On Thursday, the Senate voted 52-48 to effectively abolish the filibuster for nominations to all federal offices except the Supreme Court. No longer can 40 senators block appointments to federal appeals courts, independent agencies, and high-ranking positions. The Senate’s Democratic majority used a tactic known as the “nuclear option” that Senate Democrats themselves had long considered a violation of Senate rules. Using the same controversial tactic, they can — and probably will — later abolish the filibuster entirely, even for legislation and Supreme Court nominations.
Inequality grows hand-in-hand with regulatory complexity. The proliferation of regulations increases economic inequality, since powerful people and politically-connected firms know how to exploit the regulatory process to harm their rivals and enrich themselves at the public’s expense. As the Roman senator and historian Tacitus observed, “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”
If an alien from outer space read today’s newspapers, it would assume that America is a dictatorship, not a republic, and that President Obama has the authority to pass and repeal laws all by himself, though executive decree. Writing about Obama’s decision to let insurers temporarily reissue certain policies cancelled due to the Affordable Care Act, The Washington Post stated that the President “changed one of the bedrock requirements of the new health-care law to fulfill his promise to allow people to keep their insurance plans if they want.”
“Obama’s green energy drive comes with an unadvertised environmental cost,” notes the Associated Press, in a story focusing on President Obama’s environmentally-destructive support for ethanol mandates:
The hills of southern Iowa bear the scars of America’s push for green energy: The brown gashes where rain has washed away the soil. The polluted streams that dump fertilizer into the water supply….
A Colorado woman who championed Obamacare lost her insurance plan. As a CBS TV station in Denver noted, “Millions of people are getting cancellation notices, including about 250,000 Coloradans. For years the president said that those who like their current plan would be able to keep it, but it turns out that’s not the case.”
Today, the Senate voted 64-to-32 to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban workplace bias based on sexual orientation or transgender status. It is uncertain whether it will pass the House, since House Speaker John Boehner has expressed opposition to the bill, and may not even bring it to a vote. ENDA’s costs outweigh its potential benefits, as I explain here, here, and here.
A story in the Daily Caller highlights the discrimination and racial preferences contained in Obamacare. It’s a subject that has received remarkably little attention, even though the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded back in 2009 that the healthcare bill was racially discriminatory, in two ways. First, the law is filled with “sections that factor in race when awarding billions in contracts, scholarships and grants” and give “preferential treatment to minority students for scholarships.” Second, in other ways, it may actually discriminate against minority patients.
At the National Review, Roger Clegg discusses the racial “diversity quotas” that may result from a proposed regulation under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which expanded federal control over banking. That law contains racial diversity mandates drafted by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Castro-loving, left-wing ideologue who called the Los Angeles race riots that destroyed many Korean-owned shops an “uprising” against injustice. Waters once told a CEO in a Congressional hearing, “This liberal will be all about socializing . . . .uh, uh . . . would be about, basically, taking over and the government running all of your companies.”
Glitches on the Obamacare web site left people unable to purchase insurance despite hours or days of trying. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The website also dramatically understates health insurance costs, note CBS News and Jeff Dunetz in a column yesterday:
CBS News has investigated the new feature at Healthcare.gov which allows consumers to see the offered insurance plans without registering. Its reporters found that the pricing displayed dramatically underestimates the actual cost of the plans.
At EcoWatch, Megan Quinn Bachman called for creating state-owned banks in order to fund “green electricity—and other sustainability projects.” But government-owned banks have a sad history of subsidizing ecologically-destructive boondoggles. She cites one of the few state banks that ever turned a profit, the Bank of North Dakota. But its funds have gone to fossil-fuel projects, not green energy.
This past weekend, the Washington Post reported that J.P.Morgan Chase will pay $13 billion to settle lawsuits against it by the federal government and two state attorneys general. Judging from the story, the proposed settlement contains provisions that rip off taxpayers and investors. This is depressing, but perhaps not surprising from an administration that used past mortgage settlements to rip off innocent mortgage investors, and enrich real estate speculators and irresponsible borrowers.
Countless tax dollars have been spent on government anti-bullying programs, and 49 states have anti-bullying laws. After New Jersey passed its broad anti-bullying law, hundreds of schools “snapped up a $1,295 package put together by a consulting firm that includes a 100-page manual.” But recently, a University of Texas researcher found that anti-bullying programs increase bullying, and “actually teach students different bullying techniques — and even educate about new ways to bully” classmates: