The bedrock of winning elections at every major level of politics is building coalitions of supporters for whom you can count on to head to the polls and cast a vote for you.Â Especially in a country as large and non-monolithic as ours, coalition building on some level is a requirement for victory and often explains why politicians are so willing to speak often, but say very little.
A close look at President Obamaâ€™s effort in this area reveals that he has elevated this process to an art formâ€”but far from art, what he has created is an ugly picture beneficial to himself, but terrible for America.
While the Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling on Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act certainly carries the negatives of energizing Republicans and leaving him to defend a tax increase, it is foolish not to acknowledge the potential political windfall that he has unleashed.Â He has managed to cement a new member in his group of coalitionsâ€”a group with millions of potential voters.
As we have discussed here before, for decades the Democrat party in America has used the social safety net and the laws of this country to build a formidable coalition of voters.Â The newest members are the up to 33 million people who will now be guaranteed health insurance by virtue of being a breathing American.Â For the first time in history an American president will be able to say â€˜if you vote Democrat you will have (possibly for free) health insurance, and if you vote Republican you will notâ€™, a potent motivator.
The addition of the health care voter coalition can now be added to the two others that he has bolstered recently, in what may be the most cynical and politically motivated two months in American presidential history.
First it was going on record with the news that he had â€œevolvedâ€ on the issue and now supports gay marriage. This was followed by a surprise move to essentially remove the possibility of deportation for young illegal aliens.Â While the gay community is relatively small, bolstering his claim to the Hispanic vote was a huge benefit to his Electoral College math.Â Early next week, we will have a story detailing how the health care law really has more to do with sealing up the Hispanic vote than anything else.
Besides the Latino vote, Obamacare allows the Democrat Party to further stack the deck against Republicans as they try to implement the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reforms in the Paul Ryan budget over the next few years.Â Top Democrat strategists have to be secretly celebrating, knowing full well that the already difficult politics of reforming these programs just got down right suicidal now that 16 million more people have been added to the rolls.
The Presidents relentless coalition building will continue from now until November.Â With the economy not in position to rebound at all, and the two major initiatives of his Presidency either unpopular (health care) or ineffectual (the stimulus), he really has no other choice.Â I am predicting that sometime in the next few months he will make a shocking public policy jester to the unions, who remain the last sizeable group he has not tried to directly entice.
Though it goes against the grain, at this point I would consider advising Mitt Romney to not moderate on illegal immigration and stay as far right on this issue as he was during the presidential primary.Â The reasons for this are several.
First, it is the law and the right thing to doâ€”we simply cannot be the only nation on earth that doesnâ€™t enforce its borders.Â Though many are quick to forget it, this is a message that resonates with nearly all Republicans, and millions of Independents.Â Second, there is simply no way for Republicans to match what Democrats can offer.Â While Republicans and Latinos have large overlaps in religious beliefs and family values, Democrats are in essence offering citizenship, free or nearly free health care, and an ever-expanding web of financial assistance that delivers from birth to death.
It may be high time to face the factsâ€”winning over the Hispanic community is not going to happen anytime soon, and the more Republicans bend and soften on these issues the more they enrage fellow Republicans and appear hypocritical to Independents.
The irony here is that many of the Republicans who have been hesitant to support Mitt Romney, largely due to their belief that he tries to be all things to all people, are the same people that are urging him to cow tow to the Hispanic vote and moderate his position on illegal immigration.
There are still tens of millions of Americans who still believe strongly that we are a nation of laws.Â Should Mitt Romney take a stand on this issue and add this too often ignored group to his list of coalitions, it may end up being a net positive in November.
The post Healthcare Fallout: Obamaâ€™s Growing List of Coalitions appeared first on The Conservative Reader.
Preparing for the Supreme Court Fallout
With the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act expected within the next two weeks, both sides of the isle are busy making contingency plans.Â Two things of specific note here are:
- This decision will directly affect the next session of the Iowa Legislature.Â As of thisÂ moment the General Assembly has delayed setting up the insurance exchanges that are required in the health care law.Â If the law is upheld there will be mounting pressure on Iowa Republicans to begin this process quickly, and they will be forced to decide to eitherÂ design the exchanges in order to have a say in how they are built, or take no action and risk having Iowa being governed by the exchange that the Federal government constructs.
- The decision’s details will have a great impact on our health care system as it pertains to the expansion of Medicaid.Â The working theory is that, as long as the whole law is not thrown out, the expansion of Medicaid that would put at least 16 million new people on the Medicaid roles would remain in effect.Â In this scenario action by Congress would be required to reverse this new reality.Â This highlights the importance of Republicans winning both the Senate and the Oval Office in November, regardless of the Supreme Court ruling.
Â Â Â Â New York Times: With Justices Set to Rule on Health Law, Two Parties Strategize
An Early Analysis of Iowa in November
Take a look at the infrastructure the Obama and Romney campaigns are building in Iowa, and some of the factorsÂ at playÂ in a crucial swing state.
Among some of the interesting things dealt with here are how having Steve King and the judicial retention elections on the November ballot will affect the Presidential race.
Slate: The Psychological State of IowaÂ
A Disturbing Sign of the Times
One wonders how long our Country can prosper while producingÂ citizens capable of the following behavior–and having a social safety net that makes it possible.
Unbelievable and Despicable:Â News Channel 3 (Memphis): Memphis Man Owes Child Support to 15 Women
Even More Unbelievable and Despicable:Â News Channel 3 (Memphis):Â Tenn. Man “Fathers” 30 Kids But Can’t Support AnyÂ
In a wildly under-reported story, last Monday the Des Moines Register uncovered a shocking factâ€”Leonard Boswell is a blue dog Democrat.
To anyone paying attention to politics, and familiar with Mr. Boswellâ€™s votes during his last term, this certainly comes as quite the revelation.Â The front page headline was written by Jennifer Jacobs and titled â€œOpinions vary on effectiveness of Blue Dog democrat Boswellâ€.
I am far less interested in the article itself than I am in the fact-like pronouncement that Leonard Boswell, especially recently, fits in the â€œblue dogâ€ pack.Â Though he is officially a member of a group of U.S House members called the â€œBlue Dog Coalitionâ€, his voting record puts him so clearly opposite of nearly every one of this coalitionâ€™s mission statements that itâ€™s truly laughable.
We will look at the record in a second, but let me first say that this is not the only time the Des Moines Register has been called out hereâ€”and technically it could happen almost daily.Â The reason this headline catches the eye is that with election season underway, characterizations and even subtle hints can go a long way in influence uninformed voters in November.Â Especially if advertising Boswell as someone who has been tight with the purse strings becomes a campaign strategy, which would be smart politics, this is a notion that has to be quickly and forcefully refuted.
The bottom line is that Leonard Boswell can call himself whatever he wants, and the Register can shrug off critical thinking and follow suitâ€” but that doesnâ€™t make it true.Â The fact is that if he is a blue dog, then Steve King is socially moderate and Kim Pearson and Tom Shaw â€œgo along to get alongâ€.Â Letâ€™s dig inâ€¦
For those unaware, a blue dog Democrat is a legislator in the House who is fiscally conservative and philosophically breaks with their party on the level of government spending and taxation that is appropriate, and by their own definition even moral.Â Though they recently are trying to branch out into other issues like energy and economic growth, by and large their purpose is to oppose overspending and battle fellow Democrats when need be.Â This being the case you would expect to see some sort of opposition from â€œblue dogâ€ Leonard Boswell to the direction the Country has swerved in following President Obamaâ€™s election.Â Instead, in the last three and a half years the national debt has increased $5 trillion dollarsâ€”and Mr. Boswell has cast â€œyeaâ€ votes all along the way.Â Here is the record.
The following are key votes the Congressman has taken on major tax and spend issues since 2009.
Voted in favor:
â€¢Â Economic Stimulus Billâ€”over $800 billion added to the national debt, more than a trillion dollars with interest included (passed the House 246-183 on Feb. 13, 2009).
â€¢Â Obamacareâ€”price tag of $900 billion over 10 years at passage, most recent CBO scoring nearly doubled this amount to $1.76 trillion (passed the House 219-212 on March 21, 2010).
â€¢Â Cash For Clunkers â€“cost of nearly $3 billion (passed the House 316-109 on July 31, 2009).
â€¢Â Extending Unemployment Benefitsâ€”April 15, 2010 (passed 289-112), May 28, 2010 (passed 215-204), and July 22, 2010 (passed 272-152).
â€¢Â Raising the debt ceilingâ€”passed the House 218-214 on December 16, 2009.
â€¢Â Cap and Tradeâ€”according to the Obama administration itself, would have cost Americans up to $200 billion a year (passed the House 219-212 on June 26, 2009).
â€¢Â Cut, Cap, and Balanceâ€”passed the House 234-190 on July 19th, 2011
â€¢Â Debt ceiling bill â€“ This is the John Boehner version that would have raised the debt ceiling in exchange for limits on discretionary spending (passed the House 218-210 on July 29, 2011).
â€¢Â Reducing spending to F.Y 2008 levelsâ€”passed the House 256-165 on July 25, 2011.
One can make many claims about Boswellâ€™s last term in Congress, but given this record it is hard to imagine how any fair-minded person could call him fiscally conservative.Â Besides the unbelievable amount of money he voted to add to our national debt, the other thing to note is how close many of these votes were.Â In particular, the Obamacare and Cap and Trade votes authorized borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars per yearâ€”and passed by a combined 14 votes. If there ever was a time a blue dog would stand up for their principles of responsible spending it would have been then.
Why It Matters
To bolster the claim that he is a centrist, the Register story uses a National Journal analysis of his votes in 2011 (right before an election year) which places him more liberal than 61.8% and more conservative than 38.2% of his fellow House members.Â While this point is highly arguable, any description of him as concerned with deficits and high taxes cannot be made with a straight face.Â In our current political climate of outrage over debt, the failure of the Stimulus Bill, and the GSO and Solyndra scandals, any distancing of himself from these issues would be a huge re-election assetâ€”and one he clearly has not earned.
What is really ironic here is the fact that this story follows a weekend in which the Des Moines Register published a piece telling their readers that they would soon be charging for online access to much of their content.Â This transition has many affiliated with the paper very nervous, as there is a high probability of it being a disaster.Â As long as they continue doing things like allowing Democratic politicians to self-identify themselves without publicly asking questions like â€œis Leonard Boswell truly a blue dog?â€â€”not only will their bottom line struggleâ€¦they will struggle to remain in operation.
The gaveling in of the Iowa Legislatureâ€™s 84th General Assembly last week signaled an end to the 2012 Presidential Caucus season and the return of a more local political focus for Iowans.
There is no doubt that much of the session’s oxygen will be sucked up by the major issues that failed to produce any legislation following last yearâ€™s battles. These issues include reforming the tax code, mental health services, and education, as well as another round of sparring over Iowa setting up a health insurance exchange to work in conjunction with Obama Care.
While these will grab a majority of the headlines, and a good share of our attention here at The Conservative Reader: Iowa, there have already been a number of very interesting bills introduced that we will also be following.
As of now the bills and issues outside â€œthe big 4â€ that we have flagged to watch closely are as follows: Term limits, random drug testing for recipients 84th of certain state benefits, banning red light and speed cameras, and the fate of nuclear power in Iowa.
After being deluged for so many months with candidates and their ever changing poll numbers, it is easy to forget that in many ways the caucus season is an imperfect method for measuring Iowaâ€™s current ideological perspective. Removing the factors attached to individual candidates such as â€œlikeabilityâ€ and â€œelectabilityâ€, and instead gauging the debate and the public reaction of Iowans to more hyper-local issues is a far more telling indicator of where we stand. Ironically these debates and their results likely will tip our hand as to which Presidential candidate will be awarded our 6 electoral votes in November.
In the following weeks stay tuned for investigations, updates, analysis, and opinions on the major issues being debated at the State House. As mentioned earlier, while we will not ignore the most publicized topics of debate this session, a number of bills that will exist in the shadows of the major priorities are just as important.
Though we will be closely watching with an appropriate level of skepticism, we wish all those involved with the 84th General Assembly well in their efforts to make improvements for all Iowans. When we feel they have achieved improvementâ€”we will trumpet it. When we feel they have caused damage to our way of lifeâ€”they will be called to account.
On with Democracy…
Running with scissors, bungy-jumping, lion-training don’t hold a candle to these two items…
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Republicans appear to be doing well, very well, scary well. So what’s to be done about it? Republicans need to work harder, get more engaged, get more yard signs up, knock on more doors!
Why, you may ask, would I think that?
Because early poll successes:
- Are deceiving. In Politics, scientific polling lacks integrity because there are so many factors and inconsistencies, including the fact that they reflect a point in time, which is not election day
- Are open to interpretation. The complexities and meaning behind poll answers can be interpreted multiple ways… sometimes the answers mean something different than what we think.
- Can lead to complacency. Accepting that your candidate is going to win hands down can lead to voter apathy and before you know it, everyone that said they were going to vote decides to stay home election day or just forgets to vote.
It’s great to feel good about these polls… I’m very enthused about our prospects here in Iowa. But polling can cause us to take our eye off the ball… we need to stay focused on the message, on getting it delivered to the people that need to hear it most, and make sure we get everyone out to vote come election day.
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Did you think that maybe ObamaCare wouldn’t impact you directly for a while? Think again.
New rules from the IRS issued earlier this month, based on the Affordable Care Act now require that those who pay for over-the-counter (OTC) medications (such as Claritan, Robitussin, etc.) FSAs or HRAs, beginning January 1, 2011, to get a prescription for these medications to get the reimbursements. Flexible Spending Account (FSAs) Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) setup for medical expenses not normally covered by insurance, using untaxed dollars. On top of this, patients will have to submit the prescription information along with the receipt to their account program adminstration instead of using the more convenient (and appropriate) debit cards most of these accounts now provide.
It may seem like a small thing, but doctors don’t typically hand out prescriptions of any kind without a visit, which will cost the patient and/or their insurance provider. Add to that the new paperwork burden, and you’ve impacted many Americans enough that they will (rightfully so) choose to abandon the use of the untaxed (or pretaxed) dollars and instead reduce their FSA/HRA use (or eliminate it) and just pay for these medications with taxed dollars.
Yes this is for real, and yes I think it’s stupid. This is the result of just a small piece of the gargantuan legislation passed by a Congress bent on making us miserable. I’m convinced of that now. Give them 2 more years and they will find a way to ensure that the Government will simply pay for these medications (with an appropriate prescription) instead of just going back to a system that worked fine, therefore making us even more dependent on the government.
And the best part is, you can still use these accounts like you always did for any other medical supplies that don’t require a prescription. You will have to get a prescription to get a, frankly small, tax advantage.
Government savings, none… I can pretty much guarantee that the new taxes recovered will barely pay for the paper used to print this stupid bill. More likely we will see substantive costs go up, either in government or for insurance companies, to support this idiotic requirement.
Sometimes it just seems dangerous to get up in the morning.