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

Death Spiral

Well, this was predictable. It’s just to what degree are the Liberal Media and Obama going to do to hide it…

Obamacare is exhibiting early signs of a “death spiral” as hundreds of insurance plans listed on the federally-run exchanges in 37 states and the District of Columbia request double-digit premium increases for 2016, says David Hogberg, a health care analyst and senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

A “death spiral” – which is the insurance pool equivalent of a bankruptcy – occurs when rising premiums force younger, healthier people to drop their insurance coverage due to the increased cost. But their exodus leaves the remaining “risk pool” older, sicker and more expensive to insure than before, necessitating further rate hikes.

Thirteen percent of the people who signed up for Obamacare in 2015 have already been dropped from coverage because many of them failed to pay their share of the subsidized premiums, The New York Times reported. 

And that’s before the premiums on many policies are due to skyrocket next year.

In an Oct. 4, 2008 speech in Newport News, Va., then-Sen. Barack Obama promised that if elected president, he would reform the nation’s health care system, adding that “we’ll start by reducing premiums by as much as $2,500 per family.”

But in 2016, six years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, Obamacare premiums for hundreds of thousands of Americans will be going up, not down.  

Under the Affordable Care Act, state insurance regulators have until August to decide whether to approve or deny steep premium hikes for next year, which are inducing “sticker shock” even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that those enrolled in the federal exchanges were eligible for government subsidies.

“Unfortunately, those polices are on borrowed time,” Hogberg noted. “Eventually, older and sicker customers will purchase those policies, the rates will go up, and the young and healthy will flee the exchanges. At that point the death spiral will be in full gear. The insurance rate hikes for 2016 are just the beginning.”

“In the end, the exchanges are not sustainable, and free-market based reform of our health care system will be necessary,” Hogberg predicted.

According to HealthCare.gov, “the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that insurers planning to significantly increase plan premiums submit their rates to either the state or federal government for review. The threshold for this requirement is 10%.”

NCPPR found that 231 plans listed on Obamacare exchanges in 37 states and the District of Columbia have requested double-digit premium hikes of at least 10 percent for 2016, nearly double the number of plans (121) that did so for 2015.  

Another 126 plans want to raise their rates by 20 percent or more in 2016, compared to the 21 plans that made a similar request in 2015.

For example, eight plans listed on the District of Columbia exchange have requested 2016 premium hikes ranging from 10.13% for Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc.’s (GHMSI) BluePreferred Multi-State Plan- Individual to 20.44% for the company’s BluePreferred Multi-State Plan- Small Group policies.

GHMSI cites “projected increases in medical and pharmacy claims due to cost and utilization trend impacts as well as change in projected pool morbidity” as reasons for raising its premiums.

 
 

But some requested rate hikes are much higher.

On April 13, Aetna Life Insurance Co. submitted a request for a 59.71% premium hike for its Aetna Fee for Service-Small Group plan in Virginia, effective Jan. 1, 2016.  This plan is one of 38 that are seeking premium hikes of more than 40 percent for 2016 compared to the zero who made such requests in 2015, according to NCPPR.

“Medical costs are going up and we are changing our rates to reflect this increase,” the company said in its filing, adding that “several requirements related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also impact these rates.”

A 55.83% rate hike increase was also submitted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota for its “non-grandfathered individual risk pool” affecting 171,000 policy holders.

“In 2014, the ratio of claims to revenue received (excluding potential federal risk corridor payments) exceeded 115% and resulted in an operating loss in excess of $135 million,” the company explained in its filing.

“High claims trends for the first quarter of 2015 reflect an acceleration in costs, suggesting an extremely low probability of lower claims for the balance of 2015. Our responsibility to set plan year 2016 rates at levels that cover all anticipated costs will result in significant price adjustments for all 2016 individual reformed products.”

Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, noted in The Wall Street Journal that instead of decreasing health care spending, as Obama promised ACA would do, it is “picking up speed.”

He added that “greater use of health services as well as more people covered by the ACA appear to be responsible for most of the increase.” The double-digit premium requests for 2016 reflect insurers’ belief that this trend will continue next year.

In January 2014, CNSNews.com asked economist John Goodman, former president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, how Americans would know if Obamacare enters a “death spiral.”

“There won’t be any neon signs that say ‘Death Spiral Underway,’ but what you’ll see is premiums keep rising,” he replied. “And if premiums keep rising, then fewer healthy people will buy in and we may get to a point where you need government subsidies to prop the whole thing up.”

May?? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Death Spiral

The Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, the case challenging the Obama administration’s decision to award tax credits for health insurance sold through federally established exchanges, could turn on the question of whether a ruling that ends the tax credits on federal exchanges might cause something known as a “death spiral” in health insurance markets.

The good news is the answer is probably no, but the bad news is that’s only because the death spiral has probably already started.

A death spiral generally occurs when insurers are forced to raise premiums sharply to pay promised benefits. Higher premiums cause many of the healthiest policyholders, who already pay far more in premiums than they receive in benefits, to drop coverage.

When healthy policyholders drop coverage, it leaves the insurer with little choice but to raise premiums again because they now have a risk pool that is less healthy than before. But another premium increase means many of the healthy people who remained now drop their policies, too, and this continues until the only people willing to pay the now-very-high premiums are those with serious medical conditions.

The death spiral isn’t just a theory. Eight states learned this the hard way in the 1990s when they enacted two policies known as “community rating” and “guaranteed issue,” requiring health insurers to sell coverage to anyone who wanted it at the same price.

This quickly set off a death spiral because people knew they could wait until they were sick or injured to buy insurance, and premiums rose sky-high as healthy people exited the individual insurance market while the sick remained.

 

New Jersey enacted both community rating and guaranteed issue in 1992. By 2003, the lowest monthly premium for a family policy in the state was $3,810 and nearly 40 percent of the people in the individual market had dropped their coverage.

Obamacare includes both community rating and guaranteed issue. The hope of the politicians who passed Obamacare was the individual mandate would keep the relatively healthy from dropping insurance coverage, thereby avoiding a death spiral.

They hoped to FORCE people to pay by government cudgel to avoid the inevitable. Remove the choice to cause the death spiral and subsidize the hell out of it (literally and figuratively). Sounds like an Agenda rather a “good” thing, doesn’t it? 🙂

During oral arguments in King, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed concerns that not allowing subsidies in the 37 states using the federally established exchange would set off a death spiral in those states. Their fear was that while subsidies would no longer be available, and there would effectively be no individual mandate, community rating and guaranteed issue would remain.

Many commentators saw Justice Kennedy’s comments as a signal he isn’t willing to stop subsidies on federal exchanges, either because of the serious consequences of doing so or because surely Congress could not have intended to put states in the position of choosing between creating an Obamacare exchange or seeing health insurance markets destroyed.

What Justice Kennedy and many others may not understand, however, is the death spiral is probably already underway in all 50 states, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in this case.

According to the Manhattan Institute, premiums climbed by 41 percent on average from 2013 to 2014, and premiums are likely to rise sharply again after two insurance company bailout programs included in Obamacare expire in 2017.

The other sign health insurance markets are in the early stages of a death spiral is the age mix of those buying policies through Obamacare. Originally it was estimated that around 40 percent of enrollees had to be in the relatively healthy 18 to 34-year-old age segment, so their premiums could be used to pay for the health expenses of older, less-healthy enrollees. So far it appears only some 28 percent of enrollees are in that coveted age group, which also comprises around half of the uninsured.

All of this means insurers are getting a risk pool that is less healthy than expected, and more premium hikes are around the corner. While subsidies hide some from the full impact, others in the middle class will not be shielded.

It will undoubtedly take a few years to know for sure, but for anybody concerned about setting off a death spiral or thinking Congress surely didn’t intend to do so, don’t worry. It looks like it’s already here, whether Congress intended it or not.

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok
Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson
But enough about President Obama.
Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

Hoist By Their Own Petard

More ObamaCare mess.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a federal regulations that implemented subsidies that are vital to President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, in direct conflict with another ruling on the issue handed down earlier on Tuesday.

A three-judge panel unanimously said the law was ambiguous, and that it would defer to the IRS’s determination that subsidies could go to individuals who purchased health insurance on both federal and state-run exchanges.

The second court was obviously more liberal agenda driven since the Law does state the Feds are excluded from the exchanges. This was a political attempt, that partially failed, to get Republican Governors to cave-in and they didn’t. Now the Agenda has a new problem.

The ACA (ObamaCare) say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.” But 34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.

Nothing a few Agenda-driven judges can’t confuse! 🙂

A separate panel from a federal appeals court in Washington on Tuesday morning said the IRS could not offer premium tax credits to people who purchase insurance through the federal insurance marketplace that serves most of the 8 million consumers who have signed up for private coverage for 2014.

Analysts estimate that as many as 5 million people could be affected if subsidies disappear from the federal marketplace, which serves 36 states through the website HealthCare.gov.

The subsidies are available to people with annual incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four.

The subsidies were the bribes to get people in the door of ObamaCare in the first place, as well as the cudgel against Republicans.

Did anyone mention cost? 🙂

Democrats in Congress passed a law that explicitly limited Obamacare subsidy eligibility to consumers who purchased plans on state-level exchanges. They did so in order to coerce and bribe states into setting up their own marketplaces under the law. (Another attempt at coercion, mandatory Medicaid expansion, has been struck down 7-2 by the Supreme Court). Given the controversial law’s unpopularity, a majority of states declined to establish exchanges, forcing the federal government to create the infamous federal version — with Healthcare.gov as its centerpiece. Subsequent New York Times reporting indicated that HHS never expected to have to set up any exchange at all, let alone for 36 states. That’s because they were laboring under the belief that the law’s sticks and carrots would compel every state to implement marketplaces on their own. Many did not, and the plain text of the law clearly states that anyone buying coverage through any system other than a state-based exchange would not be eligible to receive generous taxpayer subsidies, which relieve much of the heavy cost burden for many consumers (even with the subsidies, many enrollees say they’re struggling to pay).
Faced with this predicament, the IRS decided that Congress’ true intent was for all exchange consumers to have a shot at subsidies if they were financially eligible, so it simply decreed it to be so in the form of a regulation that effectively rewrote a major provision the law. Today, the Court ruled that the law says what it says, and that the IRS overstepped. This decision, at least for now, plunges Obamacare into chaos — and furious Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. When you ram through a lengthy, hastily slapped-together, unpopular law without reading it, unintended consequences sometimes arise. And this one’s a biggie. Then again, as Will notes in his piece, a strong case can be made that this passage of the law was very much crafted intentionally, even if today’s fallout was ‘never supposed to happen.’ Congress debated how to phrase the subsidy eligibility language, and ended up passing the Senate’s version — a move made necessary by the anti-Obamacare election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. A previous House version’s verbiage had been much more encompassing. But it didn’t pass. Obamacare did. If it stands, this ruling not only strips subsidy eligibility from many Americans (which could/will touch off a breathtaking adverse selection death spiral), it liberates tens of millions from the unpopular individual mandate tax. Why? (Guy Benson)

Time for King Fiat and His Executive Order Super Glue? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

So Israel should stop being so mean to the Palestinians… 🙂

Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley

 

Payback is a Bitch

Political Cartoons by Robert Ariail

Obamacare offers subsidies to help pay for health insurance – if you are buying insurance through the federal exchange and your income qualifies. But now the word is out that at least 1 million people are probably getting the wrong subsidy amounts.

The Washington Post has inside sources providing all sorts of juicy details on this problem – but it didn’t take an investigative reporter to predict this was going to happen.

Heritage expert Alyene Senger warned that Obamacare’s subsidies are tied to income – and if your income changes at any point during the year, your subsidy is supposed to change, too. She explained in January:

if a person’s income fluctuates, which happens more frequently than many realize, the subsidy amount will change from month to month. Thus, when it comes time to file taxes in April, the amount of subsidy received over the past year must be reconciled with the final calculation of the total subsidy for which the individual was eligible—based on actual income for the entire tax year.

So if you qualify for more subsidy help than you receive during the year, you’ll get a tax refund. But if you were given more subsidy than your income qualifies you for, you will be required to repay the excess subsidy.

So don’t make too much (or pursue the American Dream of a better life too hard) of else Mama (Government) will become upset with you and have to get out the IRS yardstick and punish you for you sins you greedy little thing. 🙂

Settle for what Mama gives you, and just shut up and be a good little serf.

Now, the Post reports that the government is attempting to keep up with this – except that the part of Obamacare’s computer system that is supposed to match proof of income with people’s Obamacare applications is, well, not built yet.

Since taxpayers are funding the subsidies, it’s important to make sure the correct amounts are going to the correct people, right? Well, that does make the Obama administration “sensitive” these days, the Post says:

Beyond their concerns regarding overpayments, members of the Obama administration are sensitive because they promised congressional Republicans during budget negotiations last year that a thorough income-verification system would be in place.

This setup is a disaster. And it will ensnare a lot of people. Senger pointed to one analysis estimating that nearly 38 percent of families eligible for subsidies also experience “large income increases” at some point during the year – meaning they would have to pay back some or all of their subsidies.

“The issue is symptomatic of many problems that will plague the law in coming years,” Senger said.

Is it any wonder that 60 percent of voters in a recent poll said the debate about Obamacare is not over? And 89 percent said Obamacare will affect their voting decisions this fall.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is right – Obamacare is still not the answer for America’s health care needs. It’s time for Congress to look at patient-centered alternatives that would restore choice to American health care – and stop the unending tales of Obamacare disaster. (Heritage)

But it’s been the Liberal Socialist wet dream for nearly 100 years, they won’t stop until the lat drop of your blood is spilled in hubris to their God.

Hate the VA scandal, welcome to ObamaCare, the VA for the masses. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

So True…It’s like a perpetual PBS Pledge Break….

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

 

 

Trust me.

And Obamacare’s raft of regulations and costly benefit mandates will only drive prices higher. According to a new report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, major health insurers expect average premiums for individuals to double — and in some cases, to quintuple. Small-business premiums will shoot up anywhere from 50 to 100 percent.

Of course, if premiums increase, the federal subsidies Obamacare established to keep them affordable will have to surge, too. The Congressional Budget Office recently raised expected subsidy costs over the next decade by $233 billion.

The Obamacare train is derailing right now. The only way to stop it from crippling taxpayers, small businesses, the health care system, and the economy is to cut the engine and pull hard on the brakes. (Forbes)

CBS News: Radical Muslims in Iran Are Pretty Much Like the Tea Party

Because the new President of Iran is “more reform minded” and “more conservative” than the insane Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that makes them like the Tea Party. Wow! what disrespectful and just downright ugly generalization.

But that’s the left for you. Anything that isn’t them must be “tea Party” radicals. Because we know they are all crazy racist, homophobic, misogynistic voter suppression asshole!

So anyone who anyone to the “right” of anyone else must be “tea party”. 🙂

Oh, and if the State passes a law that the Federal government is ignoring, well, you’re still screwed as the “motor voter” law was overturned because Big Brother takes precedence over all.

So much for the 10th Amendment. (or the first, or second…)

Trust me, I’m a federal government bureaucrat and I’m here to help you… 🙂

Thomas Sowell: Amid all the heated cross-currents of debate about the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program, there is a growing distrust of the Obama administration that makes weighing the costs and benefits of the NSA program itself hard to assess.

The belated recognition of this administration’s contempt for the truth, for the American people and for the Constitution of the United States, has been long overdue.

But what if the NSA program has in fact thwarted terrorists and saved many American lives in ways that cannot be revealed publicly?

Nothing is easier than saying that you still don’t want your telephone records collected by the government. But the first time you have to collect the remains of your loved ones, after they have been killed by terrorists, telephone records can suddenly seem like a small price to pay to prevent such things.

The millions of records of phone calls collected every day virtually guarantee that nobody has the time to listen to them all, even if NSA could get a judge to authorize listening to what is said in all these calls, instead of just keeping a record of who called whom.

Moreover, Congressional oversight by members of both political parties limits what Barack Obama or any other president can get away with.

Are these safeguards foolproof? No. Nothing is ever foolproof.

As Edmund Burke said, more than two centuries ago: “Constitute government how you please, infinitely the greater part of it must depend upon the exercise of the powers which are left at large to the prudence and uprightness of ministers of state.”

In other words, we do not have a choice whether to trust or not to trust government officials. Unless we are willing to risk anarchy or terrorism, the most we can do is set up checks and balances within government — and be a lot more careful in the future than we have been in the past when deciding whom to elect.

Anyone old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when President John F. Kennedy took this country to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, may remember that there was nothing like the distrust and backlash against later presidents, whose controversial decisions risked nothing approaching the cataclysm that President Kennedy’s decision could have led to.

Even those of us who were not John F. Kennedy supporters, and who were not dazzled by the glitter and glamour of the Kennedy aura, nevertheless felt that the President of the United States was someone who knew much more than we did about the realities on which all our lives depended.

Whatever happened to that feeling? Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon happened — and both were shameless liars. They destroyed not only their own credibility, but the credibility of the office.

Even when Lyndon Johnson told us the truth at a crucial juncture during the Vietnam war — that the Communist offensive of 1968 was a defeat for them, even as the media depicted it as a defeat for us — we didn’t believe him.

In later years, Communist leaders themselves admitted that they had been devastated on the battlefield. But, by then it was too late. What the Communists lost militarily on the ground in Vietnam they won politically in the American media and in American public opinion.

More than 50,000 Americans lost their lives winning battles on the ground in Vietnam, only to have the war lost politically back home. We seem to be having a similar scenario unfolding today in Iraq, where soldiers won the war, only to have politicians lose the peace, as Iraq now increasingly aligns itself with Iran.

When Barack Obama squanders his own credibility with his glib lies, he is not just injuring himself during his time in office. He is inflicting a lasting wound on the country as a whole.

But we the voters are not blameless. Having chosen an untested man to be president, on the basis of rhetoric, style and symbolism, we have ourselves to blame if we now have only a choice between two potentially tragic fates — the loss of American lives to terrorism or a further dismantling of our freedoms that has already led many people to ask: “Is this still America?”

No. It isn’t. 😦

Political Cartoons by Robert Ariail

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

I Spy Pie In the Sky With My Little Eye

First off, Just to let you all know- This blog will be down for a few days because I have something important that has be taken care of.

Now onto it…

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

The Liberal Meme: But opposition to the mandate also stems from the public’s failure to understand — or, alternatively, the administration’s failure to communicate — basic facts. (How many YEARS has this been the liberal line- after all you “have to pass it to know what’s in it”!!??)

And when you know you’ll jump for joy. And if you don’t you just don’t understand. 🙂

That’s why it’s just as unpopular (or more so) now as it was over 2 years ago when it passed!

“People don’t understand how the mandate works at all, and they don’t understand why it’s there,” Kaiser’s polling director, Mollyann Brodie, told me. Brodie suspects that it’s too late to change minds. “This law as a whole has really become a symbolic issue to people, and they really aren’t open to information,” she said.

Maybe, but the administration must keep trying — not only to sell the law’s goodies but to explain how the mandate makes them possible. Otherwise, they could end up winning the minds of the justices, yet losing the hearts of the people whose votes they need to keep the law in place.

The most compelling sentences in the Obama administration’s brief defending the constitutionality of the health care law come early on. “As a class,” the brief advises on page 7, “the uninsured consumed $116 billion of health care services in 2008.” (Ruth Marcus)

Yeah, and the CBO says it will cost twice as much as it was when it was sold by the Liberals and it hasn’t even “started” yet.

So I am inclined to believe her pie-in-the-sky Government can fix everything Liberalism…NOT!

ENERGY POLICY

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

The administration’s new tax-reform proposal indicates a continued stubbornness to pick winners and losers in the marketplace — slashing, among others, broad-based provisions that benefit all industries such as accelerated depreciation, deductions for interest expense, LIFO for inventory accounting along with tax provisions for the oil and gas industry in order to finance tax breaks and permanent credits for expensive renewable energy.

It’s a disturbing plan after so many failed renewable energy gambles including Solyndra. A new report by a White House-appointed commission concluded that the U.S. could lose as much as $2.7 billion as a result of the loans offered to the renewable energy industry.

Meanwhile, consumers are losing. Gas prices aren’t showing any signs of decreasing. The president’s thumbs-down to the Keystone XL pipeline cost the U.S. thousands of new jobs, economic growth and energy price stabilization.

His 2012 budget calls for cutting outlays for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to $3 billion, nearly $2 billion less than in the 2011 budget. This drastic cut will leave many homes in cold weather states suffering and is further evidence of misplaced priorities when it comes to the administration’s energy policies.

But they better vote for him anyways, because he’s going to kiss their government dependent asses… 🙂 Otherwise, they might be “racists” or just “mean”. 🙂

The president’s “promise of clean energy” comes with a high price tag. Data from the Department of Energy’s EIA show that new electric generating capacity using wind and solar power tends to be considerably more expensive than conventional, available and secure natural gas and coal resources.

And in a world of real tradeoffs, every dollar spent producing more expensive renewable energy is money that could be used for producing jobs and spurring economic growth. Indeed, there is a direct linkage between energy use and economic recovery, as in recent years each 1% increase in GDP has been accompanied by a 0.2% increase in energy use.

Simply put, it takes more power to turn on more light switches in more plants that employ more people.

The problem, of course, trickles down to consumers, as well. USA Today recently reported “households paid a record $1,419 on average for electricity in 2010, the fifth consecutive yearly increase above the inflation rate.” This “jump has added about $300 a year to what households pay for electricity. That’s the largest sustained increase since a run-up in electricity prices during the 1970s.”

Meanwhile, subsidizing renewables costs jobs and slows economic growth, burdening taxpayers by grabbing up a massive share of tax code subsidies.

In 2010, an estimated 76% of the $19.1 billion in federal tax incentives went to renewables for energy efficiency, conservation and alternative technology vehicle projects (while only 13% went to fossil fuels), according to the Congressional Research Service. Some renewable electricity enjoys negative tax rates: Solar thermal’s effective tax rate is -245% and wind power’s is -164%.

Yet the federal government continues pouring money on non-traditional energy sources, which is especially troubling since the wind, solar power, biofuel and ethanol industries do not meet the standard criteria used to justify taxpayer-funded subsidies for their deployment across the U.S. economy.

They are not “infant industries” or essential for U.S. economic and job growth, and they are unlikely to provide benefits commensurate with their costs. Addressing the huge U.S. federal budget deficit requires cutbacks in programs whose costs exceed their benefits.

There are much fairer policies available that do not force the government to pick winners and losers. Accelerated depreciation, Section 199, the foreign tax credit deduction and LIFO are examples of tax code provisions that are available to any industry and are not considered “subsidies.”

Perhaps even more frightening than the government’s current tax incentive structure and spending for renewables and alternative fuel vehicles is the potential for a national mandate (called a Clean Energy Standard) requiring electricity retailers to supply a specified share of their sales from clean energy sources.

This would have adverse economic impacts. A recent Department of Energy analysis shows that by 2035 the mandate will raise electricity prices by 20% to 27% and reduce GDP by $124 billion to $214 billion.

For those who support clean energy powering our nation’s economy, all is not lost: The issue is simply about responsibly looking away from the “promise of clean energy” and focusing on the reality of clean energy.

Government funding for basic research and development of renewables and conservation may be a better use of taxpayer dollars than the current suite of tax incentives and direct spending programs, for instance. Clearly, there are more efficient ways to meet our nation’s needs for today and tomorrow. (IBD)

But it won’t make Liberal “feel” good and be the soothing pie-in-the-sky warm fuzzy that they want it to be.

And if you disagree, well, you’re just “mean”.

MADDOW: So, President Obama in 1990 said that he wanted to move — wanted to work toward a world, country, that was less mean-spirited, and more generous. The right says that means he hates America. I think it sounds like I want a kinder and gentler America, which is what George H.W. Bush said.

LEWIS BLACK: That’s then. That language doesn’t apply anymore. That is a different Republican Party because we have moved on, there is a new Republican Party, and they seem to have — that language doesn’t work for them.

It’s a new Republican Party. It’s — there is a — it’s like — I mean, I think of it like if you were in the Communist Party, toe the line, here`s what they think, that`s the deal, screw him, that`s the deal, you can’t — are you going to use those words, or those words don`t work? Whatever words he uses, don’t work for them.

(and that doesn’t sound Like the Liberals wanting to control everything and everyone from birth to death at all!) 🙂

MADDOW: But do you think we’re at the point some were some — I mean, I feel like it’s not that weird. It wouldn’t be that much of a joke for a Republican candidate to come out and say, actually, we need a less gentle, meaner country. (Katie Pavlich)

Apparently wanting to balance the budget and limit burdensome debt for future generations is somehow “mean.”

It sucks being the grown-up in the room instead of the head-in-the-clouds, pie-in-the-sky Liberal whose hubris prevents them from not feeling vastly superior to other living beings doesn’t it? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

 Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell
Political Cartoons by Steve Breen