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Current News in the Political Arena

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Aug 9:  the acquisitions on town hall violence are more vocal and inflammatory.   The real question is not if there was a mob at some of these meetings, for there clearly was not.  See pictures here.  The real question is why is Pelosi and the White House describing these animated citizens as hired mobs.  Now even the SEIU, the services union, is trying to stack the meetings, even perhaps committing some violence, as is detailed in this video

Is this really happening?  Sad if it is all true.  Those at the meetings are reporting that it is true.  Clearly the opposition to this socially liberal philosophy is taking a more vocal approach, and certainly some of it is grass roots, as I have been to a tea party, and there are average citizens there who are just unhappy about the course of events.  If this is the manner in which dissent is received and resisted, visa vi old Chicago style politics, then the change in Washington that we were all hoping for is not really want we want.  This is a good video showing the people in the so-called mob.  These are enthusiastic citizens, who when they were positive about their support for their candidate in the Fall were well received.  Now that they are voicing their opposition, the reception and response from the elected officials is not pretty. 

 

Aug 8:  Big Pharma is finding that deals cut only means that the liberals want more, underscoring that the days of the lobbyist are numbers, simply because they are losing leverage. 

Aug 6:  The real costs of Obamacare are becoming more evident, and the resulting tax increases on the upper and middle class can be forecasted in rough terms.

Aug 4, 5:  Laffer details his proposal for healthcare reform as patient centered.  He offers the analysis that Obamacare will lead to higher healthcare costs and not a reduction in the uninsured.

Lobbying Dollars spentHealthcare lobbying costs in DC have been detailed, with over $500B spent in 2008, rising briskly from 1998, as shown at right.

 

Aug 2,3:  Lobbying expense accounts are in, and we have some organizations that are spending more than they did last quarter, but in general are spending a lot of money. (see figure at right).

New survey results are in, and the result is a decline in support for doing reform quickly. 

Commentary being more insightful on the two Bills in Congress, and the conclusions are scary.

The cuts on Medicare funding remains a key funding source for both Bills, and leaves seniors with a large concerns.   The video below of McCaughey is quite informative.  Sally Pipes points out that with the growing number of Medicare recipients and the declining dollars, that we will see more intense management by the government of care allocation, in the future. 

Sarah Pipes also comments on controlling the overall costs of the reforms in Congress (Jul 29, 2009):  In the end, the only way to control costs inside a bureaucratic structure is to cut doctors' pay, transfer patients into managed care, impose government global budgets and introduce price controls

Jul 31:Spending with the House Bill The CBO Analysis of the recent House Bill is hitting hard the idea that this Bill passes any of Obama's three criteria for a good bill, for it does not.  Here is a graph that shows how the cost increases. 

Since increases of this type, of entitlement programs, usually are underestimated, this could safely be seen as a minimum.  The tax revenue gathered during this period is perhaps most often  overestimated, as the usual assumption is that there is not effect realized on growth by this program.   Therefore the deficits in the 2020 time period will be well over the $200B annually. 

Hennessey provides a full analysis of the CBO report. 

The line items in the House Bill are quite sobering to the citizen who love their freedom.  See this line item accounting of this Bill, and see what you think.  It is appalling.

Henninger of WSJ puts the entire struggle into a historic and philosophical framework in his article.  The video on the home page details the idea.  He sites California and other States as already seeing the effects of a public sector that increasing needs to tax more and more.  This policy debate is truly more than just about healthcare, it is about public, read Federal, running of our lives.  A lot is at stake here, citizens.  

Taxes over timeThe graph at right is self explanatory, but what does it mean?   It means that the State is going to have to start to tax the middle class to pay for the increase of the public sector and to pay off the deficits. 

How much more can the top 5% pay in taxes before there is an exodus or a sheltering of revenue?  The marginal tax rates can rise quite high with all of this and other programs, making the US have the highest marginal tax rate compared to Europe.  We are not aiming at being Europe, but rather going beyond their condition.

More is becoming clear about the effect of the House Bill on seniors.  See this WSJ video below detailing the major issues, and how seniors will see the brunt of this Bill first, but others will follow.  This is alarming that the Federal government actually does see its role as dictating patient care.   This also will relate to how the system will eventually work for all citizens, just as well as it does in England.  Study this folks.

And how is this $1T+ plus cost going to be paid for.?   It seems the shift is now back to looking again at taxing healthcare benefits themselves.  Of course the Unions will continue to avoid this tax, after all they won the election, right?   So how is this $1T program going to be covered by taxes?  It seems that this is the real problem in all of this for everyone, as this video details:

The debate continues around and not on the central theme here, that is "is healthcare a right?"   A British Doctor weighs in the question.   Also a good deal of the book by Goodman details how universal and most certainly single payer systems, intending to have universally equal healthcare, do not achieve that, and in fact result in quite unequal care that is not superior.  More on Top 10 Myths, you can now download the this book free at this site.

 

Jul 30: The analysis is gaining ground on what Obamacare means financially and it is ugly.  The CBO came forth finally with numbers showing what could happen after the 10 year period. 

Rowe writesOn Sunday, the CBO released another torpedo at the burning hull of USS ObamaCare. Responding to an inquiry by Rep. David Camp (R., Mich.) about whether the House bill would run a deficit in its second decade, the CBO reported it would “probably generate substantial increases in federal budget deficits during the decade beyond the current 10-year budget window.” The CBO does not believe that Mr. Obama’s proposal “bends” health-care spending down, as the president has repeatedly claimed it would. The CBO says it escalates above today’s rate.

As of yet there has been no evidence of any cost savings in any program.  Obama has said that he would veto any Bill that does not have cost savings.  I suspect that he will have found some way of justifying the signature with some fictional cost savings delivery.  It is simply not there.  Even democrats on the street are saying:   “We need to fix health care,” Mary Bevering, a Democrat from Fort Madison, Iowa, said in a follow-up interview, “but if the government creates the system, I’m afraid the quality of care will go down and costs will go up: We will pay more taxes.”

Keith Hennessey, who was a National Economic Council director for George W. Bush, estimates the annual deficits in Mr. Obama’s plan will grow to $64 billion a year by 2019. And this assumes that Mr. Obama gets all the tax increases and Medicare cuts he wants. By 2029, Mr. Hennessey estimates that new taxes will bring in $143 billion a year, while net new health spending will have increased by $348 billion a year.  

The tax supported by Pelosi and other liberals in the House is debilitating.  Do read this analysis along with the Rowe article to see full financial extent of Obamacare.  It is debilitating.

Henninger wrote this morning:   This struggle over health-care legislation isn’t just another battle between the Democratic and Republican parties. It’s about which force is going to take the United States forward for the next generation: the public sector or the private sector. If by now you haven’t figured out which sector you are in, then you’re a Blue Dog Democrat.

He further wroteThe clarifying moment in the health-care debate arrived when the Congressional Budget Office said that the legislation lacked adequate financing. After this, the bill’s backers began a search for tax revenue that borders on parody—taxes on soda pop, surtaxes unto eternity on “millionaires,” as if this might actually command the tides to recede of another permanent Medicare/Medicaid-sized entitlement and its flotsam of advisers, measurers and lobbyists.

Washington and the states are now fighting each other to drain revenue out of the same private sector. Back in March, New York’s legislature, amid a deep recession, enacted its own income tax surcharge. These governments are becoming like people from dying planets in “Star Trek,” foraging the galaxy for new sources of whatever life force keeps them alive. A surtax is the ultimate act of public-sector panic.

I don’t think the White House or the Democratic leadership understands the level of despondency in the country now among people who add new wealth—business owners, entrepreneurs or those who invest in new ideas that don’t depend wholly on subsidized choices made by the public sector.

Jul 29: Obama is trying to soothe the concerns of the seniors on the cuts being proposed to Medicare.   It is rhetoric that is intended to offset the realities of the Bills in Congress.   He also has become quite defensive at the criticism levied against Obamacare.  His comments argue for Medicare as a good program, and as well against the sense of entitlement that he sees in the negative response to his policies.  He decries that he is not interested in socialized medicine, but ultimately does want a single payer system.  Single payer systems dictate and control care, and this would be done by the government.  Is this not socialized medicine?  Is control the healthcare sector in this country not a socialistic step? 

I think he objects too much to his own objectives.  This is not credible, while he argues for sympathy and his way.   His earlier statement about opening up the debate has not happened, and his reform my way or live with the status quo seems quite limited.  His administration wants to take over control of the Medicare over-site agency, since Medicare needs more management, something that some doctors' organizations are not in favor of.  At the same time he holds it up as a highly satisfying experience. 

Since Medicare is in the future bankrupt, and is the one biggest driver of expansion in the Fed budget, of course before his take over bids and social programs, his words seem to walk a narrow line of truth and objectivity.  We should all hold him more accountable, as this would be good seasoning for him.

CBO issued another analysis, this time for the Senate Bill.   The cost was $900B over the 10 years, even though the Bill would not kick in until 2013, almost 3 years from now.  This would provide insurance for 95% of the populace in 2015.  5% equals 15M people, which is more than the 10M chronically uninsured.   Seems like a bad deal. 

The probable loss of the public option in the final Bill has the leftists squirming, and in turn making Obama make some cosmetic concessions.  It is disappointing to see how special interests control the White House, despite the promises for change. 

Have our representatives in Washington DC lost their way in all of this politicking?  It certainly seems that they have lost our interests.

Jul 28: The Blue Dog Democrats are in a key position within the debate over healthcare reform.  They will decide largely if the Democratic majority will follow the strongly leftist approach to legislation that has been receiving most of the press thus far.  Another failed attempt to persuade this group of Democrats has failed.   The idea of a government board to drive down costs was shot down by the CBO as not affecting costs at all.  Government is a politically driven body, and that has totally counter to an agency or process that wants to drive costs and/or quality.  This has been borne out in other countries as deleterious to one's health, for healthcare is dispensed to the greatest number of voters, not to those trying to survive.

The ethics of healthcare reform is also a topic needing some attention, but is lost in the political process.  Some of the data on HSA's will amaze.  The idea of actually having health insurance rather than prepaid healthcare, which is what we have most of the time now, could catch on quickly.

A government-run plan would move us closer to a European model where there are fewer covered procedures, longer wait times for consultations and surgeries, and more government bureaucracy, says Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

In Massachusetts, which mandated universal health care in 2006, patients wait an average of 63 days to get an appointment with a primary care provider; that is seven times the wait in Philadelphia or Atlanta. Further, employer-sponsored health coverage would be decimated by a government-run plan, and millions of Americans would be forced out of their existing plans for the 8 out of 10 workers who are satisfied with their current insurance coverage, this would come as a real blow.

From Libertarian email:  Barack Obama is trying to sell his proposed federal takeover of the entire health care system with promises of lower costs and more choices, it’s about as honest a pitch as that ad in the back of comic books for x-ray glasses.

The truth is his scheme outlaws private insurance (page 16 of the 1,018 page draft bill,) sends government employees to your home to monitor your parenting (page 838) and forces the sick and elderly to submit to “end of life counseling” (page 425.)  On page 167, and elsewhere throughout the draft, it also calls for compulsory “shared responsibility payments,” clearly defined as a “tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage.” 

The government would confiscate thousands of dollars from your paycheck if they don’t like your choice of coverage.  In other words, you have no choice. And those are just a few of the atrocious provisions of the draft bill.  The Congressional Budget Office has found the plan is economically unsustainable. Since “free” care leads to people using the system every time they get the sniffles, it cannot work unless you are put on a miles-long waiting list or get approval from the government to meet your doctor.  That’s commonly called “rationing.” As more and more information leaks out, Obama’s approval ratings are plummeting. 

His “strong approval” rating has plunged to a paltry 29 percent.  His “strong disapproval” rating has ballooned to 40 percent.  A majority of Americans oppose his health care plan.

 

From Kaiser: In recent decades, the nature of medical risk in the United States has shifted dramatically. About two-thirds of all deaths in the United States now result from chronic diseases most often induced by behavior and lifestyle.  So why are the Democrats so intent in not having a Safeway success as part of the healthcare reform?    

SEIU and Wal-Mart sent a joint letter supporting the mandatory employer mandate on healthcare insurance.  Interesting that SEIU has 400 people working full time on healthcare issues.  Hopefully not all of them are lobbyists.

And the notion that Doctors are getting rich by unnecessary tonsillectomies is quite outrageous.  Obama once again jumped on the notion that the core issue here is the outlandish profits.  The theme of profits are bad is a common undercurrent in many things that are being said these days.

The political events change daily, with the Congress pursuing a reform bill either before recess in August or after.  The momentum is growing to delay this effort until Sept at least.  This will give the analysts a chance to study the 1000 page document, and for CBO to refine its costs estimates.  The wave of opposition to Obamacare is growing.

The full extent of the proposed cuts to Medicare spending are becoming clearer.   Betsy McCaughey made more clear in her piece on the House Bill and in a recent interview with Fred Thompson.   Her presentation on CSpan is most interesting.  These are the realties of healthcare systems like those in England or Canada where care is denied seniors.

As Noonan from WSJ recently wrote:  The final bill, with all its complexities, will probably be huge, a thousand pages or so. Americans don’t fear the devil’s in the details, they fear hell is. Do they want the same people running health care who gave us the Department of Motor Vehicles, the post office and the invasion of Iraq?

The delay of the Healthcare bill vote until the Fall seems to give new hope to alternatives.  Despite all of the last minute heavy speech making by Obama, it is now official.  The heavy hand of his rhetoric swung forward, as he declared the status quo would double the healthcare costs to family.  The failure of Obama to guide the process well is already analyzed in another insightful article by Strassel at WSJ. 

It does appear that with each statement by Obama on healthcare, such as the number daily that are loosing their healthcare coverage, there is a report as to the lack of truth in the statement.  It would behoove Obama to change his strategy of manipulating American opinion and to engage truthfully with the American people.  They have misjudged the mood in America. We all would be well served in his taking on this issue with more belief in the patient making the better decisions, rather than DC politicians.  He says that nothing happens in DC unless you push hard.  Does that bode for the success of Federal Healthcare once enacted?   The problem is that government programs are not incentivized by improvement as are market-based, survive-or-go-home businesses.

State of Affairs WSJ, Jul 24, 2009

With the August recess coming soon, it behooves Congress to take their time and hear from their constituents over the summer.   It therefore is imperative that the citizens make their voice heard this summer.

May Clinic President called Medicare payment model a catastrophe.   A new attempt, now almost daily, to find revenue to pay for the high cost of Obamacare arose yesterday, with a surcharge now being proposed for those making more than $1M a year.   Also "gold plated" healthcare plans are being considered for a tax, putting this idea back on the table. 

CBO Director remains central to the debate.  Last week he told Congress that you can’t “save” money on health care by having government insure everyone.  The reality of this statement seems to escape so many of the left who are intent in providing service, even if it means financial disaster.  Wessel writes: The initial House bill flunked. By 2019, the cost of expanded coverage was rising at 8% annually, new revenue was climbing at 5% and -- at least by CBO estimates -- the changes to health care didn't save enough to close the gap.  (Note:  imagine the resulting expenditures if this 8% is low and the revenue growth optimistic, and with a huge entitlement hard to predict, and an economy that will suffer more as a result - why would it not be this way?)

Proposed cuts to Medicare would reduce coverage for seniors.   How does the AMA like its bargain with the devil now.  Also the limits placed on doctors and care with Obamacare is becoming a little better understood.

Another cost cutting attempt by Obama was suggested, a measure to give the Administration more control over Medicare spending.  This met with a strong negative reaction from Congress, saying that this will not be outsourced.   Obama is struggling to find a means to pay for this great increase in the Federal government.  It seems that the Administration sees the Medicare plan as suspect, while it tires to extend the basic model to the entire country.  Seems to be a non-sequitur.

Gov Jindal published a list of reforms that would work, while also criticizing Obama and Congress for perpetrating lies about the reforms being debated.  Rep Ryan weighs in on what this means.  Obama is getting nervous and more forceful in his rhetoric and campaigning for his reforms.

Various optionsIn the news is the intent now by the Democrats to make some deal with the fiscal conservatives.   The cost of any Bill is just too high.   In the graph at right, there are many more negative cost drivers (WSJ) than any positive ones.   The potential for the deficit drivers to be larger than estimated is quite good.

Somehow no one has yet estimated what the cost will likely be beyond the 10 year mark.  It is after all within 50 years that Medicare and Social Security will consume all forecasted Federal revenues, something for us citizens to consider.

Strassel at WSJ continues to give us a great insight into the dirty politics in DC:  Rugby Match, Lobbyists Hoodwinked.

Other worthwhile articles are at right.  The battle continues to heat up, all centered on who is going to pay for the costly reforms.