Patterico's Pontifications


Grading Obama

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 10:24 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In Oprah’s Christmas special with the Obamas, President Obama graded his performance during his first year in office:

“During the tour of the White House at Christmas that Oprah Winfrey gave viewers last night, she also got the president of the United States to give himself a grade.

After nearly a year in office, Winfrey asked President Barack Obama on her ABC special, what grade would he give himself?

“Good, solid B-plus,” Obama said. *** “If I get health care passed, we tip into A-minus.”

That’s pretty generous. After all, even Saturday Night Live listed Obama’s accomplishments as President as Jack and Squat.

Of course, Obama attended Ivy League schools Columbia and Harvard Law. The Ivy League is notorious for grade inflation and Harvard Law recently acknowledged that its mandatory downward grading curve wasn’t downward or mandatory. So I guess it’s not that surprising Obama continues to practice grade inflation as President.


Hiltzik: Hey, Let’s Prevent Banks from Repaying TARP Money

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:20 pm

Michael Hiltzik:

Among the questions being aired: Has the Troubled Asset Relief Program worked? Have the taxpayers made a profit on the deal? Did we force loan terms upon those banks on the brink of extinction last year that were too steep, or not steep enough?

One question that perhaps isn’t being raised enough is this one: Should we let the banks repay the money?

To put it another way, by allowing the banks to exit the emergency program that saved their butts in the fall of 2008, is the government giving up what could have been an effective tool of leverage over this misbehaving industry?

That’s the way. Force loans on banks that don’t need them as a way of exerting governmental control. It’s already been happening; rewind to this April WSJ piece to see how:

Here’s a true story first reported by my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano (with the names and some details obscured to prevent retaliation). Under the Bush team a prominent and profitable bank, under threat of a damaging public audit, was forced to accept less than $1 billion of TARP money. The government insisted on buying a new class of preferred stock which gave it a tiny, minority position. The money flowed to the bank. Arguably, back then, the Bush administration was acting for purely economic reasons. It wanted to recapitalize the banks to halt a financial panic.

Fast forward to today, and that same bank is begging to give the money back. The chairman offers to write a check, now, with interest. He’s been sitting on the cash for months and has felt the dead hand of government threatening to run his business and dictate pay scales. He sees the writing on the wall and he wants out. But the Obama team says no, since unlike the smaller banks that gave their TARP money back, this bank is far more prominent. The bank has also been threatened with “adverse” consequences if its chairman persists. That’s politics talking, not economics.

That’s creeping socialism talking, is what that is.

Thanks to my favorite reader.

CBO confirms ObamaCare is a takeover of the health insurance industry

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:05 pm

[Posted by Karl]

While everyone has focused on the Senate Dems caving to Sen. Lieberman’s demand to drop the “public option” from ObamaCare, this tidbit has slipped by largely without notice:

The CBO on Sunday issued a strongly worded memo on the proposal establishing all health insurance companies’ “medical-loss” ratio at a maximum of 10 percent — meaning 90 percent of premiums would have to go to medical claims. Companies would have to issue rebates to their customers if they fail to meet this standard. Alternatives would set the level at 80 percent to 85 percent, as included in the House-passed healthcare bill.

Considering the medical-loss ratio in tandem with the other strict new insurance regulations contained in the bill, the CBO predicted that such a policy would “reduce the types, range of prices, and number of private-sector sellers of health insurance,” the memo says.

“In CBO’s view, this further expansion of the federal government’s role in the health insurance market would make such insurance an essentially governmental program, so that all payments related to health insurance policies should be recorded as cash flows in the federal budget,” the memo states. (Emphasis added.)

The official copy is available through the CBO. OpenLeft’s Chris Bowers moans:

The Senate will not pass a public option. It will not pass a Medicare buy-in. It will not mandate a 90% medical loss ratio. Ugh. This deal keeps getting worse all the time.

If only Darth Lieberman would appear to say, “Pray I don’t alter it any further.”


ObamaCare: the not-unexpected cave-in on the public option

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:04 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The White House pressured Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and hours later, liberal Sens. Tom Harkin and Jay Rockefeller said they would be willing to drop a “public option” government insurance program to win passage of a healthcare overhaul. It is unclear whether this development gets the Senate Democrats out of their weekly pep talk from Pres. Obama, or whether a photo-op chock full ‘o’ fauxmentum is coming tomorrow. Clearly, the White House is desperate to move Reid’s bill before Christmas. Dropping the public option gets the Dems closer to that goal, though how much closer remains unclear (e.g., the tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans — which Big Labor hates — is among the issues still unresolved). Indeed, if the swing senators continue to throw up objections after the public option gets dropped, there will be a very real question of whether they ever want to get to “yes” for Harry.

This news will only intensify this morning’s netroots screeching. TNR’s Jonathan Chait claimed that “Lieberman is the beneficiary, or possibly the victim, of a cultural stereotype that Jews are smart and good with numbers.” However, unlike many of his unhinged pals on the Left, Chait understands the real game:

If Harry Reid decided to submit to Lieberman’s demands, the health care bill would basically revert to what the Senate Finance Committee produced. That’s still a major piece of legislation. Expectations among liberals have risen since then, so the come-down is understandable. But this isn’t the end of reform.

Bingo. It has been clear for some time that dropping the public plan is necessary, but not sufficient to defeat a government takeover of the US healthcare. The Obama administration has always been willing to dance the public option – mandate two-step. The cat is in the bag. The bag will be in the river unless the GOP — and public opinion — stop the Dems from forcing everyone in America to buy health insurance.


Obama Rallies His Team of Bank Executives

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 4:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a White House meeting with bank executives, President Barack Obama today called on them to stop fighting regulatory reform and lend more money for the benefit of all:

“The president said it is not his intent to vilify one person or industry — to not dictate to them or micromanage their compensation practices.

“My job is to ensure that consumers and the larger economy are protected from risky speculation and predatory practices, that credit is flowing, that businesses can grow, and jobs are once again being created at the pace we need.”

In working together towards a lasting recovery, Mr. Obama said, “we rise and fall together: banks and small businesses, consumers and large corporations. And we have a shared interest in working together to ensure a lasting recovery that will benefit all of us and not just some of us.”

However, Obama apparently had a difficult time sticking to his theme that “we’re all in this together” since he followed it by calling these bank executives a bunch of losers:

“A White House official tells ABC News that on the subject of executive compensation, President Obama told bank executives today, “you guys are like overpaid pitchers on a team doing poorly. The concern is less when your team is successful – but you guys didn’t win the World Series this year.”

Obama: Motivator of men.


2010: Safe-ish seats, Open seats

Filed under: General — Karl @ 3:35 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Allahpundit notes that the Cook Political report has the number of “likely” Democrat House seats down to 218, to tee up a discussion of recent Democrat retirement announcements like Bart Gordon (D-TN) (where there’s already a top GOP recruit) and Brian Baird (D-WA). 

The ordinarily pessimistic Allahpundit also links to Marc Ambinder, but oddly missed this observation that “the NET number of Democratic congressional retirements is -1.”  Some of the seats being vacated by the GOP (e.g., in Illinois and Delaware) could easily flip, too. 

Ambinder reports that Dems are worried that John Spratt will bail, while the NRCC has an informal list of 17 Dems they would like to push into retirement, while the DCCC has an “early warning system” to try to talk wavering Dems off the ledge.  The GOP can now cross Gordon off their list.

Allahpundit further notes that Dem pollster PPP has the GOP within two on the generic ballot.  Gallup has it at three.  Lefties will cheer that Dems have narrowed the GOP advantage with indies from +22 to +4 in a month.  However, that +22 looks like an outlier.  Nevertheless, the overall polling picture (even at dKos) continues to show Indies moving to the GOP, even if it is only to promote gridlock.


ObamaCare: Lieberman, Nelson needle Reid’s trial balloon (and the CLASS Act)

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:30 am

[Posted by Karl]

The Hill feigned a little surprise over this:

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) both said a Medicare “buy-in” option for those aged 55-64 was a deal breaker.


Lieberman said Democrats should stop looking for a public option “compromise” and simply scrap the idea altogether.


If Democrats stick to relying primarily on the bill’s subsidies, the legislation would pass easily and with bipartisan support, Lieberman argued.

But how can anyone be surprised, after Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) already signaled his doubts about Reid’s Kennedy retread? Sen. Ben Nelson is a creature of the insurance industry from a state that has been Red since 1964. Sen. Joe Lieberman represents Connecticut, a state which — like Nebraska — is home to a number of major insurers and lukewarm at best on ObamaCare.

Lieberman apparently reiterated his opposition directly to Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid:

The pledge by Lieberman to oppose the bill represents a potentially huge setback for reform proponents, many of who saw the latest round of policy compromises as the last true chance to corral the needed votes. That said, leadership has several fallback options (none of them promising) should Lieberman follow through on the threat…

TNR’s Jonathan Cohn claims that Lieberman previously told Reid he could support the Medicare buy-in, but for sheer, unadulterated schadenfreude, you cannot beat Ezra Klein accusing ol’ Joe of being “willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.” Democrats are quietly panicking over the possibility that Reid’s trial balloon will get a bad CBO score. But what the Nelsons and Lieberman (and Snowe, for that matter) are suggesting is that a good CBO score likely does not matter.

Indeed, the “public option” is not the only problem these senators have with Reid’s bill, either. Lieberman said that Ted Kennedy’s CLASS Act (a long-term care entitlement program that Sen. Kent Conrad called “a Ponzi scheme of the first order”) also has to come out of the bill. Ben Nelson has previously issued the same demand. And there were 51 votes to remove it — a majority, but not the 60 required under the current Senate procedure. Like the public option, Reid included the CLASS Act to appease his Lefty base, and will have to find a way to back out.

Emptywheel complains that relying primarily on the bill’s subsidies amounts to a bailout of the health care industry… and she is correct. Unfortunately, most of her friends on the Left do not want to confront the fact that Obama’s healthcare strategy has always been to buy off the interest groups, and to give up the public option as part of the deal. Consequently, they end up stamping their feet, demanding something they were never going to get, instead of joining a bipartisan coalition to kill a bill that whacks 68.4 million individuals, families, and single parents with incomes under $200K, and does nothing to meaningfully address the cost curve it claims to bend.


Jeff Goldstein Banned Again

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:45 am

I tried unbanning him. But now I see this:

I’m going to have a beer, finish watching The Third Man, get a good night’s sleep, then decide in the morning whether or not I wish to destroy a man completely and utterly.

(My emphasis.)

He’s talking about me.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a blogger has a duty to host comments from someone who declares he’s out to “destroy” the blogger.

Thus ends Jeff Goldstein’s short-lived ability to comment here. It was fun while it lasted.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein in his comments:

I READILY ADMIT TO THREATENING TO BEAT CERTAIN PEOPLE’S ASSES. And you know what? I’d still do it to most of them if we ever met up. So?

Followed by:

Scott Jacobs is one of those guys I mentioned that if I ever met him in person, I’d leave him in a heap, mewling like a baby pussy.

Who wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have more wit and wisdom like that here?!

Jeff Goldstein’s Fraudulent Application of His Views on Language

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:19 am

I wrote this yesterday as a supplement to a post, but it deserves to be posted in its own right. So I’m republishing it as a front-page post, slightly modified for clarity.

Most of you won’t read it because it’s long. That’s why I am giving you this handy summary:

Jeff Goldstein applies a selective view of language. If he likes you, he goes with your interpretation of your words. If he doesn’t, he substitutes his own.

The End.

My full argument makes the case at greater length. Here’s the whole thing:


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