Posts Tagged ‘subsidize’

Why Won’t Obama Invite The Doctors Who Will Resign If His Health Agenda Passes?

October 12, 2009

Michelle Malkin had the best title for the propaganda event that saw white-coated doctors milling around on the White House lawn: “Spin Doctors for Obamacare.”  She said:

Creators Syndicate – Lights, camera, agitprop! The curtains opened on yet another artfully staged performance of Obamacare Theater this week. One hundred and fifty doctors took their places on the plush lawn outside the West Wing — many acting like “Twilight” groupies with cameras instead of credible medical professionals. The president approved the scenery: “I am thrilled to have all of you here today, and you look very spiffy in your coats.”

White House wardrobe assistants guaranteed the “spiffy.” As the New York Post’s Charles Hurt reported, the physicians “were told to bring their white lab coats to make sure that TV cameras captured the image.”  President Obama’s aides hastily handed out costumes to those who came in suits or dresses before the doc-and-pony show began.

But while Halloween came early to the Potomac, these partisan single-payer activists in White House-supplied clothing aren’t fooling anyone.

Obama’s spin doctors belong to a group called Doctors for America (DFA), which reportedly supplied the white lab coats.  The White House event was organized in conjunction with DFA and Organizing for America, Obama’s campaign outfit.

OFA and DFA are behind a massive new Obamacare ad campaign, letter-writing campaign and doctor-recruitment campaign. The supposedly “grassroots” nonprofit DFA is a spin-off of Doctors for Obama, a 2008 campaign arm that aggressively pushed the Democrats’ government health care takeover. DFA claims to have thousands of members with a “variety of backgrounds.” But there’s little diversity in their views on socialized medicine (98 percent want a taxpayer-funded public insurance option) — or in their political contributions.

And she went on to document what a bunch of political hacks the “Doctors for Obama” and various “spin doctor” groups mentioned above had been for Obama and the Democrats.

Gateway Pundit revealed the typical Obama White House hypocrisy of this event:

What the media won’t tell you is that the doctors were former members of the “Doctors for Obama” organization.

150 doctors including supporters from Doctors for America, the former Doctors for Obama organization, assembled on the White House lawn today for a Astroturfed show with the president.

The operational word is “Astroturf.”  As angry as the Democrats have been about “Astroturfing,” they sure have done a lot of it.  We’ve had the children of high level Obama supporters planted to ask planted questions at Astroturf health care town halls to go with the busloads of union thugs being sent even across state lines to attend town halls.  We’ve had Astroturf former Obama delegates fraudulently pretending to be doctors at town hall events.  And now we have real, but still Astroturf doctors being brought in for Astroturf photo-ops – complete with Astroturf white coats.

The truly dishonest thing was when Barack Obama deceitfully misrepresented these doctors to claim that they somehow represented the medical mainstream.  Obama said:

“When you cut through all the noise and all the distractions that are out there, I think what’s most telling is that some of the people who are most supportive of reform are the very medical professionals who know the health-care system best,” the president said.

But when you actually realize what is happening, you find that this scripted – and even costumed – White House event is an all too typical example of the “noise” and “distractions” coming from the very guy who is complaining about the “noise and distractions.”

My question to Obama is, “WHAT ABOUT THESE FOLKS?

45% Of Doctors Would Consider Quitting If Congress Passes Health Care Overhaul

By TERRY JONES, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY Posted 09/15/2009
Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found.

The poll contradicts the claims of not only the White House, but also doctors’ own lobby — the powerful American Medical Association — both of which suggest the medical profession is behind the proposed overhaul.

It also calls into question whether an overhaul is even doable; 72% of the doctors polled disagree with the administration’s claim that the government can cover 47 million more people with better-quality care at lower cost.

The IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted by mail the past two weeks, with 1,376 practicing physicians chosen randomly throughout the country taking part. Responses are still coming in, and doctors’ positions on related topics — including the impact of an overhaul on senior care, medical school applications and drug development — will be covered later in this series.

Major findings included:

Two-thirds, or 65%, of doctors say they oppose the proposed government expansion plan. This contradicts the administration’s claims that doctors are part of an “unprecedented coalition” supporting a medical overhaul.

It also differs with findings of a poll released Monday by National Public Radio that suggests a “majority of physicians want public and private insurance options,” and clashes with media reports such as Tuesday’s front-page story in the Los Angeles Times with the headline “Doctors Go For Obama’s Reform.”

Nowhere in the Times story does it say doctors as a whole back the overhaul. It says only that the AMA — the “association representing the nation’s physicians” and what “many still regard as the country’s premier lobbying force” — is “lobbying and advertising to win public support for President Obama’s sweeping plan.”

The AMA, in fact, represents approximately 18% of physicians and has been hit with a number of defections by members opposed to the AMA’s support of Democrats’ proposed health care overhaul.

Four of nine doctors, or 45%, said they “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement” if Congress passes the plan the Democratic majority and White House have in mind.

More than 800,000 doctors were practicing in 2006, the government says. Projecting the poll’s finding onto that population, 360,000 doctors would consider quitting.

More than seven in 10 doctors, or 71% — the most lopsided response in the poll — answered “no” when asked if they believed “the government can cover 47 million more people and that it will cost less money and the quality of care will be better.”

This response is consistent with critics who complain that the administration and congressional Democrats have yet to explain how, even with the current number of physicians and nurses, they can cover more people and lower the cost at the same time.

The only way, the critics contend, is by rationing care — giving it to some and denying it to others. That cuts against another claim by plan supporters — that care would be better.

IBD/TIPP’s finding that many doctors could leave the business suggests that such rationing could be more severe than even critics believe.  Rationing is one of the drawbacks associated with government plans in countries such as Canada and the U.K. Stories about growing waiting lists for badly needed care, horror stories of care gone wrong, babies born on sidewalks, and even people dying as a result of care delayed or denied are rife.

In this country, the number of doctors is already lagging population growth.

From 2003 to 2006, the number of active physicians in the U.S. grew by just 0.8% a year, adding a total of 25,700 doctors.

Recent population growth has been 1% a year. Patients, in short, are already being added faster than physicians, creating a medical bottleneck.

The great concern is that, with increased mandates, lower pay and less freedom to practice, doctors could abandon medicine in droves, as the IBD/TIPP Poll suggests. Under the proposed medical overhaul, an additional 47 million people would have to be cared for — an 18% increase in patient loads, without an equivalent increase in doctors. The actual effect could be somewhat less because a significant share of the uninsured already get care.

Even so, the government vows to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from health care spending to pay for reform, which would encourage a flight from the profession.

The U.S. today has just 2.4 physicians per 1,000 population — below the median of 3.1 for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the official club of wealthy nations.

Adding millions of patients to physicians’ caseloads would threaten to overwhelm the system. Medical gatekeepers would have to deny care to large numbers of people. That means care would have to be rationed.

“It’s like giving everyone free bus passes, but there are only two buses,” Dr. Ted Epperly, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the Associated Press. [Link added].

Hope for a surge in new doctors may be misplaced. A recent study from the Association of American Medical Colleges found steadily declining enrollment in medical schools since 1980.

The study found that, just with current patient demand, the U.S. will have 159,000 fewer doctors than it needs by 2025. Unless corrected, that would make some sort of medical rationing or long waiting lists almost mandatory.

[Snip]

Other states with government-run or mandated health insurance systems, including Maine, Tennessee and Hawaii, have been forced to cut back services and coverage.

This experience has been repeated in other countries where a form of nationalized care is common. In particular, many nationalized health systems seem to have trouble finding enough doctors to meet demand.

In Britain, a lack of practicing physicians means the country has had to import thousands of foreign doctors to care for patients in the National Health Service.

“A third of (British) primary care trusts are flying in (general practitioners) from as far away as Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland” because of a doctor shortage, a recent story in the British Daily Mail noted.

British doctors, demoralized by long hours and burdensome rules, simply refuse to see patients at nights and weekends.

Likewise, Canadian physicians who have to deal with the stringent rules and income limits imposed by that country’s national health plan have emigrated in droves to other countries, including the U.S.

ObamaCare is all about rationing.

Doctors will begin retiring in droves because government-funded healthcare already has them operating at a loss.  On average, Medicare only pays 93% of the COST of providing care.  Doctors and hospitals subsidize Medicare patients at a loss by counting on private insurance-covered patients to allow them to operate at an overall profit.  If you expand government-covered patients, and reduce the role of private insurance, medical practice will simply become unprofitable.  Hence the mass retirements as physicians stop swimming against the tide of government red-tape and low-balling and just quit.

Why doesn’t Obama invite these doctors to the White House.  They can even give them white coats when they get there, to look more “doctorly” like they did with the pro-ObamaCare doctors.

If Obama had the best interests for the nation in his heart, he would want to hear from these doctors.  Instead, he’s doing everything in his power to shut such professionals out of the debate while he tries to ram his ideological and partisan agenda through.

ObamaCare will cost this country hundreds of billions – and over time trillions – of dollars at a time when we can least afford it, even as its imposition results in thousands of doctors choosing to retire at a time when we can least afford it.

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Wall St. Journal Bursts The Obama Bubble: ObamaCare Is All About Rationing

August 19, 2009

Reading through this article, you begin to come to two conclusions: 1) the problem with the costs of health care is NOT that there is too LITTLE government involvement in health care, but rather too MUCH, namely due to stupid government regulations that end up raising costs by undermining individual responsibility; 2) the people who most stand in the way of legitimate health care reform that would really work is Democrats and their special interest allies, such as organized labor.

ObamaCare Is All About Rationing
Overspending is far preferable to artificially limiting the availability of new procedures and technologies.

By MARTIN FELDSTEIN

Although administration officials are eager to deny it, rationing health care is central to President Barack Obama’s health plan. The Obama strategy is to reduce health costs by rationing the services that we and future generations of patients will receive.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report in June explaining the Obama administration’s goal of reducing projected health spending by 30% over the next two decades. That reduction would be achieved by eliminating “high cost, low-value treatments,” by “implementing a set of performance measures that all providers would adopt,” and by “directly targeting individual providers . . . (and other) high-end outliers.”

The president has emphasized the importance of limiting services to “health care that works.” To identify such care, he provided more than $1 billion in the fiscal stimulus package to jump-start Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) and to finance a federal CER advisory council to implement that idea. That could morph over time into a cost-control mechanism of the sort proposed by former Sen. Tom Daschle, Mr. Obama’s original choice for White House health czar. Comparative effectiveness could become the vehicle for deciding whether each method of treatment provides enough of an improvement in health care to justify its cost.

In the British national health service, a government agency approves only those expensive treatments that add at least one Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) per £30,000 (about $49,685) of additional health-care spending. If a treatment costs more per QALY, the health service will not pay for it. The existence of such a program in the United States would not only deny lifesaving care but would also cast a pall over medical researchers who would fear that government experts might reject their discoveries as “too expensive.”

One reason the Obama administration is prepared to use rationing to limit health care is to rein in the government’s exploding health-care budget. Government now pays for nearly half of all health care in the U.S., primarily through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The White House predicts that the aging of the population and the current trend in health-care spending per beneficiary would cause government outlays for Medicare and Medicaid to rise to 15% of GDP by 2040 from 6% now. Paying those bills without raising taxes would require cutting other existing social spending programs and shelving the administration’s plans for new government transfers and spending programs.

The rising cost of medical treatments would not be such a large burden on future budgets if the government reduced its share in the financing of health services. Raising the existing Medicare and Medicaid deductibles and coinsurance would slow the growth of these programs without resorting to rationing. Physicians and their patients would continue to decide which tests and other services they believe are worth the cost.

There is, of course, no reason why limiting outlays on Medicare and Medicaid requires cutting health services for the rest of the population. The idea that they must be cut in parallel is just an example of misplaced medical egalitarianism.

But budget considerations aside, health-economics experts agree that private health spending is too high because our tax rules lead to the wrong kind of insurance. Under existing law, employer payments for health insurance are deductible by the employer but are not included in the taxable income of the employee. While an extra $100 paid to someone who earns $45,000 a year will provide only about $60 of after-tax spendable cash, the employer could instead use that $100 to pay $100 of health-insurance premiums for that same individual. It is therefore not surprising that employers and employees have opted for very generous health insurance with very low copayment rates.

Since a typical 20% copayment rate means that an extra dollar of health services costs the patient only 20 cents at the time of care, patients and their doctors opt for excessive tests and other inappropriately expensive forms of care. The evidence on health-care demand implies that the current tax rules raise private health-care spending by as much as 35%.

The best solution to this problem of private overconsumption of health services would be to eliminate the tax rule that is causing the excessive insurance and the resulting rise in health spending. Alternatively, Congress could strengthen the incentives in the existing law for health savings accounts with high insurance copayments. Either way, the result would be more cost-conscious behavior that would lower health-care spending.

But unlike reductions in care achieved by government rationing, individuals with different preferences about health and about risk could buy the care that best suits their preferences. While we all want better health, the different choices that people make about such things as smoking, weight and exercise show that there are substantial differences in the priority that different people attach to health.

Although there has been some talk in Congress about limiting the current health-insurance exclusion, the administration has not supported the idea. The unions are particularly vehement in their opposition to any reduction in the tax subsidy for health insurance, since they regard their ability to negotiate comprehensive health insurance for their members as a major part of their raison d’être.

If changing the tax rule that leads to excessive health insurance is not going to happen, the relevant political choice is between government rationing and continued high levels of health-care spending. Rationing is bad policy. It forces individuals with different preferences to accept the same care. It also imposes an arbitrary cap on the future growth of spending instead of letting it evolve in response to changes in technology, tastes and income. In my judgment, rationing would be much worse than excessive care.

Those who worry about too much health care cite the Congressional Budget Office’s prediction that health-care spending could rise to 30% of GDP in 2035 from 16% now. But during that 25-year period, GDP will rise to about $24 trillion from $14 trillion, implying that the GDP not spent on health will rise to $17 billion in 2035 from $12 billion now. So even if nothing else comes along to slow the growth of health spending during the next 25 years, there would still be a nearly 50% rise in income to spend on other things.

Like virtually every economist I know, I believe the right approach to limiting health spending is by reforming the tax rules. But if that is not going to happen, let’s not destroy the high quality of the best of American health care by government rationing and misplaced egalitarianism.

Mr. Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan, is a professor at Harvard and a member of The Wall Street Journal’s board of contributors.

So it’s not private insurance companies’ “excessive profits” that are to be demonized, but the government’s tax rules.  As is usually the case, the reason we’ve got high costs is because government is too involved, and is making things worse.  And again, who is the biggest obstacle to finally fixing the tax rules in a way that will lower costs?  Big labor, a key Democrat ally.

Having Democrats “fix” the system is like having foxes “guard” the chicken coop.

A further culprit in our skyrocketing medical costs are still another powerful Democrat special interest: the trial lawyers.  In exchange for the millions of dollars the trial lawyers give to Democrats, Democrat politicians continue to protect the system that allows lawyers to file frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit.  A simple “loser pays” system – such as the U.K. offers – would cut billions out of the costs of health care.  Instead, not only are doctors’ malpractice insurance costs exorbitant (which doctors must then pass on to patients), but fear of lawsuits leads to a practice known as “defensive medicine.” When 93% of physicians admit to ordering tests, prescribing drugs, or performing procedures to protect themselves from potential lawsuits rather than help their patients, something is just incredibly wrong.

Doctors are literally leaving medicine over the insane costs of medical malpractice.  In certain specialized fields, such as Ob/Gyn, whole regions are losing their doctors.  Insurance premiums for Ob/Gyn doctors are running $250,000 a year – and between higher insurance costs, lower government deductibles, and always high medical school costs, vitally important family care doctors are finding themselves netting less than fast food restaurant managers.

Alan Miller explains another reason why private insurance is absolutely vital to our health care system – and why a government “public option” would be disastrous:

Medicare reimbursements to hospitals fail to cover the actual cost of providing services. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent congressional advisory agency, says hospitals received only 94.1 cents for every dollar they spent treating Medicare patients in 2007. MedPAC projects that number to decline to 93.1 cents per dollar spent in 2009, for an operating shortfall of 7%. Medicare works because hospitals subsidize the care they provide with revenue received from patients who have commercial insurance. Without that revenue, hospitals could not afford to care for those covered by Medicare. In effect, everyone with insurance is subsidizing the Medicare shortfall, which is growing larger every year.

If hospitals had to rely solely on Medicare reimbursements for operating revenue, as would occur under a single-payer system, many hospitals would be forced to eliminate services, cut investments in advanced medical technology, reduce the number of nurses and other employees, and provide less care for the patients they serve. And with the government in control, Americans eventually will see rationing
, the denial of high-priced drugs and sophisticated procedures, and long waits for care.

When we consider that – all protestations aside – some 88 million Americans will be shifted out of their employer-paid private insurance into a “public option” under the Democrats’ plan, we should be very, very worried.

Democrats aren’t doing ANYTHING to reduce the costs of healthcare.  All they are offering is total government control as fiscally-responsible panacea; and that is simply a lie.  Government bureaucracy is not more efficient; it is unimaginably LESS efficient.  The government has never been more efficient at delivering services (remember the $435 hammers? the $640 toilet seats? the $7,600 coffee makers?).  You want efficiency and economies of scale?  How about the government overpaying 618%.  Big government is inherently bureaucratic, inefficient, and corrupt.  And as their costs go up and up and up, the only way they will be able to bring their costs down will be to ration care.

Don’t just listen to me: listen to the man Obama chose to be his health policy adviser, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who said this year:

“Many have linked the effort to reduce the high cost of death with the legalization of physician-assisted suicide…. Decreasing availability and increasing expense in health care and the uncertain impact of managed care may intensify pressure to choose physician-assisted suicide” and “the cost effectiveness of hastened death is as undeniable as gravity. The earlier a patient dies, the less costly is his or her care.”

And:

“When implemented, the Complete Lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuatedThe Complete Lives system justifies preference to younger people because of priority to the worst-off rather than instrumental value.”

Please don’t be so stupid not to think that rationing care – particularly to senior citizens who have already “lived their complete lives” – that rationing won’t be essential to government care.  And we will GET government care unless we rise up now to stop it.

Health Care: Why ‘Public Option’ A One-Way Trip Off A Cliff

August 13, 2009

Alan Miller, chairman and CEO of Universal Health Systems, provides about as damning a diagnosis of the Democrat’s health care fiasco (I mean, “reform”).

If you don’t read anything else, at least read the section in red font:

AUGUST 12, 2009, 7:30 P.M. ET

Medicare For All Isn’t The Answer
My company ran a hospital in London. We don’t want to go the government route.

By ALAN B. MILLER

With Congress now in recess, the debate over health-care reform has moved to each member’s home district. The American people have rightly been asking elected officials many probing questions. While few Americans deny we need health-insurance reform (too many people lack adequate coverage), most believe we receive the best quality health care in the world and do not want to see it compromised.

Several advocacy groups and members of Congress want a single-payer insurance system, modeled after Medicare, to cover all Americans. They say Medicare works to provide health care to seniors, so government should extend the program to Americans of all ages. Others want to create a government-run plan, sometimes called a “public option,” which they say would compete with private insurance but would only be two steps away from a single-payer system.

There are more than 1,300 insurance companies competing for business without unneeded competition from a federal government plan. Backed by tax dollars, a government-run option could offer artificially low rates without regard to profitability, or even meeting operating expenses. That would push businesses to move employees to the public-option plan, ultimately putting private insurers out of business and leaving only a single-payer system run by the government.

A single-payer system may appear attractive to some. But as someone with more than 30 years of experience running a leading hospital company with international operations, I have firsthand knowledge of the hidden costs.

Medicare reimbursements to hospitals fail to cover the actual cost of providing services. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent congressional advisory agency, says hospitals received only 94.1 cents for every dollar they spent treating Medicare patients in 2007. MedPAC projects that number to decline to 93.1 cents per dollar spent in 2009, for an operating shortfall of 7%. Medicare works because hospitals subsidize the care they provide with revenue received from patients who have commercial insurance. Without that revenue, hospitals could not afford to care for those covered by Medicare. In effect, everyone with insurance is subsidizing the Medicare shortfall, which is growing larger every year.

If hospitals had to rely solely on Medicare reimbursements for operating revenue, as would occur under a single-payer system, many hospitals would be forced to eliminate services, cut investments in advanced medical technology, reduce the number of nurses and other employees, and provide less care for the patients they serve. And with the government in control, Americans eventually will see rationing, the denial of high-priced drugs and sophisticated procedures, and long waits for care.

My company’s experience with health care in the United Kingdom illustrates the point. In the 1980s, we opened The London Independent Hospital to serve the private medical market in the U.K. The hospital had not been open long when representatives of a 1,000-bed government-run hospital located a short distance away approached us to borrow high-tech equipment and instruments. Because people were ill and needed procedures the government hospital could not provide, we provided that hospital with the help it needed. But that experience convinced me that under a single-payer system hospitals do not receive the money required to purchase advanced technology or provide quality care.

Advocates of a single-payer system say that hospitals would survive if they learned to operate more efficiently. While we are always looking for ways to improve efficiency, the economic conditions of the past few years have already forced most institutions to reduce expenses and increase efficiency as much as possible.

The reality is that Americans have come to expect the best health care in the world, and to provide that, hospitals must continue to invest in advanced medical technology, salaries for well-trained nurses and technicians, and state-of-the-art facilities. If hospitals were required to operate solely on revenue from a single-payer system, they could no longer afford to provide the care that Americans deserve.

Single-payer systems have proven to be wholly inadequate in Canada and the U.K. Most people in America are satisfied with the care they receive, so it is important that we take the time to fix only the parts of our system that need repair. Let’s not destroy a system that works well for most Americans. Let’s judiciously change only the areas in need.

Mr. Miller is chairman and CEO of Universal Health Services Inc.

The Democratts’ health plan won’t provide far better coverage for far less money.  What it will ultimately do is provide greatly INFERIOR coverage for far more money.

This isn’t about being a Republican or a Democrat or a conservative or a liberal.  It is about deciding whether or not we want to put big government ideology over common sense.

Messiah Obama Really IS The Second Coming… Of Jimmy Carter

August 12, 2008

There are a lot of striking parallels between Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama that people more astute than I have already contemplated:

– both were Democrats.

– both were young men.

– both had relatively little political experience prior to running for President.

– both had little in the sense of any meaningful accomplishment to point to.

– both began as outside of their Party’s inner circles.

– both built early excitement by winning early caucus primaries.

– both have run on a campaign featuring vague promises of change

– both had the eager embrace of the mainstream media.

– both were featured as having great intellects.

– both were/are foreign policy disasters just waiting to happen.

Israel Matzav noted:

The media discovered and promoted Carter. As Lawrence Shoup noted in his 1980 book The Carter Presidency and Beyond:

“What Carter had that his opponents did not was the acceptance and support of elite sectors of the mass communications media. It was their favorable coverage of Carter and his campaign that gave him an edge, propelling him rocket-like to the top of the opinion polls. This helped Carter win key primary election victories, enabling him to rise from an obscure public figure to President-elect in the short space of 9 months.”

Prior to his run, Jimmy Carter was such an unlikely presidential candidate that when he told his mother he was running for president, she asked, “Of what?”

Gerald Ford, rendered unpopular by being the president who dealt with the stench of Watergate, who pardoned Nixon, and who presided over an unfortunate period marked by our withdraw from Vietnam and the resulting damage to our prestige, found himself 30 points behind the new media darling – until his campaign hit on a strategy that nearly brought him all the way back: they focused on his His lack of experience, his lack of accomplishments and his lack of specificity on the issues. “The Ford forces pounded away at the experience question and painted Carter as a political illusion, an affable-seeming politician who was terrified of expressing his opinion on any controversial topic.” Had the campaign lasted just a week longer, many believe Ford could actually have pulled off the victory.

But that stuff – although interesting – is not what I wanted to focus on. Rather, I wanted to focus on their similarity on energy.

Namely:

1) both advocated a strategy of conservation.

2) both promised alternative energy over oil.

3) both called for a windfall profits tax on big oil companies.

Let us be frank: there is very little, if anything, that is signicantly different between Carter’s colossol failure of an energy policy and what Obama is pandering, I mean proposing.

Let me begin with 1) the strategy of conservation at the expense of increased production.

Jimmy Carter famously put on a cardigan and gave us high-minded exhortations to save on our heating bills by wearing sweaters. On a superficial level it was very true: by wearing sweators during the winter we could save oil.  It was good as public service announcement.

But as an energy policy it was laughable. And it was part of the reason he got clobbered when he ran for re-election.

When Barack Obama calls for every American to inflate their tires, it is absolutely 100% identical to Carter calling for every American to wear their sweaters.

We need more energy, not less. Our population is continuing to grow. Do you want to grow the economy as well? Do you want to create more jobs? Do you want more homes and businesses? Do you want more development, and a more modern, more mobile, and more powerful economy? Then you want more energy. And you need to vote for a president who will produce that energy.

Consider 2) the promise to develop alternative energy over oil. Barack Obama is promising to increase our “alternative energy” dependence from a little under 5% of our total energy consumption to 10% of our total energy consumption.

But he is literally concentrating on that 5% of energy by ignoring the nearly 90% that is based on oil, natural gas, and coal (by the way, natural gas is found in/near oil deposits; and harvesting the one naturally results in harvesting the other).

When we subsidize, we punish things that are doing well in order to reward something that is performing poorly. When government (during the Carter years, by the way) began to subsidize corn-based ethanol, it picked the wrong horse (as so often happens). We are now creating food shortages in order to force something that Agriculture Department studies show cost several times what it costs to produce a gallon of gasoline. And about 70% more energy is required to produce ethanol than the fuel itself actually produces, which means every time you produce a gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTU.

The decision to subsidize ethanol was based on naked political prostitution to special interest money. Do you really want these clowns – who couldn’t even run their own cafeteria without running massive deficits – making these decisions?

Meanwhile , the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal. And yet the same liberals that forced ethanol upon us are refusing to allow us to use it again and again. There is a deliberate rejection of American energy in pursuit of biofuels that do nothing but disrupt our food markets and drive up the real costs of energy. Children are literally starving because of these policies.

I mean, fine. Let’s do better to develop alternative energy sources. But to literally do so at the expense of our actual primary sources of energy – which will remain our actual primary sources of energy for decades by ANY standard – is foolishness beyond belief.

When Jimmy Carter was president, foreign oil represented a little less than 1/3 of our consumption; today it is over 70%. You tell me, which way is the trend going? We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil for both our international competitiveness and for our security. And the ONLY way to do that right now is to drill for our own domestic oil. We are consuming more energy, not less. And at the same time we need that 70% figure to go DOWN, not UP. And we can only bring it down with a comprehensive energy policy that features drilling for our own oil in addition to conservation and alternative energy production.

Now let us look at the crowning policy of both the Carter and the Obama energy policy: 3) windfall profits taxes on big oil.

The current call for a windfall profits tax has been going on since before the 2006 elections, in which Democrats promised that they had the better solutions for energy (and the price of gas has essentially doubled since Nancy Pelosi promised her “commonsense plan.”) Democrats have ever since been lining up to support a new federal windfall profits tax, with the aim of redistributing profits from “greedy” oil companies.

But, as Jonathon Williams, writing in The Los Angeles Times, pointed out:

lawmakers could benefit from a history lesson. The last time this country experimented with such a tax was the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act of 1980. According to a 1990 Congressional Research Service study, the tax depressed the domestic oil industry, increased foreign imports and raised only a tiny fraction of the revenue forecasted. It stunted domestic production of oil by 3% to 6% and created a surge in foreign imports, from 8% to 16%.

As for that “tiny fraction of the revenue forecasted” figure, the windfall profit tax returned only $40 billion of the $175 billion that had been projected.

Surprise, surprise. When you tax something, you get less of it, and you drive up the cost. It boggles the mind that Democrats are pathologically incapable of understanding what is the most blatently obvious principle of economics. But they can’t.

Many have defined insanity as doing the same thing and expecting different results. By that bar, Democrats should be sitting straightjacketed in rubber rooms.

Jimmy’s Carter’s failed energy policy was part of the reason for the 20% prime interest rate that consumed our economy like a cancer.

By taxing American oil companies, they produced less oil, reducing the supply and driving up the cost. At the same time, the reduction in domestic production created a corresponding increased dependence on foreign oil.

And, as Jonathon Williams also points out, the policy of windfall profits forced a major U.S. industry, and a major U.S. employer, into a depressed condition that it took years to overcome. You might hate big oil, but damaging the industry is tantamount to cutting off your own nose to spite your face.

The Jimmy Carter presidency was a catastrophic disaster in foreign policy, domestic policy, and energy policy. The last thing this country needs is the Second Coming of a failed presidency.