Friday, November 20, 2009

Senate healthcare...a man-caused disaster

While scanning news sources I came across this article in the New York Post and had to link to it because nothing summarizes the Senate health care bill better. Below I have included the highlights of the article and the bill as it relates to deficit spending and massive growth of the national debt. But before I do, let me say that if you believe that Congress is doing all of this because they want to improve health care for people, provide for those who can’t help themselves and reduce health care costs, then you shouldn’t bother reading any further. You are what I call a “drone”, blinded by allegiance to ideology and completely unable to make an independent objective analysis of what’s happening in Washington. For those who are skeptical of D.C., read on.

First, the CBO has announced that the Senate health care bill fails to reduce healthcare costs, which is an improvement over the House bill that the CBO says will increase healthcare costs. For that reason alone, both bills should be canned. But it gets worse, much worse.

Soon-to-be-former senator Harry Reid says the Senate bill will cost $850 billion over ten years and that this will be budget neutral via higher taxes and cuts in Medicare. That’s a convenient and blatantly dishonest description, but Harry is rarely accused of having integrity. According to the Post, Harry has used a smoke-and-mirrors game to come up with a ten-year “budget neutral” bill. The trick is that the actual entitlement program doesn’t kick in until 2014. The first ten years therefore includes five years of no entitlement program, no massive spending. During that first five years, the tax hikes and medicare cuts will be enacted. So we begin paying before anything actually happens. 99% of the costs of the bill won’t kick in until after 2014.

So, the CBO calculated the “true” cost of the bill. That is, the first ten years of the actual healthcare entitlement (2014-2023). And, surprise, they found that the bill will cost an obscene $1.8 trillion – double what Harry is telling us. But there’s more.

During that same ten years, the Post reports that there will be $900 billion in tax increases.

Again, before any of this happens, before anyone actually gets healthcare, we will start paying right away. For starters, the Senate proposes to divert $800 billion for Medicare to help fund this monstrosity. Half of that amount will come from cuts in physician reimbursement. Beginning in 2011, Medicare will cut pay to physicians by 23%. Logically, this will lead to a mass “drop” of Medicare, as in doctors will stop taking patients who are covered by Medicare alone. Medicare will effectively become another Medicaid, where doctors who see those patients do so at a net loss. There is only so much room for those types of patients in any medical practice. Similar scenarios will develop in hospitals and nursing homes. Access to care for seniors on Medicare will vanish, until 2014 when they can all enroll in the government option. Yet, the CBO didn’t take this “unintended consequence” into account when determining its $1.8 trillion price tag. So the actual cost will be hard to imagine.

The rest of the money comes from tax increases, lots of them. There will be taxes on food, taxes on cosmetic surgery, taxes on private insurance policies. But the big one will be an increase in payroll taxes. This will come at a time when unemployment has eclipsed 10%. We cross our fingers and hope businesses will start hiring again, and then we slap those businesses with more payroll taxes that will only discourage hiring.

Already have health insurance? Get ready to pay more for it, a lot more. The Senate bill clearly bans insurance companies from disqualifying people with pre-existing conditions, or due to increased age. It also says that the insurance companies can’t charge these people more for insurance. They must charge all customers the same. Therefore, private insurance policies will increase in price dramatically. Those of us who have insurance will pay more for it in order to make up for those people whose insurance costs more to provide. That’s on top of the taxes that will be assessed on our private policies.

Get insurance from your employer? Don’t count on it. Employers will be slapped with more payroll taxes and will be required to provide health insurance (that will be costing more) for their employees or pay a fine to the federal government. Problem is, the fine is a lot cheaper than providing insurance. So smaller companies will dump their insurance plans and simply pay the fine, telling employees they have the option to enroll in the government program. This will further bloat the government program, another unintended consequence not factored in by the CBO.

And remember, the government option isn’t available until 2014. So, there is a very real possibility that for the next 5 years the number of uninsured will skyrocket and once the government opens its clinic doors it will be flooded by people seeking care. $1.8 trillion won’t begin to cover the cost.

If passed, this bill will be an economic disaster, one that ruins the best healthcare system and the strongest economy in the world all with one swoop. But Harry tells us it can work while Obama eagerly waits to sign any bill that hits his desk no matter how destructive. And the drones applaud because even though we destroy the economy and the healthcare sector, we will finally give healthcare to people who never earned it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fort Hood terrorist attack

How things have changed. I just saw a recent study on the three major news networks and it showed that the majority of the stories on the Fort Hood attack never mentioned the words "terror" or "Muslim". That's precisely why I don't watch the network news.

First, let's call it what it is. This was a calculated attack. An act of war. An act of Jihad. The man involved wasn't insane. He was an Islamic fundamentalist. He was a Jihadist who bought into the extremist notion that non-believers are the enemy, that anyone who opposes the extremist ideology should be killed. He didn't suffer from any disease. He didn't "just snap". He was well aware of what he was doing and he was doing it for a cause. Why some people have difficulty admitting that is beyond me.

This was the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil since 9-11. Fourteen people were murdered in the name of Islamic fundamentalism because they were non-believers, because they were part of the "great satan".

Today, Hasan was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder. And as the father of one of the victims said...that's a good start. Hopefully, more charges will come. Now, we have learned that he has been wiring money to Pakistan. Once the FBI discovers that these wires were going to fund the Taliban and Al Qaeda, I expect him to be charged with treason. I would also like a 14th count of murder given the fact that one of the casualties was 2 months pregnant.

I could get into the questions of why this guy slipped through the cracks, but that is something that will be debated and discussed for a long time. Basically, my own military experience taught me that much of the military has inexplicably become political. The Pentagon is way too close to D.C. Political correctness has infected it as it has infected much of our society, even to the point where it has become dangerous. I know why Hasan was never investigated, nor identified as a potential threat. I saw the politics during my own time in the service. I'd be willing to bet that there were several people on the low end of the chain-of-command who sounded the alert, only to be squashed by their superiors. Anyone with recent military service will agree with me for they certainly saw it as well. There is no greater evidence of it than that seen in the Army Chief-of-Staff's statement about the attack, that it would be a greater tragedy if the Army lost its diversity.

A greater tragedy? Good grief.

This guy was in contact with Al Qaeda recruiters. He repeatedly denounced the US activity in the Middle East. He burst into repeated religious rants while counseling returning troops. He gave a medical lecture about the need to behead infidels, which included the statement that "we love death more than you love life". His business card included "Soldier of Allah". He cried Allahu Akbar while murdering the troops. He wired money to Pakistan even though his family was originally from Jordan. Yet, we want to focus on PTSD and bullying as an etiology for his action. This is what they do in Europe, afraid to acknowledge the problem. And that is why the problem over there has grown.

I also would like to see an end to the obligatory disclaimer that everyone inserts during their commentary. We've all heard it. "Not all Muslims are terrorists" or "there are many Muslims who serve with honor" or "Islam is a religion of peace". No kidding! Is this really necessary? Does this help? Are we so afraid of being painted with the bigot brush that we feel we have to issue this statement anytime we talk about terrorism? Give it a rest.

So the investigation will go on. Congress will probably have hearings. The pundits will discuss it for weeks. But I think plenty of damage has already been done. When the enemy is capable of infiltrating our own military and executing a deadly attack on defenseless troops, the majority of the media and many American citizens along with the Presidential administration lacks the courage to call it a terrorist attack by an Islamic fundamentalist. There is little that can demoralize our military more. If we lack the courage to name it, how on earth can we have the courage to confront and defeat it?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Governor's races and NY 23

So here are my thoughts on yesterday's elections:

The independents have swung. The dems have dominated the last two elections the same way the GOP dominated those convincing the independents. I think these elections were a referendum on the economy, and the economy is not good. Not only that, but I think the independents made a statement that taxing and spending isn't the way to fix the economy. In Virginia, there was a 25 point swing - one quarter of the electorate. In New Jersey it was 20 points. And the exit polls showed overwhelming swing in independents from dem to GOP. McDonnell even won the more liberal areas of the state. If unemployment is still bad in a year (which I think it will be) and the economy is still lagging (ditto) then I think the independents will continue to reject the dems.

The Bush effect is dead. Bush is gone, and so is the dem's favorite scapegoat. Corzine repeatedly tried to hang George W. Bush around his opponent's neck and it didn't work. I wonder if President Obama took note of this?

The GOP must work with, not against, its base. I'm tired of hearing about the right wing base hurting the GOP. Scozzafava was selected by a group of career politicians without any input from the voters. As a result, the conservatives of NY 23 got a liberal candidate who was Left of even the democrat, thus clearing the way for a third party candidate that effectively split the vote. The conservatives simply didn't have a candidate. Had there been a primary, or even some opinion polls done, this could have been avoided. Hoffman lost by 3-4 pts, while DeDe carried about 5-6 pts even after she dropped out. If Hoffman had an R instead of an I beside his name maybe the outcome would be different. Who knows? At any rate, the base clearly rejected the liberal candidate because it was liberalism that damaged the party prior to 2006. Michael Steele and the GOP leaders have to wise up to the obvious. The GOP lost in '06 and '08 because they strayed from conservative ideals, NOT because they embraced them. The GOP leaders in NY 23 repeated that mistake and paid a big price, allowing a moderate dem to win the election.

Social issues aren't as important in a campaign. Deeds attacked McDonnell for being anti-abortion, and his close affiliation with the religious right. It didn't work. Hoffman ran on social issues rather than fiscal issues, and it failed. Yet, gay marriage loses on a ballot initiative. This is fascinating. Perhaps I've missed something here. I believe that most Americans share in relatively conservative social issues, but maybe they don't want them involved in politics. Maybe that's because many people adhere to the most basic of conservative principles, that we dictate the rules to the government, not vice versa, regardless of the issue. Perhaps conservatives don't want government involvement in social issues on either side of the aisle. I'm okay with that. Personally, I say let gay marriage, abortion, gun control, etc be decided by individual states. The Left would never allow that. So while it's important to conservatives to have conservative values, those candidates shouldn't flaunt them, at least not as much as they flaunt their fiscal conservatism. McDonnell and Cristie ran on fiscal conservatism and won. Hoffman ran on social conservatism and lost. Again, I'm fine with that. I'll agree to keep the social issues up to the people if the Left will stipulate.

Once again, the people reject gay marriage. This time in blue-state Maine. We'll see how long it takes the Left to involve the courts. To reinforce the point above, does anyone believe that Maine would have elected a conservative candidate who ran on a platform of anti-gay marriage? Nope.

The Tea Parties were more than astroturf. Just ask John Corzine and Creigh Deeds. The tea parties were all about government restraint, and I think they were loud and clear yesterday. It will be interesting to see if the politicians continue to dismiss this movement or choose to actually listen to the fiscal concerns of the citizens.

There IS a litmus test for GOP candidates. I could vote for a pro-gun control candidate. Or a pro-gay marriage candidate. Or a pro-abortion candidate. But I would NEVER vote for a big government, big spending, high taxing candidate. Never. Both parties need to take this to heart because I am most definitely not alone. Social issues are important, and I would be encouraged to know that the candidate I support feels as I do on these issues. But the primary issue in today's politics revolves around the degree of government involvement in people's lives. Yesterday, the people rejected a long-reaching government. I think they did the same in '06 and '08 based on campaign rhetoric. There is no reason to think the same won't happen next year.

It's time to hold the Washington elites accountable. It's disturbing when a GOP candidate withdraws from an election and endorses a democrat candidate. That has a certain "good-ole-boy-network" odor to it. I get the feeling that many politicians, regardless of party, are just milking this thing for all it's worth. They say one thing in front of the camera, and behind closed doors pat each other on the back and laugh about the great con they're pulling on the common folk. Washington just seems like an ancient, exclusive country club that doesn't like the idea of newcomers intruding on their gig. See Sarah Palin, Ross Perot, Doug Hoffman, Jesse Ventura and Ralph Nader for examples. The elites have a stranglehold on power and will resist any "we-the-people" revolt.

So, today I will write a check to the Chris Simcox campaign for Senate. He is running against John McCain in Arizona and I hope he wins. McCain is a fine and decent man, but I think he's lost touch with the common American. I encourage my fellow grassroots conservatives to do the same. If we can't form a third party, then let's redefine the GOP as a party of low taxes, limited government, free market solutions, energy independence, personal responsibility and strong national defense.

The social issues can be decided by the people. If government is involved, then the 6 principles above should govern any conservative party. I believe Chris Simcox adheres to those where John McCain has fallen short in the past.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The dying GOP

I am amused at the parade of pundits who continue to insist the Republican party is on a nosedive because of a stubborn unwillingness to become more inclusive. Recent events in upstate New York have given these pundits more ammunition.

In that traditionally conservative district, the grand party got together in a smoke-filled room and nominated a committed liberal to run for Congress. Dede Scazzafava is a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control Republican who supported Obama’s stimulus package back in February. Needless to say, when she was placed on the ballot, support for her was a bit subdued. The people in the district were once again placed in a position to choose between two liberals, one with an R beside her name, the other with a D.

Then there was Doug Hoffman, a member of the Conservative party, who is running as a true conservative, something the GOP used to stand for. He acquired some key endorsements from leaders of the conservative movement and suddenly his poll numbers surpassed those of Scazzafava, thus overcoming the old “third party can’t win” jinx. With dwindling support, the Republican bowed out and it now looks like a true conservative will win the election.

The liberal pundits love it. They see this as evidence that there is an internal war in the GOP. They criticize the party for not being more inclusive, not having a big tent. They criticize the party for “allowing” the conservative voices to have too much power. Basically, they criticize the GOP for not being more like the Democrats. In essence, the pundits want a two-party system consisting of an extremist liberal party and a moderate liberal party. There’s only one problem…voters.

Inside the beltway, GOP leaders drink the media kool-aid. They agree that the GOP needs to act more like Democrats. That’s why Gingrich, Michael Steele and John Boehner stood beside their liberal nominee. These guys, along with many others in DC, still haven’t gotten the message, and I think his endorsement of the liberal candidate will deal a crushing blow to any hopes he had of running for President in 2012, we’ll see.

The majority of Americans would consider themselves conservative over liberal, especially when it comes to fiscal policy. And the backlash over the ballooning federal deficit is further evidence of this. The pundits dismiss the backlash as Astroturf, and apparently the GOP leaders agree. Well, here are some numbers to munch on from an April 2009 CBS poll:

74% of Americans believe the government isn’t doing enough to control illegal immigration
51% feel that illegal immigrants should either be deported or placed in a guest worker program
63% feel that illegal immigration is too costly for the nation
52% favor building a border fence
76% oppose driver’s licenses for illegals
55% feel illegals should be turned over to the feds when arrested
72% disapprove of hiring quotas
68% feel that the poor have become too dependent on government assistance
67% feel that minorities are responsible for their own circumstances
51% are pro-life
79% are worried about harming the financial future of their children
53% support the death penalty
63% support immersion in English for illegals
33% support bilingual education
52% favor school vouchers
59% favor nuclear energy
74% favor offshore drilling
59% favor ANWR drilling
51% oppose cap-and-trade
77% feel the 2nd amendment protects gun ownership
57% feel that stricter gun laws would increase violent crimes
63% aren’t confident that Medicare will be available when they retire
61% feel the same about social security
52% oppose legalizing marijuana
56% believe social security is in crisis or serious trouble
36% believe health care is the government’s responsibility

Support for the Republican party is hemorrhaging. Leaders of the party seem to think it’s because they aren’t Democrat-enough. This is classic beltway thinking. They have no clue and refuse to acknowledge what the voters are clearly saying. The voters demand fiscal responsibility, plain and clear, and are more apt to have conservative values than liberal. That’s why the GOP was beat in 2006 and 2008, that’s why a “change” campaign won the White House, that’s why the tea party movement sprung up, that’s why Obama’s approval rating is dropping, and that’s why people refused to support yet another big-spending Republican who thought just having an R beside her name was enough to win the conservative vote. Well, no more!

The GOP is poised to become obsolete and if they choose to listen to the media pundits instead of the voters that’s exactly what will happen. I know many people who have abandoned that party, and not one of them says it’s because the party wasn’t inclusive enough. The GOP is losing support because they are too much like the Democrats, and until they start to bring some contrast to the progressives, that support will continue to erode.