Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013

Marine Kills Two at Quantico, Takes Own Life
by Thomson/Reuters
March 22, 2013

A U.S. Marine shot dead two fellow service members at a base at Quantico, Virginia, then barricaded himself in a building and apparently killed himself, prompting a brief lockdown of the base, the Marines said on Friday.
The shootings took place late on Thursday in the vicinity of the Marine Corps Base at Quantico's Officer Candidate School, and all three people who died were identified as Marines, Marines spokesman Sergeant Christopher Zahn said.

"An isolated shooting incident has occurred at Officer Candidate School, Quantico," the base said on its Facebook page. "The suspect has been barricaded by law enforcement personnel."

The Facebook message told base residents to remain in their homes with their doors locked, until the lockdown was lifted before dawn on Friday. No other injuries were reported, and Zahn could give no details as to a motive for the shootings.

"The investigation is in the very early stages," he said.

The shootings came days after seven U.S. Marines were killed in a mortar explosion at an Army munitions depot in Nevada during a live-fire training exercise.

In that incident on Monday, a lightweight mortar exploded prematurely in its firing tube, killing the Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, who had been undergoing mountain warfare training, and wounding eight other service members.

It prompted the Marines to order a blanket suspension of the use of 60mm mortars pending a review.

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Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?
by James Antle
March 21, 2013

You wouldn’t know it by listening to the political debate in Washington, but the United States government is essentially broke.

The $16 trillion national debt is just the beginning of the problem. The major entitlement programs have unfunded liabilities bigger than the national economy. Social Security is currently promising $8.6 trillion more in benefits than it has revenues to pay for. Extend that time horizon even further into the future and that number eclipses $20 trillion.

Medicare isn’t in much better shape. Last year’s Trustees’ report estimated the net unfunded liability for the program that pays for our seniors’ health care at $42.8 trillion. The trust funds are stuffed with IOUs.

We’ve already seen this happen at the state level, where government workers’ pension benefits are crowding out other budget priorities. Medicaid is also bankrupting states. An aging population plus rising health care costs is causing government to grow on auto pilot.

People’s eyes tend to glaze over looking at such big numbers. It has also been difficult to get the voters’ attention because the dates when Social Security and Medicare were projected to be in trouble were so far into the future.

But now the future is almost here. Within a decade, interest payments on the national debt may exceed the entire military budget. Think about that: money we should be spending protecting the country from future Osama bin Ladens will instead be paid to our creditors.

Medicare is already paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes. Social Security ran a deficit in fiscal 2012.

And that’s assuming interest rates don’t return to where they were before the 2007 financial crisis or spike even higher. Higher interest rates would make it even more expensive to service the debt.

Unless there are structural reforms, it is likely that the quality of these programs will worsen at the same time taxpayers are expected to contribute more to pay for them.

The Senate Democrats took four years to produce a budget and it achieves deficit reduction mostly through nearly $1 trillion in tax increases.

Sounds like a great bargain, right?

The problem is much bigger than money. Our current fiscal path limits our political options. We can’t have the kind of government programs we want, whether it is investing infrastructure, enhancing homeland security, or funding the cure for cancer, because the dollars are already spoken for.

Every dollar of federal spending is sucked out of the private economy, a net drain on the American people’s resources. That limits your freedom, as do the myriad regulations big government imposes.

Obamacare comes not only with new federal subsidies and mandates, but also a clearer government role in your personal lifestyle choices. The government wants to be able to tell you what health insurance you have to buy, how much water your toilet will hold, what light bulbs you can use, and what size soda you can drink.

No wonder they don’t want to answer questions about whether they can launch domestic drone strikes! No limit on federal power, even one extremely unlikely to ever be exercised, can be contemplated in public.

The people who say the present course is sustainable rely on two arguments: Trust us, we’re the experts. And there’s a sucker born every minute.

Think about the contradictions there.

The suckers’ argument is, “Hey, people are buying our bonds now, so they always will.” Uncle Sam can borrow money indefinitely, the liberal’s American exceptionalism.

The experts’ argument assumes technocrats can avert a fiscal crisis with the right policy adjustments at the last minute. The government can bid down health care spending and spend us into lower deficits with fiscal stimulus.

The economist and Paul Krugman gave us a preview of that would look like recently: “death panels” and “sales taxes.”

But the situation is not hopeless. The truth is, from Reagan to Gingrich to even the end of World War II, we have cut government spending before. We can learn from their mistakes. We can also build on their successes.

More often than not, the problem isn’t that big government can’t be curtailed. It’s that politicians seldom have the will to try.

Despite the results of last November, a growing number of voters doubt the experts. They don’t believe a sucker is born every minute. And they want their politicians to protect their pocketbooks—and their freedom.

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Democrat Controlled Senate Votes to Repeal ObamaCare Medical Device Tax
by Katie Pavlich 
March 22, 2013

Apparently, the Senate thinks the medical device tax in ObamaCare is a pretty bad idea and voted to repeal it last night.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed a largely symbolic resolution calling for repeal of a 2.3 percent tax on medical device companies on Thursday, as more than 30 Democrats joined Republicans in approving it. 
The tax helps to fund President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law. It applies to a range of medical products - from bedpans to expensive heart devices - many manufactured in the home states of the senators backing the repeal. 
The Senate voted 79-20 to call for repeal of the tax, but the resolution is non-binding and will not change the levy. The symbolic measure will be attached to a non-binding budget measure drafted by Senate Democrats that is expected to pass on Friday. 
Full repeal of the tax may be difficult to achieve, given its $30 billion price tag and the opposition of key Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid.

As a reminder of just how bad the medical device tax is, it's pretty much a tax within a tax that will not only kill jobs in the medical device industry, but will kill medical device innovation as well.
Not only does this tax increase costs on companies, it also increases costs on hospitals, doctors and people in need of medical treatment that requires medical devices to be used. As a consequence of this, biomedical or medical device engineering firms are already laying off workers who develop crucial medical products due to the "unforeseen" costs, or in other words, the costs of ObamaCare. Not to mention, the more money these companies pay to the government, the less money they have to invest in research and development. 
With this new medical device tax, students who pay large sums of money to get degrees in the field of biomedical engineering, just like doctors, will no longer see the benefits of going into the field and therefore, we will have a shortage of engineers developing new medical device technology. The medical device tax is a death sentence for American medical innovation.
And where exactly does this tax hurt the most? When it comes to research and development of new products.
Medical-device manufacturers contend, however, that the potential problems go much further. While the tax may seem relatively small -- it would amount to $230 on the sale of a $10,000 medical device -- opponents note that it hits sales, not just profits, which increases its impact. Indeed, several medical companies say that the surcharge would eat into their profitability, at the expense of their research and development budgets. Large orthopedic device maker Stryker says that in anticipation of the tax, it plans to cut more than $100 million from its annual pretax operating costs next year. Smaller device maker Zoll Medical says the new surcharge will raise its overall rate above 50 percent and use up its entire R&D budget.
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