American Elephants


Big Government Intrudes in Your Life, Part III. by The Elephant's Child
April 4, 2010, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Law | Tags: , ,

There were the shower heads, the low-flush toilets, and upcoming before we know it, will be the mandate to use only CFL (twisty) light bulbs.  The latter is ostensibly to save energy, but the only reason to save energy is because of the government’s refusal to drill for oil or natural gas, and its war on coal all in the name of stopping a non-existent global warming and keeping CO2, a natural plant fertilizer, out of the atmosphere which is actually short of CO2.

Liberals are control freaks.  They want to remove all annoyances from life — not things that annoy us, like government over-regulation, but things that annoy them.   Mayor Bloomberg of New York and now Governor Schwarzenegger of California have banned trans-fats.  The only problem is that there is no evidence whatsoever that trans-fats are harmful to anyone.

It’s time to shape up the American population.  Attacks on fast food of any kind will continue.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains a little section requiring restaurants to disclose calorie counts on their menu boards.  Envision Pelosi and Steny Hoyer and Waxman and the others all sitting around a table in a backroom trying to decide just what to do about American obesity.  Obviously they don’t often patronize fast food restaurants and have never seen the menu boards behind the counter.

Seems so simple.  Just add nutritional information for each item on the menu.  Picking a can at random from my pantry shelf, you have: Calories, Calories from fat. Total fat, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Total carbohydrates, Fiber, Sugars, and Protein, and then there are vitamins A and C, Calcium and Iron.  On the back of my can, it takes up a space of about 1″ x 2″, and includes teeny tiny type.  On a behind-the-counter menu board  it all has to be easy to read from a distance.  Details, details!

Can you spell l-i-t-i-g-a-t-i-o-n ?  Does publishing caloric information constitute advertising?  So you run up against the truth in advertising rules.  Suppliers change frequently, does that mean doing the whole thing over? Can you take the supplier’s word for the information, or do you have to have each item tested yourself?  When all these extra costs are added, can you still churn out innovative menu items?  If you cannot raise the price of the food, where do you put the extra costs?

Democrats have no grasp of consequences. Actions always have consequences, and the consequences have consequences.  Would anyone read the calories on the menu board?  If they read them would that change their behavior?  And what business is it of the government anyway.   This is a huge bomb of mass economic destruction on an economy in the throes of a semi-permanent depression.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air talked the federal menu mandate over with a vice president of Davanni’s pizza chain in the Twin Cities.  More lost jobs, reduced choices for customers, money that might have funded more jobs wasted, because political elites fail to understand that Americans are perfectly capable of seeking out such information for themselves.



Out on the Campaign Trail, Trying to Sell a Bill that Is Already Law. by The Elephant's Child

Now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been signed into law, President Obama has been out on the campaign trail, trying to sell it to an angry populace.  In Charlotte, North Carolina,  Doris Ravis asked him: “In the economy times that we have now, is it a wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care?  Because it — we are over-taxed as it is.”

The president has a fondness for lists:

Well, let’s talk about that, because this is an area where there’s been just a whole lot of misinformation, and I’m going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have.  Here’s the bottom line:  Number one is that we are the only — we have been up until last week the only advanced country that allows 50 million of its citizens to not have any health insurance, and the vast majority of those folks work.  It’s just that they don’t happen to work for a company that is either big enough or generous enough to provide them any coverage.

The president just said that Ms. Ravis’ question was “misapprehension.” But there is another “misapprehension” here.  “We are the only advanced country that allows 50 million of its citizens to not have any health insurance”

This statement, which turns everything on its head, has been the big excuse behind the drive to redistribute income, which is the true goal.  The idea that we are somehow behind countries that have universal health care simply doesn’t hold water.  Obama keeps implying that anyone who doesn’t have health insurance (and the number was never 50 million, we are only pretending to force 32 million to buy insurance) is going to die as a result.

American health care has been the finest in the world.  It is expensive because of 300 million people’s individual decisions.  We have chosen to see a specialist, get the test the doctor recommends.  And to make sure that there is a safety net, as a country, we have made a law that no one can be turned away from an emergency room.  The only place in our health care system where people are forced to do without needed medical care is in the government-run Indian Health Care Service and in the VA. The failures of our health care system can be laid at the doorstep of government regulation.

Socialized medicine does not work in those “advanced” countries with universal health care. Governments tinker constantly, trying to reduce costs. All are in crisis of varying degrees.  And we need to pay close attention to the failures, because health care doesn’t matter much when you are perfectly well, it matters when you desperately need it.

Point Number Three is attack the insurance companies .  You may think you’re covered, but then when you get sick they decide to drop the insurance right when you need it.  It has been the law for years that insurance companies cannot do any such thing.  Obama’s assumption that people are too dumb to grasp this is insulting. He always likes to throw in “going bankrupt and losing your house.” This is pure demagoguery.

“Because the costs are so out of control, all the programs that we already have — Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program — all those things are completely out of control.  Above all, costs are out of control because of waste, fraud and abuse — estimated as high as $10 billion.  And there is nothing in the bill that will reduce that fraud.

Then he started a new list at number one:  “Most people individually shouldn’t buy health insurance on their own because they have no leverage and the insurance companies take advantage of it.  Instead what we’re going to do is we’re going to set up a big pool, a marketplace, that allows everybody to buy into this pool — that members of Congress, will be a part of so that you know it’s going to be a good deal — because members of Congress, they’ve got to look out for their own families; they wouldn’t vote for it if it wasn’t going to be a good deal.”

That’s when I gave up.  I don’t know when they amended the bill to take out the exclusion written in for Congress and key staffers.  I suspect that it hasn’t happened, for it would be pretty big news.  I would urge you to read this whole speech  for yourself.  All hopey-changey, say anything that you think the suckers will swallow.  The extent to which the president will go in trying to sell his bill is depressing.  They must be really worried that we will repeal it.

One more: ” We’re going to start encouraging paying doctors not based on how many tests they take, but based on the quality of the outcome — does somebody end up healthy.”  Wow!  I’ve never heard of a doctor being paid based on how many tests they order.  The tests are usually done by a variety of laboratories, who are reimbursed for their work.  And most tests are designed to help a doctor diagnose the state of your health.  And they’re going to save money because you won’t get a test from your doctor, the same test from the specialist. Nonsense. My doctors, at least,  fax test results, have x-rays hand carried.  Nobody repeats the same test.

Ms. Ravis got a 17-minute, 2,500-word response to her question, all over the map, and she never got an answer.



The Stories Told to Justify a Very Bad Bill. by The Elephant's Child

The real reason behind ObamaCare, said Byron York in an interesting article in the Examiner:

It wasn’t just about making insurance more affordable. It wasn’t just about bending the cost curve. It wasn’t just about cutting the federal deficit. It was about redistributing wealth.

Health reform is “an income shift,” Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said on March 25. “It is a shift, a leveling, to help lower-income, middle-income Americans.”

In his halting, jumbled style, Baucus explained that in recent years “the maldistribution of income in America has gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle-income class is left behind.” The new health care legislation, Baucus promised, “will have the effect of addressing that maldistribution of income in America.”

Former Democratic National Committee chairman and presidential candidate Howard Dean said, around the same time, that the health care bill was needed to correct economic inequities.  Democrats rate what they call “social justice” highly, for it gives them warm fuzzy feeling to “take from the rich to give to the poor.”

This is based on the idea, deeply favored by the Left and based on one of the biggest fallacies in economics, that an economy is a ‘zero-sum’ situation.  That there is only a fixed amount of money in an economy, and for one person to get rich, others must get poorer.  Lately the cause of people getting richer has been the technological revolution that is transforming the world.

“The Industrial Revolution,” pointed out John Steele Gordon, “produced so many new rich that Benjamin Disraeli had to coin the word millionaire in 1827 to describe them. Railroads, steel, oil, automobiles, the movies, television, all produced prodigious new fortunes.”

The dynamic American economy has always produced vibrant movement over the income classes.   The poor get richer, the rich get poorer.  Even the Forbes Magazine list has new entrants every year, while other names drop from the list. The poor may always be with us, but they are not the same people over time, nor are the rich.

Senator Baucus may just have been trying to encourage his leftist constituents,  to whom everything seems more virtuous if clothed in the cloak of wealth redistribution.



Nancy Pelosi Said Wait Till the Bill is Passed, And Find Out About the Unemployment Implications! by The Elephant's Child
April 4, 2010, 12:16 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Statism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Nancy Pelosi was quite clear.  The Health Care bill would create 400,000 jobs. She also said that we’d have to wait till we passed it to find out what’s in it.  She was, at least dimly, aware that the voters are concerned about jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “This, of course, was a health bill.  But it was also a jobs bill.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared, “It will create millions of jobs and strengthen our economic security by keeping America competitive and igniting innovation and entrepreneurship.” If we ever needed proof that Democrats do not understand how jobs are created, there it is, laid out for all to see.

The 2006 law that created the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit also authorized payment of a 28% federal subsidy, up to $1330 per retiree, tax-free, to each company for each retiree who took part in a company drug plan.  Because of that subsidy, the retirees did not participate in the Part D prescription drug plan and saved the government some money.  The subsidy was also tax-deductible.

The health care bill repeals that credit, which raises corporate tax bills and lowers after-tax income.  Companies must immediately announce the write-downs . Consulting firm Towers Watson anticipates write-downs of approximately $14 billion.  Reduced profits and retained earnings may mean fewer jobs.

A levy on the production of medical devices is meant to help pay for health care. Starting in 2013, an excise tax of 2.3% of the sales of taxable medical devices will be imposed.  The tax is estimated to raise about $2 billion a year. Congress supposedly believed that the health care bill would expand the market for medical devices through the individual mandate thereby increasing revenue to the medical device companies.  The real reason is that Democrats were desperate for revenue so that the bill would be scored as reducing federal budget deficits — something it could not do without some budget gimmicks.

The medical device industry exported more than $31 billion of devices in 2008 to such markets as Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and Germany.  And the U.S. also imports devices.  The hit on the industry is estimated to be about $20 billion.

Zoll Medical Corporation  in Massachusetts, a maker of defibrillators, had a 2009 profit of $9.5 million.  They estimate their tax at $5 million  to $10 million a year.  They employ 1800 people, 1600 in the United States.  They will have to change — raise prices, but the government is demanding that they cut costs — or shift jobs to lower cost countries.  Manufacturers can close plants in this country and relocate offshore.  Medtronic has announced that it may lay off workers as a direct consequence of the bill.

Taxes and mandates and fees all have consequences.  There are a lot of job losses resulting from the consequences of the health care bill.  Unfortunately Nancy Pelosi’s “millions of jobs” and “economic security” just aren’t in it.




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