No, Obama isn’t Nixon, much less worse. It’s not even close

It’s getting to where I find Peggy Noonan more and more tiresome, but keep reading, hoping for flashes of the grace and thoughtfulness I used to admire.

Her column over the weekend was a typical sad example. An excerpt:

The Benghazi scandal was and is shocking, and the Justice Department assault on the free press, in which dogged reporters are tailed like enemy spies, is shocking. Benghazi is still under investigation and someday someone will write a great book about it. As for the press, Attorney General Eric Holder is on the run, and rightly so. They called it the First Amendment for a reason. But nothing can damage us more as a nation than what is happening at the Internal Revenue Service. Elite opinion in the press and in Washington doesn’t fully understand this. Part of the reason is that it’s not their ox being gored, it’s those messy people out in America with their little patriotic groups.

Those who aren’t deeply distressed about the IRS suffer from a reluctance or inability to make distinctions, and a lack of civic imagination.

An inability to make distinctions: “It’s always been like this.” “Presidents are always siccing the IRS on their enemies.” There’s truth in that. We’ve all heard the stories of the president who picked up the phone and said, “Look into this guy,” Richard Nixon most showily. He got clobbered for it. It was one of the articles of impeachment.

But this scandal is different and distinctive. The abuse was systemic—from the sheer number of targets and the extent of each targeting we know many workers had to be involved, many higher-ups, multiple offices. It was ideological and partisan—only those presumed to be of one political view were targeted. It has a single unifying pattern: The most vivid abuses took place in the years leading up to the president’s 2012 re-election effort. And in the end several were trying to cover it all up, including the head of the IRS, who lied to Congress about it, and the head of the tax-exempt unit, Lois Lerner, who managed to lie even in her public acknowledgment of impropriety.

It wasn’t a one-off. It wasn’t a president losing his temper with some steel executives. There was no enemies list, unless you consider half the country to be your enemies.

Let’s just list a few of the things wrong with those few paragraphs:

  • “The Benghazi scandal was and is shocking…” I’m not yet persuaded that “Benghazi” actually is a scandal, despite the efforts of people I respect, such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain, to portray it as such. Much less that it is widely accepted among others, outside of certain Republican circles. Much, much less that it is not only a scandal, but a shocking one. Yet she begins her column throwing it out there as something that doesn’t even need discussion, as an established fact on the way to what she really wants to talk about. It’s like she’s gotten into the habit of writing only for people on the right. She assumes all her readers think Benghazi is a shocking scandal, and she goes ahead and acknowledges that out of hand. It’s like there are no other kinds of readers out there looking at her column. And if she keeps writing like this, she’ll be right in that assumption.
  • Part of the reason is that it’s not their ox being gored, it’s those messy people out in America with their little patriotic groups.” Really? Tell me again which ox was gored. “Gore” means to deliver a serious, perhaps fatal, wound. Did any of these “patriotic little groups,” a characterization we could debate all day, lose their ability to do what they do? Were they indeed “gored”?
  • Richard Nixon is mentioned, followed by “But this scandal is different and distinctive.” As in, she implies, worse.

What Richard Nixon did with regard to the IRS was indeed an article of impeachment. Because of the abuses of power that he, Richard Nixon, carried out.

Excuse me, but I have yet to see the evidence that indicates, even remotely, that Barack Obama was involved in this mess over at the IRS. (Please give me a link if I’ve missed it.)

And this particular scandal has been proceeding how long? A month or so? (Actually, the first press reports were in March 2012.) I seem to recall that the Watergate scandal connected directly to the White House on Day One. Reporter Bob Woodward, then a nobody, was assigned to go cover the arraignment of some guys caught breaking into Democratic headquarters, and that day found that one of them worked in the White House.

Yeah, pretty different, all right.

Oh, and by the way, I should probably say for the benefit of Steven Davis and others who labor under the delusion that I’m a Democrat or something: I don’t say “Barack Obama isn’t Nixon” because I think Obama is so awesome and Nixon was pure evil.

If I’d been old enough to vote in 1968, I’d have voted for Nixon, without hesitation. For that matter, I was solidly for him in 1960, although you may discount that because I was only 7 years old. I would have voted for him in 1972, the first time I ever voted, if not for Watergate. I pulled the lever for McGovern after standing and debating with myself in the booth for about 10 minutes. I firmly believed that Nixon was the better president — in fact, I was convinced that McGovern would be a disaster. But I was also convinced that the Democrat had zero chance, so this seemed like a safe way to register my concerns about Watergate.

(I did the same thing, only with the parties reversed, in 1996. I respected Bob Dole more as a man than I did Bill Clinton. But Dole had run such a horrendous campaign that I doubted his ability to be a good president. I actually thought Clinton better suited to the job. But I had a lot of problems with Clinton by this time and, knowing that Dole had no chance of winning, I pulled the lever for him as a protest.)

Nixon was in a number of important ways a pretty good president, on the big things. Probably better than Obama in a number of ways (although I haven’t thought deeply about that, and it’s difficult to compare, since the challenges facing them are so different). But his abuse of power on stupid, petty things did him in. And I’ve seen no evidence so far Barack Obama has done anything of that kind.

So no — Obama’s not as bad as Nixon in this regard, much less worse. It’s not even close.

79 thoughts on “No, Obama isn’t Nixon, much less worse. It’s not even close

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Peggy Noonan lost all credibility with her stupid Zeitgeisty prognostications that Romney was going to win, big!, because of the vibrations she was picking up…..

    Reply
    1. Juan Caruso

      “Peggy Noonan lost all credibility…” -KF

      What credibility? Oh, you mean like former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s?

      Reply
  2. bud

    Bud’s scale of American Presidential Scandals:

    Benghazi – 0
    Whitewater – 0
    IRS – 1
    Monical Lewinsky – 2
    Obama Journalist snooping – 3
    Grant’s Nepotism – 4
    Teapot Dome – 5
    Bay of Pigs Debacle – 6
    Valerie Plame – 6
    Iran-Contra – 7
    Gulf of Tonkin – 8
    Watergate – 9
    Mendacity Leading to Iraq War – 10

    Reply
    1. Shirlee

      Are you kidding ? At least, Obama care is front and center #1 ….. None of the rest of these completing willing to shut down the entire country, the USA, over his own agenda ……………

      Reply
  3. Bart

    Brad, as I alluded to in an earlier comment, conspiracy theories are a popular pastime on both sides and usually, they are nothing more than smoke and mirrors with a modicum of truth so the slightest amount of credibility will provide them with feet to carry them through the inevitable cycle until they are debunked for what they are.

    In this instance, the “credibility factor” involves 157 visits to the White House by the former head of the IRS during Obama’s first and second term. For the official record, this is almost triple the number of visits by the next highest number of “official visits” requiring signing in by anyone else including the Secretary of State and a long list of Obama cabinet members, members of congress, supporters, donors, or anyone else.

    Now, simple logic should be enough for even the most ardent supporter of Obama to give pause and at least consider that during “157 official visits” to the White House that at some point, the former head of the IRS who was aware of the “violations” and the investigations well before the 2012 elections would have informed the president about the problem. In fact, it would have been appropriate and the right thing for him to do to inform Obama in 2010 when they were first brought to director’s attention.

    And for those who think the president need not be bothered with trivialities like high level people in Washington directing the Cinncinatti office of the IRS to seek out conservatives, the Tea Party, and other groups who did not support him, then quite honestly, you are just as bad if not worse than the actual guilty parties. In other words, I sincerely hope you are never in a position of power where you can target those who disagree with you with impunity and believe you are right.

    When an appearance of impropriety by a Republican or conservative is even mentioned, the media cannot wait to initiate a full scale investigation, dig into garbage cans, file endless FOIA forms for information, and write endless articles and columns asserting their own opinions, confirmed or not, about the object of their hunt. But now that someone has written an “opinion” piece about Obama and the IRS scandal, and scandal is the appropriate description, which is exactly what Noonan did, you go after her with bared fangs. “Bared fangs” may be a little hyperbolic but I think it is an apt description in this instance.

    For the record, in my humble opinion, it is most likely Obama really didn’t know about it until he heard it on the news. And that just about says everything one needs to know about Obama. If you don’t have the strength of leadership and the courage to demand bad news be delivered immediately, address it and resolve it immediately, how can you have what it takes when the chips really are down and as Truman so accurately said, “the buck stops here”? Doug mentioned it in an earlier comment when he said he wanted to hear any bad news immediately, not withhold it until real damage has been done. Any good leader or CEO wants to know and when the ones who are responsible to report such things decide on their own to determine what he or she should or should not know and when they should know it, there is a serious problem very deep inside an organization or a government.

    Which leads to the final observation and question – just who the hell is in charge in this administration?

    Reply
    1. bud

      When an appearance of impropriety by a Republican or conservative is even mentioned, the media cannot wait to initiate a full scale investigation, dig into garbage cans, file endless FOIA forms for information, and write endless articles and columns asserting their own opinions, confirmed or not, about the object of their hunt.
      -Bart

      That is a typical, and completely phony, right-wing talking point. Reagan in particular largely walked on the Iran-Contra scandal because the media let him off lightly. Likewise Bush and his audacious behavior was largely soft-pedaled by the media.

      On the other hand look at how the press hammered Bill Clinton over the completely non-scandal of Whitewater. This whole “liberal” media nonsense is really getting old.

      Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, Bart, I think “bared fangs” is a tad hyperbolic.

      But bottom line, you and I agree on the salient point which is, “it is most likely Obama really didn’t know about it until he heard it on the news.” Or, as I would say, read it in the news. Obama feels like a written-word guy to me. If only on Twitter.

      We diverge a bit when you find it upsetting that Obama wouldn’t have been on top of this. I think that’s a common reaction among conservatives, especially those of the economic libertarian wing. They find it incredible that a president wouldn’t be on top of anything as crucially important as the tax collection agency.

      Personally, if I were president, the IRS would be so far down on my list of concerns I doubt that I’d ever spend a moment thinking about it, unless it blew up in my face the way this has. There are few functions of government that interest me less.

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        In truth, right off the bat, I can’t think of ANY functions of government that interest me less. But I thought I’d give myself some wiggle-room and avoid shocking people too much…

        Reply
      2. Bart

        “Personally, if I were president, the IRS would be so far down on my list of concerns I doubt that I’d ever spend a moment thinking about it, unless it blew up in my face the way this has. There are few functions of government that interest me less.”..Brad

        And this is another salient point. Given that the IRS is to be the enforcer of the AHA rules and collections and that the head of the IRS according to Doug’s information was a frequent visitor to the White House to apparently discuss AHA, how is it possible to come to the conclusion that if you were president and the AHA was your baby that you wouldn’t be heavily involved with the IRS on a consistent level and would like to know if any sharks were circling, looking for even a drop of blood in the waters?

        I guess my amazement is that at any level, a good CEO wants to be made aware of potential damaging issues unless there is an internal problem with communication and if the CEO doesn’t want to know if an integral section of his or her organization is doing something wrong, especially one as influential as the IRS is on EVERY taxpayer in the country, then the CEO needs to be replaced.

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    3. bud

      Given that groups like Crossroads GPS spend many millions on political activisms without the need to reveal their funding sources wouldn’t it just make sense to a mid-level IRS operative to find those groups worthy of a bit of scrutiny? They wouldn’t be doing their job if they failed to address the glaring potential for tax fraud. Geez, this is about one thing and one thing only, liberal groups were not specifically singled out the way conservative groups were. And that may not even be true. Apparently at least one liberal political outfit was denied tax exempt status.

      As for Obama’s leadership I’ll have much more to say about that in the near future. Given the laughable ineptitude of his predecessor this will be like shooting fish in a barrel.

      Reply
      1. Bart

        “As for Obama’s leadership I’ll have much more to say about that in the near future. Given the laughable ineptitude of his predecessor this will be like shooting fish in a barrel.”

        At least there was a fish in the barrel to shoot at when Bush was in the White House. The “fish” is absent in this administration. He is too damn afraid of being in anything where he can be cornered into being held accountable.

        Reply
    4. susanincola

      I read an article that said that the 157 number wasn’t actual visits — it was the number of times he was cleared to visit. The actual number of visits seems to be far less than that, and usually not to the White House per se. Also, that more information has been made available by the Obama administration in this regard than by his predecessors, which is why the number is much larger. I think it was in Slate or WaPo, (I know, not the most conservative choices, but still worth noting).

      Reply
      1. Bart

        Thanks susanincola. Even if he actually visited only half the number for whatever reason, it is still a lot more than whoever is in 2nd place.

        If the information provided in accurate and truthful, whether it is in Slate, WaPo, Fox, or wherever, as long as it is accurate and truthful, that is all that really matters.

        Reply
    5. Tom Stickler

      Bart,

      You have fallen for the fake story promoted by Fox News (O’Reilly, etc) Breitbart, etc about the alleged 157 White House visits by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.

      It is true that the Secret Service cleared Shulman to visit the White House 157 times. That includes the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he was cleared to attend meetings of the biweekly health reform deputies meetings.

      The number of times that Shulman can actually be documented as actually attending (with arrival times) amounts to 11 times over four years. Not 157 times.

      So, thanks for wasting all of our time and bandwidth to propagate another phony “scandal.”

      Reply
      1. Bart

        “So, thanks for wasting all of our time and bandwidth to propagate another phony “scandal.””….Tom Stickler

        You’re welcome!!! I sincerely hope I can waste more of your valuable time and bandwidth in the future on phony scandals. Of course, any scandal, real or imagined attributed to Obama will always be referred to as “phony”.

        “If the information provided in (should be “is”) accurate and truthful, whether it is in Slate, WaPo, Fox, or wherever, as long as it is accurate and truthful, that is all that really matters.”…Bart

        I guess you didn’t bother to read my response to Scout, did you? And by the way, I don’t listen to O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, or any of the other political jackals on either side of the aisle and I do not read Breitbart. When something like this “story” hits the internet, I do try to get to the truth and if proven wrong, will admit it.

        Reply
    6. JesseS

      Waiiiiiiiiit a minute. The press was hard on Bush? He had a hard time on Katrina because of his Brownie comments and a flooded city and the press had a lot of fun with Ashcroft’s fear of stone/plaster breasts (and slept through most of Rumsfeld’s press conferences). On two wars, a “war on” initiative, expansion of the Government’s powers and tremendous increases in spending the media was mostly on board so they wouldn’t lose special access to such a great list of 3 ring circuses.

      Now the far left, Salon type crowd were very, very angry and sending out FOIA requests as fast as they could, just like the far right, does now. On the whole, the MSM has been pretty kind to both presidents.

      Reply
  4. Doug Ross

    @bart

    From what I have read, the vast majority of the visits by the IRS director to the White House were related to health care tax issues. In my view, that’s worse than the Tea Party targeting. The LAST thing we want is the IRS involved in health care. Here’s an example shown today of how to calculate the tax penalty if you don’t by the mandated insurance:

    “Example 3. Family without minimum essential coverage.

    “(i) In 2016, Taxpayers H and J are married and file a joint return. H and J have three children: K, age 21, L, age 15, and M, age 10. No member of the family has minimum essential coverage for any month in 2016. H and J’s household income is $120,000. H and J’s applicable filing threshold is $24,000. The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000.

    “(ii) For each month in 2016, under paragraphs (b)(2)(ii) and (b)(2)(iii) of this section, the applicable dollar amount is $2,780 (($695 x 3 adults) + (($695/2) x 2 children)). Under paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section, the flat dollar amount is $2,085 (the lesser of $2,780 and $2,085 ($695 x 3)). Under paragraph (b)(3) of this section, the excess income amount is $2,400 (($120,000 – $24,000) x 0.025). Therefore, under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the monthly penalty amount is $200 (the greater of $173.75 ($2,085/12) or $200 ($2,400/12)).

    “(iii) The sum of the monthly penalty amounts is $2,400 ($200 x 12). The sum of the monthly national average bronze plan premiums is $20,000 ($20,000/12 x 12). Therefore, under paragraph (a) of this section, the shared responsibility payment imposed on H and J for 2016 is $2,400 (the lesser of $2,400 or $20,000).”

    Reply
    1. bud

      Inexpensive software can handle such a situation in seconds. Seriously Doug this is child’s play compared to trying to understand all the deductibles, co-pays, allowable limits and all the endless complexities in the private healthcare sector.

      Reply
    2. Bart

      @Doug,

      First of all, hitting the “ignore button” on anything bud has to say. His comments are generally a verbatim rehash of anything he has already said about 1,000 times and that is not hyperbole. Second, I understand the fact that the many visits were most likely centered around the healthcare bill but lets face facts, at some point during the 157 visits, is it not possible that the subject was mentioned to Obama if just in passing?

      “Oh, by the way Mr. President, nothing of real importance but some “rogue” IRS agents took their own initiative to screen conservative and Tea Party applications for 501(C) (3) exempt status. And they asked for personal information about members and contributors as well.”

      “O.K., back to the subject. According to the new analysis by the Joint Economic Committee and the House Ways committee, we will probably need up to 16,500 additional IRS agents to keep track of the new healthcare program to insure compliance by everyone, everyone that is except the ones you granted an exemption. By the way, do you have an advance list of who will be granted a permanent exemption by executive order?”

      “Sorry I asked, my bad!”

      By the way, have you found the “inexpensive software” yet so you can accurately calculate the new premiums? Of course, since you are in the business and some others are not, apparently, you have no idea of what you speak. Shame on you.

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        @Bart

        No, I have not found the inexpensive software bud mentioned. I do know the government plans to spend TENS OF MILLIONS of dollars marketing the new Obamcare programs.

        Max Baucus (Democrat author of Obamacare) had it right – it’s going to be a train wreck.

        Reply
        1. Bart

          “Max Baucus (Democrat author of Obamacare) had it right – it’s going to be a train wreck.”..Doug

          But Doug, didn’t you know that high speed rail transportation is the travel of the future, all 125 passengers travelling coast to coast – trying to find a doctor?

          Reply
        2. bud

          I’m sure all the popular tax software packages will have that feature built in when the mandate feature kicks in.

          Reply
        3. Silence

          If Timmy Geithner screws up his taxes in Turbotax, it’s slightly possible that lay-people will screw this up too, even with an easy, inexpensive software program.

          I wonder when we’ll start hearing of CPA’s who are “Health Insurance Specialists” or maybe even a whole new breed of health insurance consultants who help people determine which option is best for their situation. Like a fee-only financial advisor, but for your health insurance….

          Reply
      2. Scout

        Hey now, let’s not be picking on Bud. You can go on disagreeing with him all you want, but honestly – all of us here do a lot of rehashing of our own perspectives. ” His comments are generally a verbatim rehash of anything he has already said about 1,000 times and that is not hyperbole.” You could say similar about many regular posters here, including me and you and Doug, in my opinion. We all have distinctly recognizable viewpoints. That is no reason to hit the “ignore” button on what anybody has to say.

        Reply
          1. Silence

            Kathryn, enough with the “liking” Scout. I’m going to need to ignore that, because it’s just getting over-used and all played out.

            Reply
    3. susanincola

      Doug, do you know where those examples came from? Are they from IRS documents? — that’s what it reads like, but just wanted to go look at it.
      I have seen some numbers related to the rates from bids that have come in so far to the exchange in California, and the rates there were really reasonable, so I’d like more information.

      Reply
  5. Burl Burlingame

    You guys do realize that most “White House” visits are NOT sit downs with the president, right?

    Reply
    1. Juan Caruso

      “…most “White House” visits are NOT sit downs with the president…” – B. Burlingame

      Yet, serious visits with any of the president’s staff or their deputies are conducted with adherence to the president’s directives or with the stricter dictates of his senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett.

      Reply
      1. Steve Gordy

        What is that supposed to mean? The clear implication of the story on Fox is that Shulman conferred with Obama 157 times during the period of interest.

        Reply
  6. bud

    Scout, thanks for the kind comments. Frankly Bart has a point. I do get a bit too focused on a particular line of reasoning. It’s good to re-assess sometimes.

    Reply
  7. bud

    To come full circle on this discussion which originated with the heading “Obama isn’t Nixon” . So what is Obama? Any presidency is unlikely to be fully defined until long after he has left office but some clear successes and failure are already evident. First the failures.

    1. Obama campaigned on closing Gitmo. Yet it’s still open.
    2. He made a huge issue about how much a mistake Iraq was. Given that emphasis he maintained troops far too long.
    3. Obama continued and even expanded the Bush era drone strikes.
    4. Ditto Patriot Act surveilance.
    5. He’s moving much too slowly in bringing about an end to the ridiculous war against marijuana.
    6. Global warming efforts are inadequate. Given the enormous potential for dire consequences this could ultimately be his biggest failure.

    And the successes

    1. Although flawed in many ways we finally have some type of national health care. Hopefully we can improve on this if congress will work with the president in a positive way. It may have to wait until after Obama leaves office.
    2. The economy is finally gaining traction following the most disasterous recession since the 1930s.
    3. The energy sector is diversifying in a positive way. Among the positive results is some stability in gasoline prices rather than the roller coaster pricing of recent years; and a large increse in renewable energy.
    4. Banking regulation has been passed. Although it is too weak hopefully it will help prevent future disasters.
    5. He has kept us out of any “boots on the ground” initiatives.
    6. Disaster relief efforts have largely been managed more effectively than in the past.

    Reply
    1. Silence

      Response to bud’s lists:
      1) Gitmo’s still open. That’s probably a good thing. It’s easy to talk about closing it when you don’t have all of the information. Now that Obama’s president and has a responsiblity to keep Americans safe, he’s backpedaled on it. I personally believe that when it’s time to close it, it’ll get closed. Right now there may still be some utility in keeping it open.
      2) Ooops, got out of Iraq too soon, now it’s all going to Scheiße.
      3) Expanded drone strikes – bad idea, especially for the “Nobel Peace Prize” president.
      4) It’s convenient to have the Patriot Act around too, especially when your party is in power.
      5) War against cannabis may not be so ridiculous. When we are collectively paying for everyone’s unemployment, healthcare and offspring, why would we want a bunch of extra stoners around?
      6) Global warming stopped in 1996. It’s global cooling that you need to watch out for now. Start glacier-proofing your home.

      1) 30 million people still won’t have healthcare. Average plan will cost 20k/family. Hopefully SC can nullify this federal abortion.
      2) So it would seem. Still the government is punishing savers, rewarding spendthrifts, and spending too much money.
      3) The natural gas boom is helping out. Not sure that renewables are helping much if any, though.
      4) Banking regulations were poorly crafted, and agreed that they didn’t do enough.
      5) We need to decide if we are going to be a country of talking, or a country of action. Do we want to sit idly by watching while innocents are slaughtered, or do we want to play policeman for the world? It’s a serious question, and deserves a serious debate.
      6) Response to Sandy was more effective than to Katrina, but that’s like comparing apples to some other different type of fruit.

      Reply
      1. bud

        A few comments. We now pay about 18% of our GDP toward healthcare. Using Doug’s 120k family 18% of 120k comes to about 21.6k. So 20k is actually saving the average family.

        If 30 million are still uninsured that’s still an additional 20 million who will be insured. Frankly that 30 million numbers is highly suspect. In MA with their comparable Romneycare model about 98-99% of it’s citizens are insured. If the US follows suit that would give us an uninsured number of around 3-6 million.

        Bottom Line: If SC is successful in nullifying Obamacare the cost of healthcare will continue to go up at a rate much faster than inflation as it did pre-Obamacare, a hard fact conservatives conveniently ignore. Plus more and more people will become uninsured. States who embrace Obamacare will likely see some modest improvements in the costs and coverage of their citizens for healthcare.

        Reply
        1. Doug Ross

          Uh, bud, the 30 million uninsured don’t have the money to pay $20K per year for insurance. Guess who is going to pay for it? It may AVERAGE out to 18% of GDP but that’s because the higher income earners are carrying the load.

          Do you know ANYONE paying $20K per year for insurance now? How much do you pay through state insurance? $5-7K?

          Reply
          1. Doug Ross

            And that 30 million number comes from Democrats, doesn’t it? Are they lying in order to overstate the problem?

            Massachusetts has a higher standard of living with more workers who have insurance through work. It’s not South Carolina, Mississippi, or any other low income state.

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          2. Doug Ross

            From the U.S. Census bureau, the median family income for the U.S. is about $48K. You think $20K will put a dent in the budget?

            Many of the uninsured are young people who don’t buy insurance by choice. The mandate forces them to purchase it with the understanding that they will not likely require the insurance. But it expands the revenues coming in to cover others who do not have insurance. It’s likely going to take years before the tax penalty for not buying insurance forces enough people to buy it. Probably somewhere around 2017 (conveniently after the next election).

            Whooo! Whoooo! Here comes the train wreck.

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          3. Silence

            My individual portion of my coverage last year was 1,100. My employer provided portion was 5,200. That’s 6,300 just for me as an individual. I can easily see it costing 20k to cover a family.

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          4. bud

            I don’t really buy all this naysayer analysis. I suspect that after a few years Obamacare will pay big dividends compared to what we had before. But what I’d really like to hear from my conservative friends is not so much what’s allegedly wrong with Obamacare but what direction would you take with healthcare? We already tried the free-enterprise approach and that gave us the most expensive health care in the world BY FAR with costs rising faster than inflation for decades. Many of the problems cited here are probably the consequences of that failed past. Also the free-enterprise approach didn’t do much for our actual health with a life expectancy below the average for the OECD.

            My approach is Medicare for all (no age requirement) coupled by the elimination of Medicaid, the VA, SCHIP and most company sponsored health insurance plans.

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          5. susanincola

            Right now my costs for a family of 3 with BCBS (and I’m self-employed, so I carry the entire cost) is $15,600/year for a high-deductible plan (which is similar to the bronze plan). And it’s higher than most because one of us is in the SC Reinsurance plan. If we were all on individual BCBS plans, it would be about $8K/year. (We are both in our early 50’s, so our rates are higher because of that as well).
            So $20K for a similar plan with 2 more children on it in the exchange sounds reasonable only if they expect the pool of folks that are in the exchanges to be heavily skewed to the high-risk side. (Which they very well may expect — but it just sounds high).
            Silence, do you have a high-deductible plan? Your rates sound more those for a standard low-deductible/co-pay plan.

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          6. Doug Ross

            In 2011, average annual premiums for family plans ranged from about $12,400 to $13,500 in the lowest-cost states (Arkansas, Alabama, Iowa, Tennessee, Idaho, Mississippi, Utah, and North Dakota), to more than $15,000 a year in 21 states. Premiums averaged from $16,000 to nearly $17,000 in Delaware, Alaska, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, which have the highest average family premiums.

            Source: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/News/News-Releases/2012/Dec/Employer-Health-Insurance-Premiums.aspx

            $20K is a 30% increase over current average family plan costs in 2011. At what point does Obamacare cut costs?

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          7. Doug Ross

            I’d go along with your plan bud only if there was a cap on the payments into the system. It punishes high earners by making them pay more for the health care of lower income people who are likely less healthy.

            Reply
          8. susanincola

            OK, I read the IRS document that references the $20K, and I don’t think it’s saying that the average premium for a bronze plan will be $20K. I don’t think we know what the numbers will be, but I think your current averages above are probably closer to correct.

            The $20K number looks to me like they took an earlier example of an individual paying $5K/year and mutliplied it by 4 for a family, I assume to make the set of examples easier to follow. But kids are cheap in insurance, so that wouldn’t be a real family plan.

            I would expect rates on the exchanges to be higher for younger workers, and less for older ones, but we’ll see as the exchanges are set up, I guess.

            Reply
          9. Mark Stewart

            It costs about $20,000+ to insure a family, Doug. That’s the “true” cost. Any lesser number is subsidized. And the reason the family cost is so high is because it is also back-door subsidizing the uninsured and underinsured.

            These are all fungible dollars – everyone needs to understand that. The only ways to actually reduce healthcare costs are to reform and rationalize the system, which means drive up efficiency and cost effectiveness. Everything else is just stirring the stew.

            Reply
          10. Doug Ross

            @Mark,

            The data I posted says it is closer to $15K. When I left a job and was offered a COBRA plan for my family it was around $2K per month but that was what would be considered a Gold plan.

            Reply
  8. Bryan Caskey

    Re: The Obama/Nixon Comparison, here’s the Treasury Inspector General:

    Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), said the targeting at the IRS his probe discovered was “unprecedented,” and the closest comparison that came to mind was the targeting of political enemies by the administration of Richard Nixon.

    “During the Nixon administration, there were attempts to use the Internal Revenue Services in manners that might be comparable in terms of misusing it. I’m not saying the actions taken here are comparable,” he told a House Appropriations subcommittee. “This is unprecedented.”

    Whole Piece: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/303143-inspector-general-irs-targeting-unprecedented#ixzz2VGRhprCY

    To steal a line from Leno, I’d rather see Obama close the IRS than Gitmo.

    Reply
  9. bud

    I find it interesting that the man spearheading all these investigations, Darrell Issa, has an extremely checkered past of his own. He’s been accussed twice of car theft. once for a car theft scheme with his brother to scam the insurance company, once for arson. The casue of the fire was never determined but many folks close to the investigate strongly believe Issa had something to do with it in order to collect insurance money. He was sued for a hit and run automobile incident that was eventually settled out of court. And finally he plead guilty to illegally possessing a firearm. Given his history we should take anything he says with a very large grain of salt.

    Reply
      1. bud

        Bryan, it’s not ad-hominem if it’s relevant. In this case his past raises questions about his integrity. Frankly Issa has always seemed more intent on discrediting the president than in actually accomplishing anything for the people. His past supports that contention. Given the complete failure of Issa to find anything on the Fast and Furious “scandal” and now it appears the Benghazi kurfluffle is nothing either shouldn’t it set off a bit of skepicism about the folks doing the investigating?

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Actually, it’s not relevant.

          Either the IRS thing should be investigated or it should not. It has nothing to do with whether someone pressing for it is an ass or not.

          Issa is an ass. And the IRS thing should be investigated. Just don’t expect me to follow all that closely unless a Howard Hunt-type connection is found to the White House.

          Reply
        2. Bart

          bud,

          In your world, if a Republican or conservative is “accused” of anything, automatically, the dog whistle in your head goes off and he or she is automatically “guilty as hell”. Never mind that the gun was in the glove compartment of his brother’s car, never mind that Issa was never convicted of any of the crimes he was accused of committing because that really doesn’t matter one iota when it comes to your belief that Issa is leading the investigations in the House that are not friendly to Obama.

          Maybe if he had been driving a car that went off the road, into the water and a young lady drowned in the back seat and he waited until the next day before arriving at the police station with his attorney in tow and if he were a liberal Democrat, those little details would be minor inconveniences, wouldn’t they?

          Bryan Caskey’s dart hit the bulls-eye dead center when he described your comments as ad-hominem by attacking Issa instead of the issue. Maybe you find McDermott to be a hero for going after one of the victims of the IRS scandal.

          “I’d like to remind everyone what we’re talking about here,” McDermott said at today’s IRS hearing. “None of your organizations were kept from organizing or silenced. We’re talking about whether or not the American taxpayers will subsidize your work. We’re talking about a tax break. If you didn’t come in and ask for this tax break, you would’ve never had a question asked of you. You could go out there and say anything you want in the world.”

          And that just about says it all from the liberal point of view.

          Reply
          1. bud

            Not exactly true. Issa pled guilty to the gun violation and settled out of court on the hit and run. I’ll grant you he was never convicted of the other stuff. Not huge crimes but nevertheless there’s enough here to be wary of the man conducting the investigation.

            Who’s the one hearing the dog whistle? Everytime Fox News or Rush Limbaugh cries “scandal” it’s a mad dash to the White House with pitchforks and axes for everyone who claims to be a “conservative”.

            Reply
          2. Bart

            “Who’s the one hearing the dog whistle? Everytime Fox News or Rush Limbaugh cries “scandal” it’s a mad dash to the White House with pitchforks and axes for everyone who claims to be a “conservative”.”…bud

            Substitute “Fox News” with “MSNBC” and “Limbaugh” with “Maddow” and “conservative” with “liberal”, then you have the complete picture. And for what its worth, I don’t watch or listen to Fox, MSNBC, Limbaugh, or Maddow. When any network has a clear political agenda driving them, I stay away. The world is polluted enough already, we don’t need more from the fringe elements. But then, some prolific contributors on this blog come dangerously close to dwelling on the fringe based on their comments.

            Reply
  10. bud

    The IRS thing has been pretty well investigated already. There really isn’t a whole lot left to learn. It’s already pretty well established that Obama knew nothing about the Cincinnati office’s investigations. Perhaps someone in DC knew what was going on but it’s definitely not Nixonian.

    And that’s where the character of Issa becomes relevant. The question now becomes whether this is partisan. Clearly, no matter what direction the investigation takes Issa will keep on investigating. At some point it becomes a political witch hunt. We’re just about there now.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      Until we know who directed the IRS agents to pursue their targeting, we don’t know how high it goes. People should be fired if they do not reveal where their orders came from. Immediately. And Obama should be making that clear to the head of the IRS.

      Reply
  11. Harry Harris

    Ignored by the IRS screw-up critics is the nature of the tax-exempt status being questioned. In effect, giving the Koch Brothers, Rove’s Crossroads buddies, and Dick Armey’s group of stealth funders tax deductions for contributions to “charitable educational” groups is wrong. By reducing their tax bill, their political agenda is being subsidized by the rest of the tax payers. The IRS messed up by targeting right-wing groups instead of making it clear that all such advocacy groups masquerading as “charities” will be scrutinized. I would argue that groups such as TEA party and Crossroads by far the most egregious violators of masquerading political activity as “education,” but all should be scrutinized. If Move-On and Organizing for America aren’t tax subsidized, neither should we be paying for Adelson, Koch Brothers, and Armey funded political advocacy. Those happen to be largely funded by very wealthy individuals and corporations (who take tax deductions without disclosure) and masquerade as grass-roots groups. They are spending your money for their political agendas.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      What would happen if the whole concept of “tax exempt charities” was abolished along with the charitable contribution deduction for individual taxpayers? Currently, taxpayers subsidize churches and other charities. Let them stand on their own.

      If you don’t make rules, they can’t be broken or exploited.

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        …nor do you have to expend resources to enforce, investigate, litigate, prosecute, and mediate those rules.

        Reply
      2. bud

        At first blush that sounds like a horrible idea. Afterall wouldn’t charities suffer? But given the complexities in defining a charity maybe it really isn’t. I have no immediate comeback PROVIDED all charities and churches are required to pay ALL taxes. I don’t see much difference between a church building a new wing onto the youth center and Gold’s Gym building a weight room. Both serve to benefit a specific group. Why should the church be exempt while Gold’s Gym pays taxes?

        Reply
        1. Doug Ross

          Do people contribute to charities and churches because the donation is tax deductible? There is so much fraud and abuse in this area that eliminating the entire concept would surely be better. Would people stop giving used clothing to Goodwill? Unlikely. They just wouldn’t be able to claim that the ten year old suit was worth $200.

          I’d love to hear someone defend why the government should be involved in churches and charities.

          Reply
    2. Bart

      “If Move-On and Organizing for America aren’t tax subsidized,”…Harry Harris

      Are you really this uninformed? Both enjoy 501(C) status and both are heavily funded by George Soros. The Center for American Progress is a 501(C) organization and is primarily funded by Soros and the Sandler family.

      The next time you want to shoot your little arrows at the Koch brothers, look at your own contingent of political activists with deep pockets who do exactly the same thing and enjoy the same benefits of tax exempt status.

      Reply
      1. Kathryn Fenner

        501(c) is a big section. (C) (3) is not available to political orgs. Thus donations to them are not tax exempt.

        Reply
  12. bud

    Harry, excellent points.

    Here’s a question for my conservative friends, what if the list of organizations targeted by the IRS had communists sounding names. Would there be all this outrage if the groups were named something like “Marxism for Prosperity” or “Peace through the Love of Lenin” or “Better Red than Unfed”. Wouldn’t that violate the concept of targeting specific groups?

    Reply
  13. Bart

    “Here’s a question for my conservative friends, what if the list of organizations targeted by the IRS had communists sounding names. Would there be all this outrage if the groups were named something like “Marxism for Prosperity” or “Peace through the Love of Lenin” or “Better Red than Unfed”. Wouldn’t that violate the concept of targeting specific groups?”…bud

    Answer: Not just no but “Hell no”, I wouldn’t approve and there would be no outrage. I might not agree with the applicant’s agenda but under the law, they are entitled to seek an exempt status as any other organization has the right to. The IRS is supposed to be a “NEUTRAL” entity, not meant to serve as a political tool for either party. To suggest otherwise is the “errand of a fool”. Your attempt at “blowing the dog whistle” demonstrates just how much disdain you and others like you have toward anyone who doesn’t fit your particular ideology. Your example doesn’t meet the smell test.

    As for the activism of the Koch brothers and the others on “Harry’s List”, are you and “Harry” so niave as to think for one moment there are not just as many “liberal” groups that sought or are seeking tax exempt status? All he did was state an “opinion” (fill in the blank about opinions and..) about the Tea Party and others who do not share your political views. It is a written tax law and everyone who wishes to seek exemption, no matter what their political views may be, are entitled to equal treatment under the law.

    As to Doug’s point, after the way political activity has evolved to such prominence in most “churches”, I am in agreement that they should no longer be granted a tax exempt status. And to address another point Doug made. My wife and I have not taken one dollar in taxes for charitable donations for well over 20 years. We made the decision that what we give is private and if it is an article of clothing, an appliance, or anything of value, while it may have value to benefit others, we were fortunate enough to be able to afford it and if it is still of use, freely give it away with no expectations of gaining an additional benefit via a tax deduction.

    Reply
  14. bud

    Bart, what’s with the obsession with dog whisles? Is that some Rush Limbaugh talking point or did you get it from Fox News. Your condescending tone demonstrates that you really have no intellectual argument to make but are nothing more than a troll trying to feel all self-righteous. Fine, if it makes you feel better I get my talking points from the ACLU and the big labor unions and I have no ability whatsover to think for myself. I’m just a tool of the left-wing media and I’m driven by a desire to destroy the very fabric of this nation by denying the existance of God, the obvious superiority of the rich and a complete disdain for the American Constitution. Does that make you feel all smug and satisfied?

    Reply

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