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March 30, 2010

A Passover and Easter Message for those who love the USA

Go to this link:

http://jaygaskill.com/LibertyIndivisible.pdf

 

Jay

March 21, 2010

The Bureaucracy Wins a Major Round

IT IS DONE

SEE   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8579322.stm

219 yes -212 no

 

SUNDAY, 8:05 PM, PACIFIC.

PELOSI, REID AND OBAMA HAVE SUCCEEDED.

The advance of bureaucratic control over the American health care system continues on its march to  totality with today's House vote, to be followed by a Senate one later in the week. 

The costs of this political and policy watershed, fiscal and more, are yet to be paid - or even accurately counted. 

See---

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NWI3MGNjMjVlMmJmYjEwNzdlYTYzZWYwNDlmNWIxNzg=

Whether any of the non-bureaucratic solutions, proposed but never seriously considered, will now have a chance depends on the outcome of the November elections and the willingness of the current president to accommodate changes in the latest legislation just driven through against the headwinds of popular opinion.  

See the summary of the legislation in the WSJ at ---

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703775504575135440191025592.html?mod=rss_whats_news_us&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+wsj/xml/rss/3_7011+(WSJ.com:+What's+News+US)&utm_content=Google+International

I've gone on and on abut this issue for the better part of a year, starting with an analysis and set of modest reform proposals.  See ---

http://www.jaygaskill.com/HeathCareTrainWreck.htm

It appears that the 80% or so of Americans who have been reasonably happy with their current health care situation will now be required to make certain 'sacrifices' in order to bring additional care to some of the remaining 20%.  In the meantime, the fragile economic recovery will be burdened with additional costs and taxes. 

The complexity and scope of thise new legislation, and many its serious flaws, guarantee that the nation will be occupied with reforming the reform for the next several years, maybe for decades. 

Yes, elections have consequences. 

So do unpaid public debts.   

Well before the 2012 presidential election, the discussions will turn to which entitlements must be trimmed to pay for the latest one.  In due course - given the catastrophic scale of federal borrowing - the discussion will devolve to whether any of the current entitlements can continue to be funded at all.

But that is a discussion for another day among other political leaders.  Before today's event, I thought the democrats would almost certainly hold onto the Senate in November while facing the realistic possibility of losing the House.  At this juncture, it appears that the democrats will almost certainly lose the House and that a loss of the Senate is now realistically possible.

JBG

http://jaygaskill.com/blog2/ .


As Published On

→ The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1

And

The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com

All contents, unless otherwise indicated are

Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 by Jay B. Gaskill

Permission to print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]

Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

PERMISSION TO FORWARD LINKS TO THIS BLOG OR INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES IS HEREBY GIVEN

 


 

 

 

March 18, 2010

THE GREAT SNEAK OF 2010, Part Two

Update - Peggy Noonan, on the mark:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704207504575130081383279888.html

Update from Bloomberg

"House and Senate lawmakers designed the bill that will make changes to the Senate legislation under a process called reconciliation. It will allow the Senate to pass the revised bill with a simple majority after the House passes the original Senate measure and the changes."

My Comment: This is all about the faux-emergency steamroller, the backdoor imposition of House rules on the Senate.

Six votes yet to buy....

JBG

SATURDAY UPDATE

BLUE DOGS OR DEAD DOGS?


The Health Care Roller Derby continues.  It seems that saner heads have prevailed and that no attempt will be made to use the “deemed” legal fiction whereby nervous holdouts would be spared the trauma of directly voting to pass the odious Senate bill.  The new game, if the reports leaking out are accurate, is that the fix-it bill (the so called budget reconciliation ploy) will be voted on first, then the Senate bill.  If the Senate bill fails, then the game is over.  If it is approved by the House then the Senate bill will be rushed to the Oval office for signing.  So the Senate Bill will be the law of the land until (or if) the Senate is able to approve the House fix-it bill under the loose “budget reconciliation” rules that won’t allow a filibuster.  From my remote viewing perch, not all of the fixes will technically qualify for the budget reconciliation exception, so the democrats are taking the risk that some of the holdouts will be betrayed.

 

Blue Dog Democrats earned the name because they had too much integrity to join the main pack when it was on an unacceptably liberal course.  They were shut out in the cold - and turned blue.  If this bill passes in any form, the fiscally nervous among the holdouts (fiscally gullible might be a better term) will have been faked out by the forced CBO numbers that failed to include spending that will be quickly restored, failed to properly account for ‘entitlement creep’ and generally have grossly understated the deficit impact of this profoundly comprehensive reworking of the entire American health care system.  The liberal clique that has staged managed this event will not mourn the fates of these former Blue Dogs, all of whom will be tossed out by voters this November.    This accomplishment is so ideologically important to its proponents that a few dead dogs more or less are a small price to pay.

 

The only thing that will stop this Sunday will be the sudden acquisition of backbone by a handful of members who are willing to put the fiscal health of the country ahead of the ideological yearnings of their leaders.

 

Stay tuned.

 

JBG

 

 

The Great Sneak of 2010

 

Read Jay B Gaskill’s Lost Souls Coffee Shop, an allegory for the human condition.  More on the Bridge to Being Blog at http://jaygaskill.com/blog2/ .

 

And read Jay Gaskill’s new thriller, The Stranded Ones.  More on the Policy Think Site at   http://www.jaygaskill.com/TourTheStrandedOnes.pdf .

 

 

As Published On

→ The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1

And

The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com

All contents, unless otherwise indicated are

Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 by Jay B. Gaskill

Permission to print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]

Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

PERMISSION TO FORWARD LINKS TO THIS BLOG OR INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES IS HEREBY GIVEN

 

As posted in htm format – http://jaygaskill.com/Sneak.htm

 

SENATE?  WHAT SENATE?

 

The spirit and plain meaning of the US Constitution were placed in jeopardy by the US House of Representatives. Or soon will be.  A motion to block the 'deemed' parliamentary maneuver in the House has been defeated. 

 

See http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=36097 .

 

If this plan had proceeded, a major piece of legislation would have been “approved” for purposes of not approving it, then amending it, without ever holding a direct vote, utilizing a parliamentary trick that was roundly criticized in advance by democrats and otherwise friendly opinion.  As a result the US Senate has just been maneuvered out of the picture and, assuming things go as planned, a monumental piece of legislation will be presented for presidential signature without having followed the simple requirements of the US Constitution, article One, Section 7 (See the full text below).

 

All this was to get around the fact that a majority of Massachusetts voters – and of the rest of us – opposed the congressional health care juggernaut.  

 

Why even have the US Senate anyway? 

 

Under the plain terms of the US Constitution, a bill becomes law only when the same exact bill has been duly passed by each chamber, according to that body’s rules, then and only then referred to the president for signature and duly signed by POTUS. 

 

There is no back door.  Or at least there was no back door when the framers set up the system.

 

Because revenue bills must originate in the house, the first Health Care bill was HR 3200, passed in the House of Representatives by a margin of 5 votes.

 

The Senate then passed a different bill, one that many members of the House declared they could never support. 

 

The next step in the process is well established.  A conference committee is appointed consisting of members from each chamber and charged to work together to iron out the differences.  The result of that process (if there is a result) is then submitted - one result, identical language, mind you – to each chamber for an up or down vote.  Only when and if the two chambers both pass this new, reconciled version, can it be submitted to POTUS for signature.

 

In the Senate’s own language:

 

Resolving Differences with the House

 

“A bill cannot become a law of the land until it has been approved in identical form by both houses of Congress. Once the Senate amends and agrees to a bill that the House already has passed—or the House amends and passes a Senate bill—the two houses may begin to resolve their legislative differences by way of a conference committee or through an exchange of amendments between the houses.”

 

From the official US Senate website....

[ http://www.senate.gov/legislative/common/briefing/Senate_legislative_process.htm ]

 

But the House Speaker was so eager to deliver a health care bill to her president that she and her colleagues hatched a scheme to have the House vote only on the changes to the Senate Bill without ever having any senate concurrence or even having an up or down vote on the Senate Version. 

 

An up or down vote? You must be “deeming” See  --http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/16/AR2010031604251.html .

 

The Washington Post apparently thinks the situation is amusing.   Most of the rest of us don’t. (Note: a clear majority of Americans oppose this bill.) 

 

I personally think it is an outrage. 

 

Mr. Obama and the country would have been better served in the long run had Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid resigned, the current bills withdrawn and the entire matter taken up in a less ideologically saturated atmosphere, piece by piece after full congressional hearings. 

 

The current headlong rush can only be explained by the “last hurrah” syndrome of out-of-control ideologues who plan to leave as much party detritus behind to clean up as possible before they are evicted from the premises.

 

Jay B Gaskill

Attorney at Law

 

“U S Constitution, Article One, Section  7

 

“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

 

“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively, If any Bill shall not be returned by the

President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournament prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.”

 

 

March 17, 2010

Draining America

My piece on contemporary political liberalism, first posted on 2009, remains chillingly relevant today. 

 

Go to http://www.jaygaskill.com/LiberalVampirism.htm

 

NOTE:  The deficit numbers are now far worse.


bull 

JBG

March 03, 2010

DOUBLING DOWN ON HEALTH CARE: WHAT WAS SAID & WHAT WAS MEANT

Read Jay B Gaskill’s Lost Souls Coffee Shop, an allegory for the human condition.  More on the Bridge to Being Blog at http://jaygaskill.com/blog2/ .

 

And read Jay Gaskill’s new thriller, The Stranded Ones.  More on the Policy Think Site at   http://www.jaygaskill.com/TourTheStrandedOnes.pdf .

 

 

As Published On

→ The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1

And

The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com

All contents, unless otherwise indicated are

Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 by Jay B. Gaskill

Permission to print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]

Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

PERMISSION TO FORWARD LINKS TO THIS BLOG OR INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES IS HEREBY GIVEN

 

Read this article in htm format at this link: http://jaygaskill.com/DoubleDownPOTUS.htm

 

 

 

DOUBLING DOWN ON HEALTH CARE:

WHAT WAS SAID

& WHAT WAS MEANT

 

 

The president has inexplicably doubled down on his stalled comprehensive heath care plans, in the face of a weakening recovery and more pressing and immediate concerns about dismal employment figures.  At this late stage it is no longer appropriate to talk about how President Obama is squandering his political capital, because – remarkably – he’s already accomplished that. 

 

Given the 10% approval ratings of the congress, that august institution’s political capital sailed port long ago.  Only one thing was left to squander: The raw political power of numbers to deliver the president’s agenda no matter what the later electoral consequences might be. 

 

This is what Mr. Obama said today (as taken from an embargoed ‘prepared remarks’ piece released shortly after the President’s presentation this afternoon.

 

(Under my plan) “No longer would (insurance companies) be able to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. No longer would they be able to drop your coverage because you got sick. No longer would they be able to force you to pay unlimited amounts of money out of your own pocket. No longer would they be able to arbitrarily and massively raise premiums like Anthem Blue Cross recently tried to do in California. Those practices would end.”

 

Comment:  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were actually possible to accomplish the delivery of more professional services without negative cost or quality consequences?   The current stimulus bill has subsidized part of the COBRA payments for unemployed persons who carried insurance policies after being let go.  That laudable, but narrow objective (narrow in the context of the president’s sweeping goal in the preceding paragraph), is being funded by deficit spending.  Now, I’m just a lawyer with a laptop, but the following question occurs to me:  If something like COBRA extensions and subsidies generate a federal deficit, and we offload that task to private entities, then -- Who funds their deficits? 

 

“Second, my proposal would give uninsured individuals and small business owners the same kind of choice of private health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves.”

 

Comment:  The phrase, ‘the same kind of choice” is a lawyerly evasion, because – trust me on this – nothing like the same kind of Cadillac (dare I say Mercedes?) fully-paid-for health care coverage enjoyed by your congressperson is contemplated for the rest of us.  You can be assured that this is the case for one painfully simple reason.  The country can’t afford it.

 

“Now, it’s true that all of this will cost money – about $100 billion per year. But most of this comes from the nearly $2 trillion a year that America already spends on health care. It’s just that right now, a lot of that money is being wasted or spent badly. With this plan, we’re going to make sure the dollars we spend go toward making insurance more affordable and more secure. We’re also going to eliminate wasteful taxpayer subsidies that currently go to insurance and pharmaceutical companies, set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance, and make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of Medicare.

 

“The bottom line is, our proposal is paid for. And all new money generated in this plan would go back to small businesses and middle-class families who can’t afford health insurance. It would lower prescription drug prices for seniors. And it would help train new doctors and nurses to provide care for American families.”

 

Comment:  If someone offered you a deal like this on the street, any competent lawyer would urge you to read the fine print.  Many of this president’s supporters followed the same “trust me” logic when they bought into the investment plans of Bernie Madoff whose client accounts were “off “ by about 65 billion dollars and whose prison term of 150 years can do nothing to repair the damage left behind.  Those experts who have read the fine print in the House bill and the Senate bill do not agree with the president’s rosy assessment. 

 

“Both during and after last week’s summit, Republicans in Congress insisted that the only acceptable course on health care reform is to start over. But given these honest and substantial differences between the parties about the need to regulate the insurance industry and the need to help millions of middle-class families get insurance, I do not see how another year of negotiations would help.

 

Comment:  Neither this administration, nor the current congressional leadership, have ever taken seriously any of the many proposals and proposed amendments offered in the last year to address the complicated finance and delivery of heath care issues at stake.  The impasse was always between targeted, separate reforms vs. a comprehensive global package.  See:  http://jaygaskill.com/HEALTHCAREIsItReallyTimeToSayNO.htm and http://jaygaskill.com/HMOfromHell.htm and http://jaygaskill.com/HeathCareTrainWreck.htm.

 

“So, no matter which approach you favor, I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform. We have debated this issue thoroughly, not just for a year, but for decades. Reform has already passed the House with a majority. It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of sixty votes. And now it deserves the same kind of up-or-down vote that was cast on welfare reform, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, COBRA health coverage for the unemployed, and both Bush tax cuts – all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority.”

 

What all this really means:

 

  1. Contrary to Mr. Obama’s previous stated positions, he now favors the ‘nuclear option’ by using the budget reconciliation process to achieve a massive restructuring of an entire industry.  In a similar context, Senator Obama has said, “...what I worry about would be you essentially have still two chambers -- the House and the Senate -- but you have simply majoritarian absolute power on either side, and that's just not what the founders intended.” 
  2. The Senate Bill was the 2500 page ‘prop’ bought to the ‘summit discussions’ to which GOP representatives were invited and attended bearing the bill that could not be re-passed by a 60 vote margin because of Massachusetts voters. As CNN announced in 12-24-09, before the Mass. Special election changed the political calculus, “The (Senate) bill now must be merged with a $1 trillion plan approved by the House of Representatives in November. Democrats hope to have a bill ready for Obama's signature before the president's State of the Union address early next year.”  That bill (see http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/12/24/health.care/index.html ), will now be the basic template for the final law, after a parliamentary shuffle between chambers, and a series of amendments from which conservatives will be effectively excluded.
  3. Assuming passage: The private health insurance companies that are required to meet the requirements sketched out by the president today – and the many more that are contained in pending legislation - will eventually be forced out of business because their current premium structure cannot possibly meet the new demands.
  4. The subsidized inclusion of additional otherwise uninsured persons into “same kind of choice of private health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves” will far, far exceed all current cost estimates, forcing a reduction in care.
  5. The notions that “our proposal is paid for” and that the estimated additional cost of $100 billion each year can be made up “from the nearly $2 trillion a year that America already spends on health care” and “money [that] is being wasted or spent badly” are simply not supported by sound accounting analysis.
  6. When the president said, “I do not see how another year of negotiations would help,” he actually was announcing that an ideological devotion to top-down comprehensive, bundled reform can only be achieved before the pending congressional elections.  On that point, he was most certainly correct.  All the polls indicate that a majority of American voters no longer trust the present congress and oppose passing the House or the Senate bills in anything like their current form.

 

The larger question is whether most Americans now trust their president.

 

JBG 

 

 

 

March 01, 2010

CRISIS, GRIDLOCK & POLICY SWEET SPOTS (UPDATED 3-2-10)

 

Read Jay B Gaskill’s Lost Souls Coffee Shop, an allegory for the human condition.  More on the Bridge to Being Blog at http://jaygaskill.com/blog2/ .

 

And read Jay Gaskill’s new thriller, The Stranded Ones.  More on the Policy Think Site at   http://www.jaygaskill.com/TourTheStrandedOnes.pdf .

 

 

As Published On

→ The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1

And

The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com

All contents, unless otherwise indicated are

Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 by Jay B. Gaskill

Permission to print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]

Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

PERMISSION TO FORWARD LINKS TO THIS BLOG OR INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES IS HEREBY GIVEN

 

As posted on The Policy Think Site ON 3-1-2010, revised 3-2:

http://jaygaskill.com/PolicySweetSpots.htm

 

 

 

 

CRISIS, GRIDLOCK

&

THE POLICY SWEET SPOTS

 

Gridlock in congress is neither bad, nor permanent.  In this case, the needed and effective policy innovations – even in the midst of a crisis - are being stalled by a series of collisions between ideologies and common sense. 

 

The ideologies are inside the Beltway and the common sense resides elsewhere.

 

The president purports to want to find ‘common ground’ with the opposition after allowing congressional leaders to shut down the amendment, congressional hearing and discussion process.  He purports to listen to his critics while pointing out that ‘we won the election’.  The implication is clear enough:  The president wants the appearance of consultation, without the burden of real compromise.  He stubbornly believes that his leadership must still be followed even when his electoral victory is now regretted by a plurality of voters trending to a supermajority.  Doubters should look at the polling data:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

and

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/obama_approval_index_history 

and

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/right_direction_or_wrong_track .

 

President Obama still expects implement a comprehensive policy package many key features of which are strongly opposed by a majority of Americans. 

 

All of these discussions and maneuverings are taking place under the looming shadow of a debt crisis more severe than any in this country’s history.  Compare the CBO’s Gross Domestic Product  projections --

{http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/100xx/doc10014/03-20-PresidentBudget.pdf }

 

with the national debt projections --

{http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/100xx/doc10014/Chapter1.5.1.shtml} and note this ---

 

How bad is the CBO's latest report on the country's budgetary future? The Washington Post calls the office's numbers ‘dire.’ U.S. News says they're ‘off the wall.’ And in a post about the report on his blog, the CBO's director, Douglas Elmendorf, writes that ‘under current law, the federal budget is on an unsustainable path.’”

{http://reason.com/blog/2009/06/29/debt-and-taxes-the-cbos-dire-p} from June, 2009.

 

...And this ---

“...our debt will hit 60% of GDP twelve years earlier than forecast...” {http://wallstreetpit.com/17751-the-lost-budget-decade}

 

All this is going on while a majority of elected and unelected officials inside the Beltway still live in a fantasy construct.  In their fantasy, the United States federal government still has an immense store of financial resources with which to address a crisis engendered by that same government having operated on funds on borrowed, but not repaid over the last 30 years. 

 

But the cupboard is bare.

 

No political party or faction escapes accountability for getting us into the current mess...and no one can now escape its consequences.  Eventually, one constraint must govern those who govern:  Government cannot continue to borrow money to fund the operations of government. 

 

There are a number of policy implications, among them these four:

 

(a)                    Public indebtedness must be reduced, not increased, across the board, in real terms, without any accounting gimmicks or tricks before the entire house of cards becomes “the American bubble”. 

(b)                    The necessary tax and spending adjustments must be managed with care in order to avoid choking off the real private business growth necessary to get us out of the current fiscal crater.  This means that the promotion of real, robust, profit-generating private sector commercial enterprises (i.e., those based on actual commodities and valuable services with a world-market value, as opposed to mere financial paper) becomes the very first economic priority of government. This necessarily requires a radically new government direction.

(c)                    Therefore most of the burden of tax and spending adjustments must be borne by the government itself, in the form of spending and services cuts and lower taxation.

(d)                    And any tax changes must satisfy two conditions: (1) they must amount to a net decrease in the overall tax burden, and (2) they must operate to help, not differentially punish or burden, domestic business development.

 

Yes, the current impasse will be overcome.  But it will require intelligent, trusted leadership that mediates agreements at the policy ‘sweet spots’ where ideologies, common sense and wise policy converge.  In other words, the current impasse calls for a new generation of leaders.... 

 

 

AN IMPASSE ANALYSIS

 

This impasse is driven by one or a combination of the following three assessments, each describing how the policy positions taken by one side are seen by the other:

·        The wrong approach, risking lasting damage if implemented;

·        The right approach, taken up by the wrong side as a head fake;

·        Possibly the right approach, but killed by the breakdown of trust.

 

The health care debate is particularly intractable because opposing sides are driven by fundamental differences.  As David Brooks described the impasse in Friday’s New York Times,

 

Both parties see the same problem. The current system is a mess, with opaque prices and perverse incentives that mostly favor the insurance companies. But, as Yuval Levin has pointed out in National Review, the Democrats believe the answer is to create a highly regulated insurance system with inefficiencies eliminated through rational rules. The Republicans believe that the answer is to create a genuine market with clear price signals, empowered consumers and an evolving process.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/opinion/26brooks.html?ref=opinion

 

Good faith discussion of possible areas of agreement (and, yes, there are a few) have been shut out by a breakdown of trust, exemplified by the congressional leadership’s insistence (with a complicit administration) on a comprehensive package, rather than individual, separately debated proposals, separately implemented and tracked.  That approach is like the software bundling practices of Microsoft. 

 

And the administration’s ‘consultation’ approach recalls those faux consultations held by top management with mid-managers after the real decisions have already been made or the ‘public meetings’ that administrative agencies notoriously hold for ‘input’ when the proposed rule or policy has already been set in stone.  

 

The people have become wise to this ‘going through the motions’ process because the political elites have used technique too much and too blatantly for too long.

 

 

POLICY SWEET SPOTS

 

 

Definition of Sweet Spot

 

In sports: The sweet spot is that balance point between potentially conflicting forces that produces the optimum outcome.  In baseball for example, players refer to the ‘sweet spot’ on a bat.  In skiing, there is a performance sweet spot that optimizes control and speed. 

 

In policy:  The sweet spot is that balance between competing political forces that produces an optimum political and policy outcome, crudely, the ‘win, win’ spot. 

 

For example:  Conservatives and liberals were able, long ago, to agree on a federal freeway system funded by user fees from gasoline taxes and truck load weight assessments.

 

Prediction:  The ‘sweet spot’ discussions will not bear fruit until the congressional democrats are forced to change their approach. 

 

Look for progress in January 2012.

 


THREE SWEET SPOTS

 

A. Energy/Global Warming

 

The impasse is all about the scientific and economic wisdom of punishing (economically burdening) traditional hydrocarbon energy technologies during a recession, based on a faux scientific consensus suggesting an emergency (i.e., the science is conflicted, the urgency exaggerated).  The sweet spot is a consensus that the USA is unduly dependent on oil from politically hostile parts of the world, that energy independence is a highly desirable course of action, all the global climate change and ‘evil CO2’ claims aside.

 

The sweet spot:

 

Small Scale, Mass Produced, New Generation Nuclear Power Plants

 

Links: 

 

Modular Nuclear Reactors – Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703444804575071402124482176.html

 

Green Research –

http://www.greentechmedia.com/green-light/post/small-modular-nuclear/ 

 

Toshiba’s “Nuclear Battery http://www.nuclear.com/n-plants/index-Small_modulr_reactr.html and http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf33.html

 

Small Town Nukes [March 2010, National Geographic]

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/big-idea/08/mini-nukes

 

Advantages:

·        10-20 megawatt units (small town, neighborhood size), reduce dependence on large power grids

·        Mass production economies & Smaller investment risks

·        Failsafe designs

·        Uniform technical interfaces, simplifying training

·        Simplified & expedited licensing

·        No atmosphere emissions

·        20 to 30 year life

·        Not subject to Middle East politics

 

Why this particular impasse?

 

The anti-carbon, global warming opinion set vehemently opposes exploitation of new oil reserves and is skeptical about ‘clean coal’ technologies.  The conservative, energy independence opinion set, having rejected the global warming ‘emergency’ but accepted the need to achieve independence from ‘terrorist state oil’, does not believe that solar and wind technologies can fill the oil gap.  Both sides are nervous about nuclear power, the liberals because of outmoded safety concerns (solved in the new generation reactors) while the conservatives are nervous about a massive tax investment in large nuclear plants. 

 

The obvious ‘sweet spot’ compromise is the small, modular nuclear plant model, mass produced by private industry and rolled out incrementally.

 

B. Health Care Reform

 

The Sweet spot:

 

Expanded Catastrophic Care Model, with Consolidated Risk Pools, implemented gradually

 

Advantages & Features:

·        Consumer driven – requiring enforced price transparency

·        Deductibles would be mitigated by tax incentives for health care savings accounts

·        Vouchers could be made available to assist

·        High risk pools, backed partially by the fed., would be diluted by folding in federal employees, attracting and adding state employee pools and other mixed risk pools with incentives

·        Gradual implementation with success metrics

 

Links:

 

The case for reform caution:

http://www.aei.org/outlook/100934

 

Overview of a new model:

http://insurancenewsnet.com/article.aspx?id=164618&type=newswires

 

High risk pools – mixed experience

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/09/flawed_model.html

 

An argument for vouchers

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0810/p09s01-coop.html

 

 

Why the impasse? 

 

Any major new entitlement program is DOA, given the grim fiscal picture.  This means that reform necessarily proceeds incrementally via micro-compromises, using a combination of tax incentives and state/local/private partnerships to gradually move towards a more consumer-driven, less bureaucratic health care delivery and financial system. 

 

Visit and review my own proposals at: http://www.jaygaskill.com/HeathCareTrainWreck.htm .

 

 

C. Transition from a Debt – Consumption Economy to an Investment – Production Economy

 

The Sweet spot:

 

Selective Repeal & Removal of Political, bureaucratic, Administrative Business Start-up Obstacles, Coupled with a stable, competitive Tax Structure

 

Links:



Futility of increasingly progressive taxation

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/research_memorandum_11.htm

 

International Competitive Tax Cutting

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/miarticle.htm?id=3449

 

Competitive advantages of a low, flat tax

http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-ce030806.html

 

See my own proposals at:

http://jaygaskill.com/GUIDEtoRECOVERY.htm and http://jaygaskill.com/Recovery09.htm and http://jaygaskill.com/KeynsianCollapse.pdf .

 

This cliff-sized impasse should not be surprising.

 

We are on the edge of a tectonic shift between a consumption-driven-economy, supported by perpetual borrowing, to a production-sustained-economy, ignited by private investment.  This shift requires us to embrace a profound adjustment of government’s borrowing, spending and taxation policies, one that runs roughshod over the entire spectrum of special interests.  Fixing the problem now, before a catastrophic economic collapse caused by the expiration of easy credit at all levels, is a bit like getting an alcoholic into rehab before he or she reaches the ‘gutter stage’.  

 

See -- http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/11/cut-spending-taxes-budget-medicare-paul-ryan-opinions-columnists-bruce-bartlett.html  -- detailing one plan without a bureaucratic obstruction relief component.

 

My Prediction: 

 

In the next five years or so, there will be upheavals in the Chinese and European economies the net effect of which will be to dry up easy, low cost loans to the US government.  These may be offset by direct foreign investment in US business startups, if we are wise enough to allow them room to do so while employing American talent.  The overall effect will be a federal fiscal diet and a nascent recovery.  Our ability to sustain that recovery and recover government fiscal balance will be the real test of the sustained character of our new leadership.  This will require a major reconfiguration of the roles of the ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ elements in our polity and a new, better informed, more responsible populism, something I have described as the coming populist reformation.  http://jaygaskill.com/newPPP.htm .

 

Stay tuned....  I’ll be developing these themes over the coming months.

 

JBG

Jay B Gaskill

Attorney at Law

 

 


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