Friday, January 18, 2013

Whole Foods CEO: Obamacare not “socialism,” it’s “fascism”

Whole Foods has played a key role in propelling organic foods into the mainstream. The specialty supermarket chain has more than 300 stores and plans to continue expanding. But outspoken founder and co-CEO John Mackey is not the crunchy granola liberal one might conjure while perusing aisles of earnestly labeled blue corn chips and gently misted red peppers.

In fact, he's a self-styled libertarian: a vegan who sells sustainably raised meat, a man who compares the government's health care overhaul to "fascism" but wants to improve American diets.

And he thinks big businesses have an obligation to change customers' perception that big corporations are "primarily selfish and greedy." (Not that he's opposed to profits. In fact, Whole Foods posted a 49 percent boost in quarterly earnings in November.)

What he doesn't think is right is President Obama's health overhaul and the new costs that coverage requirements will place on businesses.  When Inskeep asks him if he still thinks the health law is a form of socialism, as he's said before, Mackey responds:

"Technically speaking, it's more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it — and that's what's happening with our health care programs and these reforms."

Still, Mackey sees room to cooperate with the administration on another front: efforts to reform the American diet, a pet project of first lady Michelle Obama.



An Imperial President

One definition of "imperial" on is, "of the nature or rank of an emperor or supreme ruler."  At his news conference Monday, a petulant, threatening and confrontational President Obama spoke like an emperor or supreme ruler. All that was missing was a scepter, a crown and a robe trimmed in ermine.

This president exceeds even Bill Clinton in his ability to evade, prevaricate and dissemble. I didn't think that possible.

Not only did he supply long answers to relatively easy questions, but much of what he said bore no relation to reality.

He spoke of having had the debate over the economy during the 2012 campaign and boasted, "...the American people agreed with me." By the way, can we now retire the phrase "the American people"? Too many politicians overuse it, including Speaker John Boehner. Forty-seven percent of voters supported Mitt Romney and other Republicans in the last election. Ninety-four million people eligible to vote didn't vote. Can Obama really claim "the American people" agreed with him? The president won the election, but he has yet to win the debate over smaller vs. larger government, and more vs. less spending.

The question Major Garrett of CBS News posed to the president on raising the debt ceiling in tandem with spending cuts exposed his hypocrisy and that of many congressional Democrats: "You yourself, as a member of the Senate, voted against a debt ceiling increase. And in previous aspects of American history, President Reagan in 1985, President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1990, President Clinton in 1997, all signed deficit-reduction deals that were contingent upon or in the context of raising the debt ceiling. You yourself, four times have done that. Three times, those were related to deficit reduction or budget maneuvers. What Chuck (NBC's Chuck Todd) and I and, I think, many people are curious about is this new adamant desire on your part not to negotiate when that seems to conflict with the entire history of the modern era of American presidents on the debt ceiling and your own history on the debt ceiling. And doesn't that suggest that we are going to go into a default situation, because no one is talking to each other about how to resolve this?"

The president dissembled, talking again (he repeated this at least three times by my count) about how Congress had authorized all the spending and how we must now "pay our bills." But as Garrett noted, the president had a different view of the debt ceiling when he was an Illinois senator and voted against raising it. In 2006, he said, "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure." Except when he's the leader, then it's someone else's failure.

In 2003, during another debate over raising the debt ceiling, Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT, said, "The federal debt is like the family credit card. Sooner or later you have to pay down the debts that you have already incurred. If you don't, your credit rating will suffer. The way the government raises the debt limit is also like a family who just keeps calling the bank every time they hit the credit limit and asks the bank over and over again for an increase in their credit limit without regard to anything else. Rather than pay down their debt, they just keep on asking for a higher debt limit."

Many other Senate Democrats, including Senators Harry Reid, D-NV, and John Kerry, D-MA, shared Baucus' concerns, but that was during the George W. Bush administration.

The president says he will reduce debt with a "balanced approach," by which he means offsetting higher taxes on the wealthy with spending cuts, which will never materialize. It won't work. Whatever tax revenue government manages to save, Congress will always find a way to spend it.

The president has submitted a budget to Congress for each fiscal year he's been in office, not always on time, in violation of the law, and never without spurring contentious debate in Congress. That's a staggering repudiation of his leadership.

President Obama will not negotiate about raising the debt ceiling? Not surprising. Imperial leaders don't negotiate.



Obama's Ruling Class

President Obama has spent a lot of time excoriating the "rich" who refuse to pay "their fair share."  It's a transparent effort to divide and conquer Americans based on wealth -- as transparent as his hostility to those who prosper as a result of their own hard work and initiative (of course "you didn't build that"!).

But don't misunderstand: President Obama isn't really interested in "leveling." everyone.  He's simply determined to establish a different hierarchy of privilege -- one which, conveniently, puts him at the top. In Obama's America, there shouldn't be "rich" and "poor," don't you know.

But it's increasingly clear that he has no problem with making invidious distinctions between the "important" people (i.e., those in government) and the "ordinary" people.  It has nothing to do with (evil) money, and everything to do with power over others.  It's a literal "Ruling Class" -- and for the most part, you can't just work hard and get ahead to gain access to it.  You've got to join up with Big Government.

If you're "important," your children attend schools with plenty of armed guards.  If you're "ordinary," your children attend school in "gun free zones."

If you're "important," your average pension is 2-3 times what a retiring private sector executive with a comparable salary could expect to get.  If you're "ordinary," you get what you get.

If you're "important," you're part of FEHB, which offers a variety of excellent, competitively-priced health insurance plans with different menus of benefits.  If you're "ordinary," you get ObamaCare.

If you're "important" (like Dianne Feinstein) and you fear assassination by a terrorist group, you have easy access to a weapon for concealed carry.  But if you're just an "ordinary" woman who fears being murdered at the hands of a stalker or a crazy ex-husband, you'd better hope you can run the regulatory gauntlet before he catches up with you.

If you're "important," you make more money for doing less work.  If you're "ordinary," you're lucky to have a job.

As for himself personally, a guy who's so hostile to those who have "built" something in the business world, President Obama seems to have no problem enjoying the cushy vacations, private planes and other perks that far exceed what almost any corporate titan enjoys.  But then, he's "important" -- which means, rather than having earned the money he spends so lavishly, the taxpayers have the honor of subsidizing him.



Chris Christie Explains the Difference Between a Functioning Democracy and Washington

The article below extols compromise but for that to work both sides have to bend.  The Federal donks show no sign of it

If you want to understand the difference between a functioning democracy and Washington, listen to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: "I wake up every morning knowing that even though I think I'm right," the GOP governor said today, "I'm not going to get everything I want."

In Washington, compromise has become a dirty word. With gridlock the norm, Congress's approval rating is below 10 percent and the public has lost faith in its national leadership. The Republican Party emerged from the November elections with a particularly intense image problem.

Christie, whose approval rating tops 70 percent, acutely analyzed Washington's problem on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He said it's partly structural: Sophisticated redistricting has produced a generation of Democratic and GOP lawmakers whose only worry is appeasing extreme elements in the parties. It's also cultural: For numerous reasons, Republicans and Democrats in Washington no longer put a premium on building relationships.

"This is the place where the president has been the most deficient," Christie said, echoing an analyses I wrote yesterday on Obama's charm deficit.

In his State of the State address on Tuesday, the governor sought to set himself above partisan bickering. He declared New Jersey a model for bipartisanship, which is a bit of a stretch but a politically savvy one to make.

“Maybe the folks in Washington, in both parties, could learn something from our record here,” said Christie, who angered some Republicans by embracing Obama in the immediate aftermath of superstorm Sandy, in the closing days of the presidential campaign.

Standing before a Democratic-controlled Legislature, Christie said, “Let’s put aside accusations and false charges for purely political advantage. Let’s work together to honor the memories of those lost in Sandy. Let’s put the needs of our most victimized citizens ahead of the partisan politics of the day.”

This is not the first time I've written in praise of Christie so I want to make something clear: He is not the perfect leader. His record is middling (the state's unemployment rate, at 9.6 percent, is among the highest in the country). Ideologically, on a national stage, he may be too conservative for moderate voters. And he can be a bully.

But the New Jersey governor is a potential presidential candidate because his rhetoric speaks to the times: Millions of Americans are being left behind by the new economy; they're losing faith in institutions that are suppose to protect them, starting with government; they are empowered, thanks to the Internet and other technologies, unlike any other time in human history to enforce their will on failed institutions; and, finally, Americans want answers to the big unsolved problems including the national debt, gun violence, and climate change.

They want their leaders to lead.

Christie represents the gubernatorial wing of his party that, unlike Republicans in Washington, understands that nothing happens in a democracy unless rivals work to find ways that they can both win. While the GOP in Washington lost the November elections, Republican governors picked up a state capital seat because, Christie said, "we're compromising when we need to."

You see, it's not a dirty word.



No point in buying health insurance under Obama

We are a little less than a year away from Obamacare’s individual mandate becoming the latest tax you will be forced to deal with and already there is trouble in the air with whether or not the law will work.

The mandate says that you must purchase health insurance or else face a fee. That fee, which the Supreme Court ruled was a tax when it upheld the law as constitutional last summer, is considerably smaller than the cost of purchasing health care.

In 2014, the first year that the tax will be collected, the tax is $95. It will increase to $325 or 2 percent of your income in 2015. In 2016, it will increase to its highest amount of $695 or 2.5 percent of your income. Even at its highest point, the tax is cheaper than health care in some cases.

And that fact is scaring many of the people that designed and are in the process of implementing this fatally flawed system.

For Obamacare to work as they claim it would, many more healthy people than sick people need to be paying health care companies for coverage. The more money healthy people spend on coverage makes it possible for the companies to cover the sick.

But many of the uninsured healthy people would probably opt to pay the tax, which is lower than the cost of coverage. This is causing many health care providers and those in the Obama administration to worry that there is not enough incentive to take part in the new system, the result of which could be increased taxes and more fees as well as a spike in the cost of health care coverage.

Many opposed to Obamacare warned about this result. The incentive structure created by such a system would only result in ever increasing penalties to ensure that enough healthy people subsidize the unhealthy people.

As the masterminds behind this system are discovering — even before the system is up and operational — they have no clue how to get the healthy people to participate without increasing the taxes for abstaining from purchasing health care to a higher rate than the cost of health care coverage.

What this whole failure before launch exposes is that incentives matter and that government does not fully comprehend that simple fact. Creating a system where people are forced to purchase a product by penalizing them if they don’t — and the penalty is cheaper than buying the product — it’s odd that they would just now realize that people will pay the penalty.

After all, Obamacare forces insurance companies to insure those with pre-existing conditions, so you only have to buy health care when you need it. It makes little sense to purchase health care when you can go the cheaper route of purchasing only when you need it.

Linda Blumberg, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center said the following to Politico about the incentive structure that the government faces when trying to sell ObamaCare to the young and healthy: “If you have a positive outreach campaign with the message, ‘Here they are, here are the exchanges, here’s affordable coverage, come and get it.’ Isn’t that more effective than, ‘Come and get it or we’re going to come get you?”

We are about to find out which route is more effective as the government attempts to make Obamacare a success. It is much more likely that they will use the tax system to correct their mistake than use a message of come and buy a product you don’t yet need.

So get ready, Obamacare’s first failure won’t cost the government money, just you as the taxes are increased and the cost of health care rises.




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