The Obamacare Straightjacket By Conn Carroll

“My proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions – families, businesses, and the federal government,” President Obama said in early March 2010 before Obamacare became law. Controlling health care spending was supposed to be one of the major benefits of Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment. Hard-core liberals like University of California at Berkeley professor Brad DeLong still claim to this day that Obamacare is a deficit reduction plan. But if the debt limit fight we just had proves anything, it is that the right, center, and all but the far-left, all agree that Obamacare will not drive health care costs down, but will in fact make them increase.

One expects House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to write, as he does in today’s Wall Street Journal, “We are already seeing evidence that its maze of mandates, dictates, controls and tax hikes will actually push costs even further in the wrong direction.” And it is not that surprising to read National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson write, “If we can’t find a way to slow the rapid rise of health care costs, they will drive this country to bankruptcy.” But what is noteworthy is to see The New York Times admit, “Indeed, both the government and its debts will continue to grow faster than the American economy, primarily because the new [debt limt] law does not address federal spending on health care.”

Obamacare has completely trapped the Democrats on fiscal policy. In order to pay for Obamacare’s trillions of dollars in new spending, they had to raise taxes by $500 and raid Medicare by another $500 billion. As a result, all the low-hanging revenue and spending fruit are already gone. As even The Washington Post Ezra Klein admits, the Democrats must now argue for higher taxes, and not just on the wealthy. In order to pay for all their entitlement programs, the middle class is going to have to pay more, too. But Ezra can admit this because he doesn’t have to win elections; Democrats in public offices do. That is the reason you haven’t seen a Democratic budget since Obamacare became law and it is the reason you will not see another one till at least 2013.

Source: Washington Examiner

Spare Us the Sermons, Mr. President By Victor Davis Hanson

During the recent debt crisis, President Obama talked about the need for bipartisan compromise and, as in the past, urged civility. Giving ground and engaging in polite discourse, of course, can be noble aims. But, like most one-eyed-jack politicians, Obama has rarely embraced the admirable qualities he advocates — a fact increasingly evident to a skeptical public.

In 2006, then-Senator Obama voted against the Bush administration’s request to raise the debt ceiling — when the national debt was about 60 percent of what it is now. He did not show up for similar votes in 2007 and 2008. In that regard, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opposed every request when Republicans were in control of the Senate to raise the debt ceiling. Of course, such an unthinking party-line voter is exactly the sort of partisan senator or congressman that President Obama now deplores.

In fact, in 2007 the National Journal found that Obama’s voting record was the most partisan in the entire U.S. Senate — further to the hard-line left than the Senate’s only self-described socialist, Bernie Sanders, more predictably partisan than even the most consistently conservative senator that year, Jim DeMint. At the time, Senator Obama unapologetically wished to advance a hardcore liberal agenda, and he saw no reason to backtrack from it or compromise on it.

President Obama has repeatedly derided the sort of Republican partisanship that led the current minority party in the Senate to filibuster some of his appointments — most prominently his nomination of Goodwin Liu to the federal bench. But Senator Obama not long ago strongly advocated such partisan obstructionism when out of power he praised the filibuster as much as he now deplores it while in power. Indeed, he joined a filibuster to deny votes on the nominations of both Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court and John Bolton to the U.N. ambassadorship.

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NAACP and EPA would inflict heat prostration and death by Niger Innis and Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr

This kind of “environmental justice” we can do without .

From New York, Washington and Atlanta to Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas, America is baking in a furnace. As millions swelter and gasp, they thank their lucky stars for air-conditioned cars, homes, offices and other places of refuge. And for the reliable, affordable electricity that makes AC possible.

Previous generations weren’t so fortunate. When a record heat wave slammed the nation in July 1936, Midwest temperatures hit 100-107 for a week. With most homes and businesses lacking even fans in this pre-AC era, millions suffered heat prostration. In Wisconsin, 449 died. Nationwide, thousands perished.

Now the EPA and NAACP want to send America back to the “good old days.” Under a perverse notion of “environmental justice,” they are promoting tough new air quality rules that would shut down dozens of coal-fired power plants that make affordable AC possible for millions of poor and minority families.

According to them, coal-based electricity is “racist.” Minorities are more at risk because they often live near “dangerous,” older, more polluting power plants.

There is no excuse for the ridiculous “racism” and “justice” rhetoric, or the way EPA used cherry-picked data and computer models to conjure up health risks and benefits that exist only in virtual worlds. (Visit www.AffordablePowerAlliance.org for details.) Worse, the agency refused to consider the disastrous effects its draconian regulations will impose on families and businesses, due to skyrocketing electricity prices.

EPA’s rules will reduce electricity availability and send costs soaring 12% to 60% by 2015 – especially in the 26 states that depend on coal for 48-98% of their electricity. Families and businesses in those states currently pay less than half as much per kilowatt hour as those in low-coal, high-tax, hyper-regulated states. That means jobs, profits, balanced budgets – and protection against life-threatening heat and cold.

Under EPA/NAACP rules, all that would end. Power plant closures will cause deadly electricity shortages during periods of peak demand. Millions of poor and minority families will be unable to afford air conditioning when electricity is available. Our elderly will be particularly at risk, especially in inner cities, because energy costs hit them disproportionately and they are least able to survive heat and heatstroke.

This summer’s blistering heat wave is a forecast for what lies ahead. Dozens have already died, including a Kansas man who had air conditioning but was concerned about paying his electricity bill, and so didn’t turn it on. How many more will face this life-or-death choice, after the EPA and NAACP succeed in closing power plants and driving electricity prices through the roof, no one can say. But in Chicago, a 1995 heat wave killed 700 people – and local papers predict a 40-60% price hike by 2015.

Shops, restaurants, groceries, dry cleaners and bakeries will see electric bills soar by thousands a year. Hospitals, school districts, internet providers, hotels and factories will be forced to pay tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions in added electricity costs. Factories that now pay $1 million for electricity could see an extra $600,000 added to their annual operating costs.

Each $30,000 increment is equal to another entry-level job that won’t be “created or saved.”

Chicago public schools will need an extra $2.7 million a year for electricity by 2014, the Chicago Tribune has reported. That translates into dozens of terminated sports programs, teachers and administrators.
Steel and paper mills, aluminum and petroleum refineries, car and aircraft factories will see annual electricity costs soar by millions of dollars.

That could mean massive layoffs and entire operations shuttered or moved overseas. Management Information Services calculates that EPA’s rules will cost six Midwestern manufacturing states a combined 3.5 million jobs and $42-82 billion in annual GDP.

Do the EPA and NAACP suppose their rules will end heat waves? Or that unemployed workers and their families will be better able to afford air conditioning the next time temperatures climb above 100 degrees? Or that newly impoverished state and local governments will be better able to provide energy welfare – perhaps via another $1 trillion in federal debt?

Power plant emissions have been falling for decades. They have hardly morphed into a health-threatening crisis that suddenly justifies this EPA power grab and power plant shutdown. There is no basis for imposing stratospheric electricity costs that will kill millions more jobs – and put millions more people at risk from heat stroke and other ravages of government-inflicted poverty.

It would be nice if we could wave a magic wand and find billions of dollars to tear down and replace older power plants – or retrofit them with new pollution control and monitoring equipment, cover the extra annual operating and maintenance expenses, pay for “stranded investments” from facilities that will be shuttered long before the end of their useful life, and build or upgrade transmission lines from new power plants, wind farms and solar arrays.

It would be wonderful if wind and solar facilities could actually replace the NAACP and EPA’s detested coal-burning power plants – without needing billions in federal subsidies, duplicative gas-fired backup generators, thousands of miles of new transmission lines, hundreds of thousands of acres, and millions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass and rare earth metals.

It would be fabulous if they actually generated electricity anywhere near their rated capacity and worked 24/7/365, instead of maybe 8/5/300 – and their electricity didn’t cost three times the coal-based alternative.

It would be incredible if EPA permit quagmires and environmentalist lawsuits did not stymie virtually every proposal for new coal, gas and nuclear power plants, transmission lines, natural gas drilling, and even wind farms and photovoltaic arrays, to replace coal-fired generators.

But that is not the world we live in.

Instead, we remain bogged down in an interminable recession, with intractable unemployment. We have incurred monumental debt. We have created a morass of legislation, regulation and litigation that ensures old power plants will be gone, replacements won’t be built anytime soon, and “smart meters” will let bureaucrats shut off AC power anytime electricity demand exceeds supply. We are killing jobs, businesses, investment and innovation – and will soon be killing our own citizens.

America’s workers, poor and minorities now face the prospect of skyrocketing energy prices and even more unemployment – accompanied by recurrent blackouts, rolling brownouts, misery, heatstroke, and unnecessary deaths during future heat waves.

One shudders to think that NAACP is so misguided, so ideologically hidebound, so beholden to government grants that it cannot recognize this – or realize it is the NAACP and EPA that are inflicting “energy racism” and “environmental injustice” on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

Reliable, affordable energy is the foundation for jobs, modern living standards, health, opportunity and civil rights progress. The NAACP needs to join the Affordable Power Alliance and Congress of Racial Equality in protecting Americans against further job losses and future heat waves.
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Innis and Jackson are co-chairs of the Affordable Power Alliance, a coalition of civil rights, religious and social issues groups representing African American, Hispanic, poor and elderly constituents.

Obama’s Top Four Power Grabs

The president stretches executive power to expand the warfare state and the regulatory state.

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