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Why Obama Is No Roosevelt – WSJ Opinion Piece November 4, 2010

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Why Obama Is No Roosevelt

Roosevelt: ‘Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart.’ Obama: We don’t ‘always think clearly when we’re scared.’

By DOROTHY RABINOWITZ

Whatever the outcome of today’s election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience—with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of “present,” and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence. A platform vowing, unforgettably, to restore us—a country lost to arrogance and crimes against humanity—to a place of respect in the world.

Deputy editor Daniel Henninger, editorial board member Matthew Kaminski, and WSJ.com columnist John Fund analyze tomorrow’s referendum on Obama-Pelosi governance.

We would win back our allies who, so far as we knew, hadn’t been lost anywhere. Though once Mr. Obama was elected and began dissing them with returned Churchill busts and airy claims of ignorance about the existence of any special relationship between the United States and Great Britain, the British, at least, have been feeling less like pals of old.

In the nearly 24 months since Mr. Obama’s election, popular enthusiasm for him has gone the way of his famous speeches—lyrical, inspired and unburdened by the weight of concrete thought.

About the ingratitude of Democratic voters the president brooded in a September Rolling Stone interview. “If people now want to take their ball and go home,” he declared, “that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.” His vice president, Joe Biden, had a few days earlier contributed his own distinctive effort to seduce Democrats back to the fold by telling them to “stop whining.”

The results of this charm campaign remain to be seen. What’s clear now is that we’ve heard quite enough about the “angry electorate”—a peculiarly reductive view of citizens who’ve managed to read all the signs and detect an administration they were not prepared to live with.

Martin Kozlowski

rabinowitz

rabinowitz

Nothing wakened their instincts more than the administration’s insistence on its health-care bill—its whiff of totalitarian will, its secretiveness, its display of cold assurance that the new president’s social agenda trumped everything.

But it was about far more than health-care reform, or joblessness, or the great ideological divide between the president and the rest of the country. It was about an accumulation of facts quietly taken in that told Americans that the man they had sent to the White House had neither the character or the capacity to lead the country.

Their president was the toast of Europe, masterful before the adoring crowds—but one who had remarkably soon proved unable to inspire, in citizens at home, any belief that he was a leader they could trust. Or one who trusted them or their instincts. His Democratic voters were unhappy? They, and their limited capacities, were to blame.

These are conspicuous breaks in the armor of civility and charm that candidate Obama once showed—and those breaks are multiplying.

At a Democratic fund-raiser a few weeks ago, the president noted, in explanation for the Democrats’ lack of enthusiasm, that facts and science and argument aren’t winning the day because “we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared.” The suggestion was clear: The Democrats’ growing resistance to his policies was a product of the public’s lack of intellectual capacity and their fears.

Decades ago another president directly addressed Americans in a time of far greater peril. “Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart,” Franklin Roosevelt told his national audience. The occasion was a fireside chat delivered Feb. 23, 1942. No radio address then or since has ever imparted a presidential message so remarkable in its detail, complexity and faith in its audience.

It was delivered just a few months after Pearl Harbor, a time when the Allied cause looked bleakest. It would be known to history as “The Map Speech.” The president had asked Americans to have a map at hand, “to follow with me the references I shall make to the world- encircling battle lines of this war.” He took them through those lines, the status of battles around the globe, the enemy’s objectives, centers of raw material and far more. By the time they had finished poring over their maps with him they had had a considerable education.

It is impossible to imagine what might have been the effect if the current president, who is regularly compared to FDR—always a source of amazement—had tried anything like a detailed address explaining, say, the new health-care bill. Though this would have required knowledge of what was actually in the bill (a likely problem) and a readiness to share that news (an even greater one).

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Despite the ongoing work of legions grinding out endless new and improved proofs that FDR was a despoiler of democracy and our economic system, it is worth remembering the reason virtually all serious historians rank him among the top three of our greatest presidents.

Franklin Roosevelt led the nation through 12 years begun in incomparable national misery virtually to the end of the war. When he died, an anguished country mourned as it had not done since the death of Lincoln. Americans trusted him. The story is told of a man found weeping when Roosevelt’s funeral train went past, who was asked if he had known the president. “I didn’t know him,” he replied. “But he knew me.”

The times are now vastly different—no one expects a candidate with the powers of an FDR these days. But the requirements of leadership don’t change. Despite charm and intellect, Americans have never been able to see in Mr. Obama a president who spoke to them and for them. He has been their lecturer-in-chief, a planner of programs for his vision of a new and progressive society.

Plenty of suggestions, none of them feasible, are in the air now about how he can reposition himself for 2012, and move to the center. Mr. Obama is who he is: a man of deep-dyed ideological inclinations, with a persona to match. And that isn’t going away.

The Democrats may not take a complete battering in the current contest, but there is no doubt of the problems ahead. This election has everything to do with the man in the White House about whom Americans have lost their illusions. Illusions matter. Their loss is irrecoverable.

Ms. Rabinowitz is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

The Unseen Costs of Obamacare – Guest Commentary by Richard S. Bernstein October 5, 2010

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The Unseen Costs of Obamacare

By Richard S. Bernstein

Chief Executive Officer,

Richard S. Bernstein & Associates Inc.

Last week, I received two visits from employees, both with the same question:  “You mean I’m going to have to pay income tax next year on the health insurance benefits you give me?”

The only answer I was able to give them was: Not yet.

It has been six months since Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, yet still, we continue to find and learn new things about how the “Obamacare” health care bill will affect the average American.

What my two employees recently learned was that, beginning in January 2011, every American who receives health insurance through his or her employer will see that insurance benefits show up in his or her W-2 form. For the time being, that doesn’t mean they are paying taxes on this benefit – only that they are disclosing the value of that benefit to the government.

Raise your hand if you believe this won’t lead to a new tax? After the midterm election, of course.

Meanwhile, many of the Americans who can least afford a new expense arelikely to see one, unless Congress repeals another facet of Obamacare. McDonald’s Corp. this week announced plans to drop the low-cost, effective health care plan it offers to nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers if that clause – which mandates that a certain percentage of revenue has to go to claims rather than administrative costs – is waived. If that happens, those hourly workers – all of whom likely fall into the group of Americans that Obama promised not to raise taxes on, as they make less than $250,000 a year – will find themselves paying significantly more for health insurance.

While this isn’t precisely a tax increase, it creates the same effect: it takes money from Americans’ pockets, many of whom are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

This is a real effect of Obamacare that will affect their quality of life; even more than that, it is a real effect of Obamacare that will decrease Americans’ spendable income – and that will be felt throughout our economy.

I say this as a person who works in the insurance industry, and who strongly believes that our nation’s health care system rode off the tracks many years ago. In some places, Obamacare will help put us back on track: that the bill has removed lifetime limits on insurance coverage; that it has prohibited insurance companies from rescinding coverage, or from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions – these are good things that have been a long time coming.

But, like a young woman preparing for the prom, the cost of changing our health care system isn’t as simple as paying for the ticket. That young woman needs

a dress, shoes, accessories – all things that come with an extra cost. The same is true of our health care bill – everything comes with an extra cost.

And before Americans go to the polls this November – where most will, without a doubt, have health care on the brain – they should understand those costs.

They should understand that employers like McDonald’s Corp could drop their affordable health care plans.

They should understand that the cost of both drugs and hospital visits have gone up since Obamacare’s passage, at least partially because drug companies and hospitals don’t know what the future holds, and want to ensure a cash reserve if their finances take a dive under the new health care laws.

They should understand that, if they currently use a Health Savings Account (HSA) to purchase over-the-counter drugs, allowing them to write off those medications on their taxes, that practice will end under Obamacare.

They should understand that taking money from their HSA for non-medical purposes will no longer come with a 10 percent penalty; now, that penalty will be 20 percent.  And they should understand that their Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) will be capped at $2,500. So the payroll deductions that currently go into Flexible Spending Accounts tax-free will become capped under Obamacare. And in today’s medical world, $2,500 doesn’t go very far.

In all, there are more than 20 examples like this – new, higher taxes that will go into effect under Obamacare, some as soon as January 1, 2011.

And that’s only what we’ve found so far.

Richard S. Bernstein is one of the nation’s top insurance advisors to high net worth individuals, businesses, and charitable organizations.  He’s been featured in many national publications and has joined The Mangru Report on Fox Business as a featured panelist. You can find out more about Mr. Bernstein by visting his corporate website www.rbernstein.com

Missouri voters reject key provision of health care law August 4, 2010

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Here’s an interesting article about Missouri and Obamacare…

Mo. voters reject key provision of health care law

By DAVID A. LIEB (AP) – Aug. 3, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly
rejected a key provision of President Barack Obama’s health care law,
sending a clear message of discontent to Washington and Democrats less
than 100 days before the midterm elections.

With about 70 percent of the vote counted late Tuesday, nearly
three-quarters of voters threw their support behind a ballot measure,
Proposition C, that would prohibit the government from requiring
people to have health insurance or from penalizing them for not having
it.

That would conflict with a federal requirement that most people have
health insurance or face penalties starting in 2014.

Tuesday’s vote was seen as largely symbolic because federal law
generally trumps state law. But it was also seen as a sign of growing
voter disillusionment with federal policies and a show of strength by
conservatives and the tea party movement.

Legislatures in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana and Virginia have
passed similar statutes, and voters in Arizona and Oklahoma will vote
on such measures as state constitutional amendments in November. But
Missouri was the first state to challenge aspects of the law in a
referendum.

Federal courts are expected to weigh in well before the insurance
provision takes effect about whether the federal health care overhaul
is constitutional.

The intent of the federal requirement is to broaden the pool of
healthy people covered by insurers, thus holding down premiums that
otherwise would rise because of separate provisions prohibiting
insurers from denying coverage to people with poor health or
pre-existing conditions.

But the insurance requirement has been one of the most contentious
parts of the new federal law. Public officials in well over a dozen
states, including Missouri, have filed lawsuits claiming Congress
overstepped its constitutional authority by requiring citizens to buy
health insurance.

The Missouri Hospital Association spent $400,000 warning people that
passage of the ballot measure could increase hospitals’ costs for
treating the uninsured, but there was little opposition to the measure
from either grass-roots organizations or from the unions and consumer
groups that backed the federal overhaul.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Grover Norquist One-on-One – The Mangru Report – Episode 3 May 18, 2010

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Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, talks with Dan Mangru of The Mangru Report and debunks some of the common myths associated with Obama’s tax agenda. Norquist reveals why a VAT tax will never replace any existing tax, how healthcare wasn’t even scored properly by the CBO before it was passed, why Americans can’t afford Obama’s healthcare, comments on Carly Fiorina’s jobs plan, and which taxes to lower in order to boost job creation.