By: George Warren; Columnist
One of the demands included in my treatise for a March on Washington was the attempt to limit severely the influence of lobbyists on the U S Congress. I readily acknowledge the Constitutional questions to be answered in absolutely prohibiting the compensation of lobbyists for the purpose of influencing legislation, but I want to share with you why I think it is so imperative.
You are all aware of the several health care bills now moving so slowly through Congress, with Senator Max Baucus’ bill seemingly considered the bill most likely to secure final passage. Let me share with you just some of the amendment results obtained by health care lobbyists, who according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, have spent $263 million for lobbying in just the first six months of this year.
First, hospitals secured a 10 year exemption from cost cutting recommendations to be made by an independent commission charged with controlling Medicare spending.
Second, the Baucus plan includes a surtax to be paid by employees on employer furnished health care insurance which has a premium value of more than $21,000 per year. Coal miners and firefighters have won themselves a $5,000 higher threshold, at $26,000 per year.
Third, the American Clinical Laboratory Association has won a removal of a $750 million tax to be paid by diagnostic laboratories.
Fourth, doctors who have their own diagnostic imaging equipment were facing cuts in Medicare reimbursement allowances for such imaging; the premise being a possible conflict of interests when such doctors can refer their patients to themselves. The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition secured a delay of these cuts, to be phased in over five years.
By: Dick Hodgetts; Columnist
If you were among the fortunate who attended the recent Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival, you undoubtedly savored the great aroma and taste of southern barbeque. Lots of great food vendors there, some are even local families who do Bostwick annually, and one who wants to make it a delicacy he shares with folks throughout Georgia.
Some of the longest lines at the Bostwick Festival and also at the most recent Sunflower Farm Festival circled around the site of Big Kev’s barbecue. People waited as long as 40 minutes to enjoy the pork served up by this great Rutledge family.
Big Kev starts out as a major let down. With a name like: Big Kev, one is likely to anticipate a 350 pound guy who appears to have just ended an NFL lineman career, and now doing something his granddad taught him. Instead you meet a neat trim fellow whose background is a Navy family, lots of corporate experience, and ably assisted by a talented spouse, and several well-mannered offspring. Hey, where are stereo-types these days? This is a barbecue guy who wants to talk branding techniques and marketing from a commissary.
Kevin Armstrong is the misnamed Big Kev. Yes, he has a big heart; but his name doesn’t describe his waist line. Kev grew up in Charleston SC. Like so many of us southern boys, he wanted to make his own mark and departed his Navy family and joined up with the Hyatt House folks in Richmond Va. He kept up the Charleston connection and returned home one Christmas holiday and married the quiet, professional Alvona.
Thanksgiving morning my alarm rings about four. There is much to do. Start turkey, check on the dressing, cut four cake layers left cooling overnight each in half to finish my eight-layer caramel cake.
Fib, fib and the last being biggest fib of all.
I do rise early on Thanksgiving morning, but to drink a pot of coffee, put on exercise wear and drive to Atlanta for the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon. It’s my holiday tradition, sacrificing Macy’s Parade balloons and preparing all-give-thanks feast on the altar of physical exertion.
I blame my mother.
No dear Mummy, I can’t cast fault on you. It’s more my stunted maturity in entertaining. Preparing such an event takes courage and long term commitment as in learning how to turn on the stove. Or I might receive a nasty cut from the rim of a can of condensed soup. I’m into immediate gratification. Like microwaves. Can you microwave a 25 pound turkey to crispy, golden brown?
Just whisper “dinner party” in my ear and watch me break out in welts. Not dainty bumps. Mammoth blistering hives. It’s hard enough to get five eggs scrambled, six slices of bacon and half loaf of toast prepared and served warm for my teenager. A sit-down five course meal? Talk about performance anxiety.
At a smidgen beyond 45 years, I have evolved to bearer of the scared corn casserole. Two cans of corn, butter, sour cream, corn bread mix. An egg or two. Pour it in a dish and stick it in the oven till brown.
There’s no shame in it. Okay. It’s shame-filled. Alas, I am a Thanksgiving feast virgin. There. I said it. Is there a support group for this kind of thing?
Printed in the November 12, 2009 edition.
By: Dave Belton; Columnist
Forty five years ago Ronald Reagan gave a speech called “A Time For Choosing.” Last week I focused on his struggle against communism abroad. But he also commented on the struggle against domestic socialism.
A former democrat, Reagan complained that “the leadership of his party was taking the party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.” While he complimented their noble humanitarian motives, he said, “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.”
“You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down—[up] man's old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.”
In writing the Constitution, Madison took great pains to create a self-limiting government. But liberals plot a different course – a road towards socialism and the welfare state. The choice, according to Reagan, was, “Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
Reagan recognized a simple fact. “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So governments' programs, once launched, never disappear.”
“Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth.”
By: Celia Murray; Columnist
November 4th was Election Day across the country, and by Wednesday morning the politicians and talking heads were all busy trying to spin the results as a great victory for one side or the other. The plain and simple truth is that the results were a mixed bag for both Democrats and Republicans, with the Democrats fairing somewhat better over the long haul.
While the GOP celebrates the election of Republican governors for both New Jersey and Virginia, neither of these results, particularly in Virginia, were unexpected. For many years now, Virginians have consistently elected a governor from the party not in control of the White House. In years in which the President was a Republican, Virginians elected a Democratic governor, and vice versa – consistently – so it was no surprise that Virginia now has a Republican governor-elect. What was a bit surprising is that Governor-elect Bob McDonnell, a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University and a fierce opponent of gay rights and abortion rights, ran as a centrist. During the course of his campaign, he dis-invited Sarah Palin for a campaign appearance and praised President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, McDonnell’s closing ad campaign trumpeted “Hope,” a surprising parallel to last year’s Democratic Presidential campaign theme.
In New Jersey, another state with a fairly long history of electing a governor of the opposite party from that in the White House, Governor-elect Chris Christie also ran as a centrist, posting a campaign video celebrating “Change” and using numerous pictures and sound-bites of President Obama.