Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WSJ.com - The Peoples' Revolt in Iran


WSJ.com - Opinion: The Peoples' Revolt in Iran


Yesterday offered a glimpse into the [Iranian] regime's crisis of legitimacy. As in the waning days of the Shah in the late 1970s, Iranians merely need an excuse to show what they think of their rulers.

Absent religious legitimacy for the so-called Islamic Republic, the current rulers must rely on blunt means of preservation, such as the elite Revolutionary Guards and the Basiji militias. Thus Iran seems to be morphing into a military dictatorship, not unlike the Poland of Wojciech Jaruzelski after the "workers"—the supposed communist vanguard—turned against that regime.

The White House is still pleading for talks even as its December deadline passes without any concession from Tehran. Meantime, the Iranian opposition virtually begs Washington not to confer any legitimacy on the regime, and the democracy demonstrators crave American support. Iran's civil society clock may now be ticking faster than its nuclear clock. However hard it may be to achieve, a new regime in Tehran offers the best peaceful way to halt Iran's atomic program. Shouldn't American policy be directed toward realizing that goal?



Monday, December 21, 2009

WSJ.com - Change Nobody Believes In

WSJ.com - Opinion: Change Nobody Believes In


Mr. Obama promised a new era of transparent good government, yet on Saturday morning Mr. Reid threw out the 2,100-page bill that the world's greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new "manager's amendment" that was stapled together in covert partisan negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what's in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning. After procedural motions that allow for no amendments, the final vote could come at 9 p.m. on December 24.

The rushed, secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that "reform" has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state. An increasing roll of leaders in health care and business are looking on aghast at a bill that is so large and convoluted that no one can truly understand it, as Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted on the floor last week. The only goal is to ram it into law while the political window is still open, and clean up the mess later.


Health costs. The best and most rigorous cost analysis shows that a healthy 25-year-old in Milwaukee buying coverage on the individual market will see his costs rise by 178%. A small business based in Richmond with eight employees in average health will see a 23% increase. Insurance costs for a 40-year-old family with two kids living in Indianapolis will pay 106% more. And on and on.

These increases are solely the result of ObamaCare—above and far beyond the status quo—because its strict restrictions on underwriting and risk-pooling would distort insurance markets.

Steep declines in choice and quality. Unnoticed by the press corps, the Congressional Budget Office argued recently that the Senate bill would so "substantially reduce flexibility in terms of the types, prices, and number of private sellers of health insurance" that companies like WellPoint might need to "be considered part of the federal budget."

Blowing up the federal fisc. The truth is that no one really knows how much ObamaCare will cost because its assumptions on paper are so unrealistic.

The tragedy is that Mr. Obama inherited a consensus that the health-care status quo needs serious reform, and a popular President might have crafted a durable compromise that blended the best ideas from both parties. A more honest and more thoughtful approach might have even done some good.

These 60 Democrats are creating a future of epic increases in spending, taxes and command-and-control regulation, in which bureaucracy trumps innovation and transfer payments are more important than private investment and individual decisions. In short, the Obama Democrats have chosen change nobody believes in—outside of themselves—and when it passes America will be paying for it for decades to come.




Thursday, December 10, 2009

WSJ.com - Olympia Snowe Is Right

Mr. Obama was elected largely by promising to “change” the tone in D.C. and govern in a bi-partisan manner.  We’ve seen little of that so far, and this debate seems to only be reinforcing the partisan divide.


WSJ.com - Opinion: Olympia Snowe Is Right


Mrs. Snowe began by noting that this year's health debate is "one of the most complex and intricate undertakings the Congress has ever confronted," and that she, too, has devoted much of her three-decade political career to promoting cheaper, better quality insurance. "But it must be done in an effective, common-sense and bipartisan way," she cautioned.

Far from "systematically working through the concerns, the issues and the alternatives," Mrs. Snowe added, Democrats have instead favored "artificially generated haste" and settled on a strategy "to ram it, to jam it" through Congress. The Senator detailed her good-faith participation in the "group of six" on the Senate Finance Committee, which met some 31 times over the spring and summer and reflected "the kind of extensive, meticulous process that an issue of this magnitude requires."

Her main and telling point was that durable social reform in America has always been bipartisan, and not merely with one or two opposition party votes.

While Social Security passed when Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House, she said, 64% of Senate Republicans and 79% of the House GOP supported it. Civil rights passed with 82% of Republicans in the Senate and 80% in the House, while 41% and 51%, respectively, voted for Medicare. Mrs. Snowe could have added the 1996 welfare reform that President Clinton signed with the support of nearly all Republicans in Congress, 98 Democratic Representatives and 25 Democratic Senators.

"Policies that will affect more than 300 million people simply should not be decided by partisan, one-vote-margin strategies," Senator Snowe explained, and Congress should not be "railroading solutions along partisan lines."

The [current] bill's main problem isn't its abortion provision or even the debate over the "public option" that Democrats will probably settle with an inartful dodge. The problem is the core of the bill: more than $400 billion in new taxes and a half-trillion dollars in Medicare cuts to pay for a vast new entitlement that is certain to increase the cost of insurance, reduce the quality of medical care and ruin the federal fisc. This is the reason Democrats have no chance of winning over Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, Judd Gregg, Chuck Grassley, Susan Collins, John McCain, Mike Enzi or other Republicans who have cooperated with Democrats on health care and other issues in the past.



Note: To better understand why none of the current proposals will actually improve health care in this country, be sure to read the previously posted article How American Health Care Killed My Father

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

WSJ.com - My Big Fat Government Takeover

Although I disagree with the way McGurn glosses over the problems with the Bush administration, I think he’s basically right in framing the argument between elites who think they know best for everyone else, and those who trust individuals to exercise liberty in a marketplace.  It’s too bad Republicans have tarnished their brand by embracing some of the same elitism.  We need government to be a fair referee, not a big brother or controlling nanny.


WSJ.com - Opinion: My Big Fat Government Takeover


At a time when many claim to see no difference between the two political parties, President Obama and his Democratic allies are making one distinction paramount: their operating assumption that bigger government is better government.


Many of the people in the Obama administration, the president included, enjoy all the credentials we associate with the best and the brightest: the right schools, the good grades, the successful careers. Alas, whether it be allocating health care or defining the kind of jobs the economy ought to create, the policies they favor suggest a strong belief that they know what's best not just for themselves, but for everyone else too.


Of course, the kind of people who are apt to push for government-imposed solutions are those who are also apt to believe they will be the ones imposing decisions, not the ones who have to live with decisions imposed by others... Mostly, however, their trust in government reflects their confidence that they have all the answers and that it's government's job to enforce them.


What about conservatives? Don't we have confidence in our judgment and abilities? Of course we do. The difference is that we trust free citizens to make decisions about themselves—and are skeptical about government…. That's because conservatives believe that even our smartest friend is no match for the collective wisdom of the marketplace.





Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WSJ.com - Climategate: Follow the Money

All of [these global warming advocacy & research groups] have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.

None of these outfits is per se corrupt, in the sense that the monies they get are spent on something other than their intended purposes. But they depend on an inherently corrupting premise, namely that the hypothesis on which their livelihood depends has in fact been proved. Absent that proof, everything they represent—including the thousands of jobs they provide—vanishes. This is what's known as a vested interest, and vested interests are an enemy of sound science.