One of our problems is that Reagan Democrats have drifted away from us. Can we get them back?
The simple answer is, yes, with the right policies and message.
If we go back to the late 1970's and early 1980's, we had the emergence of Jack Kemp Republicans.
Jack's philosophy was simply laid out in his two books, An American Renaissance and An American Idea Ending the Limits to Growth, everyone should have the same opportunity to rise as high as their talents and efforts can carry them and while people move ahead we should endeavor to leave no one behind.
So maybe we conservatives need to view policy through the prism of how it will affect those at the bottom looking up.
So maybe while we have been searching for the next Reagan, we should be looking for the next Jack Kemp.
Book Reviews This Fortnight
Two recently published books have come across your Editor's desk and, coincidentally, both authors have been or will be interviewed on PBS' Red, White & Blue.
First, former Houston Mayor Bill White proves his fiscal conservative bonafides at least federally in America's Fiscal Constitution. White calls out the Presidents regardless of party for running chronic deficits. To us his key statement about what is wrong with Washington is, "The nation's founding fathers deferred many of their own cherished plans until the nation paid off its debts." We don't do this anymore. This is an important book that partisans in both parties should study and then act.
Second, former Ambassador and Chief of Personnel for President George H. W. Bush, Chase Untermeyer's new book is When Things Went Right: The dawn of the Reagan-Bush Administration. The book gives one a front row seat at the beginning of the Reagan-Bush era. Chase, at the time, was executive assistant to Vice President Bush. Especially insightful is his take on how Vice President Bush played a significant role and in the process made what is today the modern vice presidency and the significant position it now holds for today's presidency. Chase is scheduled for Red, White & Blue airing in June.
The Challenges Of 2016
While things continue to point to a successful 2014 cycle for the GOP with President Obama's plunging favorability ratings, 2016 looks a lot different.
The good news is that we have plenty of time to right the ship. Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol has good ideas of what a good candidate would bring:
"Such a candidate would explain how he would stand up to Vladimir Putin, and he would stand up for Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He would not just offer a critique of Obamacare but would set forth an alternative to it, and he would also be championing alternatives to other features of nanny-state liberalism. He would embody the best impulses of the Tea Party while channeling the sentiments of Middle America. He would seek not to contain Obama-era liberalism but to transcend it, explaining why it should go down as some bizarre chapter in American history whose last pages are even now being written.
"Every poll shows the American public, by about two to one, thinks the nation is on the wrong track. That's the track of contemporary liberalism. It's the track Hillary Clinton has diligently chugged along for her entire adult life."
If we follow Bill's advice and nominate such a candidate, we can win in 2016.
Congressman Ted Poe Endorses Ben Streusand
Congressman Ted Poe, a leading Tea Party conservative from Texas, endorsed Ben Streusand for Congress in Texas CD 36. Ted Poe stated, "The choice is clear -- Ben Streusand is a man I trust and hands down the best candidate in CD 36."
Ben Streusand responded, "I am honored to have Ted Poe's support, and I share his sense of urgency, I believe the country is running out of time to get things right. One person can make a difference. I won't just vote conservative. I will fight for our conservative positions. I will fight alongside Ted Poe and other true conservative leaders of the U.S. House and then come home and be accountable to the voters of District 36."
A Continuing Series: Part 4,
The Fourth 10 of 50 Reasons We Are Living
In The Greatest Period In World History
TCR Comment: Morgan Housel at the Motley Fool website recently put together a fascinating list of the reasons we are in good shape. We will put 10 reasons out each issue until we get to 50.
Medicaid, The Next Obama Disaster
- The average American work week has declined from 66 hours in 1850, to 51 hours in 1909, to 34.8 today, according to the Federal Reserve. Enjoy your weekend.
- Incomes have grown so much faster than food prices that the average American household now spends less than half as much of its income on food as it did in the 1950s. Relative to wages, the price of food has declined more than 90% since the 19th century, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- As of March 2013, there were 8.99 million millionaire households in the U.S., according to the Spectrum Group. Put them together and they would make the largest city in the country, and the 18th largest city in the world, just behind Tokyo. We talk a lot about wealth concentration in the United States, but it's not just the very top that has done well.
- More than 40% of adults smoked in 1965, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By 2011, 19% did.
- In 1900, 44% of all American jobs were in farming. Today, around 2% are. We've become so efficient at the basic need of feeding ourselves that nearly half the population can now work on other stuff.
- One of the reasons Social Security and Medicare are underfunded is that the average American is living longer than ever before. I think this is literally the best problem to have.
- In 1940, less than 5% of the adult population held a bachelor's degree or higher. By 2012, more than 30% did, according to the Census Bureau.
- U.S. oil production in September was the highest it's been since 1989, and growth shows no sign of slowing. We produced 57% more oil in America in September 2013 than we did in September 2007. The International Energy Agency projects that America will be the world's largest oil producer as soon as 2015.
- The average American car got 13 miles per gallon in 1975, and more than 26 miles per gallon in 2013, according to the Energy Protection Agency. This has an effect identical to cutting the cost of gasoline in half.
- Annual inflation in the United States hasn't been above 10% since 1981 and has been below 5% in 77% of years over the past seven decades. When you consider all the hatred directed toward the Federal Reserve, this is astounding.
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
President Obama is doing his victory dance, telling us how his health care plan has become a success because his more than his targeted number (8 million) clicked their desire to have health insurance on a website. We will soon see how many are real policyholders, and later we will see their real costs as everything shakes out with co-pays and renewals next year. What we do know is that Medicaid is a pending disaster waiting to happen.
When the Obamacare registration period started we were regularly hearing about all those new Medicaid sign-ups. Then we did not hear about it. There are a few reasons for that. Some believe it was because some of the sign-ups were actually people who had insurance plans cancelled as part of the Obamacare realignment. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute told me the Obama Administration had put out a figure (8 million) that was shot down by every source as preposterous. He states the real figure is somewhere between 1.1 million and 1.8 million new sign-ups, and Tanner tells me his source on those numbers is legit. Now the Administration claims the figure is three million new sign-ups, bringing the total Medicaid recipients to 61 million.
So is that a good thing? Since Obamacare was supposedly established to address the now estimated 46 million uninsured Americans and one could presume that some just did not have the resources to pay for their own insurance, the answer would seem to be yes. Until you look at the facts.
Jason Fodeman, a physician and adjunct scholar at The James Madison Institute, did just that. His detailed policy study looked at Medicaid in Florida. Florida may not be a microcosm of the other 49 states, but as the third most populace state it certainly can be perceived as a reasonable indicator. Florida is one of the 21 states that rejected expanding Medicaid with federal tax dollars allegedly picking up 90% of the tab.
Some Governors have been running around stating they are being smart bringing tax dollars back to their states that would be taken by other Governors. There are two problems with their analysis. First, the government is not returning tax dollars to the states to pay for new Medicaid participants. That is because the funds used to cover these transfers are coming from debt financing. It would be different if we had a balanced budget, but anyone taking these additional dollars is helping to build the national debt.
Second, Michael Tanner made a very important point on which we are not focusing. The matching federal dollars at 90% are for new enrollees whose income exceeds the poverty line. Up until the implementation of Obamacare, someone getting Medicaid had to be at or below the poverty line. The new rule is that your income can be up to 138% of the poverty line thus expanding the amount of people eligible for Medicaid. The states have gone out and attracted new enrollees, but many of the new sign-ups are from people who previously were eligible under the old rules. The feds are not picking up 90% of those people and thus the state will get stuck with the tab for those new participants.
As Fodeman points out in his study, Florida is already spending $21 billion a year on Medicaid. The rate of growth in the cost of the program over the last 12 years has been five times faster than general revenues have grown and currently eats up 30% of the Florida budget. What Fodeman does not point out is that it is quite obvious Medicaid is squeezing out other necessary state obligations. To encourage more people to sign up would further squeeze funding for education, prisons, road repair and other basic needs. The national budget for Medicaid was $431 billion with just 58% ($251 billion) coming from the federal budget. That means states are already bearing $180 billion before any new enrollees.
The biggest issue remains who is going to service the medical needs of these new participants. Obamacare deals only with demand and not supply. With new people availing themselves of health insurance, there needs to be more doctors, nurses, and hospitals. There are currently no more and all indications are the program is driving many doctors into retirement, further worsening supply.
Medicaid is even worse. In 2011, 31% of all doctors refused new Medicaid patients because of poor reimbursement rates. Fodeman states "Given that many of the current patients with Medicaid are struggling to find a provider, it raises the question of where hundreds of thousands of potential new Medicaid patients would find care." In addition Fodeman cites in a Kaiser study stating "In 2008, Florida’s Medicaid reimbursements averaged 63 percent of Medicare fees for all services, and 55 percent of Medicare fees for primary care." With comparable pay rates like this why would any doctor take on a Medicaid patient?
In the past a vicious cycle has occurred. As more people signed up for Medicaid, politicians decided to squeeze payments to save tax dollars. The lower payments caused more medical providers to stop accepting new patients because they were losing money on each new patient. Adding more participants will just exacerbate the existing methodology.
Medicaid will be a forerunner of what will happen to the rest of Obamacare. Stuffing more people into a medical system with fewer doctors and no additional hospitals or nurses will lower the bar for everyone. Since the people who receive Medicaid are not writing the checks, their complaints may go unheard. But wait until the people who are writing the checks suffer the same consequences. Then you will be able to hear the screaming across the country. That is what happens when you let a bunch of lawyers take over your medical care.
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.
Coming Next Issue - A Review Of TCR GOP Runoff Endorsements
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland, liberal commentator David Jones and moderator Linda Lorelle on Fridays at 7:30 pm on PBS Houston Channel 8.1, replaying Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8.1, Mondays at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpbs.org.
Interviews with Attorney General Candidate Dan Branch and Lieutenant Governor candidates David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick.
The current show as well as past shows are available on YouTube.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his fifteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last thirteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 11 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 13th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.