Henninger: Obama’s Credibility Is Melting

Henninger: Obama’s Credibility Is Melting

Here and abroad, Obama’s partners are concluding they cannot trust him.

By

DANIEL HENNINGER
Oct. 23, 2013 7:14 p.m. ET
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The collapse of ObamaCare is the tip of the iceberg for the magical Obama presidency.From the moment he emerged in the public eye with his 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention and through his astonishing defeat of the Clintons in 2008, Barack Obama’s calling card has been credibility. He speaks, and enough of the world believes to keep his presidency afloat. Or used to.All of a sudden, from Washington to Riyadh, Barack Obama’s credibility is melting.Amid the predictable collapse the past week of HealthCare.gov’s too-complex technology, not enough notice was given to Sen. Marco Rubio‘s statement that the chances for success on immigration reform are about dead. Why? Because, said Sen. Rubio, there is “a lack of trust” in the president’s commitments.

“This notion that they’re going to get in a room and negotiate a deal with the president on immigration,” Sen. Rubio said Sunday on Fox News, “is much more difficult to do” after the shutdown negotiations of the past three weeks.

Sen. Rubio said he and other reform participants, such as Idaho’s Rep. Raul Labrador, are afraid that if they cut an immigration deal with the White House—say, offering a path to citizenship in return for strong enforcement of any new law—Mr. Obama will desert them by reneging on the enforcement.

When belief in the average politician’s word diminishes, the political world marks him down and moves away. With the president of the United States, especially one in his second term, the costs of the credibility markdown become immeasurably greater. Ask the Saudis.

Last weekend the diplomatic world was agog at the refusal of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to accept a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Global disbelief gave way fast to clear understanding: The Saudis have decided that the United States is no longer a reliable partner in Middle Eastern affairs.

The Saudi king, who supported Syria’s anti-Assad rebels early, before Islamic jihadists polluted the coalition, watched Mr. Obama’s red line over Assad’s use of chemical weapons disappear into an about-face deal with Vladimir Putin. The next time King Abdullah looked up, Mr. Obama was hanging the Saudis out to dry yet again by phoning up Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani, Assad’s primary banker and armorer, to chase a deal on nuclear weapons. Within days, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar, let it be known that the Saudis intend to distance themselves from the U.S.

What is at issue here is not some sacred moral value, such as “In God We Trust.” Domestic politics or the affairs of nations are not an avocation for angels. But the coin of this imperfect realm is credibility. Sydney Greenstreet’s Kasper Gutman explained the terms of trade in “The Maltese Falcon”: “I must tell you what I know, but you won’t tell me what you know. That is hardly equitable, sir. I don’t think we can do business along those lines.”

Bluntly, Mr. Obama’s partners are concluding that they cannot do business with him. They don’t trust him. Whether it’s the Saudis, the Syrian rebels, the French, the Iraqis, the unpivoted Asians or the congressional Republicans, they’ve all had their fill of coming up on the short end with so mercurial a U.S. president. And when that happens, the world’s important business doesn’t get done. It sits in a dangerous and volatile vacuum.

The next major political event in Washington is the negotiation over spending, entitlements and taxes between House budget chairman Paul Ryan and his Senate partner, Patty Murray. The bad air over this effort is the same as that Marco Rubio says is choking immigration reform: the fear that Mr. Obama will urge the process forward in public and then blow up any Ryan-Murray agreement at the 11th hour with deal-killing demands for greater tax revenue.

Then there is Mr. Obama’s bond with the American people, which is diminishing with the failed rollout of the Affordable Care ActObamaCare is the central processing unit of the Obama presidency’s belief system. Now the believers are wondering why the administration suppressed knowledge of the huge program’s problems when hundreds of tech workers for the project had to know this mess would happen Oct. 1.

Rather than level with the public, the government’s most senior health-care official, Kathleen Sebelius, spent days spewing ludicrous and incredible happy talk about the failure, while refusing to provide basic information about its cause.

Voters don’t normally accord politicians unworldly levels of belief, but it has been Barack Obama’s gift to transform mere support into victorious credulousness. Now that is crumbling, at great cost. If here and abroad, politicians, the public and the press conclude that Mr. Obama can’t play it straight, his second-term accomplishments will lie only in doing business with the world’s most cynical, untrustworthy partners. The American people are the ones who will end up on the short end of those deals.

OBAMA WILL BE FORCED TO DELAY OBAMACARE.

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First the news from NBC.

Brian Williams opened NBC Nightly News Wednesday evening with the breaking news that the Obama Administration is planning to move the deadline for individuals to sign up for health care as part of the Affordable Care Act up to six weeks due to ongoing problems with the HealthCare.govwebsite.

NBC News reporter Tom Costello delivered the details to Williams. “The White House tells NBC News it plans to move the deadline for individuals to be required to buy health insurance by as much as six weeks,” Costello said. “As the law stands now, to avoid a tax penalty the uninsured need to start the process by February 15th. With this change the administration is trying to allow people to start the enrollment process by March 31st to avoid any financial penalty.”

Costello added that the work to fix the website problems is a “top priority” for the White House. The news comes one day before congressional hearings into what went wrong with the website are set to begin.

According to NBC, the lead federal contractor CGI “will testify that the website passed eight technical reviews prior to going live on October 1st, but also that a late government decision to require customers to register their personal information before they could check insurance prices contributed to the glitches.”

Mario’s note:NBC is only telling you a half truth. 

Democratic Senators are jumping ship because it is now certain that Obamacare will sink their reelection.   They are going to join Marco Rubio who is introducing a bill Thursday to delay all of Obamacare indefinitely.   Obama will not be able to stop this nor will Obama risk vetoing a totally bipartisan bill because it will cost him a massive loss of support from his own party.

Democrats know that the public is not thinking about Ted Cruz, The Tea Party or Conservatives.  Millions have had their health insurance cancelled, everyone will see their insurance rates jump and the website for Obamacare cost 620 million dollars and the site was only able to sign up 51,000 people in 7 days!

“How can we tax people for not buying a product from a website that doesn’t work?”

obama_clooney blog

Boehner slams ObamaCare after other GOP leaders sidestep it (Video)

By Pete Kasperowicz and Ian Swanson – 10/09/13 01:00 PM ET

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday criticized the first week of ObamaCare as a system that threatens to fine people for failing to buy health insurance on websites that don’t work.

“How can we tax people for not buying a product from a website that doesn’t work?” he asked on the House floor.

Boehner’s comments come as GOP leaders have shifted from attacks on ObamaCare in the context of the government shutdown and debt-ceiling fight, a move that has irritated some conservatives.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, for example, called for Washington to agree to a small bargain to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling.

Ryan focused on changes to Medicare and tax cuts but didn’t mention the healthcare law. Ryan, a conservative and the GOP vice presidential candidate in 2012, retains a great deal of clout with rank-and-file members. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also didn’t mention ObamaCare in an op-ed published Wednesday on The Washington Post’s website.

The omissions have riled conservatives who pushed Republicans to demand that ObamaCare be defunded, an effort that led to the government shutdown that entered its ninth day Wednesday.

Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said the group would only support a plan to reopen the government if it also defunds ObamaCare and pushed back against Ryan’s op-ed.

“Anything that comes out of this has to address the core fight, which is ObamaCare,” Needham said during a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. “The only acceptable way out of this is some sort of deal that funds the federal government without funding ObamaCare.”

The Tea Party Patriots also blasted Ryan’s move.

“Not once did Mr. Ryan mention the program that is hurting hard-working Americans. We must remember the reason we are fighting and remain united in our opposition to ObamaCare,” Tea Party Patriots Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said.

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Boehner’s comments may have been aimed at soothing such concerns.

He said press reviews of ObamaCare so far have not been kind, and he quoted accounts calling it an “inexcusable mess” and a “rolling calamity.”

“Consumers face dramatically higher rates,” he said. “Many remain locked out. They’re surprised their premiums went up. Instead of making it easier for people to get health insurance, it’s going to be a lot tougher.

“What a train wreck,” he said.

Boehner also slammed the Obama administration for giving companies a yearlong delay before they have to provide health insurance, while still requiring individuals to buy insurance.

“This is why we need to sit down and have a conversation about the big challenges that face our country,” said Boehner, who has ripped the White House for not talking to congressional Republicans to end the stalemate.

Boehner spoke just after he and Cantor met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) at the request of the two Democrats. No progress appeared to be made at the summit.

Besides reopening the government, lawmakers must contend with an Oct. 17 deadline for raising the government’s borrowing limit. If it isn’t raised, the government could default or hold up payments on Social Security benefits and military pay.

Communications between the White House and congressional leaders have picked up, the only real sign of urgency in the fiscal fights.

Boehner and Obama spoke on the telephone Tuesday, and Obama will meet with House Democrats Wednesday afternoon.

Obama also plans on meeting with House Republicans and congressional leaders in the coming days.

The House is planning to be in session for a third Saturday in a row this weekend.

No, Obamacare Is Not A Good Deal For Young People In The Long Run, Not Even Close

Obamacare

No, Obamacare Is Not A Good Deal For Young People In The Long Run, Not Even Close

Chris ConoverChris Conover, Contributor
A Picture of an Staples, Inc. easy buttonA Picture of an Staples, Inc. easy button (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Progressives are becoming increasingly concerned at the prospect of millions of uninsured young people deciding to push the easy button next year by simply paying a very small fine[1]rather than obtain health coverage. Consequently, they have turned to a new argument to get those under 30 to act against their self interest by signing up for the Exchanges. Now we are being told that Obamacare will be a good deal for young people in the long run since whatever short-term losses they incur in the form of higher premiums will be more than made up later when they are older and get to pay lower premiums than they would in today’s market.

But those making these arguments haven’t offered any analysis to back up their claims. The conceptual point evidently is supposed to be intuitively obvious. As Ezra Klein puts it:

Young people grow old. Healthy people get sick. Rich people become poor. The people overpaying to keep costs low today are the people underpaying 10 or 20 years from now.

As a health policy skeptic, I know that lots of intuitive ideas—such as thatprevention saves money—turn out to be false upon closer examination. So when I did some actual analysis of this latest idea, it did not surprise me to learn that this claim is dead wrong.  Once the time value of money is taken into account, the average young person will be worse off under Obamacare even if they live long enough to be a near-elderly person who pays premiums that are well below actuarially fair rates.

In the short run, millions of young will be better off without Obamacare

recent study by the National Center for Public Policy Research shows that:

  • About 3.7 million of those ages 18-34 will be at least $500 better off if they forgo insurance and pay the penalty.
  • More than 3 million will be $1,000 better off if they go the same route.

Consequently, many more will opt to pay the extremely modest tax rather than fork over many thousands of dollars to purchase coverage that became substantially more expensive for young people thanks to the misguided pricing rules imposed by Obamacare. The risk that the law will fail in an “adverse selection death spiral” thus has gotten much larger. This claim is not in dispute. Instead, progressives argue it is too narrow. If only young people would consider the long run—when they too are old—they would discover that enrolling in Obamacare is in their self-interest.

But in the long run, the story is the same

It is relatively straightforward to test this claim empirically. My purpose is not to compare today’s premiums with those that will exist under Obamacare, since at least part of the expected increase in premiums is related to filling in purported gaps in coverage, such as eliminating lifetime limits and providing preventive health services without any cost-sharing. I don’t want to cloud the discussion with claims that these added benefits are somehow “worth” the higher premiums. Instead, I want to focus on the claim that the “pay me now, we’ll pay you later” adjusted community rating structure under Obamacare actually is a good deal when considered on a lifetime basis.

My strong preference for health reform—shared by highly reputable health economists such as Mark Pauly and Patricia Danzon at Wharton School, several others at Harvard (Amitabh Chandra, Michael E. Chernew, Anupam B. Jena Stanford (Jay Bhattacharya), University of Chicago (Anup Malani, Tomas J. Philipson) and University of Southern California (Dana Goldman, Darius Lakdawalla)[3]—is that health insurers be allowed to price risk. Community rating can be shown (both theoretically and empirically) to be both inefficient and unfair. It is inefficient because it encourages low risk individuals (think young people) to remain uninsured rather than over-pay for health insurance. It is unfair because it ends up transferring resources from healthy poor people to unhealthy wealthy people. But this unfairness aspect might be undercut considerably if it turned out that from a lifetime perspective, young people who overpaid when young were more than compensated by their future savings from community rating once they got old.

So I first created a set of experience-rated premiums for every single year of age between 18-64).[2] I then calculated the present value of these premiums over a lifetime—which in this case meant ages 18-64 since even under Obamacare, people are assumed to enroll in Medicare at age 65. I examined 4 different groups of young adults (age 18, 22, 25, and 30) using different discount rates. I then created a parallel set of premiums that were constrained to meet the Obamacare modified community rating rules, namely, that the premiums for the oldest plan members can be no more than 3 times as high as the premiums for the youngest members. If the present value of the Obamacare premiums is lower than the comparable figure for experience-rated premiums, then one could reasonably say that the intuition of Obamacare enthusiasts is correct: young people are better off under Obamacare since they ultimately will save enough on their premiums in old age to offset whatever “excess” premiums they are forced to pay in their young adult years. But as you can plainly see, for most age categories and most discount rates, the reverse is true. The lifetime cost of Obamacare is higher than under market-driven premium rates.

The only instance in which Obamacare is consistently a better deal is using a 0% discount rate. But a 0% discount rate implies that young people are indifferent about getting $1,000 today or $1,000 50 years from now. I challenge readers to find just one person who, when confronted with such a choice, would choose to take the payment 50 years from now instead of today. Most people—young or old—are not that patient. They would far prefer to have money today than to receive the comparable amount far in the future. Which is why banks, corporations and the U.S. government have to pay interest to people in order to induce them to put their money into bonds rather than spend it. Interest rates simply represent the time value of money. In a present value calculation, the discount rate is what is used to a future dollar into an amount comparable in value to today’s dollars.

Individuals Generally Have a High Rate of Time Preference (They Are Impatient). Many economists think U.S. society has a long-run discount rate (i.e., social rate of time preference) of 3% since that figure is comparable to the inflation-adjusted rate of return on long-term U.S. Treasury bills. But individual rates of time preference typically are much higher than societal rates, with double-digit rates not being at all uncommon in the vast literature that has sought to estimate their size.[4] This makes sense because, for example, the U.S. government presumably has a lifespan longer than that of individuals. If someone is uncertain about living long enough to get their money back in 40 years, they will generally expect to be paid a higher interest rate than if survival were a certainty. Thus, from the standpoint of the average young adult adversely affected by Obamacare, I would argue that the figures using a 10% discount rate come much closer to the truth than do the figures using a 3% rate. And you can see from the chart that using that 10% rate, Obamacare is not a good lifetime deal even for people as old as 30 [and if I had used a much higher discount rate of say, 17%, Obamacare would turn out to be an even worse deal for young people]. For 18 year olds, Obamacare essentially is imposing a tax of 18.3% on the premiums they would otherwise pay under the more market-oriented reforms favored by many conservatives and Republicans.

These estimates are very conservative

I cannot emphasize enough how conservative my estimates are. I have ONLY accounted for for the “pure” effects of modified community rating–i.e., the fact that young people on average pay higher premiums while older people pay lower premiums. In calculating the increase in premiums required for young people to make this transfer work (i.e., for the number of extra premium dollars needed among young people as a group to exactly balance the amount of premium reductions given to older people) I have taken into account the first order impacts on how many people will demand health insurance (i.e., fewer young people and more older people will sign up for coverage under modified community rating than if insurers been allowed to fully price risk the way they do in auto, life and homeowners insurance). This meant I had to adjust the rates for the young even higher in order to provide enough additional premium reductions to finance the additional number of older people in the pool. However, I did NOT account for adverse selection at all: that is, I assumed that average spending by year of age among pool members remained the same. In reality, it would be the healthy young who would be most likely to drop out as premiums for that age group rose and the unhealthy old who would be most likely to join as premiums for that age group fell.

In short, I have bent over backwards to prove the claim of progressives andstill found their hypothesis wanting. If I were an actuary capable of incorporating the adverse selection effects, the increase in lifetime premiums for the average young person would be considerably higher than shown in my chart.  This is why the various estimates of rate shock estimated by Avik Roy (64-146% in California, for example) and others provide a much more accurate depiction of the premium increase for 18 year olds, for example, than the 35.4% figure I derived from my more limited calculations.[5]

What’s so bad about modified community rating?

Modified community rating essentially is an excise tax on people who buy health insurance. Those who choose to go bare avoid the tax entirely, but for those who do buy coverage, the tax is highly discriminatory, imposing the highest burdens on those who are young. Can anyone name another tax that works this way? Imagine a state that tried to impose a sales tax in this fashion, where everyone would have to show an ID card and the amount of tax charged to 18 year olds would be 18% while those age 30 would only have to pay 5% and seniors would get a rebate!)[5]  How kooky is that?  If we as a society have decided that some group needs help in paying for their health insurance, shouldn’t we make those subsidies visible for all to see instead of burying them in someone’s health insurance bill? Moreover, shouldn’t we be relying on taxes that are visible and fairly distributed rather than using “taxation by regulation” of health insurance? If older people need subsidies, why should young people (who are far from being the wealthiest in society) be disproportionately burdened with bankrolling what should be a social responsibility?

People rationalize modified community rating on grounds that what goes around comes around. “Don’t worry kid. Someday you too will be old enough to enjoy premiums subsidized by youngsters your age. It all works out in the wash.”  But it is now plainly evident that for typical young adults who have very reasonable time preferences, it does not all work out in the wash after all.Obamacare is a bad deal, plain and simple.

Instead of spending millions of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to bankroll vacuous appeals (“make you feel like a winner.“ Seriously?) and trot out sports stars and Hollywood celebrities to fast-talk young people into signing up for Obamacare, how about instead using that money to educate them about the truth of how the health law treats them as a cash cow for older folks? Sadly, this administration can’t handle the truth since they know that once  young people wake up and smell the coffee, it’s game over for Obamacare. Far better to stay the course with a mad scramble to put the law into place even though a) the bureaucrats responsible for implementing it arebegging for more time; and b) haste will greatly inflate the risks of privacy violations on a wide scale.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, is this really the best we can do? Perhaps we owe it to young adults to delay the entire law for a year so we can straighten out some of these problems. At minimum, it would give them an extra year to save up for the rate shock they will face on Day One of the exchanges.  If young people knew as much about Obamacare’s adverse impact on them as they know about how to work their cell phones, this law would be in deep doo-doo. Sadly, this is the very demographic that is most ignorantabout the freight train headed their way. Until and unless these same young adults get educated on the facts quickly and start urging their members of Congress for a one year delay, that train may be headed for a wreck.

Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four.

Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four

Chris ConoverChris Conover, Contributor
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 26:  Ron Kirby holds a ...Ron Kirby holds a sign while marching in protest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Image credit: Getty Images North America via @daylife)

It was one of candidate Obama’s most vivid and concrete campaign promises. Forget about high minded (some might say high sounding) but gauzy promises of hope and change. This candidate solemnly pledged on June 5, 2008: “In an Obama administration, we’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year….. We’ll do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States.”  Unfortunately, the experts working for Medicare’s actuary have (yet again[1]) reported that in its first 10 years, Obamacare will boost health spending by “roughly $621 billion” above the amounts Americans would have spent without this misguided law.

What this means for a typical family of four

$621 billion is a pretty eye-glazing number. Most readers will find it easier to think about how this number translates to a typical American family—the very family candidate Obama promised would see $2,500 in annual savings as far as the eye could see. So I have taken the latest year-by-year projections, divided by the projected population and multiplied the result by 4.

 

Simplistic? Maybe, but so too was the President’s campaign promise. And this approach allows us to see just how badly that promise fell short of the mark. Between 2014 and 2022, the increase in national health spending (which the Medicare actuaries specifically attribute to the law) amounts to $7,450 per family of 4.

Let us hope this family hasn’t already spent or borrowed the $22,500 in savings they might have expected over this same period had they taken candidate Obama’s promise at face value. In truth, no well-informed American ever should have believed this absurd promise. At the time, Factcheck.org charitably deemed this claim as “overly optimistic, misleading and, to some extent, contradicted by one of his own advisers.”  The Washington Post less charitably awarded it Two Pinocchios (“Significant omissions or exaggerations”). Yet rather than learn from his mistakes, President Obama on July 16, 2012 essentially doubled-down on his promise, assuring small business owners “your premiums will go down.” He made this assertion notwithstanding the fact that in three separate reports between April 2010 and June 2012, the Medicare actuaries had demonstrated that the ACA would increase health spending. To its credit, the Washington Post dutifully awarded the 2012 claim Three Pinocchios (“Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”)

The past is not prologue: The burden increases ten-fold in 2014

As it turns out, the average family of 4 has only had to face a relatively modest burden from Obamacare over the past four years—a little over $125. Unfortunately, this year’s average burden ($66) will be 10 times as large in 2014 when Obamacare kicks in for earnest. And it will rise for two years after that, after which it hit a steady-state level of just under $800 a year. Of course, all these figures are in nominal dollars. In terms of today’s purchasing power, this annual amount will rise steadily.

But what happened to the spending slowdown?

Some readers may recall that a few months ago, there were widespread reports of a slow-down in health spending. Not surprisingly, the White House has been quick to claim credit for the slowdown in health spending documented in the health spending projections report, arguing that it “is good for families, jobs and the budget.”

On this blog, Avik Roy pointed out that a) since passage of Obamacare, U.S. health spending actually had risen faster than in OECD countries, whereas prior to the law, the opposite was true. Moreover, to the degree that U.S. health spending was slowing down relative to its own recent past, greater cost-sharing was likely to be the principal explanation. Medicare’s actuarial experts confirm that the lion’s share of the slowdown in health spending could be chalked up to slow growth in the economy and greater cost-sharing. As AEI scholar Jim Capretta pithily puts it:

An important takeaway from these new projections is that the CMS Office of the Actuary finds no evidence to link the 2010 health care law to the recent slowdown in health care cost escalation. Indeed, the authors of the projections make it clear that the slowdown is not out of line with the historical link between health spending growth and economic conditions (emphasis added).

Obamacare poison

In the interests of fair and honest reporting, perhaps it is time the mainstream media begin using “Affordable” Care Act whenever reference is made to this terribly misguided law. Anyone obviously is welcome to quarrel with the Medicare actuary about their numbers. I myself am hard-put to challenge their central conclusion: Obamacare will not save Americans one penny now or in the future. Perhaps the next time voters encounter a politician making such grandiose claims, they will learn to watch their wallet. Until then, let’s spare strapped Americans from having to find $657 in spare change between their couch cushions next year. Let’s delay this law for a year so that policymakers have time to fix the poorly designed Rube Goldberg device known as Obamacare. For a nation with the most complicated and expensive health system on the planet, making it even more complicated and even more expensive never was a good idea.

Footnotes

[1] The Medicare actuary first issued a report carefully estimating the cost impact of Obamacare on April 22, 2010. Its annual national health expenditure projections reports for 2010, 2011 and 2012 all have contained tabulations showing that Obamacare will increase health spending over the next 10 years compared to a counterfactual scenario in which the law was never enacted.

House Defunds Obamacare, Keeps Govt Open. Only Obama wants to shut down the government.

House Defunds Obamacare, Keeps Govt Open

Image: House Defunds Obamacare, Keeps Govt Open

Speaker of the House John Boehner is cheered on Sept. 20 after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent a government shutdown while crippling Obamacare.

Friday, 20 Sep 2013 11:27 AM

The U.S. House voted to finance the federal government through mid-December and choke off funding for President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, setting up a showdown with the Senate and the White House.

The Republican-controlled House today passed, 230-189, a stopgap measure to fund government operations after current authority expires Sept. 30. The bill preserves across-the-board spending cuts at an annual rate of $986.3 billion and permanently defunds the Affordable Care Act.

“The fight to delay Obamacare doesn’t end next week. It keeps going on until we get it,” Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, told reporters today in Washington.

 

The spending measure now will be sent to the Senate where it will pass without defunding the healthcare law, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said yesterday. Obama administration officials said the president would veto the House bill if sent to him by Congress.

If the Obama administration and lawmakers can’t agree on the stopgap funding, most, though not all, operations would come to a halt in less than two weeks. Republicans are using the stopgap spending bill as a vehicle to try to choke off funds for the health program the party has opposed since 2009.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and chief Senate opponent of the health law, said he’s willing to do “everything necessary and anything possible,” including holding a filibuster, to block action on the spending measure as a way to end funding for the health-care law.

The Senate is expected to start considering the legislation on Sept. 23 with goal of finishing by Sept. 26.

Procedural Tactic

Democratic leaders are considering a procedural tactic that would put Cruz and his allies in an awkward spot and upend their efforts.

Under Senate rules, they could have a simple majority vote that would strip the health-care defunding language once they end debate on the House measure.

House Republicans haven’t decided how to proceed once the Senate passes the measure after stripping out the health language.

If Boehner allows the Senate bill to proceed, he would need enough Democratic votes join Republicans to pass it and avoid a government shutdown.

House Republican leaders also could decide to continue revising the measure and send the amended version back to the Senate for a vote, complicating the process and raising the risk of a shutdown as time runs out.

Debt Ceiling

The House spending measure also includes a provision directing the Treasury on how to prioritize payments if the debt ceiling is breached.

House Republicans said today they’d start working next week on legislation to raise the nation’s debt limit and attach a one-year delay in the health law, cuts to entitlement programs and approval for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“The next 10 days are very important for our country,” said Representative Tim Graves, a Georgia Republican, who has pushed for defunding the health-care law.

Ryan of Wisconsin said the measures Republicans will attach would reduce the U.S. budget deficit in the long term.

Related article:

Rubio: Only Obama Wants to Shut Down Government

Rubio

Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 01:51 PM

By Jim Meyers and John Bachman

Republicans should do “anything and everything” to prevent the “disaster” of Obamacare, Sen. Marco Rubio tells Newsmax. But he insists it can be done without shutting down the government.

The Florida Republican asserts that President Barack Obama actually wants a government shutdown to achieve a “political win,” and the administration is going to fight to the bitter end to defend its healthcare reforms.

Elected in 2010, Rubio is considered a rising star in the Republican Party. He delivered the GOP’s response to Obama’s State of the Union address in February and has been mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2016.

 

His committee assignments include the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

In an exclusive interview Wednesday with Newsmax TV, Rubio discusses efforts to stop Obamacare and the possibility of a government shutdown.

“Every single member of the Republican conference agrees that Obamacare should be stopped, but the disagreement is about the tactic,” he says. “I’m not in favor of shutting down the government. The president appears now politically to be in favor of shutting down the government.

“I’m in favor of funding the government at the levels that were agreed to last year in the Budget Control Act and not spending a single penny more of hardworking taxpayer dollars on a disaster, which is Obamacare.

“Actually, the administration has admitted it’s a disaster because they’ve had to delay major portions of it. Labor unions that strongly supported Obamacare are now asking to be exempted from it.

“So we should be doing anything and everything we can to prevent this law from going into effect, because once it starts to hurt people, it’s going to hurt our economy in ways that are very difficult to undo later.”

The House will pass a plan to delay and defund Obamacare but to keep the government  open, Speaker John Boehner says.

“That’s very positive news,” says Rubio. “It’s now going to call attention to the fact that we can keep the government open, we can fund the government, but we don’t have to shut down the government, and we don’t have to fund Obamacare.

“It’s the president who’s threatening to shut down the government because he is saying, and it’s the position his allies in the Senate so far have taken, that unless they fund Obamacare, they won’t fund the government.

“The president’s basically looking for a political win, and I guess his political people have told him that this is a political win: shut down the government and blame the Republicans. The problem is that’s not the Republican position.”

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Rubio predicted that the House will pass a short-term budget to keep the government running.

“If in fact the government shuts down, it will be unfortunately because the president and his allies believe that Obamacare is so important to them that they are willing to shut down the government over it.

“That’s shortsighted, primarily because they are going to fight to the end to defend a disaster, something that even their own allies and labor unions are asking to be let out from.”

 

Republican Party Unifies Around Defunding Obamacare.

House GOP to Push Budget With Defunded Health Care Law

By Caitlin Huey-Burns – September 18, 2013

 

 
 
 
 

Speaker John Boehner has decided to virtually bet the House on thrashing Obamacare in a looming fiscal showdown.

In a bow to conservatives, House Republican leaders facing a Sept. 30 deadline to avoid a government shutdown will hold a vote Friday on a three-month funding bill that would permanently drain funds from the Affordable Care Act. The move — a gamble that the establishment wing of the GOP decried not so long ago — nonetheless has unified the conference, according to Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy.

 

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also introduced a plan to the conference Wednesday that would lift the debt ceiling (which expires in mid-October) for one year and impose a year-long delay in implementing Obamacare. It also calls for tax reform and federal approval of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. “That fight will continue as we negotiate the debt limit with the president and the Senate,” he said. A vote on this part of the GOP strategy is expected as early as next week.

Boehner noted Wednesday that congresses and presidents have long used the debt limit “for legislation to cut spending, and even President Obama worked with us two years ago in the debt limit negotiations to put controls on spending. This year is not going to be any different.”

With time running out and their original plan — which would have allowed the defunding provision to be tossed out by the Senate — exhausted, the Republican leaders had to come up with something to address the shutdown threat.

But the House could find itself back at the same place next week. The Democratic-controlled Senate won’t muster the 60 requisite votes for the move to derail President Obama’s signature piece of legislation and authorize $986 billion (extending current sequester levels) in spending. “I want to be very clear: Democrats are not going to agree to defund or delay health care reform. It’s just not going to happen,” said Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray.

Referring to the debt ceiling deadline, Obama told a Business Roundtable meeting on Wednesday that “what I will not do is to create a habit, a pattern, whereby the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to set policy.” Doug Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, reminded reporters at a breakfast meeting Wednesday that given the complexity of the ACA, some Obamacare provisions would remain even if Congress cut its funding.

Once the House measure reaches the upper chamber, leaders there could run out the clock and force Boehner and House Republicans into a game-time decision to keep the government running. The question is, will those Republicans choose to swallow a stopgap budget resolution without the Obamacare provision and risk waging the health care battle in the debt-ceiling negotiations?

While Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been leading the defunding effort in the upper chamber, praised the House plan, not all Senate Republicans think the strategy is sound. “Defunding Obamacare makes sense to me,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. But “if the only way you can do that is to stop the government from functioning, that is a net loser in my point of view.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the House pushing back against the plan, urging lawmakers “to act promptly to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government and to raise the debt ceiling, and then to return to work on these other vital issues,” wrote R. Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs.

Boehner said he would not speculate on what action the Senate will take: “The fight over here has been won. I’m not going to predict what the Senate is going to do or not do.”

But even some of the most conservative members of the House anticipate the Obamacare fight will be shifted from the budget measure to the debt ceiling settlement.

“I don’t know whether I would vote for [the continuing resolution] without the defund, but we would probably, as a baseline, have to pass it, but at the sequester levels. Then the fight is in the debt ceiling,” Louisiana Rep. John Fleming, a member of the Republican Study Committee, told RCP on his way out of the conference meeting Wednesday morning.

“We would much rather defund, but if we can’t, we want to delay” the health care law, he said.

Fleming also said he expects the speaker to ultimately bring something to the floor that has the majority of support from Republicans. “If it’s anything other than sequester[-level funding], it is going to be voted down,” he asserted. Boehner won’t likely get support from Democrats on such a resolution, as they oppose the current spending levels. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday that he would vote against such a measure, even if the Obamacare provision were not attached. (Democrats have proposed a $1.058 trillion resolution.)

“I think we’re going to have a fight,” Hoyer said. “I think we ought to have the fight now rather than later.”

Democrats say negotiating on the debt ceiling is a non-starter. Some are willing to budge on the budget numbers, but not by much. “We want it as high as possible,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer. “We want to undo as much of sequestration as we can.”

 

It’s a no brainer…Conservatives must vote to defund Obamacare. Here’s why.

Conservatives and the Fight to Defund Obamacare

By 

train tax insertSome in Washington claim that defunding Obamacare would not prevent the implementation or enforcement of the law’s statutory requirements and new regulations. They seem to be unaware of the federal Antideficiency Act (ADA), which makes it illegal to spend money in excess of appropriations.

If a fight over such a defunding provision led to a shutdown of the government, not all elements of the law could be implemented. Moreover, supporters of Obamacare would be put in the unenviable position of trying to explain why they are willing to interrupt the normal functioning of the federal government in order to fund an unworkable law that Americans do not like and do not want to see implemented.

Movement to Defund

Senators Ted Cruz (R–TX) and Mike Lee (R–UT) have been in the news with their Defund Obamacare Act (S. 1292), which Representative Tom Graves (R–GA) has also introduced in the House as H.R. 2682. One of their proposals is to attach it to a must-pass continuing resolution (CR) before the federal government runs out of money on October 1. Under this bill, “no Federal funds shall be made available to carry out any provisions” of Obamacare. No “entitlement to benefits under any provision of” Obamacare will remain in effect, and all “unobligated balances” will be rescinded.

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No one disputes that Obamacare would stay on the books and that defunding would not change the existing law. But all federal funds already appropriated for the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare could not be used by any federal agency to take any action—whether it is issuing new regulations or filing an enforcement action against an individual or an employer for not complying with the new health insurance mandates. The termination of all “entitlement to benefits” would stop the automatic appropriation of new entitlement spending for things like the law’s Medicaid expansion. The rescission of “unobligated benefits” would return to the Treasury appropriated funds that have not yet been spent on items such as the payment of outside contractors—navigators—for enrolling participants in Obamacare, although it would probably not relieve the government of the contractual obligation to pay for services already rendered.

There is no question that such a defunding bill can stop entitlement spending. The Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding of abortions and is part of yearly discretionary appropriations bills, has prevented federal funds in the Medicaid entitlement program from being used for abortion coverage for almost four decades.

Antideficiency Act

This type of appropriations and funding ban is given teeth by the ADA,[1] which prohibits federal employees from:

  • Making or authorizing any expenditure or obligation in excess of the amount available in an appropriation or fund unless authorized by law; or
  • Involving the government in any obligation to pay money before funds have been appropriated for that purpose unless otherwise allowed by law.

Section 1342 of the ADA prohibits federal employees from accepting voluntary services or employing personal services not authorized by law. That is one of the reasons that federal employees have to be furloughed whenever Congress fails to pass a continuing resolution—federal employees cannot volunteer their services even if they want to, and the government cannot accept outside assistance.

Obamacare poison

The ADA has both administrative and criminal penalties as well as a notice requirement. Section 1349 subjects federal employees to “administrative discipline” including “suspension from duty without pay or removal from office.” They can be fined or go to jail: Section 1350 imposes a fine of up to $5,000 and two years in jail. Under Section 1351, the head of any federal agency violating the ADA has to “report immediately to the President and Congress all relevant facts and a statement of actions taken” if anyone in the agency has violated the ADA through unauthorized spending. Pursuant to instructions issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), that report has to include the actions taken to correct the ADA violation.

Federal bureaucrats are well aware of the ADA, and its penalties deter violations.

If a Shutdown Occurs

The smartest thing the House of Representatives could do is pass a CR as soon as possible that funds the government with the exception of Obamacare. That would force the President and his supporters to explain why they would shut down the government to fund an unfair, unaffordable, and highly unpopular law that is so unworkable that the Administration has itself admitted it cannot manage to implement major portions on time such as the employer mandate to provide insurance.

Senator Richard Burr (R–NC) calls this approach “dumb.” Senator Tom Coburn (R–OK) is circulating a July 2013 research memorandum from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) that concludes that many aspects of Obamacare could continue to be funded despite the ADA if there is a government shutdown.[2] But the CRS memo assumes there is no defunding language passed (as is being proposed) and that the government simply shuts down because there is no CR.

There is an exception in Section 1342 of the ADA for “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,” which as the CRS correctly notes, has been “broadly” read by OMB and the Justice Department to give executive agencies a certain amount of discretion over how to spend their remaining funds during a government shutdown. But in 1990, Congress amended Section 1342 in response to a 1981 opinion issued by Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti to make it clear that “emergencies” do “not include ongoing, regular functions of government, the suspension of which would not imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

The CRS concludes, based solely on press reports, that if the government shuts down, the Administration would likely “rely on alternative sources of funding” to continue “substantial” implementation of Obamacare. But to do that during a shutdown, the Administration could only provide funds that are not dependent on annual discretionary appropriations or fit within the exceptions to the ADA outlined in the CRS memorandum.

The CRS says, for example, that “cost-sharing payments to health plans” from Treasury would likely not be excepted. The CRS also speculates that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) might be able to keep its employees involved in Obamacare on payroll, comparing it to the Social Security Administration keeping its employees on payroll during the shutdown fights of 1995–1996 because they were, “by necessary implication,” integral to making entitlement payments.

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But this analogy may not work with the Obamacare insurance exchanges, since they are not an entitlement and are not funded by mandatory spending. The entitlement comes through the insurance subsidies, and while IRS employees may be essential to administer the subsidies, HHS employees might not necessarily be essential to administer the exchanges.

The point is that even if a government shutdown occurs without a defunding bill, while the Administration may have some funding available from other sources to continue to implement parts of Obamacare that fall within exceptions to the ADA, it would not be able to legally implement all of the many different parts of the law, and it is doubtful it would have the funds to implement all of the law.

Making Collapse More Likely

In the absence of full repeal, Americans will be better off if any parts of Obamacare are stopped from going into effect. And the more parts of the law that are delayed because of a government shutdown, defunding, or the Obama Administration’s own incompetence, the more likely it is that this horrendously complicated law, which is built on many different interdependent factors, will fall apart like a house of cards.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow in Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

OBAMA’S PLAN TO DESTROY AMERICA HATCHED AT COLUMBIA SAYS CLASSMATE

OBAMA’S PLAN TO DESTROY AMERICA HATCHED AT COLUMBIA SAYS CLASSMATE

Apr. 19, 2013 12:01am

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Wayne Allyn Root is a Capitalist Evangelist, entrepreneur, and Libertarian-conservative Republican. Wayne began his career as a sports handicapper, and has gone on to host and appear on many of the biggest television and radio news networks including: FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, CNBC, and radio shows like Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Jerry Doyle and Mancow Muller. He is a former Libertarian vice presidential nominee. Wayne’s latest book is out on April 15, 2013: “The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide: Secrets to Protecting Your Family, Your Finances, and Your Freedom.”

The economic news has gone from bad to worse. First we found out the jobs numbers are collapsing. Then retail sales figures were released- they showed across the board contraction. Next we found out U.S. business inventory figures were a disappointment. Finally consumer confidence not only collapsed, but it was the largest miss from expectations in U.S. economic history. What exactly is our president’s plan? Because it’s certainly not working. Or is it? It depends on what the plan is.

Shouldn’t the American people have a right to know what our president’s real economic agenda is? Is he out to help us, or hurt us? With things getting worse, don’t we have a right to ask these questions? I have a story that sheds light on that life or death question.

President Obama and I were college classmates at Columbia University, class of ’83. I know all too well how mindlessly leftist the students and faculty of that institution can be, and Barack Obama is certainly no exception. My time at Columbia made it crystal clear: leftists always believe they are morally superior. While they publicly state that their mission is to save the world from prejudice, patriotism, racism, greed, and inequality, they are, in fact, hostile and resentful towards anyone who has achieved self-made success through American values.  It is in this cesspool of intolerance that Obama and his Marxist cronies hatched their plan to destroy our country.

There are two things you need to know about Obama at Columbia University. First, he was Pre -law and a Political Science major- just like me. I thought I knew everyone studying Political Science during my four years at Columbia. Not Obama. I never met him, never saw him, never even heard of him. Strange.

Barack Obama

Same major, same career path, and graduated on the same day– where was he? Was he busy attending communist party meetings? No need to guess. In his autobiography he proudly admits attending Socialist Party meetings at Cooper Union in downtown Manhattan. He also admits publicly in his own book to not wanting to meet or befriend anyone at Columbia who wasn’t black, Hispanic, gay, or a Marxist professor. His words- in print. So it’s possible he was so busy attending communist meetings and trying to avoid guys like me (white, straight, a guy who loved America) that our paths never crossed. Unlikely, but possible.

But, it’s the second thing you really need to know about Obama at Columbia. He says he graduated Class of ’83. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. I always have. Well then Obama had to attend the same Political Science classes as me. I can tell you, almost to a man, my classmates in the Class of ’83 proudly called themselves Marxist, communist or socialist. They bragged of being “radical” like a badge of honor. They openly hated America- calling it racist. They hated capitalism- and vowed to bring “the system down.”

In my class the typical Columbia political science student vowed to destroy capitalism, bankrupt business owners, and vaporize what they called “the white power structure.” For the most part these were spoiled brat white students of privilege and power. They were children of wealth, given everything on a silver platter and all they felt was anger and guilt. Their goal was to destroy their own fathers. They talked about it all day long.

So let me tell you a story that says it all. Back in 1981 I was sitting in a political science class. The president at the time was Ronald Reagan, a man reviled by the left just as viciously as any Republican is today. Suddenly our lecture was interrupted by a door swinging open violently—whereupon a breathless fellow student raced into the room screaming, “The president has been shot! They’ve just assassinated President Reagan.”

Ronald Reagan was my hero. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I instantly felt sick to my stomach, and tears flowed down my cheeks. But it was the response of the rest of the class that I will remember for the rest of my life. They cheered. They clapped, they yelled, they high-fived, and whooped in sheer unadulterated joy. My fellow classmates, the ones I was naively trying so hard to befriend despite their radical leftist views, were HAPPY that my hero President Ronald Reagan was dead (or so they thought). They were celebrating what they thought was the assassination of America’s president. Incidently, if Obama actually went to Columbia, he’d almost certainly have to have been in that class leading the cheers. Feel like you need a shower yet?

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Lest you think I’m exaggerating, British leftists just celebrated and cheered upon hearing of the death of Margaret Thatcher only days ago. It was all over the news. Some Brits held parties celebrating her death. This is revolting and disgusting.

But wait, the most frightening and eye-opening revelation is still to come. You see political science students at Columbia were taught a detailed plan designed by two former Columbia professors named Cloward and Piven to bring down “the system,” destroy capitalism, and turn America into a socialist state. We discussed it in class, wrote about it, and debated it outside class. It was a hot topic of discussion around the halls of Columbia for four years.

The plan was revolting, but brilliant. Cloward and Piven taught that America could only be destroyed from within. Only by overwhelming the system with debt, welfare, and entitlements could capitalism and the America economy be destroyed. So the plan was to make a majority of Americans dependent on welfare, food stamps, disability, unemployment, and entitlements of all kinds. Then, under the weight of the debt, the system would implode and the economy collapse, bankrupting business owners (i.e. conservative donors). Americans would be brought to their knees, begging for big government to save them. Voila – you’d have a new system.

A system based on fairness, equality and social justice. It’s called Socialism.

Sound familiar?

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Lo and behold, one of my classmates was elected as president and it’s clear as a bell that he is using that plan to destroy America, capitalism, and the U.S. economy right in front of our eyes. It’s the exact plan hatched at Columbia University in our college days. Exact in every way.

Under Obama, 660,000 Americans dropped off the job rolls…just last month. 90 million working-age, able-bodied Americans are no longer in the workforce. 90 million. The workforce participation rate is the lowest since 1979. For men it’s the lowest since 1948 (when record keeping began).

New economic numbers were out last Friday. Retail sales contracted. Business inventories were disappointing. Consumer confidence collapsed- the worst miss in the history of the U.S. economy. This economy isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse by the day. Obama isn’t “saving” us, he’s destroying us with every move he makes.

Almost 50 million Americans are on food stamps (20% of all eligible adults). Fourteen million are on disability. Millions more are on welfare, unemployment, housing allowances, aid to dependent children, or 100 other free government  programs. Now, add in free healthcare plus 22 million government employees. Record-setting numbers of Americans are emptying their retirement accounts to survive. Student loan debt is a national disaster- with defaults up 36% from a year ago. Over 16 million Americans live in poverty…in the suburbs. Every day under Obama the private sector shrinks, while the government grows like a toxic malignant tumor.

Obama promised to cut the deficit in half; instead he gave us five consecutive trillion dollar deficits. He promised to spend responsibly; instead now owns the title of biggest spender in world history. He called Bush’s $4 trillion in debt over 8 years reckless, then proceeded to pile on $6 trillion in only 4 years. He swore to be on the side of small business, but he added 6,118 new rules, regulations and mandates in just the last 90 days. He claimed taxes are low, yet he just raised taxes to the same level as bankrupt EU countries like Greece, Spain, Italy and France. Our federal income taxes are now far higher than former Soviet Republics.

Now I ask you- Does this sound like a man trying to “save” us?

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Folks, this is Cloward and Piven. This is Karl Marx, who despised the middle class and vowed to wipe it out. This is Saul Alinsky,who dedicated his book (Obama’s favorite book) to Lucifer, the devil.

This is no accident, or the work of an economically inept liberal. This is a purposeful plan to drown the nation in debt and hook a majority to government handouts, happening in front of our eyes. It’s crystal clear Obama’s plan was hatched in our college days, at Columbia, Class of ’83.

While I never met Obama at Columbia, I can certainly put him at the scene of the crime. He either went to Columbia, or he didn’t. If he didn’t, he’s a fraud. If he did, he knew the Cloward and Piven plan like the back of his hand. He studied it and his goal- like almost all my classmates- was to use it to bring down the U.S. economy and destroy capitalism to create what they consider to be “equality, fairness and social justice.”

Why would anyone want to purposely collapse the economy you might ask? Saul Alinsky taught the ends justify the means. A bankrupt America wipes out the middle class and small business. That wipes out the majority of donors to conservatives causes- meaning Obama has no opposition. It creates “equality”- by putting everyone on equal footing (shared misery). It causes panic- and in panic, voters often make hasty decisions- like choosing big government to save them.

Stimulus

The destruction and devastation we see happening right now is classic Cloward and Piven. It’s the plan we learned, studied, and discussed day and night at Columbia. This is no coincidence. This is the Marxist attack from within. This is a purposeful attempt to take down the economy, collapse the middle class, wipe out small business, bankrupt the wealthy (conservative donors), and addict the country to big government Nanny State socialism.

And it’s working. I believe it’s now clear that Obama has been working on his plan for 30 years (our 30th Columbia class reunion is next month). Now it is time for us to get to work- to save America and to save ourselves.

Jimmy Carter’s ghost stalks Obama White House

Ghost blog insert

Jimmy Carter’s ghost stalks Obama White House

By Liz Peek

Published August 05, 2013

FoxNews.com
  • FILE -Oct. 20, 1979: President Jimmy Carter and press secretary Jody Powell, right, talk with reporters Helen Thomas, center, and Sam Donaldson, left, while aboard Air Force One prior to landing at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)

     

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Vague terrorist threats shutting down nineteen of our embassies, Russian strongman Putin thumbing his nose at President Obama, Iran jerking our chain – the U.S. hasn’t looked this cowardly on the world stage since the Jimmy Carter administration.

Here at home, too, we’ve gone back to the Carter future; unemployment is high, Keynesian economics are all the rage, our professorial president is increasingly whiny and ineffectual; all that’s missing is a cardigan sweater and that infernal violin.

Our recent contre-temps with Russia is a throw-back to the weak-kneed Carter era.   President Vladimir Putin has granted temporary asylum to NSA leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden, despite frantic efforts by the White House to take the traitor into custody.

Mr. Obama is said to be livid; after all, he has pursued a chummy relationship with Putin for years.

The similarities between Obama and Carter are not confined to foreign fiascos.

At one point his eagerness translated into a seeming breach of faith with his own country, when he was caught on tape promising Putin (via his former number two Dmitri Medvedev) even greater accommodation on missile defense once reelected.  Apparently the numerous earlier rebuffs from the Russian bully – on Iran, on missile defense, on Syria etc. — made no impression; Obama is ever hopeful.

Jimmy Carter was also unprepared to deal with Russia. NATO allies, worried about the Soviet deployment of longer-range, more capable SS-20 missiles in Europe beginning in 1976, pushed Carter to counter with U.S. cruise and Pershing missiles, to maintain strategic parity.

When Carter and Brezhnev met to sign Salt II, Carter whiffed; not only did he fail to win any agreement on the SS-20s, he never even broached the NATO demands.

Helmut Schmidt, who had spearheaded the strategy, was furious. Later, he described Jimmy Carter’s profound ignorance (and improbable optimism) about the Soviet Union: “He wasn’t aware that the Russians don’t know and never have known citizen’s rights,” the former German chancellor wrote.

In 1980, President Carter asked the Senate to discontinue consideration of the Salt II treaty in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a stunning rebuke to U.S. interests. The same year, he ordered a boycott of the Moscow Olympics.

Both Carter and Obama came to office convinced that by dint of righteousness or personality they could win over our enemies. That it was just a matter of persuasion.

President George W. Bush is widely scorned these days for attempting to export democracy to the peoples of other lands; Mr. Obama, like Carter before him, has sought kindness and justice from the likes of Hugo Chavez and Bashar-Al-Assad.  Which is more naïve?

Naivete is costly. Both the Carter and Obama administrations have been distinguished by the rare murder of an ambassador.

Even before the Iran hostage crisis that came to symbolize the failures of his presidency, Jimmy Carter was “shocked and saddened” when the Russians, along with Afghan security forces, killed Adolph Dubs, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

On Obama’s watch, of course, we lost Christopher Stevens, ambassador to Libya and three others; the president called it a “shocking attack.”

In both cases, critics charged the White House with incompetence and carelessness for not protecting our own.

Iran has proved a testing ground for both Carter and Obama, as the despots leading that country took the measure of U.S. leadership and found it wanting.

Under Carter, Iran took 52 U.S. citizens hostage in one of our country’s most humiliating chapters.

More recently, Iran’s former president Ahmadinejad has continued to publicly spurn Obama’s efforts to rein in that country’s nuclear ambitions, at times driving a wedge between the U.S. and ally Israel.

Obama’s lack of response to the mass slaughter in Syria and scrambled interactions with Egypt harks back to Carter’s impotence in the face of the 1979 OPEC oil embargo.

In Egypt today, the United States is ignored by both Islamist supporters of now-deposed President Morsi and also by the military; we are blamed by both sides for the chaos in that country. That’s quite an accomplishment, given the enormous aid we have ladled out to Egypt for decades. Unimaginably, it is EU foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton who is attempting to mediate between the two factions.

The parallels between the Carter and Obama presidencies are not accidental. Both men were elected in what amounted to a national rejection of their predecessors.

Neither candidate had any significant executive experience or foreign policy chops.

Carter ran on being an honest man – not Tricky Dick Nixon. Obama ran on being likeable and eager to unite the country – not arrogant and divisive George W. Bush.

Both men promised change, and fulfilled that promise. Unhappily, they did not always deliver change for the better.

The similarities between Obama and Carter are not confined to foreign fiascos.

Domestically, both have struggled to ignite growth and lower unemployment; both have clung to a profound belief in the powers of deficit spending and efficacy of federal meddling.

Faced with soaring inflation, Carter imposed price controls that caused rampant confusion and slowed growth; he also introduced gasoline rationing that led the country to quite literally run out of gas.

The same urge to tinker bedevils Obama, who cannot understand why consumers do not line up to buy the electric cars that he has required Detroit to manufacture, or why bankrolling uncompetitive “green” energy companies are bets that go bad.

Instead of searching for private market resolutions to problems like soaring medical costs, Obama chose to funnel even more of the economy through the federal spigot. Who today believes that ObamaCare is the best possible answer to reining in the cost of healthcare?

One of the few divides between the Obama presidency and that of Jimmy Carter is that Mr. Obama won reelection. Pity.

Liz Peek is a writer who contributes frequently to FoxNews.com. She is a financial columnist who also writes for The Fiscal Times. For more visit LizPeek.com. Follow her on Twitter@LizPeek.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/08/05/jimmy-carter-ghost-stalks-obama-white-house/#ixzz2bLrCh31p