Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, March 26th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

“When everything is on the line,” Jim Geraghty observed the other day, “even the principles of Bart Stupak can be dilated and extracted.”

A day after Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and ten other House members compromised on their pro-life position to deliver the necessary yes-votes to pass health care reform, the “Stupak 11” released their fiscal year 2011 earmark requests, which total more than $4.7 billion–an average of $429 million worth of earmark requests for each lawmaker.

Of the eight lawmakers whose 2010 requests were available for comparison, five requested more money this week than they did a year ago: Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa., Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Ohio.

The eleven members were the focus of high level pressure by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats because they threatened to vote against the health care reform bill, which passed the House on Sunday, March 21, by a seven vote margin. Granting earmark requests are one of the ways leadership can encourage members to vote their way.

Stupak requested more than $578 million in earmarks, including $125 million for a replacement lock on the Sault Ste. Marie, $25.6 million to build a federal courthouse in Marquette, Mich., $15 million to repaint the Mackinac Bridge and $800,000 to preserve the Quincy Mining Company smelter near Hancock in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

So good luck running on your pro-ObamReidNannerMcBotoxCare vote this fall.

Arizona must drop a plan to cut its Medicaid program’s generous eligibility and instead pay an additional $3.8 billion over the next three years under the federal health care overhaul, state officials reported Thursday.

Arizona also stands to pay billions of dollars more in subsequent years than less generous other states would have to pay, even after increased federal funding starts in 2014, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System said in a report.

Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican-led Legislature included a rollback of AHCCCS eligibility to help balance the $8.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year. The rollback would have dropped 310,000 people, roughly a quarter of the 1.3 million people now served.

But AHCCCS officials concluded Thursday that the health care overhaul’s so-called “maintenance of effort” requirements require Arizona to keep its Medicaid program at current levels in order to keep getting federal dollars. They said the state will incur $3.8 billion of added costs for its Medicaid population before increased federal funding starts in 2014.

Which leads us to this.  The Pew Research Center recently asked 1,500 adults for a one-word impression of the US Congress.  The following words came up most often.

Dysfunctional, corrupt, self-serving, self-centered, selfish, self-absorbed, inept, confused, incompetent, ineffective, lazy, bad, suck(s), poor, crook(s), crooked, disappointing, gridlock, deadlock, idiots, idiotic, slow, mess, messed up, messy, lousy, terrible, disorganized, unorganized, divided, good, stupid, children, childish, child-like, dissatisfied, do nothing, failing, failure, inadequate, greedy, joke, jokers, not good, partisan, socialist, useless, worthless, bull(expletive), chaos, clowns, frustrating, frustrated, horrible, inefficient, liberal, liars, money-hungry.

It’s going to be an interesting couple of years around these here parts.

UPDATE:  Suckers.

The health care overhaul will cost U.S. companies billions and make them more likely to drop prescription drug coverage for retirees because of a change in how the government subsidizes those benefits.

In the first two days after the law was signed, three major companies — Deere & Co., Caterpillar Inc. and Valero Energy — said they expect to take a total hit of $265 million to account for smaller tax deductions in the future.

With more than 3,500 companies now getting the tax break as an incentive to keep providing coverage, others are almost certain to announce similar cost increases in the weeks ahead as they sort out the impact of the change.

Figuring out what it will mean for retirees will take longer, but analysts said as many as 2 million could lose the prescription drug coverage provided by their former employers, leaving them to enroll in Medicare’s program.

American industrial companies that are struggling to compete globally against companies with much lower labor costs are particularly likely to eventually drop retiree coverage, said Gene Imhoff, an accounting professor at the University of Michigan.

“Anything that they can use to justify pushing something away from the employees, pushing it back on the employees or the government, they’re going to do it,” Imhoff said. “I’m not sure you can really blame them for trying to do this.”

When Congress approved the Medicare prescription drug program in 2003, it included government incentives for employers to provide drug benefits to retirees so the public system wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Employers that provide prescription drug benefits for retirees can receive subsidies covering 28 percent of eligible costs; those subsidies totaled $3.7 billion in 2008.

Under the 2003 law, companies could deduct the entire amount they spent on the drug benefits from their taxable income — including the government subsidy, an average of $665 per retiree.

The health care law signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday prohibits companies from writing off the subsidies starting in 2011, meaning they will no longer be able to deduct them from their taxable income.


Smurf Breath
March 26, 2010

disappointing, gridlock, deadlock, idiots, idiotic, slow, mess, messed up, messy, lousy, terrible, disorganized, unorganized,

Perhaps the Constitution is the problem. Maybe we should send it to the Covenant Design Group to be revamped. That should help expedite matters.

Dale Matson
March 26, 2010

“$15 million to repaint the Mackinac Bridge”. What do they do with the $15,000,000.00 plus they collect in tolls every year?

March 26, 2010

“$15 million to repaint the Mackinac Bridge”. What do they do with the $15,000,000.00 plus they collect in tolls every year?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the money is being siphoned off by something else.

I-95 from Richmond to Petersburg, VA, along with the first few miles of I-85 near Petersburg, used to be a toll road known as the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike. Tolls were collected to pay off the bonds used to finance the turnpike’s construction.

When the bonds were paid off, the powers that be decided to keep collecting tolls in order to pay for other road projects in the Richmond area. The tolls were finally lifted after one too many tractor-trailers crashed into a toll plaza which was unwisely placed at the bottom of a steep hill.

[…] ANNALS OF THE DISTINCTLY NATIVE AMERICAN CRIMINAL CLASS | Midwest Conservative Journal – view page – cached “When everything is on the line,” Jim Geraghty observed the other day, “even the principles of Bart Stupak can be dilated and extracted.” Filter tweets […]

The Pilgrim
March 26, 2010

When November comes around, Congressman Stupak, remember how that mess of pottage tastes today, because in the fall it will taste like dung and ashes in your mouth.

March 26, 2010

I spent about an hour yesterday talking about health care “reform” to a group health expert who has, until now, made a living selling in a competitive, if not cut-throat, market.

The ugly secret is there is no reform, only increased costs and control.

He demonstrated with compelling examples that there is no reason to expend political, much less moral, capital on the hodgepodge bill that was rammed through. The bill has no cost containment: rather it contains cost increases now and in the future. The bill fobs off on private insurers the irresponsibility of government, e.g. young single males who historically have not purchased any health insurance, to break the viability of actuarily sound groups. It delays until after future elections the cost of what it seeks to accomplish.

Predictably, after about 35 minutes, we discussed attempts thoroughly to control populations, including Russia in the ’30’s and 40’s: the Kulaks, Georgia, the Ukraine (“Harvest of Sorrow”) and other examples of centralized control, which is rearing its ugly head in the good old USA.

Large but vulnerable U.S. companies are already anticipating and booking large losses.

Thank you Prez Obama and Cook County for providing hope and change.

Allen Lewis
March 26, 2010

Such lovely, swashbuckling pirates these principled earmark-hungry congresspeople are. They hope all the “bacon” they bring back to their districts will keep them in office.

I hope for the country’s sake that this is not the case.

Time to get rid of all of them and start over!

Time for term limits and revoking of perks!

Christopher Johnson
March 26, 2010


The United States Constitution, Article V:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

What say you? Let’s have “two thirds of the several States” call for a constitutional convention in order to come up with a term limits amendment for both the House and the Senate. Right now, I’d say that such a movement would be almost irresistable. And the idea alone would be enough to scare the hell out of the media.

CS Baillie
March 26, 2010

Now see here, Pilgrim, I was going to use messes of pottage. I am something of an expert at messes of pottage (which is why my husband insisted early on in our marriage that he cook the oatmeal).

I shall be forced to sue you for pottage rights.

March 26, 2010

You mean there’s corruption going on? I am shocked, shocked! It’s disgusting to think that Stupak would talk big about life and then sell out for some earmark projects.

And Arizona is finding what the other states will find. This bill is a budget disaster.

Repeal! All you people who couldn’t bring yourself to vote for Republicans last time, this time you’ve got to do it. By all means let’s try to get only the conservative variety in. And by all means let’s hold their feet to the fire on spending this time. But we’ve got to get the Democrats out. If we don’t we’re not going to have a country, not the one we grew up in.

March 26, 2010

Chris, there is a viral e-mail going around today that couples your call for a constitutional provision establishing term limits with another provision that would prohibit members of Congress from exempting themselves from laws that they lay on the rest of us, which apparently they did again in this latest bill.

Sounds eminently sensible to me. The arrogance of folks who exempt themselves from laws that they lay on the rest of us is just unbelievable and I truly expect they will not know what hit them come next November’s election.

March 27, 2010

Chris, I have talked in favor of term limits for years. Even drafted amendment language – nobody may serve as a Member of Congress (that’s Constitutional language that includes Senators) in more than 12 calendar years. It’s a temp job – do it, then go home, get a real job, and live under the laws you passed.

My amendment has a second section – no person may receive any compensation or benefit for their service in Congress after they leave office. Give ’em a health care plan while they’re there – it is, after all, likely to be their only job at the time – but once they’re out, they’re back in the same market as the rest of us citizens. They can have a 401(k) while they’re there, too, but no lifetime pension. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I would hope that such an amendment will be part of every Republican’s campaign this fall. Just like the term-limits plank in the Republicans’ Contract With America in 1994 (which actually passed the House after the new Congress convened, but was killed in the Senate.)

But it needs to be done as a single amendment proposed by Congress. There is a very real risk involved in calling a Constitutional Convention, as there is no way to limit what the convention would do. It could very well end up on a variety of tangents (how about a right to abortion included in the Constitution?) not related to the purpose behind the call, and produce an amendment that would not be approved by 3/4 of the states.

March 27, 2010

Did you see this one? Essentially, they sneaked in a “public option” insurance program, for long-term care, in competition with private long-term coverage. You’ll be offered the opportunity next January, and how long do you think it’s going to be before you don’t really have an option? At this point the program promises $75 a day. No sensible person could think this will be the end of it, or that we can afford this nationally.

FW Ken
March 27, 2010

I remember the last round of calls for term limits, to which the standard response was “we have term limits: they are called elections.” Ultimately, term limits means we don’t trust the voters – ourselves – to act responsibly. That is, we don’t believe in democracy and, of course, we might be right in that.

However, the problem is the functions and powers we’ve moved to the national level of governance. That level is likely to be dominated by power-seeking elites, mostly what we mis-label “liberal”, but some what we mis-label “conservative”. In my opinion, real conservatives tend to focus on their families and neighbors; hence,they would tend to limit their terms in any case.

I don’t want to overstate the matter, because my main point is that term limits might help, but professional politicians aren’t the problem. They are only grazing in the pasture with the best feed.

Allen Lewis
March 27, 2010

I have heard those arguments against putting in term limits. The one about “not trusting the voters to act responsibly” sounds really profound until you consider that when the Constitution was crafted the only people who could vote were those who owned property.

Since the liberal “living document” types have outlawed that restriction on voting rights we now have the situation where people who live off of the government dole can vote for people who promise to keep all the goodies coming.

But, lest I be perceived as beating up on people in unfortunate circumstances, we also have “corporate welfare” in the form of special breaks for special interests.

In short, we have created a system where politicians are elected and re-elected based on their promises to feather some particular nest. This is known as corruption. You are right. We, the voters, allowed that to happen.

The solution, of course, would be to “vote the bums out.” While I can work for that within my congressional district and with the two US Senators which I can vote for, this does me no good when thinking of the Feinstein’s, Pelosi’s, Reed’s, etc. that come from other states.

Also consider this. As originally crafted, there was no limit on the number of terms for the office of President. Why was that limit added by amendment? Apparently there was a concern about abuse of power. The same thing applies with the way Congress is run today. Too many years means too much power.

Our form of government has always been a fragile proposition. It has always relied on the hope that the people in office as well as those who were voting to put them there had the best interests of the country at heart. But given the mess this country is in, and given the obvious fact of rampant corruption, I would say that some other checks and balances need to be in place until we come back to our senses.

I have also heard the arguments about how we should not have an “open” Constitutional Convention. While it is true that an open convention poses some dangers, I think that those who are pushing for a particular amendment, or set of amendments, can manage to control that.

March 27, 2010

The size and scope of the government is what brings the corruption, the earmarks, the bringing home the bacon for the district.

What my husband and I are amazed by this morning is the Democratic leadership which is calling for Congressional hearings on the corporate announcements of earnings charges they will be taking because of this bill. These leading Democrats are STUPID or IGNORANT. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) requires recognition of liabilities as soon as their existence becomes known. Not to take these charges would be FRAUD. Not to take them to benefit a political faction would be both fraud and corruption. Unbelievable to think that these idiots actually thought what they did would have no effect on business.

March 27, 2010

The spin is beginning in South Carolina. The DNC is already running commercials on the Charlotte (NC) stateions that practically equate this bill with heaven on earth–with lots of photographs of smiling people–ending with the tag line, “Thankk you, John Spratt” (our congressman in SC-5 who voted for the bill both times.)

This is awfully early–the primary isn’t till June, and he’s unopposed in the primary…so whay all the fuss in March already?

March 27, 2010

Who’s running against him on the Republican side, Tom? Anybody who voted for this monstrosity should be a little nervous.

Grandpa Dino
March 27, 2010

Re. Stupak answers in today’s Washington Post:

“I have said from the start that my goal was to see health-care reform pass while maintaining the long-standing principle of the sanctity of life.

The president’s executive order upholds this principle and current law that no federal funds be used for abortion.

I and other pro-life Democrats are pleased that we were able to hold true to our principles and vote for a bill that is pro-life at every stage of life and that provides 32 million Americans with access to high-quality, affordable health care.”

March 29, 2010

There’s an extra “N” in the headline, Chris.

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