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  1. #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    The liberal answer to conservative complaints.

    Scotus ruling.

    Awesome.
    Come on Lark you know it can't be that simple.

    Why the sentiment behind the ACA I agree with, in it's current iteration, the ACA is a bloated burdensome mess.

    It is going to take some serious cost benefit analysis before I'll be comfortable with the program.

  2. #172
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    Here's an article on Healtcare reform now that the dust has begun to settle from the SCOTUS ruling:

    Time for real health care reform



    Many are saying that the Supreme Court showed judicial restraint Thursday in its ruling on the Affordable Care Act. But the opposite is true—at least in one critical respect.

    Historians will likely say that the court showed an astonishing level of judicial activism. While Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the more liberal justices and found the law constitutional under Congress’ power to tax, the bill would never have passed if the penalty had been cast as a tax increase. Many politicians, including President Barack Obama, went to great lengths to assert it was not a tax.

    Yet several aspects of the Supreme Court’s decision do demonstrate restraint. Roberts joined four other conservative justices in finding the individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. As for Medicaid, he agreed to limit the federal government’s power to compel the states to expand their programs against their will.

    These decisions were appropriate, and represented an attempt to constrain the federal government’s growth and reach.

    Reasonable people can differ, of course, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Roberts’ opinion, however, happens to become the law of the land. Therefore, everyone is bound by it and we now need to discuss where we go from here.

    Democrats must acknowledge that the law does not come close to dealing with the long-term fiscal challenges caused by rising health care costs. It may have increased coverage, but you can’t increase coverage and save money—that’s an oxymoron. In addition, both the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of the Chief Actuary of Medicare say that the health care law is likely to cost trillions more over time than its supporters claim.

    On the flip side, Republicans now have a responsibility to put forth their plan for the future. After all, the United States does need to achieve universal health coverage that is appropriate, affordable and sustainable.

    So what do we do? Here’s a four-point plan:

    1. Focus on Needs Rather Than Wants.

    We need to have a broader public conversation about what level of universal coverage the federal government should provide. Democrats obviously support universal coverage, since it was the ACA’s core purpose. It’s this point, however, that makes the GOP repeal argument fall flat.

    If the Republicans and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney want to repeal the law, they need to decide how they’ll cover the millions of Americans who will gain insurance coverage under it.

    The key is designing a system of universal coverage that covers only those things that are broad-based societal needs, rather than unlimited individual wants. A new reform law, for example, should cover basic wellness, preventive and catastrophic care only. Government needs to be able to deliver on what it promises.
    2. Move Toward Evidence-Based Care.

    We can accomplish affordable and effective universal coverage by moving to a more evidence-based system of care. The health reform act includes many provisions that try to achieve this. But real reform needs to (a) fast-track those initiatives; (b) find out which work and which don’t, and (c) quickly expand the best initiatives to the full health care system. In addition, tying both our medical payment systems and malpractice system to evidence-based standards could dramatically reduce costs and improve outcomes.

    3. Create a Federal Budget for Health Care.

    Like all other major industrialized countries, we need to set a limit on the amount the government spends on health care. We write a blank check for health care — and it’s irrational and irresponsible to do so.

    4. Increase Individual’s Financial Stake.


    All of us have to take more responsibility — both for our own health and for the cost associated with it. The federal government now provides health care subsidies to people that are inappropriate and unaffordable. Frankly, these subsidies also encourage over-use of health services. We can no longer afford to exclude from taxation the entire cost of employer provided health insurance. Nor should the government subsidize 75 percent of the cost of Part B and D Medicare premiums for 95 percent of beneficiaries.

    Now that the dust is settling from the court’s decision, let’s finally have an adult conversation about real health care reform. We can achieve meaningful health care reform in 2013 — possibly as part of a fiscal “grand bargain”. To do so, all options must be on the table and we must recognize that doing nothing is not an option.

    It’s time to focus on positive reform rather than partisan rhetoric.

    David M. Walker is former comptroller general of the United States and chief executive officer of the Comeback America Initiative.

  3. #173
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    From the Daily Beast:

    Fight Gangs by Enforcing Immigration



    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces that Chicago police will not in most cases assist federal authorities in the enforcement of immigration laws.

    Behind the disputes in Illinois is a federal program called Secure Communities, under which local police and jail authorities share fingerprints with federal immigration agents of everyone they book. The Obama administration has rapidly expanded the program across the country, with Illinois being one of only two states — the other is Alabama — where it has not been put into effect.

    Many immigrant organizations have bitterly resisted the program, saying it erodes trust between their communities and the local police. A coalition of groups on Tuesday announced a national campaign to try to persuade more localities to ban or restrict the program.

    Mr. Emanuel did not pose his initiative as a challenge to Mr. Obama. Rather he laid blame on Congress for inaction on immigration. The City Council will consider the ordinance this month.

    Mr. Emanuel and police officials have been under fire for a gang problem in Chicago, withhomicides up 39 percent from a year ago. The mayor said the proposed ordinance would encourage some immigrants to help the police without fear of being deported. “If you’re a good citizen, immigration status is not a pause button for you to call the police department,” he said.

    But wait.

    We're talking here about arrested illegals. These are not "good citizens" (or even, hem, good non-citizens). They have come within the ambit of law enforcement by violating some law: drunk driving for example. It's then and only then that police run the check to see whether the arrested person might have violated other laws too. It's a lot more efficient way to proceed than waiting until after the arrested person has macheted somebody to death. As the Center for Immigration Studies points out:

    Immigrant gang members rarely make a living as gangsters. They typically work by day in construction, auto repair, farming, landscaping and other low-skill occupations, often using false documents.

    As with New York City's gun checks at traffic stops in the 1990s, immigration status checks upon arrest enable law enforcement to change the environment that supports widespread criminality. CIS again:

    A very large share of immigrant gang members are illegal aliens and removable aliens. Federal sources estimate that 60 to 90 percent of the members of MS-13, the most notorious immigrant gang, are illegal aliens. In one jurisdiction studied, Northern Virginia, 30 to 40 percent of the gang task force case load were removable aliens.

    It's not rocket science.

    Stricter enforcement = fewer illegals.

    Fewer illegals = less gang violence.

  4. #174
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    From the Daily Beast:

    A More Civil Society



    One notable feature of British conservatism has been it's willingness to discuss issues that are not always on the right's radar. They have been ahead of the curve in discussing income inequality and the lack of upward mobility in developed societies.

    The policy idea most strongly associated with these sentiments is Prime Minister Cameron's embrace of the 'Big Society'. The phrase refers to the idea that the state currently has too prominent a role in life and that its presence crowds out the organs of civil society. While the term has received its fair share of criticism the program does seek to address a real problem: civil society is weaker.

    Writing in the Times (unfortunately, behind a paywall) Niall Ferguson explores this by recounting an attempt to get a local coastline cleaned up:

    I bought the house mainly to be beside the sea. But there was a catch. The lovely stretch of coastline in front of it was hideously strewn with rubbish. Thousands of plastic bottles littered the sands and rocks. Plastic bags fluttered in the wind, caught on the thorns of the wild burnet roses. Beer and soft-drink cans lay rusting in the dunes. Crisp packets floated in the waves like repulsive opaque jellyfish.

    Dismayed, I asked the locals who was responsible for keeping the coastline clean. “The council is supposed to do it, down by here,” one of them explained. “But they don’t do nothing about it, do they?” This was not so much Under Milk Wood as Under Milk Carton. Infuriated, and perhaps evincing the first symptoms of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I took to carrying and filling black binliners whenever I went for a walk. But it was a task far beyond the capacity of one man.

    And that was when it happened. I asked for volunteers. The proposition was simple: come and make this place look as it should; lunch provided. The first beach clear-up was a modest affair. The second was more of a success.

    It was when the local branch of the Lions Club got involved, however, that the breakthrough came. I had never heard of the Lions Club. I learnt that it’s originally an American association, not unlike the Rotary Club. Both were founded by Chicago businessmen about a century ago and both are secular networks whose members dedicate time to various good causes.
    ...

    My Welsh experience taught me the power of the voluntary association as an institution. Together, spontaneously, without any public sector involvement, without any profit motive, without any legal obligation or power, we had turned a depressing dumping ground back into a beauty spot. Now, I ask myself, how many other problems could be solved in this simple and yet satisfying way?

    Properly understood, “civil society” is the realm of voluntary associations, institutions established by citizens with an objective other than private profit. These can range from schools to clubs dedicated to the full range of human activities, from acrobatics to zoology, by way of beach clearing.

    There was a time when the average Briton or American belonged to a startlingly large number of clubs and societies. I want to suggest that the opposite of civil society is uncivil society, where even the problem of antisocial behaviour becomes a problem for the state. So the Citizenship Survey for England makes for truly dismal reading. In 2009-10 only one in ten people had any involvement in decision-making about local services or in the provision of these services (for example, being a school governor or a magistrate); only a quarter of people participated in any kind of formal volunteering at least once a month (of which most either organised or helped to run an event — usually a sporting event — or participated in raising money for one). The share of people informally volunteering at least once a month (for example to help elderly neighbours) fell to 29 per cent, down from 35 per cent the previous year. The share giving informal help at least once a year fell from 62 to 54 per cent.



    Like Tocqueville, I believe that spontaneous local activism by citizens is better than central state action, not just in terms of its results, but more importantly in terms of its effect on us as citizens. For true citizenship is not just about voting, earning and staying on the right side of the law. It is also about participating in the “troop” — the wider group beyond our families — which is precisely where we learn how to develop and enforce rules of conduct. In short, to govern ourselves. To educate our children. To care for the helpless. To fight crime. To clear the beach of rubbish.

  5. #175
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    From the Daily Beast:

    'Transparency' is Overrated



    On CNN's "Out Front" last night, I apparently surprised fellow-guests by scorning the idea that government should be more "transparent."

    Television is not always the best medium for introducing unfamiliar ideas, so here's a longer form statement of my views on this question, a column from 2009:

    (CNN) -- "Transparency like you've never seen it before," the White House calls it.

    On Friday, the White House posted online the logs for more than 500 visits to the White House since January. Beginning in December, the Obama administration will post online the names of all visitors to the White House.

    Why don't they just install a 24-hour webcam in the Oval Office and be done with it?

    This new policy is crazy, utterly counter-productive and will only make the work of the White House more sluggish and inefficient than it already is -- and it is plenty sluggish and inefficient now.

    A story.

    I worked in the White House in 2001-2002. After the 9/11 attacks, regulations governing visits to the executive complex were tightened. The new rules made it so difficult to book meetings in one's own office that many White House aides just gave up. Instead, they walked across the street to the Pennsylvania Avenue Starbucks. With a little luck in his timing, a suicide bomber could have knocked out a swath of the National Security Council staff for the price of a caffe latte.

    Rules to enhance security only detracted from security. These disclosure rules will backfire in the same way. The new visitor disclosure rules won't stop White House aides from meeting in secret with controversial people. Secret meetings will continue. They will just continue outside the White House complex.

    What the disclosure rules will do, however, is force White House staffers to waste a lot of time on useless meetings summoned for the sole purpose of generating a public record. Imagine the administration has OK'd new rules on grazing cattle on federal land. Ranchers lined up on one side, environmentalists on the other. The ranchers won, as they usually do.

    You belong to the White House communications team charged with explaining the decision. You want to book a meeting with the ranchers' association to collect some heartwarming anecdotes from them: how the pro-rancher decision saved a family farm owned by a disabled Iraq War veteran, that kind of thing.

    You realize, however, that the visit with the ranchers association will show up in the published logs. The visit will expose the administration to accusations of listening only to one side. The accusations will be unfounded: The environmentalists got their hearing weeks or months ago, on Capitol Hill and at the Interior Department, where the decisions were really made. But accusations do not have to be accurate to harm the president.

    Just to be on the safe side, you book a meeting with the environmentalists, too. The meeting is a total waste of time. You could not alter the decision even if you wanted to. But you go through the motions all the same -- and there's 45 minutes or an hour sliced out of the day.

    And the same the next day. And the day after that ...

    The TV show "The West Wing" gives a false impression of what government work is like. In reality, the U.S. government -- and the White House that supposedly runs that government - is almost paralyzed by its own rules and procedures most of the time.

    In the 1950s, people worried that government officials who traveled abroad might have been suborned by communist agents. And so today, we still require White House staffers to disclose every foreign trip they have taken over the past 15 years, including the date of departure and the date of return.

    For his first three months in office, Treasury SecretaryTimothy Geithner had to operate a "home alone" department as he waited for his key lieutenants to make it through the elaborate vetting process. That was no kind of non-speed record: Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was "home alone" with top deputy Paul Wolfowitz for more than six months in 2001.

    Some of the rules that encumber governance are valid. It's important to check that officials do not use government power to favor their own financial interests. But many, and probably most, rules persist as fossilized remains of now-forgotten controversies.

    The new policy of disclosing White House visitors likewise memorializes a forgotten controversy -- Democratic anger at Vice President Cheney's refusal to answer questions about his energy task force. Democrats wanted a list of the attendees at Cheney's meetings.

    Cheney refused. Democrats took Cheney to court. Cheney won. You might think that would have settled the matter.

    You might even think that Democrats, having regained the presidency, would appreciate the wisdom of the Supreme Court's admonition to "afford Presidential confidentiality the greatest protection consistent with the fair administration of justice." But no —they are still annoyed at Cheney.

    Having lost in court, they are now changing the rules to score a retrospective point. Of course, the loser in this point-scoring won't be Cheney. He's retired. It will be the administration that inflicted this stupid policy on itself out of vindictive pique—and those future administrations that discover they cannot escape a bad precedent instituted for bad reasons.

  6. #176
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Bullshit. Transparency is NOT overrated. If government officials meet in secret to avoid disclosure, charge them with treason and execute them. I think there will be fewer secret meetings then since no secret meeting is worth dying over. Execute the lobbyist they are meeting with, too.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  7. #177
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Bullshit. Transparency is NOT overrated. If government officials meet in secret to avoid disclosure, charge them with treason and execute them. I think there will be fewer secret meetings then since no secret meeting is worth dying over. Execute the lobbyist they are meeting with, too.
    Yea I think I'm gonna trust the guy that worked in the white house on this one.

    The idea of transparency is a lot sexier than the reality.

  8. #178
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Yea I think I'm gonna trust the guy that worked in the white house on this one.

    The idea of transparency is a lot sexier than the reality.
    I'm not going to trust the words of a guy who believes transparency is a chore. It's not. It's actually very, very simple (it can be automated). The author's train of thought is a convoluted mess that never really addresses his main point, and he's confusing all sorts of other ridiculous regulations with transparency, like the reporting of all foreign trips in the last 15 years (that's not transparency). I don't think the author has any idea what he's talking about because he doesn't understand what transparency is.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  9. #179
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    I'm not going to trust the words of a guy who believes transparency is a chore. It's not. It's actually very, very simple (it can be automated). The author's train of thought is a convoluted mess that never really addresses his main point, and he's confusing all sorts of other ridiculous regulations with transparency, like the reporting of all foreign trips in the last 15 years (that's not transparency). I don't think the author has any idea what he's talking about because he doesn't understand what transparency is.
    He know's exactly what transparency is.

    He was a speech writer in economics for the white house.

    He's Canadian and went to Yale, with a JD from Harvard.

    You don't understand the difficulties of the reality of increased transparency.

  10. #180
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    He know's exactly what transparency is.

    He was a speech writer in economics for the white house.

    He's Canadian and went to Yale, with a JD from Harvard.

    You don't understand the difficulties of the reality of increased transparency.

    Even if you increased those regulations, they would still meet with lobbiests after hours.
    /facepalm No, he doesn't. If he thinks filling out a form that requires you to disclose all foreign trips in the last 15 years is transparency, he doesn't know what he's talking about. I couldn't care less about his qualifications. Anyone can be wrong about something, and he's wrong here.

    Transparency can be automated thanks to the technology we have today. Public officials don't have to spend any extra time jumping through bureaucratic hoops, which is all he was really complaining about. But this guy seems to be stuck in the past. Maybe he should retire if he's so backward thinking.

    As for meeting lobbyists after hours, I already covered that. It's treason. Public service shouldn't be a cakewalk. Deal with it.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

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