The Rushmore Report: A Devastating Poll on Obama — and Obamacare

Michael Barone - The Rushmore Report

"The Affordable Care Act’s political position has deteriorated dramatically over the last week." That, coming from longtime Obamacare cheerleader and Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, was pretty strong language. And it was only Wednesday.

That was the day after the release of a devastating Quinnipiac national poll. It showed Barack Obama’s approval rating at 39 percent, with his disapproval rating at 54 percent — sharply down from 45 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval on Oct. 1, the day the government shutdown began and healthcare.gov went into (limited) operation.

Democrats hoped that Republicans would take a shellacking in public opinion for the Oct. 1-16 government shutdown. They did, briefly. But Quinnipiac’s survey, conducted three weeks after the shutdown ended, indicated that the Obamacare rollout inflicted much more damage on the Democratic brand — and the party’s leader.

Quinnipiac’s numbers on Obamacare were also exactly the same as their numbers on Obama: 49 percent favored the health care legislation, 55 percent were opposed. Moreover, a near-majority — 46 percent — said the president knowingly deceived them when he assured Americans over and over that they could keep their health insurance plans.

There are few names a president can be called that are more damaging than liar.

The numbers are particularly daunting when you look at the groups that Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg identifies as major parts of "the big cultural and demographic wave that threatens to swamp the Republican party" — young voters and Hispanics.

Obama carried voters under 30 by 66 percent to 32 percent in 2008 and 60 percent to 37 percent in 2010. He carried older voters by 1 point in the first election and lost them to Mitt Romney in the second.

Obama did even better with Hispanics: 67 percent to 31 percent in 2008 and 71 percent to 27 percent in 2012. This was one of the few demographic groups among which he ran stronger than four years earlier.

But that was then, and this is now. Quinnipiac shows young voters disapproving of Obama 54 percent to 36 percent and Hispanics disapproving 47 percent to 41 percent.

Both groups rate him negatively on the economy, the federal budget, immigration, foreign policy and health care. Bare majorities, 51 percent of both groups, say Obama cares about people like them.

Obamacare, popular among both groups in 2012, is now an Obama albatross. Young voters oppose it 51 percent to 42 percent and Hispanics 50 percent to 44 percent. Majorities of both groups give Obama negative ratings on health care.

One must note that this is just one poll and that opinions may change as events unfold. But it looks very much like the astonishingly disastrous Obamacare rollout has moved opinion decisively against the president and his trademark policy.

And all those predictions — not just by Democrats — that the Republican Party faced extinction because of overwhelming opposition from Millennials and Hispanics look to be, like Mark Twain’s famous obituary, premature.

There’s one other interesting result from Quinnipiac. Has the Obama administration "been competent in running the government"? Overall, 53 percent said no and only 43 percent said yes. Young voters (47 percent said yes, 46 percent said no) and Hispanics (51 percent said yes, 46 percent said no) were only slightly more positive.

The fiasco of the healthcare.gov website undoubtedly contributed to this. But perhaps Americans are also starting to notice that this president is not performing his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the law — and in this case, a law he and his party wrote.

The Obama administration announced last July that it is not enforcing Obamacare’s employer mandate. It has admitted that it cannot verify the eligibility of applicants for Obamacare subsidies. (Come and get it!)

It says it will provide subsidies for those buying insurance through the federal health care exchanges in 36 states — even though the legislation nowhere authorizes that.

And last Thursday, as congressional Democrats were panicking and supporting measures to allow people to keep their current health insurance policies, Obama announced that he would not impose penalties on policies that don’t comply with the law.

That was plainly a transparent attempt to fob off the blame for cancelled policies on insurers and state regulators who complied with the law as written. It is a political ploy inconsistent with the rule of law.

Quinnipiac and other pollsters are not in the habit of asking Americans whether presidents are faithfully executing the law. The assumption has been that, unlike in Russia, they mostly are — or were.

The Framers of the Constitution regarded refusal to faithfully execute the law as tyranny. Barack Obama, with his Swiss cheese exceptions to Obamacare, seems to take a different view.

COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: Do Americans Prefer Deception?

Walter E. Williams - The Rushmore Report

There’s more to the deceit and dishonesty about Social Security and Medicare discussed in my recent columns. Congress tells us that one-half (6.2 percent) of the Social Security tax is paid by employees and that the other half is paid by employers, for a total of 12.4 percent. Similarly, we are told that a Medicare tax of 1.45 percent is levied on employees and that another 1.45 percent is levied on employers. The truth of the matter is that the burden of both taxes is borne by employees. In other words, we pay both the employee and the so-called employer share. You say, "Williams, that’s nonsense! Just look at what it says on my pay stub." OK, let’s look at it.

Pretend you are my employer and agree to pay me $50,000 a year, out of which you’re going to send $3,100 to Washington as my share of Social Security tax (6.2 percent of $50,000), as well as $725 for my share of Medicare (1.45 percent of $50,000), a total of $3,825 for the year. To this you must add your half of Social Security and Medicare taxes, which is also $3,825 for the year. Your cost to hire me is $53,825.

If it costs you $53,825 a year to hire me, how much value must I produce for it to be profitable for you to keep me? Is it our agreed salary of $50,000 or $53,825? If you said $53,825, you’d be absolutely right. Then who pays all of the Social Security and Medicare taxes? If you said that I do, you’re right again. The Social Security and Medicare fiction was created because Americans would not be so passive if they knew that the tax they are paying is double what is on their pay stubs — not to mention federal income taxes.

The economics specialty that reveals this is known as the incidence of taxation. The burden of a tax is not necessarily borne by the party upon whom it is levied. The Joint Committee on Taxation held that "both the employee’s and employer’s share of the payroll tax is borne by the employee." The Congressional Budget Office "assumes — as do most economists — that employers’ share of payroll taxes is passed on to employees in the form of lower wages than would otherwise be paid." Health insurance is not an employer gift, either. It is paid for by employees in the form of lower wages.

Another part of Social Security and Medicare deception is that the taxes are officially called FICA, which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act. First, it’s not an insurance program. More importantly, the word "contribution" implies something voluntary. Its synonyms are alms, benefaction, beneficence, charity, donation and philanthropy. Which one of those synonyms comes close to describing how Congress gets Social Security and Medicare money from us?

There’s more deceit and dishonesty. In 1950, I was 14 years old and applied for a work permit for an after-school job. One of the requirements was to obtain a Social Security card. In bold letters on my Social Security card, which I still possess, are the words "For Social Security Purposes — Not For Identification." That’s because earlier Americans feared that their Social Security number would become an identity number. According to the Social Security Administration website, "this legend was removed as part of the design changes for the 18th version of the card, issued beginning in 1972." That statement assumes we’re idiots. We’re asked to believe that the sole purpose of the removal was for design purposes. Apparently, the fact that our Social Security number had become a major identification tool, to be used in every aspect of our lives, had nothing to do with the SSA’s getting rid of the legend saying "For Social Security Purposes — Not For Identification."

I wonder whether political satirist H.L. Mencken was right when he said, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: Their Destiny

Tomb of The Unknown Soldier - The Rushmore Report

A heavy snowstorm blanketed much of eastern Afghanistan on Dec. 13, 2012. While conditions were miserable, Sgt. April Trent and her South Carolina Army National Guard unit tried to make the best of it.

“We had a huge snowball fight,” Sgt. Trent told The Unknown Soldiers. “We were having so much fun … more fun than you’d think you could ever have in a combat zone.”

For April, it was a welcome break from missing her two children and worrying about her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nelson Trent, who was serving to her south in Kandahar. Since November, the husband and wife were both deployed to Afghanistan.

That night on the frigid Forward Operating Base, April awoke to someone banging on her door. It was her commanding officer.

As Sgt. Trent put down her weapon and followed her superior to his office, she wondered if life was about to change. Since the first of her husband’s two Iraq deployments began in 2003, Nelson believed that his military career could only end one way.

“He would tell me ‘it is my destiny to die in war,'” April said.

Since 1999, when Nelson and April met while stationed at Georgia’s Fort Gordon, she admired the Texas soldier’s sense of humor.

“(Nelson) was just funny … all the time,” she said. “There was never a dull moment when he was around.”

Nelson and April got married on Nov. 21, 2000. On Mar. 19, 2003 — the day U.S. forces invaded Iraq — April found out she was pregnant with the couple’s first child. Her husband deployed the next day.

“He was on the phone with me when my son was born and got to hear his first cry,” April said. “During his second deployment in ’05-’06, he got to come home for his son’s 2nd birthday.”

April took a break in service to care for their son and later gave birth to a daughter. But even while sacrificing as a military spouse, April decided it was time to resume her career in uniform.

Before the Texas couple knew it, both April and Trent faced deployments to Afghanistan. With two Iraq tours under his belt, young children at home, and a wife headed overseas, Nelson was in agony.

“He said ‘you know it’s my destiny,'” April recalled. “And I said ‘I’ll see you when we get back.'”

When April stepped inside her commander’s office in the early morning hours of Dec. 14, 2012, her heart sank when she saw an Army Chaplain.

“We regret to inform you that your husband, Nelson Trent, has been killed in action … ” April’s commander began. Those words are the last she remembers from that terrible night.

After several agonizing days on her snowed-in base, April was flown out of Afghanistan. She arrived in Germany just in time to meet her husband’s flag-draped casket.

“I was able to fly home with Nelson,” she said.

April would soon learn that her 37-year-old husband was killed in a bombing carried out by terrorists near a military base that was just visited by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

“You can’t be scared,” April said Nelson told his fellow soldiers just hours before his death. “You have to put your faith in God.”

Sergeant 1st Class Nelson Trent was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Jan. 8. Just ten days later, his wife was back in Afghanistan. But as her children struggled to understand their father’s death, especially with their mom still in harm’s way, the Army let April return to South Carolina, where she and her kids would eventually move.

On Valentine’s Day 2013 — April’s 32nd birthday — the tearful soldier surprised her children at school.

“It was like winning the lottery,” she said. “It felt so good to feel my kids’ arms around my neck.”

As they grow up, the Trent children will always know that their father was an American hero.

“Everyone has their calling — whatever it is they’re supposed to do — and Nelson was supposed to be a soldier,” April said. “He died doing what he loved.”

Shortly before our phone call concluded, Sgt. April Trent, who was shopping for groceries, paused to thank a passing soldier for his service. Hopefully, both of April’s kids already know that their remarkable mother is an American hero, too.

(SET PHOTO) tsi112113adAP.jpg (END PHOTO) (SET CAPTION) South Carolina Army National Guard Sgt. April Trent, left, embraces her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Nelson Trent, before the married couple deployed to Afghanistan last year. Sgt. 1st Class Nelson Trent was killed in action on Dec. 13, 2012. Photo courtesy of Sgt. April Trent. (END CAPTION)

Tom Sileo is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of “BROTHERS FOREVER: The Enduring Bond Between a Marine and a Navy SEAL that Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice.” Written with Col. Tom Manion (Ret.) and published by Da Capo Press, “BROTHERS FOREVER” will be released in Spring 2014. To find out more about Tom Sileo, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: Obama and Reid Stage De Facto Coup d’Etat

Dick Morris - The Rushmore Report

Over the past several years, conservatives have complained that President Obama was usurping power disregarding Congress and the Constitution and governing by decree.

But on Thursday, there was a virtual coup d’etat on the floor of the U.S. Senate when the Democrats, in a party-line vote, stripped the Republicans of any role in judicial confirmations. Added to an earlier measure that eliminated their role in confirmations of appointments to executive branch agencies, Harry Reid and Obama have turned the confirmation process — an essential element in the checks and balances enumerated in the Constitution — into a meaningless ritual.

Until Thursday, confirmations to judicial positions required the assent of 60 senators to bring them to the floor for a vote. With the Democrats holding 55 seats — five short of a supermajority, this check and balance stopped the appointment of ultra-radical judges and inhibited Obama’s efforts to stack the courts with like-minded judges, just as it had stopped Bush and every president before him.

But by a simple majority vote, Reid has changed the rules so that a simple majority is enough to confirm any judge other than a Supreme Court nominee. (One suspects that the minute a vacancy on the high court occurs, the 60-vote requirement will be stripped from the rules governing the replacement’s confirmation as well.)

This horrific violation of the principles of our Constitution is specifically targeted at stopping efforts by litigants to stop other violations of the same document. With Obama imposing environmental, immigration, labor, health care and other rules without so much as asking Congress, those who are concerned about the concentration of executive power could look to the court system for redress. Specifically, they focused on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second highest court in the land.

It is before the D.C. Circuit that all appeals from Obama’s administrative decisions come for review. Currently, the court is balanced with four Democratic and four Republican judges. As such, we could all breathe easily knowing that a fair review of his usurpations was in the offing.

But the Court has 11 judges. Three are vacant. Obama has sought to fill thee three slots with fellow travelers who can be counted on to toe his line. Republicans have blocked the confirmation of these three judges. It is to jam them through that Reid has changed the rules. Not only has he silenced dissent in the Senate, he has made sure there is none on the Circuit Court as well.

Republicans have pointed out that the caseload of the D.C. Circuit has dropped and have urged that the three vacant judgeships be eliminated, preserving the partisan balance. But Obama doesn’t want balance. He wants absolute power.

Now the only thing standing between him and his goal are five aging members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The practical implication of this coup is that we now are moving toward a parliamentary system in the U.S. rather than one based on checks and balances as our forefathers set up. We are nearing an elected dictatorship where the president can do what he wants with a compliant Senate willing to confirm judges who grant him the power to do so, Constitution or not.

It is this development, more than any specific act of the president’s that has to alarm true democrats (with a small d). It sure alarms me.

COPYRIGHT 2013 DICK MORRIS AND EILEEN MCGANN

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: Catfight at Cheney Corral

Suzanne Fields - The Rushmore Report

You could call it the "Catfight at Cheney Corral" (but if you do, you should expect feminist outrage). When Liz Cheney moved from the suburbs of the nation’s capital to Wyoming to run for the U.S. Senate, she knew she was asking for trouble. She risked being called a "carpetbagger," but that has a sharper sting in Virginia than in Wyoming. She pulled intimate and sensitive family laundry out for a public airing by emphasizing her conservative roots.

Acknowledging that her sister was in a gay marriage, which isn’t recognized as a true marriage in either Virginia or Wyoming, she said it was just "an area where we disagree."

That message could have been lost had it been sent from Wyoming by Pony Express, but in the age of Facebook, Twitter and email, fighting words are bathed in adrenalin and dispatched for instant arrival. Mary, her lesbian sister, and Heather Poe, Mary’s wife, as recognized in 15 states and the District of Columbia, responded quickly with anger. Mary said Liz was "on the wrong side of history." Heather said it was "offensive" to hear that Liz doesn’t "support" their union and called attention to Liz’s recent change of address: "I can’t help but wonder how Liz would feel if, as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other."

With neither Wyatt Earp nor Doc Holliday in sight, Papa Cheney, who knows what it feels like to be caught in the crossfire of politics, jumped on his not-so-high horse to ride to separate his daughters. Alas, he didn’t have much to offer beyond paternal affection and his own moderate position on same-sex marriage. Dick and Lynne Cheney released in writing a statement that Liz "had always believed in the traditional definition of marriage."

Feuds in famous families make juicy copy, but this one has few national portents. The seat is now held by Mike Enzi, a Republican, and short of a tsunami (rare in Wyoming) or a colliding planet, it will remain Republican. Liz is the longest of long shots; one Republican poll shows her trailing Mr. Enzi by 53 points. Her call for a "new generation" to represent Wyoming smacks more of attempted opportunism and "ageism" (her opponent is 69 and she is 44) than policy differences, but with daddy’s assistance, she raised more money in her first quarter than the incumbent, who looks like he won’t need it.

All politics is local and in Wyoming local is Cody, Casper, Laramie and Cheyenne, and other names known to most Americans only from Western movies. "These types of tiffs between the two sisters, that really isn’t the headline drawer for us," Kyle Roerink, a reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune, tells Politico, the Capitol Hill political daily. "What we want to report on here in Wyoming, what matters most, is where they stand on policy." Refreshing, if true.

Nevertheless, the showdown at Cheney corral illustrates a problem for Republicans in 2016, as the social issues affect policy. Gay marriage is no longer the hot button it was now that 15 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage as legal, and some polls show a bare majority of Americans saying it’s OK. The Supreme Court has decreed that federal benefits cannot be denied to same-sex couples.

A third of Republicans say gay marriage should be legal, up from 22 percent five years ago, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll. A majority of Republicans and independents under 50 who lean Republican say gay marriage should be legal. One-third of Americans polled who favor gay marriage say they once held the opposite view.

Family values, a winning theme for Republicans, has become more "nuanced" as family members come out of the closet. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican, changed his mind when his son told him he was gay. He joined nine other Republicans to vote for legislation forbidding employment discrimination toward gays.

Papa Cheney, as vice president, supported state-sanctioned gay marriage when President Bush supported a federal ban. Mary, his angry lesbian daughter, campaigned for the Bush-Cheney ticket, though her support was obviously more personal than political. Log Cabin Republicans, who support gay marriage, are not always single-issue voters, and usually support conservatives on economic and defense policy issues. They say the split in the Cheney family is "emblematic" of discussions taking place in many Republican families.

It took four days to film the famous gunfight scene between feuding families in the movie version of "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral." The catfight at Cheney corral is likely to fade sooner than that, and long before the gay marriage issue is settled among Republicans and other conservatives.

Write to Suzanne Fields at: suzannefields2000@gmail.com. Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost.’ To find out more about Suzanne Fields and read her past columns, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: David, Goliath and Colorado’s Next Gun-Rights Recall

Michelle Malkin - The Rushmore Report

COLORADO SPRINGS — Author Malcolm Gladwell has a new bestseller that turns conventional wisdom about the Biblical David vs. Goliath battle on its head: "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants." In short, it’s Goliath who really had the odds stacked against him from the get-go. The overconfident giant with poor eyesight, weighted down with heavy armor and multiple swords, never had a chance against lean, nimble, sharp-shooting expert David.

The new Colorado gun-rights recall campaign against arrogant state Sen. Evie Hudak and myopic Democrats may well be a perfect update to Gladwell’s book.

Refresher: In September, grassroots Second Amendment activists ousted two top Democratic state senators for their promotion of radical, job-destroying gun-control measures backed by New York and D.C. special interests. Vice President Joe Biden himself personally lobbied state Democrats to adopt the new gun-rights restrictions. Billionaire gun-grabber Michael Bloomberg dumped gobs of cash and lobbying expertise into the state.

But bigger coffers and bully pulpits weren’t enough. National pundits called the historic recalls of Democratic state Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo "stunning," a "surprise" and a "shocker." Indeed, there was no such precedent in Colorado history. The gun-rights activists were outspent by at least a 7-to-1 margin. Giron’s district went for Obama by 20 points; yet she lost by 12.

Bitter losers blamed the NRA. But the recall movement in both districts was spearheaded by local neophytes who were not initially supported by the GOP political establishment or any big-moneyed interests. In Colorado Springs, these vastly underestimated activists gathered more than 16,000 signatures for their Recall Morse petition in a matter of weeks. In Pueblo, the recall leaders were a pair of brothers who run a family plumbing business.

Local gun-rights activists may have been perceived as the weaker, disadvantaged and less experienced combatants. But these Gladwellian Davids had energy, passion and public opinion on their side.

And they’re not done. On Oct. 4, the secretary of state approved a new petition to recall a third Democratic state senator whose gun-grabbing extremism made national headlines this spring. Evie Hudak represents Senate District 19, which encompasses Arvada and Westminster in the metro Denver area. During a legislative hearing in March on the Democrats’ plan to ban students from carrying concealed firearms on campus, a condescending Hudak rebuked pro-concealed carry advocate and rape victim Amanda Collins.

"I just want to say, statistics are not on your side, even if you had had a gun… Chances are that if you had had a gun, then he would have been able to get than from you and possibly use it against you," Hudak lectured. But even the liberal Denver Post pointed out that the old statistics Hudak cited from a liberal anti-gun group applied only to women with guns who were attacked by "intimate acquaintances," not strangers, as was the case with Collins.

Hudak’s dishonest defense of disarming and disempowering women sent a chilling message from government to constituents: About to be raped, assaulted or murdered? The odds are against you. Don’t bother to fight back.

Recall Hudak organizers are trying to gather at least 25,000 signatures by early December. They already have faced death threats and harassment. Liberal supporters of Hudak have littered the district with scare-mongering door hangers depicting gun-rights activists as dangerous criminals and sex offenders. The group distributing those fliers, "Democracy Defense Fund," is also behind deceptive "community alert" robocalls spreading the same slanderous message. The smear campaign is funded by a D.C. outfit, the Environmental Majority PAC, which already has dumped $50,000 into pro-Hudak committees.

As with Morse and Giron, this latest recall isn’t just about guns. It’s about political hubris and malpractice. Morse refused to read emails from his own constituents. Colorado Second Amendment supporters were shut out of hearings, while Democrats flew in Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords’ husband to testify. They abused their power to rig the game, and voters held them accountable.

In September, Hudak was caught surfing the Internet during a critical legislative hearing on Colorado’s Corrections Department and Parole Division. Instead of doing her job, Hudak was looking at photos of the late actor Patrick Swayze, tweeting about water on Mars and Obamacare, and Facebooking yoga life lessons and art museum pieces. She dismissed criticism after she was caught, sneering that the hearing testimony was "repetitious" and that "multitasking" helped her "pay attention."

Translation: Goofing off helped her stay awake.

You can’t tell from Hudak’s indifferent behavior, but the stakes are sky-high in this modern David vs. Goliath battle. Democrats hold Colorado’s state Senate by an 18-17 margin. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s fate also hangs in the balance. And grassroots gun-rights groups in other states are gearing up to launch similar recalls.

It’s no wonder Hudak’s allies have sunk to such slimy depths as to sabotage recall activists’ ability to gather signatures and communicate with voters. The lumbering Goliaths of gun control are tone-deaf, policy-dumb and totally desperate. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: Obama and His Compassion Mirage

David Limbaugh - The Rushmore Report

President Barack Obama, the quintessential leftist, would have us believe, as would all leftists, that his overarching motivation is his compassion but, like most leftists, reveals through his actions that his driving passion is not so much concern for his fellow man as it is an obsession to control people.

That explains why Obama isn’t the slightest bit sympathetic about people losing their health care coverage as a direct result of his fraudulent advertising on Obamacare and why, so far, he has callously resisted all calls for a reset of the worst policy train wreck on the longest policy train in memory.

But Obama’s inflexible ideology is not the only thing holding him back from doing the right thing — assuming he would even want to, which is a gracious assumption at this point; his hubris and self-interest are in the mix, as well.

He has too much pride to concede that his baby, his signature policy "achievement" — the Affordable Care Act — is a disaster, despite all evidence leading to that inescapable conclusion. Of course, that is partly because he doesn’t consider it a policy disaster, only a public relations disaster, as his goal all along has been a single-payer system.

Anyone who examines the administration’s now-exposed unapologetic pre-rollout predictions that the ACA would drive most people off their plans knows it has always been a Trojan horse for a single-payer plan.

What is Obama the compassionate doing to relieve people of the hardship he is causing? Well, he’s back in campaign mode, telling his hapless, die-hard defenders that he’s not about to abandon his monomaniacal quest to force lower-quality, reduced-access, higher-priced government-run health care on the citizens of the country against which he holds an abiding grudge.

But this thing is unraveling even faster than he anticipated, and both the website and the canceled policies have destroyed his credibility and approval ratings. Even some of his party’s officeholders are beginning to jump ship — out of sheer political self-preservation.

Obama the caring is scrambling not to alleviate Americans’ pain but to save his own skin and his presidential reputation. Reverting to mob boss mode, he summoned insurance executives and leaned on them to reissue policies he’d put the hit on. It was the Obamacare equivalent of "Just plug the damn hole." But this time, he’d run out of juice, and the insurance executives — who, like bank executives and others, have been the subject of his intimidation and shakedowns in the past — told him to pound salt.

But don’t think Obama’s desperate measures to save face while pretending to help others is anything new. He has a habit of placing his reputation above the interests of those he cares so deeply about.

A few examples from my book "The Great Destroyer" will illustrate the consistency in Obama’s non-other-directedness. It’s all about him — not the people, not the vaunted middle class, not the downtrodden — just him and only him.

Do you remember when Obama lost his cool and confronted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on the airport tarmac because she had described him as arrogant in a previous encounter between the two? Brewer later related that Obama "was a little disturbed" about her book and "a bit thin-skinned." Video footage of the incident put the lie to Obama’s disingenuous denials.

Concerning the Gulf oil spill, a congressional investigative committee found that local officials claimed the administration had been more focused on avoiding bad press than on addressing the disaster. The committee’s chairman, Darrell Issa, concluded, "The evidence on the ground suggests that the White House has been more focused on the public relations of this crisis than with providing local officials the resources they need to deal with it."

More recently, we learned of another example of Obama’s putting himself first at the expense of Americans he "cares" about. A top tech official for the Obamacare exchanges warned days before the website’s launch that White House insiders were nervous the site would be "unavailable" after its launch and would be a big embarrassment. A series of emails on Sept. 25 from HealthCare.gov project manager Henry Chao, obtained by Fox News, reveals the administration’s concern about a public relations disaster. Chao suggested the administration develop a plan to inform the public about the website in order to prevent the media from "just ramping up the hyperbole about hc.gov not (being) functional."

Obama is not concerned with the people losing their plans, or he wouldn’t be obsessing over public relations and ignoring the people’s suffering, and he wouldn’t be continuing to lie about what is destined to unfold with the next round of canceled plans, which, by all estimates, will dwarf this round.

Let’s talk about Obama’s Obamacare lies not as if they’re a phenomenon of the past but as if they’re part of an ongoing pattern of prioritizing his own personal interests ahead of those of the nation and its people.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, "The Great Destroyer," reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: Health Care Fix Will Come from Outside Washington

Scott Rasmussen - The Rushmore Report

The health care rollout is an enormous political gift that may lead the Republican Party to win control of the Senate in 2014. But as President Barack Obama’s health care law collapses, the GOP should avoid the temptation to promote its own top-down solution as an alternative.

A better approach would be for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to recognize the solutions will not be found in Washington. They’ll be found only when consumers are given choices that put them in charge of their health insurance decision-making.

Fortunately, we do not have to just sit back and wait for Congress to fix this mess. State governments are demanding a say. Most recently, this was highlighted when the president announced a "fix" to get around his "if-you-like-your-insurance-you-can-keep-it" promise. Within hours, the insurance commissioner for the state of Washington rejected the fix. Others followed.

Sooner or later, many states will allow health insurance policies to be bought across state lines. The increased competition will be good for everyone but the insurance companies.

The most powerful force that will lead us forward, though, is American business owners. We have a system where, despite its faults and challenges, the overwhelming majority of Americans under 65 get health insurance from their employers. Companies recognize it’s a vitally important benefit needed to attract, recruit and retain good workers. If you’re looking to start a business and can’t offer health insurance, you’re going to have a hard time finding employees.

While it’s an attractive benefit, the cost of providing health insurance has been growing dramatically in recent years. This means employers have every incentive to find a practical solution to meet the needs of their workers.

Employees obviously have a lot at stake in this discussion as well. The level of insurance coverage is just one part of their overall compensation plan. Dollars spent on health insurance can’t be offered as wages. Many workers would prefer a less comprehensive insurance plan and bigger paycheck. Others would prefer the opposite. There’s no reason their employers should make that decision for them. (It’s not an appropriate decision for the government or insurance companies to make, either.)

Faced with this reality, employers will search for ways to let their workers choose. Benefits consultants are currently poring over every line in the 2,000 pages of the health care law to find ways for their companies to better serve their workers. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that most large companies are not required to offer the full coverage mandated by Obama under the Affordable Care Act. When the employer mandate finally goes into effect, only 19 million workers will be covered. Companies that self-insure are also exempt from many provisions of the law.

Working within these parameters, we can expect companies to find ways to offer individual workers the choice they want and deserve. They might not make the choice government bureaucrats would make, but workers will make the right choices for themselves and their families.

To find out more about Scott Rasmussen, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 SCOTT RASMUSSEN

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The Rushmore Report: The Laugh-A-Minute Abortion Telethon

Brent Bozell - The Rushmore Report

There may not be a more painful oxymoron than "feminist comedian." MTV flash-in-the-pan Sarah Silverman and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" co-creator Lizz Winstead teamed up in New York City on Nov. 18 for a telethon to fund abortions in Texas via NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Think Jerry’s Kids — children assisted by the Muscular Dystrophy Association — except instead of saving them, the unborn are eliminated. They call that "reproductive justice."

Silverman and Winstead appeared together that night on MSNBC’s "All In with Chris Hayes," where Hayes described the event as a "telethon to help Texas women trying to survive the onslaught of right-wing deprivation of their right to choose."

This was not a Mensa meeting. Silverman cracked, "I also, much like much of the pro-lifers, I believe in protecting the child — you know, when she is being forced to have a baby at 14." Hayes replied, "I think abortion is so taboo, and it seems like that taboo is part of what enforces the very repressive politics on the issue." Silverman shot back, "Yes. I think vaginas really, really scare people, honestly." Honestly?

At the telethon, Silverman dragged out her typical shock-jock shtick, offering her own "vaginal napkin" as an auction item. Periodically, a woman dressed in a giant plush vulva costume — "courtesy of the sex-toy store Babeland" — came onstage to announce the money total raised. "We’re actually going to do a live abortion in this show," Silverman joked. "With a union provider," Winstead added. Well, slap my knee.

In the event’s introduction, a "comedy" skit was shown about a middle-aged white congressman showing up in a woman’s vaginal ultrasound, saying that with new laws mandating ultrasounds, he’ll be on screen for a while. Later, the same actor was used as a narrator who announced, "An average American politician wouldn’t know a uterus if it hit him in the face." The man was then hit in the face with some sort of fake uterus. "So why do they keep making so many laws about uteruses?"

In this cartoon world, conservatives are perpetually clueless women-haters. As Winstead announced on MSNBC, "It’s just an endless barrage of disinformation, and so when this comes down, it’s never based in fact, it’s never based in medical fact, and it’s based in shame."

Yet pro-life politics begins with the medical fact that the unborn child is a developing human being. It’s also a medical fact that said developing human being can be viable as early as 23 weeks. It’s the pro-abortion side that is in scientific denial. For them, it’s emotional. It’s not a baby until the woman decides to exercise her right to "choose" to let it live.

Winstead also announced on a different MSNBC show: "I never have understood how anybody gets a seat at any decision-making table by saying … ‘I’m not a doctor, and I know nothing about science, but’ — OK, out!"

It is a bizarre notion that only doctors or scientists get to have an opinion about abortion. It’s especially odd since Winstead has no college degree of any kind.

Winstead also sounded this alarm on NPR’s talk show "On Point" in 2012. She proclaimed that only people who "love science" should be allowed in politics. "I will never forget watching one of the early debates, the Republican debates, and the question was ‘Do you believe in evolution?’ and there were 10 candidates on stage, and three raised their hand. And at that point, the moderator, who I think was Chris Matthews, should have just said, ‘All right, you seven can leave! And the three of you move in, and we’ll have a real conversation about reality.’"

When feminism calls, religion is shown the door. God the Father is too patriarchal. But female autonomy is sacred. Winstead’s 2012 memoir, "Lizz Free or Die: Essays," described the horror of her Catholic upbringing when women in her family were always — horrors! — having babies. "There were always babies around — sometimes there were so many, it seemed they came in bulk, like our family was the Costco of procreation." She admitted: "I have never been into babies — I didn’t and still don’t have the ‘mommy gene’ — yet these women talked of nothing else." Winstead was the youngest of five children, so where would she be if her mother shared her beliefs about motherhood?

Winstead also admits having an abortion at age 16. "I have pom-poms in my room! I can’t be a mom!" She said a woman at a crisis pregnancy center told her she could choose either "mommy or murder." Winstead protested: "How could she say she was pro-life when she wasn’t pro-my-life? That wasn’t pro-life; that was profane."

When the telethon ended, Winstead and the abortion advocates had raised $53,000 for abortions in the Lone Star State. That wasn’t pro-life. That was profane.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: For Obamacare Architects, Problems are Features, not Bugs

Michael Barone - The Rushmore Report

The defects of the Obamacare website have become well known. But the problems with the law go further than the website. These problems are not incidental, but central to its design and the intentions of its architects.

Many Obamacare backers, including Barack Obama, would prefer "single-payer" health insurance. The government would pay for everything and you would get health care for free.

There is an inconsistency here with the way we treat other things regarded as the basics of life — food, shelter, clothing. Government subsidizes food purchases only for some — though a sharply increasing number in the Obama years — through food stamps.

It also has subsidized housing through loan guarantees and laws encouraging mortgages for the uncreditworthy — policies that resulted in the financial crisis of 2008-09.

Government hasn’t yet proposed subsidizing the purchase of clothing. But the thought is that health care, imposing disproportionate costs on some individuals, should be provided for free.

Obamacare’s architects knew the votes weren’t there for single-payer insurance, so they fashioned their health care legislation and regulations to reduce out-of-pocket costs for people with different health care needs.

Insurance policies have to include coverage for services that many consumers will not need, including maternity coverage and mental health treatments.

Even Obamacare enthusiasts, such as Harold Pollack of the University of Chicago, suggest that the administration should "revisit just how minimal the most minimal insurance policies should be."

But that would work against the Obamacare goal of moving everyone toward paying less out of pocket for health care.

Even more egregious is Obamacare’s requirement that policies for one age group cost no more than three times the cost for another. In practice, this means that young consumers, who incur few heath care costs, are asked to subsidize people in old age groups, who incur many more.

This is the opposite of the progressive economic redistribution, which American liberals usually favor.

People in their 20s tend to have negative net worths. They owe more — in consumer debt, on college loans — than they have in bank accounts, home equity and financial assets.

In contrast, people in the 55-64 age group, the oldest covered by Obamacare, tend to have relatively high net worths. Federal Reserve wealth statistics consistently show that Americans reach their peak net worth in these years. After age 65, they start spending that net worth down.

So why did the Obamacare architects want to take from the poor and give to the relatively rich? Because they want to make health insurance less like insurance — which protects you against unlikely and unwelcome events — and more like an entitlement.

Equalizing premiums tends to move in that direction. The fact that Obamacare policies are like auto insurance policies that cover oil changes is, for the Obamacare architects, a feature — not a bug.

Of course, reducing health care outlays once the insurance premium is paid makes health care consumers less price-conscious. It means that market mechanisms that have reduced the cost of noninsurable treatments — cosmetic surgery, Lasik treatments — will not be operating.

And it increases the likelihood that health care providers will act like the callous unionized employees in Britain’s National Health Service who let patients in the Mid Staffordshire hospitals die unattended or lie in their own waste.

The problem for Obamacare architects is that people are resisting being conscripted into their service. The low penalties for remaining uninsured in early years, plus the difficulty of using healthcare.gov, mean that many young people are not signing up.

This means that insurers will likely be stuck with a group of subscribers who are relatively sick and will have to raise premiums sharply next year to avoid losses — the death spiral you have been reading about.

It also means that others, particularly those not eligible for subsidies, may go shopping outside the website for policies that cover catastrophic costs and leave them free to decide whether and how much to spend on routine care.

The Obama administration’s response has been lawlessness — suspending the law on employer mandates, subsidy verification, subsidies for federal health exchange policies and availability of pre-existing policies.

The insightful liberal journalist Thomas Edsall asks on his New York Times blog, "Is the federal government capable of managing the provision of a fundamental service through an extraordinarily complex system?"

The answer, on health care as on food, shelter and clothing, seems to be "no."

COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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