Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mafia-style politics

In this Op-Ed piece my Ms. Strassel, you get a much better picture of how this piece of legislation passed and the slimy tactics that were used. Kimberley A. Strassel: Inside the Pelosi Sausage Factory - WSJ.com

We are moving away from a representative republic faster than anytime in our history thanks to these radical left wing zealots.

Last week Republican Rep. Mike Pence posted on his Facebook site that famous Schoolhouse Rock video titled "How a Bill Becomes a Law." It's clearly time for a remake.

Never before has the average American been treated to such a live-action view of the sordid politics necessary to push a deeply flawed bill to completion. It was dirty deals, open threats, broken promises and disregard for democracy that pulled ObamaCare to this point, and yesterday the same machinations pushed it across the finish line.

You could see it all coming a week ago, when New York Rep. Louise Slaughter let leak a breathtaking strategy whereby the House would not actually vote on the unpopular Senate bill. The House would instead vote on a "reconciliation" fix to that bill, and
The Slaughter Solution was both blunt admission and warning. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not have 216 votes to pass the Senate bill, there never was going to be majority "support" for it, but they'd pass it anyway. The final days were a simple death watch, to see how the votes would be bought, bribed or bullied, and how many congressional rules gamed, to get the win.

President Obama flew to Pennsylvania (home to five wavering House Democrats), Missouri (three wavering), Ohio (eight), and Virginia (four) to hold rallies with small, supportive crowds. In four days, Mr. Obama held 64 meetings or calls with congressmen. The goal was to let undecideds know that the president had them in his crosshairs, that he still had pull with the base, and he'd use it against them. By Saturday the tactic had yielded yes votes from at least half the previously undecided members of those states.

As for those who needed more persuasion: California Rep. Jim Costa bragged publicly that during his meeting in the Oval Office, he'd demanded the administration increase water to his Central Valley district. On Tuesday, Interior pushed up its announcement, giving the Central Valley farmers 25% of water supplies, rather than the expected 5% allocation. Mr. Costa, who denies there was a quid pro quo, on Saturday said he'd flip to a yes.

Florida Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (whose district is home to the Kennedy Space Center) admitted that in her own Thursday meeting with the president, she'd brought up the need for more NASA funding. On Friday she flipped to a yes. So watch the NASA budget.

Democrats inserted a new provision providing $100 million in extra Medicaid money for Tennessee. Retiring Tennessee Rep. Bart Gordon flipped to a yes vote on Thursday.

Outside heavies were enlisted to warn potential no votes that unions and other Democrats would run them out of Congress. Al Lawson, a Tallahassee liberal challenging Blue Dog Florida Rep. Allen Boyd in a primary, made Mr. Boyd's previous no vote the centerpiece of his criticism. The SEIU threatened to yank financial support for New York's Michael McMahon. The liberal Working Families Party said it would deny him a ballot line. Obama deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand vowed to challenge South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin if she voted no. New York's Scott Murphy was targeted as a part of a $1.3 million union-financed ad campaign to pressure him to flip. Moveon.Org spent another $36,000 on ads in his district and promised a primary. Messrs. Boyd and Murphy caved on Friday.

All the while Mrs. Pelosi was desperately working to provide cover with a Congressional Budget Office score that would claim the bill "saved" money. To do it, Democrats threw in a further $66 billion in Medicare cuts and another $50 billion in taxes. Huzzah! In the day following the CBO score, about a half-dozen Democrats who had spent the past months complaining the bill already had too many taxes and Medicare cuts now said they were voting to reduce the deficit.

Even with all this, by Friday Mrs. Pelosi was dealing with a new problem: The rule changes and deals winning her votes were losing her votes, too. The public backlash against "deem and pass" gave several wary Democrats—such as Massachusetts's Stephen Lynch and California's Dennis Cardoza—a new excuse to vote no.

Mrs. Pelosi jettisoned deem and pass. Once-solid Democrat yes votes wanted their own concessions. Oregon's Pete DeFazio threatened to lead a revolt unless changes were made to Medicare payments to benefit his state. On Saturday Mrs. Pelosi cut a deal to give 17 states additional Medicare money.

By the weekend, all the pressure and threats and bribes had left the speaker three to five votes short. Her remaining roadblock was those pro-life members who'd boxed themselves in on abortion, saying they would vote against the Senate bill unless it barred public funding of abortion. Mrs. Pelosi's first instinct was to go around this bloc, getting the votes elsewhere. She couldn't.

Into Saturday night, Michigan's Bart Stupak and Mrs. Pelosi wrangled over options. The stalemate? Any change that gave Mr. Stupak what he wanted in law would lose votes from pro-choice members. The solution? Remove it from Congress altogether, having the president instead sign a meaningless executive order affirming that no public money should go to pay for abortions.

The order won't change the Senate legal language—as pro-choice Democrats publicly crowed within minutes of the Stupak deal. Executive orders can be changed or eliminated on a whim. Pro-life groups condemned the order as the vote-getting ruse it was. Nevertheless, Mr. Stupak and several of his colleagues voted yes, paving the way to Mrs. Pelosi's final vote tally of 219.

Even in these waning minutes, Senate Democrats were playing their own games. Republicans announced they had found language in the House reconciliation bill that could doom this entire "fix" in the Senate. Since many House Democrats only agreed to vote for the Senate bill on promises that the sidecar reconciliation would pass, this was potentially a last-minute killer.
Senate Democrats handled it by deliberately refusing to meet with Republicans and the Senate parliamentarian to get a ruling, lest it be unfavorable and lose House votes. The dodge was a clear dereliction of duty, but Democrats figure the Senate parliamentarian won't dare derail this process after ObamaCare passes. They are probably right.

So there you have it, folks: "How a Bill Becomes a Law," at least in Obama-Pelosi land. Perhaps the most remarkable Democratic accomplishment this week was to make the process of passing ObamaCare as politically toxic as the bill itself.

President Obama was elected by millions of Americans attracted to his promise to change Washington politics. These were voters furious with earmarks, insider deals and a lack of transparency. They were the many Americans who, even before this week, held Congress in historic low esteem. They'll remember this spectacle come November.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More tricks of Obamacare

Here is a summary of some more of the “Budget Tricks” of Obamacare. As written, the bill:

Excludes the Costly “Doctor Fix”. Like the House bill, the Senate bill conveniently ignores the over $200 billion price tag associated with stopping the unavoidable cuts to physicians under the Medicare program. Separating the health care bill like this enables Senator Reid to claim his bill will reduce the deficit. However, in a letter released today, CBO estimates that combining the House bill (H.R. 3961) with the “Dr. Fix” bill (H.R. 3962) would actually “add $89 billion to budget deficits over the 2010–2019 period.”

Manipulates the new CLASS Act. The Senate bill, like the House, also includes a new government health care program for long term health insurance, the CLASS Act. The structure of the CLASS Act has premium collections raising revenues for the government in the first 10 years, appearing to aid in reducing the deficit. But the CBO points out that while the CLASS Act would generate net receipts for the government in the initial years when premiums would exceed total benefit payments, but would eventually lead to net outlays when benefits exceed premiums.”

Delays Costly Benefits. The Senate bill is cleverly designed to gather revenues (higher taxes, fees, and other offsets) over the full 10 year window but delays paying out the major benefits, like subsidies, until the last 6 years. So, the 2010-2019 estimate is not a full cost estimate of all provisions fully implemented and will certainly add significantly to the true cost of the bill. Moreover, as with all government programs, they always cost more than originally promised.
Depends on Uncertain Cuts to Medicare. The Senate bill depends on using cuts to Medicare to pay for its $1.2 Trillion coverage expansion. As explained by the
CBO Director:

Adjusting for inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary under the bill would increase at an average annual rate of roughly 2 percent during the next two decades—much less than the roughly 4 percent annual growth rate of the past two decades.

These dramatic savings, of course, assume that these spending cuts stay intact. If the “Dr. Fix” is an illustration, it is highly unlikely that Congress will live up to the deep cuts it proposes for Medicare. As the first round of cuts get close, a frenzied team of high powered lobbyists for the health care industry will no doubt be wearing out shoe leather going door to door in the corridors of Congress. They’ve been successful just about every time.

Moreover, these cuts include over $118 billion in ‘savings’ resulting from changes to the highly popular Medicare Advantage plans, a move that will directly impact the benefits of millions of seniors. In his analysis of the House bill, where the House of Representatives enacted similar reductions, the Chief Actuary for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services has confirmed, these changes will result in “less generous packages” and enrollment “would decrease by about 64 percent.”

True Costs UnknownThe reality is this Senate bill, like its House counterpart, costs far more than the President’s $900 billion promise and is more likely to run in the trillions. How is it that a bill whose purpose is to save money starts out, with careful caveats and unrealistic assumptions, by spending nearly a trillion dollars?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Putting Our Money Where His Mouth Is

This is hypocrisy at its best and Obama is the ultimate hypocrite.

Here is his quote and the article showing the hypocrisy.

“After a decade of profligacy, the American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” he said. “It’s easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits. What’s hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that’s what we must do. Like families across the country, we have to take responsibility for every dollar we spend.”

CNSNews.com - Obama Defeats FDR (in Spending Other People’s Money)

After he signed a law last week authorizing the U.S. Treasury to borrow an additional $1.9 trillion, President Barack Obama delivered a characteristically sanctimonious speech. It was about his deep commitment to frugality.


“After a decade of profligacy, the American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” he said. “It’s easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits. What’s hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that’s what we must do. Like families across the country, we have to take responsibility for every dollar we spend.”


To put Obama’s Olympian hypocrisy in perspective, one need only examine the federal budget tables posted on the White House website by Obama’s own Office of Management and Budget.


They reveal these startling facts: When calculated by the average annual percentage of the Gross Domestic Product that he will spend during his presidency, Obama is on track to become the biggest-spending president since 1930, the earliest year reported on the OMB’s historical chart of spending as a percentage of GDP. When calculated by the average annual percentage of GDP he will borrow during his presidency, Obama is on track to become the greatest debter president since Franklin Roosevelt.


Obama will outspend and out-borrow the admittedly profligate George W. Bush, a man Obama and his lieutenants routinely malign for fiscal recklessness and who, when in office, was often hailed even by his allies as a Big Government Republican. Obama will even outspend—but not quite out-borrow—his fellow welfare-state liberal FDR, who had to contend with both the Depression and World War II.


In determining this was the case, I credited the presidents prior to Obama with the federal spending and borrowing that occurred during the fiscal years that started when they were in office. I credited Obama with the spending and borrowing that his own OMB estimates will occur during the fiscal years from 2010 to 2013, which are the four fiscal years starting during Obama’s four-year term. (Before fiscal 1977, fiscal years ran from July 1 to June 30. Since then, they have run from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.)


FDR was inaugurated in March 1933 and died in April 1945. He is thus responsible for the 12 fiscal years from 1934 to 1945. During those years of depression and world war, according to OMB, federal spending averaged 19.35 percent of GDP. During Obama’s four fiscal years, OMB estimates spending will average 24.13 percent of GDP. That is about 25 percent more than under FDR.


In the first eight fiscal years of FDR’s presidency, before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, federal spending as a percentage of GDP never exceeded 12 (despite the Depression). During those years, it averaged only 9.85 percent. Under Obama, annual spending as a percentage of GDP will average almost two-and-a-half times that much.


In fiscal 1942, when the U.S. started dramatically ramping up expenditures to fight World War II, federal spending equaled 24.3 percent of GDP. In 2010, the first full fiscal year of the Obama era, spending will reach 25.4 percent of GDP.


Under current estimates, Obama will not beat FDR’s overall record for borrowing, although he will nearly double FDR’s pre-World War II rate of borrowing. From 1934-41, FDR ran annual deficits that averaged 3.56 percent of GDP. Obama, according to OMB, will run average annual deficits of 7.05 percent GDP. When you include the war years of 1942-45, FDR ran average annual deficits of 9.76 percent of GDP. Even without a world war, Obama’s overall prospective borrowing is at least competitive with FDR’s.


And Obama and FDR share one historic debt-accumulating distinction. By OMB’s calculation, they are the only two presidents since 1930 to run up annual deficits that reached double figures as a percentage of GDP. Obama will run up a deficit this year of 10.6 percent of GDP. The last time the deficit hit double digits as a percentage of GDP was 1945 -- when Germany and Japan surrendered.


The U.S. won the Cold War without ever running a double-digit deficit. President Reagan’s highest deficit was 6 percent of GDP in 1983 -- and he bankrupted the Soviet Union not the United States.


So how does Obama compare with the much-maligned George W. Bush? In Bush’s eight fiscal years, annual federal spending averaged 20.43 percent of GDP, significantly less than Obama’s estimated 24.13 percent of GDP.


Bush ran annual deficits that averaged 3.4 percent of GDP—and that includes fiscal 2009, when the deficit soared to 9.9 percent of GDP and Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus bill (some of which was spent in fiscal 2009) after Bush left office. Obama, according to OMB, will run deficits that average 7.05 percent of GDP—or more than twice the average deficits under Bush.


The bottom line on Obama: He puts our money where his mouth is.

Gimmicks of the CBO numbers

Here is a summary by Chris Field of how and why the CBO numbers are just flat-out misleading and unrealistic.

Health Care Budget Gimmicks Will Lead to Future Nightmares

Going into this vital weekend on the future of ObamaCare and the overall wellbeing of our country--not just in our personal health, but economically and politically--the Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC) published a policy paper titled “Democrats’ Budget Gimmicks Today Create Spending Nightmares Tomorrow.” From the introduction:

Even though Democrats claim that their health care legislation is fiscally responsible, an analysis of current law, the Senate-passed health care bill, and the reconciliation “sidecar” reveals all the deadlines and funding cliffs that convert the legislative package into a series of budgetary tricks. These tricks will have Congress spending the next several years scrambling to undo them to keep special interests happy.

You should read the whole thing, but here’s a brief rundown:


March 31, 2010: The Medicare “doc fix” expires. The White House’s 2011 budget plans to solve the problem with $371 billion in new deficit spending.


October 1, 2010: Because the savings in the higher-ed provisions of the reconciliation bill will be spent on health care, Pell Grant funding will be $5.5 billion short this year alone.


January 1, 2013: The “upper-income” Medicare tax on wages and investment are not indexed for inflation, making them seem to raise $210 billion over 10 years. But, like the non-indexed Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), this lack of indexing will force more Americans to pay these “upper-income” taxes each year.


January 1, 2015: Medicaid reimbursements to primary care physicians are increased only for 2013 and 2014--these provisions will have to be extended every years beginning in 2015.


January 1, 2015: Medicare reductions/cuts, which the White House’s actuaries believe “are unlikely to be sustainable” and will “jeopardiz[e] access to care for beneficiaries,” are scheduled to begin. Congress will likely stop the cuts, eliminating much of the “savings” the Democrats are claiming.


January 1, 2019: The growth rate of health insurance subsidies goes down, meaning individuals would have to buy health insurance they cannot afford.


January 1, 2020: “The CBO has found that ‘beginning in 2020, the reconciliation proposal would index the thresholds for the high-premium excise tax to the rate of general inflation rather than to inflation plus one percentage point.’ This change would result in a major and growing tax increase on middle class health benefits.”


January 1, 2020: The Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” is not closed until 2020--coincidentally outside the bill’s 10-year budget window. This hides the bills true cost.With these looming deadlines, the RPC raises these questions:

*Will Medicare payments for physicians fall by 21 percent this year--and more in consecutive years--to meet the targets under the existing SGR mechanism?


*Will low-income students suffer reductions in Pell Grant awards--resulting in even more student loan indebtedness--because higher education savings were re-directed to health care?


*Will more and more middle-class Americans be affected by higher payroll and investment taxes?


*Will 16 million new Medicaid patients be unable to see a physician in 2015 due to reimbursement cuts taking effect then?


*Will a board of unelected bureaucrats follow through on efforts to impose additional cost-cutting measures that have the effect of “jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries?”


*Will individuals be forced to buy “government-approved” health insurance without being able to afford it?


*Will struggling middle-class families be hit with a massive tax increase in the years after 2020?


*And if the answer to any of the above questions is “No,” where and how do Democrats expect to fund the new federal spending required to meet these commitments?

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Breed of Bats




Our planet is populated with plenty of bizarre and astonishing creatures.
Here are three from the Bat Family

Sucker-footed Bat
Red-Winged Fruit Bat
Left - Winged Ding Bat
75% of Americans polled by CNN reject the Healthcare bill but Pelosi made the following statment:
"But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy"

Pelosi has also told Democrats that they should sacrifice their own re-election if necessary so that Obama can get his way.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Our Governor Understands

Our Governor understands the problem and is on the right track to improving healthcare cost and delivery in Indiana. If only the democrats could learn that personal responsibilty for the cost of healthcare services is the only way to bring down costs. With the passage of Obamacare, real solutions like this are unlikely to happen.

Mitch Daniels: Hoosiers and Health Savings Accounts - WSJ.com

As Washington prepares to revisit the subject of health-care reform, perhaps some fresh experience from Middle America would be of value.

When I was elected governor of Indiana five years ago, I asked that a consumer-directed health insurance option, or Health Savings Account (HSA), be added to the conventional plans then available to state employees. I thought this additional choice might work well for at least a few of my co-workers, and in the first year some 4% of us signed up for it.

In Indiana's HSA, the state deposits $2,750 per year into an account controlled by the employee, out of which he pays all his health bills. Indiana covers the premium for the plan. The intent is that participants will become more cost-conscious and careful about overpayment or overutilization.

Unused funds in the account—to date some $30 million or about $2,000 per employee and growing fast—are the worker's permanent property. For the very small number of employees (about 6% last year) who use their entire account balance, the state shares further health costs up to an out-of-pocket maximum of $8,000, after which the employee is completely protected.
The HSA option has proven highly popular. This year, over 70% of our 30,000 Indiana state workers chose it, by far the highest in public-sector America. Due to the rejection of these plans by government unions, the average use of HSAs in the public sector across the country is just 2%.


What we, and independent health-care experts at Mercer Consulting, have found is that individually owned and directed health-care coverage has a startlingly positive effect on costs for both employees and the state. What follows is a summary of our experience:

State employees enrolled in the consumer-driven plan will save more than $8 million in 2010 compared to their coworkers in the old-fashioned preferred provider organization (PPO) alternative. In the second straight year in which we've been forced to skip salary increases, workers switching to the HSA are adding thousands of dollars to their take-home pay. (Even if an employee had health issues and incurred the maximum out-of-pocket expenses, he would still be hundreds of dollars ahead.) HSA customers seem highly satisfied; only 3% have opted to switch back to the PPO.

The state is saving, too. In a time of severe budgetary stress, Indiana will save at least $20 million in 2010 because of our high HSA enrollment. Mercer calculates the state's total costs are being reduced by 11% solely due to the HSA option.

Most important, we are seeing significant changes in behavior, and consequently lower total costs. In 2009, for example, state workers with the HSA visited emergency rooms and physicians 67% less frequently than co-workers with traditional health care. They were much more likely to use generic drugs than those enrolled in the conventional plan, resulting in an average lower cost per prescription of $18. They were admitted to hospitals less than half as frequently as their colleagues. Differences in health status between the groups account for part of this disparity, but consumer decision-making is, we've found, also a major factor.

Overall, participants in our new plan ran up only $65 in cost for every $100 incurred by their associates under the old coverage. Are HSA participants denying themselves needed care in order to save money? The answer, as far as the state of Indiana and Mercer Consulting can find, is no. There is no evidence HSA members are more likely to defer needed care or common-sense preventive measures such as routine physicals or mammograms.

It turns out that, when someone is spending his own money alone for routine expenses, he is far more likely to ask the questions he would ask if purchasing any other good or service: "Is there a generic version of that drug?" "Didn't I take that same test just recently?" "Where can I get the colonoscopy at the best price?"

By contrast, the prevalent model of health plans in this country in effect signals individuals they can buy health care on someone else's credit card. A fast-food meal costs most Americans more out of pocket than a visit to the doctor. What seems free will always be overconsumed, compared to the choices a normal consumer would make. Hence our plan's immense savings.

The Indiana experience confirms what common sense already tells us: A system built on "cost-plus" reimbursement (i.e., the more a physician does, the more he or she gets paid) coupled with "free" to the purchaser consumption, is a machine perfectly designed to overconsume and overspend. It will never be controlled by top-down balloon-squeezing by insurance companies or the government. There will be no meaningful cost control until we are all cost controllers in our own right.

Americans can make sound, thrifty decisions about their own health. If national policy trusted and encouraged them to do so, our skyrocketing health-care costs would decelerate.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tax Disincentives

We now have people staying in jobs they may not like because of healthcare issues, but since Obamacare has passed, we could have people leaving jobs they like in order to save money on insurance because of the government subsidies.

This is another reason that individuals should receive the tax advantage of an insurance premium and not the companies. This would give them the advantage of owning the policy and getting the tax break no matter where they worked.

HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE SUBSIDIES CREATE INEQUITIES

Both the House and Senate versions of the health care bill, as well as the Obama Administration's "compromise" proposal, offer large subsidies to encourage low- and middle-income individuals and households to purchase health insurance from private insurers through a government-supervised health insurance exchange, says Stephen J. Entin is, president and executive director of the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation (IRET).
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO):


About 127 million people potentially qualify for subsidies through the exchange on the basis of their income and family status, but many of them are covered at work or through Medicaid.

Therefore, the CBO estimated that only 18 million will participate.

However, if the number of people who purchase the subsidized insurance is higher than projected, taxpayer costs will be higher and fewer people will be covered by private employer-sponsored health plans.

Because employer-based health insurance is a tax-favored benefit, those who are covered by their company plans will generally be ineligible to buy the exchange-based plans. Premium payments by the employer are not counted as taxable income to the employee and payroll taxes are not imposed on the value. Thus, the employee receives an implicit tax subsidy equal to his or her marginal income tax rate plus the payroll tax rate, says Entin.

All three versions of the health bill will hold down taxpayer costs for the new program by disqualifying those with employment-based coverage. However, that means two otherwise identical households with the same total income, number of adults and number of children will face sharply different costs for insurance and health care, says Entin.

Low- and middle-income people who buy health exchange policies will receive much larger subsidies than the tax breaks they would receive with employer-provided health insurance. Therefore, people are likely to find ways to qualify for an exchange plan -- even if it means leaving a job that provides health insurance. As a result, government cost projections, which do not take into account things such as people intentionally changing jobs, are probably unrealistically low, says Entin.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cost to Average Americans

With the original Senate bill that was passed, and according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, American families will be required by federal law to buy a federally approved health insurance plan that will cost a minimum of $12,000 per year with an average cost closer to $15,000 per year.

If a family earns more than $88,200 a year (or whatever 400 percent of the poverty level equals in any given year), they are on their own for the cost. The Senate bill does not require employers to purchase health insurance for their workers but will penalize them if they don’t. The maximum penalty would be $750 per year for each worker they did not insure who subsequently received a federal subsidy to buy insurance. As you can see, the penalty is less than the cost of even a basic insurance plan and will therefore be taken by many companies.

Based on the analysis by the CBO and the statement by CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf in a letter to Sen. Olympa Snowe (R-Maine), the “Average premiums among all types of plans in 2016 would be about $5,800 for single policies and about $15,200 for family policies,”

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Senate bill highlights

Here is another highlight on what the Senate bill really means for Americans. No matter what the House does with reconciation; this Senate bill first will become law when the President signs it. The so-called fixes may or may not be implemented. This is a horrible bill which will destroy healthcare as we know it over the next few years and will cost us billions. The debt we are placing on our children is unsustainable.

New Middle-Class Taxes: Throughout his campaign, President Barack Obama promised he would not raise taxes on American households making less than $250,000. The Senate bill shatters that promise. For starters, just look at the reason Trumka went to the White House: the excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans. This tax would overwhelmingly hit middle-class taxpayers. Taxes on prescription drugs, wheel chairs and other medical devices would also be passed on to all consumers, hitting the lower- and middle- classes the hardest.

Increased Health Care Costs: The Senate bill manifestly does nothing to bend the health care cost curve downward. According to the latest
CBO report, the Senate bill would actually increase health care spending by $210 billion over the next 10 years.

This follows a previous report from the President's own Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) showing the Senate bill would result in
$234 billion in additional health care spending over 10 years.Increased Health Insurance Premiums: The President initially promised that Americans would see a $2,500 annual reduction in their family health care costs. But under the Senate bill, premiums would go up for millions of Americans. In fact, according to the CBO, estimated premiums in the individual market would be 10–13 percent higher by 2016 than they would be under current law.

Increased Deficits: Despite claiming to be comprehensive health care reform, the Senate bill does not address the fact that Medicare's current price-fixing doctor reimbursement scheme is set to reduce doctor payments by 21% this year.
That simply is not going to happen. Congress will pass that fix separately. If that cost were included, Obamacare is already $200 billion in the red. Now throw in the fact that the Senate bill is paid for with another $463 billion in Medicare cuts to health care providers. CMS says if these cuts occur, one-fifth of all health care providers will face bankruptcy. That simply is not going to happen. Just like the doctor reimbursement cuts have never happened, the Obamacare Medicare cuts will never happen. So in reality, Obamacare will add almost $700 billion to our national deficit in the next ten years alone.

Increases Unemployment and Puts Millions of Americans on Welfare: According to
The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis (CDA), a dynamic analysis of the tax hikes and deficits created by the Senate bill shows that an average 690,000 jobs per year would be lost if it became law. In addition, over half of all Americans who would gain health insurance through the bill (18 million out of 33 million) would do so by being placed on Medicaid, which is a welfare program.

Higher taxes, higher health care costs, higher health insurance premiums, higher deficits, more unemployment and more Americans on welfare. That is America's future should the Senate Obamacare bill become law.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Newest flavor



Here is the newest Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Flavor. It has been slightly changed since its original inception a year or so ago. It is still called "Barocky Road" in honor of the 44th President of the United States.

The new Barocky Road is a blend of half vanilla, half chocolate, and surrounded by nuts and flakes. The vanilla portion of the mix is not openly advertised and usually denied as an ingredient.


The nuts and flakes are all very bitter and hard to swallow.The cost is $100.00 per scoop. When purchased it will be presented to you in a large beautiful cone, but after you pay for it, the ice cream is taken away and given to the person in line behind you at no charge.


You are left with an empty wallet and no change, holding an empty cone with no hope of getting any ice cream.


Are you stimulated?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Examples of why our system is the best

Here is another recent and glaring example of why our Healthcare system should not be radically taken over by the government. There are things we can improve but the socialization of the system is not the answer.


When was the last time one of our legislators went to Canada for treatment?

The Canadian Press: 'My heart, my choice,' Williams says, defending decision for U.S. heart surgery

An unapologetic Danny Williams says he was aware his trip to the United States for heart surgery earlier this month would spark outcry, but he concluded his personal health trumped any public fallout over the controversial decision.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a "minimally invasive" surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.

"This was my heart, my choice and my health," Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.

"I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics."

The 60-year-old Williams said doctors detected a heart murmur last spring and told him that one of his heart valves wasn't closing properly, creating a leakage.

He said he was told at the time that the problem was "moderate" and that he should come back for a checkup in six months.

Eight months later, in December, his doctors told him the problem had become severe and urged him to get his valve repaired immediately or risk heart failure, he said.

His doctors in Canada presented him with two options - a full or partial sternotomy, both of which would've required breaking bones, he said.

He said he spoke with and provided his medical information to a leading cardiac surgeon in New Jersey who is also from Newfoundland and Labrador. He advised him to seek treatment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

That's where he was treated by Dr. Joseph Lamelas, a cardiac surgeon who has performed more than 8,000 open-heart surgeries.

Williams said Lamelas made an incision under his arm that didn't require any bone breakage.
"I wanted to get in, get out fast, get back to work in a short period of time," the premier said.
Williams said he didn't announce his departure south of the border because he didn't want to create "a media gong show," but added that criticism would've followed him had he chose to have surgery in Canada.


"I would've been criticized if I had stayed in Canada and had been perceived as jumping a line or a wait list. ... I accept that. That's public life," he said.

"(But) this is not a unique phenomenon to me. This is something that happens with lots of families throughout this country, so I make no apologies for that."

Williams said his decision to go to the U.S. did not reflect any lack of faith in his own province's health care system.

"I have the utmost confidence in our own health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador, but we are just over half a million people," he said.

"We do whatever we can to provide the best possible health care that we can in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Canadian health care system has a great reputation, but this is a very specialized piece of surgery that had to be done and I went to somebody who's doing this three or four times a day, five, six days a week."

He quipped that he had "a heart of a 40-year-old, so that gives me 20 years new life," and said he intends to run in the next provincial election in 2011.

"I'm probably going to be around for a long time, hopefully, if God willing," he said.
"God forbid for the Canadian public I won't be around longer than ever."


Williams also said he paid for the treatment, but added he would seek any refunds he would be eligible for in Canada.

"If I'm entitled to any reimbursement from any Canadian health care system or any provincial health care system, then obviously I will apply for that as anybody else would," he said.

"But I wrote out the cheque myself and paid for it myself and to this point, I haven't even looked into the possibility of any reimbursement. I don't know what I'm entitled to, if anything, and if it's nothing, then so be it."

He is expected back at work in early March.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

At Any Cost

Here is a recent posting from the Morning Bell which sums up the current situation

Obamacare at Any Cost

Yesterday the White House circulated a memo by pollster Joel Benenson. It was designed to create momentum for Obamacare by convincing wayward House Democrats that support for the President's plan has been building since the State of the Union. As with everything else that comes out of the White House on health care these days, the memo is nothing but pure fantasy.

This Tuesday, Gallup released its latest poll showing that by a 48%-45% margin Americans would tell their representative in Congress to vote against President Obama's health plan. Compare that to the last time Gallup asked the question in January, Americans supported the President's plan 49%-46%. That's a net six point loss in support for the President's plan since the State of the Union. That is momentum. Against Obamacare.

And Gallup isn't alone. The Associated Press released a poll this week showing that 68% of Americans believe the President and Congressional Democrats shouldn't pass their health care plan without Republican support. "Nothing has been more disconcerting than to watch Democratic politicians and their media supporters deceive themselves into believing that the public favors the Democrats' current health-care plan," Democratic pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen add in today's Washington Post, "A solid majority of Americans opposes the massive health-reform plan.

"Yesterday was particularly tough for the President's plan. First, the White House underwhelmed the Democratic Caucus in a presentation of the new (still unwritten) reconciliation bill. Then, the Senate Parliamentarian killed the Democrats favored procedural path for passage by signaling he would rule that President Obama must sign the original Senate bill into law before the Senate could act on the President's new reconciliation package. Finally, the Associated Press reported that House leaders have abandoned all hope of finding language to satisfy Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-MI) concerns that the Senate bill funds abortion. By the end of the day, the leftist firedoglake site had dropped its count of committed House Democrats for passage to 189 (Speaker Pelosi needs 216 for passage).

With the loss of Stupak and his 7-12 member caucus opposed to taxpayer-funded-abortions, Speaker Pelosi will have to find the remaining dozen plus votes from the ranks of cost conscious Blue Dog Democrats. For example, Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL) who voted against the House bill in the fall explained at the time: "According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House health care bill will actually increase federal health care spending over the long term, while proposals being considered by the Senate would have a net decrease." But according to a new CBO score of the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve (the one with the Cornhusker Kickback), it actually increases health care spending. And the reconciliation bill only make things worse, since, among other increased spending measures, President Obama "fixed" the Cornhusker Kickback not by eliminating the new spending, but by extending it to all 50 states.

With no votes piling up, and "yes" votes materializing, the Democratic plans to shove Obamacare down the throats of the American people are becoming more and more desperate. This Monday, the House Budget Committee will begin markup on the new reconciliation bill even though actual legislative text does not exist for it yet. The Democrats plan to pass a shell of a bill through the appropriate committees so that the Rules Committee can then substitute the bill that is being drafted completely behind closed doors by the White House and Senate and Democrat leaders.

Politico reports that despite the Parliamentarian's initial verbal ruling, they will press on with their Slaughter Rule plan to pass the Senate bill without voting on it. NRO's Yuval Levin quips: "Democratic leaders should be asking themselves just how they have gotten to the point that their strategy is to amend a law that doesn’t exist yet by passing a bill without voting on it.

"But President Obama's progressive base is way past rational thought when it comes to health care. They want it passed at any cost. And as George Will pointed out yesterday, the very essence of progressivism sublimates the democratic process to the rule of experts in Washington. No one can say if this bill will finally pass, but if it does, it is abundantly clear that our republican form of government will be permanently damaged by it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Morris Perspective

Dick Morris has a pretty good handle on the Chicago style politics that are so prevalent in the current White House administration. The Dems and Obama will deny these things correlate with the healthcare bill, but Americans understand what is really going on!

Townhall.com – Dick Morris

All aspects of President Obama's Chicago-style tactics are on display as he cajoles, bullies and bribes the House to pass his health care proposals despite the overwhelming public rejection with which they have been met.

To some, he offers bribes. Rep. Jim Matheson, endangered species -- a Utah Democrat -- succeeded in getting his brother Scott appointed to a federal judgeship. Matheson voted against Obamacare when it first passed the House. With his new-found winnings in his pocket, he now professes to be undecided. He faces a clear conflict between his district and his conscience on the one hand and the bribe to his brother on the other. The conscience will probably lose.

Matheson supports his party 91 percent of the time according to The Washington Post even though John McCain got 58 percent of the vote in his district in 2008. But Matheson got re-elected -- by professing independence from the Democratic Party's liberal line -- with 63 percent of the vote, so he probably figures he can sneak in a vote for health care and still con his district into re-electing him. After all, he's not heavy. He's my brother.

Even as Matheson basks in the glow of presidential bribery, Eric Massa, a renegade Democrat from the Southern Tier of New York state faces his wrath. Massa's sin was to vote against Obamacare. So Pelosi and the ethically challenged House Ethics Committee are investigating him for "verbally abusing" a male member of his staff.

In this age of more serious offenses, using "salty language" to express his displeasure with staff work would not seem to rank high on the list of indictable offenses. If it were, Lyndon Johnson would have been impeached. But Massa is being hung out to dry as an example to other would-be independent-minded Democrats. The attacks on him have gotten so bad that Massa has announced his retirement after only one term in office.

But there is a reward waiting for House members who ignore the wishes and interests of their constituents and vote for Obama's health care proposals. Alan Mollohan has had a pesky FBI investigation hanging over his head for a few years. Now, presto, right before the health care vote, it went away. The Justice Department, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, announced that the FBI was closing the inquiry.

Mollohan's sin? He pushed for earmarks for nonprofit enterprises in his district and then went into a real estate deal in Florida with the head of the company under financial terms that were distinctly favorable to the congressman. But Mollohan toes the party line and is now getting his unjust reward.

With health care reform coming up for a vote in the next few days, such tactics send a message to the House, where Nancy Pelosi is having trouble lining up her votes: Obama will do anything -- anything at all -- to pass this bill.

For those of us without judgeships or the FBI at our disposal, we can only call and write the swing congressmen (go to dickmorris.com for a list and their phone numbers) or donate to the League of American Voters to step up its fierce media offensive in their districts to urge them to vote no.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Obama's Harvest

Most of us understand that we "reap what we sow". The problem for the politicians is they sow but rarely have to worry about what happens down the road. Hear we see all too clearly what Obama and the radical Democrats are doing to our great nation.

The yield on Obama's harvest will have us all starving in more ways than one!!

2009 Chickens and their 2010 Roost
Victor Davis Hanson
Thursday, December 31, 2009

In the coming year, plenty of our chickens will be coming home to roost.

Take foreign relations. In 2009, the new administration assumed that George W. Bush was largely responsible for global tensions. As a remedy, we loudly reached out to our foes and those with whom we had uneasy relationships.

But so far these leaders -- like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Russia's Vladimir Putin -- have only interpreted Barack Obama's serial goodwill gestures as weaknesses to be exploited. They play the part of the pushy class bully, we the whiny nerd.

In the waning days of 2009, Iran has announced it has no intention of dismantling its nuclear facilities and ignored the latest Obama deadline to cease. There's no reason not to expect the theocracy to make significant strides in its nuclear program in 2010, while continuing without rebuke to beat and murder democratic dissidents in its streets.

Russia has announced plans to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons -- and scoffed at our polite suggestions that it should pressure Iran to stop its nuclear development.

Venezuela brags of its own similar program to come -- an act that could threaten all the neighboring democracies in the region.

The administration courted China on a much-heralded Asian tour. President Obama even has said he would be our first "Pacific president."

Unfortunately, China was not impressed. It declined our advice about reducing its carbon footprint and instead reminded Americans that we owe the Chinese people nearly $1 trillion. Expect much more of that hectoring in 2010 as our debt to China grows.

Consider also the threat of Islamic terrorism. In 2009, some in the Obama administration decided "war on terror" was too provocative a label for what might be better dubbed "overseas contingency operations." Apparently, they were thinking a kinder, gentler image would discourage terrorists.

Accordingly, the self-confessed architect of Sept. 11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was promised a civil trial in New York rather than a military tribunal normally accorded to out-of-uniform murderous terrorists. Expect a lot of soapbox speechmaking about America's sins during his testimony in 2010.

As part of our efforts to break with the Bush anti-terrorism past, President Obama also vowed he would close the facility at Guantanamo Bay by Jan. 22, 2010 -- another deadline that won't be met.

But as 2009 ended, we were reminded that radical Islamic terrorists still want to kill us for who we are, and what we represent, rather than any particular thing we do.

Maj. Nidal Hasan, nursed on radical Islamic doctrine, murdered 12 fellow soldiers and one civilian at Ford Hood, Texas. Five would-be terrorists with U.S. citizenship were arrested in Pakistan on their way to link up with Islamist militant groups. And Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was stopped in flight from Amsterdam before he could blow up an American passenger jet.

Note that all these recent terrorists were not poor, lived in the hospitable West -- and cared little that the Obama administration has been critical of the U.S.'s prior war-on-terror policies.

So, while we assured the world in 2009 that we wouldn't be overzealous in our various efforts to stop terrorists, the terrorists proved they most certainly would be in theirs to kill us.

Meanwhile, at home we operated on the same naive assumptions. The Obama administration inherited a $500 billion deficit and expanded it threefold. Its planned mega-deficits may well grow the aggregate national debt over the next decade to over $20 trillion.

But the administration's 2009 calculations on how to service the growing red ink are based on continued cheap interest. Yet in 2010, it is likely we will see rising inflation, rising interest rates -- and rising costs to the continual self-destructive borrowing.

We were given a financial break on energy prices in 2009. The worldwide recession sent oil down to about $50 a barrel. But America did little during the year's reprieve to rush into production newly discovered domestic gas and oil fields, to tap existing finds in Alaska, or to license new nuclear plants.

By year's end, oil was creeping back up to $80. If the economic upswing continues, in 2010 it may near its old high of nearly $150 a barrel. Soon we will wish we had done something concrete in 2009 rather than offering more stale rhetoric about wind and solar power.

In other words, 2009 may seem to have ended relatively quietly. But in our foreign relations, in the war against terror, in our massive borrowing, and in our energy policies, we created chickens that soon will come home to roost in 2010.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Obama Bingo

Rules for BS Bingo
1. Before Barrack Obama's next televised speech, prepare your "Bullshit Bingo" card.
2. Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of these words/phrases.
3. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout "BULLSHIT!"

Testimonials from past satisfied "Bullshit Bingo" players:
  • "I had been listening to the speech for only five minutes when I won." - Jack W., Boston
  • "My attention span during speeches has improved dramatically." - David D., Florida
  • "What a gas! Speeches will never be the same for me after my first win." - Bill R., New York City
  • "The atmosphere was tense in the last speech as 14 of us waited for the fifth box." - Ben G., Denver
  • "The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed "BULLSHIT!" for the third time in two hours." - Harry A, Chantilly

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The wrong plan

Rick Scott has it right in this article from the Washington Times. SCOTT: Hope and delusion in health care - Washington Times

But the Democrats don't care about reality because their ideologies block rational thought.

Some of the highlights as he compares the Christmas Eve passage of the Senate bill to Massachusetts are:

Similar policies to the Senate bill were passed in Massachusetts in 2006:
  • Residents of that state now pay the highest insurance premiums in the nation.
  • Exploding health care costs mean the state can't even pay hospitals enough to cover the care given to patients.
  • Waiting lists are growing, particularly in Boston, where some patients have to wait up to a year for routine visits to specialists.
  • All of these "reforms" in Massachusetts were passed just to extend health coverage to a tiny fraction of the state population, but even former supporters are admitting that the exploding costs of Massachusetts' health care reform is a serious concern:
  • According to the most recent Rasmussen poll, about 36 percent of the state's residents view reform as a failure, compared with just 31 percent who don't.
  • Another 31 percent say their health care costs have gone up, versus just 20 percent who say the opposite.

Every aspect of Massachusetts' reform has been an unmitigated disaster for families in that state, says Scott.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Massechusetts Experiment Failing

Here is the perfect example for what will happen if the democrats and Obama are somehow able to pass this healthcare takeover. This comes from the following source: THE MASSACHUSETTS "MODEL" MOVES TO PRICE CONTROLS

Natural experiments are rare in politics, but few are as instructive as the prototype for ObamaCare that Massachusetts set in motion in 2006. The bills for "universal coverage" are now coming due, and it appears the state political class is prepared to do lasting damage to one of America's top-flight health care systems, says the Wall Street Journal.

Last month, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick proposed hard price controls across almost all Massachusetts health care:

State regulators already have the power to cap insurance premiums, which Patrick is activating.

He also filed a bill that would give state regulators the power to review the rates of hospitals, physician groups and some specialty providers.

Those that are deemed too high "shall be presumptively disapproved."

The administered prices of Medicare and Medicaid already shift costs to private patients while below-cost reimbursement creates balance-sheet havoc among providers. Now the governor wants to import these distortions to save the state's heavily subsidized insurance program as costs explode, says the Journal.

Ironically, former Governor Mitt Romney (like President Obama) sold this plan as a way to control spending. As with all new entitlements, the rolling cost crisis began almost immediately, says the Journal:

For fiscal 2010 taxpayer costs are $47 million over budget, in part due to the recession, and while the $913 million Patrick requested for 2011 is a 5 percent increase over 2010, spending has grown on average 6.7 percent per year.

Meanwhile, average Massachusetts insurance premiums are now the highest in the nation; since 2006, they've climbed at an annual rate of 30 percent in the individual market.

Small business costs have increased by 5.8 percent.

Per capita health spending in Massachusetts is now 27 percent higher than the national average, and 15 percent higher even after adjusting for local wages and academic research grants.

All of this is merely a preview of what the entire country will face if Democrats succeed with their plan to pound ObamaCare into law in anything like its current form. Massachusetts is teaching the country a valuable lesson in how not to reform health care, if only anyone would pay attention, says the Journal.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Straw Man

I’ve pointed out several of these before in Obama’s speeches, but here we have another WSJ writer giving more examples of Obama’s favorite rhetorical strategy; using “Straw Man arguments”. You’d think a legal scholar would be better than this.

Noam Neusner: I'm the President's Trusted Counselor - WSJ.com

Some people get quoted in presidential speeches by writing heartfelt letters to the president about personal loss, or by doing something heroic, like landing a plane in the icy Hudson River.
I just sit in the Oval Office, and mouth off to President Barack Obama, one inanity after the next. And sure enough, my words—word for word, mind you!—show up in his biggest speeches.

Who am I? Sotus—Straw man of the United States. I'm Mr. Obama's most trusted rhetorical friend.


In his speeches, Mr. Obama says there are "those" who suggest we "can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures." He suggests there are "some" who are content to let America's economy become, at best, "number two." He says that on health care, "some people" think we should do nothing.

Listen, there is no "some people." He's just quoting me, Sotus.

Why, just a few weeks ago, I said: "Hey, Mr. President, you know, why don't we just fight tired old battles, run up the deficit, and, you know, just chuck common sense to the wind?" Imagine my thrill when I heard Mr. Obama during the recent State of the Union: "Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense." Ouch, Mr. President, you got me there!

And then there was the nice talk we had right before that historic January afternoon, when he was sworn in. I turned to him and said: "Mr. President-elect, our system of government can really only tolerate small plans, and limited ambitions." Think how good it felt to hear my own words echoing across the Mall: "There are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done." Good one, Mr. President!

A few days later, as we were shooting baskets, I said: "Mr. President, you know, I think that in the face of the biggest financial crisis in three generations, you should really do nothing."
And sure enough, at a press conference on Feb. 9, 2009, he quoted me: "There seems to be a set of folks who—I don't doubt their sincerity—who just believe that we should do nothing . . . I don't think that's what the American people expect, is for us to stand by and do nothing." They don't? Guess I lose again!

And you know, I'm not just about policy. I also care a lot about presidential leadership. My preference: Go slower. Do less. Don't try so hard. Don't care so much. Don't be so bold.
Conservatives cry foul when they hear me quoted. They can't imagine anyone is saying the things that Mr. Obama stands up as arguments that he proceeds to knock down. Of course, they haven't met Sotus.


Some say Mr. Obama should make a stronger case for his opponents' positions than his own. The cynics think straw-man arguments by definition prove that the speaker has no proof or logic on his side. Some would force presidential speechwriters to choose between a nifty setup for a zinger and boring rhetoric that puts audiences to sleep.

See, this straw man thing is pretty easy. I just rattled off three of them. Maybe I need to give some of this material to the big guy. He's been saying he needs more material on false choices.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Why is Bayh Leaving

So why is Bayh retiring from his democratic senate seat?

Bayh says it is because he has grown weary of partisan sniping in Congress. But who really believes this? He is strategically retiring to prevent a likely loss in November that would look bad on a future presidential run. The current political environment and his recent voting record did nothing to help him through this current election cycle.

Likely challengers for his seat include the former Sen. Dan Coats, former Rep. John Hostettler, State Sen. Marlin Stutzman and at least two other Republicans.

Bayh would like the people of Indiana to believe he is a moderate Democrat and that he votes with the Republicans on many issues. But when you examine the record, he only votes with the Republicans when the vote really doesn’t’ matter. If the vote matters, he is a partisan democrat who voted for Cap and Trade and for the disastrous Health Care Bill.

Don’t be fooled by his reasons and statements. There is likely a hidden agenda!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Obama's Gold Metal


The IOC stunned the world this morning when they awarded U.S. President Barack Obama a gold medal for Men’s Skiing. Even though he's never skied an IOC spokesman said “Barack Obama is going downhill faster than anyone this year.”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

True Colors

Obama’s true color is coming through by his latest actions on the Healthcare debate. He is now defining himself as the most left-winged, partisan president we have ever seen. He cannot face the reality that this healthcare legislation is a disaster and he is willing to do whatever it takes to ram it down our throats.

Time to act on health care, Obama declares

He made this comment in the past "If we want to transform the country though, that requires a sizeable majority", but he evidently has decided his ideology overrides his previous stance.

Breitbart.tv » Obama ‘American Agenda’ Flashback: Dems Should Not Pass Healthcare With a 50-Plus-1 Strategy

He is a radical left wing ideologue who has a socialist agenda based on his actions.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

More than Race

The following appeared in the Wall Street Journal and discusses some of Obama's troubling issues.

Obama and Our Post-Modern Race Problem

The president always knew that his greatest appeal was not as a leader but as a cultural symbol.

By SHELBY STEELE

America still has a race problem, though not the one that conventional wisdom would suggest: the racism of whites toward blacks. Old fashioned white racism has lost its legitimacy in the world and become an almost universal disgrace.

The essence of our new "post-modern" race problem can be seen in the parable of the emperor's new clothes. The emperor was told by his swindling tailors that people who could not see his new clothes were stupid and incompetent. So when his new clothes arrived and he could not see them, he put them on anyway so that no one would think him stupid and incompetent. And when he appeared before his people in these new clothes, they too—not wanting to appear stupid and incompetent—exclaimed the beauty of his wardrobe. It was finally a mere child who said, "The emperor has no clothes."

The lie of seeing clothes where there were none amounted to a sophistication—joining oneself to an obvious falsehood in order to achieve social acceptance. In such a sophistication there is an unspoken agreement not to see what one clearly sees—in this case the emperor's flagrant nakedness.

America's primary race problem today is our new "sophistication" around racial matters. Political correctness is a compendium of sophistications in which we join ourselves to obvious falsehoods ("diversity") and refuse to see obvious realities (the irrelevance of diversity to minority development). I would argue further that Barack Obama's election to the presidency of the United States was essentially an American sophistication, a national exercise in seeing what was not there and a refusal to see what was there—all to escape the stigma not of stupidity but of racism.

Barack Obama, elegant and professorially articulate, was an invitation to sophistication that America simply could not bring itself to turn down. If "hope and change" was an empty political slogan, it was also beautiful clothing that people could passionately describe without ever having seen.

Mr. Obama won the presidency by achieving a symbiotic bond with the American people: He would labor not to show himself, and Americans would labor not to see him. As providence would have it, this was a very effective symbiosis politically. And yet, without self-disclosure on the one hand or cross-examination on the other, Mr. Obama became arguably the least known man ever to step into the American presidency.

Our new race problem—the sophistication of seeing what isn't there rather than what is—has surprised us with a president who hides his lack of economic understanding behind a drama of scale. Hundreds of billions moving into trillions. Dramatic, history-making numbers. But where is the economic logic behind a stimulus package that doesn't fully click in for a number of years? How is every stimulus dollar spent actually going to stimulate? Why bailouts to institutions that only hoard the money? How is vast government spending simultaneously a kind of prudence that will not "add to the deficit?" How can such spending not trigger smothering levels of taxation?

Mr. Obama's economic thinking (or lack thereof) adds up to a kind of rudderless cowboyism combined with wishful thinking. You would think that in the two solid years of daily campaigning leading up to his election this nakedness would have been seen.

On the foreign front he has been given much credit for his new policy on the Afghan war, and especially for the "rational" and "earnest" way he went about arriving at the decision to surge 30,000 new troops into battle. But here also were three months of presidential equivocation for all the world to see, only to end up essentially where he started out.

And here again was the lack of a larger framework of meaning. How is this surge of a piece with America's role in the world? Are we the world's exceptional power and thereby charged with enforcing a certain balance of power, or are we now embracing European self-effacement and nonengagement? Where is the clear center in all this?

I think that Mr. Obama is not just inexperienced; he is also hampered by a distinct inner emptiness—not an emptiness that comes from stupidity or a lack of ability but an emptiness that has been actually nurtured and developed as an adaptation to the political world.

The nature of this emptiness becomes clear in the contrast between him and Ronald Reagan. Reagan reached the White House through a great deal of what is called "individuating"—that is he took principled positions throughout his long career that jeopardized his popularity, and in so doing he came to know who he was as a man and what he truly believed.

He became Ronald Reagan through dissent, not conformity. And when he was finally elected president, it was because America at last wanted the vision that he had evolved over a lifetime of challenging conventional wisdom. By the time Reagan became president, he had fought his way to a remarkable certainty about who he was, what he believed, and where he wanted to lead the nation.

Mr. Obama's ascendancy to the presidency could not have been more different. There seems to have been very little individuation, no real argument with conventional wisdom, and no willingness to jeopardize popularity for principle. To the contrary, he has come forward in American politics by emptying himself of strong convictions, by rejecting principled stands as "ideological," and by promising to deliver us from the "tired" culture-war debates of the past. He aspires to be "post-ideological," "post-racial" and "post-partisan," which is to say that he defines himself by a series of "nots"—thus implying that being nothing is better than being something. He tries to make a politics out of emptiness itself.

But then Mr. Obama always knew that his greatest appeal was not as a leader but as a cultural symbol. He always wore the bargainer's mask—winning the loyalty and gratitude of whites by flattering them with his racial trust: I will presume that you are not a racist if you will not hold my race against me. Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and yes, Tiger Woods have all been superb bargainers, eliciting almost reverential support among whites for all that they were not—not angry or militant, not political, not using their moral authority as blacks to exact a wage from white guilt.

But this mask comes at a high price. When blacks become humanly visible, when their true beliefs are known, their mask shatters and their symbiotic bond with whites is broken. Think of Tiger Woods, now so humanly visible. Or think of Bill Cosby, who in recent years has challenged the politically correct view and let the world know what he truly thinks about the responsibility of blacks in their own uplift.

It doesn't matter that Mr. Woods lost his bargainer's charm through self-destructive behavior and that Mr. Cosby lost his through a courageous determination to individuate—to take public responsibility for his true convictions. The appeal of both men—as objects of white identification—was diminished as their human reality emerged. Many whites still love Mr. Cosby, but they worry now that expressing their affection openly may identify them with his ideas, thus putting them at risk of being seen as racist. Tiger Woods, of course, is now so tragically human as to have, as the Bible put it, "no name in the street."

A greater problem for our nation today is that we have a president whose benign—and therefore desirable—blackness exempted him from the political individuation process that makes for strong, clear-headed leaders. He has not had to gamble his popularity on his principles, and it is impossible to know one's true beliefs without this. In the future he may stumble now and then into a right action, but there is no hard-earned center to the man out of which he might truly lead.

And yes, white America conditioned Barack Obama to emptiness—valued him all along for his "articulate and clean" blackness, so flattering to American innocence. He is a president come to us out of our national insecurities.

Mr. Steele is a senior research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Congress fails again

As of Friday, our illustrious congress failed once again to overturn the scheduled 21% reduction in Medicare reimbursement to physicians.

They have failed to fix the Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula which is flawed and continually cause problems every year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., attempted to pass by unanimous consent the Temporary Extension Act of 2010. This package extends several expiring provisions, including stopping cuts under the SGR, unemployment insurance and COBRA for 30 days. Most of the $10 billion cost of the bill was designated as emergency spending and not offset. The SGR provision did not require an offset under "pay-as-you-go," or pay-go, rules. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., objected and attempted to move a similar bill that was paid for with a reduction in stimulus money. Sen. Reid noted that he had offered to hold a separate vote on paying for the bill. However, Sen. Bunning objected, insisting that the "pay-for" be included rather than be subject to a separate vote.

There is now a 30-day extension and the vote will require two-thirds support for approval.
The Senate plans to move a broader package of tax and other extenders and the bill is expected to contain the seven-month SGR extension that was stripped from the Senate jobs bill that passed earlier this week. The AMA does not support temporary extensions of the SGR and continues to insist that Congress repeal the current formula once and for all.

This means that Medicare claims will be processed but all payments held for at least 10 working days. Physician cash flow will be dramatically impacted as we can expect no payments from Medicare for at least 2 weeks.

We will be one of many offices who will decide to forego seeing new Medicare patients because of congress’ inability to fix this problem and once again making healthcare delivery worse.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Some Simple Solutions All Can Agree On


It's nice to see some other smart people recognize the problem and some simple solutions that would help solve many of the problems in our current system.

From the WSJ here is the article Cogan, Hubbard, and Kessler: A Better Way to Reform Health Care - WSJ.com

A Better Way to Reform Health Care

The critical problem is rising costs. The solution is more competition and greater individual control over health spending. Here's how.

By
JOHN F. COGAN, GLENN HUBBARD, AND DANIEL KESSLER

Today, President Obama will host members of Congress from both political parties at the White House to discuss health reform. He has already put on the table an ambitious plan that takes elements from the bills already passed by the House and Senate and adds others, such as an agency to control health-insurance premiums.

The fundamental question participants must address is whether to use the president's plan as a starting point for negotiations, or to scrap it and start over.

Our recommendation: scrap it and start over. Its key elements—mandates, heavy-handed insurance regulation, and entitlement-based, middle-income subsidies—must go. None of them address health care's fundamental problem: high and rising costs. Instead, the various versions of health reform put forth by the president and his party are based on expanding health-insurance coverage. The inevitable consequence will be to exacerbate the cost problem. And the American public knows it.

To bring down costs, we need to change the incentives that govern spending. Right now, $5 out of every $6 of health-care spending is paid for by someone other than the person receiving care—insurance companies, employers, or the government. Individuals are insulated from the reality of what their decisions cost. This breeds overutilization of low-value health care and runaway spending.

To reduce the growth of costs, individuals must take greater responsibility for their health care, and health insurers and health-care providers must face the competitive forces of the market. Three policy changes will go a long way to achieving these objectives: (1) eliminate the tax code's bias that favors health insurance over out-of-pocket spending; (2) remove state-government barriers to purchasing and providing health services; and (3) reform medical malpractice laws.

We estimate these three changes will reduce health-care costs by over $100 billion per year and permanently reduce the number of uninsured by up to 13 million.

The tax code's favorable treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance over out-of-pocket health-care payments means that, for most families, buying health care through an employer is 30%-40% cheaper than buying it directly. The best way to address this clear bias is by making all health spending—including out-of-pocket payments, purchases of individual insurance, and purchases of COBRA coverage—tax-deductible.

Such a policy would be especially helpful to individuals facing the high cost of chronic illness and the unemployed who have lost their employer coverage. It could be accomplished with a single, sweeping policy change. It could also be achieved by expanding Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts, which also level the tax playing field between insured and out-of-pocket spending. That is, they make the tax treatment of insured and out-of-pocket spending more similar.

Many health-policy analysts have argued that counting employer-sponsored insurance premiums as taxable income would be a more effective way to undo the current tax code's bias toward employer-sponsored health insurance. In theory, we agree.

But the fate of the so-called tax on Cadillac insurance plans only serves to underscore the wisdom of leveling the playing field by making all health-care spending tax deductible. The beneficiaries of these high-priced plans, such as labor unions and public-sector employees, lobbied intensely and largely against the tax, and the president's plan defers the tax until 2018. The end result is the essential elimination of the plan's only tangible improvement to incentives.

There are two additional steps to reforming private insurance markets. First, individuals must be allowed to buy health insurance offered in states other than those in which they live. The current approach of state-by-state regulation has raised costs by reducing competition among insurance companies. It has also allowed state legislatures to impose insurance mandates that raise prices, while preventing residents from getting policies more suitable for their needs.

Second, reasonable caps on damages for pain and suffering need to be established in medical malpractice cases. Caps on these kind of damages reduce costs and decrease unnecessary, defensive medicine.

These three policies offer advantages over the president's plan. Instead of raising health-care costs, they fundamentally change incentives among individuals, insurers, and providers to gradually slow the growth in costs by reducing inefficient demand without sacrificing quality and innovation. Instead of radically changing health care overnight, they take an incremental approach, respecting the tremendous uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of different approaches to rein in costs.

And instead of massively increasing government spending, our policies have only a negligible federal budget impact. We estimate that the three policies will reduce federal revenues by approximately $3 billion per year; a small amount of the government's $2.2 trillion revenue intake.

Why is the budget impact so small? Taken together, the policy changes outlined here will produce a substantial decline in health-insurance premiums. Premiums will fall as workers opt for health plans with higher copayments. Insurance companies will lower premiums in the face of stiffer competition. And doctors will practice less defensive medicine.

As tax-deductible, employer-sponsored health-insurance costs decline, workers' taxable wages will rise so as to leave total labor compensation unchanged. The increased tax revenue collected on higher wages nearly offsets the revenue loss from the new health care tax deduction.

It is also important to increase access to health care—but this should not be confused with increasing access to health insurance, and it cannot be achieved without getting costs under control. There are several ideas for improving access worth considering: removing artificial barriers to entry for physicians and within specialty groups, allowing states greater flexibility with Medicaid, providing tax credits for health spending, and expanding programs that provide services directly, such as Community Health Centers. The city of San Francisco has a promising alternative along these lines called Healthy San Francisco. It restructures the existing health-care safety net system (both public and nonprofit) into a coordinated, integrated system.

Despite the claims of some partisans to the contrary, the president's plan is failing because it does not speak to the concerns of the majority of Americans. Instead of addressing the high and rising costs of care, it proposes mandates, invasive regulation, and unaffordable new entitlements. This will not bring health-care costs down—it will only make this problem worse.

Mr. Cogan, a senior fellow at Sanford University's Hoover Institution, was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. Mr. Kessler is a professor of business and law at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.