Tag Archives: subsidy

Obamacare – Good Enough for You, But not Good Enough for Congress

Angry conservatives prepare to attend their local town hall meeting.

Angry conservatives prepare to attend their local town hall meeting.

If you want to get a very clear idea of the utter contempt in which our corrupt political class holds the voters who put them in office, look no further than the Congressional Obamacare exemption. Don’t confuse this with previous exemptions a bystander Congress has allowed the Obama administration to award supportive unions and other politically favored groups.

This exemption is specifically for Congress.

Under Obamacare Members of Congress and staff are required to buy individual health insurance from state insurance exchanges, just like their constituents Ma & Pa Kettle.

Since the majority of members possess Anthony Weiner levels of common sense, this portion of the law they passed created confusion in that august body. What exchange should the staffers use; the one in the District (land of dependency and demagoguery) or the one in their home state designed by people not clever enough to make it to Washington?

Anyone smarter than a 6th grader could see the answer at a glance. Just as the DC staffers by their Viagra from CVS and the staffers back home frequent Wal–Mart, staffers based in DC buy insurance where they live and staffers back at home buy at home.

There you see? All better now.

Even this minor confusion shows why Congress’ used–car–salesman level approval rating is richly deserved. Even Robert Pear, a reporter for the lefty New York Times was moved to observe, “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?”

Any conservative could easily answer that question. Hell no!

But for the political class the ‘where’ was not nearly as important as the ‘whom,’ as in who pays for this wondrous new insurance coverage a benevolent Obama has given?

Currently Congressional staffers have a great health insurance policy subsidized by you! While they are beavering away, coming up with new ways to control your life, their Cadillac plans are paid for with a 75 percent, tax–free subsidy.

Now the policy and the subsidy disappear. Giving members and staff another chance to be like real Americans when they realize Obama’s promise if you like your doctor and your insurance you can keep both, was just another Choom Gang alumnus blowing smoke.

This created a situation rich in unintended irony. As the Heritage Foundation wrote, “Members of Congress and their staffs are facing the same problems that confront millions of employers and employees—their fellow citizens—throughout America. They will be unable to keep the health coverage they have today, and will instead be consigned to the government health exchanges, whether they like it or not. …In short, Members of Congress will feel the effects of their own legislative handiwork directly.”

Naturally, this caused panic. In fact this unintended consequence was the only positive development to come from Obamacare. According to Politico, “Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.

The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.”

Great, self–induced term limits! Patchwork to be sure and no doubt short term, but a start nonetheless.

Other Congressional “leaders” feared the country would suffer from a “brain drain” as experienced staffers fled for the private sector where they are constantly assuring us they will make so much more money. My comment is, don’t let the door hit you in the behind.

And of course our dynamic Republican leader is on the job. Rep. John Boehner — Mr. Solidarity with the common man — was hoping Sen. Harry Reid would create a legislative fix (apt word that).

When asked about secret talks to rekindle the boiler fire in the federal gravy train, Boehner spokesman Michael Steele said, ““The speaker’s objective is to spare the entire country from the ravages of the president’s health care law. …If the speaker has the opportunity to save anyone from Obamacare, he will.”

Keep in mind the “anyone” escaping in this instance are the same people making you live under the undiluted Obamacare regime.

Fortunately for the hand–wringing Boehner and shameless Democrats the decision has been taken out of their hand. They won’t be forced to vote on Hypocrisy Bill 358. Pharaoh has spoken. President Obama intervened and ordered the Office of Personnel Management to decree the 75 percent insurance subsidies will continue for members and staff.

There is no provision in the law for this exemption, the OPM has no authority to issue the decision, but it’s in keeping with the legal theory that if Obama wants it, it must be OK.

So where does this leave you? It should leave you enraged. These posturing Republicans who bravely talk about repealing Obamacare are as quiet as church mice in regard to exempting themselves. I’ve had enough and it’s high time you felt the same.

Congress will be in recess soon and Senators and Congressman will be returning to their districts for town hall meetings. Go to the meeting. Take off work if necessary. Ask your representative if he and his staff are taking advantage of the Obamacare exemption.

If the answer is ‘yes’ or he avoids the question (which means the answer is ‘yes’) then you have a duty to vote against him. So what if he’s replaced by a Democrat. Better a leftist than a liar.

If Obamacare is a litmus test on liberty, as Republican Members of Congress have been telling us, it’s also a litmus test for those representing us. Any Representative or Senator who accepts the Obamacare exemption is a posturing Washington hypocrite and not fit to represent me.

White House Has ‘Peculiar’ Justification for Illegal Immigration

John C Calhoun, the newest White House advisor on immigration.

John C Calhoun, the newest White House advisor on immigration.

Someone in the White House is channeling John C. Calhoun.

Stephen Dinan, of the Washington Times, writes the White House has issued a report that claims, “…the strength and continuity of rural America is contingent on common–sense immigration reform.” In other words, the availability of your boutique tomatoes depends on amnesty for illegals.

The Obama Administration believes rural America, much like the antebellum South, has a ‘peculiar institution’ the rest of the nation must respect. In this instance the 50 to 60 percent of the agricultural workforce that’s in the country illegally.

In the 20–page report Calhoun, whoops…the authors, claim farmers are having trouble hiring workers and as a result are cutting back on planting or “are moving operations abroad as a result of the labor shortage.”

That must require some doing. Are they boxing up the plantation and shipping it — dirt and all — to foreign shores? What happens to the hole left behind in Mississippi? Do administration staffers really think produce is grown in the back room of Whole Foods, adjacent to the customer bathroom?

The justification for tolerating widespread illegality among sodbusters goes like this, “Under the current system, rural America is losing opportunity and harvests due to lack of a stable workforce. Coupled with a decline in native-born rural populations, the strength and continuity of rural America is contingent on common-sense immigration reform that improves job opportunity, provides local governments with the tools they need to succeed, and increases economic growth.”

The entire argument sounds suspiciously like Calhoun’s justification for slavery. He contended, according to Wikipedia, “Southern whites, outnumbered in the United States by voters of the more densely-populated Northern states, were one such minority deserving special protection in the legislature.”

The only real difference is how the workforce arrived to participate in the vital rural economy. In Calhoun’s day slaves arrived under duress, in Obama’s day the helots volunteer. Either way the rest of the country is supposed to tolerate and approve of what Democrats desire.

Both systems undermine our domestic labor market, penalize low–income Americans and reward those with no respect for the rule of law, which in this instance includes both employers and employees.

A simple application of market forces would solve the farmer’s labor problem. Right now there’s little demand among U.S. citizens for agriculture jobs at wages that are depressed by illegal immigration. Close the border while raising wages and watch the wonder of the marketplace at work.

Or invest in mechanization and replace the human factor with machines. Farmers made the switch from horses to tractors. Does the administration think automobile manufacturers would have invested in robotics if they had access to illiterate high school dropouts willing to work for minimum wage and no benefits?

The question answers itself. America would have been entertained by footage of workers fleeing Chipotle and General Motors when INS vans pulled into the parking lot. At least until the Obama re–election campaign began.

Agriculture lobbyists, dripping with concern for harried shoppers, contend that raising wages will mean produce prices go up. That’s a risk I’m willing to take. Besides, if gutless Republican Congressmen would force the federal government cut back on the double subsidy agriculture policy currently in place — farmers are guaranteed a minimum price and get paid by Uncle Sam, while consumers are stuck with higher prices at the grocery store — the reduction in prices caused by letting the market work without government interference, could well balance the increase in costs due to paying a market wage.

Strangely, the White House report issues a vague threat to begin “immigration enforcement actions that could tighten the supply of farm labor.” That appears to be a reference to deportation; something the Obama Administration essentially ended last summer. Threatening to do something Republicans have been demanding for months is hardly a credible threat and will do nothing to put pressure on the House to pass an amnesty bill.

Unfortunately for the administration, this warning is old, discredited news. Alabama passed a bill cracking down on illegal “rural” workers in 2011 and Democrats used many of the same scare stories. Yet Alabama produce did not vanish from the shelves. In fact, Gina Loudon reported, “Immediately after the bill (HB 56) was passed, the unemployment rate began to drop. Since the bill passed last legislative session, in some counties, unemployment has dropped dramatically. For example, unemployment has gone from 10 percent to 6.9 percent in the former illegal immigrant hotbed of Marshall County, Alabama.”

But it was so hard on farmers. According to a Reuter’s story, Jerry Spencer estimates 90 percent of the illegals left the county (note to Members of Congress) and he started recruiting the unemployed to replace the vanished amigos. “There’s a fair amount of reticence on the part of farmers to take the city folk and unemployed workers,” Spencer said. “They really hate letting go of their amigos because they’re so problem-free. They don’t squabble.”

Yeah, there’s nothing like a field full of docile illegals to make one feel like a real patron.

Before the Civil War Democrats and their politicians exploited slaves so they could live in the manner to which they had grown accustomed. Modern Democrat politicians, and the businesses they enable, are willing to exploit illegal immigrants for the same reason. Both sets of Democrats are more than happy to dump the resulting social costs on the rest of the country.

The question is how much longer are we going to put up with it?

Solyndra – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

In The RNC’s Latest “Solyndra” Ad, AiPolitics does a great job of explaining how the RNC is calling President Obama out for the $535 million government backed loan guarantees that Solyndra received. He points out that the ad suggest to viewers that the Solyndra mess was an avoidable folly, one that had many red flags. All of what AiPolitics and the ad says is true.

On May 31, 2012, Governor Mitt Romney paid a surprise visit to the shuttered headquarters of Solyndra. Romney said, “Two years ago President Obama was here to tout this building and this business as a symbol of the success of his stimulus. Well you can see that it’s a symbol of something very different today. It’s a symbol not of success but of failure. It’s also a symbol of a serious conflict of interest.”

Today (June 14, 2012) we learn that the Solyndra bankruptcy resulted in 1,861 people losing their jobs, over 700 more than the bankrupt solar company previously reported. What has not been counted are the jobs that could have been created with the money Solyndra received. So the job loss count is even higher than 1,861, not the 1,100 originally reported. For the Department of Energy to guarantee Solyndra’s loan, the government had to extract the money from US taxpayers, so there is the opportunity cost of what the private sector could have done with the labor and the money given to Solyndra.

Solyndra also had, at the time of its closing in August, 2011, an unsold inventory of more than 23 megawatts of solar panels, enough solar panels to power about 23,000 homes. Plus, in January, 2012, we learned that Solyndra employees destroyed millions of dollars worth of new glass tubes used in solar panels. The glass tubes were thrown into dumpsters. More taxpayer money down the drain.

Subsidizing inefficient technologies with government guaranteed loans is an economic drain. If an energy source, such as the one Solyndra produced, is not economically competitive, then the government should not artificially prop it up to create a market that would not exist without the subsidy.

But that’s just my opinion.

Please visit RWNO, my personal web site.

Increase The Electric Vehicle Subsidy

Hidden in President Barack Hussein Obama’s proposed 2013 budget is an increase of the subsidy for electric cars from $7500 to $10000.

In his effort to have 1 million electric, or “Advanced Technology,” vehicles on American roads by 2015, a budget document, entitled “Investing in Our Future,” discussed briefly by White House economic chief Gene Sperling, includes this goal. If that goal is reached and the new subsidy rate is enacted, the subsidy will cost $10 billion. Cars powered by natural gas are also considered as advanced technology vehicles.

But not to worry. Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf sales are nowhere near that goal. The 2011 sales for both of them combined was 30000. In fact, General Motors’ goal of selling 10000 Volts in 2011 came up 3800 short. The Toyota Prius, which has been around since 1997, sold 13650 in 2011. Still, at the current rate of $7500 subsidy per car, we taxpayers shelled out $348.75 million. Bad enough! And at a time when we are over $16 trillion in debt.

The average yearly income of Chevy Volt owners is $170000, higher than Cadillac and Lexus owners, on par with BMW owners, and exceeded only by Mercedes-Benz owners. That yearly income puts the Volt’s buyers in the top 7% of American households. The obvious question is why do these buyers receive subsidies?

An unexpected occurrence has been the advance in the traditional internal combustion engine. Ford Motor Company is ending its hybrid version of its Escape crossover vehicle, saying a new model equipped with its EcoBoost engine will outperform the hybrid. It will be most interesting to see how the Obama administration spins this situation.

So while the average yearly income for the American family in 2011 is $63091, we continue to subsidize Obama’s goal. I think former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said it best: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

But that’s just my opinion.

Shepherds Flat Wind Farm – More DOE Subsidies

What We Are Up Against

Justin Rolfe-Redding, a doctoral student at George Mason University, discussed ways for wind-energy proponents to get their message out. Rolfe-Redding said that polling data showed that “after reading arguments for and against wind, wind lost support.” Rolfe-Redding continued, “The things people are educated about are a real deficit for us.” After discussing the pros and cons of wind energy, he said, “enthusiasm decreased for wind. That’s a troubling finding,” suggesting the solution is to “weaken counterarguments” against wind as much as possible. He suggested using “inoculation theory” by telling people that “wind is a clean source, it provides jobs” and adding that “it’s an investment in the future.” He also said that proponents should weaken objections by “saying prices are coming down every day.”

Isn’t it interesting to see how similar arguments forwarded by wind-energy proponents are to those that the Obama administration used to justify the Solyndra fiasco?

The majority of the money for the Shepherds Flat wind farm is coming from federal taxpayers (over 65%), and will provide a boon for General Electric and its partners Google, Sumitomo, ITOCHU, and Caithness Energy. BusinessWire has an article on investor roles. BTW, GE’s president, Jeffery Immelt is head of Obama’s Jobs Council. Can anyone say “conflict of interest?”

From a memo written by Carol Browner and Larry Summers, we learn that Shepherds Flat investors will provide equity of about 11% of the total cost, but they will receive an “estimated return on equity of 30%.” Further, the carbon dioxide reductions associated with the project “would have to be valued at nearly $130 per ton for CO2 for the climate benefits to equal the subsidies,” which is “more than 6 times the primary estimate used by the government in evaluating rules.”

What Is NOW Being Built

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 megawatt (MW) wind farm under construction in Oregon. The wind farm is being built by Caithness Energy using General Electric (GE) 2.5 MW wind turbines, and it will supply electricity to Southern California Edison. In April, 2011, Google announced they had invested $100 million in the project. The wind farm is estimated to have an economic impact of $16 million annually for Oregon. It is supposed to be the largest land-based wind farm in the world when completed in 2012.

Here is what the Department of Energy (DOE) has to say about it.

What Will It Cost Taxpayers?

The Shepherds Flat wind farm is expected to cost a total of $2 billion, and it is getting $1.2 billion in DOE subsidies. After it provides 400 construction jobs, will provide 35 permanent jobs. That equates to $34 million per job. From an Oregon taxpayer perspective, granting Oregon tax credits of $30 million, it will take 77 years of tax revenues from the jobs created to recoup the initial tax credit investment, well beyond the expected life of the wind farm.

If we look only at the $490 million cash grant that will be given to GE and its partners when Shepherds Flat is finished, the cost of those 35 permanent “green energy” jobs will be about $14 million each.

DOE Picks (and subsidizes) Another Winner

While Congress take a long, hard look at green energy subsidies, they should also ask questions about the oversight and accountability. It’s not very encouraging that DOE cannot/will not say how many jobs are associated with the subsidies it continues to hand out. If we’re going to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for green energy, we should know exactly what we’re getting in return without having investigations tell us. Or is DOE and its loan guarantee program out of control?

But that’s just my opinion.