Lured

From Victor Davis Hanson:

If one were to collate the public statements and actions of many in the Obama administration, one would conclude that the most conciliatory past language masks the most divisive, polarizing administration in recent history — a fact born out by most polls. Surely this is one of the most radical turnabouts in memory: in a mere ten months the mellifluous voice has become a siren that charms and hypnotizes the voters as they are lured onto the partisan shoals.

Entire marvelous essay here

Dismantling America, part II

From Thomas Sowell:

Many years ago, at a certain academic institution, there was an experimental program that the faculty had to vote on as to whether or not it should be made permanent.

I rose at the faculty meeting to say that I knew practically nothing about whether the program was good or bad, and that the information that had been supplied to us was too vague for us to have any basis for voting, one way or the other. My suggestion was that we get more concrete information before having a vote.

The director of that program rose immediately and responded indignantly and sarcastically to what I had just said — and the faculty gave him a standing ovation.

After the faculty meeting was over, I told a colleague that I was stunned and baffled by the faculty’s fierce response to my simply saying that we needed more information before voting.

“Tom, you don’t understand,” he said. “Those people need to believe in that man. They have invested so much hope and trust in him that they cannot let you stir up any doubts.”

Years later, and hundreds of miles away, I learned that my worst misgivings about that program did not begin to approach the reality, which included organized criminal activity.

The memory of that long-ago episode has come back more than once while observing both the actions of the Obama administration and the fierce reactions of its supporters to any questioning or criticism.

Almost never do these reactions include factual or logical arguments against the administration’s critics. Instead, there is indignation, accusations of bad faith and even charges of racism.

Here too, it seems as if so many people have invested so much hope and trust in Barack Obama that it is intolerable that anyone should come along and stir up any doubts that could threaten their house of cards.

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Why there is no tort reform from Democrats

From The Washington Post:

Tort Reform Could Save $54 Billion, CBO Says

Congressional budget analysts said Friday that lawmakers could save as much as $54 billion over the next decade by imposing an array of new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits — 10 times more than previously estimated.

New research shows that legal reforms would not only lower malpractice insurance premiums for medical providers, but also would spur providers to save money by ordering fewer tests and procedures aimed primarily at defending their decisions in court, Douglas W. Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, wrote in a letter to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

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From OpenSecrets.org:

American Assn for Justice

Formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), this group of plaintiffs’ attorneys and others in the legal profession now goes by the name of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and boasts 56,000 members worldwide. A lobbying heavyweight, the association has been battling any attempt at tort reform, including recent proposals to cap awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. AAJ also lobbies Congress on any legislation that may inhibit the ability of consumers to bring lawsuits, particularly against health care providers, asbestos companies or insurance companies processing claims related to terrorism. The association favors Democrats, who oppose most attempts to initiate tort reform.

American Association for Justice
Election Cycle Total Contributions Contributions to Democrats Contributions to Republicans Percent to Democrats Percent to Republicans
2010 $1,117,500 $1,073,000 $43,500 96% 4%

 
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Lawyers/Law Firms
Election Cycle Total Contributions Contributions to Democrats Contributions to Republicans Percent to Democrats Percent to Republicans
2010 $33,779,866 $27,220,236 $6,521,418 81% 19%

 
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I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists — and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.

— Barack Obama, Des Moines, IA, 2007.11.10

Millionaire Democrats love to take other people’s money

And they think that they are very moral for doing it.

Americans for Tax Reform has compiled a list of the additional ways Democrats want to increase governmental power/reduce individual power in the House health care bill:

• Employer Mandate Excise Tax (Page 275): If an employer does not pay 72.5 percent of a single employee’s health premium (65 percent of a family employee), the employer must pay an excise tax equal to 8 percent of average wages. Small employers (measured by payroll size) have smaller payroll tax rates of 0 percent (<$500,000), 2 percent ($500,000-$585,000), 4 percent ($585,000-$670,000), and 6 percent ($670,000-$750,000).

• Individual Mandate Surtax (Page 296): If an individual fails to obtain qualifying coverage, he must pay an income surtax equal to the lesser of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) or the average premium. MAGI adds back in the foreign earned income exclusion and municipal bond interest.

• Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 324): Non-prescription medications would no longer be able to be purchased from health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). Insulin excepted.

• Cap on FSAs (Page 325): FSAs would face an annual cap of $2500 (currently uncapped).

• Increased Additional Tax on Non-Qualified HSA Distributions (Page 326): Non-qualified distributions from HSAs would face an additional tax of 20 percent (current law is 10 percent). This disadvantages HSAs relative to other tax-free accounts (e.g. IRAs, 401(k)s, 529 plans, etc.)

• Denial of Tax Deduction for Employer Health Plans Coordinating with Medicare Part D (Page 327): This would further erode private sector participation in delivery of Medicare services.

• Surtax on Individuals and Small Businesses (Page 336): Imposes an income surtax of 5.4 percent on MAGI over $500,000 ($1 million married filing jointly). MAGI adds back in the itemized deduction for margin loan interest. This would raise the top marginal tax rate in 2011 from 39.6 percent under current law to 45 percent—a new effective top rate.

• Excise Tax on Medical Devices (Page 339): Imposes a new excise tax on medical device manufacturers equal to 2.5 percent of the wholesale price. It excludes retail sales and unspecified medical devices sold to the general public.

• Corporate 1099-MISC Information Reporting (Page 344): Requires that 1099-MISC forms be issued to corporations as well as persons for trade or business payments. Current law limits to just persons for small business compliance complexity reasons. Also expands reporting to exchanges of property.

• Delay in Worldwide Allocation of Interest (Page 345): Delays for nine years the worldwide allocation of interest, a corporate tax relief provision from the American Jobs Creation Act

• Limitation on Tax Treaty Benefits for Certain Payments (Page 346): Increases taxes on U.S. employers with overseas operations looking to avoid double taxation of earnings.

• Codification of the “Economic Substance Doctrine” (Page 349): Empowers the IRS to disallow a perfectly legal tax deduction or other tax relief merely because the IRS deems that the motive of the taxpayer was not primarily business-related.

• Application of “More Likely Than Not” Rule (Page 357): Publicly-traded partnerships and corporations with annual gross receipts in excess of $100 million have raised standards on penalties. If there is a tax underpayment by these taxpayers, they must be able to prove that the estimated tax paid would have more likely than not been sufficient to cover final tax liability.

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1,990

William A. Jacobson on the almost two thousand page House health care bill:

In sum, we create massive new federal bureaucracies and regulations, get IRS intrusion into health care, 15 million more people become Medicaid dependents, and we still have 18 million uninsured, and all this after spending over $1 trillion (best case scenario).

Assuming this best case scenario comes true based upon these unrealistic cost assumptions, we will have achieved very little relative to the costs. And we will have done severe damage to our health care system, something the CBO cannot score because it cannot be expressed in dollars.

Instead of getting something for nothing as promised by the politicians, we will get nothing for something.

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Intrusions

From Theodore Dalrymple:

Leanne Shepherd and Lucy Jarrett, both 32, are close friends. They work as police officers, but on different shifts. For a long time, they babysat for each other, an arrangement that suited them perfectly and enabled them to continue their careers. The authorities recently told them, however, that their arrangement was illegal. If they did not desist, they would face prosecution.

Why? Because they exceeded the permitted time to babysit without having received professional training in such matters as resuscitation and child psychology. Moreover, the state considers their mutual babysitting a potentially taxable economic benefit. It does not matter that the arrangement was entirely reciprocal and voluntary. British citizens may no longer make such private agreements among themselves.

One of the nastiest aspects of this little story is that the authorities were alerted to the two women’s terrible crime by one of their neighbors. An increasingly intrusive state engenders an increasingly nasty population of secret informers.

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