American Elephants


Let’s Hear it For Capitalism and Free Markets! by The Elephant's Child
January 3, 2010, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Statism | Tags: , ,

From the Wall Street Journal”s “Notable and Quotable” column.

Heather MacDonald writing at secularright.org, Dec. 26:

The anti-business mindset . . . is worthy of a pampered adolescent who is searching for a cause with which to display his unique moral sensibility. It is not worthy of an adult who should be able to use his imagination, if not actual experience, to appreciate the extraordinary human effort that has gone into creating the delightful tools that we daily take for granted. On my desk sit various humble objects—a tiny clock, a stapler, a paper clip box, a Lucite cook book stand for holding up drafts and other papers while I type. Each object represents a fractal geometry of complexity, composed as it is of parts that themselves require enterprise to manufacture, assemble, and deliver, all born along on waves of energy and infrastructure to which yet another set of entrepreneurs contributed. The fact that all of those distributors and manufacturers tried to make a profit does not detract from the fact that they offered goods which enhance our lives. . . .

It is the ingratitude that kills me the most among anti-business types. The materials that furnish a single room in an American home required daring, perseverance, and organizational skill from millions of individuals over generations. I hope they all got filthy rich.



It Begins. California Death Panels Ban Mammograms for Women Under Age 50. by The Elephant's Child

The California Health and Human Services Agency is ending mammogram subsidies for low-income women under age 50.  Under the old rules, women unable to pay could get a subsidy for annual breast-cancer screening beginning at age 40.

The decision by the State of California, which takes effect Jan. 1, follows a federal task force recommendation last month that mammograms before the age of 50 are not generally needed.  As Carly Fiorina notes, the task force does not include any oncologists or radiologists, but simply a bunch of bureaucrats.

HHS Secretary Sibelius, noting the outcry, hastened to say that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendations were not regulation, and they really didn’t have any say.

California public health  linked the change to the Task Force advisory and also to California’s budget woes.

Breast cancer is a high-profile disease.  Most women know someone who has died of breast cancer.  The only appeal from a government decision is strong opposition.  Congress takes note of opposition if it is loud enough.  But many diseases and conditions are not high-profile, and cost a lot, and under ObamaCare the guidance will not come from your doctor, but from statistics gathered by bureaucrats to see what is cost-effective.

Democrats claim that they will increase preventive care to  control costs.  Studies show that preventive care will not control costs, but increase them.  Democrats don’t know anything whatsoever about controlling costs, or budgeting.  The current health-care bill clearly demonstrates this.

American medicine has always been about saving lives.  Democrat health-care reform is, first of all, about control.  To get that control, they have divided the electorate into groups to whom they promise favors.  Planned Parenthood and feminists demand paid abortions;  members of the Democrat caucus opposed to abortion, demand no paid abortions or they will vote against the bill.  Trial lawyers are second only to labor unions as Democrat donors.  No tort reform, and extra goodies for the unions.  Pleasing everyone means very high costs.  Democrat health-care reform becomes about saving money, and saving money becomes about rationing, because the costs are going to be very high, and rationing is all that’s left.

Republican health-care reform is about individuals, not groups.  They look at where the real problems are in our current health care, and advocate solving the problems before attempting drastic reform.  Doctors freely admit that they practice defensive medicine, ordering more tests than necessary  just to be on the safe side for fear of lawsuits. and nobody really knows how much this costs, but it’s a lot.

Insurance costs differ widely in different states because of requirements imposed by insurance commissioners and legislatures. Opening competition to insurance companies across state lines would bring costs down sharply.  Competition always does.  Bringing the cost of health insurance policies down will make health-care affordable for far more people.  Republicans have all sorts of good ideas.  Correcting the things that are wrong first seems far more sensible than trying to rearrange a big chunk of the economy, with no idea whether any part of it will work at all.



New Democrat Breaks FOUR Promises in First HOUR! by American Elephant
November 6, 2009, 6:42 pm
Filed under: Health Care, News, Politics, Progressivism, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Pelosi Owens

(Update: Traffic from Drudge appears to have crashed the linked site, if the link doesn’t work, try again later.)

That’s gotta be record-breaking dishonesty, even from the notoriously dishonest Democrat party.  Brand-spanking new Democrat congressman, Bill  Owens (NY-23) has broken at least FOUR campaign promises in his very first hour!

Owens told voters he did not believe a public option was appropriate, he said he was opposed to cuts in Medicare, he said he was opposed to taxing health care benefits, and said he was opposed to increasing taxes on the middle class.

But now that he has been sworn in, this new weasel among weasels has pledged to vote for the Pelosi bill, which:

  1. contains a public option.
  2. cuts Medicare.
  3. taxes benefits, and
  4. increases taxes on the middle class!

That’s four campaign promises broken in his very first hour!  When dealing with a group as reliably dishonest as the Democrat party, it’s hard to plumb new depths of dishonesty, but congratulations NY-23! Your new congressman may have set a new record!

Update: Ace has Owens statement of support for the bill.



Pelosi Lies to America Again by American Elephant
November 6, 2009, 3:44 am
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Socialism | Tags: , ,

pelosi_mad

Nancy Pelosi breaks pledge to put final health care bill online 72 hours before vote.

She doesn’t WANT Americans to be able to read about the vast amount of power she is going to assert over them, the vast amount of money she is going to steal from them, or the vast amounts of liberties this bill will destroy. She is changing America from a nation of people with a government to a government with a people. She is intentionally regulating the private health care industry out of business, so that as then candidate Obama promised, in 5 to 10 years, all Americans will be forced onto government run health care, which Democrats believe people will elect them to control. And that’s what it’s all about. They don’t care about your health. They blocked amendments that would make them have the same care. They care about power and control.

Have you called your representatives yet?

They intend to vote on this biggest-power-grab in American history by Saturday. Make sure you tell your representatives what you think of it. If you are ready to work to defeat anyone who votes for it, be sure you tell them that.

Particularly if your representatives are on this list of targeted, vulnerable Democrats. Call, get your family and friends to call. Blue Dog Democrats are starting to truly worry about their jobs after Tuesday’s election results — tell them they are right to worry. Polls show  that a large majority of Americans do not want this bill, and they feel very strongly about it, much more strongly than the minority of Americans who support it. Call often!

My congressman is already voting against it, so I have called vulnerable Democrats in neighboring districts to tell them that if they vote for this bill I will come volunteer in their districts to make certain they lose their jobs.

This is the last chance to kill the bill in the house. I hope everyone will call!



Among The Worst Bills Congress Has Ever Seriously Contemplated! by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal headline called it “The Worst Bill Ever.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly told fellow Democrats that she’s prepared to lose seats in 2010 if that’s what it takes to pass ObamaCare, and little wonder.  The health bill she unwrapped last Thursday, which President Obama hailed as a “critical milestone,” may well be the worst piece of post-New Deal legislation ever introduced.

Well, that’s right to the point.  It is a devastating editorial, and worth reading in its entirety. It goes on:

The political incentive will always be for government to expand benefits and reduce cost-sharing, trampling any chance of giving individuals financial incentives to economize on care.  Essentially all insurers will become government contractors, in the business of fulfilling political demands:”There will be no such thing as “private” health insurance.

All of this is intentional, even if it isn’t explicitly acknowledged.  The overriding liberal ambition is to finish the work began decades ago as the Great Society of converting health care into a government responsibility.  Mr. Obama’s own Medicare actuaries estimate that the federal share of U.S. health dollars will quickly climb beyond 60% from 46% today.  One reason Mrs. Pelosi has fought so ferociously against her own Blue Dog colleagues to include at least a scaled-back “public option” entitlement program is so that the architecture is in place for future Congresses to expand this share even further.



Strongarm, Threaten and Bully, Passing Healthcare Reform the Democrats’ Way. by The Elephant's Child
September 22, 2009, 2:02 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Law, The Constitution | Tags: , ,

Earlier this month Humana sent a one-page letter to its customers who were enrolled in its Medicare Advantage plan, which offers extra benefits to Medicare beneficiaries.  Humana explained that because of spending cuts proposed by Democrats (Taking $500 Billion out of Medicare) “millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable.” They also suggested their customers  contact their congressional representatives. Not exactly a startling political communication.

Well.  You have probably noticed that strongarm tactics are definitely on the menu when it comes to the Democrats’ Health Care plans.  Senator Baucus, whose very own health care plan has just been released, not only took offense, he went to war.  He complained to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency in charge, which on Friday ordered Humana to cease and desist.  And opened an investigation to see if the company mailer violated laws about how insurers that manage Advantage plans are allowed to communicate with their customers.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

“It is wholly inappropriate for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject—particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health-care reform,” Mr. Baucus said in a statement yesterday, playing the role of Congressional censor. “The health-care reform bill we released last week strengthens Medicare and does not cut benefits covered under the Medicare program—and seniors need to know that.”

In fact, the Baucus draft legislation slashes $123 billion over the next decade from Medicare Advantage, which Democrats hate despite the fact that almost one-fourth of beneficiaries have chosen it over traditional fee-for-service Medicare. One reason seniors like it is because private insurers focus on quality and preventive care and try to manage benefits, as opposed to simply paying bills.

A new study from America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, finds that seniors on Advantage in California spent 30% fewer days in hospitals over fee-for-service patients, based on federal data. Democrats say that insurers are “overpaid,” but the cuts—as Humana correctly noted—mean that seniors may lose this coverage.

What business it is of government to tell private companies just what they may communicate to their customers remains a mystery. The Journal adds: “Mr Baucus and the Obama Administration are out to make [Humana] an object lesson to the rest of the business class, and that means they won’t stop until Humana cries uncle or is ruined.”



“If You Like Your Current Health Insurance” and Other Fantastic Stories from the World of Make-Believe. by The Elephant's Child
August 12, 2009, 1:49 am
Filed under: Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Statism | Tags:

In a “Town Hall Meeting” in New Hampshire today to promote his health care agenda, President Obama once again reassured Americans that they can keep their existing health plans.  The benefits and access that they like will only be enhanced through his reform plans.

So the promise is that only by expanding government control of health care can we bring down the cost of health care.  They want to insure the uninsured, cover illegal immigrants and give insurance to those who have pre-existing conditions.  In the first place there are around 45.7 million uninsured, there are an estimated 10-12 million illegal immigrants, and nobody knows what the pre-existing conditions amount to.   All this, and it’s going to be cheaper?  It makes no sense at all.

Congressional Democrats claim that their bills will be “budget neutral.”  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it will cost over $1.5 trillion in the first decade, and another trillion in the second decade.  Costs will grow, Douglas Elmendorf, CBO Director says, at 8 percent a year while revenues grow at only 5 percent.  We would seem to have a little math problem here.

When Medicare was established in 1965, it was projected by the CBO to cost $12 billion by 1990.  By 1990, Medicare actually cost $110 billion.  This is not meant to cast aspersions on the Congressional Budget Office, but simply to point out that estimating the future is far from a sure thing.

Medicare is close to going broke.  The first baby boomers will begin to retire next year, with the peak year of the baby boom not reached until 2024, when numbers will finally begin to decline.  At present, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to doctors and hospitals does not pay the costs, and there is cost shifting to regular patients.  We are told that waste and fraud are rampant in Medicare and Medicaid, yet there is nothing in the health care bills in the House or the Senate that addresses waste and fraud at all.  In fact the plan is to cut Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals and suppliers by another $483 billion.

In many areas it is hard for older Americans to find doctors who will accept Medicare patients.  This is not exactly designed to help solve that problem.  Doctors have estimated that many physicians will retire early if government takes over health care.  We have a shortage of doctors now.

Besides cutting Medicare payments, the Obama administration has claimed that preventive care —  early diagnosis that can reveal a condition that is treatable at a fraction of the cost of treating that same illness after it has progressed — will help to pay for health care.  Not so fast, says the Congressional Budget Office. the evidence suggests that for most preventive services expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.  Doctors do not know beforehand which patients are going to develop costly illness.

So, first they plan to tax the rich, which will mean a 60 percent marginal rate in high tax areas.   Since a large percentage of “the rich” are not individuals but small businesses filing as individuals, this will mean more job losses.   They plan to let the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 expire —that means tax increases of from $1,716 -$3,637,  And the marriage penalty will return.

There are serious discussions of a value-added tax (VAT) which adds an additional tax at each stage, for example, from raw material to finished product, which just makes every good or service cost more.  And that does not include the Waxman-Markey climate bill which may be postponed till next year, or the billions thrown away on the cash-for-clunkers boondoggle.  And I recently read that some are talking about a second stimulus plan, since the first one has been so ineffective.

We have been hearing for years that our public schools were ineffective in teaching math and science.  It appears that those failures have now reached into the Congress of the United States.  Who knew?




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