Monthly Archives: October 2013
President Obama is about to play defense, for three years.
Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08
BY FRED BARNES
President Obama is facing the abyss. It’s that moment when a president’s plans are overwhelmed by his problems, and he’s relegated to playing defense for the rest of his White House term. Obama’s agenda already lingers near death. His poll numbers have slipped to new lows. His speeches are full of alibis and accusations.
Obama hasn’t reached the point of no return, but he’s close. His biggest problem is the collapse of Obamacare on its launching pad as the entire country watched. And there’s worse trouble ahead. More likely than not, Obamacare will be the dominant issue in the final three-plus years of his presidency. From that, there’s no recovery.
Years on defense—impotent years—have beset even the strongest of presidents. After the Iran-contra scandal broke in November 1986, the Reagan presidency was essentially over. He served two more years and made a triumphant trip to the Soviet Union, but his power was gone. The low point was the overturning of his veto of a highway bill.
Jimmy Carter’s presidency was hardly a powerhouse. Still, it had one shining moment, when the Camp David peace accord between Israel and Egypt was signed in September 1978. What clout Carter had vanished after the “malaise” speech in July 1979. It made him a target of ridicule.
Impeachment in 1998 forced President Clinton into retreat. His popularity remained high, but he abandoned an agenda that included entitlement reform. Even an unexpected Democratic victory in the midterm elections in his second term couldn’t revive his presidency.
In George W. Bush’s case, problems in his second term quickly engulfed his administration. The Iraq war became a bloodbath, his plan for overhauling Social Security had few takers, and he was blamed, unfairly, for the incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina. A troop buildup and adoption of a counterinsurgency strategy saved Iraq from disaster, but otherwise Bush’s second term was marked by futility.
Now, with his presidency in peril, Obama seems unprepared to avert paralysis. The failed startup of Obamacare, its website a “joke” in the view of 60 percent of America in a Fox News poll, caught the president by surprise. He refused to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem, conceding only that healthcare.gov wasn’t working as “smoothly as it was supposed to.” Neither is his presidency.
From all appearances, Obama sees the Obamacare mess as partly a political headache. A headline in Politico last week captured this: “White House works to flip Obamacare narrative.” It’s as if Obama and his advisers think they’re dealing with a faux pas to be smoothed over with political spin. Commentary’s Peter Wehner calls this attitude “detachment from reality.”
True, Obamacare will be a campaign issue in the 2014 midterm elections and no doubt a significant factor in the presidential election two years later. But that’s not because Obamacare is merely a matter of politics. It’s because Obamacare is now the official health care system for 310 million people and represents one-sixth of the American economy.
And it’s a national embarrassment whose troubles are only beginning. Unpleasant shocks loom for a majority of Americans who tap into Obamacare exchanges. Those 40 years of age and younger will discover next year their insurance premiums are “a lot higher than they would pay in today’s market,” says health care expert James Capretta. That will create a furor.
So, too, some lower-middle-income and middle-class Americans will find their access to doctors is limited. Why? Because many of the country’s biggest and best hospitals and some doctors have not agreed to take on this category of patients. Also, patients will be forced to endure longer waits as a result of a doctor shortage. In 2015 and 2016, the popular Medicare Advantage program will shrink.
Low-income folks and those with preexisting conditions will prosper under Obamacare. But how will middle-income Americans feel when they learn they’re paying considerably more for the same insurance? Not happy, I suspect. Or those under 30 who chose a “catastrophic-only” policy with high deductibles? They won’t be thrilled when told they are ineligible for a subsidy, whatever their income.
The point is that as Obamacare is rolled out over the final years of this presidency, there will be numerous occasions when Obama’s promises about the new health insurance scheme are exposed as untrue. If these incidents don’t provoke a crisis, they’ll at least keep Obamacare from fading as a prominent and fiercely debated issue.
And the president will pay a price. He’ll be stuck on defense, unable to change the subject. His agenda won’t help. A $9 minimum wage, universal preschool, immigration reform, global warming legislation, more infrastructure spending, higher taxes—there’s nothing close to a national consensus in support of these liberal leftovers.
Despite all this, Obama could escape a lost presidency. He has a loyal base that’s kept his approval rating in the low 40s. (Carter and Bush dipped into the 20s.) Democrats may be dreaming when they envision a 2014 election in which Republicans suffer badly from the shutdown. But it’s not inconceivable Republicans could lose the House, and their prospects of capturing the Senate are no better than 50-50. Then and only then, Obama’s presidency could be spared an early death and the nation’s attention shifted from a dreadful health plan named after him. That’s a nice scenario, but I’m not buying it. The humiliation of presiding over Obamacare’s debut won’t be soon forgotten.
But ponder this: Had Obamacare been created as a private enterprise with Obama as CEO, it wouldn’t have lasted a week. Not only would the stumbling company have been put out of business, so would its incompetent CEO. And we’d all—well, most of us—be better off.
Fred Barnes is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard.
Corpus Christi, TX – Analysis: From Big Foot to Bluto, Gulf of Mexico set for record oil supply surge
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:10pm EDT By Kristen Hays and Terry Wade
(Reuters) – The Gulf of Mexico, stung by the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history in 2010 and then overshadowed by the onshore fracking boom, is on the verge of its biggest supply surge ever, adding to the American oil renaissance.
Over the next three years, the Gulf is poised to deliver a slug of more than 700,000 barrels per day of new crude, reversing a decline in production and potentially rivaling shale hot spots like Texas’s Eagle Ford formation in terms of growth.
The revival began this summer, when Royal Dutch Shell‘s (RDSa.L) 100,000 barrels per day Olympus platform was towed out to sea 130 miles south of New Orleans – the first of seven new ultra-modern systems starting up through 2016. It weighs 120,000 tons, more than 200 Boeing 777 jumbo jets.
The Gulf Of Mexico’s growth will bolster the United States’ emerging role as the world’s top oil and gas producer, a trend led by advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that unlock hydrocarbons from tight rock reservoirs in places like North Dakota’s Bakken and the Permian of West Texas.
Rising domestic production and the start of natural gas exports may transform the economy and realign geopolitics as U.S. reliance on foreign oil declines.
The resurgence in the Gulf is occurring even though the U.S. government imposed stringent safety and environmental rules after BP Plc‘s (BP.L) Macondo spill. Foreign countries from Brazil to Angola have also aggressively courted Big Oil to invest in developing their offshore fields. And the shale boom has diverted billions of dollars in capital onshore.
The deepwater Gulf, considered the most technically challenging offshore oil patch, remains alluring even as other areas struggle. Brazil attracted only a single bid this month for its once-touted Libra field, yet global companies still compete fiercely for the right to drill in the Gulf.
“A barrel of discovered oil in the Gulf of Mexico is difficult to beat for value anywhere else, even with the increased costs of doing business,” said Jez Averty, senior vice president of North American exploration at Norway’s Statoil (STL.OL).
Huge finds over the last decade – in what engineers call “elephant fields” that can produce for 25 years or more – are lifting growth in a basin some companies once abandoned, fearing it was drying up or its resources were beyond reach.
“This is still one of the premier oil and gas regions in the world and that’s why we’ve never left,” said Steve Thurston, vice president of Chevron Corp‘s (CVX.N) North American exploration and production division.
Even after decades of production in the Gulf, government estimates have shown that 48 billion barrels could still be recovered.
The area of the Gulf of Mexico where most of the new infrastructure will start up is in an ancient geological trend in its deepest waters 200 miles or more from shore known as the Lower Tertiary, estimated to hold 15 billion barrels of crude.
Appraisals in the Gulf’s Lower Tertiary have shown fields that could have half a billion barrels or more of oil, like Exxon Mobil Corp’s (XOM.N) Hadrian, estimated to hold up to 700 million barrels, or Anadarko Petroleum Corp‘s (APC.N) Shenandoah, which tests this year showed could hold up to three times more than initial estimates of 300 million barrels.
The potential bounty of massive deposits that can produce for a quarter century or more is what keeps players coming even though a single well that bores tens of thousands of feet through thick salt and rock to strike oil – or a dry hole – can cost $130 million or more.
By contrast, an onshore well costs about $8 million to drill – but may only produce a trickle of oil for a few years.
Chevron’s Jack/St. Malo project, which will tie a platform to the ocean floor 7,000 feet below the surface and tap a reservoir 26,000 feet deep, costs $7.5 billion.
It may become the biggest such platform in the world after shipping out later this year, with the ability to double its initial 170,000 bpd capacity. It will be followed next year by Chevron’s second new platform, Big Foot, to be secured to the sea floor by 16 miles of interlocking metal strands, or tendons.
In addition to projects by Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N) and Williams Cos (WMB.N), private equity firm Blackstone Energy Partners will join the game. In 2015, Blackstone’s partner LLOG Exploration aims to start up Delta House – named for the boisterous fraternity in the film “Animal House” – less than 10 miles from BP’s plugged Macondo well.
Delta House will pump oil from the Marmalard and Bluto fields, namesakes of characters in the movie.
CLEAR AND STABLE RULES
Three years ago, some analysts thought the post-Macondo Gulf would have fewer players as stricter regulations and higher operating chilled activity, particularly for smaller companies.
Producers must now provide more detailed plans for offshore operations, submit to more frequent inspections and prove they have access to a rapid-response system to cap a gushing well. More than 4 million barrels of oil poured into the sea for 87 days after the Macondo well blowout killed 11 men.
High costs have given some companies pause. Even as BP began appraisal drilling at its self-described “giant” Tiber field this August, a month later it canceled contracts to build a second platform at its Mad Dog field. BP says it wants to move forward on Mad Dog 2 “with the right plan.”
Many others are pressing ahead full steam.
“It hasn’t scared us away,” John Hollowell, Shell’s top deepwater executive for Shell Upstream Americas said, noting deepwater is one-third of Shell’s growth platform, alongside natural gas and unconventional areas like onshore shales.
Hess Corp (HES.N) Chief Executive John Hess has told analysts the company, which operates one oil and gas platform in the Gulf with another on the way next year, also aims to increase its exploration in the deep waters.
“It’s a core area for us and now that Macondo is behind the industry, it is an area where we intend to start investing more, assuming we get the returns that we expect,” he said.
Companies say the Gulf is still the best deepwater basin to set up shop – with high profit margins, reasonable per-barrel costs and a predictable legal and regulatory system.
Operators can bring in their own workers rather than employ a certain number from the host country, as they do in Brazil – where just finding enough qualified workers is a hurdle.
Gulf operators also do not have to brace themselves for sudden changes in royalty requirements or possibly be blocked from bidding on drilling rights, as has happened in Angola.
To get in the Gulf of Mexico’s door, they put in the highest bid when the government leases drilling rights.
“All you have to do is show up at the lease sale,” Statoil’s Averty said.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)
This week the SubseaIQ team added 4 new projects and updated 13 projects. You can see all the updates made over any time period via the Project Update History search. The latest offshore field development news and activities are listed below for your convenience.
Africa – West
Oct 24, 2013 – Lukoil completed drilling the Savannah-1X wildcat in the Sl-5-11 license offshore Sierra Leone. The well was drilled on schedule by the Eirik Raude (UDW semisub) to a depth of 14,519 feet. Several oil-bearing reservoirs were confirmed and oil samples were taken from Turonian sands. Drilling data will be evaluated through the end of the year to advance the company’s geological understanding of the area.
Project Details: Savannah
Asia – Far East
CNOOC Announces Additional Bohai Bay Discoveries
Oct 24, 2013 – CNOOC announced an oil discovery at its Luda 5-2 North field in Bohai Bay. The Luda 5-2N-2 and Luda 5-2N-4 wells were each drilled to a depth of 3,740 feet and encountered gross pay zones of 390 and 280 feet respectively. Luda 5-2N-2 tested oil at a rate 1,040 barrels per day. Additionally, the company announced the successful appraisal of the Kenli 9-5/9-6 oil field. The Kenli 9-5-2D and 9-6-2 wells were drilled in the southern part of Bohai Bay. Kenli 9-6-2 flowed at a rate of 200 barrels per day.
S. America – Brazil
Petrobras-led Consortium to Develop Pre-Salt Libra Field
Oct 24, 2013 – A group of companies comprised of Petrobras, Shell, Total, CNPC and CNOOC won a 35-year production sharing contract to develop the Libra pre-salt oil field in the Santos Basin offshore Brazil. Libra is located in block BM-S-11 in 6,500 feet of water and is estimated to hold as much at 12 billion barrels of oil. Additional appraisal will be needed to determine the best development scenario and to confirm production rates that are currently estimated at 1.4 MMbopd. Petrobras will serve as the operator with a 40 percent stake on behalf of its partners Shell (20 percent), Total (20 percent), CNPC (10 percent) and CNOOC (10 percent).
Europe – North Sea
Oct 24, 2013 – Drilling results at Eni’s Bonna prospect in the Barents Sea proved to be disappointing. Well 7016/2-1 was drilled by the Scarabeo 8 (UDW semisub) to a depth of 13,205 feet. The well was drilled to investigate the possibility of gas in the Eocene and Paleocene reservoirs of the Sotbakken Group. No reservoir-quality rocks were encountered and the well has been declared dry.
Project Details: Bonna
Asia – SouthEast
Oct 24, 2013 – Neon Energy announced the spud of the Ca Ngu-1 exploration well in Block 120 offshore Vietnam. The objective of the well is to prove the presence of hydrocarbons in Pliocene clastic and Miocene carbonate reservoirs. Block operator ENI secured the Songa Mercur (mid-water semisub) to drill the well in 885 feet of water to a target depth of around 4,900 feet. If successful, the well could de-risk the nearby Rua Bien and Ca Lang prospects. Block 120 partners consist of ENI (50%), Neon Energy (25%) and KrisEnergy (25%).
Project Details: Ca Ngu
Oct 24, 2013 – Subsea tree installation, well clean-up and flow testing of the Galoc-6H development well have successfully been completed at the Otto Energy-operated Galoc field. Galoc-6H flowed at a stable rate of 3,800 bopd on a 56/64-inch choke with a flowing tubing pressure of ~570 psi. These results were constrained by the testing equipment onboard the Ocean Patriot (mid-water semisub). Once tied into production facilities, Otto expects normal production from the well to reach 4,000 to 6,000 bopd. The 5H and 6H wells were drilled as part of the Phase II development plan which aims to increase field production to 12,000 bopd. Phase II production is scheduled to begin in November 2013.
Project Details: Galoc
S. America – Other & Carib.
Oct 25, 2013 – French supermajor Total announced its decision to move forward with the development of the Vega Pleyade gas and condensate field offshore Argentina. The field is located in the Cuenca Marina Austral 1 (CMA-1) concession that Total has operated since 1978. Development consists of installing a new production platform in about 160 feet of water. Three production wells will be drilled from the platform and produced gas will flow through 48 miles of subsea pipeline to a treatment plant at Rio Cullen. In a separate initiative, Total will begin a drilling campaign in 2014 aimed at boosting production from the Carina field and providing additional appraisal in CMA-1. Total owns a 37.5 percent stake in the concession. Its partners include Wintershall (37.5 percent) and Pan American Energy (25 percent).
Project Details: Vega Pleyade
Oct 25, 2013 – Drilling operations are complete at the Eni-operated Evans Shoal North-1 appraisal well. The well, located in the Timor Sea, was drilled by the Ensco 104 (400′ ILC) to a depth of almost 13,000 feet. Results indicate that the Evans Shoal North-1 reservoir is in communication with the reservoir encountered while drilling Evans Shoal-2. Eni conducted a production test and achieved a constrained rate of 30 MMscfd. The operator estimates the Evans Shoal field to contain at least 8 Tcf of in place gas resources and remains committed to establishing a fast-track development in the area. Eni’s partners in the field include Shell (32.5 percent), Petronas (25 percent) and Osaka Gas (10 percent).
Project Details: Evans Shoal
Oct 25, 2013 – ExxonMobil announced the start of production from its Kipper Tuna Turrum (KTT) project in the Bass Strait. Gas is now being produced at the Tuna field and oil is flowing from Turrum to the Marlin B production platform. At $4.3 billion, KTT is the largest domestic oil and gas development on Australia’s eastern seaboard. Production startup from the Kipper field is expected to commence in 2016.
Project Details: Kipper Tuna Turrum (KTT)
OnQuest said it has been awarded a contract by joint venture partners Stabilis Energy and Flint Hills Resources (FHR) to provide a turnkey scope of engineering services and project management for a 100,000-gallon-per-day natural gas liquefaction and distribution facility in George West, Texas, that will address demand for a reliable and safe supply of high-horsepower fuel to oilfields in Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale.
OnQuest will provide a fully functioning LNG facility with scope that includes project execution, engineering, construction, buildings, power and utilities. OnQuest’s sister company James Construction Group is contracted with OnQuest to construct the plant. Work begins immediately.
“OnQuest, James Construction Group, and our parent company Primoris Services Corporation are extremely pleased to have won the competition for the work at George West,” said OnQuest president Randolph R. “Randy” Kessler.
“We’re encouraged that the market for providing turnkey engineering, procurement and construction project supervision on micro-LNG process plants continues to grow,” said Kessler. “This win reflects Stabilis and FHR’s confidence in OnQuest’s ability to deliver LNG facility projects profitably and on schedule.”
Stabilis Energy is a Beaumont, Tex.-based holding company focused on investments in developing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in North America. Flint Hills Resources is a leading refining, chemical and biofuels company. Chart Industries will provide cryogenic and liquefaction equipment for the project.
“OnQuest shares Stabilis Energy and Flint Hills Resources’ commitment to expediting a cost-effective solution for operations in the Eagle Ford basin,” added Kessler. “And we look forward to working as engineering partners with technology provider Chart Industries.”
OnQuest specializes in lump-sum, turnkey engineering, procurement and construction project management (EPC). In 2008, OnQuest and sister company ARB, Inc., completed a micro-LNG plant producing 160,000 GPD LNG in Boron, Calif., for Clean Energy Fuels Corporation.
Established in 2002, OnQuest has become a global leader in turnkey engineering, procurement and construction for small and mid-sized LNG production and distribution facilities — in particular for companies requiring purpose-built facilities or that have natural gas assets far from existing LNG terminals. The company also provides engineering feasibility studies and project cost estimates to companies considering investments in mid-scale process plants.
A bitter diplomatic row between US and Saudi Arabia has burst into the open in a development that could threaten one of the Middle East’s core alliances and Washington’s leadership in the region
BST 22 Oct 2013 By Peter Foster, in Washington, Ruth Sherlock in Beirut and Alex Spillius
The public rupture saw the head of Saudi intelligence declare that the kingdom was “scaling back” co-operation with the CIA over arming and training Syrian rebels and seeking alternate weapons suppliers to the United States.
The unprecedented rebuke by Prince Bandar Bin Sultan al-Saud came after Saudi Arabia stunned diplomats by rejecting a prized seat on the UN Security Council.
The decision to reject the seat, Prince Bandar reportedly told diplomats, was intended as “a message for the US” about Saudi frustration with the Obama administration’s long-running failure to arm rebels in Syria and the rising prospect of a nuclear deal that would favour Riyadh’s arch-foe, Iran.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, yesterday confirmed that he had been forced to defend US policy at lengthy meetings with Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, in Paris.
Mr Kerry said Mr Obama agreed to the meetings, held on the sidelines of a gathering to discuss the progress of the Middle East peace talks.
He described a “very frank conversation” that covered “every one of these things” – Egypt, Middle East Peace, Iran and Syria.
“I explained exactly where the US is coming from and will continue to consult with our Saudi friends as we always have in the past,” said Mr Kerry.
On Iran, Saudi Arabian alarm was such that he felt obliged to “reaffirm President Obama’s commitment that he will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon”.
Referring to Washington’s decision to back down from missile strikes against the Damascus regime, Mr Kerry admitted that “the Saudis were obviously disappointed the strikes didn’t take place, and have questions about some other things that may be happening in the region”.
But he added that “the United States and Saudi Arabia will continue to be the close and important friends and allies that we have been”.
Analysts and diplomats in Washington were divided over whether the row, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, presented a serious threat of divorce or was merely a ‘marital tiff’ in an 80-year relationship founded on the mutual interests of Saudi Arabian oil and the US ability to provide security guarantees.
Michael Doran, a Middle East expert with the Brookings Institution who served on the National Security Council during the George W Bush administration, said relations were at an all-time low.
‘I’ve worked in this field for a long time, and I’ve studied the history. I know of no analogous period. I’ve never seen so many disagreements on so many key fronts all at once. And I’ve never seen such a willingness on the part of the Saudis to publicly express their frustration,” he said.
“Iran is the number one issue — the only issue for Saudi policy makers.
When you add up the whole Middle Eastern map — Syria, Iraq, Iran — it looks to the Saudis as if the US is throwing Sunni allies under the bus by trying to cut a deal with Iran and its allies.”
Saudi frustration with Mr Obama’s failure to carry out air strikes last month appears to have boiled over amid fears that the US is backing a peace deal, with Russian and Iranian support, that would leave much of the infrastructure of the Assad regime in place.
“The reason the Saudis are furious is because of the deal between Russia and the US, and Iran and the US,” Dr Kamal Labwani, a member of the opposition Coalition who has recently left Syria, told The Telegraph.
“The deal for Geneva, they believe, is that they will change Bashar, but keep the base of the regime active: they feel it will be Iran-led change – that Iran will get the bigger share of the pie in Syria in terms of deciding who leads next”.
Senior European diplomats in Washington told The Telegraph yesterday they were still trying to assess whether the Saudi move represented a real shift in relations or was part of a factional struggle in which Prince Bandar was seeking to influence the top decision-maker king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
Noting that Saudi Arabia had already been “tricky” over Syria, the diplomat said their remained an assumption that the core US-Saudi Relationship would remain intact. “If they are going to beat their own path, that would be more worrying, but it’s really too early to tell,” the source said.
Frederic Wehrey, a senior Middle East expert, with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, also judged that ructions with Saudi Arabia were more likely a reflection of domestic political tensions.
“I take a long view of these things. These developments are unsettling, but they’re not catastrophic. The Saudis need us more than we need them,” he said. “This could be a power-play by [Prince] Bandar. When states are consumed with domestic facitonal struggles they tend to behave erratically.”
Those who are sanguine about a possible split and talk of Riyadh seeking alternate weapons suppliers point to a Pentagon announcement last week of plans to sell Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates $10.8 billion (£6.7bn] worth of missiles and advanced munitions, including “bunker-buster” bombs.
However, other analysts like Mr Doran argue that America’s ability to influence events in the Middle East has already been fundamentally undermined by the tensions between Riyadh and Washington.
He pointed to Saudi Arabia’s decision to give billions of dollars to the Egyptian military leadership last July, which fatally undercut American calls for restraint that had been backed by the threat of removing financial support to the regime.
“The gumming up of US-Saudi relations causes a cumulative but significant lack of influence by the United States in the Middle East,” concluded Mr Doran, “That influence can only be achieved by a coalition which we don’t have because we’re racing after enemies and dispensing with the interests of our allies.”
Oct 20, 2013 Derek Hunter
Throughout the government shutdown, Democrats, who knew Republicans wouldn’t be able to delay Obamacare, routinely said, “It’s settled law.” President Obama was re-elected, they say – though he said almost nothing about Obamacare during the campaign, and what he did say amounted to platitudes he knew were false. And the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.
The debate was over, progressives crowed. It was going to happen. Soon they will be eating crow, and Republicans have to position themselves smartly and strategically now to make sure that crow is served up to them on a silver platter.
The roll out of Obamacare has been a disaster that makes “New Coke” look like the iPad. The website rarely works, and when it does, it sends incorrect information to insurers. And when young and healthy people do sign up, they discover they’re going to be paying exponentially more for insurance to subsidize premiums for wealthy retirees.
That last one should stick in the craw of everyone under 35. They will be paying thousands of dollars per year more so retirees who technically have no income but own their homes and are living off savings and investments – which don’t count as income when it comes to subsidies for the “poor.” And they will be paying for this until they reach 65 and go on Medicare, at which point still younger people will be subsidizing them.
In short: Obamacare is a massive wealth “spreading” from the young and struggling to the old and well off.
Add to that Obamacare’s devastating impact on the economy and part-timing of the American workforce, and you can almost see the train flying off the rails.
There will be attempts at bi-partisan “fixes” to some of the more visible problems caused by Obamacare. Republicans and Democrats have been working together to delay or repeal the medical device tax and change the definition of a full-time employee back to 40 hours per week from Obamacare’s 30 – to name just two.
Republicans must resist the urge to help with these “fixes.”
We just spent a month being lectured by arrogant know-it-alls about how Obamacare is “settled law.” So keep it settled.
Obamacare is failing already, and it will continue to fail in more spectacular ways as we move forward, let it.
Democrat wrote the bill, Democrats voted for the bill, a Democrat president signed it into law. It’s theirs. Make them live with it. As is.
Do not change one comma, one letter. It’s settled law! This is what they wanted, this is what people voted for. If the full failure of Obamacare isn’t allowed to happen, if “fixes” are passed, it will live on in a money-sucking spiral of destruction that will lead to a complete and total government takeover of health care in this country – which is their goal.
It’s going to be painful, but it’s also going to be quick. And the pain will be nothing compared to the damage to the economy and our future if this Frankenstein’s monster is helped to limp into permanency.
Meanwhile, this is also a chance for conservative groups to flex their muscles (and ample money) in a non-circular firing squad way. I have to address them directly now.
Set up a website as a clearinghouse for Obamacare failure stories.
I know you don’t play nice with each other, but get over it. One website, not competing websites – and the focus has to be spreading these collected stories to the media, both national and local. I know you love adding to your email lists, but this can’t be about that. This has to be about spreading the truth the media will do its damnedest to ignore.
Gather stories from any source possible, including user-submitted. Verify them and record the actual people going through them on video in 30- and 60-second clips. Then blast them out daily to every local media outlet in their area. And post new ones on the site daily. Go around the media like President Reagan used to. Overwhelm them into covering the truth.
It’s going to take money, but this can’t be a fundraiser for you. Asking people for money is understandable in normal circumstances, but this is not a normal circumstance. Collect stories, film them and get them out there – that is the only purpose here. If you want to win, that is. If you’d rather be the voice of the conservative movement or the Tea Party group, then that’s your priority – not making the country a better place – and I can’t help you.
Republicans have to be united. Conservatives have to be united. If done right, this effort will have no spokesman on TV. It will be a conduit for getting real people with real Obamacare horror stories in front of any camera, at any time, anywhere in the country. It will be a major undertaking, a massive database and possibly the most important thing any or all of you can do over the next year.
Progressives are unified and indignant. They are indifferent to the cost to both the country and individual, and the pain to the individual is, to them, irrelevant. This is about the concept.
To protect their agenda, they will highlight any success story, no matter how dubious. Conservatives must beat them at their own game. They trot out personal stories constantly; we must do the same. If the president gives a speech touting Obamacare in Fresno, Calif., every reporter within 100 miles should be served up a menu of people suffering under it before Air Force One touches the ground.
This is a winnable fight. It’s our fight to win. But if there’s one thing Republicans and conservatives excel at, it’s snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Obamacare is a disaster, not just in code on a website, but in concept and construction. It survives if we allow it to survive. No more delays, no more defunds, and no more changes. Every unconstitutional change the president makes must be immediately met with a court challenge, even if it’s good. It’s his law. It’s his “medicine.” Make him take it.
Surprise! Debt-ceiling deal gives Obama a blank check: Loophole will allow government to spend WITHOUT LIMIT until February
It’s the ultimate sweetheart deal for a free-spending federal government: Wednesday night’s debt deal didn’t actually raise the limit on America’s credit card, but instead removed it entirely until February 7, 2014.
Whether through legislative sleight-of-hand or something less sinister, the law of the land now permits the U.S. to run up new debts for 16 weeks without consequences, and forbids the Treasury Department from enforcing the debt limit that ordinarily keeps spending from spiraling out of control.
Some observers noted on Wednesday that when Congress burned the midnight oil to debate a deal that would save the U.S. from crashing through its existing $16.7 trillion debt ceiling and risking a credit default, there was no debate over exactly how far to raise it.
House and Senate negotiators only discussed how long the agreement would last.
The Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that if the government had extended its debt ceiling in this fashion through the end of 2014, as one Republican proposal suggested, the federal government’s debt would have ballooned by $1.1 trillion.
At that rate, the national debt will likely grow by at least $282.5 billion on its own by the time Feb. 7 rolls around, bringing the total close to an even $17 trillion.
But there’s no guarantee it won’t grow even faster, especially if the legislative initiatives President Obama outlined Thursday morning were to cross the finish line by year’s end, as he demanded in his first public remarks since signing the debt-limit hike law shortly after midnight.
Obama said he wants Congress to give him a new budget deal, a 5-year farm bill and a comprehensive reform of America’s immigration laws, all before New Year’s Day.
Any one of those three could be a colossal budget-buster. Under ordinary circumstances, a hard-and-fast debt limit might serve as a check against runaway spending; but with no ceiling, Democrats could raid the Treasury to give the president what he wants, without fear of practical roadblocks getting in the way.
Republicans, too, could take advantage of the spending loophole. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell demonstrated on Wednesday that he’s willing to accept expensive pot-sweeteners in exchange for a tidy solution to a messy problem.
When Obama signed the debt-bailout package into law, it included more than $2 billion in new spending for a dam project in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, answering for some the thorny question of why the Senate’s top Republican would be so eager to make Democrats look good by negotiating a deal when tea party conservatives in the House were refusing to do so.
According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, Obama and Congress have already used the trick of ‘suspending’ the debt ceiling for a fixed period of time once before – running from February to May of this year.
That deal added $300 billion to the national debt in 102 days. The deal that went into effect Thursday covers 114 days.
The only requirement for that earlier agreement was that the Democrat-led Senate produce a formal budget for the first time since President Obama took office, which it did.
‘No savings were accomplished,’ says Heritage.
‘Suspending the debt is less transparent to the American people,’ the group explains, adding that ‘a calendar date is not nearly as scary to constituents as a figure in the trillions of dollars.’
The coming battles over a year-long federal budget, including Democrats’ demands for new taxes and an expected Republican push for spending cuts, could actually reduce deficit spending; but with no credit limit holding them back, lawmakers could see a perfect storm for committing to hundreds of billions in new earmarked projects calculated to please constituents back home.
The farm bill, too, is likely to rack up record spending on programs like food stamps, which fall under the Department of Agriculture’s budget: The Obama administration has already doubled the number of Americans receiving these entitlements since January 2009.
But immigration could require the biggest blank check of all.
While Obama and congressional liberals want to put 11 million illegal aliens on a path to citizenship, conservatives have consistently argued that the nation’s borders must first be secured. That, Democrats have countered, is simply too expensive to contemplate since it would likely involve building thousands of miles of new high-tech fences and staffing the Mexican border with thousands of guards whose salaries no one has contemplated yet.
Capitol Hill sources tell MailOnline that without a fixed debt ceiling over their heads, everyone in Congress might suddenly find it workable to give both parties what they want.
‘I can’t speak for the whole Republican caucus, of course,’ said a policy staffer to a conservative GOP House member, ‘but some of us want a border fence badly enough that we’ll look the other way if it adds a few hundred billion to the national debt.’
‘And once that’s in place, the biggest impediment to a citizenship path disappears.’
Since President Obama took office, new deficit spending has added about $43,000 to the national debt for every household in America.
That reflects a 60 per cent increase in the debt from where it sat on his first Inauguration Day, at $10.3 trillion.
At current rates of growth, Obama will leave office with national debts twice the size of those accumulated by all the previous U.S. presidents combined.