Posts Tagged ‘employers’

AP-Reported FACT: U.S. Economy The Worst Since The LAST Time We Let A Socialist Run It

July 11, 2011

The Los Angeles Times print edition ran this story on July 2 under the considerably more Marxist headline, “Wealthy benefit from recovery as workers struggle“:

U.S. Recovery’s 2-Year Anniversary Arrives With Little To Celebrate
First Posted: 07/ 1/11 05:33 PM ET Updated: 07/ 1/11 05:33 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — This is one anniversary few feel like celebrating.

Two years after economists say the Great Recession ended, the recovery has been the weakest and most lopsided of any since the 1930s.

After previous recessions, people in all income groups tended to benefit. This time, ordinary Americans are struggling with job insecurity, too much debt and pay raises that haven’t kept up with prices at the grocery store and gas station. The economy’s meager gains are going mostly to the wealthiest.

Workers’ wages and benefits make up 57.5 percent of the economy, an all-time low. Until the mid-2000s, that figure had been remarkably stable — about 64 percent through boom and bust alike.

[…]

But if the Great Recession is long gone from Wall Street and corporate boardrooms, it lingers on Main Street:

Unemployment has never been so high — 9.1 percent — this long after any recession since World War II. At the same point after the previous three recessions, unemployment averaged just 6.8 percent.

The average worker’s hourly wages, after accounting for inflation, were 1.6 percent lower in May than a year earlier. Rising gasoline and food prices have devoured any pay raises for most Americans.

The jobs that are being created pay less than the ones that vanished in the recession. Higher-paying jobs in the private sector, the ones that pay roughly $19 to $31 an hour, made up 40 percent of the jobs lost from January 2008 to February 2010 but only 27 percent of the jobs created since then.

[…]

Hard times have made Americans more dependent than ever on social programs, which accounted for a record 18 percent of personal income in the last three months of 2010 before coming down a bit this year. Almost 45 million Americans are on food stamps, another record.

[…]

Because the labor market remains so weak, most workers can’t demand bigger raises or look for better jobs.

“In an economic cycle that is turning up, a labor market that is healthy and vibrant, you’d see a large number of people quitting their jobs,” says Gluskin Sheff economist Rosenberg. “They quit because the grass is greener somewhere else.”

Instead, workers are toughing it out, thankful they have jobs at all. Just 1.7 million workers have quit their job each month this year, down from 2.8 million a month in 2007.

The toll of all this shows in consumer confidence, a measure of how good people feel about the economy. According to the Conference Board’s index, it’s at 58.5. Healthy is more like 90. By this point after the past three recessions, it was an average of 87.

How gloomy are Americans? A USA Today/Gallup poll eight weeks ago found that 55 percent think the recession continues, even if the experts say it’s been over for two years. That includes the 29 percent who go even further — they say it feels more like a depression.

Allow me to start with the second paragraph in the story:

“Two years after economists say the Great Recession ended, the recovery has been the weakest and most lopsided of any since the 1930s.”

The weakest and most lopsided of any recovery since the 1930s, you say???

WHO WAS PRESIDENT IN THE 1930s?  WHICH PARTY DOMINATED BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE IN THE 1930s?

And next let me ask you, “Are there any similarities between socialist Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt and socialist Democrat Barack Hussein Obama???  And the answer is, “HELL YES THERE ARE!!!”:

Which is to say, “This is the worst the U.S. economy has ever been since the LAST time we had a socialist just like FDR – and the mainstream media proudly hailed Obama as FDR and Obama’s as a NEW “New Deal.”

But here’s the truth:

FDR prolonged — not ended — great depression

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After scrutinizing Roosevelt’s record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

”Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump,” said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA’s Department of Economics. ”We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.”

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.

[…]

”The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes,” Cole said. ”Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened.”

And of course all the “experts” the mainstream media love to trot out have all bought hook, line and sinker the notion that capitalism is something to be loathed and feared.  So they demand that America pursue asinine government stimulus policies that fail even by the “experts'” own standards, and then these same “experts” proceed to argue that the economy failing to recover somehow is proof that more of the same thing that already failed is necessary.

These “experts” whom the mainstream media give a loud microphone to to espouse their socialist views are pathologically incapable of seeing this connection between socialist policies and an economy in the doldrums.  Every bit of negative economic news is invariably “unexpected” (liberals favorite adjective to wave a hand at bad economic developments whenever a Democrat president is in charge), because these “experts” cannot separate the inevitable results of their ideology from their terribly failed ideology.  There has to be a disconnect, or more commonly, a scapegoat.

I can simply re-cite my conclusion from a previous article to find a particularly laughable example of this phenomena:

I think of the Soviet Union, which literally blamed the total failure of their entire political philosophy and the ruinous policies that philosophy entailed by claiming that their agricultural output had been adversely affected due to 72 years of bad weather.  And the Soviet Union has gone the way of the Dodo bird for that very reason.

Is America under Obama the next Dodo bird to fall apart while we’re assured that everything is fine while some suitable scapegoat bears the blame for every failure that can’t be ignored???

It couldn’t be the fact that socialism is nothing more than state-planned economic failure.  It had to be something else, ANYTHING else.

The Big Brother from the novel 1984 had Emmanuel Goldstein.  The Big Brother who is now occupying our White House has George W. Bush.

The next obvious question to ask and answer is, “Why are the wealthy benefitting while the workers struggle?”

The answer is twofold: 1) because when you attack the employers, the first thing to go is the employees and 2) because that’s exactly how crony capitalism works.

There is a magnificent book entitled, New Deal Or Raw Deal?  How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America, which should be required reading.  Burton Folsom Jr. points out that when FDR structured his many policies and regulations that strangled economic growth, he did so in such a way that favored the big crony capitalist corporations at the expense of the smaller businesses that could no longer compete given the costly regulatory requirements.  The smaller businesses were forced out of the market while the big businesses protected themselves with insider deals based on access to and influence with the government that only they could afford.  And there is no question whatsoever that – even as FDR employed the class warfare of socialism – the rich got richer while the poor got poorer.  Income tax revenues plunged as the wealthy sheltered their wealth from the high tax rates and the poor paid an increasingly high overall percentage of tax revenues via excise taxes.  Regulations mandating higher pay for workers priced those workers right out of their jobs.  Folsom provides the official data to back it up.

Check out this fact from page 127 of New Deal or Raw Deal?:

In 1929, prior to FDR demonizing the rich, income taxes accounted for 38% of total revenue collected, and corporate income taxes accounted for 43%.  Excise taxes which burdened the poor only counted for 19% of revenues.  By 1938, the rich and the corporations had protected themselves from FDR’s demagogic tax policies (but the poor couldn’t), such that the only 24% was collected in income taxes (versus 38%) and only 29% from corporate income taxes (versus 43%).  Meanwhile the poor-punishing excise taxes (e.g. gasoline tax) soared from 19% to 47% of the total taxes collected.  Meanwhile, when income taxes were kept low, the wealthy invariably paid FAR MORE in the total tax revenue as they put their money out to invest in and expand the economy in pursuit of the profits.  And they created millions of jobs in doing so.

And guess what?  Regulations mandating higher wages are STILL killing jobs now that Obama is doing it.

And the exact same mindset is yielding the exact same results ALL OVER AGAIN.  Obama has put the fear of God (actually the fear of the Soviet-style STATE) into the wealthy and the corporations.  They keep hearing Obama demagogue them, and they keep sheltering their money.  And they will CONTINUE to keep doing that until the threat of Obama is gone.  Just like they did with FDR.

Here we are today, with “the New FDR,” Barack Obama.  Who is the top dog on Obama’s economic team?  Why lo and behold, it is none other than GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, crony capitalist extraordinaire whose big corporation has REPEATEDLY benefitted from a cozy insider relationship with big government.  And consider how Obama literally took big auto makers GM and Chrysler away from their legitimate shareholders and gave them to big unions.

Regarding “crony capitalism,” I made a sweeping statement in a previous article:

That said, there is also a deliberate and fundamental misunderstanding of fascism by the left.  If you read leftists, you come away thinking that somehow “fascism” is the takeover of a state by corporations. But stop and think: Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann, Hess and all the other key Nazis WEREN’T corporate CEOs who took over the state; THEY WERE SOCIALIST POLITICIANS WHO TOOK OVER THE CORPORATIONS.  They usurped the corporations and FORCED them to perform THEIR agenda.  They either performed the Nazis’ will or they were simply taken away from their rightful owners and nationalized.

And to the degree that German crony capitalist corporations helped Hitler in his rise to power, THEY WERE JUST MORE USEFUL IDIOTS.

The same sort of takeover of German corporations by socialists is building in America.  Take Maxine Waters, a liberal Democrat, as the perfect example.  What did she say of the oil companies?

“This liberal will be all about socializing … uh uh … would be about … basically … taking over … and the government running all of your companies.”

THAT’S what Hitler did, too.  Hitler got this power through regulations that required corporations to do his bidding, just like Obama has now REPEATEDLY done.

And then consider how willing Maxine Waters used “crony capitalism” (which is the essence of developing fascism) to directly personally benefit even as she shaped the banking industry.

The Democrat party is the party of socialism.  It is the party of Marxism.  It is the party of fascism.

I stand by that sweeping statement.  People need to realize that “Nazi” stood for “National SOCIALIST German Workers Party,” and that both Nazi socialism and Soviet socialism were big government socialist tyrannies that failed their people.  As to our own experiment with socialism here in the USA, I point out in an article that explains how “Government Sponsored Enterprises” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies led us into economic implosion in spite of warnings for YEARS prior to the 2008 economic collapse:

But rigid opposition from Democrats – especially Democrats like Senator Barack Obamawho took more campaign money from Fannie and Freddie and dirty crony capitalism outfits like corrupt Lehman Bros. than ANYONE in his short Senate stint – prevented any “hope and change” of necessary reform from saving the US economy.

The timeline is clear: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were giant behemoths that began to stagger under their own corrupt weight, as even the New York Times pointed out:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so big — they own or guarantee roughly half of the nation’s $12 trillion mortgage market — that the thought that they might falter once seemed unimaginable. But now a trickle of worries about the companies, which has been slowly building for years, has suddenly become a torrent.

And it was FANNIE and FREDDIE that collapsed FIRST before ANY of the private investment banks, which collapsed as a result of having purchased the very mortgaged backed securities that the Government Sponsored Enterprises SOLD THEM.  It wasn’t until Fannie and Freddie collapsed that investors began to look with horror at all the junk that these GSE boondoggles had been pimping.

The man who predicted the collapse in 1999 wrote a follow-up article titled, “Blame Fannie Mae and Congress For the Credit Mess.”  It really should have read, “Blame DEMOCRATS.”  Because they were crawling all over these GSEs that they had themselves created like the cockroaches they are.  But Wallison is nonpartisan

Barack and Michelle Obama have a documented personal history of crony capitalism:

The Chicago way is a very, very ugly way.  And Obama has been in it up to his eyeballs.  Chicago is a dirty place filled with dirty politicians – and Obama was perfectly at home with all the dirt.

That Chicago corruption extends right into Obama’s home, by way of his wife Michelle.  This is a woman who sat on high-paying boards in direct quid-pro-quo consequences of Obama advancing in public office.  And in some of those boards, she participated in the worst kind of hospital patient-dumping.

Here’s a video of Michelle Obama you ought to watch – if you can stand the revelations:

Too bad we voted to nationalize the Chicago Way.

I also pointed out that when you attacked employers, the ones who would be hit the most and the hardest would be EMPLOYEES.

Take a look at what’s happening to small businesses, which create at least half of all the jobs in America, under Obama.  How about the fewest new business startups since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking it:

Through the 12 months ended in March of last year, 505,473 new businesses started up in the U.S., according to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the weakest growth since the bureau started tracking the data in the early 1990s. It’s down sharply from the record 667,341 new businesses added in the 12 months that ended in March 2006.

And we can tie this right back to crony capitalism, as Obama has created a system in which larger businesses are protected against the threat of competition from smaller businesses:

Many times large corporations will even lobby for more regulations  for their  own industry because they know that they can handle all of the  rules and  paperwork far easier than their smaller competitors can.   After all, a  large corporation with an accounting department can easily  handle filling out a  few thousand more forms, but for a small business  with only a handful  of employees that kind of paperwork is a major  logistical nightmare.

When it comes to hiring new employees, the federal government has  made the  process so complicated and so expensive for small businesses  that it is  hardly worth it anymore.  Things have gotten so bad that more  small  businesses than ever are only hiring part-time workers or  independent  contractors.

So what we actually have now is a situation where small businesses  have lots of incentives not to hire more workers, and if they really do need some extra help the rules make it much more profitable to do  whatever you can to keep from bringing people on as full-time   employees.

And who do all these rules and regulations hurt the most but the very people Democrats cynically and deceitfully claim they are trying to help?  Meanwhile, who does it help the most but the crony capitalist corporations who DON’T do most of the hiring in America who can profit from Obama’s war on business that results in the destruction of their small business competition.

A recent report by the National Federation of Independent Business points out that small businesses are planning to SHRINK rather than EXPAND their payrolls under Obama.  From the New York Times:

A Slowdown for Small Businesses
By CATHERINE RAMPELL
Published: June 14, 2011

In the latest sign that the economic recovery may have lost whatever modest oomph it had, more small businesses say that they are planning to shrink their payrolls than say they want to expand them.

That is according to a new report released Tuesday by the National Federation of Independent Business, a trade group that regularly surveys its membership of small businesses across America.

The federation’s report for May showed the worst hiring prospects in eight months. The finding provides a glimpse into the pessimism of the nation’s small firms as they put together their budgets for the coming season, and depicts a more gloomy outlook than other recent (if equally lackluster) economic indicators because this one is forward-looking.

While big companies are buoyed by record profits, many small businesses, which employ half of the country’s private sector workers, are still struggling to break even. And if the nation’s small companies plan to further delay hiring — or, worse, return to laying off workers, as they now hint they might — there is little hope that the nation’s 14 million idle workers will find gainful employment soon.

“Never in the 37-year history of our company have we seen anything at all like this,” said Frank W. Goodnight, president of Diversified Graphics, a publishing company in Salisbury, N.C. He says there is “no chance” he will hire more workers in the months ahead.

“We’re being squeezed on all sides,” he says.

So let me ask again the question that the Los Angeles Times phrased: “Why are the wealthy benefitting from the ‘recovery’ as workers struggle?

And the answer is simple: because Barack Obama and the Democrat Party are socialist who have destroyed the engine that creates the jobs that workers depend upon to flourish.

An interesting fact is that businesses are now forced to spend $1.7 TRILLION a year in regulatory compliance costs.  That is a massive hidden tax on their viability; it exceeds the overt income taxes businesses have to pay, and it most certainly exceeds their profits.  And right now Obama is attacking them via the Dodd-Frank regulatory legislation, via the EPA, via OSHA, via ObamaCare and via the ridiculous actions of the NLRB in addition to their tax burden.  Just to name a few.  The result is businesses terrified to expand and further place their necks under Obama’s axe blade.

Meanwhile, Obama’s socialist policies have not only devastated the worker by destroying his jobs, but they’ve ruined America on numerous other levels, too.  Take the housing crisis – which was THE cause of the economic implosion of 2008.  Did Obama make it better?  Well, here’s a headline for you from CNBC: “US Housing Crisis Is Now Worse Than Great Depression.”  Which is to say that Democrats – who first created the housing crisis by refusing to allow the regulation of their pet socialist wealth redistribution agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – took something awful and turned it into an American Dream-massacring nightmare.

The latest job figures simply further document my point: Obama is destroying America job by job.  Not only did the unemployment rate go up to 9.2% (Obama promised the American people that the unemployment rate would be 7.1% by now if he got his massive government-spending stimulus); not only were the previous two month figures adjusted DOWNWARD by some 45,000 jobs; not only have a third of the unemployed been unemployed for at least a YEAR with fully half of the unemployed having been unemployed for over six months (which is unprecedented); not only did the economy create an incredibly dismal 18,000 jobs (versus the 100,000 the economists naively expected); but a quarter million more people simply walked away from the workforce entirely – abandoning any hope that Obama will do anything more than crush their hopes of finding a job.

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Misery Index HIGHEST EVER, Hiring Only 70% Of 2006 Levels, And Boy Do We Ever Need A New President

May 16, 2011

Economics statistics are well on their way to becoming a Department in the 1984-style “Ministry of Truth.”

We start with misery, and the real apples-to-apples misery index that we can compare to the misrule of Jimmy Carter.  From Economic Policy Journal:

John Williams, over at Shadow Stats, compiles economic data for inflation and unemployment the way it used to be calculated pre-1990. Based on that data, the CPI inflation rate is over 10%, and the unemployment rate is over 15% (see charts). The Misery Index is the sum of the current inflation rate and the unemployment rate.  If it were to be calculated using the older methods, the Index would now be over 25, a record high. It surpasses the old index high of 21.98, which occurred in June 1980, when Jimmy Carter was president. Most believe the height of the Index along with the Iranian hostage crisis is what caused Carter to lose his re-election bid.

 

 

Using current calculation methods, April unemployment came in at 9.0% and the annualized April CPI number came in at 4.8%, for a Misery Index reading of 13.8.

The last time the Index came in with a higher reading with this index reading was in March 1983, with a reading of 13.90.

Ronald Reagan, of course, was president in 1983.  Reagan had a monster that Jimmy Carter largely created called out-of-control inflation.

As I previously explained:

The numbers told the sad story of the Jimmy Carter presidency: interest rates of 21%; inflation at 13.5%, and an unemployment rate of 7%.  And a relatively new economic device called “the misery index” – the combination of the unemployment and inflation rates which Carter had himself used to great effect in his 1976 campaign to win election – was at a shocking 20.5%.

And those who went through those dark and difficult times may soon be looking back to that period as “the good old days.”

Welcome back, Carter.

When Ronald Reagan took office from Jimmy Carter, inflation was at a meteoric 13.3% and the country was in the throes of a fierce recession. There was a real question as to whether workers’ wages would keep up with the costs of living, which made people afraid to either spend or save. And nobody knew how to control inflation – which had risen from 1.4% in 1960 to the aforementioned 13.3% in 1980 – causing a real erosion of confidence in the future. Jimmy Carter answered a reporter’s question as to what he would do about the problem of inflation by answering, “It would be misleading for me to tell any of you that there is a solution to it.”

But Ronald Reagan had a solution.  And by the time he left office, he had solved the problem of creeping inflation increases and had actually reversed the trend: he left behind a healthy inflation rate of 4.1%.

Reagan’s policies set the trajectory for growth that would last for 20 years.

Jimmy Carter didn’t have an answer for the economy, so he just made it worse and worse and WORSE.  Reagan had an answer.  He not only made it better; he established a trajectory of economic success.

And of course, we’re heading right back to that time of shocking inflation.  The cost of EVERYTHING is going up.  And there is absolutely no indication whatsoever that Barack Obama has an answer that is working.  Which is only going to make the pain last longer and the solution more difficult.  Presuming there is another Reagan waiting in the wings for that time when the American people overwhelmingly abandon Democrats and revile them for the failures that they are and basically always have been.

So what does the mainstream media do with that?

They create the propaganda that somehow Obama is a new Reagan, despite the fact that Obama reviles everything Reagan stood for, just as Reagan would have reviled everything Obama stands for.

Then there’s the enemployment beast.  How’s THAT hope and change working out for you?

Here’s some new news about hopey changey from the Wall Street Journal:

 MAY 16, 2011
Why the Job Market Feels So Dismal
The number of hires is the same today as it was when we were shedding jobs at record rates.
By EDWARD P. LAZEAR

Why don’t American workers feel that the labor market is on the mend? After all, the May 6 jobs report could suggest that the labor market is improving. Nonfarm employment rose by 244,000 and employment growth over the last three months is averaging over 200,000 per month. With unemployment at 9%, employment is still down many millions from where it should be, but up from its recession lows.

The fact is the jobs numbers that create so much anticipation from the business press and so many pundit pronouncements do not give a clear picture of the labor market’s health.  A better understanding requires an examination of hires and separations, or what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data. Here are some surprising facts:

First, the increase in job growth that occurred over the past two years results from a decline in the number of layoffs, not from increased hiring. In February 2009, a month during which the labor market lost more than 700,000 jobs, employers hired four million workers. In March 2011, employers hired four million workers. The number of hires is the same today as it was when we were shedding jobs at record rates.

We added jobs because hires exceeded separations, not because hiring increased. There were 4.7 million separations in February 2009. In March 2011 that number had fallen to 3.8 million. The fall in separations reflects a decline in layoffs, which went from 2.5 million per month in February 2009 to 1.6 million per month in March 2011. One small piece of good news is that the just-released April data showed hires up about 2% over last year’s average and 12% above the low reached in January 2010.

The decline in layoffs is not unexpected and does not necessarily reflect labor-market health. Layoffs tend to occur early in a recession. When an economy has reached bottom and has already shed much of its labor, layoffs slow. But that doesn’t mean that the labor force is recovering. We could have high unemployment and a stagnant labor force even when layoffs are low. Isn’t the fact that hires exceed separations indicative of a healthy labor market? Unfortunately, no.

At any point in the business cycle, even during a recession, American firms still hire a huge number of workers. That’s because most of the action in the labor market reflects “churn,” the continual process of replacing workers, not net expansion or contraction of employment. The lowest number hired in any month of the current recession was 3.6 million workers. Even during the dismal year of 2009 there were more than 45 million hires.

Bear in mind that the U.S. labor force has more than 150 million workers or job seekers. In a typical year, about one-third or more of the work force turns over, leaving their old jobs to take new ones. When the labor market creates 200,000 jobs, it is because five million are hired and 4.8 million are separated, not because there were 200,000 hires and no job losses. When we’re talking about numbers as large as five million, the net of 200,000 is small and may reflect minor, month-to-month variations in the number of hires or separations.

The third fact puts this in perspective. In a healthy labor market like the one that prevailed in 2006 and early 2007, American firms hire about 5.5 million workers per month. Recall that the current number of hires is four million and it has not moved much from where it was two years ago. The labor market does not feel like it is expanding if hiring is not occurring at a recovery-level pace—and that means at least a half million more hires per month than we are seeing now.

The combination of low hiring and a large stock of unemployed workers, now 13.7 million, means that the competition for jobs is fierce. Because there are now many more unemployed workers, and because hiring is only about 70% of 2006 levels, a worker is about one-third as likely to find a job today as he or she was in 2006. It is no wonder that workers do not feel that the labor market has recovered.

One final fact is worth noting. Healthy labor markets are characterized not only by high levels of hiring, but also by high levels of separations. Although it is true that the importance of quits relative to layoffs rises during good times, even the number of layoffs was greater in the strong labor market of 2006-07 than it is now. No one would suggest that layoffs are good for workers, but what is good is a fluid labor market, where workers and firms constantly seek to produce better products and to find more efficient ways to produce them. High labor market churn is a characteristic of a strong economy. It generally means that workers are moving to better jobs in growing sectors that pay higher wages and away from declining sectors that pay lower wages.

Allowing maximum flexibility encourages fluidity and means that employers are willing to hire workers who lose their jobs elsewhere. Many European countries have restricted mobility by imposing severance pay penalties on employers that lay workers off. More than reducing layoffs, these rigidities make employers reluctant to hire because of the penalties that they will later incur if a layoff is necessary. Such restrictions are in large part responsible for the chronically high rates of unemployment that have been prevalent in many European countries.

The prescription for the American labor market is simple: low taxes on capital investment, avoidance of excessively burdensome regulation, and open markets here and abroad. We must create a climate in which investment is profitable, productivity is rising, and employers find it profitable to increase their hiring rate. These are the mantras that economists have chanted in the past. But they are our best bet for ensuring a dynamic and growing labor market.

Mr. Lazear, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2006-2009, is a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a Hoover Institution fellow

Wait a minute.  What was that one sentence again?

Because there are now many more unemployed workers, and because hiring is only about 70% of 2006 levels, a worker is about one-third as likely to find a job today as he or she was in 2006.

Yeah, but George Bush was bad by mainstream media propagandist definition, and Obama is good by the same standard.

If you want welfare, vote for Obama.  You’ll get it until United States of America implodes into a failed banana republic.  And then you’ll get the Marxist-fascist hybrid the left has been dreaming of for the last fifty years.  You want a job?  Vote for a conservative Republican.

Doctor Cassell: ‘If You Voted For Obama, Seek Urologic Care Elsewhere’

April 2, 2010

A doctor in Mount Dora, Florida just became my very favorite urologist.  And I will bet his practice expands as a result of the courageously outspoken stand he recently took.

Let me begin with the rather-obviously politically-biased Orlando Sentinel account of Dr. Cassell:

Doctor tells Obama supporters: Go elsewhere for health care
A Mount Dora doctor posted a sign telling Obama health care supporters to go elsewhere.
By Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel

8:22 a.m. EDT, April 2, 2010

MOUNT DORA — A doctor who considers the national health-care overhaul to be bad medicine for the country posted a sign on his office door telling patients who voted for President Barack Obama to seek care “elsewhere.”

I’m not turning anybody away — that would be unethical,” Dr. Jack Cassell, 56, a Mount Dora urologist and a registered Republican opposed to the health plan, told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. “But if they read the sign and turn the other way, so be it.”

The sign reads: “If you voted for Obama … seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now, not in four years.”

Estella Chatman, 67, of Eustis, whose daughter snapped a photo of the typewritten sign, sent the picture to U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the Orlando Democrat who riled Republicans last year when he characterized the GOP’s idea of health care as, “If you get sick, America … Die quickly.”

Chatman said she heard about the sign from a friend referred to Cassell after his physician recently died. She said her friend did not want to speak to a reporter but was dismayed by Cassell’s sign.

“He’s going to find another doctor,” she said.

Cassell may be walking a thin line between his right to free speech and his professional obligation, said William Allen, professor of bioethics, law and medical professionalism at the University of Florida‘s College of Medicine.

Allen said doctors cannot refuse patients on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability, but political preference is not one of the legally protected categories specified in civil-rights law. By insisting he does not quiz his patients about their politics and has not turned away patients based on their vote, the doctor is “trying to hold onto the nub of his ethical obligation,” Allen said.

“But this is pushing the limit,” he said.

Cassell, who has practiced medicine in GOP-dominated Lake County since 1988, said he doesn’t quiz his patients about their politics, but he also won’t hide his disdain for the bill Obama signed and the lawmakers who passed it.

In his waiting room, Cassell also has provided his patients with photocopies of a health-care timeline produced by Republican leaders that outlines “major provisions” in the health-care package. The doctor put a sign above the stack of copies that reads: “This is what the morons in Washington have done to your health care. Take one, read it and vote out anyone who voted for it.”

Cassell, whose lawyer wife, Leslie Campione, has declared herself a Republican candidate for Lake County commissioner, said three patients have complained, but most have been “overwhelmingly supportive” of his position.

“They know it’s not good for them,” he said.

Cassell, who previously served as chief of surgery at Florida Hospital Waterman in Tavares, said a patient’s politics would not affect his care for them, although he said he would prefer not to treat people who support the president.

“I can at least make a point,” he said.

The notice on Cassell’s office door could cause some patients to question his judgment or fret about the care they might receive if they don’t share his political views, Allen said. He said doctors are wise to avoid public expressions that can affect the physician-patient relationship.

Erin VanSickle, spokeswoman for the Florida Medical Association, would not comment specifically.

But she noted in an e-mail to the Sentinel that “physicians are extended the same rights to free speech as every other citizen in the United States.”

The outspoken Grayson described Cassell’s sign as “ridiculous.”

“I’m disgusted,” he said. “Maybe he thinks the Hippocratic Oath says, ‘Do no good.’ If this is the face of the right wing in America, it’s the face of cruelty. … Why don’t they change the name of the Republican Party to the Sore Loser Party?”

How about changing the name of the Democrat Party to the Demagogue Party?  Or maybe the Depravity Party?

As to Alan Grayson, just remember that this is same the hater who thought demonizing Republicans as hoping people would die was not one iota over the top.

For the record, I didn’t add any of those html links to the story; they are part of the article.  Do you see which link is missing if this was to be an even halfway fair article?

Where’s the link to the timeline???

No link to that.  Half a dozen links to other stuff, but no link to the timeline the doctor referred to.  The only thing the Orlando Sentinel does is dismiss it as “Republican.”  Nothing to see there, folks.

I don’t care if the timeline came from Republican leaders.  I only care whether it accurately reflects the facts of the bill, and whether those facts are bad.

I heard about this story via Neil Cavuto’s program on Fox News.  Dr. Jack Cassell very clearly indicates on the program that the reason for the sign that he’s being demonized about was that timeline.  It was the what and the why of the five questions journalists are supposed to ask: Why did you do what you did?

Oh, we can point out the bias in the fact that Dr. Cassell says that 98% of his patients have responded favorably to the sign, whereas the Orlando Sentinel wants to make sure the only patient who gets to speak is one of the 2%.  We can point out that the liberal blogoshphere is trying to depict Dr. Cassell as turning away patients because they voted for Obama (and isn’t that hateful?!?!), when Dr. Cassell repeatedly says he isn’t turning patients away.

Dr. Cassell is making a statement, which he has every right to do.  And on Neil Cavuto’s program, the doctor says he came to the decision to do so as a result of coming across the timeline to ObamaCare.  He says that timeline angered him so much when he looked into it that he chose to take a risk and make a stand.

SOMEBODY SHOULD TELL US WHAT’S IN THAT TIMELINE THAT GOT DR. CASSELL SO RILED UP IF THEY’RE GOING TO DENOUNCE HIM, SHOULDN’T THEY???

Here’s the timeline:

Timeline of Major Provisions in the Democrats’ Health Care Package

2009
• 2-year tax credit (total cap of $1B) for new chronic disease therapy investments
• Medicare cuts to hospitals begin (long-term care (7/1/09) and inpatient and rehabilitation facilities (FY10))

2010
• States and Federal officials review premium increases
• FDA authorized to approve “follow-on” biologics
• Increase brand name pharmaceutical Medicaid rebate (from 15.1% to 23.1%)
• Medicare payments to physicians in primarily rural areas increase (2 years)
• Deny “black liquor” eligibility for cellulosic biofuel producers credit
• Tax credits provided to certain small employers for health care-related expenses
• Increase adoption tax incentives for 2 years
• Codify economic substance doctrine and impose penalties for underpayments
(transactions on/after 3/23/10)
• Provide income exclusion for specified Indian tribe health benefits provided after 3/23/10
• Temporary high-risk pool and high-cost union retiree reinsurance ($5 B each for 3.5
years) (6/23/10)
• Impose 10% tax on indoor UV tanning (7/1/10)
• Medicare cuts to inpatient psych hospitals (7/1/10)
• Prohibits lifetime and annual benefit spending limits (plan years beginning 9/23/10)
• Prohibits non-group plans from canceling coverage (rescissions) (plan years
beginning 9/23/10)
• Requires plans to cover, at no charge, most preventive care (plan years beginning 9/23/10)
• Allows dependents to stay on parents’ policies through age 26 (plan years beginning 9/23/10)
• Provides limited protections to children with pre-existing conditions (plan years beginning 9/23/10)
• Hospitals in “Frontier States” (ND, MT, WY, SD, UT ) receive higher Medicare payments (FY11)
• Hospitals in “low-cost” areas receive higher Medicare payments for 2 yrs ($400 million, FY11)

2011
• Medicare Advantage cuts begin
• No longer allowed to use FSA, HSA, HRA, Archer MSA distributions for over-the-counter medicines
• Medicare cuts to home health begin
• Wealthier seniors ($85k/$170k) begin paying higher Part D premiums (not indexed for inflation in Parts B/D)
• Medicare reimbursement cuts when seniors use diagnostic imaging like MRIs, CT scans, etc.
• Medicare cuts begin to ambulance services, ASCs, diagnostic labs, and durable medical equipment
• Impose new annual tax on brand name pharmaceutical companies
• Americans begin paying premiums for federal long-term care insurance (CLASS Act)
• Health plans required to spend a minimum of 80% of premiums on medical claims
• Physicians in “Frontier States” (ND, MT, WY, SD, UT ) receive higher Medicare payments
• Prohibition on Medicare payments to new physician-owned hospitals
• Penalties for non-qualified HSA and Archer MSA distributions double (to 20%)
• Seniors prohibited from purchasing power wheelchairs unless they first rent for 13 months
• Brand name drug companies begin providing 50% discount in the Part D “donut hole”
• 10% Medicare bonus payment for primary care and general surgery (5 years)
• Employers required to report value of health benefits on W-2
• Steps towards health insurance administrative simplification (reduced paperwork, etc) begins (5 yr process)
• Additional funding for community health centers (5 years)
• Seniors who hit Part D “donut hole “in 2010 receive $250 check (3/15/11)
• New Medicare cuts to long-term care hospitals begin (7/1/11)
• Additional Medicare cuts to hospitals and cuts to nursing homes and inpatient rehab facilities begin (FY12)
• New tax on all private health insurance policies to pay for comp. eff. research (plan years beginning FY12)

2012
• Medicare cuts to dialysis treatment begins
• Require information reporting on payments to corporations
• Medicare to reduce spending by using an HMO-like coordinated care model (Accountable Care Organizations)
• Medicare Advantage plans with a 4 or 5 star rating receive a quality bonus payment
• New Medicare cuts to inpatient psych hospitals (7/1/12)
• Hospital pay-for-quality program begins (FY13)
• Medicare cuts to hospitals with high readmission rates begin (FY13)
• Medicare cuts to hospice begin (FY13)

2013
• Impose $2,500 annual cap on FSA contributions (indexed to CPI)
• Increase Medicare wage tax by 0.9% and impose a new 3.8% tax on unearned , non-active business income for those earning over $200k/$250k (not indexed to inflation)
• Generally increases (7.5% to 10%) threshold at which medical expenses, as a % of income, can be deductible
• Eliminate deduction for Part D retiree drug subsidy employers receive
• Impose 2.3% excise tax on medical devices
• Medicare cuts to hospitals who treat low-income seniors begin
• Post-acute pay for quality reporting begins
• CO-OP Program: Secretary awards loans and grants for establishing nonprofit health insurers
• $500,000 deduction cap on compensation paid to insurance company employees and officers
• Part D “donut hole” reduction begins, reaching a 25% reduction by 2020

2014
• Individuals without gov’t-approved coverage are subject to a tax of the greater of $695 or 2.5% of income
• Employers who fail to offer “affordable” coverage would pay a $3,000 penalty for every employee that receives a subsidy through the Exchange
• Employers who do not offer insurance must pay a tax penalty of $2,000 for every full-time employee
• More Medicare cuts to home health begin
• States must have established Exchanges
• Employers with more than 200 employees can auto-enroll employees in health coverage, with opt-out
• All non-grandfathered and Exchange health plans required to meet federally-mandated levels of coverage
• States must cover parents /childless adults up to 138% of poverty on Medicaid, receive increased FMAP
• Tax credits available for Exchange-based coverage, amount varies by income up to 400% of poverty
• Insurers cannot impose any coverage restrictions on pre-existing conditions (guaranteed issue/renewability)
• Modified community rating: individual or family coverage; geography; 3:1 ratio for age; 1.5 :1 for smoking
• Insurers must offer coverage to anyone wanting a policy and every policy has to be renewed
• Limits out-of-pocket cost-sharing (tied to limits in HSAs, currently $5,950/$11,900 indexed to COLA)
• Insurance plans must include government-defined “essential benefits ” and coverage levels
• OPM must offer at least two multi-state plans in every state
• Employers can offer some employees free choice vouchers for health insurance in the Exchange
• Government board (IPAB) begins submitting proposals to cut Medicare
• Impose tax on nearly all private health insurance plans
• Medicare payment cuts for hospital-acquired infections begin (FY15)

2015
• More Medicare cuts to home health begin

2016
• States can form interstate insurance compacts if the coverage with HHS approval (2016)

2017
• Physician pay-for-quality program begins for all physicians
• States may allow large employers and multi-employer health plans to purchase coverage in the Exchange.
• States may apply to the Secretary for a limited waiver from certain federal requirements

2018
• Impose “Cadillac tax on “high cost” plans, 40% tax on the benefit value above a certain
threshold: ($10,200 individual coverage, $27,500 family or self-only union multi-employer coverage)

Now, maybe you love what ObamaCare does.  But Dr. Jack Cassell most certainly does not.  He sees the destruction of medicine, and the destruction of his medical practice contained in this timeline that just keeps imposing more and more and more.

Dr. Jack Cassell sees what’s coming.  And you should see it too.

And he wants to poke people in the eyeballs and wake them the heck up before it’s too late.

Dr. Jack Cassell.  My very favorite urologist.

A Summary of the Government Takeover of Health Care

November 1, 2009

This is a prepared House Republican document which you can view as a PDF file here.

House Democrat Health “Reform” Legislation: Short Summary of the Government Takeover of Health Care

October 29, 2009


BACKGROUND AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

On October 29, 2009, Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrat leadership introduced H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The legislation combines provisions in the versions of H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, approved by the Committees on Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means, as well as other provisions negotiated behind closed doors by the Democrat leadership. The bill is expected on the floor the week of November 2, under a likely structured rule. While press reports indicate the bill will cost at least $894 billion, a CBO score is not yet available, and the following analysis will be updated as events warrant.

Buried within the contents of the 1,990 page bill—as well as a separate 13-page bill (H.R. 3961) that would increase the deficit by more than $200 billion—are details that will see a massive federal involvement in the health care of every American, including the following:

• Creation of a government-run insurance program that could cause as many as 114 million Americans to lose their current coverage;
• Abolition of the private market for individual health insurance, forcing individuals to purchase coverage in a government-run Exchange;
• Stifling insurance regulations that would raise premiums and encourage employers to drop coverage;
• Trillions of dollars in new federal spending that will exacerbate the deficit and imperil the nation’s long-term fiscal solvency;
• Taxes on all Americans—individuals who purchase insurance, individuals who do not purchase insurance, and millions of small businesses—that will kill jobs and raise health care premiums; and
• Cuts to Medicare Advantage plans that will result in higher premiums and dropped coverage for more than 10 million seniors.

SUMMARY OF KEY PROVISIONS
The Government Takeover

Creation of Exchange: The bill creates within the federal government a nationwide Health Insurance Exchange. Uninsured individuals would be eligible to purchase an Exchange plan, as would those whose existing employer coverage is deemed “insufficient” by the federal government. Once deemed eligible to enroll in the Exchange, individuals would be permitted to remain in the Exchange until becoming Medicare-eligible—a provision that would likely result in a significant movement of individuals into the bureaucrat-run Exchange over time. Employers with 25 or fewer employees would be permitted to join the Exchange in its first year, with employers with 25-50 employees permitted to join in its second year. Employers with fewer than 100 employees would be permitted to enroll in the third year, and all employers would also be eligible to join, if permitted to do so by the Commissioner. Many may note the limits on employer eligibility in the first several years are significantly higher than in H.R. 3200, thus expanding the scope of the government-run Exchange.

Exchange Benefit Standards: The bill requires the Commissioner to establish benefit standards for all plans. These onerous, bureaucrat-imposed standards would hinder the introduction of innovative models to improve enrollees’ health and wellness—and by insulating individuals from the cost of health services with restrictive cost-sharing, could raise health care costs.

Government-Run Health Plans: The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a “public health insurance option” through the Exchange. The bill states the plan shall comply with requirements related to other Exchange plans. Empowered to collect individuals’ personal health information, with access to federal courts for enforcement actions and $2 billion in “start-up funds”—as well as 90 days’ worth of premiums as “reserves”—from the Treasury, the bill’s headings regarding a “level playing field” belie the reality of the plain text. In addition, the bill requires the Secretary to establish premium rates that can fully finance the cost of benefits and administrative costs, but there would always be the implicit backing of the federal government.

The bill provides that the government-run plan shall enlist all Medicare providers unless physicians affirmatively decide to opt-out of the program. While the Secretary will be required to “negotiate” reimbursement rates with doctors and hospitals, nothing in the bill prohibits the Secretary from using such negotiation to impose Medicare reimbursement levels on providers as part of a government-imposed “negotiation.” Should such a scenario occur, the Lewin Group has estimated that as many as 114 million individuals could lose access to their current coverage under a government-run plan—and that a government-run plan reimbursing at the rates contemplated by the legislation would actually result in a net $16,207 decrease in reimbursements per physician per year, even after accounting for the newly insured.

The bill requires the Secretary to “establish conditions of participation for health care providers” under the government-run plan—however it includes no guidance or conditions under which the Secretary must establish those conditions. Many may be concerned that the bill would allow the Secretary to prohibit doctors from participating in other health plans as a condition of participation in the government-run plan—a way to co-opt existing provider networks and subvert private health coverage.

“Low-Income” Subsidies: The bill provides subsidies only through the Exchange, again putting employer health plans at a disadvantage. Individuals with access to employer-sponsored insurance whose group premium costs exceed 12 percent of adjusted gross income would be eligible for subsidies.

The bill provides that the Commissioner may authorize State Medicaid agencies—as well as other “public entit[ies]”—to make determinations of eligibility for subsidies and exempts the subsidy regime from the five-year waiting period on federal benefits established as part of the 1996 welfare reform law (P.L. 104-193). The second provision would give individuals a strong incentive to emigrate to the United States in order to obtain subsidized health benefits without a waiting period. Despite the bill’s purported prohibition on payments to immigrants not lawfully present, and the insertion of a citizenship verification provision, some may be concerned that the provisions as drafted would not require individuals to verify their identity when confirming eligibility for subsidies—encouraging identity fraud while still permitting undocumented immigrants and other ineligible individuals from obtaining taxpayer-subsidized benefits.

Premium subsidies provided would be determined on a six-tier sliding scale, such that individuals with incomes under 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL, $29,327 for a family of four in 2009) would be expected to pay 1.5 percent of their income, while individuals with incomes at 400 percent FPL ($88,200 for a family of four) would be expected to pay 12 percent of their income. Subsidies would be based on adjusted gross income (AGI), meaning that individuals with total incomes well in excess of the AGI threshold could qualify for subsidies.

The bill further provides for cost-sharing subsidies, such that individuals with incomes under 133 percent FPL would be covered for 97 percent of expenses, while individuals with incomes at 400 percent FPL would have a basic plan covering 70 percent (the statutory minimum). These rich benefit packages, in addition to raising subsidy costs for the federal government, would insulate plan participants from the effects of higher health spending, resulting in an increase in overall health costs—exactly the opposite of the bill’s purported purpose.

Medicaid Expansion: The bill would expand Medicaid to all individuals with incomes under 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($33,075 for a family of four). Under the bill, the bill’s expansion of Medicaid to more than 10 million individuals would be fully paid for by the federal government only through 2014—thus imposing billions in unfunded mandates on States, which would be expected to pay nearly 10 percent of the cost of the expansion beginning in 2015.

Benefits Committee: The bill establishes a new government health board called the “Health Benefits Advisory Committee” to make recommendations on minimum federal benefit standards and cost-sharing levels. The Committee would be comprised of federal employees and Presidential appointees.

The bill eliminates language in the discussion draft of H.R. 3200 stating that Committee should “ensure that essential benefits coverage does not lead to rationing of health care.” Many view this change as an admission that the bureaucrats on the Advisory Committee—and the new government-run health plan—would therefore deny access to life-saving services and treatments on cost grounds. As written, the Committee could require all Americans to obtain health insurance coverage of abortion procedures as part of the bill’s new individual mandate.

 

Funneling Patients into Government Care

Abolition of Private Insurance Market: The bill imposes new regulations on all health insurance offerings, with only limited exceptions. Existing individual market policies could remain in effect—but only so long as the carrier “does not change any of its terms and conditions, including benefits and cost-sharing” once the bill takes effect. With the exception of these grandfathered individual plans subject to numerous restrictions, insurance purchased on the individual market “may only be offered” until the Exchange comes into effect, thus abolishing the private market for individual health insurance and requiring all non-employer-based coverage to be purchased through the bureaucrat-run Exchange.

Employer coverage shall be considered exempt from the additional federal mandates, but only for a five year “grace period”—after which all the bill’s mandates shall apply. By applying new federal mandates and regulations to employer-sponsored coverage, this provision would increase health costs for businesses and their workers, encourage employers to drop existing coverage, and leave employees to access care through the government-run Exchange.

“Pay-or-Play” Mandate on Employers: The bill requires that employers offer health insurance coverage, and contribute to such coverage at least 72.5 percent of the cost of a basic individual policy—as defined by the Health Benefits Advisory Council—and at least 65 percent of the cost of a basic family policy, for full-time employees. The bill further extends the employer mandate to part-time employees, with contribution levels to be determined by the Commissioner, and mandates that any health care contribution “for which there is a corresponding reduction in the compensation of the employee” will not comply with the mandate—which would encourage them to lay off workers.

Employers must comply with the mandate by “paying” a tax of 8 percent of wages in lieu of “playing” by offering benefits that meet the criteria above. In addition, beginning in the Exchange’s second year, employers whose workers choose to purchase coverage through the Exchange would be forced to pay the 8 percent tax to finance their workers’ Exchange policy—even if they offer coverage to their workers.

The bill includes a limited exemption for small businesses from the employer mandate—those with total payroll under $500,000 annually would be exempt, and those with payrolls between $500,000 and
$750,000 would be subjected to lower tax penalties (2-6 percent, as opposed to 8 percent for firms with payrolls over $750,000). However, these limits are not indexed for inflation, and the threshold amounts would likely become increasingly irrelevant over time, meaning virtually all employers would be subjected to the 8 percent payroll tax.

The bill amends ERISA to require the Secretary of Labor to conduct regular plan audits and “conduct investigations” and audits “to discover non-compliance” with the mandate. The bill provides a further penalty of $100 per employee per day for non-compliance with the “pay-or-play” mandate—subject only to a limit of $500,000 for unintentional failures on the part of the employer.

The employer mandate would impose added costs on businesses with respect to both their payroll and administrative overhead. An economic model developed by Council of Economic Advisors Chair Christina Romer found that an employer mandate could result in the loss of up to 5.5 million jobs as employers lay off employees to avoid providing costly, government-forced health insurance.

Individual Mandate: The bill places a tax on individuals who do not purchase “acceptable health care coverage,” as defined by the bureaucratic standards in the bill. The tax would constitute 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income, up to the amount of the national average premium through the Exchange. The tax would not apply to dependent filers, non-resident aliens, individuals resident outside the United States, and those exempted on religious grounds. “Acceptable coverage” includes qualified Exchange plans, “grandfathered” individual and group health plans, Medicare and Medicaid plans, and military and veterans’ benefits.

For individuals with incomes of under $100,000, the cost of complying with the mandate would be under $2,000—raising questions of how effective the mandate will be, as paying the tax would in many cases cost less than purchasing an insurance policy. Despite, or perhaps because of, this fact, the bill language does not include an affordability exemption from the mandate; thus, if the many benefit mandates imposed raise premiums so as to make coverage less affordable for many Americans, they will have no choice but to pay an additional tax as their “penalty” for not being able to afford coverage. Then-Senator Barack Obama, pointed out in a February 2008 debate that in Massachusetts, the one State with an individual mandate, “there are people who are paying fines and still can’t afford [health insurance], so now they’re worse off than they were. They don’t have health insurance and they’re paying a fine.”

Medicare Advantage: The bill reduces Medicare Advantage (MA) payment benchmarks to levels paid by traditional Medicare—which provides less care to seniors—over a three-year period. This arbitrary adjustment would reduce access for millions of seniors to MA plans that have brought additional benefits.

The bill imposes requirements on MA plans to offer cost-sharing no greater than that provided in government-run Medicare, and imposes price controls on MA plans, limiting their ability to offer innovative benefit packages. This policy would encourage plans to keep seniors sick, rather than manage their chronic disease.

The bill also gives the Secretary blanket authority to reject “any or every bid by an MA organization,” as well as any bid by a carrier offering private Part D Medicare prescription drug coverage, giving federal bureaucrats the power to eliminate the MA program entirely—by rejecting all plan bids for nothing more than the arbitrary reason that an Administration wishes to force the 10 million beneficiaries enrolled in MA back into traditional, government-run Medicare against their will.
Tax Increases

Government-Forced Insurance Penalties: Offsetting payments to finance the government takeover of health care would include taxes on individuals not complying with the mandate to purchase coverage, as well as taxes and payments by businesses associated with the “pay-or-play” mandate.

Taxes on Small Businesses: The bill also imposes a new 5.4 percent “surtax” on individuals with incomes over incomes over $500,000 and families with incomes greater than $1 million. The tax would apply beginning in 2011. As more than half of all high-income filers are small businesses, this provision would cripple small businesses and destroy jobs during a deep recession.

Taxes on Health Plans: The bill prohibits the reimbursement of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals from Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Medical Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs), and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), and increases the penalties for non-qualified HSA withdrawals from 10 percent to 20 percent, effective in 2011. Because these savings vehicles are tax-preferred, adopting this prohibition would raise taxes by $8.2 billion over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

H.R. 3962 would place a cap on FSA contributions, beginning in 2012; contributions could only total $2,500 per year, subject to annual adjustments linked to the growth in general (not medical) inflation. Members may be concerned that these provisions would first raise taxes, and second—by imposing additional restrictions on health savings vehicles popular with tens of millions of Americans—undermines the promise that “If you like your current coverage, you can keep it.” At least 8 million individuals hold insurance policies eligible for HSAs, and millions more participate in FSAs. All these individuals would be subject to additional coverage restrictions—and tax increases—under this provision.

The bill also repeals the current-law tax deductibility of subsidies provided to companies offering prescription drug companies to retirees. Many may be concerned that this provision would lead to companies dropping their current coverage as a result.

Taxes on Health Products: Finally, H.R. 3962 would impose a 2.5 percent excise tax on medical devices, beginning in 2013. Many may echo the concerns of the Congressional Budget Office and other independent experts, who have confirmed that this tax would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices—and ultimately higher premiums.
Budgetary Gimmicks

Unpaid-For Doctor Fix: While the Democrats claim their bill is now deficit-neutral, the majority also introduced a separate piece of stand-alone legislation (H.R. 3961). The more than $200 billion cost of this legislation is not paid for, thus adding hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending and interest costs to the federal debt. Many may also note that the Congressional Budget Office recently analyzed similar legislation (S. 1776) as raising Medicare premiums by $70 billion.

Long-Term Care Program: The bill includes a new program for long-term care services that provides a benefit of at least $50 per day to individuals unable to perform certain functions of daily living. As the long-term care program requires individuals to contribute five years’ worth of premiums before becoming eligible for benefits, the program would find its revenue over the first ten years diverted to finance other spending in Democrats’ health care “reform.” However, the Congressional Budget Office, in analyzing similar provisions included in Section 191 of legislation considered by the Senate HELP Committee, found that “if the Secretary did not modify the program to improve its actuarial soundness, the program would add to future federal budget deficits in a large and growing fashion beginning a few years beyond the 10-year budget window.” As even Democrats such as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) have called the program a “Ponzi scheme,” many may find any legislation that relies upon such a program to maintain “deficit-neutrality” fiscally irresponsible and not credible.

Health Care Bankruptices: More Liberal Lies

July 23, 2009

What was that line from Mark Twain?  “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.”

In the course of the last two days – and watching mostly Fox News, no less – I have at least four times heard an advocate for the Democrats’ health care boondoggle recite the crap statistic that “60% of bankruptcies are due to health care costs,” with nary a reply by the journalist who should be able to separate fact from fraud.

If you’re going to interview a liberal, be aware that lies tend to accompany the movement of their lips.  When you have the latter, you almost certainly have the former.

It’s not that this hasn’t been repeatedly refuted.  It’s that the lies are piling up far faster than the refutation can keep up with them.  Democrats know from Hitler and Goebbels that if they keep telling a lie over and over again, people will eventually believe it.  So we just keep hearing about this massive number of bankruptcies over and over again.

It’s not true.

From ABC News:

Medical Bankruptcies: A Data-Check

March 05, 2009 12:37 PM

(3 p.m. update: See italicized items with responses from the lead author of the Harvard study, Dr. David Himmelstein.)

President Obama’s kicking off his health care reform today in the worst possible way: with a mischaracterization of data.

“The cost of health care now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds,” Obama said at the opening of his White House forum on health care reform. The problem: That claim, based on a 2001 survey, is simply unsupportable.

The figure comes from a 2005 Harvard University study saying that 54 percent of bankruptcies in 2001 were caused by health expenses. We reviewed it internally and knocked it down at the time; an academic reviewer did the same in 2006. Recalculating Harvard’s own data, he came up with a far lower figure – 17 percent.

A more recent study by another group, approaching it another way, indicates that in 2007 about eight-tenths of one percent of Americans lived in families that filed for bankruptcy as a result of medical costs. That rings a little less loudly than “one every 30 seconds.”

The extrapolation of Harvard’s data to “a bankruptcy every 30 seconds,” which Obama also mentioned in his address to a joint session of Congress last month, comes, per the White House, from a 2005 Washington Post op-ed by Prof. Elizabeth Warren, a co-author of the Harvard paper. Fact-check.org has noted that even using Harvard’s numbers, it’s more like a bankruptcy every minute; indeed if you add up all bankrputcies in a year you barely get one every 30 seconds. (I’ve e-mailed Warren for comment.) But more to the point is that the Harvard data are clearly inflated, or at best, mischaracterized.

Himmelstein tells me that the reason for the difference is a change in federal law that sharply reduced the number of bankruptcies. In 2005, the year he and Warren wrote their op-ed, there were just over 2 million bankruptcies. Data out just today say that in 2008 there were 1.1 million (up sharply, by the way, over 2007). So this error in the White House claim stems simply from the fact that it’s using out-of-date information. The next question is whether the estimate of “medical bankruptcies” is reliable in the first place.

A good part of the problem is definitional. The Harvard report claims to measure the extent to which medical costs are “the cause” of bankruptcies. In reality its survey asked if these costs were “a reason” – potentially one of many – for such bankruptcies.

Beyond those who gave medical costs as “a reason,” the Harvard researchers chose to add in any bankruptcy filers who had at least $1,000 in unreimbursed medical expenses in the previous two years. Given deductibles and copays, that’s a heck of a lot of people.

Moreover, Harvard’s definition of “medical” expenses includes situations that aren’t necessarily medical in common parlance, e.g., a gambling problem, or the death of a family member. If your main wage-earning spouse gets hit by a bus and dies, and you have to file, that’s included as a “medical bankruptcy.”

When I asked the lead author, Dr. David Himmelstein, about his definitions of medical bankruptcy back in 2005, he said, “It’s a judgment call,” and added that any death, for example, “to our mind is a medical event.”

A last problem was sampling: The Harvard researchers surveyed bankruptcy filers in five federal court districts accounting for 14 percent of bankruptcies nationally; projecting this to the other 86 percent is sketchy. Said Himmelstein: “Obviously the extrapolation is rough.”

Of such rough extrapolations are presidential pronouncements made. […]

“It stinks to be uninsured. I don’t want to be quoted saying anything else,” Dranove says. “But there are correct studies, and incorrect studies. For academics, the validity of the research methods matters.”

It should for the rest of us, too.

So you see a horrible study – absolutely horrible – that is clearly biased and filled with faulty assumptions and questionable definitions.  But it’s from Harvard, so it must be true.  Let’s run with it.  I noticed CBS and NBC news articles that did just that.  Factchecks?  We don’t need no stinkin’ factchecks.

ABC took that Harvard study, did their own review simply by recalculating the Harvard leftist professor’s own data – and came up with 17%.  But they were also able to find another study that concluded: “about eight-tenths of one percent of Americans lived in families that filed for bankruptcy as a result of medical costs.”

A professional named Steve Elias who specializes in bankruptcy cases comes to a similar conclusion regarding his own practice — that health care costs are at best a very minor part of our bankruptcies.

So every time I hear someone say “sixty percent of all bankruptcies are the result of health care costs, so we need to pass Obama care right now!” I know I am dealing with an ignoramus, or an ideologue, or both.

And every time I see that comment uttered to or in front of a journalist who doesn’t respond by correcting the record, I know that there’s yet another journalist out there who isn’t good enough at his or her job to pass muster.

Now, I could have stopped here.  But let me go on – because there are WAY too many lies being told by Democrats.

(CBS) Today the President again insisted that his health care reform won’t force you to switch plans or doctors.

“What I’m saying is the government is not going to make you change your plans under health reform,” said Mr. Obama.

That’s technically correct – but what the president didn’t say is that reform could lead your boss to change your health care plan, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. Here’s how: 160 million people are insured through work and their employer actually picks up most of the cost. Under the president’s plan, Americans would be required to carry a certain level of coverage, which means many people would have to increase their insurance.

“Employer premiums will go up, and employers might respond by dropping coverage entirely,” said Michael Cannon, with the Cato Institute. “So if you’re one of those unfortunate workers then it will be a government policy that ousted you from your health plan.”

And if you do choose a public plan, you may want to keep your favorite doctors but they may not want to keep you. Under government health care, they could be paid 20 to 30 percent less.

Here’s another gargantuan Obama lie.  And – while I’m surprised and grateful that CBS took a swipe at it – I fear they didn’t go far enough, and won’t come back to the truth often enough.

A Wall Street Journal article absolutely destroys any claim to credibility Obama has in claiming that his plan won’t force tens of millions of people out of their private health care.

The last thing Obama and his Democrat allies have repeatedly lie about is that “Republicans are opposing reform.”

I would confront Obama by saying, “Name one.  Name one single Republican who is on the record opposing any kind of health care reform.”  It is demagogic rhetoric.  And the president is clearly becoming unhinged to rely on such demagogic attacks to force a clearly unpopular agenda down the country’s throat.

President Obama went after Senator Jim DeMint for his “Waterloo” remark.  DeMint, to his credit, fired right back, and pointed out that as a Senator Barack Obama voted against every Republican effort to reform health care.  So, in point of fact, who’s really against “reform” here?  And why doesn’t anybody remind Democrats how THEY were the party of “no” when Republicans were in charge prior to 2006 (which I might point out was prior to when our economy tanked).

There are way too many lies masquerading as truth claims going on.  It’s time to recognize who is lying to you, and to demand a fair presentation of the facts.