death panels

Chatting with Igor Birman

Igor Birman

“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation.” — Igor Birman

Late last year, I ran across video of Igor Birman, who immigrated to the United States with his family as the Soviet Union was collapsing, warning against a more centralized government healthcare system. Birman, who now serves as Chief of Staff to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), was explaining that the Soviet system relied on rationing of healthcare, which would be the end result of ObamaCare.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with Birman to discuss his story, the transformation of the United States into a police state, ObamaCare, the budget, and other destructive economic policies that are being pushed by the White House.

When asked about the recent filibuster in the Senate, Birman applauded Sen. Rand Paul and noted that it was refreshing to hear a politician be so passionate. He also compared the policies implemented as part of the “war on terror”  to life in the Soviet Union, where the government frequently searched homes of ordinary citizens without cause, which he called a “fact of life,” noting that “you just accepted it as much as you did the cold weather and the long lines for the basic staples of food and water.”

Birman experienced this first-hand. “A week before we left for the United States, we went to say goodbye to my uncle in St. Petersburg and when we came back, we found our apartment just absolutely ravaged,” recalled Birman. “The authorities must have been looking for whatever lame excuse they could find to either delay or disrupt our departure.”

Podcast: Afghanistan War, Huckabee-Maurice Clemmons, Bernanke Re-Nomination, Iran News & More, Guest: Stephen Gordon

Note: Brad Warbiany from The Liberty Papers was originally penciled in as a guest for the podcast, but some technical difficulties required a re-recording of the show.  He was missed on the final product, but we plan to have him on again in the very near future.

Jason and Brett were joined by Stephen Gordon, principal with Forward Focus Media for the re-record, as well as the original.

Together, they discuss:

Filibuster change revives Obamacare’s “death panel”

Death Panel

Not only did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) give Democrats a convenient political distraction from the Obamacare meltdown, the “nuclear option” was also very obvious power grab that gives President Barack Obama virtually unchecked power to whomever he wants to his cabinet or to federal courts.

But the executive appointments that can now be made without any real check in the Senate are not just innocuous posts. Sam Baker of National Journal noted last week that the elimination of the filibuster gives President Obama the ability to make appointments to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), otherwise known as “death panels.”

“The IPAB is technically supposed to submit its first proposed cuts in January, but Obama hasn’t even nominated anyone to the board yet. Nominees have to be confirmed by the Senate, which until today required 60 votes—and Republicans were highly unlikely to help confirm anyone to the board,” wrote Baker on Thursday.

“But now that the Senate has moved to a 51-vote threshold for executive appointments, Obama will likely be able to fill the board and move ahead with one of the most significant cost-control measures in his signature health care law—if he wants to,” he noted, adding that Senate aide confirmed that the filibuster change applies to IPAB.

House Democrat wants repeal of ObamaCare’s employer mandate

John Barrow

Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) says that the administration’s delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate is not enough and that Congress needs to fully repeal of the onerous provision.

In speech yesterday from the House floor, Barrow urged leadership bring H.R. 903 — the American Job Protection Act, legislation sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) — up for a vote before the chamber.

“Just over a week ago, the Administration announced a one-year delay of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.  While a temporary delay is a good thing for businesses, a full repeal would be even better,” said Barrow. “Businesses in my district in Georgia have made very clear that the employer mandate would prevent them from expanding their businesses or hiring workers.  One of the main reasons I voted against this law in the first place was because too many job creators in my district simply can’t afford the costs of the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act.”

“We can fix this, however. I’m proud to be leading the effort to fully repeal the employer mandate, along with two of my colleagues from across the aisle. We know that this can be fixed, and we’ve got the bipartisan legislation to do it,” he added. “I urge my colleagues to swiftly bring up the full repeal of the employer mandate and make this delay permanent, so businesses across the country can get back to creating the jobs we need.”

The mandate would cost employers $150 billion over the next 11 years, according to information provided on Barrow’s House website, and lead to a loss of more than 3 million jobs.

Never Mind the IRS, You’d Better Be Nice to Kathleen Sebelius

Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board is everything its critics say and worse. It is a democracy-skirting, Congress-blocking, powers-unseparating, law-entrenching, tax-hiking, fund-appropriating, price-controlling, health-care-rationing, death-paneling, technocrat-thrilling, authoritarian, anti-constitutional super-legislature. Its very existence is testament to government incompetence. It stands as a milestone on the road to serfdom.

The Congressional Research Service has now confirmed what HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pretends not to know but what Diane Cohen and I explained here:

[I]f President Obama fails to appoint any IPAB members, all these powers fall to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Paul Krugman in 1998: Internet’s Economic Impact No Greater Than Fax Machine

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman is known for saying some very odd things. The neo-Keynesian economist has firmly planted himself as a hack for President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, even if it means going back on policies he once supported.

For example, Krugman once spoke strongly against the idea of monetizing debt. But when the Federal Reserve decided roll out “quantitative easing” — a nice name for debt monetization, shifted gears and defended the program. Krugman, who often cherry-picks data to come to predetermined conclusions, has written fondly of death and destruction because he believes it will drive economic output. He’s also a big fan of death panels to deal with the unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs.

Krugman was also one of the loudest voices calling for economic stimulus in 2009. After President Obama’s stimulus failed to boost the economy, Krugman, who had advocated for a stimulus bill that exceeded the $833 billion price tag that the Obama Administration requested, complained that it wasn’t large enough.

Krugman chastized those who were pushing for spending cuts and later claimed victory. “Intellectually it was, I think I can say without false modesty, a huge win,” he wrote last year. “I (and those of like mind) have been right about everything.”

Paul Krugman for Treasury Secretary?: WORST. IDEA. EVER.

Paul Krugman

This weekend, MoveOn.org pushed a petition written by economic policy expert actor Danny Glover asking President Barack Obama to appoint Paul Krugman to serve as the next Treasury Secretary. The petition, which has garnered nearly 200,000 signatures, states, “Press speculation has centered on candidates likely to support the Wall Street agenda of cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits and other domestic spending rather than government policies to create jobs.”

“We want President Obama to nominate Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who opposes austerity and wants the government to focus on creating jobs.”

While one may not put it past Obama to make such an appointment, there is next to no chance that Krugman would win confirmation from the Senate. If you though Timothy Geither has been worthless in his role as Treasury Secretary, Krugman would be a disaster, based on things he’s said since President Obama has been in office.

Here’s a sample of The Crazy™ from Krugman:

FreedomWorks: Top Ten Reasons to Repeal ObamaCare

While most mainstream pundits believe the fight over ObamaCare is over after the Supreme Court’s decision during the summer, polls still show that the law is still unpopular with Americans.

Health insurance premiums are still on the rise, companies are dropping coverage or cutting hours to skirt the law’s mandates, and the cost of ObamaCare has skyrocketed. The law has also been a jobs killer. According to a recent study, ObamaCare’s regulations have killed some 30,000 jobs and cost $27.6 billion.

If these reasons weren’t enough to do away with the law and start over, a new compendium put together by Dean Clancy, Vice President of Health Care Policy at FreedomWorks, goes over the top 10 reasons to repeal ObamaCare.

In addition to some of the points already made, Clancy explains that ObamaCare is a bureaucratic mess that will force many Americans to lose their current health insurance, pushing them into buy government-controlled plans. He explains that taxes imposed as part of the law will hit all areas of the health care system. Clancy also notes that the law will lead to rationing of health care.

More importantly, as Clancy explains, “there is a better way.” After repealing ObamaCare, Congress could start over again by crafting legislation that focuses on the needs of patients, not bureaucrats.

Michael F. Cannon: Exploding Myths about ObamaCare’s IPAB

See Video

Why Sebelius Campaigns So Hard for Her Boss — and Why He Won’t Fire Her

Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has been campaigning so enthusiastically for President Obama that she — whoops! — broke a federal law that restricts political activities by executive-branch officials. Federal employees are usually fired for such transgressions, but no one expects that to happen to Sebelius. Heck, she got right back in the saddle.

Every cabinet official (probably) wants to see the president reelected, and no president relishes dismissing a cabinet official. But in this case, there’s an additional incentive for Sebelius to campaign for her boss and for Obama not to fire her.


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