Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Military, Politics, The United States | Tags: Caring For Our Veterans, Disability Claims Backlog, Just Destroy the Backlog
December 30, 2013: The Obama administration’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki said that it is on track to eliminate the disability claims backlog. For the first time since Barack Obama was elected president, the veterans claims backlog will end this year lower than it began.
Department of Veterans Affairs officials say they’re on track to end the backlog entirely sometime in 2015. At the start of December, the claims backlog —the number of cases unfinished for more than 125 days — sat at just under 393,000 cases. Critics call that an embarrassingly large number, especially considering that the White House pledged to fix the problem almost four years ago. But the peak was 608,000 in March.
Shinseki credits mandatory overtime for the agency workforce and new computer processing systems that pushed to agency to come out of paper to go into electronics.
February 14, 2014: Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told the Daily Caller.
“The committee was called ‘System Redesign’ and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” said Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center.
“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. “It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospital’s efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”
By 2008, some patients were “waiting six to nine months for an exam” and VA “didn’t know how to address the issue,” Mitchell said.
VA Greater Los Angeles Radiology department chief Dr. Suzie El-Saden initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus reducing the backlog, Mitchell said.
Audio from a November 2008 meeting was obtained by the Daily Caller.
“I’m still canceling orders from 2001,” said a male official in the meeting.
“Anything over a year old should be canceled.” replied a female official
“Canceled or … your backlog should start at April “07″ the female official replied, adding “a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery … died, don’t live in the state. …It’s ridiculous.”
Congress has been after the VA for some time, trying to get information, responses, and explanations. This is just the first chapter is a long disgusting story. The government is not dependable. Promises are not kept. Contracts are not fulfilled. Politicians lie and cover up, and promise that which they cannot deliver, in order to get votes. Ethics start at the top.
July 1, 2013: The Backlog:
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Keynesian Fairy Tales, Last of the Big Time Spenders, What Austerity?
President Obama says his new budget will finally end the dreary “era of austerity.”
What? Dreary era of austerity? On what planet? The federal government will spend $561 billion more this year than it did in 2008. That’s a 19% increase at a time when inflation rose just 9%. Obama has set the country on a permanently higher spending path. Federal outlays are on track to reach 22.4% of the gross domestic Product (GDP) by 2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Deficits have dropped slightly in the past two years, and expected to fall again this year and next, but that’s due to revenues bouncing back from recessionary lows as much as it is to spending restraint imposed by the GOP. By 2022, the deficit will top $1 trillion again and will go on up from there, as will the national debt.
The areas that Obama singles out for big spending hikes are hardly starved for funds. He wants more money for early childhood education programs, but Head Start’s budget has soared by 25% since Obama took office to $8.6 billion. The stimulus pumped another $2 billion into the program in 2009. Study after study has shown that there is no lasting benefit from the Head Start program. The thinking seems to be that rich people send their kids to fancy early childhood programs, so if you give the same benefit to poor or minority children, they will do as well as the rich kids. It seems to be simply expensive babysitting.
Obama also wants to spend big on college tuition aid. Federal aid has already climbed 32% on his watch according to the College Board. According to Forbes magazine, student loan debt now tops $1.2 Trillion! Kids are emerging from college, many not having completed a degree, with enormous debt — and cannot find a job.
Since the “age of austerity” is over (?) Obama wants more federal job training money, for programs that have more than tripled, and about training that is questionable in producing employment. And he wants more money for transportation — for California’s train to nowhere? He wants to order business to boost the minimum wage, on their own dime. More lost jobs.
Obama seems to think that the people who have lost jobs are unqualified for new jobs, and unless they are retrained for something different, are unemployable. He does not understand the burden that the federal government has imposed on business with ObamaCare.
The burden of excessive regulation, high taxes, and add plain old fear of what the federal government might do. The IRS, the EPA, the FCC, the EEOC, the DOL, and all the other myriad agencies and bureaus have gone after business to emphasize federal control. Business observes what has happened to other businesses, and hunkers down to try to avoid being noticed. More jobs are to come from a newly educated workforce, not from making it easier for business to grow, expand, and hire. We still have the highest corporate tax in the world.
Well, maybe the people who are mourning the death of President Roosevelt today will be relieved that we are ending the” dreary age of austerity.” Some of the folks still believe. If this is austerity, imagine what profligacy might be.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Global Warming, Junk Science, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Science/Technology | Tags: Climate Data Scandal, Drought in California, Fictitious Temp Increase
A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.
But once you get up over a billion dollars, or even before that, it’s hard to grasp just what we are really talking about.
The current administration was hoping that the Republicans would fail to raise the debt ceiling, so they could demonize the GOP for the rest of the year for not paying our country’s bills, for defaulting on the debt, destroying our credit-rating, for all the things they would be able to shut down to pay for the damage the nasty Republicans were doing to the country. But Republicans raised the limit, as had to be done anyway, and now the GOP is free to point at those who, so callously, could not stop spending.
The First Lady and the girls are in Aspen, skiing. The president has gone to California to play golf with Jay Carney, but dropped in on the Central Valley to publicize California’s drought — as a sign of global warming. It is a little preposterous to try to blame the East’s snow and ice on global warming, though some of media have valiantly tried to do so. It really doesn’t pass the laugh test. Ditto for the drought.
Another quiet story broke that didn’t make front-page headlines. “A newly-uncovered and monumental calculating error in official U.S. government climate data shows that climate scientists unjustifiably added on a whopping one degree of phantom warming to the official ‘raw’ temperature record. ” Independent data analyst Steven Goddard released his telling study of the officially adjusted and “homogenized” U.S. temperature records relied upon by NASA, NOAA, USHCN and scientists around the world to “prove” our climate has been warming dangerously. His evidence proves conclusively that the officially-claimed one-degree increase in temperatures is entirely fictitious. It also discredits the reliability of any assertion by such agencies to possess a reliable and robust temperature record.
So on his trip to California, President Obama is pitching a new $1 billion climate change resilience fund during a visit to Fresno and the Great Central Valley, devastated by government-caused drought. The President even hauled out his assistant to the president on science and technology, John Holdren, who said “Weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change.”
The new fund—separate from Obama’s climate agenda announced in June — will be detailed in the president’s 2015 budget, set for release next month. Obama has said he will use his executive authority to push his climate agenda and other policies during his “year of action,” but the president would need approval from Congress for the fund.
In Europe, countries are backing away from renewable energy as they realize that they can’t afford the subsidies, and without subsidies the renewable energy goes away. Britain is having a flooding problem, blamed by some on global warming, but in reality, apparently the fault of government’s failure to dredge coastal rivers in order to protect a mollusc.
Victor Davis Hanson, a 3rd or 4th generation California farmer, explains the drought Mr, Obama wants to spend a billion on, as two droughts — nature’s and its man made twin.
Californians have not built a major reservoir since the New Melones Dam more than 30 years ago. As the state subsequently added almost 20 million people, it assumed that it was exempt from creating any more “unnatural” Sierra lakes and canals to store precious water during California’s rarer wet and snow-filled years.
Then, short-sightedness soon became conceit. Green utopians went further and demanded that an ailing three-inch bait fish in the San Francisco delta receive more fresh oxygenated water. In the last five years, they have successfully gone to court to force millions of acre-feet of contracted irrigation water to be diverted from farms to flow freely out to sea.
So there you have it. Government causes problems, president proposes billions in public money, congress appropriates, which doesn’t solve problems and creates more. You can’t fix problems by throwing money at them. A Political Problem cannot be solved by throwing money in it’s direction.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Election 2008, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Statism, The Constitution | Tags: Blaming Bush Forever, Faultless Lawless Obama, Lies and Corruption
What politicians have not learned is that their words and faces will be preserved on YouTube or another of the many, many video sources, and the videos will be dug up, and when you say something really stupid, hoping people will believe it in spite of all evidence to the contrary — there you are, preserved for all time. Bwa-haha-ha-ha-ha.
Or Neener, Neener, Neener, whichever you prefer.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation, Statism, Taxes | Tags: Absence of Thought, Misunderstanding Incentives, No Careful Research
• The members of the gang who constructed ObamaCare in the back rooms of Congress, do-gooders all, were anxious to see that ObamaCare made the people healthier. Problem — obesity. Lots of people were too fat. (Nevermind that overweight people are apt to live longer) The obvious solution was to tell the people how many calories the food they were eating contained. (Nevermind that there is no evidence that calorie labeling is effective in combating obesity. Multiple studies have shown that this simply is not the case. A study in Philadelphia showed that the regulation had no effect whatsoever on fast food consumption, and most people didn’t even notice the labels in McDonald’s.)
Common sense would indicate that pizzas, burritos and sandwiches are apt to have choices of many ingredients, each one of which requires a calorie count, that can be ordered in many combinations (hold the olives).
Although the law is designed to target corporate fast-food giants, in practice it will largely affect individual franchises that effectively operate as independent small businesses. For example, over 80 percent of McDonald’s locations are owned and operated by franchisees. Each of these franchisees will now be tasked with complying with the mandate–paying for new signage, removing profit-generating advertisements to make room for the calorie data, updating menus every time recipes change, and accommodating inspectors. Furthermore, it’s unclear what penalties restaurateurs will face if they inadvertently fail to comply.
The regulation is doomed to fail, because the do-gooders inability to keep its hands off our lunches outran thought and careful analysis.
• Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan because health care costs too much — and coming up with a plan that actually raises the cost of health care and the cost of insurance policies — that increases the cost of each item used by the medical profession with a tax levied on “medical devices” — and then expects future costs to go down because of the medical innovation that is discouraged by a tax that forces many innovators out of business.
• Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan because there are so many people who don’t have health insurance. We were told that 46 million Americans were in desperate need of health insurance. This was the reason for the Federal Government to take over 1/6th of the U.S. economy. After five months of ObamaCare a questionable 3 million people have enrolled, but not necessarily paid.
About 39 percent of the uninsured are in five states —Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. About 21 percent of the uninsured are not citizens. Up to 14 million are eligible for existing programs — Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, veterans benefits — but have not enrolled. 9.1 million have household incomes of at least $75,000 and could purchase insurance but don’t want to. Increasing numbers are signing up for concierge medicine outside the system.
• In the State of the Union address, President Obama received a standing ovation when he said “Because of this law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer.” This was not true in January, and it has not been true since Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996. That law required all individual insurance plans to have guaranteed renewability. It also prohibited all group health-insurance plans sold to businesses from denying coverage to individuals because of preexisting conditions. Medicare covered anyone age 65 or older regardless of preexisting conditions, ditto Medicaid. That wasn’t an intrinsic absurdity — just a plain lie.
• They were sure that computerizing all medical records into a national high tech database would save the U.S. more than $81 billion annually. That turned out to be a flawed study. Evidence on efficiency and safety are mixed, errors widespread, and most medical centers developed their own systems at great expense, but they don’t necessarily talk to each other, let alone talk to the federal government, nor is it clear that to be desirable. The problem seems to be that the systems were developed by High tech engineers instead of developed by clinicians to develop what would work for them. In some cases the doctors are followed around by ‘scribes’ who record data so the doctor doesn’t have to. How many typos do you do each day?
Are you mad yet?
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Media Bias, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: All About ObamaCare, For Your Enjoyment, The Republican Response
Here are Six Answers to your Most Pressing Questions today, or they would be the most pressing if you’d thought of them.
- When Obama Rewrites ObamaCare, Why Doesn’t Anyone Sue Him? Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has a remarkable legal mind, and it pays to listen. “President Obama has repeatedly suspended parts of the Affordable Care Act without the consent of Congress. The latest unilateral action happened Monday night, when the administration announced another delay of the employer mandate, the law’s provision that businesses with more than 50 employees must provide their employees with insurance starting in 2014 or pay large fines.“
- Why is Janet Yellen so concerned and disturbed about income inequality? James Pethokoukis explains why “income inequality” is a flawed enthusiasm of the Left. “A ‘very concerned’ Janet Yellen told a congressional panel today that she thinks income inequality is “one of the most important issues and one of the most disturbing trends facing the nation at the present time.”
- Actually, We Won the War on Poverty, And sorry liberals; It was conservative ideas that did it. “After all, despite the alarm of the current debate about America’s poor, the country has actually reduced poverty more than we often appreciate—and that decline in poverty has been less about the liberal programs of the New Deal and Great Society and more about economic growth and center-right welfare reforms than is widely recognized.”
- Why I’m Getting Sick of Defending ObamaCare: Incompetence, politics, and delays frustrate advocates of health care reform. Waiting for a Democrat to notice that all is not well? Ron Fournier is beginning to have trouble with it. “It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation.“
- HIT Apologia: Health Information Technology, promised by the Left to save all the costs racked up by ObamaCare, forced on the health care industry with a $20 billion appropriation from the HITECH law to upgrade information technology. A team of RAND Corporation researchers projected in 2005 that rapid adoption of HIT would save the U.S. more than $81 billion annually. Not the first time people got a little overexcited by the wonders of high tech. Seven years later, information on efficiency and safety are mixed and health care expenditures have grown by $800 billion. The evidence is overwhelmingly negative. You doctor probably has more interaction with his computer than he does with you. They gave the problem to engineers to solve instead of doctors to develop what would work for them.
- “ObamaCare both sucks and blows” John Podhoretz offers up full-throated outrage at the latest announcement that “the Obama administration is once again unilaterally delaying a key aspect of its health-care law and what this act of astonishing royalism suggests about the president and his fundamental disrespect for the American system of checks and balances.” For your enjoyment.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: DC Court of Appeals, Silencing Opponents!, The IRS Got Slapped Down
“The IRS may not unilaterally expand its authority through such an expansive, atextual and ahistorical reading of the law.” The Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit used these words in a February 11 ruling that struck down an Obama administration regulation on tax preparers.
In the same week, President Obama illegally delayed the employer mandate and out of thin air created a bizarre loyalty oath to administer to companies suffering from ObamaCare, a federal court unanimously smacked down his IRS for executive overreach.
Federal judges should use this phrase as a guideline and include it in future rulings, replacing “IRS” with “Health and Human Services” or “the President of the United States,” as the case in question requires.
The background: In 2009, Obama named former H&R Block CEO Mark Ernst as deputy IRS commissioner. He led the devising of new regulations for tax preparers. The new rules required paid tax preparers to be licensed, pay fees and undergo federally approved training every year. No big deal for the big Tax preparer outfits or those who did it full time, but it would drive out of business the Mom and Pop tax preparers who hang out a shingle once a year and make a few thousand helping people with their taxes.
There’s a federal law that Obama appointees were barred from participating in any matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.So Obama hired Ernst as a “civil servant” rather than as a political appointee. But Congress never gave the IRS any authority to regulate tax preparers — none. The administration dealt with that by pretending that federal law says something that it doesn’t. Didn’t work. The IRS can regulate tax attorneys, accountants or agents who represent taxpayers in battles with the IRS over audits, tax-court cases and appeals. Helping to prepare a tax return is not practice before the IRS.
Much of Obama’s recent actions in revising laws to fit his agenda seem to be much more related to Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals than to whatever he learned or didn’t learn in law school.
Was Obama rewriting the rules for the employer mandate politically motivated? Is it possible that people who get their health insurance at work will be upset when they find they are losing their policies, or losing their doctors, or having the cost of their health insurance skyrocket? Is it possible that the rules will cause employers to let people go?
If medium-sized employers fire workers to get under the threshold for being required to offer insurance, these firms are now required to certify to the IRS, under penalty of perjury that ObamaCare is not a factor in the firings. ” To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs.“
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Politics, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Bad Assumptions, ObamaCare Flaws, Unworkable Mandates
Surely you expected this. Everyone has been talking about when larger businesses have to face up to the employer mandate in ObamaCare. Will they meet the mandate, with policies that are acceptable to the ACA? Will thousands of people be dropped by their policies? Will thousands of people be cut back to 28 hours so the companies don’t have to supply health insurance. Will they join everyone else in being furious that they can no longer see their doctor, but must search for a new one?
— If the employer mandate were to take effect immediately, you would have a lot of angry people right before the mid-term elections. Can’t have that. Charles Krauthammer said that” delaying the employer mandate simply to ease political pain before an election is the kind of stuff they do in banana republics.”
— CNS News points out that President Barack Obama’s Treasury Department today issued a new regulation that for the second time directly violates the plain and unambiguous text of the Affordable Care Act by allowing some businesses to avoid the law’s Dec, 31, 2013 deadline to provide health insurance coverage to their employees.
— There are an avalanche of regulations still to come under ObamaCare. 28 new paperwork rules will cost $1.4 billion a year to comply with. It would take 22,800 employees working full time to complete the new paperwork. These regulations will cost $1.4 billion annually just in completion of the paperwork.
— Many assumptions in heath-care myths we live by turn out to be completely untrue. Swedish researchers report that antioxidants make cancers worse in mice. It is already known that the antioxidant beta-carotene exacerbates lung cancers in humans. Not exactly what you hear given the extravagant claims about antioxidants. The Annals of Internal Medicine: “Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful.” Moreover, “other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases. Such revisionism is a constant in medicine. There was a time when every kid had their tonsils removed— grossly unnecessary surgery.
— It has been assumed that insuring the uninsured would save huge amounts of money because they wouldn’t keep using the emergency room. When the uninsured were put on Medicaid, they increased their ER use by 40 percent.
—Electronic records will save zillions, they thought. ACA threatens penalties for those who don’t convert by the end of 2014. The earliest effects are to create a whole new category of previously unnecessary health workers, called scribes, who follow doctors around and fill in the records so the doctors don’t have to do it themselves.
— Most of Obama’s rewrites, delays, exemptions and administrative retrofits are far too numerous to count and most of them are quite dubious legally. When a law passes both houses of Congress and is signed by the president, then it is officially THE LAW. If it is desired to change it, it has to go back to Congress and get amendments passed and signed.
— One big thing is that ObamaCare requires insurance policies to cover not just the expense of catastrophic illness, which is the normal use of insurance; but it forces policies to cover all sorts of routine medical expenses that most people will not need. If you are a 63 year-old woman, you will be paying for childbirth and well child visits, as well as Sandra Fluke’s contraceptives. Wanting to give people nice benefits is all very well, but it does not lend itself to less expensive medicine.
— Obama’s architects made the enormously flawed assumption that health insurance makes people healthier, tending to drive health care costs down over time. Very flawed assumption. The architects did not anticipate the behavior of people who do not share their approach to the world. There are lots of us out there.
Filed under: History, Law, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Governor Jay Inslee, Making Up The Law, President Barack Obama
Unintended consequences. Someone speaks, or takes an action, advocates a policy, and aside from the immediate political response, the world shifts a little, and all you can do is hope that if there are unintended consequences, they will not be too bad. President Obama famously said “he has a phone and he has a pen” and even today, announced at Monticello that “He is President of the United States and he can do whatever he wants to.”
That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. There is the oath of office, and a long history of presidential terms in office, and the assumption that a president, any president, will struggle mightily to do the right thing for the people of the United States. Why else did he run for office? President Obama had something quite different in mind. He ran a nebulous campaign full of theatrics and empty words like “yes we can” and “we are the ones,” and people fell for it. But finding that now that he no longer has a Democrat-controlled Congress, but has to actually attempt to debate, discuss and compromise with Republicans in the House, like a petulant child, he announces that he will not compromise on anything, but will just act independently— with his pen and his phone.
Well, if the President of the United States can just act on his own, why not governors? Why do we need laws and customs and rules and tradition? Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, noted empty suit, has decided that while he is in office “During my term we will not be executing people.” He has the authority under RCW 10.10.120to commute a death sentence to life in prison at hard labor, and upon a petition from the offender, to pardon the offender, or to offer a reprieve which is to be issued “for good cause shown, and as the Governor thinks proper.”
Washington State does not have a particularly high murder rate with the exception of a couple of really bad serial killers. Ted Bundy’s case was famous. But the one that raised questions about the death penalty was that of the “Green River Killer,” Gary L. Ridgway. King County prosecutors gave up on capitol punishment in exchange for his cooperation with providing details that helped solve dozens of open murder cases. He pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first-degree murder in 2003 and was sentenced to life in prison. Forty-eight murders seemed like a good reason for a death penalty, though there were 48 families who deserved some kind of closure.
Governor Inslee’s actions are again reminiscent of President Obama’s efforts to escape blame for anything. Inslee doesn’t want to be blamed for any executions, and will shove them off on his successor.