The DC Morning – 9/20/10

Pat McMahon Contributor
Font Size:

Money-saving ideas will likely go nowhere unless GOP wins the House — Iowa Tea Partiers want Palin to genuflect more, endorse less — Medicare overseers develop high-tech remedy for their own incompetence — Nobody likes Nancy anymore, part 1 million — Gov. Paterson may be blind to Medicare over-spending, but his lieutenant isn’t — Unions run roughshod over liberal bourgeoisie

1.) Should we furlough the feds? — If he’s not careful, Rep. Mike Coffman is going to find himself on the receiving end of a sock full of bar-soap. According to the Washington Post, the Colorado Republican “wants to keep federal workers away from the office without pay for two weeks next fiscal year to help cut government costs,” and “unlike other cost-cutting bills introduced by the GOP, this one would also force a 10 percent pay cut for lawmakers.” While some have wondered if Coffman is practicing his standup routine, his proposal is actually the latest entry on a long list of legislative ideas Republicans brainstormed while waiting for the bus, walking the dog, dropping a deuce, &c. “The federal government continues to grow, and continues to rack up debt,” Coffman wrote on his website. “I would like to make the U.S. government as cost conscious as the states. My legislation is a start.” Yes, it is a start. Coupled with Sen. John McCain’s plan to reduce the number of political appointees by 1,500 positions, Sen. Coburn’s insistence that federal employees who don’t pay their taxes be shown the door, and Rep. Cynthia Lummis’ proposal that “one new employee replace every two federal retirees,” Coffman’s idea makes for good austerity porn. At least until one seriously considers the implications of derailing the largest middle-class welfare program in the country (blood in the streets and/or a cacophony of bitching).

2.) Sarah Palin sets a small trash fire in Iowa — “If Sarah Palin goes rogue in the Hawkeye State, will the Tea Party have her back?” That is the only question that matters anymore, says The Daily Caller’s Jon Ward. It is the real “To be, or not to be,” and for Alaska’s Hamlet, the answer to the above question is not obvious. Iowan Tea Partiers weren’t happy with Palin’s endorsement of GOP gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad. “I saw that merely as political expediency. I didn’t see it necessarily as genuine, so I wasn’t thrilled,” 33-year-old Cory Adams told Ward. “It’s not an automatic disqualifier. I would have to consider her but I’d also look at others.” Other Tea Partiers said the same thing, or close to it: The Branstad endorsement seemed too political. Is this a lesson about the dangers of playing local politics as if they were Fantasy State Politician Ball? No. God, no. This is America. Politicking across state lines is in the Bill of Rights, or should be. Iowans are willing to forgive Palin, if she will promise to further inflate their corn-addled egos. “You can’t win in Iowa without going to the central committee meetings and the community celebrations and the house parties,” said one activist. “We expect one-on-one interactions with our presidential candidates here.” The key to winning Iowa’s straw polls: Make the honkies feel like royalty!

3.) Feds to abandon ‘pay and chase’ method of not prosecuting Medicare/aid waste and abuse — “Proposed regulations being unveiled today seek to crack down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud by subjecting operators of certain medical firms to fingerprinting and stopping payments when credible fraud allegations are made,” reports USA Today. “The rules would give federal health officials key powers to identify fraud early and reduce the estimated $55 billion in improper payments made each year in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, said Peter Budetti, director of the new anti-fraud office at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.” Believe it or not, HHS has not always had these magical powers! Says Budetti, “Our initiative will allow us to go beyond what we’ve always called ‘pay and chase’ and to actually have the tools and mechanisms to prevent much of the fraud we’ve seen in recent years.” If you are thinking that the old method sounds a lot like waiting to install an alarm system until after your house is robbed, well, you would be right.

4.) House Democrats go Judas on Pelosi — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is shedding friends like a psoriasis sufferer backpacking through Death Valley sheds skin. It seems her colleagues, especially the ones from red states, want to keep their jobs. This new paradigm, in which everyone who kissed Pelosi’s ass for the last three years is now scrambling for a breath mint, is crystal clear in the case of Texas Rep. Chet Edwards. “Edwards, a conservative Democrat trying win an 11th term representing this area southwest of Dallas, said he has not made up his mind whether he would support Pelosi (D-Calif.) for another term as speaker, as he comes under fire back home for his close ties to the Democratic leader,” reports the Washington Post. The catch? Pelosi once talked up Edwards as a potential VP! And now? “I’ve made no commitments for speaker. Until we see the outcome of this election, I don’t even know who will be running for speaker,” Edwards–nickname Judas–told the Washington Post.

5.) Inept NY governor’s lieutenant says it’s a time for an overhaul of Medicaid — While New York Gov. David Paterson practices looking not stupid for his last few accidental months in a place of real power, his lieutenant is looking for a way to overhaul Medicaid. “In a report to be released Monday, [Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch] says the state should remove control of the rate-setting process for Medicaid, the joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor, from the Legislature to reduce the influence of politics. He also calls for limits on medical malpractice awards and for the re-examination of rules that allow middle-class families to shelter assets so they can qualify for coverage,” reports the New York Times. “Almost one in four New Yorkers now receive Medicaid, the report said, making it the largest purchaser of health care in the state and consuming a third of all the money the state spends every year.” Wrap your head around that number, taxpayer.

6.) Big fat unions eat regular old Democrats, use bones to bake bread — “Gentry liberals and public employee unions were allies in the Obama campaign in 2008,” writes Michael Barone at Real Clear Politics. “But now they’re in a civil war, in city and state politics. This raises the question of whether the Democratic Party favors public employee unions that want more money and less accountability, or gentry liberals and others who care about the quality of public services. Right now, the unions are winning.” Barone points to Washington, D.C., where a contingent of union forces helped Vince Gray oust Mayor Adrian Fenty and DC Public Schools Chancellor Michele Rhee, by striking “a chord with black voters when he denounced Rhee’s teacher layoffs — the same layoffs that gentry liberals hailed as eliminating bad teachers who hold back children from poor families.” This is happening all over America, or wherever they still have unions. Regular people are looking at what’s going on, wondering if maybe these downtrodden union employees are actually doing some trodding-down of their own, and just as they’re about to reach epiphany all over America, someone suddenly opens the door and says something like, “Do you like taking weekends off? The unions did that for you. Never forget.”

Pat McMahon