- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2009

LOSING LIEBERMAN

“Maine Republican Olympia Snowe may have thrown her support behind the Democrats’ health care agenda, but Democrats still need 60 votes to pass the filibuster threshold in the Senate - and though they’ve gained Ms. Snowe, they’re losing Joe Lieberman,” the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“The Connecticut independent announced [Tuesday] he couldn’t support the health care bill Sen. Max Baucus just passed through his Finance Committee. Mr. Lieberman doesn’t sit on Finance, but his vote was considered one of the 60 needed on the Senate floor. Along with specific gripes - particularly the tax on high-value health plans, hardly popular with Connecticut’s insurance industry - Mr. Lieberman criticizes the bill’s overall size and scope, saying Democrats are trying to do ‘too much’ in a recession. He also complains that it would ‘raise the price of insurance for most of the people in the country.’

“If Mr. Lieberman doesn’t like the bill now, he’s likely to be even less happy after Majority Leader Harry Reid has combined it with Sen. Chris Dodd’s more liberal product. Mr. Lieberman is on record opposing a ‘public option,’ which remains the chief desire of Senate liberals.

“A Lieberman defection on ObamaCare would, of course, send the Netroots around the bend - those ultra-liberal activists who agitated successfully for his defeat in the 2006 Connecticut Democratic primary. But Mr. Lieberman, having faced them down to win re-election in the general election, doesn’t seem to much care about their displeasure anymore. Worse for his party’s liberals, his stance might prove an attractive example to many swing-state Democrats who still aren’t sure they want to support such a big government takeover of health care.”

WOE IS ME

“Poor President Obama. Everybody is picking on him. Some people don’t understand how hard his job is. Others are just mean and selfish,” New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“That’s the latest White House whine, as though the most powerful man in the world is a victim of sinister domestic forces beyond his reach,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“The woe-is-me complaints suggest the occupant of the Oval Office, Nobel Prize and all, is feeling weak and small.

“Yikes. No wonder the world is ganging up on us.

“The point was driven home [Tuesday] when Russia’s foreign minister told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Russia was not ready to impose tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Shockingly, Clinton reportedly agreed new sanctions were premature.

“Premature? Iran has been violating U.N. resolutions for years and is planning to get nukes and promises to use them.

“What would be the right time to get tougher - when we see a mushroom cloud?

“And sanctions, remember, are the ‘soft power’ the administration prefers, instead of military action, which is so George W. Bush. But suddenly faced with resistance, Washington now finds even sanctions too rough.

“Another report says Palestinians are losing faith in Obama. If true, they join Israelis, meaning Obama has achieved his first Mideast agreement, though not the one he promised.”

THOSE SUBSIDIES

“Will a young, healthy, childless individual or couple buy health insurance costing 7.5 percent of their income, as required by Obama’s health legislation?” Dick Morris asks in the Hill newspaper.

“Not until they get sick. Then they can always buy the insurance, and the Obama bill requires the insurance companies to give it to them. And if the premiums come to more than 7.5 percent of their income because they are now sick, no problem. Obama will subsidize it,” Mr. Morris said.

“Instead, young, healthy, childless people will likely opt to pay the $1,000 fine (aka slap on the wrist) mandated in the bill. After all, even if they make as little as $50,000 a year, the fine is a lot cheaper than 7.5 percent of their income (or $3,500 a year)!

“So … these young households will not contribute to the coffers of any health insurance company until they are sick and need the coverage. By then, their costs will come to vastly more than their premiums.

“Who will subsidize the difference? We will.

“The insurance industry estimates that the bill will drive up premiums for the average family by $1,700 a year. By the time the bill takes effect in 2013, it estimates that the average annual family health insurance premiums (now $12,300) will rise to $17,200 if the Obama bill is passed, but only to $15,500 if it is defeated.

“And who do you think the voters will blame for the hike in their premiums? The Democrats who passed the bill.

“Supporters of the bill are quick to counter that greater efficiency, etc., will hold down premiums. But they have little to answer the argument that, without higher fines, the young and healthy will not consent to pay an arm and a leg for insurance they don’t need.”

CONFUSED

Michael Moore is confused,” John Stossel writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“His new movie, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story,’ begins by suggesting that all was well until Ronald Reagan became president and cut the top 90 percent income tax rate. Everything was downhill from there.

“But by the end of the movie, he says the problems really began in 1945, when Franklin Roosevelt died without enacting his proposed Second Bill of Rights, which would have ‘guaranteed’ everything from a ‘remunerative job’ and a ‘decent home’ to ‘adequate medical care,’ a ‘good education’ and ‘adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.’

“Adding to the confusion, he lavishes praise on Barack Obama and his ‘spread the wealth around’ rhetoric. But Moore also demonizes as symbols of capitalism Clinton Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and Lawrence Summers, and former New York Fed President Timothy Geithner without mentioning that Rubin has been Obama’s adviser and that Summers and Geithner are, respectively, his chief economic guru and Treasury secretary. Nor does he acknowledge that Obama continued the bailout policies of George W. Bush,” Mr. Stossel said.

“Moore declares capitalism evil, but he’s never clear about what ‘capitalism’ means. Considering how much time he spends documenting the cozy relationship between business and government, I thought he might mean ‘state capitalism.’

“But then he uses the term ‘free market’ as a synonym for what he doesn’t like.”

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

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