Wednesday, 23 December 2009

HEALTH CARE - THE POLLING DATA

Ken Berwitz

FYI:  here, from www.pollster.com, are all the polls on health care for the past month.  Take a good look and see if this suggests the country does, or does not, want it:

Pollster

Dates

N/Pop

Approve

Disapprove

Undecided

Quinnipiac

12/15-20/09

1616 RV

38

56

6

YouGov/Polimetrix

12/13-15/09

1000 A

43

51

6

AP-GfK

12/10-14/09

1001 A

49

46

5

ABC/Post

12/10-13/09

1003 A

44

53

3

FOX

12/8-9/09

900 RV

39

54

7

YouGov/Polimetrix

12/6-8/09

1000 A

45

48

7

CBS/Times

12/4-8/09

1031 A

42

50

8

Bloomberg

12/3-7/09

1000 A

40

53

7

Marist College

12/2-7/09

858 RV

40

53

7

Quinnipiac

12/1-6/09

2313 RV

38

56

6

USA Today/Gallup

11/20-22/09

1017 A

40

53

7

Sort of makes you wonder why they're ramming it down our throats, doesn't it?


BUT THERE ARE NO DEATH PANELS. HONEST....

Ken Berwitz

Here is an excerpt from the latest article written by legendary civil libertarian (and, FYI, great jazz historian) Nat Hentoff:

The callousness of the Harry Reid Democratic majority in bullying through a very cost-efficient health-care bill for President Obama's eager pen to sign was disgracefully clear when both the House and Senate, on party-line votes, decided to cut $43 billion of Medicare spending on what The New York Times' Robert Pear described (Dec. 5) as "home health services, a lifeline for homebound Medicare beneficiaries, which keeps them out of hospitals and nursing homes." The president, I'm sure, was pleased.


To put a human face on the grim effects of severing that lifeline, Robert Pear, long due for a Pulitzer for his health-care reporting, introduced Delmer A. Wilcox, 89, of Caribou, Maine. He "lives alone, is losing his vision, uses a walker and has chronic diseases of the lungs, heart and kidneys. He said his condition would deteriorate quickly without the regular visits he received from Visiting Nurses of Aroostook, a unit of Eastern Maine Home Care."


But President Obama has emphasized (as he did during an interview with New York Times' columnist David Leonhardt): "The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health-care bill out here."

For cost purposes, should Reid take into account how much longer Mr. Wilcox has to live?

The day after Reid secured his 60 votes to continue Senate debate on Obamacare, CBS' "60 Minutes" "The Cost of Dying" presented a cold, clear case for cutting the $43 billion Medicare spending on home health services that serve not only the elderly, but certainly many other Americans. Opening the program chillingly, Steve Kroft played the actuarial rather than the compassionate blues:


"Every medical study ever conducted has concluded that 100 percent of all Americans will eventually die. This comes as no great surprise, but the amount of money being spent at the very end of people's lives probably will. Last year, Medicare paid $50 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients' lives that's more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education.


"And it has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenditures may have had no meaningful impact."


If I may interrupt, sir, what about the impact on the other lives? During the program, we hear from Dr. Ira Byock in the intensive-care unit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.:


"Denial of death at some point becomes a delusion, and we start acting in ways that make no sense whatsoever. And I think that's collectively what we're doing."


Toward the end of "The Cost of Dying," Dr. Byock lectures us on our moral responsibilities in these matters: "Collectively, as a culture, we really have to acknowledge that we're mortal," he said. "Get over it. And start looking at what a healthy, morally robust way for people to die looks like."


John McCain isn't getting over it. And in next year's midterm elections, we'll see how many other Americans won't. Are they immoral?


The economy will surely be a major factor in these coming elections, but I expect many Americans going to the polls will indeed be thinking robustly of their own mortality.

There's the argument, folks:  Yeah, we're going to cut services to the elderly.  But there's a good reason.  It is that we're all going to die.  So get over it and stop whining.

Just keep telling yourself, the panels which decide who will and will not get medical services are not death panels.....


JAMES KIRCHICK ON ANTI-FOX MEDIA BIAS

Ken Berwitz

Here is James Kirchick's excellent column from today's New York Daily News.  There will be no comment from me, because none is necessary:

The hypocrisy of the anti-Fox brigades

James Kirchick

Thursday, December 17th 2009, 5:57 PM

For more than a decade, Mara Liasson has been National Public Radio's top political correspondent. She also offers insightful, often left-of-center commentary on Fox News, a network that decidedly skews right.

So, it was only a matter of time before NPR executives would try to pressure Liasson to stop appearing on Fox.

According to Politico, NPR honchos in October told Liasson she should "reconsider" appearing on the network.

Liasson stood her ground and is still a Fox regular. You can add this episode to the vast catalogue of incidents demonstrating the American left's intolerance for the airing of views that dissent from liberal orthodoxy. But what's so chilling about this revelation is that NPR's attempt to silence Liasson occurred just as the White House's war against Fox News was in full gear. NPR denies that it coordinated with the Obama administration, and that's probably true, as the station didn't need prompting. As early as this February, station executives asked NPR contributor Juan Williams not to identify himself as such when appearing on "The O'Reilly Factor."

NPR should be pleased to have exposure on the country's top cable news channel, but the station panicked when the mere presence of Liasson led to complaints from the station's liberal listeners - most of whom, I'll wager, never even watch Fox.

Station execs never accused Liasson of saying anything objectionable during her Fox appearances. It was simply her attendance at the news desk that so angered Fox's critics.

NPR is not alone in its assault on Fox.

"By appearing on Fox, reporters validate its propaganda values and help to undermine the role of legitimate news organizations," declared Jacob Weisberg in a Newsweek column titled "Why Fox News Is Un-American" (remember that title the next time a liberal accuses a conservative of "questioning my patriotism"). "Respectable journalists - I'm talking to you, Mara Liasson - should stop appearing on its programs," Weisberg insisted.

If Weisberg is so determined to root out violators of the Fourth Estate's vaunted ethical standards, he need only venture down the hallways at Newsweek, where his colleagues are doing a good job trying to "undermine the role" of a "legitimate news organization" by appearing on Fox's liberal competitor, MSNBC.

During last year's presidential campaign, Richard Wolffe, Newsweek's Obama correspondent, appeared on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" several nights a week. The magazine's Washington correspondent, Howard Fineman, and senior editor Jonathan Alter also are regular guests.

"Countdown" is as relentlessly partisan, if not more so, than any of Fox's personality-driven opinion programs, and the frequent appearance of Newsweek's senior writers on the show is a greater affront to journalistic ethics than Liasson's joining a Fox roundtable in which various opinions are expressed. On "Countdown," it is not unusual to hear the accusation that the GOP is the "leading terrorist group in this country," as Olbermann once alleged. This week Olbermann compared compromise on the health care bill to Munich (even quoting Winston Churchill), thus equating those who oppose the costly public option with the Third Reich.

It would be one thing if Olbermann's guests ever challenged his views, something that happens regularly on "The O'Reilly Factor." But Olbermann never invites people onto his program who disagree with him. Indeed, when the Washington Post writer and frequent Olbermann guest Dana Milbank wrote an article critical of President Obama, Olbermann kicked him off the show. "Countdown" is nothing more than an echo chamber for the hysterical readership of Daily Kos and MoveOn.org.

And Newsweek is more than happy to play along.

This year, Fineman went beyond the bounds of journalistic propriety by introducing Olbermann at a political fund-raiser. "He's not a liberal," Fineman gushed. "What Keith is is an anti-establishment character who doesn't want people in power to get away with things." Fineman added that Olbermann "rediscovered the role of journalism and that role is deeply informed judgment about people in power and about the morality of our country."

Spoken like a true sap.

Wolffe, given his erstwhile status as the magazine's chief campaign correspondent, a position from which he should have at least made an effort to appear evenhanded, was the worst of the magazine's offenders. After the election, he wrote an embarrassingly worshipful book about the Obama campaign, directly thanking Olbermann in the acknowledgments for "your talent and courage, your good humor and support." This summer he guest hosted for Olbermann, the apotheosis of a slavish career. He has since found his true calling: corporate public relations. At least Wolffe's clients are now paying him for his services.

So Weisberg sees fit to criticize Liasson for giving bloodless commentary in Fox News panel discussions, yet doesn't grasp that there's a problem with his colleagues publicly praising, nodding along beside and guest-hosting for a raging, foam-at-the-mouth crackpot who regularly compares his intellectual adversaries with Nazis.

Mara Liasson may be generating a great deal of listener complaints. But it isn't NPR that needs to worry about its reputation being tarnished by employees appearing on a certain cable news channel.

.


BUILDING ON BRIBERY

Ken Berwitz

Suppose you are a US Senator, a Democrat, and you have just voted in favor of the health care legislation.  Suppose you now find out that it wasn't just Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln who accepted brib...er, additional funding for their specific states, which moved them from a no vote to a yes on this legislation -- you find out that a senator from your party got the entire medicaid cost for his state (about $100 millions worth) waived - which means that the other states, including yours, will be subsidizing that senator's state. 

Does that make you a sucker?  Will you now demand that you get a brib...er, additional funding for your specific state too, or you'll change your vote?

With this in mind, please read the following report from Fox News:

Updated December 22, 2009

Nelson Says More Senators Seeking Special Treatment in Light of Nebraska Deal

FOXNews.com

 

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who has faced a heap of criticism for appearing to trade his vote on health care for millions in federal Medicaid money, said he's considering asking that the Nebraska deal be stripped from the bill. But he said other senators are looking for special treatment in light of his success. 

 

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, after securing a sweetheart deal for his state as part of the health insurance reform bill, said Tuesday that three other senators have told him they want to bargain for the same kind of special treatment. 

 

"Three senators came up to me just now on the (Senate) floor, and said, 'Now we understand what you did. We'll be seeking this funding too'," Nelson said.

 

But the Democratic senator, who has faced a heap of criticism for appearing to trade his vote on health care for millions in federal Medicaid money, said he's considering asking that the Nebraska deal be stripped from the bill. 

 

Though he defended the exemption as a "fair deal," he said he never asked for the full federal funding that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ended up granting his state. Nelson said he instead asked that states be allowed to refuse an expansion of Medicaid. 

 

"This is the way Senate leadership chose to handle it. I never asked for 100 percent funding," he said. 

 

Nelson has maintained that the only reason he even brought up Medicaid was that Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman put him up to it. 

 

After Nelson sent a letter to the governor offering to kill the Medicaid deal, Heineman acknowledged that he and other governors had "expressed concern" about the state burden for Medicaid patients. But he rejected any suggestion from Nelson that he asked for the kind of deal Reid struck. 

 

"Under no circumstances did I have anything to do with Senator Nelson's compromise," the governor said in a written statement. "The responsibility for this special deal lies solely on the shoulders of Senator Ben Nelson." 

He urged Nelson to reconsider his support for the overall health care bill and, in response to the Sunday letter, said his state expects "a fair deal, not a special deal." 

 

"Governors all across America are troubled by this unfunded Medicaid mandate. If the U.S. Senate plans to address the unfunded mandates issue, all states must receive fair and equal treatment," he wrote. 

 

Nelson said Tuesday he wants to talk to the governor before making a decision on the Medicaid provision. 

 

Nelson would not name the three senators he said told him they're thinking of seeking the same kind of federal aid. He said he expected them to seek the money outside the health care reform process, and he defended their efforts. 

 

"Why should states be forced to pay for a (federal) unfunded mandate?" he said.

 

Republican senators agree and have blasted Nelson for the apparent payoff. 

 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has asked his state's attorney general to give the deal a legal review, and said it's not fair to other states that are still going to have to pick up part of the Medicaid tab. 

 

"I think that's just incredibly inappropriate. ... That is the worst in politics," he told Fox News on Tuesday. "I don't believe most senators believe this is OK. ... I think it stinks. I think it's sleazy."

That's some story.  Let's review:

-Nelson says he's considering handing back the $100 million - which would make him look like an idiot in addition to the extortionist he already looks like.  It ain't gonna happen;

-Nelson says he didn't ask for this much, Harry Reid just gave it to him.  The only reason I give this even a 5% possibility of being true is that Harry Reid is even worse than Ben Nelson is;

-Nelson says it's the Governor's fault, he asked for this and Nelson was only doing his bidding.  If true, that would make Nelson a puppet and a boob, in addition to being an extortionist and an idiot. By the way, the (Republican) Governor denies he ever asked for any such thing;

-Nelson says three other senators (so far) have come up to him and said they're going to do the same thing.  This I believe.

Is this the single dirtiest, most corrupt legislative effort in the history of the country?  Well, since I'm not entirely acquainted with the past 233 years, I don't know.

But is it the single dirtiest, most corrupt legislative effort that I, personally, have ever seen?  That I can answer in one word. 

Yes.

Zeke ... ... Is it possible that this might set a precedent ??? ... ... (12/23/09)


MERRY CHRISTMAS, MAO

Ken Berwitz

Do you think the White House' Christmas tree is pretty - all those nice ornaments, etc.?

Well watch this short video report from Fox News and see if you still feel that way:

Mao?  A drag queen?  Mt. Rushmore with President Obama added?

And the Michelle Obama says hey, we didn't decorate the tree, don't blame us?

If they are objectionable or over the line, Ms. Obama, you have two choices.  You can either TAKE THEM DOWN, or leave them up and, by so doing, demonstrate that they are okey-dokey with you.

So far?  I haven't heard a thing about them being taken down.  There's an answer in there somewhere.

BOBW DOES THIS MEAN IF I WERE A MEMBER OF "THE COMMUNITY GROUP" AND I DECORATED THE WHITE HOUSE X-MAS TREE WITH A PILE OF HORSE SHIT- OLE SOUR PUSS MICHELLE WOULD NOT ORDER IT TAKEN AWAY AND LEAVE IT THERE? STUPIDITY (12/23/09)

Ken Berwitz Bob - the answer is yes. I know that because with mao, a drag queen and an Obama-enhanced Mt. Rushmore up there, that's what HAS been done. (12/23/09)


DOUBLE-DEALING: HOW THE CBO SHOWS A REDUCTION IN HEALTH CARE COST

Ken Berwitz

You may be wondering how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) can possibly estimate that health care costs will drop, when the proposed legislation adds tens of millions of people to the health care rolls, who are disproportionally either non-paying and/or who have high-risk (thus high cost) medical conditions.

Well, the answer is simple.  You just count the same funding twice.

From www.yidwithlid.blogspot.com:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BREAKING-New CBO Letter RE: Senate Health Care Bill Projects Medicare is SCREWED!!!

 

Multi-tasking is a great quality, but money can't multi-task--- you can't spend the same dollar bill in two different places.  The Senate version of the Obamacare tries to do just that.  According to the Senate's guidelines given to the CBO to score the latest Harry Reid version of Health Care, the $500 Billion in medicare savings is being used to extend the life of Medicare AND to help pay for the new Healthcare programs in the bill.

Yesterday Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) asked the director of the CBO a simple question what is really happening to the $500 Billion in savings? The CBO Replied with the memo below, which basically says it will help pay for the new programs in  Obamacare, which means Medicare is screwed, or it will help extend the life of medicare which means the deficit will spike up and the promise of the Senate bill being deficit neutral is a cruel lie.

To describe the full amount of HI trust fund savings as both improving the governments ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the governments fiscal position.

 Read the full memo below:

 

Congressional Budget Office December 23, 2009


Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the Federal Budget and the Balance in the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund CBO has been asked for additional information about the projected effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), incorporating the managers amendment, on the federal budget and on the balance in the Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund, from which Medicare Part A benefits are paid. 


Specifically, CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected HI revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare.

How the HI Trust Fund Works
 

The HI trust fund, like other federal trust funds, is essentially an accounting mechanism. In a given year, the sum of specified HI receipts and the interest that is credited on the previous trust fund balance, less spending for Medicare Part A benefits, represents the surplus (or deficit, if the latter is greater) in the trust fund for that year. Any cash generated when there is an excess of receipts over spending is not retained by the trust fund; rather, it is turned over to the Treasury, which provides government bonds to the trust fund in exchange and uses the cash to finance the governments ongoing activities. This same description applies to the Social Security trust funds; those funds have run cash surpluses for many years, and those surpluses have reduced the governments need to borrow to fund other federal activities. The HI trust fund is not currently running an annual surplus.
 

The HI trust fund is part of the federal government, so transactions between the trust fund and the Treasury are intragovernmental and leave no imprint on the unified budget. From a unified budget perspective, any increase in revenues or decrease in outlays in the HI trust fund represents cash that can be used to finance other government activities without requiring new government borrowing from the public. Similarly, any increase in outlays or decrease in revenues in the HI trust fund in some future year represents a draw on the governments cash in that year. Thus, the resources to redeem government bonds in the HI trust fund and thereby pay for Medicare benefits in some future year will have to be generated from taxes, other government income, or government borrowing in that year.

Reports on HI trust fund balances from the Medicare trustees and others show the extent of prefunding of benefits that theoretically is occurring in the trust fund. However, because the government has used the cash from the trust fund surpluses to finance other current activities rather than saving the cash by running unified budget surpluses, the government as a whole has not been truly prefunding Medicare benefits. The nature of trust fund accounting within a unified budget framework implies that trust fund balances convey little information about the extent to which the federal government has prepared for future financial burdens, and therefore that trust funds have important legal meaning but little economic meaning.
 

The Impact of the PPACA on the HI Trust Fund and on the Budget as a Whole

Several weeks ago CBO analyzed the effect of the PPACA as originally proposed on the HI trust fund (f). CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated that the act would reduce Part A outlays by $246 billion and increase HI revenues by $69 billion during the 2010-2019 period. Those changes would increase the trust funds balances sufficiently to postpone exhaustion for several years beyond 2017, when the funds balance would have fallen to zero under the assumptions used for CBOs March 2009 baseline projections.

The improvement in Medicares finances would not be matched by a corresponding improvement in the federal governments overall finances. CBO and JCT estimated that the PPACA as originally proposed would add more than $300 billion ($246 billion + $69 billion + interest) to the balance of the HI trust fund by 2019, while reducing federal budget deficits by a total of $130 billion by 2019. Thus, the trust fund would be recording additional saving of more than $300 billion during the next 10 years, but the government as a whole would be doing much less additional saving.


CBO has not undertaken a comparable quantitative analysis for the PPACA incorporating the managers amendment, but the results would be qualitatively similar. The reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected HI revenues would significantly raise balances in the HI trust fund and create the appearance that significant additional resources had been set aside to pay for future Medicare benefits. However, the additional savings by the government as a wholewhich represent the true increase in the ability to pay for future Medicare benefits or other programswould be a good deal smaller.


The key point is that the savings to the HI trust fund under the PPACA would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs. Trust fund accounting shows the magnitude of the savings within the trust fund, and those savings indeed improve the solvency of that fund; however, that accounting ignores the burden that would be faced by the rest of the government later in redeeming the bonds held by the trust fund. Unified budget accounting shows that the majority of the HI trust fund savings would be used to pay for other spending under the PPACA and would not enhance the ability of the government to redeem the bonds credited to the trust fund to pay for future Medicare benefits. To describe the full amount of HI trust fund savings as both improving the governments ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the governments fiscal position.

What liars and frauds these people are.  How insulting this is to the average American who wants to believe what his/her elected officials tell us.

And what a complete screwing the taxpayer will get from ObamaCare.


THE SLAVERY BLACK "LEADERS" DON'T PROTEST

Ken Berwitz

Here, excerpted from an Associated Press article, is the slavery that so-called Black "leaders" (the sharptons of the world) never seem to be protesting:

Report says 225,000 Haiti children work as slaves

By EVENS SANON and JONATHAN M. KATZ Associated Press writer 2009 The Associated Press

Dec. 22, 2009, 5:50PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Poverty has forced at least 225,000 children in Haiti's cities into slavery as unpaid household servants, far more than previously thought, a report said Tuesday.

The Pan American Development Foundation's report also said some of those children mostly young girls suffer sexual, psychological and physical abuse while toiling in extreme hardship.

Young servants are known as "restavek" Haitian Creole for "stays with" and their plight is both widely known and a source of great shame in the Caribbean nation that was founded by a slave revolt more than 200 years ago.

Researchers said the practice is so common that almost half of 257 children interviewed in the sprawling Port-au-Prince shantytown of Cite Soleil were household slaves.

Most are sent by parents who cannot afford to care for them to families just slightly better off. Researchers found 11 percent of families that have a restavek have sent their own children into domestic servitude elsewhere.

The most widely used previous number for restaveks came from a 2002 UNICEF survey, which estimated there were 172,000.

Officials with the Ministry of Social Affairs could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Slavery in Haiti (and numerous other countries around the world, both poor and not so poor) is an ongoing fact of the contemporary world. 

So why are our so-called Black "leaders" so much more involved in protests based on US slavery - which became illegal almost 145 years ago?

Because there is MONEY in it.  MOOLAH  LONG GREEN.  $$$$$$$$$.  That's why.

Hundreds of thousands of children (and who knows how many adults being worked as slaves in Haiti?  So what?  Haiti hasn't got any money to extract, does it?  Nor does Mauritania, or a host of other Black and Arabic countries (Mauritania is about 70% Arab and 30% Black African).  Saudi Arabia is a benchmark for slavery (you can reasonably argue that its entire female population is enslaved) and has tons of dough, but who exactly will you see about reparations over there.  Run a protest against that government and you'll be lucky just to be lashed and jailed.

To this bunch, liberating enslaved people, children or otherwise, is no match for the money they can mine for something that happened a century and a half ago.

It's a practical issue, you see.  Uncle Sap has the money and we have been conditioned to accept guilt for something that didn't happen in any of our lifetimes, or any of our parents' lifetimes, or, with precious few exceptions, any of even our grandparents' lifetimes.  That's a pretty good combination for a race hustler.

So the children of Haiti, and all those other places, can wait. 


CHUCK SCHUMER ON THE NELSON BRI...ER, SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Ken Berwitz

I just read this brilliant comment from New York Senator Chuck Schumer.  It is from an article by Jonathan D.Salant, writing for www.bloomberg.com:

Schumer Says Every State Got Special Treatment in Health Bill

By Jonathan D. Salant

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- New York Senator Charles Schumer defended the special Medicaid payments that Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska obtained for his state before agreeing to support health-care legislation, saying all states got something in the measure.

Every state has its own unique situations, Schumer said in an interview on Bloomberg Televisions Political Capital with Al Hunt, airing this weekend. Thats why we have a Senate.

There you go.  Ben Nelson was going to vote no, until he got an agreement that Nebraska won't have to kick in any of that approximately $100 million in medicaid money - the extra money every other state does have to kick in.

But that's ok.  Every state got a bri..er, something special that was tailored to its own unique situation.  Heck, "That's why we have a senate".

On his radio show, Mark Levin disdainfully refers to Mr. Schumer as "Chuck the schmuck".   It is comments like the one you just read that cause him to do so.


THE HEAD-UP-THE-RECTUM BLOG OF THE MONTH (MAYBE THE YEAR)

Ken Berwitz

From Ezra Klein of the Washington Post (and, so help me, it is verbatim):

In praise of the Nelson deal

Ben Nelson is getting a lot of blowback for the deal he struck exempting Nebraska from paying for its Medicaid expansion. But though it was his deal, it wasn't his preference. It was Harry Reid's. And Reid made the right decision.

"This is the way Senate leadership chose to handle it." Nelson said. "I never asked for 100 percent funding." What Nelson asked for was, in fact, much worse. He wanted individual states to have to "opt in" to the Medicaid program. That would have gutted the Medicaid expansion, at least across the red states, and cost the federal government billions more, because providing subsidies for private insurance is far costlier than providing Medicaid. The eventual price tag would've been far more than $100 million, and the bill's internal structure would be a lot less stable. Reid, to his credit, saw this, and made the problem go away by throwing money at Nebraska.

That's created a few days of bad press, but as Tom Harkin points out, it could eventually lead to good policy. "When you look at it, I thought well, God, good, it is going to be the impetus for all the states to stay at 100 percent [federal funding]," Harkin told reporters. "So he might have done all of us a favor."

Harkin is right about this. One of the best things the bill could do would be to federalize Medicaid, and federalizing the Medicaid expansion is a good first step. Greg Anrig explains why here. That doesn't mean it's not galling that Nebraska got such a sweet deal. But this is the consequence of organizing our legislature around states. Nelson's parochial payoff is a lot closer to the intent of our system than, say, Joe Lieberman's ability to hold the bill hostage to his idiosyncratic and shifting opinions on Medicare buy-in.

You can't make this stuff up...


THE HARD LEFT AND HEALTH CARE

Ken Berwitz

So what does the hard left think of the current incarnation of ObamaCare?

Let's see what Louise Slaughter has to say:

Senior Dem: Kill the Senate health reform bill and start over

By Michael O'Brien - 12/23/09 02:12 PM ET

 

The Senate's healthcare bill is fatally flawed, a senior Democrat atop a powerful committee said on Wednesday.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said that the Senate's bill is so flawed that it's unlikely to be resolved in conference with the bill to have passed the House.

"The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago," Slaughter wrote in an opinion piece for CNN's website. Slaughter argued that while the House bill is far from perfect, the Senate bill's exclusion of a public option, along with abortion funding restrictions and other measures, make the bill undeserving of a vote.

Specifically, Slaughter said, the Senate bill would charge seniors higher premiums, would fail to nix health insurers' antitrust exemption and would not go far enough in extending coverage to people in the U.S.

"Supporters of the weak Senate bill say 'just pass it any bill is better than no bill,' " Slaughter wrote. "I strongly disagree a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills."

The New York Democrat also sounded a note similar to what Republicans have said (though for different reasons): Scrap the current healthcare bill, and start over.

"It's time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board," she said. "The American people deserve at least that."

Update, 2:54 p.m.: A Senate Republican aide chimed in on Slaughter: "Unfortunately for moderate Democrats, all the sweetheart deals in the world couldnt help you win an election when voters from across the political spectrum hate you because of your support for this disastrous bill."

That ain't what you'd call a ringing endorsement.  And don't doubt for a minute that there are plenty of similarly disposed Democrats among significant number of hard-leftists in congress.

So if all Republicans and a good number of hard leftists (they call themselves progressives, but they're hard left) are against it, where does that leave the health care bill.

Frankly, I don't know, and will be more than a little interested to find out over the next several days. 

I have a feeling there are more twists, turns and loop-de-loops to come.

free` I know you arent a big fan of Ann Coulter, but she nails the Dems on this health care bill. anncoulter.com/cgi-local/printer_friendly.cgi?article=347 IN OTHER WORDS ... by Ann Coulter December 23, 2009 Irritated at the bumps on the road to the Democrats' Thousand-Year Reich, liberals are now claiming that Republican Senator Tom Coburn requested a prayer for the death of Sen. Bob Byrd during the health care debate last Saturday night. Here is what Coburn actually said: "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray." After reporting Coburn's remark, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank added: "It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.)." Contrary to Milbank's claim, I find it extremely easy to get away from that conclusion. In fact, I'm a regular Houdini when it comes to that conclusion. That conclusion couldn't hold me for a second. There are a million ways a senator could miss a vote, other than by dying. Ask Patrick Kennedy. At 1 a.m. on a Sunday night in the middle of a historic blizzard in the nation's capital, I don't think the first thing that came to anyone's mind was death. More likely it was: "Last call." Milbank was employing the MSNBC motto, "In Other Words," which provides the formula for 90 percent of the political commentary on that network. The MSNBC host quotes a Republican, then says "in other words," translates the statement into something that would be stupid to say, and spends the next 10 minutes ridiculing the translated version. Which no one said. Except the host. Also, by the way, Sen. Coburn did not "go to the Senate floor to propose a prayer," as Milbank reported. He was giving a floor speech in which he used the turn of phrase, "What the American people ought to pray is ..." Inasmuch as liberals want to talk about anything but their plan to take over one-sixth of the American economy, let's talk about health care! Democrats tout Medicare as their model for a government-run health care system, bragging about what an extremely popular government program it is. Medicare is tens of trillions of dollars in the red. It is expected to go bankrupt by 2017. In order to pay for Medicare alone, the government will either have to cut every other federal program in existence, or raise federal income taxes to rates as high as 77 percent. Medicare is like a $500 hamburger: I assume it's good -- it had better be -- but no one would say, "THAT'S A FANTASTIC SUCCESS!" Until 10 minutes ago, the liberal argument for national health care was that it wasn't fair that some people -- "the rich" -- have access to better health care than others. In liberals' ideal world, everyone lives in abject poverty and stands in long lines, but we all live in the same abject poverty and stand in the same long lines -- just like in their beloved Soviet Union of recent memory! (Except the commissars, who get excellent health care, food, housing, maid service and no lines.) Instead of being honest and telling us that their plan is to make health care worse and more expensive -- but fairer! -- liberals have recently begun claiming that providing universal health care will actually save money. Overnight, they went from wailing about basic human needs being "more important than bombs" to claiming: "Our plan will be cheaper!" Hmmm, I didn't make any notes to debate the manifestly insane points. But I'm pretty sure that extending full medical benefits to 30 million people who don't currently have them -- 47 million once the federal health commission rules that illegal aliens are covered -- will not be less expensive than the current system. You can say -- mistakenly -- that the liberals' plan is more compassionate. You can say -- also incorrectly -- that it will be fairer. On no set of facts can you say it will be cheaper. Democrats keep citing the Congressional Budget Office's "scoring" of their bills as if that means something. The CBO is required to score a bill based on the assumptions provided by the bill's authors. It's worth about as much as a report card filled out by the student himself. Democrats could write a bill saying: "Assume we invent a magic pill that will make cars get 1,000 miles per gallon. Now, CBO, would that save money?" The CBO would have to conclude: Yes, that bill will save money. Among the tricks the Democrats put into their health care bills for the CBO is that the government will collect taxes for 10 years, but only pay out benefits for the last six years. Will that save money? Yes, the CBO says, this bill is "deficit neutral"! But what about the next 10 years and the next 10 years and the next 10 years after that? Will the health care plan continually pay benefits only in the last six years of every 10-year period? I think their plan assumes we'll all be dead from global warming in a decade. Also, I note that the Democrats claim it's urgent that we pass ObamaCare by Christmas, but the bill doesn't get around to paying out any benefits until 2014. Poor uninsured chumps. In other words ... Democrats are praying for the death of Bob Byrd! (12/23/09)

Zeke ... ... It all depends ... If the Health Fraud Bill isn't passed quickly, then ... 1) the pork will be uncovered .... 2) there will be time for the voters to lambaste their representatives and senators 3) despite historically short memories, it will be close enough to election time for the voters to extract revenge ... ... (12/23/09)


AN IMMEDIATE RETRACTION

Ken Berwitz

In my previous blog I suggested that Ezra Klein's supersedingly idiotic blog, in which he praised the bribe given to Ben Nelson for his health care vote, could be the head-up-the-rectum entry of the year.

But that, of course, is wrong. 

I forgot the inimitable melissa lafsky, Discover Magazine's deputy web editor.  It was lafsky who speculated that Mary Jo Kopechne, who drowned in Ted Kennedy's car some 40 years ago, might have felt it was all for a good cause.

After Kennedy's death, lafsky - incredibly -  blogged the following:

Mary Jo wasnt a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan....We dont know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what shed have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history....[One wonders what] Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Teds death, and what shed have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded. Who knows maybe shed feel it was worth it.

I apologize for suggesting that any other entry could be a better example of head-up-the-rectum blogging.  lafsky is, of course, the runaway winner.


HEALTH CARE - THE MIDDLE CLASS TAX...ER, FEE

Ken Berwitz

You don't need my wit and wisdom (such as it is) for this one.  Terry Jeffries of Human Events supplies the particulars:

Obamacare Slaps $15,000 Annual Fee on Middle Class Families

by Terry Jeffrey

 

The Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the final Senate health care bill indicates it would slap a mandatory annual fee of about $15,000 on middle-class families that earn an annual income greater than 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($88,200 for a family of four) and are not provided with health insurance by their employer.

On Dec. 19, the CBO sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., analyzing the fiscal impact of the bill the Senate is poised to vote on before Christmas.

The CBO analysis cites five basic facts about the bill that acting together would deal a devastating financial blow to many middle-class families if the bill is enacted and enforced as written.

 

Here are these facts:

 

Fact 1: You will be forced to buy health insurance.

 

Page 1 of the CBO's letter to Reid says, "Among other things, the legislation would establish a mandate for most legal residents of the United States to obtain health insurance"

Fact 2: You will be eligible for a federal subsidy to help you buy health insurance, but only if you earn less than 400 percent of the poverty level ($88,200 for a family of four), your employer does not offer you coverage and you purchase a government-approved plan in a government-regulated insurance exchange.

Page 7 of the CBO's letter to Reid says: "The bill also would establish new insurance exchanges and would subsidize the purchase of health insurance through those exchanges for individuals and families with income between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. ... As a rule, full-time workers who were offered coverage from their employer would not be eligible to obtain subsidies via the exchanges."

Fact 3: Your employer will not be required to offer you coverage, and will face a maximum fine of $750 per worker per year if it does not.

Page 7 of the CBO letter to Reid says: "In general, firms with more than 50 workers that did not offer coverage would have to pay a penalty of $750 for each full-time worker if any of their workers obtained subsidized coverage through the insurance exchanges; that dollar amount would be indexed."

Fact 4: Your insurance provider will face new federal mandates that will increase its cost for any plan it offers you.

Page 7 of the CBO's letter to Reid says, "Policies purchased through the exchanges (or directly from insurers) would have to meet several requirements: In particular, insurers would have to accept all applicants, could not limit coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, and could not vary premiums to reflect differences in enrollees' health."

Fact 5: Your family insurance plan -- if your employer drops your coverage and you are forced to buy it on your own -- will cost about $15,000 per year when the legislation is in full force in 2016.

Page 19 of the CBO letter to Reid says the average premiums for insurance plans under the final version of the bill should be "quite similar" to the estimates the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation made in a Nov. 30 letter to Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.: "Although CBO and JCT have not updated the estimates provided in that letter, the effects on premiums of the legislation incorporating the manager's amendment would probably be quite similar." Page 6 of the CBO's letter to Bayh said: "Average premiums per policy in the nongroup market in 2016 would be roughly $5,800 for single policies and $15,200 for family policies under the proposal."

The Senate health care bill gives employers two powerful incentives to stop offering health insurance coverage to their workers. First, if an employer does offer coverage, its lower-wage workers will lose the federal insurance subsidy they would otherwise get. Secondly, if an employer does not offer coverage, the $750-per-worker fine it faces will be far less than the premiums it would pay if it did offer coverage.

Where does this leave a mom and dad with two children and an annual income greater than $88,200? It leaves them without employer-based health insurance and facing a federally mandated $15,000-per-year insurance bill.

If this legislation is not stopped now, there will surely be a popular rebellion when the insurance mandate hits in five years.

When that happens, the liberals will not say: We made a mistake. We never should have forced families out of their employer-based health insurance and required them to purchase a $15,000 policy. They will say: We told you so. We cannot trust these greedy insurance companies. We need a single-payer system so the government can provide everyone with health care.

Just like they did in the Soviet Union.

A quick Q and A:

"Is this a tax on the middle class?"

"Naaahhhh, it's just a fee.  What's wrong with you?"

The fraudulence of what is being perpetrated on us in the name of "health care" is literally breathtaking.

 

Zeke ... ... .... Government Health Care ... the Efficiency of the Post Office ... ... .... the Compassion of the IRS ... ... .... ... ... .... and Half a TerraBuck --500,000 Gigabucks ($500,000,000,000) is being taken out of Medicare ... Retirement Medical Care, paid for by people during their working years. ... ... .... Barry O has said that it won't make no difference ... cause "new efficiencies" will make it up .... ... ( *** ducking, to avoid flying pigs ***) ... ... .... sounds like lowering the quality of medical care ... half trained 'assistants' instead of doctors .... .... (12/23/09)


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