American Elephants


Kapow! by American Elephant
October 15, 2010, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Humor, Politics | Tags: ,

Right in the kisser! It wasn’t even close.



Promises, Pork, and Partisan Politics. by The Elephant's Child

On Friday President Obama was wrapping up a two-day swing through Missouri and Nevada, delivering a speech on clean energy that could give a boost to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is in a difficult fight for re-election.  On Friday, he gave a speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas combining policy and politics.

He called on Congress to expand a clean energy tax credit that could pay off in Nevada, where Harry Reid is behind in the polls.  Obama told his audience that a $5 billion increase in “clean energy” manufacturing tax credits could generate nearly 40,000 jobs, some of them in Nevada where 14 percent unemployment undermines Reid’s argument that his position as Majority Leader pays dividends to his state.

Reid, bucking for a fifth term, has been pushing hard for solar energy investments in Nevada’s hot climate.  More sober analysts point out the experience of Spain, where every green energy job cost over two jobs in the regular economy because of the increased cost of energy. European governments are getting out of the “green energy” business as fast as they can, it has been a financial disaster for them.  Britain is still home to true believers, and their economy is still in the tank.

In an interesting coincidence, just hours before Obama arrived in Nevada to hold a fundraiser for Reid, the Departments of Energy and Interior joined Reid in announcing a new “Solar Demonstration Zone” in Nevada where new solar technologies can be tested and developed.

I’m sure it was just coincidental.  It would be tacky to use taxpayer money to buy an election for a supporter, wouldn’t it?



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.



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.



Prayers for Harry Reid’s Family by American Elephant
March 11, 2010, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Health Care, Politics | Tags:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s wife and daughter were in a very serious automobile accident today, rear-ended by a semi-truck:

The wife and daughter of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were injured today in an auto accident on a Washington, D.C., highway when the car they were driving in was rear-ended by a semi-truck.

In a statement released this evening, his office said the senator’s wife, Landra, 69 years old, has a broken nose, back, and neck but is able to feel her extremities. His daughter, Lana, also sustained an unspecified neck injury and lacerations to her face. The statement said doctors have informed them that their injuries are not life-threatening. [more]

His wife’s condition is listed as serious, his daughter will reportedly be released tonight.

We wish them both a full and speedy recovery.



Some Politicians Have Not Yet Grasped That Whatever They Say Can Be Captured By You Tube! by The Elephant's Child

Poor Harry Reid.  He keeps making commercials for his opponents in the next election.  Or you could title this “Things I Wish I had Never Said.”

Not getting worse has become the new success.  The national unemployment rate remained constant in February, but employers shed a net 36,000 jobs.

The administration made encouraging noises.  President Obama was visiting an Arlington, VA small business to speak on “clean energy and job creation.” The “severe storms all along the East Coast are estimated to have had a depressing effect on the numbers,” Obama said.   Others said that jobs should have ticked up a little because of all the people hired to deal with the snow.

The President remains convinced that “clean energy” is just the thing, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.



Is Congress Exempting Itself From Health Insurance? by The Elephant's Child

That’s the question asked on the Heritage Foundation’s blog.  The Senate health-care bill got the unions on board by exempting union workers from the proposed 40-percent excise tax on “Cadillac” plans — those worth more than $8,000 a year for individuals.

It is not yet clear what the White House’s new strategy to pass health care will be in the wake of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts senate race.  Democrats, from their public utterances, are dismissing it as angry white men, angry stupid people, and badly misled people who don’t know what’s good for them.  The very definition of denial. What they say in private remains unknown.

But according to Federal News Radio, can’t have federal employees left out of the earlier compromise.  Just to make sure that the definition of a “Cadillac” plan for federal employees is fair, dental and vision insurance would not be counted towards the taxable cost of a policy.  This, of course, includes Members of Congress who blithely exempt themselves from anything unpleasant.

This is such stupid public policy that it boggles the mind.  They probably think we won’t notice.  They really do think we’re stupid, you know.



Yoo-Hoo! Nancy, Harry, Barack! by The Elephant's Child

The people of the United States are trying to tell you something.  And you are not listening!  America has the world’s best health care system.  It has flaws.  There is no perfection in this world.  The flaws can be improved, if not fixed completely, but there is nothing that you are doing that actually fixes anything.

You claim to cover the uninsured, but at least 22 million remain uninsured under your plan.  You claim to be saving Medicare by letting younger people “buy-in,” and then slashing Medicare payments by 20 percent.  Are you nuts? There are many doctors that will not accept 20 percent less than what already does not cover their costs.  They just won’t accept Medicare patients.

Many doctors have said that if this goes through, they will simply quit the practice of medicine. Did you think that a hollow threat?  I wouldn’t bet on it.

One of your most precious ideas is the notion that a bevy of bureaucrats in Washington can look at a bunch of statistics that are only dimly understood, and decide from that who will get what treatment.

Medicine is not a one-size-fits-all deal.  Patients are individuals and have different reactions to medicines, to treatments, to tests.  Doctors learn skills in medical school and residencies, but the practice of medicine remains an art — trying to figure out just what is the right treatment for the individual patient. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal when you have your own Cadillac plan with a complete clinic on call right downstairs. You forget that you are dealing in real people’s lives.

Medicare and Medicaid are already in the red. You’re going to cover everyone who is uninsured by forcing them to buy insurance, cover everyone who has a pre-existing condition, cover  illegal immigrants, promise to cover all ills — just before you explain that we can’t afford it.  Then you try to tell us that it will “bend the cost curve down?” This is simply the grossest kind of Liberal nonsense.

And where did you get the idea that in the United States of America you can plot Liberal fantasies in back rooms, behind closed doors, in secret?  This is not the Soviet Politburo. You are way out-of-line: arrogant, historically ignorant, impervious to evidence and economically illiterate. You are making a mess.

This is a wake-up call!  You really need to pay attention.

The splendid cartoon is by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ramirez. See his political commentary every day here.



Reckless, Arrogant, Partisan Politics Inflicted on an American Public that Wants No Part of It. by The Elephant's Child
December 22, 2009, 2:00 am
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Law, Taxes | Tags: , , ,

This is depressing.  The Senate voted at 1:00 a.m. to end debate on the most partisan piece of legislation ever proposed.  Nobody really knows what is in it, for it has been changing ever since it was revealed 38 hours previously. Language and details have been shifting as sweetheart deals and bribes were put in place to secure the necessary 60 Democrat votes. Not one Republican voted for cloture.

It has been a deeply dishonest and legally corrupt bill from the start. Even the liberals admit that it is awful, but say that once they get it passed, they can start fixing it.  Here are the enticements that got them to the magic number:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.)
—$1.2 billion over ten years for a permanent exemption from Nebraska’s share of the Medicaid expansion. The only state so exempted under the bill.
Exemption for Nebraska from an excise tax on non-profit insurers.

Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.)
—Exemption from the non-profit excise tax for Michigan insurers.
Michigan and Nebraska were the only two states so exempted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)
—$10 billion for “community health centers”.
—Protections from cuts to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Vermont.
—$250 million over six years in expanded federal Medicaid funding.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.)
—$300 million increase in Medicaid funding in Louisiana.

Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), Sen. Paul Kirk (D., Mass).
—Three years of expanded federal Medicaid funding.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.)
—Special treatment for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D., Hawaii)
—billions in new funding for something called “Disproportionate Share Hospital” (DSH) payments (financed, in large part, by $18.5 billion in cuts to DSH payments in other states).

Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.), Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.)
—Higher federal Medicare reimbursement rates for low-population “frontier” states (also qualifying under the bill’s definition of frontier states are Utah and Wyoming, represented in the Senate by Republicans).

There is an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, except when those plans belong to favored Democrat groups like the longshoreman’s union and other union interests such as miners, construction workers, electrical linemen or  EMTs and others who are absolved from this tax.

The excise tax also does not apply to the 17 states with the highest health costs, if that makes any sense.

If Congress passes the legislation — probable — it will not control costs.  It will make the budget outlook far worse.  It will lead to higher taxes.  And it will still leave at least 24 million without health insurance, probably far more.

The media is trumpeting an endorsement by the American Medical Association which represents only a minority of doctors, not all of whom agree with the AMA endorsement.

Health benefits are widely overstated.  Long-term economic costs are widely understated. The country will be far worse off for its passage.  It reeks of partisan politics and influence peddlers, and the American people want no part of it.



Lieberman, Nelson Say, “No!” by American Elephant
December 13, 2009, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Health Care, News, Politics, Socialism | Tags: , , ,

Senators Lieberman and Nelson both say they will vote against Harry Reid’s “compromise” health care bill, making passage of the bill as it stands unlikely:

Two key senators criticized the most recent healthcare compromise Sunday, saying the policies replacing the public option are still unacceptable.

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) both said a Medicare “buy-in” option for those aged 55-64 was a deal breaker.

“I’m concerned that it’s the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option,” Nelson said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Lieberman said Democrats should stop looking for a public option “compromise” and simply scrap the idea altogether. [read more]

Let’s hope they stick to their guns!



A Tax-and Spend Bill of the Very Highest Order! Affordable Care Indeed! by The Elephant's Child

It looks as if Harry Reid has the 60 votes he needs to pass his health care bill to the floor.  This is a procedural vote, but an important one, and Republicans may not be able to keep the bill from passing.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has used every trick in the book to get the votes he needs. Scheduling the vote for a Saturday night when all the senators were anxious to be off on their Thanksgiving vacation provides an extra bit of urgency.   Bribes for reluctant Blue Dog Democrats ((moderates) like the $100 million for Louisiana Senator Landrieu’s constituents written into the health care bill show how it is done.

I would dearly love to see a quiz ordered, on the senate floor, to see just what the  senators know about the bill that they are voting for.  I suspect not much.  After all it has only been available for a couple of days, and it is 2074 pages long. No one has had time to read the whole thing, understand it and analyze its consequences.

The gimmicks (cheats) used to get a favorable rating from the Congressional Budget Office are quite amazing.  The “Doc-Fix” is a big one.  They cut the Medicare reimbursements to physicians for their services, and right now the payments to doctors are far under the doctors costs.  What happens when you do not reimburse doctors fairly?  They quit accepting Medicare patients.  (Same thing for Medicaid).  Senators know this, so will pass a separate bill putting back the reimbursements they removed.  Since only the cut is part of the bill, the CBO will find that it cuts costs. (Lie, Cheat, Fraud).

The CBO estimates costs over a ten-year period.  So the taxes and fees commence next year, but the bill doesn’t take full effect until 2014 when the costs begin.  That’s how you make it seem cheaper.  Over 20 years, the true costs will be $4.9 trillion, though every health care bill anywhere, Medicare, Medicaid, the States’ plans have all cost far more than estimated — except for the Medicare Drug Plan.  That came in costing less than the estimates because of the “donut hole” provision which encouraged seniors to make wise choices to keep the cost of their prescriptions down. The Democrats, of course, plan to eliminate the “donut hole.”  There is no end to their folly.

How about this bit:  according to Keith Hennessey, 16 million uninsured Americans  pay a penalty tax.  8 million uninsured illegal aliens will not have to pay a penalty tax.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have been increasingly popular. In 2006 only about 1% of adults with private insurance had HSAs, by this year it is up to 4%.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, whose members dominate the HSA market, says that enrollees are more likely than those with traditional insurance to be better consumers. They’re more likely to track expenses (63% to 43%), save for the future (47% to 18%), and search for information on physician quality (20% to 14%). They’re also more likely to participate and see results from wellness programs like weight loss, fitness and smoking cessation. This makes intuitive sense: They’ve got skin directly in the game.

David Goldhill, a media executive, recently wrote in the Atlantic Monthly that if a 22-year-old starts at his company today earning $30,000 and health costs grow at 3%, by the time he retires he’ll have paid out $1.77 million in premiums, lower wages, out-of-pocket costs and both sides of the Medicare payroll tax.

If all that money were instead available via an HSA, including by borrowing against future contributions, “wouldn’t you be able to afford your own care?” Mr. Goldhill asks. “And wouldn’t you consume health care differently if you and your family didn’t have to spend that money only on care?”

About 40% of tax-filers with HSAs earn under $60,000 a year.  Naturally the Democrats eliminate Health Savings Accounts.  And of course, the Reid bill subjects all private health insurance (you didn’t think you would escape this, did you?) to detailed Federal regulation.  Those clever bureaucrats (who can’t even read the bills they vote for) know better than you or your doctor what health care you should be allowed to have.

The Republican plan would shrink the deficit by $61 billion at least, without accounting gimmicks. Can’t have that!

ADDENDUM:  The National Federation of Independent Business has come out in full force against the Senate health care bill.  It does not address their number one problem: the unsustainable cost of healthcare.  They oppose it due to the amount of new taxes, the creation of new mandates, and the establishment of new entitlement programs.  The costs far outweigh any benefits that businesses might have reallized.  Why are they speaking up only now?  The bill has just become available — all 2074 pages.



How Do You Pass a Bill that The Majority of Americans Don’t Want? by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2009, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Statism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

If you desperately want to pass a bill nationalizing one-sixth of the economy, destroying the best health-care system in the world, raising the costs of health insurance for everyone in the country, and raising taxes on everything that moves — and you have some reluctant blue dog Democrats that might not go along — what do you do?

In the case of Mary Landrieu (D-LA),and you need her vote,  if you are Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), you add a little section on page 432 of your health care bill to increase Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The bill takes two pages to define which states would qualify, as those stated during the preceding seven fiscal years have been declared a “major disaster area.” All of which manages to apply to just one state — Louisiana, the home of said blue dog reluctant Democrat Mary Landrieu, and presents Louisiana with a Medicaid subsidy of $100 million taxpayer dollars.

That’s how you buy votes.

ADDENDUM: Mary Landrieu didn’t want to be known as aavailable so cheaply. It cost $300 million to buy her off.




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