Exclusive - Oval Office Watch -Friday, March 26

by OVAL OFFICE WATCH March 26, 2010
White House Health Care Rhetoric About to Meet Reality
The Foundry, Heritage.org
 
At the signing of the Senate health bill, President Barack Obama said: “In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.” Let’s review some of the “overheated rhetoric” that is about to get tested by reality.
 
Over the past months, the President and Congress have promised: that premiums would drop by $2500 per family; that if you like what you’ve got, you can keep it; that it would bend the cost curve down; that it would decrease the federal deficit. The fact of the matter is, none of these things will become reality once the bill is implemented—these claims are nothing but the rhetoric attached to an unpopular piece of legislation in the hopes of creating support that has yet to materialize.
 
The truth about the bill is already becoming evident as effected parties become vocal with their concerns. Some highlights just from today’s headlines include:
 
State Medicaid Programs Worry About Cost of Expansion: The bill will increase coverage among the uninsured largely through the expansion of Medicaid, a low quality, poorly structured government health care program which is paid for jointly by the federal and state governments. Though the bill will cover the cost of the benefits expansion, it will not cover the added administrative costs, which Heritage analyst Ed Haislmaier has highlighted. According to an article on Bloomberg.com, “States faced with unprecedented declines in tax collections are cutting benefits and payments to hospitals and doctors in Medicaid, the health program for the poor paid jointly by state and U.S. governments. The costs to hire staff and plan for the average 25 percent increase in Medicaid rolls may swamp budgets.”
 
Haislmaier projects the added administrative cost to the states would total $9.6 billion between 2014, when the provision is implemented, and 2019. This extra burden comes at a time when states are trying to tighten their budgets to account for decreasing revenues.    Research by former Heritage analyst Dennis Smith and Ed Haislmaier shows that, as the fiscal burden of the Medicaid expansion grows, it would be in states’ interests to drop the program entirely: “The savings to state budgets are so enormous that failure to leave Medicaid might be viewed as irresponsible on the part of elected state officials. The federal government, however, would be left holding a trillion-dollar-plus tab.” Read article.
 
The Obama "Narrative" Narrative: Imagine what the president could do if only he had a better bumper sticker!
Matt Welch, Reason.com
 
"Every successful [political] campaign," Jon Taplin noted last month over at TPMCafe, "has a narrative." And "if there's one note that runs through many of the theories as to why Obama has disappointed in Year One," The New York Times' Frank Rich added two weeks ago, "it cuts to the heart of what had been his major strength: his ability to communicate a compelling narrative."
 
So to help citizens most beneficially organize information about his policies, the president, according to this narrative, needs a single, one-sentence explanation for his blizzard of initiatives and laws, each of which can run as long as 2,400 pages. The "problem," political journalist Jonathan Alter told The New York Times, in a piece that ran under the headline "Democrats Need a Rally Monkey," is "not finding a coherent message."
 
This message gap is not for lack of helpful suggestion. Columnist Thomas L. Friedman, the human one-sentence-explanation dispenser, was already giving the president a roadmap for solving his "'narrative' problem" last November: "What is that narrative? Quite simply it is nation-building at home. It is nation-building in America."
 
When the president failed to heed Friedman's cocktail-napkin instructions, the globe-trotting New York Times columnist repeated it last month with a bit more exasperation: "The thing that most baffles me about Mr. Obama is how a politician who speaks so well, and is trying to do so many worthy things, can't come up with a clear, simple, repeatable narrative to explain his politics—when it is so obvious." Read article.
 
The Redneck Tree Hugger: Barack Obama has awakened a sleeping nation
Gary Hubbell, AspenTimes.com
 
Barack Obama is the best thing that has happened to America in the last 100 years. Truly, he is the savior of America's future. He is the best thing ever.
 
Despite the fact that he has some of the lowest approval ratings among recent presidents, history will see Barack Obama as the source of America's resurrection. Barack Obama has plunged the country into levels of debt that we could not have previously imagined; his efforts to nationalize health care have been met with fierce resistance nationwide; TARP bailouts and stimulus spending have shown little positive effect on the national economy; unemployment is unacceptably high and looks to remain that way for most of a decade; legacy entitlement programs have ballooned to unsustainable levels, and there is a seething anger in the populace.
 
That's why Barack Obama is such a good thing for America.
 
Obama is the symbol of a creeping liberalism that has infected our society like a cancer for the last 100 years. Just as Hitler is the face of fascism, Obama will go down in history as the face of unchecked liberalism. The cancer metastasized to the point where it could no longer be ignored.
 
Average Americans who have quietly gone about their lives, earning a paycheck, contributing to their favorite charities, going to high school football games on Friday night, spending their weekends at the beach or on hunting trips — they've gotten off the fence. They've woken up. There is a level of political activism in this country that we haven't seen since the American Revolution, and Barack Obama has been the catalyst that has sparked a restructuring of the American political and social consciousness. Read article.
 
Don't Fight Immigration Next
Victor Davis Hanson, NY Post.com
 
The administration may trump the health-care debate with another di visive issue -- "comprehensive reform" on immigration -- that's surely just as "politically unpopular."
 
Yet tackling illegal immigration right now would be a political nightmare.
 
Activists at next week's planned immigration "reform" rally in Washington, DC, may use euphemisms like "comprehensive immigration reform" or stage demonstrations about "immigrant rights." But most Americans have few problems with immigration per se -- as long as it is legal and in numbers that facilitate assimilation and integration into American life.
 
So let us be honest for once. The problem is almost exclusively one of illegal immigration -- namely, the until-recent unlawful entry of a half-million to 1 million arrivals annually, mostly from Mexico and Latin America, that resulted in the 11 to 15 million illegal aliens living here in the shadows.
 
Wiser counsel would insist on quietly continuing to close the border through increased security, employer sanctions, the use of tamper-proof IDs and completion of the border fence. Without vast influxes of illegals, society gains time to debate hot-button issues like guest-worker programs, amnesty and deportation.
 
In the interim, the illegal community would become static -- and far more rapidly integrate, assimilate, intermarry or voluntarily return home. Read article.
 
Holding Holder in Contempt: The attorney general misled Congress
Editorial, Washington Times.com
 
When the committee was considering Mr. Holder's confirmation, it asked, as is standard practice, for copies of any briefs he had filed with the Supreme Court. According to National Review Online's Dana M. Perino and Bill Burck, he provided three "friend of the court" briefs - but failed even to mention the two most important ones, namely those concerning the case of Jose Padilla, the U.S. citizen accused of plotting with al Qaeda to blow up an American city. The Padilla case raised the question of whether American citizens can be held as enemy combatants and whether they have rights of access to American courts.
 
This is still an issue of virulent public dispute. In the Padilla case, Mr. Holder joined former Attorney General Janet Reno in arguing that an American citizen cannot be held as a detainee. His position on that question was of major interest during his hearing, yet he failed to disclose to the committee the fact of his involvement.
 
A Justice Department spokesman on March 10 offered this lame explanation: "In preparing thousands of pages for submission, it was unfortunately and inadvertently missed." That excuse is farcical. An AG nominee might inadvertently forget to provide a memo written to a law partner about whether the firm should accept a big tax case, but "inadvertently" forgetting a major Supreme Court brief is implausible in the extreme. Read article.
 
Yes! They Miss Him, and Not Only In The Middle East
Judith Klinghoffer, Political Mavens.com
 
I am not sure that awareness of his intended benign neglect would have made a difference to the Middle East autocratic leadership so “rudely” challenged by the Bush administration. Like the Nobel committee that awarded Obama their usually prestigious prize, they delighted in the kinder, gentler American leadership and may have trusted Clinton’s tougher image. Now they feel menaced by an aggressive Shia Iran and cowboy Bush is no longer there to protect them. Writing from Lebanon for Lebanese, Michael Young ends his sad analysis of Obama’s ME policy thus:
 
"That kinder, friendlier face was shown two weeks ago, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly declared that the US would not use force against Iran. An attack on Iran would doubtless be a terrible idea, but for Clinton to rule out such an action so bluntly was not the best use she could have made of American military superiority. Indeed, it clarified a situation that the Obama administration should not have clarified, and the statement may ensure that the hardest of the hardliners in Tehran will win all future domestic debates on the best way to deal with international efforts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. . . .The reality is that the Obama administration these days provokes little confidence in its allies and even less fear in its adversaries. The US remains the dominant actor in the Middle East, but to what end? If Obama’s ultimate goal is to be different than George W. Bush, he hasn’t even managed that. As setback follows setback, he is increasingly finding himself constrained by the same dynamics that Bush faced. But at least Bush knew what he was supposed to be about. Obama just seems lost."
 
And no one wishes to face an aggressive fanatic armed with a nuclear weapon protected by a lost leader. I do not know whether the fact that other troubled parts of the world share their troubles, as do a rapidly increasing number of Americans, would comfort the Arabs but they certainly do. Read article.
 
Allies everywhere feeling snubbed by President Obama
Robert Kagan, Washington Post.com
 
The contretemps between President Obama and Israel needs to be seen in a broader global context. The president who ran against "unilateralism" in the 2008 campaign has worse relations overall with American allies than George W. Bush did in his second term.
 
Israelis shouldn't feel that they have been singled out. In Britain, people are talking about the end of the "special relationship" with America and worrying that Obama has no great regard for the British, despite their ongoing sacrifices in Afghanistan. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has openly criticized Obama for months (and is finally being rewarded with a private dinner, presumably to mend fences).
 
In Eastern and Central Europe, there has been fear since the administration canceled long-planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic that the United States may no longer be a reliable guarantor of security. Among top E.U. officials there is consternation that neither the president nor even his Cabinet seems to have time for the European Union's new president, Herman Van Rompuy, who, while less than scintillating, is nevertheless the chosen representative of the post-Lisbon Treaty continent. Europeans in general, while still fond of Obama, have concluded that he is not so fond of them -- despite his six trips to Europe -- and is more of an Asian president. Read article.
 
America's Domestic Security Nightmare
Alyssa A. Lappen, RightSideNews.com
 
On January 7, 2010, in the wake of the Fort Hood massacre and the attempted Christmas Day passenger jet bombing, President Barack Obama appeared finally to start taking U.S. counterterrorism strategy seriously. "We are at war," he declared in a White House speech, "against al Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them."
 
This was a complete about-face from Obama's position ten months earlier. Shortly after he took office, he ditched the "war on terror" term as too emblematic of previous Bush administration policies. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano elaborated in Germany's Spiegel where she preferred to speak of "man-caused disasters," not terrorist attacks, and pledged to abandon the "politics of fear."
 
The strategy included a January 2009 executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, and create a high-value interrogation unit (HIG) within Homeland Security to interview terrorists.
 
Such contradictory positions in so short a time raise serious doubts about the potential effectiveness with which his administration's proposed new security measures can address apparently long-entrenched failures. Read article.
 
Obama is a victim of Bush's failed promises
Chuck Green, Aurora Sentinel.com
 
Barack Obama is setting a record-setting number of records during his first year in office.
 
Largest budget ever. Largest deficit ever. Largest number of broken promises ever. Most self-serving speeches ever. Largest number of agenda-setting failures ever. Fastest dive in popularity ever.
 
Wow. Talk about change.
 
Just one year ago, fresh from his inauguration celebrations, President Obama was flying high. After one of the nation’s most inspiring political campaigns, the election of America’s first black president had captured the hopes and dreams of millions. To his devout followers, it was inconceivable that a year later his administration would be gripped in self-imposed crisis.
 
Of course, they don’t see it as self-imposed. It’s all George Bush’s fault.
 
George Bush, who doesn’t have a vote in Congress and who no longer occupies the White House, is to blame for it all. Read article.

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