Patterico's Pontifications


Beto Bows Out

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:47 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Yesterday’s hero is today’s zero. Former Representative Robert F. O’Rourke (D – El Paso) has announced that his campaign is kaput. The guy who raised $80 million for the honor of losing to Ted Cruz in 2018 has blown through another $17.5 million to decisively prove that he belongs nowhere near public office.

Good riddance, Robbie. My Little Aloha Sweetie lives to fight another day.


Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare For All Plan: No Tax Increase On Middle Class And Trillions Of Dollars Returned to Americans!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:28 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Raise your hand if you believe this:

Here’s the headline: My plan won’t raise taxes one penny on middle-class families. In fact, we’ll return about $11 TRILLION to the American people. That’s bigger than the biggest tax cut in our history. Here’s how:


#MedicareForAll finally brings true choice to the health care system. The choice to see the doctor you want, to get the prescriptions you need, pick the job or start that small business you want without worrying about where your health insurance will come from.

My #MedicareForAll plan would end the stranglehold of health costs on American families. It would return a whopping $11 trillion to families who will never pay another premium or medical bill. It would be one of the greatest federal expansions of middle-class wealth in history.

Let’s get to the math! (All backed up by independent experts and economists.) First, we’re going to rein in the waste, inefficiency, and corporate profiteering by insurance and drug companies. And we’ll bring down out-of-control costs.

Instead, we’re going to spend more on care itself. And thanks to getting rid of all the waste in the system, we can offer top-of-the-line care for all 331 million people in the U.S. for LESS than what we’ll pay if we do nothing to fix our broken system now.

How is it paid for? Well, if you’re not in the top 1%, Wall Street, or a big corporation—congratulations, you don’t pay a penny more and you’re fully covered by #MedicareForAll.

To cover the cost, we start by taking the money that employers are currently paying in the form of premiums to private insurance companies and have them pay it to Medicare instead.

We cover the remaining $11 trillion largely with taxes on big corporations, Wall Street, and the top 1%—and enforcing the tax laws we have now. Add in a targeted cut to a Defense Dept slush fund and that’s it.

Price tag: $52 trillion . The federal government’s revenue for this year is around $3.5 trillion. So tell me how the math is supposed to work on this? Oh, look, like minds:

Do people realize how insane and ludicrously false that claim is?

The total federal government revenue from this budget year was under 3.5 Trillion. Even if the government did NOTHING else, we couldn’t afford Warren’s plan under the current tax structure w/o a large deficit.

As another framing: The total wealth of everyone in the top 1% is around 25 trillion. That means you could seize all of their wealth and (ignoring all the harmful consequences and jobs lost) it wouldn’t even pay for half of the first ten years of Warren’s healthcare plan.

Every single country that has single-payer (even ignoring the population and other difference and assuming their system is better) has significantly higher taxes on the middle class. That’s the minimum trade off. Those who refuse to acknowledge it aren’t being honest.

Is anyone falling for the lipstick-on-a-pig sleight-of-hand Warren is pulling here? If elected: a $52 trillion price tag and no need to increase taxes on the middle class, and you might even get money back. What’s not to love??

Here’s a nice summation of Warren’s unicorn fantasy:

Her plan is to save money by reducing payments to physicians to Medicare rates, which tend to be significantly lower than private insurance, and to 110 percent of Medicare rates for hospitals and instituting a variety of payment reforms to encourage health providers to generate more savings.

The plan sets an ambitious goal of cutting Medicare drug prices by 70 percent for brand-name drugs and 30 percent for generics through a series of reforms. It would also require the new Medicare system to run with much less administrative overhead than the Urban Institute predicted would be necessary — 2.3 percent of total costs instead of 6 percent.

She wants to get the same medicine that we do now, paying only 30 percent that we do now. When you assume you can do that, sure, making the numbers add up gets a heck of a lot easier! Imagine working out your household budget by assuming you could keep your home for only 30 percent of your current rent or mortgage payments. You’re lucky if you can find a “70 percent off” deal in stores that are going out of business; Warren’s convinced she can get it for every band name medication required for every American in the country. Yes, she’s exactly the person we need to replace that guy in the Oval Office who’s in denial about reality and who keeps telling us he’s the greatest dealmaker of all time.

You can read Warren’s entire plan here.


(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Journalist and Obama Alumnus Makes Case for Tweaking First Amendment

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:34 am

[guest post by JVW]

The intersection of leftie journalists and Democrat politics is nothing new, and we all know that it was ramped up to the max during the eight years of Barack Obama. While GOP administrations also hire ink-stained wretches (think of the late Tony Snow, a reader and commenter on this site), it’s Democrats who benefit the most from the revolving door where journalists spend a few years collecting a federal paycheck, and administration officials step down from their jobs to accept lucrative media gigs. So has it been at least since the days of 24/7 news channels.

But at the very least, it seems to me that in the past the journalists who took positions in politics remained nominally committed to the First Amendment. However, like with everything else in these stupid times, that is no longer the case. Former Time editor and undersecretary in the Obama State Department, Richard Stengel, took to the opinion pages of the Washington Post to argue that this whole free speech thing perhaps goes too far:

When I was a journalist, I loved Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s assertion that the Constitution and the First Amendment are not just about protecting “free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

But as a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier. Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?

I feel bad that Mr. Stengel’s education (Princeton, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford) and professional background (Time, professorship at Princeton, Obama State Department, MSNBC) have left him so vasty unprepared to defend the First Amendment when confronted by fellow diplomats from religiously intolerant kleptocracies with an ugly history of repression. I think I could have knocked that one out of the park, but that’s probably because I lack the sophistication of a man who is no doubt intimately familiar with the salons of New York, Washington, London, Paris, Cairo, Istanbul, and other exotic destinations. And where some noob like me might see a great deal of slippery-slope and other complications that result in drawing lines on what is acceptable speech and what is decidedly not, the suave and debonair Mr. Stengel has it all worked out:

Yes, the First Amendment protects the “thought that we hate,” but it should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another. In an age when everyone has a megaphone, that seems like a design flaw.

It is important to remember that our First Amendment doesn’t just protect the good guys; our foremost liberty also protects any bad actors who hide behind it to weaken our society. [. . .]

Wait, so people might take advantage of our freedoms in order to undermine it and cause harm? OK, that might not be a particularly original argument, but this could be the first time that it was so forcefully advanced by a Rhodes Scholar turned media editor turned professor turned diplomat. From there, Mr. Stengel launches into a jeremiad against the baneful meddling of — yep, you guessed it — Russia:

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, Russia’s Internet Research Agency planted false stories hoping they would go viral. They did. Russian agents assumed fake identities, promulgated false narratives and spread lies on Twitter and Facebook, all protected by the First Amendment.

The Russians understood that our free press and its reflex toward balance and fairness would enable Moscow to slip its destructive ideas into our media ecosystem. When Putin said back in 2014 that there were no Russian troops in Crimea — an outright lie — he knew our media would report it, and we did.

So there you have it: it’s not just the fact that the average American, to Mr. Stengel’s mind, is too stupid not to fall for Russian disinformation, but his own profession (journalism, in this case) is somehow ethically required to provide a respectful outlet for Vladimir Putin’s propaganda by Constutional precepts. If only we all were as perspicacious as Richard Stengel and could see through these bald-faced efforts to brainwash us! If only elaborately-educated and highly-trained public servants like Mr. Stengel could not only curate content for us, but had the ability to block out content that his insightful mind and discerning eye knew was harmful to our republic! OK, maybe it’s not us, the Washington Post opinion page reader, who is the problem, grants the generous author. The real problem is that our darn young ‘uns are getting suckered in:

On the Internet, truth is not optimized. On the Web, it’s not enough to battle falsehood with truth; the truth doesn’t always win. In the age of social media, the marketplace model doesn’t work. A 2016 Stanford study showed that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and an actual news story. Only a quarter of high school students could tell the difference between an actual verified news site and one from a deceptive account designed to look like a real one.

In other words, the major news providers in this country spent years giving us news coverage cultivated in order to amplify whatever social crusade was currently in fashion (environmentalism! racial justice! homelessness! nuclear proliferation! immigration!) and now can’t seem to understand why we don’t take The New York Times, Newsweek, and NBC News any more seriously than we take Buzzfeed, The Babylon Bee, or RT.

And so we get to the crux of his argument. This country would be better off, and the First Amendment would be made stronger, if we joined the rest of the world in outlawing — ahem, ahem — “hate speech”:

Since World War II, many nations have passed laws to curb the incitement of racial and religious hatred. These laws started out as protections against the kinds of anti-Semitic bigotry that gave rise to the Holocaust. We call them hate speech laws, but there’s no agreed-upon definition of what hate speech actually is. In general, hate speech is speech that attacks and insults people on the basis of race, religion, ethnic origin and sexual orientation.

[. . .]

Let the debate begin. Hate speech has a less violent, but nearly as damaging, impact in another way: It diminishes tolerance. It enables discrimination. Isn’t that, by definition, speech that undermines the values that the First Amendment was designed to protect: fairness, due process, equality before the law? Why shouldn’t the states experiment with their own version of hate speech statutes to penalize speech that deliberately insults people based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation?

Mr. Stengel might do well to reckon that the same laws which can ban the burning of the Koran can also ban the burning of the United States flag. And bless his heart for making a nod towards Federalism (as the joke goes, the best thing about the Trump Presidency is that it has made leftists into champions for allowing states to set their own course), but can you imagine a scenario where something said in Massachusetts is determined to be punishable by law while the same thing said in Texas is perfectly fine? As Charles Cooke noted, it’s quite audacious for Mr. Stengel to announce “Let the debate begin” at the same time that he is calling for restrictions on speech. How long do you think it would take a state like California to outlaw virtually any argument that runs counter to what woke progressives fervently believe? Imagine the day when public discourse in this great nation of ours resembles public discourse at an Ivy League school or a flagship public university. That seems to be the desired outcome of the anti-hate speech crowd. Richard Stengel is certainly an intelligent and accomplished man, but his understanding of human nature is woefully lacking, and on this batty idea he cannot be taken seriously.


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