- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

IDIOTIC DEBATE

“Someday, this country will have a health care debate that’s not abject in its idiocy,” Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes.

“It will involve a term used by Congressional Budget Office chief Doug Elmendorf, who has become a notoriety for harping on the word ‘incentives.’ The same word was used the other day by Warren Buffett, about what’s missing from the health care plan on Capitol Hill,” Mr. Jenkins said.

“We actually prefer the formulation of Duke University’s Clark Havighurst, who speaks of restoring the ‘price tags’ to health care.

“Now that’s a concept that the public could actually make sense of.

President Barack Obama made a ‘public option’ his centerpiece not because it’s the answer to what’s broken in the U.S. system, but because it’s a halfway house to a single-payer setup that liberal Democrats have always wanted. Team Obama also knew the public is concerned about rising costs, so they jammed together a hooey-filled argument that the public option was somehow the solution to rising costs.

“The public is not as dumb as it’s made out to be, and Mr. Obama’s public option died a bipartisan death [Tuesday] in the Senate Finance Committee. What’s left is a package of ‘reforms’ that are mere trite extensions of what we’ve been doing for decades. That is, piling up mandates on private insurers and then lying that this somehow isn’t driving up the cost of health insurance; piling up subsidies for health consumption and then lying that this somehow isn’t responsible for runaway health care spending.”

SPINNING NUMBERS

“This Friday, September’s job-loss total will be announced. Whatever the numbers, administration officials surely will tell us that life is better - because of them,” John Stossel writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

” ‘We brought the global economy back from the brink,’ President Obama said at the close of the [Group of 20] meeting last week. ‘[B]ecause of the bold and coordinated action that we took, millions of jobs have been saved or created; the decline in output has been stopped; financial markets have come back to life.’

“This has been the president’s theme: His so-called stimulus package, bailouts for politically connected banks and industries, ludicrously wasteful programs like cash for clunkers, etc., have saved America from the greatest disaster since the Great Depression.

“But this theme runs up against some rather unfortunate facts,” Mr. Stossel said.

“In January, the administration’s economic models warned that unemployment would hit 9 percent next year if its $787 billion ‘stimulus’ wasn’t passed. Passing it would keep the jobless rate under 8 percent before it begins to fall.

“Well, the packaged passed - and unemployment in August rose to 9.7 percent.

“Oops.

“OK, economic forecasters make mistakes. Fair enough. But neither the administration experts nor President Obama will acknowledge that their models and strategy are flawed. Instead, they spin the numbers and proclaim success, insisting that the plan is working even though unemployment is higher than they said it would be.”

SILLY CRITICISM

“As a political matter, the GOP’s criticism of President Obama for going to Copenhagen to make a personal pitch for the [Olympic] Games is silly. Sure, he’s doing a favor for his buddy/patron [Chicago Mayor Richard Daley]. He’s also understandably pitching his hometown,” Tom Bevan writes in a blog at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“And, yes, there are a lot of other very important things going on right now, but it’s ridiculous to suggest that the president spending 24 hours in Denmark to make this pitch is going to have some material effect on whether health care gets passed or whether the Iranians decide to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions,” Mr. Bevan said.

“Personally, I think the president could have gotten away with sending just the first lady, but I have no problem that he decided to go the extra mile to try and close the deal on an event that will benefit his hometown and will also be a great source of pride for the United States.

“All that said, now that Obama has put his personal prestige on the line it will be quite a personal embarrassment for him if Chicago doesn’t win the Games. That’s another headache he just doesn’t need at the moment.”

DINNER TIME

“In picking India as the guest nation for the Obama administration’s first state visit, the president and first lady have done the easy work,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“Now come the tense, grueling chores of choosing a menu, floral arrangements, a gown for the first lady, and entertainers to cap the first couple’s inaugural state dinner. And virtually all of that is on the shoulders of Michelle Obama,” Mr. Bedard said.

” ‘A state dinner is so much more like a Broadway play than a dinner,’ says former White House chef Walter Scheib, who worked for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. ‘People will be watching closely for Mrs. Obama’s personal style of entertaining,’ he says.

“The timing could be tricky. The Nov. 24 date is just two days before Thanksgiving, another flash point for the first lady’s holiday entertaining style. And it’s right before the White House begins decorating for Christmas.”

OBAMA AND DALEY

“By going to Denmark with all the other city hall politicos, including those from the White House, President Barack Obama is doing more than asking the International Olympic Committee to allow Chicago to host the 2016 Games,” Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass writes.

“He’s asking the IOC to make Mayor Richard Daley the king of Chicago for life,” Mr. Kass said.

“If Chicago gets the Games, it will be Obama who will get the credit, for making sure that Daley, with all that Olympic gold to spend, will remain the undisputed political boss forevermore.

“That’s reform the Obama Way.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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