Meakem Update

Member Group : Glen Meakem

December 5-6 – Another Obama News Week

On my radio show this weekend, I covered another busy news week and shared more opinions on what I think is really going on.

Along with liberals in Congress, President Obama continued his push to ram a destructive and increasingly unpopular domestic agenda-including Cap and Trade, Card Check, and government run healthcare-down our throats. According to Rasmussen, only 30% of U.S. voters now believe that the country is moving in the right direction (its lowest level since February), and 71% are at least somewhat angry with the current policies of the federal government. In the wake of "Climate Gate," 52% of Americans now believe that there is no scientific consensus behind man made global warming and 59% now believe that at least some scientists falsified research data to support their own global warming theories. In addition, 62% of Americans now oppose a single-payer, government run healthcare system, which is included in both the House and Senate healthcare overhaul bills. No wonder President Obama’s approval rating is now in the mid 40s!

Dr. Bill Sahlman, a well known professor at Harvard Business School (and my entrepreneurial finance professor twenty years ago when I was a student there) was on the show to discuss a paper he recently wrote on health care. Bill is an expert on incentives and argues that Congress is completely incapable of holding down the overall costs of social programs. Politicians are always focused on short term actions and impressions so they can claim credit and get re-elected as opposed to the long term consequences of the policies they put in place. One result of this problem with incentives is that the current unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Medicaid now surpass $36 TRILLION. No matter what you think about access to health care or access to health care insurance, this enormous unfunded taxpayer liability based on current law and the entitlement expectations of our whole population, presents a daunting challenge. Bill would like to see "reform" that actually creates universal coverage and cuts costs from the health care system. Among other things, Bill believes that medical mal-practice reform would save a lot of money. However, his analysis indicates that the Democratic Party’s proposed "health insurance reform" bills will actually restrict care and choices for many Americans while dramatically raising overall costs. Yes, the current "reform" proposals will only make our health care problems worse.

Other information that became public last week confirms Bill’s point of view. The non-partisan CBO analysis of "HarryCare" (the bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is currently pushing through the Senate) projects that the Senator’s plan will cause average PER PERSON private health premiums to increase by 10-13% MORE than they would under current trends. If passed into law, HarryCare will force more and more middle class Americans onto the government’s medical plan for poor people – Medicaid. By some estimates, over 100 million Americans who currently are covered under private plans will be forced onto Medicaid or other equivalent government plans. This will create a defacto single payer government system. Under such a system, the only way to limit the costs paid by tax payers is to ration care. This is true in Canada, the UK, and other countries. And if a single payer system is enacted in the U.S., it will be true here as well. Among other negatives from this, we can all look forward to long waits for care and a 38% increase in the overall death rate from cancer. (The death rate from cancer is currently 38% higher in the United Kingdom than in the United States. Why don’t the liberals who really want socialized medicine just move to Canada or the United Kingdom and let the rest of us manage our own health and keep our freedom?)

Instead of spending so much time and energy on the liberal, destructive and unpopular domestic agenda of the President, the White House and Congress should focus more of their attention on foreign policy. The good news is that President Obama finally decided to send 30,000 additional battle hardened U.S. Army Soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan. The bad news is that President Obama also revealed a strict eighteen month deadline by which he will start pulling the troops out. If we are serious about implementing a successful "surge" strategy that wins the support of the Afghan people, then we simply cannot establish an arbitrary timeline for withdrawal. We must be willing to "stay the course" if we truly wish to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda. Although I applaud the President’s decision to send more troops, he should not have waited more than 90 days to make this critical decision, the 18 month limit is bad war-fighting policy, and the President should have given General Stanley McChrystal, our commander on the ground, the full 40,000 troops he requested. But, despite the negative sides to this story, I am hoping that the 30,000 new troops are enough and that the eighteen month departure deadline ends up being one more commitment that President Obama does not keep.

The reality is that President Obama’s leadership does not inspire confidence. Nowhere in his 30 minute address to the cadets at West Point did Obama mention the words "winning" or "victory." Several military leaders (including Admiral Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates) have already contradicted the President by saying that we will reassess where we are in eighteen months before implementing a draw down of forces and eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan. History shows that if a war is truly "necessary," as President Obama called the situation in Afghanistan this August, then we must be willing to fight it if we want our nation and our constitution to survive in the long run. The truth is that our spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is a tiny fraction of what we spend on domestic entitlement programs. We can afford to win in Afghanistan and we have the world’s best military, which is capable of fighting and winning an anti-insurgent struggle. Now we must pray that our military can make it happen.

The President also needs to focus much more on Iran. Instead of agreeing to reduce their nuclear program and submitting to UN inspections as President Obama had hoped, Iran announced one week ago that it would build TEN new uranium enrichment sites. Iran has also refused to reduce its current stockpile of enriched uranium, which Tehran will use to build nuclear weapons. Instead of respecting President Obama’s request to end the violation of human rights carried out by Tehran against individuals protesting the results of June’s Iranian Presidential election, Iran has condemned 8 people to die and sentenced 81 others to prison. And these are the numbers the Iranian government has released publicly. Photographs smuggled out of Iran and posted on the Internet indicate that many, many more protesters, members of what is known as the Green Movement, may have been executed already this year. Now, Tehran is harassing and intimidating Iranian people around the globe who criticize the current regime. Let me see, I seem to remember President Obama and the entire liberal establishment blaming the problems with Iran on President George W. Bush.

President Obama and other liberals stated condescendingly that all that was needed were direct negotiations and less arrogance. Well, 12 months later, it seems that President Obama and the liberals were dead wrong, with a lot of Iranian blood to prove it.

President Obama needs to mature fast as President. He is going to have to deal with Iran. If he does not, then we will be faced with a Totalitarian Islamic nuclear power who will hold Israel, the United States, and the rest of the world hostage. Mr. President! Forget about absurd climate change gatherings and Nobel peace prizes, the time to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is now!

Glen Meakem