Friday, September 4, 2009

Sacrifice for everyone..except the lawyers

Without Tort Reform, It Isn't Health Care Reform --It's a Plaintiffs' Lawyers Protection Act

Hugh Hewitt

Friday, September 04, 2009

President Obama wants everyone to believe that American health care is in a crisis, and he wants everyone to be willing to sacrifice in order to solve that crisis.

He wants senior citizens to pay more for Medicare but get fewer benefits. He wants them to ignore the rationing embedded in his proposals to cut hundreds of billions from the Medicare budget and to drastically increase the cost of Medicare Advantage.

President Obama wants seniors to sacrifice.

President Obama wants employers to pay more in health care premiums, and if they don't provide health insurance for their employees, he wants them to pay penalty taxes. He doesn't care that tens of thousands of small businesses are struggling to stay open and keep their employees employed. And he doesn't care that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts will hit these businesses hard.

President Obama wants employers to sacrifice.

President Obama wants doctors and hospitals to sacrifice. He is demanding cuts in reimbursement rates to hundreds of thousands of doctors and deep cuts for hospitals as well. He doesn't care that doctors' incomes have been pressured by falling reimbursement rates for years, and that many hospitals are struggling with the emergency room costs of treating the uninsured.

President Obama wants doctors and hospitals to sacrifice.

President Obama wants Big Pharma and insurance companies to sacrifice. President Obama wants young healthy people who choose not to buy health insurance to sacrifice.

President Obama wants everyone to sacrifice. Well, not quite everyone.

There is one group that President Obama doesn't mention, one group he doesn't demand sacrifice for the greater good.

President Obama is protecting the plaintiffs' lawyers who sue doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies and reap billions in fees from the tort lottery.

Though the broken, out-of-control tort system drives the cost of medicine through the roof, President Obama hasn't demanded any changes to that system, like a cap on pain and suffering damages, or a cap on lawyers' fees, or an excise tax on plaintiffs' contingency awards.

President Obama hasn't even asked for a provision that would award wrongfully sued doctors and hospitals the cost of their defense.

President Obama hasn't asked anything of the plaintiffs' lawyers because those plaintiff lawyers contribute tens of millions of dollars to Democratic candidates. They have done so for years and they will continue to do so as long as the Democrats protect their business. They put a lot of money into the Obama campaign and the Democratic drive to take over Congress, and their investment is paying off handsomely.

The president and Congressional Democrats have been protecting the plaintiffs' lawyers' business all year long, even though their business is a chief driver of skyrocketing health care costs.

Next week's speech by President Obama to the Congress will be full of the increasingly tiresome rhetoric of crisis and sacrifice.

But it won't be talking about the plaintiffs' lawyers and the costs they impose on us all.

And it certainly won't be demanding serious reform of the tort system as part of the "reform" of health care.

And therein is all you need to know about the merits of Obamacare. The president doesn't believe American health care is in a crisis, because if he did, he'd call for the tort reform that every expert believes is necessary.

But he won't. So we all know it is a giant exercise in hypocritical politics of the worst sort.

Obamacare deserves to die for a lot of reasons, but large among them is the sheer duplicity of demanding deep sacrifices of everyone except the plaintiffs' lawyers who have grown rich beyond most people's imaginations profiting off of the doctors and hospitals and pharmaceutical companies that work to keep Americans healthy.

Keep this in mind when you watch the president next week, if you even bother to watch.

The mere man who fell to earth

September 4, 2009
Obama, The Mortal
By Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- What happened to President Obama? His wax wings having melted, he is the man who fell to earth. What happened to bring his popularity down further than that of any new president in polling history save Gerald Ford (post-Nixon pardon)?

The conventional wisdom is that Obama made a tactical mistake by farming out his agenda to Congress and allowing himself to be pulled left by the doctrinaire liberals of the Democratic congressional leadership. But the idea of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi pulling Obama left is quite ridiculous. Where do you think he came from, this friend of Chavista ex-terrorist William Ayers, of PLO apologist Rashid Khalidi, of racialist inciter Jeremiah Wright?

But forget the character witnesses. Just look at Obama's behavior as president, beginning with his first address to Congress. Unbidden, unforced and unpushed by the congressional leadership, Obama gave his most deeply felt vision of America, delivering the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president. In American politics, you can't get more left than that speech and still be on the playing field.

In a center-right country, that was problem enough. Obama then compounded it by vastly misreading his mandate. He assumed it was personal. This, after winning by a mere seven points in a year of true economic catastrophe, of an extraordinarily unpopular Republican incumbent, and of a politically weak and unsteady opponent. Nonetheless, Obama imagined that, as Fouad Ajami so brilliantly observed, he had won the kind of banana-republic plebiscite that grants caudillo-like authority to remake everything in one's own image.

Accordingly, Obama unveiled his plans for a grand makeover of the American system, animating that vision by enacting measure after measure that greatly enlarged state power, government spending and national debt. Not surprisingly, these measures engendered powerful popular skepticism that burst into tea-party town-hall resistance.

Obama's reaction to that resistance made things worse. Obama fancies himself tribune of the people, spokesman for the grass roots, harbinger of a new kind of politics from below that would upset the established lobbyist special-interest order of Washington. Yet faced with protests from a real grass-roots movement, his party and his supporters called it a mob -- misinformed, misled, irrational, angry, unhinged, bordering on racist. All this while the administration was cutting backroom deals with every manner of special interest -- from drug companies to auto unions to doctors -- in which favors worth billions were quietly and opaquely exchanged.

"Get out of the way" and "don't do a lot of talking," the great bipartisan scolded opponents whom he blamed for creating the "mess" from which he is merely trying to save us. If only they could see. So with boundless confidence in his own persuasiveness, Obama undertook a summer campaign to enlighten the masses by addressing substantive objections to his reforms.

Things got worse still. With answers so slippery and implausible and, well, fishy, he began jeopardizing the most fundamental asset of any new president -- trust. You can't say that the system is totally broken and in need of radical reconstruction, but nothing will change for you; that Medicare is bankrupting the country, but $500 billion in cuts will have no effect on care; that you will expand coverage while reducing deficits -- and not inspire incredulity and mistrust. When ordinary citizens understand they are being played for fools, they bristle.

After a disastrous summer -- mistaking his mandate, believing his press, centralizing power, governing left, disdaining citizens for (of all things) organizing -- Obama is in trouble.

Let's be clear: This is a fall, not a collapse. He's not been repudiated or even defeated. He will likely regroup and pass some version of health insurance reform that will restore some of his clout and popularity.

But what has occurred -- irreversibly -- is this: He's become ordinary. The spell is broken. The charismatic conjurer of 2008 has shed his magic. He's regressed to the mean, tellingly expressed in poll numbers hovering at 50 percent.

For a man who only recently bred a cult, ordinariness is a great burden, and for his acolytes, a crushing disappointment. Obama has become a politician like others. And like other flailing presidents, he will try to salvage a cherished reform -- and his own standing -- with yet another prime-time speech.

But for the first time since election night in Grant Park, he will appear in the most unfamiliar of guises -- mere mortal, a treacherous transformation to which a man of Obama's supreme self-regard may never adapt.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Baracko - not ready for primetime

September 3, 2009
The Not Ready for Prime Time President
By Bruce Walker

Pundits, including perceptive conservative opponents like Charles Krauthammer, have noted the consummate political skill of Barack Obama. There is not much doubt that Obama was able to wage a very effective campaign for the Democratic nomination and then for the presidency in the general election.

Bill Clinton was a masterful campaigner too (I had the opportunity to watch some of that first hand.) Ronald Reagan, because in part of his long career in Hollywood, could give "The Speech" a thousand times and each time it was electrifying. The word "charisma" entered our popular political language to describe John Kennedy, whose beautiful wife and boyish good looks created the myth of Camelot. Franklin Roosevelt had the same gift for making people feeling comfortable and winning elections.

But there is a huge difference between Obama, on the one hand, those other presidents on the other hand - and the difference transcends ideology. The difference is that JFK, FDR, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton had the ability to govern once they had won their elections.

FDR, by the time he became president, he had served as Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson, Governor of New York, and Vice Presidential Candidate of his party in 1928. Forget the rightness or the wrongness of his policies: Franklin Roosevelt understood governance.

John Kennedy had been a war hero, a member of Congress, and the real author of some important books (like Why England Slept, in which JFK describes the dangers of appeasing evil.) The Roosevelt and Kennedy clans also grew up with a sense of aristocratic responsibility and a backdoors familiarity with power which may not have been moral, but certainly was valuable.

Ronald Reagan, in addition to being a movie star, a union president, and an ambassador for General Electric, served eight years as Governor of California and was twice an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination before finally winning the nomination in 1980.

Even Bill Clinton had been a congressional candidate, then attorney general of Arkansas, then for many years governor of Arkansas before he ran for president. Clinton served a term as Chair of the National Governors Association. He was a leading member of the Democratic Leadership Council, a group considered to be moderate but which was influential.

Obama, while possessing many of the campaigning gifts of these presidents, has shown no ability to govern at all. This is a very dangerous situation for our nation. Our leader is a man whose ignorance, in many areas of history and policy, is simply appalling. He is rather like the "President in the Plastic Bubble." Obama's entire life has been insulated from any sense of reality of the nation he governs.

When a black Marxist professor obviously blinded by intense racial rage has to be taken to a police station by a police officer nursed in all the nuances of political correctness, Obama cannot see his friend as the wailing bigot and the white policemen as the reasonable figure. At best, Obama calls it a moral draw.

When millions of Americans spontaneously protest at Tea Parties and Town Meetings proposals for massive federal changes, Obama instructs his satrapies in government, the Democratic Party, and the media that the voters are simply uninformed. When citizens cite specific sections of federal bills, how serious does Obama expect to be taken?

When polls show his support dropping steadily as well as support for his specific policies and his party, Obama seems to think that his cronies and he have simply not repeated the same unbelievable statements often, clearly, or loudly enough. It is as if John Edwards had taken the position, when his infidelity was exposed, that he simply needed to get in front of the television camera as often as possible repeating his lies as persuasively as he could.

His pals from Chicago seem unable to help him. His partisan handlers fancy that they can simply ram whatever they want. Men like Axelrod and Emmanuel seem to think that it should be simple to push radical Leftist programs through a nation in which conservatives outnumber liberals in virtually all of the fifty states. Obama and his clique appear certain that in a modern culture in which celebrity means everything to many, that just remaining on the cover of glamour magazines will assure political support -- when actually the immature voter is the most feckless and unreliable source of muscle around.

President Obama seemingly has no clue about what he is doing, and, increasingly, it shows. What will happen when things start to go sour in Afghanistan? Our Commander-in-Chief simply will not be able to blame President Bush. After Obama has effectively destroyed the CIA, what will he do when terrorists strike? War is a nasty business in which lawyers should have little role. Has Obama noticed that Islamic terrorists are now threatening him? Does he understand that these vicious men are still threatening America?

Looking smooth on television and wowing those fawning socialites and film directors who want to be wowed brings a sort of ephemeral "popularity," but great nations are not governed on such spun sugar. Winning elections and running superpowers are very different tasks. Now, we have a president who is every second still just a candidate. As the world grows more dangerous by the day, we are "led" by the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-President.