty,” former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates describes that tense evening in the White House situation room when the Obama crowd watched the assassination of Osama bin Laden real-time. When the world’s most wanted man had been popped, bagged and was enroute to the bottom of the Indian Ocean, the in-crowd rose to disperse. Obama would soon announce the news, igniting spontaneous street celebrations.
Gates worried about leaks of operational details revealing how Special Ops conducts such raids nightly in the world’s deadliest corners. He asked everyone to promise to reveal nothing more of what they saw than the bare facts. We got him. He’s dead. All raiders are safe. Everyone agreed. “That lasted about five hours,” Gates recalls sadly.
So intense was the Obama administration’s need to gloat, brag, spike the football, chest-bump, end-zone dance that within hours officials, on background without identification, provided reporters the “tick-tock.”
That’s the beloved minute-by-minute account of some major news event that D.C. media gobble up faster than like free food. The raid timeline, number of raiders, stealth helicopters, refueling stops, radar-jamming, the hard-drives and documents seized, even the name of the SEALs dog, everything, each detail designed to make the campaigning president look good. And if all this empty braggadocio made life more dangerous for the real combatants, well, that simply wasn’t a consideration.
Everyone agrees Obama sat and watched the bin Laden raid with tremendous courage, as the SEALs did their deadly duty half-a-world-away that night. Soon, Obama was repeatedly describing al Qaeda as on the run and decimated by military and drone strikes.
A year later this clearly-crippled and no-longer-effective terrorist organization and its affiliates sacked and burned the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing four Americans, including the ambassador. The Obama response was to fabricate a tale about an obscure video as the cause and stick to it, even after documented debunking by his own experts. Last May in a major national defense speech, trying to pivot from his growing scandals, Obama naively proclaimed this country could not be perpetually at war — as if that’s a unilateral decision he can make regardless of actions by others.
Now comes another stunning example of Obama’s Amateur Hour. He had a recent conversation with David Remnick of the New Yorker. Now Remnick, like Bob Woodward, is a master at getting subjects to talk. But Obama has just begun the 62d month of his presidency as commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military. He didn’t just fall off the sweet-potato truck. Yes, the Super Bowl looms near, prompting all kinds of inappropriate sports metaphors and analogies.
However, as he sought to explain White House thinking to his journalist visitor, Obama should know better than to stoop to the inflammatory, trash-talking level of a Richard Sherman. “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a J.V. team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Forget for a moment, Mr. President, the fact that the hobbled Bryant has been out since late last year with no return date set. So, right now in basketball warrior terms, Kobe Bryant is useless.
Al Qaeda, on the other hand, has never controlled more territory. Thanks to Obama’s impulsive overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi with no replacement at hand, those terrorists now control most of Libya. They’re on the winning side of Obama’s vanished red line in Syria. And they came within a few days of taking over Mali, but for a U.S. airlift of French troops. A reinforcement rescue the Obama administration was completely unprepared to undertake on 9/11/12 to save embattled Americans in Benghazi.
Remember Obama’s misplaced concern over bin Laden’s death photos? Never mind giving 317 million Americans the satisfaction of seeing that satanic symbol of murderous evil brought to final justice. Instead, Obama’s ruling worry was over inciting crazy people to still do crazy things. As if sparing their delicate eyes from a bullet-riddled bin Laden would somehow cause terrorists to go easy on the next vest laden with C-4.
But now suddenly it’s OK for a dismissive Obama to flippantly liken the homicidal remnants of al Qaeda to pimply teen-aged boys who can’t make the varsity basketball team? Seriously? You can bet before the next game this clipping will go up on the bulletin board in al Qaeda’s locker room. Thank goodness, though, Obama finally appears to have gotten his priorities straightened out. Yes, he did vow that 2014 would be a year of action creating all those promised jobs. But that’s later.
Today’s big issue event for both the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States is to hear recommendations from a special commission they created to reduce wait times for voters. Seriously.
Andrew Malcolm, Investor’s Business Daily – January 22, 2014
The Netherlands Embarks On Welfare Reform
The Netherlands, which built one of the world’s largest welfare states, is trying to reduce welfare dependency, says Michael Boskin, a professor of economics at Stanford University. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Netherlands developed a welfare program that contained so many subsidies and transfer payments that after-tax wages were barely higher than the benefits being paid out by the government. When Dutch citizens lost their jobs, they rarely returned to work.
The welfare state did a lot to damage the Dutch economy. King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, recently said: “Our labor market and system of public services no longer fully meet the demands of the twenty-first century….The classical welfare state is slowly but surely evolving into a participation society.” As a result, the country is taking steps to change that:
- Disability insurance led to skyrocketing disability payments, even while the percent of workers in dangerous jobs decreased. To deal with that rise in payments, the Dutch are requiring firms with high claim rates to pay more for the insurance, to incentivize workplace safety.
- The country has begun using information campaigns to encourage the unemployed to return to work, and welfare recipients now must demonstrate proof that they are actively searching for a job before they can become eligible for benefits. They also must work or perform volunteer community service while receiving benefits. Even if a job requires a long commute, the system requires that recipients take that job.
Other countries should take similar steps. All countries are going to see an increase in dependency as life expectancies rise. The United States, in the next 30 years, will go from one retiree for every three workers to one retiree for every two workers, and Italy and Germany each will have a 1:1 ratio.
Governments should make an effort to rein in their unsustainable welfare state programs before it is too late.
National Center for Policy Analysis – January 22, 2014
The U.S. must reform [all the freebie programs] and it must be soon. But that will require a positive change in the federal government. Hopefully the GOP can win control of the Senate in 2014 and will start the process. Don O’Nesky
“Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.” – Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American author, philosopher, awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
Via CNBC, an appropriate companion story to Moody’s decision to downgrade health insurers’ credit outlook to “negative.” At least one chief executive within the industry is openly warning markets and consumers that actions — and math — have real-world consequences, no matter how hard political actors spin.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told CNBC on Wednesday that Obamacare has failed to attract the uninsured, and he offered a scenario in which the insurance company could be forced to pull out of program. The company will be submitting Obamacare rates for 2015 onMay 15. “Are they going to be double-digit [increases] or are we going to get beat up because they’re double-digit or are we just going to have to pull out of the program?” Bertolini asked…”Those questions can’t be answered until we see the population we have today. And we really don’t have a good view on that.” He said that so far, Obamacare has just shifted people who were insured in the individual market to the public exchanges where they could get a better deal on a subsidy for coverage. “We see only 11 percent of the population is actually people that were firmly uninsured that are now insured. So [it] didn’t really eat into the uninsured population.”
That brief excerpt underscores several intractable problems with the president’s healthcare law. (1) The risk pools’ demographics aren’t shaping up to be healthy enough to make the exchanges work well. (2) If insurers eventually begin to sever ties with Obamacare, the remaining plans will face an even more acute scarcity crisis. In other words, “access shock.” (3) Climbing premiums appear to be a fact of life under Obamacare, which was sold as an antidote to the problem. (4) Very few of the “newly” insured within the exchanges were previously uninsured — the very population that this expensive law was ostensibly designed to help. In light of those struggles, Jonah Goldberg poses the rhetorical question that many Americans are asking themselves: So what was the point of Obamacare, again? Bertolini went on to comment that because Obamacare represents such a small sliver of Aetna’s business, the prospect of a health insurance bailout is basically a non-factor for his company. That won’t be the case for other insurers, however, and I’d imagine that a (scheduled) industry bailout won’t go over particularly well with the public, for reasons outlined by Megan McArdle:
Summer 2014: Insurers get a sizable chunk of money from the government to cover any excess losses. When the costs are published, this is going to be wildly unpopular: The administration has spent three years saying that Obamacare was the antidote to abuses by Big, Bad Insurance Companies, and suddenly it’s a mechanism to funnel taxpayer money to them?
Those costs may not be published until 2015. I quoted McArdle’s piece at some length yesterday, and I’d encourage you to read the entire thing. She and another Obamacare opponent debated two supporters of the law on the hyper-liberal, tony Upper West Side of Manhattan earlier in the week. And they won.
For your reference, a “win” in this forum is determined by which side persuaded more people, based on pre- and post-debate votes from audience members. Obamacare’s critics doubled their percentage of the vote among a crowd that is heavily inclined to support the president and his liberal policies.