Posts Tagged ‘backdoor’

Contrary To Obama Democrats’ Demagogic Lies About Private Insurerer Profits

October 28, 2009

Do you want to have one-sixth of the economy – and literally life and death decisions – to be taken over based on lies and demagoguery?  If not, you’d better start calling your elected officials and demanding that Democrats finally start dealing with facts rather than demagogic lies.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — In the health care debate, Democrats and their allies have gone after insurance companies as rapacious profiteers making “immoral” and “obscene” returns while “the bodies pile up.”

But in pillorying insurers over profits, the critics are on shaky ground. Ledgers tell a different reality.

Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That’s anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.

Profits barely exceeded 2 percent of revenues in the latest annual measure. This partly explains why the credit ratings of some of the largest insurers were downgraded to negative from stable heading into this year, as investors were warned of a stagnant if not shrinking market for private plans.

Insurers are an expedient target for leaders who want a government-run plan in the marketplace. Such a public option would force private insurers to trim profits and restrain premiums to compete, the argument goes. This would “keep insurance companies honest,” says President Barack Obama.

The debate is loaded with intimations that insurers are less than straight, when they are not flatly accused of malfeasance.

The insurers may not have helped their case by commissioning a report that looked primarily at the elements of health care legislation that might drive consumer costs up while ignoring elements aimed at bringing costs down. Few in the debate seem interested in a true balance sheet.

A look at some claims, and the numbers:

THE CLAIMS:

_“I’m very pleased that (Democratic leaders) will be talking, too, about the immoral profits being made by the insurance industry and how those profits have increased in the Bush years.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who also welcomed the attention being drawn to insurers’ “obscene profits.”

_“Keeping the status quo may be what the insurance industry wants. Their premiums have more than doubled in the last decade and their profits have skyrocketed.” Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, member of the Democratic leadership.

_”Health insurance companies are willing to let the bodies pile up as long as their profits are safe.” A MoveOn.org ad.

THE NUMBERS:

Health insurers posted a 2.2 percent profit margin last year, placing them 35th on the Fortune 500 list of top industries. As is typical, other health sectors did much better — drugs and medical products and services were both in the top 10.

The railroads brought in a 12.6 percent profit margin. Leading the list: network and other communications equipment, at 20.4 percent.

HealthSpring, the best performer in the health insurance industry, posted 5.4 percent. That’s a less profitable margin than was achieved by the makers of Tupperware, Clorox bleach and Molson and Coors beers.

The star among the health insurance companies did, however, nose out Jack in the Box restaurants, which only achieved a 4 percent margin.

UnitedHealth Group, reporting third quarter results last week, saw fortunes improve. It managed a 5 percent profit margin on an 8 percent growth in revenue.

Van Hollen is right that premiums have more than doubled in a decade, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study that found a 131 percent increase.

But were the Bush years golden ones for health insurers?

Not judging by profit margins, profit growth or returns to shareholders. The industry’s overall profits grew only 8.8 percent from 2003 to 2008, and its margins year to year, from 2005 forward, never cracked 8 percent.

The latest annual profit margins of a selection of products, services and industries: Tupperware Brands, 7.5 percent; Yahoo, 5.9 percent; Hershey, 6.1 percent; Clorox, 8.7 percent; Molson Coors Brewing, 8.1 percent; construction and farm machinery, 5 percent; Yum Brands (think KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), 8.5 percent.

Half of Americans are actually covered by not-for-profit insurers.

A pro-liberal, pro-government universal health care proponent has the following:

But this is not “change.” Nonprofit organizations have always had an important role in the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States. Nonprofit health care organizations are part of the U.S. economy’s “third sector,” the other two sectors are government and for-profit businesses. In the early 1900s the first health care prepayment/insurance plan was founded as a nonprofit organization—Blue Cross—by a nonprofit hospital in Texas. Today, nearly 50 percent of people with private health insurance coverage are enrolled in nonprofit health plans.

Unfortunately, the strong and persistent presence of private nonprofit health insurance companies has not prevented any of the structural problems leading to our current health care crisis.

So the Democrats are deceitfully and demagogically claiming that insurance companies are the villains due to their “excessive” and “immoral” profits when in fact they DON’T have such profits – and HALF of them are NON-PROFITS – and they are offering a “solution” to a problem which isn’t even part of the problem to begin with.

I’m sorry to have to point out that what the Democrats are doing is right out of Adolf Hitler’s and Joseph Goebbels’ playbook, but it is.  They are telling lies about innocent companies.  They are deceitfully trying to create villains using propaganda and demagoguery so that they can then impose their “final solution” onto one-sixth of the national economy.

The clearest one sentence explanation of the result of the Democrats’ health care agenda comes from the mouth of Obama economic adviser Robert Reich:

“… So we’re going to let you die.”

The so-called “crazy claims” about death panels turn out to be all too real.

Democrats claim that you can keep your private health insurance if you want to.  It’s a lie.  And they know it’s a lie.

Their real goal is to put health care under total government control, so that they have the power to reward their allies and punish their opponents.  They are using their current legislation as a backdoor to universal, socialized, government-controlled health care.  And again, when they say that isn’t true, their own words reveal their lies.

Right now, Democrats are trying to take over life and death decisions.  And they are the documented liars.  Trust them at your peril.

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Heritage Foundation: Five Reasons EPA Should Not Deal With Global Warming

April 26, 2009

Five Reasons the EPA Should Not Attempt to Deal with Global Warming
The Heritage Foundation ^ | April 23, 2009 | Ben Lieberman and Nicolas Loris

Posted on 04/26/2009 12:42:44 PM PDT by Conservative Coulter Fan

On April 17, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an endangerment finding, saying that global warming poses a serious threat to public health and safety. Thus, almost anything that emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. This is the first official action taken by the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide.

The endangerment finding is the initial step in a long regulatory process that could lead to the EPA requiring regulations for almost anything that emits carbon dioxide. Automobiles would likely be the first target, but subsequent regulations could extend to a million or more buildings and small businesses, including hospitals, schools, restaurants, churches, farms, and apartments. The following five reasons explain why this would be a big, costly mistake.

1. It’s an Economy Killer

Above anything else, any attempt to reduce carbon dioxide would be poison to an already sick economy. Even when the economy does recover, the EPA’s proposed global warming policy would severely limit economic growth.

Since 85 percent of the U.S. economy runs on fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide, imposing a cost on CO2 is equivalent to placing an economy-wide tax on energy use. The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis study of the economic effects of carbon dioxide cuts found cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) losses of $7 trillion by 2029 (in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars), single-year GDP losses exceeding $600 billion in some years (in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars), energy cost increases of 30 percent or more, and annual job losses exceeding 800,000 for several years. Hit particularly hard is manufacturing, which will see job losses in some industries that exceed 50 percent.[1]

High energy costs result in production cuts, reduced consumer spending, increased unemployment, and ultimately a much slower economy. But importantly, higher energy prices fall disproportionately on the poor, since low-income households spend a larger percentage of their income on energy.

2. Negligible Environmental Benefit

The extraordinary perils of CO2 regulation for the American economy come with little, if any, environmental benefit. In fact, analysis by the architects of the endangerment finding, the EPA, strongly suggests that a 60 percent reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050 will reduce global temperature by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2095.[2]

Some environmental alarmists believe saving the environment should come at any cost, but when the benefit is barely noticeable, such an extreme viewpoint still cannot be justified.

3. Lack of Scientific Consensus

The decision to regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases was supported by supposed compelling scientific evidence. For example, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson “relied heavily upon the major findings and conclusions from recent assessments of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPPC].”[3] Additionally, the EPA cited harmful impacts including increased droughts, floods, wildfires, heat waves, and sea level rises as a result of climate change. But the reality is that natural disasters are just that–they occur with or without global warming.

The scientific consensus behind global warming, especially the seriousness of the impacts, is anything but strong. Last December, the U.S. Senate Minority released a report that included 650 dissenting scientists refuting claims made in the IPCC report.[4] That number has grown to over 700, more than 13 times the number of scientists (52) who had a direct role in the IPCC report.

4. Backdoor Policy

The United States Congress has been reluctant to pass any global warming legislation or engage in international climate reduction treaties. Last year’s most noted global warming legislative proposals was S. 2191, the America’s Climate Security Act of 2007, originally sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA).

This cap-and-trade bill would have set a limit on the emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide from the combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas. A number of concerns existed, chief among them the impact on already-soaring gasoline prices, and consequently the bill was withdrawn by its Senate supporters after only three days of debate.

While some Members of Congress undoubtedly support the EPA’s attempt to curb global warming, the fact that unelected and unaccountable EPA bureaucrats are trying to bypass legislative efforts makes it all the more objectionable.

Equally indefensible is any attempt to use the threat of EPA regulations to induce Congress into enacting a cap-and-trade bill it would not support otherwise. Members should not be forced to prematurely pass a bill without fully understanding its effects and consequences.

5. Expanded Bureaucracy

Having EPA bureaucrats micromanage the economy, all in the name of combating global warming, would be a chilling shift to a command-and-control system in which EPA officials regulate just about every aspect of the market.

Beyond the costs of such actions, the red tape and permitting delays are almost unfathomable. Though the Administration recently enacted a stimulus bill and touted “shovel ready” construction projects to boost the economy, EPA regulations would essentially assure that a great deal of such economic activity would be held up for months, if not years.

For instance, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to file environmental impact statements for EPA review before moving forward with projects. According to the Government Accountability Office, normally it takes a federal construction project an average of 4.4 years to complete a NEPA review. Along with the Clean Water Act’s Section 404 requirements, before a shovel can break ground, it could take 5.6 years for a project to jump through all the normal environmental hoops.[5] Granting the authority for one of the largest and unprecedented regulatory undertakings in U.S. history would greatly expand the EPA’s power.

The kind of industrial-strength EPA red tape that routinely imposes hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in compliance costs could now be imposed for the first time on many commercial buildings, farms, and all but the smallest of businesses. Not only would these costs and delays hamper the private sector, but the paperwork could paralyze federal and state environmental regulators, drawing resources away from more useful endeavors.

A Dangerous Step

The EPA’s official announcement commences a 60-day public comment[6] period before the agency issues a final ruling. Using the Clean Air Act to regulate CO2 would likely be the most expensive and expansive environmental regulation in history and will bypass the legislative process completely. In essence, the decisions of few will drastically alter the lives of many–all for a change in the Earth’s temperature too small to ever notice.

Ben Lieberman is Senior Policy Analyst in Energy and the Environment and Nicolas D. Loris is a Research Assistant in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.


[1]David Kreutzer and Karen A. Campbell, “CO2-Emission Cuts: The Economic Costs of the EPA’s ANPR Regulations,” Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report No. 08-10, October 29, 2008, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/EnergyandEnvironment/cda08-10.cfm.

[2]David Kreutzer, “The Economics of Cap and Trade,” testimony before the Ways and Means Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, September 18, 2008 at http://www.heritage.org/cda/upload/KreutzerTestimonyTrade.pdf.

[3]Environmental Protection Agency, “Overview of EPA’s Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act,” April 17, 2009 at http://epa.gov/climatechange
/endangerment/downloads/Determination.pdf
(April 23, 2009).

[4]Marc Morano, “UN Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent over Man-Made Global Warming Claims,” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, December 10, 2008, at http://epw.senate.gov
/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=2158072e-802a
-23ad-45f0-274616db87e6
(April 23, 2009).

[5]U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, “Evaluating the Performance of Environmental Streamlining: Development of a NEPA baseline for Measuring Continuous Performance,” at http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/strmlng/baseline/section2.asp (April 23, 2009).

[6]Comments can be submitted at StopEPA.com, (http://www.stopepa.com/).