American Elephants

A Bit of History from the Great Depression. by The Elephant's Child

The Denver Post has published a group of color pictures from the Library of Congress, from the era of the Great Depression.  The Thirties were a hard time in the country, but we don’t often get to see it in color.  Just ordinary people, and ordinary places.   It’s a fascinating look at a bit of visual history.

(h/t: National Review)

Once Again, The Weekly Radio Address Is Thrown Under the Bus. by The Elephant's Child
August 9, 2010, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care | Tags: , ,

President Barack Obama said in his weekly radio address that Congressional passage of Health Care Reform has helped Medicare remain sustainable for years to come because of the new law.

“We’ve made Medicare more solvent by going after waste, fraud, and abuse — not by changing seniors’ guaranteed benefits.”   (Caution!)

The Medicare trustees report released on Thursday found that in spite of the recession, some Medicare programs are now expected to see substantially reduced costs and remain solvent for 12 years longer than reported last year.  The trustees report attributed the change to the health care legislation passed by Congress last March.   (Alert! Caution! )

We have mentioned that there is a problem with our hard-working employees in Washington.  They don’t read the bills they pass, and they don’t read the reports they receive.   One of the great benefits of ObamaCare was supposed to be the reforms that would contain the exploding growth of Medicare.  Medicare faces dramatic growth as the baby boomers begin to reach age 65 next year.  How wonderful to discover that after all, they have fixed it.

The annual report from the Medicare trustees, scheduled to be released four months ago, pleased ObamaCare supporters.  The claim that the long-run shortfall in Medicare finances had decreased to $30.8 trillion from a deficit of nearly $37 trillion in the previous audit.  Pleased?  A $30.8 trillion deficit, and they were pleased, because it wasn’t bigger.  $6.2 trillion is still real money — even on Capitol Hill.

Well, not so fast.  It turns out that if you read the whole thing, there was an unprecedented  appendix from Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster.  He called the projections by the trustees “unreasonable” and “implausible.” The Wall Street Journal headlined their piece “Richard Foster for President,” and said “there probably isn’t a worse job in Washington than Medicare trustee, unpaid Capital Hill interns included.  Every year the trustees issue the gravest warnings about entitlement spending and at best prompt a moment of brow-furrowing before the political class returns to its default state of indifference.”

In the appendix, Mr. Foster — who has been chief Medicare actuary for 15 years — disowns the previous 280-odd pages.  He is required to evaluate the law as written.

The law, as written, bears little relation to the real world.  He says the trustee estimates “do not represent a reasonable expectation for actual program operations in either the short range…or the long range.”

Democrats slashed about a half-trillion dollars out of Medicare over the next decade, then turned around and used the “savings” to pay for the middle-class entitlement. This is paying of one credit card with another, while not reducing the debt at either one.  The Medicare cuts exist only on paper, and consist of a 30% cut in payments to physicians that Democrats have already promised to disallow. Republicans would do the same.

A separate big chunk comes from lowering Medicare price controls for hospitals and providers that Mr. Foster says are “extremely unlikely to occur”.  Unless there is a revolution in productivity in medicine, costs will go up for private patients or else hospitals will refuse to treat seniors insured by Medicare.  Congress won’t let that happen either.

Mr. Foster notes that Medicare’s share of the economy will rise 60% between now and 2040 — although the trustees report says it would “only” rise by 25%.

Once again, Mr. Obama’s words were intended as what he wanted you to hear, and have drifted off under the bus with the other discarded things.  Richard Foster’s honesty should get a medal or at least some real appreciation, but it won’t.   He should have our gratitude.

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