Scorching logic and hard facts from Paul Ryan

Obama is so insulated behind his compliant media and his worshipful staff, I wonder if he’s ever heard before the facts Ryan spells out so clearly here:

My favorite line:  “Hiding spending does not reduce spending.”  Brilliant core statement about the myriad flaws in the bill.  Also, he drills in on the core difference between the two parties:  whether people or government should control their access to health care.

No one at Bookworm Room is surprised that Obama doubled-down on health care

Many pundits opined that Obama, being a bright guy, would learn from his myriad failures in 2009.  Over here at Bookworm Room, however, I repeatedly said that Obama is the type of malignant narcissist who will never learn from experience.  Unlike a social narcissist — that would be Clinton — who desperately craves approval and will do anything, including sleeping with thousands of women and changing his whole political ideology, to get that approval, Obama is the kind of narcissist who looks around him and sees two classes of people:  (1) those who agree with him and (2) a whole bunch of idiots.  The only way to deal with the latter, of course, is to continue to bully, hector and try to control them.  The American people are getting the full court press of a malignant narcissist who has been crossed.

It’s not pretty:

President Barack Obama is putting forward a nearly $1 trillion, 10-year health care plan that would allow the government to deny or roll back egregious insurance premium increases that infuriated consumers.

It doesn’t seem to occur to the president that the best way to deal with health care plans that mess with prices is to open the marketplace so that insured people can turn their back on those companies.

In other words, Obama is bribing Americans:  I’ll fix prices, if you’ll buy a $1 trillion addition to the American debt load, and total federal control over your health care and, by extension, your lives.  Does he really think we’re that stupid?  Forget I asked that question.  As I said in my first paragraph, of course he does.

Thinking it through, the whole premium increase thing is an issue because there is really no true marketplace for health insurance.  Because of the fact that insurers, not individuals, buy insurance, so people are tied to their policies because of their jobs; and because of the pre-existing condition problem (which also ties people to jobs), insurers don’t have true marketplace competition.  Instead, on a state by state, and employer by employer basis, they have monopolies — which is why they can raise prices with impunity.

Severing insurance from employment, and treating it like auto or life or home insurance, is one way to increase market forces, thereby decreasing the impunity with which insurer’s manipulate prices.  To date, the more vexing question has been how to deal with pre-existing conditions, since it seems unfair to force an insurer voluntarily to take on someone who will manifestly cost more than any premiums he will provide.  I realized, however, when I sat down and thought about things, that this issue can be dealt with simply by stating that, if a person with a pre-existing condition is currently insured, and can find comparable insurance with another company, that second company must provide coverage.

In a huge, open market, no one insurance company is going to be terribly hurt by this.  In a truly competitive system, one in which individuals, not their employers, buy insurance; and where people can buy basic policies, instead of premium policies only; and one in which people can cross state lines to buy cheaper policies (and assume the risks of less regulation); and where there is infinitely less government paperwork; people’s freedom to move from one policy to another will help sooth the economic hurt of forcing any one company to take on a person with a pre-existing condition.  For example, if Steve, with colitis, leaves insurance company X for insurance company Y (because the latter offers him a better deal), you can pretty much bet that Sally, with disc problems, will leave insurance company Y for insurance company X, because she likes the latter’s coverage better. In other words, the whole pre-existing condition issue is a problem in significant part because there’s too much government involvement, making movement within the market impossible.  Insurance companies are just as trapped as consumers are.

I hope that people are not fooled, but are, instead, offended, by the way in which president Obama is selling mutton dressed as lamb.  This is not a better deal, despite the way in which Obama has built in yet another bribe.  It is the same old, same old:  government will officially take over health care; government will use the full weight of its punitive powers to force citizens to buy a third party product that they may neither need nor want; physicians will be bullied in a way no other private citizens are when it comes to the nature of their work; and our nation will collapse under a completely unnecessary debt load.

American health care is better than socialized medicine

One of the bludgeons used to beat opponents of socialized medicine is the claim that everybody in Canada/England/Northern Europe/Etc., is soooo much happier with health care than we are.  A doctor friend of mine has been scouring the literature, and she’s discovered that this isn’t true.  Polls show that people in countries with socialized medicine are quite unhappy and, given the patient outcomes, this isn’t a surprise:

What progressives won’t admit is that people reliant on nationalized health care are unhappy. Recent polls show that more than 70 percent of Germans, Australians, Britons, Canadians and New Zealanders think their systems need “complete rebuilding” or “fundamental change.”

These polls reflect the poor outcomes those systems provide. In countries with nationalized care, outcomes for some of the most common diseases are catastrophically worse than in the United States. Compared to the U.S., Germany’s breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher, the U.K.’s is 88 percent higher and Canada’s is 9 percent higher.

For prostate cancer, the U.K.’s mortality rate is 604 percent higher, Norway’s is 457 percent higher and Canada’s is 184 percent higher. Colorectal cancer outcomes are no better with the U.K.’s mortality rate 40 percent higher and Canada’s 10 percent higher than here.

The United States does particularly well with breast cancer, in part because of aggressive screening policies.

Please read the whole op-ed my friend wrote.  Not only is it interesting on its own terms, but a large readership will push it onto the “Most viewed” category on the online edition of the paper, encouraging even greater reader numbers.  People ought to be exposed to as much information as possible about health care options, and Callen’s opinion piece is chock full ‘o info.

Lynn Woolsey turns on the Senate health care bill

Rep. Lynn Woolsey is a liberal among liberals, a Leftist who calls affluent Marin County her home (and Marin voters have sent her back to D.C. over and over again, with about 70% of the vote).  She’s not a very bright woman, but I give her credit for focusing unerringly on what’s wrong with the Senate health care bill:

Rep. Lynn Woolsey said Friday she would not vote for the Senate version of the Democrat’s health care reform bill without substantial changes, even though that is the only clear path toward passage of the legislation.

“The House bill was compromise enough for the people I represent,” said Woolsey, D-Petaluma. “The Senate bill would go beyond that to the point where we would just hand the insurance companies the gift of 40 million new customers with little or no controls on premiums and no competition from a public option.”

She’s even figured out that Paul Krugman, one of the people I credit with inadvertently helping me see how dysfunctional liberalism is, gets it completely wrong when he says to the Dems “Damn the torpedoes.  Full speed ahead!”  Reconciliation just won’t work because, even though it will turn the health care system economically over to the government, it still won’t fix those vexing liberal problems of how to make every citizen pay for every other citizen’s abortion (something even principled pro-choicers admit is wrong) or how to ensure that every illegal alien gets full medical coverage:

She said, for example, the Senate bill fails to prohibit insurance companies from rejecting customers due to pre-existing health conditions or to ban annual and lifetime caps on coverage.

“Even in reconciliation, we can’t fix that because reconciliation covers only budget issues,” Woolsey said.

The reconciliation process Woolsey referred to is a tactic that would allow Democrats to modify parts of the health care reform bill with just a 51-vote majority in the Senate. Under such an approach, Democrats in the House would first pass the Senate version of the health care bill, then pass a reconciliation bill containing the changes. Republicans have used this so-called “nuclear option” in the past to enact tax cuts.

But changes contained in a reconciliation bill may only deal with taxes and spending to bring the legislation in line with the budget. It would be difficult if not impossible to use reconciliation to address issues such as abortion funding and health care for immigrants.

Woolsey wants to follow Obama’s new suggestion of passing bite-size pieces of reform. The question now, is whether the American people will understand that insurance companies can’t stay in business if people are allowed to hold off on paying for insurance until they actually get sick. It’s really not insurance anymore, with the companies taking actuarial risks. In that case, it’s simply companies getting no benefit whatsoever to pay for our health care. It may be a good deal for the public, but that’s only until the insurance companies go out of business. Of course, then the government steps in and, voila — single payer health care. So I guess this is the start towards a backdoor government takeover.

As many have said, when it comes to liberals and their goals, it never ends.

Charles Krauthammer on the fundamental corruption of the health care bill (and Obama, too) *UPDATED*

From Fox New’s Sunday Roundtable, this is Charles Krauthammer’s take on the profoundly corrupt process behind the health care bill, and the way this process reflects on Obama:

It is a bribe, and that’s why it is so unpopular. Look, it’s not just a question of it depriving the Treasury of revenue. It’s question of equity.

You’ve got two workers, same type of job, same plan, same income, one of whom is a member of a union. And the guy who isn’t [a union member] is going to end up having a tax of 40 percent on his plan, and the other guy is not. And that’s simply incredibly unfair. And obviously, it’s a corrupt bargain.

What’s really hurting the bill here isn’t only the opposition on the substance, the half a trillion in cuts in … Medicare, and half a trillion in taxes. It’s the process.

That deals are [being] made corruptly and so openly is astonishing: the “Louisiana Purchase,” a cool $300 million for the Landrieu vote; the — what happened in Nebraska, this eternal exemption that Nebraska would have on paying for the extra Medicaid cost; and now the unions.

The reason it’s hurting Obama is he ran on the idea that he would change our politics. It would not be driven by special interest. There would not be the secret deals.

And he’s done it with the unions, with the pharmaceutical companies, with the doctors, with the hospitals, all in a way that everybody can see. And that’s why he’s hurting so much in the [personal] polls and on the health care issue itself.

UPDATEThe New York Times is much more sanguine about this whole process.  (So sanguine, in fact, that the reader who sent me the link to this article told me that his wife, an Independent Democrat, conceded for the first time that the Times is the Pravda of the Democratic party.)  Thus, rather than seeing the union deal as an offensively corrupt piece of horsetrading that buys votes at the expensive of other citizens, the Times assures us that it’s a great piece of statesmanship that will shower government beneficence on all citizens:

The agreement between the White House, Congressional leaders and labor unions over taxing high-priced health insurance policies is a reasonable solution to an issue that was threatening to derail health care reform. The agreement treats unionized workers far more favorably than nonunion workers, the price for the support of important Democratic constituencies. But it would preserve the tax’s crucial role in slowing the rise in health care costs for decades to come.

After explaining how it works, the Times assures those being reamed by the tax (as opposed to their tax-free next-door neighbor, the union man), that they are making a worthy sacrifice for the greater good (as opposed to their tax-free next-door neighbor, the union man):

A vast majority of economists agree that the tax would be a valuable cost-control feature. In our largely fee-for-service system, doctors have an economic incentive to provide more services. With insurance covering most of the bill, neither patients nor doctors worry much about costs. Requiring workers to pay more out of pocket would force them and their doctors to think a lot more carefully about whether an expensive test or treatment is really necessary.

And if you’re worrying that these inequities will screw up the system, don’t worry — the government is here to help:

There is some risk — nobody knows how large — that higher deductibles and co-payments would discourage some people, especially the chronically ill, from seeking medical care that they need. Congress can avoid this tragic outcome by setting up a monitoring system to detect any emergence of harm and making a midcourse correction to protect the health of any groups that suffer adverse consequences.

Do you feel better now?

My correspondent remarked that the editorial, which is published anonymously, of course, has no comment feature.  It’s obvious that the editors are afraid that just about anyone with half a brain will point out to the opiated liberal masses the myriad and ugly flaws in the editorial’s argument.

Liberals laugh at business — even when they concede that it functions better than government

Last night, I went to hear Atul Gawande give a talk promoting his new book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.  The book’s premise is a simple one:  In an increasingly complex world, even experts benefit from a routine checklist that requires them to focus on the essentials necessary to their task.  The best checklists are not too detailed, and leave room for individual or team autonomy.  Gawande, a surgeon, came up with the idea when the World Health Organization asked him to investigate how to decrease unnecessary deaths associated with surgery.  After investigating similar complex situations (building tall buildings or airplanes), Gawande concluded that checklists that force people to remember what should be obvious (but nevertheless gets forgotten or overlooked), and that enable teams actually to function as teams, were the way to go.  Boeing was a huge inspiration for this.

I came away from the talk convinced that Gawande has a point (perhaps because I’m a checklist and outline person myself).  I was also impressed much less favorably by his devotion to the notion of government controlled health care (he’s all for the Frankenstein monstrosity wending its way through Congress).  Aside from my own prejudices, his manifest delight in the health care bill made no sense as he told anecdote after anecdote demonstrating that it’s the business sector, not the government, that is best able to adapt to his recommendations.  This became most clear when he talked about Hurricane Katrina.

Gawande noted that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA descended on New Orleans with the Checklists from Hell.  They were overly detailed, denied any personal responsibility, and prevented FEMA employees from adapting to the situation on the ground.  These government generated checklists, rather than heightening efficiency, rendered government employees ineffectual.

Gawande paused after this description.  Around me, all the people in this liberal, elite San Francisco audience nodded their heads wisely.  “That dumb Bush and his corrupt administration,” you could practically see them thinking.

By contrast, said Gawande, you could see the effective use of checklists from . . . long pause . . . “Wal-Mart, of all things.”  He paused for the obvious laugh line, and the audience obliged.  What a joke that the fascist Wal-Mart commercial dictatorship would function better than government.  Gawande clearly agreed, yet he went on to describe a Walmart behaving efficiently and humanely during the disaster.

Because its checklists weren’t rigid or overly long, Wal-Mart employees had a certain degree of latitude in the face of an enormous crisis.  Ultimately, Wal-Mart asked only that the managers check in with headquarters daily so that they could pool information and exchange ideas.  Within one day, while FEMA was still turning away supplies because they weren’t on a given employee’s checklist, Wal-Mart had arranged for free medicine to be handed out to be people who were dependent on their medicine (diabetics, for example). They were also providing essential supplies to FEMA, which was incapable of accessing its own resources.

What neither Gawande nor the audience seemed to comprehend was that this outcome wasn’t surprising, it was obvious.  Government is a bureaucratic entity ultimately responsible only for more government.  It is driven by fear, not by outcome.  The fear each employee has that he or she might get downgraded on the civil service list, the collective entity’s fear of a funding cut, its leadership’s fear that each member will fail to ascend in the government ranks, and so on.  It has no responsibility beyond its own bureaucratic survival.  If it goes through the motions, and sort of gets the job done, it will continue to exist.

Business, however, must be infinitely adaptable in the Darwinian world of the marketplace.  It cannot afford complacency or rigidity.  It cannot afford the risk of litigation for failure.  It can react with incredible speed, since management doesn’t have to go through a bureaucratic or legislative process in order to change a checklist or procedure.  If Gawande really believes in his lists, the last thing he’ll want is for them to be government controlled, because they will never improve.  Instead, they will stagnate in bureaucratic limbo, good enough, but never better.

Gawande’s talk left me more certain than ever that, while our health care system needs reform, handing the details over to the government is a sure recipe for a FEMA-level disaster.

Both Progressives and Conservatives should vote for Scott Brown

First, here is Scott Brown’s latest ad:

Second, not only should conservatives and independents in Massachusetts vote for him, but so should progressives.  After all, the latter hate the proposed health care bill as much as the former do.  Conservatives and independents hate the bill because it vests power in the government; progressives hate it because it channels money to insurance companies and pharmacies.  It’s a bad bill no matter your political viewpoint, but the Senate Democrats are bound and determined to pass it.  At this point, a Scott Brown victory might be the only thing that stops a universally despised piece of legislation from going forward.

If you would like to donate to Scott Brown’s campaign, you can do so here.

Democrats: doing what it takes to create a one party system

I’ve got a matched set of posts for you today.  The first is an American Thinker article by John Gaski, in which he advances the argument that the Democrats are tuning out the American voters, not because they are blinded by ideology, but because they have a well-advanced system in place for permanent one party rule:

Apart from the troubling question of intent, or whether Obama-Pelosi-Reid just have a novel view of the public interest, the national Democrats are unnaturally and mysteriously sanguine despite growing backlash by the American people. Why? One reason:  The Dems don’t believe they will ever have to face a real election again.

[snip]

Dictatorship in a one-party state indeed seems to loom for us. As one prominent commentator has pointed out, the normal order of the human condition is tyranny, subjugation, and dictatorship, with only a couple of respite periods throughout history, including our time in the West over the past two centuries or so. It just took that long for the totalitarian types to gain near-total power in our country, which they are now consolidating over the coming year. What are the betting odds that they will ever let it go voluntarily?

I was inclined to give Gaski’s article a pass on the ground that it was just a bit too paranoid to be true.  I mean, it’s well written, and he advances a lot of facts (ACORN, SEIU, registering illegal aliens to vote, universal registration, corrupt Democratic Secretary’s of State, etc.), but I still didn’t seem them coming together in one coherent conspiracy whole.  My skepticism, however, took a big hit when I read that, even if Scott Brown somehow manages to pull a victory out of the special Senate vote in Massachusetts (which is unlikely given ACORN’s and SEIU’s contributions to the process before and during the vote), the Democrats will still act to block the will of the people:

It looks like the fix is in on national health-care reform – and it all may unfold on Beacon Hill.

At a business forum in Boston Friday, interim Sen. Paul Kirk predicted that Congress would pass a health-care reform bill this month.

“We want to get this resolved before President Obama’s State of the Union address in early to mid-February,” Kirk told reporters at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

The longtime aide and confidant of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was handpicked by Gov. Deval Patrick after a controversial legal change to hold Kennedy’s seat, vowed to vote for the bill even if Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, who opposes the health-care reform legislation, prevails in a Jan. 19 special election.

“Absolutely,” Kirk said, when asked if he’d vote for the bill, even if Brown captures the seat. “It would be my responsibility as United States senator, representing the people and understanding Senator Kennedy’s agenda. . . . I think you’re asking me a hypothetical question but I’d be pleased to vote for the bill.”

[snip]

Friday, a spokesman for Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, who is overseeing the election but did not respond to a call seeking comment, said certification of the Jan. 19 election by the Governor’s Council would take a while.

“Because it’s a federal election,” spokesman Brian McNiff said. “We’d have to wait 10 days for absentee and military ballots to come in.”

Another source told the Herald that Galvin’s office has said the election won’t be certified until Feb. 20 – well after the president’s address.

Since the U.S. Senate doesn’t meet again in formal session until Jan. 20, Bay State voters will have made their decision before a vote on health-care reform could be held. But Kirk and Galvin’s office said Friday a victorious Brown would be left in limbo.

In contrast, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) was sworn in at the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 18, 2007, just two days after winning a special election to replace Martin Meehan. In that case, Tsongas made it to Capitol Hill in time to override a presidential veto of the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Gaski may well be right — the fix is in, and we’re all well on our way to being broken.

Mark Steyn summarizes the end result of the Democrats’ health care “reforms”

You can’t summarize the whole fiasco better than Mark Steyn did:

We were told we had to do it because of the however many millions of uninsured, yet this bill will leave some 25 million Americans uninsured. On the other hand, millions of young fit healthy Americans in their first jobs who currently take the entirely reasonable view that they do not require health insurance at this stage in their lives will be forced to pay for coverage they neither want nor need. On the other other hand, those Americans who’ve done the boring responsible grown-up thing and have health plans Harry Reid determines to be excessively “generous” will be subject to punitive taxes up to 40 percent. On the other other other hand, if you’re the member of a union which enjoys privileged relations with Commissar Reid you’ll be exempt from that 40 percent shakedown. On the other other other other hand, if you’re already enjoying government health care, well, you’re 83 years old and, let’s face it, it’s hardly worth us giving you that surgery for the minimal contribution you make to society, so in the cause of extending government health care to millions of people who don’t currently get it we’re going to ration it for those currently entitled to it.

Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care. Adding up the zillions of new taxes and bureaucracies and regulations it imposes on the citizenry, one might almost think that was the only point of the exercise.

[snip]

As I’ve been saying for over a year now, “health care” is the fast-track to a permanent left-of-center political culture. The unlovely Democrats on public display in the week before Christmas may seem like just a bunch of jelly-spined opportunists, grubby wardheelers and rapacious kleptocrats, but the smarter ones are showing great strategic clarity. Alas for the rest of us, Euro-style government on a Harry Reid/Chris Dodd/Ben Nelson scale will lead to ruin.

It’s no wonder that Steyn describes the bill as a “monstrous mountain of toxic pustules sprouting from greasy boils metastasizing from malign carbuncles.”

The line of the night

Christmas dinner (which was lovely), included in a brief foray into discussing the Senate’s health care bill.  A liberal friend let loose with this terrific line after I said that the Senate had raided Medicare and Medicare Advantage to make the bill ostensibly revenue neutral:  “I don’t know anything about the bill, but I know that you’re wrong.”

Open thread centered around a very important question

The holidays continue to make demands on me that take me away from my beloved computer and my blog.  I’ve managed to track enough news, though, to know that Reid managed to get his vote.  My question for you, and one I can’t answer myself, is this:

Will the health care bill, even if it destroys the current crop of Democrat politicians, be an unstoppable juggernaut that will inevitably lead to socializing America, or is this bill the final straw on the electorate’s groaning back that will lead to the revitalization of conservatism in America?

I’d like to think the second but, given the Republican party’s profound ineptitude and ideological weakness, I think Republicans are going to take lemonade and manage to reconstitute it as rotten, sour, unpalatable lemons.

***

As I finished typing the last paragraph, I got an email from Rob, at JoshuaPundit, with a link to his post about the dangers of despair:

Part of what fuels decadence (and eventual destruction and defeat) is the belief that everything is rotten beyond repair, so why even try anymore? If enough people feel that way, then they contribute to the defeat and it’s over. So it’s important to act with optimism and positive energy even when it seems hopeless.

One of the things that surprised me in reading Winston Churchill’s history of World War II is how frequently he succumbed to despair during the run-up to the Second World War when he could see where things were headed, and afterward,when he finally took power and the Nazis were expected to invade at any moment.

Sir Winston referred to these periods of depression as ‘the black dog’…but he made a point of never sharing these emotions with anyone, and indeed made a point of acting especially cheery and unperturbed when things seemed darkest. And there were plenty of such moments.

He understood instinctively one of William James’ basic principles of psychology, that moods are infectious and affect others and that a positive attitude, even a partially feigned one, can have positive results.

And there are positive results to be had. We have a country to win, and one that’s worth fighting for.

Please read the rest of Rob’s post.  It will make you feel better, as it made me feel better.  We have a wonderful country, and we cannot and should not give up!

The Left and the Right come together to oppose the Senate’s health care bill

The Heritage Foundation has an excellent summary of the way in which the Left has finally caught on to something the Right figured out long ago; namely, that it’s unconscionable (and probably unconstitutional) for the government to force citizens to buy a product from a private purveyor:

Explaining why he would vote against the Senate version of Obamacare if he were a Senator, former-Democratic National Committee Charmian Howard Dean told MSNBC last night: “You’re going to be forced to buy health insurance from a company that is going to take on average of 27% of your money … and there is no choice about that. If you don’t buy that insurance you are going to get a fine.” For this heresy, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested Dean was irrational, and asked: “I would ask Dr. Dean, how better do you address those who don’t have insurance: passing a bill that will cover 30 million who don’t currently have it or killing the bill?”

Later in the day, the successor organization to Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, Democracy for America, shot back at the White House, blasting out an e-mail that reads:

What they are actually talking about is something called the “individual mandate.” That’s a section of the law that requires every single American buy health insurance or break the law and face penalties and fines. So, the bill doesn’t actually “cover” 30 million more Americans – instead it makes them criminals if they don’t buy insurance from the same companies that got us into this mess.

And Dean’s DfA is not alone. Markos Moulitsas, the founder of one of the largest liberal blogs on the web, wrote Tuesday:

My take is that it’s unconscionable to force people to buy a product from a private insurer that enjoys sanctioned monopoly status. It’d be like forcing everyone to attend baseball games, but instead of watching the Yankees, they were forced to watch the Kansas City Royals. Or Washington Nationals. It would effectively be a tax — and a huge one — paid directly to a private industry. Without any mechanisms to control costs, this is yet another bailout for yet another reviled industry.

And firedoglake, the progressive blog that led the campaign to run Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) out of the Democratic Party, calls an individual mandate without a public option “Unacceptable For Moral, Political, And Policy Reasons” explaining:

The health insurance Americans are forced to purchase will not be affordable. Middle class families (making 300%-400% of FPL) will only get subsidies sufficient to make the premiums for the second cheapest insurance at the low quality silver level (70% actuarial) cost 10% of their income. … The individual mandate in this bill is nothing more than government-enforced private taxation on behalf of large, for-profit corporations. It would be just one more step toward corporate serfdom.

Conservatives have been making nearly identical critiques of the individual mandate since the beginning of the debate. Of course, we differ with the left on whether the public option would solve the above problems, but both progressives and conservatives are now in complete agreement that the current Senate bill would be a health care disaster for Americans.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Incidentally, the above serves, yet again, as a perfect example of the way in which Press Secretary Robert Gibbs exemplifies the arrogant condescension that characterizes the nanny state White House.   After all, he effectively called more than half the nation irrational.

Obami and Congressional Democrats no longer function rationally

There is something deeply, deeply wrong with the Obami and the Congressional Democrats.  Or maybe not.  Maybe they are just all too human and are living out that saying that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  In this case, the corruption isn’t necessarily monetary (although that’s there too).  Instead, it’s a rot of the soul; an inability to confront the reality of actual governance, and a desire, instead, to live in a fantasy world.

As I read the stories about Dems lately, I keep thinking of Nero.  When Nero first become Emperor in Rome (54 A.D.), he was a golden boy.  He was handsome and charming.  Initially, he decreased corruption and increased freedom in Rome.  Eventually, however, unfettered power led Nero to unfettered acts of insane cruelty and murder.  There was nothing to stop him, so he became unstoppable.  (Leaders ranging from Caligula, to Mao, to Mugabe, to Kim Jong-Il are also nices example of the dangers of having unlimited power vested in a single person/group.)

I see the same thing going on in Washington.  The Democrats control completely both the executive and legislative branches.  Procedurally, there is nothing to stop them.  What should be stopping them, of course, is harsh reality:  the unyielding laws of economics, the increased arrogance of our enemies, and the growing disaffection of the voters.  But the Democrats, drunk on unlimited power, cannot stop themselves.  Indeed, our arrogant president, despite having accomplished nothing but emboldening our enemies, cheerfully awarded himself a B+ in governance.  There’s delusion for you.

Despite the fact that the voters are turning against government health care in droves, the Democrats are bound and determined to pass it.  Despite the fact that more and more evidence is appearing to show that the climate change “science” is corrupt, politically-driven voodoo, the Democrats insist on destroying our economy to meet illusive and impossible climate goals.  And most recently, despite the fact that a respected bipartisan economic organization is stating that the debt path the Democrats are pursuing is unsustainable, the Democrats won’t be stopped there either:

After passing a $447 billion spending bill Sunday, Congress faces a Jan. 1 deadline to raise the ceiling on the national debt even as a bipartisan expert panel warned Monday that the United States faces a potential funding crisis.

The Peterson-Pew Commission, composed of former members of Congress and budget experts, warned that the federal budget has reached a danger zone much faster than anticipated even a year ago. Like a homeowner swimming in mortgage debt, the government’s bills are growing faster than its income, to the point where overseas investors holding U.S. debt could be spooked at any moment.

“The long-run future is upon us,” said former Clinton administration budget chief Alice Rivlin. Bush administration debt, rapidly escalating health care costs, a deep recession that has slashed tax revenue, and record government spending this year on a $787 billion stimulus and a $700 billion bank rescue have, she said, “raised the debt very, very rapidly, to nervous-making levels.”

Still, Democratic leaders in Congress and the Obama administration contend that joblessness is the more important problem now. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to pass a new jobs package this week as part of the $626 billion defense bill, including an extension of benefits for the unemployed and new infrastructure spending.

Obama economic adviser Christina Romer said it would be “suicidal” to cut spending with the unemployment rate above 10 percent. Economic growth is the best remedy to the deficit, they argue.

When it comes to the deficit, the closest analogy I can think of is a deranged physician who gives a person with a bad flu a toxic doses of chemotherapy on the principle that the chemotherapy will cure what ails him.   The best thing for the patient would be to fall ill rapidly, go to another doctor, and immediately have the medicine withdrawn.  The worst thing would be for the steady drip of the chemo to debilitate the patient so slowly that, by the time he realizes what’s wrong, it’s too late — he’s as good as dead.

The same holds true for us.  Because of the Democrats’ hubris, the American people are swiftly wising up to the appalling damage the Democrats are inflicting on our nation, both economically and in terms of national security.  That’s good because, in theory, that means we’re like the patient who got a second opinion quickly, rather than dying slowly.  However, the election process means that, even though we know we’re being grossly mistreated, we can’t do anything about it until November 2010.  This question, then, is whether we can survive that long without dying first.

The fairness problem with cost shifting in health care

One of the things that ObamaCare proponents keep saying (and please add a whining note in your mind as you read the following) is that “the current system isn’t fair.”  It’s not right, they say, that, in a rich country, some people have premium health care, while others are forced to go to a free clinic or an emergency room (or possibly back to their native Mexico).

What all these fairness proponents forget is that there is nothing fair about socialized medicine.  Unless you want costs to be stratospheric for everybody (as in ever higher taxes) or unless you want the system to break very quickly, you have to make sure that people don’t drain the system.  Morbidly obese people drain the system.  Drug users drain the system.  People with chronic diseases such as Crohn’s drain the system.  Diabetics drain the system.  Cigarette smokers drain the system.  Sexually promiscuous people drain the system.  You can make your own list, but it is apparent that some people are heavy health care users, and others aren’t.  All of them make more demands than your average middle class, healthy suburbanite, who goes in for well-baby checks, appendicitis, the occasional pneumonia, etc.

Now, we’re a compassionate people, and we’re probably willing to pay for those who suffer through no fault of their own.  We can find it in our hearts to shell out for the person who is crossing on the green light and gets hit by a car; or for someone who has appendicitis.  But what about the people who could have prevented their illnesses?  Do you really want higher taxes to pay for that big guy at the buffet who is loading up on fried stuff?  And how do you feel about replacing the liver on that recovered alcoholic?  And are you sure your neighbor isn’t going to tell you to forget having children in case one of them has your breast cancer gene? And since that’s not fair, and since the whole point of universal health care is a fair system in which everyone pays equally for and receives equally of the health care system, then someone or something (hint:  the government) had better step in and control or punish high risk people.

It’s not just me saying this.  Indeed, even though I had inchoate thoughts on precisely this topic, I didn’t put it together until Zombie sent me a link to a comprehensive article spelling out everything that’s wrong with the universality of universal health care.  Please read it.  Think about it.  Forward it to friends.  Use it as the basis for letters to your Congressman or woman, or as the talking point for a friendly discussion at work.

Life isn’t fair.  Equality of opportunity is a wonderful American tradition.  Equality of outcome is an impossible dream that eventually turns all nations that seek it into totalitarian dictatorships, intent on controlling every aspect of the citizen’s life.

Britain, with Communist medicine, has Communist health outcomes: lots of death

Britain’s NHS, which is government-run (i.e., Communist) medicine, has, unsurprisingly, Communist outcomes.  Lots of people die unnecessarily in England under the government’s beneficent care:

British health care is little better than that of former Communist countries, which spend a fraction of the billions poured into the NHS.

A survey published yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development sees Britain languishing with the Czech Republic and Poland in international league tables on health.

The OECD – which represents developed Western countries, some former Soviet nations, Mexico, Japan and South Korea – compared healthcare standards among its 30 members and found that we lag even further behind the wealthiest nations, such as France, Sweden and Germany.

The figures showed:

  • British cancer and heart attack victims are more likely to die than almost anywhere in the developed world;
  • Asthma and diabetes patients are more than three times as likely to end up in hospital as their neighbours in Germany;
  • Life expectancy in Britain – 79 years and six months for a man – is far worse than in France, where men expect to live until 81. The deficit is similar for women.

Britain performed only marginally better than former Communist states whose governments spend only half as much on healthcare.

Read the rest here.

Do I need to say, again, that this is the ultimate goal the Democrats have for America?  Repeated evidence to the contrary (the entire Soviet bloc, England, Canada, etc.), the Democrats are convinced that, if you can just do it right, government health care will be better than health care in a market economy that is only subject to limited government constraints.  They can’t get it through their heads that, to the extent medical care in America is too expensive, that expense is driven by government interference in the free market.

As I always say, government should exist to police fraud and protect citizens from overreaching.  Government becomes a problem when it dictates what people must buy (as is the case in practically every health insurance market in America), and controls the available products.  Government becomes a threat when it takes over the market entirely, as it has in England.

Some liberals admit the $1.8 trillion health care takeover will not provide universal insurance

Liberals are very gung-ho for a health care bill that will see the government take over 1/6 of the American economy, that will dramatically raise taxes, that will (if all goes according to plan) destroy private sector insurance, that will force Americans to “buy” insurance or pay a penalty, that will force all Americans to fund abortions whether they believe abortions are murder or not,* that will not exclude illegal immigrants, and that will cost an estimated $1.8 trillion dollars over the next decade.  The justification for this economically back-breaking, totalitarian approach to health care is that the care will be universal.  Everyone in America will finally, at long last, be covered.  Except that they won’t.

You see, even liberals are admitting that this draconian, unbelievably expensive, revolutionary step towards socialism and away from the liberty that has long characterized America will not accomplish its stated goal, or at least it won’t at any time in the near future:

Health experts say it would be great if national health reform legislation would render San Francisco’s groundbreaking health program unnecessary – but they don’t see that happening anytime soon.

None of the bills under consideration in Congress promises to cover everyone living in the United States, leaving some people without coverage. Those include new immigrants who can’t afford coverage but are not yet eligible for public programs, low-income people who wouldn’t qualify for subsidies, and illegal immigrants.

These are among the groups of people who have health coverage under Healthy San Francisco.

[snip]

With Healthy San Francisco, which began in July 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the country to guarantee basic health services for its uninsured residents. Eligibility is not based on immigration, employment or health status.

Now covering some 43,000 San Franciscans, it is paid for by a combination of state and city money, patient co-payments and fees from employers who don’t provide health insurance for their workers.

[snip]

The proposals in the House and Senate include expansions to the Medicaid program, particularly for low-income childless adults who currently don’t qualify for Medicaid.

But “depending on which proposal gets passed, there are still going to be a significant number of people who won’t be insured,” said Jean Fraser, former chief executive officer of the San Francisco Health Plan who is now in charge of the San Mateo County Health System.

Even if a federal law requires people to have health care, illegal immigrants won’t be included and some people will choose not to purchase it or won’t be able to afford coverage.

These include people who may find it cheaper to pay a fee or fine than buy health insurance, said Lucien Wulsin Jr., director of the Insure the Uninsured Project in Santa Monica. He added that some may seek and receive hardship waivers, exempting them from the mandate.

Read the rest here.

In other words, no matter which $1.8 trillion plan is passed, and no matter how much our taxes are raised, and no matter how many working Americans are forced at gunpoint to buy a product they don’t want, there still won’t be universal insurance.  Even worse, if I read the above correctly, the Progressives in San Francisco are planning on making sure that gainfully employed San Francisco residents get stuck with a treble socialized medicine burden:  they will have to pay for it at the federal, state and local level.  Which leaves one wondering how many gainfully employed San Francisco residents will still exist in the hear future.

____________________________

*I have to add here that my understanding is that the House bill removed the abortion funding provision, while the Senate bill has it prominantly displayed.  I believe that, if both houses of Congress finally pass a health care bill, abortion will be included, either directly or indirectly.

Use Thanksgiving week to let your Senators know what you think about health care

A message from William Kristol, one that I’ve already put into effect as to my own Senators (much good it will do, of course, as they’re Feinstein and Boxer):

I gather Rasmussen will report today that its latest survey shows support for the Congressional health reform legislation falling to a new low — 38 percent favor, 56 percent oppose. The lowest support level prior to now has been 41 percent.

The polling data will have an effect. But it needs to be supplemented by citizen activism. Senators are especially responsive to their constituents in their home states. Senators are home this week for Thanksgiving break. If you live in Nebraska, Louisiana, Arkansas, or Connecticut — but also Florida, Maine, Colorado, and elsewhere (quiet nervousness by Senators can have an effect along with public opposition) — or if you have friends, relatives, and colleagues in those states, you and they might want to weigh in on this tax-and-spend-and-Medicare-cutting monstrosity.

In my letter to my Senators, I focused on the fiscal issues, which I think are a more useful sales pitch for ultra liberal Senators than anything else. (And I’m not the only one thinking that; h/t Sweetness & Light.)  They don’t care about quality medical care, they don’t care about socialized medicine, they desperately want abortion to be fully paid for — but they do know that their party can be destroyed quickly if they destroy the American economy. And while they may not care about the American economy either, they care about the Democratic party’s long-term prospects.

Illegal aliens destroy hospital for American poor

No matter how the NYT tries to spin it, the message is clear here:  the burden that illegal aliens created on the dialysis clinic [thanks, Quisp, for clarifying that for me] in a 117 year old charitable hospital serving Georgia’s poor, forced the hospital clinic to close.

With ObamaCare almost a done deal (gee, thanks Lincoln and Landrieu), just wait until the illegal aliens do it to the entire health care system, not just to one charity hospital.  As even the NYT is forced to admit, the illegal aliens sucking up costly treatments would not have gotten those same treatments in their home country.  One of the benefits of breaking the law in a sucker nation is that, rather than tossing you back where you came, we dump welfare on you to our own detriment.

I’ve got an idea.  How about if we start enforcing our immigration laws (with enforcement down, I just heard, by 50% under the Obama administration), and start figuring out ways for Mexico (and other failing Latin American countries) to become productive nations, instead of parasites on the American body politic and economic?  There is absolutely no reason why Latin American citizens cannot have functioning countries.  Wait, I’m wrong.  I can think of one reason:  we sit here like a giant, seductive safety valve, insulating them, not from their failures, but from the ability to improve.

Protest on Nancy Pelosi’s home turf, San Francisco, November 15, noon ’til 4 *UPDATED*

To protest against the Healthcare Bill, instead of a 60s sit-in, Bay Area Patriots will be having a

“SICK-IN”

We are sick to death of being ignored;

We are sick to death over what the Health Care bill will do to us and our children;

We are sick to death having this govt intrude on our G-d given liberties;

This Health Care Bill sickens us all;

This Health Care Bill is Gonna Kill Us!

When: Sunday, November 15th

Time: 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm

Note: We will be setting up, chatting, meeting one another and selling merchandise from 12:00 until 1:00 when the SICK- IN will officially start. Amplified sound needs to stop by 3:00. We can hang around until 4:00 but without amplified sound.

Place: Adjacent to Justin Herman Plaza, the Embarcadero, San Francisco. Technically, at the South Lawn Music Concourse (between Steuert and the Embarcadero/Mission and Market).

When you face the Ferry Building and are standing at Justin Herman Plaza, it is directly to your right…a rectangular patch of grass! If you Google Justin Herman Plaza, click on satellite image and move the cursor to the right, you can see it clear as day.

You can take the Ferry or BART or drive and park.

What to bring:

· Signs

· BAP shirts if you have them…otherwise red…

· Crutches, slings, walkers, wheelchairs, bandages for around your head…whatever you can bring that is simple and easy to make you look sick…we will do some filming so we can prepare a video called “Killer” to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. Be ready to line up and look like a sick ghoul or zombie…masks are discretionary…looking like regular sick folk is just fine.

· We will use quiet time to work: Be prepared to send and write letters to senators, thanking the reps who voted against the bill, and letting the reps who voted for the bill know how we feel about that. We’ll try to have some computers set up so you can BLAST FAX them as well.

· Bring your sense of humor, determination and patriotism.

RSVP: to Sally at sallyzel@comcast.net

Please spread the word…and bring friends…as the weather gets more challenging it will be more difficult to have these outdoor tea parties.

We will be selling T-shirts ($15-$20), tote bags ($5), bumper stickers ($3) and wrist bands ($2). All proceeds help defray the costs associated with the tea parties. Thanks for your support during these very difficult economic and emotional times.

UPDATE:  The above text comes directly from Bay Area Patriots.  This is me, Bookworm, speaking:  We all had a lot of adrenalin going in August.  People all over the country were attending Tea Parties, and it was tremendously exciting to be part of a mass movement.  Now, the days are shorter, the air is colder, and Nancy ignored us completely.  It’s as if the air got sucked out of our protest balloon.  That’s a significant problem because we conservatives and independents, unlike liberals, are not practiced or professional protesters.  We don’t roll out of bed every morning and grab the Marxist signs that live perpetually in the back of our closets.  Instead, we need to be fired up and now  we’re not only not fired up, we’re demoralized.

All of which makes it that much more important for us to dig within ourselves and find the energy to holler out “NO!” to a bill that will bankrupt our economy, insert the government in every area of our lives, destroy our medical system, criminalize us for not purchasing a product and, for those pro-Lifers amongst you, inevitably mean that you bankroll abortions.

As for me, I love the idea of the first resounding NO taking place on Nancy Pelosi’s home turf.  I live with the Pelosis of this world and I understand how they feel about a rally in Wichita — they don’t care, because fly-over country is made up of hicks.  (If you doubt me, just cast your mind back to Obama’s insulting speech about Pennsylvanians, whom he includes within the fly-over country category.)  A rally at home, a massive, charged up, in your face rally at home, shakes the liberal politicians, because it upsets their world view.

One more thing:  Please, please, please, if you show up, keep your signs and your slogans focused tightly on the health care bill.  A reality in our world is a hostile mainstream media, and one “Hitleresque” sign will occupy 100% of the media’s focus.  No one outside of the protesters themselves will see the hundreds of straightforward, or brilliant, or witty signs directed at the insanity that is the Pelosi/Obama health care bill.  I viscerally appreciate that it might feel good for you, personally, to vent your spleen, but it’s a short lived pleasure, with long term negative consequences for a very, very important issue.

Pelosi did it. Now, will Senate save us? *UPDATED*

Maybe she got those Dems to vote yes because she assured them that, at the end of the day, the Senate will vote no.  Or, maybe, we’re screwed:

The US House of Representatives has approved the broadest US health care overhaul in a half-century, handing President Barack Obama a major victory on his top domestic priority.

After hours of bitter debate and an appeal from Obama to “answer the call of history,” lawmakers voted late Saturday 220-215 for a 10-year, trillion-dollar plan to extend health coverage to some 36 million Americans who lack it now.

The chamber’s Democrats erupted in loud cheers and triumphant applause the moment the bill had the 218 votes needed for passage, about 11:07 pm (0407 GMT), a happy din that grew deafening when a gavel made it official.

The president had paid a rare visit to Congress to lobby for unity among his Democratic allies and reinforced it with a public speech, but 39 still joined 176 of the chamber’s Republicans in opposition to the proposal.

One Republican broke ranks, nominally fulfilling, in the barest terms, Obama’s vow to secure bipartisan support.

That Republican, by the way, would be Representative Timothy Johnson of Illinois. Either the rules for Republicans are different in Illinois, or Johnson was getting ready to retire anyway. I don’t see him riding the train again to Washington.

UPDATED:  Last night’s news story seems to be in error.  The renegade Republican was Joseph Cao from Louisiana.  As for me, I’ve written a very nasty letter to my anything but renegade, tied-in-the-wool wacko liberal representative Lynn Woolsey, much good that will do me.  She got returned by a 75% margin last time around.

Didn’t buy a policy? Go to jail.

Aside from being unconstitutional, I somehow doubt that the following is a winning formula as far as the American voter is concerned:

PELOSI: Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail
JCT Confirms Failure to Comply with Democrats’ Mandate Can Lead to 5 Years in Jail
Friday, November 06, 2009

Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

In response to the JCT letter, Camp said: “This is the ultimate example of the Democrats’ command-and-control style of governing – buy what we tell you or go to jail. It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately.”

Key excerpts from the JCT letter appear below:

“H.R. 3962 provides that an individual (or a husband and wife in the case of a joint return) who does not, at any time during the taxable year, maintain acceptable health insurance coverage for himself or herself and each of his or her qualifying children is subject to an additional tax.” [page 1]

- – - – - – - – - -

“If the government determines that the taxpayer’s unpaid tax liability results from willful behavior, the following penalties could apply…” [page 2]

- – - – - – - – - -

“Criminal penalties

Prosecution is authorized under the Code for a variety of offenses. Depending on the level of the noncompliance, the following penalties could apply to an individual:

• Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

• Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” [page 3]

When confronted with this same issue during its consideration of a similar individual mandate tax, the Senate Finance Committee worked on a bipartisan basis to include language in its bill that shielded Americans from civil and criminal penalties. The Pelosi bill, however, contains no similar language protecting American citizens from civil and criminal tax penalties that could include a $250,000 fine and five years in jail.

“The Senate Finance Committee had the good sense to eliminate the extreme penalty of incarceration. Speaker Pelosi’s decision to leave in the jail time provision is a threat to every family who cannot afford the $15,000 premium her plan creates. Fortunately, Republicans have an alternative that will lower health insurance costs without raising taxes or cutting Medicare,” said Camp.

According to the Congressional Budget Office the lowest cost family non-group plan under the Speaker’s bill would cost $15,000 in 2016.

Karl Rove sums up the health care bill’s fiscal effect

I like how clearly Karl Rove sums up the economic pain the Democrats’ proposed health care plan will impose on the economy as a whole and on individual Americans:

For starters, the bill is a lot more expensive than advertised. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) pegs its cost at $1.055 trillion over 10 years, not the $894 billion Mrs. Pelosi claims. Politico reports that “the legislation is projected to create deficits over the second five years” by front-loading revenue and benefit cuts and back-loading costs. The real cost, according to a Republican House Budget Committee report, could be $2.4 trillion for its first decade of operation.

In its first 10 years, the bill calls for $572 billion in new taxes (including a 5.4% income surtax on anyone making more than $500,000 a year), and $426 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts, which will hurt seniors and the poor and could lead to rationing of care.

The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation reported recently that the House’s legislation will whack small businesses because they would pay $153.5 billion of the surtax. Small businesses unable to provide health coverage to their workers would also pay up to 8% in new payroll taxes. This would cost them $135 billion more over the next decade, thereby diminishing their ability to create jobs.

In the House bill there is a $2 billion tax on those who already have health insurance, $20 billion in taxes on medical devices, $8 billion in taxes on anyone who buys over-the-counter drugs with money from their health-savings accounts, and $140 billion in higher taxes on drugs.

Mrs. Pelosi’s bill will drive up premiums. A family of four with an income of $78,000 would pay $13,800 for insurance a year by 2016, according to CBO. Their tab would average $11,000 without the bill.

Every American would be required to buy health insurance or be fined up to 2.5% of their income.

There’s even more, which you can read here.