Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Republicans Beware: The Health Care "Fix" is really a Cover-Up

Now that this bloated, bankrupting, health care debacle has passed the House and will likely become law in the next several days, the statists who supported it are now laying the rhetorical groundwork to convince Republicans to come on board. The Democrats need cover. They are well aware that they've jumped over a political cliff and they are anxious to make sure they don't have to face gravity alone. (Politics is one of the few venues where suicide isn't fatal if you can convince others to fall on their swords, too. They know that the people aren't ready to throw everyone out at once.)
Their tactic will be pretty straightforward, "The bill passed and you crazy libertarians, and conservatives, and defenders of the Constitution, and proponents of fiscal sanity, and others we characterized as "extremists" didn't like it, so help us make it better." To wit: this is the time to Fix It. I'm warning Republicans: Don't fall for the gimmick, don't go back to the pre-Tea Party, Beltway mindset that "doing The People's work" means passing legislation, even if it's bad. The People's don't want more government and the best work to be done is opposing more government. The legislators who opposed the extraordinarily unpopular bill that just passed must understand that popular opposition to this bill isn't simply because of all of the undeniable corruption involved in its passage. That provided some sound bites, but the opposition goes far deeper than that. The bill is fundamentally flawed because there simply is no way to make health care more affordable by giving more control over health care to the most fiscally irresponsible player ever to enter the field, the U.S. government. Miraculously, people saw through the statist baloney and understood that a government takeover was a bad idea. That takeover is the essence of the bill that passed and it can't be fixed by rearranging the pork used to tempt Democrat holdouts. Any attempt to recast the fundamental problem with the bill as simply embarrassing pork or some other form of mere political excess is a betrayal of that understanding and the many tens of millions of voters who got it. To define the problems of this bill in the typical Beltway terms of this or that political misstep is to really misunderstand the popular opposition that it spawned. And, such opposition will drive the 2010/2012 elections if the GOP doesn't fumble the ball.

So, don't go along with the Fix It bill. In fact, don't even use that terminology. The upcoming legislation to "correct" things like the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, etc. isn't a Fix It, it's a Cover-Up. The GOP message on this should be: We didn't commit the crime and we won't take part in the cover-up. Let those who passed this corrupt pig stand alone in putting lipstick on it. You Dems passed the bill without any Republican support and the bill you passed is an abomination, both in process and in substance. We warned you and the American people warned you and you arrogantly defied that warning. Don't ask us to give you cover so that you can pretend you didn't vote for a corrupt bill. You did. We gave you better options and you ignored them. The bill that passed is entirely yours. You will be judged on that bill in November, not on some other bill.

Meanwhile, if the changes the Dems are proposing are such obvious improvements, then the coalition that passed the original legislation should have no trouble getting "the fix" passed. (Though it begs the question of why the original bill was so bad if a better version was politically viable...) Maybe the tricks used to get the original through will help get the cover-up through. Of course, using pay offs and arm twisting to cover up pay offs and arm twisting may not be such a great idea, but one expects the corrupt to stick to their strengths. Whatever approach taken to pass the cover-up, the GOP would be downright stupid to lend legitimacy to it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Socialized Medicine is voted in....

Evil Otto sums it up:

Well, they did it. The House passed that 2000 page monstrosity called "health care reform." They had to sell their souls to do it, they had to go against the will of the American people, they had to pull in every favor and twist every arm they could, but they did it.

What is amazing about the supporters of this bill is just how gullible they are. In arguing with them, they're either complete Kool-Aid drinking idiots, or they're simply liars. I'm more and more convinced that it's the latter. They know what this will result in, but they can't say it. they can't tell the truth about what they want, because they know how horrifying it sounds to the Average person. Here's what they claim, with s straight face:

•This program will reduce the deficit. Despite there being no government entitlement program that has EVER reduced the deficit even one dime, this one will. Despite Obama having run up the largest annual deficit in United States history, this care program will reduce the deficit.

•This program will not destroy the private health care insurance industry or result in a single payer system, despite Obama and numerous other Democrats flatly saying that that is their ultimate goal.

•This program won't be expanded beyond all measure, despite every other government entitlement program having been expanded beyond all measure over time, and despite future congresses not being bound in any way by the rules set forth in this one.

•This program will result in more people having access to more and better health care, without rationing or so-called "death panels," and without increasing the deficit (see above), despite increasing the number of people on Medicare and decreasing the payments to doctors on Medicare, insuring rationing.

•The American people are in favor of the bill, despite numerous polls that say exactly the opposite.

•That this won't violate our civil rights, despite rules that one must either buy health insurance, pay a fine, or go to jail.

I can't even really get angry at the lying bastards in Washington who passed this... it's what they are. Like the old tale of the scorpion, it's their nature. I get more angry at the useful idiots who believe them, and who spout their falsehoods with a straight face and somehow expect you to be as fooled as they are.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Obamacare will be ruinous

The House just passed the Senate health care bill, sending it to the President for his signature. To their credit, all Republicans, even Joseph Cao, who was wavering in his attempt to stay elected in his ghetto district where he won in a fluke because the incumbent Democrat was so foul and corrupt, said hell no. But they are not enough and will not be enough until November 2010, or should I say January 2011.
The Senate bill is costly and ultimately unsustainable, creating a new $938 billion entitlement. Its drafters say it is “paid for” but have engaged in all manner of budget gimmicks that would make Bernard Madoff blush, such as including ten years of tax revenue to pay for only six years of benefits. The bill includes new taxes and penalties, special deals for certain states at the expense of other states, all the while doing nothing to decrease the cost of health insurance premiums. It does nothing to address the cost of health care delivery in this country.

The Senate bill virtually guarantees that many Americans will have to forfeit their existing coverage, contrary to the President’s promise that everyone who likes their current health care plan can keep it. Under the Senate proposal, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that as many as nine million people who are enrolled in employer-based plans now will have to find some other way to get health care coverage.

The Senate bill imposes a one-size-fits-all approach to health insurance. Congress will now dictate the types of insurance plans that can be purchased. Many popular health plans, including Health Savings Accounts that allow individuals to pay for health care services with pre-tax dollars, will be limited under the bill. The bill forces all Americans to purchase government mandated coverage, regardless of their individual needs and preferences.

The Senate bill inflicts heavy tax burdens on small businesses and families at a time when we need to do what we can to foster job growth today. And we need to ensure that changes we make to our health care system do not undermine the prospects for sustainable, long-term economic growth.

Why do I say all this? Because of a fundamental misunderstanding of how "health insurance" works.
Here is a simple comparison between auto insurance and health insurance illustrates why healthcare "reform," as Congress has just adopted it, will probably bankrupt the country:
  • Two weeks ago we smashed the side view mirror on our car and had to take it to the shop. A replacement was $250, the deductible.
  • This week at the dermatologist the doctor took a biopsy on one spot and sent if off to the lab. If it's malignant, I'll have to go back and have a bigger chunk of my cheek removed. The cost of all this? Zero. No deductible.
As far as auto insurance is concerned, we have it like almost everyone else. It covers major damage only. Back when I was younger, I had a minor fender bender. The insurance company paid my repairs but my premiums shot up until I turned age 25 and they went back down. That's what "underwriting" is about. After one accident I got moved into a higher risk category. It's what you might call a "pre-existing condition."

As John Goodman and Robert Musgrave wrote in their brilliant analysis, Patient Power, what we are calling "health insurance" is not insurance at all. It is prepaid medical benefits. Insurance is a way of pooling the risk for major expenses. Prepaid benefit plans try to cover all medical expenses, no matter how small.

Instead of getting a grip on benefits and substituting a policy of health insurance, the Democrats have decided to extend the same unrealistic benefits to everybody.

The Wall Street Journal recently informed us that once Obamacare passed, three big changes would materialize within six months:
  • Insurers wouldn't be allowed to cancel policies just because a person became sick or to place lifetime caps on care.
  • New insurance plans would have to pay full cost of certain preventive care and exempt such care from deductibles.
  • Children could stay on their parents' insurance policies until their 26th birthday.
The last may help the insurance companies since young people are generally healthier -- except that people probably won't sign up until their children get sick. There's that "pre-existing condition" problem again. What would car insurance cost if you could wait until just after an accident to sign up for it? The first two items, however, are a recipe for insurance company disaster. The first will encourage people to wait until they're sick before buying insurance. The second will encourage extraordinary overuse.

The results will be insurance company bankruptcies. At that point we'll have to have a "public option." There will be no one left selling health insurance.

The only way to avoid this road to bankruptcy for the entire country is to restore individual responsibility in the system. Allow everyone $3,000 tax-free savings account to pay for their basic routine medical costs. Then let them buy so-called "catastrophic insurance" -- which is really just ordinary insurance - to cover serious medical expenses.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Socialized Medicine "Reform": Goodbye, doctors

Some doctors will flee the profession. For those who remain? Perhaps "doctor lines" can be to the 2010's what "gas lines" were to the 1970's. Or perhaps the government will license unqualified people, like the "barefoot doctors" of Mao's Red China.

That will be the end of new wonder drugs and surgeries too, as profits are now evil and there is no reward for innovation.

Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Whatever is in the bill is an intermediate stage: As the graph posted earlier shows, the governmentalization of health care will accelerate, private insurers will no longer be free to be "insurers" in any meaningful sense of that term (ie, evaluators of risk), and once that's clear we'll be on the fast track to Obama's desired destination of single payer as a fait accomplis.

If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Their bet is that it can't be undone, and that over time, as I've been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. As I wrote in NR recently, there's plenty of evidence to support that from Britain, Canada and elsewhere.

More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. That's why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the US is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it's less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America's enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.

Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side...

Ace of Spades says it is now do or die for the Congressional elections of 2010 and both the Congressional and Presidential elections of 2012:
He also aims to make Republicans partners in the destruction of America, by making us endorse his cataclysmic irresponsibility -- when we take back Congress, we will be faced with two vicious choices: Raise taxes ruinously, or allow the country to repudiate its debt and go bankrupt. Because the best option -- repealing the bill -- will be impossible until a real President is installed and next-to-impossible thereafter.
Oh, but those Eeevil insurance companies! You sure showed them, didn't you?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Los Angeles Citizens About To Get Reamed

As if L.A. does not have enough problems and isn't costly enough, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa now wants to jack up their power rates for bogus "green" initiatives. I almost preferrred Mayor Villaraigosa when he was a MEChA "Reconquista" traitor.
Households that get their power from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) could see their electric bills go up between 8.8 percent and 28.4 percent, depending on where they live and how much energy they use, under a plan unveiled Monday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
  • Villaraigosa said the proposed increases would ensure that the DWP meets his goal of securing 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by Dec. 31.
  • The increased revenue would help pay for new environmental initiatives, including more aggressive conservation programs and a solar initiative designed to create 16,000 jobs.
  • But it also would address the DWP's failure to collect enough money to cover the cost of existing renewable energy initiatives and the fluctuating price of coal and natural gas, utility officials said.
How revealing.
Under the plan:
  • Households that use the smallest amount of electricity -- technically known as Tier 1 customers -- would see an average increase of 8.8 percent; those customers make up 58 percent of the DWP's residential ratepayers.
  • Tier 2 customers, who use more power and make up 36 percent of the utility's residential customers, would see an average increase of 16.8 percent to 18.9 percent.
  • Tier 3 customers, who use the most power and make up the remaining 6 percent, would face hikes in their electric bills of 24.4 percent to 28.4 percent, according to documents provided by the mayor's office.
Businesses would see increases in the average bill ranging from 20 percent to 26 percent.
Mike Eveloff, president of the Tract 7260 Homeowners Association, criticized the mayor for seeking more money at the same time the DWP is providing at least $220 million annually to balance the city's budget. "As long as the DWP is showing a surplus, then they have no rational reason for seeking a rate increase," he said.
But you don't count, Mike, especially with a surname like "Eveloff". You are one of the evil "rich" businesses or white people to be punished by an odd coalition of Watermelons and Ethnic Tribalists.
Once all the increases are in place, the DWP will receive an additional $648 million per year. Villaraigosa said the money would help pay for the hiring of "green doctors" to evaluate the energy efficiency of homes and make residents obtain energy-efficient lightbulbs and refrigerators.
Sure it will, Tony. Sure it will. It might go to new hookers for the mayor too. That scandal wasn't that long ago.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Socialist Health Care: The Left on a suicide mission?

Why are the Demunists still pushing this wretched "health care" bill, even when it is clear that the consequences are *not* well thought out ("We have to pass this bill to find out what is in it..."), the American public clearly does not like what they see so far, and corporate donations are falling off?

(Contrary to Left belief, the corporations make peace offerings to whomsoever is in power, and in fact have donated heavily to Obama, and not only because many of them are in bed with Obama on certain "green energy" and "stimulus" programs.)

The answer is that the Left understands that this issue is for all the proverbial marbles. If some of them have to fall on their swords politically to push The Big Agenda, no big loss, they will be back in the massively expanded bureaucracy if not in office:
Why let "health" "care" "reform" stagger on like the rotting husk in a low-grade creature feature who refuses to stay dead no matter how many stakes you pound through his chest?

Because it's worth it. Big time. I've been saying in this space for two years that the governmentalization of health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. It redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in fundamental ways that make limited government all but impossible. In most of the rest of the Western world, there are still nominally "conservative" parties, and they even win elections occasionally, but not to any great effect (Let's not forget that Jacques Chirac was, in French terms, a "conservative").

The result is a kind of two-party one-party state: Right-of-center parties will once in a while be in office, but never in power, merely presiding over vast left-wing bureaucracies that cruise on regardless.

Republicans seem to have difficulty grasping this basic dynamic. Less than three months ago, they were stunned at the way the Democrats managed to get 60 senators to vote for the health bill. Then Scott Brown took them back down to 59, and Republicans were again stunned to find the Dems talking about ramming this thing into law through the parliamentary device of "reconciliation." And, when polls showed an ever larger number of Americans ever more opposed to Obamacare (by margins approaching three-to-one), Republicans were further stunned to discover that, in order to advance "reconciliation," Democrat reconsiglieres had apparently been offering (illegally) various cosy Big Government sinecures to swing-state congressmen in order to induce them to climb into the cockpit for the kamikaze raid to push the bill through. The Democrats understand that politics is not just about Tuesday evenings every other November, but about everything else, too.
Once the state swells to a certain size, the people available to fill the ever-expanding number of government jobs will be statists – sometimes hard-core Marxist statists, sometimes social-engineering multiculti statists, sometimes fluffily "compassionate conservative" statists, but always statists. The short history of the post-war welfare state is that you don't need a president-for-life if you've got a bureaucracy-for-life: The people can elect "conservatives," as the Germans have done and the British are about to do, and the Left is mostly relaxed about it because, in all but exceptional cases (Thatcher), they fulfill the same function in the system as the first-year boys at wintry English boarding schools who, for tuppence-ha'penny or some such, would agree to go and warm the seat in the unheated lavatories until the prefects strolled in and took their rightful place.

Republicans are good at keeping the seat warm. A bigtime GOP consultant was on TV, crowing that Republicans wanted the Dems to pass Obamacare because it's so unpopular it will guarantee a GOP sweep in November.

OK, then what? You'll roll it back – like you've rolled back all those other unsustainable entitlements premised on cobwebbed actuarial tables from 80 years ago? Like you've undone the federal Department of Education and of Energy and all the other nickel'n'dime novelties of even a universally reviled one-term loser like Jimmy Carter? Andrew McCarthy concluded a shrewd analysis of the political realities thus:

"Health care is a loser for the Left only if the Right has the steel to undo it. The Left is banking on an absence of steel. Why is that a bad bet?"

Indeed. Look at it from the Dems' point of view. You pass Obamacare. You lose the 2010 election, which gives the GOP co-ownership of an awkward couple of years. And you come back in 2012 to find your health care apparatus is still in place, a fetid behemoth of toxic pustules oozing all over the basement, and, simply through the natural processes of government, already bigger and more expensive and more bureaucratic than it was when you passed it two years earlier. That's a huge prize, and well worth a midterm timeout.

I've been bandying comparisons with Britain and France, but that hardly begins to convey the scale of it. Obamacare represents the government annexation of "one-sixth of the U.S. economy" – i.e., the equivalent of the entire British or French economy, or the entire Indian economy twice over. Nobody has ever attempted this level of centralized planning for an advanced society of 300 million people. Even the control-freaks of the European Union have never tried to impose a unitary "comprehensive" health care system from Galway to Greece. The Soviet Union did, of course, and we know how that worked out.

This "reform" is not about health care, and certainly not about "controlling costs." As with Medicare, it "controls" costs by declining to acknowledge them, or pay them. Dr. William Schreiber of North Syracuse, N.Y., told CNN that he sees 120 patients per week – about 30 percent on Medicare, 65 private on private insurance plans whose payments take into account the Medicare reimbursement rates, and about 5 percent who do it the old-fashioned way and write a check. He calculates that, under Obamacare, for every $5 he now makes, he'll get $2 in the future. Which suggests now would be a good time to retrain as a realtor or accountant, or the night clerk at the convenience store.
Because government health care is not about health care, it's about government. Once you look at it that way, what the Dems are doing makes perfect sense. For them.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Is Obama Socialist?

A column by Robert Ringer that bears repeating:

After more than a year of lies, deception, corruption, heavy-handed tactics, bribes, threats, bailouts for privileged corporations, government takeover of two of the three largest automakers, and nonstop attempts to force government-controlled health care on people who don’t want it - among other abominable actions – The Big Question about the Duplicitous Despot has become: “Do you believe Barack Obama is a socialist?”

Gosh, that’s a real toughie. You’ll have to give me a couple of seconds to think about it. Whenever I hear this question posed on television, I wonder to myself, “Are you asking if the person thinks he’s a socialist as opposed to a communist? You certainly couldn’t be asking whether he’s a socialist or just a misguided moderate.” Please, let’s get real here.
I would say that the squirming in response to this absurd question would be humorous if it did not have such far-reaching implications. When confronted with The Big Question, it’s fascinating to watch people become tongue-tied and incapable of uttering a straightforward response.

As is only fitting, Mush McCain’s recent reaction The Big Question reinforces his claim to the title of Liberal Democrats’ Favorite Republican. With that sly little grin and “Aw shucks” chuckle of his, McCain coyly muttered : “That’s for others to decide.”

Huh? You wanted to be president of the United States, and you want to leave it up to others to decide? Have you no thoughts of your own? Your hero, Teddy Roosevelt, would be very disappointed in your lack of courage. As one of the elder statesmen of the Republican Party, when someone asks for your opinion, for goodness sakes, man, speak up and tell them what you think.

The phenomenon of conservative politicians and media types becoming tongue-tied over an easy-pitch question like this has broader implications than most people might suspect. What it demonstrates is (1) how intimidating the far-left has become over the years and (2) how lacking in courage and candor so-called conservative politicians and media pundits are.

If a conservative politician doesn’t have the courage and honesty to define what his opponent stands for, how can anyone possibly believe that he’ll fight to overturn that opponent’s socialist policies? It’s not surprising, then, that so many conservative politicians repeatedly say things like, “We all agree that health-care reform is needed” or, worse, “Let’s slow down and work on fixing health care one step at a time.”

Once and for all, let’s get this straight: Everyone doesn’t agree that health-care reform is needed – unless by reform one means getting the government totally out of the health-care business. Which, of course, would include the removal of state borders as a barrier to free competition.

The only crisis in health care is government’s current involvement. Instead of giving government more power, we need to take away the unconstitutional powers it has already grabbed for itself.

When conservative politicians talk about solving a nonexistent problem one step at a time, it’s code for, “We’ll continue to move the marker to the left. We just want to do it more slowly than the progressives.”

Hey, if your intention is to continue to aid the progressives’ hundred-year march to fundamentally change the face of America, why drag things out? If socialism is a good thing, let’s bring it on quickly. I can’t wait to enjoy the benefits.

I rarely compliment BHO, but I’m obliged to say that I respect him for his unwavering Marxist beliefs. His nonstop lying about those beliefs should not be held against him. It’s just part of the Marx-Lenin-Alinsky “ends-justifies-the-means” philosophy of bringing about the loss of liberty that all of them sincerely believed was a moral objective.

I know, I know … it sounds crazy. But that’s what they truly believed, and, giving BHO his due credit, I have no doubts that he, too, sincerely believes this stuff. Even with his college papers sealed, the man’s public statements (and his own books) make it clear that he has been consistent in his Marxist beliefs. You don’t hang out with Marxist professors in college if you’re a believer in freedom and free markets and love the American way of life.

So, yes, I’m sticking up for the Duplicitous Despot: He is consistent. When he told Joe the Plumber that he thought the wealth should be “spread around” more, he was merely echoing his on-record complaints that the Constitution doesn’t provide for “redistributive change.”

I mean, how dumb could the Founding Fathers have been not to have thought about redistribution of the wealth? Isn’t that what liberty is all about? Where’s the “social justice?” Where’s the “shared prosperity?” And how about “the common good.” Don’t these phrases just make your leg want to tingle?

If you’re perplexed as to how BHO can still have a 44 percent approval rating after the most cataclysmic one year in office for a president, the answer lies in the same mind-set that causes media pundits to ask, “Do you believe Barack Obama is a socialist?” Both items underscore the reality that people do not love truth; instead, they try to make true that which they love.

My estimate is that about 30 percent of the population wants the U.S to be completely transformed into a socialist country, and that’s fine. They’re honest about it, so they’re easy to identify as the enemy. In the words of John Stossel, they like free stuff! I get it. I get it.

But the other 15 percent or so who still view BHO favorably are simply self-delusive folks who refuse to let go of their fairy tale that a black family in the White House is, of and by itself, a great thing for America. That kind of thinking is what got us into this mess in the first place.

Geraldine Ferraro had it right when she opined that BHO never would have been in a position to run for president had he not been black. More than anything else, white guilt is what landed him in the White House.

No, of and by itself, a black family in the White House is not a great thing. What would be great is to have a family – black … or white … or Asian … or Latino – in the White House that believes in freedom, free enterprise, and Western values. And that is not the family that now resides there.

It’s really not that hard to answer The Big Question once you get the hang of it. All together now … one, two, three: SOCIALIST!