Will Gates Be Billed For the Red Stripe?
The White House has gone (at least selectively) Dutch.
Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office.
But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.
The White House defended the unusual move as a way to avoid conflicts of interest. But the Bush administration didn’t charge presidential guests for meals, one former official said, and at least one etiquette expert found the whole thing unseemly – suggesting it was a serious breach of protocol.
“I’m sure they have their political reasons for doing that, but I think it’s not what quote, hospitality, unquote is all about,” said Letitia Baldrige, who headed Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House staff in the early 1960s. “We’ve got to relax about this. To have people to the White House and worry about the price of things is laughable.”
ObamaCare 1% More Popular Than HillaryCare During Death Throes
Per a new WSJ/NBC poll, 41% of Americans approve of Obama's health care takeover, compared with 40% who backed Clinton's health care takeover in July 1994.
A month later, HillaryCare was as dead as a Canadian awaiting simple surgery.
(Interesting things happened four months later too...)
Obamacare Spending - Medicare Savings - Soak-the-Rich Tax = Still a Helluva Deficit
As long as that hefty new "surtax" goes into effect, everything's peachy until 2013. After that, well...
Saving Money With Obamanomics: Spend $1,000, Save $2.
We all knew the President's claim that 2/3 of the cost would be covered by the savings generated by the federal government's famous capacity for efficiency was bunk, but 0.2% is comically pathetic.
For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat's health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years.
A key House chairman and moderate House Democrats on Tuesday agreed to a White House-backed proposal that would give an outside panel the power to make cuts to government-financed health care programs. White House budget director Peter Orszag declared the plan "probably the most important piece that can be added" to the House's health care reform legislation.
But on Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal to give an independent panel the power to keep Medicare spending in check would only save about $2 billion over 10 years- a drop in the bucket compared to the bill's $1 trillion price tag.
"In CBO's judgment, the probability is high that no savings would be realized ... but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized. Looking beyond the 10-year budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis," CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a letter to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Saturday.
Sounds like the country's evil wealth creators might have to foot a somewhat larger share of the trillion-dollar tab than advertised.
Having a public plan out there that also shows that maybe if you take some of the profit motive out, maybe if you are reducing some of the administrative costs, that you can get an even better deal, that's going to incentivize the private sector to do even better.
Strategy Room 1:00-2:00
I'll be on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com today from 1-2 pm.
"You're Going To Destroy My Presidency"
I thought this wasn't about him...
I guess maybe it is.
A telling episode recounted by Senate Finance ranking member Charles Grassley reveals the Obama administration might be more worried than they are letting on that a Republican senator's comparison of the healthcare overhaul to Waterloo might be dangerously close to the truth.
Grassley said he spoke with a Democratic House member last week who shared Obama's bleak reaction during a private meeting to reports that some factions of House Democrats were lining up to stall or even take down the overhaul unless leaders made major changes.
"Let's just lay everything on the table," Grassley said. "A Democrat congressman last week told me after a conversation with the president that the president had trouble in the House of Representatives, and it wasn't going to pass if there weren't some changes made ... and the president says, 'You're going to destroy my presidency.'"
If the broad and growing public opposition to a government health care takeover is any indication, Obama's trillion-dollar experiment being thwarted may well save his Presidency, not destroy it.
ObamaCare On Life Support
And there's an unmistakable poetry to the inevitability (knock wood) that a roomful of politicians will be unable to nurse it back to health.
Trillion-Dollar Health Care Plan Will Save Money, We Swear!
But no, we're not going to let you see the budget until after we've rammed it through.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is being forced to acknowledge the wide gap between its once-upbeat predictions about the economy and today's bleak landscape.
The administration's annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Barack Obama's budget in February and update in May, and that could complicate his efforts to get his signature health care and global-warming proposals through Congress.
The release of the update - usually scheduled for mid-July - has been put off until the middle of next month, giving rise to speculation the White House is delaying the bad news at least until Congress leaves town on its August 7 summer recess.
The administration is pressing for votes before then on its $1 trillion health care initiative, which lawmakers are arguing over how to finance.
No One Likes You, Public Option
No more than 35% do, anyway.
Health Rations And You
NYC Top Marginal Combined Tax Rate Would Near 60%
Who wouldn't want to work for the government until August every year?
Congressional plans to fund a massive health-care overhaul could have a job-killing effect on New York, creating a tax rate of nearly 60 percent for the state's top earners and possibly pressuring small-business owners to shed workers.
The top rate in New York City, home to many of the state's wealthiest people, would be 58.68 percent, the Washington-based Tax Foundation said in a report yesterday.
That means New York's top earners, small-business owners and most dynamic entrepreneurs will be facing new fees and penalties.
The $544 billion tax hike would violate one of President Obama's ironclad campaign promises: No family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s.
On the bright side, government control of private sector compensation ought to help ease New Yorkers' concerns about reaching the top bracket.
John Murtha, Still Corrupt After All These Years
Memoirs Of a Manslaughtering Sot: Yours For $1,000 (Cheap!)
If that sounds expensive, bear in mind your copy will in fact be electronically signed.
At a time when publishers are scrambling to keep customers willing to pay $26 for a hardcover book instead of $9.99 for an electronic version, the publisher of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s forthcoming memoir is going in the opposite direction - issuing a limited edition it plans to sell for $1,000 a copy.
Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing, is planning to issue 1,000 copies of a leather-bound, electronically signed edition of “True Compass’’ and sell them through the website of Hachette Book Group, the parent company of Grand Central. Although publishers and licensed contractors do occasionally produce collectors’ editions on various titles, such a premium version is quite rare.
Obama's Stimulus-Defending Speech Commits Karakiri
Ol' Prompty finally tired of living the lie.
President Barack Obama was defending his economic stimulus plan when one of his teleprompter screens crashed to the floor and shattered into pieces.
The glass plate displaying his speech hit the floor in the auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, within the White House compound.
Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies
It could be a combination of 19th-century mechanics, 21st-century technology — and a 20th-century horror movie.
A Maryland company under contract to the Pentagon is working on a steam-powered robot that would fuel itself by gobbling up whatever organic material it can find — grass, wood, old furniture, even dead bodies.
Robotic Technology Inc.'s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot — that's right, "EATR" — "can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable," reads the company's Web site.
(HT: HA Headlines)
Attention 95% of Americans: Here Are Some More Taxes From Which You Should Probably Avert Your Eyes
The cost of free health care (for starters):
Well, the pain has arrived. Politico has a list passed around by Democrats last night.
Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching:
— Broaden the 1.45-percent Medicare tax on earned income to “passive income,” which could include money from capital gains, rental properties and businesses that do not require direct participation. This could raise $100 billion.
— Levy a five-percent surtax on individuals who earn more than $500,000 and couples that make $1 million.
— Tax health benefits at a higher level than had been considered. Two scenarios are in play. Taxing plans worth more than $20,300 for a family and $8,300 for an individual could raise $240 billion. Increasing the cut-off to plans worth more than $25,000 would bring $90 billion.
— Capping the tax break on itemized deductions at 28 percent, as President Barack Obama had proposed, or freezing the top deduction rate at 35 percent when the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010. The first scenario would raise $168 billion, while the second would collect $90 billion.
— Issue tax credit bonds to pay for the proposed Medicaid expansion, raising $75 billion.
— Charge fees to pharmaceutical manufacturers, bringing in as much as $20 billion, and insurance providers, raising $75 billion.
– Raise taxes on sodas and sugary drinks. A 3-cent hike could pick up $30 billion, and a 10-cent hike could make $100 billion. This one already appears out of favor: Many senators have specifically ruled out the sugar tax, and a Senate Democratic source said it was the one option that was clearly not gaining traction with committee members.
Call a Doctor If You Experience Cognitive Dissonance That Last For More Than Four Months
These expensive stimulus pills don't seem to be stimulating us...
So let's take some more!
In an interview this morning with ABC News Good Morning America, Warren Buffett suggested that a second government bill to give the economy a jolt, saying “I think that a second one may well be called for.”
In an effort to explain his thinking, the septogenarian Billionaire investor turned to something of a strange simile. “Our first stimulus bill, it seems to me, was sort of like taking a half a tablet of Viagra, you know, and then having also a bunch of candy mixed in you know — everybody was putting in things for their own constituencies — it doesn’t have really quite the wallop that might have been anticipated.”
Algore: Solar Flares = Nazis (Or Something)
Ugh, can't you just go polish your spoken-word Grammy and leave us in peace?
Strategy Room 3:00-4:00
I'll be on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com today from 3-4 pm.
Update: An excerpt, featuring a discussion on health care reform (and, naturally, Michael Jackson).
Cap and Trade and You
Calculate your family's burden.
(HT: Hot Air)
Underemployed Secretary of State Defying Her Boss Openlier and Openlier
The grapple over her former Senate seat is the latest battle field in the apparently swiftly deepening rift between Barry and Hil.
Presto: Obama Saved or Created Another 130 Million Jobs In June
Unemployment ticked up to 9.5% and the economy shed a much-worse-than-expected 467,000 jobs in June, meaning nearly 132 million grateful Americans saw their livelihoods saved by their President during the month.
The June data brings the total payroll shrinkage since Obama's inauguration to 2.9 million. A significant majority of those job losses (nearly 2.2 million) have occurred since enactment of the "stimulus" plan.