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ENDA Makes as Little Sense as Chemotherapy for a Cold June 18, 2012

Posted by Daniel Downs in economy, employment, Freedom of Speech, law.
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by Hans Bader

American business is quite happy to hire gay and lesbian employees, and needs no federal mandate to do so. Virtually all Fortune 500 companies already ban sexual orientation discrimination in their own hiring and firing, and have done so for years. But on June 12, a Senate Committee held a hearing to promote a bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), that would hold private employers liable for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in punitive damages and attorneys fees if a judge or jury later decides they committed discrimination based on sexual orientation. Never mind the fact that free-market competition already provides private employers with a powerful incentive not to discriminate, as even the bill’s supporters, like the Center for American Progress (CAP), have admitted in the past. As CAP conceded on March 22, “Businesses that discriminate based on a host of job-irrelevant characteristics, including sexual orientation . . put themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared to businesses that evaluate individuals based solely on their qualifications and capacity to contribute.”

Since American business seldom discriminates based on sexual orientation, the potential benefits of ENDA are limited, at best. But ENDA would impose real and substantial costs on business, and it could trigger conflicts with free speech and religious freedom. Even if chemotherapy cured a cold, you wouldn’t use it, because the “cure” would be worse than the disease. ENDA should be rejected for the same reasons: its costly “cure” is not warranted given the increasing rarity of private-sector discrimination against gays.

ENDA would harm even businesses that hire and fire based on merit, not sexual orientation. It would also erode free speech in the workplace about sexual-orientation-related political and religious issues.

Since ENDA is modeled on other employment laws that have produced many meritless discrimination lawsuits (through one-way fee shifting), ENDA, too, is likely to result in wasteful litigation and settlements paid out by employers that are actually innocent of discrimination (most employment discrimination claims turn out to be meritless). ENDA’s attorney fee provision, Section 12, uses the same language as other federal employment laws that incorporate the Christiansburg Garment standard for awarding attorneys fees — a sort of “heads I win, tails you lose” scheme under which the plaintiff gets his attorneys fees paid for by the other side if he wins, but the employer has to pay its own attorneys fees even if it wins (a win at trial typically costs an employer at least $250,000). While the language of ENDA’s attorney-fee provision is seemingly neutral on its face, similar provisions in other federal employment laws have consistently been interpreted by the courts as favoring plaintiffs under the Supreme Court’s 1978 Christiansburg Garment decision. Moreover, even if the plaintiff’s case is so insubstantial that the plaintiff only wins $1 at trial, the employer can still be ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees. For example, an appeals court ruling awarded $42,000 in attorneys fees to a plaintiff who suffered only $1 in damages. (See Brandau v. Kansas, 168 F.3d 1179 (10th Cir.1999).) These attorney fee provisions will lead to some employers paying thousands of dollars to plaintiffs just to settle weak or meritless discrimination claims.

While the typical private employer has no reason to hire or fire based on sexual orientation (and few do), ENDA’s Section 4(a)(1) reaches beyond hiring and firing to vaguely defined “terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,” which courts interpret as requiring certain restrictions on speech. In Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), the Supreme Court interpreted the same vague “terms or conditions” language in another statute, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as requiring employers to prohibit employee speech or conduct that creates a “hostile or offensive work environment” for women or blacks. The employer is liable for damages and attorneys fees if a court decides that it was negligent in failing to detect, prevent, or punish such speech or conduct. Such “hostile work environment” liability applies to each and every protected class covered by federal law, such as race, religion, national origin, and disability, not just gender. See, e.g., Amirmokri v. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., 60 F.3d 1126 (4th Cir. 1995) (employer was liable for national-origin based taunts and harassment by plaintiff’s co-workers).

If ENDA were enacted, such liability would also cover sexual orientation-based hostile work environments, meaning that a company would potentially be liable for a “hostile work environment” resulting from anti-gay things its employees say (even if those employees’ sentiments are at odds with the company’s own views or policies). Thus, to avoid liability, an employer might have to silence employees with political opinions that are perceived as anti-gay, and prevent such employees from expressing political views such as opposition to gay marriage or gays in the military that could contribute to a “hostile work environment.” As Professor Eugene Volokh, one of America’s leading First Amendment scholars, has noted, political speech can create a “hostile work environment,” despite the serious First Amendment problems that creates. While I have supported gay marriage and the inclusion of gays in the military, I do not think employers should be sued because their employees express contrary views.

Although Section 4(g) of ENDA only bans “disparate treatment” based on sexual orientation, some courts have interpreted “disparate treatment” to include speech or conduct by the complainant’s co-workers that affects the complainant’s work environment, even when the speech is not aimed at the complainant, and is not motivated by the complainant’s sex or minority status. For example, in Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 594 F.3d 798 (11th Cir. 2010), a unanimous court of appeals held that a female employee could sue over recurring offensive speech, such as co-workers listening to vulgar radio programs and a co-worker who looked at a picture of a nude woman on his computer screen, even though most of this speech was not aimed at her, and not motivated by her (or anyone’s) sex. The appeals court expressly labeled this “disparate treatment,” even though in reality, there was no differential treatment, since her male co-workers would have been just as vulgar even if there were no women around.

The possibility that ENDA will be used to silence speech about gay issues is very real. Some supporters of ENDA openly hope to use it to squelch viewpoints that offend them. For example, a detractor of the New York Post, who dislikes its coverage of gay celebrities and public figures, hopes that the Post’s gay employees will sue the newspaper if ENDA passes, under the theory that its content creates a hostile work environment for gay employees. In Seattle, a city human rights commission official suggested that complainant John Dill might have had a valid sexual-orientation harassment claim based on allegations that a co-worker listened to conservative talk radio shows and posted a letter from a congresswoman skeptical of repealing the military’s ban on gays.

“Hostile environment” liability could pose a real threat to religious businesses like Christian bookstores that are not run by a church or religious institution (and thus are not not exempt under Section 6 of ENDA). Working in a fire-and-brimstone conservative Christian bookstore might be said to be a “hostile or offensive environment” for a gay or lesbian employee, but the contents of the bookstore ought nonetheless to be protected by the First Amendment. The primary purpose of the First Amendment is to protect religious and political speech that is so offensive to some people that it risks being suppressed. But there is no guarantee that the courts would respect the First Amendment in the event of a clash between ENDA and the First Amendment. Some courts are eager to stretch anti-discrimination laws to punish conservative Christians who object to gay marriage, as is illustrated by a recent New Mexico Court of Appeals ruling that expanded the reach of the state’s law banning discrimination in public accommodations, and gutted the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act, in order to uphold a penalty imposed on an Evangelical Christian wedding photographer who did not want to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. I earlier discussed that court ruling in Elane Photography v. Willock, and how it violates First Amendment free-speech rights, at this link. (There are only a few court rulings that have limited the reach of “hostile environment” liability for religiously or politically-offensive speech at all. See Meltebeke v. B.O.L.I., 903 P.2d 351 (Or. 1995) (overturning fine for religious harassment of private employee, and citing state religious-freedom guarantees); Rodriguez v. Maricopa Community College, 605 F.3d 703 (9th Cir. 2010) (dismissing racial harassment lawsuit over racially-charged anti-immigration emails, because of First Amendment free speech rights.). But those rulings seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and the EEOC has completely disregarded them, as I explained at this link.)

It is conceivable that if ENDA is passed, a civil-rights agency could use it to pressure some employers to adopt sexual-orientation-based hiring goals or veiled quotas, notwithstanding the language of Section 4(f) of ENDA. Activists have already pressured President Obama to mandate sexual-orientation-based hiring goals for government contractors. The Supreme Court’s decision in International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324 (1977), permits employers to be held liable for “disparate treatment” (not just “disparate impact”) if circumstantial evidence in the form of workplace racial imbalances suggests that the employer is guilty of discrimination. Statistical disparities are treated as creating a “prima facie” case of “disparate treatment” if the racial or sexual composition of the employer’s workforce is at least two standard deviations away from the purported norm. But no one knows exactly what that norm is for sexual orientation, although the gay percentage of the workforce is probably less than five percent for most occupations. As the leading pollster Gallup notes, Americans tend to vastly overestimate the percentage of the population that is gay. “Surveys show a shockingly high fraction think a quarter of the country is gay or lesbian, when the reality is that it’s probably less than 2 percent.” Most people erroneously believe that a tenth or more of the population is gay — a gross overestimate based on obsolete research — and a “high” percentage of Americans even believe that a quarter or more of the population is gay. Such overestimates may make employers that have perfectly normal percentages of gay employees look to some civil-rights officials (or jurors) as if they are anti-gay under the logic of the Teamsters decision.

As Garance Franke-Ruta of The Atlantic notes, Americans systematically overestimate the percentage of the population that is gay or lesbian:

In surveys conducted in 2002 and 2011, pollsters at Gallup found that members of the American public massively overestimated how many people are gay or lesbian. In 2002, a quarter of those surveyed guessed upwards of a quarter of Americans were gay or lesbian (or “homosexual,” the third option given). By 2011, that misperception had only grown, with more than a third of those surveyed now guessing that more than 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian. Women and young adults were most likely to provide high estimates, approximating that 30 percent of the population is gay. Overall, “U.S. adults, on average, estimate that 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian,” Gallup found. Only 4 percent of all those surveyed in 2011 and about 8 percent of those surveyed in 2002 correctly guessed that fewer than 5 percent of Americans identify as gay or lesbian.

Although Section 4(f) of ENDA purports to prohibit quotas and preferences, the courts may well interpret that provision so narrowly as to make it meaningless, as they have done with similar language in other civil-rights statutes, such as 20 U.S.C. 1681(b) and 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2 (j), whose limits on racial and gender balancing and preferences were largely nullified by the courts in cases like Steelworkers v. Weber, 443 U.S. 193 (1979) and Cohen v. Brown University, 101 F.3d 155 (1st Cir. 1996).

Finally, in addition to banning sexual-orientation discrimination, ENDA also contains “transgender rights” provisions that ban discrimination based on “gender identity.” Similar prohibitions in state laws created legal headaches for some businesses. One case pitted pitted a transgender employee with male DNA who sued after being denied permission to use the ladies’ restroom, a denial that resulted from complaints filed by female employees. The employer lost in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, but then prevailed in the Minnesota Supreme Court. Another case involved a male-looking person who sued and obtained a substantial settlement after being ejected from the ladies room in response to complaints by a female customer who thought that a man had just invaded the ladies’ room.

————————-

Hans Bader is Counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law.

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Paying for Health Care Reform September 10, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, capitalism, Democrats, economy, health care, Income, Medicare/Medicaid, news, politics, taxes, welfare.
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During one Town Hall meetings, President Obama said people like himself could pay for health care reform. That is, high-income taxpayers can afford high tax rates to help fund universal health care.

Thomas Jefferson held a similar view. He was critical of industrious citizens getting rich while others citizens were going without. He believed the wealthy should assist the less fortunate to achieve a livable income.

The difference between the views of Obama and Jefferson is not apparent. Nevertheless, there is a significant difference in their views. Obama adheres to a form of contemporary liberalism that has embraced the values of humanism, egalitarianism, and welfare socialism. Although Jefferson was more liberal than many of his day, he was nevertheless a rock solid natural law proponent. His values were characterized by traditional moral values, entrepreneurial capitalism, and natural rights equality. Stated more simply, Obama tends towards being a big government socialist while Jefferson was oriented toward being a limited government capitalist.

To Jefferson, the term capitalist meant entrepreneurs of small businesses including farms, repair shops, small manufacturers or craftsmen, merchants, and the like. Today, the term capitalism certainly includes owners of small businesses, but, in practice, most modern politicians favor a big business view. Internationalists, like Obama and most federal politicians, give their allegiance to supporting national, international, and especially Wall Street business. However, Jefferson, as did Adam Smith, opposed big business as a threat to independent “capitalists”. One reason was that they regarded big business as quasi-governmental entities, and so do many financial experts today.

The point is this: Obama, as representative of the Democratic Party, wants the more wealthy to pay for their welfare based benefits program for middle and lower income citizens. The obvious problem is high income citizens live off the productivity of lower income employees, taxpayers, and consumers. This is what early Americans like Thomas Jefferson were critical of. Why? As expressed by John Locke, property and productivity belonged to the property owner and worker. In other words, the means of production belonged to all Americans equal to their need and capacity.

Taxing for the limited functions of government was and is the necessary cost to security property and life as well as to maintain the freedom to pursue as much happiness as possible. Taxing for redistribution from the haves to the have-nots was regarded as robbery just as the low wage living was regarded as slavery.

One could argue that most businesses already pay their employees health care. They also pay into Medicare as well as into group health care. Employees pay a small portion of the health insurance costs. Why pay them higher wages?

The only reason to pay employees higher wages would be for them to pay 100 percent of the cost. This is true of all other government-initiated social safety net programs including social security, welfare, and ESEA (now called No Child Left Behind), and S-CHIP. Without poor wage earners, all of those programs would not be needed and would be more difficult to justify.

Those social safety net programs were all good ideas, but all became means to enlarging federal powers over American lives. Except for Social Security, most of those programs never produced the results that were sold to American citizens. Corporations whose revenues are in the multi-millions and billions often get welfare subsidies. Are not the bank and manufacturer bailouts a form of welfare? After billions of taxpayer funding, the ESEA program still has not closed the educational gap between children of poor families and others; it still has resolved the huge school drop out problem; add it still has not made American children’s globally competitive in math and science. One would think that over 40 years or 3 generations Americans would have achieved this goal. Then there is S-CHIP (State Children Health Insurance Program) that never has been used strictly to help the children of poor families. Why? Because the agenda of liberal bureaucrats always has been to complete the goal of making the middle class welfare dependents or good socialists.

Democrats justify their health care reform based on the millions of Americans without adequate health care. The majority of the uninsured are the working poor. Why are the working poor without health coverage? They are without health coverage for one of four reasons: (1) Their employers cannot afford to pay for heath care. (2) They cannot afford to pay their portion of their employers’ group plan. (3) Their spouse has sufficient family coverage. (4) They simply do not want to give any more money to insurance companies. Yet, every working American does pay into Medicare/Medicaid.

After paying for retirement age health care, the state often takes all of the possessions of those who paid into Medicare for years just for cashing in on the supposed safety net. That seems more like a big brother scam and not a safety net.

Maybe, Bernie Madoff’s real crime was learning and practicing the art of his liberal big brother.

The answer to the health care problem is not the enlargement of government or government run health care. It is reforming the political economy. If as President Obama, Jim Wallis, and others claim, the rich can afford to pay more taxes for health care reform, they could afford to pay better wage rates so that all American could purchase health care they and their families want. The cure for making health care affordable (reducing costs and increasing earned income) would solve many other societal problems tied to America’s political economy.

They Really Do Believe We Are Idiots August 14, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in children, culture war, Democrats, economy, health care, Left, life, media, Medicare/Medicaid, news, politics, religion, right to life, senior citizens, welfare.
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Liberal religious groups announced on Monday they are teaming up with President Barack Obama in a national campaign to counter the surprisingly vehement conservative opposition to his plan for overhaul of the U.S. healthcare industry this year. Organized by liberal-leaning evangelicals, some mainline Protestant clergy, and some Catholic groups, it will include Obama participating in a call-in program with religious leaders streamed on the Internet on August 19, prayer meetings and nationwide television ads.”

From “U.S. religious left wades into healthcare fight,” which appeared yesterday in Reuters.

When a reporter and/or media outlet is behind you, your vocal support for something or another is “passionate,” “caring,” even “prophetic.” When they don’t, that same intensity is “vehement,” “fueled by anger,” even (to quote Democratic congressional leaders) “unAmerican.”
Some of the same religious leadership that helped Obama navigate the political shoals last year are putting the band back together again, this time in an attempt to blunt massive grassroots resistance to health care “reform.” Let me talk about a few of the particulars.

If you believe a lot of the “mainstream” press, resistance is either synthetic, bought and paid for by those “opposed to health care reform,” ill-informed, and/or stoked in part (as Reuters put it yesterday) by “Christian and conservative radio,” and/or leaders of the “religious right.”

As you undoubtedly know from watching television or reading accounts, President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress are fighting back.

The two-fold strategy appears to be (yet AGAIN) to marginalized anyone who wants an explanation of how they are going to square various circles, and to (yet AGAIN) stop talking about specifics (which always gets them into loads of trouble) and return to the kind of sparkling generalities that Obama specializes in.

That’s where the Religious Left comes in the form of something called “People of Faith for Health Reform and its “40 Days for Health Reform.” One of the usual suspects is Jim Wallis, who told Reuters that “his group’s mission is to keep universal health-care coverage alive as a ‘moral issue.'”

According to NPR, the division of labor goes like this. The Obama Administration has rolled out a website to contest “wild rumors” about its health care initiative and to “call out misinformation.” (Gulp!) So what is the role of this “coalition of progressive religious leaders”?
“Argue morality,” or, according to Liz Halloran, “more specifically, what members characterize as the moral and religious imperative of providing ‘inclusive, accessible’ health care coverage and the need for a civil discourse about the issue, says Jim Wallis of the progressive Christian group Sojourners, one of the coalition sponsors.” (Keep that “civil discourse” comment in mind.)

So, let’s look at the ad. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaBq0QeM3-8) True, there is one statement that is unobjectionable. A pastor looks in the camera and says, “God’s given us a spirit not of fear but of love and action.” But the rest of the ad is the usual us v. the “special interests” drivel that is the hallmark of those who insist you either accept the thrust of the Democrats health care “reform” sight unseen, or you want nothing.

The first statement in the 30-second ad tells you all you need to know: “Special interests in Washington are spending millions to block health insurance reform,” followed by “Killing reform will boost their profits.” In case anyone misses the point a moment later a woman opines, “The special interests are strong.”

However, thanks to NPR, there can be little doubt of the campaign’s real motivation. “According to Gordon Whitman of the PICO National Network, a faith-based community organizing group that is also one of the coalition’s sponsors, the group’s effort will focus on moderate, swing districts where ‘religion is significant to public life.'”

They really do believe we are idiots, don’t they?

Switching gears but to a related subject, there’s been an enormous amount written about “Section 1233 of the health-care bill drafted in the Democratic-led House, which would pay doctors to give Medicare patients end-of-life counseling every five years,” as the Washington Post described it. How much should we be worrying about this?

Let me offer the concluding paragraphs of “Facing the Challenge of Health Care Rationing,” a page one story in the July/August issue of NRL News, written by NRLC’s Burke Balch, JD. Mr. Balch, director of NRLC’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics wrote the following.

The House legislation, as reported from the Energy and Commerce Committee, contains provisions to promote advance directives like “living wills,” including:

1) Medicare reimbursement for consultations about “advance care planning” between health care providers and their patients when they enter Medicare, every five years thereafter, and if they become seriously ill;

2) requiring private and public health care plans to give potential enrollees the option to establish advance directives; and

3) a public education campaign, toll-free telephone hotline, and clearinghouse to promote advance directives and other advance care planning.

Advocates of such measures frequently cite the cost savings if, as they expect, this promotion results in more directives rejecting lifesaving treatment. “We refer to the end-of-life discussion as the multimillion-dollar conversation because it is associated with shifting costs away from expensive … care like being on a ventilator in an ICU, to less costly comfort care …,” said Holly Prigerson of Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. National Right to Life strongly encourages the execution of a pro-life advance directive, the Will to Live (see http://www.nrlc.org/MedEthics/WilltoLiveProject.html). However, the pro-life fear is that efforts to push patients and prospective patients to prepare advance directives may in practice become a means of persuading or pressuring them to agree to less treatment as a means of saving money. Moreover, governmental promotion of advance care planning must not include the “option” of assisted suicide. Especially in the Senate, NRLC is working to address these concerns through negotiations and, if necessary, by preparing amendments to be offered in the Senate Finance Committee and on the Senate floor.

It is critically important that pro-life citizens make their voices heard while senators and representatives are at home during August, and after they return to Washington in September. The contemplated restructuring of America’s health care system will affect the life–and death–of every American.

So here’s the scoop: The above critique of the Democrats’ health care agenda is that they want to save us all a lot of money by reducing our health care coverage, eliminating as many worthless people on Medicaid so that they can reduce the amount of money made by private health care insurers to increase the pay of cooperating physicians in their scheme.

I almost forgot an implied one: they will kill two or more birds with one stone–they will save us all money by making us wait for health care by putting us on long waiting lists to reduce our health care. The add bonus is costs will be further reduced because while some of us while waiting for health care will die. And, the double bonus will be that those of us who don’t die will develop the moral virtues of patience and endurance or long suffering.

By accomplishing all of that, they will be able to further justify giving themselves more raises in the future and maybe even helping pay for the billions in give-a-way money for keeping poorly managed financial companies and auto companies as well as foreign investors making more profits at all of our expense.

Yes, the logic of the Left is if you abort all of the worthless babies, worthless welfare poor, and worthless elderly folk–of course, according to their own preplanned consent–everyone can have a better, more profitable, and a good secular life. In the process, they may be able to save some of their prized socialist programs like social security and medicaid from going bankrupt.

What a wonderful utopia we will all live in now that the Left rules our world. We are commanded to now go and spend to support the cause for tomorrow we will surely die; they are planning on it. Oh, what joy it is to live in a planned society.

Source: National Right to Life, August 11, 2009 except for the scoopish commentary.

FishyGate: White House recruits informants against health care bill opponents August 10, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, civil rights, Constitution, Democrats, disnformation, economy, freedom, health care, repression.
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In a move reminiscent of the repressive policies imposed behind the Iron Curtain, Macon Phillips, the White House Director of New Media issued a call for people to report anyone that is distributing “disinformation” about health insurance reform.

On Wednesday, August 5th, Phillips posted a blog urging his readers to inform the White House about opponents of the health care reform plan. Phillips wrote: “There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

As public opposition to a government takeover of our health care system continues to mount, the Democrats and the Obama White House are changing tactics and apparently they are going to play hard ball against people who are opposed. If the latest polls are any indication, their target list will be a solid majority of Americas whose right to speak out is protected by the Constitution, at least on paper anyway.

This is tantamount to a White House domestic intelligence gathering operation on private citizens. The administration is using private citizens as operatives to turn in friends, neighbors, co-workers and anyone else that opposes government health care. It seems evident that the objective of the White House’s effort is to intimidate opponents into silence and deny people their civil liberties.

What will they do next? Call people in for questioning? Will they have a group of health care expert analysts reviewing every reported “fishy” statement to determine if it contained “disinformation” to decide who to gets a visit from a government official?

The Obama Administration and the Democrats claim that part of the disinformation campaign is to scare the elderly by misrepresenting the end-of-life counseling provisions in the bill. But opponents of the bill didn’t put those provisions in the bill, the Democrats did. And as liberal columnist Mickey Kaus has pointed out, if Obama and the Democrats did not want “…people to think that the subsidized, voluntary end-of-life counseling sessions are… an attempt to cut costs by limiting end of life care” they should not have put them in the bill with the stated purpose of cutting the cost of health care.

Maybe Kaus should check to see if his name is on the “fishy” list.

The White House is sending a clear message: “be careful what you say or write, you don’t know who might be listening or reading your emails and report you.” Given the liberal opposition to domestic surveillance of suspected terrorists, the hypocrisy is stunning. It will be interesting to see if the ACLU or any other liberal civil liberties groups file a lawsuit demanding the operation be terminated immediately.

In addition to the White House’s domestic surveillance operation, liberal Democrats have also launched a smear campaign against people that have been protesting at town hall meetings of Democrat members of Congress. The Democratic National Committee has launched an ad entitled “Enough of the Mob” calling opponents of their plan for government-run health care “extremists” and “an angry mob.”

Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and political commentator pointed out the irony of the Obama Administration denouncing ordinary Americans rallying together to protest a government program they oppose. The president himself began his political career as a “community organizer” to help people speak out against government policies they opposed. Yet when ordinary Americans organize themselves against what they view is a socialist agenda that threatens their freedom, their livelihoods and their property, the White House and Democrat Party call them “an angry mob” and set up a domestic snitch operation to compile an enemies list.

People should rightly be concerned and they should continue to ask questions and voice their opinions. In addition to the questions they have about the scope of the health care bill, they might want to ask… if the health care bill passes, will there be a list of people opposed to the government takeover of health care that will be put at the back of the line when rationing starts?

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has asked the White House to cease this effort immediately and asked the Obama Administration to inform Congress what it is doing to ensure that no names or information about the people voicing opposition will be collected. As of this writing, the White House has not responded.

By Gary Palmer

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

State of America, First Six Months Under Pres. Obama & 5 Previous Presidents August 7, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, Bill Clinton, Congress, economy, employment, federal budget, George W. Bush, health care, military, national debt, national security, news, politics, presidents, senior citizens.
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Brookings recently published mid-year report on the state of America at the end of Pres. Obama as compared with the past five presidents. There is a stark contrast between Obama and GW Bush. The tables below include comparisons of the presidencies of Bill Clinton, GW Bush, and Barak Obama. (To see the entire report, go to www.brookings.edu).

“Common Defense”

 

Bill Clinton (1993)

George W. Bush (2001)

Barack Obama (2009)

U.S. defense budget (billions of constant fiscal 2009 dollars)
$416
$395
$697
Number of U.S. military personnel stationed abroad
308,000
255,000
476,000
U.S. defense budget as a percentage of GDP
4.2%
2.9%
4.2%
Number of U.S. military combat fatalities
29
3
212
Number of nations that have tested a nuclear weapon
5
7
8
Armed conflicts worldwide
32
28
26
Civilian casualties due to armed conflicts worldwide
103,000
42,000
25,000

“General Welfare”

 

Bill Clinton (1993)

George W. Bush (2001)

Barack Obama (2009)

Real GDP growth (annualized for first quarter of presidency)
0.5%
-0.5%
-5.5%
Unemployment rate
7.0%
4.5%
9.5%
Consumer confidence (Conference Board consumer confidence index in June)
58.6
118.9
49.3
Inflation (six-month change in Consumer Price Index, annualized)
2.8%
3.6%
2.7%
Interest rate on 30-year fixed mortgage
7.42%
7.16%
5.42%
Public debt as a percentage of GDP
49.4%
33.0%
54.8%
Oil imports (as a percentage of U.S. oil consumption)
55.9%
70.6%
78.4%
Percentage of large metropolitan areas with employment declines
13%
37%
97%
Percent of large metro areas with house price declines
69%
1%
61%
Federal Reserve balance sheet as a percentage of GDP
6.20%
6.29%
14.51%
Personal savings rate
5.7%
1.9%
4.3%
Life expectancy for people born in year of election
75.8
77.0
77.8 (est.)
Percentage of non-elderly Americans lacking health insurance in year of election
16.8%
16.8%
16.6%

“Blessings of Liberty”

 

Bill Clinton (1993)

George W. Bush (2001)

Barack Obama (2009)

Approval rating of the president, as of July 15
45%
57%
60%
Approval rating of Congress, as of July 15
24%
49%
33%
“Satisfied with the way things are,” as of July 15 
24%
51%
31%
Satisfaction improvement over six months 
-5%
-5%
+14%
Approval rating of the president by independent voters, as of July 15
41%
52%
54%
Gap between Republican and Democratic presidential approval ratings 
58
59
65

What the above statistics tells us is what problems a president inherited and how much change he was able to effective produce. Clinton inherited Reagan’s fiscal discipline. Reagan’s ability to decrease taxes as well as government spending was a success that made Clinton appears a better president than he actually was. Congress is the legislative body that creates the final budget. A spending crazy Congress required a vetoing President like GW Bush. Now, we have Obama, one of those spending crazy members of Congress. GW Bush did as well as he did most likely because he a conservative Congress during his first six months in office.

To see how Carter, Reagan, HW Bush compares to the Clinton, GW Bush, and Obama, go to www.brookings.edu.

Senior Citizens Left Off Government’s Swine-Flu Vaccination Priority List August 6, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Democrats, economy, ethics, euthanasia, health care, legislation, medicine, news, politics, senior citizens, socialism, taxes.
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Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to minimize suffering and death from influenza, the Health and Human Services Department says on its Web site.

But some senior citizens complain they’ve been left off the list of people who will be first in line to get the swine flu vaccination, when it is ready. One CNSNews.com reader suggested the omission is in line with the Obama’s administration’s plan to “minimize” health care for the elderly, as the reader put it.

On its Flu.gov Web page, HHS says the government is working to produce enough vaccine for the entire population, but there will be shortages when a vaccine first becomes available – probably in mid-October.

That means the “limited supply” will have to be “prioritized for distribution and administration.”

On July 29, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – a group that advises the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — recommended that novel H1N1 flu vaccine be made available first to the following five groups:

— Pregnant women
— Health care workers and emergency medical responders
— People caring for infants under 6 months of age
— Children and young adults from 6 months to 24 years
— People aged 25 to 64 years with underlying medical conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes)

Nothing is said about people over the age of 64, with or without underlying medical conditions.

HHS admits that its vaccination plans have changed as swine flu has spread:

“Now that an actual flu pandemic has arrived, we must be flexible and adjust our response based on the nature of the actual virus that has emerged, is circulating and causing disease around the world,” Flu.gov says.

“Based on what we know now about the novel H1N1 virus and the most vulnerable groups that are being affected most by this virus and those most likely to encounter it —younger people, pregnant women, healthcare personnel, and people who have underlying health conditions—it is necessary to revise and refine our vaccine prioritization guidance based on real world events.”

HHS says it already has invested more than $1 billion to produce a bulk supply of vaccine and to prepare pilot lots of potential vaccine for use in clinical studies.

In addition Congress passed and President Obama recently signed a supplemental appropriation for $7.5 billion to cover the costs of preparing for H1N1, including a vaccination campaign.

Commentary: In addition to the absence of any consideration for the very large and vulnerable senior population, the paternal health care of the federal bureaucrats costs taxpayers another $7.5 billion.

My question then is why do we need the bureaucrats in Washington funding our health care? Are not the big drug companies and their university labs not capable of funding their own profit-making drugs?

Maybe it is merely how health care works in a socialists system. We pay government, insurance companies, co-pays to doctors and drug companies, and then more through inflation to all of them. When the socialist bureaucrats Americans keep electing to rip them off of their income get their health care reform, Americans will spend even more of the money on health care and more time in line waiting to get health care. If you happen to be elderly, you might as well lessen the financial burden of all others by dying.

That appears to be the Democrats formula for compassionate euthanasia. Such has been the life long goal of Senator Sir Edward Kennedy.

News Source: CNSNews.com, July 31, 2009

Liberals’ Promise of Health Care Utopia Doesn’t Fool Americans August 3, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, economy, ethics, euthanasia, family, health care, legislation, news, senior citizens.
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By Gary Palmer

Beginning with the very unpopular stimulus bill followed by an almost equally unpopular massive energy tax in the form of the cap-and-trade bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, President Obama has seen his approval rating steadily decline to the point that his rating is now lower than President Bush’s was at the same point of their presidencies.

As of this writing, the latest Rasmussen presidential index poll shows Obama with a substantial negative rating. The presidential approval index is calculated by subtracting the percentage of people who strongly disapprove of the job he is doing – 40 percent – from the percentage of people who strongly approve – 28 percent – leaving a negative approval index of 12 percent. Overall, only 48 percent say they at least somewhat approve of Obama’s performance while 51 percent say they at least somewhat disapprove.

Other polls are also reflecting the change in the public’s attitude toward Obama, and essentially toward all Democrats in Congress, especially in regard to their efforts to nationalize health care in America.

The fact that the public is solidly against the bill at this point in the debate is important because the public does not yet fully comprehend the entire impact of the legislation. Obama and the Democrats insist their bill will lower costs while still providing everyone with access to the best technology and best-trained doctors and best-equipped hospitals. They argue that nothing will change in our health system except that costs will come down and everyone, regardless of age, income or citizenship, will have access to high quality health care.

Like magic, utopia will arrive in the form of a government-run health care system and we will all be part of one big, healthy, happy family … except of course, our elderly who will be encouraged by a government counselor to help save money by simply signing an agreement to avoid life-saving medical help.

According to an analysis by Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, pages 425-430 of the current version of the health care bill contain provisions for government counseling for end-of-life planning such as Advanced Death Care Planning, government consulting on living wills and durable power of attorney, government-approved end-of-life resources, approved end-of-life treatments, approved orders for end-of-life planning and approved doctors for end-of-life orders.

If the health care reform bill passes, elderly citizens could endure long waits for treatment and access to medical equipment and be excluded from receiving some treatments and technology altogether because of their age. Elderly patients in Canada and Great Britain have been routinely put at the end of the line for expensive medical care. In the minds of the bureaucrats who control access to health care in those countries, the life expectancy and quality of life relative to younger patients does not justify the expense of treating elderly patients.

Because health care costs are extremely high for older people, Obama has targeted late-life care as an area where spending can be reduced to help cover the costs of this massive government takeover of health care. He talked about this recently in the context of his grandmother who received a hip replacement even though she was terminally ill with cancer.

Obama said this is where we get into some very difficult moral issues because late-life health care and care for the chronically ill is very expensive. He said, “… the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out there.” When asked how we should deal with it, Obama explained that “… you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance.” That guidance will be authorized by the mandates found in the pages of the massive health care bill.

Despite liberal promises of a health care utopia, the majority of Americans know better. Americans know from the experiences of the people of Canada and Great Britain that government-run health care will cost us trillions of dollars resulting in massive economy-crippling tax increases and lower quality service.

Four months ago, public opinion seemed to indicate this president could do no wrong. But as so often happens with politicians, Obama has overreached in his efforts to remake America as the polls show public disapproval of his agenda growing almost daily. Just over 15 months from now, the public’s opinion on socialized health care and the whole liberal agenda may very well be evident in the only poll that matters, the one that is taken on Election Day.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.