At a Q&A someone asked Chief Justice Roberts how he felt about the President making comments about a recent decision that the court made during the State of the Union. Roberts had an excellent answer:
For those who went to public school, did you ever wonder what that 13 years of education cost the people who were shelling the dough? (By that I mean your parents, your neighbors, and anyone paying taxes.) For those who didn’t go to public school, this still applies to you. Because you subsidized my education. Thanks! (Suckers…)
Anyway, this so-called free schooling actually did cost something. But how much? Well it turns out it probably cost more than the administrators were letting on. My Cato colleague Adam Schaeffer, an education policy expert, examined some of the largest school districts and found that they have been underreporting the actual costs.
And as the title of his new study (“They Spend WHAT?”) lets on, we’re not just talking a few nickels and dimes on pencil expenses. This is some serious taxpayer cash. Before I let him explain it all in the video below, here’s the money quote:
It is impossible to have a public debate about education policy if public schools can’t be straight forward about their spending.
Closed-door talks extended to both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday as President Obama, key senators and industry officials searched for an elusive agreement on comprehensive energy and climate change legislation.
At the White House, Obama implored 14 Democrats and Republicans to reach consensus before the end of this year on a bill that puts a first-ever price on carbon emissions, rather than settle for the energy-only approach favored by some moderates.
Those talks occupied 70 minutes of Obama’s time as eight Democrats and six Republicans went around the Cabinet Room describing their demands. Obama opened the meeting by insisting the Senate stick to his plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions, and in return pledged to make concessions on oil and gas drilling and nuclear power.
You have to wonder if this is his back up plan on getting a major part of his domestic agenda passed in case health care falls apart. While not as much of a hot button issue like health care, cap-and-trade could easily turn into a damaging issue back home for Democrats in Republican-leaning district. In other words, it’s their funeral.
In September I mentioned a story from the Reason Foundation that showed uninsured patients are not responsible for crowded emergency rooms and only account for 2.7% of total health care spending.
According to Peter Orszag, the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, about $700 billion, or 5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, is wasted on unnecessary care, such as extra costs related to medical errors, defensive medicine, and just plain fraud. At the center of this discussion are “unnecessary” ER visits for minor conditions—colds, headaches, and feverish babies—that could be handled more cheaply in doctors’ offices. If we could only convince patients to take their stubbed toes to urgent-care clinics or primary-care offices instead of ERs, the thinking goes, we could save a load and help fix this whole health care fiasco.
Marc Ambinder notes that when it comes to reducing the size of government, there’s fairly solid evidence that most Republicans in Congress aren’t walking the walk:
Paul Ryan is the Republican idea man of the hour. Karl Rove endorsed Ryan’s approach to budget reform on Glenn Beck, and whenever Republicans are asked about their preferred alternatives to the administration’s deficit reduction intentions, Ryan’s name and proposals are offered up. Hey, Republicans have ideas too. We don’t need health care reform to reduce the deficit — at least not yet.
So prominent Republicans — particularly those running for president and those who aren’t elected officials — love Paul Ryan when it’s convenient. Why is it, then, that only twelve members of the conference were willing to attach their names to his bill — and none from the leadership? One reason is that Ryan is introducing it in his capacity as a member — not as the ranking member of the budget committee.
The other reason? Maybe they don’t want to be associated with what is a pretty far-ranging radical proposal:
Denial. It’s not a river in Egypt.
Still, as President Obama and D.C.’s majority legislative leadership strain our belief in a rational governing and representative body, it’s difficult to deny that something has gone terribly awry.
Not to belabor a point so many have made over the last year – and in some cases, decade(s) - but these Democrats don’t seem so concerned with my ability to access affordable, adequate health care as they do their ability to decide without me just what exactly defines adequate, affordable and accessible care.
So I’d like to report that their collective voice raised so stridently on my behalf (declaring as they do my “right” to all the government largesse they propose to provide) no longer has the power to shock my libertarian sensibilities. Yet day after day I find myself wondering how these men and women, whose primary attribute seems to indicate an infinite willingness to pretend two and two equals zero, were ever elected in the first place.
And therein lies the rub.
The Alan Graysons, Nancy Pelosis, John Lewises, Charlie Rangels, Harry Reids and other idealogical heirs to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy were all elected by the people and for the people. We may not like what they’re doing but someone voted for them just as they did Obama.
How did it happen? Good question and one with a plethora of philosophical and political answers. But the most important reason is too close to home for comfort. Thus, we can continue to play the blame game, or we can stop denying the unpalatable truth.
Social conservative leaders are worried that the Tea Party movement doesn’t care enough about abortion and gay marriage, Politico reports.
This appears to be a growing theme, ever since Mike Huckabee said that he skipped CPAC this year because it was “too libertarian” for him. In his most recent book, Huckabee wrote of a growing movement of what he called “faux-cons;” people who hold free market views on the economy, but don’t think the government should use its coercive powers to promote a “family values” social agenda.
Now, more prominent social conservatives are repeating a similar line. Here’s what some of them told Politico:
- “There’s a libertarian streak in the tea party movement that concerns me as a cultural conservative,” said Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association. “The tea party movement needs to insist that candidates believe in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.”
- “As far as I can tell [the tea party movement] has a politics that’s irreligious. I can’t see how some of my fellow conservatives identify with it,” said Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals.
There are probably good reasons why they’re so worried. The Tea Party movement has not based its activism on their top priorities, (do you see anything about gay marriage or abortion in their Contract From America?) and the social conservatives fear they are losing their grip on the center-right.
House and Senate Democrats got some bad news today as the Senate parliamentarian said that the House would have to pass the Senate version of ObamaCare and have it signed into law by the president before a fix could be pushed through via reconciliation:
The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday.
The Senate Parliamentarian’s Office was responding to questions posed by the Republican leadership. The answers were provided verbally, sources said.
House Democratic leaders have been searching for a way to ensure that any move they make to approve the Senate-passed $871 billion health care reform bill is followed by Senate action on a reconciliation package of adjustments to the original bill. One idea is to have the House and Senate act on reconciliation prior to House action on the Senate’s original health care bill.
Despite the parliamentarian’s ruling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) doesn’t seem to have any concern about pressing ahead with reconciliation.
I don’t know how many times I have made the remark to friends and family that this Great Recession is occurring like a slow-motion movie. We saw the bodies sailing through the air in our peripheral vision—the Ken Lewises, the Alan Schwartzes, the Martin Sullivans, the Richard Fulds. The stock market implosion took several weeks to come crashing to the floor, and the resultant slow-blooming dust cloud looked thick and impenetrable from a distance, yet translucent and impressionistic up close. With our telephoto lenses we could capture snapshots of the flustered figures scurrying for cover, the fragmented federal institutions falling by the wayside, the thick unbreathable hot air billowing, and the knee-jerk uninformed decision-making with its domino effects.
There are good reasons to cast blame on multiple characters in this film. The financiers were short-sighted and egocentric—and they still are, with no market force intervention to change their behavior. The overseers were, and are, just as short-sighted and egocentric. No market forces ever touch their behavior, except maybe during elections. Even the central bankers were, if not shortsighted and egocentric, at least somewhat smug and over-confident, which is also to be expected since no market forces ever touch their behavior, except perhaps the flux and reflux of Presidential favor.