Tag Archives: president Barack Obama

Chris Banescu “The Assault on American Business”

The message from Washington is clear and getting louder by the day. If you run a successful business you face excessive government regulations and higher levels of taxation for years to come. The more productive and profitable you become, the more you will be forced to pay for the privilege of operating in this country. This threat is real and it appears that many companies and business owners are taking steps to protect themselves.

President Obama’s anti-business and anti-competitive campaign messages made executives and business owners apprehensive ahead of the January 2009 presidential inauguration and the Democrats obtaining control of Congress. Coming in the midst of one of the worst financial crisis and economic recessions in recent memory these promises had predictable results: businesses aggressively cut expenses, decreased their capital expenditures, drastically reduced their payrolls, and hunkered down to weather the current crisis and deal with the long-term consequences of punitive government actions.

What are the messages that businesses have been receiving from Obama and a vast majority of the Democrats in Washington even before the November 2008 elections?

  • We will raise your income taxes.
  • We will raise your capital gains and dividends taxes.
  • We will increase regulations and impose further restrictions on your economic activities and personal freedoms.
  • We will take over the private heath care system, dictate coverage and prices, and add a permanent surtax on upper-income individuals and businesses to pay for it all.
  • We will tax your carbon dioxide emissions and force you to justify your energy consumption.
  • We will dramatically increase energy and raw material prices via a convoluted and oppressive cap and trade tax and regulate scheme.
  • We will radically expand government deficit spending and bureaucracy.
  • We will add trillions of dollars to the national debt and virtually guarantee very high inflation, drastic weakening of the US dollar, diminished prospects of new jobs creation, and reduced economic activity for the foreseeable future.

Five Threats

There are at least five different specific promises and initiatives from the current administration that threaten the future competitiveness and success of American businesses and the prosperity of individuals who dare to succeed and earn more. These combined threats have played an important part in further depressing economic activity in the US and signaling to all company owners to remain defensive and cautious in the face of a business unfriendly political environment at least through the end of Obama’s term (only one, we hope) in office.

Threat #1 – Higher Income Taxes
Beginning with 2011 the Obama administration promises to raise income taxes on married couples earning more than $250,000/year and singles earning more than $200,000/year. This would mean that the two highest federal income tax rates will rise from 33% and 35%, to 36% and 39.6%, respectively. Furthermore, the White House seeks to phase out the personal exemptions and limit deductions allowed for these taxpayers. Many businesses are usually started and run by families and individuals with gross incomes in those ranges. This guaranteed 9% to 13% tax increase (likely much higher due to tax exemptions limits and planned healthcare surtaxes) on their yearly incomes will reduce cash flowing into the economy (via investments or purchases) and seriously hinder economic growth.

Threat #2 – Higher Capital Gains Taxes
President Obama also pledged to raise capital gains and dividends taxes from the current 15% to 20% starting in 2011. This represents a 33% tax increase on all businesses and individuals who realize a capital gain on the sale of stock, real estate, or other assets, and those that receive qualified dividends from stocks in their personal portfolios, retirement accounts, or pension funds. This enormous tax increase will punish not only the highest income earners, but all hard-working taxpayers and retirees.

Threat #3 – Government-Run Health Care/Socialized Medicine
The current administration is actively working to create a government-run health care system that will cost approximately $1.6 trillion over 10 years, as reported by the Congressional Budget Office, and will only remove “16 million from the 46 million uninsured.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that House Democrats want to implement a package of surtaxes from 1% to 3% on all families making $350,000 or more in order to raise an additional $540 billion in taxes over the next decade. So any small to medium-sized business earning at least $250,000 or more will see its tax rate increase from 35% now, to 39.6% to 42.6% come 2011, and possibly as high as 44.6% in 2013 when these health-care surtax rates are scheduled to rise to 2-5%. These business owners can now look forward to a massive 13.1% to 27.4% tax increase on their earnings.

Furthermore, Investor’s Business Daily details that the latest Senate version of this plan would include “a $750-per-worker ‘annual fee,’ $375 for part-time workers on companies with more than 25 employees that do not offer coverage to employees.” This represents yet another additional tax on small businesses. As the IBD article correctly points out, “if you’re a small business seeking to expand beyond 25 workers, you have quite a bit to think about. That’s sure going to help job growth.”

Threat #4 – Cap and Trade, Significantly Higher Energy Prices
Another fiasco in the making is President Obama’s obsession with reducing and regulating carbon dioxide emissions by businesses and individuals, despite the solid research and objections of thousands of scientists that attest that carbon dioxide (CO2 is only 0.037% of the earth’s atmosphere) is not a pollutant and does not contribute to global warming or “climate change” of any kind. Dubbed “Cap and Trade” this legislation threatens to bring about enormous government regulation and taxation of energy production and usage across every single industry in the US.

A recent Investor’s Business Daily article outlines the inevitable consequences of such an intrusive scheme:

A major reshaping of our nation’s energy policy will include massive new taxes, mostly on businesses, and cause our economy to crater. Most depressingly, despite taxing businesses and consumers to the hilt, the Waxman-Markey climate stabilization act will not remove one ounce of carbon from our atmosphere over the next decade.

Waxman-Markey is nothing but a huge scam that will bankrupt any business that relies heavily on energy, boosting fuel prices by 22 cents a gallon and socking the average family with an $1,800 a year tax hike.

Threat #5 – Runaway Government Spending, High Inflation and Weakened Dollar
The countless government bailouts of bankrupt financial institutions and many incompetently managed companies, runaway borrowing and spending by the federal government (currently running $1 trillion yearly deficits, for at least another 10 years), and warnings from China, Russia, and India who are rapidly losing confidence in the US dollar and are threatening to dump it, are setting the stage for future hyper-inflation; another potential tsunami of financial devastation for all Americans. Under such conditions companies will continue to be increasingly risk-adverse, be very stingy with their cash reserves, steer clear of US-based capital expenditures that require a long-term financial commitment, and remain guarded with any expansion and hiring plans that would unnecessarily endanger the enterprise in the event of high inflation rates.

Staying the Course on Anti-Business Initiatives
Obama’s current anti-free market initiatives have been consistent from the beginning of his candidacy and throughout his first six months in office, and he’s aggressively making good on his promises with legislation that’s implementing them. Businesses understand what is happening and have tried to make adjustments. Like a living organism that has been attacked (imagine an octopus that’s drawing its tentacles closer to its body to protect itself from an intruder or another predator) business has contracted and retreated to avoid disaster and survive. Company owners and managers have taken on a defensive stance to deal with the worsening economic downturn and the coming higher taxes, increased regulations, and future hostile economic environments they will face even when the current recession subsides.

Consequences for the US Economy
The consequences of business activities contraction worsened by Obama’s multiple threats are devastating. Economy activity reduction, as measured by GDP numbers, reached -6.3% in the fourth quarter of 2008 and -5.5 % for the first quarter of 2009. Our economy has shrunk significantly in the last 9 months and the US unemployment rate has peaked at 9.5% as of June 2009. Since January of this year 2.7 million private sectors jobs have been lost, despite the so-called $787 billion “stimulus” plan that was supposed to keep unemployment rates below 8%. To date only $43 billion of this “stimulus” act has actually been infused back into the $14 trillion US economy; a miniscule and insignificant drop in a huge bucket that most likely did little to help an economic recovery. Yet President Obama insists that it “has worked as intended.”

Investor’s Business Daily reveals yet more alarming statistics regarding the US economy:

Shrinking GDP has crushed investment. First quarter gross private domestic investment — a proxy for business investment — plunged 20%, or nearly $450 billion, annually. The outlook is grim.

Worse, the June jobs data mark a milestone of sorts: Our unemployment rate equals that of the no-growth Eurozone nations.

What the Future Holds
As far as the eye can see President Obama and the Democrats are preparing to implement multiple significant tax increases, layer upon layer of new government regulations and restrictions on business activities, and massive and wasteful government borrowing and spending for at least the next decade. There is nothing coming out of this White House that would signal to American businesses that it is willing to change course and let the private sector – the only real engine of value and job creation in a free-market economy – do its job and bring our country out of this recession. The assaults on American business and entrepreneurship continue unabated and the negative consequences of these actions are already rippling through our economy and impacting our lives. Things are getting worse not better! At a time when a normal recessionary cycle should be coming to an end and the economy should be stabilizing and begin recovering, US business activity continues to contract, with hundreds of thousands of jobs (467,000 lost in June 2009) still being lost every month. We’re heading down a dangerous path that will virtually guarantee reduced long-term economic growth, higher unemployment and inflation rates, lowered living standards, and an erosion of our individual freedoms and liberties for the foreseeable future.

Ralph R. Reiland “Very Scary Redistribution via Obamacare”

You’d think the central planners at the White House would go outside their small group of relatives for some top-notch expertise when they’re trying to revamp something as big and complex as one-sixth of the American economy.

When Bill Clinton sought to radically overhaul American health care, he made the mistake of putting Hillary in charge.

This time around, Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, is on the Obama team as a special advisor on health policy to the director of the White House Office of Management and a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

What Hillary’s months of closed-door meetings produced was a top-down, command-and-control plan that put federal bureaucrats in charge of the decision-making and conduct of doctors, patients, employers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and state governments. To fund her Rube Goldberg scheme, Mrs. Clinton, with no experience in business or medicine, advocated a federal mandate that required employers to pick up the health insurance tab for all their employees.

Asked about the jobs and small businesses that the mandate would destroy, she said, “I can’t go out and save every undercapitalized entrepreneur in America.” She didn’t acknowledge that it was precisely her mandate that would cause the undercapitalization.

Her verdict for the small businesses that couldn’t afford to give full health care coverage to 100 percent of their employees? “Where I come from, free loaders and free riders get no respect.” The message was loud and clear: Go out of business if you can’t pay for my vision.

The result was a defeat for HillaryCare and Republicans picking up 52 House seats and eight Senate seats in the 1994 election, plus five more seats in the House and two in the Senate due to party-switching, giving Republicans control of both the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years.

The promise from today’s White House is that ObamaCare will somehow provide universal coverage while simultaneously increasing quality, decreasing costs and reducing federal deficits.

The writings of Obama health advisor Ezekiel Emanuel provide some insight into how our current crop of central planners might well be intending to accomplish these seemingly conflicting goals.

Last year in Health Affairs: The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere, Emanuel wrote that “Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality are merely ‘lipsick’ cost controls, more for show and public relations than for true change.”

In other words, the billions in the House and Senate health reform bills for “infrastructure” pork, i.e., “wellness” by way of jungle gyms and walking paths, are just so much “lipstick.”



In her recent “Deadly Doctors: Obama Advisors Want to Ration Care” article, former New York lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey, founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, reports on where Emanuel sees the real savings, citing an article he wrote last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association: “Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, ‘as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others.’”

The “effects on others” is the key. He’s saying we’ve got to think more collectively and less about ourselves. “Emanuel,” writes McCaughey, “wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else.”



If “social justice” demands more spending on the young and less on the old, Emanuel explains why this isn’t a case of discrimination: “Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years.”



Granny, in short, should move on because she’s had her chance. “Social justice” requires that a costly individual be sacrificed for the collective.



An essay co-authored by Emanuel on the “just allocation of health care resources” in the Hasting Center Report, November-December 1996, provides some detail regarding who should be rationed out of the system, i.e., “services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” 



We should die, in short, if we’re deemed by the authorities to be insufficiently participating.

Betsy McCaughey “Obama advisers want to ration care”

The health bills coming out of Congress would put the decisions about your care in the hands of presidential appointees. They’d decide what plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have and what seniors get under Medicare.

Yet at least two of President Obama’s top health advisers should never be trusted with that power.

Start with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. He has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

Emanuel bluntly admits that the cuts will not be pain-free. “Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality are merely ‘lipstick’ cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change,” he wrote last year (Health Affairs Feb. 27, 2008).  

Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, “as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others” (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008).

Yes, that’s what patients want their doctors to do. But Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else.

Many doctors are horrified by this notion; they’ll tell you that a doctor’s job is to achieve social justice one patient at a time.

Emanuel, however, believes that “communitarianism” should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens . . . An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia” (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. ’96).

Translation: Don’t give much care to a grandmother with Parkinson’s or a child with cerebral palsy.

He explicitly defends discrimination against older patients: “Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years” (Lancet, Jan. 31).

The bills being rushed through Congress will be paid for largely by a $500 billion-plus cut in Medicare over 10 years. Knowing how unpopular the cuts will be, the president’s budget director, Peter Orszag, urged Congress this week to delegate its own authority over Medicare to a new, presidentially-appointed bureaucracy that wouldn’t be accountable to the public.

Since Medicare was founded in 1965, seniors’ lives have been transformed by new medical treatments such as angioplasty, bypass surgery and hip and knee replacements. These innovations allow the elderly to lead active lives. But Emanuel criticizes Americans for being too “enamored with technology” and is determined to reduce access to it.

Dr. David Blumenthal, another key Obama adviser, agrees. He recommends slowing medical innovation to control health spending.

Blumenthal has long advocated government health-spending controls, though he concedes they’re “associated with longer waits” and “reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices” (New England Journal of Medicine, March 8, 2001). But he calls it “debatable” whether the timely care Americans get is worth the cost. (Ask a cancer patient, and you’ll get a different answer. Delay lowers your chances of survival.)

Obama appointed Blumenthal as national coordinator of health-information technology, a job that involves making sure doctors obey electronically deivered guidelines about what care the government deems appropriate and cost effective.

In the April 9 New England Journal of Medicine, Blumenthal predicted that many doctors would resist “embedded clinical decision support” — a euphemism for computers telling doctors what to do.

Americans need to know what the president’s health advisers have in mind for them. Emanuel sees even basic amenities as luxuries and says Americans expect too much: “Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy . . . physicians’ offices are typically more conveniently located and have parking nearby and more attractive waiting rooms” (JAMA, June 18, 2008).

No one has leveled with the public about these dangerous views. Nor have most people heard about the arm-twisting, Chicago-style tactics being used to force support. In a Nov. 16, 2008, Health Care Watch column, Emanuel explained how business should be done: “Every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health-care reform agenda. If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration’s health-reform effort.”

Do we want a “reform” that empowers people like this to decide for us?

Congressman Franks is considering lawsuit over birth documents

We though the birther issue has been put to rest…

Congressman Trent Franks from Arizona is considering filing a lawsuit to put President Obama on the spot over his birth documents.  The Mohave Daily News reported Rep Franks made the though public at this Town Hall Meeting over the weekend.

Rep Franks said there is not enough evidence that Obama is not an American citizen.  Franks indicated that there is conflicting evidence of Obama’s citizenship.  Rep Franks what’s to know why Obama did not simply produce a birth certificate?

Pelosi “I can not pass bill…without a public option”

Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) — House Speaker Nancy Peloci said legislation to revamp the U.S. health-care system won’t get through her chamber unless it creates a government-run insurance program to compete with the private industry.

“There’s no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option,” the California Democrat said at a press conference in San Francisco yesterday.

Pelosi drew a line in the sand on one of the most contentious issues surrounding the health-care overhaul after Obama administration officials earlier suggested the White House might be willing to back away from the public option to win broader support. Republicans and even some Democrats have said the idea is a nonstarter in the Senate.

“The government-run plan would turn into a bureaucratic nightmare,” Senator Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, wrote in a USA Today opinion piece on Aug. 19. “In the finance committee, six of us leading the negotiations are working from the premise that there will not be a government-run plan.”

Enzi last night joined in a call with the five other senators in a group led by finance committee Chairman Max Baucus that’s trying to craft a health-care plan. The panel is the only one of five congressional panels with jurisdiction over health care that is attempting to find a bipartisan compromise.

They’ll Meet Again

“Our discussion included an increased emphasis on affordability and reducing costs, and our efforts moving forward will reflect that focus,” Baucus said in a statement last night after the telephone meeting. He said the six senators plan to convene again before coming back to Washington in September.

The group’s effort is getting more complicated as lawmakers face protests at home and as proposals such as the public option draw fire. Supporters say a government plan is the best way to bring down costs and insure more people; opponents say it would expand the role of government too much and undercut the market for companies such as Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc.

Obama yesterday reiterated his support for the proposal.

“If we have a public option in there, that can help keep insurers honest,” he told a group of Democratic Party community organizers in Washington.

Continuing the push for his top domestic priority, Obama asked the activists who helped his 2008 campaign to organize neighbors to support the health-care effort and urged them not to “lose heart as we enter into probably our toughest fight.”

Ratings Fall

Obama’s approval ratings have fallen as the health-care debate has intensified in contentious town-hall meetings held by Democratic lawmakers across the U.S. Obama, who spoke at three town halls last week, told supporters their help is needed to correct misperceptions.

The president said he’s willing to work with Republicans, while adding “there are some people who for partisan reasons just want to see this go down.”

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released today found that half of Americans oppose changes to the health system based on what they know about the proposals, compared with 45 percent who support them. Still, when asked about whether they would support a government-run option, 52 percent of poll respondents said they would, compared with 46 percent who wouldn’t.

The fissures between the chambers and the parties raise the possibility that Democrats might try to use their majorities in the House and Senate to pass legislation on their own. In the Senate, that means they would likely have to use a process known as reconciliation, which is designed for budget issues and requires only a majority of votes for passage.

‘Never Stopped Talking’

“We’ve never stopped talking about reconciliation,” Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said in an interview. “It’s by far not the preferred option.”

Obama and top congressional Democrats say they favor a bipartisan approach yet have pledged to pass the legislation by the end of the year.

“We will not make a decision to pursue reconciliation until we have exhausted efforts to produce a bipartisan bill,” Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader HArry Reid, said on Aug. 19. “‘However, patience is not unlimited and we are determined to get something done this year.”

Senators have started conferring with their parliamentarian about potential problems with reconciliation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on a conference call today.

Finance Panel

The Senate finance panel is the only one still working on a plan. Three committees in the House and one in the Senate have approved their versions of the legislation on party-line votes.

Unlike those committees, the finance group is leaning against a mandate on employers to cover workers or pay a penalty. Instead of a public option, the senators on the panel are considering allowing the creation of nonprofit cooperatives with government seed money.

There’s also the question of how to pay for a plan that may cost $1 trillion over 10 years. House Democrats want to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans; the Senate negotiators are weighing a tax on the most-generous health plans.

“Something as big and important as health-care legislation should have broad-based support,” Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican negotiator, said Aug. 19. “So far, no one has developed that kind of support, either in Congress or at the White House. We should keep working.”

Besides Baucus, Grassley and Enzi, the Senate negotiators include Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine and Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.

House Changes

Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, today said House leaders are considering changes to their plan, including raising the threshold for a proposed surtax on the wealthy to those earning at least $500,000 a year from $350,000. He sounded a different note on the public option than Pelosi.

“I’m for a public option, but I’m also for passing a bill,” Hoyer said. “We believe the public option is a necessary, useful and very important aspect of this, but you know we’ll have to see because there are many important aspects of the bill.”

Pelosi yesterday said lawmakers have to pass a comprehensive bill rather than a watered-down compromise.

“Frankly, I don’t know when we’d do it if we don’t take that giant step now,” she said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kristin Jensen in Washington at kjensen@bloomberg.net; Catherine Dodge in Washington at cdodge1@bloomberg.net

Obama “Republican conspiracy out to kill health reform”

President Obama took to the conservative airwaves Thursday to charge that Republican leaders are engaged in a vast right-wing conspiracy to kill health care reform in order to repeat the 1994 mid-term takeover of Congress, which followed the defeat of President Clinton’s reform plan.

“I think early on, a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said, ‘Look, let’s not give him a victory, maybe we can have a replay of 1993, ’94, when Clinton came in, he failed on health care and then we won in the mid-term elections and we got the majority. And I think there are some folks who are taking a page out that playbook,” the president said.

Appearing on the Michael Smerconish radio show, Mr. Obama said he would “love to have more Republicans engaged and involved in this process,” but he vowed to win the battle, with or without support from the minority party in Congress.

“I guarantee you, Joe, we are going to get health care reform done,” he said to one caller. “I know there are a lot of people out there who’ve been handwringing, and folks in the press are following every little twist and turn of the legislative process, but having a big bill like this is always messy.”

US State and Local government grows despite recession

While businesses across the United States slash jobs, state and local governments have actually increased employment slightly since the economic recession began in December 2007, according to a report released on Thursday.

“As is the typical pattern in recessions, overall state and local government employment continued to grow after the start of the recession, although there has been a small decline since the August 2008 peak,” said Donald J. Boyd, author of the report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, in a statement.

Total employment in state and local government rose in 30 states, fell in 16 and was unchanged in four during the last year, the report found.

Governments have added about 110,000 jobs since the recession began, according to the report by the Rockefeller Institute, which is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York.

The recession’s impact on government employment typically lags that of the private sector, Boyd said.

“Further employment reductions are almost certainly on the way,” he said.

At least 20 states have imposed unpaid furlough days on their workers to cut spending without having to resort to layoffs, according to the report.

States also have been able to avoid shedding jobs with help from the more than $36 billion for fiscal relief they have received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the report said. (Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Jan Paschal)