American Elephants


The Unaffordable Care Act Becomes More Unaffordable by The Elephant's Child

The health insurance policy rate hikes in excess of 6% in December were the largest reported since Morgan Stanley’s research team first started conducting quarterly surveys of insurance brokers in 2010. The April survey shows the largest rise in small and individual groups perhaps ever. The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state increases are 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the “increases are largely due to changes under the ACA.”

The analysts conducting the survey attribute the rate increases largely to a combination of four factors set in motion by Obamacare:  Commercial underwriting restrictions, the age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage, the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and new benefit designs.

For the individual insurance market (plans sold directly to consumers); among the ten states seeing some of the sharpest average increases are: Delaware at 100%, New Hampshire 90%, Indiana 54%, California 53%, Connecticut 45%, Michigan 36%, Florida 37%, Georgia 29%, Kentucky 29%, and Pennsylvania 28%.

For the small group market, among the ten states seeing the biggest increases are: Washington 588%, Pennsylvania 66%, California 37%, Indiana 34%, Kentucky 30%, Colorado 29%, Michigan 27%, Maryland 25%, Missouri 25%, and Nevada 23%.

Think of the bride whose intimate garden wedding grows into a society-page extravaganza as the guest list keeps growing. The simple two-tier wedding cake turns into a multi-storied  edifice with elaborate floral icing on each layer. Not going to cost the same, and all those unneeded flowers and loops add to the cost, just as pediatric dentistry for 60 year-olds adds to the cost on an insurance policy. The massage therapy and acupuncture make a nice selling point, but it really isn’t free.

Since these hikes aren’t coming from HHS, but from the insurance companies, where it cannot be put off till “after the election,” it’s going to get interesting. Affordable Care indeed!



Kathleen Sebelius Resigns: by The Elephant's Child

Sebelius in trouble

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has resigned. It was noticeable when President Obama gave his “mission accomplished” speech in the  Rose Garden, surrounded by everybody else, and Sebelius was unacknowledged in the speech.

Officials said Ms Sebelius made the decision to resign and was not forced out. I’m somewhat sympathetic. She had an impossible task, trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Administration aides have worried that the dreadful problems at HealthCare.gov might result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy. You think? She had an impossible task, nobody can make can make ObamaCare work.

The secretary told the president that the March 31 deadline for sign ups and rising enrollment numbers provided an opportunity for change, and that he would be best served by someone who was not the target of so much political ire, according to Dennis McDonough.” She does hope—all of us hope—that we can get beyond the partisan sniping.”

Nominated to replace her is Sylvia Mathews Burwell, currently head of Obama’s OMB and someone who Obama believes will bring “an intense focus and management acumen to the department.”

Ezra Klein, newly self-described as an advocate of “explanatory journalism” said “Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because ObamaCare has won. President Obama wouldn’t let Sebelius leave unless he was confident ObamaCare was safe.” That’s why he gave her a big hug in the Rose Garden and thanked her profusely for her long five years of service.

 



The IRS Scandal: Day 335 — Heating Up! by The Elephant's Child

The IRS scandal is heating up again. Darrell Issa’s committee has released emails that show Democratic staffers from the House’s Government Oversight and Reform Committee communicating with the IRS about True the Vote, an anti-voter fraud organization that the Democrats wanted to suppress. It appears that Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, to whom these staffers reported, may have lied during a committee hearing when he denied that his staffers had put the IRS on the trail of True the Vote.

The emails show the Democrats calling True the Vote to the IRS’s attention and requesting records about that organization. Lois Lerner was anxious to provide for them. The staffers do consistently refer to “publicly available” information, so there is no evidence that the IRS shared confidential taxpayer information with the Democrats.

House Republicans are closing in on Lois Lerner. The Department of Justice under Eric Holder has failed to do anything about the IRS scandal, or any other scandal involving the Obama administration. It is clear that Lois Lerner has broken the law. The House is threatening to hold her in contempt. If Eric Holder refuses to act, they can, if necessary, arrest and imprison her.

There is no evidence that the IRS pursued any progressive group at any time. Documents show that Ms. Lerner actively corresponded with liberal campaign-finance groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center which had asked the IRS to investigate if conservative groups including Crossroads GPS were violating their tax-exempt status. After personally meeting with those groups, Ms. Lerner contacted the director of the Exempt Organizations Examinations Unit in Dallas to ask why Crossroads had not been audited. “You should know that we are working on a denial of the application,: Ms. Lerner wrote in an email.

The Ways and Means Committee disclosed that in January 2013, Ms. Lerner asked her staff to examine five conservative groups that the website ProPublica had called “controversial dark money groups,” including Americans for Responsible Leadership, Freedom Path, Rightchange.com, America is Not Stupid, and A Better America. Four of those groups eventually got the full IRS super-scrutiny treatment and three were audited.

It is particularly interesting that the groups that had to undergo extra examination from the IRS were those who wanted to prevent voter fraud, and those who expected to donate to Republican candidates. Democrats have been aggressive in trying to block any attempt to require photo ID to assure voters are who they say they are and entitled to vote. Kinda’ makes you thing that Democrats depend heavily on voter fraud to win elections, doesn’t it?



What is this “Social Justice” Thing? by The Elephant's Child

Everybody, or at least all Liberals, seem to talk about “Social Justice” all the time, but what do they mean by that? What is social justice?

We have a Constitution that has served us well for 228 years, and in all that time has been amended only 27 times. We have laws and courts that, for the most part, administer the law fairly, and when it isn’t fair, we try to fix it. Leave it to the Left to come up with a whole new kind of “justice” that will better serve their feelings. Now they are trying to expand social justice to environmental justice and economic justice. Make everybody absolutely equal except for us important people in the progressive aristocracy, who will administer the justice. It is of course, hogwash.

Jonah Goldberg explains the hidden agenda behind the words, and it is not either noble nor caring, and turns out to be something that is clearly — not just at all.



Progressives Don’t Really Believe Anything They Say! by The Elephant's Child

Surfing the internet, it is clear that the Obama era is a particularly frustrating period for the Right. Simply trying to understand what the Left is going on about is puzzling, and each passing year reveals the difficulty of defeating those who hold no inviolable positions or beliefs. Above all, what they say they believe has no relation to their own lives. All is fluid, depending on who is about to vote, and for what. Jim Geraghty tackles the Progressive Aristocracy which notes:

[P]rogressives wide-ranging willingness to contradict their own professed principles: gun-control proponents who travel with armed bodyguards, voucher opponents who send their kids to private schools, and minimum-wage-hike advocates who pay their staff less than the minimum wage, among others.

So what do progressives really want? If, as I suspect, the currency of progressivism isn’t policies or results, but emotions, what does that approach build? What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?

The evidence before us suggests progressives’ ideal society would be one where they enjoy great power to regulate the lives of others and impose restrictions and limitations they themselves would never accept in their own lives. Very few people object to an aristocracy with special rights and privileges as long as they’re in it.

President Obama had a staffer sign  him up for ObamaCare at the DC exchange in symbolic unity with ordinary Americans, but the president’s health care will continue to be provided by the military at Walter Reed, by the White House physician, and by the physician who travels with the president’s extensive entourage when he travels.

Remember when Obama envisioned a future in which Americans would sacrifice their comfort to the need for combating climate change: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times …and then just expect that other countries are going to say ‘okay.’” In the White House, Obama cranks up the thermostat. David Axlerod said: “He’s from Hawaii, OK? He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

“While touting green technology and lobbying the federal government on environmental policy, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt have put 3.4 million miles on their private jets in recent years, polluting the atmosphere with 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide,” the Blaze reported. Geraghty again:

The party that spent the Bush years screaming about the “Imperial Presidency” overwhelmingly decides that the legislative branch is an unnecessary obstacle to setting its preferred environmental policy. We’ve reached the point where vehemently anti-Bush Democrats in Congress now write-up executive orders for President Obama to implement unilaterally.

The legislative branch matters, until it doesn’t. The filibuster matters, until it doesn’t. Yesterday’s positions get dropped if they interfere with today’s needs. The Right is dealing with extremely adaptive foes who, for the most part, have no hesitation about lying to get what they want.

In the Obama-era Left, a promise repeatedly emphasized with passion and vehemence can and will be suddenly dismissed with a shrug. The highest-profile example of this is “If you like your plan,  you can keep it.” Even today, long after the promise has been declared the “Lie of the Year,” the White House website has a page labeled “Reality Check” that proclaims the accuracy of the pledge:



If You Want More Jobs, Stop Destroying Them. Incentives Matter. by The Elephant's Child

ObamaCare is not a popular subject, and as people actually begin to interact with it, it’s going to be a lot less popular. Democrats are desperate to make their stand for the mid-term elections about something entirely different. They have decided on the culture wars.

Today it is “Equal Pay for Women” which everyone thought was dead as a doornail after it became illegal to pay a woman differently than a man for the same job— way back in 1963— when the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed. President Obama is out there again today trying to claim that women are paid only 77¢ for the same job for which a man was paid $1.

Since that is against the law, it’s hardly surprising that the only place it still happens is in the increasingly lawless White House, where female aides are indeed paid less than male aides.

whitehouse

Obama brags about the Lily Ledbetter Act which he claims was to make equal pay for women a reality, but it actually only eliminated the time limit for filing discrimination claims — and was more correctly referred to as a law to benefit trial lawyers (who donate to Obama).

Nevertheless you constantly hear the 77¢ claim. Why? It is a statistical anomaly. When you look at male and female careers, men are apt to do the dangerous or high risk jobs. They have traditionally been in logging, mining, high-rise construction, linemen, explosive experts —jobs that pay way more because of the risk involved. Women are more apt to be secretaries, teachers, social workers. Women frequently drop out of the job market to raise children, for a few years or for longer periods.Women just assume more responsibility for child-rearing than men. The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act recognized that fact.

The 77¢ number comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure refers to the annual earnings of full-time, year-round workers. It doesn’t compare comparable men and women, and does not reflect that full-time men work 8%-10% more hours per week than full-time women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) is based on the faulty idea that “It’s Not Fair” in the interest of capturing more votes from women. The bill forces employers to raise women’s pay by sharply reducing their ability to defend what they believe is a justified differential in pay based on merit.  The PFA limits the use of work experience or education to discriminate by requiring employers to demonstrate that they are job-related ‘necessities.’ The bill authorizes grants to supporters of the bill like the AAUW for training women in negotiation skills. Men are excluded. It will increase the cost of employing women, and so reduce job opportunities. It will also provide a bonanza for lawyers.

If you make it more costly to hire someone, employers will hire fewer someones. The current theme in the media is the continuing dearth of jobs, the Great Recession with few jobs, why aren’t there more jobs? No one seems to point out that Obama is passing more and more laws and more regulations that eliminate jobs. Whether the Affordable Care Act, the continuing drive to shut down coal-fired power plants and destroy the entire coal industry in the name of climate change, or the simple refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline — Obama talks jobs, but his ideas are that only government really creates jobs. Then we’re back at “crumbling roads and bridges,” job-training programs, and improving education. Same old talk.

It drags on. Businesses I patronized regularly close. Supposedly the job situation here is fine, but health clubs are closing and the biggest ones are increasing their advertising. If you pay attention to new advertisers, you can tell what businesses are hurting.



EPA Subjects Human Victims to Lethal Pollutants, Doesn’t Warn of Risks! by The Elephant's Child

McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency has for years been basing their actions on the need to protect human beings from dangerous air pollutants and fine particulate matter (PM). The findings of the Office of Inspector General’s March 31 report say the EPA has followed all laws and regulations concerning human studies research.

While the IG’s report absolves the agency of breaking rules, it notes that the EPA did in fact expose human test subjects to concentrated airborne particles or diesel exhaust emissions in five studies done in 2012 and 2011. And it didn’t bother to plainly inform the subjects of the dangers the agency emphasizes in the proposals for their actions. When the EPA tells Congress about a proposed action, they can tell you exactly how many kids will die from asthma, and how many old folks will die from heart attacks. That’s how they get their way. What congressman could risk refusing to save dying kids?

The agency has said that fine particulate matter can cause premature death, a risk for older individuals with cardiovascular disease. A 2003 EPA document says even short-term exposure to PM can result in heart attacks and arrhythmias for people with heart disease. Long-term exposure can result in reduced lung function and even death. A 2006 review by the EPA reiterates that short-term PM exposure can cause “mortality and morbidity.”

“Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should,” former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress on September 22, 2011. “If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels it would have the same impact as find ing a cure for cancer in our county.”

So why has the EPA been subjecting unknowing human guinea pigs to high levels of carcinogens and potentially lethal pollutants in order to justify tough new air quality standards?  The EPA has been carrying out these unethical human experiments in which subjects are made to inhale freshly pumped-in diesel truck exhaust fumes — without advising them of the risk to their health — which the EPA claims may be mortal. Junk Science.com, October 5, 2012:

EPA has admitted to a federal court that it asks human guinea pigs to sacrifice their lives for regulatory purposes — at $12 per hour.

  • Failure to provide/obtain written consent. The Common Rule, as codified in federal regulation 40 CFR 26.117, specifically requires that written informed consent be obtained when risk of serious injury or death is involved in an experiment. As the consent form provided by EPA makes no mention of the risk of death, written consent acknowledging that they are willing sacrifice themselves for EPA regulatory purposes is not obtained.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy sounds much like her boss. She doesn’t know anything about that, all studies are of the highest quality, etc. etc. etc.

Steven Milloy, founder and proprietor of JunkScience.com, which attempts to inject real science into phony government claims, has impeccable credentials. He writes that the “EPA air pollution scare is debunked by the best data set ever assembled on particulate matter and deaths.” In a subsequent column he explains just what the rules are on different kinds of studies.

Every time the EPA introduces a new policy that results in another power grab, the need for the power grab is couched in terms of how many kids are going to die from asthma, although doctors don’t even know what causes asthma. I find that suspicious. Yet with all the dead kids off there in the not distant future, the EPA is involving kids in their experiments without informing them or their parents of what the EPA believes to be their expected demise. They are deliberately exposing kids with asthma to what they regard as dangerous levels of toxic pollutants— which they then try to cover up. How do they get volunteers? Breitbart dug up some examples.

I am convinced that the EPA is an organization of environmental zealots solely interested in their own power. I have been writing about them for years, and I think the agency should be shut down and permanently shuttered. They exist only because of the bogus environmental scares fostered by the U.N.’s IPCC for political reasons, not scientific ones.

If fine particulate matter is not dangerous to human health, the EPA needs to stop using it to justify its power grabs. If it is dangerous the EPA has no business conducting tests on human subjects. And not to fully inform the poor guinea pigs of the dangers of the tests is beyond despicable.



Slash the Budget of the Department of Agriculture! by The Elephant's Child

Just briefly looking around the USDA website convinced me that the Department of Agriculture has way too many bureaucrats employed, and their conception of what they should be doing is way too broad. I have never known anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the USDA’s guidelines as to just what we should be eating, which is just as well because they have mostly been wrong anyway.

The schools, unfortunately, have to pay attention because they get funding, but anyone who has ever visited a school lunchroom notices that enormous quantities of food end up in the garbage. The kids have mostly hated Michelle Obama’s school lunch program. The USDA’s high carb diet was all wrong, butter is fine, they’re still trying to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions” although carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is what makes plants grow, and apparently, according to the EPA, soon their mission will be to reduce cow flatulence.

The federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is currently working on updating nutritional guidelines to conform with Mrs. Obama’s ideas and new scientific evidence. Mrs. Obama has been behind the drastically altered school lunch menus and the federal push to change restaurants’ most popular items to healthier fare and add calorie counts to every menu. She also has a new nutritional food labeling scheme.

One of the committee members, Miriam Nelson,  feels the guidelines shouldn’t be confined to nutrition, but should include the long-term sustainability and environmental impact of crops recommended for eating.  Another committee member is pushing a “plant-based diet” — suggesting that meat eating is not sustainable.

Another new idea under consideration are federal phone texts to obese citizens warning them regularly of their unhealthy eating behavior.

I pay no attention to the “my plate” guidelines, and I’m sure you don’t either, but the work of this committee guides the food purchases by the feds for government cafeterias, school meals across the country, all branches of the U.S. military and the entire federal prison system.

Michelle has insisted that the White House chef change from sugar to fruit purees to sweeten foods, but the White House consumes six different kinds of pie for Thanksgiving, The state dinner for the president of France came in at 2,500 calories per plate — a more-than-healthy whole day’s allowance. Remember that when you get your text-message from the government telling you what to eat, and reminding you that you are officially categorized as obese.



Your Federal Government At Work: Oh Ha, Ha, Ha! by The Elephant's Child

 

13473984523_db66e12225

This is something truly special. Our betters in the nation’s capitol—what I have called “the ruling class”— has taken advantage of the information age to engage in blogging. Who knew? This very remarkable blog is a project of the Department of Agriculture.

Grandkids are a grandparent’s greatest treasure. From time to time during grandchildren’s young lives, grandparents may have the pleasure of being their caregiver. Show them how to be healthy, including how to make healthy food choices—an important way grandparents show how much they love and care about their grandchildren.

As a proud grandmother, I can attest that grandkids learn by example! They mimic everything you do, so be a healthy role model by taking care of yourself and they will learn to value healthy habits. Use ChooseMyPlate.gov to guide your food choices and better understand the nutrition needs of young children in your life. Take your grandchildren shopping at a farmer’s market and the grocery store. Talk about the choices you are making—choosing the juicier oranges or the fresher vegetables. Help them learn cooking skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives. Encourage them to be active throughout the day. …

Spend time walking in the neighborhood, planting a vegetable garden, or shooting a few hoops. Dance, run, and play hopscotch or soccer with them when they’re full of energy—it’s fun and healthy for both of you!

Show your grandchild games, activity sheets and other fun ways to learn about good nutrition at MyPlateKids’Place. For a bedtime story, read The Two Bite Club.

If this does not warm the cockles of your heart, read the whole thing,and if that doesn’t do it for you, do scroll down to the comments, because you will enjoy the comments! If you do not read the comments, you are missing the point of this whole post.

I don’t think I have ever seen a better example of the gap between left and right, or between the government and the people. The comments are a treasure. Click on all the links to see the extent of the sheer wonder of this post. Do go to the link and add your own comment. Or write your congressman and tell them to cut the budget of the Department of Agriculture to the bone.

Grandkids are a grandparent’s greatest treasure.  From time to time during grandchildren’s young lives, grandparents may have the pleasure of being their caregiver.  Show them how to be healthy, including how to make healthy food choices–an important way grandparents show how much they love and care about their grandchildren. – See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/31/grandparents-help-kids-develop-good-eating-habits/#sthash.yp104Y0x.dpuf
Grandkids are a grandparent’s greatest treasure.  From time to time during grandchildren’s young lives, grandparents may have the pleasure of being their caregiver.  Show them how to be healthy, including how to make healthy food choices–an important way grandparents show how much they love and care about their grandchildren. – See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/31/grandparents-help-kids-develop-good-eating-habits/#sthash.yp104Y0x.dpuf


Oh Harry Reid, Harry Reid, For Shame! by The Elephant's Child

Harry Reid glum

Poor Harry Reid is caught between a rock and a hard place, and he’s not up to defending his position. It’s difficult, he’s majority leader of the Senate, and he has to defend the disastrous ObamaCare policy. Really frightening stories are emerging, about cancer patients who are suddenly denied the doctors and the care that was giving them the hope that they might live, and all Harry can think of is to call them all liars. Callous and insensitive doesn’t begin to describe it.

Now he has dissed a fellow senator, a medical doctor who is himself battling cancer, because he pointed out ObamaCare’s disastrous impact on cancer treatment. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) noted that the majority of cancer centers in this country aren’t covered under ObamaCare.

“Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense. But I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill.”

When cancer patient Julie Boonstra appeared in a TV ad telling how Obamacare had jeopardized her treatment with rising and unpredictable premiums and co-pays. Reid took to the Senate Floor: “There’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue.”

He also coldly dismissed Edie Sundby, a stage four cancer patient, who was told that the plan that had paid out $1.2 million and helped her to survive, was substandard, and would be cancelled because it didn’t fit the one-size-fits-all ObamaCare standard.

Coburn said that under ObamaCare, out of “Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under ObamaCare.” Coburn said the cut-rate payments of the Affordable Care Act provides for those treatments. “You know, it’s a market,” Coburn said,”and what they’ve done is they’ve priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them aren’t going to participate because they don’t get paid [enough] to cover the costs.”

During the government shutdown, House Republicans wanted to pass a stand-alone bill to fund the National Institute of Health so children with cancer could continue to participate in clinical trials. Reid called that move “reckless and irresponsible” by those obsessed with this ObamaCare.” A reporter asked “If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Reid said “Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. [because of the shutdown] They have a few problems of their own.”

I understand that for Senate Democrats, ObamaCare is about power, and more control of the American people. But for the rest of us it is about the American people getting the care that they have been promised, that the rest of us are paying for.



Triumphant But Angry: How Dare You Disagree. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama addressed the nation his supporters yesterday in the Rose Garden, obviously trying to reignite enthusiasm for the Affordable Care Act. He announced that 7.1 million people have signed up. His precise decimal point brought wide derision. But the speech was more of an angry pep-rally. How dare you not agree that ObamaCare is wonderful.

The key point came late in the speech: “It is making sure that we ae not the only advanced county on Earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.”

He added: “But today should remind us that the goal we set for ourselves—that no American should go without the health care that they need.” He said:” The Affordable Care Act hasn’t completely fixed our broken health care system, but this law has made our health care system a lot better—a lot better.

Our health care system was not broken. By law, anyone, whether they could afford it or not, could go to any emergency room and be treated. The cost of health care had been declining steadily in recent years, and the decline had nothing to do with ObamaCare, but with new diagnostic treatments, new drugs that made a real difference in shorter hospital stays, preventing major illnesses, and keeping more people alive and in good health. Early diagnosis saves lives.

Democrats rely on World Health Organization numbers regarding our health care,  meaningless numbers  based on skewed information. WHO numbers rank us low for live births, because we call every birth with a live baby a live birth—including those too small to survive—or too premature— because we try to save them all, with pretty good results. Other countries do not count those as “live births,” and do not attempt to save them. We also have a lot of highway deaths because we have a lot of highways and a lot of vehicles. It’s a big country. The WHO also grades us down sharply because we don’t have free health care for all (socialized medicine).

What the president’s pep-talk largely showed was that he doesn’t really understand how insurance works. You have insurance for the big stuff: house fires, car crashes. Because those things statistically don’t happen to everybody regularly, everyone can pay a small amount which will go to the few who do have a big catastrophe, and you are protected against the time it happens to you. You don’t insure against a leaky roof, or needing new carpeting. You don’t insure against flat-tires or worn-out windshield wipers. The free contraceptives and free mammograms are the flat-tires of health insurance. Adding all the goodies makes the insurance unaffordable, as those forced onto ObamaCare will discover when they get their insurance costs for next year.

Back in the Bush administration, Democrats badly wanted a free drug plan for Medicare. As his price for signing the bill, Bush insisted on an incentive for seniors to, when possible, select a generic drug (way cheaper) than a brand name drug —all things being equal. Contrary to Progressive thinking, Seniors are not dummies. Incentives work. If the cost of  your drugs added up to a significant amount, you had to pay the full price (unless you could not afford it, in which case there was government subsidy) until the cost reached another level, at which point they were free. That gap was, for most people, avoidable if they relied on generic drugs, and Seniors found it quite sensible to do so. This meant the Medicare Drug Plan was the only big government program in history that came in costing less than projections.

President Obama announced triumphantly that “We’ve closed a gaping hole in Medicare’s prescription drug plan. We’ve closed the donut hole“— in other words they have eliminated the incentive that kept the Medicare Drug Plan costs reasonably low, and costs will skyrocket. Some triumph!

Despite this law, millions of Americans remain uncovered in part because some governors in some states for political reasons have deliberately to expand coverage under the law.” Well, yes they did. The federal government demanded that States dramatically increase the amount they spent on Medicaid. No federal help, just a demand that states come up with more funding, and raise taxes or whatever it took.
Some governors said their state could not afford it, and they were unwilling to raise taxes to meet the federal requirement that the feds wouldn’t pay for.

And we didn’t make it a hard sell. We didn’t have billions of dollars of commercials like some critics did.” Bw-ha-ha-ha. Billions for commercials? Sebelius admitted to $677 million on the failed website up to October, but we don’t really know what it has cost— the work has continued. Hawaii’s ObamaCare spent $35,749 per ObamaCare enrollee— at a cost of $205,342,270. The District of Columbia spent $133,573,927 to sign up just 6,518 people. Cover Oregon spent over $200 million and has not enrolled a single person. Maryland has spent over $125.5 million on an unworkable website and is now considering buying Connecticut’s system.

The law is a disaster. We are already told that premium costs will double or triple next year. Insurers have pared costs back by narrowing the provider list and eliminating the ability to be covered when you travel. The despairing stories of people who have been significantly harmed continue to pile up. Americans must fight back. The president is out fund-raising again today.

 



Democrats Care About “People Like Me.” by The Elephant's Child

obama photo -op

When people express their political preferences, at least according to the polls, they identify the Democratic Party as the one that “cares about people like me,” or “cares about little people,” or “ordinary people.”

Republicans are apt to react to that with jaw-dropping astonishment. Isn’t it obvious that they couldn’t care less, that all the caring speech is just a pose? Well, no it isn’t, and that is a problem for Republicans. It’s pure politics.

President Obama had an op-ed in the Las Vegas Sun this weekend that really demonstrates the problem. And it may well be an essay that represents his sincere thinking. Democrats are not inclined to investigate the economics of a policy, nor consider carefully the unintended consequences. Politicians like to describe their ideas in prose that will make what they want to do as appealing as possible, so you can’t tell what Obama really believes by reading what he says.

“Honest work should be rewarded with honest wages” — whatever that means—if anything, sounds good, but just what is an “honest wage?” He continues: “That certainly means that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.” And that is true. No one who works full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour qualifies as being “in poverty.” The poverty level for an individual in 2014 is $11,670.

It is meant to be a “starter” wage for a person with no real skills, and that’s why it’s not worth much. The low-skilled need training. The majority get a raise within six months, as they become trained workers who know what they are doing. The federal minimum wage differs from the prevailing minimum wage in some locations, and states too have “minimum wages.”   The minimum wage where I live is $9.25 an hour. Seattle is debating raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The president’s proposal would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016 in three annual steps. Republicans argue that this will kill jobs, because if government boosts the cost of labor, employers will buy less of it, and it will do little to reduce poverty. The CBO estimates that the higher minimum wage would reduce jobs by about 500,000. Wage increases would raise the incomes of families in poverty by about $300 annually.

Robert Samuelson says: “An administration serious about job creation has to sacrifice other priorities to achieve it.” The CBO has estimated that the health insurance subsidies in ObamaCare will discourage people from working resulting in a loss of an estimated 2.5 million full-time workers by 2014. There are choices. For the most part the White House has voted against job creation, a fact that it tries to hide. The proposed increase is much larger than most of the increases that have been studied, and the minimum would be indexed to inflation, rising automatically with prices. Also new.

The minimum wage has a great advantage as a political idea. If employers are forced to pay a  “living wage” then no one will live in poverty. Low-information voters and reporters will go for that. Easy.

ObamaCare has been eliminating full-time jobs right and left, and transforming them into part-time jobs. A mandated minimum wage set at a level above what unskilled labor is worth, eliminates jobs. Teenage unemployment is now at 20.7 percent, black teenage unemployment is a horrendous 38 percent. The average family income of minimum wage earners is $48,000 a year. Raising the minimum wage accelerates the trend to automation and robotics.

If you can. go back and read the president’s op-ed and see how appealing it is, and how dishonest. That’s a major problem for Conservatives.

The picture above is Obama’s photo-op comforting Donna Vanzant, whose North Point Marina sustained widespread damage in Hurricane Sandy. Obama promised her “immediate” assistance, help from FEMA, and the photo went viral in the days before the election. Donna Vanzant suffered around $500,000 in damages. After his visit, and promise of help on national television, Donna Vanzant sent an email to President Obama. Many days later, she got a response—a form letter that thanked her for supporting the troops—the only response she ever received.  The exit polls after the election showed the vote for Obama’s second term depended mostly on his compassionate response to Hurricane Sandy.




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