Category Archive 'Health Care Reform'
17 Apr 2010

Dems Try Punishing Corporate Health Care Critics

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Henry “Nosferatu” Waxman

Michelle Malkin, in the New York Post, describes how the thuggish efforts to punish corporations for describing the negative impact of the health care bill backfired on Henry Waxman.

The House Democrats’ Torquemada got cold feet. Self-styled “chief inquisitor” Henry Waxman announced this week that he’s canceling a planned show trial of corporate executives who called public attention to the financial hit they’re taking as a result of President Obama’s health-care mandate. Business owners can breathe a small sigh of relief. But the witch hunt isn’t over.

You’ll recall that Waxman fired off nasty-grams to the heads of Deere, Caterpillar, Verizon and AT&T last month, demanding their presence at a congressional auto de fé. Their sin? Publicly reporting the costs and consequences of federal health-care taxes on their firms’ bottom lines.

A vindictive Waxman sought internal documents and e-mails from the CEOs about the profit charges. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke took to the White House blog and TV airwaves to condemn the “premature” and “irresponsible” disclosures. …

An April 14 memorandum from the Committee on Energy and Commerce Majority Staff informed the Democratic hounds that the “companies acted properly and in accordance with accounting standards in submitting filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission in March and April.”

Indeed, after haggling about the overall impact of the health-care mandate on firms’ annual company cash flows, the staff memo acknowledged that notifying shareholders of these big one-time company write-downs was required by law.

No apology from Locke or Waxman has been forthcoming. Instead, the ruling majority seems bent on pressuring private companies to peddle the “beneficial” impacts of the law. The committee staff extracted statements from the targeted companies that “if” implemented “right” and “correct[ly],” ObamaCare “could” achieve “long term savings for the country” and their businesses.

09 Apr 2010

Europeanizing America

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When the arguments got down to the nitty-gritty on the health care bill, the liberals I know were prone to admit that what they really most cared about was completing the European-style welfare state. Lacking a health insurance safety net simply offended their sense of how things should be. It didn’t matter to my liberal friends that the poor actually could get treatment. They wanted systematized, state-organized entitlement.

Interestingly, my liberal friends felt sure that the costs would not be significant.

Jonah Goldberg offers the argument, which I think we are going to see repeated and elaborated, that the cost of socializing the United States is liable to go far beyond high domestic taxes and less US economic growth, and the full cost may seriously impact Europe, too.

[L]iberals insist conservatives are wrong to think that Europeanizing America will necessarily come at any significant cost. New York Times columnist and Princeton economist Paul Krugman says that in exchange for only a tiny bit less growth, Europeans buy a whole lot of security and comfort. …

I think the debate misses something. We can’t become Europe unless someone else is willing to become America.

Look at it this way. My 7 year-old daughter has a great lifestyle. She has all of her clothes and food bought for her. She goes on great vacations. She has plenty of leisure time. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t look at her and feel envious at how good she’s got it compared to me. But here’s the problem: If I decide to live like her, who’s going to take my place?

Europe is a free-rider. It can only afford to be Europe because we can afford to be America.

The most obvious and most cited illustration of this fact is national defense. Europe’s defense budgets have been miniscule because Europeans can count on Uncle Sam to protect them. Britain, which has the most credible military in NATO after ours, has funded its butter account with its gun account. As Mark Steyn recently noted in National Review, from 1951 to 1997 the share of British government expenditure on defense fell from 24 percent to 7 percent, while the share on health and welfare increased from 22 percent to 53 percent. And that was before New Labor started rolling back Thatcherism. If America Europeanizes, who’s going to protect Europe? Who’s going to keep the sea lanes open? Who’s going to contain Iran? China? OK, maybe. But then who’s going to contain China?

But that’s not the only way in which Europeans are free-riders. America invents a lot of stuff. When was the last time you used a Portuguese electronic device? How often does Europe come out with a breakthrough drug? Not often, and when they do, it’s usually because companies like Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline increasingly conduct their research here. Indeed, the top five U.S. hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other single country combined. We nearly monopolize the Nobel Prize in medicine, and we create stuff at a rate Europe hasn’t seen since da Vinci was in his workshop.

If America truly Europeanized, where would the innovations come from?

06 Apr 2010

Everyone Into the Obamacare Pool

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If you don’t buy the health insurance policy the so-called Health Care Reform Bill mandates, Big Brother has ways of dealing with you, the Daily Caller reports.

Individuals who don’t purchase health insurance may lose their tax refunds according to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. After acknowledging the recently passed health-care bill limits the agency’s options for enforcing the individual mandate, Shulman told reporters that the most likely way to penalize individuals that don’t comply is by reducing or confiscating their tax refunds.

04 Apr 2010

A Little Defensive, Mr. Obama?

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The American public’s lack of enthusiasm for the health care bill is clearly getting to the Obamination. At a question session following a speech by the President in Charlotte, when a woman referred to being overtaxed, the Chosen One lost it and responded with a tortuous rambling diatribe.

WaPo:

Even by President Obama’s loquacious standards, an answer he gave here on health care Friday was a doozy.

Toward the end of a question-and-answer session with workers at an advanced battery technology manufacturer, a woman named Doris stood to ask the president whether it was a “wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care” package.

“We are over-taxed as it is,” Doris said bluntly.

Obama started out feisty. “Well, let’s talk about that, because this is an area where there’s been just a whole lot of misinformation, and I’m going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have,” the president said.

He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer – more than 2,500 words long — wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, “F-Map”). He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare (referring to it, in fluent Washington lingo, as “FICA”).

03 Apr 2010

Health Care Bill About More Than Health Care

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Byron York points to statements by supporters identifying the ideological motivation behind supposed “reform.”

It hasn’t attracted much notice, but recently some prominent advocates of Obamacare have spoken more frankly than ever before about why they supported a national health care makeover. It wasn’t just about making insurance more affordable. It wasn’t just about bending the cost curve. It wasn’t just about cutting the federal deficit. It was about redistributing wealth.

Health reform is “an income shift,” Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said on March 25. “It is a shift, a leveling, to help lower income, middle income Americans.”

In his halting, jumbled style, Baucus explained that in recent years “the maldistribution of income in America has gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind.” The new health care legislation, Baucus promised, “will have the effect of addressing that maldistribution of income in America.”

At about the same time, Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and presidential candidate, said the health bill was needed to correct economic inequities. “The question is, in a democracy, what is the right balance between those at the top … and those at the bottom?” Dean said during an appearance on CNBC. “When it gets out of whack, as it did in the 1920s, and it has now, you need to do some redistribution. This is a form of redistribution.”

Summing things up in the New York Times, the liberal economics columnist David Leonhardt called Obamacare “the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.”

Now they tell us. For many opponents of the new legislation, the statements confirmed a nagging suspicion that for Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress, the health fight was about more than just insurance — that redistribution played a significant, if largely unspoken, part in the drive for national health care.

Read more at the Washington Examiner.

31 Mar 2010

Pursuing His Legacy

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Shelby Steele reflects on the irony inherent in Barack Obama’s need to pursue his personal star by ramming socialism down a center right nation’s throat.

Of the two great societal goals—freedom and “the good”—freedom requires a conservatism, a discipline of principles over the good, limited government, and so on. No way to grandiosity here. But today’s liberalism is focused on “the good” more than on freedom. And ideas of “the good” are often a license to transgress democratic principles in order to reach social justice or to achieve more equality or to lessen suffering. The great political advantage of modern liberalism is its offer of license on the one hand and moral innocence—if not superiority—on the other. Liberalism lets you force people to buy health insurance and feel morally superior as you do it. Power and innocence at the same time.

This is an old formula for power, last used effectively on the presidential level by Lyndon Johnson. But Johnson’s Great Society was grasping for moral authority after the civil rights movement. I doubt any white president could use it effectively today, and even ObamaCare passed by only a three vote margin in the House and with no Republican support at all. Worse, in the end, it passed not to bring the nation better health care but to pull a flailing Democratic presidency back from the brink.

There has always been a narcissistic charge around Mr. Obama, the sense that in embracing him one was embracing something special in oneself—and possibly even a larger idea of human perfectibility. Every politician wants this capacity to attract identification. But it is also a trap. What happens when people are embarrassed for having seen themselves in you?

The old fashioned, big government liberalism that Mr. Obama uses to make himself history-making also alienates him in the center-right America of today. It makes him the most divisive president in memory—a president who elicits narcissistic identification on the one hand and an enraged tea party movement on the other. His health-care victory has renewed his narcissistic charge for the moment, but if he continues to be a 1965 liberal it will become more and more impossible for Americans to see themselves in him.

Mr. Obama’s success has always been ephemeral because it was based on an illusion: that if we Americans could transcend race enough to elect a black president, we could transcend all manner of human banalities and be on our way to human perfectibility. A black president would put us in a higher human territory. And yet the poor man we elected to play out this fantasy is now torturing us with his need to reflect our grandiosity back to us.

31 Mar 2010

Anonymous Democrat Senator: “Health Care Bill Was Political Folly”

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Howard Fineman, at Newsweek, notes that polls confirm democrats will pay a terrible price for their leaderships hubris in enacting a major radical measure in defiance of public sentiment.

A Democratic senator I can’t name, who reluctantly voted for the health-care bill out of loyalty to his party and his admiration for Barack Obama, privately complained to me that the measure was political folly, in part because of the way it goes into effect: some taxes first, most benefits later, and rate hikes by insurance companies in between.

Besides that, this Democrat said, people who already have coverage will feel threatened and resentful about helping to cover the uninsured—an emotion they will sanitize for the polltakers into a concern about federal spending and debt.

On the day the president signed into law the “fix-it” addendum to the massive health-care measure, two new polls show just how fearful and skeptical Americans are about the entire enterprise. If the numbers stay where they are—and it’s not clear why they will change much between now and November—then the Democrats really are in danger of colossal losses at the polls.

30 Mar 2010

National Healthcare Passed and Repealed Before

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W. James Antle III reminds us that a complex, poorly understood national health care bill was already passed only to be repealed, decades ago.

Unlike President Obama’s recent health care handiwork, the 1988 law was a genuinely bipartisan achievement passed by lopsided margins. It was signed into law by a Republican president, Ronald Reagan. It offered all kinds of new benefits, including expanded coverage of hospital stays, at-home care, and prescription drugs (the act was in some respects of a forerunner of Medicare Part D).

The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act was nevertheless repealed a year later. No change in partisan control of Washington was necessary—the repeal was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by another Republican president, George H.W. Bush. The repeal turned out to be most popular with the elderly voters who had demanded the new benefits in the first place.

Why? In addition to creating new benefits, the reform also imposed staggering new costs. Those costs fell most heavily on the senior citizens who were supposed to be the program’s biggest constituency. But, congressional Democrats were astonished to learn, many of these seniors were happy with their existing coverage and resented having to pay a new tax to fund this expansion of government—costs which kicked in before many of the benefits.

Sound familiar? The similarities don’t end there. Members of Congress also had to hear from angry mobs opposed to the legislation, otherwise known as their constituents. The most memorable such incident occurred on Aug. 17, 1989, when House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) held a meeting in his district to sell seniors on the benefits of the catastrophic coverage act.

Instead of being won over by their powerful congressman, the angry seniors waved protest signs and ran him out of the room. As Rostenkowski fled, they shouted “coward,” “recall,” and “impeach.” One elderly woman wearing heart-shaped glasses even threw herself on the hood of Rostenkowski’s car to keep him from leaving.

Rostenkowski got out of the car and tried to escape on foot. The crowd chased him for about a block before his driver came to whisk him away. Imagine what would be said if the Tea Party movement did something like that. Instead the protest was organized by one Jan Schakowsky, then director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens, now a Democratic congresswoman and chief deputy whip for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The protest made the national news and graced the front pages of newspapers. It also had its desired affect—the catastrophic coverage act was repealed within three months.

The 1988 legislative debacle did not resemble this year’s bill with respect to partisanship or initial public support. Democrats had no problem getting Republican votes, and the public was behind it.

However, 1988 does resemble 2010 with respect to the same kind of irresponsible drafting of a dreadfully large and complex bill that was voted into law without serious consideration of its costs and effects. It backfired then, and a lot of people would predict that the new health care bill will prove in practice similarly distressing to many of its intended beneficiaries.

29 Mar 2010

54% Favor Repeal

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Remember how the commentators on the left were predicting that the voters would change their minds and start liking Obamacare, once it was passed?

Rassmussen‘s latest poll demonstrates otherwise.

One week after the House of Representatives passed the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, 54% of the nation’s likely voters still favor repealing the new law. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 42% oppose repeal.

Those figures are virtually unchanged from last week. They include 44% who Strongly Favor repeal and 34% who Strongly Oppose it.

Repeal is favored by 84% of Republicans and 59% of unaffiliated voters. Among white Democrats, 25% favor repeal, but only one percent (1%) of black Democrats share that view.

Only 17% of all voters believe the plan will achieve one of its primary goals and reduce the cost of health care. Most (55%) believe it will have the opposite affect and increase the cost of care.

Forty-nine percent (49%) believe the new law will reduce the quality of care. Sixty percent (60%) believe it will increase the federal budget deficit. Those numbers are consistent with expectations before the bill was passed.

27 Mar 2010

What’s Next?

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Charles Krauthammer explains the inevitable, long desired by socialists, consequences of the health care bill.

We are now $8 trillion in debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that $12 trillion will be added over the next decade. Obamacare, when stripped of its budgetary gimmicks — the unfunded $200 billion-plus “doctor fix,” the double counting of Medicare cuts, the 10-6 sleight-of-hand (counting 10 years of revenue and only six years of outflows) — is at minimum a $2 trillion new entitlement.

It will vastly increase the debt. But even if it were revenue-neutral, Obamacare preempts and appropriates for itself the best and easiest means of reducing the existing deficit. Obamacare’s $500 billion of cuts in Medicare and $600 billion in tax hikes are no longer available for deficit reduction. They are siphoned off for the new entitlement of insuring the uninsured.

This is fiscally disastrous because, as President Obama himself explained last year in unveiling his grand transformational policies, our unsustainable fiscal path requires control of entitlement spending, the most ruinous of which is out-of-control health-care costs.

Obamacare was sold on the premise that, as Nancy Pelosi put it, “health-care reform is entitlement reform. Our budget cannot take this upward spiral of cost.” But the bill enacted on Tuesday accelerates the spiral: It radically expands Medicaid (adding 15 million recipients/dependents) and shamelessly raids Medicare by spending on a new entitlement the $500 billion in cuts and the yield from the Medicare tax hikes.

Obama knows that the debt bomb is looming, that Moody’s is warning that the Treasury’s AAA rating is in jeopardy, that we are headed for a run on the dollar and/or hyperinflation if nothing is done.

Hence his deficit-reduction commission. It will report (surprise!) after the November elections.

What will it recommend? What can it recommend? Sure, Social Security can be trimmed by raising the retirement age, introducing means testing and changing the indexing formula from wage growth to price inflation.

But this won’t be nearly enough. As Obama has repeatedly insisted, the real money is in health-care costs — which are locked in place by the new Obamacare mandates.

That’s where the value-added tax comes in. For the politician, it has the virtue of expediency: People are used to sales taxes, and this one produces a river of revenue. Every 1 percent of VAT would yield up to $1 trillion a decade (depending on what you exclude — if you exempt food, for example, the yield would be more like $900 billion).

It’s the ultimate cash cow. Obama will need it. By introducing universal health care, he has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. Which is why all of the European Union has the VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19 percent. France and Italy: 20 percent. Most of Scandinavia: 25 percent.

American liberals have long complained that ours is the only advanced industrial country without universal health care. Well, now we shall have it. And as we approach European levels of entitlements, we will need European levels of taxation.

26 Mar 2010

Voting on Viagra For Pedophiles

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Yesterday, Rush was joking about the dems being favor of “hardened criminals.” Kimberly Strassel explains the point of the Republican amendments offered during reconciliation.

‘And so when you walk into that ballot box, remember that it was my Democratic opponent who favored providing Viagra to pedophiles.”

That isn’t a campaign line any American has heard yet, but give it a few hours. The Senate this week took up its “reconciliation” bill, with its final changes to the law the president signed Tuesday. It wasn’t so much reconciliation as reckoning.

Democrats only got their ObamaCare victory by breaking every rule, and that was always going to come at a price. To lever the health bill through the House, Democrats used the arcane process of reconciliation. It got them a win, but it also meant Senate Democrats this week had to endure the political equivalent of water-boarding.

Here’s why: reconciliation allowed Republicans to bring up unlimited amendments. Because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) could not allow the reconciliation bill to be changed in any way—which would send it back to the House—his party was obliged to vote down every one of those amendments. And every one had been designed to make even hardened pols whimper.

Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered language to bar the government from subsidizing erectile dysfunction drugs for convicted pedophiles and rapists. Democrats voted . . . No! Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) proposed exempting wounded soldiers from the new tax on medical devices. Democrats: No way! Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) wanted to exempt critical access rural hospitals from funding cuts. Senate Democrats: Forget it! This was Republicans’ opportunity to lay out every ugly provision and consequence of ObamaCare, and Democrats—because of the process they’d chosen—had to defend it all.

And so it went, into the wee Thursday hours. All Democrats in favor of taxing pacemakers? Aye! All Democrats in favor of keeping those seedy vote buyoffs? Aye! All Democrats in favor of raising taxes on middle-income families? Aye! All Democrats in favor of exempting themselves from elements of ObamaCare? Aye! All Democrats in favor of roasting small children in Aga ovens? (Okay, I made that one up, but you get the point.) Aye!

Aye-yi-yi.

These votes are “ridiculous” huffed Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd. Republicans are not being “serious” grumped Mr. Reid. Of course, “ridiculous” and “not serious” better apply to ObamaCare, which was in fact the substantive point of amendments like Mr. Coburn’s. A 2005 survey found that some 800 convicted sex offenders had—whoops—received Medicaid-funded impotence drugs. This is what happens when a big, inefficient government runs health care, and as Mr. Coburn noted, it is about to do it on a bigger, more inefficient scale than ever, thanks to ObamaCare.

Since the health bureaucracy can’t be trusted, the only way to guarantee a subsidy’s end is to ban them with legislation. And since Democrats didn’t allow Republicans to help craft the bill, this was Mr. Coburn’s best shot. And since the majority had by then boxed itself in, it is now on record as being OK with little blue pills for pedophiles. Unfortunate, really, since most members obviously are not. But hey, three cheers for reconciliation!

No more hiding, either, by Democrats who voted for ObamaCare even as they claimed to have reservations. Republicans flushed them out, making each individual Democrat stand up to defend each individual piece. The record now shows that Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln is on board with higher premiums, that Colorado’s Michael Bennet is good to go with gutting Medicare Advantage, that Nevada’s Harry Reid is just fine with rationing, that New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand is cool with taxes on investment income, that California’s Barbara Boxer is right-o with employer mandates, and that Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter is willing to strip his home state of the right to opt out of the health law.

26 Mar 2010

“A Pyrrhic Victory Over the American People”

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Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R – 11MI) responds to the socialists’ victory in this 3:45 video. Sound sentiments.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

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