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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
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The Right Stuff: Confronting new realities in 2014

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We are beginning a feature this new and potentially pivotal year, one designed to present a consistent voice of conservatism to readers of TBO.com and The Tampa Tribune and hosted by its resident center-right curmudgeon. (That would be me, Tom Jackson, Tribune columnist in Pasco County since April 1998).

Plans call for the blog — debut title: “The Right Stuff” — to be updated throughout the week, with excerpts (such as those found below) published on the Tribune’s Metro pages each Sunday.

And what better place to begin our adventure than with this:

Proclaimed elsewhere as the “Lie of the Year,” President Obama’s “If-you-like-your-plan-you-can-keep-your-plan” vow turns out to be the nonsense that keeps on giving. The latest permutation: A Dodge dealership in Jackson, Mich., has released its staff to the tender mercies of the federal exchange under the so-called Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”

According to NBC News’ Lisa Myers, the 41 employees of Extreme Dodge are coming “face to face with the new realities of health care,” resulting in “a severe case of sticker shock” for most.

“I feel like I’ve been taken to the cleaners,” said Neal Campbell, a salesman.

“Employees were told the health insurance plan the auto dealership had provided its workers was canceled because it doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Rather than sponsor a new policy, the company ... will provide employees $2,400 apiece to buy their own insurance, or to pocket and pay the new federal penalty if they elect to go without it,” Myers reported.

The question hereabouts isn’t whether Tampa-area employers will do the same, but how many and when, because that’s how the deck is stacked. Soon enough, your neighbors will sound a lot like salesman Campbell, who sums it up neatly: “We feel betrayed, lied to, and we’re pissed off.”

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The problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act now behind us (according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius), the nation is free to consider America’s other stubborn ailment: income inequality.

President Obama’s end-of-the-year speech on the subject set the parameters of the debate, at least as Democrats intend to portray it heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

Bret Stephens presents the errors underpinning the president’s speech in a compelling New Year’s Day column for the Wall Street Journal: “Inequality is not a problem simply because the rich get richer faster than the poor get richer. It’s a problem only when the rich get richer at the expense of the poor.”

That’s the point the president was attempting to prove, using 1979 (part of Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” era) as the inflexion point. But besides mangling the data, Obama conveniently overlooks the fact that income disparity is essentially unchanged since the middle of the Clinton years. The essential line: Bottom, middle or top, household income has surged since 1979.

The same folks who made every manner of unsupportable promise about the ACA are about to be back in our faces vowing our financial stations can be improved with just the right tweaks from a benevolent federal government, and it won’t hurt a bit.

Well. Fool me once …

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While we regard ourselves as second to none in our desire to prevent tax dollars being used to support drug habits, we reluctantly concluded long ago what an Orlando-based federal judge made official Tuesday:

Gov. Rick Scott’s program for testing welfare applicants cannot clear the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment test.

We wish it could. We think, during the several months in 2011 it was in place, it was exquisitely effective, driving caseloads for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families down by nearly 4,000 (a 7.5 percent reduction). Then in December 2011, when U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven’s injunction took hold, applications spiked by more than 4,000 (including more than 2,000 who had formally declined drug tests). It takes rare gullibility to believe both the decline and the stark reversal are mere coincidences.

That said, the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against the government conducting unreasonable searches is a daunting hurdle, and not one to be trifled with.

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So there you have it, a mere sample of what’s been happening online with “The Right Stuff” since its New Year’s Eve debut. Stop by. We’re just getting warmed up.

tjackson@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1851

www.facebook.com/TomJackson Tribune

Twitter: @tjacksonTBO

Read The Right Stuff column: www.tboblogs.com/index.php/news/C987/

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