• Pinboard Links,  The Morning Flap

    The Morning Flap: February 9, 2012

    These are my links for February 8th through February 9th:

    • Where’s the Rest of Them? – The biggest problem with the GOP Presidential field is that each of the candidates seems to be running to represent only part of the Republican coalition. Mr. Romney sounds like he thinks conservatives can be won over with a few poll-tested lines like “I’ll repeal ObamaCare,” while Mr. Santorum sounds like he only needs conservative votes to become President. To adapt Ronald Reagan’s famous line, Where’s the rest of them?
    • Path to a Brokered GOP Convention Emerges – For many conservative Republicans, the dream outcome of the primary season is a brokered convention. Disappointed in the four remaining choices, they hope to change horses in August, and draft their preferred candidate, be it Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, or Paul Ryan.

      I’ve been adamant that such an outcome is extremely unlikely. For a brokered convention to occur, there has to be an almost perfect storm of events; the GOP elites can’t just declare shenanigans on the primary season and select a new nominee. Instead, something has to prevent any of the current candidates from clinching a majority of the delegates; if one of them amasses that majority, he will be the nominee on the first ballot at the convention in Tampa.

      My assumption — and the assumption of many — was that the GOP fight would eventually degenerate into an ideological battle between the very conservative and somewhat conservative/moderate wings of the party, with Romney on one side and a single alternative on the other. Unless there was a late entrant or Ron Paul caught fire in the caucus states, someone was virtually assured of claiming the requisite number of delegates in that scenario. But for the first time, the two way faceoff doesn’t seem inevitable, and a viable path to a brokered convention is beginning to emerge. Let’s start with something else I overlooked. The GOP does have super-delegates of a sort, in the form of the 63 RNC members. They aren’t as numerous as they are in the Democratic Party, but they are still there. While many of them have already declared allegiance to one candidate or another, those commitments can evaporate quickly, as Hillary Clinton learned to her sorrow in 2008.

    • 20% of Republicans leaning to Obama! – For critics of Barack Obama, 2012 has been portrayed as a do-or-die year for the country – an election that will determine whether America stays on the road to European-style socialism or veers right to reclaim its positions as the most vibrant economy in the world and the home of individual liberty.

      But the 2012 election is looking more like a replay of 2008 than a do-over.

      The latest WND/Wenzel Poll shows none of the current crop of Republican presidential candidates has solidified the base of the party, with one in five GOP voters leaning toward support of Obama in November.

      The results are from the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies. The poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 1-3, 2012, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.44 percentage points.

    • News from The Associated Press – RT @AP: U.S. Justice Department plans to announce a settlement between states, top mortgage lenders in 15 minutes: -EF
    • Flap’s Dentistry Blog: Pennsylvania Dental Patient Sentenced to Prison for Stealing a Wisdom Tooth Extraction – Pennsylvania Dental Patient Sentenced to Prison for Stealing a Wisdom Tooth Extraction
    • Day By Day February 9, 2012 – Bone | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Day By Day February 9, 2012 – Bone
    • Apple to Announce iPad 3 First Week in March – John Paczkowski – Mobile – AllThingsD – RT @allthingsd: Apple to Announce iPad 3 First Week in March -by @JohnPaczkowski
    • Obama’s Economic Approval Rating Improves – RT @gallupnews: Obama’s Economic Approval Rating Improves… #Gallup #Obama
    • Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-02-09 » Flap’s California Blog – Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-02-09
    • Log In – The New York Times – RT @ByronYork: Douthat link:
    • Plan of Attack | Washington Free Beacon – RT @FreeBeacon: .@kredo0 reports: What an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities might look like
    • @Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-02-09 | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – @Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-02-09
    • Keep an Eye on Ryan – Tomorrow night, Paul Ryan will speak at CPAC. National Review Online has obtained an embargoed copy of the speech. It’s powerful stuff. He’ll talk about how Republicans share responsibility for the fiscal crisis. And he’ll detail President Obama’s dismal record. But the big theme is that Republicans need to make 2012 more than a “referendum.” He wants it to be a “choice.”

      “The easy way is always tempting,” he’ll tell conservatives, urging them to avoid a victory “by default.” Bold ideas, he’ll say, are the only way to win a mandate:

    • Missile Defense Program Weakened under the Obama Administration – Abstract: In passing the FY 2012 defense authorization and appropriations bills, Congress missed an ideal opportunity to reverse the damage that the Obama Administration inflicted on U.S. missile defense programs in 2010. Congress specifically failed to move the U.S. toward a more defensive nuclear posture, protect U.S. missile defense options against the President’s arms control agenda, or prepare layered U.S. missile defenses against potential threats, including an EMP attack or an Iranian attack on the East Coast. To properly defend against the missile threat, the U.S. needs to build on the Navy’s proven Aegis missile defense system, integrate other vital components into the missile defense system, and develop and deploy space-based missile defenses.
    • Mike Huckabee to Start New Radio Show | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Mike Huckabee to Start New Radio Show
    • Santorum | Gary Varvel | The Indianapolis Star | IndyStar.com – Santorum | Gary Varvel | The Indianapolis Star |
    • Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate | Capital Notes — From KQED’s John Myers – Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate | Capital Notes — From KQED’s John Myers
    • Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate | Capital Notes — From KQED’s John Myers – Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate | Capital Notes — From KQED’s John Myers
    • The State Worker: California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign – The State Worker: California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign
    • Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate | Capital Notes — From KQED’s John Myers – Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate | Capital Notes — From KQED’s John Myers
    • (404) http://t.co/47gpLH – RT @AP: Wash. state lawmakers OK gay marriage; state would be seventh in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed: …
    • Don’t Worry! Coffee is Not Going to Hurt Your Heart | Smiles For A Lifetime – Temporary (Locum Tenens) Dentistry – Don’t Worry! Coffee is Not Going to Hurt Your Heart
    • The State Worker: California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign – The State Worker: California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign
    • Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate | Capital Notes — From KQED’s John Myers – Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate
    • Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: February 8, 2012 » Flap’s California Blog – Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: February 8, 2012
    • foursquare :: Gregory Flap @ Chez Cole – Checking out the updated Foursquare Android app (@ Chez Cole)
    • The State Worker: California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign – California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign
    • Assembly speaker wants to trade tax breaks for scholarships – latimes.com – Assembly speaker wants to trade tax breaks for scholarships
    • It’s California time for Newt Gingrich – Ginger Gibson – POLITICO.com – It’s California time for Newt Gingrich
    • Untitled (https://plus.google.com/105353644409523560325/posts/6j9nVaLqSSH) – Justice Ginsburg should have retired decades ago…. talk about being out of step..
    • Updated: AD-38: Rep. Buck McKeon Caught Covering His Bases for Himself and California Assembly Candidate Wife Patricia McKeon » Flap’s California Blog – Updated: AD-38: Rep. Buck McKeon Caught Covering His Bases for Himself and California Assembly Candidate Wife Pa…
    • Thoughts on the Ninth Circuit’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision – 1. This is going up to the Supreme Court. I suspect that the backers of Prop. 8 won’t even ask for en banc review by the Ninth Circuit, since they’re unlikely to win there. Depending on how quickly they file their petition for certiorari, the Court will either decide in late September to hear the case, or will decide this late this Spring. Either way, the Court will hear the case next Term, though probably not before the election. Though, for reasons I describe below, the decision only applies to states, like California, that recognized civil unions but not same-sex marriages, it’s still a conclusion of national importance, one on which the Supreme Court is likely want to speak. And even if, as described below, the decision is limited just to California, I think the Court will still think it’s important for it to resolve the question.

      2. The Ninth Circuit did not decide that all opposite-sex-only marriage recognition rules are unconstitutional. Rather, it concluded that when a state has already recognized same-sex civil unions that are functionally equivalent or nearly equivalent to marriage, denying the symbolic recognition provided by the label “marriage” is no longer rationally related to a legitimate government interest. The court did not decide whether the general constitutional right to marry that applies to same-sex couples, or whether opposite-sex-only recognition rules are generally unconstitutional on the grounds that discrimination based on sexual orientation requires “strict scrutiny” or “intermediate scrutiny” and fails that scrutiny. It only applied the rational basis test, and held that the regime of civil unions but not same-sex marriage lacks a rational basis.

    • Government Employer Free to Fire Human Resources Officials Who Publicly Criticize the Propriety of Gay Rights Laws – So holds Dixon v. University of Toledo (N.D. Ohio Feb, 6, 2012). (I blogged about this case when it was filed.) A few thoughts:

      (1) Some of the analysis seems limited to high-level “policymaking” employees, such as a university Associate Vice President.

      (2) But some of the argument suggests that any time any government manager with hiring and firing authority — or even with substantial input into hiring and firing decisions — speaks out in opposition to civil rights laws protecting gays, the government may fire the manager on the grounds that the speech (a) “could disrupt the … [d]epartment by making homosexual employees uncomfortable or disgruntled,” (b) might lead “homosexual prospective employees [to] reconsider applications,” and (c) might “lead to challenges to her personnel decisions.”

      (3) This in turn highlights the danger to government managerial employees who want to participate in, for instance, campaigns opposing same-sex marriage or proposed laws banning sexual orientation discrimination. If you’re such an employee, you’d be wise to keep your mouth shut on such matters, whether it comes to letters to the editor, to blog posts, to yard signs, to campaign donations, or to signatures on initiative or referendum petitions (in states that disclose such signatures). After all, any of these might be noticed by people who will publicize what you said or did, and who will directly or indirectly inform your supervisors about it.

    • Poll Watch: Congressional Approval at New Low of 10% – Disapproval is 86% | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Poll Watch: Congressional Approval at New Low of 10% – Disapproval is 86%
    • Archbishop of San Francisco says Obama ruling strikes at religious freedom – Catholic Archbishop George Niederauer of the Archdiocese of San Francisco has written a letter that will be distributed at all Masses this weekend about the Obama administration’s decision to require Catholic institutions to administration would require Catholic institutions such as hospitals and universities to provide contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act. See Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ statement here.

      The ruling has raised a huge row with many Catholics, who make up 27 percent of the electorate and constitute a large share of independents. They are also concentrated in the battleground states that will decide the presidential election. Catholic hospitals serve an estimated one sixth of the population. The Archdiocese of San Francisco includes San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties and includes, according to the Archdiocese, more than 550,000 Catholics.

    • Babs Boxer Comes up with the Dumbest Defense (So Far) of the ObamaCare Abortifacient Mandate – This policy is among the most illiberal ever foisted on the American public by its elected officials. They literally lied, even to members of their own party, to get this policy passed along purely partisan lines. Their own leadership told us that we have to pass the bill even to find out what’s in it. One must be a fellow traveling liar, or simply intolerant to the core, to defend this affront.

      Liberals claim the mantle of tolerance, but this policy is deeply intolerant. It forces aactions on a sizable number of Americans who disagree with undertaking those actions for reasons explicitly protected in the Constitution. The numerous ObamaCare waivers, granted mainly to unions that have supported Democrats with campaign cash, open up equal protection issues and expose the politics at the core of what was sold as a “health care” bill. It was a government power bill, from the start. And this mandate has placed the administration in a very awkward political spot. Continue the abortifacient policy to appease Boxer et al, but risk losing millions of votes that went Obama’s way in 2008. Or, scuttle it, and dispirit the illiberal, intolerant progressive mob.

    • President Obama: ‘I Don’t Want Them Punished With A Baby’
      – YouTube
      – Video: President Obama: ‘I Don’t Want Them Punished With A Baby’
    • Barbara Boxer weighs in on Catholic contraception controversy – Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., probably the Senate’s leading pro-choice voice, stepped into the debate over the Obama administration’s rule requiring Catholic institutions to provide birth-control coverage. The Archdiocese of San Francisco has called the rule an assault on religious freedom and the Obama administration is in damage-control mode with a critical voting bloc. Obama reportedly weighed the politics before approving the decision.

      One analysis of these politics calculates that Obama’s decision will help him with young, secular women, Catholic or not, and that’s why the White House is standing firm while making noises about a compromise. Obama is touting the decision on his campaign website.

      Writing in the Wall Street Journal, where the lead editorial lambasts the rule, Boxer and Democratic colleagues Patty Murray of Washington and Jeanne Shaheen, defend the decision and accuse its critics (led by the Catholic bishops and joined by GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich) of mounting “an aggressive and misleading campaign to deny this benefit to women,” that is “being waged in the name of religious liberty.”

    • Flap’s Dentistry Blog: Not For Profit Delta Dental Executive Pay and Perks Exposed – Not For Profit Delta Dental Executive Pay and Perks Exposed
    • Medicaid may stop covering visits to ER later deemed ‘unnecessary’ – Medicaid soon might stop covering emergency-room treatment that state officials decide afterward was “not medically necessary.”

      A state Health Care Authority rule putting a three-visit limit on unnecessary ER use by poor patients was blocked in court on procedural grounds. The agency has replaced it with a new policy planned to take effect April 1 that would reduce the number of conditions deemed non-emergencies but would forbid even a single unnecessary visit.

      The doctors and hospitals who sued over the old rule blasted the new plan Tuesday, saying it would leave it up to a “faceless bureaucrat” to decide what’s an emergency. They weren’t ready to say they’ll go to court again over it.

      Medical providers would foot the bill if they treat patients and the state doesn’t pay. They couldn’t bill the patients, as was possible under the old rule, the Health Care Authority says.

      “The client is not at risk anymore for the ER bills,” said Dr. Jeffery Thompson, chief of the state’s Medicaid program. “This is invisible to the client. The client’s going to get treatment regardless.”

      The move is part of an ongoing attempt by state government to crack down on excessive ER use. Other kinds of treatment have such limits, Thompson says.

      He points to patients seeking ER treatment for diaper rash and other ailments better treated by a primary-care doctor, and to hospital frequent fliers who show up twice a day, as he said one patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder did recently. The hope is to divert such patients to other providers.

    • Dependent Nation: Dependency Index Surges 23% Under President Obama; 67 Million Get Aid – The American public’s dependence on the federal government shot up 23% in just two years under President Obama, with 67 million now relying on some federal program, according to a newly released study by the Heritage Foundation.

      The conservative think tank’s annual Index of Dependence on Government tracks money spent on housing, health, welfare, education subsidies and other federal programs that were “traditionally provided to needy people by local organizations and families.”

      The increase under Obama is the biggest two-year jump since Jimmy Carter was president, the data show.

      The rise was driven mainly by increases in housing subsidies, an expansion in Medicaid and changes to the welfare system, along with a sharp rise in food stamps, the study found.

    • President 2012 GOP Poll Watch: Romney 37% Vs. Gingrich 21% Vs. Santorum 17% | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – President 2012 GOP Poll Watch: Romney 37% Vs. Gingrich 21% Vs. Santorum 17%
    • AD-38: Why is Patricia McKeon Protecting Her Assembly Candidacy Tweets? » Flap’s California Blog – AD-38: Why is Patricia McKeon Protecting Her Assembly Candidacy Tweets?
    • AD-38: Scott Wilk Receives the Endorsement of California Young Republicans » Flap’s California Blog – AD-38: Scott Wilk Receives the Endorsement of California Young Republicans
    • Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 8, 2012 » Flap’s California Blog – Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 8, 2012
    • The Morning Flap: February 8, 2012 | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – The Morning Flap: February 8, 2012
  • Dentistry,  Medicaid

    State of Texas Encouraging Teens to Get Pregnant for Orthodontic Braces?

    This is definitely government run amok in Medicaid and in the state of Texas.

    No one would say being a single mom is easy. Especially being a single, teenage mother.

    But the State of Texas appears to be encouraging teenage girls to become pregnant so they can receive free dental care under Medicaid.

    Watch the excellent investigative video above and explain to me why the State of Texas is even covering orthodontics with federal medicaid dollars when California has NO dental medicaid for adults – at all?

  • Dentistry,  Medicaid

    Crooked Teeth Video: The Investigative Story of the Texas Orthodontic Medicaid FLAP

    This is an excellent investigative series, albeit long video that discusses the problems with the State of Texas and their delivery of orthodontic care via Medicaid.

    The WFAA-TV news special “Crooked Teeth” highlights an 11-part investigative series that reveals tens of millions of dollars in questionable billings and a troubling lack of oversight of the Texas Medicaid orthodontic program.

    Although Texas Medicaid limits orthodontic care to poor children with severely misaligned teeth, “Crooked Teeth” reveals Texas paid more for Medicaid-funded dental orthodontics than the other 49 states combined.

    In fact, a number of Texas dental clinics receive more in Medicaid orthodontic reimbursements than the amounts paid annually to entire states like Illinois, Georgia, Florida and California.

    The half-hour news special “Crooked Teeth” raises questions about other Medicaid reimbursements nationally, including a troubling payment policy by one of the nation’s largest government contractors.

    Watch it all and wonder why government financed and run health care is just filled with danger – fraud and cronyism included.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for July 5th on 12:09

    These are my links for July 5th from 12:09 to 12:12:

    • Double Standards at MSNBC – So here we are in a brand new week and Mark Halperin, a senior political analyst at Time magazine and a regular contributor on MSNBC, is still suspended for calling President Obama a “di**” on Morning Joe.

      Never mind that Halperin thought he was on a seven-second delay and that his remark would never be heard by the public. Never mind, too, that he immediately apologized, on the air. The White House press secretary called MSNBC to complain and, poof, Halperin was gone. Suspended indefinitely.

      MSNBC issued a statement saying, “Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologize to the President, The White House, and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air.”

      Really? When did MSNBC start to care about what is and what is not appropriate when it comes to commenting on a sitting president of the United States? And when did the network start to strive for a high level of discourse?

      I offer up two words to show how self-serving and disingenuous the MSNBC statement is: Keith. Olbermann.

      Perhaps the MSNBC suits missed the show when Olbermann, talking about then-President Bush, said, “You’re a fascist! Get them to print you a T-shirt with ‘fascist’ on it!”

      Maybe they also missed the one when Olbermann said President Bush was guilty of “murderous deceit” and then, working himself up into a frenzy, looked into the camera and yelled at the president to “shut the hell up.”

      Or how about the time this popped up on the screen while Olbermann was ranting about President Bush: “Pathological presidential liar or an idiot in chief?”


      But, it was Booooosh…..

    • Entitlement Bandits – Medicare and Medicaid Fraud – The budget blueprint crafted by Paul Ryan, passed by the House of Representatives, and voted down by the Senate would essentially give Medicare enrollees a voucher to purchase private coverage, and would change the federal government’s contribution to each state’s Medicaid program from an unlimited “matching” grant to a fixed “block” grant. These reforms deserve to come back from defeat, because the only alternatives for saving Medicare or Medicaid would either dramatically raise tax rates or have the government ration care to the elderly and disabled. What may be less widely appreciated, however, is that the Ryan proposal is our only hope of reducing the crushing levels of fraud in Medicare and Medicaid.
      The three most salient characteristics of Medicare and Medicaid fraud are: It’s brazen, it’s ubiquitous, and it’s other people’s money, so nobody cares.


      Read it all

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 14th on 15:29

    These are my links for April 14th from 15:29 to 17:54:

    • Mitt Romney Picks Up Florida Rep. Connie Mack Endorsement – Mitt Romney has picked up another important Florida endorsement as he continues to build his network in the crucial primary state ahead of his probable run for president. U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV has said that he will support the former Massachusetts governor because of his economic background and leadership.

      "We need true leadership in the White House with someone who is uniquely qualified to grow the economy and create the quality jobs that Americans deserve and need, " Mack told the St. Petersburg Times.

      Mack, who supported Romney in 2008, is a popular Republican congressman in southern Florida, and was expected to run for U.S. Senate but decided against it in a surprising move last month.

      Former Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and powerful state Senator John Thrasher also said last month that he would also support a Romney 2012 candidacy.

      "If Governor Romney decides to run for president in 2012, I will absolutely be supporting him and helping him in Florida," Thrasher told FOX in March." He would be a great GOP nominee." 


      Romney has had a good week in Florida. He has led in two polls and now these endorsements.

    • As California economy stumbles, Medi-Cal costs climb – In California’s state Capitol, they call it counter-cyclical, a mundane term used to describe the volatile rollercoaster effect of a bad economy on government-run social programs. As the economy and tax revenues decline, demand for many state-run programs increases, putting more stress on the budget just when it can handle it least.

      The grand daddy of all counter-cyclical programs: Medi-Cal, the state and federal program that provides health care for the poor.

      “In California, the primary catalyst of growth in the Medi-Cal program in recent years has been the economic downturn,” said Anthony Cava of the Department of Health Care Services, which manages the Medi-Cal program.

      Medi-Cal is California’s version of the nationally implemented Medicaid program and it provides more than 7.7 million low-income families, children, and elderly, and disabled Californians will health care and other vital human resources. Costs for the program are split by the federal and state governments, with a total price tag of about $53 billion this year.


      Not too shocking.

      And, they will grow astronomically under ObamaCare.

      But, what businesses will be left in California to pay the tab for everyone, including the millions of illegal immigrants?

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 12th on 16:16

    These are my links for April 12th from 16:16 to 16:41:

    • The Real Medicare Divide – The Treaters Vs. Rationers – That’s why I’m convinced the major fault line in the health care debate in the coming decades won’t be between those who do and don’t want to diminish the  government’s role–by, say, replacing the open-ended benefits Medicare recipients now get with a Ryan-style limited subsidy for purchase of health insurance. Sure that’s one debate, and it’s happening now. But the bigger fault line will be the line that is just emerging, between those who want Americans to keep getting whatever health care will make them better–which is more or less Medicare’s current, costly posture–and those who accept some system, whether public or private, that would deny them some treatments because of their expense: The Treaters vs. the Rationers.**


      Read it all

    • Is Obama going to endorse the debt commission’s plan? – Obama will not blaze a fresh path when he delivers a much-anticipated speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University. Instead, he is expected to offer support for the [debt] commission’s work and a related effort underway in the Senate to develop a strategy for curbing borrowing. Obama will frame the approach as a responsible alternative to the 2012 plan unveiled last week by House Republicans, according to people briefed by the White House.

      Letting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency. On health care, last year’s tax deal and the recent battle over 2011 spending cuts, Obama has repeatedly waited as others set the parameters of the debate, swooping in late to cut a deal. The tactic has produced significant victories but exposed Obama to criticism that he has shown a lack of leadership.

      The Post reporters also note that Obama will speak favorably of the so-called Gang of Six, a group of senators who favor a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts.

      But what does this really mean? Saying nice things about a panel whose specific proposals he never endorsed and which are an anathema to much of his party doesn’t seem like a formula to move the ball ahead. A senior Republican Senate aide deems the “let others lead” approach as “ridiculous,” given the necessity of presidential leadership if we are to make progress on the debt.


      Well, Obama has to do something and class warfare is the easiest – despite the details.

      Obama has not led on the economy, unemployment or foreign policy. What makes anyone think he will do anything different on the federal budget deficit?

    • Paul Ryan’s desperate critics on the LEFT – The Democrats have a problem. They can’t abide by the notion that we have to spend less on entitlement programs in order to solve our long- term debt, so rather than offer their own plan they’ve resorted to name-calling and straw-man arguments.

      Ezra Klein, for example, deems Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan a “joke,” accusing him of failing to raise taxes (well, yes that’s true) and of savaging “programs serving the poor.” Actually, Ryan would impose means-testing of the rich on Medicare and give block grants to the states to try to more effectively manage health services delivered to the poor. If we do nothing, of course, these plans will collapse. A Ryan spokesman had this to say:

      The CBO warns that if policymakers don’t take action to save Medicare, taxes “would reach higher levels relative to the size of the economy than ever recorded in the nation’s history, payments to physicians under Medicare would be reduced well below current rates, and payments to other Medicare providers would grow more slowly than the cost of their inputs; nevertheless, federal debt would continue to grow relative to GDP.”


      Read it all.

      So, what does Ezra Klein want to do when Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare collapse under their own weight?

      Another government bailout? And, that works how when the country is bankrupt?

    • Sen. Rand Paul says he’s considering filibuster of budget agreement – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he's considering a filibuster of the budget agreement to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year.

      Paul, who said yesterday that he would vote against the agreement reached last Friday to cut $39.9 billion between now and September, acknowledged that he's considering waging a filibuster, which would make it so that leaders need 60 votes to pass the deal and advance it to President Obama's desk.

      "Yes, but we haven't really made a final decision on that yet," Paul said on conservative talker Sean Hannity's radio show.

      A filibuster would make it difficult for the Senate to pass the budget deal by midnight Friday, when the government's spending measure expires.

      Paul acknowledged that even if he were to filibuster, it's unlikely that he'll attract 40 other senators' votes in order to sustain his procedural roadblock to the budget deal.

      But such a move might crystallize conservative dissatisfaction with the deal brokered by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in last-minute negotiations with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Conservatives are angry the deal falls short of the benchmark of $100 billion in cuts below Obama's original budget proposal for this fiscal year.

      Paul said that he would be more inclined to block action in the upper chamber if it led to consideration of the Senate GOP's balanced budget amendment.


      Tilting at windmills here.

      The government might shut down for really no reason and the GOP extremists would be blamed to the detriment of the entire party.

      Better to hold his fire for the debt ceiling vote.

  • Medicaid,  Medicare,  Polling,  Social Security

    Poll Watch: Federal Budget-Cuts Dilemma – Don’t Touch Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security Say Americans

    The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has some very stark findings for budget hawks who want to tackle America’s mounting deficit.

    Less than a quarter of Americans support making significant cuts to Social Security or Medicare to tackle the country’s mounting deficit, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, illustrating the challenge facing lawmakers who want voter buy-in to alter entitlement programs.

    In the poll, Americans across all age groups and ideologies said by large margins that it was “unacceptable” to make significant cuts in entitlement programs in order to reduce the federal deficit. Even tea party supporters, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, declared significant cuts to Social Security “unacceptable.”

    At the same time, a majority supported two specific measures that lawmakers might employ to shore up the shaky finances of the main entitlement programs.

    More than 60% of poll respondents supported reducing Social Security and Medicare payments to wealthier Americans. And more than half favored bumping the retirement age to 69 by 2075. The age to receive full benefits is 66 now and is scheduled to rise to 67 in 2027.

    Depending on how they are structured, those two changes could eliminate as much as 60% of Social Security’s underfunding, according to experts. Support for the two ideas in the poll is “impressive,” said Chuck Blahous, one of the program’s public trustees and a former Bush administration official. “I wonder if [public] receptivity is increasing.”
    The poll comes as Republican lawmakers, many elected on promises to slash federal spending, have focused mostly so far on cuts to non-defense, discretionary programs. But many political leaders say meaningful deficit reduction cannot be accomplished without making changes to entitlement programs.

    Here is a graphic representation of the poll:

    Of course, Americans don’t want the bad news and they certainly don’t want to cut their own entitlements. But something will have to be done if we want to reduce the debt we have to foreign nations and to spur economic activity. A bankrupt nation beholden to foreign investors certainly will not pay out ANY benefits.

    Means testing is fine and a modest increase in the retirement age is OK. This can be done relatively easily and should be done immediately. If this takes care of 60 per cent of the problem in future years, then the GOP controlled House can move on to other budget cutting issues. 60 per cent is a start – even 40 per cent is good.

    Naturally, the Democrats will demonize the Republicans to senior citizens but modest changes now and quickly will force President Obama to act either in a fiscally responsible manner or not.

    The entire poll is here.