To think we are not an “entitlement nation” and that we have not been fleeced is to deny the obvious.
It is also completely disingenuous to deny that under the Obama Administration, and perhaps a major reason he has won two terms, “goodies” are a major driving factor in every facet of our society and that does not even include the fraud that is ObamaCare. James Madison must be rolling in his grave, as likely many other founding fathers are also doing.
When reading the article below concerning the number of means-tested recipients receiving government benefits compared to full-time, year-round workers, remember that the reported numbers released last week by the US Census Bureau were for the United States for the fourth quarter of 2011.
Also consider that in July of 2011, the total population of the United States (Without DC, Puerto Rico, and other territories) was approximately 313,281,717.
With these numbers in mind, comparing the 108,592,500 recipients not only outnumbers the total population of the Philippines and approaches that of Mexico as is mentioned in the article, they also outnumber the entire population of the 35 smallest states here in the USA at 106,407,993. (Again, not including DC, Puerto Rico, and all other territories)
Comparing these numbers in reverse to the most populated states of California, Texas, New York, and Florida at approximately 102,988,462 (July 2011), the recipients still need the total population of Minnesota as well to be close to equal.
These comparisons however do not include data from the years after the last quarter of 2011; almost two full years in which we saw massive growth in the percentage of the total population that pays zero income taxes (now @43%) and over 47 million collect food stamps.
Then we need to add in the numbers of those receiving “earned income tax credits” and non-means-tested aid. Remember also, the IRS paid out $110 billion in improper tax credits in the past five years and admitted it has no intention or way of fixing the problem.
Now we need to address the political ramifications of our present dilemma and who is doing what about it. We do not need to examine the Democratic Party cloely, we only need to use the term “more”. More taxes, more handouts, and now redistribution of health care. As for the Republicans, Andy C. McCarthy has written recently that “the establishment GOP has accepted progressivism’s central premise…embracing the welfare state.” McCarthy explains:
…asserting in last weekend’s column that what we commonly call the Republican establishment — i.e., not all individual Republicans but GOP leadership — “is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty.” The statement may have been provocative in the sense of expressing a truth that people on the political Right prefer not to talk about. But it was not controversial because it is indisputably true.
In his latest article cited above, he thanks Charles Krauthammer for helping prove his, and SUA’s shared point, true conservatives are not opposed to helping those who truly need help or that we do need some government, but we are opposed to the massive growth of the “nanny state” we now live in. McCarthy explains further:
Conservatives, including most of those who were against the New Deal, are not opposed to social welfare for the truly needy. We believe, however, in the constitutional framework, which reserves the promotion of social welfare to the states and the people. Social-welfare policy is not one of what Madison described as “the few and defined” powers delegated to the central government.
It is, instead, a paradigmatic power of the sovereign states because, as Madison elaborated, it “concern[s] the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” The Constitution thus enables Congress to tax and spend for the general welfare — on public goods, related to Congress’s carefully enumerated Article I powers, that benefit all Americans; not on redistributionist schemes that fleece some citizens for the benefit of others.
America, you have been fleeced, please read on:
Census Bureau: Means-Tested Gov’t Benefit Recipients Outnumber Full-Time Year-Round Workers
(CNSNews.com) – Americans who were recipients of means-tested government benefits in 2011 outnumbered year-round full-time workers, according to data released this month by the Census Bureau.
They also out-numbered the total population of the Philippines.
There were 108,592,000 people in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2011 who were recipients of one or more means-tested government benefit programs, the Census Bureau said in data released this week. Meanwhile, according to the Census Bureau, there were 101,716,000 people who worked full-time year round in 2011. That included both private-sector and government workers.
That means there were about 1.07 people getting some form of means-tested government benefit for every 1 person working full-time year round.
The Census Bureau counted as recipients of means-tested government programs “anyone residing in a household in which one or more people received benefits from the program.” Many of these people lived in households receiving more than one form of means-tested benefit at the same time.
Among the 108,592,000 people who fit the Census Bureau’s description of a means-tested benefit recipient in the fourth quarter of 2011 were 82,457,000 people in households receiving Medicaid, 49,073,000 beneficiaries of food stamps, 20,223,000 on Supplemental Security Income, 23,228,000 in the Women, Infants and Children program, 13,433,000 in public or subsidized rental housing, and 5,854,000 in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Also among the 108,592,000 means-tested benefit recipients counted by the Census Bureau were people getting free or reduced-price lunch or breakfast, state-administered supplemental security income and means-tested veterans pensions.
The 108,592,000 people who were recipients of means-tested government programs in the fourth quarter of 2011 does not include people who received benefits from non-means-tested government programs but not from means-tested ones. That would include, for example, people who received Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, or non-means-tested veterans compensation, but did not receive benefits from a means-tested program such as food stamps or public housing.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Census Bureau, there were 49,901,000 people who received Social Security benefits, 46,440,000 who received Medicare benefits, 5,098,000 on unemployment, and 3,178,000 who received non-means-tested veterans compensation.
When the people who received non-means-tested government benefits from programs such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and non-means-tested veterans compensation are added to those who received means-tested government programs such as food stamps, Supplemental Security Income and public housing, the total number of people receiving government benefits from one or more programs in the United States in 2011 climbs to 151,014,000, according to the Census Bureau.
The 108,592,000 people who were beneficiaries of means-tested government programs in the United States in 2011 not only outnumbered full-time year-round workers, they also outnumbered the total population of the Philippines, which is 105,720,644, according to the CIA World Factbook. They are also approaching the number of people living in Mexico, which is 116,220,947, according to the CIA.
Editor’s Note – Credibility – the term should be on the tip of everyone’s tongue and the question in everybody’s ears as Obama or anyone speaks in DC, on any subject. There simply is no credibility in the Oval Office and in a lot of offices in Congress.
From Fast & Furious, to the IRS Scandal, to the NSA Scandal, to the “Grenade Walking” follow-on from Fast & Furious, to the complete flip flops on the debt ceiling, to the promises broken and the disastrous failure that was the roll-out on Obamacare – credibility?
Ask the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as they have to handle people in all the many scandals like Kathleen Sebelius, Lois Lerner, Eric Holder, National Parks Director Jonathan Jarvis, and Hillary Clinton, et al.
Ask the Saudis about credibility, ask the Israelis, ask the Syrian freedom fighters, ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ask the Brazilians, ask the French – credibility? Ask MG Vallely who wrote on this very subject many times as well.
This is only a short and incomplete list of the administration’s failures, but first and foremost, ask the families of the lost heroes of Benghazi – CREDIBILITY?
Obama and his entire team, including his sycophants, apologists, and surrogates – zero credibility. How can anyone defend anything the Obama administration has done with a straight face anymore – it defies all credulity. These were the very people who blamed the “shutdown” on Ted Cruz and the Tea Party – again zero credibility, but they are not the only ones to question.
What is worse to many including SUA though are the many establishment Republicans who cried that what Ted Cruz did ruined their plan for recapturing the power in DC, it was the wrong tactic. Their credibility is also suspect now. At least in the House there were many votes to keep the government from partially closing, but establishment folks called Cruz and others names, just as the left did.
The abysmal Obamacare roll-out shows that what Ted Cruz and the Tea Party wanted was correct – to save Americans from this imminent train wreck, one aimed at the American citizenry, and now John McCain wants to run for President again – credibility?
And then there are the democrats who are seeking reelection in 2014 now pushing for exactly what Cruz and the Tea Party wanted – a delay and fairness at a minimum – will we see them flip flop more as Obamacare disintegrates before our eyes as well?
Henninger: Obama’s Credibility Is Melting
Here and abroad, Obama’s partners are concluding they cannot trust him.
The collapse of ObamaCare is the tip of the iceberg for the magical Obama presidency.
From the moment he emerged in the public eye with his 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention and through his astonishing defeat of the Clintons in 2008, Barack Obama’s calling card has been credibility. He speaks, and enough of the world believes to keep his presidency afloat. Or used to.
All of a sudden, from Washington to Riyadh, Barack Obama’s credibility is melting.
Amid the predictable collapse the past week of HealthCare.gov’s too-complex technology, not enough notice was given to Sen. Marco Rubio‘s statement that the chances for success on immigration reform are about dead. Why? Because, said Sen. Rubio, there is “a lack of trust” in the president’s commitments.
“This notion that they’re going to get in a room and negotiate a deal with the president on immigration,” Sen. Rubio said Sunday on Fox News, “is much more difficult to do” after the shutdown negotiations of the past three weeks.
Sen. Rubio said he and other reform participants, such as Idaho’s Rep. Raul Labrador, are afraid that if they cut an immigration deal with the White House—say, offering a path to citizenship in return for strong enforcement of any new law—Mr. Obama will desert them by reneging on the enforcement.
When belief in the average politician’s word diminishes, the political world marks him down and moves away. With the president of the United States, especially one in his second term, the costs of the credibility markdown become immeasurably greater. Ask the Saudis.
Last weekend the diplomatic world was agog at the refusal of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to accept a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Global disbelief gave way fast to clear understanding: The Saudis have decided that the United States is no longer a reliable partner in Middle Eastern affairs.
The Saudi king, who supported Syria’s anti-Assad rebels early, before Islamic jihadists polluted the coalition, watched Mr. Obama’s red line over Assad’s use of chemical weapons disappear into an about-face deal with Vladimir Putin. The next time King Abdullah looked up, Mr. Obama was hanging the Saudis out to dry yet again by phoning up Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani, Assad’s primary banker and armorer, to chase a deal on nuclear weapons. Within days, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar, let it be known that the Saudis intend to distance themselves from the U.S.
What is at issue here is not some sacred moral value, such as “In God We Trust.” Domestic politics or the affairs of nations are not an avocation for angels. But the coin of this imperfect realm is credibility. Sydney Greenstreet’s Kasper Gutman explained the terms of trade in “The Maltese Falcon”: “I must tell you what I know, but you won’t tell me what you know. That is hardly equitable, sir. I don’t think we can do business along those lines.”
Bluntly, Mr. Obama’s partners are concluding that they cannot do business with him. They don’t trust him. Whether it’s the Saudis, the Syrian rebels, the French, the Iraqis, the unpivoted Asians or the congressional Republicans, they’ve all had their fill of coming up on the short end with so mercurial a U.S. president. And when that happens, the world’s important business doesn’t get done. It sits in a dangerous and volatile vacuum.
The next major political event in Washington is the negotiation over spending, entitlements and taxes between House budget chairman Paul Ryan and his Senate partner, Patty Murray. The bad air over this effort is the same as that Marco Rubio says is choking immigration reform: the fear that Mr. Obama will urge the process forward in public and then blow up any Ryan-Murray agreement at the 11th hour with deal-killing demands for greater tax revenue.
Then there is Mr. Obama’s bond with the American people, which is diminishing with the failed rollout of the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare is the central processing unit of the Obama presidency’s belief system. Now the believers are wondering why the administration suppressed knowledge of the huge program’s problems when hundreds of tech workers for the project had to know this mess would happen Oct. 1.
Rather than level with the public, the government’s most senior health-care official, Kathleen Sebelius, spent days spewing ludicrous and incredible happy talk about the failure, while refusing to provide basic information about its cause.
Voters don’t normally accord politicians unworldly levels of belief, but it has been Barack Obama’s gift to transform mere support into victorious credulousness. Now that is crumbling, at great cost. If here and abroad, politicians, the public and the press conclude that Mr. Obama can’t play it straight, his second-term accomplishments will lie only in doing business with the world’s most cynical, untrustworthy partners. The American people are the ones who will end up on the short end of those deals.
Each day as I watch the news reports from across the globe on recent events, I begin to wonder who our friends are anymore. I ask you to identify who are the friends of the United States? Allies are dropping like flies. Saudi Arabia just fell off the American friend tree!
We have major problems even defining who our enemies are. Having visited the Middle East (Turkey, Syria, and Egypt several times in the past eighteen months), I was witness to the obvious signs of the downward spiral of US credibility and respect we have with our friends, allies, and enemies.
Egyptians cannot understand after 45 years that an American administration would spurn their civil uprising against the Muslim Brotherhood and shut off the US military modernization assistance at a critical time in the Middle East when the security of the Suez Canal is at stake. It appears that this administration continues to cast aside allies, to marginalize our friends, and the number of our enemies seems to be growing.
Do we in fact, have any competent senior government officials or are the only amateurs handling foreign relations and our national security? How many of you see this happening and are you as concerned about this as I am?
Any special relationships garnered since World War II appear to have disappeared or are certainly in decline. Maybe many of our old allies have lost confidence in us as a leader in the world. The international chessboard is changing and not changing for the good of America.
We cannot permit the current leaders in the White House and Halls of Congress to continue in their efforts to lead us down the road of Progressive Socialism and destruction of America. We cannot continue to allow our national prestige and honor to be decimated at home or abroad.
The chessboard must be reset, and reset now; before chaos and any irreparable damage takes place. The more damage incurred by this nation only means that we will have to endure more pain in order to resurrect the United States international reputation and former standing as the world’s sole super-power. Please do not take my word for it. Just look around and commit yourself to being part of the solution, become a large and major part of resetting the chessboard of the globe.
The current battle that Constitutionalists and Americans face is the incompetence, deceit, fraud, corruption, dishonesty and violation of the US Constitution and oaths of office of certain and well identified elected and appointed officials. To our friends (whomever they may be now), this relates to our national character, our alliances, our mutual security, our interwoven economies, and the trueness and viability of our friendships.
The Obama White House, State Department, and CIA have been peculiarly inept at working with any of our allies and enemies to the point that it has jeopardized some of our most important relationships (Egypt as the current example). Can anyone tell me when our last diplomatic victory occurred?
Hillary Clinton traveled the world, setting new State Department records for burning fuel, with no record of any success diplomatically anywhere that I can document. John Kerry appears to be following the same path and continually trying to reuse old, tired, and failed ploys.
As a result, President Vladimir Putin of Russia rises as a diplomatic hero and has charmed much of the world even though they know the nefarious intentions of the Russian government. I have tried to determine the last diplomatic victory for America and lo and behold, it was in the Reagan era when the ‘Wall” came down and the breakup of the Soviet Union.
No less dismaying is Mr. Obama’s attitude to U.S. friends. A current example of this here is to think that leaving the Israelis open to recent diplomatic attacks regarding the Flotilla blockades into Gaza will buy goodwill in a Middle East.
The still greater folly is to think that distancing ourselves from the Israelis will buy us leverage with the Muslim states. Turkey, an old ally, has now changed the current chessboard and is cozying up with Iran and was responsible for encouraging and supporting the flotilla against the Israeli naval blockade.
Now, it also appears that Saudi Arabia is upset with the way Obama has handled Syria, Iran, and the Palestinian issues. He brought everyone to the brink, then he just washed his hands of it all from the appearances the Saudis and others perceive in favor of talks with Iran and kowtowing to Russia. None of these moves included discussions with the Saudis and their neighbors.
Russia is not our friend and never has been. Russia does what it wants to do and if it can gain any edge over America, it will. As for North Korea and Iran, the National Security Strategy threatens them with rhetoric, and/or sanctions and isolation. Is North Korea not already isolated? Is talking to the Iranians in alignment with previous actions? Again, this administration plays into the hand of the enemy while marginalizing friends.
The administration cannot even bring itself to accurately characterize the enemies that it must admit we have. Their National Security strategy declares that we are at war with “Al Qaeda and its affiliates.” Islamist extremists? Jihadis? No, they will not admit that. Senior officials have repeatedly insisted that they know that radical Islamism runs counter to the authoritative teachings of an altogether peace-loving religion—when the truth is that all religions, including Islam, have within them entirely authentic, deeply rooted, and often sophisticated fanatical streams. In the case of Islam though, it is the controlling factor. This refusal to acknowledge the creed of our enemies is further evidence of a lack of strategic seriousness.
Demand Resignation of derelict and incompetent officials by the people of this country is now required. The Declaration of Independence states:
“To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”
The oath of office is simple and reads:
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
Sadly, we have seen them violate their oath, constantly consistently. Fraud, lying, and corruption are rampant and some have engaged in treasonous activities. They effectively thumb their noses at us and have sold you to the highest bidder. Just take a look at the latest evidence in Congress itself where “extortion” has been uncovered and “get rich” schemes abound through the intentional misuse of campaign funds.
The Articles of Confederation were replaced with the Constitution, which granted the federal government enough authority to cultivate, promote, and secure the Blessings of Liberty. The balance of authority and individual liberty was understood. Power was confined to that which was enumerated in the Constitution with a certain and meaningful intent for check and balances.
Lincoln issued this warning in his inaugural address:
“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one. This is a most valuable and sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.”
Being a representative republic, not a democracy, “rising up” means making change other than revolution by force of arms. The people must “rise up” from the grass roots across this great country as we think of the greater good of this and future generations. We are limited in the peaceful transfer of power… forced resignation, natural death, secure elections, and impeachment, but we must act now.
“We the People” have had enough.
The Obama Administration and identifiable Members of Congress are now taking America on a death march and are reducing our country to new lows and jeopardizing our very survival as a nation. We have watched them violate their sacred oath of office. In the end it is imperative that the “people” must open their eyes, educate themselves; decide to Stand Up for this great country and defy those who tear her down and destroy our future and that of our friends as well.
Once again, its Andy McCarthy who sums up a “what just happened” moment so clearly. His column below describes best what really was taking place in the whole Ted Cruz/ObamaCare/Shutdown/Debt Ceiling ‘crisis’ and the rancor now in the Republican Party.
Now that the left has won the day, again, and do not think it was not a big win, we see all the hand-wringing from the establishment Republicans, and gloating from the left. Leading that charge is none other than Rep. Peter King of New York – go figure, a “Republican” from the northeast, a “Lawn Guyland” boy from Uber-Blue New York.
If you listen to establishment Republicans like Peter King, you would think Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and the Tea Party Caucus in the House ruined any chance for the resurgence of the Republican Party for ever. Peter King sounds more like a White House staffer than a Republican in interviews today and he has a terrible memory. We Tea Party people gave you a majority in the House back in 2010 and what do you do Mr. King, you castigate the millions who made it happen.
“Washington does not listen”, Peter King is deaf, and the RINOs forget. Remember this Mr. King, if you were not in “our” majority, far more would have been achieved in the ‘fundamental transformation’ Obama called for in 2008 because the Democrats would still have the majority. It would not just be the Senate, but also in the House. That would have allowed them to unilaterally foist more Nancy Pelosi, “we need to pass it so we can see what’s in it” bills.
King does not like the fact that a grassroots movement expressing basic and sound concerns about the fundamental operations of government, but he is cool with supporting the NSA to sweep into possession all forms of American citizen communication – hypocrite.
Instead, we here at SUA salute these people as heroes to emulate, not vilify. Why, because they did what they said they would do when campaigning, and they actually listened to the people of their districts, and they actually did what Peter King and the establishment always forget to do – that is to REPRESENT the people who elected them.
To people like Peter King, John McCain, and Mitch McConnell, doing nothing, for years, is a winning strategy. Earth to Peter King, doing nothing and hoping for miracles does not a good business plan make. In addition, ‘Mr. Kentucky’, Senator Mitch McConnell, is now the poster boy for buyouts, a position once held by the likes of Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson back when ObamaCare was shoved up our… err, I mean, down our throats..
People like the ‘Architect’ Karl Rove did what he does best as well, picking losing strategies, losing candidates, and losing Presidential elections. Rove did engineer the Bush Presidency, by the narrowest of margins, but what has he and the establishment done since but LOSE? During the whole shutdown, their sound bites were treasonous to their own causes and made for wonderful talking points for the left.
The Democrats rarely eat their young, Republicans have made a culinary art form out of it. Cruz and company were trying to do the best they could for America, Rove, McConnell and King are doing their best to win a political game, sad priority that one. Some say politics is the ‘art of the possible’, but true representatives never compromise their principles nor do they only seek political victories – that is why America is in a death spiral.
The Art of the Impossible
The strategy to repeal Obamacare by winning serial elections is not even a Hail Mary pass.
In considering the Republican retreat that ended the partial government shutdown, funded Obamacare, and unconditionally extended more credit on Uncle Sam’s tapped-out credit card, my friend Jonah Goldberg argues that we should be more understanding of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s predicament. Politics, Jonah aptly observes, is the art of the possible, and McConnell had “no good options” when he led the GOP cave-in to all of President Obama’s demands — a decision that, McConnell insists, was not in any way influenced by the tidy $3 billion earmark thrown in for one of his pet Kentucky boondoggles.
I agree that we must be realistic about what was achievable in the Obamacare battle. What I don’t get, though, is why our sympathetic cast of mind must be from the GOP-establishment perspective alone. Aren’t we also obliged to be realistic about the options available to the Republicans who took seriously their campaign promises to do everything within their power — which includes their constitutional power of the purse — to stop Obamacare?
Virtually all congressional Republicans elected or reelected since 2010 ran on that promise. Stopping Obamacare is the cause that most animated the conservative base, without which there would be no Republican majority in the House. If Republicans expected to maintain that support, they had to act on that commitment.
Beyond promises, something also had to be done because Obamacare is a disaster for the productive part of the country. And, more urgently, that something had to be done now. This was not a manufactured crisis. Obamacare was set to commence on October 1. Consequently, Republicans had two options. Option One was the GOP establishment’s “win elections, then repeal” strategy: Do nothing for now; allow Obamacare to be implemented; assume its unpopularity would increase, creating a climate for extended, uninterrupted GOP electoral success, finally leading to a Republican Congress of such substantial majorities that an Obamacare repeal would pass both houses and be signed by a Republican president. As we shall see, core assumptions of “win elections, then repeal” require the suspension of disbelief.
Alternatively, there was Option Two: Because, as a matter of law, Obamacare could not proceed unless both congressional chambers agreed to fund it, and because Republicans control the House, House Republicans could deny it funding. The hope was that Obamacare’s unpopularity and patent unreadiness, coupled with the Democrats’ desire for the rest of government to be funded at today’s exorbitant levels, would pressure the Senate and the president to agree to a delay. Option Two would be tough to pull off, but it was not exclusive of Option One; and, contrary to conventional wisdom, there was the chance that the memory of any government shutdown would fade quickly while raising public consciousness about Obamacare’s downsides would have enduring electoral benefits.
Republicans tried Option Two and lost, at least for now. It is only natural, I suppose, that defeat brings myopic focus on the strategy that has been defeated. Thus, it is fair enough, in the post mortem, to emphasize how uphill a battle the defund/delay strategy faced. Nevertheless, since the point is to be realistic about what all the alternatives were, we must account for what GOP-establishment sympathizers keep glossing over: The utter implausibility of their preferred option.
It is repeatedly said that the crusade to defund Obamacare was delusional, that it never had a chance. That is an overstatement. Hail Mary passes are tried because they occasionally work. A lot of things have to go right, and the success rate is low. But a Hail Mary is a ray of hope when the clock nears zero, when something has to be done, and when you are out of better options.
So, were we out of better options? I think so. To my mind, if the defund plan was delusional, the GOP establishment’s “repeal Obamacare by winning elections” alternative is delusional squared.
Inertia is a powerful non-motivator. It is always extremely tempting to avoid the hard thing that must be done now by rationalizing that we’ll have both the capability and the stomach to do hard things at some indeterminate future time. That is the main appeal of the GOP-establishment strategy: It is outlandish, but unlike defund/delay, it is hard to disprove in the present because its impossible assumptions are conveniently imagined to occur several years from now, in a brighter and shinier future.
To buy it, you first have to believe that the GOP is suddenly going to become an electoral juggernaut. Mind you, we are talking about Republicans who have won the popular vote in a presidential election only once since 1988; who are rapidly losing the confidence of the conservative base that gave the GOP the historic midterm victory in 2010; and whose current priorities include a mass legalization of (Democrat-leaning) illegal immigrants that would make it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win elections in the future. We are to believe, moreover, that this electoral juggernaut is poised to take off in the cycle right after the GOP lost to Obama and lost congressional seats despite high unemployment and no economic growth.
To repeal Obamacare on the establishment plan, the GOP needs sudden and sustained electoral success — despite the high hurdle of media bias. At least two federal election cycles, and more likely three or more (i.e., at least four years, and probably six or more), will be necessary. Obama, after all, will still be president for three more years and will never sign a repeal bill. Even if a Republican wins the White House in 2016, and even if Republicans by then have held the House and won the Senate, the GOP will not have overwhelming congressional majorities.
Furthermore, unlike Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats are unified and disciplined. Knowing the press is the wind at their backs, they are disposed to use every parliamentary privilege available to a minority to obstruct a repeal of Obamacare. Remember, Democrats unilaterally enacted Obamacare at a time when it was very unpopular and seemed likely to cost them dearly at the ballot box. But they are influenced by movement progressives to a far greater degree than the Tea Party influences Republicans. So important was socialized medicine to the Left that Democrats rammed Obamacare through, regardless of the likely electoral consequences. They are going to fight repeal to the death.
These obstacles alone are enough to make “uphill” an understatement. But that’s not the half of it. To buy the GOP establishment’s “repeal by winning elections” alternative, you also have to believe that Republicans are going to repeal a vast entitlement that has, by then, been on the books, with millions of Americans drawing subsidies, for at least four, and more likely six or more, years.
Remember, Republicans are the guys who gave us a new Medicare prescription-drug entitlement when Medicare was already tens of trillions of dollars in debt. They are the guys who ran in 2012 as the saviors of Medicare — even though they well knew that slamming Obama over taking money out of Medicare would make it much more difficult to address Medicare’s unsustainable costs in the future. They are the guys who accept core premises of Obamacare: Republicans do not make the case that health care is like any other commodity in a free market rather than a corporate asset to be centrally managed. The disagreement between statist Democrats and the GOP establishment is aboutthe degree of government intrusion in health care, not the matter of government intrusion in principle. Republicans are also the guys who want to keep some of Obamacare’s core, anti-free-market elements — e.g., provisions that forbid denial of coverage owing to preexisting conditions and that keep “children” on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
The Democrats, the media, and all the Left will tirelessly portray any proposed repeal of Obamacare as a callous denial — a removal — of coverage from millions of underprivileged Americans, including those struggling with sickness. Moderates and “compassionate conservatives” already lecture us about the need to get real and make our peace with the welfare state; what will they be saying four or six or eight or who knows how many years from now? They will be arguing that Obamacare’s prodigious infrastructure is now part of our social fabric — that repealing it at this point (whenever that point happens) would be radical, the very antithesis of the Burkean conservative disposition. The GOP’s will to fight for repeal — which has never been as strong on action as it is on election-season rhetoric — will dissipate.
I said a few times prior to last summer that I did not believe the Supreme Court would invalidate Obamacare and that Republicans were making a big mistake putting all their hope in the prospect of a judicial repeal. Far greater emphasis should have been put on the need for a political repeal — including nominating a presidential candidate who was in a better position than the architect of Romneycare to make Obamacare a huge 2012 campaign issue. Pessimistic as I was, however, I had far greater confidence in the Supreme Court than I do in the prospect of Republicans repealing Obamacare once it has been up and running for a few years.
I believe there is no chance that will happen. I also believe the Republican establishment, in its heart of hearts, realizes how implausible this prospect is. A few times over the last two weeks — though not nearly as often as it should have happened — Republicans taking pot shots at Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and House conservatives were asked what their alternative plan was to stop Obamacare. The usual response was to shuffle feet and mumble about winning elections. It was a meek comeback because even these seasoned politicians were embarrassed to promise a bold repeal in, oh, 2017, 2019 . . .
If you accept, as I do, that something had to be done before October 1, the question is not whether defund/delay was a promising strategy. It is whether it was the most promising — however unlikely — of the available alternatives.
As I have argued before, I think defund/delay had a chance precisely because it was not repeal. The president was not being asked to erase what he sees as his signature achievement. Obamacare would have remained law. But it is a law that was already delayed a few years by design, so pushing for a delay for another year or two was hardly a pie-in-the-sky demand.
Significantly, Democrats were being asked to delay Obamacare under circumstances in which the program is undeniably not ready for implementation. The president could have been made to see that he could look reasonable by delaying and simultaneously mitigate what has been a disastrous rollout — “excruciatingly embarrassing,” as even Robert Gibbs put it.
Democrats were being asked to defund or delay Obamacare under circumstances in which Obama himself had already defunded and delayed major portions of it. The president could have been made to see that he was just being asked to do for everyone what he had already done for corporations, cronies, and Congress.
Contrary to what you’d believe from reading press accounts over the last two weeks, Obama has a history of reversing himself — to take just a few examples: on closing Guantanamo Bay, on a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, on the Bush tax cuts, even on the near-term desirability of single-payer health insurance. It was never delusional to believe Obama and congressional Democrats could be persuaded that political expedience counseled what Obama has famously called “flexibility.” But you could not get there absent intense political pressure.
To create the pressure necessary to give defund/delay a Hail Mary’s chance to work, Republicans had to demonstrate that they were so fearful of Obamacare’s harmful effects on the country that they were firmly resolved not to fund it. If this ended up meaning the government got (very partially) shut down, they had to tee that up in a way that could persuade the public that it was Obama, not the Republicans, who was forcing the shutdown. That could be done only by agreeing to fund all the rest of the government, and sticking together on the single, clear message that Obama could reopen the government anytime he wanted by signing the funding bills the GOP had willingly given him.
Could Democrats have been made fearful that the public would hold Obama responsible for keeping the government shut down solely over Obamacare in spite of the law’s unreadiness and unpopularity? It was a long shot in which three things had to go right: (a) The public had to see that the government shutdown was not as painful in reality as the media had predicted it would be; (b) Obamacare’s deleterious consequences had to begin to emerge such that they were seen as a bigger problem than the shutdown; and (c) the Republicans had to stay united — they had to keep pounding these themes with unwavering conviction.
In the event, things could not have gone better, in the Hail Mary sense, on the first two elements. The shutdown, in which four-fifths of the government continued running, did not have an impact on most Americans — and Obama’s obnoxious contrivances to make the shutdown seem painful only underscored that, in reality, it wasn’t so bad. The Obamacare rollout turned out to be worse than Republicans could have imagined — when not reporting on the system’s massive technological failures, and the tiny number of “exchange” applicants, the press was forced to report on sticker-shock as Americans finally grappled with eye-popping, family-budget-breaking price hikes for coverage.
But then there’s that third element. If Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and House conservatives can justly be accused of being delusional, it is in adopting a strategy that banked on Republican unanimity in the face of withering opposition. It never happened; the intramural squabble started even before the shutdown.
Democrats could have pulled this strategy off. Indeed, their media-annealed steel is why we have Obamacare in the first place. But not Republicans. Today’s Republican establishment is the George W. Bush “We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move” GOP — with all that portends, as Jonah expertly itemized in this 2004 G-File (i.e., before the GOP Congress and White House larded a few trillion dollars more onto the national debt).
Republicans do not have a unified position on Obamacare, on “entitlements,” or on the relationship between the citizen and the central government. Yes, it is an exaggeration to say there is no meaningful difference between the GOP establishment and Barack Obama — although I do not believe there is much difference between, say, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. But it is not an exaggeration to say the GOP establishment is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the centralized welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty. And it is not an exaggeration to say that Beltway Republicans are more worried about what the media will say about them today than what the Tea Party may do to them every other year.
That is why the GOP establishment’s proclaimed strategy to repeal Obamacare by winning serial elections is not even a Hail Mary pass. It is politics as the art of the impossible.
Editor’s Note – As if the tone of incivility were not bad enough in DC, and America endures the zero tolerance on kids with toy guns or a Pop-Tart gets chewed into the form of a gun, leave it to the Obama Administration to make threats to its agents if they leak information
Not just any threat – threats of facing firing squads are in their training manuals should an agent leak sensitive secrets.
Sacrebleu! ATF threatens French-style firing squad for agents who leak secrets
After months of anguished debate over mass shootings, gun control and Second Amendment rights, the Justice Department finds itself on the defensive after a training manual surfaced that suggests federal agents could face a firing squad for leaking government secrets.
A photo in the online manual for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — complete with a photo of a turn-of-the-century firing squad — was obtained by The Washington Times from a concerned federal law enforcement official, and it immediately drew protests from watchdogs who said it showed a lack of sensitivity to gun violence and the continuing hostile environment toward whistleblowers.
Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, said the DOJ has forgotten about the protections of the First Amendment, which covers leaks to the media, and that the photo could scare its employees into self-censorship.
The photo “would have a chilling affect on legitimate speech. And some of the rhetoric used against whistleblowers could be construed as inciting to violence because they’ve turned up the rhetoric,” Mr. Kohn said.
Justice Department officials said the photo was included as a joke and that they were unaware it was viewed as offensive by agents. They plan to remove the entry, but not until the government shutdown is ended and federal officials return to work, said Richard Marianos, the special agent in charge of the Washington division of ATF.
The photo was embedded in the annual Introduction to National Security Information online course for the ATF, the main federal law enforcement agency investigating gun violence and illegal gun trafficking.
“During many years of law enforcement experience, I can attest to the fact that law enforcement personnel often use gallows humor as a release from the grim realities of the profession,” he said.
But watchdogs raised immediate concerned that the image may have an unintended chilling effect on DOJ employees, as the agency has often been criticized for its handling of whistleblowers.
While the DOJ may be making light of a serious policy, Mr. Kohnsaid the photo was hypocritical, unconstitutional and unprofessional.
“The government leaks information all the time and they get away with it,” Mr. Kohn said. “They don’t go after leaks that they support. The government leaks, and when it is officially condoned they do not investigate or prosecute.”
A major incident that Mr. Kohn referenced was the case of former U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino, who was removed from his position in Michigan by the DOJ after the DOJ leaked negative information about him.
“It significantly harmed his reputation, turned out not to be true, and we filed a privacy act lawsuit in 2003 and we are still fighting with the Justice Department to try to find out who the source of that leak was,” Mr. Kohn said. “They have used well over $1 million of taxpayer resources to cover up a DOJ employee who violated the law when he leaked information to defame a whistleblower and that’s one of the biggest problems with this whole campaign against leaks.”
Mr. Kohn said the DOJ has forgotten about the protections of the First Amendment, which covers leaks to the media. There is also Supreme Court precedent in the case of Pickering v. Board of Education which established the constitutional right of public employees to provide information to the news media, he said.
“This is a campaign to silence and intimidate whistleblowers and what is the most troubling part of this aggressive campaign, is that the justice department has completely ignored the first amendment,” Mr. Kohn said.
A law enforcement official told The Washington Times that the training materials were assembled for ATF and that the photo appears on a slide deck that was put together by contractors in 2007. The photo has been included in the manual since March 2008.
ATF will be reviewing the materials in the training documents. It’s the latest controversy for the law enforcement agency, which has suffered significant repercussions from the ill-conceived Fast and Furious operation that knowingly allowed semiautomatic weapons to flow across the U.S. border and into Mexico’s violent drug wars.