For Once, Congress Screws Itself

If we knew this in advance, we could have said something nice about Obama’s health scam. But boobery on such an epic scale is far beyond mortal ken. It’s like a dog chasing it’s own tail, catching up with it’s tail, and then biting the tail off.

Now we knew we were absolutely correct when we wrote that Eric Massa’s behavior patterns were well known back in the days before he was elected. We also know that it was only when Eric Massa threatened to vote “No” on Obama’s health scam that he was “outed” by Pelousy/Obama Dimocrats, in the full sense of that word. And we know Massa continued his behavior almost immediately upon becoming Congressman Massa:

“Just three months after Eric Massa was elected to Congress, his young male employees on Capitol Hill began complaining to supervisors that the lawmaker was making aggressive, sexual overtures toward them, according to new interviews and internal documents.[snip]

In one instance, a staffer said he alerted Joe Racalto, Massa’s chief of staff, in March 2009 that Massa tried to fondle a young colleague in a hotel room during the 2008 campaign. Racalto told staffers he believed their complaints, because he had heard similar stories, according to staffers. Two sources said that Racalto told staffers he himself had been a victim of Massa’s advances.”

Dimocrats did nothing to assist the victims because Massa was on “our” side. Dimocrats kept Massa on board until Massa wasn’t on board and then it was onto the gangplank for a long walk on a short plank. After all the health scam had to be passed. And it is and has always been a scam – by Barack Obama – it’s the Obama history.

It was such an epic scam that even the current scammers and Obama enablers did not know the scam would bite them in the tail:

“It is often said that the new health care law will affect almost every American in some way. And, perhaps fittingly if unintentionally, no one may be more affected than members of Congress themselves.

In a new report, the Congressional Research Service says the law may have significant unintended consequences for the “personal health insurance coverage” of senators, representatives and their staff members.

For example, it says, the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.”

Poor Obama enablers. But what about the American people? If the scammers got scammed, what about the dupes?:

“The confusion raises the inevitable question: If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans?

That last sentence is the point. The ultimate dupes are the American people. Congress did not know the junk they approved or at least pretended not to know because they had to protect their own. The health scam came from one of “our own” so they voted to “Save Obama” and they not only screwed themselves politically, they screwed Americans and even themselves:

“The law promises that people can keep coverage they like, largely unchanged. For members of Congress and their aides, the federal employees health program offers much to like. But, the report says, the men and women who wrote the law may find that the guarantee of stability does not apply to them.

“It is unclear whether members of Congress and Congressional staff who are currently participating in F.E.H.B.P. may be able to retain this coverage,” the research service said in an 8,100-word memorandum.

And even if current members of Congress can stay in the popular program for federal employees, that option will probably not be available to newly elected lawmakers, the report says.

Moreover, it says, the strictures of the new law will apply to staff members who work in the personal office of a member of Congress. But they may or may not apply to people who work on the staff of Congressional committees and in “leadership offices” like those of the House speaker and the Democratic and Republican leaders and whips in the two chambers.”

Congress will take care of its own. It’s regular Americans who will be screwed. Don’t worry about Congress, they will scam some more to help themselves and maybe even their staffers:

“These seemingly technical questions will affect 535 members of Congress and thousands of Congressional employees. But the issue also has immense symbolic and political importance. Lawmakers of both parties have repeatedly said their goal is to provide all Americans with access to health insurance as good as what Congress has.

Congress must now decide what steps, if any, it can take to deal with the problem. It could try for a legislative fix, or it could adopt internal policies to minimize any disruptions.

In its painstaking analysis of the new law, the research service says the impact on Congress itself and the intent of Congress are difficult to ascertain.

The law apparently bars members of Congress from the federal employees health program, on the assumption that lawmakers should join many of their constituents in getting coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.”

The usual Obama “rush-rush and pass the scam” did not fool anyone who was actually watching what they did, not what they said:

“But the research service found that this provision was written in an imprecise, confusing way, so it is not clear when it takes effect.

The new exchanges do not have to be in operation until 2014. But because of a possible “drafting error,” the report says, Congress did not specify an effective date for the section excluding lawmakers from the existing program.

Under well-established canons of statutory interpretation, the report said, “a law takes effect on the date of its enactment” unless Congress clearly specifies otherwise. And Congress did not specify any other effective date for this part of the health care law. The law was enacted when President Obama signed it three weeks ago.

In addition, the report says, Congress did not designate anyone to resolve these “ambiguities” or to help arrange health insurance for members of Congress in the future.

This omission, whether intentional or inadvertent, raises questions regarding interpretation and implementation that cannot be definitively resolved by the Congressional Research Service,” the report says. “The statute does not appear to be self-executing, but rather seems to require an administrating or implementing authority that is not specifically provided for by the statutory text.”

Congress will take care of themselves and “theirs” but regular Americans will suffer. Where are “our” representatives?

“Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, said lawmakers were in the same boat as many Americans, trying to figure out what the new law meant for them.

“If members of Congress cannot explain how it’s going to work for them and their staff, how will they explain it to the rest of America?” Mr. Chaffetz asked in an interview.”

And recall Congress forgot to require that uninsured kids with preexisting conditions be covered. Is it any wonder that Rasmussen polls now reflect the fact that 58 percent of Americans want the Obama health scam repealed?

Now that the Obama health scam has been passed, and doctors are disappearing, Andy Stern of SEIU is planning to run away and retire. No doubt Andy will have a great health care package to take with him paid for by the poor who pay union dues. Andy Stern will not have to worry about rising premiums because he will have a great health plan. But Americans will have to worry about rising premiums, which was supposed to be resolved by the Obama health scam:

“Public outrage over double-digit rate hikes for health insurance may have helped push President Obama’s healthcare overhaul across the finish line, but the new law does not give regulators the power to block similar increases in the future.

And now, with some major companies already moving to boost premiums and others poised to follow suit, millions of Americans may feel an unexpected jolt in the pocketbook.

Although Democrats promised greater consumer protection, the overhaul does not give the federal government broad regulatory power to prevent increases.

Many state governments — which traditionally had responsibility for regulating insurance companies — also do not have such authority. And several that do are now being sued by insurance companies.

It is a very big loophole in health reform,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. Feinstein and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) are pushing legislation to expand federal and state authority to prevent insurance companies from boosting rates excessively.”

Feeling duped yet?

“The irony here is that it was the Anthem rate increase that breathed new life into the healthcare bill,” said Jerry Flanagan, medical policy director of Consumer Watchdog, a longtime supporter of tougher premium regulation. “But there is nothing in this bill to guarantee that it doesn’t happen again.”

The lack of muscle is stoking concerns that more rate jumps — and an angry backlash from ratepayers — could undermine support for implementing the healthcare overhaul.”

Feeling angry yet?

More scams and publicity stunts are on their way:

“The president will stump the country talking about government’s eagerness to force insurance companies to get rid of pre-existing conditions as an obstacle to getting health coverage. He will highlight Medicare rebates. He will tout ending the closing of the federal drug benefits’ “doughnut hole” for seniors.

He will, in short, promote the ways in which government forces business to do the average person’s bidding in the hope of stirring more support for his programs than he’s been able to find so far.

The problem is that stubborn anti-government force defined, at least for now, as the Tea Party movement.

Both the current and former chairmen of the Federal Reserve spoke out recently about the need, finally, for fiscal restraint – in other words, for less government and, sadly, for tax increases.

The big danger is runaway budget deficits, they say, and the need for government, like families, to live within its means for a change.

That’s as much a battle cry (without the tax-increase part, of course) of the growing band of anti-Washingtonians out there who see themselves as part of the Tea Party movement.

Mr. Obama will need to adopt some of that thinking if he has any opportunity to prevent a wave from washing over his Democratic Party during November’s midterm elections.”

Where was the Left? Is our only hope now the Tea Party movement?

More scams are coming and more publicity stunts scheduled. The latest is the “economy is great” scam:

“Some of the talk about the state of the economy lately has grown downright giddy. [snip]

America’s Back! (So says the new cover of Newsweek.)

The economy is certainly growing, as it has been since last summer. And that growth appears more durable than it did just a few months ago, making a dip back into recession appear highly unlikely.

But the buoyant talk has gotten far ahead of the reality on the ground of the American economy.

That great March job number, for example, received a short-term boost from temporary Census Bureau hiring and the rebound from February snowstorms, so the underlying employment growth was somewhere around 50,000 jobs — not the 162,000 that made headlines, and far below the 130,000 or so jobs needed to keep up with population growth. The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits each week has remained stubbornly around 450,000, well above the levels expected in a hiring boom.

And while the stock market is up a lot, it has rebounded from generational lows. Much of the gains of the past year reflected the investors’ conclusion that the economy wasn’t going to collapse, not a harbinger of boom times ahead.[snip]

But that rate of expansion won’t be enough to pull the economy out of the deep hole it is in, given a 9.7 percent unemployment rate, and is merely enough to keep the hole from getting any deeper. By contrast, after the last recession of similar depth, in 1981-1982, the economy experienced five straight quarters of growth in the 7 to 9 percent range from the spring of 1983 through summer of 1984.

On Monday, the semiofficial arbiter of economic cycles said it would be “premature” to conclude that the recession that began in December 2007 had ended, as economists widely believe, in the summer of 2009. [snip]

Moreover, as the recovery progresses, major government supports for growth will eventually be pulled away. The boost from stimulus spending will start waning in the second half of this year, while the Federal Reserve, which has already ended its unconventional programs to prop up the economy, will eventually raise interest rates. [snip]

“Most of the deeper recessions in postwar U.S. history have been followed by strong recoveries, but this is a housing-bust experience,” said Hatzius, who expects growth to taper off to only a 1.5 percent rate in the second half of the year. “And if you look at international evidence, those have generally been much more moderate.”

Let’s not forget interest rates:

“Even as prospects for the American economy brighten, consumers are about to face a new financial burden: a sustained period of rising interest rates.

That, economists say, is the inevitable outcome of the nation’s ballooning debt and the renewed prospect of inflation as the economy recovers from the depths of the recent recession.

The shift is sure to come as a shock to consumers whose spending habits were shaped by a historic 30-year decline in the cost of borrowing.

“Americans have assumed the roller coaster goes one way,” said Bill Gross, whose investment firm, Pimco, has taken part in a broad sell-off of government debt, which has pushed up interest rates. “It’s been a great thrill as rates descended, but now we face an extended climb.”

The impact of higher rates is likely to be felt first in the housing market, which has only recently begun to rebound from a deep slump. [snip]

Along with the sell-off in bonds, the Federal Reserve has halted its emergency $1.25 trillion program to buy mortgage debt, placing even more upward pressure on rates.[snip]

Another area in which higher rates are likely to affect consumers is credit card use. [snip]

Similarly, many car loans have already become significantly more expensive, with rates at auto finance companies rising to 4.72 percent in February from 3.26 percent in December, according to the Federal Reserve.

Washington, too, is expecting to have to pay more to borrow the money it needs for programs.”

Some will say, “Big Pink, put on some Pink colored glasses. Look at the stock market you naysayers.” But…:

“Think Dow 11,000 is a big deal? Think again.

The Dow Jones industrial average briefly hit the milestone Friday for the first time in 18 months before closing at 10,997.

But Wall Street analysts who study key stock index levels say all the attention paid to 11,000 is more like a big distraction. They worry that investors are ignoring another number at their peril: The surprisingly low volume of trading. As stocks have risen over the past year, the volume reflects the vulnerability of a rally riding on the shoulders of relatively few participants.

And that’s given pause even to the bulls.

“It worries a lot of us,” says Wellington Shields’ Frank Gretz, a technical analyst who specializes in pinpointing market levels at which stocks might suddenly rise or fall. He wonders whether the volume signals that the rally could soon peter out, like the big surges that preceded steep declines in the 1930s in the U.S. and in Japan more recently.

Louise Yamada, a 29-year veteran of technical analysis who heads an eponymous firm in New York, says she’s not just concerned but confused.

“Why is the market going up?” she asks. “You usually don’t see advances without volume.”

Spend your money in Las Vegas instead of the stock market. It’s safer and much more honest.

“The widely cited Dow index, which tracks stocks of 30 companies, is up 70 percent from its lows of more than a year ago. The climb has been one of the strongest in history, and it may herald a strong recovery. But it’s been propelled by relatively few trades.

The 200-day moving average volume on the New York Stock Exchange is now at 1.2 billion shares, down from 1.6 billion, or nearly 25 percent, a year ago.

In other words, if there is wisdom in crowds, the stock market is getting dumber.”

Dumb and dumber in the age of fake:

“But the hangover from the Great Recession and the lagging unemployment numbers will make it impossible to focus on improving the Internal Revenue Code.

Come 2011, however, the demand to start dealing seriously with the overhang of deficits and debt threatening the nation’s future will become irresistible. Whether we like it or not, we have been warned.

On Tuesday, Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, told a New York audience that the time is coming when new taxes will have to be considered. “If at the end of the day, we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes,” he said.

On Wednesday in Dallas, Ben Bernanke, who now holds the same job, said “Inevitably, addressing the fiscal challenges posed by an aging population will require a willingness to make difficult choices. The arithmetic is, unfortunately, quite clear. To avoid large and unsustainable budget deficits, the nation will ultimately have to choose among higher taxes, modifications to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, less spending on everything else from education to defense, or some combination of the above.”

The next day, at a breakfast with reporters in Washington, Douglas Elmendorf, the head of the Congressional Budget Office, confirmed that his economists have begun studying how to write a value-added tax, a form of national sales tax, because of growing congressional interest in drafting such a measure.

Elmendorf reminded the journalists of the grim news contained in his agency’s analysis of President Obama’s budget proposals. Agreeing with Bernanke that the current course is “unsustainable,” he said that unless something changes, the U.S. will emerge from the Obama years spending one-quarter more than it collects in revenue — 25 percent compared to 19 percent of the gross domestic product.

Closing the gap “can’t be solved through minor changes,” he said. Revenues projected under current laws would barely be sufficient to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense and interest on the national debt. Everything else would depend on finding new revenues — or borrowing.”

While the country worries about “racist” canines, and African-Americans are called “racist” for belonging to the Tea Party, Obama plots new scams and publicity stunts. The new scams and publicity stunts will cement the “tax and spend” label that Bill Clinton stripped from the Democratic label. But “tax and spend” is back with a vengeance, and with justification, from Republican play books.

But fear not, there will be bread and circuses – now updated to scams and publicity stunts – by Barack Obama.

Barack Obama will bow to dictators (the latest bow to the Chinese leader) and snub what used to be friends and allies in order not to offend the dictators.

But fear not, there will be Obama bread and circuses and scams and publicity stunts.

In November 2010 we get to screw Congress now that they screw us.