HH: Joined by Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read everything that Mark writes at www.steynonline.com. Mark, I want to cut right to the chase and play for you Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Finance Committee, on the floor of the Senate, maybe a half an hour ago, giving the real deal behind Obamacare. Here is Max Baucus.
MB: This is also an income shift. It’s a shift, it’s a leveling, to help lower income, middle income Americans. Too often, too…much of late, in the last couple, three years, the mal-distribution of income in America has gone up way too much. The wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy. And the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with the increased income of the highest income Americans. This legislation will have an effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.
HH: Now they tell us, Mark Steyn. It’s a spread the wealth around bill.
MS: Yeah, that’s right. I thought it was supposed to spread the health around, but as you say, it’s going to be spreading the wealth around. I mean, I think this is right, that this is, that the concept behind this bill is actually an income redistribution bill. If you look at the additional taxes that will be imposed on small businesses, and when people say the very wealthy, by the way, they’re talking…people think you mean Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It’s not. It’s going to be a lot of small businesses, and a lot of guys doing various kinds of jobs where they employ three or four people who are going to have additional regulation, and additional taxes, and additional costs in pursuit of this grubby deal. And by the way, I don’t want to be told by a Senator that I’m too wealthy, because Senators in this country are a disgrace to republican government and the concept of citizen legislatures. They prance around with these vast retinues of the size of an average Gulf emir. Max Baucus hardly ever has to do anything in his life that requires him to reach in his pocket and get out a $20 dollar bill, or write a personal check. I don’t want to be told by Senators, I don’t want to be told by Senators that I’m too wealthy, and that’s why they need to over-regulate me, and overtax me to give it to their preferred constituency groups.
HH: And it’s not going to go to…you know, the older people on Medicare Advantage, who are going to get their Medicare Advantage chopped off, and their $500 billion dollars of benefits deleted, so that the unions can keep their Cadillac plans…
MS: Right, right.
HH: They’re not, this isn’t wealth distribution for them. It’s for preferred constituents.
MS: Yes, and that’s what this bill…this is why, as I said last week, Hugh, this is why it’s actually worse than the sort of equality of mediocrity that, the equality of awfulness, in fact, that characterizes a lot of socialized health care systems around the world, because this is worse than that. You’ve got all the smoke-filled room horse trading by which certain preferred interest groups have got opt outs from the most punitive aspects of this legislation, depending on how plugged you are to the Democratic Party. And this is the lie, by the way, to go back to this idiot, Baucus. The really wealthy guys have got the workarounds. They know how to pick up the phone and call someone in Washington who can make the problem go away. It’s the guys holding up this country, it’s the small businessmen holding up this country who haven’t got the workarounds, who can’t afford the expensive lawyers and lobby groups, that can call someone like Max Baucus and make the problem go away. So if you think…anybody who’s stupid enough to think this is a way of sticking it to the mega-wealthy, to the Wall Street plutocrat, to the guy from the Monopoly board, this isn’t going to affect them. They’ve got the workarounds. You don’t.
HH: That brings to mind yesterday’s conversation I had with a number of tanning booth operators, Mark Steyn.
HH: They got slammed with a 10% tax. It’s ruinous for many of these small businesses. And one called up, three married couples bought a little tanning salon, they all work in it. They haven’t got 10% in profits, and yet…you know who that replaced? The plastic surgeons got rid of the Botox tax, and so they…
MS: Yeah, yeah, that’s right, because they knew, they called Nancy Pelosi and got rid of the Botax. And the tanning salons got…
MS: And by the way, I’ll make another point here. I’m a federalist. And if there’s anything that shouldn’t be nationally regulated, it should be tanning salons. Whenever I’m out in your part of the world, I give a speech in Orange County, California, Hugh. And I was over-awed. I could barely speak at the podium because of the ranks in the audience of beautiful women in sleeveless dresses with gorgeous, golden arms from the beautiful California sun. I live in miserable Northern New Hampshire, where it’s winter ten months of the year, and I don’t see a bare-armed woman from one decade to the next. And if they ever have got a golden glow on their arms, it’s because they’ve had to go to a little tanning salon in New Hampshire. So I would say this tanning salon tax disproportionately falls on those of us who live in northern, wintery climes, while you guys in California will be less affected by it. So if anything shouldn’t be, there shouldn’t be a nationally-regulated tanning salon regime from Maine to Hawaii, because Maine needs tanning salons more than Hawaii does.
HH: Well put, and it’s just so unjust. I spent an entire show on it yesterday. But I’ve got to get to the other big issue of the day, this harrumphing about the nasty phone calls to Bart Stupak. And everybody in America agrees violence has got no part of this, but listen to what my colleague, Dennis Prager, said on MSNBC when he was challenged about the nuts on the right who are threatening the Democrats out there with bricks through the windows, et cetera.
DS: Time now for the Shuster showdown. Last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow broke down the threats that face some Democratic lawmakers following the signing of the health care bill. She was talking specifically about an upcoming show of force. On April 19th, the Western Rifle Association is sponsoring an open carry rally at Virginia’s Fort Hunt National Park. That is not too far from Washington, D.C. Activists are gathering as close to the Capitol as possible without violating gun laws. The rules? Pistol loaded, openly carried. Rifle unloaded, slung to the rear. Is this helpful? Let’s bring in nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and columnist, Dennis Prager of Townhall.com, and nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, Bill Press. Dennis, I want to start with you. This member, the Alabama Constitutional Militia, who put out a call for the Modern Sons of Liberty to break the windows of Democratic Party offices, he’s apparently one of the speakers at this rally. Do you support that?
DP: What do you think? Do you think there is a responsible human, right or left, that supports violence in this country? Look, let me just say, there are two things going on here. One, there is a handful of people on my side who are despicable, who do more good for you than Nancy Pelosi does. These people should be paid by you. Of course, I’m not implying you do this, but that’s how harmful they are to the cause of repealing this terrible legislation. Number two, you folks on the left will focus on this rather than on the great issue of the insupportable debt that America will carry and become like Greece. That’s the big issue. There’s a cancer afflicting the country, and you will concentrate on athlete’s foot.
HH: Mark Steyn?
MS: Yeah, I agree entirely with what Dennis said. We lived through eight years, for the last five of which, after the liberation of Iraq in 2003, mainstream figures on the left made explicit threats of death against the President, and were rewarded with prizes. A well-known novelist got published by Knopf for publishing a fantasy about assassinating Bush. A filmmaker who made a film about assassinating Bush won a prize at an international film festival for it. You had, routinely, Democratic Senators such as the late Ted Kennedy comparing Bush to Saddam Hussein, and Guantanamo to the gulag. So the idea that suddenly now we’ve had a change of party, all that stuff that was just acceptable, that was just artistic expression, that was just a prize-winning novella and a prize-winning movie, suddenly now, it’s a threat to the Republic. I think it’s an appalling double standard, and I think the media know they’re doing it for precisely the reason Dennis said, is because they don’t want to talk about the fact that this is a fast track to catastrophic national decline. That’s the issue, not some guy offering to blow out the windows of some office in the middle of nowhere.
HH: And do you believe that America will turn its attention from this? I don’t think so. I think this debate is going to rage, I think it is going to dominate, and I think it’s going to dismember the Democrats at the polls in November, Mark Steyn.
MS: Yes, I think that’s right, but I think you know, the issue is they got away, they did something extraordinary a few days ago, and the question is whether they are willing to try it again with, say, cap and trade, or any of their other transformative plans, because then, you know, you think about it. If you’re going to lose in November, why not lose for a reason? Why not do everything you want? Why not shove everything down the throat of the American people the way you did with this health care thing? And then you’ll elect a so-called Republican Congress in November, and they’re making a bet that Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins aren’t going to roll any of this stuff back.
HH: Last question, Times of London reporting tomorrow that Benjamin Netanyahu was humiliated by Barack Obama after Obama left him alone in the White House, dumped him for dinner. One said the Prime Minister had received, “The treatment reserved for the president of Equatorial Guinea.” Actually, I think the president of Equatorial Guinea…
MS: No, not…yeah, that’s completely wrong, Hugh. The president of Equatorial Guinea wouldn’t get this kind of treatment. He’d be treated respectfully. But American allies, beginning most obviously with Israel, are humiliated. Basically, the President walked out on Netanyahu, and left him sort of loafing…he was, Netanyahu was a guest of the United States in the White House. And the President left him alone and said we’re going to leave you in a room. When you change your mind, call me and let me know, as if he’s under interrogation in the basement of some CIA safe house in the middle of nowhere.
HH: And that’s the new American under President Obama. Mark Steyn, thank you, www.steynonline.com.
End of interview.