Monday, August 20, 2012

The empty quiver

What’s New Today

Story # 1 is our signs of desperation Dissent in the Obama campaign.  #2 opines that PolitiFact has crossed the line with the Obama campaign.  #3 looks at the Mediscare tactic the Dems are trying to use on Romney/Ryan.  It doesn’t work.  #4 Romney’s ahead with registered voters with Gallup.  #5 400 hundred economists have endorsed BHO including 5 Nobel Prize winners.  #6 explains how Romney has outflanked the Democrats on Medicare. 

Today’s Thoughts

President Kardashian is what Rush Limbaugh calls Mr. Obama.  With his recent snub of the National Media in favor of People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight, it appears Rush was right. 

Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him will be published on Tuesday.  The book alleges that Obama canceled the strike against OBL three times before going ahead with the mission at the insistence of Hillary Clinton.

Here’s a question for the VP debates.  Will the Democrats have the opportunity to rebut what Joe Biden says?  

In 2006, President George W. Bush was wrong when he said we were addicted to oil. The real truth is, oil, and other carbon-based fuels, are merely the affordable means by which we can satisfy our true addictions – long life, good health, prosperity, technological progress, adequate food supplies, internet services, freedom of movement, protection from environmental threats, and so on. As I’ve said numerous times after living in Africa, – without energy, life is brutal and short.”  John Christy

Lie of the Day

Barack Obama: “Well, first of all, I am not sure that all of those characterizations that you laid out there were accurate. For example, nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon.” August 20, 2012

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter: Cutter said that there were two ways to interpret the story. The first: Mitt Romney was "misrepresenting his position" at Bain to the Securities and Exchange Commission, "which is a felony."
Or, he was "misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people. If that’s the case, if he was lying to the American people, that’s a real character and trust issue" July 12, 2012

It seems we have proof that President Obama is lying about this which is “a real character and trust issue.”  

1.  Signs of Desperation—Dissent in Obama’s Campaign

President Barack Obama’s campaign team, celebrated four years ago for its exceptional cohesion and eyes-on-the-prize strategic focus, has been shadowed this time by a succession of political disagreements and personal rivalries that haunted the effort at the outset.
Second-guessing about personnel, strategy and tactics has been a dominant theme of the reelection effort, according to numerous current and former Obama advisers who were interviewed for “Obama’s Last Stand,” an e-book out Monday published in a collaboration between POLITICO and Random House.

The discord, these sources said, has on occasion flowed from Obama himself, who at repeated turns has made vocal his dissatisfaction with decisions made by his campaign team, with its messaging, with Vice President Joe Biden and with what Obama feared was clumsy coordination between his West Wing and reelection headquarters in Chicago.

The effort in Chicago, meanwhile, has been bedeviled by some of the drama Obama so deftly dodged in 2008 — including, at a critical point earlier this year, a spat that left senior operatives David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter barely on speaking terms — and growing doubts about the effectiveness of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman  Debbie Wasserman Schultz….

Biden’s misstep, also in May, in announcing his approval of gay marriage — which forced Obama to do the same before he intendedcaused greater disharmony in the White House than was reported at the time….

… Obama really doesn’t like, admire or even grudgingly respect Romney. It’s a level of contempt, say aides, he doesn’t even feel for the conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. “There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,” a longtime Obama adviser said. “That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no goddamned war hero.”…

I think Obama’s disgust with Romney is because Romney will probably take his job away from him.  And Obama is convinced what he did is right and Romney will get credit for improving the economy.

2.  Has PolitiFact become part of the Obama Campaign?

Recently, the fact-checking organizations and failed to properly analyze an ad by President Obama claiming that Mitt Romney pays a lower tax rate than the average American. Just Facts President Jim Agresti and I subsequently hammered both organizations for what appears to be a severe case of intellectual dishonesty.

Unfortunately, this is an increasingly common problem at PolitiFact. Conservatives rightly point to a liberal bent at Fact Check, but the organization is pretty solid at analyzing what’s going on with claims by members of both major political parties. On the other hand, with the arrival of the general election and the otherwise politically-quiet month of August, PolitiFact seems to have gone from being a respectable, if liberal-leaning, organization to a campaign slot for Obama.

This Obama bias was shown in a recent claim by PolitiFact Wisconsin (PFW) that a Tweet by Obama national co-chair and actress Eva Longoria about Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is “half-true.” From the Tweet:

“Today Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, who wants to cut Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 10 million students!”

Again, PFW ranks this claim as “half-true.” Their primary evidence? An unsubstantiated claim by President Obama in April 2012:

Fortunately, our colleagues at PolitiFact National evaluated a similar statement made by Obama himself in April 2012, a few days after the GOP-controlled House approved Ryan’s budget resolution. (The plan didn’t pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate.)

Obama said that if spending reductions in the resolution “were to be spread out evenly,” nearly 10 million college students would see their financial aid cut by an average of more than $1,000 each. The White House told our colleagues the president was referring to the Pell Grant program.

So, Ryan’s plan does not specify cuts to Pell Grants. Obama is simply applying the total spending cuts in the plan evenly across the overall budget to derive a Pell Grant number.

This alone should make PolitiFact’s claim laughable. However, following a link from the PFW analysis to the Department of Education’s website, one sees the Department has requested Pell Grants whose cost will total $36.629 billion – meaning that in a budget proposal that spends nearly one hundred times what the Department has requested, PolitiFact is making big assumptions. And while the liberal Center for Budget & Policy Priorities (CBPP) makes the claim that Pell Grants would take $166 billion in “cuts” over ten years if the Ryan/House budget were to be made, those “cuts” are assumed from the language of the budget proposal, not directly stated by the budget proposal.

Democrats don’t do well with math.  They keep telling us that the Republicans want to cut the taxes of the rich.  The Bush “tax cuts” cut taxes for everyone as demonstrated by the fact that raising the taxes on the rich would only “restore” 25% of the tax cuts revenue.

3.  Mediscare:  The $6400 lie

One of President Obama's regular attacks on Paul Ryan's Medicare reform is that it would force seniors to pay $6,400 a year more for health care. But merely because he keeps repeating this doesn't mean it's in the same area code of accurate. 

The claim is based on a now out-of-date Congressional Budget Office estimate of the gap between the cost of health care a decade from now, in 2022, and the size of the House budget's premium-support subsidy for a typical 65-year-old in 2022.

In other words, the $6,400 has no relevance for any senior today.  None. But it also is unlikely to have any relevance for any senior ever because CBO concedes that its number is highly uncertain and "will depend on the evolution of the health care and health insurance systems over time, which is hard to predict." That's for sure.

The more fundamental problem is that the CBO analysis has nothing to do with the current Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan plan.  Nada. Over the last year Mr. Ryan has made major adjustments to his original proposal as he sought a compromise with Democrats. In its most up-to-date analysis, CBO admits that it "does not have the capability at this time to estimate such effects" in the new version. That is, it does not have the tools to make its $6,400 exaggeration again.

The reason CBO can't model the 2013 House budget and the Romney-Ryan plan is that they harness markets with competitive bidding. Congress's budget gnomes can't handle these dynamic forces.

So how would Ryan 2.0 work in practice? Traditional Medicare and all private insurers in a region would make bids to cover seniors and compete for their business by offering the best value and prices. Then the government would give everyone a subsidy equal to the second-lowest bid.
If seniors chose that No. 2 option, whether it was Medicare or another plan, they'd break even and pay nothing extra out of pocket. If they picked the cheapest plan, they'd keep whatever was left over after the government subsidy—that is, they'd get a cash refund. If they instead picked the third-cheapest option, the fourth-cheapest, etc., they'd pay the difference above the government subsidy.

That structure ensures that seniors would have at least two choices (and likely far more) that they are guaranteed to do better than they do now. The amount of the premium-support subsidy would also be tied to underlying health-care costs, so it would not shift costs to beneficiaries, as Democrats also falsely claim….

There are lies, damn lies, and the Democrat’s talking points.

4.  Gallup:  Romney 47% Obama 45%

These are the results when registered voters are asked: "Suppose the presidential election were held today. If Barack Obama were the Democratic Party's candidate and Mitt Romney were the Republican Party's candidate, who would you vote for Barack Obama, the Democrat or Mitt Romney, the Republican?" Those who are undecided are further asked if they lean more toward Obama or Romney and their leanings are incorporated into the results. Each seven-day rolling average is based on telephone interviews with approximately 3,050 registered voters; Margin of error is ±2 percentage points. Results from April 15 through May 6 are based on five-day rolling averages with approximately 2,200 registered voters each; Margin of error is ±3 percentage points. 

What’s important here is that this is among registered voters, not likely voters.  Likely voters give Republicans a bigger share of the vote. 

5.  Economist endorse Romney’s economic plan

Over 400 independent economists signed a statement at the website Economists for Romney in support of what they call the Republican presidential candidate's "bold economic plan for America."
Five Nobel laureates (Gary Becker, Robert Lucas, Robert Mundell, Edward Prescott, and Myron Scholes) signed the statement which, in part, reads, “We enthusiastically endorse Governor Mitt Romney’s economic plan to create jobs and restore economic growth while returning America to its tradition of economic freedom.”

The economists also denounced Obama's economic ideas, claiming they led to an "an anemic economic recovery and high unemployment." They further assert, "his future plans are to double down on the failed policies, which will only prolong slow growth and high unemployment."

The economists write that Romney's plan is based on sound principles: "more contained and less intrusive federal government, a greater reliance on the private sector, a broad expansion of opportunity without government favors for special interests, and respect for the rule of law including the decision-making authority of states and localities."

These economists note that Romney would:

    Reduce marginal tax rates on business and wage incomes and broaden the tax base to increase investment, jobs, and living standards.
    End the exploding federal debt by controlling the growth of spending so federal spending does not exceed 20 percent of the economy.
    Restructure regulation to end “too big to fail,” improve credit availability to entrepreneurs and small businesses, and increase regulatory accountability, and ensure that all regulations pass rigorous benefit-cost tests.
    Improve our Social Security and Medicare programs by reducing their growth to sustainable levels, ensuring their viability over the long term, and protecting those in or near retirement.
    Reform our healthcare system to harness market forces and thereby reduce costs and increase quality, empowering patients and doctors, rather than the federal bureaucracy.
    Promote energy policies that increase domestic production, enlarge the use of all western hemisphere resources, encourage the use of new technologies, end wasteful subsidies, and rely more on market forces and less on government planners.

In "stark contrast," Obama, according to the economists, "has failed to advance policies that promote economic and job growth, focusing instead on increasing the size and scope of the federal government, which increases the debt, requires large tax increases, and burdens business with many new financial and health care regulations."

I’m sure there are liberal economists (Paul Krugman comes to mind) who would say the opposite.  But if you look at the results that Obama has achieved, you have to go with this group. 

6.  Romney outflanks the Democrats

Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan was supposed to be a problem for the Republicans. So said a chorus of chortling Democrats. So said a gaggle of anonymous seasoned Republican operatives. All of which was echoed gleefully by mainstream media.

The problem, these purveyors of the conventional wisdom all said, was Medicare -- to be more specific, the future changes in Medicare set out in the budget resolutions Ryan fashioned as House Budget Committee chairman and persuaded almost all House and Senate Republicans to vote for.

But while Democrats licked their chops at the prospect of scaring old ladies that they'd be sent downhill in wheelchairs, the Medicare issue seems to be working in the other direction.
Romney and Ryan have gone on the offense, noting that while their plan calls for no changes for current Medicare recipients and those over 55, Obamacare, saved from demolition by Chief Justice John Roberts, cuts $716 billion from the politically popular Medicare to pay for Obama's politically unpopular health care law.

The Romney campaign is putting TV advertising money behind this message, and it will have plenty more to spend -- quite possibly more than the Obama forces -- once the Romney-Ryan ticket is officially nominated in Tampa, Fla., in 10 days. Team Obama is visibly squirming.

It turns out that Ryan and Romney, who in late 2011 and early 2012 moved quietly but deliberately toward embracing the Ryan agenda, may have outthought their adversaries.

Those last-minute Mediscare-type mailings to seniors, which enabled Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles to narrowly defeat Jeb Bush in the 1994 Florida governor race, don't work so well anymore when the issue is brought out fully in the light of day.

But Medicare/Mediscare is not the only thing on which the Democrats have underestimated Ryan and the putative presidential nominee who selected him from the high-quality field of potential VP nominees from which he made his pick…

I think taking this arrow out of the Democratic quiver, leaves them with a huge problem.  The economy stinks, the deficit has doubled under Obama and the Democrats, the debt is through the roof, and now they don’t even have Medicare to scare grandma with.  What’s a liberal to do?

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