American Elephants

The Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight! by The Elephant's Child


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?

Six Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions: by The Elephant's Child

Here are Six Answers to your Most Pressing Questions today, or they would be the most pressing if you’d thought of them.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. “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.

Illegal IRS Rules Are Slapped Down by D.C. District Court by The Elephant's Child

“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.

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