“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chris Christie- Not Yet Ready For Prime Time

Only yesterday I wrote this post concerning some Iowa GOP donors visiting New Jersey governor Christie, allegedly to induce him to enter his party's presidential contest.

Yet, only a day later, Christie stumbled badly as detailed here. In a move that simply defies explanation, Christie and his wife used a state helicopter to fly from Trenton to Montvale, in the northern part of the state, to several innings of their son's baseball game. The article rubs some salt in the wound by noting that, upon landing, the Christies couldn't bother to walk, but, were driven the hundred yards or so from the landing site to the bleachers.

As you'd expect, state Democratic legislators are having a field day. And why not?

At the least, Christie should have smart enough to have either scheduled some official business in Montvale or another nearby locale, or at least publicly state that he was reimbursing the state for the $2,500/hour expense of the helicopter.

But even that second option would have displayed incredibly poor instincts on the governor's part.

With what is going on in New Jersey in terms of spending cuts, Christie would be foolish to suggest that, on his publicly-funded salary, he could afford such an expensive luxury as a state-owned helicopter ride to watch only part of his son's ball game.

It may seem like a minor gaffe, but I have a feeling this could become a serious liability for Christie. Much as was former North Carolina governor Mark Sanford's admission not only of marital infidelity, but perjury on his state expense reports for his trips to South America to visit his mistress.

Before that fall from grace, Sanford was, like Christie is now, a beacon of presidential hopes among the nation's GOP governors.

How could Christie have been so insensitive and blind as to not comprehend the impression he has made by using a state helicopter for a personal visit?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chris Christie for President?

Fox News featured as a headline news story Tuesday evening that several Iowan GOP contributors were having dinner with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to discuss a presidential campaign. I haven't seen anything yet on the outcome, as I write this on Wednesday afternoon. However, upon hearing of the dinner, several images came to mind regarding a Christie run for the White House.

First, of course, there would be Christie having to explain and defend his sudden about-face on the issue. If he lost the nomination, or, if nominated, lost the general election, good luck getting re-elected as governor.

Then there's the expected comparisons with and to Sarah Palin. You can just hear the Democratic wags saying the GOP moved downscale. Last time a half-term governor was running as VP. Now they've moved a partial-term governor up to the top of the ticket.

Then, fair or not, there's the visual of Christie on a stage with Wonderboy. After many nasty jokes about Bob Taft, Christie's going to look like a beached whale next to the black, comparatively-trimmer current president.

Finally, there's the issue of how the GOP can most successfully unseat the First Rookie. Since he came to office with so little life and no executive experience, it's unlikely that the best approach to defeat him is to offer someone with only slightly more executive and government experience.

Why run a first-term governor, no matter how popular, when you have Tim Pawlenty, who was re-elected in a blue state?

I hope Christie continues to ignore the cries for his candidacy, and shuns any effort to draft him. Much as I like him and think he's doing fairly good work here in NJ, I don't think he's the Republicans' best hope for 2012.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ignore Massachusetts' RomneyCare- Vermont Goes Full Speed Ahead On Single-Payer Healthcare

You'd think that Massachusetts' travails with RomneyCare would cause any other state to think twice before attempting to move to a more government-run health care sector.

So it was surprising to read in an edition of the Wall Street Journal last week that Vermont

"is moving one step closer to a goal of its Democratic governor: a state-run health plan that would insure most of its 625,000 residents."

Well, first, it is Vermont. The only state, I believe, to send an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, to the US Senate.

But somehow, single-payer health care in the land of Ethan Alan's Green Mountain Boys seems, well, unpatriotic. And at odds with the idea of rugged individuals out in the hills for which the state is named.

Alas, that was then. Now it's government medical care for all.

The Journal article provides anecdotes describing various parties' reactions to the governor's plan.

"Darcie Johnston, founder of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom...says a single payer-style system would usher in the largest tax increase in the state's history. "It hasn't worked in multiple countries where it's been tried," she said."

"In liberal-leaning Vermont, even Republicans in the state legislature are open to the idea of emulating a single-payer system, though they quibble with how it is being set up."

"Instead of paying premiums, employers and workers likely would subsidize the plan through taxes. Gov. Shumlin says the administrative simplification of having one payer would save the state $500 million a year."

According to the Journal, about 7%, or slightly less than 44,000 of Vermont's residents currently lack health care. Apparently just giving them tax credits or vouchers with which to buy health insurance is a non-starter for Vermont's state legislators and governor.

Better, instead, to emulate Massachusetts, drive medical care providers out of the state with lower reimbursements and bureaucratic oversight and care allocation, while experiencing soaring state spending on the experiment.

What's that old line about insanity- trying the same thing over and over, while expecting different results?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peggy Noonan Goes Socialist

I managed to make it through Peggy Noonan's weekend editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Maybe it was due to the picture of a thoughtful Paul Ryan, chin on hand, that drove me forward.

The editorial was nothing particularly new or special. It was, after all, Peggy Noonan, herself now long in the tooth, with very little, if anything worthwhile to express anymore.

Instead, Noonan plumped for socialism with this passage about older Americans and health care,

"Rep. Paul Ryan was at the summit, soldiering on. His main problem on Medicare is that people fear the complexities and demands of a new delivery system.

People who draw up legislation, people capable of mastering the facts of the huge and complicated federal budget, often think other people are just like them....But normal people don't wear green eyeshades...But normal people are more likely to sit slouched at the kitchen table with their head in their hands. "Oh no, another big decision, another headache, 50 calls to an insurance company, another go-round with the passive-aggressive phone answerer who, even though she's never met me, calls me Freddy as she puts me on hold.

Here's the great thing about Medicare: You turn 65 and it's there. They give you a card and the nurse takes it."

In the next paragraph, Noonan contradicts herself on that salient last point, noting that, even now, due to low reimbursement rates, some doctors refuse to take "the card."

It's actually far worse than that. I have an acquaintance who had to help an aged relative with Medicare-covered treatment for an ailment. The amount of red tape, paperwork and time spent arguing with various Medicare officials was not to be believed. The relative was sent bills for erroneous out-of-pocket expenses running to tens of thousands of dollars. Days were spent, often in increments of 3-4 hours, either speaking or on hold with government bureaucrats at various offices throughout the region and Washington.

But Noonan's larger mistake is to portray the insulation of Americans from making their own decisions on how to spend their own money on health insurance. If people can buy homes, homeowners and car insurance, surely they are capable of and ought to take an interest in their health insurance, as well.

That's why allowing market forces to compete by providing differing price points, service and quality levels of health insurance is a good thing. Instead of one take-it-or-leave-it government-run, unresponsive health insurance system, multiple private insurers will compete for customers in an open market where bad performance will cost them customers.

It's a sad day when one of Ronald Reagan's speechwriters plumps for government health care. Her former boss was the modern paragon of individual freedom and self-determination.

Now Noonan is arguing for seniors to just be given a "card" and have others make their decisions about their money for them.