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All Da King's Men

Stuart Joins The Senate, And Other Matters

By Da King Published: July 17, 2009

Certain things defy explanation. For example, Bill Ayers went from being a domestic terrorist bomber for the Weathermen to being a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Chicago-Illinois. There is no rational explanation for how that happens, for how a radical like Ayers gets in a position to shape impressionable young minds when his proper place in society should be behind bars. It boggles the mind. There is a sense of unreality about it.

I had the same sense of unreality when I saw Al "Stuart Smalley" Franken (D-MN) sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the Sotomayor hearings. Stuart Smalley is the Distinguished Gentleman from Minnesota now. How did that happen ? How did Minnesotans decide Stuart was good enough, smart enough, and that, doggone-it, they liked him ? Some Republicans will tell you that Franken didn't really win the Minnesota election, and that IS a source of controversy (Minnesota counties didn't all use the same standard for accepting or rejecting ballots. We don't really know who won), but that's not the real reason Franken is in Congress today. The real reason Franken won with just under 42% of the popular vote is that three other candidates from three other parties (Independence, Libertarian, Constitutional) split off about 459,000 votes from the Democrats and Republicans. If not for the third parties, the vast majority of those votes would have been cast for Franken's opponent, Norm Coleman, giving him an easy victory. A substantial majority of Minnesotans (over 58%) did NOT vote for Stuart Smalley, which gives me a degree of comfort regarding the collective sanity of that state. I mean, you can convince 42% of Americans of almost anything. You can even convince them that Barack Obama is doing a good job of handling the economy, though the reality is, he's doing his level best to destroy it (tax increases, massive government expansion, anti-business policies, anti-free market policies, and anti-growth policies in the midst of the worst recession in nearly 70 years). There's a sense of unreality about that too. I feel like I'm watching the socialist endgame unfold right before my eyes.

But it is what it is, and now we have Stuart Smalley in the Senate. During the Sotomayor hearings, I found myself wondering how Franken got appointed to the Judiciary Committee. He has no background in the law. None whatsoever. He was a poli-sci major at Harvard. After that, he was a comedian and a radio talk show host (and a failed one at that). How did he get the appointment ? Granted, the Sotomayor hearings were a joke, but I still don't think that's any reason to put a comedian on the Judiciary Committee.

Luckily for us, Senator Franken himself revealed why he was on the Judiciary Committee. He has no background in the law, but, doggone-it, he watched Perry Mason on television when he was a kid. Every episode, apparently, because Franken knew that Perry Mason only lost one case during his distinguished imaginary legal career (though he couldn't remember which one). Watch the following video to see how Stuart Saves The Senate:

I look forward to lots of yuks for the next four years. Too bad the joke's on us. Maybe we should elect Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to the Senate next, being the serious country that we are.

Back to Obama's war on the economy - It seems the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office isn't buying Obama's inane claim that ObamaCare will result in a net cost savings. The CBO knows that is exactly the opposite of the truth. The CBO also knows ObamaCare will not address the long-term unfunded entitlement liabilities, as the President has suggested:

Sen. Kent Conrad: Dr. Elmendorf, I am going to really put you on the spot because we are in the middle of this health care debate, but it is critically important that we get this right. Everyone has said, virtually everyone, that bending the cost curve over time is critically important and one of the key goals of this entire effort. From what you have seen from the products of the committees that have reported, do you see a successful effort being mounted to bend the long-term cost curve?

Doug Elmendorf, Director of the CBO: No, Mr. Chairman. In the legislation that has been reported we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.

Conrad: So the cost curve in your judgement is being bent, but it is being bent the wrong way. Is that correct?

Elmendorf: The way I would put it is that the curve is being raised, so there is a justifiable focus on growth rates because of course it is the compounding of growth rates faster than the economy that leads to these unsustainable paths. But it is very hard to look out over a very long term and say very accurate things about growth rates. So most health experts that we talk with focus particularly on what is happening over the next 10 or 20 years, still a pretty long time period for projections, but focus on the next 10 or 20 years and look at whether efforts are being made that are bringing costs down or pushing costs up over that period.

As we wrote in our letter to you and Senator Gregg, the creation of a new subsidy for health insurance, which is a critical part of expanding health insurance coverage in our judgement, would by itself increase the federal responsibility for health care that raises federal spending on health care. It raises the amount of activity that is growing at this unsustainable rate and to offset that there has to be very substantial reductions in other parts of the federal commitment to health care, either on the tax revenue side through changes in the tax exclusion or on the spending side through reforms in Medicare and Medicaid. Certainly reforms of that sort are included in some of the packages, and we are still analyzing the reforms in the House package. Legislation was only released as you know two days ago. But changes we have looked at so far do not represent the fundamental change on the order of magnitude that would be necessary to offset the direct increase in federal health costs from the insurance coverage proposals.

On the bright side, ObamaCare will result in more health care bureaucracy and less choice. Maybe Senator Franken can help with this issue as well. I hear he used to watch Dr. Kildare on television when he was a kid.

As with the stimulus, Obama is pushing Congress to ram the health care bill through quickly (before people find out what's in it) Here's Obama:

“This progress should make us hopeful, but it can't make us complacent. It should instead provide the urgency for both the House and the Senate to finish their critical work on health reform before the August recess."

As a general principle, isn't it better to get something done RIGHT, as opposed to getting it done QUICK, especially with something as big and consequential as health care ? If the stimulus bill misfire (only 10% of the funds spent in 5 months) taught us anything, it should have taught us that. Obama continually pretends that the sky is going to fall if his policies aren't implemented immediately or sooner. It won't. The only reasons to rush a health care bill through Congress without thinking the issues through are political ones, so Obama can claim "victory." We don't need his victory. We need good health care solutions.



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