American Elephants


Col. Allen West, Republican Candidate for Congress, Broward County, Florida. by The Elephant's Child
April 21, 2010, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economy, Health Care | Tags: , ,


Col. Allen West, U.S. Army (ret.) is a Republican candidate for Congress in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District in Florida.  Just in case you needed a pep talk for today.



Where Is My Free Health Care? by The Elephant's Child
April 17, 2010, 8:45 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Taxes | Tags: , ,

President Obama promised that he could convince a reluctant public that his very own health-reform plan was somehow a good thing after all.  Public animosity towards  ObamaCare is getting stronger, with Rasmussen showing that 58 percent want it repealed.

More facts emerge regularly as people sort through the voluminous rules and regulations that were forced through Congress on an overly partisan vote.  People can see the destructive path ahead.  Even members of Congress are not sure that they will continue to be able to keep the health care that they like so much.  The Congressional Research Service is dubious.

1. Where is my free health care? eHealthInsurance, the online broker for health insurance, has been flooded with calls from people who ask: “Where do we get the free ObamaCare, and how do I sign up for that?”  They are unaware that the new insurance does not begin for four more years, though the massive tax increases will begin right away, but won’t even make a dent in the cost of ObamaCare.

2. There will be shortages of Doctors. At current graduation and training rates, there will be a shortage of up to 150,000 physicians in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

3. People with pre-existing conditions can purchase insurance when they get sick. This may seem “nice” but it negates the whole idea of insurance, which is that spreading the risk over large numbers of people over time, keeps costs down.   Legislators react by ordering insurance companies not to raise rates.  This will put insurance companies out of business.

4. Poorly written and poorly thought out regulations impose mandates on states that are already in deep financial trouble. Rules require the states to ensure the provision of “the care and services themselves,”opening state liability to floods of lawsuits.

5. Constitutional challenges continue and expand. There is no Constitutional authority for Congress to require citizens to purchase anything.

6. As the clever ways Congress made the bill seem to cost less begin to unravel, the real massive cost increases will kill jobs, depress economic growth, and taxes will continue to be raised. The Bush tax cuts expire, and as the huge tax increases necessary to pay for health care become apparent, public animosity will really increase.  Health care does not arrive for four years, but we start paying for it immediately.

7. Congress has made a big bet on “preventative care,”in the illusion that preventing disease will make health care cost less.  Multiple studies show that preventative care costs far more, not less, and does not prevent illness.  It helps to study consequences before passing the law.

Massachusetts health care was carefully thought out, and it has taken just 3 years for it to fall apart.  Many physicians have left the state, some hospitals have closed.  Premiums in the state are the highest in the country.

Governor Deval Patrick is in a battle with health insurers.  He will not allow them to raise their rates to cover the added costs of the state’s universal coverage law.  They will not stay in business if they can’t cover their costs.  Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is shocked that the new law does not give Congress the power to block increases in health insurance premiums.  Basic economics is not a Congressional strong point.

The American people wanted the administration to cut spending and reduce the debt, and cut taxes to encourage growth and create jobs.  Instead the administration has forced through, in the most reprehensible backroom deals, a health care plan that nobody wanted.  American health care is the finest in the world, with the best outcomes and most innovation.  It has been expensive because it is the result of individual choices by millions of Americans, not because of overcharging by insurance companies as President Obama tried to claim.

Creating straw-men to blame is a specialty of this president, but his ability to sell that kind of hype is growing old and stale.  The truth, as they say, will out.



We’ll Reduce Costs by Insuring Another 32 Million Patients, Won’t We? by The Elephant's Child
April 2, 2010, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Law, Statism | Tags: , ,

Now that ObamaCare the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is law, will the uninsured really stop going to the emergency room for their basic health care?  A basic assumption about ObamaCare is that once people have insurance, they will stop going to the emergency room and make appointments with their doctors instead.

According to Stanley Goldfarb writing in the Weekly Standard,  there are several assumptions involved here.

  1. Insurance payments to primary care physicians will change the habits of those accustomed to using the emergency room for care.
  2. There will be enough primary care physicians available to take on these new patients.
  3. The provision of insurance will reduce subsequent hospitalizations and emergency room visits by the previously uninsured.
  4. The cost for the care of these patients will decline and “the cost curve will be bent downward.”

All of these assumptions are wrong.  Yale University researchers studied emergency room use in New Haven, Conn. and found that there was no difference in subsequent visits to emergency departments nor in the number of inpatient admissions.  Primary care physicians are not available 24/7 and patients knew the emergency room would be open.  In Massachusetts, in spite of requiring insurance for everyone, emergency room use went up, not down.

It takes 17 years from the decision to increase the physician workforce to actually get more doctors in a community.  Thirty-two million newly insured will need a lot of doctors, and we don’t know how many will follow through in their plans to quit medicine.  New facilities must be built, students recruited, and physicians trained.  It all takes time.

Certainly all those folks with financial resources who are uninsured will be happy to pay for their health insurance rather than pay the much smaller financial penalty for not having insurance. Won’t they?

They wouldn’t try to sell us a bill of goods, would they?  Surely they are sincere.  They wouldn’t lie to the American people about something so important.  Would they?



The System is Not Broken. This is How It’s Supposed to Work! by The Elephant's Child
February 20, 2010, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: , , ,

Even Democrats recognize that things have gone wrong in this last year.  They have two excuses responses.  The first is that America has become “ungovernable.” Charles Krauthammer responded to that yesterday.

In the latter days of the Carter presidency, it became fashionable to say that the office had become unmanageable and was simply too big for one man. Some suggested a single, six-year presidential term. The president’s own White House counsel suggested abolishing the separation of powers and going to a more parliamentary system of unitary executive control. America had become ungovernable.

Then came Ronald Reagan, and all that chatter disappeared.

The tyranny of entitlements? Reagan collaborated with Tip O’Neill, the legendary Democratic House speaker, to establish the Alan Greenspan commission that kept Social Security solvent for a quarter-century.

A corrupted system of taxation? Reagan worked with liberal Democrat Bill Bradley to craft a legislative miracle: tax reform that eliminated dozens of loopholes and slashed rates across the board — and fueled two decades of economic growth.

Later, a highly skilled Democratic president, Bill Clinton, successfully tackled another supposedly intractable problem: the culture of intergenerational dependency. He collaborated with another House speaker, Newt Gingrich, to produce the single most successful social reform of our time, the abolition of welfare as an entitlement.

It turned out that the country’s problems were not problems of structure but of leadership. Reagan and Clinton had it. Carter didn’t. Under a president with extensive executive experience, good political skills, and an ideological compass in tune with the public’s, the country was indeed governable.

The excuse that this is a communications problem — interesting for a president who has made more speeches in his first year than any other — is denied by Charlie Cook, mild-mannered Democrat pollster:

This is a reality problem. And I think they just made some grave miscalculations and as it became more clear that they had screwed up, they just kept doubling down their bet. And so I think, no, this is one of the biggest miscalculations that we’ve seen in modern political history.

He also says that” it’s hard to come up with a scenario where the Democrats don’t lose the house.”

There remains not the slightest indication that the Democrats have any intention of changing their approach, or even doing a little soul-searching.

The two-party system was designed to promote discussion and dissension so that the problems of policies could be worked out in debate before being enacted into law.

It wasn’t intended that one domineering party should rule by bullying and closing down argument, and meeting behind closed doors to make secret agreements.    Hard to convince those who are determined to get their own way.



Democrats Will Spend President’s Day Celebrating — The Stimulus! by The Elephant's Child

From The National Journal’s ” Hotline”, not, as you might suppose, the Onion:

House Dems will spend the Pres. Day recess marking the 1-year anniversary of the $787B stimulus act, embracing a bill that has them in some political hot water.

Wednesday marks the anniversary of the bill’s passage, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is encouraging Dems to hold events touting its success. As polls show the economy still tops voters’ list of pressing concerns, members’ votes on the bill itself could prove decisive.

“The Recovery Act is a hallmark achievement of this Congress,” Pelosi wrote in a memo to House Dems, obtained by Hotline On Call. In the memo, Pelosi says the bill has created or saved 2M jobs and will “support” 3.5M jobs by the end of the year — numbers that GOPers reject as invented.



An Elaborate Scheme to Counter the Tea Party Movement. by The Elephant's Child

Tea Parties, as I understand it, grew out of unsatisfying Town Hall meetings, and representatives who wouldn’t listen.  People who had never demonstrated before, nor carried a sign joined with others who were similarly disturbed at excessive spending, and irresponsible congressmen.

Demonstrations began popping up all over the country, interest spread all over the internet. The Obama administration claimed to be unaware of the hundreds of thousands of people marching on the mall, and cleaning up after themselves like the nice responsible people they were.

Leftists have sneered and criticized, and recently anti-tea party groups have popped up in opposition. Joseph Abrams of Fox News has conducted a detailed investigation of the independent grassroots groups which have turned out to be part of “a complex network of money flowing from the mountainous coffers of the country’s biggest labor unions and trickling slowly into political slush funds for Democrat activists.”

The biggest benefactor is AFSCME the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which donated $10 million to two front groups. Other unions are SEIU, Change to Win, Communications Workers of America, NEA, Teamsters, United Food & Commercial Workers and others.

Here’s how it works: What appears like a local groundswell is in fact the creation of two men — Craig Varoga and George Rakis, Democratic Party strategists who have set up a number of so-called 527 groups, the non-profit election organizations that hammer on contentious issues (think Swift Boats, for example).

Varoga and Rakis keep a central mailing address in Washington, pulling in soft money contributions from unions and other well-padded sources to engage in what amounts to a legal laundering system. The money — tens of millions of dollars — gets circulated around to different states by the 527s, which pay for TV ads, Internet campaigns and lobbyist salaries, all while keeping the hands of the unions clean — for the most part.

“One of the groups created a web site,” says Daniel Foster, “TheTeaParty Is Over.org, dedicated to stopping tea partiers; attempts to, in its words “undermine…the legitimacy of the federal government in favor of a radical rightwing form of state’s rights,” and “Prevent their dangerous ideas from gaining a legislative foothold.”

Goodness, can’t have people out there with such radical ideas as cutting back on spending, or balancing the  budget, or banning earmarks. That’s downright dangerous!  What will those crazy radicals think of next?



Unending Analysis of the Amazing Environmental Benefits of “Cash-for-Clunkers.” by The Elephant's Child
November 5, 2009, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Economy, Environment, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

Every time I think that there is not another word to be said about  the “Cash for Clunkers” program, another bit of information turns up, demanding to be mentioned:

WASHINGTON — The most common deals under the government’s $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program, aimed at putting more fuel-efficient cars on the road, replaced old Ford or Chevrolet pickups with new ones that got only marginally better gas mileage, according to an analysis of new federal data by the Associated Press.

The single most common swap — which occurred more than 8,200 times — involved Ford F 150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade in their old trucks for new Ford F-150s.  They were 17 times more likely to buy a new F-150 than, say, a Toyota Prius.  The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, and improvement of just 1 mpg to 3 mpg over the clunkers.

Well, that worked out well.  You might want to keep this bit of Congressional competence in mind.  It’s not getting better as the bills get bigger.

 




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