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After the GOP victory in the November 2010 elections, with a net pickup of 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats, the Obama Administration has been attempting to cultivate a moderate, centrist image to regain its footing with the American public. President Obama’s deal with Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts, which would have expired on January 1, 2011, and his personnel shakeups in the White House worked to improve Obama’s standing with the public to above the critical 50% level by the end of January 2011.
However, in the past week, President Obama has now returned to the approximate level of public approval prior to the November elections, with about 45% of the public approving of his performance. The two main daily pollsters, Rasmussen Reports and Gallup, demonstrate this recent decline in approval, with Gallup measuring 45% approval/47% disapproval and Rasmussen showing 46% approval/53% disapproval. The mainstream media has yet to report upon this end to Obama’s polling resurgence, despite the lavish attention paid to the rise in ratings. Rasmussen reported on this recent slide today in its report:
The president’s Approval Index ratings have fallen nine points since Monday as the crisis in Egypt unfolds. Most of the decline comes from a fall in the number who Strongly Approve of the president’s performance (30% on Monday, 23% now). However, for the first time since mid-December, the number who Strongly Disapprove has moved back over the 40% mark for five straight days. The Strongly Disapprove total had been above 40% for most of 2010 but fell to the high-30s after the president and Senate Republicans reached a deal to extend the Bush Administration tax cuts.
The major issue commanding media coverage in the past week or so has been the ongoing protests in Egypt against President Mubarak’s regime. The inconsistent and highly publicized statements of the Administration about the crisis, from Vice President Biden asserting that Mubarak was not a dictator and shouldn’t resign to Obama’s recent demands that Mubarak “immediately” begin a transition to a new government, may have unsettled some Americans who were moving in Obama’s direction in response to his post-election centrist manoeuvrings. Unfortunately for President Obama, it appears that his Administration’s handling of the crisis may have again soured the middle 10% of the country on his leadership.
As the dust settles after the passage of the historic comprehensive health care reform package known as Obamacare, the American public appears to favor its immediate repeal as 54% support such a repeal while 42% oppose repeal:
One week after the House of Representatives passed the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, 54% of the nation’s likely voters still favor repealing the new law. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 42% oppose repeal.
Those figures are virtually unchanged from last week. They include 44% who Strongly Favor repeal and 34% who Strongly Oppose it.
Repeal is favored by 84% of Republicans and 59% of unaffiliated voters. Among white Democrats, 25% favor repeal, but only one percent (1%) of black Democrats share that view.
Americans also simply do not believe the Obama health care talking points, strongly repudiating the main claims made by Obama about the benefits of Obamacare by a wide margin:
Only 17% of all voters believe the plan will achieve one of its primary goals and reduce the cost of health care. Most (55%) believe it will have the opposite affect and increase the cost of care.
Forty-nine percent (49%) believe the new law will reduce the quality of care. Sixty percent (60%) believe it will increase the federal budget deficit. Those numbers are consistent with expectations before the bill was passed.
Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, notes that “the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed the bill before it passed now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.”
As noted by Scott Rasmussen above, little has changed regarding public opinion Obamacare since its passage, repudiating the media’s “conventional wisdom” that the Democrats would see a surge in public support after its passage. The ABC/Washington Post poll confirms Rasmussen’s findings that few Americans believe Obama’s health care talking points and that majority opposition continues that is “virtually identical to the pre-vote split” regarding Obamacare:
More people see the changes as making things worse, rather than better, for the country’s health-care system, for the quality of their care and, among the insured, for their coverage. Majorities in the new poll also see the changes as resulting in higher costs for themselves and for the country.
Most respondents said reform will require everyone to make changes, whether they want to or not; only about a third said they believe the Democrats’ contention that people who have coverage will be able to keep it without alterations. And nearly two-thirds see the changes as increasing the federal budget deficit, with few thinking the deficit will shrink as a result. The Congressional Budget Office said the measure will reduce the deficit.
About half of all poll respondents said the plan creates “too much government involvement” in the health-care system, a concern that is especially pronounced among Republicans.
Senior citizens, who typically make up about one in five midterm voters, represent a particularly valuable but tough audience on this issue. More than six in 10 of those 65 or older see a weaker Medicare system as a result of the changes to the health-care system. Overall, seniors tilt heavily against the changes, with 58 percent opposed and strong opponents outnumbering strong supporters by a 2-to-1 ratio.
Considering these numbers, President Obama has a steep uphill climb to convince Americans that this broad claims that Obamacare will be a “historic” deficit reduction plan, that Americans can keep their doctor and plan if they like it, and that Obamacare will reduce costs and increase the quality of American health care. Key Democrats are not making the President’s job easier by explicitly stating that the true intent of Obamacare is to redistribute wealth in America, something that went unmentioned by Democrats prior to the passage of Obamacare.
Indeed, such wealth redistribution policies are strongly rejected by Americans, with 84% rejecting that approach according to Gallup:
When given a choice about how government should address the numerous economic difficulties facing today’s consumer, Americans overwhelmingly — by 84% to 13% — prefer that the government focus on improving overall economic conditions and the jobs situation in the United States as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans.
First, Democratic Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) announced that Obamacare is intended to redistribute wealth:
It seems Senator Max Baucus let slip the real purpose of health care reform efforts – the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Baucus said of the health care bill, “This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.” According to the influential Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, “The last couple three years, the mal-distribution of income in American is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy and the middle income class is left behind.”
Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean then chipped in on Thursday March 25, 2010 by admitting that “this is a form of redistribution” and Obamacare is intended to cause wealth redistribution in the American economy because the economy is “like a machine. You always got to tune it right.” Of course, as the establishment media is well aware such explicit Democratic admissions that Obamacare is intended to tinker with the economy to bring about wealth redistribution would be damaging to Obamacare’s popularity, so the claims of Dean and Baucus have gone virtually unreported in the media. However, Americans continue to oppose the Obamacare package, as evidenced by today’s poll showing 54% favor its repeal.
As many are undoubtedly already aware, the polling outfit Gallup, as well as all Democrats and establishment media, have been pushing a one-day poll done on Monday, March 22, 2010, the day after the House of Representatives’ historic passage of Obamacare, to “prove” that American opinion simply shifted overnight to support Obamacare by a 9 point margin, 49%-40%. Anyone who has seen Gallup boss Frank Newport interviewed or read a Gallup release is well aware of the left-leaning nature of Newport’s views. As will be described in detail below, this over-reliance on a one-day poll, taken on perhaps the most positive media day for the Obama Administration ever, appears to be an attempt by the Democrats and the establishment media to actually shift public opinion in America in favor of Obamacare based on a poll that is dubious at best.
The Obama Administration, Democratic politicians and the establishment media have been harping on the one-day Gallup poll showing Americans approved of the House’s actions by a 49%/40% margin since Tuesday and up to and including today, as Gallup trumpets favorable polling to Obama on its front page asking whether Obamacare was a “good first step” or not and cable networks continue to discuss the Monday poll. Amazingly, the media and the Democrats continue to trumpet these one-day results from Monday nearly a week after the poll was taken while Gallup fails to do any further polling on this issue. This conduct clearly begs the question: why not continue the polling on Tuesday and Wednesday to do a proper three day sample? Perhaps the left-leaning Gallup obtained the results it and its left-wing allies wanted on Monday and feared a dilution of the outlier results obtained on Monday with additional days of polling, which, of course, would have enhanced the accuracy and reliability of the polling overall.
Many factors point towards a conclusion that this one-day Gallup poll is an outlier at best or an manufactured result at worst, as every other poll released since the House vote has shown Obamacare remaining unpopular with Americans, clearly contradicting the one-day Gallup results. For instance, Quinnipiac did a poll over two days, March 22 and 23, demonstrating that Obamacare remained quite unpopular with Americans, with 49% opposing and only 40% in favor (the exact opposite of Gallup’s findings). That same Quinnipiac post-Obamacare poll showed President Obama at the low of his Presidency for approval, 45%, which is “President Obama’s worst grades so far, tying his 45 – 46 percent approval February 11.” It certainly defies belief that Obama himself would be less popular overall (45%) than his signature initiative which has been his primary focus for his entire Presidency so far (49%, according to Gallup’s one-day sample). Indeed, today Gallup itself shows Obama’s approval is down to 48%, again casting doubt on the legitimacy of their one-day poll on Obamacare approval.
Another post-Obamacare poll which casts serious doubt upon Gallup’s one-day polling results is from Bloomberg News, which noted in its release of a March 19-22, 2010 poll that the final day of polling, the same day in which Gallup’s one-day poll was in the field, showed “Americans remain skeptical” of Obamacare with “no meaningful movement of opinion the final night of interviewing, after the vote was taken“:
Americans remain skeptical about the health-care overhaul even after the U.S. House passed landmark legislation that promises to provide access to medical coverage for tens of millions of the uninsured.
At the same time, most say the government should play a role in ensuring everyone has access to affordable care, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. A majority also agree that health care is a private matter and consider the new rules approved by Congress to be a government takeover.
The poll found the percentage of Americans who favor the almost $1 trillion 10-year plan remained at about just four in 10 following the House vote on March 21 to send the bill to President Barack Obama, who signed it into law today.
The poll of 1,002 adults was conducted March 19-22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. There was no meaningful movement of opinion the final night of interviewing, after the vote was taken.
Of course, the Bloomberg and Quinnipiac findings received little to no attention from the establishment media or Democrats, who were busy pushing the one-day Gallup poll in every possible medium. Also, Rasmussen polling, which was nearly alone in correctly calling the New Jersey Governor’s race for Chris Christie (R-NJ) and came within one point of calling the exact final results of the 2008 Presidential election, found that by a 55%/42% margin Americans want Obamacare repealed, with independents favoring repeal by a massive 59%/35% margin:
Just before the House of Representatives passed sweeping health care legislation last Sunday, 41% of voters nationwide favored the legislation while 54% were opposed. Now that President Obama has signed the legislation into law, most voters want to see it repealed.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on the first two nights after the president signed the bill, shows that 55% favor repealing the legislation. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. Those figures include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal and 35% who Strongly Oppose it.
In terms of Election 2010, 52% say they’d vote for a candidate who favors repeal over one who does not. Forty-one percent (41%) would cast their vote for someone who opposes repeal.
Not surprisingly, Republicans overwhelmingly favor repeal while most Democrats are opposed. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 59% favor repeal, and 35% are against it.
Apparently Gallup would have us believe independents support Obamacare by a 46%/45% margin, despite Rasmussen’s findings, from a more reliable two day sample, that independents favor repeal by a whopping 24 point margin (59%-35%). Finally, CBS News did a two-day poll after Obamacare’s passage which showed Obamacare underwater by a 42%/46% margin and finding that “nearly two in three Americans want Republicans in Congress to continue to challenge parts of the health care reform bill.” Obviously, when 2/3 of Americans desire continued GOP resistance to the implementation of Obamacare, it is spurious to claim that Obamacare has magically transformed overnight into a popular piece of legislation.
Despite four other pollsters directly repudiating the results of the one-day Gallup poll showing Obamacare favored by the public by a 49%/41% margin, the establishment media continues to this day to trumpet the one-day Gallup poll to “prove” that Americans now support the Obamacare package. Epitomizing the establishment media’s extraordinary over-reliance upon this one-day Gallup poll, national newspaper USA Today used its entire front page above the fold on Wednesday to push the idea that Obamacare has suddenly become popular, literally overnight, based on the single day of Gallup polling. Of course, USA Today makes no mention of the contradictory Bloomberg results in its “objective” report on Americans’ views on Obamacare on Wednesday. It appears that the establishment media and Democrats are attempting to push low information voters who are not paying close attention into supporting Obamacare by bombarding such voters with the message that Obamacare is now favored by most Americans.
Further, the Obama Administration has happily pushed the Gallup poll as hard as it could, with senior White House spokeman Robert Gibbs going so far as to tweet out a link to the poll while saying this:
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, amid the glee of the healthcare bill signing Tuesday, tweeted @PressSec “In the polling obsessed town of Washington, DC this will give the nattering nabobs of negativity something to chew on” with a link to a story about the USA Today/Gallup poll that said 49 percent vs. 40 percent saw passage of the bill as “a good thing.”
Gibbs wrapped the Obama Administration up into the “credibility” of the one-day Gallup poll despite having specifically slammed Gallup’s polling as unreliable on a day to day basis several months ago, calling such daily fluctuations “meaningless” then:
The White House lashed out at the Gallup Poll on Tuesday after the survey’s daily tracking numbers showed President Obama’s approval rating dropping to a new low of 47 percent.
Asked for a response to Monday’s tracking poll, which placed Obama’s approval numbers among the lowest of any recent president in December of his first year in office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs mocked the reliability of the widely respected polling firm.
“I tell you, if I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG, I’d visit my doctor,” Gibbs said. “If you look back, I think five days ago, there was an 11-point spread, now there’s a 1-point spread. I mean, I’m sure a 6-year-old with a crayon could do something not unlike that. I don’t put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is the daily Gallup trend.”
He added: “I don’t pay a lot of attention to the meaninglessness of it.”
For the White House, it appears, Gallup’s daily one-day samples are “meaningless” and comparable to what a “6-year-old with a crayon” would do, unless, of course, that one-day sample supports the Obama Administration. Then, as Gibbs tweeted out after the publication of the full, front page USA Today story on the Gallup numbers, Gallup’s one-day sample should be treated as irrefutable truth that “will give the nattering nabobs of negativity something to chew on.” Such explicit hypocrisy and doublespeak from the Obama Administration has gone completely un-noted in the past week by the media, and it falls to a tiny centrist blog such as this one to point out the objective facts surrounding this matter.
Indeed, most pollsters agree that one-day polls are less reliable than samples taken over several days because of the natural variability of the polling sample obtained in any given day, which of course is smoothed out by having multiple days of polling. ABC News, another left-leaning pollster, explains this “night to night variability” in its polling experience:
Our practice is informed by the fact that, in all our polling, we see night-to-night variability in party ID that appears to represent trendless sampling variability rather than actual changes in partisan self-identification.
Gallup, of course, did not release its methods in weighting, or not weighting, the data it obtained for its one-day poll on Obamacare’s approval. However, the application of simple logic indicates that the day after the passage of a massive legislative package which has been a “dream” of Democrats for nearly a 100 years, the sample obtained would skew towards Democratic voters whose enthusiasm was surely spiking. Conversely, independents and Republicans, who both strongly opposed the Obamacare package before its passage, would have been more likely to avoid any pollster calls on Monday as the depressing news sunk in that the Democrats managed to ram through the massive legislative package. This type of self-selection bias, on perhaps the most favorable media coverage day of the Obama Administration ever, is again ignored by every mainstream media report on the Gallup poll.
Finally, as is obvious to anyone who was watching the news or reading newspapers or websites on Sunday night and Monday, the establishment media has been in full celebratory mode regarding the passage of Obamacare, with newspaper headlines screaming in 6 inch print about the “historic” nature of the passage of Obamacare as finally completing the century-long “dream” for such legislation. Monday was perhaps the most positive media day ever during the Obama Administration, with the possible exception of Inauguration Day. Regardless, such overwhelmingly positive, saturation coverage of the Sunday night passage of Obamacare by the media undoubtedly had an effect on those polled by Gallup on Monday. Despite this, Gallup chose to only poll on that one day, and thereafter the Democrats and establishment media have focused solely upon this one-day outlier poll while ignoring all other polls which explicitly contradict its findings, four of which are noted above.
It remains to be seen if this gambit by the Obama Administration and the establishment media to shift public opinion in favor of Obamacare via the use of the dubious one-day poll taken on perhaps the most favorable media day ever for the Obama Administration will work. In the history of the United States, never before has any poll, let alone a one-day poll, been afforded such prominence in reporting across all media sources and in repeated use by a national political party. What is certain is that the media is ignoring the other polls which all contradict the Gallup results, and the facts on the ground, such as today’s overflow crowd at the tea party rally in Searchlight, Nevada, and the million folks who signed up to oppose Obamacare within 11 days on a Facebook page, continue to indicate strong opposition to the Obamacare package, notwithstanding the preferences of the Obama Administration and the establishment media.
In what appears to be the next step in the path of increasing federal government control over the US economy, the Obama Administration is preparing a new initiative to order banks to slash or eliminate the monthly payments due to banks from unemployed borrowers. This crass political maneuver by the Obama Administration is clearly intended to get unemployed Americans to vote Democrat in November 2010 to keep the free money gravy train going. With this proposal, America may have truly reached the unsustainable age of free money as the new rules “could allow a borrower to make no payments at all”. Apparently the idea that a contract, signed by free people, should be binding on both sides is now losing steam in America:
The Obama administration plans to overhaul how it’s tackling the foreclosure crisis, in part by requiring lenders to temporarily slash or eliminate monthly mortgage payments for many borrowers who are unemployed, senior officials said Thursday.
Banks and other lenders would have to reduce the payments to no more than 31 percent of a borrower’s income, which would typically be their unemployment insurance, for up to six months. In some cases, administration officials said, a lender could allow a borrower to make no payments at all.
Of course, anyone with an ounce of economic training knows that this new Obama initiative creates a massive incentive for individuals to either remain unemployed or become unemployed to incur in the benefits of the lowered or eliminated mortgage payments from the government. This new move to buy off unemployed Americans while pushing some of the cost off onto the banks also works to paint potential GOP opponents of such plan as lackeys of the “fat cat” banks. Indeed, Obama appears to have made the calculation that new initiative to buy off the unemployed with free mortgage payments is more likely to work to generate Democratic votes in November 2010 than his floundering “job creation” programs in the Stimulus and other legislation.
The new mortgage “relief” plan also intends to push banks to cut principal from first mortgages and cancel second mortgages altogether with new “financial incentives” to lenders who “reduce the principal owed on a loan”:
For one, the government will for the first time provide financial incentives to lenders that cut the balance of a borrower’s mortgage. Banks and other lenders will be asked to reduce the principal owed on a loan if it this amount is 15 percent more than their home is worth. The reduced amount would be set aside and forgiven by the lender over three years as long as the homeowner remains current on the loan.
Until recently, administration officials had been reluctant to encourage lenders to cut homeowner’s principal balance, worrying this would encourage borrowers to become delinquent. But as federal regulators have struggled to make an impact on the foreclosure crisis, those qualms have weakened.
Second, government will double the amount it pays to lenders that help modify second mortgages, such as piggyback mortgages, which enabled home buyers to put little or no money down, home equity lines of credits. These second mortgages are an added burden on struggling homeowners, especially when their total debt, as a result, is greater than their home value.
Considering the absolute tragedy that the Obama Administration’s interventionist mortgage policies have been to date, with foreclosures spiraling upward and new home sales at an all-time monthly low in February 2010, the additional Obama interventions into the mortgage market announced this evening seem like more of the same counterproductive policies.
Regarding the amount of increased deficit spending to be caused by the new mortgage initiative, the Washington Post and Obama Administration have nothing to say, claiming that no new spending will be required. Indeed, the Washington Post has no specific mention of the actual cost of this new plan, as WaPo simply parrots the Administration line that there is “no new taxpayer funds will be needed” because the money already paid back into TARP by banks will be used again instead of used to retire debt of the United States, as the TARP legislation requires:
The new initiatives are expected to take effect over the next half year and will be funded out of money remaining in the $700 billion bailout program for the financial sector, administration officials said. They said no new taxpayer funds would be needed.
Considering the success the Obama Administration has just had using a clearly fraudulent claim that Obamacare is “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history”, this move to avoid a damaging admission that Obama’s plans will actually spend TARP money that is now slated to retire federal debt by simply claiming that “no new taxpayer funds will be needed” without any pesky details is simply the latest dodge on deficit policy by the Obama Administration. Sadly, the establishment media appears to be uncritically accepting this latest misleading Obama deficit claim, just as the prior Obamacare deficit claim was seconded and endorsed by the media.
However, the largest threat to the American workforce and overall economy from this new mortgage initiative is the powerful incentive created for individual Americans to both become and/or remain unemployed to obtain the government relief from making mortgage payments and the additional incentive created for borrowers to default on their loans and obtain relief from the principal amounts due on their loans. Sadly, the prediction from the right that the Obama Administration would use repaid TARP funds as a “slush fund” leading up to the November 2010 elections appears to be coming true, and the federal spending which reduces or eliminates monthly mortgage payments for the unemployed if the first major payment from the “slush fund” this election season. One can only hope that the strength and vitality of the American economy can overcome the ongoing, destructive moves to expand the federal government’s control of the economy.
UPDATE: Apparently ordering the banks, car companies, health insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, medical device manufacturers, energy companies and states around is not enough for the Obama Administration, as they apparently also ordered the Washington Post to completely rewrite the headline of the article cited above, and WaPo, sadly, agreed. First, here’s the accurate headline chosen by the nominally “independent and objective” newspaper Washington Post:
“Obama administration to order lenders to cut mortgage payments for jobless”
That is an accurate headline as it actually describes the new initiative planned by Obama. Now, this morning, after some scolding by the Obama Administration, the Washington Post editors trashed the old headline, and replaced it with an Axelrod-drafted left wing talking point:
“Obama readies steps to fight foreclosures, particularly for unemployed”
The actual policy planned by Obama, of course, hasn’t changed. However, now millions of Americans will see that new headline, a pure dollop of spin directly from the Obama Administration, instead of the accurate former headline. Indeed, the word “order” now does not appear anywhere in the article. This latest manipulation of the establishment media by the Obama Administration is just another piece of evidence that proves everyday Americans can no longer trust the media to accurately report upon the activities of the Obama Administration.
Sadly, the tens of millions of hardworking Americans who actually pay their mortgages, on time, every month, are once again going to get the short end of the stick from the Obama Administration, as noted in a moment of candor by the NYT:
The escalation in aid comes as the administration is under rising pressure from Congress to resolve the foreclosure crisis, which is straining the economy and putting millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes. But the new initiatives could well spur protests among those who have kept up their payments and are not in trouble.
The NYT also reports upon the risky plan of the Obama Administration to use the Federal Housing Authority to engineer principal reductions in mortgages, which, of course, creates a serious systemic risk of the collapse of the FHA should housing prices not rebound. Once again, the Obama Administration is laying off future risk on the American taxpayer to obtain short term political benefits now:
The administration’s earlier efforts to stem foreclosures have largely been directed at borrowers who were experiencing financial hardship. But the biggest new initiative, which is also likely to be the most controversial, will involve the government, through the Federal Housing Administration, refinancing loans for borrowers who simply owe more than their houses are worth.
About 11 million households, or a fifth of those with mortgages, are in this position, known as being underwater. Some of these borrowers refinanced their houses during the boom and took cash out, leaving them vulnerable when prices declined. Others simply had the misfortune to buy at the peak.
Many of these loans have been bundled together and sold to investors. Under the new program, the investors would have to swallow losses, but would probably be assured of getting more in the long run than if the borrowers went into foreclosure. The F.H.A. would insure the new loans against the risk of default. The borrower would once again have a reason to make payments instead of walking away from a property.
Many details of the administration’s plan remained unclear Thursday night, including the precise scope of the new program and the number of homeowners who might be likely to qualify.
One administration official cautioned that the investors might not be willing to volunteer any loans from borrowers that seemed solvent. That could set up a battle between borrowers and investors.
This much was clear, however: the plan, if successful, could put taxpayers at increased risk. If many additional borrowers move into F.H.A. loans, a renewed downturn in the housing market could send that government agency into the red.
Another helpful addition to the WaPo article ordered by the Obama Administration is this quote from the National Community Reinvestment Center (“NCRC”), which, of course, is a hard left organization that is pushing for all the same government controls over the banks and elimination of “principal” amounts due on mortgage loans that Obama wants:
“We would prefer to see a required principal forgiveness program. But this is helpful,” said David Berenbaum, chief program officer for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit housing group. “This is another tool that will help consumers weather the crisis.”
Of course, the WaPo whitewashes who the NCRC really is by calling them simply a “nonprofit housing group.” Unmentioned by WaPo is the extreme left wing posture of the NCRC and their long term alliance with none other than ACORN, as the NCRC and ACORN have been working together for years to bring “reform” to the housing industry.
A brief ride in the way-back machine (to Winter 2000) uncovers some truth about the NCRC: they were the key force, indeed the “umbrella group” behind the left wing group’s use of Clinton to change the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) to force banks to make “no money down” loans to unqualified borrowers, which, of course, led us to the housing crisis today that Obama’s new initiative is designed to “fix”:
The Clinton administration has turned the Community Reinvestment Act, a once-obscure and lightly enforced banking regulation law, into one of the most powerful mandates shaping American cities—and, as Senate Banking Committee chairman Phil Gramm memorably put it, a vast extortion scheme against the nation’s banks. Under its provisions, U.S. banks have committed nearly $1 trillion for inner-city and low-income mortgages and real estate development projects, most of it funneled through a nationwide network of left-wing community groups, intent, in some cases, on teaching their low-income clients that the financial system is their enemy and, implicitly, that government, rather than their own striving, is the key to their well-being.
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition—a foundation-funded umbrella group for community activist groups that profit from the CRA—issued a clarion call to its members in a leaflet entitled “The New CRA Regulations: How Community Groups Can Get Involved.” “Timely comments,” the NCRC observed with a certain understatement, “can have a strong influence on a bank’s CRA rating.”
The Clinton administration’s get-tough regulatory regime mattered so crucially because bank deregulation had set off a wave of mega-mergers, including the acquisition of the Bank of America by NationsBank, BankBoston by Fleet Financial, and Bankers Trust by Deutsche Bank. Regulatory approval of such mergers depended, in part, on positive CRA ratings. “To avoid the possibility of a denied or delayed application,” advises the NCRC in its deadpan tone, “lending institutions have an incentive to make formal agreements with community organizations.” By intervening—even just threatening to intervene—in the CRA review process, left-wing nonprofit groups have been able to gain control over eye-popping pools of bank capital, which they in turn parcel out to individual low-income mortgage seekers. A radical group called ACORN Housing has a $760 million commitment from the Bank of New York; the Boston-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America has a $3-billion agreement with the Bank of America; a coalition of groups headed by New Jersey Citizen Action has a five-year, $13-billion agreement with First Union Corporation. Similar deals operate in almost every major U.S. city. Observes Tom Callahan, executive director of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, which has $220 million in bank mortgage money to parcel out, “CRA is the backbone of everything we do.”
In addition to providing the nonprofits with mortgage money to disburse, CRA allows those organizations to collect a fee from the banks for their services in marketing the loans.
Umbrella group NCRC and others, of course, are in deep, passionate love with the Obama Administration, as Obama has appointed one of their ranks to run Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) and doubled down on the Clinton-era CRA changes to increase the funneling of fees to left wing pressure groups. The NCRC release shortly after Obama’s Inauguration is indisputable evidence of the sad reality that present federal mortgage policy has been hijacked by hard left interest groups:
The stars and planets may be in nearly perfect alignment to support the cause of community-based organizations in their fight for those who reside in low- and middle-income neighborhoods.
Barack Obama, a former community organizer, is the president of the United States. “Can we really believe that?” asked Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) to loud cheers at the 2009 National Conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
Obama has chosen to head the Department of Housing & Urban Development Shaun Donovan, a former community organizer in New York City, who became that city’s housing czar.
Donovan reports HUD has been given “a seat at the big people’s table” as the Obama administration grapples with the foreclosure crisis and the effort to unclog the nation’s credit markets.
To participate in the push for economic recovery, HUD will get $13.6 billion under the economic stimulus bill—the $790 billion American Recovery & Reinvestment Act—including $4 billion for energy-efficient modernization and renovation of public housing, $2.5 billion for a special allocation of HOME funds to increase the preservation and production of tens of thousands of units of affordable housing, $2 billion for 12-month funding of Section 8 project-based housing contracts, $2 billion to mitigate the impact of foreclosures through the purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed properties, $1.5 billion to prevent homelessness and $1 billion in community development block grants that will be distributed to state and local governments to spend on their own priority projects.
Donovan was loudly applauded by an audience that comprised myriad friends from his community organizing and housing advocacy days when he pledged that HUD will “be a partner and not an impediment” to the work of community-based organizations and that the department will make a major effort to promote and enforce fair housing laws.
It is way too early to predict whether the goodwill that the Obama administration has brought to the table will bear fruit in low- and middle-income communities, but the good feelings evident at the NCRC gathering have long been missing from scene.
In a most unwelcome development for President Barack Obama and the Democrats, the Senate Parliamentarian made two ruling in the GOP’s favor on point of orders regarding the add-on student loans portion of the reconciliation bill, meaning that Obamacare must return to the House for another vote. Democrats have been parrying GOP amendments all night long with the excuse that no changes can be made because the bill must pass now without any further House votes while admitting some agreement with some of the merits of the amendments themselves. Politico reports:
The all-night session came as Republicans offered 29 amendments in a final attempt to scuttle the bill, or at least force Democrats into taking politically difficult votes that could be used against them in November. Democrats steadily rejected each amendment, arguing that any changes would send the bill back to the House for another vote, an outcome Senate Democrats worked mightily to avoid before the parliamentarian’s ruling early Thursday.
Obama and the Democrats now face the worst of both worlds: after having voted down many reasonable amendments, such as closing the exemption from Obamacare’s rules for top Congressional and White House leadership or banning the use of federal funds to purchase viagra for sex offenders, for the sake of avoiding another House vote, now there will be another House vote, making the rejection of all GOP amendments appear unreasonable. It has been a long night in the Senate, with continuous voting occurring all night until about 3AM, with 29 GOP Obamacare amendments voted down in with only a few Democratic crossover votes. Of course, no GOP votes were with the Democrats, meaning that once again only the opposition to Obamacare was bipartisan. Obama and the Democrats were desperately attempting to avoid that exact outcome, as noted by the NYT:
WASHINGTON — With the Senate working through an all-night session on a package of changes to the Democrats’ sweeping health care legislation, Republicans early Thursday morning identified parliamentary problems with at least two provisions that will require the measure to be sent back to the House for yet another vote, once the Senate adopts it.
Senate Democrats had been hoping to defeat all of the amendments proposed by Republicans and to prevail on parliamentary challenges so that they could approve the measure and send it to President Obama for his signature. But the bill must comply with complex budget reconciliation rules, and Republicans identified some flaws.
The key question in Washington tomorrow is whether Obama and the Democrats can get the reconciliation bill out of the Senate tomorrow and obtain the needed additional House vote to allow the completion of the Obamacare legislating before the Easter recess:
Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said Republicans consulting with the Senate parliamentarian had found “two minor provisions” that violate Congress’ budget rules. The provisions deal with Pell grants for low-income students.
Manley said those two provisions will be removed from the bill, and he expected the Senate to approve the measure and send it to the House. Manley said Senate leaders, after conversations with top House Democrats, expect the House to approve the revised measure.
Both chambers are hoping to begin a spring recess by this weekend.
A spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Tom Harkin (D-IO) stated that Senate Democrats expected the House to “quickly pass the bill with these minor changes.”
A spokeswoman for Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the provisions struck out by the parliamentarian were minor.
“The parliamentarian struck two minor provisions tonight from the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act,” the spokeswoman, Kate Cyrul, said. “These changes do not impact the reforms to the student loan programs and the important investments in education. We are confident the House will quickly pass the bill with these minor changes.”
A third issue, in addition to the two successful GOP challenges related to the add-on student loans measure, remains in front of the Senate Parlimentarian, so more changes may end up being made. The fact that another House vote will occur at all is sure to magnify the political impact of the votes cast on the 29 GOP amendments, as now the GOP can argue that some of the reasonable changes suggested by the GOP could just have quickly been passed by the House. One such issue that is sure to draw a lot of focus is the attempt by Iowa GOP Senator Charles Grassley (R-IO) to pass an amendment which would have closed a loophole inserted by Harry Reid which excludes White House and Congressional leadership and their staffs:
An amendment that would have applied the new health care law to the president, vice president, top White House cabinet members and staffers and certain Congressional staffers failed Wednesday night, 43-56.
Three Democrats—Evah Bayh of Indiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska—broke with their party to vote in favor of the motion to waive the point of order on the amendment.
The current law signed by President Barack Obama Tuesday applies to members of Congress and their staffs, but includes a loophole that does not require committee or leadership staffers to participate in the exchanges established by the government.
Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who spent months over the summer working on the health care legislation in committee, said in a statement following the vote that “Congressional leaders have had other opportunities to fix the double standard but have repeatedly opted not to do so.”
“It’s only fair and logical that administration leaders and congressional staff, who fought so hard to overhaul of America’s health care system, experience it themselves,” Grassley said. “If the reforms are as good as promised, then they’ll know it first-hand. If there are problems, public officials will be in a position to really understand the problems, as they should.”
Obama and the Democrats will now have to explain why they and their staffs need an exemption from Obamacare’s provisions while all other Americans do not, feeding into a narrative about how the Democratic leadership sees itself as above the law. GOP Senator David Vitter (D-LA) also got into the act by imploring the Democrats to pass his amendment, which would have exempted mobile breast cancer detection units from fuel taxes, because the “bill is already going back to the House.”
Before the discovery of the parliamentary issues, Democrats had already succeeded in defeating more than two dozen Republican amendments or other proposals aimed at derailing the legislation or making changes that would delay it by forcing an additional vote in the House.
Shortly before 2:30 a.m., Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, put forward yet another amendment. Mr. Vitter’s proposal would have exempted mobile mammography units from paying a federal fuel tax.
In urging adoption of his amendment, Mr. Vitter declared, “This reconciliation bill is already going back to the House.”
The AP summarized the major GOP Obamacare amendments rejected by solely Democratic votes:
Senators voted on 29 consecutive GOP amendments between 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and 2:30 a.m. Thursday, when they recessed.
By 57-42, Democrats rejected an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., barring federal purchases of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders. Coburn said it would save millions, while Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., called it “a crass political stunt.”
Democrats also deflected GOP amendments rolling back the health law’s Medicare cuts; killing extra Medicaid funds for Tennessee and other state-specific spending; barring tax increases for families earning under $250,000; and requiring the president and other administration officials to purchase health care from exchanges the statute creates.
It remains to be seen whether Pelosi will attempt to get another vote completed immediately after tomorrow’s likely passage of the altered reconciliation bill through the Senate. Considering the post-Obamacare passage polling that shows 62% of Americans, including 41% of Democrats and 66% of Independents, want the GOP to keep fighting Obama and the Democrats over Obamacare, we can expect the House GOP to use every procedural avenue at their disposal to delay the now-needed additional House vote on the Obamacare package.
In a Senate Obamacare vote that is certain to end up in 2010 GOP campaign commercials, Senate Democrats rejected a GOP amendment to Obamacare that would have banned the use of federal money to pay for Viagra for sex offenders:
Democrats killed an amendment by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn to prevent the newly created insurance exchanges from using federal money to cover Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs for rapists, pedophiles and other sex offenders. The amendment failed 57-42
“The vast majority of Americans don’t want their taxpayer dollars paying for this kind of drug for those kind of people,” Coburn said.
Democratic Sen. Max Baucus urged his colleagues to defeat the amendment.
“This is a serious bill. This is a serious debate. The amendment offered by the senator from Oklahoma makes a mockery of the Senate, the debate and the American people. It is not a serious amendment. It is a crass political stunt aimed at making 30-second commercials, not public policy,” he said.
The Democrats appear intent upon ramming through the entirety of the separate House reconciliation amendment to Obamacare without any changes, including the maintenance of the use of federal funds to pay for Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders. Considering the fact that a substantial majority of Americans, at least 62%, agree that the GOP should continue to fight Obama and the Democrats to obtain changes to the Obamacare package, the present Democratic strategy of “no amendments” may end up backfiring.
In his last speech before the historic vote on his Obamacare package in the House of Representatives set for tomorrow, President Barack Obama gave a speech to a members-only House Democratic caucus meeting today. In his speech, the President sadly repeated many of the same lies and misrepresentations he made yesterday at George Mason, including his false claims that everyone can “keep their doctor” and “keep their plan” while also falsely asserting that Obamacare will be an “historic” deficit reduction bill. Obama made these claims despite their debunking by even establishment media sources many months ago, and the CBO’s addendum to their scoring made public late yesterday that reports an addition to the deficit of $59 billion over the next 10 years from Obamacare once the “doctor fix” is factored in.
Despite making these misleading and explicitly false statements in his speech today, Obama recited an Abraham Lincoln quote about speaking the truth in his speech today, twice:
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true”
Apparently the establishment media has no interest in reporting on the explicit lies (you can keep your doctor, you can keep your health plan and Obamacare will be “historic” deficit reduction) repeated again by the President today, as the NYT, CNN, WaPo and the AP all focus on the rhetorical grandeur, the “history being made” and the “impassioned plea” in Obama’s speech to Democrats today while ignoring the substantively false claims made by the President.
Amazingly, none of the above-linked articles make any reference to the President’s claims that all Americans will be able to keep their doctor and keep their insurance after the passage of his reform plan; instead, the establishment media just completely ignores these explicitly false statements.
The Associated Press epitomizes the frenzied, wrongful efforts of the establishment media to cover for the explicit lies of the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats regarding Obamacare, printing this as if it is fact:
The sweeping legislation, affecting virtually every American and more than a year in the making, would extend coverage to an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans, forbid insurers to deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut federal deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.
Congressional analysts estimate the cost of the two bills combined would be $940 billion over a decade.
In repeating the explicitly false claims above, as made by Obama and the Democrats, the AP fails to mention the fact that the CBO admitted last night that Obamacare will actually add $59 billion to the deficit over 10 years when the pending “doctor fix” is enacted and further fails to mention that the CBO has also stated that at least $50 billion in additional funds will be required to administer Obamacare over 10 years after its passage, meaning Obamacare will add at least $109 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Sadly, that $109 billion in deficit spending resultant from Obamacare does not account for the many additional budget gimmicks used by the Democrats to entrench the false perception that the bill that creates over $100 billion a year in new federal entitlement spending will actually be an “historical” deficit reduction bill. Even the NYT’s Obama-loving (literally) columnist David Brooks listed the many ways the CBO score is explicitly rendered false by no less than seven Democratic “dodges” designed to game the CBO scoring process:
They’ve stuffed the legislation with gimmicks and dodges designed to get a good score from the Congressional Budget Office but don’t genuinely control runaway spending.
There is the doc fix dodge. The legislation pretends that Congress is about to cut Medicare reimbursements by 21 percent. Everyone knows that will never happen, so over the next decade actual spending will be $300 billion higher than paper projections.
There is the long-term care dodge. The bill creates a $72 billion trust fund to pay for a new long-term care program. The sponsors count that money as cost-saving, even though it will eventually be paid back out when the program comes on line.
There is the subsidy dodge. Workers making $60,000 and in the health exchanges would receive $4,500 more in subsidies in 2016 than workers making $60,000 and not in the exchanges. There is no way future Congresses will allow that disparity to persist. Soon, everybody will get the subsidy.
There is the excise tax dodge. The primary cost-control mechanism and long-term revenue source for the program is the tax on high-cost plans. But Democrats aren’t willing to levy this tax for eight years. The fiscal sustainability of the whole bill rests on the naïve hope that a future Congress will have the guts to accept a trillion-dollar tax when the current Congress wouldn’t accept an increase of a few billion.
There is the 10-6 dodge. One of the reasons the bill appears deficit-neutral in the first decade is that it begins collecting revenue right away but doesn’t have to pay for most benefits until 2014. That’s 10 years of revenues to pay for 6 years of benefits, something unlikely to happen again unless the country agrees to go without health care for four years every decade.
There is the Social Security dodge. The bill uses $52 billion in higher Social Security taxes to pay for health care expansion. But if Social Security taxes pay for health care, what pays for Social Security?
There is the pilot program dodge. Admirably, the bill includes pilot programs designed to help find ways to control costs. But it’s not clear that the bill includes mechanisms to actually implement the results. This is exactly what happened to undermine previous pilot program efforts.
All of the above-referenced “dodges” and gimmicks to obtain a good CBO score are based on publicly available information, yet nowhere in the establishment media can you find this information actually reported to rebut the ridiculously false claims by Obama and Democrats over the past few days that Obamacare will actually reduce the deficit and be “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history.” The NYT yesterday even manages to lionize the CBO scoring as unimpeachable and nonpartisan while attacking those who dared to note some of the above-referenced dodges and gimmicks listed by Brooks. In short, the establishment media is allowing the President and the Democratic Party to use an explicit lie (Obamacare reduces the deficit) to sell their comprehensive plan to the American public without informing the public in any way of illusory basis for such claims. Such conduct is a true abdication of the 4th Estate’s role as a watchdog of the American government.
Further, Obama concludes by claiming that Democrats must pass this bill for “the American people”:
“Help us fix this system,” Obama said. “Don’t do it for me. Don’t do it for Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid — do it for all those people out there who are struggling. . . . Do it for the American people. They’re the ones who are looking for action right now.”
Amazingly, the Washington Post and the other establishment media articles fail to note that CNN’s latest poll found 73% of Americans want Obama and the Dems to either stop or start over from scratch and only 25% are “looking for action right now.” Similarly, Fox News’s latest poll found that 64% want Obama and the Dems to stop or start over from scratch and only 30% are “looking for action right now.” Even the highly left-wing Kaiser Foundation’s latest poll shows that 56% of Americans want Obama and the Democrats to stop or start over, while 42% want to proceed to a vote now. All of the establishment media reporting also omits any reference to the fact that a full 80% of the American public are satisfied “with the quality of medical care available to them” in the much-reviled “status quo”. Based on these polls, it is impossible to claim with a straight face that passing Obamacare now is what the American people are looking for “right now” – yet this is exactly what Obama is saying, and the media simply cheers without retort, notwithstanding the indisputable facts noted above.
Finally, Obama today made the equally ridiculous claim that Obamacare “runs straight down the center of American political thought” and “is a middle of the road bill” and, again, no one in the media even bothers to rebut this claim with the obvious fact that the only bipartisan thing about Obamacare is the opposition to Obamacare, as at least 31 House Democrats are joining a unified Republican opposition to the bill. Sadly, facts such as these go unmentioned by the establishment media reports as they scurry to defend their hero President Obama as the final hours tick away before the all-important House vote on Obamacare.
When the 4th Estate (media) work so strenuously to support both the President and the Congress in an effort such as Obamacare, avoiding the reporting of any facts which could possibly hinder the Democratic effort to “remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy” while cheerleading every step of the way, the continued viability of the American political system moving forward can reasonably be questioned by centrists and independents as such coordinated misinformation brings to mind the world described by George Orwell in his classic work “1984”. Should Obamacare pass the House and become law, years from now historians will review Obama’s speeches from yesterday and today and likely designate them as some of the most misleading speeches by an American President in the history of our country.
In an amazing reversal that happened just moments ago, Congressional Democrats now appear to be reversing their plan to use the “Slaughter Solution” to “deem” the Senate bill “passed” without an up or down vote. Republicans had been pressuring congressional Democratic leaders for the past few weeks to do exactly that, and the Washington Post now confirms “deem and pass” is dead:
House leaders have decided to take a separate vote on the Senate health-care bill, rejecting an earlier, much-criticized strategy that would have permitted them to “deem” the unpopular measure passed without an explicit vote.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Saturday that the House would take three votes Sunday: first, on a resolution that will set the terms of debate; second, on a package of amendments to the Senate bill that have been demanded by House members; and third, on the Senate bill itself.
The abandonment of the “Slaughter Solution” by Democrats, under pressure from GOP leaders, is a welcome development in the health care reform debate which likely heads off a potential constitutional crisis if such a strategy was used. Now, all eyes will focus on the up or down vote on the Senate bill itself tomorrow.