Category: National (Page 2 of 18)

Conservatives Need to Undo President Obama’s Damage to the Internet

What would you say if I told you that the federal government took an 80-year-old law, originally passed in order to regulate apples, and instead applied it today to oranges—rather than simply draft a new law specifically for oranges?

That’s far beyond the pale even for the feds, right?

Yet in 2015, that is exactly what happened. Let’s rewind to 1934, when Congress passed the Communications Act in order to address the growing network of telephones. Among other things, the law outlined provisions to regulate the Bell System as a “public utility.”

Eight decades later, President Obama and his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief, Tom Wheeler, decided that very same law—written years before all but the most rudimentary computers even existed—would work just fine for the federal government to get its hands on the internet.

How ridiculous. It’s not just that this tactic was a regulatory non-sequitur, or that very few people consider the internet to be a public utility in any way, but it was clearly a cynical, abusive end around of Congress well-established constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce. It isn’t hyperbole to say this amounted to an attempted government takeover of the internet.

The Administration’s excuse for these rules at the time was to implement so-called net neutrality principles. But that doesn’t change the fact that the internet has almost nothing in common with traditional public utilities.

Moreover, nearly everyone in the tech industry and public policy circles already agrees on the principles behind net neutrality, the idea that users should be able to go wherever they like online without fear of selective discrimination against different websites, internet traffic, or data via Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Those principles had never been significantly violated in the first two decades of the internet’s existence—so net neutrality was basically a solution to a problem that didn’t exist.

From the 1990s through the 2000s, investors poured billions of dollars in capital into digital services including high-speed network. The Clinton and Bush administrations realized that a hands off approach was best for the internet’s growth.  They didn’t want to interfere with the visionaries and entrepreneurs blazing trails few others could conceive of or act on. Under that light regulatory touch the internet grew our economy, created jobs,  and changed our lives immeasurably.

But in the years since President Obama designated the internet a public utility, investment in broadband networks has declined by 5 percent. What would happen to our economy over the long term if the internet remains a public utility open to government meddling?

There are two ways to undo the damage the Obama administration did.

First, we need conservatives in Washington to stand up and take on the issue of overzealous net neutrality by rolling back Obama Era regulations that are jeopardizing the future of the internet. President Trump’s FCC chairman is doing that now.

But, additionally, Republicans in Congress also need to codify a free-market based, legislative solution that locks in basic standards of net neutrality while also promoting continued private-sector investment and innovation and in so doing prevents further shenanigans by the next Democratic president.

The Democrats’ #1 Political Strategy

If Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell actually believe the things they tweet, they may be the stupidest people around, lacking sufficient intellectual depth to understand any topic at more than a surface level.

And that’s if I’m being nice.

The other possibility is that they’re shameless partisan hacks*, mindlessly spouting off leftist talking points regardless of the truth. In other words, they’re liars.

For example, last Thursday, the Senate voted on whether or not to allow states, at the discretion of their own legislatures, to withhold Title X funds from family planning clinics that provide abortions. Basically, the vote allows states to choose not to use that federal money to fund Planned Parenthood. That’s it. That’s all the vote authorized. Not a single thing else.

Federalism is good, right?

Not according to Murray and Cantwell, who apparently don’t trust states to make the “right” decision. You know, the decision that agrees with them. So they were going on about the Title X vote as though every woman in America has suddenly been cut off from access to any health care whatsoever. Or as Patty Murray says…ZOMG, Women will die and Mike Pence is the devil!

Let me state this as clearly as I can. If Planned Parenthood values providing other kinds of services more than they value providing abortions, they can simply stop doing abortions and reduce the risk of losing Title X funds to zero. But they won’t, which makes it seem as though Planned Parenthood is unnaturally attached to providing a service which makes up, as they claim, only 3% of their business.

If last week’s vote accomplishes nothing other than to allow the states to disburse Title X funds, why, then, are Democrats so determined to mislead the public about it?

I recently wrote, “Democrats…repeat lies until they’re ground into the public consciousness and internalized as truth.” Democrats know that defunding Planned Parenthood is a winning issue for the GOP; therefore they must lie to try to steal the win. That they lie in ways specifically calculated to instill fear in women is particularly contemptible, because it illustrates their misogynistic belief that women are politically naive and easily manipulated. This is the basis for the entire “Republican war on women” story line.

Fear is a powerful motivator. Powerful enough to cause otherwise rational and intelligent women to march for rights they already have. Fearmongering. It’s the Democrats’ #1 strategy and it’s disgusting.


* Patty Murray reveals herself to be a shameless partisan hackMaria Cantwell reveals herself to be a shameless partisan hack

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]
[Featured image credit: DonkeyHotey, used under Creative Commons license.]

Word Games

Al Franken…what can I say. The words he says here make grammatical sense, but taken as a whole, what he’s saying is nonsensical.

I would love to hear how Franken defines “consensus,” because it must be quite different from how I define it.

In point of fact, Merrick Garland was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit by a vote of 76 to 23, although honesty forces me to note that at least some of the “no” votes were probably motivated by the belief that the 11th seat was unneccessary.

Neil Gorsuch, on the other hand, was unanimously confirmed to the 10th Circuit by a voice vote of 98-0. He was so non-controversial that 12 current senators, including vocal opponents Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray, voted for him. Call me crazy, but that seems very consensus-like to me.

Democrats like to play word games. They change the meaning of words and repeat lies until they’re ground into the public consciousness and internalized as truth. If you don’t believe that, consider that at one point, 52% of Democrats believed Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President.

Gosh, that couldn’t have had anything to do with the constant repetition by Democrat politicians and pundits that the election was “hacked.” Could it?

Word games. Al Franken is playing fast and loose with the meaning of consensus. He wasn’t a senator in 2006 so he won’t be a hypocrite like Patty Murray, but he’s still a shameless partisan hack.

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]
[Featured image contains illustration of Sen. Franken credit: DonkeyHotey, used under Creative Commons license.]

Where Does Congress’ Allegiance Lay?

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that the American Health Care Act, otherwise known as ACA-Lite has died a painful death. Good riddance.

In Donald Trump’s eulogy, he said something that caught my attention.

This was an interesting period of time. We learned a lot about loyalty and we learned about the vote getting process.”

Then I saw this on Twitter.

The two things together got me thinking.

One can only speculate what Trump had in mind when he made his remarks, but my guess is that he felt that the House Freedom Caucus had been disloyal to…himself? The party? Hard to know for sure.

Austin Scott’s meaning, however, is very clear and I’m sure his constituents would be interested to learn that he believes Congressmen owe their loyalty to the President.

Congressmen don’t take an oath to support and defend the President. If they did it would just be creepy in the same way it was creepy in 2009 when these celebrities pledged allegiance to Barack Obama.

In fact, congressmen take an oath to support and defend the Constitution. It goes like this:

I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

What I don’t see mentioned there is the President or any political party whatsoever. I propose that a congressman’s primary responsibility is to the Constitution of the United States and that is where his loyalty should be directed.

After that? Oh, there is no “after that.” A congressman should never place loyalty to a party or person, even the President of the United States, above his loyalty to the Constitution. There will be times, hopefully many – even most – times, when the interests of the President and a political party align with adherence to the Constitution. That’s great, but when they don’t the Constitution must come first.

And, yes, I mean a congressman owes his allegiance to the Constitution over his responsibility to his constituents.

So Donald Trump can trash the House Freedom Caucus all he wants…

…But in my view, they are the heroes of this story. They honored the Constitution and honored the promises they made to their constituents. I hope Trump really did learn something about the “vote getting process.” I hope he learned that the President isn’t a CEO and that Congress is in no way obligated to do his bidding.

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]
[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]

What’s in a Promise Anyway?

There’s more to replacement than one word can define

Before this week, you had to watch a drag race to witness anything accelerate as fast, careen as recklessly, and burst into flame as catastrophically as did the first Republican effort to replace the Affordable Care Act during Pres. Trump’s term in office.

Clearly, Republican leadership was not ready. Clearly, they felt pressure to fulfill the one promise that had been pounded in ad infinitum to voters in hundreds of congressional districts over four consecutive election cycles.

Promises are funny things, though. The promisor – in this case, the politicians – and the promisee – voters – should have a common understanding of the terms. The absence of mutual understanding often leads to promisees reacting to the promisor’s actions as a breach.

“Behold, promisees! We are repealing! And replacing!” proclaims the promisor, beaming with pride.

“Umm, not so much repealing by our account,” say the promisees. “And that’s not even close to how we envisioned the replacing. I think we’d call that revising, but replacing… not so much.”

“Oh,” says the promisor. “Oops.”

I don’t mean to suggest that agreeing on a complex idea such as health care reform is easy. It’s an unavoidable limitation that in a representative democracy we’re not going to get the fine print on the social contract we’re asked to extend, modify and renew at each election.

Campaign slogans are useful tools for harvesting votes, but worthless when it comes to understanding what specific policies those votes may have supported. Governing, it seems, requires more communication to get it right. It’s critical for elected representatives to check back in with the public prior to diving into the creation of a broad, sweeping policy like the AHCA.

The late Mario Cuomo’s dictum (“You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.”) comes to mind. Republicans have campaigned successfully in poetry since 2009. Last year’s devolution into a kind of right-wing beat poetry – MAGA rally chants and random thoughts of no more than 140 characters – resulted in even greater success. Transitioning to a mode of communication that embraced their new role as the governing party was never going to be easy. Decisions by many Republicans not to hold town halls during their mid-winter recess, though understandable, foreclosed opportunities to broaden understanding with constituents about the ACHA and other issues that lay ahead. The chaos generated by liberal action groups shut down the best chance for Republican members and their constituents to sync up on what the repeal and replace promise really did mean.

Not having the public forums was a rational decision where and when those choices were made, but it’s hard not to recognize that it was a choice that may have kept Republicans out of touch.

The same choice will present itself again and Republicans will need to find a way to push through. The use of technology, more meetings with smaller groups of constituents, or partnering with local media to host (and manage) town halls could be crucial ways of keeping communication active and open.

So, with all of that non-communication happening against the helpful backdrop of a daily White House circus show, it was unsurprising that the Quinnipiac poll released Thursday read like a stern note from estranged constituents: “We’re getting the feeling that we’re not on the same page anymore. Is there something you’d like to tell us?”

The poll found Republicans were predictably the most supportive of the now-decommissioned AHCA, though registering less than majority (41%) approval for the proposal. That’s an anemic lack of support from your own base on a keystone issue. Even more concerning, independent voters registered 14% approve/58% disapprove. That’s not anemic; that’s a femoral artery gashed and bleeding out if you’re a Republican in a purplish district. These are the shifting electoral shoals on which an otherwise great campaign can find itself wrecked in suburban districts across the country.

Now, there remains a promise on the table. A non-vote on an unpopular bill does not nullify that fact. Even if Trump does elect to blame Democrats and move on, that isn’t the deal the rest of the Republicans made with their voters.

Nothing should stop Republicans from discussing proposals and slowly building support through prosaic dialogue — not poetic soundbites – with constituents. Persuasion takes time, but I have a feeling that voters are ready to spend the time to get this right.

[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]

Dear Paul Ryan

Paul – can I call you Paul? – it’s a good thing you’re such a likeable guy; otherwise, I could really get to loathe you. For the past several years, you’ve been talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act. Silly me, I thought you had a plan. Instead, you introduced ACA-Lite and what a disappointment that turned out to be.

I feel like you were just stringing me along and then jilted me at the altar.

Being in denial, and what jilted bride isn’t, I watched your infomercial. You know, the one with the whiteboard? I like the way you rolled up your sleeves, to show how you were really getting down to work.

Let’s just say I remain unconvinced. Maybe the Continuous Health Insurance Coverage Incentive sounds good to you, but it sure sounds an awful lot like the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment. Maybe tax credits really are better than subsidized premiums, but not being all policy-wonkish, I’m not seeing it. It all sounds like spreading the wealth around to me.

And what was that all about when you said, “This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare?” I’ve heard something like that before…let me think…Right, I’ve got it. It was at the used car dealership, when the smarmy sales guy told me that if I went to pee, the deal was off the table.

Here’s the thing, Paul. I want to believe that AHCA is an improvement over ACA, but I haven’t found anyone yet who can explain to me why it’s better. And, let me tell you, the CBO report didn’t help you out any, despite their dubious credibility.

Your “Three Phase Plan” isn’t fooling anyone, either. “We have to pass the plan in order to find out…” Oh, wait. That was a different plan. It kind of has the same feel, though. “We have to pass this steaming pile of crap in order to get to the good stuff.” Okay, sure. I suppose Tom Price can be trusted to hold up his end of the deal, but tell me this: If you have to pass Phase 1 through reconciliation because you don’t have the votes, how do you propose to pass the legislation of Phase 3? I don’t see how that works.

So, Paul, to sell me – and probably millions of other conservatives like me – you either need to be able to explain the “benefits” of your plan in language that I can understand or you need to toss the whole thing in the trash and start over. At this point, I prefer the latter.

Love,
Me

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]
[Featured image credit: DonkeyHotey, used under Creative Commons license.]

Who Schooled the U.S. Senate?

I’m sure you all remember the fuss Senate Democrats made over the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Some of the most commonly voiced criticisms stemmed from DeVos’ lack of personal experience with public schools, either as a student or professional educator and her personal advocacy for charter schools and school vouchers.

You’d think that Democrats and other leftists would be champions of charter schools and school vouchers. Instead, one of the first things Barack Obama did as president was to end the voucher program for Washington, D.C., students, despite evidence that the program was improving performance. The Democrat-controlled Congress was silent.

It’s not that Senators don’t love private schools. In the 114th Congress, 26 of 100 Senators attended private high schools, compared to about 8% of the general population. Six of ten Democrats who questioned DeVos in committee prior to her confirmation vote were, themselves, the beneficiaries of public school educations, chose private schools for their own children, or have grandchildren attending private schools. In 2009, 45% of Senators elected to send at least one of their own children to private school.

Why is it, then, that Democrats and leftists are so opposed to charter schools and school vouchers? It could be that they’re just that beholden to the National Education Association.

Or it could be this:

Wealth has it’s privileges and those privileges are not for you and especially not for your children. If allowed a superior education*, the next generation of riffraff might presume to compete with the children of the upper crust to become the power brokers of tomorrow and that cannot be tolerated.

The Democrats and their leftist masters rely on a permanent underclass to maintain their power base. Anything that challenges that must be stopped by any means possible and than includes sacrificing future generations on the altar of public schools.

* Another advantage of the most elite private school education is the opportunity to build networks among the already-advantaged.

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]

Are You as Conservative as You Think You Are?

If you’re okay with a 30% premium penalty for not maintaining continuous health care insurance coverage, you may not be as conservative as you think you are.

If you think it’s a-okay to have to report your health insurance information to the IRS, you may not be as conservative as you think you are.

If you agree that money isn’t fungible after all, as long as the House GOP says it’s not, you may not be as conservative as you think you are.

If you’re down with the government deciding which insurance plans can be offered, you may not be as conservative as you think you are.

If you think Health Savings Accounts are the perfect one-size-fits-all solution to all our health care insurance needs, you may not be as conservative as you think you are.

If you’re cool with having the government boot on your health care, you may not be as conservative as you think you are.

So overall, if you think the House GOP “repeal and replace”plan is better than Obamacare, you may not be as conservative as you think you are.

Thanks to my friend, Brandon, for his contributions to this post.

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]

 

For Democrats, the Worst is Yet to Come

After all the no good, very bad things that happened to the Democrats during the Obama years – nine Senate seats lost, 62 House seats lost, 12 governorships lost, 958 state legislative seats lost, 32 state legislatures under total GOP control including 17 with veto-proof majorities* – there’s something even worse that could happen to them, and that’s what drives them and their allies, the hard left and the press, in their hysterical opposition to Donald J. Trump.

If you’re unconvinced their opposition is irrational, you need only to look to their behavior surrounding President Trump’s first State of the Union Address. Even before the address, they were making their feelings known. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer oppose Trump so completely they gave a “prebuttal.” I mean, that’s not knee-jerk opposition or anything. “We have no idea what he’s going to say, but we disagree with it.”

During the speech, Democrats refused to applaud the idea of America putting Americans first or for keeping America safe from radical Islamic terrorism. Then, after Trump made a moving statement about slain Navy Seal, Ryan Owens, and most of those attending were giving a two minute standing ovation to Owens’ widow, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Keith Ellison remained in their seats, stone-faced. If you’d ever wondered how partisan you have to be to disrespect the widow of a fallen warrior, now you know.

Of course the opposition didn’t start today and it won’t end tomorrow. Nearly all of President Trump’s appointments have met with stiff and sometimes outrageous opposition, such as requiring Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, to answer 837 questions…in writing. Does that sound onerous? It’s even worse, because some of the questions contained other questions, bringing the total to 1,397.

The treatment the Democrats handed Betsy DeVos was especially egregious and you might wonder why. For starters, DeVos isn’t part of the educational elite and isn’t beholden to the National Education Association. Furthermore, she’s a proponent of school choice and even though public education is an abysmal failure for African American students, for that the Democrats rejected her.

You’d think that the party that claims to be “for the children” would welcome someone with new ideas, but the truth is that Democrats fear new ideas and not just in education. New ideas could bring better outcomes and the thought of that terrifies them.

…the truth is that Democrats fear new ideas and not just in education.

Democrats have spent decades convincing the poor and minorities that the system is rigged against them and their only option in life is dependence on the federal government. Their policies make it a self-fulfilling prophecy; the coal industry is a case in point. I think of it as the audacity of hopelessness. “Maybe some people are good or smart enough to rise above their circumstances, but that’s not you,” is the message. “Here, take this moldy crust from the loaf of the American Dream; it’s the best you can do. You can thank me with your vote.”

So for Democrats, et al., the worst thing – worse than losing over 1,000 seats nationwide, worse than losing the White House – would be for things to improve under Republican leadership. And that, my friend, is the reason that Donald Trump and his entire administration must be resisted, obstructed, and vilified. In their world, it would be better to burn this Administration to the ground than for the “beneficiaries” of Democrat “largesse” to realize that they could have more than a crust.

 

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]

 

Column | Medicare Part D Keeps Doctor-Patient Control Alive and Should be Allowed to Continue

Suppose the Federal government has created a program that saves taxpayers money, promotes individual freedom, and gets a 90% satisfaction rating from the people who use it.  Should it:

(a) Bury the evidence and let nobody speak of it again;

(b) Effectively dismantle the program by adding lots of new bureaucracy and interfering with what made it work; or

(c) Learn from the success and try to duplicate it in other places?

If you chose answer (c), you’re probably a reasonable tax-paying citizen. But that won’t get you very far in Washington. All too often, what matters there isn’t results — it’s grabbing power wherever you can. You and I can see a clear case of this misdirected bureaucratic energy in the push to have the government micro-manage the lives of people who use Medicare Part D.

Part D is an endangered species: A government-sponsored program that works really well. Since it went into effect in 2006, Part D has done some remarkable things.

First, it has given patients a great deal of choice. Most states have between 20 and 30 different program plans available. Those choices give patients the wide-ranging benefits of competition for their business. It’s hard to think of any business where the quality of customer service doesn’t rise when there is more competition to serve the same customers.

The competitive forces driving private providers to serve these patients also means that Part D has consistently delivered budget savings, costing the government much less than initial expectations and keeping costs to patients well in line, too.

But the most important feature of all is that Part D puts individuals and their doctors in the lead to determine what will lead to the best health and quality-of-life outcomes for patients. It’s easy to overlook the fact that many prescription drugs are used to prevent pain, suffering, and discomfort down the road.

Whether it’s a therapeutic prescription for a condition like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, an anti-anxiety medication being used to enhance a patient’s mental health, or an antibiotic or anti-rejection drug used to help someone recover quickly and successfully from surgery, most prescriptions are used to keep bad things from happening. That saves money, which is good — but it also prevents a great deal of suffering.

For this to work, however, patients and their doctors need to be in control — not bureaucrats. The threat of growing interference by office-holders and power-seekers in Washington could topple all of the benefits that come from today’s well-functioning Medicare Part D. We have heard politicians call for government to set price controls and establish firm ceilings on how much can be spent on patient care. But the big picture is that bureaucratic manipulation of prescription prices is nothing but window dressing. Proposals to force Pharmaceutical companies to pay a ‘rebate’ of up to 40% of their drug sales to Medicare is nothing more than a tax that will drive up the cost of prescriptions and insurance for seniors.

Part D works because of competition, not Washington pencil-pushing. The more government seeks to manipulate and take command over the program, the less patients will benefit from the power of competition. The cure to health-care costs isn’t to drive more decision-making to government, but to stay out of the way of patients and their doctors so they can use whatever therapies make the most sense to prevent illness and disease. Today’s Medicare Part D does that. It should continue to do so tomorrow.

 

Nansen Malin is a political activist living in SW Washington State. She is the former Americans for Prosperity WA State Director and is active in social media.

 

[photo credit: alexraths, depositphotos.com]

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