Roll Tide

One might be forgiven for thinking health insurers are cracking under the strain of Obamacare’s broken insurance exchanges. But don’t be fooled: it is the 10 million Obamacare enrollees who are in trouble, not the insurers.

To be sure, new nonprofit cooperative insurers, set up with special subsidies to compete in the exchanges, have had a terrible run. They deliberately underpriced their premiums to gain market share, expecting the federal government to bail out their losses. Once the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, then the Senate, this became unlikely. As a result, the administration announced in November that 12 of 23 nonprofit cooperative insurers were shutting down.

However, these nonprofit cooperative insurers, which did not exist before Obamacare, are not important overall. That is why UnitedHealth Group’s November 19 announcement that it is losing $500 million on the Obamacare exchanges and might withdraw from Obamacare in 2017 is a big deal. Just a few weeks earlier, UnitedHealth Group had announced it would expand into 11 new states’ Obamacare markets.

The insurer is also dialing back advertising and brokers’ commissions for 2016, even though it is too late to withdraw from the market literally. (We are in the middle of Obamacare’s third open season.) However, it is the threat of absolute withdrawal in 2017 that has shocked many. By 2017, the fourth year of Obamacare, the market is supposed to have shaken out. Both insurers and Obamacare’s political sponsors understood that insurers would not know how expensive claims would be from those who signed up during the first three years. That is why insurers were given temporary taxpayer subsidies, called reinsurance and risk corridors, for 2014 through 2016. Reinsurance is a direct handout of $25 billion from taxpayers to insurers. Risk corridors were more complicated and supposed to be budget-neutral. Insurers that made more money than expected would pay money to those that lost more money than expected.

 

When it became clear that the losers far outnumbered the winners, the administration tried to raid the kitty to make risk-corridor payments from the general fund. By this time a new Congress (in which the majority opposed Obamacare) actually read the bill that its predecessor had passed in 2010 and pointed out that the administration could not pay out that money. As a result, Obamacare insurers will only receive $362 million of $2.9 billion of risk-corridor payments requested.

However, even if Congress did cave in and pay the risk corridors in full, payments would finish in 2016. That is what makes UnitedHealth Group’s announcement about dropping out in 2017 so important: it is effectively an admission that three years are not enough to learn how to manage risks in Obamacare’s exchanges. Indeed, it suggests that risks are unmanageable, that the vicious circle of increasing premiums’ driving healthy subscribers away and leaving only sick ones on the books cannot be stopped under Obamacare.

The exchanges have fewer victims than initially expected. The economy has been strong enough that employer-based coverage has stood up to Obamacare. As a result, only 10 million people are caught in them, instead of the 21 million forecast when the law was passed. However, this is a mixed blessing. These 10 million are a politically weak constituency of working-class and lower middle-class citizens in middle age — the people whose needs politicians always talk about but seldom address because they are not politically active.

The only group politically powerful enough to renegotiate the exchanges are the insurers, and they show no more creativity than to lobby for their subsidies to be restored, which this Congress has promised not to do. On the other hand, simply quitting the exchanges is not very painful for large health insurers. UnitedHealth Group’s stock took a small hit when it admitted its struggles, but Obamacare exchanges are a tiny share of its business. As more insurers make the same decision to quit, 10 million Obamacare subscribers will be left high and dry in short order. (DC)

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell
Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Cut!

Raise the cost of something, and inevitably demand for that thing goes down. It’s a venerable principle in economics.

So five years ago when ObamaCare was being enacted, we and many others warned that its coverage mandates for employers would result in hours being cut back and workers being laid off. We were criticized at the time as Chicken Littles. Now comes a survey of 743 personnel executives by the Society of Human Resource Management, as reported by Robert King of the Washington Examiner, that shows businesses are doing just that. Nearly 14% of firms have cut part-time hours for workers, King wrote, and another 6% plan to do so.

Still worse, 5% of companies have already either cut or plan to cut the total number of workers they have, thanks to ObamaCare.

ObamaCare’s employer mandate requires businesses with 100 or more employees to provide health insurance to 70% of their workers who put in 30 or more hours a week. That goes up to 95% next year.

Meanwhile, small businesses with 50 to 99 workers will start feeling the pinch in 2016, when the mandate hits them, too.

So it’s only logical: Businesses are cutting hours to avoid having to pay for the mandate — a predictable response in the real world, but apparently not in the world of the economists, politicians and planners who concocted ObamaCare’s destructive rules.

As for “bending the cost-curve down,” as President Obama promised repeatedly, forget about it. The survey found that 77% of companies had higher health-care costs this year than last year, and just 6% saw their costs decrease. For those who had costs rise, 24% saw costs go up 16% or more.

If you want to know why this job recovery has been the worst since the Great Depression, you need look no further than these depressing statistics.

In September 2009, President Obama addressed Congress, vowing that his healthcare plan would “slow the growth of healthcare costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” But costs for all three have actually grown.

During the campaign in 2008, Obama repeatedly said that his health reform plan would save the average family $2,500 a year in premiums. But this year, almost half of those surveyed by CBS and the New York Times characterized “the affordability of basic medical care as a hardship.” That’s a quarter more people than said so last year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, the New York Times, and Avalere Health crunched government numbers and concluded that even premiums for coverage offered on the exchanges would rise between 2 and 5% during 2015.

Meanwhile, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research determined that premiums in the non-group market in 2014 increased by 24.4% over what they would have cost without Obamacare.

Costs for small businesses have also grown. Last year, the average cost of employer-sponsored health insurance for an individual exceeded $5,700. That’s 23% more than in 2009, the year before Obamacare was signed into law.

One in 10 businesses has laid off workers to cope with growing healthcare costs. And “one-third of small firms say they are purposefully not growing as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” according to a National Small Business Association Survey.

Meanwhile, one in five companies has reduced employee hours to avoid falling afoul of Obamacare’s employer mandate, which requires companies with 100 or more employees who work more than 30 hours a week to provide health insurance this year. Next year, companies with 50 or more workers will be subject to the mandate.

Companies who fail to comply must pay fines of the lesser of $3,000 per employee who receives subsidies in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges or $2,000 for every worker after the first 30.

The cost of Obamacare has also grown dramatically for the government — and thus for taxpayers. In 2009, President Obama claimed that his plan would cost a little more than $900 billion over the next decade. But according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office, the law’s net price tag has ballooned to nearly $1.2 trillion.

The law’s ballooning cost is largely the result of its failure to slow overall health spending. Nationwide, health spending grew 5% in 2014, compared to a 3.6% increase the year prior, according to a new report from Altarum Institute. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forecast spending to grow by 6% a year from 2015 through 2023 — “largely as a result of the continued implementation of the ACA coverage expansions.”

To make matters worse, the health law has also failed to deliver “the best care, not just the most expensive care,” as the President promised in 2009. Under Obamacare, Americans now have fewer healthcare options than before.

The number of insurers selling to individual consumers in the exchanges has dropped by more than 20% compared to the year before Obamacare took effect, according to the Heritage Foundation. Consumers who buy coverage on the exchanges often find that their preferred hospitals are out of network, McKinsey & Co. reports.

Meanwhile, Deloitte surveyed 20,000 doctors and discovered that many are cutting their work hours or leaving the practice of medicine altogether. USA TODAY recently reported that many doctors are limiting their intake of patients who bought coverage on the exchanges; the reimbursement rates offered by their policies are just too low.

“Physicians who are in solo practices have to be careful not to take too many patients reimbursed at lower rates or they’re not going to be in business too long,” said the President of the Medical Society of the State of New York.

For patients, this exodus of doctors translates into less access, longer waits before appointments, and less one-on-one time with the few doctors who will see them. Last year, patients had to wait an average of 18 days for appointments with specialty doctors. This waiting game is “going to get worse and not better,” according to a study from consultancy Merritt Hawkins.

But since it “felt good” and they “had the best of intentions” and it’s all the fault of evil insurance companies the Liberal won’t hold themselves responsible for making things much worse than if they hadn’t meddled in the first place.

Frog Tales

“That’s the good thing about being president. I can do whatever I want.” – President Obama

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50 to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS – under penalty of perjury – that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions. To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs. You can duck the law, but only if you promise not to say so.

And having the IRS serve as the talking-point enforcer for businesses tempted to speak out about firings under the law will sure help message discipline. (FOX)

Gee, no one saw the IRS Gestapo/Thought Police coming… 🙂

Desperate to keep ObamaCare from hurting Democrats’ chances in the midterm elections this November, the Obama administration is putting off part of the employer mandate for yet another year.

On Monday, administration officials said that companies with between 50 and 99 workers won’t have to comply with the mandate until 2016. Those with more than 100 workers will still have to provide “affordable” health benefits to their workers or pay a steep fine.

But larger firms will have to cover only 70% of their full-time workers next year to avoid any penalty, and 95% the year after. The Treasury Department claimed the delay was because medium-sized firms “need a little more time to adjust to providing coverage.”

Pure poppycock. The one and only reason for this delay is political. Obama wants to hide the job-killing effects of ObamaCare until after midterm elections.

When the administration first delayed the employer mandate last July — pushing it off to January 2015 — it claimed that companies needed more time to comply with all the new paperwork burdens.

Apparently, however, they didn’t realize this delay would force companies to confront the cost of the ObamaCare mandate just before the November elections. Thus the new extension.

The administration has now changed the law dozens of times, mainly to deal with political land mines going off. No one can make any serious plans based on it.

Just before its latest revision, for example, Obama decided to let people who wanted to keep their current plans do so for more than just one year. This was another political concession meant to prevent another round of cancellations stories.

The problem is that this law was supposedly written so all the pieces fit together just so.

Without an employer mandate, for example, companies would be more tempted to dump workers into the ObamaCare exchanges, forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab for any insurance subsidies.

And the claim that ObamaCare wouldn’t add to the deficit depended to some degree on companies paying those penalties. No employer mandate, no penalty.

Meanwhile, Republicans and conservatives have been busy crafting credible alternatives to ObamaCare — calling Obama’s recent bluff that he’ll consider any ideas so long as they help cover the uninsured, protect those with health problems, and cut health costs. (None of which ObamaCare effectively achieves, by the way.)

After the latest delay, House Majority Leader John Boehner complained that “once again, the president is rewriting law on a whim.”

It’s actually worse than that.

Obama is unilaterally changing ObamaCare for a reason. He wants to stretch the pain out as long as possible, hoping no one will notice they’ve been cooked. (IBD)

Because you throw a frog in Boiling Water, it leaps out. Throw it in cold or warm water and turn up the heat it boil to death. Just like you on ObamaCare.

Say who are those guys in the Black suits coming to the door… 🙂

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

 Political Cartoons by Eric Allie

 Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley
 Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

 

No They Cant! The Sequel

John Stossel: President Obama said in his State of the Union Address that he is putting colleges on notice to lower costs. A few days later, he spoke to students at the University of Michigan, with a promise of more federal aid. Politicians claim they can make college affordable. No They Can’t!

In the last 30 years, inflation is up 160%, but tuition costs are up 750%.

It’s because colleges have no incentive to cut prices when students can get money from government. Federal aid, adjusted for inflation, increased from 32 billion in 1987, to 169 billion in 2010.

Government tells us, “Here’s the gap between what you can afford and what the college is charging, we will now make up that gap. And then the college just inches up the tuition a little bit higher,” says Naomi Riley author of The Faculty Lounges: and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For.

Colleges don’t use all or even most of that money in the classroom. We were stunned at the gyms and dining halls that serve lobster and sushi. Check out the University of Missouri, which is proud of its spa, rock climbing wall and “Tiger Grotto” – an elaborate pool complex.

Government creates perverse incentives. Colleges compete on prestige and luxury amenities, not their price tag. Administrators don’t worry about high tuition costs because their customers have government subsidies.

And so what if they graduate with a mountain of debt and their job prospect are sh*t. They government will take of them too. And if ObamaCare survives they can be on their parents Health Insurance until they are 26.

And they’ve been raised by the liberal socialists to believe they are entitled to be look after just because.

So who cares, the Government will take care of you. You may remember that The Obama Administration took over the  student loans because they were going bankrupt.

2010: President Obama will sign a bill today that ends a 45-year-old program under which banks and other private-sector lenders such as Sallie Mae receive a federal subsidy for making government-guaranteed college loans.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Education – which already makes roughly a third of these loans through its direct-lending program – will make 100 percent of them starting July 1.

Students who previously had to choose a private-sector lender for their guaranteed loans will now have only one choice: the government. (SFGATE)

But the newly passed legislation does nothing to address the rapidly rising cost of education–and adds to our national debt. (Forbes)

A “single payer” system, you might say. 🙂

And costs are up 5 times inflation because colleges only incentive is to spend more to make college look like an French Riviera resort.

Costs? Who gives a crap about costs. The Government is paying for it.

Then they graduate and reality hits them in the face.

Students who graduated from college in 2010 with student loans owed an average of $25,250, up 5 percent from the previous year, according to a report scheduled for release Thursday.

The average debt — once again the highest on record — came as the class of 2010 faced an unemployment rate for new college graduates of 9.1 percent, the highest in recent years, according to the report by the Project on Student Debt, which pointed out that unemployment rates for those without college degrees were still higher.

The median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who entered the work force in 2006 to 2008, according to a study released on Wednesday by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. That is a decline of 10 percent, even before taking inflation into account.

35 percent of unemployed college graduates have been without a job for a year or longer. And, the long-term unemployment rate for those 25 and older is almost the same across the board—regardless of educational level.

Sidenote: remember, most report unemployment statistics don’t count people who have given up completely looking for a job.

CNN Last week: But the competition is steep, with employers reporting that they have received nearly 33 applications for every job posting, up from 21 applications per posting last year.

Enter Occupiers. “Entitled” little skulls of  unemployed (and many cases unemployable narcissistic and anarchist) socialist mush who have had reality hit them in the face and they just want to whine about it.

New York Times: The high cost of college and the growing debt burden of student loans have become increasingly potent political issues in recent years, high on the agenda of Occupy Wall Street and related protests across the country.

And then there’s the next line of graduate-in-waiting: Teenagers

The high teen unemployment rate, which came in at 23.8% for February (2012). Their unemployment rate remains above 20% for the 40th month in a row, the first time this has happened since the government started keeping records in 1948.

And since Obama was elected the first by getting naive 20-somethings to believe in his Messianic self he has to throw bones to his peeps, especially as their support has cooled over the years because a lot of them are not college students anymore but unemployed and underemployed debtors.

So he’ll need a new crop of naive morons to vote for him.

“Student debt goes up and it doesn’t ever go down,” said Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of Finaid.org and Fastweb.com, two Web sites that offer advice on paying for college. “We’re clearly heading in the direction of decreased college affordability. Among lower-income students, the canaries in the cage that squawk first, we’re already seeing a decline in enrollment in four-year colleges and an increase in lower-cost two-year institutions,” he said.

Mr. Kantrowitz estimated that for the class of 2011, average debt was $27,200 — or, if parent loans were included, $34,000.

This is the fifth consecutive year in which the public universities that serve most students raised their tuition at a faster rate than the far more expensive private universities. (NYT)

So that’s why Obama has proposed….<<Drum Roll>> SPENDING EVEN MORE on student loan programs!!!

Now, I know that’s a shocker! 🙂

So when in Debt SPEND EVEN MORE!

When the system is bleeding red ink and it’s failing SPEND EVEN MORE!

When your house is burning down throw more Napalm on the Fire that will help!!

Liberal Economics at it’s finest.

But don’t worry, It’s all the Republicans! and “the rich”‘s Fault! 🙂

The Improving Cheese

“This is a disaster,” Mark Miller, the Wisconsin Senate Democratic leader, said in February after Republican Gov. Scott Walker proposed a budget bill that would curtail the collective-bargaining powers of some public employees. Miller predicted catastrophe if the bill were to become law — a charge repeated thousands of times by his fellow Democrats, union officials and protesters in the streets.

Now the bill is law, and we have some early evidence of how it is working. And for one beleaguered Wisconsin school district, it’s a godsend, not a disaster.

The Kaukauna Area School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect at 12:01 a.m. June 29, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it’s all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.

In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health-insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now they’ll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board president Todd Arnoldussen.

Of course, Wisconsin unions had offered to make benefit concessions during the budget fight. Wouldn’t Kaukauna’s money problems have been solved if Walker had just accepted those concessions and not demanded cutbacks in collective-bargaining powers?

“The monetary part of it is not the entire issue,” says Arnoldussen, a political independent who won a spot on the board in a nonpartisan election. Indeed, some of the most important improvements in Kaukauna’s outlook are because of the new limits on collective bargaining.

In the past, Kaukauna’s agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health-insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust — a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. “It was in the collective-bargaining agreement that we could negotiate only with them,” says Arnoldussen. “Well, you know what happens when you can negotiate with only one vendor.” This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now the collective-bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. “With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and, lo and behold, WEA Trust said, ‘We can match the lowest bid,'” says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust but saving substantial amounts of money.

Then there are work rules. “In the collective-bargaining agreement, high-school teachers had to teach only five periods a day out of seven,” says Arnoldussen. “Now they’re going to teach six.” In addition, the collective-bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37-1/2 hours a week. Now it will be 40 hours.

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes — from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.

Teachers’ salaries will stay “relatively the same,” Arnoldussen says, except for higher pension and health care payments. (The top salary is about $80,000 per year, with about $35,000 in additional benefits, for 184 days of work per year — summers off.) Finally, the money saved will be used to hire a few more teachers and institute merit pay.

It is impossible to overstate how bitter and ugly the Wisconsin fight has been, and that bitterness and ugliness continues to this day with efforts to recall senators and an unseemly battle inside the state Supreme Court. But the new law is now a reality, and Gov. Walker recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the measure would gain acceptance “with every day, week and month that goes by that the world doesn’t fall apart.”

In the Kaukauna schools, the world is definitely not falling apart — it’s getting better. (Byron York)

But never forget the Unions will fight tool and nail to your death to have their exclusive members-only kiss-ass club back. They are too arrogant and “entitled” not to.

Much like most Democrats.

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie

Political Cartoons by Ken Catalino

Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

NO FearMongering Here!

Brilliant Listen: Ted Nugent on KFYI

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

“It is unfair to ask seniors to get less in benefits and wait longer to get onto Medicare — all while Republicans back tax breaks for Big Oil and corporations that ship American jobs overseas,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “Just like the Republican plan to end Medicare, this proposal is unacceptable, especially for struggling middle-class Americans.”

But don’t worry, it’s all those Republicans fault that we can’t deal with the problem. And let’s throw in some Class Warfare will we are at it!

Do the Democrats ever mention the $500 Billion ObamaCare cut from Medicare and then double-counted it as savings? Naw, why would they when they can just straight for the fear and class warfare.

“A plan that slashes Medicare for vulnerable seniors is a plan that slashes Medicare for vulnerable seniors no matter what co-sponsors you put on it,” said Protect Your Care spokesman Eddie Vale. “This so called ‘plan’ is just as dangerous for seniors as the Republican budget that ends Medicare.”

“We believe the right way to strengthen Medicare is to improve the quality and lower the cost of care throughout the health care system,” said AARP’s Nancy LeaMond. “Simply shifting the bill to seniors does nothing to improve health care quality or combat the real problem of rising costs.”

Yet, the one program that was working, Medicare Advantage will be savaged by Obamacare in favor of the less efficient and more expensive MediGap.

Gee, I wonder which one AARP favors?  Do you even have to ask… 🙂

Debt Ceiling: The president called on Republicans to back off their “stubborn” refusal to compromise on their “sacred cow” (no tax hikes), asserting that everyone else at the table has displayed a willingness to do so.  This is news to me, as Democrats have consistently refused to deal seriously with entitlements, and have shamelessly demagogued Republican reform efforts.  One could also argue that Democrats’ true sacred cow in this debate is their insistence on raising taxes, a stance from which they have not backed down.

And the Democrats only want “revenue increases” the new Orwellian term for TAX INCREASES! And anything else is just stupid in their minds. But don’t worry, it’s the Republican’s fault for being intractable.

“I am the President of the United  States, and I want to make sure I’m not engaged in fear-mongering.”   Republicans should file this quote away and resurrect it whenever the  president feeds his insatiable appetite for precisely the practice he  claims to reject.  In fact, he fear-mongered at today’s press  conference.  He can’t help himself.  Absent tax increases, he warned,  children could go without scholarships, food safety measures could be  loosened, and medical research could dry up, etc, etc.  It’s fat-cat  corporate jet-setters vs. the children, you see.  I’d try to accumulate Obama’s greatest fear-mongering hits, but that task could consume my entire afternoon. (But I am considering starting a blog about it…)

“If we do not have revenues (aka TAX INCREASES!), that means there are a bunch of kids out there who are not getting college scholarships.  If we do not have those revenues, then the kinds of cuts that would be required might compromise the National Weather Service.  It means that we would not be funding critical medical research.  It means that food inspection might be compromised.  And I’ve said to some of the Republican leaders, you go talk to your constituents, the Republican constituents, and ask them are they willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break.  And I’m pretty sure what the answer would be.”

So it’s Armageddon if we don’t have Tax Increases!! And he’s absolutely not fearmongering!!!! 🙂

But it’s the Republican’s “sacred cows” that are the problem!

And the Left has no “sacred cows” that are a problem. 🙂

DEBT: Obama demanded that legislators “do their job” on the debt crisis.  Um,  Mr. President, the Republican-controlled House did its job on the debt.   It passed Paul Ryan’s budget, which reduces the debt by four trillion  dollars, reforms the tax code, and saves the social safety net by  distrupting its inexorable march toward insolvency.  The Democrat-held  Senate has not done its job.  791 days have passed since Harry Reid’s caucus even introduced a  budget.  Oddly, the president failed to mention these salient facts.   He did, however, demand that Congress make “tough choices.”  Is he  referring to the brand of politically risky leadership he’s deliberately avoided?

July 8th, 2011 will be 800 days since the Democrats passed a budget AT ALL.

“I’m the President of the United States not running off of scare tactics,” Treasury Secretary Geithner.

In a ham-fisted class warfare gambit, Obama took aim at tax breaks for  private jet owners.  His point, presumably, was to highlight an  unpopular tax provision Republicans are “protecting” through their  blanket refusal to entertain any tax increases.  Say, where’d those evil  private jet-related tax breaks come from, anyway?  Clue: The answer may  involve an infamous bill that zero House Republicans supported, and  that Barack Obama signed into law.

The vaulted STIMULUS!

The Liberal giveth, and The Liberal wants to take it away when it benefits them politically. Now doesn’t that feel you with confidence?

Oh, and the tax break will bring in $3 Billion dollars over 10 years. OOOH! That’ll fix a $14,400,000,000,000 budget deficit!

Damn those evil greedy rich people!!

IT’S ALL THEIR FAULT!! 🙂

One Republican Senate aide, however, shot back in an email to The Daily Caller, saying that the White House only recently sent over the agreements for Congress’ approval. The aide also said that when it comes to tax breaks for corporate jets, “Who would really bear the brunt — wealthy corporate jet owners or the workers who build the jets?”

On the president’s call to put construction workers back to work, presumably through government-sponsored projects, the aide said, “He [Obama] said the same thing before the stimulus and it turned out to be a complete hoax. Only a tiny portion of the stimulus went to infrastructure … Also, we simply can’t afford it and the stimulus has proven we can’t spend our way to prosperity.”

But that’s the sacred cow of the Left though so that doesn’t exist. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Steve Breen

Put Down that Burger, Fatso!

FOOD POLICE UPDATE

The federal government has a growing interest in the eating habits of Americans for the same reason it has an interest in tobacco consumption, said Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The reason is money, because three-quarters of medical-spending is driven by chronic diseases, such as obesity and tobacco-related diseases, she said.

Sebelius’ comments came at the tail-end of Tuesday’s White House press conference where officials showcased nine new photos that must be carried on cigarette packs. Officials used a survey of 18,000 people to find the images that would have the most distressing impact on groups of smokers, including young smokers and mothers of young kids.

“We want teenagers to understand smoking is gross, not cool,” said the HHS chief. If the public becomes desensitized to the distressing pictures, they’ll be replaced by new pictures, she said.

The regulations are justified, she said, because tobacco causes 443,000 premature deaths, and creates “$200 billion a year in health costs that we clearly could spend better elsewhere,” she said.

But the press questions shifted to food labels when a reporter pressed officials about new food-labeling standards being promoted by the government.

The standards are part of a much larger push by medical professionals to regulate the food sector. The medical professionals, led by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have allied with professional advocacy groups, such as Center for Science in the Public Interest, and with leading Democratic politicians, to blame the food-sector for increasing obesity rates in the American population, and especially among African-Americans.

People like to eat the increasing amount of cheap food produced by the food industry, and the rate of obesity has climbed steadily. In turn, obesity has spiked government and private health-care costs, because fat people are more prone to expensive diseases such as heart-failure and diabetes.

Federal health-care bills have risen in step, partly because of obesity’s costs, but also because many medical-professionals and Democrats want the federal government to fund a growing portion of the nation’s health-care spending.

These political interests reinforce each other. Health-care professionals say their expertise can reduce the federal government’s health-care costs, and politicians say they need professional expertise to curb the growing cost of expanding federal health-care programs.

First Lady Michelle Obama, for example, has accelerated the process by simultaneously supporting the Obamacare expansion of government spending, while also establishing her ‘Let’s Move’ anti-obesity campaign. The professional campaign is aimed chiefly at African-Americans, and urges parents and children to exercise more and to eat carefully.

In April, the FDA published a new set of rules requiring restaurants to show the calories in each menu item, and the Federal Trade Commission released a set of guidelines for food that is marketed to children. These steps were mandated by the 2009 Obamacare health-sector law.

When asked if the government would extend tobacco-style regulations to food deemed fattening, Sebelius told the reporters that the federal guidelines are only voluntary.

In the same press conference, Margaret Hamburg, the FDA’s chief, added that “we need to work with industry to provide consumers … with the best possible information about nutrition and health so that we can all make good choices in terms of promoting and protecting health.”

“The food industry recognizes there are ways they can improve,” said Hamburg. “We certainly have a vested interest in that as a public health agency, and we want to work with them on that.”

“When the combined voice of the four most important regulatory agencies for [your industry] speak, it is hard for companies to ignore those guidelines, even if you feel they are unwarranted or unfounded,” said McBride. “Industry shares Ms. Obama’s goal of solving childhood obesity within a generation, and we will continue to work with government stakeholders towards that goal,” he said.

Sebelius deflected questions about whether food officials would mandate distressing pictures on food they consider unhealthy.  (For Now)

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, again, I think tobacco is unique. It is a product that is the number one cause of preventable death. We know that there are strategies that can be very effective, because they’ve been in place. We also know that we’ve been stalled in this country. So I think this effort about tobacco regulation, efforts around tobacco cessation, has been decades-old and is something that is a unique situation.

Having said that, I do think that there are going to be ongoing discussions — as you look at the underlying health care costs, where we spend 75 cents of every health care dollar treating chronic disease — what are the areas, if you want to lower health costs and have a healthier country, that you can focus on? Certainly, tobacco and obesity become two of the major underlying causes. So the work around obesity and healthier, more nutritious eating, more exercise will continue to be I think an ongoing focus.

I think this is some space that is going to continue to have a robust conversation, because, again, it has a lot to do with underlying health costs and overall health of our nation. (Aka ObamaCare) 🙂

But as she stepped off the podium, Sebelius finally threw an answer back to the reporter who had asked if distressing images would be mandated for fattening foods. “Just lots of celery stalks and broccoli,” she said. (Townhall.com)

So put down that cookie Fatso!!

And that Microwave Dinner, EVIL!

The Food Police are Coming For you Tubby!

Mama Government does not approve.

The government knows better.

Tony the Tiger, some NASCAR drivers and cookie-selling Girl Scouts will be out of a job unless grocery manufacturers agree to reinvent a vast array of their products to satisfy the Obama administration’s food police.

Either retool the recipes to contain certain levels of sugar, sodium and fats, or no more advertising and marketing to tots and teenagers, say several federal regulatory agencies.

The same goes for restaurants.

It’s not just the usual suspected foods that are being targeted, such a thin mint cookies sold by scouts or M&Ms and Snickers, which sponsor cars in the Sprint Cup, but pretty much everything on a restaurant menu.

Although the intent of the guidelines is to combat childhood obesity, foods that are low in calories, fat, and some considered healthy foods, are also targets, including hot breakfast cereals such as oatmeal, pretzels, popcorn, nuts, yogurt, wheat bread, bagels, diet drinks, fruit juice, tea, bottled water, milk and sherbet.

Food industries are in an uproar over the proposal written by the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The most disturbing aspect of this interagency working group is, after it imposes multibillions of dollars in restrictions on the food industry, there is no evidence of any impact on the scourge of childhood obesity,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers.

The “Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children, Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulation Efforts” says it is voluntary, but industry officials say the intent is clear:  Do it, or else.

“When regulators strongly suggest a course of action, it’s treated as a rule, not a suggestion,” said Scott Faber, vice president of federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.  “Industry tends to heed these suggestions from our regulators, and this administration has made it clear they are willing to regulate if we don’t implement their proposal.”

It’s not just the food industry that will be impacted.  Hundreds of television shows that depend on the advertising revenue, such as the Nickelodeon Channel, ESPN, and programs including “American Idol” will be affected, critics of the proposal say—at a cost of $5.8 trillion in marketing expenditures that support up to 20 million American jobs.

If the food is not reformulated, no more ads or promotions on TV, radio, in print, on websites, as well as other digital advertising such as e-mail and text messaging, packaging, and point-of-purchase displays and other in-store marketing tools; product placement in movies, videos, video games, contests, sweepstakes, character licensing and toy branding; sponsorship of events including sport teams and individual athletes; and, philanthropic activity tied to branding opportunities.

That includes softball teams that are sponsored by food companies and school reading programs sponsored by restaurants.

“The Interagency working group recommends that the food industry, through voluntary self-regulatory efforts, make significant improvements in the nutritional quality of foods marketed to children and adolescents ages 2 to 17 years,” the proposal says.

“By the year 2016, all food products within the categories most heavily marketed directly to children should meet two basic nutrition principles.  Such foods should be formulated to … make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet and minimize the content of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health and weight.”

The foods most heavily marketed directly to children and adolescents fall into 10 categories: “breakfast cereals, snack foods, candy, dairy products, baked goods, carbonated beverages, fruit juice and non-carbonated beverages, prepared foods and meals, frozen and chilled desserts, and restaurant foods.”

Beth Johnson, a dietician for Food Directions in Maryland, said many of the foods targeted in this proposal are the same foods approved by the federal government for the WIC nutrition program for women, infants and children.

“This doesn’t make any sense whatsoever,” Johnson said.  “It’s not going to do anything to help with obesity.  These are decisions I want to make for my kids.  These should not be government decisions.” (Human Events)

But it will make a bunch of Liberals “feel good” that they have “done something” to save kids from evil capitalists trying to make them fat! 🙂

Rejoice!  The Government is here to save you and your Kids from YOU!

They’rrre Grrrreattt! 🙂

Cartoon

Cartoon

An Inefficient Truth

May 13 (Bloomberg) — Medicare, the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, and the Social Security trust for the disabled and retirees are running out of money sooner than the government had projected.

While Medicare won’t have sufficient funds to pay full benefits starting in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate, Social Security’s cash to pay full benefits runs short in 2036, a year sooner than the 2010 projection, the U.S. government said today in an annual report.

Both forecasts were affected by a slower-than-anticipated economic recovery, the government said. The estimates for funding add urgency to talks between Democrats and Republicans on ways to cut spending to reduce the U.S. budget deficit.

“Projected long-run program costs for both Medicare and Social Security are not sustainable under currently scheduled financing, and will require legislative corrections if disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers are to be avoided,” according to the report summary.

When Medicare and Social Security funds run short, they will pay less in benefits rather than stop paying entirely. Social Security would have to cut payments by 23 percent, while Medicare would reduce by 10 percent what it pays hospitals and other inpatient care providers.

And if Obamanomics continues how much to you want to bet it will continue to get closer and closer…

Democrats, who have resisted changes to Social Security, said the trustees’ analysis shows there’s time to respond.

“The current situation does not necessitate rushed or severe action,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana. “We must continue to protect the Social Security benefits our seniors count on.”

Yeah, lets wait at least until after the 2012 Presidential Election…Then if Obama wins we can still do what we want, and if a Republican wins we can start sounding like the Republicans now so as to scare people into voting for us in 2014. 🙂

It’s all about self-interest, after all.

We just need another panel to “study” the issue, issue a report that we can ignore but it wastes lots of time with “well let’s see what the panel comes back with” like Obama did in 2010 with the Debt Commission.

It’s been 744 days since a Democrat in Congress passed a Budget. So what’s another year+ 🙂

Let’s not do something that might hurt my re-election, after all…

Social Security law requires program spending to match revenue, so a lack of action by lawmakers by that time will mean benefits will have to be cut 23 percent — or the Social Security payroll tax increased to 16 percent, or a combination, the report said. Congress has never allowed the program’s two trust funds to be depleted.

Medicare, to stay solvent for the next 75 years, would have to immediately raise payroll taxes by 24 percent, or cut current benefit payments by 17 percent, Cori Uccello, a senior health fellow with the American Academy of Actuaries in Washington, said in a phone interview.

The longer the U.S. waits to address the coming shortages in Medicare and Social Security, the more painful it may be, said Uccello. A U.S. delay in extending Medicare’s fiscal life may force cuts for current beneficiaries rather than diminishing them for people who enter the program several years from now. (Bloomberg)

Democrats’ endless refrain is that the Ryan plan would “end Medicare as we know it.”

Let’s be clear: Maintaining the status quo would also “end Medicare as we know it.”  The program would go belly-up, resulting in involuntary European-style austerity measures, dramatically slashed benefits, and vastly higher taxes.  Which of these options is truly unacceptable? (townhall.com)

Long Before I began even a little bit political I knew Social Security was doomed to failure.

The people in charge of it are totally immune. Always a bad idea. Because then it’s all about THEIR self-interest. Not yours.

P.s.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law on Friday an immigration bill giving police authority to question suspects about their immigration status which is similar to a controversial measure passed in Arizona.

The law also requires many private employers to check the immigration status of newly hired workers on a federal database called E-Verify.

Deal said the law will take the burden off Georgia’s schools, hospitals and prisons by reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the state.

“This legislation is a responsible step forward in the absence of federal action,” Deal said during a signing ceremony in his office at the Capitol.
Cries of racism in 3…2…1…. 🙂  (Townhall.com)

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

May Day Call

Michelle Malkin: On May 1, left-wing vigilantes will target companies across the country that have committed a mortal sin: sending donations to GOP Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Rest assured, such intolerable acts of political free speech will not go unpunished by tolerant Big Labor activists. They’re calling for both a national boycott of Walker’s corporate donors and a coordinated sticker vandalism campaign on GOP-tainted products.

The Wisconsin Grocers Association is bracing for the anti-Walker witch hunt. Anonymous operatives have circulated sabotage stickers on the Internet and around Wisconsin that single out Angel Soft tissue paper (“Wiping your (expletive) on Wisconsin workers”), Johnsonville Sausage (“These Brats Bust Unions”) and Coors (“Labor Rights Flow Away Like A Mountain Stream”). Earlier this week, a “Stick It To Walker” website boasted photos of vandalized Angel Soft tissue packages at a Super Foodtown grocery store in Brooklyn, N.Y.

This destruction of private property is illegal. Not that it matters to anti-Walker protest mobsters, who trampled Wisconsin’s Capitol at an estimated $5 million in security, repair and cleaning costs to taxpayers. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “The identity of the backers of the sticker effort is unknown, although many assume it is being orchestrated by public employee unions. This latest effort follows boycotts organized by members of the Wisconsin State Employees Union AFSCME 24.”

AFSCME 24 is the same union affiliate that recently disseminated intimidation letters throughout southeast Wisconsin, demanding that local businesses support unions by putting up signs in their windows. The letter threatened not just Walker supporters, but any and all businesses that have chosen to sit on the sidelines and stay out of politics altogether: “Failure to do so will leave us no choice but (to) do a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means ‘no’ to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members.” Others on Big Labor’s hit list: Kwik Trip, Sargento Foods Inc. and M&I Bank.

Walker, of course, has been at the forefront of government pension and budget reforms. Similar measures are being advanced by Democratic governors and Democrat-run legislatures from Massachusetts to New York to California. But union bosses have yet to sic their goons on individual and corporate donors to Democratic politicians imposing long-overdue benefit and collective bargaining limits for public employee unions.

How convenient, yes? Just as they secured a big fat waiver from the federal health care mandate and tax scheme they lobbied to impose on the rest of America, Big Labor is giving Democratic legislative water-carriers who have been forced to adopt cuts and cost controls a big fat waiver from their organized wrath and vandalism.

Now, a few hundred or thousand ruined grocery store items may not seem to matter much to the average reader, but this little property destruction campaign spotlights a nasty tactic increasingly employed by the left: campaign finance disclosure as a speech-squelching weapon.

We saw it last fall when Democratic operatives targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for donating to Obamacare opposition ads.

We saw it in 2008 when a top MoveOn.org alumnus launched attacks on Republican donors with the express purpose of “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.”

We saw it when Obama campaign committee lawyers lobbied the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute a GOP donor for funding campaign ads exposing Obama’s ties to Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.

We saw it during the Proposition 8 traditional marriage battle in California, where gay rights avengers compiled black lists, harassment lists and Google target maps of citizens who contributed to the ballot measure.

We saw it when “progressive” zealots smeared Target Corporation and Chick-fil-A for daring to associate with social conservatives.

And we’re seeing it again this month as the Obama White House readies an executive order that would force federal contractors to disclose all political donations to candidates and independent groups in excess of $5,000 made not just by a corporate entity, but by all of its individual executives, directors and officers.

Former Federal Election Commission official Hans von Spakovsky obtained the sweeping draft executive order, which — surprise, surprise — exempts unions and predominantly left-wing federal grant recipients from the mandate. On Wednesday, GOP senators spelled out the bullying agenda in an open letter objecting to the Obama order: “Political activity would obviously be chilled if prospective contractors have to fear that their livelihood could be threatened if the causes they support are disfavored by the administration.” Join the club.

When disclosure’s a bludgeon, all but Obama’s cronies are nails.

As I have said many times before, the Democrats only have 3 plays in their playbook: Class Ware, fear, and Intimidation.

That’s all folks.

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Weiss Ratings downgraded U.S. debt this week.

Yes, the superman of all debts, public and private, got it some kryptonite.    

“We believe that the AAA/Aaa assigned to U.S. sovereign debt by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch is unfair to investors and savers, who are undercompensated for the risks they are taking,” Weiss Ratings President Martin D. Weiss said according to the South Florida Business Journal.

Weiss rated the U.S. a “C” credit risk, behind even Mexico.

The U.S. isn’t just a banana republic under Obama, it’s close to a failed state; at least in its ability to pay the bills.

To make matters worse, Weiss made the announcement after Federal Reserve “superman” Ben Bernanke admitted in a press conference that his policy of printing money has resulted in higher inflation and no jobs.

The announcement by Weiss may not be unrelated to the Bernanke press conference.

As Forbes observed this week, the Fed under Bernanke may not have the ability to judge anything anymore.

Just last month, the web site reminded us, the Fed assured everyone that “The economic recovery is on firmer footing, and overall conditions in the labor market appear to be improving gradually.”

On Wednesday the Fed told us “The economic recovery is proceeding at a moderate pace and overall conditions in the labor market are improving gradually.”

On cue, right after the Bernanke press conference, the estimates for GDP by the Fed were then slashed to 1.8 percent after posting 3.7 percent in the first quarter. Think that Ben didn’t know about those new numbers at his all-is-well press conference?

The revised estimates confirmed what we already knew; that the Fed policy was igniting inflation that would eventually hurt economic growth by spiking prices for things like gas, food, common stocks.

1.8 percent growth is hardly enough growth to ensure that jobless claims don’t start going up again.

Then on Friday, the Fed chief told an audience that he wants more sub-prime lending.

We’re getting into the area where we just can’t make this stuff up.

Yes, Ben Bernanke is calling on lenders to give more money to people who can’t afford mortgages.

Really.

“Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday called for more lending to people and small businesses in lower-income neighborhoods,” reports the AP “saying they’ve been disproportionately hurt by the recession.”

Does Bernanke think he’s running for re-election? What’s worse is that our chief banking officer doesn’t seem to understand how the country got where we are fiscally.     

And things have just become too complicated- and political- and dangerous for Bernanke to remain the front man for U.S. economic policy.

Instead Ben should do the decent thing:

Take off that silly cape.

It looks ridlculous. (John Ransom)

But don’t worry, everything’s fine, we aren’t broke.

We just need more investments in infrastructure and higher taxes on “rich” people to solve all our woes! 😦

Political Cartoons by Ken Catalino

Happy Birthday, ObamaCare

Facinating Site: http://www.thirdway.org/taxreceipt

A year after the passing of health reform, a new industry report revealed that consumers may be paying billions of dollars more in out-of-pocket health care expenses than was previously thought.

These “hidden” costs of health care — like taking time off to care for elderly parents — add up to $363 billion, according to a report from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a research group.

That amounts to $1,355 per consumer, on top of the $8,000 the government says people spend on doctor fees and hospital care.

The out-of-pocket costs that the government tallies usually include only insurance-related costs like premiums, deductibles, and co-payments.

The study is the first to estimate how much consumers dish out on health care related goods and services not covered by private or government insurance.

These include: ambulance services, alternative medicines, nutritional products and vitamins, weight-loss centers and supervisory care of elderly family members.

The average household income fell 1.9% last year while health care costs rose 6%.(KFYI)

I guess findout what was in the bill after passing it was like finding a zonk on “Let’s Make a Deal”.

But don’t tell that to a Liberal, they will just rant on about evil capitalists.

But it’s not a real surprise. Not really. Not if you live in reality. Not Liberal socialist fantasy land.

You have massive number of new regulations.  More Adverse Selection has been forced on the industry.

The term adverse selection was originally used in insurance. It describes a situation where an individual’s demand for insurance (either the propensity to buy insurance, or the quantity purchased, or both) is positively correlated with the individual’s risk of loss (e.g. higher risks buy more insurance), and the insurer is unable to allow for this correlation in the price of insurance. This may be because of private information known only to the individual (information asymmetry), or because of regulations or social norms which prevent the insurer from using certain categories of known information to set prices (e.g. the insurer may be prohibited from using information such as gender or ethnic origin or genetic test results). The latter scenario is sometimes referred to as ‘regulatory adverse selection’.

The potentially ‘adverse’ nature of this phenomenon can be illustrated by the link between smoking status and mortality. Non-smokers, on average, are more likely to live longer, while smokers, on average, are more likely to die younger. If insurers do not vary prices for life insurance according to smoking status, life insurance will be a better buy for smokers than for non-smokers. So smokers may be more likely to buy insurance, or may tend to buy larger amounts, than non-smokers. The average mortality of the combined policyholder group will be higher than the average mortality of the general population. From the insurer’s viewpoint, the higher mortality of the group which ‘selects’ to buy insurance is ‘adverse’. The insurer raises the price of insurance accordingly. As a consequence, non-smokers may be less likely to buy insurance (or may buy smaller amounts) than if they could buy at a lower price to reflect their lower risk. The reduction in insurance purchase by non-smokers is also ‘adverse’ from the insurer’s viewpoint, and perhaps also from a public policy viewpoint.

So all that “can’t refuse people with pre-existing” conditions means your insurance goes UP!

But then again, as I said repeatedly, and I do mean repeatedly, that ObamaCare was about bring down the cost of health care, it was about bringing down the entire private health care industry so that socialist government health care is all that was left and you’d have no choice.

And that still stands.

So Happy Birthday, ObamaCare. the Damien Hell-child of The Left.

Oh, and then there’s this from Rep. Anthony “The Whiner” Weiner, one the most vocal leftists:

Rep. Anthony Weiner said Wednesday he was looking into how a health law waiver might work for New York City.

Weiner, who is likely to run for mayor of New York, said that because of the city’s special health care infrastructure, his office was looking into alternatives that might make more sense. Weiner is one of the health care law’s biggest supporters; during the debate leading up to reform, he was one of the last holdouts in Congress for the public option.

“The president said, ‘If you have better ideas that can accomplish the same thing, go for it,’” said Weiner. “I’m in the process now of trying to see if we can take [President Barack Obama] up on it in the city of New York, … and I’m taking a look at all of the money we spend in Medicaid and Medicare and maybe New York City can come up with a better plan.”

Hey, Mr. Weiner I have a much better plan to never have passed the damn thing in the first place, but since you crammed down our throats and now your political fantasies are gagging on it here’s your better plan — REPEAL THE DAMN THING!!!!! 🙂

During the debate over his health care law, President Obama repeatedly promised that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” but for millions of Americans that promise has already been broken.

In a shocking admission, Obama’s administration has granted more than 1,000 waivers to the health law to prevent 2.6 million workers from losing their coverage. Millions more weren’t lucky enough to get a waiver, and have already been forced to switch plans.

Most waivers have been distributed to Fortune 500 corporations like Pepsi and McDonald’s, unions, Las Vegas casinos and in one case an entire state.

If corporations and unions can get a waiver from the health law, every American should get one. That is why I have introduced a bill that would allow anyone – an individual, a family, a small business – to receive a waiver. You should not need to be politically connected to keep your health insurance.

My bill uses the same standard created by the Obama Administration. If the law increases your insurance premiums, you can apply for a waiver. If you’re forced to drop the coverage you like, you can apply for a waiver. The bill also requires the Obama Administration to educate the public about the option and regularly report how many families and employers have received waivers.

The Obama Administration has been pretty clear why these waivers are necessary. In an application posted on the Department of Health and Human Services website, applicants are told they can receive a waiver if the lifetime limit mandate would result in a “significant increase in premiums” or a “significant decrease in access to benefits.”

“We don’t want to take away people’s health insurance before they have some realistic other choices,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told one newspaper.

This confession by the administration is telling. There are countless mandates in the law which would increase premiums and decrease the ability to obtain coverage. For example, by 2014 every American will be required to purchase expensive, government-designed health insurance. Most employers will be forced by Washington to offer comprehensive health benefits or face a fine. The law’s one-size-fits-all benefit mandates will likely eliminate Health Savings Accounts for 11 million families. According to the administration’s own data, the law’s restrictive rules will force 80 percent of small businesses to drop their current plans and purchase more expensive coverage.

The President promised his health law would reduce premiums by $2,500 per family, but insurance has only become more expensive under the law. In New Hampshire, some plans are seeing premiums go up more than 40 percent. In Massachusetts, several plans have announced rate increases of 20 percent or more. In my home state of Michigan, 15 percent rate increases are becoming routine.

Increasing costs are the number one reason Americans cannot access insurance. Yet ObamaCare does nothing to actually reign in health care costs. Instead, it forces Americans to purchase a government-designed insurance product which will be unaffordable for countless employers and workers.

If given the chance, most Americans would prefer to keep the coverage they have. Expanding the administration’s own waiver process will allow families to keep their plans and small businesses to continue offering benefits. (U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI))

Happy Birthday, ObamaCare. 😦

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

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I Told You So :)

I, like many others who read the health care bills, unlike the mainstream Media, which did it’s best to hide and deny what was going to happen, have now been shown the light of our truth.

But I’m sure the Ministry of Truth will do it’s best to diminish, dismiss and deny it even now.

That is that Mandatory Health Insurance is a TAX.

Shocking revelation, I know… 🙂

On poor people no less!!

CBS Sept 2009: President Barack Obama says requiring people to get health insurance and fining them if they don’t would not amount to a backhanded tax increase. “I absolutely reject that notion,” the president said.

“My critics say everything is a tax increase,” Mr. Obama said on “This Week.” “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.”

ABC: The—for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore . . .” In other words, like parents talking to their children, this levy—don’t call it a tax—is for your own good.

Mr. Stephanopoulos: “But you reject that it’s a tax increase?”

Mr. Obama: “I absolutely reject that notion.”

President Obama said in his not quite State of the Union address that Americans earning less than $250,000 would pay “not one dime” in new taxes.

Well, it’s time to reveal Lie #4,362. The Big Whopper.

The one all of us “racist” “teabagger” “idiots” and “terrorist” warned you about.

WASHINGTON — When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.

In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.

Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.

While Congress was working on the health care legislation, Mr. Obama refused to accept the argument that a mandate to buy insurance, enforced by financial penalties, was equivalent to a tax.

“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September, in a spirited exchange with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week.”

When Mr. Stephanopoulos said the penalty appeared to fit the dictionary definition of a tax, Mr. Obama replied, “I absolutely reject that notion.”

Congress anticipated a constitutional challenge to the individual mandate. Accordingly, the law includes 10 detailed findings meant to show that the mandate regulates commercial activity important to the nation’s economy. Nowhere does Congress cite its taxing power as a source of authority.

They knew they were lying. They didn’t care. Because the end justified the means.

And the Mainstream Media was either brain-dead stupid or in on the lies. Period.

Under the Constitution, Congress can exercise its taxing power to provide for the “general welfare.” It is for Congress, not courts, to decide which taxes are “conducive to the general welfare,” the Supreme Court said 73 years ago in upholding the Social Security Act.

Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, described the tax power as an alternative source of authority.

“The Commerce Clause supplies sufficient authority for the shared-responsibility requirements in the new health reform law,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “To the extent that there is any question of additional authority — and we don’t believe there is — it would be available through the General Welfare Clause.”

The law describes the levy on the uninsured as a “penalty” rather than a tax. The Justice Department brushes aside the distinction, saying “the statutory label” does not matter. The constitutionality of a tax law depends on “its practical operation,” not the precise form of words used to describe it, the department says, citing a long line of Supreme Court cases.

Orwell is smiling on you, Mr President and AG Holder.

Masters of Doublespeak.

Orwell on “The Party” of Big Brother: The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.  Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites.

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them…(Orwell, New American Library, 1981, p35)

Moreover, the department says the penalty is a tax because it will raise substantial revenue: $4 billion a year by 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

In addition, the department notes, the penalty is imposed and collected under the Internal Revenue Code, and people must report it on their tax returns “as an addition to income tax liability.”

2009: What’s more, the agency is limited in the actions it can take to enforce compliance. “Congress was very careful to make sure that there was nothing too punitive in this bill,” {IRS Chief} Shulman said. “There’s no criminal sanctions for not paying this, and there’s no ability to levy a bank account or do seizures or [use] some of the other tools” available to the agency for enforcing laws.

If necessary, the IRS will levy fines against individuals who fail to purchase adequate insurance and collect them though tax return offsets. But the agency’s “first line of defense is education,” he said.

Because the penalty is a tax, the department says, no one can challenge it in court before paying it and seeking a refund.

Jack M. Balkin, a professor at Yale Law School who supports the new law, said, “The tax argument is the strongest argument for upholding” the individual-coverage requirement.

Mr. Obama “has not been honest with the American people about the nature of this bill,” Mr. Balkin said last month at a meeting of the American Constitution Society, a progressive legal organization. “This bill is a tax. Because it’s a tax, it’s completely constitutional.”

Mr. Balkin and other law professors pressed that argument in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in one of the pending cases.

Opponents contend that the “minimum coverage provision” is unconstitutional because it exceeds Congress’s power to regulate commerce.

“This is the first time that Congress has ever ordered Americans to use their own money to purchase a particular good or service,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.

In their lawsuit, Florida and other states say: “Congress is attempting to regulate and penalize Americans for choosing not to engage in economic activity. If Congress can do this much, there will be virtually no sphere of private decision-making beyond the reach of federal power.”

In reply, the administration and its allies say that a person who goes without insurance is simply choosing to pay for health care out of pocket at a later date. In the aggregate, they say, these decisions have a substantial effect on the interstate market for health care and health insurance.

In its legal briefs, the Obama administration points to a famous New Deal case, Wickard v. Filburn, in which the Supreme Court upheld a penalty imposed on an Ohio farmer who had grown a small amount of wheat, in excess of his production quota, purely for his own use.

The wheat grown by Roscoe Filburn “may be trivial by itself,” the court said, but when combined with the output of other small farmers, it significantly affected interstate commerce and could therefore be regulated by the government as part of a broad scheme regulating interstate commerce.

But it will bring prices down: Lie #4,264

The Democratic co-chair of President Obama’s fiscal commission said Wednesday that the president’s health care bill will do very little to bring down costs, contradicting claims from the White House that their sweeping legislation will dramatically impact runaway entitlement spending.

“It didn’t do a lot to address cost factors in health care. So we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, speaking about the new health law, which was signed into law by Obama this past spring after a nearly year-long fight in Congress.

Esrkine Bowles is one of the two stooges who will anounce AFTER the mid-term election that all is crap and we have to have massive Tax increases in order to save us all, including likely, the VAT.

And if the republicans are in charge of at least one side or both of Congress it will be even  more there fault! 🙂

And Obama is going to, “Well, I have to do what the report says…”

It’s the ultimate Dog & Pony show.

Just keep that in mind.
Bowles, speaking at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that even with the passage of Obama’s legislation, health care costs are still going to “really eat us alive” unless dramatic changes are made. The commission will submit recommendations on how to fix America’s long term fiscal problems to Congress in December.

Bowles’ point will be amplified Thursday when a conservative think tank releases a paper arguing that Obama’s health plan “is not entitlement reform,” at an event intended to highlight an alternative plan for reforming health care spending that is the brainchild of Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican.

James C. Capretta, a former White House budget adviser on health care to President George W. Bush, will present the paper for the Galen Institute at an event on Capitol Hill with Ryan, one of the Republican Party’s rising stars, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a top conservative economist.

Even as many on Capitol Hill are talking about addressing Social Security spending, Capretta writes in the 19-page paper that Medicare is the real problem.

Most Democrats and Republicans agree, Capretta says, that the 30 to 35 million seniors in Medicare’s fee-for-service (FFS) insurance program are “the engine … pulling the rest of the health system down the tracks at an accelerated and dangerous rate.”

And who just got recess appointee to the job of head of Medicare, a NHS Single-payer Health Care rationing lover.
No coincidence there mind you. 🙂

Most FFS participants pay nothing out of their own pockets for health care, and hospitals and doctors are incentivized to provide them with as many services and tests as can be loosely justified.

But Capretta says in the paper that the Obama health bill is not reform because it attempts to stop price inflation and inefficient care through top-down government control rather than bottom-up consumer demand.

“When attempts have been made in the past to steer patients toward preferred physicians or hospitals, they have failed miserably because politicians and regulators find it impossible to make distinctions among hospitals and physician groups based on quality measures that can themselves be disputed,” Capretta says.

Capretta goes on to say that Paul Ryan’s plan would move Medicare recipients from defined benefits to defined contributions, in which “cost-conscious consumers choose between competing insurers and delivery systems based on price and quality.”

“Beneficiaries would get to decide which insurance plan they want to enroll in. If the premium were more than the amount they are entitled to from Medicare, then they would pay the difference. If it were less, they would keep all of the savings,” Capretta says.

“Millions of otherwise passive Medicare participants would become active, cost-conscious consumers of insurance and alternative models for securing needed medical services,” Capretta writes. “Cost cutting innovation would be rewarded, not punished as it is today.”

White House officials pointed to recent blog posts by White House budget director Peter Orszag, who said that “if implemented effectively, [Obama’s health care bill] can play an important role in moving toward a healthier fiscal future.” (Daily Caller)

Welcome Big Brother Obama and Big Mother Michelle’s New and Improved IRS:

If it seems as if the tax code was conceived by graphic artist M.C. Escher, wait until you meet the new and not improved Internal Revenue Service created by ObamaCare. What, you’re not already on a first-name basis with your local IRS agent?

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who operates inside the IRS, highlighted the agency’s new mission in her annual report to Congress last week. Look out below. She notes that the IRS is already “greatly taxed”—pun intended?—”by the additional role it is playing in delivering social benefits and programs to the American public,” like tax credits for first-time homebuyers or purchasing electric cars. Yet with ObamaCare, the agency is now responsible for “the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history.” And without “sufficient funding” it won’t be able to discharge these new duties.

That wouldn’t be tragic, given that those new duties include audits to determine who has the insurance “as required by law” and collecting penalties from Americans who don’t. Companies that don’t sponsor health plans will also be punished. This crackdown will “involve nearly every division and function of the IRS,” Ms. Olson reports.

Well, well. Republicans argued during the health debate that the IRS would have to hire hundreds of new agents and staff to enforce ObamaCare. They were brushed off by Democrats and the press corps as if they believed the President was born on the moon. The IRS says it hasn’t figured out how much extra money and manpower it will need but admits that both numbers are greater than zero.

Ms. Olson also exposed a damaging provision that she estimates will hit some 30 million sole proprietorships and subchapter S corporations, two million farms and one million charities and other tax-exempt organizations. Prior to ObamaCare, businesses only had to tell the IRS the value of services they purchase. But starting in 2013 they will also have to report the value of goods they buy from a single vendor that total more than $600 annually—including office supplies and the like.

Democrats snuck in this obligation to narrow the mythical “tax gap” of unreported business income, but Ms. Olson says that the tracking costs for small businesses will be “disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance.” Job creation, here we come . . . at least for the accountants who will attempt to comply with a vast new 1099 reporting burden.

Meanwhile, the IRS will be inundated with useless information, because without a huge upgrade its information systems won’t be able to manage and track the nanodetails.

In a Monday letter, even Democratic Senators Mark Begich (Alaska), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) and Evan Bayh (Indiana) denounce this new “burden” on small businesses and insist that the IRS use its discretion to find “better ways to structure this reporting requirement.” In other words, they want regulators to fix one problem among many that all four Senators created by voting for ObamaCare.

We never thought anyone would be nostalgic for the tax system of a few months ago, but post-ObamaCare, here we are.(WSJ)

On Friday, Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, declared that the sky is about to fall on the Medicare system. His plea to fellow Democrats to pass a $22.9-billion fix for Medicare doctors’ fees reveals the fraudulent nature of our new national health care regime.

Remember the health care issue? Well, the fiscal consequences of the socialized medicine scheme enacted by President Barack Obama and Congress just two months ago are already beginning to snowball.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, was one of the key architects and advocates of Obamacare. He was back on the House floor on Friday delivering an urgent plea to fellow Democrats that inadvertently—or, perhaps, unavoidably—revealed the fraudulent nature of our new national health care regime.

It was supposed to save the taxpayers money, remember? “This legislation will lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades,” Obama said when he signed the bill.

On Friday, Waxman declared that the sky is about to fall on the Medicare system. He went to the House floor to “urge” his colleagues to vote for a bill that includes $102 billion in new federal spending and would add $54 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years — $25 billion of it in the few months remaining in this fiscal year.

Why did Waxman believe this new borrowing-and-spending was necessary?

“It’s absolutely critical to do this if we are going to keep doctors in Medicare and keep the promise to Medicare beneficiaries that they will have access to physicians’ services,” said Waxman. “This provision will provide a moderate increase in physicians’ fees, 2.2 percent for the rest of the year. If we don’t act, doctors’ fees will be cut by 21 percent from where they are today. This would be unconscionable.”

It would not merely be unconscionable. If the 21-percent cut in Medicare fees for doctors—that, in fact, legally took effect on June 1 — is allowed to stand, many doctors in this country will simply stop seeing Medicare patients. They will not be able to afford it. The cost to them of serving their patients will exceed what they are paid. Their profit margin will be swept away.

To make precisely this point, 12 national surgeons’ associations—including the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery—sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter last Wednesday warning her what would happen if Medicare doctors’ fees are slashed as they are scheduled to be under current law.

“These continued payment cuts, rising practice costs and a lack of certainty going forward, make it difficult, if not impossible, for already financially challenged surgical practices to continue to treat Medicare patients,” the surgeons’ associations told Pelosi.

The letter pointed the speaker toward the results of a survey of more than 13,000 physicians done in February by the Surgical Coalition, a group of more than 20 medical associations. The survey asked these doctors what they would do if Medicare fees were slashed by the scheduled 21.2 percent.

Twenty-nine percent said they would opt out of the Medicare system entirely. Almost 69 percent said they would limit the number of appointments they would take from Medicare patients, 45.8 percent said they would start referring complex Medicare patients to other physicians, 45.3 percent said they would stop providing certain services, 43.8 percent said they would defer purchasing new medical equipment and 42.7 percent said they would cut their staff. Almost 4 percent of the doctors said they would close or sell their practices.

Why did Congress plan to slash the doctors’ Medicare fees in the first place? It didn’t. In the past, the majority in Congress has routinely enacted budget bills that fraudulently assumed that on some future date the federal government would dramatically slash the Medicare fees paid to doctors, knowing that before that date arrived the majority would pass “emergency” legislation postponing the cuts to some still-future date. The majority in Congress does this so the long-term deficits caused by their spending bills appear to be smaller than they actually are.

As originally proposed, Obamacare would have ended this practice, permanently setting Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors at the true anticipated level. But the Congressional Budget Office determined that doing so would have added $208 billion to the cost of Obamacare over 10 years, forcing the CBO to declare that Obamacare added to the deficit rather than reduced it. That would have cost Obamacare votes on the House floor and quite possibly defeated the legislation.

So the congressional leadership stripped the “doc fix” out of Obamacare and left it to another day.

Waxman went down to the floor last Friday to declare that day had come. Unfortunately, for him, the Senate had already left town for its Memorial Day vacation. So, the current fix will have to wait until it returns.

Even then, the fix only accounts for $22.9 billion of the $102 billion cost of the bill the House did pass on Friday. Most of the rest of the money is for extending unemployment benefits and special targeted tax breaks.

The $22.9 billion fix for the doctors’ fees—if passed by the Senate—would only last through September 2011. Then Congress will presumably do it all again—or let the Medicare system collapse.

And they did.

In the meantime, Obamacare is supposed to cut half a trillion in spending from elsewhere in Medicare, while Obama’s budget—not counting the $54 billion in new debt included in this bill—is expected to add $9.8 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years.

And then there’s still more on the “Financial Reform” bill related to the IRS:

“Small businesses are America’s job creators and essential to our nation’s economy,” Roberts said in prepared remarks. “Under the new healthcare law, small businesses will be hit with a costly tax reporting provision that will increase the cost of doing business at a time of economic uncertainty.”

Beginning in 2012, the law states that businesses, tax-exempt organizations, and state and local governments must submit a separate 1099 form for every business-to-business transaction totaling more than $600. The impetus behind the requirement is help the IRS better enforce the tax law by forcing companies to disclose whom they do business with.

Several organizations, including the IRS watchdog The National Taxpayer Advocate, have questioned how effective this requirement will be on enforcement.

The new mandate applies to everyday purchases, like shipping costs, supplies, even Internet and phone service. The senators argue this will overburden companies. The Taxpayer Advocate questions the IRS’ ability to handle all the documentation.

“Unless corrected, this time-wasting mandate of 1099 filings on common purchases needed to do business, will stifle economic growth and job creation while the IRS will be handed a paperwork nightmare,” Roberts said.

The senators contend the requirement will affect 40 million businesses nationwide.

“I have heard from many Kansas small businesses and farmers, already burdened with government bureaucracy, that these new reporting requirements will waste time and negatively impact their bottom-line,” Roberts said.

Abortion, anyone?

As reports are coming out that Pennsylvania is receiving $160 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to set up a new high-risk insurance pool program that will fund abortions, we are seeing, yet again, that the Obama Administration will say and do anything to pass their liberal agenda — ignoring public opinion along the way…

LIES: “You’ve heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion – not true. These are all fabrications.” — President Obama on August 19, 2009

D*MN LIES: “The executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation’s restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented.” — White House Statement on March 21, 2010

STATISTICS: 67 percent of Americans oppose funding abortions with public funds under the health care bill. — Quinnipiac University Poll, January 14, 2010

As pundits have commented in recent weeks, and many of us have realized, you need to watch what the President really does, not listen to what he says, as the two are often in vast contrast of one another. As you can read above, nowhere is this truer than on the issue of abortion.

Back in March, when the offer to sign an Executive Order was made, many pro-lifers questioned why the order was needed after President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Sebelius had been saying for months that no federal dollars would be used to fund abortions. On the day of the vote, I personally spoke on the House floor about how an Executive Order has no effect of law and cannot override the clear intent of a statute, as well as on how an Executive Order is only a piece of paper. Now that we know how little the President values his word and that he is comfortable violating an Executive Order, we are only left to wonder what other secrets are lurking for us in the dark. (The Hill)

Remember, it was abortion that was the very last hurdle that Obama had to jump over to get his power over life and death.

He promised to Federally ban it.

He said Health Care Reform wasn’t tax.

The Stimulus will create 3 Million Jobs. (not “save or create”)

I said at the time he was lying.

I got called a racist so many times I could have paid off my house with the money if I got paid for it.

Saying this President is lying when his lips are moving is like saying the sun will come up tomorrow.

It’s an absolute certainty.

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”-Orwell

Thank you, Big Brother and Big Mother and Big Sis… 😦

Anyone got a crate of Tea handy… 🙂