Friday, March 07, 2014

Budget Baloney

John Stossel

This week, President Barack Obama proposed "a budget that will create new jobs in manufacturing and energy and innovation and infrastructure, and we'll pay for every dime of it by cutting unnecessary spending, closing wasteful tax loopholes!"

What? I must have fallen asleep and woken up in 2008. That could not be something he'd claim after five years in office -- years after making similar claims and not delivering on them.

Does he think we have no memory, or that we're just ignorant? Are these just poll-tested phrases that work because most voters are too busy to pay attention?

This one smug sentence alone is amazing in its confidence and deceit. Let's break it down:

--"I will ... create new jobs ... "

Politicians always say that, but this president says it especially often. Do voters not know that government has no money of its own, so when politicians "create" jobs, they take money from the private sector, the only group that creates real jobs?

I emphasize "real" because, of course, politicians can create jobs by funding companies like Solyndra, hiring more staff or paying people to dig holes and fill them up. But those jobs don't last or create real wealth. Politicians can't create real employment by taxing people and giving the money to others.

This post-recession economic recovery is the slowest ever. Usually, after a recession, the cost of labor drops, and companies rush to hire so they can profit as the economy improves.

This time, employers looked at a thousand new regulations, unknowable new rules and taxes coming from Obamacare, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Labor Department and so on. They decided: "I better not try."

May I hire interns to see if I like them before offering them long-term jobs? No. It may not be legal to employ interns anymore.

May I build a pipeline? Maybe. But the Environmental Protection Agency must approve. And state utilities. And state environmental officials. And the State Department. And the White House. And ... who knows whom else?

We might get permission in a year, or three years, or five, or we may never be allowed to build. Maybe instead I'll invest in a country where the rules are predictable and understandable.

--The president says he will "create new jobs in manufacturing ... "

Manufacturing? Don't voters know that service jobs are just as real and good? Creating software, movies and medical innovation is just as valuable as manufacturing and often more comfortable for workers. Most parents want their kids to get jobs in offices or medical centers rather than mines or factories.

--The president also says he will "create new jobs in ... energy ... "

Don't people remember Solar One, Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, etc., and the billions lost? That the private sector is better at developing new forms of energy than politicians? That the boom in cleaner, cheaper natural gas came in spite of politicians, not because of them?

--The president says he will "create jobs in ... infrastructure ... "

Did voters already forget that the last "shovel-ready" jobs didn't materialize? That billions went to politicians' cronies?

--The president will pay for his new spending "by cutting unnecessary spending ... "

Give me a break. The president has had five years, two of which he was supported by a Democratic Congress, to cut "unnecessary spending."

Even today's proposed shrinking of the size of the military to pre-World War II levels (which probably won't happen) isn't a cut. Obama's new budget proposes increasing Pentagon funds by $28 billion.

--The president even backed off from his earlier commitment to use more realistic cost-of-living adjustments when calculating Social Security payments.

--Most annoying, the president brags that he has "reduced the deficit at the fastest rate in 60 years."

But that's only if compared to his and former President George W. Bush's blowout stimulus of 2008. Much of the deficit reduction came from spending cuts (sequestration), which the president himself opposed, forced by Republicans. And his 2015 budget proposes $56 billion more spending than he and Congress had agreed to earlier.

Our debt will soon explode because baby boomers are about to retire. On this track, we are doomed.



The Inevitability of Obamacare for Illegal Aliens

By Michelle Malkin

You knew it was coming. I knew it was coming. When government expands entitlements, illegal aliens always end up with a piece of the pie. Obamacare promoters relented to GOP pressure to include an illegal alien ban on eligibility and vowed endlessly that no benefits would go to the "undocumented." But denial isn't just a river in Egypt. It's the Obama way.

In Oregon this week, officials confessed that nearly 4,000 illegal immigrants had been "accidentally" steered from the state's low-income Medicaid program and instead were enrolled in Obamacare in violation of the law. Oopsie. The Oregonian newspaper's Nick Budnick reported that the health bureaucrats "discovered the problem several weeks ago and are correcting it." Get in line. The beleaguered Cover Oregon health insurance exchange has been riddled with ongoing problems, errors and glitches since last October that have yet to be fixed.

Take note: This wasn't a one-time computer meltdown. Because Oregon's health insurance exchange website has been offline and its software architects under investigation for possible fraud, the Oregon Obamacare drones have been processing each and every application manually. That means nearly 4,000 illegal alien applications with "inaccurate" data somehow passed through government hands and somehow ended up getting routed through as new enrollees with Obamacare-approved full-service health care.

How many Obamacare services did these nearly 4,000 illegal aliens avail themselves of, and at what cost?

Does anyone believe the same incompetent boobs who enrolled them will be able to track down the nearly 4,000 illegal alien beneficiaries, "correct" the "errors" and ensure that it doesn't happen again?

What a slap in the face to the millions of law-abiding Americans who have lost their health care coverage and work hours thanks to Democratic-sponsored federal health care regulatory burdens and mandate costs.

One Oregon Obamacare manager defended the unlawful illegal alien enrollment by explaining: "We were just getting people into the services." And there's the rub. The imperative of these government social engineers is to herd as many "clients" into taxpayer-subsidized programs as possible. Just last week, Obama's Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson publicized an open letter to families with illegal alien relatives promising that no one would be deported for seeking Obamacare services.

"No one in America who is eligible should be afraid to apply for health coverage because they have a family with mixed status," Johnson assured. And in another sign of how the White House is still planning for mass illegal alien amnesty, Johnson also made clear: "Enrolling in health coverage ... will not prevent your loved ones who are undocumented from getting a green card in the future or who do not yet have a green card at risk."

As always, California Democrats are at the forefront of busting open Obamacare for the illegal alien population. Earlier this month, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara introduced a bill to extend health benefits and a special online marketplace to one million illegals under an Obamacare-style program subsidized by state taxpayer dollars.

In case you forgot, President Obama had already paved the path for illegal alien Obamacare when he signed the massive expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) in 2009. As I've reported previously, the law loosened eligibility requirements for legal immigrants and their children by watering down document and evidentiary standards — making it easy for individuals to use fake Social Security cards to apply for benefits with little to no chance of getting caught. In addition, Obama's S-CHIP expansion revoked Medicaid application time limits that were part of the 1996 welfare reform law.

Open-borders activists saw those provisions as first steps toward universal health coverage for illegals. They see America as the medical welcome mat to the world. Over the past year, they've ratcheted up public protests demanding free organ transplants for illegal alien patients. In Chicago last fall, they marched on a hospital with caskets and posters demanding scarce organs. One illegal alien blasted authorities for putting "paper over our lives." In California, illegal alien transplant patients count on federal incompetence and lax enforcement to abet them, because if they notify the state that DHS "is aware of their presence and does not plan to deport them," they are eligible for full-blown Medi-Cal coverage, according to the state.

Now, Obamacare peddlers from Oregon to New York and all points in between are rushing to sign up new "customers" in advance of the March 31 open enrollment deadline. How many more thousands of illegal aliens will be roped into the system? Remember: In the lexicon of the left, "accidental" is just another word for inevitable entitlement creep.



Obama's fantasy Middle East

by Jeff Jacoby

IN BARACK OBAMA'S Middle East, the explanation for the persistent lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is clear: It's Bibi Netanyahu's fault. Things would be so much easier if only the Israeli prime minister would bite the bullet.

"One of the things my mom always used to tell me … is if there's something you know you have to do, even if it's difficult or unpleasant, you might as well just go ahead and do it, because waiting isn't going to help," Obama said in a Bloomberg interview published just before Netanyahu's arrival in Washington this week. "This is not a situation where you wait and the problem goes away," he warned. The Israeli leader had better "seize the moment" to finalize a peace deal with the Palestinians, or prepare for a painful global backlash that the United States will be powerless to stop. Stop building settlements across the Green Line, give the Palestinians the state they demand, or "our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited."

Sound familiar? Only too. This is the fantasy Middle East, in which peace is the responsibility of the Israelis alone, and Palestinian rejectionism is merely an excuse for the Jewish state to drag its feet. It is part of a larger fantasy world — one in which revanchist Russian rulers sweetly change their policies at the push of a "reset" button, and in which a brutal Syrian regime swears off chemical weapons for fear of crossing an American "red line."

In this wishful environment, there is a robust Palestinian peace camp eager for a two-state solution: a sovereign state of Palestine coexisting in harmony beside the Jewish state of Israel. If that lovely solution hasn't materialized, it can only be due to unlovely stubbornness on the part of the Israelis and their elected leader. After all, the Palestinian leader is the peace-loving Mahmoud Abbas, who, Obama says, is so "sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist" and "committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts."

But that is true only in the make-believe Middle East. In the real Middle East, it is Netanyahu who unilaterally halted settlement construction for 10 months — an unprecedented goodwill gesture — and whose Cabinet indicated last month that it would swallow its qualms and accept John Kerry's framework for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The real Abbas, on the other hand, spurned Israel's offer of a Palestinian state in 2008, then refused for years to take part in US-sponsored talks with Israel, confident that Washington would pressure Israel into making painful concessions in order to lure the Palestinians back to the table. Those concessions eventually included the release of dozens of convicted Palestinian murderers, who were hailed by Abbas as "heroes" at an event celebrating their release. Yet instead of negotiating in good faith at last, Abbas demands still more up-front concessions, a demand he repeated on Monday.

The delusion at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is that the lack of Palestinian sovereignty is what keeps the conflict alive, and that the tension and violence would end if only the Arabs of Palestine could have a state of their own.

That has never been true. What drives the conflict is not a hunger for Palestinian statehood, but a deep-rooted rejection of Jewish statehood. Arab leaders vehemently rejected the "two-state solution" that the United Nations recommended in 1947, and declared a "war of extermination" to prevent it from taking effect. Nearly 70 years later, the Palestinians are still unwilling to acknowledge Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people — to recognize that Jews are entitled to a sovereign state in their national homeland, just as the Irish are entitled to sovereignty in Ireland, the Italians in Italy, and the Japanese in Japan.

Yet Palestinian leaders heatedly insist that they will never agree to any such thing. "This is out of the question," Abbas said last month. Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat complains: "When you say, 'Accept Israel as a Jewish state,' you are asking me to change my narrative."

Just so. That narrative — that Jews are aliens in the Middle East, and Jewish sovereignty over any territory is intolerable — is precisely what must change if this conflict is to be resolved. Bashing Netanyahu may please the anti-Israel set, but it brings a just and lasting peace not one hour closer.



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