The view from 10,000 feet – March 2017 edition

All too frequently missing from contemporary thinking is the right context. Beginning from misplaced or even incorrect premises will not lead to the best conclusion. Inaccurate terminology and misleading metaphors and synecdoche usually lead to misplaced emphasis and much foolishness. This often is deliberate on the part of politicos and journalists eager to sway opinion.

The higher the airplane, the larger the extent of land one can see. This metaphor can stand for providing a proper context. I propose to offer commentary from 10,000 feet – as high as I can attain without Icarus-like hubris. The conspectus from 30,000 feet is for those who have spent a lifetime pondering the permanent things. I propose to do this at irregular intervals treating several topics concisely without numbers, notes, or hyperlinks. A hat tip to the great Thomas Sowell, who called his columns like this Random Thoughts.

One. Words matter. The current health-care bill, known as AHCA,  is not about health care. It is about insurance. In a twisted instance of synecdoche insurance is used to represent the medical industry generally and one’s ability to receive proper care. If the debate were about health care generally, the debate would center on:

  • Increasing the supply of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants
  • Reforming the FDA so that new miracle drugs come to market sooner and at lower cost
  • Removing government regulation so that a truly competitive marketplace can minimize cost and deliver better service
  • Ways to prevent mass disruption as government steps out of the medical business – perhaps starting with incentives for insurers to provide inexpensive catastrophic insurance for all
  • Bringing transparency in pricing so that aspirin in a hospital is not billed at hundreds of dollars and people can make choices informed by price
  • Equalizing the individual and group insurance markets by eliminating the deductibility of employer-provided health insurance and reducing income taxes to compensate

The health-care bill is principally about reforming the individual health insurance market and Medicaid. It only slows down the deplorable trend of shifting insurance from the state level to the Federal. Avik Roy warns us that eliminating the ObamaCare surtaxes on the “rich” will open Republicans to withering Democrat attacks in 2018. Senator Cotton that unless the replacement legislation lowers the costs of premiums and deductibles Democrat attacks will hit home.

Two. The current health-care bill must be limited in scope, otherwise the Senate parliamentarian will not permit it to be voted on via budget reconciliation rules. Senator Cruz reminds us that since ObamaCare was passed by the Senate through reconciliation, so can its repeal and replacement. He also states what should be obvious, that the Senate Parliamentarian has an advisory status only. Her opinion can be overridden by the Presiding Officer, Vice President Pence. This is a lame excuse to justify a pusillanimous bill.

I suspect that many House Republicans are not as opposed to big government ‘solutions’ as those of us in fly-over country. Representative Ryan in particular is very squishy on amnesty and has a wonky interest in making big government more efficient, not necessarily smaller.

Three. Two examples of manipulation via synecdoche. Arts funding. In the debate about Federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the arts, journalists and commentators love to wave their magic tongues and pronounce that since funding for defense is so large surely we can afford a tiny fraction of that amount for “the arts.” But “the arts” stands for all the myriad tiny expenditures that together amount to a whale-sized chunk of Federal spending. Government programs are the closest things to immortality. (Pres. Reagan)

Prevailing wage is another notable example. A group claiming to represent veterans is airing advertisements urging the state not to repeal its prevailing wage laws. These laws significantly increase the cost of labor in construction and harm state and local governments and school districts.It represents a transfer of money from taxpayers to a favored interest group. The pitch is that since veterans in construction jobs benefit, we should support prevailing wage laws. Unmentioned are the veterans working for companies that cannot compete for contracts requiring prevailing wage and veterans who are taxpayers. Using one small group to represent the whole would be a non-starter with an engaged, literate public.

Four. In defense of Steve King. In a widely condemned tweet, Representative King wrote:

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” — Representative Steve King in a tweet, speaking truth to power.

Wilders is the Dutch candidate for Prime Minister who does not believe that Muslim immigrants will assimilate into Dutch society. He is widely characterized as “far right,” although he is a conventional leftist in most other respects. King was almost universally reviled for making these two uncontroversial points:

We should preserve our American culture, largely based on Christian and postChristian values brought to our shores by immigrants first from Great Britain and then from Continental Europe. Some alien cultures – notably those based on Islam ­ are inimical to our values and culture. This is particularly apparent in first- and second-generation Muslims.

Many countries with advanced economies are facing demographic suicide via depopulation, with birth rates below –sometimes far below –  the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman of child-bearing age. Some countries, like Germany, Japan, and Italy are near a crisis point, when the demands placed on the welfare state by an increasing elderly population will far outstrip the ability of an ever shrinking number of workers to pay for them. Stagnant economies result. Both Holland and Germany have imported large numbers of Muslims “guest workers” to supplement the workforce. This has not worked out well.

Five. It is not a ban and the travel and refugee pause is about religion. Andy McCarthy reminds us not to kid ourselves. The purpose of these bans, pauses, and vettings is to prevent actual and potential jihadis from entering the country. Jihadis belong to a branch or sect of Islam. Singling them out is of course a religious test, just as would be laws affecting only Methodists. Let’s also not kid ourselves about ‘diversity’ and ‘discrimination.’ Blindly worshipping these concepts is dangerous. Diversity among people sharing a common culture and language can be a great force for unity. Otherwise diversity creates division and strife. Discrimination is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you believe that any and all distinctions are evil.

Six. Collusion with the Russians. Are we talking about Obama telling Medvedev that he would have more flexibility after the election? Or Hillary Clinton approving the deal benefiting a Clinton Foundation  donor and selling 20% of our uranium to the Russians? Or John Podesta’s links to Rusnano, a Russian government company founded by Vlad Putin?  

Troglo  (L. H. Kevil)

We’ll miss you, Doctor (and Senator) Coburn

Over the years we have figured among the biggest fans of Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma obstetrician who never ‘evolved’ and turned Washington. He is well known for his honesty and struggle to reform the Washington Way. We want to express our gratitude for his service and the honest, open, sincere, non-lawyerlike way in which he carried out his Senatorial duties. This great patriot is the author of several books:

The Democrats on the Senate Ethics Committee did him the great honor of threatening censure for continuing to practice medicine while a Senator. (We are not making this up.) He kept his promise to retire after two terms. In a parting shot across the bows of the Big Government fat cats, he has now issued a 320-page report, The Tax Decoder, specifying in detail over $900 billions in outrageous giveaways scattered throughout the tax code. This brief 59 second YouTube video is a great introduction to the report. We recommend a quick glance at the highlights .The press release with the link to the entire report is here.   Troglo

Troglo

Marco Rubio: the smoking gun

We all remember Marco Rubio’s story: his parents’ escape from communism to freedom, his complete embrace of the American Way, his election to the Senate thanks to strong support from then Senator DeMint. It’s a great story. But alas only a story.
Paul Mirengoff of the indispensable Powerlineblog, citing a report from the Daily Caller provides the proof that Senator Rubio has been duplicitous regarding his support for enforcement of our immigration laws. Since his successful Senate campaign he has called for enforcement of immigration laws, leading to puzzlement as to how he could be a member of the Senate’s Gang of Eight. The Gang’s proposed ‘comprehensive solution’ is so soft on border enforcement that those provisions might as well have been omitted.
But when he was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Rubio blocked all attempts to tighten enforcement of Florida law. As Mirengoff states:
He even opposed, and thwarted, bipartisan legislation to deport 5,000 illegal immigrant prisoners in Florida jails.
An unnamed Florida politician characterized Rubio’s position on immigration thus: ‘Marco is Jeb’s boy on immigration.’ Marco Rubio is not just a squish, like former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and his fellow Gang members, the unreliably conservative Senators McCain and Graham. it is clear he has hidden – in Clintonesque triangulation, no doubt – his true agenda about immigration for political gain. Let’s hope that this gain is temporary as the truth about his record becomes more widely known.

60X70 scaled

Troglo

Senator Talent on the Fiscal Cliff

Former Missouri Senator Jim Talent just published a succinct and dead-on-target primer concerning the fiscal cliff. The extract below summarizes his point of view: concentrate on the damage that would be caused by the tax hikes and the sequester or spending cuts (largely to defense,) not on Obama’s bad-faith posturing.

What should the House Republicans do?

Stop wasting valuable time by counting on negotiations with people who won’t advance a serious plan. Actually begin legislating their agenda. Pass a bill out of the House that postpones all the tax increases as well as the defense cuts for one year. Use the debate on that bill to make a case to the public. Make the defense cuts and tax hikes, and the resulting job loss, a major issue. If the Senate Democrats don’t take up the bill, their failure to act will become an issue. If they do take up the bill, Republicans in the Senate can make the economy and the defense cuts a major point of debate.

If the Democrats take action to postpone at least the defense sequester, that will be an important point gained. If they don’t, then they and the president will clearly be responsible for the damage to national security and the job losses in the defense industry.

In addition, Republicans should begin preparing for next year. Republicans should announce that under no circumstances will they agree to a debt-limit increase beyond the next session of Congress (which ends in the fall of 2013) without real budget reform. Next year, the advantage will shift to Republicans. They already have a good budget plan (the Ryan plan). They can work on tax reform that will create jobs by reducing rates — wherever rates are at that point — and reforming deductions.

In the first three months of next year, the president will have to make an inauguration speech and a State of the Union address and propose a budget. That will be the time when maximum pressure can be applied on the administration to propose real entitlement reform, which will expose the divisions within the Democratic party and be the first real step toward actually reducing the deficit.

Whether this plan will work depends on how much it moves public opinion. But it’s the best chance to avoid a loss on taxes, and it offers real hope of preventing irreparable damage to national security and getting a budget plan next year that will prevent national insolvency. The stakes are too big for Republicans not to try.