There has been some interesting and insightful debate in the past week or so due to a report by California’s health insurance exchange estimating only a modest increase in premiums for people in the individual insurance market. Armed with a quote from the state exchange’s Executive Director stating, “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” lefty commentators took to social media and the airwaves to essentially claim that ObamaCare would be a good deal. Ignoring for a moment that one prospective report on one state’s insurance exchange hardly vindicates the over two thousand pages of ObamaCare, the argument among some smart commentators on both the right and left is worth considering. I’ve summarized the arguments from both sides and will address them below. Continue reading ‘ObamaCare Chronicles: California and State Insurance Exchanges’
Archive for the 'By Josh Branson' Category
Tags: Economy, Healthcare, Politics
Tags: Economy, Foreign Policy, National Security, Politics
Let’s see, in the past week or so we have learned that Obama administration officials in Libya knew that a video had nothing to do with Benghazi, that the IRS has been targeting conservative political organizations, that the Health and Human Services Secretary has been asking private industry to pay for Obamacare, and that the Department of Justice has been tracking phones of journalists. Senator Rubio is calling this a culture of intimidation.
I’ll let him speak for himself, but his point is this: when a government administration is concerned primarily with politics and will divide people to win politically, it easily turns into an abusive operation that intimidates the people whom it represents.
Even David Axelrod had it right today when he admitted that it’s impossible for a President to be aware of what’s going on in a government this large. Too bad this large government is what this President has pushed for. Axelrod may not know it, but he made a very powerful defense of conservatism by accident.
Tags: Benghazi, Foreign Policy, National Security, Politics
It may be because we as a culture have become so desensitized that even true scandals do not surprise or offend us much, or that when one occurs, everyone rallies to whichever side they are on with little concern for the truth. Benghazi may be an example of this. No one would argue that it was not a tragedy, and only the most partisan of people would argue that the administration did not make any mistakes in failing to prevent the attack. What the House Oversight hearing this week revealed strongly suggests that the Obama administration knowingly misled the American public about what happened in Benghazi.
The testimonies of Mr. Hicks, Mr. Thompson, and Mr. Nordstrom, all closely engaged with the situation in Benghazi, were truly heartbreaking and stunning. I submit that the people saying that those testimonies revealed nothing new were going to say that no matter what the witnesses revealed. Those willfully blind deniers are motivated only by their politics, trying to protect mostly Hillary Clinton and President Obama. As Guy Benson points out, there were at least a dozen revelations from the hearing.
Among the most important revelations from the hearing were that Hicks, who was on the ground in Libya, received a call from Hillary and her staff around 2 AM. According to Hicks, during that call–the transcript or recording or which we do not have and should try to obtain–Hicks and Hillary were on the same page about what was happening, and no one even mentioned a demonstration or a YouTube video. The folks on the ground in Libya all realized right away that they were being attacked by terrorists. Hicks testified that he was told that fighter planes were 2-3 hours away, yet never came, and that someone apparently gave a “stand down” order that prevented US forces in Tripoli from coming to help.
Mr. Nordstrom, the head of US security in Libya, testified that it was well-known that the US facility in Benghazi did not meet safety standards, and that Hillary would have known about the requests for additional security at the facility. Thompson, a former Marine, added more head-scratchers, recounting that his unit in the Counterterrorism Bureau was excluded from high level administration meetings and was cut out from the process. Thompson’s unit is supposedly trained and specialized for emergency situations like the one in Benghazi.
The cover up, which it almost certainly was, was confirmed when Hicks said that the YouTube video was a non-factor. Hicks testified that he was embarrassed when Susan Rice went on the Sunday talk shows and blamed a video that had nothing to do with what had happened. When Hicks asked his superiors on Hillary’s staff about why that false narrative was being offered by the Obama administration, he was excoriated and demoted after having received praise from his superiors in the administration for the way he had handled the situation. That this was a cover up was made even more clear by intelligence reports that initially mentioned terrorist attacks, were scrubbed to remove those mentions, and never talked about a video.
Any objective observer of the investigations into what happened in Benghazi who heard this week’s testimonies would conclude that the administration knowingly misled the American public. It is still not completely clear who made which decisions, but the testimonies in this past week’s House Oversight hearing confirm the cover up and other mistakes that were made. It would be a shame if we ignored this simply because we did not want to hurt our favorite political celebrities, which is surely a concern for many media outlets who would rather bury this story to protect their political interests.
To sum up: State’s main guy on the ground in Libya tells Clinton in Washington that State’s people in Benghazi are under attack by the local al Qaeda franchise, Ansar al-Sharia, which might have captured the U.S. ambassador. Yet, over the next few days, with what we now know to be monumental input from the State Department, the Obama administration purges references to Ansar al-Sharia from the talking points that it uses to explain the attack to the American people. Instead, it concocts a story claiming the anti-Islamic Internet video was the culprit.
McCarthy interestingly notes that shortly after Hicks spoke to Hillary–a phone call that Hicks testified had them on the same page about the terrorist attack–President Obama called Hillary. Shortly after the President’s call, a statement was released for Hillary that blamed the video. It is not hard to come up with the subsequent question.
Tags: Economy, Healthcare, Politics
Ezra Klein has considered an outlined center-right healthcare plan offered by Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin, and a summary of Republican healthcare priorities provided by Bob Domenech. In response, Klein displays a misunderstanding of (or just misrepresents) the true center-right market approach to healthcare while still highlighting the important contrast between such an approach and the Affordable Care Act. As Klein suggests, the center-right approach to healthcare isn’t a direct replacement policy to achieve the same goal as the Affordable Care Act, but is directed to a different goal. That goal, however, is actually better than the one the Affordable Care Act is meant to achieve.
Tags: CPAC, Politics
I wasn’t able to attend CPAC this year and, to be honest, wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as I was last year because of the election results from November. But this year’s CPAC was important; it was a chance for the center-right to debate how to move forward during a crucial time when the country needs a strong alternative to the ever-growing entitlement state that is leading us towards more government dependence and a potential debt crisis.
Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell, and Dr. Ben Carson delivered some of the most important speeches of the weekend. Ryan continued and expanded on the important message of why Republicans are trying to reduce debt with responsible budgets: it’s not about making numbers add up, but about creating the kind of society where the vast space between the individual and the government can thrive. Governor Jindal, repeating some hilarious lines from a speech he had given earlier that week, continued his message of shifting focus away from the daily battles in DC to the local level where most Americans live. Rubio addressed the oft-repeated criticism of the left–that conservatives offer only the same ideas over and over–by saying that the idea of American doesn’t need to change.
Senate majority leader McConnell, apparently worked up over some racial attacks against his wife, went on offense by suggesting that Republicans aren’t the party that holds down the poor and less fortunate. Dr. Carson, perhaps the most dangerous non-political figure in the country right now, addressed the crowd as if in a conversation, reminding people that the reason that folks who grew up poor could make it in America wasn’t because of government, but because of the opportunities that America provides through its limited government.
Perhaps the best and most important speech, however, was the one delivered by a guy who may have given the best speech last year as well. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who gave a keynote at one of last year’s banquet dinners (which I was fortunate to have attended), was fantastic again. Governor Walker explained that his financial and bargaining reforms in Wisconsin have made it easier for people to find jobs.
He told a powerful story of a young teacher who had lost her job after receiving an award of a top teacher. Why? Because the teachers unions had made it too difficult to replace older teachers and, because of a need to save money, the younger ones are the first ones with their heads on the chopping block. He addressed the main criticism of the left about Republicans: that the GOP’s efforts to cut government mean they don’t care about the poor.
Walker’s no-nonsense demeanor in rejecting that characterization is perfect. He responded to that criticism by saying that Republicans don’t want to get people off government programs because the party wants them to be left alone, but because the party wants them to have the dignity that comes with having a job and being independent of government. That’s the correct answer, and one that all Republicans should master.
Despite some of the questionable decisions about CPAC guests that the media will focus on, there were some important messages delivered at CPAC this year. Scott Walker was out in front, and we shouldn’t be surprised if we see him in that position more and more heading towards 2016.
Tags: Foreign Policy, National Security, Politics
What Senator Rand Paul did this week in a filibuster of the CIA Director nomination of John Brennan was unique, bipartisan, enlightening, and politically brilliant. Let’s not forget that it was also a risk, as Senator Paul talked for the better part of over half a day, something that a lot of members of Congress can’t and probably shouldn’t do, lest they say something really harmful to their reputations. No, Senator Paul was impressive, talking and facilitating discussion on the question of Executive branch war power in general, and specifically the use of drones on US citizens on American soil.
This was a rare display of intellectual discussion that was not at all partisan. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee helped start a great discussion of Constitutional history and Executive power, and the GOP’s rising stars were on display. Eventually Democrat Senator Ron Wyden joined them and added to the discussion. By the end of the night, a large number of Republican Senators (including, notably, Rubio, Ron Johnson, Tim Scott, and Mitch McConnell) had shown their support for Paul’s efforts by taking the Senate floor to discuss the issue. It was a fascinating and refreshing display, especially because Paul made it clear that he wasn’t using the filibuster to block Brennan’s confirmation, but only to use the opportunity to generate some explanations from the Obama administration about when drones could be used against US citizens on American soil.
This discussion was politically wise, as Paul not only raised his credibility and public stature immensely, but it showed just how deep and diverse the new generation of Republican Senators is. Cruz and Lee are truly Constitutional law experts. Rubio clearly explained the Legislative branch’s role in the confirmation process for Executive appointees like Brennan. Several others explained the need to discuss the potential consequences of not limiting the circumstances under which the Commander-in-Chief could use drones on American soil. And Paul even distanced himself from many Bush-era war policies, helping himself and some of his colleagues gain more credibility, especially from younger voters who tend to be less hawkish in general.
Brennan was confirmed today, and Attorney General Holder also answered the original question about drone use that started the whole discussion. Life goes on. No one was hurt or offended. And the discussion about war powers with drones will continue in the public sphere.
Good for Senator Paul, who deserves much credit and respect for his efforts, regardless of whether or not one agrees with his positions on such issues.
Tags: Economy, Politics
Several Democrat politicians, including the former Speaker of the House, have recently been on the record asserting that our country’s financial and economic problems are not because we are spending too much, but because we are generating insufficient revenue. While it’s obviously true that by definition debt means taking in less revenue than the government spends, the point these politicians are trying to make is that we can’t cut spending because spending is what creates jobs and economic growth that produce revenue. To listen to them say it, we have to keep investing in education, research, and infrastructure to spur job creation and economic growth. This is instructive, so let’s consider this argument.
Tags: Economy, National Security, Politics
Charles Krauthammer offers some solid, although perhaps counterintuitive, advice to Republicans on the sequester: do nothing. This is exactly what President Obama and Senate Democrats did on the fiscal cliff/tax expiration deal at the end of last year because doing nothing meant tax rates would rise on everyone, forcing Republicans to come to the table to avoid that outcome. The shoe is now on the other foot, however, because sequestration is about automatic spending cuts if Democrats don’t come to the table.
Tags: Economy, Healthcare, Politics
As more of Obamacare rolls out, we learn more about what’s in it as then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested. Unfortunately, much of what we are learning isn’t exactly what we were told would be the case as a result of this healthcare law. The two latest newsworthy stories concerning Obamacare are the CBO’s new (increased) cost estimate and estimate of people losing insurance due to Obamacare, and the difficult decision of governors about whether or not to accept Obamacare’s coercive (in the words of the Supreme Court) Medicaid expansion.
Tags: Economy, Election, Politics
Shortly after the November election I was talking with some disappointed and frustrated people about what one could do to help the country during another four years on the wrong path. People both inside and outside of Washington think that the federal government cannot and will not address the biggest issue of our day, which is the debt that threatens our future and the opportunities of younger generations. There are plenty of maneuvers to try to get the least bad deals in DC, and those tactics should not be ignored, but we concluded that real changes were most likely to occur at the state and local levels, and thus could provide examples of what works and does not for governance.