Thursday, April 06, 2017

‘Shameful’ Media Defense of Susan Rice in Unmasking Scandal

 Liberals in the media are scrambling to cover for the revelation that Barack Obama’s former National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, unmasked Donald Trump associates in classified intelligence. Media Research Center President Brent Bozell issued the following statement:

“The liberal media’s ‘nothing to see here’ approach to Susan Rice’s politically-motivated unmasking of Trump associates in sensitive intelligence material is shameful. You’d think someone who lied to the press and the American people about her role in the unmasking just two weeks ago would invite more scrutiny. We have a smoking gun that points to criminal activity by President Obama’s national security advisor and the media have shown an utter lack of interest in pursuing the story. If this story is not a top priority for every news outlet, they are aiding and abetting a cover-up. President Trump has every right to be furious with the press and the American people have every reason to be disgusted."



Limited Government is Important -- and Trump is actually limiting it

Fewer than 70 days into the new administration and some in the media are already writing and talking about the "do-nothing" Congress and presidential administration, which critics allege have yet to accomplish anything significant.

Regardless of what you might hear from their critics, you shouldn't believe these baseless accusations. In less than three months, President Trump and Congress have done a lot. Most of their early actions are getting relatively no attention, however, which is occurring for a number of reasons, including the fact most members of the mainstream media are big-government liberals who dislike Mr. Trump and Congress for what they've achieved.

The laws passed and executive orders issued by Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans are substantially different than those actions taken by most previous administrations. Rather than expand the size and scope of the federal government, Mr. Trump and the GOP have worked to reduce government's influence on society - in large part by reversing or blocking "midnight" regulations enacted by Obama administration officials before they finally made their way out the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January.

Republicans have long-claimed their party is the champion of limited government, but since Ronald Reagan was president in 1980s, they have done relatively little to back up the claim. Instead, Republican presidents have often pushed their own brand of activism that grew government, including No Child Left Behind, the creation of the Transportation Security Administration, the expansion of prescription drug coverage, a ban on imported semi-automatic rifles, and the creation of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

When Republican presidents weren't busy doing their best impression of big-government Democrats, Republican-controlled Congresses repeatedly failed to block regulations they said are illegal and passed budgets that increased government's power and control.

Thus far, this trend seems to have halted with the Trump administration. Mr. Trump issued an executive order that ultimately ensured the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project President Barack Obama blocked in the waning days of his administration to appease his radical environmental allies.

Mr. Trump also issued an executive order to force reconsideration of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which would have greatly expanded the federal government's control over private property across the United States. Federal courts had previously stayed WOTUS, out of the suspicion it unconstitutionally ignored previous Supreme Court wetlands decisions. Now, Trump ordered EPA to reconsider the rule and has decided not to defend it in court.

Arguably the most far-reaching executive order Mr. Trump has issued is his directive for all administrative agencies to remove two regulations for each new regulation they issue.

On the budget front, Mr. Trump has proposed cutting the budgets of the vast majority of the existing regulatory agencies. For instance, he proposed cutting EPA's budget by more than 25 percent and reducing the agency's staff by 20 percent. In the process, Trump would end all of EPA's climate programs.

Other agencies and cabinet offices would also see significant cuts, including a nearly 29 percent cut to the State Department's budget and an approximately 12 percent cut to the Department of the Interior.

Mr. Trump seems intent to do what he has promised - which greatly conflicts with what other so-called conservatives before him have done - forcing government to focus on its core functions. No more funding for the arts, public television, green-energy boondoggles, or international climate programs on Mr. Trump's watch.

Congress has had the power to review and block major regulations since it passed the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in 1996, but it has rarely used it. CRA allows the House and the Senate to pass resolutions of disapproval to block major regulations issued by federal agencies. Despite tens of thousands of regulations being enacted in the 20 years since CRA passed, Congress has used it only three times to block new rules, and only once has a president signed the resolution. (Mr. Obama vetoed the two disapproval resolutions passed during his presidency.)

Mr. Trump's ascendance seems to finally have stiffened Congress' backbone, because the House and Senate are now using the CRA with a vengeance. Congress has sent more than a half-dozen CRA resolutions disapproving late-term Obama administration regulations to Trump for his signature, and, incredibly, he's actually signing them.

Using the CRA, Congress blocked a regulation forcing local school districts to adopt specific federal teacher-preparation programs and directions for how states and school districts must evaluate and report school performance. Congress also prevented regulations that would have taken away senior citizens' Second Amendment rights if they need help managing their finances.

In its first use of the CRA under Mr. Trump, Congress halted a rule imposed by Mr. Obama that would have unnecessarily threatened over one-third of the nation's coal-mining jobs. Despite the Interior Department's own reports showing virtually all coal mines have no off-site impacts and lands are being restored successfully under existing federal and state regulations, Mr. Obama tried to institute a so-called "stream protection rule," which would have forced the revision of more than 400 regulations.

Contrary to what is being reported, Mr. Trump and Congress are quickly working to achieve one of their most important goals: limiting the size and power of the federal government over people's lives. And in doing so, they are keeping the commitment they made when they took the oath of office, which requires they uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Let's hope the progress continues.



What Congress Can Learn From the Rhode Island Miracle

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more poorly designed program in the federal budget than Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans. The costs are shared between the states and the feds, which means that the more money a state wastes under Medicaid, the bigger the check Washington writes to the state. No wonder the program costs keep spiraling out of control.

Obamacare added nearly 20 million people to the Medicaid rolls, and the Left considers that a policy victory. Federal and state budgets are swelling.

Oh, to return to the days when taking people off of welfare — not putting them on the dole — was the goal.

Conservatives have argued that Medicaid’s management should be turned over to the states through a block-grant allotment of funds. When Republicans proposed this in their Obamacare replacement bill, liberals blew a gasket. They hate the notion of allowing governors to run the program in their states as the governors see fit, free of the thicket of cumbersome federal rules. The Left portrays the idea as heartless and a scheme to rip a hole in the safety net.

In reality, block granting Medicaid to the states would likely add a new incentive structure to control costs while holding state lawmakers accountable for delivering quality care. Medicaid doesn’t do that right now. It delivers subpar care, with many top hospitals and treatment centers refusing to take Medicaid patients.

We already have a wonderful case study of a state running its own Medicaid program, and Congress and the White House should aim to duplicate this success story.

I am referring to the under-publicized Rhode Island experiment of a few years ago. In 2009, Rhode Island received a waiver from federal Medicaid rules in exchange for a cap on federal costs.

It worked like a charm. A 2013 analysis by Gary Alexander, the former secretary of Rhode Island’s Health and Human Services, found that in the first four years the state’s annual cost increases dropped to less than half of the national pace.

When Rhode Island received its Medicaid waiver, 1 of every 5 residents was enrolled, and costs were growing by 7.5 percent annually. Under the waiver, the state’s official Medicaid documents show, costs rose an average of only 1.3 percent a year from 2009 to 2012 — far below the 4.6 percent rate in the other 49 states.

Rhode Island saved money by reducing the amount of emergency-room visits by Medicaid recipients for routine medical needs. The state saved even more by shifting the elderly out of expensive nursing homes, offering home-care subsidies and promoting assisted-living arrangements. Seniors often would rather avoid institutionalization, making this a win-win.

An independent assessment by the economic consulting firm Lewin Group concluded that reforms allowed under the waiver were “highly effective in controlling Medicaid costs.” The program was found to have “improved access to more appropriate services.”

Alexander has become the Pied Piper for Medicaid waivers. “This is such a terrific solution because in Rhode Island we reduced costs and provided better care. When the state had an incentive to save money rather than spend it, this changed everything.” He added, “State waivers are the way out of the Medicaid crisis.”

But the Left and the Washington bureaucrats don’t want to surrender control of the program. They want a universal, one-size-fits-all solution. We know from welfare reform in the mid-1990s (with work requirements, time limits and training programs) that turning control over to the states will lead to innovative solutions that improve people’s lives — and save money. Why can’t that success happen with health care?

Republicans should continue to insist on solutions to Medicaid that provide some federal funding but allow states maximum flexibility. The GOP block grant makes financial sense and will help ensure that Medicaid doesn’t bankrupt Washington and the 50 states.

The Trump administration doesn’t need to wait. It can start this program tomorrow, simply by putting out word that it will issue Rhode Island-style Medicaid waivers to states that apply. The White House has full authority to do this, and many states will line up for the offer.

One big advocate for this is Vice President Mike Pence. Back when Pence was governor of Indiana, he told me: “If Washington would give me 80 percent of the Medicaid money they now send Indiana but got rid of the red tape and regulations, I would take that deal in a minute.” Donald Trump should listen to his vice president and let the Rhode Island miracle take hold in every state in the nation.



Liberal logic yet again

Hatred of the rest of us is all they know


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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