A GOP Upset In Taxachusetts?

Mitt Romney’s decisive endorsement of Scott Brown to fill Ted Kennedy’s MA seat in a special election on January 19th is a definite plus for Brown. Gaining national attention, the Wall Street Journal ran this article today:

The Dream Will Never Die
By JOHN FUND – January 4, 2022

In the two months since voters gave Republican candidates impressive wins in the New Jersey and Virginia governor’s races, unemployment has increased to 10% under a Democratic White House, and Democrats have focused on jamming an increasingly unpopular health care bill through Congress. Now comes another statewide race this month that will likely be read as a follow-up referendum on the Obama administration. Massachusetts holds a special election on January 19 to fill the U.S. Senate seat left open by the death of Ted Kennedy, and even in this bluest of states it may not be a cakewalk for the Democrat.

At first glance, the chances of an anti-Democratic tide here appear remote. The Bay State gave Barack Obama 62% of its vote last year, the state hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972, and Democrats hold seven out of every eight seats in the state legislature. But one of the few Republicans in that legislature, State Senator Scott Brown, is making a serious play to upset the conventional wisdom, which holds that Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley is a shoo-in for the Kennedy seat. In the process, Mr. Brown is irritating Democrats to distraction.

His first TV ad begins in black and white with John F. Kennedy describing his 1962 tax cut bill: “The billions of dollars this bill will place in the hands of the consumer and our businessmen will have both immediate and permanent benefits to our economy.” The screen slowly morphs into an image of Mr. Brown as he calls for a new tax cut by finishing Kennedy’s remarks: “Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary. And these new jobs and new salaries can create other jobs and other salaries, and more customers and more growth for an expanding American economy.”

Democrats immediately squawked. Kennedy family friend Philip Johnston called any suggestion that the family would agree with Mr. Brown’s statement “highly misleading.” Mr. Brown responded that the reaction simply showed how today’s Democratic Party differs from that of JFK, noting that the late president “was the president of everybody, and was the first person to call for across-the-board tax cuts.” He points to the strong contrast with Ms. Coakley’s position on taxes. During a November 30 appearance at Suffolk University, she had what Mr. Brown calls a “Walter Mondale” moment in which she flatly stated: “We need to get taxes up.”

Surprisingly, no official polls have been taken in the race yet, though few are betting on a Brown victory. But an upset in a low-turnout election is always a possibility. Consider that in 2007, when support for the GOP was at dismal levels, Republican Jim Ogonowski was still able to hold the winning Democrat to 51% in a special election for a Massachusetts Congressional seat. A year later that same district gave Barack Obama 59% of its votes.

Independent groups are mulling plans to drive down Ms. Coakley’s numbers by running ads that would point out that if she loses and Mr. Brown wins, Democrats would then be deprived of the 60th vote they need to pass a final health care bill. Candidate Brown is encouraging such thinking. “I could be the 41st senator that could stop the Obama proposal that’s being pushed right now through Congress,” he told reporters last week. Even holding Ms. Coakley to a narrow victory in uber-liberal Massachusetts would rattle Democratic cages and give members of Congress pause before a final health care vote.

Scott Brown

Marty Peretz, the editor-in-chief of the liberal New Republic magazine and a Coakley supporter, nonetheless thinks Mr. Brown “might actually defeat” the Democrat because “voters are scared.” He notes that Democrats have gone “hysterical” over the Kennedy tax cut ad Mr. Brown is running. “Maybe their panic is apt,” he notes.

Remember, the special election is January 19th. Let’s GET BUSY. Deprive Democrats their precious 60th vote! Help elect Scott Brown:
Tea Party Phone Brigade: http://brownbrigade.ning.com/group/teapartyphonebankbrownbrigade

Editor note: Open discussions re Brown/Coakley at Conservative Talk Forum

Mr. President, What’s The Rush?

Mitt Romney wrote an Op-Ed piece for USA Today explaining his Massachusetts health care plan (published July 30th, 2009). The majority of Americans want health care and health insurance reform, but don’t want socialized medicine - a national insurance program or universal health care. Americans don’t want to pay for freeloaders who foist their medical care bills onto others, either. If you’re human, you aren’t going to escape this life without getting sick. So, where are the answers?

With minutes ticking away before Obamacare is on the table for a final vote, will Obama heed any call to come up for air long enough to see how much and how many loathe this particular piece of disastrous legislation?

*Editor note: Although published last summer, Romney’s article is a reminder of the mishandling by the Obama administration of the health care issue. Here is Romney’s common sense article in its entirety:

Because of President Obama’s frantic approach, health care has run off the rails. For the sake of 47 million uninsured Americans, we need to get it back on track.

Health care cannot be handled the same way as the stimulus and cap-and-trade bills. With those, the president stuck to the old style of lawmaking: He threw in every special favor imaginable, ground it up and crammed it through a partisan Democratic Congress. Health care is simply too important to the economy, to employment and to America’s families to be larded up and rushed through on an artificial deadline. There’s a better way. And the lessons we learned in Massachusetts could help Washington find it.

No other state has made as much progress in covering their uninsured as Massachusetts. The bill that made it happen wasn’t a rush job. Shortly after becoming governor, I worked in a bipartisan fashion with Democrats to insure all our citizens. It took almost two years to find a solution. When we did, it passed the 200-member legislature with only two dissenting votes. It had the support of the business community, the hospital sector and insurers. For health care reform to succeed in Washington, the president must finally do what he promised during the campaign: Work with Republicans as well as Democrats.

Massachusetts also proved that you don’t need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no “public option.” With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn’t necessary. It would inevitably lead to massive taxpayer subsidies, to lobbyist-inspired coverage mandates and to the liberals’ dream: a European-style single-payer system. To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option.

The cost issue

Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn’t have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages “free riders” to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn’t cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one — something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did.

When our bill passed three years ago, the legislature projected that our program would cost $725 million in 2009. At $723 million, next year’s forecast is pretty much on target. When you calculate all the savings, including that from the free hospital care we eliminated, the net cost to the state is approximately $350 million. The watchdog Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation concluded that our program’s cost is “relatively modest” and “well within initial projections.”

And if subsidies and coverages are reined in, as I’ve suggested, the Massachusetts program could actually break even. One thing is certain: The president must insist on a program that doesn’t add to our spending burden. We simply cannot afford another trillion-dollar mistake.

The Massachusetts reform aimed at getting virtually all our citizens insured. In that, it worked: 98% of our citizens are insured, 440,000 previously uninsured are covered and almost half of those purchased insurance on their own, with no subsidy. But overall, health care inflation has continued its relentless rise. Here is where the federal government can do something we could not: Take steps to stop or slow medical inflation.

At the core of our health cost problem is an incentive problem. Patients don’t care what treatments cost once they pass the deductible. And providers are paid more when they do more; they are paid for quantity, not quality. We will tame runaway costs only when we change incentives. We might do what some countries have done: Require patients to pay a portion of their bill, except for certain conditions. And providers could be paid an annual fixed fee for the primary care of an individual and a separate fixed fee for the treatment of a specific condition. These approaches have far more promise than the usual bromides of electronic medical records, transparency and pay-for-performance, helpful though they will be.

Try a business-like analysis

I spent most of my career in the private sector. When well-managed businesses considered a major change of some kind, they engaged in extensive analysis, brought in outside experts, exhaustively evaluated every alternative, built consensus among those who would be affected and then moved ahead. Health care is many times bigger than all the companies in the Dow Jones combined. And the president is rushing changes that dwarf what any business I know has faced.

Republicans are not the party of “no” when it comes to health care reform. This Republican is proud to be the first governor to insure all his state’s citizens. Other Republicans such as Rep. Paul Ryan and Sens. Bob Bennett and John McCain, among others, have proposed their own plans. Republicans will join with the Democrats if the president abandons his government insurance plan, if he endeavors to craft a plan that does not burden the nation with greater debt, if he broadens his scope to reduce health costs for all Americans, and if he is willing to devote the rigorous effort, requisite time and bipartisan process that health care reform deserves.

I like this reader’s comment on Romney’s article (USA Today):
Why is it that the people who did everything right and hit hard times are forced to share the “safety net” with an army of deadbeats, drug addicts and people who aren’t even legally in the country? If we could sift the responsible people who hit bad luck from the losers, we could help them without even missing the money.

Health care is so expensive these days, an out of work person sees a large bill. You can keep blaming greedy insurance companies, but the costs aren’t just there. Doctors practice defensive medicine to protect themselves from ambulance chasers, and charge it to the insurance company with no objection from the patient. But congress won’t even consider changes there. And congress doesn’t mind donating free insurance to people illegally in the country. How much is that? And how much will it be in 20 more years, since they have no concern for border security? And how much medicare fraud goes uninvestigated?

Rather than examine the flaws and fraud and money leaks, they want to turn the system upside down. They are long on promises, and short on previous successes.

I know things aren’t good, especially in a recession. I want changes too. Being afraid of an untried solution recommended by people with a long record of failure is not the same as not wanting change.

Romney is right. Take the time to get it right. You want us to bet our lives on this, and you haven’t got much of a track record.

The Nightmare Before Christmas - Obamacare

Barack Obama? Beaming. Harry Reid? Rejoicing.  Nancy Pelosi? Pleased-as-punch.

After working overtime in D.C. (trophies expected) Friday and Saturday (Dec 18th and 19th), Democrats have enough backing to set in motion procedural votes necessary to pass Obama’s health care bill.

After all the brawling and bawling, who was holding up the health care take-over party? Senator Ben Nelson (D- Nebraska), an opponent of taxpayer funded abortion, was the wet blanket playing hard-to-get with fellow Democrats and withholding THE magical 60th vote. It was no surprise that at the end of the day, after bribes and benefits (picked from our pockets) were laid at Nelson’s baulking feet, a call for “hankies on the house” arose as Nelson caved, tears were shed, and all were gathered in the Obama/Reid/Pelosi group hug.

Assured that federal monies will not be used to pay for abortions, Nelson’s goodie bag for Nebraska also includes extra Medicaid funds for his home state.  Here’s how Senator Nelson justifies his about-face:

Nelson said the agreement would allow states to prohibit abortion coverage in the new insurance exchanges created under the bill and mandate that every state exchange include an insurance plan that does not cover abortion. It would require payments for abortion coverage be made separately with private funds.

“The plan that we’ve put together here, that we have agreement on, in fact walls off that money in an effective manner,” Nelson told reporters. “I would not have voted for this bill without these provisions.”

Really? House Republican Leader John Boehner posted this on his GOP blog yesterday:

Fixed it is not. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) latest health care “manager’s amendment” would STILL levy a new “abortion premium” fee on Americans under the Democrats’ health care plan. Just like the original 2,032-page, government-run health care plan from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) and the last version of Senator Reid’s 2,074-page bill, this latest 383-page amendment levies an abortion premium and does not fix the problem of government funds being used to subsidize elective abortions.

Under Reid’s “manager’s amendment,” there is no prohibition on abortion coverage in federally subsidized plans participating in the Exchange. Instead the amendment includes layers of accounting gimmicks that demand that plans participating in the Exchange or the new government-run plan that will be managed by the Office of Personnel Management must establish “allocation accounts” when elective abortion is a covered benefit (p. 41). Everyone enrolled in these plans must pay a monthly abortion premium (p. 41, lines 5-8), and these funds will be used to pay for the elective abortion services. The Reid amendment directs insurance companies to assess the cost of elective abortion coverage (p. 43), and charge a minimum of $1 per enrollee per month (p. 43, lines 20-22).

Read more here.

Douglas Johnson, National Right to Life Committee legislative director released this statement:

“The new abortion language solves none of the fundamental abortion-related problems with the Senate bill, and it actually creates some new abortion-related problems.”

1.2 million babies are aborted in America every year. Middle of the night moves, arm-twisting and bribery, 2500 pages of legal-speak, and hush-rush tactics hiding abortion funding to pass a health care bill most Americans don’t want is an affront to democracy and decency. Another insult, the push by Democrats to vote for this bill during the week that Christians prepare to celebrate the miracle of a wondrous birth, is deplorable.

There is still time to let your senators and representatives know how you feel. Take a moment from your Christmas preparations to contact your elected officials here.

Our seventh installment of Twelve Days of Christmas was created as a result of a young missionary working in the 1970’s in a Serbian children’s hospital during that country’s civil war. Loving and serving the injured children, the young man left for a day to seek medical supplies for the severely under-supplied hospital. Upon his return, he found the hospital completely gone. It had been bombed. All the children he loved, including doctors and nurses, were killed. In his grief, he composed the lyrics and melody to this song as tribute to their memory. At this special time of year, may we remember suffering children everywhere and do all we can to protect those who are waiting to be born. That missionary’s name is Kurt Bestor. Here he is, with friends, singing The Prayer of the Children:

“Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.” ~ Ruth Carter Stapleton

Possible Senate Vote on Health Care Tomorrow - Can Republicans Successfully Filibuster?

A couple of weeks ago the House passed PelosiCare, now it seems the Senate is ready to take a test vote on their own 2000+ page HarryCare-y bill. The test vote, otherwise know as a cloture vote, will determine whether the bill will be brought to the Senate floor, where it will almost certainly be passed. Senator Harry Reid has called for the vote to take place Saturday night at 8 PM.

The Democrats have 58 seats in the Senate, plus there are 2 Dem caucusing Independents. A full 60 votes is required for cloture, so all 60 will be required to bring it to debate. Several Democrats have registered their opposition to the bill based on their aversion to the pro abortion or pro public option elements. The bill is forever changing in order to garnish just enough votes. I couldn’t even tell you what it has in it, as I’ve heard conflicting reports on a daily basis: The public option is in, now it’s out, now it’s called the community option… etc. Whether or not the Senate bill has a clause to prevent federal funding of abortion the House will attempt to re-insert it when it goes to a joint committee to iron out the wrinkles between the two bills.

In any case this bill is bad for health care, bad for our economy, bad for the individual rights and liberties of U.S. citizens. This bill must be defeated!

Here’s what we need to do: GOP.com has identified 9 Democrat Senators who have signaled opposition to the HarryCare-y bill. These Senators, though opposed to the bill, may essentially allow it to pass by voting for cloture. We need to let them know that a vote for cloture is a vote for the actual bill.

Call these Senators and tell them to vote no on cloture on the health care bill Saturday night.

Update: GOP.com further identifies Senators Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson (listed below) as “critically important to defeating Saturday’s vote.” Give them special attention.

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Lieberman threatens to filibuster
Healthcare Big First Vote Saturday

What is a filibuster? From Wikipedia:

The term first came into use in the United States Senate, where Senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless a 3/5ths of the Senate (60 out of 100 Senators elected and sworn), brings debate to a close by invoking cloture. (For changing of senate rules the pre-1975 rule of a super-majority of senators present, i.e. 67 senators at most, is still used).

In current practice, Senate Rule 22 permits filibusters in which actual continuous floor speeches are not required, although the Senate Majority Leader may require an actual traditional filibuster if he or she so chooses. This threat of a filibuster where no floor speech and no quorum is required may, therefore, be more powerful than an actual filibuster, which would require attendance by a quorum of Senators as well as the physical presence of the Senators speaking.

Previously, the filibustering senator(s) could delay voting only by making an endless speech. Currently, they only need to indicate that they are filibustering, thereby preventing the Senate from moving on to other business until the motion is withdrawn or enough votes are gathered for cloture.

Preparations for a traditional filibuster can be very elaborate. Sometimes cots are brought into the hallways or cloakrooms for senators to sleep on. While in a filibuster the senator talking must remain in the same spot and is only allowed to filibuster twice in a legislative day. A legislative day lasts until the debate is adjourned, which can take days. According to Newsweek:

They used to call it ‘taking to the diaper,’ a phrase that referred to the preparation undertaken by a prudent senator before an extended filibuster. Strom Thurmond visited a steam room before his filibuster in order to dehydrate himself so he could drink without urinating. An aide stood by in the cloakroom with a pail in case of emergency.

Filibusters have become much more common in recent decades. Twice as many filibusters took place in the 1991-1992 legislative session as took place in the entire nineteenth century.

~Nate G.