Obamacare Delay – Critics – THE BIG QUESTION: Is Obama A President Or A King? – The Kelly File
ObamaCare: Three Years of Broken Promises
Henry Chao: 30-40% of HealthCare.gov Still Needs To Be Built
DHS Cannot Provide Answers Regarding the Security of Healthcare.gov
Obamacare Website Healthcare.gov Crashes During Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ Visit
Pelosi taken apart by David Gregory on false Obamacare promises
Dennis Miller-special Nancy Pelosi
11-13-13 “ObamaCare Implementation: The Rollout of HealthCare.gov” Pt. I
11-13-13 “ObamaCare Implementation: The Rollout of HealthCare.gov” Pt. 2
11-13-13 “ObamaCare Implementation: The Rollout of HealthCare.gov” Pt. 3
Megyn Kelly Outraged Obama Lied about Americans being able to keep coverage, shows proof
Megyn Kelly Interviews Charles Krauthammer on Obamacare Outrage – Kelly File – 10/30/13
More Than a Website
Health Site Is Improving But Likely to Miss Saturday Deadline
Louise Radnofsky and Spencer E. Ante
Despite recent progress at HealthCare.gov, a raft of problems will remain beyond the Obama administration’s Saturday deadline to make the troubled federal insurance website work.
The news isn’t all bad: Users say the site looks better, pages load faster, and more people are getting through to sign up for health plans.
But technical problems still affect HealthCare.gov’s ability to verify users’ identities and transmit accurate enrollment data to insurers, officials say. The data center that supports the site faces continuing challenges, and tools for processing payments to insurers haven’t been built.
Technical staff in Washington have been racing up to the end-of-November deadline. In their last public pronouncement on the effort, three days before the deadline, officials said they had much to do to get the site into a condition where it functions smoothly for a majority of users.
The success of the White House’s signature domestic initiative is riding on the technicians’ ability to fix the site, as well as the rest of the federal technology supporting enrollment. Across the nation, that effort is being eyed hopefully by supporters of the law, since the site is the centerpiece of the effort to overhaul American health care and extend coverage to millions of people.
Those hopes were deflated by a series of blows for the administration right up until Nov. 30, and the site continued to experience outages, both planned and unplanned, in the week leading up to the deadline.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the administration was planning to change its Web-hosting provider from Verizon Communications Inc. VZ -0.62%Verizon Communications Inc. U.S.: NYSE $49.62 -0.31 -0.62% Nov. 29, 2013 1:00 pm Volume (Delayed 15m) : 4.30M AFTER HOURS $49.79 +0.17 +0.34% Nov. 29, 2013 4:42 pm Volume (Delayed 15m): 611,247 P/E Ratio 65.29 Market Cap $141.91 Billion Dividend Yield 4.27% Rev. per Employee $651,745 11/27/13 H-P Will Replace Verizon for W… 11/20/13 Investors Tell AT&T, Verizon t… 11/18/13 Supreme Court Declines to Hear…More quote details and news »VZ in Your Value Your Change Short position subsidiary Terremark to Hewlett-Packard Co. in the spring, a complex transition that could introduce new challenges and take months; and the same day, the administration said it was shelving for a year any attempts to operate an online exchange for small businesses. On Wednesday, Verizon declined to comment on its clients.
Officials mixed optimism with caution. “November 30th does not represent a relaunch of HealthCare.gov,” said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which operates the site. “It is not a magical date. There will be times after November 30th when the site, like any website, does not perform optimally.”
For the fix-it drive that began in late October, the administration tapped former White House adviser Jeff Zients and QSSI, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, to act as the new lead contractor, establishing a 24-hour “war room” operations center to coordinate contractors who previously weren’t working well together. Since then, officials have focused on fixing the kinds of wrinkles that were most obvious to users.
They have reported success in speeding up the response time of the system, lowering it from an average of eight seconds at launch to less than one second for most users. They say they have eliminated a host of glitches in the software so that pages now load incorrectly less than 1% of the time. And they say they have added “visual cues” to help users navigate the system more easily.
Technicians have been racing to add new computer server, storage and database capacity to the website, hoping to get the site ready to withstand 50,000 simultaneous users by Sunday, as was originally intended, said people familiar with the work. “I think we are close,” said one.
Some people involved with enrollment say they have seen a notable uptick in recent weeks. Maine Community Health Options, a nonprofit plan based in Lewiston, Maine, now is getting “hundreds of enrollments” a day, rather than the dozens it saw trickling in earlier this month, said Chief Executive Kevin Lewis.
But problems with the performance of the site’s databases, storage and servers and their interaction with each other continue to slow the site or make it unavailable for short periods, according to government officials and contractors working on the project.
Explore how America’s health-care overhaul will affect you on this first-person adventure. CLICK THE IMAGEto start interactive experience.
Karen Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, which has trained nearly 50 people to help others enroll, said the performance of the website has improved in recent weeks but suffers from unpredictable glitches. On Nov. 19, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius visited a medical center in Miami and watched a member of Ms. Egozi’s staff help a couple fill out an application. The website failed, in front of a local TV camera crew.
On the weekend of Nov. 23 and 24, Ms. Egozi said her navigators were able to sign up a few people. But on Nov. 25, she said the site was down for a little while. “Sometimes, similar to when the secretary was here, the site does not let us through to the next section,” she said. “It was not working today, but yesterday it worked well.”
One source of early problems: The government had bought web-hosting services from Terremark subsidiary that initially gave it a highly virtualized system of servers shared by other groups within the Medicare center, rather than a dedicated group of computer servers for HealthCare.gov. Plans are in place to replace the Verizon unit with H-P this spring.
HHS also didn’t initially contract for a backup website or monitoring tools like those used by sophisticated consumer sites, according to people familiar with the matter.
The website still has no separate backup copy, but it did replace the virtual database with dedicated hardware, and bought and installed monitoring software.
Meanwhile, the site has a backlog of users who encountered problems in its first weeks of operation. Some appear to be locked out from the early stages unless they can get their account deleted. Others are stuck at the next big stage, persuading the federal government of their identity and their income so their application for tax credits can be processed.
Yannette Castellano waits to talk to a navigator about health-care options available under the Affordable Care Act, at the North Shore Medical Center, on Nov. 19 in Miami. AP
Guy Dicharry of Los Lunas, N.M., said he had been in limbo at the identity-verification stage since Oct. 5, despite giving the site personal information several times so it can confirm his income. He hasn’t heard back about a paper application submitted Nov. 1.
“This has been botched and is not getting fixed. If it’s not fixed, I’ll be ringing in 2014 as a newly uninsured person. I suspect that is the opposite of what the ACA was supposed to achieve,” said Mr. Dicharry, who described himself as a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. Because of their age and income, Mr. Dicharry and his wife stand to gain valuable subsidies toward the cost of coverage, but only if he buys it through the website.
Ronald Gallagher of Paradise Valley, Ariz., said he had been helping his daughter shop for coverage. After 16 hours over four days starting Oct. 1, they were told her identity was verified and she could pick a plan. But when they logged in to the website, it said her application was “In Progress.”
After failing to get help from a call center, father and daughter filled out an application over the phone in early November, but they still haven’t received a letter telling what insurance plans she qualifies for. “So far, nothing the government has done has worked,” Mr. Gallagher said.
Even when people successfully enroll, insurers say they sometimes get incorrect data. Ms. Bataille, the government spokeswoman, said officials have seen “marked improvements” in the information transmitted to insurers but “we know there are still issues that remain.” An HHS official also said that there had been improvements in identity verification, but that the agency knew it wasn’t fully fixed.
Mr. Lewis of Maine Community Health Options also worried about a larger volume of applicants, especially since insurers have now been told to find ways to process applications that come in from people as late as Dec. 23 in time for their coverage to begin Jan. 1, rather than a previous Dec. 15 deadline.
If “there’s an avalanche on that last date, I don’t know if the system will be able to support all that,” he said.
Is There a Silver Lining to the Supreme Court’s Obamacare Decision?
The History of Medicaid (According to Frank Thompson)
47 Years of Medicare & Medicaid
Heritage Hangout: Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion
Why new Medicaid enrollment is soaring
States are reporting far higher enrollment in Medicaid than in private insurance since the Affordable Care Act exchanges opened Oct. 1. In Maryland, for example, the number of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees is more than 25 times the number of people signed up for private coverage.
Even some Medicaid experts say they are surprised at the early numbers.
A Stateline survey of the 25 expansion states and the District of Columbia provides clear explanations for the strong Medicaid rollout so far.
The biggest reason for the initial jump in Medicaid enrollment is that hundreds of thousands of people in the expansion states have been pre-qualified for expanded Medicaid because they are already enrolled in low-income state health care. Illinois, for example, will roll over 100,000 Cook County residents who have received expanded Medicaid benefits since 2011.
Another reason for the big numbers is aggressive outreach campaigns in many states, including mailings to residents enrolled in other safety net programs. Oregon, for example, signed up 70,000 enrollees in October by contacting residents who receive food stamps.
A much smaller number of people in expansion states are also signing up on state exchanges and Medicaid websites. The federal government has not yet released the number of Medicaid applications filed on federally-operated exchange sites in the 34 states that are not running their own exchanges.
To be sure, the rush to enroll in Medicaid indicates a strong demand for health care coverage. But the early spike is more a function of states’ proven ability to find, educate and enroll low-income residents than an indication of an imbalance with healthier people who can afford insurance, as has been suggested.
It is important to note that early enrollment numbers reflect so-called “low hanging fruit,” said Matt Salo, director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. Future increases are expected to be smaller.
The states that chose to expand Medicaid, Salo said, are predisposed to aggressively reach out to potential beneficiaries. “Most have been more committed to Medicaid than the other states,” he said.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that Medicaid expansion was up to states, the Congressional Budget Office downgraded its original projection that 13 million people would qualify for expanded Medicaid in 2014 and 17 million by 2020. Now, the federal estimate is 7 million by the end of 2014 and 11 million by 2020.
Stateline‘s survey indicates at least 1.5 million people have already signed up or have been pre-qualified for expanded Medicaid in the 19 states that provided counts. Expected total enrollment in those states is 3.7 million.
Following are the details available as of Nov. 5:
Arizona: The number of new applications is not available at this time. In total, Arizona expects 57,000 people to qualify for its expanded Medicaid program. In addition, the state expects 240,000 more individuals to enroll in its existing Medicaid program for childless adults with incomes at or below the federal poverty level ($11,490). Enrollment in that program was frozen in 2012 and currently totals 70,000.
Arkansas: Arkansas has received 70,595 applications for its expanded Medicaid program. Of those, 3,672 came through the state’s existing Medicaid website, 1,785 were paper or phone applications, and the rest were positive responses to a mailing to 132,000 households that receive food stamps. Ultimately, the state expects about 250,000 uninsured residents to qualify.
California: California plans to release enrollment numbers from its state-run website in mid-November. Newly eligible enrollment in expanded Medicaid is expected to total about 1.4 million. Of that number, 600,000 people will come from the state’s early expansion program approved by the federal government in 2011.
Colorado: Colorado has qualified more than 25,000 adults for its expanded Medicaid program. Of that number, approximately 9,000 were on a waiting list for an existing Medicaid program that covers adults with extremely low incomes. Another 10,000 people enrolled in that program will also be transferred to expanded Medicaid coverage in January. Combined, that comes to 35,000 individuals, more than 20 percent of the 160,000 uninsured residents Colorado expects to be eligible for its expanded Medicaid program.
Connecticut: Connecticut has enrolled 3,550 new people in its expanded Medicaid program through its state-run exchange and Medicaid website. In addition, at least 48,000 enrolled in a state-run low income-health program have already been moved into expanded Medicaid. Connecticut expects a total of 55,000 expanded Medicaid enrollees in 2014.
Delaware: No new enrollment data is available yet. Delaware already provides Medicaid coverage for 30,000 adults with incomes up to the federal poverty level ($11,490). Its expanded Medicaid program is expected to cover another 30,000 people with incomes between $11,490 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856).
District of Columbia: D.C. began expanding its Medicaid program in June 2010. By June 2013, nearly 50,000 new people were enrolled. The District has not estimated how many people will ultimately enroll in expanded Medicaid.
Hawaii: Hawaii has approved 6,100 applications for expanded Medicaid. By 2014, the state expects a total of 54,000 enrollees.
Illinois: The Illinois Medicaid agency has received 30,124 applications for expanded Medicaid through its existing website. Illinois has an exchange partnership with the federal government so applications are also being filed on the federally-run exchange. In addition to online applications, 46,000 people responded to an August mailing to 123,000 food stamp recipients. Illinois has enrolled 26,000 of those respondents and is processing the balance. In addition, 100,000 people in Cook County who participate in a limited early Medicaid expansion enrollment group will automatically be rolled over to the expansion program on Jan. 1. Projected enrollment is 342,000.
Iowa: No new numbers are available on Medicaid applications. In all, 150,000 uninsured Iowans are expected to qualify under the proposed expansion. About 63,000 residents with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($22,980) are currently enrolled in a Medicaid health plan with limited benefits. Most are expected to qualify for expanded Medicaid. Iowa has not yet received federal approval for its Medicaid expansion plan, which is similar to Arkansas’ so-called private option.
Kentucky: Kentucky has received 25,654 applications for expanded Medicaid through its state-run exchange. Ultimately, the state expects 308,000 low-income individuals to qualify.
Maryland: The number of applications from its state-run website is not yet available. However, Maryland has an existing, limited-benefit health plan known as Primary Adult Care (PAC) available to all adults with incomes up to 123 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,133). As of Sept. 30, enrollment in the plan was 82,423. Maryland expects enrollment in PAC to expand to 88,000 by Jan. 1, 2014, when the entire population will automatically convert to full Medicaid benefits. In addition, residents in a narrow income band (124 percent to 138 percent of poverty) can sign up for expanded Medicaid on the state exchange. Overall, Maryland expects 110,000 people to be enrolled by the end of 2014.
Massachusetts: No enrollment numbers are available at this time. As a result of its own health care reforms launched in 2006, Massachusetts has a 97 percent insured rate. Still, the state expects about 45,000 people to obtain Medicaid coverage as a result of the expansion.
Michigan: No enrollment numbers are available. The Michigan legislature approved Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed Medicaid expansion in September but postponed implementation until April 2014.
Minnesota: The federal government granted Minnesota special permission to enroll 84,000 individuals in the expanded Medicaid program in 2011. Another 2,496 newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries completed applications on the state-run exchange in the first two weeks of October. Ultimately, Minnesota expects to cover 265,000 adults in its expansion. In addition, it is the only state that has opted to provide a so-called “Basic Health Plan” for people with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line ($22,980). Under the ACA, the federal government will pay 85 percent of the costs starting in 2015. That program is expected to grow to 160,000.
Nevada: No information is available at this time.
New Jersey: No information is available at this time.
New Mexico: New Mexico has approved 2,507 applications for expanded Medicaid through the federally operated exchange and its existing Medicaid website. In addition, 100,000 enrollees in two limited-benefit state health care programs will be rolled into the expanded Medicaid. New Mexico expects 130,000 people will be in the expanded program by 2015.
New York: No enrollment numbers are available yet. New York already covers parents with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty line ($17,235) and childless adults with incomes up to the poverty line ($11,490).
North Dakota: The Medicaid agency has received 147 applications for expanded Medicaid. In December, the state plans to send letters to 36,000 households that receive food stamps or home heating assistance, inviting eligible adults to sign up for expanded Medicaid. Total enrollment in expanded Medicaid is expected to reach 32,000.
Ohio: The most recent state to expand Medicaid, Ohio expects to sign up 275,000 newly eligible Medicaid enrollees. Republican Gov. John Kasich sidestepped the state legislature and won approval for expansion Oct. 21 from an executive branch Controlling Board. The state has not yet begun enrollment. The Medicaid agency says it will announce soon when enrollment will begin.
Oregon: Oregon has approved 70,000 applications for expanded Medicaid. Its state-run website had some initial technical difficulties, but new applications were filed over the phone, in person and through the mail. The vast majority of enrollments came from a mailing in late September that went to 260,000 residents who either receive food stamps or have children enrolled in Medicaid. The state expects roughly 223,000 adults to be enrolled in its expanded Medicaid program by 2015.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island has approved 3,213 new applications for its expanded Medicaid program. Another 835 are in progress. Projected enrollment is 23,428.
Vermont: About 1,000 individuals have signed up for Medicaid on Vermont’s exchange or by submitting paper applications. In addition, 30,000 adults enrolled in two state-run low-income health plans will be rolled into the expanded Medicaid program. By 2015, Vermont expects enrollment to reach 160,000.
Washington: Through its state-run exchange and Medicaid sites, Washington has signed up 26,336 people. Another 30,000 people enrolled in a low-income health program will be automatically enrolled in expanded Medicaid, bringing the total to 56,336. The state expects 270,000 people to qualify by the end of 2014.
West Virginia: West Virginia has pre-qualified 52,056 residents for its expanded Medicaid program. Projected new enrollment is 63,000.
Since 1965, Medicaid has been the backbone of this country’s health care safety net. Jointly funded by the states and the federal government, Medicaid covers more than 58 million low-income Americans, including families, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Today, Medicaid provides coverage for almost 29 million children and pays for approximately half of all long-term care costs.
Medicaid is jointly funded by the states and the federal government. Federal law requires state Medicaid programs to cover certain categories of individuals and services. Beyond that, states have wide flexibility in the design and implementation of their Medicaid programs.
Medicaid Today: Even though Medicaid has helped millions gain access to health care, many low-income people have been left out. In 30 states, income eligibility for parents is set below 50 percent of poverty (in 2012, that’s an annual income of $9,545 for a family of three). In most states, adults without dependent children, no matter how poor, cannot get Medicaid coverage at all.
Medicaid Expansion: In 2014, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, states can get substantial federal funding to expand Medicaid to all residents with incomes at or below 133 percent of poverty, thus extending Medicaid coverage to individuals who have been left out of the program. [Note: Since 5 percent of income is not included—is “disregarded”—when eligibility is determined, the expansion, in effect, applies to those with incomes at or below 138 percent of poverty.]
For more on how Medicaid works today, and how it will work under the Medicaid expansion, see:
Medicaid Today: Generally speaking, each state receives matching dollars from the federal government, and those matching rates vary across the states from 50 to 76 percent. This means that, for every dollar a state spends on Medicaid, the federal government contributes between $1.00 and $3.17. Federal matching rates are based on the per capita income of the states, so states with lower per capita incomes get higher matching rates.
Medicaid Expansion: In 2014, the Affordable Care Act gives states the opportunity to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all individuals with incomes at or below 138 percent of poverty (see note above), an income of about $31,809 for a family of four in 2012. That will extend coverage to many low-income adults currently left out of the program and simplify eligibility determinations across the program.
Federal law requires states to cover certain categories of people in Medicaid. In general, there are six categories of so-called “mandatory” individuals: 1) children, 2) pregnant women, 3) very low-income parents, 4) the elderly, and individuals who are 5) blind or 6) disabled. Eligibility levels for these groups of people varies by income:
Children under age six with family incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($25,390 for a family of three in 2012)
Children ages 6-19 with family incomes up to 100 percent of poverty ($19.090 for a family of three in 2012)
Pregnant women with family incomes up to 133 percent of poverty
Parents whose income meets the state’s AFDC (former welfare program) criteria in place as of July 1996
People who are elderly, blind, or who have disabilities and who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may have incomes up to 74 percent of poverty ($8,266 for an individual in 2012)
Certain people with severe disabilities who would qualify for SSI if they did not work
Elderly individuals and people with disabilities whose Medicare premiums are paid by Medicaid through the “QMB,” ”SLMB,” and “QI” programs—generally speaking, these are individuals who have incomes below 150 percent of poverty
States have the flexibility to increase these income limits to allow more people to qualify for Medicaid for several general categories of people, as follows:
Low-income children, parents, and pregnant women with family incomes above mandatory cutoff levels and up to whatever income limit the states decide
People who are blind, elderly, or disabled with incomes above the SSI level but below 100 percent of poverty ($10,830 for an individual in 2010)
Nursing home residents with incomes above SSI levels but below 300 percent of poverty ($32,490 for an individual in 2010)
People with disabilities who work and have incomes above the SSI limit
Medically needy individuals who require institutional care but who have incomes that are too high to qualify for SSI—these individuals can deduct the cost of their institutional care from their income in order to qualify for Medicaid
The Affordable Care Act requires states to maintain the Medicaid eligibility levels, policies, and procedures that were in place in March 2010 (the date the Affordable Care Act was enacted) until the state has an operational exchange.
Medicaid Expansion: In 2014, states can expand their Medicaid programs to cover virtually all individuals under the age of 65 with incomes below 133 percent of poverty. Income eligibility for those over 65 will remain unchanged. For those newly eligible through this expansion, the federal government will cover 100 percent of costs for 2014 through 2016, gradually falling to 90 percent in 2020. The federal contribution will remain at 90 percent thereafter. States have the option to implement this expansion sooner.
In states that expand Medicaid, the historic federal Medicaid matching formula will still apply to individuals who meet the Medicaid eligibility criteria in place as of December 1, 2009.
Federal law requires states to provide a minimum benefit package in Medicaid. So-called “mandatory” benefits include physician services, hospital services, family planning, health center services, and nursing facility services. The benefit package for children is more comprehensive than the one for adults because federal law requires states to provide coverage for certain health screenings and services that are medically necessary. This requirement is called the Early and Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.
State Options States are permitted to provide coverage for certain other health care services that are approved by the federal government. Such “optional” services include dental care, mental health care, eye glasses and vision care, coverage for prescription drugs, home health care, case management, and rehabilitation services. For a detailed list of what benefits state Medicaid programs cover, click here.
Medicaid Expansion: In states that take advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, there are specific benefit requirements for those who are newly eligible. For those individuals, states must provide a set of essential health benefits. For more information on Medicaid’s essential health benefits, see Designing the Essential Health Benefits for Your State: An Advocate’s Guide.
Medicaid provides health coverage for low-income children and adults, medical and long-term care coverage for people with disabilities, and assistance with health and long-term care expenses for low-income seniors. More than 58 million people rely on Medicaid services today, and millions more will qualify for Medicaid when the provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect in 2014.
Children receive health coverage through Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To learn more about CHIP, see the Children’s Healthsection.
This section of our website provides resources on Medicaid laws and regulations and keeps you up-to-date on the battle to sustain and improve this important program.
Medicaid Expansion Center
States that plan to expand Medicaid coverage in 2014 have much to do to prepare. In many states, advocates need support in making the case for expansion. The Medicaid Expansion Center offers information on everything from the Supreme Court decision’s effect on Medicaid to news from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), plus the best tools for helping your state make the most of the expansion.
Medicaid Defense Center
While some states move ahead to expand their Medicaid programs, the existing Medicaid program remains under fire at both the federal and state level. Many in Congress—and some governors, as well—seek to make deep cuts in Medicaid funding and to change the structure of the Medicaid program through proposals for block grants, per capita caps, and similar schemes. The Medicaid Defense Center features the latest news on the federal budget battle plus tools to help you fight for Medicaid funding in your state.
The Obamacare event took place at the University of Central Arkansas last weekend. It was hosted by a group called the Living Affected Corporation, which apparently has received a grant from the federal government to educate the public about Obamacare.
The event organizer spilled out a bag of condoms — as a couple whoops and hollers could be heard from the small crowd.
Then she says, “Ok, if anyone wants a paper application,” but she interrupts herself to pickup condoms that had fallen on the floor. “I have those as well.”
“So when you’re leaving, you can stop by my table and I’ll give you whatever — condoms — that box has a bunch in it. Anyway … Our corporation, LA Corp … And I’m waiting on my dental dams and female condom order that still hasn’t come in. If you ever need condoms, let me know because we have thousands — boxes of magnums, we get magnums a lot. So here is the prize table.”
The condom give-away was a training event with young Democrats, I’m told.
Is Obamacare on the rebound? Media turn to positive stories. (+video)
Positive headlines are creeping into the news coverage of Obamacare, amid a Democratic counteroffensive and signs the program could be turning a corner. But tough tests lie ahead.
Bit by bit, the media narrative around the travails of Obamacare and its main enrollment vehicle, HealthCare.gov, is starting to look up. Or to put it more precisely, it is no longer so crushingly negative.
After weeks of stories about website crashes and canceled health plans – and an extraordinary mea culpa from President Obama – a competing story line is starting to emerge. Slowly but surely, people are navigating the exchanges and getting insurance – for some, cheaper and better than what they had. Last week, The New York Times and Los Angeles Timestouted a “surge” in enrollment figures, especially in states that have their own exchanges.
This week, a Washington Post story described almost an Obamacare nirvana – people in rural Kentucky lining up and getting coverage, some for the first time in their lives.
Part of this wave of positive stories may be a media effect: Reporters (and the public) get tired of all the wall-to-wall negativity, and to keep interest up, seek out happy stories for a change of pace.
The Obama administration has also ramped up its public relations efforts on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), going around the national media and directly into local markets. On Tuesday, the administration
announced that seniors saved $8.9 billion on prescription drugs thanks to the ACA. And Democratic senators have headed off for Thanksgiving with marching orders: Find and publicize the ACA success stories. At the very least, say Democrats, they need to counter the Republican message machine and story-gathering.
“It’s true, the Democrats are more on the offensive than they were,” says Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. “But they still have serious problems. No one knows where this is going. And for Democrats, the last thing they want is for this to dominate the elections next year.”
This Saturday, Nov. 30, will be one moment of truth. That is the day the Obama administration promised HealthCare.gov would work smoothly for the vast majority of users, after the disastrous Oct. 1 launch. The definition of “vast majority” was later downgraded to 80 percent – with the remaining 20 percent enrolling by other means or still encountering slow loads and error messages.
On Tuesday, in a conference call with state and local elected officials, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised a “significantly different user experience” on HealthCare.gov by the end of the month. And with reporters on the line, she urged the officials “to not hesitate to recommend that people go to HealthCare.gov and get signed up.”
Secretary Sebelius has put her credibility on the line at a time when she can ill afford to see it go any lower. The problem for the Obama administration is that by announcing a hard deadline – Nov. 30 – for vast improvements on a once-profoundly dysfunctional website, it has raised expectations (again) for how well the site will work. As with the initial rollout, Obamacare opponents will be on the lookout for failures, and the media will surely cover them.
Another moment of truth will come when the administration reveals demographic data of people who have enrolled in coverage via the exchanges, possibly with the next official enrollment numbers in mid-December. The ACA will work only if less-healthy enrollees are balanced by enrollees without expensive health issues. On Tuesday’s conference call, Sebelius said she didn’t have demographic information on enrollees, but promised it “very soon.” Then she urged the county executive from Milwaukee to reach out to “young and healthy individuals.”
The daily report Tuesday from Kaiser Health News (KHN) was noteworthy for its positive stories:
“Health law may offer part-time workers better options,” said one headline. The story talked about “mini-med” plans – low-cost, low-benefit plans that are no longer allowable under the ACA – and cited the case of a woman with a serious health problem who is likely to get better, subsidized coverage on the exchange.
Another piece reported on Californians happy to have their insurance policies canceled. Some people, the story reported, had felt trapped with subpar plans but had kept them because of preexisting medical conditions. Now, under the ACA, people with health problems cannot be denied coverage.
A story out of Philadelphia, highlighted websites that have been set up that allow people to calculate their health-care subsidy without going on HealthCare.gov – and if they’re not eligible, allow them to buy coverage directly from the site.
If they are eligible, however, they have to buy their coverage on the federal exchange. So ultimately, for those living in the 36 states that are served by HealthCare.gov, all roads lead back to that site. Among the challenges ahead for the federal site:
By Saturday, the Obama administration says HealthCare.gov should be able to handle 50,000 users simultaneously. Whether that will be enough capacity is an open question. But it’s safe to say that if too many people wait till the last minute to sign up, there could be another wave of embarrassing website failures.
People who want their insurance to begin on Jan. 1 now have until Dec. 23 to enroll. But again, if everyone waits until Dec. 23, that leaves the insurers just eight days – right during the holidays – to process all that paperwork.
And about that paperwork… The “834” forms that are supposed to go to the insurance companies after consumers enroll on HealthCare.gov still need work, the HHS agency in charge of the site said Monday.
Then there’s the issue of Healthcare.gov’s “back-office system,” which a week ago was still unbuilt. On Nov. 19, Henry Chao, a top official at HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said that between 30 and 40 percent of the IT system for the marketplace remained to be constructed. That sounded alarming, but a CMS spokeswoman said that that portion of the website is involved in paying federal subsidies to insurance companies and will not affect individuals.
Getting HealthCare.gov fully functioning in time still sounds like a high-wire act. If there are more major stumbles, the bad headlines will come roaring back.
NBC: ObamaCare Sticker Shock Hitting Americans Receiving Insurance Through Employers
Obama’s Image Takes Major Hit in New CNN Poll
Media now attacking Obama’s credibility
Nearly 80 million more could lose coverage under ObamaCare
White House switches media strategy for ObamaCare coverage
Judge Jeanine: President Obama lies yet again
ObamaCare outrage: Millions scrambling to find coverage
Will Democrats stage a post holiday ObamaCare revolt
Lawmakers debate future of ObamaCare
Democratic Union Activist Aaron De Groot on Obama’s Plummeting Poll Numbers
Krauthammer Dems could be death knell for ObamaCare
MSNBC: Obama Poll Numbers At All Time Lows, Dragging Down 2014 Democrats
Almost 80 million with employer health care plans could have coverage canceled, experts predict
By Jim Angle
Almost 80 million people with employer health plans could find their coverage canceled because they are not compliant with ObamaCare, several experts predicted.
Their losses would be in addition to the millions who found their individual coverage cancelled for the same reason.
Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute said that in addition to the individual cancellations, “at least half the people on employer plans would by 2014 start losing plans as well.” There are approximately 157 million employer health care policy holders.
Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute added, “the administration estimated that approximately 78 million Americans with employer sponsored insurance would lose their existing coverage due to the Affordable Care Act.”
Last week, an analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, showed the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predicted up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.
According to projections the administration itself issued back in July 2010, it was clear officials knew the impact of ObamaCare three years ago.
In fact, according to the Federal Register, its mid-range estimate was that by the end of 2014, 76 percent of small group plans would be cancelled, along with 55 percent of large employer plans.
The reason behind the losses is that current plans don’t meet the requirements of ObamaCare, which dictate that each plan must cover a list of essential benefits, whether people want them or not.
“Things like maternity care or acupuncture or extensive drug coverage,” said Veuger. “And so now the law is going to force them to buy policies that they could have gotten in the past if they wanted to but they chose not to.”
Some plans already have been canceled and employers are getting sticker shock at the new, higher prices under ObamaCare.
One of them is David Allen, president of a company bearing his name in Boulder, Colorado. He told a Congressional hearing recently that his carrier discontinued his company policy because it wasn’t compliant with ObamaCare.
“It does not meet the minimum standards as stipulated under the law. Due to this one change,” he said, “our premiums are now scheduled to increase by 52.3 percent in January 2014.”
Roy said that is not unusual. “The old plans that are being cancelled are meaningfully cheaper than the new plans that are ObamaCare compliant.”
A new wave of cancellations and sticker shock will emerge just before next year’s elections.
“They’re going to start doing that in the summer or early fall but certainly before the midterm elections,” said Veuger.
Jim Angle currently serves as chief national correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1996 as a senior White House correspondent.
Segment 0: HIM Obama, HIM Obama, HIM Obama — His Imperial Majesty — Monarch of Marxism, Czar of Communism, Shah of Socialism, and Pharaoh of Progressivism — His Imperial Majesty Obama — HIM Obama, HIM Obama, HIM Obama — HIM That Must Be Obeyed — If You Like Your Plan You Can Keep Your Plan For One More Year — Videos
A Montage of Obama’s “If You Like Your Plan Keep It” Lies
President Obama describing how to reach single payer flashback
Barack Obama: ‘We Fumbled the Roll Out on This Health Care Law,’ ‘That’s on Me’ – 11-14-2013
Barack Obama Full Speech on Obamacare Disaster & Keep Your Plan Promise – November 14, 2013
Obama wants it both ways on single payer
Obama’s Single Payer Health Care System : New World Order ( NWO )
President Obama Wants A Single Payer Health Care System
Obama on single payer health insurance
Barack Obama and single payer health care
Obama On Single Payer Health Care
President Obama answers question on Health Care Website (C-SPAN Clip)
Obama Town Hall 1st Question? Single Payer
Obama In ’09: Medicare “Is Going Broke”
Trustees say long-run Medicare, Social Security deficit is $66 trillion
Social Security and Medicare – the two largest federal programs – are on track to generate $66 trillion in deficits over time, according to the latest analysis from the programs’ trustees.
Taken together, the reports underscore the fact that whatever modest improvement there has been in the near-term deficit outlook, the nation still faces deep long-term fiscal challenges.
In 2013, Social Security’s trustees expect the program to pay out $79 billion more in benefits than the government collects in Social Security taxes, and anticipate the program running deficits in perpetuity. This is despite the expiration of the 2011-12 payroll tax holiday and the improvement in the economy. Back when President Bush advocated Social Security reform, the program wasn’t supposed to start running annual deficits until 2018.
Typically, the media places emphasis on the Social Security “trust fund.” That is, in past years in which the government was collecting more in Social Security taxes than it cost to provide benefits, it spent the surplus on other government functions and issued IOUs to the Social Security system. Though the distinction is silly given that the money all has to come from the same bank account, the trustees estimate that these IOUs will now run out in 2033, at which point, absent other changes, the federal government would have to automatically cut Social Security benefits by 23 percent. When Bush was advocating Social Security reform, this wasn’t projected to happen until 2042. Put another way, the trust fund exhaustion date that was 37 years away during the Bush era when liberals denied the existence of a Social Security crisis, is now just 20 years away.
Under the trustees’ “infinite horizon” estimates that project the cost of Social Security over time in present dollars, the program is running a long-term deficit of $23.1 trillion.
When it comes to Medicare, the outlook is even grimmer, because the demographics of an expanding older generation, which challenge the finances of Social Security, interact with rising health care costs.
The finances of Medicare are also more complicated, because the program has several different funding streams. The hospital payment program, Medicare Part A, like Social Security, is financed by a payroll tax, in addition to general federal revenue. Medicare Part B (which covers services such as doctors visits and lab tests in addition to equipment such as wheelchairs) and Medicare Part D (which covers prescription drugs) are financed by a combination of collecting premiums from beneficiaries and general revenue.
Over time, the trustees project the hospital fund has $3.5 trillion in unfunded obligations, Part B will require $25 trillion in general revenue to finance, and Part D — passed by a Republican Congress and signed by Bush — will require an injection of $14.4 trillion. All told, Medicare will run $42.9 trillion short. Combined with Social Security, the long-term deficit of the two programs is $66 trillion.
This, however, likely understates the true extent of the financial problems facing Medicare. The reason is that these projections assume that all of the Medicare cuts in President Obama’s health care law will be fully implemented and that Congress will allow scheduled cuts to doctors’ payments to go into effect, even though lawmakers routinely vote to delay such cuts.
Paul Spitalnic, the acting chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in a statement at the end of the report, cautioned that the projections were ultimately “implausible.” For instance, they would require a cut to Medicare physicians’ payments of nearly 25 percent this January.
“Further, while the Affordable Care Act makes important changes to the Medicare program and substantially improves its financial outlook, there is a strong likelihood that certain of these changes will not be viable in the long range,” Spitalnic wrote. He continued: “Without unprecedented changes in health care delivery systems and payment mechanisms, the prices paid by Medicare for health services are very likely to fall increasingly short of the costs of providing these services. By the end of the long-range projection period, Medicare prices for hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health, hospice, ambulatory surgical center, diagnostic laboratory, and many other services would be less than half of their level without consideration of the productivity price reductions. Medicare prices would be considerably below the current relative level of Medicaid prices, which have already led to access problems for Medicaid enrollees, and far below the levels paid by private health insurance. Well before that point, Congress would have to intervene to prevent the withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market and the severe problems with beneficiary access to care that would result. Overriding the productivity adjustments, as Congress has done repeatedly in the case of physician payment rates, would lead to substantially higher costs for Medicare in the long range than those projected under current law.”
According to an alternate set of assumptions in which Congress undoes these cuts, the trustees estimate that the Medicare program could cost about 50 percent more over a 75-year period.
On paper, the Medicare hospital “trust fund” won’t be exhausted until 2026, which is two years later than last year and nine years later than before the passage of Obamacare. But, this estimate is based on the same unreasonable assumptions. Additionally, it’s misleading, because the projected Medicare savings are really supposed to be used to help finance the health care law’s new spending rather than extend the solvency of Medicare.
Chris Wallace: ‘One of the Problems’ with Obamacare is Too Many Poor People Get Medicaid
Obamacare numbers coming ‘shortly’
Obamacare Official Enrollment Numbers Released by Sebelius
Obamacare Numbers Don’t Lie – WSJ RPT: Obamacare Enrollment Well Bellow Goal – Sen Ted Cruz
$1 Billion Spent on Obamacare Ads by 2015 – Katie Pavlich vs. Alan Colmes – Fox News – 8-21-13
Opt Out – The Exam – Creepy Uncle Sam
Uncle Sam plays proctologist in creepy political ad
Fewer than 27,000 health care sign-ups through federal website; 79,000 more in state sites
Putting a statistic on disappointment, the Obama administration revealed Wednesday that fewer than 27,000 people signed up for private health insurance last month in the 36 states relying on a problem-filled federal website.
States running their own enrollment systems did better, signing up more than 79,000, for a total enrollment of over 106,000.
Still, that was barely one-fifth of the nearly 500,000 people administration officials had projected would sign up the first month of Obama’s signature program, a numerical rebuke to the administration’s ability to deliver on its promise. The 106,185 people who made it all the way through to selecting a plan represent just 1.5 percent of the 7 million people the administration hopes to enroll by next year.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said things will get better, and quickly. “There is no doubt the level of interest is strong,” she said.
The administration said an additional 1 million or so applicants have been found eligible for government-subsidized private coverage in new state-level insurance markets, and about half are within sight of having their plans lined up for the start of next year. An additional 396,000 have been found eligible for Medicaid, the safety-net program that is shaping up as the health care law’s early success story.
The numbers landed amid a political storm on Capitol Hill. Democrats who had hoped to run for re-election next year on the success of the health care law are increasingly worried.
It’s not only the website woes, but a wave of cancellation notices hitting constituents whose individual health insurance policies don’t measure up to the law’s requirements. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has scheduled an all-Democrats meeting Thursday with White House health care officials.
The administration has staked its credibility on turning the website around by the end of this month. From the president on down, officials have said that HealthCare.gov will be running smoothly for the vast majority of users by Nov. 30.
Some outside experts are concerned. “People are starting to get nervous because there is not enough indication from the government that things are on track,” said Caroline Pearson, who runs the health reform practice at Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. “You wonder if there are still underlying programming problems that are causing the system to shut down when volume is high.”
Administration officials have not specified what “running smoothly” means, or what would constitute the “vast majority” of users.
On daily media calls, Health and Human Services department officials have described a situation where problems get fixed and then new issues crop up as consumers are able to venture further into the website. It’s a bit like traffic heading back to a city late on a summer Sunday: You get past one jam, and odds are you run into another.
There was a hopeful sign this Tuesday when Julie Bataille, HHS communications director for the rollout, said that 275,000 people who got hung up in the early days are being invited back to try to complete their applications. The administration is sending the email invitations in batches, so as not to risk any disruptions. White House chief technology officer Todd Park told Congress on Wednesday that system response times are much faster, and error rates have plunged.
HHS reports 106,000 have picked health plans through ObamaCare exchanges
Published November 13, 2013
The Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday that more than 100,000 people have selected a health care plan through the ObamaCare exchanges — a number that, likely due to widespread website failures, falls far short of the administration’s goal.
The administration had originally hoped to sign up a half-million people in the first month of open enrollment. Now more than six weeks into the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov and other state-based exchanges, HHS announced Wednesday that 106,185 people had selected a plan as of Nov. 2.
The announcement had been highly anticipated, as lawmakers have been pressing the administration for weeks on official figures.
But even the statistic revealed on Wednesday might be inflated.
The administration said the figure counts all those who have selected a health care plan from state and federal exchanges, even if they haven’t yet paid a premium on those plans.
One source explained to Fox News that no one is really “enrolled” until the insurance company knows about it.
Still, the numbers announced Wednesday stand as the most definitive account to date from the administration of how many people have been able to wade through the problem-plagued website and pick a plan.
The administration says a total of 975,407 applied for coverage and received an eligibility determination, but have not yet selected a plan. In addition to the 106,185who have selected a plan, another 396,261 have been determined as eligible for Medicaid or a similar government program for children.
Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don’t tell the truth uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
The truth is in the eyes
Cause the eyes don’t lie, amen
Remember a smile is just
A frown turned upside down
My friend let me tell you
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don’t tell the truth, uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
I’m telling you beware
Beware of the pat on the back
It just might hold you back
I tell you, you can’t see behind smiling faces
Smiling faces sometimes they don’t tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don’t tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
(Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes)
(Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes)
I’m telling you beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
Listen to me now, beware
Beware of that pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don’t tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Your enemy won’t do you no harm
Cause you’ll know where he’s coming from
Don’t let the handshake and the smile fool ya
Take my advice I’m only try’ to school ya
Obama to AMA keep your doctor and insurance we will build economy
Obama Knew Millions Would Not Keep Their Private Health Insurance, Get Ready To Pay Much More!
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obama-care, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”
Obama knew millions would lose their health insurance
Obama administration knew millions would lose health insurance
How Cronyism is Hurting the Economy
If You Like Your Health Care Plan You Can’t Keep It!
Uploaded on Jun 16, 2010
Fox News report highlighting how empty Obama’s promise “If you like your health care plan you can keep it” really is. A new government report reveals that 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage by 2013 due to ObamaCare. That numbers soars to 66% for small-business employers.
With new restrictions on health insurance being issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services millions of Americans will shortly be forced to accept government insurance. Exempted from these new rules will be labor unions.
Remember that Obama in a September 2009 speech to congress said: “If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out.”
O.K. Obama misrepresented what was in his plan. It’s time to CALL HIM OUT. Then THROW him out in 2012!
UnitedHealth Group Overview Video
UnitedHealth Group’s Simon Stevens
United Health Group Pressuring Employees To Campaign Against Health Care Reform (With Audio)
Wealth Strategies: Obamacare to benefit HCA, UnitedHealth
Obamacare Fallout – Critics Ask If White House Was Misleading Americans – Brit Humes – Kelly File
A tech firm linked to a campaign-donor crony of President Obama not only got the job to help build the federal health-insurance Web site — but also is getting paid to fix it.
Anthony Welters, a top campaign bundler for Obama and frequent White House guest, is the executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, which owns the software company now at the center of the ObamaCare Web-site fiasco.
UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Quality Software Services Inc. (QSSI), which built the data hub for the ObamaCare system, has been named the new general contractor in charge of repairing the glitch-plagued HealthCare.gov.
Welters and his wife, Beatrice, have shoveled piles of cash into Obama’s campaign coffers and apparently reaped the rewards.
Beatrice Welters bundled donations totaling between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama’s campaign during the 2008 election cycle, according to campaign- finance data compiled by Center for Responsive Politics.
SICK CALL: Obama bundler Anthony Welters’ firm owns the company picked to repair the health Web site.
The couple then became top donors for Obama’s inauguration festivities, kicking in $100,000 out of their own pockets and bundling another $300,000 from friends and business associates, according to the center.
The investments quickly paid off for Beatrice Welters. The Obama administration tapped her in 2009 for the plum job of US ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, which she held through last November.
The couple have been frequent guests at the White House.
Visitors logs show at least a dozen visits between the two by the end of 2012, the most recent information available.
The entire Welters family has gotten into the donation game.
The Welters, along with their sons, Andrew and Bryant, have contributed more than $258,000 to mostly Democratic candidates and committees since 2007.
What’s more, UnitedHealth Group is one of the largest health-insurance companies in the country and spent millions lobbying for ObamaCare.
The insurance giant’s purchase of QSSI in 2012 raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, but the tech firm nevertheless kept the job of building the data hub for the ObamaCare Web site where consumers buy the new mandatory health- insurance plans.
QSSI has been paid an estimated $150 million so far, but officials couldn’t say how much more the company might collect on the repair contract.
By all accounts, the data hub has run smoothly while many other components of the Web site have failed.
Meanwhile, tempers flared among Obama’s Democratic allies over the disastrous rollout of the president’s signature initiative.
“I’m extraordinarily frustrated,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) after top Obama-administration officials gave Senate Democrats a private briefing on the state of the Web-site repairs.
He said they were losing confidence the site could be quickly fixed.
“I don’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the room. This is more of a show-me moment,” said Merkley.
Anthony Welters is the Executive Vice President of United Health Group, which serves more than 70 million Americans through its health and well-being companies. In January 2011, Mr. Welters was appointed a Member of the Office of the CEO.
Mr. Anthony Welters served as an Executive Vice President at Unitedhealth Group Inc. since December, 2006. Mr. Welters served as the President of Public and Senior Markets Group at UnitedHealth Group Inc. since September 2007. He served as the Chief Executive Officer of AmeriChoice Health Services, Inc. He served as Head of Public & Social Markets Group of UnitedHealth Group since August 2007. He co-founded AmeriChoice Corporation (AmeriChoice) in 1989 and served as its Chief Executive Officer and President from 1989 to December 2006. He served a number of senior positions in the federal government and in private industry. He served as an Attorney for the securities and exchange commission and an Executive Assistant of U.S. Senator Jacob Javits. He served as Director of Federal Affairs and as Assistant Vice President of corporate development of AMTRAK. He served as an Associate Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. He serves as the Chairman of the Board of Morehouse School of Medicine Inc. He served as Chairman of AmeriChoice Corporation from 1989 to September 2002. He serves as Vice Chairman of New York University, Morehouse School of Medicine the NYU Hospitals Center and the Library of Congress. He serves as Vice Chairman at the Board of Trustees of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. He serves as a Trustee of Morehouse School Of Medicine Inc., The. He has been an Independent Director of Qwest Communications International Inc. since July 25, 2006, CR Bard Inc. (formerly known as Bard C R Inc.) since February 1999, West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. since March 1997 and AmeriChoice Corporation since 1989. He has been a Director of Loews Corporation since October 8, 2013. He serves as a Director of Horatio Alger Association, The Congressional Black Caucus foundation Inc., The An-bryce Foundation and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. He serves as Council Member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He serves as Trustee of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He serves as Trustee of the Healthcare leadership Council, New York University Law School and Medical Center and the National board of the Smithsonian Institution and is a Member of the Young President’ organization. He is a recipient of the Horatio Alger Award in recognition of his achievements and contributions to society and serves on the board of that charitable organization. Mr. Welters holds a JD from New York University of Law and a BA from Manhattanville College. He is admitted to the bars of New York and DC.
On August 13, 2013, the registrants Board of Directors elect Anthony Welters as a director of the registrant, with both such actions to become effective on October 8, 2013. Mr. Welters is Executive Vice President and a member of the Office of the CEO of UnitedHealth Group Incorporated. He is also Chairman of the Boards of the Morehouse School of Medicine and of New York University School of Law.
UnitedHealth Group Inc
Compensation for 2011
Restricted stock awards
All other compensation
Non-equity incentive plan compensation
Options Exercised for 2011
Number of securities underlying options exercisable
Number of securities underlying options unexercisable
Breakfast Keynote: Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
Strategy Session 1: Reaching More Students with Vouchers and Tax-credit Scholarships
Whether you are an advocate of education vouchers for all or believe special scholarships should be reserved for students in failing schools, the debate on school choice is one that matters. States across the country are enacting new reforms and expanding those that already exist to ensure vouchers and tax-credit scholarships reach the kids who need them the most. Join these state lawmakers as they discuss strategies to keep up with the growing demand from families for quality school choice options.
Moderator: John Kirtley, Chairman of Step Up for Students and vice chairman of the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children
Panelists: Conrad Appel, Louisiana State Senator Algie Howell, Virginia State Delegate Jason Nelson, Oklahoma State Representative Bill O’Brien, New Hampshire State Representative
Over the past few years, states across the country have passed reforms linking student-learning data to teacher evaluations. Now, leaders have entered the critical phase of putting the reforms into practice at the local level. Learn how these education chiefs are developing assessments and evaluation systems in their respective states to measure hard-to-test areas and elevate educators’ professional development.
Moderator: Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Secretary-Designate of Public Education and Vice-Chair of Chiefs for Change
Panelists: Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Jill Hawley, Colorado Associate Commissioner for Achievement and Strategy Dr. Diane Ullman, Chief Talent Officer for the Connecticut State Department of Education
Strategy Session 3: Accountability-Based Flexibility for School Districts
Across the nation, crisis situations are giving birth to new, student-centered learning models. In the midst of challenging economic times and a national focus on improving the quality of education, a new kind of school district is emerging — one with both autonomy and performance-based accountability. Learn how some of our nation’s most troubled school districts are challenging a conventional structure to change the futures of their students, schools and cities.
Moderator: Dr. Paul Hill, Founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education
Panelists: David Harris, Founder and CEO of The Mind Trust John White, Louisiana Superintendent of Education Tyrone Winfrey, Chief of Staff of the Michigan Education Achievement Authority
Strategy Session 4: How to Prepare for Common Core Assessments
The state-led transition to Common Core State Standards will change the expectation of what students need to be learning and is aligned with what they’ll need for success after high school in our changing world. The pressure is on for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to deliver new online assessments and for schools to build the technology infrastructure they’ll need to use those assessments. The Common Core transition brings individual opportunities for states but also challenges. Meanwhile, many state leaders are preparing parents, teachers and communities for the initial results which will likely follow new standards and assessments. Join this panel to discuss specific strategies states and districts can take to ensure everyone and everything is prepared to transition to these new assessments.
Moderator: Governor Bob Wise, President of Alliance for Excellent Education
Panelists: Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction and Chairman of Chiefs for Change Steve Bowen, Maine Commissioner of Education Laura McGiffert Slover, Senior Vice President of Achieve Dr. Joe Willhoft, Executive Director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
bill coleman common core standards
Strategy Session 5: Transforming Colleges of Education
Nine out of every ten teachers graduate from traditional teacher prep programs at colleges of education. Should these colleges be held accountable for the caliber of students they admit into their programs and the teachers they send into the classroom? Don’t miss this discussion on what can be done to ensure new teachers entering the profession are fully equipped to help each of their students succeed.
Moderator: Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality
Panelists: Dr. John Chubb, CEO of Education Sector and member of the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education Paul Pastorek, former Louisiana Superintendent of Education
Strategy Session 6: Charter Schools: Accountability and Funding
With over 40 states now authorizing charter schools, the potential for innovation continues to grow. Each state serves as a testing site for diverse approaches to approving, funding and maintaining the accountability of these unique public schools. Learn the best policies states are using to shape high-quality charter schools across the nation.
Moderator: Jeanne Allen, President of the Center for Education Reform
Panelists: Todd Huston, Indiana State Representative Peggy Lehner, Ohio State Senator Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools James H. Shelton III, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education
Strategy Session 7: Thinking Outside the School-Zone Box
From coast to coast, states are proving there is more than one way to provide families with school choice options. Many are developing new strategies to empower parents with the ability to choose the public school that is best for their child. Listen to these battle-proven leaders share lessons learned and strategies to expand public school choice programs and remove barriers limiting students’ education options.
Moderator: Mike Petrilli, Executive Vice President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Panelists: Matthew Barnes, Executive Director of Families Empowered John Huppenthal, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Luther Olsen, Wisconsin State Senator
Strategy Session 8: College & Career Readiness
State leaders are facing a desperate call to action: just one-third of America’s high school students graduate with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in college. This tragic reality calls for rigorous standards and innovative policies, ones that incentivize acceleration and launch students into college or gainful employment. It’s time to give students the opportunity to advance to college or careers as soon as they are ready, even if that’s earlier that the traditional K-12 calendar allows. Get the details on what methods states are using to prepare our youngest generation to thrive in today’s competitive global economy.
Moderator: Laysha Ward, President of Community Relations and the Target Foundation
Panelists: David Abbott, Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel at the Rhode Island Department of Education Russell Armstrong, Education and Workforce Policy Advisor to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Joe Pickens, President of St. Johns River State College Kelli Stargel, Florida State Senator
Strategy Session 9: Developing and Retaining Teachers We Can’t Afford to Lose
A teacher’s influence — good or bad — can have life-long effects on the students in his or her classroom. Hear new research on the teacher-retention crisis, and join the ensuing discussion on what can be done to develop and retain the high-quality educators our states need to reverse student decline and elevate the status of the teaching profession.
Moderator: Dr. Stefanie Sanford, Director of Policy & Advocacy, United States Program, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Panelists: Tim Daly, President of the New Teacher Project Christopher Cerf, New Jersey Commissioner of Education Gary Holder-Winfield, Connecticut State Representative
Strategy Session 10: The Florida Formula for Student Achievement
More than a dozen years ago, Florida embarked on a path to reverse a generation of decline in its public schools by forcing the system to focus on the student instead of the adult. Since then, Florida’s formula of high expectations for students, accountability for schools, choices for families and rewards for progress has yielded incredible gains in student learning. In the eight-year period prior to the reforms, graduation rates had declined by nearly seven percent, but since the reforms were put in place, graduation rates have increased by 20 percent. Education in the Sunshine State is now a model for the nation, inspiring leaders to strategically and boldly transform public education. Learn how Florida’s formula can transform student achievement for any state.
Moderator: Julia Johnson, President of Net Communications and former member of Florida’s Board of Education
Panelists: Dr. Christy Hovanetz, Senior Policy Fellow at the Foundation for Excellence in Education Dr. Matthew Ladner, Senior Advisor on Policy and Research to the Foundation for Excellence in Education
Strategy Session 11: Transforming Education for the Digital Age
Last year, Digital Learning Now! released “The Roadmap for Reform: Digital Learning,” a guide providing governors, lawmakers and policymakers with the nuts-and-bolts policies to transition to student-centered education. Now, states are changing the face of education by introducing blended learning models that combine the best of face-to-face instruction with the best of online learning. Hear state and school leaders share what they are doing — and what is yet to be done — to harness the power of technology and provide students with rigorous, high-quality, customized education.
Moderator: John Bailey, Executive Director of Digital Learning Now!
Panelists: Dr. Janet Barresi, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Mark Edwards, Superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District Pam Myhra, Minnesota State Representative Governor Bev Perdue, North Carolina Chip Rogers, Majority Leader of the Georgia State Senate
General Session: Common Core State Standards
Moderator: Governor Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida from 1999-2007 and Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education
Panelists: David Coleman, President and CEO of the College Board Bob Corcoran, President and Chairman of the GE Foundation Dr. William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor and Co-Director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, Minnesota State Representative
How to Simplify Taxes and Grow our Economy — Saving the American Dream
Further Reforms to Modernize Social Security — Saving the American Dream
Real Insurance: Security When You Most Need It — Saving the American Dream
Opening up Health Care Options for All Americans — Saving the American Dream
Limiting Government …and Cutting What It Can’t Do Well — Saving the American Dream
Saving the American Dream: The Fiscal Cliff and Beyond
By Alison Acosta Fraser, William W. Beach and Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. December 11, 2012
Abstract: Unless Congress and the President act promptly and wisely, sequestration under the Budget Control Act (BCA) will undermine military readiness, and the nearly $500 billion tax increase starting on January 1, 2013, will greatly harm an already weak economy. However, this fiscal cliff can be avoided. The key to avoiding this and future fiscal calamities is reform of the mandatory spending programs, from welfare to Social Security, that currently drive federal deficits. The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream plan would rein in spending immediately, restructure the major entitlement programs to bring entitlement spending under control over the long term, and strengthen the core foundations of these programs.
Since the Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream plan was first published in April 2011, there has been almost no substantive progress on spending control. The only plausible exception was the flawed Budget Control Act (BCA), a product of a contentious debt limit debate. The complete failure of the resultant bipartisan “supercommittee” to reach agreement was a sad reflection on a Congress that is divided and unwilling to pass the legislation necessary to rein in spending.
As a result, the nation is facing the looming sequester, which will further undermine the defense budget, jeopardizing one of the federal government’s core constitutional responsibilities. Yet it would leave entitlement programs virtually untouched, even though they are the largest driver of spending today and in the future. Meanwhile, the prospect of a huge tax increase in January has had a deleterious effect on the economy for many months, although the effect is only a small portion of the harm the economy will incur if the tax increase ultimately takes effect. America seriously needs a true way forward.
The Heritage plan reflects the need to rein in spending immediately and to rethink major programs. Spending on the open-ended Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid entitlements must be brought under control, and the core foundations of these programs should be strengthened.
The following principles guide the policy solutions in Saving the American Dream:
Total spending must be brought under control to balance the budget without raising taxes, ultimately holding revenues at their historical share of gross domestic product (GDP).
Entitlement programs should, unlike today, actually guarantee seniors economic security in retirement and be recast as real and sustainable insurance programs focused on those who truly need them.
Other spending must be curbed, and the federal government must be restricted to its proper functions.
Defense, as a core constitutional function of the federal government, should be fully funded and efficiently delivered.
The tax system should be structurally reformed to foster growth by eliminating tax distortions of private economic decisions, especially decisions on savings and investment, and to make the system simpler and more transparent.
Priorities for Congress and the President
Fiscal year (FY) 2012 closed on September 30 with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimating spending of $3.5 trillion and a deficit of $1.1 trillion. Debt held by the public was $11.3 trillion (73 percent of GDP). According to the CBO, debt will explode to 199 percent of GDP by 2037, driven by growth in spending that will reach 36 percent of GDP.
The main drivers of spending and debt increases are incontrovertibly the major entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. However, the slow economy with its high unemployment rate, which remains stuck at around 8 percent, also adds to deficits and debt through two channels: mandatory spending for those workers who are most affected by the slow economy (e.g., unemployment compensation) and below-average tax revenues.
It is clear that the top priorities for Congress and the President should be controlling spending, especially entitlement reform, and setting an economic growth agenda through tax reform. After averting the fiscal cliff, Congress and the President should immediately turn their attention to these pressing issues.
As noted, entitlements are the fastest-growing programs. Even if all other spending was eliminated, these programs would still cause large and unsustainable deficits in the future. Their growth is automatic, with autopilot spending increases built in and no serious budgetary constraints. The top priority must be to restructure entitlements and put a brake on their spending levels while strengthening and preserving them for future generations.
A number of robust proposals for health care reforms already exist, both in Congress and in the policy community. Congress and the President should take advantage of this policy momentum and focus on reforming Medicaid and especially Medicare. However, changes in Social Security should follow quickly, and the rules that govern these programs in general should be more consistent. For example, increases in the normal eligibility age should proceed simultaneously for both Social Security and Medicare.
Specific steps for Congress and the President include the following:
The President should submit a budget by the 2013 tax deadline deadline that outlines strong, sweeping changes in entitlement programs that will reduce spending over the 10-year budget window and significantly improve the long-term trajectory of these programs.
The President’s budget should lay out specific goals for a pro-growth, revenue-neutral tax reform plan.
Congress and the President should include reforms in entitlement programs and further reductions in other spending areas, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), in exchange for any increases in the debt limit. These should reflect lessons learned from the 2011 Budget Control Act, such as avoiding high-stakes mechanisms like sequestration that are designed to fail.
Congress should pass a joint budget resolution by the April 15, 2013, deadline that includes reconciliation instructions for entitlement and tax reform.
The budget resolution should also require reforms of other spending programs to bring spending below the BCA levels for 2014 and beyond.
If only one issue is thoroughly addressed in 2013, it should be the federal role in health care, the biggest driver of spending. The flawed Obamacare law only adds to the problem. Instead of expanding the government’s role, health care should follow a true patient-centered, market-based model, including reforms in Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax treatment of health insurance.
Medicare. Medicare’s finances must be brought under control. As a first step, the age of eligibility should be raised gradually from 65 to 68 and then indexed to life expectancy. Premiums for Parts B and D should also gradually increase, thus expanding the current policy for Medicare of adjusting the level of taxpayer subsidies to income, with the most affluent seniors receiving much smaller (or in some cases no) taxpayer subsidies for their health coverage. These steps, among others, should occur immediately because they are easily achieved and less controversial and should be part of new debt-limit legislation.
Within five years of these initial changes, patients should also be transitioned to a defined-contribution or premium-support model that would be adjusted for income. Expanding competition in Medicare would restrain federal spending, slow health care costs, and promote greater innovation in the delivery of care.
Medicaid. Federal spending on Medicaid should be put on a budget subject to regular congressional review to bring greater fiscal certainty and stability to the process. Federal Medicaid spending would follow antipoverty spending caps by reverting to the 2007 spending levels when the economy approaches full employment (e.g., the unemployment rate dips below 6 percent) and be adjusted for medical inflation thereafter.
In lieu of traditional Medicaid, able-bodied individuals and families should receive direct federal assistance in the form of tax credits or direct assistance to enable them to buy private insurance coverage of their choice. For the disabled and frail elderly, Medicaid would remain a joint federal–state safety net program, but states would have additional flexibility to adopt more patient-centered models.
Reform of the Tax Treatment of Health Insurance. As a part of tax reform (see below), the employee tax break for employer-sponsored coverage would be converted to a non-refundable tax credit that individuals and families could use to purchase the health plan of their choice.
These larger reforms are best achieved through normal legislative order. This could include the legitimate use of reconciliation as part of a comprehensive budget plan. In any case, Congress should pass a concurrent budget resolution for FY 2014.
Social Security needs to be reformed. It is running permanent cash-flow deficits and has severe programmatic flaws.
First, Social Security’s eligibility age should gradually be increased in tandem with Medicare’s eligibility age. For both, this change is straightforward and could be included in an initial, small reform package. Next, Social Security should return to its original purpose of guaranteeing that all Americans are protected from poverty in retirement. As part of this insurance protection, benefits would evolve to an understandable, predictable flat benefit that is well above the poverty level. With Social Security functioning as an insurance program, moderate-income retirees would receive a smaller check, while affluent seniors would receive no check unless their financial circumstances change.
To encourage people to stay in the workforce longer, those who work beyond full retirement age would receive a higher level of after-tax income until they do retire.
Tax reform would support Social Security reforms by significantly increasing personal savings that seniors can take into retirement, and there would be no limit on the amount of these tax-deferred savings. Thus, more retirement income would be possible than under the current system. Social Security would become a safety valve against economic reversals and a floor for income after the statutory retirement age.
Defense cuts are already reducing military readiness, thus endangering the security of the United States. The defense portion of the BCA cuts is dangerously flawed and must be reversed. In Saving the American Dream, the sequester for defense spending (including the 2013 cuts) is eliminated, and the higher spending is more than offset with reforms in other spending and entitlements. Defense spending is brought slowly up to and held at 4 percent of GDP. Non-defense discretionary spending is set for 2013 at the BCA sequester level and then reduced to 2 percent of GDP, after which it is indexed to inflation.
Spending in 2014 and beyond should include reforms in long-standing but growing and expensive programs such as farm subsidies and transportation. A program of privatization, including federal asset sales, could begin as early as 2015. Anti-poverty spending should be rolled back and capped when the economy approaches full employment and then consolidated into fewer programs that reflect strong incentives for work and marriage.
Tax Reform. The economy remains plagued by the uncertainty of expiring tax policy and an unwieldy and inefficient tax code. Beyond preventing Taxmageddon by extending all current tax policy and delaying the Obamacare tax increases before January 1, 2013, Congress should pass broad substantive tax reform consistent with the New Flat Tax in Saving the American Dream. Tax reform should focus on promoting economic growth by reducing both tax rates and tax distortions while maintaining revenue and distributional neutrality. It should also simplify the tax system and improve its transparency so that taxpayers can better understand the influence of tax policy as well as the true cost of government.
The broad direction for tax reform already in play, especially the bipartisan push for lower corporate income tax rates, is fully consistent with the New Flat Tax. Congress will likely find the goal of lower corporate tax rates quickly running up against the consequent need to lower tax rates for non-corporate businesses. This occurs naturally under the New Flat Tax, which taxes all businesses at a single rate on their domestic net cash flow at the entity level. Likewise, the growing support for a territorial tax system—under which U.S. businesses are taxed solely on their domestic income—is also fully consistent with the New Flat Tax, which levies tax solely on domestic income.
Under the New Flat Tax, the individual income tax and the payroll tax are rolled into one system with the same tax rate that is imposed on business income. Nearly all other federal levies are repealed, leaving a simple system for both individuals and businesses. Under the New Flat Tax as it applies to individuals, only income used for consumption is taxed, thus eliminating the existing tax bias against saving. In addition, all distorting credits, exemptions, and deductions are eliminated, leaving only two credits and three deductions.
The first credit is the above-mentioned tax credit for health insurance. This tax credit is less distortive of economic decisions than current law is, but it remains a clear subsidy for the purchase of health insurance. It is necessary because the current-law tax bias favoring health insurance is so powerful and so entrenched that simply eliminating the tax advantage is impracticable.
The second credit carried over from current law is the earned income credit (EIC). The EIC needs reform in its own right, but it is also the largest income-support component of the overall federal anti-poverty program and one of its most effective elements. Changes in the EIC should then be considered part of the proposed budget for anti-poverty programs.
The three deductions are as follows:
The deduction for charitable expense, which is retained because this tax system taxes the individual on what he or she spends. Charitable contributions benefit the receiving organization and thus should be deductible for the recipient.
A deduction for higher education, which recognizes that education expenses are a form of saving and investing simultaneously, which in every other instance is excluded from tax under the New Flat Tax.
An optional home mortgage deduction with the proviso that if the homeowner chooses a mortgage with deductible interest, then the lender must, as under current law, continue to pay tax on interest income earned. Alternatively, the home owner may choose to forgo the deduction, in which case the lender earns tax-free interest income and can thus charge a lower mortgage interest rate.
The New Flat Tax, the tax reform plan, is implemented effective January 1, 2014.
Addressing the Fiscal Cliff
Table 1 addresses each element of the fiscal cliff and the proposed steps that Congress should take on each of them.
—Alison Acosta Fraser is Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, William W. Beach is Director of the Center for Data Analysis and Lazof Family Fellow in Economics, and Stuart M. Butler, PhD, is Director of the Center for Policy Innovation at The Heritage Foundation.
The editors are grateful to the team leaders who worked with policy experts throughout The Heritage Foundation to develop this report: J. D. Foster, Ph.D., Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy; Rea S. Hederman, Jr., Assistant Director and Research Fellow in the Center for Data Analysis; David C. John, Senior Research Fellow in Retirement Security and Financial Institutions; Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Senior Fellow in the Center for Policy Innovation; Nina Owcharenko, Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies; and Drew Gonshorowski, Policy Analyst in the Center for Data Analysis.
This plan was developed as part of the Solutions Initiative and funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The Peterson Foundation convened organizations with a variety of perspectives to develop plans addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges. The American Action Forum, Bipartisan Policy Center, Center for American Progress, Economic Policy Institute, and The Heritage Foundation, each received grants. All organizations had discretion and independence to develop their own goals and propose comprehensive solutions. The Peterson Foundation’s involvement with this project does not represent endorsement of any plan.
Tea Party Turmoil: FreedomWorks’ Dick Armey Takes $8 Million Exit Buyout After Failed
DemocracyNow.org – Former House majority leader Dick Armey attempted a coup within his own Tea Party-linked nonprofit FreedomWorks earlier this year. When that failed, he took an $8 million payout from a millionaire Republican donor to leave. The incident highlighted what is believed to be growing turmoil inside the Tea Party movement after it rose to prominence ahead of the 2010 election. We’re joined by Politico reporter Ken Vogel. “[Armey] did in fact take a hit when he decided to go all in with FreedomWorks and refashion himself as the Tea Party leader,” Vogel says. “There has always been this tug of war in the Tea Party between national groups that have deep-pocketed contributors and benefactors and the actual grassroots.”
To watch the entire weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org.
“…Dick Armey left the deep-pocketed tea party group he helped build over a clash with a top lieutenant who Armey and others in the organization believed was using the group’s resources to pad his pockets, POLITICO has learned.
Armey received an $8 million buyout to step down as chairman of FreedomWorks at the end of last month, but the dispute between him and the group’s president, Matt Kibbe, is still straining the organization.
And the turmoil could have far-reaching implications, since FreedomWorks has been among the leading Washington, D.C., groups pressuring Republicans to take a more conservative tact on the fiscal cliff negotiations and other fiscal matters.
The tensions at FreedomWorks, brewing for months, boiled over this summer when Armey balked at a deal that Kibbe struck with HarperCollins to write a book called “Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America,” which was released in June.
Armey was concerned that Kibbe structured the deal to personally profit from the book despite relying on FreedomWorks staff and resources to research, help write and promote it — an arrangement he and others at the group believed could jeopardize its tax-exempt status. (In 2010, Kibbe and Armey co-authored a book through HarperCollins, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto,” that was written with significant help from FreedomWorks staff and all proceeds had gone to the organization.)
So Armey declined to sign a memorandum presented to him in his capacity as a member of the board of trustees stating that the book was written without significant FreedomWorks resources and clearing the way for Kibbe to personally own the rights to the book and any royalties from it, multiple sources familiar with the arrangement told POLITICO.
Asked about his refusal to sign the memorandum, Armey, a former House Republican leader, said, “What bothered me most about that was that he was asking me to lie, and it was a lie that I thought brought the organization in harm’s way.”
After Armey’s concerns came to the attention of the organization’s board at a late August meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Kibbe and the group’s executive vice president, Adam Brandon, were placed on administrative leave in early September and had their cell phones taken away.
Brandon said the board was made aware of the book project months earlier, and Kibbe maintains that the leave didn’t stem from questions about the book deal.
Rather, he said “there was a dispute” with Armey over “competing visions for what FreedomWorks should become and ultimately, the board decided that we fit the vision of the organization.” …”
Rand Paul: We Should Let Dems Raise Taxes And Then Let Them Own It – CNBC’s Kudlow Report
SEN. RAND PAUL: I have yet another thought on how we can fix this. Why don’t we let the Democrats pass whatever they want? If they are the party of higher taxes, all the Republicans vote present and let the Democrats raise taxes as high as they want to raise them, let Democrats in the Senate raise taxes, let the president sign it and then make them own the tax increase. And when the economy stalls, when the economy sputters, when people lose their jobs, they know which party to blame, the party of high taxes. Let’s don’t be the party of just almost as high taxes.
LARRY KUDLOW, CNBC: Some people have called that the doomsday scenario. Others have said, ‘Look, it’s a strategic retreat on the Republicans’ behalf.’ WWould you vote present for that in the Senate if that came up?
RAND PAUL: Yes, I don’t think we have to in the Senate. In the House, they have to because the Democrats don’t have the majority. In the Senate, I’m happy not to filibuster it, and I will announce tonight on your show that I will work with Harry Reid to let him pass his big old tax hike with a simple majority if that’s what Harry Reid wants, because then they will become the party of high taxes and they can own it.
Obama Runs Rings pt4 + Rand Paul Joins the ‘Let Democrats Raise Taxes and Own It’ Crowd
“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”
Chris Wallace: ‘Most Disrespectful Debate Performance In My Lifetime’
Brit Hume: Biden is a ‘Rude’, ‘Cranky Old Man’
VP Debate Reaction: Biden Smirk v. Ryan Sincerity, Who won?
Vice Presidential Debate short version – Joe Biden the Fool vs Paul Ryan the Statesmen
PART 1: 2012 Vice Presidential Debate
PART 2: 2012 Vice Presidential Debate
PART 3: 2012 Vice Presidential Debate
PART 4: 2012 Vice Presidential Debate
PART 5: 2012 Vice Presidential Debate
PART 6: 2012 Vice Presidential Debate
Joe Biden Says Obama Should be Impeached
12/2/2011 In Congress: Ron Paul Condemns Iran Sanctions Bill As Prelude To War
Ron Paul vs Mitt Romney on Foreign Policy and Iran and War Preparation
“The Best of Joe Biden’s Gaffe’s; A Continuing Series…”
Doris Day – Fools Rush In
The Vice Presidential debate of 2012
By Michael Vass
“…On Oct 11, 2012 Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) will meet in a debate that will seek to either re-ignite support for the re-election of President Obama, or solidify the lead and likelihood of a win by Mitt Romney. That’s what both political parties are stating about their respective candidates, but a far more realistic view is that while it may be quite entertaining and informative, it has little direct impact on the election if history holds true.
Presidential elections are won and lost by the head of the ticket in most cases. The average American can’t remember what VP Al Gore or Dick Cheney said in a debate, or if President Ford had a Vice President at all (a bit of a trick question there). While the results of Biden vs. Ryan may blip the election polls, that will be eclipsed by any result from the 2nd Presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. …”
Background Articles and Videos
Vice Presidential Debate 2012, Paul Ryan Vs Joe Biden; ‘This Week’ Roundtable Discussion
Mitt Romney Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention (C-SPAN) – Full Speech
“I was born in the middle of the century in the middle of the country, a classic baby boomer. It was a time when Americans were returning from war and eager to work. To be an American was to assume that all things were possible. When President Kennedy challenged Americans to go to the moon, the question wasn’t whether we’d get there, it was only when we’d get there.
The soles of Neil Armstrong’s boots on the moon made permanent impressions on OUR souls and in our national psyche. Ann and I watched those steps together on her parent’s sofa. Like all Americans we went to bed that night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world.
God bless Neil Armstrong.
Tonight that American flag is still there on the moon. And I don’t doubt for a second that Neil Armstrong’s spirit is still with us: that unique blend of optimism, humility and the utter confidence that when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.”
“It’s the genius of the American free enterprise system – to harness the extraordinary creativity and talent and industry of the American people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today’s.
That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: “you are better off today than you were four years ago.”
Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.”
“Now is the time to restore the Promise of America. Many Americans have given up on this president but they haven’t ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves. Not on each other. And not on America.
What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound. It doesn’t take a special government commission to tell us what America needs.
What America needs is jobs.
Lots of jobs.”
“I am running for president to help create a better future. A future where everyone who wants a job can find one. Where no senior fears for the security of their retirement. An America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon.
And unlike the President, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. It has 5 steps.
First, by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.
Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.
Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.
Fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece, we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.
And fifth, we will champion SMALL businesses, America’s engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Today, women are more likely than men to start a business. They need a president who respects and understands what they do.
And let me make this very clear – unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class.
As president, I will protect the sanctity of life. I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America’s first liberty: the freedom of religion.”
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.”
Paul Ryan RNC Convention Speech: This is Ryan’s entire 2012 speech
Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s Vice President candidate, attacked President Barack Obama’s record of 43 months of unemployment rates exceeding 8 percent with over 23 million Americans seeking a full-time job, Obamacare and adding over $5 trillion to the national debt, in his acceptance speech before the GOP National Convention in Tampa, Florida, late Wednesday evening, Aug. 29.
Ryan said, “Here we were, faced with a massive job crisis–so deep, that if everyone out of work stood in single file, that unemployment line would stretch the length of the entire American continent. You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation, and nothing else, his first order of economic business. But this president didn’t do that.”
Ryan broadened and pressed his attack on the Obama record on job creation and Obamacare. Ryan said, “Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care. Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country.”
Ryan body slammed Obama for raiding Medicare funding to pay for Obamacare.
Ryan said, “And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billion more. So, they just took it all from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.”
Ryan nailed Obama by pointing out that “back in 2008, candidate Obama called a $10 trillion national debt “unpatriotic”.” Ryan said, “Yet by his own decisions, President Obama had added more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments in Europe combined. One president, one term, $5 trillion in new debt.”
Ryan finished off Obama’s debt record with these words:
“So here we are, $16 trillion in debt and he still does nothing. In Europe, massive debts have put entire governments at risk of collapse, and still he does nothing. And all we have heard from this president and his team are attacks on anyone who dares to point out the obvious.”
Ryan spoke to the many millions of unemployed college graduates when he said:
“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life. Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now. …You have not failed, your leaders have failed you.”
Ryan asked the key question early in his speech when he remarked, “Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different from the last four years?”
This reminds me of the single debate between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in late Oct. 1980. Ronald Reagan asked the American people to answer this question when they went to vote for the next president: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” This one crucial question turned a very tight presidential race with the incumbent President Carter with a slight lead in the polls to a landslide victory for Ronald Reagan.
Ryan nailed Obama’s record. On election day in November, the American people will answer both Ryan’s and Reagan’s question.
Why does Paul Ryan scare the president so much? Because Obama has broken his promises, and it’s clear that the GOP ticket’s path to prosperity is our only hope.
I was a good loser four years ago. “In the grand scheme of history,” I wrote the day after Barack Obama’s election as president, “four decades is not an especially long time. Yet in that brief period America has gone from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to the apotheosis of Barack Obama. You would not be human if you failed to acknowledge this as a cause for great rejoicing.”
Despite having been—full disclosure—an adviser to John McCain, I acknowledged his opponent’s remarkable qualities: his soaring oratory, his cool, hard-to-ruffle temperament, and his near faultless campaign organization.
Yet the question confronting the country nearly four years later is not who was the better candidate four years ago. It is whether the winner has delivered on his promises. And the sad truth is that he has not.
In his inaugural address, Obama promised “not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.” He promised to “build the roads and bridges, the electric grids, and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.” He promised to “restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.” And he promised to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” Unfortunately the president’s scorecard on every single one of those bold pledges is pitiful.
In an unguarded moment earlier this year, the president commented that the private sector of the economy was “doing fine.” Certainly, the stock market is well up (by 74 percent) relative to the close on Inauguration Day 2009. But the total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak. Meanwhile, since 2008, a staggering 3.6 million Americans have been added to Social Security’s disability insurance program. This is one of many ways unemployment is being concealed.
In his fiscal year 2010 budget—the first he presented—the president envisaged growth of 3.2 percent in 2010, 4.0 percent in 2011, 4.6 percent in 2012. The actual numbers were 2.4 percent in 2010 and 1.8 percent in 2011; few forecasters now expect it to be much above 2.3 percent this year.
Unemployment was supposed to be 6 percent by now. It has averaged 8.2 percent this year so far. Meanwhile real median annual household income has dropped more than 5 percent since June 2009. Nearly 110 million individuals received a welfare benefit in 2011, mostly Medicaid or food stamps.
Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.
And all this despite a far bigger hike in the federal debt than we were promised. According to the 2010 budget, the debt in public hands was supposed to fall in relation to GDP from 67 percent in 2010 to less than 66 percent this year. If only. By the end of this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), it will reach 70 percent of GDP. These figures significantly understate the debt problem, however. The ratio that matters is debt to revenue. That number has leapt upward from 165 percent in 2008 to 262 percent this year, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund. Among developed economies, only Ireland and Spain have seen a bigger deterioration.
Not only did the initial fiscal stimulus fade after the sugar rush of 2009, but the president has done absolutely nothing to close the long-term gap between spending and revenue.
His much-vaunted health-care reform will not prevent spending on health programs growing from more than 5 percent of GDP today to almost 10 percent in 2037. Add the projected increase in the costs of Social Security and you are looking at a total bill of 16 percent of GDP 25 years from now. That is only slightly less than the average cost of all federal programs and activities, apart from net interest payments, over the past 40 years. Under this president’s policies, the debt is on course to approach 200 percent of GDP in 2037—a mountain of debt that is bound to reduce growth even further.
And even that figure understates the real debt burden. The most recent estimate for the difference between the net present value of federal government liabilities and the net present value of future federal revenues—what economist Larry Kotlikoff calls the true “fiscal gap”—is $222 trillion.
The president’s supporters will, of course, say that the poor performance of the economy can’t be blamed on him. They would rather finger his predecessor, or the economists he picked to advise him, or Wall Street, or Europe—anyone but the man in the White House.
There’s some truth in this. It was pretty hard to foresee what was going to happen to the economy in the years after 2008. Yet surely we can legitimately blame the president for the political mistakes of the past four years. After all, it’s the president’s job to run the executive branch effectively—to lead the nation. And here is where his failure has been greatest.
On paper it looked like an economics dream team: Larry Summers, Christina Romer, and Austan Goolsbee, not to mention Peter Orszag, Tim Geithner, and Paul Volcker. The inside story, however, is that the president was wholly unable to manage the mighty brains—and egos—he had assembled to advise him.
According to Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men, Summers told Orszag over dinner in May 2009: “You know, Peter, we’re really home alone … I mean it. We’re home alone. There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes [of indecisiveness on key economic issues].” On issue after issue, according to Suskind, Summers overruled the president. “You can’t just march in and make that argument and then have him make a decision,” Summers told Orszag, “because he doesn’t know what he’s deciding.” (I have heard similar things said off the record by key participants in the president’s interminable “seminar” on Afghanistan policy.)
This problem extended beyond the White House. After the imperial presidency of the Bush era, there was something more like parliamentary government in the first two years of Obama’s administration. The president proposed; Congress disposed. It was Nancy Pelosi and her cohorts who wrote the stimulus bill and made sure it was stuffed full of political pork. And it was the Democrats in Congress—led by Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank—who devised the 2,319-page Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank, for short), a near-perfect example of excessive complexity in regulation. The act requires that regulators create 243 rules, conduct 67 studies, and issue 22 periodic reports. It eliminates one regulator and creates two new ones.
It is five years since the financial crisis began, but the central problems—excessive financial concentration and excessive financial leverage—have not been addressed.
Today a mere 10 too-big-to-fail financial institutions are responsible for three quarters of total financial assets under management in the United States. Yet the country’s largest banks are at least $50 billion short of meeting new capital requirements under the new “Basel III” accords governing bank capital adequacy.
And then there was health care. No one seriously doubts that the U.S. system needed to be reformed. But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 did nothing to address the core defects of the system: the long-run explosion of Medicare costs as the baby boomers retire, the “fee for service” model that drives health-care inflation, the link from employment to insurance that explains why so many Americans lack coverage, and the excessive costs of the liability insurance that our doctors need to protect them from our lawyers.
Ironically, the core Obamacare concept of the “individual mandate” (requiring all Americans to buy insurance or face a fine) was something the president himself had opposed when vying with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. A much more accurate term would be “Pelosicare,” since it was she who really forced the bill through Congress.
Pelosicare was not only a political disaster. Polls consistently showed that only a minority of the public liked the ACA, and it was the main reason why Republicans regained control of the House in 2010. It was also another fiscal snafu. The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.
The president just kept ducking the fiscal issue. Having set up a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed by retired Wyoming Republican senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, Obama effectively sidelined its recommendations of approximately $3 trillion in cuts and $1 trillion in added revenues over the coming decade. As a result there was no “grand bargain” with the House Republicans—which means that, barring some miracle, the country will hit a fiscal cliff on Jan. 1 as the Bush tax cuts expire and the first of $1.2 trillion of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts are imposed. The CBO estimates the net effect could be a 4 percent reduction in output.
The failures of leadership on economic and fiscal policy over the past four years have had geopolitical consequences. The World Bank expects the U.S. to grow by just 2 percent in 2012. China will grow four times faster than that; India three times faster. By 2017, the International Monetary Fund predicts, the GDP of China will overtake that of the United States.
Meanwhile, the fiscal train wreck has already initiated a process of steep cuts in the defense budget, at a time when it is very far from clear that the world has become a safer place—least of all in the Middle East.
For me the president’s greatest failure has been not to think through the implications of these challenges to American power. Far from developing a coherent strategy, he believed—perhaps encouraged by the premature award of the Nobel Peace Prize—that all he needed to do was to make touchy-feely speeches around the world explaining to foreigners that he was not George W. Bush.
In Tokyo in November 2009, the president gave his boilerplate hug-a-foreigner speech: “In an interconnected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need not fear the success of another … The United States does not seek to contain China … On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.” Yet by fall 2011, this approach had been jettisoned in favor of a “pivot” back to the Pacific, including risible deployments of troops to Australia and Singapore. From the vantage point of Beijing, neither approach had credibility.
His Cairo speech of June 4, 2009, was an especially clumsy bid to ingratiate himself on what proved to be the eve of a regional revolution. “I’m also proud to carry with me,” he told Egyptians, “a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalamu alaikum … I’ve come here … to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based … upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”
Believing it was his role to repudiate neoconservatism, Obama completely missed the revolutionary wave of Middle Eastern democracy—precisely the wave the neocons had hoped to trigger with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. When revolution broke out—first in Iran, then in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria—the president faced stark alternatives. He could try to catch the wave by lending his support to the youthful revolutionaries and trying to ride it in a direction advantageous to American interests. Or he could do nothing and let the forces of reaction prevail.
In the case of Iran he did nothing, and the thugs of the Islamic Republic ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations. Ditto Syria. In Libya he was cajoled into intervening. In Egypt he tried to have it both ways, exhorting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave, then drawing back and recommending an “orderly transition.” The result was a foreign-policy debacle. Not only were Egypt’s elites appalled by what seemed to them a betrayal, but the victors—the Muslim Brotherhood—had nothing to be grateful for. America’s closest Middle Eastern allies—Israel and the Saudis—looked on in amazement.
“This is what happens when you get caught by surprise,” an anonymous American official told The New York Times in February 2011. “We’ve had endless strategy sessions for the past two years on Mideast peace, on containing Iran. And how many of them factored in the possibility that Egypt moves from stability to turmoil? None.”
Remarkably the president polls relatively strongly on national security. Yet the public mistakes his administration’s astonishingly uninhibited use of political assassination for a coherent strategy. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, the civilian proportion of drone casualties was 16 percent last year. Ask yourself how the liberal media would have behaved if George W. Bush had used drones this way. Yet somehow it is only ever Republican secretaries of state who are accused of committing “war crimes.”
The real crime is that the assassination program destroys potentially crucial intelligence (as well as antagonizing locals) every time a drone strikes. It symbolizes the administration’s decision to abandon counterinsurgency in favor of a narrow counterterrorism. What that means in practice is the abandonment not only of Iraq but soon of Afghanistan too. Understandably, the men and women who have served there wonder what exactly their sacrifice was for, if any notion that we are nation building has been quietly dumped. Only when both countries sink back into civil war will we realize the real price of Obama’s foreign policy.
America under this president is a superpower in retreat, if not retirement. Small wonder 46 percent of Americans—and 63 percent of Chinese—believe that China already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower or eventually will.
It is a sign of just how completely Barack Obama has “lost his narrative” since getting elected that the best case he has yet made for reelection is that Mitt Romney should not be president. In his notorious “you didn’t build that” speech, Obama listed what he considers the greatest achievements of big government: the Internet, the GI Bill, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the Apollo moon landing, and even (bizarrely) the creation of the middle class. Sadly, he couldn’t mention anything comparable that his administration has achieved.
Now Obama is going head-to-head with his nemesis: a politician who believes more in content than in form, more in reform than in rhetoric. In the past days much has been written about Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s choice of running mate. I know, like, and admire Paul Ryan. For me, the point about him is simple. He is one of only a handful of politicians in Washington who is truly sincere about addressing this country’s fiscal crisis.
Over the past few years Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” has evolved, but the essential points are clear: replace Medicare with a voucher program for those now under 55 (not current or imminent recipients), turn Medicaid and food stamps into block grants for the states, and—crucially—simplify the tax code and lower tax rates to try to inject some supply-side life back into the U.S. private sector. Ryan is not preaching austerity. He is preaching growth. And though Reagan-era veterans like David Stockman may have their doubts, they underestimate Ryan’s mastery of this subject. There is literally no one in Washington who understands the challenges of fiscal reform better.
Just as importantly, Ryan has learned that politics is the art of the possible. There are parts of his plan that he is understandably soft-pedaling right now—notably the new source of federal revenue referred to in his 2010 “Roadmap for America’s Future” as a “business consumption tax.” Stockman needs to remind himself that the real “fairy-tale budget plans” have been the ones produced by the White House since 2009.
I first met Paul Ryan in April 2010. I had been invited to a dinner in Washington where the U.S. fiscal crisis was going to be the topic of discussion. So crucial did this subject seem to me that I expected the dinner to happen in one of the city’s biggest hotel ballrooms. It was actually held in the host’s home. Three congressmen showed up—a sign of how successful the president’s fiscal version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (about the debt) had been. Ryan blew me away. I have wanted to see him in the White House ever since.
It remains to be seen if the American public is ready to embrace the radical overhaul of the nation’s finances that Ryan proposes. The public mood is deeply ambivalent. The president’s approval rating is down to 49 percent. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is at minus 28 (down from minus 13 in May). But Obama is still narrowly ahead of Romney in the polls as far as the popular vote is concerned (50.8 to 48.2) and comfortably ahead in the Electoral College. The pollsters say that Paul Ryan’s nomination is not a game changer; indeed, he is a high-risk choice for Romney because so many people feel nervous about the reforms Ryan proposes.
But one thing is clear. Ryan psychs Obama out. This has been apparent ever since the White House went on the offensive against Ryan in the spring of last year. And the reason he psychs him out is that, unlike Obama, Ryan has a plan—as opposed to a narrative—for this country.
Mitt Romney is not the best candidate for the presidency I can imagine. But he was clearly the best of the Republican contenders for the nomination. He brings to the presidency precisely the kind of experience—both in the business world and in executive office—that Barack Obama manifestly lacked four years ago. (If only Obama had worked at Bain Capital for a few years, instead of as a community organizer in Chicago, he might understand exactly why the private sector is not “doing fine” right now.) And by picking Ryan as his running mate, Romney has given the first real sign that—unlike Obama—he is a courageous leader who will not duck the challenges America faces.
The voters now face a stark choice. They can let Barack Obama’s rambling, solipsistic narrative continue until they find themselves living in some American version of Europe, with low growth, high unemployment, even higher debt—and real geopolitical decline.
Or they can opt for real change: the kind of change that will end four years of economic underperformance, stop the terrifying accumulation of debt, and reestablish a secure fiscal foundation for American national security.
I’ve said it before: it’s a choice between les États Unis and the Republic of the Battle Hymn.
I was a good loser four years ago. But this year, fired up by the rise of Ryan, I want badly to win.
National Income and Product Accounts Gross Domestic Product, 1st quarter 2012 (advance estimate)
Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property
located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 (that
is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the
Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2011, real GDP increased 3.0 percent.
The Bureau emphasized that the first-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source
data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3). The
"second" estimate for the first quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on May 31, 2012.
The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from
personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, private inventory investment, and residential fixed
investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from federal government spending,
nonresidential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a
subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.
The deceleration in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected a deceleration in private
inventory investment and a downturn in nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by
accelerations in PCE and in exports.
Annual Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts
The annual revision of the national income and product accounts (NIPAs), covering the first
quarter of 2009 through the first quarter of 2012, will be released along with the "advance" estimate of
GDP for the second quarter of 2012 on July 27, 2012. The August Survey of Current Business will
contain an article that describes the annual revision in detail.
FOOTNOTE. Quarterly estimates are expressed at seasonally adjusted annual rates, unless otherwise
specified. Quarter-to-quarter dollar changes are differences between these published estimates. Percent
changes are calculated from unrounded data and are annualized. "Real" estimates are in chained (2005)
dollars. Price indexes are chain-type measures.
This news release is available on BEA’s Web site along with the Technical Note and Highlights related to this release.
Motor vehicle output added 1.12 percentage points to the first-quarter change in real GDP after
adding 0.47 percentage point to the fourth-quarter change. Final sales of computers added 0.05
percentage point to the first-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.12 percentage point to the fourth-
The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents,
increased 2.4 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.1 percent in the fourth.
Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2 percent in
the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.2 percent in the fourth.
Real personal consumption expenditures increased 2.9 percent in the first quarter, compared with
an increase of 2.1 percent in the fourth. Durable goods increased 15.3 percent, compared with an
increase of 16.1 percent. Nondurable goods increased 2.1 percent, compared with an increase of 0.8
percent. Services increased 1.2 percent, compared with an increase of 0.4 percent.
Real nonresidential fixed investment decreased 2.1 percent in the first quarter, in contrast to an
increase of 5.2 percent in the fourth. Nonresidential structures decreased 12.0 percent, compared with a
decrease of 0.9 percent. Equipment and software increased 1.7 percent, compared with an increase of
7.5 percent. Real residential fixed investment increased 19.1 percent, compared with an increase of 11.6
Real exports of goods and services increased 5.4 percent in the first quarter, compared with an
increase of 2.7 percent in the fourth. Real imports of goods and services increased 4.3 percent,
compared with an increase of 3.7 percent.
Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 5.6 percent
in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 6.9 percent in the fourth. National defense decreased
8.1 percent, compared with a decrease of 12.1 percent. Nondefense decreased 0.6 percent, in contrast to
an increase of 4.5 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross
investment decreased 1.2 percent, compared with a decrease of 2.2 percent.
The change in real private inventories added 0.59 percentage point to the first-quarter change in
real GDP after adding 1.81 percentage points to the fourth-quarter change. Private businesses increased
inventories $69.5 billion in the first quarter, following an increase of $52.2 billion in the fourth quarter
and a decrease of $2.0 billion in the third.
Real final sales of domestic product -- GDP less change in private inventories -- increased 1.6
percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 1.1 percent in the fourth.
Gross domestic purchases
Real gross domestic purchases -- purchases by U.S. residents of goods and services wherever
produced -- increased 2.1 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 3.1 percent in the
Disposition of personal income
Current-dollar personal income increased $119.6 billion (3.7 percent) in the first quarter,
compared with an increase of $105.3 billion (3.3 percent) in the fourth.
Personal current taxes increased $38.6 billion in the first quarter, compared with an increase of
$21.1 billion in the fourth.
Disposable personal income increased $81.0 billion (2.8 percent) in the first quarter, compared
with an increase of $84.2 billion (2.9 percent) in the fourth. Real disposable personal income increased
0.4 percent, compared with an increase of 1.7 percent.
Personal outlays increased $145.9 billion (5.3 percent) in the first quarter, compared with an
increase of $86.4 billion (3.1 percent) in the fourth. Personal saving -- disposable personal income less
personal outlays -- was $466.0 billion in the first quarter, compared with $530.8 billion in the fourth.
The personal saving rate -- saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 3.9 percent in
the first quarter, compared with 4.5 percent in the fourth. For a comparison of personal saving in BEA’s
national income and product accounts with personal saving in the Federal Reserve Board’s flow of funds
accounts and data on changes in net worth, go to www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/Nipa-Frb.asp.
Current-dollar GDP -- the market value of the nation's output of goods and services -- increased
3.8 percent, or $142.4 billion, in the first quarter to a level of $15,461.8 billion. In the fourth quarter,
current-dollar GDP also increased 3.8 percent, or $143.3 billion.
Information on the assumptions used for unavailable source data is provided in a technical note
that is posted with the news release on BEA's Web site. Within a few days after the release, a detailed
"Key Source Data and Assumptions" file is posted on the Web site. In the middle of each month, an
analysis of the current quarterly estimate of GDP and related series is made available on the Web site;
click on Survey of Current Business, "GDP and the Economy."
BEA's national, international, regional, and industry estimates; the Survey of Current Business;
and BEA news releases are available without charge on BEA's Web site at www.bea.gov. By visiting the
site, you can also subscribe to receive free e-mail summaries of BEA releases and announcements.
Slowing Growth Stirs Recovery Fears
Weaker Business Investment Weighs on Economy in First Quarter Despite Brisk Consumer Spending
BY BEN CASSELMAN
“…The economy lost steam in the first quarter, as onetime engines of growth sputtered and robust consumer spending was unable to propel the recovery on its own.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of all goods and services produced in the economy, grew at an annualized rate of 2.2% in the first quarter, down from 3% at the end of 2011, the Commerce Department said Friday. The deceleration reflected sharp cutbacks in government spending and weaker business investment and came despite an unusually warm winter, which many economists said likely provided a mild economic boost.
The report did reveal a few areas of strength. Consumer spending, by far the biggest piece of the economy, accelerated in the first quarter, and the moribund housing sector also showed signs of improvement. Overall economic growth, though modest, was far stronger than at the start of last year, when the U.S. teetered on the brink of recession.
The glum economic news had a muted impact on financial markets, in part because many investors see a weakening economy as increasing pressure on the Federal Reserve to step in with a new round of stimulus. The Dow Jones Industrial Average nosed up 23.69 points to 13228.31. There was a note of caution in the bond market, where surging demand for the perceived safety of Treasurys sent 10-year bond yields to their lowest level in two months.
Recent data have suggested that the once-strong factory sector is weakening and that job growth, which picked up early this year, has begun to slow. Outside factors—from high oil prices to Europe’s continued financial turmoil—could be a further drag on growth in coming months. The weak start to the year gives the economy little momentum to help carry it past such challenges. …”
“…The economy grew at a 2.2% annual rate in the first quarter, the government said today, as a pickup in consumer spending was partly offset by shrinking government spending and sluggish private investment.
Growth missed the 2.5% median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by USA TODAY. Yet economists focused on the 2.9% jump in consumer spending, saying it showed the economy is strong enough to support more hiring. Half the increase in gross domestic product came from auto sales and manufacturing, as sales reached a 15-million-unit per year pace in February.
“It was less than I expected, by more than a little, but when you look at it, the weakness was mostly in government spending,” said Joel Naroff, president of the consulting firm Naroff Economic Advisors. “If the consumer keeps increasing spending by nearly 3%, business confidence will rise and so will investment.”
The biggest chunk of the slowdown came from slower building of inventories by private companies, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said. Government spending also fell 3%, including an 8.1% drop in defense spending.
Growth in business investment also fell, with the biggest cuts coming in spending for new buildings. Investment in equipment and software, which is critical to productivity-enhancing innovation, rose 1.7%, weakest pace since mid-2009
If government spending had been unchanged in the quarter, the economy would have grown at a 2.8% rate, Naroff said.
The economy’s overall pace was slower than the 3% GDP growth in the fourth quarter last year, when businesses rebuilt inventories after a mid-year slump. Final demand, a measure of how much consumers, governments and businesses spent on everything but building inventories, rose 1.6% – topping the fourth-quarter pace by half a percentage point. …”
Paul Ryan: President’s Budget is a Stunning Dereliction of Duty
Paul Ryan on Meet the Press: The Serious Consequences of the President’s Unserious Budget
Paul Ryan: President’s Budget Doesn’t Even Pretend To Fix Our Debt Crisis
Dan Mitchell Discussing Dishonest Budget Numbers with John Stossel
Taxes and Spending: Daniel J. Mitchell on the Libertarian State of the Union
Daniel J. Mitchell On Balancing The Budget
Dan Mitchell Exposing DC’s Fake Spending-Cut Scam with Judge Napolitano
“Cut, Cap and Balance,” the Debt Ceiling and Federal Spending
Underwhelming Spending Cuts from Congress and Obama
The Crash – The Coming Financial Collapse of America
Obama: Narcissist’s Reaction to Failure and Defeat
Narcissist Loves his Disorder and Narcissistic Personality
Narcissistic Personality Disorder Prevalence and Comorbidity
narcissistic personality disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A Portrait
Background Articles and Videos
Pastor Clenard Childress: The Negro Project
You can not justify Genocide
Narcissist’s Cycles of Ups and Downs
Issues in Narcissistic Supply
Definition of Narcissistic Personality Order
By Mayo Clinic staff
“…Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school.
Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy. …”
National Debt has increased more under Obama than under Bush
By Mark Knoller
“…(CBS News) The National Debt has now increased more during President Obama’s three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency.
The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.
The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush’s last day in office, which coincided with President Obama’s first day.
The National Debt also now exceeds 100% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services.
Mr. Obama has been quick to blame his predecessor for the soaring Debt, saying Mr. Bush paid for two wars and a Medicare prescription drug program with borrowed funds.
The federal budget sent to Congress last month by Mr. Obama, projects the National Debt will continue to rise as far as the eye can see. The budget shows the Debt hitting $16.3 trillion in 2012, $17.5 trillion in 2013 and $25.9 trillion in 2022.
Federal budget records show the National Debt once topped 121% of GDP at the end of World War II. The Debt that year, 1946, was, by today’s standards, a mere $270 billion dollars. …”
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SERVICE
STAR - TREASURY FINANCIAL DATABASE
TABLE 1. SUMMARY OF RECEIPTS, OUTLAYS AND THE DEFICIT/SURPLUS BY MONTH OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT (IN MILLIONS)
ACCOUNTING DATE: 02/12
PERIOD RECEIPTS OUTLAYS DEFICIT/SURPLUS (-)
+ ____________________________________________________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
OCTOBER 145,951 286,384 140,432
NOVEMBER 148,970 299,364 150,394
DECEMBER 236,875 315,009 78,134
JANUARY 226,550 276,346 49,796
FEBRUARY 110,656 333,163 222,507
MARCH 150,894 339,048 188,154
APRIL 289,543 329,929 40,387
MAY 174,936 232,577 57,641
JUNE 249,658 292,738 43,080
JULY 159,063 288,439 129,376
AUGUST 169,246 303,388 134,143
SEPTEMBER 240,153 302,911 62,758
YEAR-TO-DATE 2,302,495 3,599,297 1,296,803
OCTOBER 163,072 261,539 98,466
NOVEMBER 152,402 289,704 137,302
DECEMBER 239,963 325,930 85,967
JANUARY 234,319 261,731 27,412
FEBRUARY 103,413 335,096 231,683
YEAR-TO-DATE 893,169 1,473,999 580,830
0REPORT ID: STM0P081
USER ID :
DATE: 2012-03-08 TIME: 18.01.52 PAGE 1(1)
1 FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SERVICE
STAR - TREASURY FINANCIAL DATABASE
TABLE 2. BUDGET AND OFF-BUDGET RESULTS AND FINANCING (IN MILLIONS)
ACCOUNTING DATE: 02/12
CURRENT ACTUAL BUDGET EST.
CLASSIFICATION MONTH FY TO DATE FULL FY
+ _________________________________________________________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
TOTAL ON-BUDGET AND OFF-BUDGET RESULTS:
TOTAL RECEIPTS 103,413 893,169 2,468,599
ON-BUDGET RECEIPTS 57,954 672,851 1,896,459
OFF-BUDGET RECEIPTS 45,459 220,318 572,140
;CTOTAL OUTLAYS 335,096 1,473,999 3,795,547
ON-BUDGET OUTLAYS 281,062 1,280,643 3,290,381
OFF-BUDGET OUTLAYS 54,034 193,357 505,166
;CTOTAL SURPLUS (+) OR DEFICIT (-) -231,683 -580,830 -1,326,948
ON-BUDGET SURPLUS (+) OR DEFICIT (-) -223,108 -607,791 -1,393,922
OFF-BUDGET SURPLUS (+) OR DEFICIT (-) -8,575 26,962 66,974
;CTOTAL ON-BUDGET AND OFF-BUDGET FINANCING 231,683 580,830 1,326,948
MEANS OF FINANCING:
BORROWING FROM THE PUBLIC 150,351 601,040 1,449,877
REDUCTION OF OPERATING CASH, INCREASE (-) 96,053 -4,453 -1,910
BY OTHER MEANS -14,722 -15,758 -121,018
“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. …”
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declarationof the thirteen unitedStates of America
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
~The Constitution of the United States, Amendment One
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
~The Constitution of the United States, Amendment Two
Still more pathetic is the total collapse of moral fanaticism. Fanatics think that their single-minded principles qualify them to do battle with the powers of evil; but like a bull they rush at the red cloak instead of the person who is holding it; he exhausts himself and is beaten. He gets entangled in non-essentials and falls into the trap set by cleverer people.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Letters and Papers from Prison (1943-1945, English publication 1967)
“…People have been beatened down so long they feel so betrayed by their government. So it’s not surprising that they get bitter and cling to their guns and religion or antipathy towards people who are not like them as a way to explain their frustrations.”
~Candidate Barack Obama
Obama And The Second Amendment
“We Will Not Comply” – Catholic Civil Disobedience
Religious Leaders Vow Not To Comply With HHS Mandate
Santorum Slams Obama’s Agenda Driven by a “Phony Theology . . . Not a Theology Based on the Bible”
“…not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology. …”
~Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum and Candidate for Presidential Nomination
Face The Nation …: Santorum clarifies prenatal testing, theology statements
“We’re talking about specifically prenatal testing and specifically amniocentesis, which is a — which is a procedure that creates a risk of miscarriage when you have it and is done for the purposes of identifying maladies of a child in the womb, which in many cases, in fact, most cases, physicians recommend, particularly if there’s a problem, recommend abortion. 90 percent of Down Syndrome children in America are aborted. So to suggest where does that come from? I have a child who has Trisomy 18. Almost 100 percent of Trisomy 18 child are encouraged to be aborted. So I know what I’m talking about here.”
What Obama Does Not Want You To See Or Know / Video PSA
Barack Obama Addresses Planned Parenthood
Margaret Sanger and Her Reproductive Revolution
Abortion’s Cultural Advance: Planned Parenthood and You
Fit vs. UnFit, Eugenics, Planned Parenthood & Psychology, Mind Control Report
Margaret Sanger: Eugenicist (1/3)
Margaret Sanger: Eugenicist (2/3)
Margaret Sanger: Eugenicist (3/3)
Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s Racist Founder
National Right to Life: The Truth About Planned Parenthood
Abortion Is Big Business And Big Bucks (Truth #6)
Planned Parenthood’s Political Machine
Mass Murder of Blacks in Libya
Why are they lynching us in Libya? Kamit live in fear.
Obama SUPPORTS Black Genocide. The Cover-Up!
OBAMA LYNCHING BLACK AFRICANS : Presides Over Racial Genocide in Libya
OBAMA Is Preparing BLACK GENOCIDE In LIBYA
Obama’s Massacre in Libya – With Support Of NATO Racist Rebels Continue To Eradicate Black Libyans
More Proof of rebel atrocities after Gaddafi troops found dead, mutilated in mass grave
West Unleashes Arab KKK in Libya
Black People Face Ethnic Cleansing in Libya, 1 of 2
Black People Face Ethnic Cleansing in Libya, 2 of 2
Cardinal George on… Obama and Abortion
The Health Care Betrayal
Obamacare: Ending the Elderly
Rick Santorum – Tea Party Phony
Rick Santorum a Progressive Conservative?
PHONY christian rick santorum EXPOSED – VOTER’S GUIDE TO 2012
Ron Paul on Religion
The Compassion of Dr. Ron Paul
“…James Williams of Matagorda County, Texas recounts a touching true story. Living in a still prejudiced Texas In 1972, his wife had a complication with her pregnancy. No doctors would care for her or deliver their bi-racial child. In fact one of the hospital nurses called the police on James.
Dr. Ron Paul was notified and took her in, delivering their stillborn baby. Because of the compassion of Dr. Ron Paul, the Williams’ never received a hospital bill for the delivery.
Ron Paul views every human being as a unique individual, afforded the rights endowed by our creator and codified in the Bill of Rights. …”
Ron Paul Ad – Life
‘You can’t compromise on principle’
“In an interview Monday evening in Rome with Catholic News Service, Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan discusses why the U.S. bishops oppose the revised contraceptive mandate announced by President Obama three days earlier. Major excerpts here.”
Ron Paul Texas Straight Talk: The Latest Obamacare Overreach – 2/13/2012
Ron Paul embarrasses Rick Santorum CNN SC Republican Debate 1/19/12
Ron Paul Ad – Plan
Armed Chinese Troops in Texas!
Ron Paul on Just War, War Breaking Families
Ron Paul Thanksgiving Family Forum Debate Nov,19,2011 Part 1
Ron Paul Thanksgiving Family Forum Debate Nov,19,2011 Part 2
Ron Paul: The Only One We Can Trust
Ron Paul Leaks His Choice for Vice President
Ron Paul Ad – Betrayal
Ron Paul – Three of a Kind
No One But Paul — Can Beat Obama
Ron Paul – “The one who can beat Obama”
“Jesus’ commandment never wishes to destroy life, but rather to preserve, strengthen, and heal life.”
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Santorum questions Obama’s Christian values
By Steve Peoples Associated Press
“…Lashing out on two fronts, Rick Santorum on Saturday questioned President Barack Obama’s Christian values and attacked GOP rival Mitt Romney’s Olympics leadership as he courted tea party activists and evangelical voters in Ohio, “ground zero” in the 2012 nomination fight.
Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator known for his social conservative views, said Obama’s agenda is based on “some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.” He later suggested that the president practices a different kind of Christianity.
“In the Christian church there are a lot of different stripes of Christianity,” he said. “If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”
The Obama campaign said the comments represent “the latest low in a Republican primary campaign that has been fueled by distortions, ugliness, and searing pessimism and negativity.” …”
“…In Ohio, a Super Tuesday prize, he shifted decidedly to offense before friendly crowds. Trailing Romney in money and campaign resources, Santorum is depending on the tea party movement and religious groups to deliver a victory March 6 in the Midwestern contest.
More delegates will be awarded in Ohio than in any other state except Georgia in the opening months of the Republican campaign. Ohio and Georgia are two of the 10 contests scheduled for March 6, a benchmark for the primary campaign that often decides who can continue to the next level.
Santorum has surged in recent opinion polls after capturing Republican caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and a non-binding primary in Missouri on Feb. 7. Several polls have shown him ahead in Romney’s native state of Michigan, where primary voters cast ballots a week from Tuesday. …”
“…A devout Roman Catholic who has risen to the top of Republican polls in recent days, Santorum said the Obama administration had failed to prevent gas prices rising and was using “political science” in the debate about climate change.
Obama’s agenda is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology,” Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.
When asked about the statement at a news conference later, Santorum said, “If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”
But Santorum did not back down from the assertion that Obama’s values run against those of Christianity.
“He is imposing his values on the Christian church. He can categorize those values anyway he wants. I’m not going to,” Santorum told reporters.
A social conservative, Santorum is increasingly seen as a champion for evangelical Christians in fights with Democrats over contraception and gay marriage. …”
Rick Santorum tries to show he can win in November
By Dan Balz, Published: February 18
“…Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has won four states and risen suddenly to challenge Mitt Romney as the leader in the national polls. Now he faces a new hurdle: defining himself positively before others rush to disqualify him.
Santorum presents himself as a committed and consistent conservative with blue-collar roots — just the kind of candidate Republicans need to energize the party’s base and reach out to Reagan Democrats in a campaign against President Obama that could be decided in the nation’s industrial heartland.
Obama advisers and other Democrats see a Santorum whose record, writings and statements, particularly on social issues, will be used to portray him as far too conservative for many voters. His record, they say, could make Santorum anathema to suburban swing voters, especially women. That view is shared by some Republicans and independent analysts.
“They [Democrats] would brutalize him on social and cultural issues and present him as so far out of the mainstream as to be radical,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College and a leading pollster in Pennsylvania. “The analogy would be Barry Goldwater” — the 1964 GOP nominee who suffered a landslide defeat.
Santorum’s advisers recognize that he has entered a new phase in his campaign, and they see the obstacles ahead. They argue that a full and fair reading of his record reveals a more attractive profile of the former senator. But they acknowledge it is up to Santorum and his campaign to explain that record and allay concerns about his ability to run competitively in November.
“There will be people — Romney and the Democrats — who will try to distort these things,” said John Brabender, Santorum’s longtime political adviser. “It’s the responsibility of our campaign to show what the senator’s record really is. We are confident that once that happens, people will understand that the senator is extremely reasonable.”
The first tests will come over the next 10 days, as Santorum attempts to leverage his new prominence against Romney in primaries in Arizona and especially Michigan, and then on Super Tuesday, March 6. …”
Ron Paul Texas Straight Talk: The Latest Obamacare Overreach – 2/13/2012
Ron Paul: Many religious conservatives understandably are upset with the latest Obamacare mandate, which will require religious employers (including Catholic employers) to provide birth control to workers receiving healthcare benefits. This mandate includes certain birth control devices that are considered abortifacients, like IUDs and the “morning after” pill.
Of course Catholic teachings forbid the use of any sort of contraceptive devices, so this rule is anathema to the religious beliefs of Catholic employers. Religious freedom always has been considered sacrosanct in this country. However, our federal bureaucracy increasingly forces Americans to subsidize behaviors they find personally abhorrent, either through agency mandates or direct transfer payments funded by tax dollars.
Proponents of this mandate do not understand the gravity of forcing employers to subsidize activities that deeply conflict with their religious convictions. Proponents also do not understand that a refusal to subsidize those activities does not mean the employer is “denying access” to healthcare. If employers don’t provide free food to employees, do we accuse them of starving their workers?
In truth this mandate has nothing to do with healthcare, and everything to do with the abortion industry and a hatred for traditional religious values. Obamacare apologists cannot abide any religious philosophy that promotes large, two parent, nuclear, heterosexual families and frowns on divorce and abortion. Because the political class hates these values, it feels compelled to impose—by force of law—its preferred vision of society: single parents are noble; birth control should be encouraged at an early age; and abortion must be upheld as an absolute moral right.
So the political class simply tells the American people and American industry what values must prevail, and what costs much be borne to implement those values. This time, however, the political class has been shocked by the uproar to the new mandate that it did not anticipate or understand.
But Catholic hospitals face the existential choice of obeying their conscience and engaging in civil disobedience, or closing their doors because government claims the power to force them to violate the teachings of their faith. This terrible imposition has resonated with many Americans, and now the Obama administration finds itself having to defend the terrible cultural baggage of the anti-religious left.
Of course many Catholic leaders originally supported Obamacare because they naively believe against all evidence that benign angels in government will improve medical care for the poor. And many religious leaders support federal welfare programs generally without understanding that recipients of those dollars can use them for abortions, contraceptives, or any number of activities that conflict deeply with religious teachings. This is why private charity is so vitally important and morally superior to a government-run medical system.
The First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty is intended to ensure that Americans never have to put the demands of the federal government ahead of the their own conscience or religious beliefs. This new policy turns that guarantee on its head. The benefits or drawbacks of birth control are not the issue. The issue is whether government may force private employers and private citizens to violate their moral codes simply by operating their businesses or paying their taxes.”
Ron Paul Says Santorum Can’t Beat Obama
Ron Paul says social issues are a ‘losing position’ for the GOP
“…Ron Paul said he doesn’t think that Rick Santorum can defeat President Obama in a general election. “I don’t see how that’s possible,” he said on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Paul also jabbed at Santorum for his aim “to control peoples’ lives” and what he framed as Santorum’s hypocrisy on the birth control issue.
Santorum admitted in a 2006 interview on Fox News that he supported Title X, a government program that provides funds for family planning services, including access to contraceptives. Santorum said he voted for it during his time as Pennsylvania Senator, and though he believes in access to contraceptives, he personally feels they’re harmful to women and that abstinence education is a “healthier” option.
“I don’t see how anybody can get away with that inconsistency—pretending he’s a conservative,” Paul said in reference to Santorum’s vote.
Paul dismissed the recent debate over contraception entirely, saying that while the other candidates discuss birth control, he’s concerned with “the undermining of our civil liberties, the constant wars going on” and the debt.
Paul said the focus on social issues is a fundamental problem and an unwise fight for the GOP.
“I think it’s a losing position,” he said. “I talk about it because I have a precise understanding of how these problems are to be solved,” on a state-specific level, he said. …”
“…Black liberation theology, is a relatively new theological perspective found in some Christian churches in the United States. It is an instance of the liberation theology which originated from Catholic Theologians in the 1950′s. Liberation theology observes that Jesus Christ was a religious leader seeking greater justice for the oppressed and occupied people of Israel and views his teachings as both an inspiration and a model for others to seek freedom from injustice. The influenced of liberation theology resulted in a more socially conscious Catholic Church during the 1962 Vatican II conference and was central to Latin American peasant and grass-roots movements throughout the 60s 70′s and 80′s.
Black liberation theology seeks to liberate people of color from multiple forms of political, social, economic, and religious subjugation and views Christian theology as a theology of liberation — “a rational study of the being of God in the world in light of the existential situation of an oppressed community, relating the forces of liberation to the essence of the Gospel, which is Jesus Christ,” writes James Hal Cone.
Modern American origins of contemporary black liberation theology can be traced to July 31, 1966, when an ad hoc group of 51 black pastors, calling themselves the National Committee of Negro Churchmen (NCNC), bought a full page ad in the New York Times to publish their “Black Power Statement,” which proposed a more aggressive approach to combating racism using the Bible for inspiration.
In the minds of many African-Americans, Christianity was long associated with slavery and segregation. The Southern Baptist Convention had supported slavery and slaveholders, and it was not until June 20, 1995 that the formal Declaration of Repentance was adopted. This resolution declared that they “unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin” and “lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest.” The convention offered an apology to all African-Americans for “condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime” and repentance for “racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously. Christianity was long associated with racism. Therefore, there must then be a dialogue regarding the implications of racism in today’s society and to what extent historical factors affect the plight of the black community. Cone argues that, “About thirty years ago it was acceptable to lynch a black man by hanging him from a tree; but today whites destroy him by crowding him into a ghetto and letting filth and despair put the final touches on death.”
Black theology deals primarily with the African-American community, to make Christianity real for blacks. It explains Christianity as a matter of liberation here and now, rather than in an afterlife. The goal of black theology is not for special treatment. Instead, “All Black theologians are asking for is for freedom and justice. No more, and no less. In asking for this, the Black theologians, turn to scripture as the sanction for their demand. The Psalmist writes for instance, ‘If God is going to see righteousness established in the land, he himself must be particularly active as ‘the helper of the fatherless’  to ‘deliver the needy when he crieth; and the poor that hath no helper.’“
James Cone and Black Liberation Theology
Main article: James Hal Cone
James Cone first addressed this theology after Malcolm X’s proclamation in the 1950s against Christianity being taught as “a white man’s religion”. According to Black religion expert Jonathan Walton: “James Cone believed that the New Testament revealed Jesus as one who identified with those suffering under oppression, the socially marginalized and the cultural outcasts. And since the socially constructed categories of race in America (i.e., whiteness and blackness) had come to culturally signify dominance (whiteness) and oppression (blackness), from a theological perspective, Cone argued that Jesus reveals himself as black in order to disrupt and dismantle white oppression.”
Black liberation theology contends that dominant cultures have corrupted Christianity, and the result is a mainstream faith-based empire that serves its own interests, not God’s. Black liberation theology asks whose side should God be on – the side of the oppressed or the side of the oppressors. If God values justice over victimization, then God desires that all oppressed people should be liberated. According to Cone, if God is not just, if God does not desire justice, then God needs to be done away with. Liberation from a false god who privileges whites, and the realization of an alternative and true God who desires the empowerment of the oppressed through self-definition, self-affirmation, and self-determination is the core of black liberation theology.
On God and Jesus Christ
Cone based much of his liberationist theology on God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt in the Book of Exodus. He compared the United States to Egypt, predicting that oppressed people will soon be led to a promised land. For Cone, the theme of Yahweh’s concern was for “the lack of social, economic, and political justice for those who are poor and unwanted in society.” Cone also says that the same God is working for the oppressed blacks of the 20th century, and that “God is helping oppressed blacks and has identified with them, God Himself is spoken of as ‘Black’.” 
Cone saw Christ from the aspect of oppression and liberation. Cone uses the Gospel of Luke to illustrate this point: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them.” “‘In Christ,’ Cone argues, ‘God enters human affairs and takes sides with the oppressed. Their suffering becomes his; their despair, divine despair.’” Cone also argues that, “We cannot solve ethical questions of the twentieth century by looking at what Jesus did in the first. Our choices are not the same as his. Being Christians does not mean following ‘in his steps.’” [Black Theology and Black Power, Page 139] 
Cone’s view is that Jesus was black, which he felt was a very important view of black people to see. “It’s very important because you’ve got a lot of white images of Christ. In reality, Christ was not white, not European. That’s important to the psychic and to the spiritual consciousness of black people who live in a ghetto and in a white society in which their lord and savior looks just like people who victimize them. God is whatever color God needs to be in order to let people know they’re not nobodies, they’re somebodies.” 
Stylistic differences in the Black religious community
Because of the differences in thought between the black and white community, most black religious leaders attempt to make their services more accessible to other African-Americans, who must identify with the faith in order to accept it. Another notable difference is Cone’s suggestion as to what must occur if there is not reconciliation among the white community. He states, “Whether the American system is beyond redemption we will have to wait and see. But we can be certain that black patience has run out, and unless white America responds positively to the theory and activity of Black Power, then a bloody, protracted civil war is inevitable.” [Black Theology and Black Power, Page 143] 
Black Liberation Theology is considered by some to be a form of racism, as some followers associate liberation with retribution and anger. For this to be considered a true Christian Faith, followers should embrace the liberation in concert with acceptance and fogiveness, just as Christ forgave his oppressors.
Anthony Bradley of the Christian Post interprets that the language of “economic parity” and references to “mal-distribution” as nothing more than channeling the views of Karl Marx. He believes James Cone and Cornel West have worked to incorporate Marxist thought into the black church, forming an ethical framework predicated on a system of oppressor class versus a victim much like Marxism.
Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago is the church most frequently cited by press accounts, and by Cone as the best example of a church formally founded on the vision of Black liberation theology. The 2008 Jeremiah Wright controversy, over differing interpretations of some of his sermons and statements, caused then-Senator Barack Obama to distance himself from his former pastor.
Stanley Kurtz of the National Review wrote about the perceived differences with ‘conventional American Christianity’. He quoted black-liberation theologian Dr. Obery M. Hendricks Jr.: “According to Hendricks, ‘many good church-going folk have been deluded into behaving like modern-day Pharisees and Sadducees when they think they’re really being good Christians.’ Unwittingly, Hendricks says, these apparent Christians have actually become ‘like the false prophets of Ba’al.’” Kurtz also quotes the Rev. Jeremiah Wright: “How do I tell my children about the African Jesus who is not the guy they see in the picture of the blond-haired, blue-eyed guy in their Bible or the figment of white supremacists [sic] imagination that they see in Mel Gibson’s movies?”
He criticized the risk management methods used by the finance industry and warned about financial crises, subsequently making a fortune out of the late-2000s financial crisis. He advocates what he calls a “black swan robust” society, meaning a society that can withstand difficult-to-predict events. He favors “stochastic tinkering” as a method of scientific discovery, by which he means experimentation and fact-collecting instead of top-down directed research.
Both sides of his family were politically prominent in the Lebanese Greek Orthodox community. On his mother’s side, his grandfather, Fouad Nicolas Ghosn, and his great-grandfather, Nicolas Ghosn, were both deputy prime ministers. His paternal grandfather was a supreme court judge; his great-great-great-great grandfather, Ibrahim Taleb, was a governor of the Ottoman semi-autonomous Mount Lebanon Governorate in 1861. The Taleb family Palazo, built in 1860 by Florentine architects for his great-great-great-great grandfather, still stands in Amioun.
Taleb considers himself less a businessman than an epistemologist of randomness, and says that he used trading to attain independence and freedom from authority. As a trader, his strategy has been to safeguard investors against crises while reaping rewards from rare events, and thus his trading career has included several jackpots followed by lengthy dry spells. Taleb was a pioneer of tail risk hedging (now sometimes called “black swan protection”), whereby investors are insured against extreme market moves. He says that reaping dividends the way he has means dwelling in the land of “Mediocristan” instead of “Extremistan”, the latter being an environment where huge things (black swans) can happen to you, whereas Mediocristan is the land of dentists who earn an above average income but with less extreme variations.
Taleb reportedly became financially independent after the crash of 1987 and made a multi-million dollar fortune during the financial crisis that began in 2007, a development which he attributed to the mismatch between statistical distributions used in finance and reality.Universa is a fund which is based on the “black swan” idea and to which Taleb is a principal adviser. Separate funds belonging to Universa made returns of 65% to 115% in October 2008. In the wake of the economic crisis that started in 2008, Taleb has become an activist for a “black swan robust society”  and as of July 2011, Taleb is working with the International Monetary Fund on identifying and mitigating tail risks in financial markets.
Taleb’s first non-technical book, Fooled by Randomness, about the underestimation of the role of randomness in life, was published in 2001.
His second non-technical book, The Black Swan, about unpredictable events, was published in 2007, selling as of February 2011, close to 3 million copies. It spent 36 weeks in hardcover on the New York Times Bestseller list list; 17 as hardcover and 19 weeks as paperback.  and was translated into 31 languages.The Black Swan has been credited with predicting the banking and economic crisis of 2008.
Taleb’s non-technical writing style mixes a narrative style (often semi-autobiographical) and short philosophical tales together with historical and scientific commentary. The sales of Taleb’s first two books garnered an advance of $4 million for a follow-up book on anti-fragility.
A book of aphorisms, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms, was released in December 2010.
In 2007, in The Black Swan, Taleb warned about the coming crisis:
Globalization creates interlocking fragility, while reducing volatility and giving the appearance of stability. In other words it creates devastating Black Swans. We have never lived before under the threat of a global collapse. Financial Institutions have been merging into a smaller number of very large banks. Almost all banks are interrelated. So the financial ecology is swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks – when one fails, they all fall. The increased concentration among banks seems to have the effect of making financial crisis less likely, but when they happen they are more global in scale and hit us very hard. We have moved from a diversified ecology of small banks, with varied lending policies, to a more homogeneous framework of firms that all resemble one another. True, we now have fewer failures, but when they occur …. I shiver at the thought. The government-sponsored institution Fannie Mae, when I look at its risks, seems to be sitting on a barrel of dynamite, vulnerable to the slightest hiccup. But not to worry: their large staff of scientists deem these events “unlikely”.
Among the people Taleb’s writing has influenced is writer Malcolm Gladwell of The New Yorker. Gladwell wrote, “We associate the willingness to risk great failure – and the ability to climb back from catastrophe – with courage. But in this we are wrong. That is the lesson of Nassim Taleb.”
His book The Bed of Procrustes summarizes the central problem: “we humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas”. Taleb disagrees with Platonic (i.e., theoretical) approaches to reality to the extent that they lead people to have the wrong map of reality rather than no map at all. He opposes most economic and grand social science theorizing, which in his view suffer acutely from the problem of overuse of Plato’s Theory of Forms.
Relatedly, he also believes that universities are better at public relations and claiming credit than generating knowledge. He argues that knowledge and technology are usually generated by what he calls “stochastic tinkering” rather than by top-down directed research.
He calls for cancellation of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, saying that the damage from economic theories can be devastating. He opposes top-down knowledge as an academic illusion and believes that price formation obeys an organic process. Together with Espen Gaarder Haug, Taleb asserts that option pricing is determined in a “heuristic way” by operators, not by a model, and that models are “lecturing birds on how to fly”.Pablo Triana has explored this topic with reference to Haug and Taleb, and says that perhaps Taleb is correct to urge that banks be treated as utilities forbidden to take potentially lethal risks, while hedge funds and other unregulated entities should be able to do what they want.
Taleb’s writings discuss the error of comparing real-world randomness with the “structured randomness” in quantum physics where probabilities are remarkably computable and games of chance like casinos where probabilities are artificially built. Taleb calls this the “Ludic fallacy“. His argument centers on the idea that predictive models are based on Plato’s Theory of Forms, gravitating towards mathematical purity and failing to take some key ideas into account, such as: the impossibility of possessing all relevant information, that small unknown variations in the data can have a huge impact, and flawed theories/models that are based on empirical data and that fail to consider events that have not taken place but could have taken place. Discussing the Ludic fallacy in The Black Swan, he writes, “The dark side of the moon is harder to see; beaming light on it costs energy. In the same way, beaming light on the unseen is costly in both computational and mental effort.”
In the second edition of The Black Swan, he posited that the foundations of quantitative economics are faulty and highly self-referential. He states that statistics is fundamentally incomplete as a field as it cannot predict the risk of rare events, a problem that is acute in proportion to the rarity of these events. With the mathematician Raphael Douady, he called the problem statistical undecidability (Douady and Taleb, 2010).
Taleb sees his main challenge as mapping his ideas of “robustification” and “anti-fragility“, that is, how to live and act in a world we do not understand and build robustness to black swan events. Taleb introduced the idea of the “fourth quadrant”. One of its applications is in his definition of the most effective (that is, least fragile) risk management approach: what he calls the ‘barbell’ strategy which is based on avoiding the middle in favor of linear combination of extremes, across all domains from politics to economics to one’s personal life. These are deemed more robust to estimation errors. For instance, he suggests that investing money in ‘medium risk’ investments is pointless because risk is difficult if not impossible to compute. His preferred strategy is to be both hyper-conservative and hyper-aggressive at the same time. For example, an investor might put 80 to 90% of their money in extremely safe instruments, such as treasury bills, with the remainder going into highly risky and diversified speculative bets. An alternative suggestion is to engage in highly speculative bets that are insured against losses of more than a specified amount. He asserts that by adopting these strategies a portfolio can be “robust”, that is, gain a positive exposure to black swan events while limiting losses suffered by such random events. Taleb also applies a similar barbell-style approach to health and exercise. Instead of doing steady and moderate exercise daily, he suggests that it is better to do a low-effort exercise such as walking slowly most of the time, while occasionally expending extreme effort. He avers that the human body evolved to live in a random environment, with various unexpected but intense efforts and much rest.
In a 2008 article in The Times, the journalist Bryan Appleyard described Taleb as “now the hottest thinker in the world”. The Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman proposed the inclusion of Taleb’s name among the world’s top intellectuals, saying “Taleb has changed the way many people think about uncertainty, particularly in the financial markets. His book, The Black Swan, is an original and audacious analysis of the ways in which humans try to make sense of unexpected events.” Taleb was treated as a “rock star” at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos in 2009; at that event he had harsh words for bankers.[clarification needed]
Taleb contends that statisticians can be pseudoscientists when it comes to risks of rare events and risks of blowups, and mask their incompetence with complicated equations. This stance has attracted criticism: the American Statistical Association devoted the August 2007 issue of The American Statistician to The Black Swan. The magazine offered a mixture of praise and criticism for Taleb’s main points, with a focus on Taleb’s writing style and his representation of the statistical literature. Robert Lund, a mathematics professor at Clemson University, writes that in Black Swan, Taleb is “reckless at times and subject to grandiose overstatements; the professional statistician will find the book ubiquitously naive.”
Aaron Brown, a finance professor at Yeshiva University, said that “the book reads as if Taleb has never heard of nonparametric methods, data analysis, visualization tools or robust estimation.” Nonetheless, he calls the book “essential reading” and urges statisticians to overlook the insults to get the “important philosophic and mathematical truths.” Taleb replied in the second edition of The Black Swan that “One of the most common (but useless) comments I hear is that some solutions can come from ‘robust statistics.’ I wonder how using these techniques can create information where there is none”. While praising the book, Westfall and Hilbe in 2007 complained that Taleb’s criticism is “often unfounded and sometimes outrageous.” Taleb’s contentious style, they say, “describes writers and professionals as knaves or fools, mostly fools. His writing is full of irrelevances, asides and colloquialisms, reading like the conversation of a raconteur rather than a tightly argued thesis.” Taleb felt that academics showed “bad faith” by criticizing a literary book that claimed to be a literary book and by ignoring the empirical evidence provided in his appendix and more technical works.
The late Berkeley statistician David Freedman said that efforts by statisticians to refute Taleb’s stance have been unconvincing. Taleb wrote in the second edition of The Black Swan that he had a session in 2008 with statisticians in which the hostility changed:
I found out that telling researchers “This is where your methods work very well” is vastly better than telling them “This is what you guys don’t know.” So when I presented to what was until then the most hostile crowd in the world, members of the American Statistical Association, a map of the four quadrants, and told them: your knowledge works beautifully in these three quadrants, but beware of the fourth one, as this is where the Black Swans breed, I received instant approval, support, offers of permanent friendship, refreshments (Diet Coke), invitations to come present at their sessions, even hugs(…) They tried to convince me that statisticians were not responsible for these aberrations, which come from people in the social sciences who apply statistical methods without understanding them.
Taleb and Nobel laureate Myron Scholes have traded personal attacks, particularly after Taleb’s paper with Espen Haug on why nobody used the Black-Scholes-Merton formula. Taleb said that Scholes was responsible for the financial crises of 2008, and suggested that “this guy should be in a retirement home doing Sudoku. His funds have blown up twice. He shouldn’t be allowed in Washington to lecture anyone on risk.” Scholes retorted that Taleb simply “popularises ideas and is making money selling books”. Scholes claimed that Taleb does not cite previous literature, and for this reason Taleb is not taken seriously in academia. Taleb and Haug (2010) listed hundreds of research documents showing the Black-Scholes formula was not Scholes’ at all and argued that the economics establishment ignored the literature by practitioners and mathematicians (such as Ed Thorp), who had developed a more sophisticated version of the formula.
Citing his academic works on the same topics covered in The Black Swan, Taleb said that “Academics should comment on data there, not make technical comments on a literary book”. He has said that no direct published criticism has been directed at his ideas, but rather at his person and style. He wrote, “you never win an argument until they attack your person.” In an interview on Charlie Rose, Taleb said that he was pleased that none of the criticism he received for The Black Swan had any substance, as it was either unintelligent, ad hominem, or style over substance, which convinced him to “go for the jugular” with a huge financial bet on the breakdown of statistical methods in finance.
Taleb’s aggressive attitude against the finance industry has led to personal attacks, including a smear campaign and death threats from former employees of Lehman Brothers.
Though a non-smoker, Taleb suffered from throat cancer in the mid-1990s, which he overcame. According to his official bio, he has dual residence in New York and Amioun, Lebanon. He has stated that his major hobby is “teasing people who take themselves and the quality of their knowledge too seriously and those who don’t have the guts to sometimes say: ‘I don’t know …’” Some reporters have commented that information about his personal life is difficult to extract, though Taleb appears to enjoy being in the limelight. Others find him more talkative: Malcolm Gladwell, in What the Dog Saw, wrote: “We would have lunches that would last for hours. The delight I took in his company was offset only by the dread I felt at the prospect of transcribing all those hours of tapes.” When asked about his opinion on the Republican primaries of the 2012 presidential elections on his official Facebook page, Taleb said “[t]he only person I trust is Ron Paul.”  …”