Obama sees far. Republicans underestimate him at their peril.

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by walter4, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. Obama's next act
    By Charles Krauthammer
    Friday, July 16, 2010

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/15/AR2010071504593.html


    In the political marketplace, there's now a run on Obama shares. The left is disappointed with the president. Independents are abandoning him in droves. And the right is already dancing on his political grave, salivating about November when, his own press secretary admitted Sunday, Democrats might lose the House.

    I have a warning for Republicans: Don't underestimate Barack Obama.


    Consider what he has already achieved. Obamacare alone makes his presidency historic. It has irrevocably changed one-sixth of the economy, put the country inexorably on the road to national health care and, as acknowledged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus but few others, begun one of the most massive wealth redistributions in U.S. history.

    Second, there is major financial reform, which passed Congress on Thursday. Economists argue whether it will prevent meltdowns and bailouts as promised. But there is no argument that it will give the government unprecedented power in the financial marketplace. Its 2,300 pages will create at least 243 new regulations that will affect not only, as many assume, the big banks but just about everyone, including, as noted in one summary (the Wall Street Journal), "storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, home buyers and credit bureaus."

    Third is the near $1 trillion stimulus, the largest spending bill in U.S. history. And that's not even counting nationalizing the student loan program, regulating carbon emissions by Environmental Protection Agency fiat, and still-fitful attempts to pass cap-and-trade through Congress.

    But Obama's most far-reaching accomplishment is his structural alteration of the U.S. budget. The stimulus, the vast expansion of domestic spending, the creation of ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see are not easily reversed.

    These are not mere temporary countercyclical measures. They are structural deficits because, as everyone from Obama on down admits, the real money is in entitlements, most specifically Medicare and Medicaid. But Obamacare freezes these out as a source of debt reduction. Obamacare's $500 billion in Medicare cuts and $600 billion in tax increases are siphoned away for a new entitlement -- and no longer available for deficit reduction.


    The result? There just isn't enough to cut elsewhere to prevent national insolvency. That will require massive tax increases -- most likely a European-style value-added tax. Just as President Ronald Reagan cut taxes to starve the federal government and prevent massive growth in spending, Obama's wild spending -- and quarantining health-care costs from providing possible relief -- will necessitate huge tax increases.

    The net effect of 18 months of Obamaism will be to undo much of Reaganism. Both presidencies were highly ideological, grandly ambitious and often underappreciated by their own side. In his early years, Reagan was bitterly attacked from his right. (Typical Washington Post headline: "For Reagan and the New Right, the Honeymoon Is Over" -- and that was six months into his presidency!) Obama is attacked from his left for insufficient zeal on gay rights, immigration reform, closing Guantanamo -- the list is long. The critics don't understand the big picture. Obama's transformational agenda is a play in two acts.

    Act One is over. The stimulus, Obamacare, financial reform have exhausted his first-term mandate. It will bear no more heavy lifting. And the Democrats will pay the price for ideological overreaching by losing one or both houses, whether de facto or de jure. The rest of the first term will be spent consolidating these gains (writing the regulations, for example) and preparing for Act Two.

    The next burst of ideological energy -- massive regulation of the energy economy, federalizing higher education and "comprehensive" immigration reform (i.e., amnesty) -- will require a second mandate, meaning reelection in 2012.

    That's why there's so much tension between Obama and congressional Democrats. For Obama, 2010 matters little. If Democrats lose control of one or both houses, Obama will probably have an easier time in 2012, just as Bill Clinton used Newt Gingrich and the Republicans as the foil for his 1996 reelection campaign.

    Obama is down, but it's very early in the play. Like Reagan, he came here to do things. And he's done much in his first 500 days. What he has left to do he knows must await his next 500 days -- those that come after reelection.

    The real prize is 2012. Obama sees far, farther than even his own partisans. Republicans underestimate him at their peril.
     
  2. Ironically the capitalism that he both abhors and is actively destroying may save his sorry ass in time for 2012.


    Of course by 2035 his name will be synonymous with "nappy headed dickweed".
     
  3. 36 arrested in Medicare scams totaling $251M
    AP


    Kathleen Sebelius, Omar Perez, Christopher Dennis AP – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right, tours an office building with HHS Office …
    By KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press Writer – 21 mins ago

    MIAMI – Federal authorities said Friday they are conducting the largest Medicare fraud bust ever in five different states and arrested dozens of suspects accused in scams totaling $251 million.

    Several doctors and nurses were among those arrested in Miami, New York City, Detroit, Houston and Baton Rouge, La., accused of billing Medicare for unnecessary equipment, physical therapy and HIV treatments that patients typically never received. Ninety-four suspects were indicted, and authorities said 36 people had been arrested as of Friday morning.

    More than 360 agents participated in Friday's raids, announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a health care fraud prevention summit in Miami. Officials said they chose Miami because it is ground zero for Medicare fraud. Authorities indicted 33 suspects in the Miami area, accused of charging Medicare for about $140 million in various scams.

    "With today's arrests we're putting would-be criminals on notice: health care fraud is no longer a safe bet," Holder said Friday.

    Cleaning up an estimated $60 billion to $90 billion a year in Medicare fraud will be key to paying for President Barack Obama's proposed health care overhaul. Federal officials have promised more money and manpower to fight fraud, setting up strike forces in several cities.

    Around the country, the schemes have morphed from the typical medical equipment scam in which clinic owners billed Medicare dozens of times for the same wheelchair, while never giving the medical equipment to patients. Now, officials say, the schemes involve a sophisticated network of doctors, clinic owners, patients and patient recruiters.

    Violent criminals and mobsters are also tapping into the scams, seeing Medicare fraud as more lucrative than dealing drugs and having less severe criminal penalties, officials said.

    For instance, agents bugged a medical center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where eight people are charged with running a $72 million scam that submitted bogus claims for physical therapy for elderly Russian immigrants. Clinic owners paid patients, including undercover agents, in exchange for using their Medicare numbers and a bonus fee for recruiting new patients. Recording devices captured hundreds of kickback payments in a private room where a man sat at a table and did nothing but pay patients all day, authorities said.

    The so-called "kickback" room had a poster on the wall resembling Soviet-era propaganda, showing a woman with a finger to her lips and two messages in Russian: "Don't Gossip" and "Be on the lookout: In these days, the walls talk."

    With the surveillance, the walls "had ears and they had eyes," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said at a news conference in Brooklyn.

    In a separate Brooklyn case, authorities indicted six patients who shopped their Medicare numbers to various clinics. More than 3,744 claims were submitted on behalf of one woman in the past six years. The patients did not receive the services billed to Medicare, authorities said.

    "Today's arrests illustrate how health care fraud schemes can replicate virally and migrate rapidly across communities," said Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare.

    Federal authorities launched a strike force in Miami in 2007 to target the problem. The program has since expanded to seven cities and is responsible for more than 720 indictments that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $1.6 billion.

    Miami-Dade County received about $520 million from Medicare in home health care payments intended for the sickest patients in 2008, which is more than the rest of the country combined, according to a federal report. Only 2 percent of the patients live here.

    It used to take 90 days before the government detected a scam. By then, the crooks were long gone, sometimes with millions of dollars. Now authorities get billing data as it's submitted, allowing them to catch suspects in real time, "as opposed to the typical pay and chase model we've had for years," said Gerald Roy, assistant inspector general for investigations.

    __

    Associated Press Writer Tom Hays in New York contributed to this report.