What’s New Today
Story #1 tells reminds us of how Obama seems to change his position depending on how close the election is. #2 looks to see if voter apathy is bad (it isn’t). #3 has John Stossel cheering on discrimination. #4 is about Mia Love, the new black Republican woman who is running for congress. #5 looks at the money likely to be raised and spent in 2012.
Revenge of the incumbents: U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch has won Utah's Republican primary and Charlie Rangel won the Democratic nomination for his 22 term in office.
Leno on Obama spending more money than he took in in May: “That’s called being a Democrat.”
“Yesterday, his advisers (Romney) tried to clear this up by telling us that there was a difference between ‘outsourcing’ and ‘offshoring.’ Seriously. You can’t make that up.” Barack Obama. Seriously you can’t make up that he doesn’t understand the difference between the two. Outsourcing happens when an American firm hires IBM to take over its IT function .
1. Obama and the truth
A sign of an undisciplined mind is serial lapses into self-contradiction, or blurting out a thought only to refute it entirely on a later occasion. For a president to do that is to erode public confidence and eventually render all his public statements irrelevant. That is now unfortunately the case with Barack Obama, who has established a muddled record of confused and contradictory declarations.
Last week, the president invoked executive privilege to prevent the release of administration documents related to the Fast and Furious operation. All presidents on occasion use that tactic, but rarely after they have put themselves on record, as did Senator Obama just five years ago, damning the practice as a de facto admission of wrongdoing. Does President Obama remember his earlier denunciation — or why he thought a special prosecutor was necessary to look into the Scooter Libby case, but not the far greater mess surrounding Eric Holder?
About the same time, President Obama offered de facto amnesty for an estimated 800,000 to 1 million illegal aliens. Aside from his circumvention of Congress and his casual attitude toward his own constitutional duty to enforce the laws as they are written, Obama had on two earlier occasions stated that he not only would not grant such blanket exemptions from the law, but also legally could not. That was then, this is now — the middle of a reelection campaign?...
So which Obama are we supposed to believe?
2. Voter apathy better than the alternative
It's a sure sign someone is losing when he demands that the rules be changed.
That might explain the renewed interest in forcing people to vote against their will. Peter Orszag, President Obama's former budget director and now a vice chairman at Citigroup, recently wrote a column for Bloomberg View arguing for making voting mandatory.
He's not alone. Icons of the Beltway establishment Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann also favor the idea. As does William Galston, a former advisor to President Clinton. (Mann and Galston are scholars at the liberal Brookings Institution; Ornstein is a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute.)
While I have great respect for Ornstein, Mann and Galston -- I'm undecided about Orszag -- I find the idea absurd, cynical and repugnant.
Let's start with the repugnant part.
One of the chief benefits of coerced voting, according to Orszag, is that it increases participation. Well, yes, and kidnapping drunks in pubs increased the ranks of the British navy, but it didn't turn the conscripted sailors into patriots.
I think everyone can agree that civic virtue depends on civic participation. Well, any reasonable understanding of civic participation has to include the idea of voluntarism. If I force you to do the right thing against your will, you don't get credit for doing the right thing.
Let's move on to the absurdity. Ornstein and Mann suggest fining people, say $15, if they don't vote and using the proceeds to set up a lottery to bribe reluctant voters. If the old line that lotteries are taxes on stupid people is correct, then the upshot of this proposal is that the cure to what ails democracy is an influx of large numbers of stupid voters….
We don’t need more stupid people voting without having the slightest idea of who or what they are voting on. This is kind of a poll tax in reverse.
3. Stossel on the benefits of Discrimination
I fear that even if the Supreme Court overrules most of Obamacare (or did already, by the time you read this), Republicans will join Democrats in restoring “good” parts of the law, like the requirement that insurance companies cover kids up to age 26 and every American with a pre-existing condition.
Those parts of Obamacare are popular. People like getting what they think is free stuff. But requiring coverage to age 26 makes policies cost more.
Even Bill O’Reilly lectures me that government should ban discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. Most Americans agree with him. Who likes discrimination? Racial discrimination was one of the ugliest parts of American history. None of us wants to be discriminated against. But discrimination is part of freedom. We discriminate when we choose our friends or our spouse, or when we choose what we do with our time.
Above all, discrimination is what makes insurance work. An insurance regime where everyone pays the same amount is called “community rating.” That sounds fair. No more cruel discrimination against the obese or people with cancer. But community rating is as destructive as ordering flood insurance companies to charge me nothing extra to insure my very vulnerable beach house, or ordering car insurance companies to charge Lindsay Lohan no more than they charge you. Such one-size-fits-all rules take away insurance companies’ best tool: risk-based pricing. Risk-based pricing encourages us to take better care of ourselves.
Car insurance works because companies reward good drivers and charge the Lindsay Lohans more. If the state forces insurance companies to stop discriminating, that kills the business model.
No-discrimination insurance isn’t insurance. It’s welfare. If the politicians’ plan was to create another government welfare program, they ought to own up to that instead of hiding the cost.
Obama — and the Clintons before him — expressed outrage that insurance companies charged people different rates based on their risk profiles. They want everyone covered for the same “fair” price….
4. Mia Love for Congress
Today’s Washington Post contains a front page story about Mia Love, the Republican candidate for Congress in Utah’s Fourth Congressional District. Love, age 36, is the mayor of Saratoga Springs, a rapidly growing Utah town of about 18,000. She is also Black, Mormon, and quite conservative. If elected, she will become the first Black female Republican member of Congress.
Love entered politics when she heard talk about taking the words “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance. As mayor of Saratoga Springs, she has shown a strong commitment to balanced budgets. Love vows to apply the same approach to the federal budget. For example, she has advocated eliminating the Energy and Education departments. Her campaign focuses on issues such as tax reform, energy exploration, and a strong military. It also emphasizes fiscal responsibility, smaller government, and personal responsibility.
Paul Ryan recently hosted a fundraiser for Love. He told the audience, “Mia has a great opportunity to extend the message of liberty and economic freedom in ways that many of us can’t, and we’re excited about that.”
Standing in the way of this happy scenario is Jim Matheson, the incumbent Democrat. Matheson is a moderate (he voted against Obamacare, for example), but too liberal for Utah, I would have thought. Republicans make up a majority of voters in the Fourth District. The Cook Political Report considers the race a toss-up.
Matheson’s big advantage is money. Thus far, according to the Post, he has outraised Love by a ratio of 10-1….
She would be a great addition to congress. Send her a small donation.
5. Spending on the 2012 Election
As the Wisconsin recall unfolded, Democrats watched in horrified helplessness as their candidate was overwhelmed by the other side's seemingly endless millions of dollars. Then came the news that Mitt Romney's campaign was raising more money than the president's reelection effort. And every few days seem to bring new reports of right-wing billionaires boasting of the tens or even hundreds of millions they plan to pour into the effort to defeat the president.
Even as Obama narrowly leads most polls, a creeping sense of doom underlies many conversations among liberals these days: the haunting fear that the left may get so swamped by the other side's money that the president and his allies are rendered simply unable to compete.
Democrats have been acutely nervous about the potential for massive GOP spending ever since the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court helped open the floodgates of campaign spending. But in recent weeks the level of alarm has escalated to panic.
"If the president and his allies get outspent like Democrats did in Wisconsin, Wisconsin could happen all over again" in the general election, said Bill Burton, the senior strategist for the Obama-supporting super PAC Priorities USA, which has struggled to keep pace with its Republican counterpart….
Obama outspent McCain by over 2 to 1 in 2008. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker outspent the recall groups about 2 to 1 (not the 7-1 the Democrats like to talk about). And it looks as if Romney may be able to outspend Obama this year by 2-1. Perhaps panic is a smart move on the Democrats part.