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Rep. Richard Hanna attacks with “bait & switch” tactic to avoid voters

What do you do if you are an incumbent with a record of attacking your own Party, voting against the wishes of constituents, and supporting job creation for foreigners over Americans? In the case of Rep. Richard Hanna, you avoid any public instance of defending your record and instead try to distract voters. A classic bait and switch manuever, one of the very worst of immoral sales tactics.

To be clear, on 4/21/14, WNBF News Radio and Time Warner Cable invited Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney and the incumbent to debate the issues. This is a critical offer as there is no Democrat in the race and whomever wins the NY Primary on June 24th will defacto be the next Representative in Congress for the NY 22nd Congressional District.

Assemblywoman Tenney accepted. Rep. Richard Hanna made no comment. Until April 24th. That when he went on the offensive in an offense to voters.

Rep. Hanna chose to try to steer the discussion away from the issue at hand, which is his voting record and positions he has taken. Instead he has attacked Claudia Tenney about doing her job as an Assemblywoman. He has tried to shift the race for the NY-22 to a race for the 101st Assembly seat – which is not even in question at this time.

Hidden deep in the attack on Tenney was the following response about the actual issue, the debates, “A Hanna spokesperson says the Congressman has neither officially accepted nor refused the offer to debate.”

Neither refused or accepted? Which is it? Why is there such ambivalence?

Still, the response is not shocking. Rep. Hanna took the same stance in the summer of 2014, while the nation and the world took a position on the unilateral actions of President Obama and Syria. At the time I stated,

“[Hanna] is 1 of 2 Republicans, and 1 of 16 members of Congress representing New York State, that have clearly stated they have no position on the issue at this time.

When the use-of-force resolution is finalized, I will review it closely to determine whether or not actions enabled by it advance vital interests of the United States and are in the best interest of upstate New Yorkers” – Rep. Richard Hanna 9/4/13

…@electvasquezny – “Leadership is not about winning every battle or being right in every debate, its about decisiveness in the face of ambiguity.”

Of course Rep. Hanna learned from his honest portrayal of his bandwagoning attempt in 2013. Thus we see that in 2014, rather than take a stand so that voters can actually evaluate him, he has chosen to deflect away from the issue. He is actively hiding from the voters – a sure sign in my mind that he is aware that his record will cost him the election if anyone looks at it.

Once again Rep. Hanna assumes that the public is too dumb to see his actions for what they are, and he hopes (I believe) that they are too apathetic to take action in the Primary in June. I believe he is wrong on both counts.

The NY-22, and America as a whole, deserve to have politicians that are willing to stand up and be accountable. Congress is rife with manipulators that are only successful at maintaining their own positions of power, and the approval rating reflects this. It is well beyond time that we see principled, consistent, accountable representation on the floor of Congress.

The fact that Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney has a record that confirms this is a threat to the re-election of Rep. Hanna, and thus – without a record of consistency or even publicly supported positions – the Hanna campaign is resorting to dirty tricks and mudslinging.

I think we can clearly see why he won’t take a position on a debate.

Why won’t the latest Obamacare “fix” won’t work

As just about every editorial page in America has stated by now, President Obama’s quick “fix” for the over 4 million Americans that wanted to keep their doctors and healthcare plans is perhaps the one way to take the failure of the Obamacare rollout and make it worse.

There are any number of issues with what has been proposed by the President. The fact that retroactively reinstating the millions of policies at the last minute is an administrative nightmare for insurance companies. That insurance premiums will be driven higher, as the very people essential for Obamacare to work will no longer be paying the higher premiums in new policies needed. That confusion among customers will be maddening as they try to determine if their old policy, or the new one, is what is in force.

But there is a very simple reason why the quick “fix” is going to fail – and it won’t be the fault of insurance companies. Presidents don’t make law.

What President Obama has asked insurance companies to do is violate federal law. Just because he said so. He has promised that he won’t press any legal requirements that they forgo on this issue. But he does NOT have the power to enforce such action. State insurance commissioners know that, as do the insurance companies (or at least their lawyers).

President Obama has requested that insurance companies willfully commit a crime, and if they do they are liable for all the risk and lawsuits that stem from breaking the law – as well as fines from the States that do not take the word of Obama as gold. If this is enacted, the power of the Presidency will have swell to proportions akin to a king.

Considering these facts, I agree with the Wall Street Journal editors

“Democrats jammed the law through Congress on a partisan vote and against public opinion. At every step since, Mr. Obama has refused to compromise or change the law. And even with this tactical retreat, he is merely trying to find a way to relieve the political pressure long enough to avoid having to work with Republicans in Congress on a larger improvement.”

America is suffering from quick “fixes” from our Government, and each one is only making the situation worse on each issue they are trying to politically look good on. Even more terrifying is the thought of the ramifications, long-term, if the public allows these feel-good solutions to go through unchecked. Accountability is the only solution here.

America might be able to withstand Obamacare, but it is proving obvious that we can’t survive the quick fix mentality of our politicians and political leaders.

Obamacare: 2010 vs 2013

Way back in May 2010, while I was working as a political commentator, I presented the views of America – as stated in polls at that time – about Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act if you prefer). Then, as now, the majority of Americans opposed Obamacare. So, with important news out today, I wanted to review that.

On May 18, 2010, I wrote (and a Youtube video as well):

“56% of those surveyed have said that they believe Obamacare will increase the federal deficit…54% believe the cost of healthcare will increase. 50% expect the quality of care to fall. 63% of seniors, the group most directly affected by and likely to use the Obamacare, are in favor of repealing the Reform.”

As of 2013 we know that Obamacare is NOT deficit neutral. In fact it will add to the deficit according to the CBO. Further, as millions of Americans have realized since October 1st, healthcare costs are increasing. Personally, in a company sponsored healthcare plan, the increase is more than 14% higher. Were I to have gone through the Obamacare exchange the increase would have been in excess of 200%.

As for quality of care, and the impact on seniors (besides cost), is still to be seen. Given the proposed increase in patient levels without a commensurate increase in doctors, common sense says that reductions are likely.

But I did mention breaking news.

In 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 President Obama repeatedly brushed off polls and opposition to Obamacare with the comment, “We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.” (June 15, 2009)

Well that isn’t exactly true. In fact for 40% – 67% of Americans with individual plans, some 7 million people, that isn’t even close to sort-of true. Like Democrat pundit Kirsten Powers, millions are getting letters in the mail that they getting new plans, often at higher costs – whether they like it or not. Because Obamacare requires it.

More importantly, the White House knew that this would happen… in 2010. As stated via NBC News,

“Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”

So, the polls in 2010 were right. Opponents of Obamacare were right. President Obama knew they were right, and kept up the stageshow anyway.

I have to wonder, if so much that critics were pointing out over the past 3 years is right, and we are learning that the White House knew it to be true, how much more is going to be right? What consequences are going to come from the partisan ramrod to pass Obamacare?

Healthcare reform is needed in this nation, but Obamacare isn’t the answer. The time to stop it before there is irreparable harm is short, but I believe it should be pursued. That’s what constituents want, still. That’s what their elected Representative should be talking about right now.

What do you think?

What do they say about first impressions?

Like millions of Americans on Oct. 1, 2013, I took to the internet in the early morning hours to check out the truth about what Obamacare might mean to me. Not because of a need for health insurance which I already have, but out of a morbid curiosity akin to watching a racing car wreck at full speed live. It’s gruesome and horrifying but you won’t stop watching til its all done.

After 3 years of discussion, planning, and political battles Obamacare – or the Affordable Care Act by its official and generally unused name – came to life in health care exchanges, at the cost of a Government shutdown. The result, for residents of New York State at least, can be summed up in the word underwhelming.

Since 2:00 AM through 11:25 PM the result – that cost $1 trillion dollars, is arguably creating a trend of part-time work, and is rife with whispers of corporations big and small abandoning employees to the cumbersome indelicate micromanagement of the Government in an all to quickly approaching future – was nothing. The system, just less than a month earlier, that was rumored to fail and likely to expose the critical private data of average Americans to cybercriminals like bees to honey lived up to a single expectation… it collapsed immediately.

No quotes for individuals and families. No miraculous savings on monthly premiums (with a penalty of extreme deductibles and out-of-pocket costs out of the range of the very people it was intended to help). Not even a flicker of the internal design of the pages that would lead to the fruition of the grand plan that was executed behind closed doors, with political deals just short of bribes for members of a supermajority that acted against the will of the public in the most partisan action to ever be ignored by the very people damning Republicans efforts to disembowel this Frankenstein’s monster as partisan.

In business and life it is often said that the first impression is critical. It leaves a near indelible mark on the memory, and colors all future interaction with its residue. All to often, the first impression is the most clear observation of what is to come, and the ultimate expression of what will develop over time.

Obamacare, in one fell swoop, has clearly stated what it is…a mess that cannot function even with billions of dollars and years of effort.

Some will say, just as President Obama did before the on switch was flipped, that such a massive undertaking will have hiccups and errors at the start. That the initial steps of so massive a reform must stutter-step before taking grand strides forward. Then again, Dr. Frankenstein felt his monster was wonderous. An impression felt by him alone.

Still, the unwritten rule of thumb may be wrong. The law of averages implies that eventually the Government must achieve success in micromanaging something. Yes, maybe even Billy Crystal’s Fernando might be proven wrong and something that looks bad and feels bad might actually wind up being really good. Then again, what entitlement programs has lived up to the long-term expectations it was created under?

Maybe on day 2, or 3, or at some point in the not too distant future Healthcare.gov will work (at least for those in New York State). Possibly those that hang in there will find the pot of gold they were promised. We can only hope so, because the cost in debt, freedom, and growth in Government will NEVER be fully undone.

Obamacare is hope, the final plague left in Pandora’s Box. At least that is the first impression it has given me.

Government shutdown over Obamacare – is it worth it?

The Government of the United States has officially shutdown as of 12:01 AM on Oct 1,2013. Well the discretionary spending portion of the Government anyway. Now come the blame game and dire finger pointing by the media and pundits alike. But was this shutdown over Obamacare worth it?

The answer to the question depends entirely on why politicians sought the OK Corral showdown in the first place. But before I go there let’s get some perspective.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was presented as a non-tax that would provide everyone in America with health insurance if they wanted or needed it. For those that did not want to take part in the Government healthcare exchanges, they were told they could keep their existing plan and doctors. The best part, as the public was told, was that the cost of healthcare would go down, and it would save money from being added to the deficit. This was the promise of Obamacare.

Since June 2009 the majority of Americans (that’s Democrats, Independents, and Republicans) has not bought into the above pitch. According to every poll, by anyone you want to select as far as I am aware, there has not been less that 51% opposition to Obamacare in over 3 years.

In the meantime, the public has learned that Obamacare is a tax, which is why the Supreme Court did not strike it down. Chief Justice Roberts also made clear that the quality and repercussions of laws are not the responsibility of the Supreme Court, just the constitutionality.

We have learned that the cost of healthcare has increased, and there is no cost savings. In fact Obamacare increases the deficit. Almost everyone in America is expected to be covered – just a pesky 10-15 million won’t be involved for reasons ranging from lack of knowledge, lack of income, dislike of the law, and in some cases the perceived lack of need.

It gets better. As years have passed America has learned of hordes of flaws in the law, most unintentional and likely due to the fact that the law was passed without being read by the supermajority of Democrats that passed it (which oddly enough is not considered a partisan action by the media). We have learned that boat-loads of corporations from the smallest to international giants have chosen to bail on healthcare – eliminating the option of workers from keeping their plans and doctors.

We have also learned that implementation of this law has been about as flawed as its creation, with serious questions on the safety of the data input by Americans that chose to explore the exchanges (whether they want to or now need to). At the same time one of the biggest parts of the law, and several smaller parts, have been pushed back at least a year due to complications – but not the mandate on the public.

But the promise of cheaper monthly premiums for healthcare has been all the rage leading up to Oct. 1st. Still, in all that hoopla the math presented left out the costs of out-of-pocket expenses – like copay, deductibles, and what is or is not covered by the plans. The real world cost is not just a monthly premium, but you’d never know that from what has been presented so far.

Thus, public opinion has remained negative. Even in the face of uncounted speeches by the spectacular orator President Obama. Even with the aid of multiple Hollywood supporters, members of the NFL and NBA, and a host of other marketing gimmicks meant to spur a positive response.

So back to the question at the start. Is this partisan attempt to wipe out Obamacare worth shutting down the Government?

If, as some on the far left have told me, it is an attempt to attack the Black President then no. But there is nothing in the language used by anyone over the past 3 years when discussing Obamacare to imply anything racial. That doesn’t stop some from suggesting it, but it’s an issue that doesn’t exist.

If it is simply an attempt by the political party out of favor at the moment to confound the other side of the aisle, then no. But the pubic opinion and the problems above explicitly describe more than a political tug-of-war.

If it is just an attempt by Republicans to preserve their ability to get re-elected by constituents who want to see a more principled and conservative representation, then no. While there is no doubt that more than a few Republicans, either with dreams of elections to higher office or looking to shore up a very moderate if not Democrat voting record, have voted to repeal or defund Obamacare just for the political gain that is not enough of a reason to shutdown the Government. Again, the public and the litany of problems, plus revelations on what Obamacare really is and does clearly states that this is more than mere political math.

If this is an honest (or at least as honest as some politicians get) attempt to represent the views of the majority of Americans for more than 3 years, then it is worth it. It would mean that this has been an attempt to correct the initial partisan passage of the law, the failures of the law to address serious concerns (like malpractice insurance – a key factor in healthcare increases, and interstate competition for health insurance plans, ect), and the consistent refusal of Democrats to repeal a law the nation has not wanted (which in itself is a partisan reaction without the slightest concern for public opinion or representation).

For me, I believe that a shutdown of the Government as an attempt to repeal or defund Obamacare as it is written is essential for a reason I believe is more important than everything else mentioned so far. Because it is a law that gives power to the Government over the public in a manner never seen before.

Nothing is more terrifying than a Government that can tell its populace they must do whatever. Not that they can choose this or that, or if they elect to invoke this privilege they must comply with regulations and laws. Obamacare is the Pandora’s Box that leads to a far less free nation than has ever existed before. It is only a question of time before a new law – for the good of the public – is passed (possibly with great enthusiasm) the restricts and limits freedom in ways that generations 2 or 3 decades ago would have rioted over. This is the path that leads to Governments like Syria, Iran, the old USSR, and China to name just a few examples.

IF, and only if, Republicans have taken this hard stance to represent the public and protect the freedoms they swore an oath to defend, then the Government shutdown is worth it. Anything less is just political grandstanding, and an attempt to ward off election challenges from the Right and the Left.

Which reason, for each Representative, will be very clear is short order. Hopefully the public at large will notice.

What’s the worst position to have on Syria?

For most of the day, on Sept 4th, the media was deeply entrenched in news about the US potentially bombing Syria due to the alleged use of chemical weapons. From the weak attempt of President Obama to try to garner support from the international community (“…the world set a red line…”) to Secretary Kerry’s avoidance of questions about how the Obama Administration would use any authorization of force against Syria to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approval of same authorization. Big news for an issue that likely will take a decade to resolve all the ramifications.

Both sides of the issue have strong reasons for their causes. Those in favor of bombing Syria make the case that this will help deter future chemical weapons use around the world. They say that there is a moral imperative for the 1,400 that died. They say that if not stopped now, one day a terrorist will decide to use such weapons against the US, potentially.

Those against action state that US intervention in a sovereign nations internal dispute has no benefit to America. They pose the conclusion that ultimately, no matter who wins, the US will be blamed for collateral losses which will spur terrorist recruitment and lead to attacks against the nation. They counter that if the loss of 1,400 lives is a moral imperative, then what is the reason for the lack of action in the face of the genocide in Darfur that has claimed more than 1.2 million lives, and created ore than 300,000 refugees?

Both sides can be faulted for making assumptions that may not be fully valid. Both have flaws as well as core truths that should not be ignored.

But recent polling show clear lines of thought. Pew Research (9/3/13) noted that 74% felt a strike on Syria would lead to a backlash against the US. Only 33% felt, in the same poll, that a strike would be effective in deterring future chemical weapon attacks.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll (9/3/13) shows 59% opposed to attacking Syria (and 70% opposed to arming they Syrian rebels). An NBC poll (8/29/13) shows only 26% in favor of military action, increasing to 42% if chemical weapon use is proven, still a mere 21% see US interests actually linked to Syria.

Yet this is not the point of this article. The above is only meant to clarify a single point. There are clear and definitive positions in America on the issue of military strikes against Syria. In fact more than 140 Republicans and Democrat legislators signed a letter by Rep. Scott Rigell that went before President Obama on the issue of authorization by Congress for any proposed action (one of the most bipartisan acts in some time). For or against, the majority of elected politicians have taken a stance and are doing their jobs by trying to convince their constituents that they are on the right side of the issue.

The point of this post is about those politicians that are sitting on the fence, like Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-22). He is 1 of 2 Republicans, and 1 of 16 members of Congress representing New York State, that have clearly stated they have no position on the issue at this time.

“When the use-of-force resolution is finalized, I will review it closely to determine whether or not actions enabled by it advance vital interests of the United States and are in the best interest of upstate New Yorkers” – Rep. Richard Hanna 9/4/13

I do not believe that such a position is an act of leadership or even a responsible response for a representative elected to Congress. My first thoughts in fact were summed up in my Twitter response earlier in the day,

@electvasquezny – “Leadership is not about winning every battle or being right in every debate, its about decisiveness in the face of ambiguity.”

Let me be clear, I do not advocate a hasty decision on an issue with ramifications that reach across the globe and may not be resolved in total for a decade or more. Nor do I advocate a close-minded approach that would prevent both proof and reasonable debate from swaying an elected official from one position to a more worthy one.

But this is an issue that demands definitive answers from elected officials now. Constituents have a right to know if their representative believes that Congress needs to approve Presidential military action of this nature. They need to know if, after weeks of discussion and information, their Representative believes that US interests are at risk – one way or another.

It is the obligation of an elected politician to present, in their view, the best options available on any issue – and provide proof and arguments to back up that belief – for the benefit of constituents. Anything less is not deliberation but political maneuvering glossed over with false sympathy, in my opinion.

This is even more true when such ambiguity is the weapon of a politician that has time and again taken both sides of issues – like immigration, long-term abortion, the NSA and 4th Amendment, even going back to 2011 and Libya. “When the use-of-force resolution is finalized…” says volumes. Once that is done, the debate will essentially be over, with a clear indication of both where the nation feels is the best course of action and what will or will not be done. At that point, those on the fence will just be jumping on a bandwagon, evading any fear of a cost of votes in their next re-election.

Issues of this magnitude have grave consequences, and political opportunism can never benefit the average American. More than ever, moments like this define the future of the nation and thus require those strong enough to stand up and take a stance they believe is both correct and worthy. Only in making strong arguments, and fighting for the best outcome can America walk a path to tomorrow with confidence it has done the right thing.

I can say with certitude that I believe intervention into Syria, especially with military action that is purposefully ineffective at swaying the conflict, is the worst option for America in the long run. It is a plan without foresight to the consequences it will create, and provides no upside to our nation at any point. I appreciate and respect the reasons that oppose my view, and I am more than willing to listen to informed and reasonable debate to sway my position – just as I am willing to wholeheartedly defend my points until proven credibly wrong. I have talked to residents of the NY-22 and beyond, and will speak to more on this issue upon request, because this conversation is the only way to resolve a problem that the hubris of our President has thrust upon us. How can our elected officials do any less?

There are 16 members of Congress for New York that are on a fence. I have called out Rep. Hanna to reveal, clearly and without ambiguity, where he stands and why as he is my Representative and others should do the same for their Representative. I have no doubt that he and the others all hold preferences, and they should have the internal fortitude to let the public know what that is. Just as this is not about partisanship, so to it should not be about bandwagons and political maneuver for re-election plans and fundraising dreams.

In America we expect more from our politicians, and this is the time and issue where our politicians live up to that expectation.

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