Tax Hikes

The Only Ones Who Misunderstand ObamaCare More than Its Detractors Are Its Supporters

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

Ezra Klein has a post arguing that ObamaCare is unpopular because the public doesn’t understand it. It would be more accurate to say that ObamaCare is popular with people like Klein because they don’t understand it.

Klein notes an apparent negative correlation between the popularity of certain provisions of the law and public awareness of those provisions. If only more people knew about the good stuff in ObamaCare – you know, the subsidies to seniors and the provisions forcing insurers to cover the sick – more people would like it. But the polls showing public support for those provisions don’t ask respondents whether they think the benefits of those provisions are worth the costs. They only ask about the benefits. Since none of those provisions is a benefits-only proposition, those polls tell us essentially nothing.

For example, last year a Reason-Rupe survey asked respondents about laws forcing insurers to cover the sick. What made this poll interesting is that it was the first poll in 18 years to ask respondents to weigh the costs of such laws against the benefits. The below graph (from my latest Cato paper, “50 Vetoes”) displays the results.

The Hill Confirms GOP’s Image Problem

Republican Party

We’ve heard it before — Republicans have an image problem. There aren’t many who deny this, after a brutal election last year, and continued messaging problems this year. But with the fight over the FY 2014 budget still far from over and an important mid-term election next year, Republicans clearly have their work cut out for them.

And the problem Republicans have isn’t because of their ideas on fiscal matters. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Early last week, The Hill released a poll showing that voters actually responded well to the Republican budget message…as long as they didn’t know that it came from Republicans:

Respondents in The Hill Poll were asked to choose which of two approaches they would prefer on the budget, but the question’s phrasing included no cues as to which party advocated for which option.

Presented in that way, 55 percent of likely voters opted for a plan that would slash $5 trillion in government spending, provide for no additional tax revenue and balance the budget within 10 years — in essence, the path recommended by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week.
Only 28 percent of voters preferred this option, which reflects the proposal put forth by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last week.

An even stronger majority of respondents, 65 percent, said U.S. budget deficits should be reduced mostly by cutting spending rather than by raising taxes. Just 24 percent said the budget should be balanced mostly by increasing revenue.

Mike Lee: Obama is a “Day Late and a Dollar Short” on Budget

Mike Lee

This was an eventual week in Washington as both chambers each passed their own budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. This shouldn’t be a big deal. The House has done its duty, passing budgets in 2011 and 2012. However, the Senate had not, until yesterday morning, passed a budget since April 29, 2009. And they budget they did finally pass never balances is loaded with $1 trillion in tax hikes.

In the weekly Republican address, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) explains why the Senate’s budget falls short on priorities and defies logic and he also slammed President Barack Obama for not submitting his budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

“This week, the United States Senate finally took up its annual budget,” noted Lee. “This shoudn’t be news, but Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in four years. The President has again failed to follow the law requiring him to submit his budget by the first Monday in February.”

Lee added, “In what clearly falls into the category of ‘a day late and a dollar short,’ he announced that he wouldn’t submit his budget until the second week of April.”

“To Republicans, the budget isn’t just about dollars; it’s about sense: common sense,” said Lee. “A budget is the only way to end the non-sense of Washington’s out of control spending. Reckless government spending has laid nearly $17 trillion of debt onto the backs of hardworking Americans.”

Senate Passes Its First Budget in Nearly Four Years

United States Senate

For the first time since April 29, 2009, the United States Senate has passed a budget. Early this morning, the Senate finished voting on dozens of amendments and gave final passage to its version of the budget — which never balances and raises taxes by $1 trillion — by a vote of 50 to 49.

It was mostly a party-line vote, 48 Democrats and two Independents, both of whom caucus with the party in power, voted for passage. Four Democrats — Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined all 45 Republicans in opposition. It just so happens that every Democrat who voted against the budget is up for re-election next year.

Sens. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Mark Warner (D-ND) are also up for re-election next year. Their votes in favor of the budget will no doubt be brought up by their opponents.

Negotiators from the House, which passed its budget proposal on Thursday, and Senate will soon meet in a conference committee to try to reconcile their vast differences. Because they’re so far apart — with the House wanting a balanced budget in 10 years, tax reform, and entitlement reform and the Senate pushing $1 trillion in tax hikes and an perpetually unbalanced budget — agreement on a budget for FY 2014 looks unlikely.

The Latest Revelations about ObamaCare

You mad, bro?

There has been plethora of news lately about ObamaCare, and none of it is good. Over the past few weeks, we’ve learned that President Obama’s healthcare law could double insurance premiums, add $6.2 trillion to the national debt, and is already leading to layoffs. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’ve seen more bad news about the law just in the last few days.

Five Guys to raise burger prices because of ObamaCare: This burger chain announced last week that they would be forced to pass on the added costs of ObamaCare to customers. Five Guys is just the latest business in the restaurant industry to make such a move. ThinkProgress, a leftist blog, is, of course, lashing out because they don’t seem to understand that when an employers costs go up because of regulations, the result is higher prices, slashed hours or even lost jobs.

ObamaCare will hit pet owners at the vet: Are you a dog or cat owner? Thanks to ObamaCare, your vet bills will be more expensive. Why? Vets are raising prices to cover the cost of a tax on medical devices. This once again proves the point that businesses don’t pay taxes — only consumers do.

Everybody Loves Rand Paul — Except Donald Trump

Donald Trump

If you walk around the exhibit hall at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this morning, you’ll see stickers and t-shirts from the Young Americans for Liberty booth sporting the “Stand With Rand” slogan that was born during the Kentucky Senator’s 13-hour filibuster. The outpouring of support seems to be shared by attendees of all ages, not just “impressionable libertarians kids.”

While Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has managed to capative the conservative movement over the last couple of weeks, count Donald Trump, the real estate mogul turned reality TV star, who is not impressed.

During a radio interview this morning, Trump, who is scheduled to speak at CPAC on Friday, said that the filibuster “didn’t serve a purpose” and took up for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who recently called Sen. Paul a “wacko bird”:

“I like John McCain. I don’t know Rand Paul,” said Trump. “I didn’t think the filibuster served a purpose.”

McCain slapped Paul’s filibuster, charging it was silly to think drones would be used to kill Americans. Paul, however, said filibustering the confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan was a necessary stand for libertarian principles.

“This didn’t serve a purpose,” sneered Trump in an interview on the Andrea Tantaros Show, a syndicated radio program. “They got a letter. The letter said ‘we are not going to bomb our own cities,’” said Trump Wednesday. That, he added, “is pretty obvious and I think that’s basically what John McCain is saying.”

Senate Democrats Release Budget, Unveil $1 Trillion Tax Hike

Patty Murray

The budget battle is taking shape. On one hand you have a budget proposal from House Republicans that takes steps to deal with entitlement reform and balance nation’s finances in 10 years and on the other you have Senate Democrats pushing for nearly $1 trillion tax hike and a perpetually unbalanced budget:

The first budget from Senate Democrats in four years includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes but would not balance the budget.

The blueprint unveiled by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Tuesday to her Democratic colleagues would also turn off the next nine years of the sequester and replace those spending cuts with a 50-50 mix of tax increases and spending cuts.

The budget would dedicate $100 billion to economic stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and job training.

While Rep. Ryan’s imperfect, but respectable budget would trim $4.6 trillion from budget deficits over the next decade, Sen. Murray’s proposal would only trim $1.85 trillion over that same timeframe. Sen. Murray’s budget would raise tax revenue by closing tax loopholes. That would be good, broad-based tax policy, provided that the increased revenues are used to lower overall tax rates.

Conservatives: Ignore Taxes, Just Focus On The Spending Cuts

Editor’s note: While the larger point of the post is a good topic for debate, Fortenberry was a bad example. According to the scorecards released by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, Fortenberry hasn’t been a friend to the taxpayer on fiscal issues. Thanks to Matt Hoskins for bringing this to our attention.

Author’s note: Yes, kudos to Matt Hoskins. I’ve added an update below.

Last week, Rod Dreher at the American Conservative magazine wrote about John Fortenberry, a Republican congresscritter from Nebraska who is considering a run for the seat of retiring Republican Senator Mike Johanns. What has Dreher annoyed —understandably — is that the Senate Conservatives Fund has come out against Fortenberry. Why? Because Fortenberry is “too liberal” on taxes:

“We can already say that we won’t be able to support Congressman Fortenberry if he runs. His record on spending, debt, and taxes in the House is just too liberal. Republicans in Nebraska deserve better,” said Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins. SCF, which was started by conservative Jim DeMint and involved itself in the 2012 Nebraska Senate GOP primary, is looking to identify a candidate it can get behind, Hoskins added.

Dreher argues that’s completely bunk. In an interview with the Congressman last year, he wrote:

Harry Reid endorses the sequester

Harry Reid

In a telling moment with reporters yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who voted for the sequester in 2011, said that the spending cuts should take place if no deal is brokered with House Republicans for more tax revenue:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would support letting the $85 billion in across-the-board sequestration cuts take effect on Friday if Republicans don’t agree to increasing taxes as part of an alternative plan, the Nevada Democrat said on Tuesday

“Until there’s some agreement on revenue, I think we should just go ahead with the sequester,” Reid told reporters after a meeting with Senate Democrats.

Basically, the scare tactics haven’t worked. They’re not going to work. With that statement, Reid is admitting that everything — all of the fearmongering and brow-beating of Republicans — was just for show.

Senate Democrats continue to abdicate their budget responsibilities

Patty Murray

It looks like Senate Democrats, who have not passed a budget since April 29, 2009, are once again falling down on the job. Over at the Washington Examiner, Conn Carroll notes that they’re blaming the sequester for their failure to perform one of the most basic functions of government:

Well that was fast. Less than a month after Senate Democrats passed a debt limit hike that included a provision delaying their pay if they failed to pass a budget this year, Senate Democrats are already signaling that no budget should be expected.

“Senator Murray is working on a budget right now and we hope we can get that done,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told CNN yesterday. “But we need time. So the sequestration will prevent — preempt us from getting a budget done and other factors.”

So don’t blame the Democrats if they can’t pass a budget. It’s the sequester’s fault. Never mind that Democrats never had any intention of passing a budget anyway. Pressed to commit to a budget in November, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., told The Hill she “had no idea” whether Democrats could come to an agreement.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.