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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics
is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato
Saturday, September 07, 2013
U.S. Senator John Barrasso Weekly Republican Address: Obamacare Sticker Shock
‘The President had grand intentions when he set out to reform health care in this country – but he made things worse. The health care law has proven to be unpopular, unworkable, and unaffordable. As a result, people are confused, disappointed, and angry.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming says that many families are going to have “sticker shock” when they see what they’ll have to pay for health insurance under government insurance exchanges that go into effect in less than a month as part of Obamacare. In the Weekly Republican Address, Sen. Barrasso, a practicing physician for 25 years before coming to Congress, notes that the President refuses to acknowledge that Obamacare “fails to solve the number one concern of Americans when it comes to health care – which is cost.” The American people have a choice, says Sen. Barrasso – embrace Obamacare for four more years, or repeal the law and move quickly to help people get the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at lower cost. “That’s what Republicans are fighting for,” he says. “It’s time for Democrats to join us.”
Transcript: “Hi. I’m Dr. John Barrasso, United States Senator for Wyoming.
“As a doctor who took care of patients for 25 years, I saw the problems with America’s health care system every day.
“There’s no question we needed real reform – reform so that people could get the care they needed, at lower cost.
“Americans now know that’s not what President Obama’s health care law delivered.
“What we got is higher taxes and bigger government, without the lower costs or quality care.
“The so-called Affordable Care Act is hurting middle class families – their wages, their jobs, and their health care.
“On October first -- less than a month from today -- America will hit the deadline on one of the most critical and controversial parts of the Obama health care law.
“That’s when the government insurance exchanges go into effect.
“Whether the exchanges are ready or not, millions of families will have to start arranging to buy their Washington-mandated health insurance.
“Many families are going to have real sticker shock when they see their new insurance rates – even families who get government subsidies.
“President Obama promised that his health care plan would reduce annual insurance premiums by $2,500 a family by the end of his first term.
“That has not happened.
“According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, the average family premium for people getting insurance at work is nearly $3,000 higher than it was when the President took office.
“And because of the many new government regulations in the law, many part-time workers are having their hours cut back, and their pay reduced.
“In my home state of Wyoming, several county school districts are reportedly looking at actually cutting back the hours of hundreds of part-time workers because of the extra cost of paying for health insurance.
“This includes substitute teachers, bus drivers, coaches, cafeteria workers and custodians.
“In Virginia, thousands of state employees have had their workweeks capped at 29 hours because of how the law was written.
“Even some of President Obama’s biggest supporters have been warning about the damage that his health care law is doing to hardworking American taxpayers.
“The leaders of the Teamsters and other major labor unions have said that the health care law will -- quote – ‘destroy the foundation of the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class.’
“And even though the President promised that if you liked what you had, you could keep it, for many families that’s just not true.
“Workers are losing coverage for their spouses, while paying higher premiums and deductibles.
“Well, that means even more money out of pocket.
“Despite the higher cost to consumers and to workers, many people will still not get the quality health care the President promised them.
“That’s because all of his talk about coverage doesn’t mean that people will actually get better care.
“America is facing a looming shortage of doctors, nurses, and physicians’ assistants.
“The health care law provides for thousands of new IRS personnel to enforce the law, but it fails to deal in any meaningful way with the shortage of people to take care of you.
“The President had grand intentions when he set out to reform health care in this country -- but he made things worse.
“The health care law has proven to be unpopular, unworkable, and unaffordable.
“As a result, people are confused, disappointed, and angry.
“The law is increasing costs and killing jobs and it’s no surprise that employers wanted relief.
“But shouldn’t families get the same relief?
“Families will now have to prove to the IRS that they have Washington-approved and government-mandated insurance.
“It seems the only folks who still support the law, are the ones that don’t have to live under its mandates, or made special Washington deals to avoid it.
“The American people need health care reform, but it must be the right kind of reform.
“Reform that lowers patient costs, improves health, and protects the vulnerable.
“This means access to more affordable care, and protecting quality care for older Americans.
“And let me tell you – my wife is a breast cancer survivor, so I know how important it is to make sure that we help those with pre-existing conditions.
“Republicans have voted to repeal the health care law and to start over – start over with ways to truly help people afford the care that they need.
“The President refuses to acknowledge that his law fails to solve the number one concern of Americans when it comes to health care – which is cost.
“Instead, the White House and its outside political arm have promised to spend millions of dollars in advertising to promote the law.
“They’re working with celebrities and sports teams, to try to convince healthy young people to buy expensive insurance, so other people can pay less.
“Even former President Bill Clinton was deployed by the White House this week in an attempt to explain away the pain middle class families are feeling.
“Americans want real solutions to bring down the cost of health care — not more press releases and propaganda.
“We know what the law does -- and in just a few weeks, we know it’s going to start hitting middle class Americans even harder.
“The American people have a choice.
“We can embrace the status quo of Obamacare for four more years.
“Or we can repeal the law, and quickly move to help people get the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at lower cost.
“That’s what Republicans are fighting for.
“It’s time for Democrats to join us.
“Thanks for listening.”Tags:Senator, John Barrasso, Wyoming, Obamacare, sticker shockTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
The AP reports, “U.S. employers added 169,000 jobs in August and much fewer in July than previously thought. The slowdown in hiring could complicate the Federal Reserve's decision later this month on whether to slow its bond purchases. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest in nearly five years. But it fell because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work fell to its lowest level in 35 years. July's job gains were just 104,000, the fewest in more than a year and down from the previous estimate of 162,000.”
The Washington Post’s prominent liberal blogger Ezra Klein agrees that the revisions are “a huge disappointment. ‘The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from +188,000 to +172,000, and the change for July was revised from +162,000 to +104,000.’ That means we added 74,000 fewer jobs than we thought in June and July.”
Klein also writes, “The unemployment rate dropped for the worst reason. Unemployment dropped to 7.3 percent in August. Huzzah? Sorry, but no. There are two reasons the unemployment rate dropped. One is that people get jobs. Huzzah! The other is that people stop looking for jobs, and so they’re no longer counted as technically unemployed. That’s what happened here. The numbers show 312,000 people dropping out of the labor force. That’ll be revised, but if the truth is anywhere close, it’s horrible.”
Klein adds, “Unemployment among teenagers, African Americans and Hispanics remains insane. Among teenagers, the unemployment rate is 22.7 percent; for African Americans, it’s 13 percent; for Hispanics, 9.3 percent. And remember, those numbers only count people actively looking for work. Many others would like work but have stopping hunting. In these communities, then, the job market is somewhere between an awful recession and a severe depression.”
On Twitter, The Post’s Reid Wilson looked at the report and remarked, “Labor force participation rate lowest since August 1978.”The New York Times’s Economix blog elaborates: “Not a good morning for the employment report. The share of American adults with jobs fell slightly to 58.6 percent in August as population growth outpaced job growth. The United States is more than four years into a recovery so weak that this ‘employment rate’ has not recovered at all. As noted last month, 63 out of 100 adults had jobs before the recession. Now 59 do. The unemployment rate continues to decline because a growing share of the nonworking population is not even trying to find jobs.”
In another article, the APexplores the drop in the number of working Americans. “The drop in the unemployment rate in August to a 4½-year low was hardly cause for celebration. The rate fell because more people stopped looking for work. More than 300,000 people stopped working or looking for a job. Their exodus shrank the so-called labor force participation rate — the percentage of adult Americans with a job or seeking one — to 63.2 percent. It's the lowest participation rate since August 1978. Once people without a job stop looking for one, the government no longer counts them as unemployed. That's why the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent in August from 7.4 percent in July even though 115,000 fewer people said they had jobs. If those who left the labor force last month had still been looking for work, the unemployment rate would have risen to 7.5 percent in August. ‘Pretty disappointing,’ said Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist at Standard & Poor's Ratings Services. ‘You saw more people leave the job market and fewer people get jobs. Not a good sign.’ Back in 2000, the participation rate hit a high of 67.3 percent. . . . Craig Alexander, chief economist at TD Bank Group, says ‘demographics cannot explain the amount of decline’ in labor force participation. Many Americans without jobs remain so discouraged that they've given up on the job market. Others have retired early. Younger ones have enrolled in school. Some Americans have suspended their job hunt until the employment landscape brightens. A rising number are collecting disability checks. . . . Labor force participation for Americans ages 16 to 19 was just 34 percent last month. That's near their record low of 33.5 percent set last year. It isn't supposed to be this way. After a recession, a brightening economy is supposed to draw people back into the job market. But it hasn't happened. Labor force participation ‘certainly shouldn't be at current levels,’ Alexander says.”
The Patriot Post noted "At first blush, today’s jobs report once again seems to contain good news: 169,000 jobs added and unemployment dropping a tenth of a point to 7.3%, the lowest since December 2008. But beware what we call the “headline” numbers. The Left's media employs them to bolster the sorry record of their man in the White House. Digging deeper, we find trouble quickly. July numbers were revised down from 162,000 to just 104,000, and June was revised down for the second time. The unemployment rate fell once again only because so many people are giving up looking for work—312,000, or nearly twice the number who found work—and they aren't counted in the report. The labor participation rate fell to 63.2%, the lowest since Jimmy Carter’s malaise days of August 1978. If labor participation remained at the same level it was in January 2009, the headline unemployment rate would be 10.8%. It would be 7.7% if participation was the same as just one year ago."
As for the U-6 fuller measure, Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey observes that it "dropped from 14.0% to 13.7%, its lowest level in five years.” But, he warns, “[T]hat has to do with the shrinking workforce, too. In order to be counted in U-6, workers have to be at least marginally attached to the labor force. That’s defined as ‘those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months."
Meanwhile, Barack Obama and his crack shot economic team promised that if we just passed the “stimulus” unemployment would be 5% by now. Generation Opportunity reports "16% of Young People Out of Work in August. "As the summer draws to a close, young people are no better off than we were three months ago. Practically all of the jobs created this summer were part-time, and precious few even went to young people. Worse, the looming threat of Obamacare offers employers little incentive to transition any of those jobs into full-time positions. Young people are recognizing there is little to like about Obamacare and a whole lot that hurts them financially and personally. Once open enrollment starts next month, I'm confident that millions of us are going to opt-out of the law's doomed-to-fail exchanges; unfortunately, we can't opt-out of the disastrous job market Obamacare has also created." The (U3) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans is 21.6 percent." Tags:unemployment, employment, job numbers, DOL, BLS, August,2013To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Reports this morning suggest that President Obama may suffer a stunning defeat on Capitol Hill as more members of Congress go on the record against taking military action in Syria.
While the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution authorizing the use of force, cracks are emerging within the Democrat caucus. Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Heitkamp (D-ND) are proposing an alternative that would give Syria 45 days to sign a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons.
On the House side, Obama actually lost a representative who was with him. Citing Obama's failure to rally the international community and the public airing of our intended strategy, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), one of the few to initially express support for military strikes, has changed his mind.
Grimm stated: "Now that the Assad regime has seen our playbook and has been given enough time to prepare and safeguard potential targets, I do not feel that we have enough to gain as a nation by moving forward with this attack on our own."
According to one media analysis, 205 House members are on the record as against or leaning against giving Obama the authority to launch military strikes against Syria. Faced with this looming defeat, President Obama announced today that he will address the nation Tuesday to make "the best case that I can" for taking action against Syria.
Many good conservatives are making a very valid point: If we don't act, the mullahs in Tehran, as well as Assad in Syria, will think we are weak and powerless. I share that concern.
But it is worth remembering that Assad and the mullahs were already sent a signal of weakness when they watched the president permit the murder of four Americans in Benghazi. Obama did virtually nothing to defend them. He blamed the attack on a movie. He failed to bring the terrorists to justice, and stonewalled the investigation for nearly a year.
Did Obama's non-response to the atrocities in Benghazi make Assad's use of chemical weapons more likely? I believe it did.
"A War The Pentagon Doesn't Want"
Obama now has a problem with elements of the U.S. military too, when it comes to his plans on Syria. In today's Washington Post, Major General Robert Scales, former commandant of the Army War College, writes about the considerable dissention in the ranks about engaging the U.S. military in Syria. Here how Scale's describes the feedback he is getting from Pentagon officers:"They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration's attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective. …
"They are outraged by the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about 'red lines.' These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president. Our serving professionals make the point that killing more Syrians won't deter Iranian resolve to confront us. The Iranians have already gotten the message."The Pentagon's concern that Obama does not have a clear goal was evident during John Kerry's testimony this week. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) asked General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, what the goal was, and Dempsey replied, "I can't answer that -- what we're seeking."
In other words, the Obama Administration sent its top military officer up to Capitol Hill with no clear objective or mission regarding Syria.
Friends, please do not misunderstand me. I am not a member of the isolationist wing of conservatism that says America is done with the world. As one commentator put it, whether we like it or not, the world is not done with America.
But like so many of you, I am done with politically correct wars in which our political leadership commits U.S. forces to the battlefield with all kinds of nuanced objectives EXCEPT the only one that matters: Victory. Victory is achieved by decimating the enemy as quickly as possible.
Virtually every move Obama has made in the Middle East has resulted in a worse situation. Allies have been dumped and replaced by Islamic extremists. He has been obsessed with forcing Israel to make "concessions for peace," while Iran builds nuclear weapons.
We have an irresolute president who doesn't understand the Middle East. His previous lack of action in Syria has put us in this current mess, where no alternative looks good. We have a public that is extremely reluctant to act. Meanwhile our enemies detect weakness. Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:Syria, Congress, Pentagon, White House, President Obama, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working FamiliesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Economist Dr. Arthur C. Brook Addresses Messaging At 2013 Defending American Dream Summit
Don't miss the following presentation by Economist Dr. Arthur C. Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute at the Defending the American Dream Summit and RightOnline 2013. It is one of the most coherent presentations learning to message your arguments.. He discusses how to win the message. Five pillars of real moral arguments for a moral and good life. Two of them are shared by 100% of the population: 1) Compassion for the vulnerable and 2) Fairness Three of them that are shared only by 30% of the population who are conservatives: 3) respect for authority; 4) loyalty to group / patriotism; and 5) purity especially in the morality of sex.
Tags:economist, Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute, Defending the American Dream, RightOnline, 2013, pillars, moral authorityTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: There’s an election in Australia on Saturday, September 7, and while the economy is of the greatest concern, it is a carbon tax that has driven up costs and put businesses into closure that is the issue that will determine the outcome. Meanwhile, in the U.S., imposing a carbon tax remains a top priority of the Obama administration.
A carbon tax is really a tax on the use of energy. Diehard environmentalists oppose any form of energy use. The code words are “greenhouse gas emissions”, meaning carbon dioxide (CO2) that the Greens constantly tell us will cause the Earth’s temperature to rise, but the Earth is not cooperating, having been in a natural cooling cycle going on 17 years now. Nor are the apocalyptic predictions about CO2 anything more than lies given the fact that it is a minimal element of the Earth’s atmosphere. That said, without it, all life on Earth would die because all vegetation depends on it
In “Taxing Air: Facts and Fallacies About Climate Change”, Bob Carter and colleagues dismember green claims and, addressing Australia’s carbon tax, note that “price increases will cascade through the economy, and for most of them no compensation will be proposed. At the bottom of the pile, to whom the accrued costs will be passed, lies the squashed citizen and consumer.” Those citizens will be voting on Saturday.
As an article in The Guardian, a British daily, noted, a conservative coalition led by Tony Abbott is likely to win, ending six years of Labor (socialist) rule that included a battle within the Labor party for its leadership, the result of its having passed a carbon tax after the then-Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had promised not to impose it. Kevin Rudd challenged and replaced her. Now he and the Labor party are expected to be defeated.
“Having built his standing as opposition leader on the contention that Labor’s carbon tax would destroy jobs and hurt households,” the Guardian article noted, “Abbott has promised his first legislative act as prime minister will be to repeal it.”
What has occurred in Australia is a case history example of what happens when greens get their way. They always manage to destroy the economy. A recent study of Australia’s carbon tax by the Institute for Energy Research yielded the following findings:
In the year after Australia’s carbon tax was introduced, household electricity prices rose 15%, including the biggest quarterly increase on record.
Currently 19% of the typical household’s electricity bill is due to Australia’s carbon tax and other "green" programs such as a renewable energy mandate.
The job market had previously been stable, but after Australia’s carbon tax, the number of unemployed workers has risen by more than 10%.
Because Australia's exports are relatively emissions intensive, the practical result of the Australian carbon tax serves as a tax on exports and import-competing industries.
Australia’s carbon tax was accompanied by income tax increases for 2.2 million taxpayers.
Due to fiscal gaps that exist between carbon tax revenues and increased government spending that accompanied the scheme, Australia's budget bottom line will worsen as higher deficits and greater public debt increase.
Carbon dioxide emissions have actually increased, and will not fall below current levels until 2043, according to the Australian government.
Viv Forbes, chairman of the Carbon Sense Party in Australia, an opponent of the carbon tax and other green proposals, says “The growing failure of green energy in Europe should warn Australia to abandon bi-partisan policies dictating targets, mandates and subsidies for ‘green’ energy.”
This mirrors the same problems here in America where billions in loans to so-called green energy companies can be added to the list of Obama administration scandals as one after another went out of business. Solar and wind power is proving to be as great a hoax as “global warming” and a very costly one at that. How long has it being going on? Jimmy Carter had solar panels placed on the roof of the White House. Ronald Reagan had them removed. Barack Obama has had them installed.
Fifteen million registered voters in Australia will go to the polls and render their judgment on September 7. It is a vote that should be reported upon in the United States, but it more likely to be ignored or buried [except by the new media]. Tags:Australia, Australians, vote, Carbon Tax,To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
by Phyllis Schlafly: The problem with ObamaCare isn’t only that it’s careening toward a financial train wreck. It’s also a slush fund to pay off Obama’s political activists to carry out a massive invasion of privacy that dwarfs the NSA’s collection of personal data on American citizens.
The Obama Administration let the cat out of the bag when it admitted it will give $655,000 in federal funds to three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Iowa, Montana and New Hampshire, plus $375,000 to Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., to hire Navigators whose job is to assist citizens to report all their personal medical and financial information to the government. The Navigators’ project is so intrusive that we wonder why we ever worried about data collection by the NSA as exposed by Edward Snowden.
The navigators are also expected to be hired from other pro-Obama organizations such as Organizing for America and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and that will surely sweeten the budgets of those and other Democratic advocacy groups. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) says that, since money is fungible, the Planned Parenthood grants amount to federal funding of abortion providers.
To back up the collection of data from individuals, the Obama administration is creating a giant “data hub” to gather personal records from seven government agencies: Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Health Administration, Defense Department, Personnel Management Office, and even the Peace Corps.
The job of the navigators is to help seven million participants select their ObamaCare options and apply for benefits. Navigator applicants, who don’t have to have a high-school diploma, will be given 20 hours of training during the one month between the time when the money becomes available and October 1 when they report to their jobs.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi dared to say what many are worried about. These navigators will have access to thousands of Americans’ most personal and private financial, employment, medical history, and prescription-drug information, their tax returns, Social Security number, date of birth, bank account number, and place of employment.
Navigators will not have background checks or even be fingerprinted. The ObamaCare network doesn’t have any process for doing criminal-background checks on navigator applicants, and makes no requirement that navigators be covered by insurance.
The Federal Trade Commission is already worrying that this creates a massive opportunity for consumer fraud. Scam artists can pose as navigators to take advantage of people trying to sign up for ObamaCare benefits.
Potential for identity theft is great and obvious. This vast collection of personal data surely makes an inviting target for hackers and cyber criminals. Attorney General Bondi wants to know who will be in charge of monitoring the navigators, and who will be liable if someone’s identity is stolen.
Meanwhile, another possible train wreck is looming because Medicare is running out of money. With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, Medicare’s own trustees report that the program will “remain solvent” only until 2024.
ObamaCare will hasten Medicare’s demise. It siphons away $716 billion from the struggling Medicare fund and gives it to a new board of 15 unaccountable bureaucrats who will have the power to control Medicare spending through cuts to health care providers, and that’s a sure prescription for rationing care.
When President George W. Bush jammed Medicare Part D through Congress in 2003 to finance prescription drugs for seniors, conservatives opposed the program because it created a new unfunded entitlement. But it’s time to take a new look at Part D and study the lessons it teaches.
The price of Part D premiums has held steady for four years. Costs for Medicare Part D are about 45 percent lower than expected, and 96 percent of seniors say their coverage works well.
A study by Harvard researchers found that Part D has reduced overall Medicare spending by $13 billion annually by keeping seniors out of hospitals and nursing homes. The Congressional Budget Office also reports that greater access to prescription drugs decreases medical spending for seniors.
Conservatives don’t have to be glad that Bush gave us Medicare Part D, but they can point to Part D’s lessons that may help us for future reform. Part D is different from the rest of Medicare because it relies on choice and competition rather than top-down government control.
Unlike other government health programs, Part D is not operated by federal officials. Numerous private insurers offer prescription drug plans, competing on price, service and offerings, and seniors can shop around to choose the plan that best meets their needs.
Using conservative principles of choice and competition has enabled this one section of Medicare to work efficiently and cost less than was budgeted. That’s a good lesson for future changes in ObamaCare as well as Medicare.
-------------------- Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since 1964. She founded and is president of Eagle Forum. She has testified before more than 50 Congressional and State Legislative committees on constitutional, national defense, and family issues. Tags:Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, Obamacare, Medicare, train wrecksTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Just 27% of voters report having been impacted by the sequester, while a majority (70%) have not. Even in light of the spending cuts, they want more.
More than four in five voters (82%) say federal agencies should not get an automatic budget increase.
Given the opportunity to identify what helps and hurts the economy, a majority of Americans believe that the economy is harmed by increasing government spending (69%) and the nation’s debt (84%).
With yet another debt ceiling battle on the horizon, Americans know that we can’t continue down this unsustainable fiscal path. That is why nearly six in 10 people think an increase in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by at least dollar-for-dollar cuts. With just nine legislative days to reach a spending agreement, now is the time to tell lawmakers you are ready for Washington to cut the spending. Tags:America,, Attitude, poll, Spending cuts, Public Notice, Bankrupting AmericaTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: Conservatives are asking themselves why liberals, so opposed to Bush’s war against Iraq and its dictator, Saddam Hussein, are so hell bent to get into a war in Syria and its dictator, Bashar al-Assad?
The President’s assertion of a short attack has been called “the Goldilocks” approach to war, offered as a measured, limited response to the use of poison gas that killed over a thousand men, women and children in late August. Wars, however, do not lend themselves to such measures. They have a way of getting out of control, drawing in nations that have no wish to engage in them.
Moreover, there is ample reason not to rush into any military operation until we know whether, in fact, the poison gas was used by Assad or by rebel forces seeking to draw the U.S. and other nations into the conflict. Logically, there was no reason for Assad to use poison gas. All observers were of the view that he was winning the civil war at the cost of slaughtering 100,000 Syrians and turning millions into refugees.
This is not the first time the world has stood aside while such slaughters have taken place. It is an ugly truth, but it is the truth.
Who is rushing to resolve the horror that is Syria? Not the United Nations. Not NATO. Not Great Britain. Not Saudi Arabia. Not the Arab League. Nor has the United States to the point where Obama had to reverse course and ask for permission from Congress.
When you also consider the failure of the U.S. to arm “moderate” rebel forces as promised, it raises still more questions regarding who to arm and why the proposal has proven so resistant to fulfillment.
An element of the Benghazi scandal is the widespread belief that Libya was being used for the covert transfer of weapons, but that does not explain why the Obama administration blatantly lied about those who perpetrated the attack that killed an American ambassador and three security personnel, nor why there was no effort to come to their aid.
It is absurd to say that Assad’s Syria represents a threat to American national security and the hearings on Capitol Hill made it clear that the Joint Chiefs are very reluctant to initiate an attack that, militarily, is not likely to do much to degrade Assad’s ability to wage war. The Syrian operation comes at a time when the nation’s military capacities have been worn down by more than a decade of fighting in the Middle East. Congress would have to make a special appropriation to cover the cost of the use and replacement of missiles.
Americans have been forced to witness a theatre of the absurd as Democratic Party spokespersons from Obama to Kerry, Pelosi to Wasserman-Schultz, defend the attack while supported by RINOs John McCain and Lindsay Graham. Even Republican leaders such as John Boehner and Paul Ryan have had to make the calculation to support Obama in order to avoid having the nation look weak in the wake of his “red line” statements.
The problem, however, is that the U.S. does look weak after its involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Adding Syria to the list will only enforce that perception.
It is more than a perception. It is a reality. A nation tottering on bankruptcy and default is, by definition, weak. A nation that has degraded its military power is, by definition, weak. A nation led by a vacillating, incompetent President is, by definition, weak.
The AP reported yesterday that when President Obama was "asked about his past comments drawing a "red line" against the use of chemical weapons, Obama said it was a line that had first been clearly drawn with the chemical weapons treaty ratified by countries around the world and ratified by Congress."
"He declared, quote, 'That wasn't something I made up. didn't pluck it out of thin air. There's a reason for it.'
"The president said there was far more than his own credibility at stake in responding to the chemical weapons attack.
"'I didn't set a red line, the world set a red line,' he said. "The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of world population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent." He added that Congress set its own red line when it ratified the treaty." Tags:Barack Obama, red lineTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
War On A Country Not At War With Us And ObamaCare . . .
. . . Both of Which Could lead to the same result: The destruction of America - at least as we know it.
Although Congress is not officially in session, they return on Monday, September 9th, committee members are back and holding hearings on President Obama desire to bomb Syria. Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 with Sen. Markey (D-MA) voting present (coward's vote) to approving a resolution to authorize the use of U.S. military force in Syria.
Republican War Hawks appear willing to support the "Obama boot-licking" Democrats in supporting the President's request to bomb a country that is not at war with the U.S.A. and has Russians on the ground in Syria. The UN, Great Britain, Russia and China all oppose Obama's desire to bomb Syria over the use of Chemical weapons within Syria by at least one of the sides by someone yet undetermined. Lots of guess work and loads of risk plus death being proposed. At the same time the Obama administration has taken no meaningful effort to stop the development of nuclear weapons in both Iran and North Korea both sworn enemies of the United States.
In the mean time, the Obama administration continues to struggle to implement the president’s unpopular health care law, more negative consequences come to light every day, from increased premiums to decreased access to lost hours.
Recently two more states released new insurance rates on the individual market through Obamacare. And like in many other states, premiums are going up, despite President Obama’s promises to the contrary. According to a release from the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, first noticed by Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard, rate increases over those prior to 2014 range from 9.72% for a 63-year-old in Kenosha to a whopping 124.85% for a 21-year-old in Madison. “‘While the exchange in Wisconsin will be run by the federal government, insurers wanting to offer coverage in the exchange had to file their rates with OCI.With our review of the exchange rate filings completed, we have attempted to compare what Wisconsin consumers are paying today to what plans will cost post 2014 under the new federal health law,’ stated Commissioner Nickel. . . . ‘[F]rom our analysis, it appears premiums will increase for most consumers.And, while there is no question that some consumers will have subsidies and may not pay these higher rates,’ Commissioner Nickel continued,‘someone will pay for the increased premiums whether it is the consumer or the federal government.’”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey linked to a report on new rates from the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska. “The Nebraska Department of Insurance on Thursday released proposed premium rates of all health plans submitted under the federal Affordable Care Act in Nebraska for 2014. . . . Nebraska is one of several states that have chosen to have the federal government operate the marketplace for health insurance. . . . Nebraska Insurance Commissioner Bruce Ramge pointed out that a comparison of rates between Coventry and Blue Cross Blue Shield, the only companies of the four that offered rates in past years, showed that health insurance costs are going up for most Nebraskans. . . . In the example, the cost of a Blue Cross Blue Shield ‘silver’ plan covering 70 percent of health costs was $245 a month for a 30-year-old single man living in Lincoln, up 82 percent from a year ago, and for Coventry, $271.65, up 143 percent. Family coverage in Hastings on a silver plan for a 50-year-old single mother with three children was almost $1,000, up 21 percent for Blue Cross Blue Shield and down 5 percent for Coventry, at $975.”
Meanwhile, the regulations in Obamacare are having another negative effect. They’re limiting choices among hospitals in New Hampshire. According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, “Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the only insurer approved to offer policies on the health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act, has narrowed to 14 the number of hospitals for the ACA plans that will be offered beginning Oct. 1. Paula Rogers, the company’s governmental affairs director, said the move was made to reach affordable premium levels. . . . The network for Anthem individual policy holders who do not purchase through the exchange will be limited as well when current policies expire. . . . ‘Now we are not going to have the doctor of our choice, the hospital of our choice or the plan of our choice,’ said [Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee] co-chair, Rep. John Hunt, R-Rindge. . . . The two Republican senators on the committee, Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, and Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, criticized both the Affordable Care Act and state regulators for not being willing to discuss the details of Anthem’s planned network. . . .Sanborn said people in the state are going to be shocked at the beginning of the year. ‘Here in Concord and in cities and towns large and small across New Hampshire, patients are going to have to travel farther to receive care,’ Sanborn said.”
And of course not a week goes by without news reports of workers losing hours or jobs to Obamacare mandates. The Washington Free Beacon caught a report from News 12 New Jersey noting that “[m]ore towns here in New Jersey plan to cut hours from part-time workers to avoid offering them health insurance under Obamacare.” The reporter told viewers, “First, Middletown Township announces it will trim hours from 25 of its part-time employees to prepare for the Affordable Care Act. Its school district says it intends to cut hours back as well. Next, Toms River officials say they’ll follow suit to keep health care costs down under the plan commonly called Obamacare. . . . And now Berkeley Township says it too is considering the move. The municipality, hit hard by Sandy, says the superstorm left it struggling financially, adding that additional health care costs now are out of the question.” Berkeley Township Administrator Chris Reid told News 12, “There isn’t one employee that anybody would want to see hurt…If it came down to shaving hours in order to save substantial dollars, that would be something that would have to be considered.”
Once again, news reports are confirming everything that Republicans warned about when they unanimously opposed this deeply flawed law: premiums are going up, choice is being limited, and workers are losing hours as employers and local governments are hit with mandates and higher costs.
As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said, “[T]he sooner we act to fully repeal this law, the more needless pain can be avoided for our country – and the sooner we can start working on the kind of common-sense, step-by-step, cost-lowering reforms that Americans can support.”
. . . On the lighter side of my opening statement, "Leno: 'President Obama is being pretty clever on selling his war on Syria to Congress. He told them Assad supports ObamaCare.'" Tags:Obamacare, Syria, bombing Syria, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
When America was attacked on 9-11 and eventually the U.S. went to war, Mr. Obama was "against it." Listen to Obama in his own words in the above video. Now as President, Mr. Obama is embarrassed over making "red line statements that he could not effectively support and now want to go to war (or at least drop weapons on their heads) with Syria even though no-one has attacked America and we really do not know exactly what is going on in Syria. He is willing to risk war with Russia and possibly China over Syria. Great Britain opposes the U.S. actions. We now have a pro-war liberal with members of the Muslim Brotherhood on his staff advising him. What a hypocrite. God save America from this lunacy. Tags:President Obama, Anti-war Obama, Now pro-war, proven hypocrite, video, Black and Right, Bob ParksTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Interview with Cato Institute VP Gene Healy: The Constitution gives the President limited powers to repel attacks, but President Obama claims a broad authority to go to war in Syria. He has, notably, asked for Congress's endorsement of his plan. Gene Healy, vice president at the Cato Institute, argues that the President will have a tough time ignoring the results of a Congressional vote, especially if they reject his call for authorization. Video Interview produced by Caleb O. Brown and Austin Bragg.
Tags:President Obama, bombing, Syria, War Power's Act, Congress, Cato Institute, Gene HealyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Michelle Malkin at the Defending the American Dream Summit 2013
NRA News: At the Defending the American Dream Summit 2013 in Orlando, Florida, Cameron Gray talks to conservative commentator Michelle Malkin about some of the big stories in the news, including the recall elections in Colorado.
Tags:NRA News, Cameron Gray, Michelle Malkin, Colorado recal election, Defending American Dream Summit, 2013, Orlando, FloridaTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
. . . Where is the President's 'Crack Pot' Pipe? Take it away! Tags:President Obama, words, redlines, Syria, Liberty News To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported, “For those left behind by the long, slow economic recovery, time is running out. More than four years after the recession officially ended, 11.5 million Americans are unemployed, many of them for years. Millions more have abandoned their job searches, hiding from the economic storm in school or turning to government programs for support. A growing body of economic research suggests that the longer they remain on the sidelines, the less likely they will be to work again; for many, it may already be too late. . . . [T]he recovery isn't reaching many of the most vulnerable. For those without a high-school diploma, the unemployment rate in July was 11%. For African-Americans, it was 12.6%. For teenagers, 23.7%. Even more worrisome to economists are signs of a bifurcation in the labor market: For those unemployed less than six months, the odds of finding a job have improved steadily over the past year; the long-term unemployed have made almost no progress at all. . . . Recent studies in both the U.S. and overseas found employers often won't even consider the long-term jobless for openings. Many have given up applying. Nearly seven million people say they want a job but aren't actively looking for work. The share of the population that is working or looking for work—a measure known as the participation rate—stands near a three-decade low.”
And instead of a robust recovery, what growth there has been seems to be in part-time and temporary work. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “While the U.S. economy stumbles along, hiring is igniting in one segment of the labor market — temporary work. The number of temporary workers nationwide has risen more than 50 percent to 2.7 million — the most on record — since the recession ended in June 2009, the Labor Department reported. The trend is likely to intensify, workplace experts say. The rise in the number of temporary workers is being driven by two factors — uncertainty about the economy, and companies cutting employee hours because of costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, workforce experts say. . . . Nationwide, 8.7 million jobs disappeared from payrolls during the recession, and the economy is still 2 million jobs shy of pre-recession employment levels, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement and consulting firm. ‘The depth of the recession and the slow crawl back to a full recovery forced many Americans to become more flexible and more creative when it comes to finding a job and earning income,’ said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. ‘Employers also had to become more flexible and creative in order to simply stay afloat during the downturn,’ he said. An estimated 1 in 3 Americans are considered contingent workers, meaning they work for organizations on a nonpermanent basis as freelancers, independent professionals, contractors, consultants and temporary workers, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. ‘By 2020, some forecasts have the portion of contingent workers rising to 50 percent of the American labor force.’”
Writing at CNBC, University of Maryland economist Peter Morici points out, “Although in line with recent months, jobs gains have been heavily weighted toward part-time positions. Since January, 936,000 additional Americans report working part-time, while only 27,000 more say they have obtained full-time positions. The shift to part-time workers, partially a reaction to Obamacare health insurance mandates, puts downward pressure on wages and benefits in low-paying industries such as retail and restaurants, and widens income inequality.. . . So when you add in discouraged adults, who have quit looking for work altogether, and part-timers who want full-time employment, the unemployment rate becomes 14 percent. . . . Even with more full-time positions, the pace of jobs creation is well short of what is needed. About 360,000 jobs would lower unemployment to 6 percent over three years, but that would require GDP growth in the range of 4 to 5 percent.”
The Times-Dispatch adds, “Christine Chmura, president and chief economist of Chmura Economics & Analytics in Richmond [said,] ‘Although the recession ended a few years ago, the job market remains weak. . . . Sluggish economic growth is part of the reason for the continued high levels of part-time workers.’ Another likely contributor to the high level of part-time workers is the Affordable Care Act, Chmura said. ‘Because there is a 30-hour cutoff for mandatory health benefits, some employers are reducing the hours of some full-time workers so they don’t have to incur additional health care costs,’ she said. . . . Hazel Mobley, a caretaker for seniors who lives in the Fan District, said her hours were cut in March from 40 to 28 because of ‘Obamacare.’ ‘Obamacare has been a game changer,’ said Mark Collins, president and CEO of American Dedicated Logistics, a contract management and logistics support company based in Richmond. ‘The thought of having to pay health insurance for delivery drivers has sent shockwaves throughout the supply industry,’ Collins said.”
No wonder, then, that Americans are still not very confident about the state of the economy. National Journal wrote last week, “[C]onsumer confidence in the economy remains stuck in the negatives—and it's heading further south. . . . Forty-two percent of Americans say the economy is improving, while 54 percent say it's getting worse. Twenty percent rated current economic conditions ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ and 35 percent called them ‘poor.’ The Gallup Poll attributes the results to discouraging employment news, rising mortgage rates, and other factors. While the unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent in July when the economy added 162,000 jobs, the numbers were fewer than expected. At that rate of job growth, it would take about seven years to close the job gap created by the recession, The New York Times reported.”
As Indiana Governor Mike Pence said in the Weekly Republican Address last week, “These are difficult days for too many Americans. Our economy isn’t growing as fast as we would like, and businesses aren’t creating as many jobs as we need. In states like Indiana, we’re working every day to give people more freedom to grow their businesses, but the over-regulation, higher taxes and new mandates coming from Washington, D.C. are stifling our economy and hurting efforts being made in states across the country.”
And the Obama administration's solution: restrict businesses, reduce access to America energy resources, infringe on individual rights, bankrupt America with Obamacare and more government spending, and drag America into another war in the Middle East. Unfortunately, in America today, more than the Economy Sucks! Tags:Obama administration, the economy, economy sucks, war, Middle East To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Saudi Prince Bandar Schemes in Syria But Happy With Events In Egypt
Saudi Prince Bandar
Saudi Prince Bandar Schemes in Syria - Following what happens next in Syria means following the machinations of Saudi Prince Bandar.
Analysis: Saudi Prince Bandar, the man tasked with handling some very serious foreign affairs by the Saudi King, is behind much of what is happening in Syria right now. It is Bandar through which a lot of the weapons on both fronts are flowing. He’s a household name among intelligence communities, including the CIA, who use him to their own ends. In Syria, his goal is to get rid of Assad, and while he may be losing that game for the time being, change is in the air. Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, is a dangerous figure who has far too great a role in what is happening right now in the Middle East. But in Syria, the chemical attack last week is the most convenient thing that could have happened for Bandar and the Saudi goal of pushing for direct US intervention. The chemical attack—which the US publicly says was most likely perpetrated by Assad—makes no sense at this time for the Assad regime. The Syrian rebels are losing and they are clearly outgunned, but the West has hesitated to intervene directly unless the “red line” (chemical attacks) is crossed. Now it has been crossed, and the Saudis have won their lobbying power in Washington. (Remember, it was the Saudis who late last year tried to convince Washington that a chemical attack at that time was the work of Assad). There will be consequences for the wider Middle East here, not least Jordan, which has been taken over as the covert operations theater for training Syrian rebels to fight Assad. This makes Jordan’s border a clear target for the Assad regime, but it has little choice, dependent as it is on financial backing from Saudi Arabia.
Recommendation: Nothing is as it appears in the media where it concerns Syria. Prince Bandar has been the key to this puzzle since the summer of last year when the Saudi King anointed him to make the Kingdom’s foreign policy ambitions a reality. Bandar is now in charge of the Saudi General Intelligence Agency, among a number of other unofficial responsibilities. Bandar is everywhere, and we should be wary of Saudi Arabia controlling these theaters of conflict and much of the weapons shipment venues (including Croatia, through which Soviet-era weapons are moving) in between. During Ramadan this year, he organized a covert shipment of weapons from Israel, funneled to Sunni jihadists in Syria—and then he convinced Washington to kick out the Qataris—his competitors on the Syrian conflict scene. The broader concern over Bandar should be that he is promoting jihad in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and the sectarian violence he is selling could be the undoing of the Middle East.
Saudi Prince Bandar in Egypt - While Bandar may not have gotten everything he wanted in Syria—yet—in Egypt he has, so far.
Analysis: In July, the US ordered a review of aid to Egypt, which has not been concluded yet, but which the media likes to think has already been decided in favor of halting aid to Egypt. But it doesn’t matter. Saudi Arabia has already made it clear that it will make up for any aid Egypt loses. Riyadh has Egypt exactly where it wants it and will not relinquish it now. General al-Sisi is their man, as was former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, who is now being released.
Recommendation: What concerns us in Egypt right now is what the Saudi-Sisi response will be to its very recently former allies in the Tamarod movement, which was initially responsible for collecting the 22 million signatures that opened the door for the mass demonstrations that led to the 3 July coup. Following the slaughter of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters earlier this month, Tamarod has called on the US to withdraw aid from the military and to cancel the Camp David accords with Israel—which is the real problem. There is no way the Saudis or Sisi, whom they control, can allow this. If Tamarod collects another batch of millions of signatures, which it very well might do, Sisi will be in trouble and Bandar will have to come to his aid.
------------------ Source:Inside Intelligence with ISA Intel, OilPrice.com Premium Newsletter. This source is an OilPrice.com subscription service used by the Editor of ARRA News Service. Tags:Saudi, Prince Bandar, schemes, Syria, events, Egypt, insider intelligence, OilPrice.comTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: The debate about whether or when to inflict some “punishment” on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad put me in mind of the run-up to World War II when the U.S. State Department was reluctant to admit German Jews seeking sanctuary and, after the D-Day invasion, the discovery of the Nazi death camps where six million Jews from around Europe perished.
So long as it was Jews doing the dying, the world just didn’t care that much and now, so long as it is Arabs — over 100,000 Syrians — the world still doesn’t care.
Moreover, the Arabs of the Middle East have given the West little reason to be concerned for their lives. Who has killed more Arabs than any other group? Arabs. The jihadists have bombed and murdered their fellow Muslims with abandon and continue to do so.
Poison gas was used by Saddam Hussein and is being likely used by both Assad and the rebels seeking to overthrow him.
It is the poison gas the West fears, not the fate of the Syrians or other Arabs.
The nightmare that the West refuses to confront is a nuclear-armed Iran. If and when the Israelis — Jews — take action to disable the Iranian nuclear operations, they will have saved themselves and the West.
Congress will likely approve some kind of authorization for the President to take some action. The draft that the White House sent was deemed too broadly written so the lawyers in Congress will fret it about with limits. That’s a good thing because whatever Obama does will be an act of war and a rather futile one at that.
An article in the September 2 World Tribune reported that “President Barack Obama has encountered vigorous resistance from the military to his plans to attack Syria.”
Assad will have plenty of time to continue waging war on the Syrian rebels. He’s too busy killing Syrians who, true to the tribal nature of the region, will remain busy killing Alawites, Christians, Druze, and others. Neither the Russians, nor the Iranians want a bigger war. They want a seaport and a pipeline respectively.
Congress will also have to find a billion dollars with which to pay for the missiles we use and to replace them. A nation that is $17 trillion in debt doesn’t have the money to wage a war. A short, symbolic slap will have to suffice.
There will be no “boots on the ground.” Our army is worn out by more than a decade of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our air force is flying a lot of old planes. Our navy has been reduced to less vessels than are needed in a dangerous world. Mostly, though, Americans are understandably just tired of fighting in the Middle East and achieving nothing.
If we could find and kill Osama bin Laden, there is no reason why we could not have done the same with Saddam Hussein and now Bashar al-Assad. It’s cheaper and just as effective.
For a while, Bashar was the darling of the liberals in Congress. Nancy Pelosi visited him. In 2007, despite White House objections, she traveled to Damascus to meet with Assad. At the time she said she had “expressed our concern about Syria’s connections to Hezbollah and Hamas” and raised the issue of the sanctuary that Syria was providing those fighting U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq. Then-President Bush said, “A lot of people have gone to see President Assad…and yet we haven’t seen action. He hasn’t responded.”
Ironically, it is now Pelosi who is urging Obama to take military action against Assad.
In 2011 on Face the Nation then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was asked why the U.S. was not intervening in Syria as it had in Libya. When CBS newsman Bob Schieffer remarked that Assad’s father had killed 25,000 Syrians in Hama in 1982, Clinton replied that Syria had a different leader and one that recent visitors regarded as “a reformer.”
Among those who had visited Assad was then-Sen. John Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who had been there at least six times; most recently in November 2010. He pushed hard to re-engage the Assad regime and notably without any success.
Assuming Congress lets President Obama wipe the egg from his face over his “red line” comment, Assad will respond with the usual threats and go back to killing Syrians. Having seen the U.S. response to the use of poison gas, it will likely be removed and transported to Iran. It is likely that it originated in Iraq.
by Claude Salhani, OilPrice.com: On his way back from the Yalta conference in February 1945 where US President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Great Britain’s Winston Churchill and the Soviet Union’s Stalin, the American president made an unscheduled stop in Egypt where he met with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdel Aziz ibn Saud aboard the USS Quincy, in the Suez Canal’s Great Bitter Lake. The basis of the meeting was to ensure that Americans would have an uninterrupted supply of oil.
Oil in fact was the only thing that these two very different men had in common. Oil was the common thread binding Arabs and Americans. The Arabs produced it in large quantities and the Americans consumed it in large quantities.
Over the past several decades US presidents and Western European leaders had to worry about how any policy decision taken by them would affect the cost of gas at the pump, and thus ultimately, affect their own careers. As one can easily imagine, no politician in the world would want to be blamed for having been the cause of raised prices at the pump.
With that in mind, policy makers in the Western Hemisphere pussyfooted around the thorny issue of how to handle the Middle East, careful not to upset too much the Arabs and in the process trigger the alarm that would punish the West with higher oil prices. As has happened in 1973 during the October War between Israel and its Arab neighbors when the oil producing countries slapped an oil embargo on the West.
And it is with that in mind – the fear of pushing the Arab oil producing nations to enact upon their threats – that the West dealt with the Middle East all those years. That, and or course the pro-Israel lobby, who although lacking oil were still able to achieve their political objectives.
But as we have just seen by the latest crisis revolving around the issue of Syria and the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime, and the threats of war and of punitive actions taken by the United States and its allies, not even once during the deliberations of whether to attack or not to attack Syria was the issue of how an escalation of violence would affect the oil markets.
Not once was any mention made to the dangers of Iran becoming involved in the conflict and how that would impact the oil route out of the Gulf in the event that it was closed down by fighting or purposely by the Iranians by attacking the strategic Straits of Hormuz.
There are several reasons for this. First, the US is becoming less dependent on Arab oil and therefor closing Hormuz will not affect the Americans as much as it would have in the past.
Iran, who depends on its own oil going and coming through the Straits can ill afford to close down Hormuz as Iranian oil needs to transit through the Straits to be refined in India and then brought back for consumption, passing through the Straits on the way there and back.
This is indeed a turning point in US-Mideast policy. Henceforth the US will feel less threatened by the oil weapon as it has in the past.
The long-term outcome of this tectonic shift in what until now has been the keystone of any major US policy decision should, in principal at least, give Washington and its allies greater bargaining power and leeway in dealing with the region.
For the moment however the Obama administration has yet to grasp the full potential and power this change offers.
Repealing Individual Mandate Is A Budget Deal Winner
Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: Syria has taken over the top of the agenda, but very soon Congress will necessarily return to high stakes fiscal negotiations, not just over the continuing resolution to fund the government, but also over the federal debt ceiling. Speaker John Boehner is committed to the principle that has so effectively constrained discretionary spending since the historic summer 2011 deal: debt ceiling increases must be matched dollar-for-dollar with new spending cuts. At the top of the spending cut priority list should be elimination of the most widely hated aspect of the new health care law: the individual mandate.
You might assume that repealing a mandate enforced with a tax would increase the deficit because of the lost tax revenue. But this particular tax is so destructive and ill-advised that repealing it would actually bring a shockingly large windfall in federal deficit reduction.
The Congressional Budget Office revealed this curious fact deep in the 2011 edition of its “Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options.” The ten-year score showed that for the years 2012 to 2021, repealing the individual mandate would reduce deficits by a hefty $282 billion.
And that included two years – 2012 and 2013 – with zero savings because the mandate was not yet in effect. A new estimate for the next ten years would likely show deficit savings of approximately $400 billion.
How can repealing a tax actually reduce the deficit? When the $27 billion the tax is estimated to raise is dwarfed by the spending impact, in this case well over $200 billion (for the old score). Half of the savings comes from reduced Medicaid spending.
(If you’re wondering why so many Medicaid-eligible people won’t enroll in the absence of a mandate forcing them to, the answer could be that, according to the New England Journal of Medicine: “Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes.”)
The rest of the deficit reduction (other than some minor impacts on employer provisions) is about evenly split between the cost of subsidies for people who would only buy insurance because of the mandate, and higher tax revenue from people who would, in the absence of a mandate, earn more taxable compensation from their employers instead of health benefits.
President Obama knew the mandate was wrong back when he was a candidate in 2008. “The main difference between my plan and Senator Clinton’s plan,” he said, “is that she’d require the government to force you to buy health insurance and she said she’d ‘go after’ your wages if you don’t.”
But once in power, Obama reversed his position and pursued a corrupt bargain with the big insurance companies, who basically told Congress and the Obama administration that they would go along with the law’s expensive new regulations as long as the government forced everyone to buy their (even more expensive) product.
That corrupt bargain represents everything that’s wrong with Washington. Instead of helping the uninsured afford insurance by making it less expensive, the mandate’s penalty tax punishes them. They still don’t have insurance, but now are poorer because of the tax.
Congress can fix this situation by insisting that any fiscal deal include repeal of the individual mandate. If the health care law’s supporters are right about the law’s many merits, then they shouldn't need to force people to buy into it. And taxpayers can pocket $400 billion in deficit reduction at the same time.
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