"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AP Fact Check: Obama and His Imbalanced Ledger

On this blog this morning we have brought you the reviews of Obama's State of the Union by Red State, The Weekly Standard, American Spectator, and the Washington Post.  We have saved the review with the most substance for last -- AP's fact checking of the Obama speech.  We are speechless this is from AP starting with the title -- no wonder the other reviews panned his speech.

When we look at Obama wanting high speed rail across the Country, it shows out how of touch he is with most of Middle America, the South, and the West.  We have rail service here in Oklahoma from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas.  Because of all the stops along the way to pick up passengers and drop them off, I can drive to Fort Worth with time to spare and have my car to go where I want to go not rent a car.  Public transportation is not very popular in this part of the Country because of the distances you travel. 

If we had high speed rail to OKC to Tulsa, how am I going to get around Tulsa to go where I need to go?  Take a taxi (costly), rent a car (costly), or take a bus which most likely I would have to change buses several times to get where I want to go.  Not to mention I would have to get from Norman to the train station.  If it would be like the one to Fort Worth that stops all along the way, then I would most likely stick to driving the 1:45 to 2:00 hour drive up the Turnpike, pay my turnpike fee via Pike Pass and have my car to make stops at various locations.  Probably would be faster and cheaper even with the higher price of gas.

This is what people on the East Coast with major cities close to each other have never understood about the rest of the Country.  BTW we count Chicago on the East Coast not in Middle America because it is run like an East Coast city.  We rely on our cars throughout the rest of America to take us where we need to go or we fly.  Most of us wouldn't get on a bus either.  We are independent for the most part and travel to places that public transportation is not feasible like going to a high school baseball game in Enid or Stillwater, OK. 

High speed rail in this part of the Country would be a huge boondoggle and the Federal Government would have to fund it every years for years to come like they do Amtrak which is not a cheap way to travel.

Now the AP has fact checked Obama's speech and found out the math and arguments they use are not factual.  Why are we not surprised?  The shocking part is that AP is the one doing the Fact Check and finding the speech not factual in a lot of areas.

FACT CHECK: Obama and his imbalanced ledger

Associated Press – 1 hr 40 mins ago (January 26, 2011)

WASHINGTON – The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other.

Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech. He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed "we redouble these efforts." He coupled this with a call to "freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years."

But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

For example, he said he wants to eliminate "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies." Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

A look at some of Obama's statements Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: Tackling the deficit "means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

THE FACTS: The idea that Obama's health care law saves money for the government is based on some arguable assumptions.

To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office's analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.

In recent years, for example, Congress has repeatedly overridden a law that would save the treasury billions by cutting deeply into Medicare pay for doctors. Just last month, the government once again put off the scheduled cuts for another year, at a cost of $19 billion. That money is being taken out of the health care overhaul. Congress has shown itself sensitive to pressure from seniors and their doctors, and there's little reason to think that will change.

OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include "earmarks," pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. "Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place. Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses. As recently as last month, Obama was prepared to sign a catchall spending measure stuffed with earmarks, before it collapsed in the Senate after an outcry from conservatives over the bill's $8 billion-plus in home-state pet projects.

It's a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said then.

OBAMA: "I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits."

THE FACTS: Republicans may be forgiven if this offer makes them feel like Charlie Brown running up to kick the football, only to have it pulled away, again.

Obama has expressed openness before to this prominent Republican proposal, but it has not come to much. It was one of several GOP ideas that were dropped or diminished in the health care law after Obama endorsed them in a televised bipartisan meeting at the height of the debate.

Republicans want federal action to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases; what Obama appears to be offering, by supporting state efforts, falls short of that. The president has said he agrees that fear of being sued leads to unnecessary tests and procedures that drive up health care costs. So far the administration has provided grants to test ideas aimed at reducing medical mistakes and resolving malpractice cases by negotiation, but has recommended no change in federal law.

Trial lawyers, major political donors to Democratic candidates, are strongly opposed to caps on jury awards. But the administration has been reluctant to support other approaches, such as the creation of specialized courts where expert judges, not juries, would decide malpractice cases. In October 2009 the Congressional Budget Office estimated that government health care programs could save $41 billion over 10 years if nationwide limits on jury awards for pain and suffering and other similar curbs were enacted.

OBAMA: "Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down."

THE FACTS: High-speed rail has been most successful for trips between cities roughly 200 to 500 miles apart — planes are more efficient for longer distances and cars for shorter trips. Administration officials say it's inevitable that there will fast passenger train service between U.S. cities since projected population growth — 70 million more people in the next 25 years — will otherwise create congestion so severe that air or highway travel between nearby cities will become impractical.

But there are many major hurdles that will have to be overcome. Congress has approved $10.5 billion to jumpstart selected high-speed rail projects, but some industry estimates for the cost of a truly national network with service to major cities in every region of the country range from $500 billion to $1 trillion. Also, it's doubtful that all service will be truly high-speed, often described as a minimum of 110 mph. Frequent stops could force trains to travel slower for safety even if they are capable of higher speeds.

Excerpt:  Read More Facts at AP

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