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January 14, 2007

Bachmann votes against capitalism and the free market

One of the reasons Wal-Mart is able to offer goods to consumers at such low prices is their monumental market power. Because of their sheer size, they are able to negotiate deals with their suppliers to buy products at lower prices, and their suppliers are all too eager to agree because it means that they will have the world's largest company as a customer, buying huge amounts of their product. The deal is advantageous for both companies, and for consumers, who reap the benefit of lower prices.

I don't think there is a single person who would disagree that Wal-Mart has the right to negotiate prices with its suppliers, and to use its market power to bring down prices, as long as it does not break any anti-trust laws in the process and an equal playing field is assured for all. This is the way capitalism is designed to work.

Apparently, Michele Bachmann doesn't believe in capitalism, despite her constant invocations of the "free market" on the campaign trail. She was one of 170 Republicans to vote against allowing Medicare, the government program that is the Wal-Mart of health care, to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

The Mankato Free Press weighs in on Bachmann's vote in an editorial today, saying she and her friend John Kline "voted against the free market solution to a price-gouging problem." They explain the reason that the law change is needed:

U.S. drug companies have for too long been on a diet filled with government fat. Their appetite for government desserts has swelled their underbelly. It’s time to medicate these drug makers with the remedy of the free market. [...]

If you buy in large volumes, you should be able to negotiate a lower price per unit with the seller. The seller sees this as a good deal too. They can make as much profit, if they sell more units, even if the profit margin per unit is somewhat lower.

But up until now, the drug companies have been protected from having to negotiate. It’s been illegal for the government to ask for a deal. Drug makers have been able to sell more at the same very high profit level. Taxpayers have paid an estimated $30 billion cost for the Medicare prescription drug program in 2006 alone.

Rep. John Dingell, D, Mich., thinks taxpayers can save money if the government is allowed to negotiate. He and other supporters, including 24 Republicans in the recent vote, point to the Veterans Administration, which is allowed to negotiate prices. A study finds the VA is able to buy prescription drugs lower than others because of this negotiating power. In one case the VA was able to get one drug for a 58 percent lower price than negotiated by private plans. [...]

This proposal is a far cry from the heavy hand of government interfering in the free market. In fact, it is a free market solution Adam Smith, the father of free market theory, would be proud of.

When you have 43 million people buying prescription drugs regularly, you should be able to negotiate some kind of a discount.

Michele Bachmann's friend, President Bush, has pledged to veto this legislation. What are these Republicans thinking? There is no way that this is anything other than crony capitalism at its worst. Unless I am missing something here, Bachmann, Kline, Bush, and all others who opposed this bill ought to be ashamed.

I will call Michele's office on Tuesday to see if she gives a reason for her "nay" vote. Again, her number is (202) 225-2331. Put it in your cell phone!

January 9, 2007

Bachmann supports sending more troops to Iraq

The top commander in Iraq disagrees with the "McCain Doctrine" of sending thousands more U.S. troops to Iraq...

Today at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, CentCom commander
Gen. John Abizaid rejected McCain’s calls for increased U.S. troop
levels in Iraq, saying that he “met with every divisional commander,
Gen. Casey, the core commander, Gen. Dempsey? and asked them if
bringing “in more American troops now, [would] add considerably to our
ability to achieve success in Iraq and they all said ‘no.’? Watch it:
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are unanimously opposed...
Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to
eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White
House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The
option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages,
the officials said.

But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks,
still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge
idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about
the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who
spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is
not public.

The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say,
because they believe the strategy review will be the most important
decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.

At
regular interagency meetings and in briefing President Bush last week,
the Pentagon has warned that any short-term mission may only set up the
United States for bigger problems when it ends. The service chiefs have
warned that a short-term mission could give an enormous edge to
virtually all the armed factions in Iraq -- including al-Qaeda's
foreign fighters, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias -- without
giving an enduring boost to the U.S military mission or to the Iraqi
army, the officials said.

Even Republicans like Jim Ramstad and Norm Coleman oppose it...

"I agree with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Generals [John] Abizaid,
[George] Casey and Colin Powell that a U.S. troop surge, not limited to
training Iraqi troops, would be counterproductive," Ramstad said
Monday.

"U.S. troops should get back to the original mission of
training Iraqi troops so they can secure their country, and our troops
can come home with their mission completed," he said.

Ramstad
echoed the remarks by Sen. Norm Coleman, who returned from Iraq last
month saying he does not believe a U.S. troop surge in Baghdad "is the
answer at this time."

And White House officials admit that the proposed "surge" is "more of a political decision than a military one."

So why does Michele Bachmann support sending more U.S. troops to Iraq?

Bush can find support for a troop surge from Reps. John Kline and
Michele Bachmann, strong supporters of the U.S. military intervention
in Iraq.

"The American people deserve to hear and understand the
merits of increasing U.S. troop presence in Iraq," Bachmann said.
"Increased troop presence is justifiable if that measure would bring a
swift conclusion to a difficult conflict."

Call Representative Bachmann's office at (202) 225-2331 and ask why she supports escalating the war in Iraq.

January 8, 2007

Bachmann co-sponsors first bill-- a constitutional amendment

Michele Bachmann's first official action in Congress was to sign on as one of 107 co-sponsors to H. Res. 1, or the "balanced budget amendment."

It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it will most likely die a slow and painful death under the watchful guidance of new chairman John Conyers.

There is something ironic about the fact that Bachmann's first bill was a constitutional amendment. Do you think she understands the irony?

January 6, 2007

"Fiscally responsible" Bachmann votes "nay" on pay-as-you-go and earmark reform

Michele Bachmann likes to talk about how she values fiscal responsibility. Why, then, did she vote NAY on the pay-as-you-go rule, which basically ensures that any new spending must come with an accompanying way to raise the money, and must not increase the deficit. Why did she vote NAY on earmark reforms that will increase transparency in spending and prevent a lot of the pork-barrel spending Michele has criticized in the past?

Here is a Reuters article
on the reforms passed this week in Congress.

Many of Michele Bachmann's Republican colleagues broke ranks to vote for the fiscal responsibility reforms, including this guy:

The move won applause from some of the most conservative House Republicans, including Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who said Democrats "had more guts than we did to tackle earmark reform in a meaningful way. I compliment them for that."

Write Michele Bachmann an e-mail asking why she voted NAY on these important reforms. You probably won't get a response-- so maybe you should write your letters to local newspapers instead.

[UPDATE]: Eva pointed out that my links did not work, and that I linked to the wrong roll-call vote. These have now been fixed. For clarification, the law that Bachmann voted "NAY" on was Title IV of House Resolution 6, which contained the earmark reforms and the pay-as-you-go changes. Since my earlier links didn't work, you can read a pdf of the entire H. Res. 6 here... scroll down to Title IV for the relevant information.

January 2, 2007

Pat Robertson speaks to God... was Michele in on the conference call?

Scary messages from God, according to His confidant / bff, Pat Robertson:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson cited communications with God in predicting Tuesday that horrific terrorism aimed at the United States will result in "mass killing" during the second half of 2007.

"The Lord didn't say nuclear, but I do believe it'll be something like that — that'll be a mass killing, possibly millions of people, major cities injured," Robertson said.

"There will be some very serious terrorist attacks," he added. "The evil people will come after this country, and there's a possibility — not a possibility, a definite certainty — that chaos is going to rule." Robertson did not say where the terrorism would occur.

Ruh-roh... I'd be worried, if I thought God really talks to Mr. Robertson. Based on his past track record, however, it looks like Mr. Robertson needs a divine hearing aid, or else God is playing some nasty practical jokes on him. This is a guy who predicted Bush would win a second term in a "blowout"; he ended up getting 51%. He also claimed that Bush's second term would be a "triumph," and we can see how well that's going (record low approvals, a do-nothing Congress, escalating chaos in Iraq... you get the picture.) And Mr. Robertson's meteorology skills seem to be a little rusty, as well:

Robertson said last May that, "If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed" by "devastating" storms and "vicious hurricanes." He also predicted that "there well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."

Heavy rains over New England caused serious flooding last spring. But no hurricanes hit the U.S. coast in 2006 and only two tropical storms made landfall on the U.S. mainland.

No tsunami struck the Pacific Northwest, although various parts of Washington state saw record-setting rains, floods or drought during 2006, said Josiah Mault, the assistant Washington state climatologist.

Will Michele Bachmann be dialing God on His personal line to chat about Mr. Robertson's divine information? Will God fill her in on the details that he neglected to offer Mr. Robertson, so she can prevent the terrorist attacks?

As a reminder, here's Michele speaking about her personal conversations with God back in October...

In the midst of that calling to me, God then called me to run for congress. ....

In the midst of him making this calling sure, what's occured in this particular race is that this congresssional seat - one of 435 in the country - has become one of the top 5 races in the country and in the last week has become one of the top three races in the country and you may have seen now God has in his own will and in his own plan has focused like a laser beam after this scandal that came up about a week or so ago he has focused like a laser beam with his reasoning on this race.

Michele, can we get a tape-recording this time? Some specifics would be nice. Ask God about the lottery numbers, too, while you're at it.