Thursday, March 29, 2012

SCOTUS/Obamacare hearings are over

What’s new Today

Story #1 relates what happened in the Obamacare/SCOTUS hearings.  #2 shows how the spin has begun about the possibility of Obamacare being declared Unconstitutional.  It would help the Democrats (or so the spin goes).  #3 seems timely with a story about healthcare in the UK.  Rationing anyone? #4 looks at a Rasmussen poll on the Senate race in Ohio.  #5 delves into the Unemployment numbers we are seeing.  Are they real?  #6 looks at more polling and finds the electorate is mad at Obama regarding the price of gasoline.  #7 is a story on the disingenuous actions of President Obama on oil exploration.  It appears he’s ok with oil companies looking, but not drilling.  #8 looks at the protestors in Wisconsin and makes you wonder if we should have some kind of test before someone is able to vote.  And #9 is great news for people in wheelchairs.

1.  Day 3: SCOTUS and Obamacare

The argument today is about severability — that is, whether, if a portion of the Act is struck down, some or all of the rest of the Act must fall along with it.

The Court was skeptical that the whole act should fall if the individual mandate is invalid. But there wasn’t any clear indication of how far the Court would go. It seemed like there wasn’t much question, except from Justice Sotomayor that the community rating and mandatory issue provisions would fail, that is the government’s position. The fact that the liberals were very engaged, particularly Justice Kagan, may show that they are very worried that the mandate is going to be held unconstitutional.

And from Amy Howe:

Almost all of the Justices asked Clement questions, and many were skeptical of his argument that if the mandate and the provisions link to it go, all that would be left is a hollow shell.

But Ed Kneedler also faced skeptical questions, especially from the more conservative Justices, who asked him how the Court should figure out what other provisions must go. Are we supposed to go through the whole 2700 pages, they asked? (Justice Scalia suggested that this would violate the Eighth Amendment.)

Thus, it sounds like the parts of the Act that would destroy the private insurance companies will go down along with the individual mandate — that these provisions of the Act are not severable (which seems obvious to me). The harder question was whether the entire Act will fall.

The three days have not been good to the Administration.  It appears we’ve gone a long way from when the bill was passed and someone asked Nancy Pelosi about the Constitutionality of the new law to which she answered, “Are you serious?”  I guess they were. 

2.  Let the spin begin:  A healthcare loss will help the Democrats

While the Obama administration fights to protect the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor James Carville said a Supreme Court overruling may not be such a bad thing for the president, politically.

"I think this will be the best thing that has ever happened to the Democratic Party," Carville said Tuesday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

He added: "You know, what the Democrats are going to say, and it is completely justified, 'We tried, we did something, go see a 5-4 Supreme Court majority'."…

I don’t agree.  If SCOTUS overturns the mandate, but lets the law stay on the books, it helps the Republicans because it energizes their base to elect a congress and a president who will repeal Obamacare.  If they strike the entire law done, it energizes the Democratic base and takes away an issue from the Republicans.

3.  Healthcare in the UK

Even the most sentimental champions of the NHS recognise its dark side. Given that its Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson has demanded a 20 billion pound efficiency savings if the NHS is to survive, and that demographic changes mean millions more elderly people will rely on its services (and space), the NHS can only do one thing: ration.

If rationing is acceptable, though, scapegoating is not. And too much evidence points to the elderly being the scapegoats in the battle to save the NHS.  As the Telegraph reports today, elderly patients are being denied the best cancer care. The figures are alarming: lack of treatment is contributing to 14,000 deaths a year among the over-75s. Men and women are dying prematurely each year because their diseases are diagnosed later and less likely to be operated on.

Already the elderly are short-changed when it comes to nurses' time…

This treatment is cruel and unfair: age comes to us all, and is not the result of lifestyle choices. There are plenty of conditions, though, that are the direct result of bad habits, poor diet, and the wrong choices. These conditions range from obesity and diabetes to smoking-related diseases like emphesema. If a 20-stone, 30-something woman comes into hospital with a bad diabetic attack, does she deserve to be at the front of the queue or the back? She has chosen to stuff her face with Mars bars and Coke, and is now suffering the consequences of her choice...

…Does the obese 30-something lay claim to NHS services and a hospital bed when this means thousands of others will have to do without?

The septuagenarian who develops breast cancer has done nothing wrong – except grow old. The NHS has to consider that there are deserving cases and undeserving ones. Age should not be a barrier to optimum care; but bad habits should be.

This discussion is one we will be having in the USA if Obamacare isn’t struck down or repealed.  We’ve already seen how many promises made during the debate have been wrong (cost estimates, if you want to keep your healthcare you can, federal conscience laws will remain in place, etc.) but this is the big one.  Even though the law set up IPAB, Obama and the Democrats claimed there would be no rationing.  No country that has national health insurance has not rationed care and hopefully we won’t get into the situation of deciding who is more deserving and who has “done something wrong” aka they got what they deserved. 

4.  Rasmussen:  Ohio Senate Race

Republican Josh Mandel, in the first Rasmussen Reports survey since his decisive primary victory, is now running neck-and-neck with Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown in Ohio’s U.S. Senate race.

The latest telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Buckeye State finds Brown and Mandel each with 43% support. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and another 11% are undecided.

The Senate will be going Republican this year. 

5.  Obama’s funny numbers regarding Unemployment

Declining jobless numbers, sprouting lately from the Obama administration like so many spring crocuses, have left even the Chairman of the Federal Reserve puzzled over figures that are "out of sync" with the overall economy.

"[T]he combination of relatively modest GDP growth with the more substantial improvement in the labor market over the past year is something of a puzzle," Bernanke admitted to the National Association for Business Economics earlier this week.

Bernanke then proceeded to explain why unemployment figures from the administration seem so out of step with the reality most folks are experiencing. He started with a basic, but often overlooked, part of the jobless equation. "The monthly increase in payroll employment, which commands so much public attention, is a net change," he said. "It equals the number of hires during the month less the number of separations (including layoffs, quits, and other separations)[.]"

In other words, the U.S. job market is in a constant state of flux, with people leaving the workforce due to retirement, or being fired, or leaving a job for a better position, etc. Likewise, some of the positions will be refilled, taking a person out of the ranks of the unemployed. These are not jobs created, but replacement hirings. Then Bernanke concluded, "the increase in employment since the end of 2009 has been due to a significant decline in layoffs but only a moderate improvement in hiring."

So, despite the Obamedia's attempt to paint a sunny picture heading into the November election -- note their relative inattention to Bernanke's speech -- very few new jobs are actually being created during Obama's watch. In fact, the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cited by Bernanke, show that the number of people being hired has declined in 2012 -- even as Obama officials reported that unemployment figures came down…

It’s even funnier than that.  The numbers used to come up with the unemployment rate shows 1.5 million more people working in February than were working at the end of November.  During this time period the BLS says 734,000 new jobs were created.  Where are those other 766,000 jobs? 

6.  Voters angry with Obama

More than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling high gasoline prices, although most do not blame him for them, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll released on Tuesday.

Sixty-eight percent disapprove and 24 percent approve of how Obama is responding to price increases that have become one of the biggest issues in the 2012 presidential campaign.

In the past month, U.S. fuel prices have jumped about $0.30 per gallon to about $3.90 and the Republicans seeking to replace the Democrat in the November 6 election have seized upon the issue to attack his energy policies.

The disapproval reaches across party lines, potentially spelling trouble for Obama in the election, although the online survey showed voters hold oil companies or foreign countries more accountable than politicians for the price spike.

"Obama is getting heat for it but people aren't necessarily blaming him for it," said Chris Jackson, research director for Ipsos public affairs.

Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents all disapprove of the president's handling of gas prices, according to the online poll of 606 Americans conducted March 26-27.

Eighty-nine percent of Republicans said they disapproved, as did 52 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of independents…

When people go into the voting booth, Obama better hope they haven’t had to fill the car with gasoline in the previous week. 

7.  Obama tells oil companies:  “Chew but don’t swallow”

The Obama administration today endorsed new oil and gas exploration along the Atlantic Coast, setting the stage for possible future drilling lease sales.

The announcement by the Interior Department sets into motion what will be at least a five year environmental survey to determine whether and where oil production might occur.

It also comes as President Obama faces mounting pressure over high gas prices and criticism from Republicans that he has opposed more drilling for oil.

“Making decisions based on sound science, public input and the best information available is a critical component to this administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

But Republicans say the announcement is simply for show. Obama delayed and then cancelled a planned 2011 drilling lease sale for areas off the Virginia coast following the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

There are also no guarantees the administration will approve drilling permits at the end of the environmental review.

The president’s actions have closed an entire new area to drilling on his watch and cheats Virginians out of thousands of jobs,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee….

See why we should pay no attention to the fact that there are more rigs drilling in the last three years in the past 30?  It has absolutely NOTHING to do with this President. 

8.  The Left relies on the lowest common denominator

This is an unbelievable video of the people protesting against Scott Walker and Rick Santorum. 

9.  Amazing new device may make Wheelchairs obsolete

This is truly good news.

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