Sen. Ayotte Acted with Principle on Gun Vote
To say Sen. Kelly Ayotte has had an interesting past few weeks would be an understatement. But Ayotte wasn’t the only one in the spotlight.
The story of her recent vote on gun legislation became a story about our individual and collective political civility. In the aftermath of this very heated public discussion, it was clear that the only one who truly handled themselves with dignity was Ayotte.
Let us first start with the media. Very few members of the media pointed out that the proposed gun legislation would have done nothing to stop the tragedy of Newtown, the very incident that was supposed to be the catalyst for the new legislation. Few mentioned that the proposed gun legislation was a wish list that many on the extreme left had been trying to pass for decades. Some in Congress took the opportunity exploit the Newtown tragedy for their own legislative desires. If the finger of shame should be pointed anywhere, it should be at those serving in the U.S. Senate who were motivated by their own selfish goals, instead of being committed to those affected by illegal gun violence. Fortunately, Ayotte did not succumb to such childish behavior.
It became alarming when some in the print media in New Hampshire took an aggressive stand against what they perceived was Ayotte’s stance on gun control. Some even suggested the only way to achieve what they believed was meaningful gun control (clearly ignoring both sides of this issue) was to make sure Ayotte was not re-elected in 2016.
Aside from showing a great deal of arrogance, this opinion was quickly discredited just a few days later. We learned from the New York Times that shortly after the Manchin-Toomey vote, Ayotte was working with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on gun legislation. While some in the media chose to fan the flames of discontent, Sens. Ayotte and Gillibrand were calmly, away from the spotlight, working together in a bipartisan manner on meaningful anti-trafficking gun legislation.
Passions also ran high among the public. After hearing and reading some of the personal attacks directed at Ayotte, it was clear far too many people let their emotions, and not their intellect, drive their criticism.
Ayotte was first attacked by those on the right when she voted in favor of allowing debate on Manchin-Toomey to proceed. Some on the right immediately attacked Ayotte, calling her a “traitor,” and suggesting she should be primaried if she voted to allow the debate to occur. Ayotte knew the issue deserved an open discussion on the Senate floor. But very few offered her credit or support for going against the Republican Party on a whole, and exposing herself to the indignation of those on the right of this issue.
But whatever heat Ayotte may have felt from her base, it would not equal the wrath from those on the left. Encouraged by misreporting as to what the failed proposed gun legislation would have achieved, and more important, would not have accomplished, too many on the left resorted to vicious name calling, threats and harassment tactics.
Ayotte was falsely accused of being uncaring, insensitive, deceitful and not listening to her constituents. It is completely appropriate to disagree with someone, but when you unjustly attack them personally, you lose credibility. At no time during this period was Ayotte dishonest or insensitive to her constituents. It is appropriate to disagree with Ayotte’s position, but to impugn her character because of the disagreement is irrational.
Some of the more vile statements accused Ayotte of “having blood on her hands,” and said her vote was as if she had “pulled the trigger herself.” One of the more reprehensible statements was from a person who asked Ayotte if it would have mattered “if her children had been shot in one of the Newtown classrooms.” Some on the left are clearly comfortable with their own hate.
Lastly, there is the shameful spectacle by some at Ayotte’s town halls. Ayotte, unlike many politicians, still affords her constituents the opportunity to meet with her. These town halls were not just about her gun vote, but had been in the planning stages for some time to address other issues that her continents were concerned about. During a recent town hall meeting, Ayotte explained her vote on the Manchin-Toomey bill numerous times, but some in attendance chose to grandstand and infringe on the rights of others to ask questions about the failed economy, health care and Benghazi. Contrary to what some on the left might believe, although gun legislation is important, according to a recent Gallup poll, it is not a top priority for most Americans (contrary to the 90 percent poll pushed by the media, gun control legislation receives only 4-6 percent support as a top issue).
Ayotte chose to be the adult in this conversation, while too many resorted to partisan, political theatrics. Ayotte is a person of integrity and unwavering patience who has seen firsthand the devastating effects of violent crime. Agree or disagree with her, we are fortunate to have her as our senator, and maybe next time some of us should not be so quick to attack.
Jeff Chidester was raised in New Hampshire and has lived and worked in the Far East and Europe for extended periods. He is the host of New Hampshire Perspective, heard each Sunday at noon on 96.7 The Wave and WGIR AM 610.
Better alternatives to Obamacare
This is the last in a three-part series that focuses on why we should repeal Obamacare.
Obamacare is failing because it was poorly conceived and immediately eliminated other viable free-market or small-government/free-market solutions. If you believe we have already tried free-market solutions and they failed, you’re wrong.
America is more like Germany and France, which have public-to-private health care systems. Citizens in those countries are mandated to support the government-run system, but are permitted some private choices to either supplement the government plan (20-30 percent of French citizens choose this) or outright private coverage (more than 25 percent of German citizens choose this). But one must remember that though these countries rank high in overall system performance, the U.S. health care system still ranks the highest in responsiveness — without a doubt the most important factor to the patient and the medical team.
The McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 permitted federal oversight of health care providers, leading to stifling regulation. Federal mandates put a wedge between medical professionals and their patients. None of these regulations truly helped to improve health care in America.
Some free-market, small-government solutions that must be considered include:
Untie health care insurance from the workplace, including the public sector. Health care should be portable and consistent, and ensure continual coverage for the patient. Both employee and employer will be free to negotiate higher salaries, and not worry about a benefit that is lost when the employee leaves the job. That does not mean the individual is left alone. The ability to purchase through a group plan (i.e., civic groups, alumni groups, churches and sport leagues) should not be limited. The larger the group, the larger the risk pool, which ensures coverage to almost everyone. Members could create a fund to cover other members of lesser financial means. Consistency is the key.
Open markets. We need to stop federal and state monopolies that don’t allow people to purchase across state lines. Preventing a person from buying quality coverage just because of their address is irrational. You do not improve the quality of care and reduce cost through restrictions that create limited markets.
Eliminate requiring “one-size-fits-all” plans. Let the customer buy the plan that best fits their specific needs. The needs of an 18- to 30-year-old male are not the same as the needs of a 50- to 70-year-old female. This ensures health care needs are met in the most cost-effective manner.
Enable Health Saving Accounts (HSA) to roll over, and remain tax-free and unlimited. Obamacare limits the amount and the potential rollover from year to year. There is no reason these accounts should be taxed during the life of the individual, nor should we put a limit on what is deposited. Additionally, we should allow the funds to be transferred from one family member to another upon death of the originator or in the event of a catastrophic health occurrence within the family. So long as the money is used to benefit the health needs of the family, why should the government care?
Vouchers and block grants. Those who cannot afford coverage can obtain a voucher to purchase the insurance they actually need. Just because a person is of lesser means does not mean they should be forced into substandard care or shouldn’t have control over their own health care needs.
Pre-existing conditions and high-risk pools. We would not tolerate a person buying fire insurance after the house burns down, and then demanding payment; nor should we create a health care system that permits people to ignore their health care responsibilities. Preventing lapses between insurance coverage and allowing for lifelong health saving accounts go a long way to eliminating missed coverage. Likewise, we have to be realistic about those who choose to participate in high-risk activities; whether some people want to believe it or not, there will be insurance companies that will cover those people, but the premiums will be high. Overcoming poor planning will provide reassurance when the crisis does hit. High-risk pools and pre-existing conditions are manageable, but are best left to the states.
Tort reform. Frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals contribute significantly to rising health care costs, with estimates as high as 20 percent of added health care costs caused by the legal system. These lawsuits also drive a wedge between the medical professional and the patient, and have driven quality medical professionals from the health industry.
I’m not opposed to the concept of single-payer health care, or universal coverage. But there are reasons why it’s impossible to implement on a national level. We are a diverse nation of more than 300 million. Sweden is the most successful at attempting to implement a single-payer plan. However, regulating health care for a nation of roughly 9 million people with a static and homogenized population is far less complicated than a nation comprised of people from all over the world. However, single-payer shows promise, if implemented properly at the state level. Oregon and Maine’s Medline Plus for Native-Americans have functioned well. Vermont’s new single-payer plan is still new and not fully tested, and some physicians have reported implementation issues. I have never been opposed to state-initiated plans. But why stop at the state level? Why not let counties, cities or towns offer plans to their citizens?
Simplicity is the key to success; complexity ensures failure. The federal government was not designed to deliver services and goods. Don’t let ideology prevent you from asking that Obamacare be repealed. Likewise, conservatives must also be open to possible small-government, free-market solutions at the local level.
There is a great line from the movie Spinal Tap: “There’s a fine line between clever and stupid.” Let us be clever and work on real solutions to fix the small issues within the American health care system.
Jeff Chidester was raised in New Hampshire and has lived and worked in the Far East and Europe for extended periods. He is the host of New Hampshire Perspective, heard each Sunday at noon on 96.7 The Wave and WGIR AM 610.
Obamacare on Life Support: Part II
Link to Columnist Page
“I just see a huge train wreck coming down.” — Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT, April 17, 2013, commenting on Obamacare.
When one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, publicly expresses concern, it’s time to stop the train and build a new track.
Sen. Baucus joins a growing list of Democrats and Republicans who have lost faith in the successful implementation of Obamacare. Sadly, some on the extreme far-left are blinded by their own arrogance and self-interest to do the right thing and repeal Obamacare. But Obamacare was doomed to fail from the beginning because of three reasons: cost, confusion and confidence.
Cost. President Obama said Obamacare will “cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.” However, since the ACA was passed, average Americans have seen the cost of health care increase by $3,000, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Additionally, President Obama promised Obamacare would not add to the current debt crisis. Promises made while campaigning are easily broken when reality kicks in. Over the next 10 years, Obamacare is expected to cost no less than $1 trillion, based on recent CBO reports, and the CBO continues to revise those numbers. Even worse, recent Government Accountability Office numbers suggest $6.2 trillion will be added to our debt because of Obamacare. Folks, we are heading the wrong way.
But what about the private cost? I have already mentioned the impact to the average American with a private health care plan, so what about private business? Every day we read stories of how small businesses are reducing employee hours and laying off people to adjust to Obamacare. A recent Hudson Institute study indicates an estimated 3.2 million jobs could be lost because of Obamacare. The only saving grace is the 2.3 percent Medical Device Tax appears to be dead. It would have taxed medical devices such as pacemakers, wheelchairs and crutches. Medical device companies such as Stryker, Boston Scientific and Medtronic were looking at (and may still face) thousands of layoffs and the reduction of millions of dollars in medical research. The question begs to be answered: How was the Medical Device Tax actually going to improve health care?
Let’s not forget about all the “free” mandates that come with Obamacare. Free has to be paid for by someone, either the taxpayers or those who pay for their health care. One of the more disturbing factors regarding the free mandates is that the Obama administration never justified whether the mandates were necessary, or if the people receiving the benefits were capable of covering the cost themselves.
Confusion. What started as a roughly 3,000-page bill has grown into an more than 17,000-page monstrosity, with no end in sight. Simplicity is the key to success; complexity ensures failure. Patients, doctors, pharmacies, health care providers and the American public have no clue where to start. According to polls from Kaiser/Rasmussen and others, upwards of 68 percent of Americans have no idea how to engage Obamacare and how it will help or hurt them. A vast majority of Americans have not heard whether their state plans to set up health care exchanges or to expand Medicaid (a vital element of providing health care to those who cannot obtain health care elsewhere). Worse, both the federal government and individual states seem confused as well.
All the American public knows is that a major funding tax (the aforementioned Medical Device Tax) is being repealed, that $700 billion was stolen from the Medicare fund to prop up Obamacare, and upwards of 20 million people will lose their health care coverage by 2019 (CBO report). So much for another Obamacare promise (if you want to keep your health care plan, you can). Poor implementation, buried within 17,000 pages (and growing) of regulations has helped to create the “train wreck” called Obamacare.
Confidence. A lack of understanding of the true cost of Obamacare and widespread confusion has led to a complete lack of confidence. Like so many things in our country, most Americans are split on support of Obamacare. But the negative numbers support repeal. Confidence is further eroded when people like Sen. Baucus and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius used words like “train wreck” or statements like “more complicated than we thought” when talking about implementing Obamacare.
Do the American people want to see health care reform? Yes. Do they believe Obamacare is the answer? No. The American people want to see simple legislation to fix the weak areas of our health care system: cost and availability. Obamacare does neither. Completely overhauling a system for the benefit of 2.5 percent of the population, or roughly 8 million Americans, is unreasonable and will lead to a weakened health care system.
Next week we will discuss disciplined, free-market solutions that were never considered, but must be part of the discussion. The free-market may not be a magical solution, but Obamacare is a fairy tale with an unhappy ending.
Jeff Chidester was raised in New Hampshire and has lived and worked in the Far East and Europe for extended periods. He is the host of New Hampshire Perspective, heard each Sunday at noon on 96.7 The Wave and WGIR AM 610.
Obamacare on Life Support: Part One
Over the next three weeks I want to talk about the state of the American health care system.
I’m not a politician, which means I am driven to solutions to real problems based on common sense and a desire not to fail. I learned this while serving in the military and perfected this in the private sector. Experience has taught most of us that no problem is so complex that a simple solution cannot resolve it. Obamacare, as the president proudly refers to the Affordable Healthcare Act, is not a simple solution, but it is quickly turning into the failure many of us warned against.
The success of any project is easy. Determine exactly what the problem is, if in fact there is a problem. Assemble a team best qualified to create and implement a solution. Define a plan with clear and concise benchmarks, and identify the people responsible for achieving each benchmark. Get a commitment by an overwhelming majority of stakeholders to help overcome any obstacles. Most important, keep it simple. If you can’t explain the solution in the simplest form, it is not a solution. Obamacare fails on all these points, but the neoprogessives who dropped this boondoggle in the laps of the American people are determined to keep pushing. Neoprogressives have failed to heed the words of Albert Einstein when he said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Obamacare is the result.
First, the problems. There were two easily identified problems with health care in America, and neither had anything to do with the level of service (but there is always room for improvement). American hospitals and medical professionals are considered the best in the world, a point ignored by those pushing Obamacare. The real issues were cost and the number of people uninsured.
Second, the number of uninsured. If you look at the numbers provided by the Census Bureau, the CBO, as well as other public or private agencies, roughly 8 million Americans (.02 percent of the American population) did not and could not get health coverage. Too many on the extreme far-left chose to inflate the numbers of those who did not have health care coverage. The extreme-left floated uninsured numbers between 45 million to 50 million. That was a lie. When you remove the people who are in this country illegally (12 million), the people eligible for coverage under existing government programs but not enrolled (15 million), those who can afford to purchases health insurance but choose not to (mostly those under 30, another 10 million) you put the problems and issues in perspective.
Truly understanding who is uninsured and why was important because it puts us on the right path to solving the real problems. The architects of Obamacare were prepared and are going forth with a complete overhaul of the American health care system for .02 percent of the American population. Insanity.
Third, the cost. Yes, health care costs are high, but why? There are a lot of reasons given for this, including insurance companies, undue government regulations (or meddling), excessive lawsuits, poor health practices by many Americans, no transparency, or a lack of conformity between service providers, etc. But when all is said and done what helps keep costs down in every other part of our lives is not allowed to occur in our health care system, even before Obamacare. Disciplined, open free markets are the solution. All of the reasons I listed above are part of the problem because they stifle the free markets that have served us so well in this country. Cars, computers, TVs, cell phones, automotive/home/life insurance are better, cheaper, and not only more readily available than ever, but of greater quality because the American free-market system is allowed to thrive. The free market is the answer to our health care costs, availability and quality of service. Yes, I understand, health care is about people, but so is every other product within our free-market system.
I am not saying that government does not have a place in health care, but the footprint must be small and meant to serve the real problem. Our current system ignores the basic truths that have helped all of us live a more comfortable life. Competition, transparency and demand all result in better, less expensive and more readily available services and goods, while Obamacare only worsens the problem.
We tie health insurance to our employers, we demand one-size-fits-all insurance coverage, doctors don’t post their costs or offer discounts for regular, cash-paying customers. The government and the insurance companies (who were created as a by-product of government policies) stand in the way of the simple solutions that would go a long way to solving our health care issues.
Why should you treat the purchase of health care services any differently than we treat auto insurance? When you purchase auto insurance you are not forced into a one-size-fits-all plan. You shop and you compare. If the government mandated auto insurance the same way it controls health insurance, oil changes, tire rotations and manufacturer warranty services would have to be covered, too. Each of us would be required to carry $1 million liability packages. We would not tolerate government intervention smothering free-market solutions in other parts of our lives, so why should we tolerate it within our health care?
Next week I will review the current failures of Obamacare, and why we need to repeal it.
Did We Elect Politicians or Pirates?
“A democracy can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.” — Exact phrasing, origins still debated
Whether you believe those words were uttered by Alexander Hamilton, Alexis de Tocqueville, or, as many believe, Alexander Fraser Tytler, there can be no doubt the words have been true for many decades. One only needs to watch the budgetary process at both the federal and state level to realize that we no longer create fiscally appropriate budgets, but instead we create budgets disconnected from reality.
Watching the budget process at both the federal and state level convinces me that our representatives are somehow disconnected from the reality that surrounds everyday people. One has to wonder how these same representatives go about creating their own household budgets. Many feel the comparison between a household budget and a state or federal budget is comparing apples to oranges. The same sound fiscal disciplines that apply to a household budget would serve our various governmental budgets well. Should private citizens spend recklessly and fail to live within their means, they suffer the consequences. When government fails to live within its means, it merely prints more money or “raises revenues” by raising taxes and fees. It’s easy to spend someone else’s money.
For example, take the New Hampshire budget recently passed by the House. In an economy that has experienced poor economic growth over the past five years (according to Department of Commerce figures), with an expected national economic growth to hover around 2 percent (or lower) throughout 2013, and with unemployment numbers projected to remain high well past 2015 (according to the Federal Reserve), now is not the time to increase spending and overestimate tax revenues. But that is exactly what the New Hampshire 2013-14 budget does.
The proposed budget came in at around $11 billion, and depending on the source, that is a 9.1 percent to 10.2 percent spending increase! Once again, in an economy that is fragile at best, when the effects of national and world markets could quickly reverse any perceived economic recovery, now is not the time to increase spending at any level. Granted, the Democratically led N.H. House soundly rejected the irresponsible budget originally proposed by Gov. Hassan, trimming around $51 million from the number proposed by Hassan and eliminating the $80 million of fantasy gambling revenues. But prudence does not justify a 10 percent spending increase over the life of the proposed budget, nor does common sense justify increasing fees and taxes and using political gimmicks to pay for this foolhardy budget.
It is expected that we will see an estimated $263 million tax increase on New Hampshire businesses and citizens, including higher taxes on gas, tobacco, and, more devastating, adjusting the business tax audits. Additionally, the N.H. House chose to set aside other tax reforms enacted by the previous Legislature, as well as reestablishing inflated revenue estimates. Let us not forget, that many of the same Democratic legislators who were thrown out for their reckless spending prior to 2010 have not only returned to the Statehouse, but have just picked up where they left off. Some have also decided to continue with villainizing the previous legislators for merely trying to return some fiscal sanity to Concord, while at the same completely misreading the results of the 2012 election.
Our faith and trust is further eroded by budget gimmicks, which this budget is filled with. Both the Democrats and the Republicans have been guilty of this. Both parties are responsible for using budgetary tricks to cover up their poor budgets, but that does not excuse either for allowing the practice to continue. Robbing from a dedicated fund (funded by supposed “dedicated” fees and taxes) to pay for the overspending in the general fund insults the taxpayer and weakens the faith in our government.
Here are just a few examples of the tomfoolery going on in Concord.
- Millions of dollars raised through a $25 fee on every real estate transaction that is supposed to be exclusively dedicated to LCHIP (Land and Community Heritage Investment Program), was raided and placed into the general fund.
- Pilfering a scholarship fund that was set up for needy students.
- Taking from a dedicated fund meant to provide safety education for motorcyclists and boaters.
- Suggestions of using “left-over” funds collected from the gas tax to fund pet projects that in many cases are nothing more than constituent payback.
- Stealing from funds set up to help provide treatment and education for smokers and alcoholics.
The abuse of the RGGI program underscores the fact that too many representatives have forgotten their oath of office. RGGI is nothing more than government extortion on small businesses, which in turn have no choice but to pass the cost back onto taxpayers. Worse, we are told that RGGI was to fund renewable energy and conservation projects. In reality only a small portion is used for such endeavors, while the rest is absconded by those in Concord who publicly say they have our best interests at heart, but who were privately thinking of new ways to overspend and over-tax. RGGI is nothing more than a hidden tax on the middle class and poor, and it doesn’t even come close to achieving its stated goals.
While some in Concord and Washington use terms like reallocate, borrow and create, the coffers are running dry, the taxpayers are stressed, abused, and no longer trust their government, and frankly many people are left wondering if they elected politicians or pirates. Sometime it is hard to tell.
Helping Others Knows No Political Affiliation
Link to the original article
Peace be with you.
Since this article will appear during Passover and Easter, I thought it would be appropriate to put politics and current events aside to write with the spirit of each of these observances in mind. I would ask that, regardless of your beliefs, religious or political, you read this with an open heart and mind.
We live in an imperfect world where it is far easier to see the worst in people and events. It would seem our differences create divisions that are impossible to close. We fixate on our perceived differences, and too easily dismiss our shared realities. I have no doubt that each of you reading this would, without hesitation, lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need, regardless of that person’s political affiliation, skin color, sexual orientation, gender, or status in life. I want you to hold onto that fact for more than just this article. It’s amazing how that one truth can change your outlook on life. The act of human kindness knows no political party or religious affiliation.
We have all seen, firsthand, everyday people offering aid to those in need. Sometimes we are extending the hand ourselves, while other times we are reaching for that hand. Today, let us be thankful to all those nameless people and businesses who selflessly offer their time, money and services while expecting nothing in return. We should also be thankful for those who serve our communities every day on our behalf, and we should strive to do whatever we can to be part of the solution.
To the Pease Greeters who at all hours of the day and night welcome our returning or departing troops with heartfelt applause and kind hugs. To Cross Roads House for not only offering shelter to the area homeless for more than 30 years, but for helping residents transition into the stability of a permanent home. For those who provide food to those in need, such as the N.H. Food Bank (serving all of New Hampshire), Gerry’s Food Pantry in Rochester, the Barrington Food Pantry and the Seacoast Family Food Pantry in Portsmouth. To St. Charles Children Home in Rochester, which offers love and stability for children from families in crisis. To countless others who serve with humility and patience, thank you.
It is amazing what we can accomplish when we do not care who gets the credit for the success or who to blame for the failure. Each of these services I mentioned above and thousands more need your help. They do not care if you are a Republican or Democrat, whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or atheist. It makes no difference to them if you are straight or gay. In that moment of need, all that matters is that you are a neighbor asking for help, or that you are a Good Samaritan offering assistance.
So today I want to wish all of you a joyous and blessed day, and know that despite our differences, we are neighbors. As neighbors we share a special covenant, the knowledge that although we may not always agree with one another, in our time of need we will be there without judgment to offer comfort and aid. We do this because at that moment of crisis we care less about judging one another and more about helping each other. Never doubt your own capacity for human kindness, nor should you doubt the unselfishness of others.
I would ask each of you to reach out to a neighbor in need or to a charity of your choosing and offer whatever you can. Please keep those in need of our grace and blessings in your thoughts, not only today, but always.
Peace be with you.
What do Michael Jackson and the Senate budget have in common?
The last time the Senate presented the American people with an actual budget, the King of Pop was still alive and moonwalking. The last time the Senate, under the leadership of Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., fulfilled its legal obligations Justin Bieber was 15 and cute, “Slumdog Millionaire” won the Oscar for Best Picture, and President Obama had just been sworn into his first term. The last time the American people witnessed the Senate actually adhere to its oath of office, America was $11 trillion in debt. Today we are more than $16 trillion in debt and growing.
But the budget process does not rest with the Senate alone. In accordance with the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, along with the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, both chambers of the legislative branch, the House and the Senate, are required to submit an annual budget. Likewise, the executive branch, under President Obama, is also required to submit a budget. When all the budgets are in place, the real fun begins.
Both the House and Senate delivered their budgets this past week, marking the first time in 92 years that the legislative branch kicked off the budgetary process before the president. For the third time in his presidency, President Obama was late with his budget. He was required to submit his budget during the early part of February. However, because things must be just too busy at the White House, President Obama thinks we might see his budget sometime in April, two months past his deadline. I can only assume he means April of this year, but you know what they say when you assume.
We’re not sure why President Obama is late again with completing one of his most important responsibilities he has as the chief executive for our country. Maybe he lost track of time while filling out his March Madness brackets. Maybe Bo ate it. Who knows? There never seems to be a shortage of excuses when what we really need is at least the perception that President Obama and Sen. Reid take their jobs seriously. Is it any wonder our country’s fiscal house is in such disarray when both the Senate and president display such a laissez-faire attitude toward an extremely important task?
Submitting the budget is just the first step in a long process; therefore any delay is harmful to the overall process. Based on the budgets that were presented, it is clear the House and Senate are a long way off. The Senate budget was authored under the helm of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., while Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., oversaw the House budget. But as much fun as it is to watch the Democrats and Republicans go back and forth, it is more fun to watch the reaction from some in the media.
It was comical to see the media’s criticism immediately upon release of the Senate and House plans, yet hardly mentioning the lack of a budget from the White House. Some of the folks at The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, MSNBC, and CNN (to name a few) instantly referred to the House budget as the “Ryan Budget,” or “Ryan’s Fantasy,” while at the same time calling the Senate Budget the “Murray Budget,” or “Murray’s Make-believe” (Just kidding about that last one. They are simply referring to the Senate budget as — the Senate budget). If some in the media choose to refer to the House budget as the Ryan Budget, why isn’t the Senate version called the Murray Budget? The answer is simple. It is far easier to attack and vilify an individual, and some in the media, whether they want to admit it, are willing accomplices in villainizing those with whom they disagree. Rep. Ryan and Republicans are favorite targets, while Murray and the Democrats escape unscathed.
The media is simply following the lead of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which plans to release a video called “Paul Ryan’s Fantasy.” According to DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson, they plan to make the House budget the central focus of their 2014 strategy. Only the DCCC will make sure to keep referring to it as the “Ryan Budget.”
Why does this all matter? Because words matter, as does fair reporting. The budget process is difficult enough, and there are vast differences between the competing plans. But like so many of us who work with people we disagree with every day, adults put their pettiness aside and work towards solutions. What does not help is when some in the media misrepresent the truth and help to flame the fires of discontent. Washington, D.C. is dysfunctional enough already without the help of a biased media. But in the 24-hour news cycle, it’s easier for the media to help create chaos instead of just reporting the facts.
My initial reaction to both budget proposals is mixed, but I will be looking at them very carefully. I will also be anxiously awaiting President Obama’s budget. In the end, we must not succumb to the false hysteria that some in both parties and in the media will try to create. We must hold our representatives accountable and demand that they work together in good faith. What we don’t need is another manufactured crisis. This country has suffered enough because of malfeasance and Washington hyperbole.
Sen. Rand Paul Reminds Us Of Our Obligations
I have to admit, I’m a sucker for any David and Goliath story. I don’t need to agree with the underdog’s position, so long as there is integrity in the person’s beliefs and a willingness to stand by their convictions. It’s hard for me not to respect this.
This week, while President Obama was finally getting around to some long overdue outreach with Republicans, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to filibuster America’s policy of military drone use within the borders of our country. Sen. Paul’s filibuster was the old-fashioned kind, similar to Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Sen. Paul seized the floor, and for 13 hours poured his heart and soul into delaying the inevitable confirmation of President Obama’s CIA nominee John Brennan.
Facing overwhelming odds, but with the help of some fellow Democrat and Republican colleagues, Sen. Paul never yielded the floor, except for questions, until finally succumbing to the call of nature. Amazingly, very few in the media or in the Senate accused Sen. Paul of political showmanship. Many actually praised his commitment to his beliefs while respecting the original intent of the filibuster. Stand and you shall be heard so long as you can hold the floor; that is the simplicity of the filibuster. There is silent nobility in what Sen. Paul did, even if it failed.
Many Americans went to bed while Sen. Paul still held the floor. When they awoke the next day, every newspaper and morning news show was talking about Sen. Paul. Many people felt a sense of pride for what Sen. Paul did, standing before the American people with conviction and sincerity, something many believe is sorely missing in Washington, D.C. But what did he achieve? In one word, faith. Sen. Paul’s actions helped restore a little faith within the American people that there are some in our nation’s capital who hold principle higher than politics. If only that were true for all who have sworn to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office,” we would see more Mr. Smith’s standing in defense of our liberty.
In general, the issue of military drone use was not high on the list of priorities for most Americans. In fact, Americans overwhelmingly support what they believe the current policies are, but do they really understand the full effect of these policies?
I hope Sen. Paul’s actions helped sway more Americans to learn more about how our government intends to use military drones, and what oversights are currently in place.
Sen. Paul did achieve a few other things. First, he took a principled stand with which many on both the left and the right agree — the use of military drones on American soil requires much more debate and oversight than it has received thus far. When our chief law enforcement officer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, can stand before the Senate and support the indiscriminate use of military drones against U.S. citizens on domestic soil — without due process — we must take a step back and carefully discuss this policy.
Secondly, Sen. Paul reminded us that we do not live in a democracy, but a constitutional-republic. We are a country guided by the rule of law, as is clearly defined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, but we are a country that should still heed the words of Thomas Jefferson when he proclaimed: “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49 percent.” We are a country that safeguards the legitimate rights of the one, especially in opposition to a misguided mob. Sen. Paul took the floor of the Senate peacefully, one man speaking for the minority, and reminded all of us what a glorious country we live in.
Many of you reading this believe you have shown principle above politics in your actions, or that the politicians you voted for have done so as well. I disagree. Many Republicans who oppose this recent expansion of military drone use were silent when the policy was first enacted under President Bush. But now they stand in opposition of expanded drone use. Why? Many Democrats carried signs and beat tom-toms when President Bush first enacted the military drone policy, yet now that their man is in office, have fallen silent. Some of you “sunshine patriots” who condemned Bush’s use of drones are now singing a different tune, even defending the use of military drones on U.S. soil, all with very little oversight. Why?
On March 6, 2013, Sen. Rand Paul stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate and reminded all of us of our obligation to each other. We the People are the government, and it is our duty to ask the hard questions of our representatives. If the policy was wrong under one president, why is it acceptable under another? In the end, we all have to ask ourselves, are we a country that stands for principle, or are we a country that stands for politics?
Better Luck Next Time, Gov. Hassan, Rep. Campbell
Otto Von Bismark pointed out once that “Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made.” It’s as if he had New Hampshire politics in mind when he uttered those words more than 100 years ago.
Over the past few weeks we have witnessed the folly of Concord, which helped to distract us from the circus that is sequestration, but hardly made us feel confident about some of our legislators. A governor’s lost budget, a tax that is a gift, a Democratically controlled House that seems intent on legislating to the past by wasting time on settled law, and legislators putting their feet in their mouths. So many blunders, so little space to write about them. But let me talk about the two most egregious mistakes.
Let’s start with Gov. Maggie Hassan’s budget, and make no mistake, it is her budget. From the very beginning there were concerns regarding the budget because of the inclusion of a one-time infusion of $80 million from gambling. The problem is, gambling isn’t legal in New Hampshire. Hassan originally had allies on both sides of the aisle whispering statements of support in her ear, many of whom seemed so blinded by their desire to finally institute gambling in the state that they were willing to cast aside common sense and due process.
As time went on, it became clear that Hassan’s budget would have a difficult time getting out of committee intact, let alone making it to the floor of the House. This past week, Finance Chair Mary Jane Wallner, D-Concord, stated that it would be a “mistake” to include the $80 million in licensing revenue, and she recommended that the process move forward without any reliance on the mythical $80 million in gambling dollars. Of course, both Democrats and Republicans who support gambling immediately distanced themselves from Hassan’s budget, leaving the blame to rest solely with the governor, and in many ways it should. Leadership can be lonely, but including the $80 million from gambling was irresponsible and unwise on the part of Gov. Hassan, a lesson she learned the hard way.
Up next, the tax that is a gift, but not in the way the sponsor intended. Generally people do not like taxes, except for Democrats, who love taxes. So it wasn’t surprising when the first tax recommendation of 2013 that reared its ugly head was being championed by a Democrat. A 15 cent gas tax was proposed by Nashua Democrat David Campbell. Of course, Rep. Campbell broke out the violins and spun a tale of woe regarding the immediate need to raise $800 million to save our crumbling bridges and roads.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t maintain our infrastructure; in fact, it is one of the top responsibilities of our government. But I question the timing and amount of the gas tax due to the fragile economy and, as always, I question the motive. Call me a skeptic, but history tells me that the stated intention of a tax and the actual expenditure of the tax receipts are never the same.
Thanks to a leaked e-mail sent by Campbell, we learned that he wasn’t as concerned about New Hampshire’s infrastructure as he originally claimed. In his e-mail, Campbell gloated that the increase of the gas tax was “a gift that keeps on giving,” and urged his fellow Democrats not to “spend it all in one place.” Of course, Campbell’s e-mail contradicted his public statements that every dime raised from the tax would go directly to our crumbling roads and bridges. The N.H. Constitution clearly states that the monies raised from the gas tax must be spent on our roads and bridges.
Campbell then tried to explain a little known and seldom used procedural tax rebate that New Hampshire taxpayers could submit if, for example, the gasoline were purchased for things other than their cars. However, Campbell seems to believe that if no one asks for their money back, Concord can spend the money on anything it wants. This is false, based on requirements specified in the New Hampshire Constitution.
So not only was Campbell being insincere with his original public statement and demonstrated a stubborn unwillingness to apologize when caught with his hand in the taxpayers’ cookie jar, his leaked e-mail clearly indicates that he is either clueless or indifferent when it comes to the state Constitution; I will leave it to you to decide which it is. It is this type of arrogance and gleeful malice toward the taxpayers that has helped erode the public trust in our government.
Whether it is amateurish leadership or contempt for the taxpayers of New Hampshire, it is clear that some in Concord, as in D.C., have forgotten that they are our employees, and we expect them to be honest and sincere in the execution of their duties. Better luck next time, Gov. Hassan and Rep. Campbell.
Demagoguery from the Extreme Left
By Jeff Chidester
Link to the original article
One person’s extremist is another person’s liberator, and depending on your opinion of me, you might just be calling me one or the other.
Our ability to label other people comes from our individual gift to classify ourselves. The problem is that many people aren’t very honest with their own self-assessment. As such, it is easy for them to dismiss their own fanaticism, while at the same time labeling others as zealots. One only needs to look around at our current political and media landscape to understand this. But our country was founded by extremists, and throughout our short history we have had our share of extremists. But there was also honesty in the extremism that we are so sorely lacking today.
What is gained by an individual or a group in labeling someone else as an extremist? Their hope is the same as it has always been, to marginalize or ridicule their intended target. That is not to say some are not worthy of this mocking. But when their attacks step over the line, become petty for the sake of falsely elevating ones’ own self-worth, we lose our ability to have intellectual discussions and rational debate on the issues of the day. It is because of this that so little is solved in Washington, D.C., or even closer to home. There are many examples, but let me just point out two of the most recent.
A sip of water. President Obama gave his State of the Union Address that many, on both the left and the right, found to be lacking in detail. Sen. Marco Rubio offered the Republican rebuttal. Very few on the left took the opportunity to engage the content of Rubio’s speech, choosing instead to be infantile and focus on the fact that Rubio had taken a sip of water. This is what political discourse from some neoprogressives has become, focusing on a drink of water. Those on the left belabored the point so much that the rest of America started laughing at them, not with them. It’s not like we are talking about an investigation involving underage Dominican prostitutes, and possibly failing to report donor sponsored trips and monetary gifts. Or, publicly insisting that everyone pay their fair share in taxes, while failing to pay their own taxes? A sip of water? Pathetic.
This is the age of new McCarthyism. After shouting “racism,” McCarthyism is the left’s next favorite attack line. Neoprogressives have bantered these words about so often that the Democrats should change their logo from a donkey to a boy crying “WOLF!” And who is the “new” McCarthy you may ask? Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas. And what was Sen. Cruz’s misdeed? Did he, like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy during the Bork hearings, state that if the nominee won approval — “blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution. Writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government?”
Did Sen. Cruz accuse a nominee of “aiming bullets” at Americans, as Vice President Biden said during the 2012 presidential campaign? Or did Sen. Cruz accuse a female witness that “you’re not going to pay a particular price” as it relates to war because that female witness also happened to be childless? Wrong again, that was Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer while questioning Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
What Sen. Cruz did was point out that the U.S. Senate had not received a complete list of defense secretary nominee Hagel’s speeches and any monies received for such speaking engagements (as required by Senate rules). Sen. Cruz might have said it more elegantly, but it would not have mattered how he said it. The immediate response of neoprogressives in the U.S. Senate and in the media demonstrated their sheer hypocrisy, and began the paranoid chants of “Tea Party, Tea Party!” once more.
Both parties have engaged in hurling insults and belittling the opposition, but the left has always been more shameful. In many ways the national media is to blame. Like a parent spoiling a child, the media has indulged those on the extreme left, allowing their wild statements to go unchecked. And like that weak parent who never disciplined their child, or worse, made excuses for the poor behavior, the child feels empowered — throwing temper tantrums at will and screaming out at the top of their lungs.
To be clear, I am not referring to gaffes politicians and public figures say all the time. I am talking about the pure vitriol and malicious statements that are constantly part of the “dialogue” on the left. Throwing granny over the cliff, punching women in the face, denying children food and education, the list goes on. All of these were used to falsely impugn almost half of the American population who do not agree with the far-left mentality of the extremist Occupy “Fill in the Blank” crowd that has taken over the Democratic Party. For many on the extreme left, it is far easier to throw out bombs than ideas, to deflect rather than debate.
Jeff Chidester was raised in New Hampshire and has lived and worked in the Far East and Europe for extended periods. He is the host of New Hampshire Perspective heard each Sunday at noon on 96.7 The Wave and WGIR AM 610.