Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Obama Knows Best

When you walk up to the cooler full of milk at the grocery store, you have a choice to make.

Should you pay more for the fancy organic milk because experts say regular milk is bad for you, or do you save money and grab the regular milk because, well, you always drank it, it's more economical, and it's just fine for you and your kids?

Imagine for a moment that you were deprived of your ability to choose. Imagine the grocery store manager showing up and removing the regular milk from the shelves right in front of your face, telling you it's fancy organic milk or nothing. Pay up.

This is the essence of what President Obama is telling millions of Americans who, up until now, were allowed to make individual decisions about what kind of health insurance was just right for themselves and their children.

After promising again and again to the American public that his health care plan would allow you to keep buying your favorite health insurance plan, President Obama has been caught in a lie. Millions of Americans are receiving cancellation notices from their health insurers telling them that their plan is no longer available for purchase and they have to pick a new one. (The fact that they actually can't do that because the website is a disaster is another story.)

Yes, every program has winners and losers. We all expect that. But isn't it ironic that a program that supposedly preaches that people should be insured, disproportionately whacks those who already knew that and were already buying their own insurance?

Obamacare makes losers out of people who took personal responsibility for their health care. These are people who understand better than most the cost of health care because they actually have to write out a check each month to pay their premium rather than having an employer automatically deduct it from their pay check. And trust us, writing that check makes you think a LOT about how much you spend on health care.

Consumers in the individual market, which includes many entrepreneurs, small business owners, and other self-employed people, had to shop through their options, read the fine print, and choose a plan and price that covered their personal needs. And in some cases, it was the regular milk equivalent that worked. Others sprung for organic. But the point was, they got to choose. Obamacare eliminates that choice.

As Americans, we traditionally pride ourselves with living in a land of plenty. Living in such a land inherently requires one to make choices, which is as much a personal freedom as it is a requirement for all citizens to exercise personal responsibility.

Obamacare changes that. It is like a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's a law that is promoted as improving access to health care, but it actually limits the option individuals have about their health care coverage, thereby limiting the practical choices many Americans can make. And, sadly, it's precisely those same Americans who prized choice the most, because they were in a position to exercise that choice.

Is this a mistake? Was there a miscalculation by the authors of Obamacare?

Not at all.

President Obama -- and many of his Democratic brethren -- disdain personal responsibility. They don't like it when people are independent and make individual choices. They think the government is better equipped than you are to make decisions about your own health care. In fact, if they truly had their way, they would go beyond Obamacare and put the government in charge of all of your health care decisions by instituting a single payer system nationwide.

This logic is readily apparent in the way the Obama Administration defends the millions of cancellation letters being sent to those who buy in the individual market.

"It's OK," they say. "Your old plan, which you picked yourself, was terrible. So we went ahead and picked some new plans for you, and yeah, you gotta pay more, but trust us: we are protecting you from your own crappy judgment." In fact, they have the audacity to claim that those letters aren't, in fact, cancellations, they're just "transitions" to the better, more sensible approach to health care they set up for all of us.

And while Obama and Co. can't stand those who are personally responsible, they exploit that responsibility by using individual purchasers' money to foot the bill for the entire Obamacare program. For those who became entrepreneurs as a result of losing their job in the recent recession, and who thereby became responsible for buying their own health insurance at huge rates, this is a special form of insult after injury.

Over and over, our Democratic friends try to convince us that Obamacare is going to save millions and millions of uninsured people from dying because they don't have health insurance. Perhaps; perhaps not. But what they refuse to talk about is the hundreds of billions of dollars it will cost us to accomplish that goal, all on top of our already eye-popping $17 trillion national debt. They refuse to talk about the two to seven million Americans who are being forced to give up health care plans they selected, and purchased, and paid for, in exchange for plans they don't want. They refuse to talk about the much-higher premiums these people will be forced to pay for the health care plans they don't want. And that's before they refuse to talk about all of the glitches and privacy bugs with the website they created to accomplish the feat.

The plain and simple truth isn't just that the federal health care website is broken (even though it is). It isn't just that Obamacare is bad, even though it is. President Obama and his ilk actually have a different vision for America than the model we all learned in civics class. Their model isn't about personal responsibility and choice. It's about big government imposing its will and depriving the American public of individual choice while punishing individual responsibility and accomplishment.

And, that's the real worry with Obamacare. It's just the tip of the iceberg.

Van Magness on NECN

Fred Van Magness was a guest on NECN's Morning Show this morning to discuss President Obama's visit to Boston today and the status of the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

With friends like US...

If you watch any classic American television series, there's bound to be an episode where a child sneaks into their sibling's bedroom and reads secret passages written in their diary.

And, of course, by the end of the show, they inevitably get caught, they get in big trouble, and their relationship with their sibling is forever ruined. (Or, at least, they hate each other until the next episode.)

There's a reason why this time-tested sitcom formula works. Whether it's an old-fashioned diary or a modern-age smartphone or email account, everybody knows it's just not cool to spy on your friends.

Everyone, that is, except apparently the President of the United States.

Alas, in the most recent episode of "Scandal - White House Edition" (a scary new reality series), the NSA has been caught snooping on dozens of foreign leaders' phone calls, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel's private cell phone conversations.

You don't have to be a sitcom fan to know that's just not cool.

If you ask us, there would seem to be three simple rules for nations to follow when it comes to espionage, especially spying on friendly nations. Rule Number One – it's wrong to spy on your friends. Rule Number Two – if you do spy on your friends, don't get caught. Rule Number Three – If you do get caught, deny it so as to protect your world relationships, reputation and the sanctity of your intelligence programs.

Unfortunately, it looks like the US broke all three rules faster than you can say "wiretap". And, unfortunately, this isn't just a television show.

So, what is Mr. President of Global Love, Peace and Happiness going to do about this little mess?

For years, the President has been telling us how other nations don't like us and we need to do something to fix it. Well, pardon us for hazarding a guess, but we're willing to bet that listening in on foreign leaders like there's some kind of international foreign policy party line at play isn't going to help matters a whole bunch.

Remember the international uproar when European media organizations were accused of hacking into voicemails of prominent politicians and celebrities? Well, isn't this the same thing -- except even worse?

Once something like this happens, whether it's a matter of sibling rivalry or an international crisis, it's a breach of trust and it's difficult to repair. Frankly, we don't really know how this situation could possibly be repaired, save for a change in leadership the next time Americans go to the ballot box. For Americans, that is the democratic equivalent of our next "episode".

More important questions remain.

First of all, why did the US feel the need to spy on its friends in the first place? Has our relationship with historically-friendly countries deteriorated so much that we don't talk with them anymore, and now we need to spy on them just to know what's going on? What kind of diplomacy is that?

Who can we turn to the next time the US needs a friend? Our international friend list is running perilously thin these days, and that's a big problem for a global superpower up to its eyeballs in debt and facing threats around the world.

Did the President really know about this? (He claims he didn't, but more recent reports suggest he was briefed on the situation and approved of it.) If he did know, why did he allow it? If he didn't, who's running the show?

What exactly is the role of the NSA? Up until this point, we thought it was essentially a domestic intelligence organization, as opposed to the CIA and its international role. Did someone authorize the NSA to go international, and what does that mean? Where does it all end, or does it?

How come the US government can figure out how to hack into international cell phone calls of foreign dignitaries but we can't figure out how to launch a simple health care Web site?

Stay tuned....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Meredith Warren on NECN's Morning Show

Meredith Warren joined Democratic analyst Mara Dolan and NECN's Steve Aveson on The Morning Show today to discuss the end of the government shutdown and the decision to increase the nation's debt ceiling. Here is the video:

[Video Link]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Van Magness on NECN

Fred Van Magness joined George Bachrach on NECN's Morning Show today to discuss the pending government shutdown and the results of the 5th Congressional District primary and the 1st Mayoral Debate in Boston. Here are the videos:

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Van Magness on NECN's Broadside

Fred Van Magness was a guest on NECN's Broadside with Jim Braude last night to discuss the government shutdown: