Surprise! The “stimulus” is stimulating government.

A few more votes for the “spread the wealth” party. From the USA Today:

“Fourteen of the top federal agencies responsible for spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act say they’ve hired about 3,000 workers with stimulus money. That’s helped fuel the continued growth of the federal government, which increased by more than 25,000 employees, or 1.3%, since December 2008, according to the latest quarterly report. During that time, the ranks of the nation’s unemployed increased by nearly 4 million, Labor Department statistics show.”

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Criminal

From Ed Morrissey:

Senator John Ensign (R-NV) wanted to get an answer on the implications of the individual mandate in the ObamaCare bill floated by Max Baucus (D-MT) during the markup session. Ensign asked Thomas Barthold, chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, what would happen if a taxpayer refused to buy health insurance and then refused to pay the subsequent fine, which could run to $1900 for an individual. Barthold replied that one shouldn’t do the crime if one doesn’t want to do the time:

Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead. He signed it “Sincerely, Thomas A. Barthold.”

See the note for yourself here. This should come as no surprise. Thanks to Baucus, the IRS would enforce the individual mandate, and a failure to comply would impose the fine, which in Baucus’ own words is called an “excise tax.” Those who refuse to pay their taxes will eventually go to prison for it, unless the person is someone like Tim Geithner, who then gets to run the agency that puts people in prison for failing to pay their taxes.

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Remember, Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi, and most of the other Dems are doing everything they can to impose this upon us while making sure that they exempt themselves.

And they think quite highly of themselves for doing this.

Obama’s notion of competition

From Randall Hoven:

The Public Option for Dummy Talk-Show Hosts

I would like to address this to those who are not socialists, but who think Obama’s health care plan sounds good. (I realize that would have to be a very small fraction of the public, perhaps no bigger than David Letterman himself. Letterman said, “I’m not a socialist, but it don’t sound that bad to me.”)

The central aspect of Obama’s “plan” is the “public option.” (The word “plan” is in quotes because Obama has no such plan written down. But he has insisted from the beginning that any plan he would approve would have to include a “public option” in some form.)

I think President Obama himself is best qualified to explain the need for a public option. Here is that explanation, as given to a joint session of Congress on September 9, 2009.

“Now, my health care proposal has also been attacked by some who oppose reform as a ‘government takeover’ of the entire health care system. As proof, critics point to a provision in our plan that allows the uninsured and small businesses to choose a publicly sponsored insurance option, administered by the government just like Medicaid or Medicare. (Applause.)

“So let me set the record straight here. My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. That’s how the market works. (Applause.) Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company. And without competition, the price of insurance goes up and quality goes down.”

OK, so now we know what the “public option” is: “a publicly sponsored insurance option, administered by the government just like Medicaid or Medicare.”

We also know why Obama says we need it: “competition.” “That’s how the market works.” You know — lower costs, better quality.

Let us take Obama’s own examples in which the health insurance market is “five or fewer companies.” If there were a public option in those markets, the number of choices would increase by one. That 90% of Alabama that now has just one choice, would have two. The 75% of 34 states that have five or fewer choices, would now have six or fewer. Get it?

As a baseline cost number, all we have that is solid right now is the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Affordable Health Choices Act (HR 3200), a bill under consideration in the House and supported by Obama. And the CBO said,

“Enacting the proposal would result in a net increase in federal budget deficits of about $1.0 trillion over the 2010-2019 period.”

So the estimate of the cost of Obama’s plan is one trillion dollars.

Now if what we want is competition, is there a better, or cheaper, way to get it?

As it turns out, the CBO has analyzed 115 options for federal health care reform. One of those options is called “Allow Individuals to Purchase Nongroup Health Insurance Coverage in Any State.”

“Under current law, issuers of individual health insurance must be licensed in the state in which they offer policies… This option would permit an insurance carrier to choose one state in which to become licensed… the carrier would be permitted to sell those policies in other states…”

Instead of costing a trillion dollars, or costing anything, the CBO estimates this option would save $7.4 billion over 2010-2019 and reduce the number of uninsured by 400,000 people by 2014.

No trillion dollar price tag. No new bureaucracy. No new czar. Just a change in the law to allow people to buy and sell a legal product, at a mutually agreed price. Now that is how the market works.

And what about competition? I count over 250 plan providers on one web site alone, America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Instead of those deprived folks in 90% of Alabama who would have only two plans to choose from if we get a “public option”, they would have over 250 plans to choose from if we simply allow the selling of health insurance across state lines.

Let me put it in terms David Letterman might understand. Plan A costs one trillion dollars and increases the number of competing plans by one. Plan B saves $7.4B and increases the number of competing plans by over 250.

However, David Axelrod, Obama’s chief policy advisor, dismissed this “Plan B.” He said it would be “disruptive” to have such cross-state competition.

“That is not endemic to the kind of reforms we’re proposing … We’re not into a symbolic expedition here.”

(For those who might be confused, “endemic” means “prevalent in or peculiar to a particular locality, region, or people” according to the Yahoo/American Heritage online dictionary. Hope that clears it up for you. Oops, since I reached for a dictionary, that must mean I’m stretching.)

Does it not seem curious to you that the one and only health insurance plan that the Obama administration would allow to cross state lines would be the “public option”?

Does it not also seem curious to you that the Communist Party would insist on the “public option” because it would increase competition since “that’s the way the market works”? Since when did the CPUSA promote competition and the market?

If I didn’t know better, I would say the Obama plan is not to increase competition, but to make sure the public option has as few competitors as possible. If the competition were eliminated, all that would remain would be an option “administered by the government just like Medicaid or Medicare.” That would be, um, a single-payer, government-run, system.

Medicare, by the way, is expected to be bankrupt by 2017.

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The totalitarian temptation

From Mark Tapscott:

“If nothing else, the Obama eruption in American politics is steadily revealing the stark reality behind the progressive movement – the totalitarian temptation is always there and, for more than a few, possessing the official power to compel sooner or later becomes irresistible.

Not everybody on the left, of course. Some of the folks I most admire in this town are liberals whose work on behalf of values like transparency in government and protecting civil liberties is remarkable and essential.

Still, that this danger is real and growing becomes more obvious as public opposition grows to the president’s across-the-board campaign to turn Washington into the all-powerful, centralized behemoth that Woodrow Wilson and FDR could only dream about.”

Entire essay here

Despicable – update

Massachusetts Dems just changed the law back: the governor will now, as before, have the authority to appoint a replacement for the late Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate.

What a joke. What is the purpose of a law if you simply change it to suit you? At least be honest, drop the farce, and declare that, in progressive Massachusetts, only Democrats get to appoint replacements to the U.S. Senate.

And they think quite highly of themselves for doing this.

Leftists Know Best

“The presumed irrationality of the public is a pattern running through many, if not most or all, of the great crusades of the anointed in the twentieth century—regardless of the subject matter of the crusade or the field in which it arises. Whether the issue has been “overpopulation,” Keynesian economics, criminal justice, or natural resource exhaustion, a key assumption has been that the public is so irrational that the superior wisdom of the anointed must be imposed, in order to avert disaster. The anointed do not simply happen to have a disdain for the public. Such disdain is an integral part of their vision, for the central feature of that vision is preemption of the decisions of others.”
— Thomas Sowell


“The American public … just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act.”
— Energy Secretary Steven Chu

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