As Brent Baker reports on his blog, the network news shows seem to be as suddenly keen on taxing soda pop as are America’s ever vigilant health police.
What triggered the networks’ enthusiasm is a recent study which found that very fat people cost the health care system on average $1,400 a year per person more than their trim brethren.
On Monday, both ABC and CBS, likely prompted by the White House, did stories unsubtly advocating a pop tax to cover the additional cost.
“Health officials seem to like the idea of a federal soda tax,” chirped Sharyn Alfonsi on ABC News, “supporters say it could cut health care costs and America’s ever- expanding bottom line, all at once.”
However, unlike many other media hysterias-global warming comes to mind–the obesity problem is real. According to a recent, authoritative study done by the obesity clinic at Children’s Hospital Boston, 16 percent of American children weighed in as obese, two-thirds of those being extremely obese, and another 32 percent were overweight. (more…)
For readers living in Kansas or otherwise interested in Kansas politics, I would like to announce the formation of a PAC called Kansans for Reform of State and Local Government. It is a state-wide PAC, and I do intend on endorsing candidates across the entire state.
Though, because of time limitations, I will first focus most of my energies on Johnson County, where 50% of voters are registered Republican, which has about 20% of the state’s voters, and which has about 30 local government bodies that receive billions in tax dollars. Our Web site for now will be found at JohnsonCountyReform.com. (more…)
Obama thanked the organization for doing “what it does best” by “organizing” and “letting people know the options that are out there.” This is how the allegedly nonpartisan AARP lets its members know the options:
Why is AARP not standing up for seniors when Obama says he will cut Medicare to help pay for health care?
The proposed changes to Medicare will help to get fraud, waste and abuse out of the system and create payment incentives to reward doctors and hospitals for the quality, rather than the quantity, of care they provide. They will not cut the benefits our members rely on in the traditional Medicare program, but will help to keep it affordable to make sure you get the care you need.
Isn’t this socialized medicine?
No. In socialized medicine the government directly owns the hospitals and directly employs the doctors. No one in Washington is talking seriously about anything like that.
At the link, Phil Klein notes that AARP was whistling quite a different tune when Bush suggested much more modest Medicare cuts.
Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning announced Monday that he will not seek a third term next year.
Had he chosen to run, Bunning would have been hindered by his mediocre early fundraising, potential primary opposition, the prospect of a strong Democratic challenge, and weak public approval ratings that seem more related to his combative personality than his conservative voting record.
by Pete Lucas, a contributing author:
Many of you probably remember how Hillary Clinton crashed and burned trying to get healthcare reform passed back in 94. She burned up a lot of political capital and ended up just looking pathetic.
Bill Clinton knew that healthcare reform was going to be a tar baby, and he wisely kept his distance. He had Hillary take on that battle because if it flopped, he didn’t want to waste his own political capital on it. As things worked out, Bill looked like a genius.
Obama did not pay attention to the history of healthcare reform in America. He wants to do basically the same thing that the Clintons wanted (although he wants to spend more). Obama assumed he has unlimited political capital because of his high polling numbers, but he is going to end up burning all of that capital on this single issue. (more…)
Conservative Kansans are hoping that Brownback chooses boldly as he makes major appointments over the coming 18 months. One of the first will be the choosing of his running mate. There’s little doubt that Brownback will pick a pro-life person as Lt. Governor, but there is a large amount of doubt about whether that person will be a fiscal conservative, and whether he or she will be a leader.
Many expect that Brownback will pick a Johnson County legislator as his running-mate. That’s a bit troubling, because the number of economic conservatives is so small. In the Senate, there are Jeff Colyer and Mary Pilcher Cook. In the House, there are Anthony Brown, Lance Kinzer, Mike Kiegerl, Ray Merrick, Rob Olson, Arlen Siegfreid, and Kevin Yoder.
Some other Republicans are indeed pro-life, but are otherwise unreliable. Kansas would be better off with Brownback choosing Topeka pro-choice, economic conservative Lana Gordon — or even former Democratic Rep. Candy Ruff — before choosing Sen. Karin Brownlee, a nice woman who unfortunately spends and taxes like a Democrat, or Sen. Julia Lynn, whom few conservatives trust.
In many ways, it comes down to how Brownback defines “conservative.” If Brownback defines the GOP Congress of 2000 to 2006 as good-government, reform-minded conservatives, then we’ve got a big problem in Kansas.
WICHITA, Kansas - We’re days away from the preliminary hearing for Scott Roeder, the man accused of murdering Dr. George Tiller almost two months ago.
Saturday, for the first time ever, pro-choice groups from across the state got together and vowed to become more vocal in their fight. The Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women says the grassroots women’s movement in Kansas has been shrinking over the past years and in some cases disappearing. That is why nearly 100 activists including politicians and lobbyists strategized Saturday on how to change that.
It’s all good, the Kansas Democrat said. “Not sure (the delay) is detrimental … gives us time to work out differences.”
In Moore’s view, differences are all over the lot, and they only begin with Friday’s (presumably temporary) breakdown in talks between the conservative Blue Dog coalition, which counts Moore as a member, and House leadership.
Moore was one of the Blue Dog signatories on a July 9 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that outlined a litany of worries:
The impact on the deficit. The need for “delivery system reform” and to protect small businesses and bolster rural health care.
TOPEKA | Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt took a big step Monday toward running for secretary of state by appointing a campaign treasurer, showing his strong interest in Kansas’ top job for running elections.
State law requires such an appointment before a candidate is allowed to start raising money. Although Schmidt said he was “very serious” about running, the Independence Republican stopped short of formally declaring his candidacy for the GOP nomination.
“I’ll make a formal announcement later this year,” Schmidt said during an interview. “I’ll be focusing on continuing a tradition of professionalism that Kansans have come to expect.”
Schmidt, 41, has served in the Senate since 2001 and has been its majority leader since 2005. He also is a former assistant attorney general.
In large part because of Brownback, the largest county in the state of Kansas has an activist as its top law enforcer. Due to in-name Republican Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe (left), whose office is charged with enforcing the rule of law in a county with a fifth of the state’s voters, the 30 or so local governments bodies that receive receive billions of tax dollars can now completely ignore the state open meetings law. During the Republican primary of 2008 for the Johnson County District Attorney’s office, Brownback unnecessarily decided to endorse Howe, a candidate with a blank slate, over a proven conservative who would have faced a tougher chance of winning the general election.
Did Brownback know that DA Howe would fail the voters? Probably not, but I don’t care. Brownback failed to properly vet this guy. Brownback took a calculated risk for political reasons, and lost the bet.
The bill refers to: “A hospital or a nursing facility or intermediate-care facility for the mentally retarded . . .”
The phrase could cause more problems with groups for the developmentally disabled, who were angered when President Obama referred to his poor bowling skills on “The Tonight Show” as “like the Special Olympics.” Obama later apologized.
HOLLAND, Ohio (Reuters) - “Joe the Plumber,” who came to symbolize U.S. taxpayer frustration during last year’s election, sounds even angrier now at what he sees as excessive government spending on the economy and healthcare reform.
“The politicians in Washington are spending trillions of dollars of our money. When are Americans going to stand up and say enough is enough?” said Joe Wurzelbacher, 35, in an interview on Friday at his modest suburban Ohio home.
“Instead of spending more of our money, they should cut back like ordinary Americans are having to. Why do they think they can spend their way out of this mess?” said Wurzelbacher, referring to the $787 billion government stimulus bill.
NEW YORK (Fortune) — Regional banks can no longer ignore the elephant in the room — their exposure to the commercial real estate bust.
Though housing markets remain weak, analysts expect credit problems over the next year to center on commercial real estate — mortgages on office and apartment buildings and shopping malls, as well as construction, development and industrial loans.
U.S. banks hold some $1.8 trillion worth of commercial loans, according to Federal Reserve data. Big regional banks, including PNC (PNC, Fortune 500) of Pittsburgh, KeyCorp (KEY, Fortune 500) of Cleveland and BB&T (BBT, Fortune 500) of Richmond, Va., have more than half their loan books in commercial loans.
Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have reported huge profits, the Dow has made it past 9000, and Barack Obama has moved on to health care. The horror show seems to be over. But as in one of those clichéd Hollywood endings, the monster in this story isn’t really dead, even if most people think he is. Lost amid all the premature self-congratulation is the fact that the deepest underlying problem that caused the financial disaster is not being solved.
When people asked what fundamentally caused the financial crisis, my answer is not what they expect. I respond with one phrase–the fall of the Berlin Wall. By the early 1990s, after the collapse of the socialist model, emerging market economies such as China, India, Eastern Europe, and the commodity producers wanted to be like the West–capitalists. And they became pretty good at making their economies more productive. This had the effect of lowering real wage costs globally while setting up these economies as powerful exporters.
Soon a global ocean of capital–of excess savings–was beginning to swirl around a liberalized worldwide financial system. Partly as a consequence of the Asian crisis of the late 1990s, most of these emerging market economies by the late 1990s adopted a new export-oriented model for success. They tied their currencies to the U.S. dollar and refashioned their economies as large export platforms. The target: The U.S. consumer who fairly quickly became the world’s consumer of last resort.
Monday’s agreement between Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, and state legislators seemed to promise a temporary resolution to an ongoing budget crisis. But before legislators had even had a chance to vote on it, Californians were indulging in that peculiar mix of sanctimony and surrealism which marks almost all political discourse in the state. “What about the children?” ran the headline over the letters section of the San Francisco Chronicle, as if the important divide in the state’s politics were between those who “care” and those who do not.
Caring has nothing to do with it. California’s problems are those of “direct democracy”. The state’s laws are shaped by plebiscites to a degree unmatched outside of Venezuela. In voting on “propositions”, which sometimes touch on detailed budgetary matters, citizens of the Golden State have stood up consistently for two principles: the state should provide vastly more services to its citizens, and citizens should pay vastly less to the state. In 1978, Proposition 13 halved government’s take from property taxes; a decade later, Proposition 98 required the state to spend 40 per cent of its “general fund” on schools. Adding to the problem is the requirement of supermajorities for raising taxes.
Proponents of marijuana legalization have advanced plenty of arguments in support of their drug of choice: marijuana is less dangerous than legal substances like cigarettes and alcohol; pot has legitimate medical uses; the money spent prosecuting marijuana offenses would be better used for more pressing public concerns.
Big investments in Goldman Sachs (GS Quote) at the height of the financial crisis made a lot of money for Warren Buffett and much less for the federal government, but those results are actually not that surprising.
A college professor’s recent analysis showed that Buffett’s preferred stake in Goldman has been much more profitable than the Treasury Department’s. The results provided ammunition for critics who view big banks on Wall Street and wealthy counterparts elsewhere — in Omaha, for instance — as villains who took advantage of the government’s largesse.
But while the numbers might be fresh, the finding is not, since the terms of both agreements were hammered out and publicized nine or 10 months ago. It’s also important to note the distinction between how the capital infusions came to be, since Goldman asked Buffett for money, while the government asked Goldman to accept federal funds.
In late-September, Goldman and its banking brethren were starved for capital. The credit markets had seized up after the fall of Lehman Brothers — soon followed to the brink by American International Group (AIG Quote) – sending everyone on the hunt for cash. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Goldman investment banker with close ties to Buffett called him up, they hammered out details for a preferred-stock deal, and he was in bed by 10:30 p.m.