Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why Republicans are FRAUDS on Obamacare and Entitlements

As the Republicans suddenly decide to defund the implementation of Obamacare after previously funding its implementation since the ACA was passed, folks are confused.  Liberals and ACA supporters keep asking "what are the Republicans afraid of?". From a logical point of view it makes more sense for Republicans to just let Obamacare proceed and fail.  After all, if Americans so oppose the ACA then they will be motivated to vote out of office those will gave them Obamacare and that's a boatload of Dems.

What is Obamacare? Obamacare is just another massively subsidized entitlement program that will cost an estimated $1 trillion. Do Republicans oppose new entitlements?  Of course not and Republicans have a long history of creating new entitlements and expanding existing entitlements.

The Republicans embraced and passed during the Bush years Medicare Part D or what is known as a massive prescription drug program for seniors.In fact, the program is estimated to cost a trillion bucks. Government program costs tend to be estimated over 10 years and the cost of most of these programs is vastly underestimated at the time entitlement bills pass.

Back in 2009, Forbes highlighted the hypocrisy of the Republicans.

Republican Deficit Hypocrisy
The human capacity for self-delusion never ceases to amaze me, so it shouldn’t surprise me that so many Republicans seem to genuinely believe that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. Perhaps at one time they were, but those days are long gone.....

Recall the situation in 2003. The Bush administration was already projecting the largest deficit in American history–$475 billion in fiscal year 2004, according to the July 2003 mid-session budget review. But a big election was coming up that Bush and his party were desperately fearful of losing. So they decided to win it by buying the votes of America’s seniors by giving them an expensive new program to pay for their prescription drugs.

Recall, too, that Medicare was already broke in every meaningful sense of the term. According to the 2003 Medicare trustees report, spending for Medicare was projected to rise much more rapidly than the payroll tax as the baby boomers retired. Consequently, the rational thing for Congress to do would have been to find ways of cutting its costs. Instead, Republicans voted to vastly increase them–and the federal deficit–by $395 billion between 2004 and 2013...

However, the Bush administration knew this figure was not accurate...

Just to be clear, the Medicare drug benefit was a pure giveaway with a gross cost greater than either the House or Senate health reform bills how being considered. Together the new bills would cost roughly $900 billion over the next 10 years, while Medicare Part D will cost $1 trillion.

Moreover, there is a critical distinction–the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit....
Bad as Obamacare is and it's certainly a pending disaster, at least the Dems attempted to fund it.  The Republicans made no such effort to fund Medicare Part D.

As Republicans and their wingnut pundits continue to thrash Obamacare as a new entitlement, they are also having fun calling Obama the Food Stamp President.  I decided to look into that allegation.

Bush is the REAL Food Stamp President

It’s true that the most recent figures from the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (provided to Today) show that a record number of people—some 46.2 million—are enrolled in the program. But the same data shows that more individuals were added to the program while George W. Bush was in office than have enrolled under Obama’s presidency: Under Bush, the program grew by 14.7 million individuals; under Obama so far, it’s grown by 14.2 million, and, as of October, was declining.
So Bush wins on volume, and Obama wins on velocity: In just a few years, President Obama managed to expand the program by nearly as much as Bush. But Obama didn’t do it without some help from his Republican predecessor, who approved policy changes that set the stage for the program’s current growth.
While it's probably true that food stamp recipients have now far exceeded usage under Bush because of the miserable economy, the point is that Bush and the Republicans facilitated the massive expansion of the food stamp program.

The political parties are masters at 'bread and circus' pandering to their respective bases.  After all, when have voters ever rejected a new or expanded entitlement program?  That is the core of the disease that is eating America.  Everybody wants something for nothing or they want something at the expense of somebody else.  When voters vote, they are actually voting for the police-military powers of the government to rob and plunder others for their exclusive benefit.

At the end of the day, these programs fail and the nation is bankrupted but that won't stop voters and politicians from living a grand delusion.  Entitlements sell at the ballot box and politicians love expanding their power.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Til Debt Do Us Part - WW I Triggered the Debt Ceiling & Out of Control Debt-Spending

Nobody in America hardly pays any attention to the debt ceiling but recently our bloated unsustainable debt is floating to the top of the radar of some concerned citizens and fiscal conservatives.  Our nearly $17 trillion pile debt is an alarming number, especially since the US is a walking default because there is no way that the debt can ever be liquidated except through default.

As Congress once again contemplates raising the debt ceiling by a trillion, two or three, hardly anybody is much concerned with reigning in un-affordable spending on steroids.  From the viewpoint of serious financial pundits, the debt is justifiably a hugely important issue because, well, America is broke and bankrupt.

In 1913, progressive Woodrow Wilson succeeded in getting Congress to pass the Income Tax (16th amendment) and the Federal Reserve Act.  It was no coincidence that WW I broke out in 1914.  The Democrats created what is known as the modern welfare-warfare state that facilitated massive government power grabs as well as endless wars.  Who got us into WW I, WW II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Balkan Wars? All warmongering progressive Democrats - Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson and Clinton.  The War on Terror was started by Bush and the Republicans but Obama has owned it since he was sworn into office.

The history of the debt ceiling is very interesting because until 1917, Congress approved all debt incurred by the Federal government through the issuance of bonds.  But Wilson didn't like asking Congress for approval to issue debt to spend money so he got Congress to pass a law nullifying the responsibility of Congress to directly approve new debt and transferred that congressional constitutional function to the Executive branch and specifically the Department of the Treasury.  The debt ceiling was born.  Wikipedia explains:
Prior to 1917, Congress directly authorized the amount of each borrowing. In 1917, in order to provide more flexibility to finance the US involvement in World War I, Congress instituted the concept of a "debt ceiling". Since then, the Treasury may borrow any amount needed as long as it keeps the total at or below the authorized ceiling.  Link here
The debt ceiling has been an addiction for the spendaholic warmongers in Congress and raising the debt ceiling has never been a problem.  Sure, the Republicans and Democrats PRETEND to fight over raising the debt ceiling but it's all political posturing to appease their respective bases.

Ronald Reagan, the darling of the Republican Party who is much loved and revered by the GOP base raised the debt ceiling 18 times, here.  George W. Bush raised the debt ceiling 7 times.  The idea that Republicans are fiscal conservatives is pure 100% fiction.

Until 1917, Congress was restricted in its spending because it was accountable on some level in that it also had to issue the debt under the assumption that the debt would have to be paid. But after 1917, Congress could spend into oblivion because the Treasury would just issue the debt 'no questions asked'.  A combination of the 16th amendment, the Federal Reserve Act and transferring the responsibility to issue debt to Treasury are all factors that have resulted in the slow and agonizing death of America.

At the end of the day, not only is the debt never repaid, it grows, devalues the dollar and sucks the life right out of an economy that no longer serves the middle class.  The money was spent on the welfare-warfare state, defense contractors, bankster bailouts and other assorted special interests lined up at the congressional feeding trough to trade campaign contributions for favors and monopolies.  The debt chart starting with Reagan:

Image source, Wikipedia, here

The worst of the damage to America and the American middle class commenced in 1971 when Nixon de-tethered the dollar from gold and rendered the dollar a 100% fiat paper currency.  What has been the effect of abolishing gold and silver currency? 

There once was a time in America when somebody earning a $1.25 an hour minimum wage could survive rather decently.  But minimum wage workers today are largely entitlement dependent and receive food stamps and Medicaid.  

When we think about fiat currency, the national debt, the cost of the wars and the Federal Reserve we also need to remind ourselves that just about every bad thing that has happened in America is attributable to the welfare-warfare state and the warfare state actually spawned the welfare state.  

War is always about keeping the power elites rich and the power elite in America has always been the banksters.  We created the Federal Reserve and income tax to bailout America's wealthiest financial family elites.  In fact, the government and wealthiest families in America were willing to murder to protect bankster war profits.

World War I, the Banksters, the Lusitania and Bailing Out America’s Wealthiest Families
Few folks understand the link between Banksters and wars, largely because naïve Americans can’t bear the thought that they’ve been duped and lied to by the media and the government. Even worse, the thought that their loved ones died in foreign wars for nothing more than defense contractor and Bankster profits is a brutal truth that’s like a dagger straight through their souls – it’s so damn painful that they refuse to believe it. It’s an ongoing problem.....

“The Morgan group had floated one-and-a-half billion dollars in loans to Britain and France. With the fortunes of war turning against them, investors were facing the threat of a total loss. As Ferdinand Lundberg observed: “The declaration of war by the United States, in addition to extricating the wealthiest American families from a dangerous situation, also opened new vistas of profits”.”

It couldn’t be more clear – war is always about money, bailing out the wealthy and the prospect of more profits from more and more war.

President Woodrow Wilson, a progressive Democrat who dreamed of one world socialist government, was also heavily connected to Wall Street. In fact, it can be stated that Wall Street owned Wilson.
So as America is seriously committed to raising the debt ceiling to infinity in much the same way Bernanke's quantitative easing is also QE to infinity for banksters and hedge fund operators, we are in so deep that it's just not possible to extricate ourselves from the ravages of the welfare-warfare state. Rolling back a century of horrific depredations and crimes against middle class and working class Americans just is not possible or even feasible at this juncture.

The pain required to reverse course would be excruciatingly unbearable, but not nearly as excruciating as the profound agony of a monetary collapse.  Meanwhile, Americans remain largely clueless and for the most part they trust that their government will be there to take care of them.  They are in for the shock of their lives.

The Female Vote is Clobbering the GOP and it's ALWAYS About Abortion Rights

According to the polls, Democrat Terry McAuliffe is leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor's race.  What is so astounding is that McAuliffe has a whopper of a 24 point lead among female voters.  Female voters crucifying the GOP at the ballot box is nothing new.
In 2008, John McCain lost the women's vote by 14 points. That result was repeated in 2012, when Mitt Romney lost the same women's vote by 12 points, losing single women voters by more than 38 percent....

The 2012 presidential election represented the largest gender gap in history – specifically, the margin between men's and women's support of a candidate (20 points). The party's autopsy reminded itself that women "represent more than half the voting population in the country, and our inability to win their votes is losing us elections." In 2012, women were 53 percent of the electorate and, in swing states like Virginia, nearly half a million more women voted than their male peers.....

According to a Washington Post/Abt SRBI poll, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has opened up a five-point lead over his Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. This lead has been almost completely attributed to a shift by women voters. In May, the two candidates were even among women, but this week's poll shows that women now prefer McAuliffe by a whopping 24-point margin. When asked "whom do you trust to do a better job handling issues of concern to women?" McAuliffe is trusted more by a 48 to 25 percent margin.
Source: The Same Old GOP Shows Up in Virginia
Female voters are turning against the GOP over abortion rights and to a lesser extent over foreign policy.  Women do not want government interfering with their abortion rights nor do they like sending their kids off to die in neocon wars.

States with Republican controlled legislatures are rolling out ultrasound bills and the transvaginal ultrasound is especially repugnant to woman because it requires that a dildo with a camera on the end of it be literally stuffed up the vagina of any woman seeking an abortion.  Many women consider the transvaginal ultrasound to be a rape.

The Virginia legislature passed a transvaginal ultrasound bill but pro-life Republican governor Bob McDonnell stripped the transvaginal mandate and replaced it with a mandate for an abdominal ultrasound, here.  Women were still miffed that Republicans would even dare to probe the most intimate part of a woman's body - her vagina.

TX passed a transvaginal ultrasound bill in 2011 and it fired up the female animosity against TX Republicans.  To make matters worse, the TX legislature passed in 2013 a draconian anti-abortion bill that effectively shuts down most abortion clinics in TX.  This fiasco grabbed national attention when TX  Democrat Senator Wendy Davis stood for 11 hours to filibuster the bill. Now it appears that Wendy Davis is serious about running for governor of Texas.

Wendy Davis, who staged abortion filibuster, to run for Texas governor: sources

Does Davis even stand a chance in Texas?  It's a valid question because TX is considered a solidly red state.  However, TX is also showing signs of leaning purple and is increasingly considered a swing state in the making.  Because Republicans control the TX legislature, representation in the state legislature and DC has definitely been gerrymandered to benefit Republicans but the same thing happens where the Democrats hold political power.  While the social conservatives have held power in TX for a long time, it's anything but a foregone conclusion that they will continue to prevail as Texas changes demographically.

One thing is certain.  Female voters in America are overwhelmingly angry at Republican attempts to rein in their abortion rights, especially with such things as forced transvaginal ultrasounds.  That's a fact, not speculation. On the other hand, Americans are increasingly supportive of banning late term abortion and restricting abortion rights to 12 weeks or so, barring any medical reason that would jeopardize the life of the pregnant female.

The American people cannot be forced by laws to value the life of the unborn from a zygote to a blastocyst to an embryo to a fetus.  They can only move on the issue as far and fast as they are willing to move and while they are slowly moving in the direction of preserving life, they aren't there yet and far from it.

The radical pro-lifers cost the GOP at least 2 US senate seats in the 2010 election cycle when Sharon Angle (NV) and Ken Buck (CO) lost general elections.  In 2012, Richard Mourdock (IN) and Todd Aiken (MO) of the now infamous 'legitimate rape' variety lost to Democrats because both believed that a woman could not possibly be impregnated by an act of rape.  Speculating that rape is somehow consensual is lunatic fringe pro-life insanity that proves total ignorance.  Such attitudes inflamed the nation and especially outraged females.

At the end of the day, preserving human life translates to a whole lot more than abortion laws.  It involves culture, values and family and these are things that have been destroyed by the systematic rise of the state and its insidious and relentless quest for power, endless wars and empire.  Respecting human life starts with Americans doing some serious soul searching on the millions of folks our foreign policy has murdered and it also involves acknowledging that government by its very definition is immoral and anti-human life.

Meanwhile, one of the greatest ironies of America's pro-life movement is that these folks are the least pro-life folks in America.  They consistently endorse things that I morally oppose like wars, Police State USA and capital punishment.  The social conservatives who comprise the motherload of the GOP primary voting base don't seem to care about anything except their guns, waging wars and growing government.

Before America plunges into yet another contentious round of venomous social issue debates, it would constitute an act of profound morality and sanity if somebody actually held the moral high ground but since America is now a full fledged lunatic asylum run the the inmates, nothing that advances the moral preference of the people to preserve life is going anywhere.  America has been reduced to a place where everything is a war on something.  Yeah, we've lost something.  Our moral compass and perhaps even our souls.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

America the Fraud Factory: Medicare Fraud, Medicaid Fraud, Obamacare Fraud, Food Stamp Fraud

As Americans ponder the effects of Obamacare on their lives and money, Obamacare certainly raises the issue of how truly incompetent every federal entitlement program is.

Every entitlement program is a gigantic fraud machine.  It's well documented that Medicaid and Medicare are giant fraud factories. Medicare fraud has been estimated at $90 billion a year.

Medicare Fraud Costs U.S. $90B a Year ABC News

One recent and notorious case of Medicare fraud involved Detroit area physician Farid Fata.  Fata is accused of bilking Medicare out of $35 million during a mere 2 year period, here.  Because of the extent of Fata's fraud factory, his bail was set at $9 million, here, and his nefarious fraud went way beyond merely stealing from the government.  He apparently was a grossly incompetent doctor.
The judge wrote, "this is not the typical type of healthcare fraud" because Fata is charged with intentionally misdiagnosing patients and then giving them "unnecessary treatments that are essentially poison."
Dr. Fata lived an exceedingly extravagant lifestyle complete with a monster mansion.  His entire operation was a Medicaid billing factory, and certainly not anything even remotely resembling reputable healthcare.  He got caught because of his insidious greed.  Most Medicare fraud isn't as big and open an operation as Fatas' alleged schemes and most physicians indulge in lower level fraud schemes.  Still, there have been many blockbuster Medicare fraud schemes and $90 billion a year is no paltry sum.

Medicaid is also swimming in fraud.  Any Google search will bring forth a ton of Medicaid fraud schemes.  Steve Malanga of the Manhattan Institute, a think tank, estimates that Medicaid fraud runs about 10% of the cost of the program.  Medicaid currently is costing taxpayers about $500 billion a year and Medicaid is expected to grow dramatically as Obamacare dumps more and more folks into the program according to Forbes, here.
Expanding Medicaid, which is funded jointly by states and the federal government, is a key part of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act. And though the U.S. Supreme Court last year largely upheld the law, it did allow state governors to opt out of expanding Medicaid coverage to more Americans.
Still, the Medicaid expansion should bring 5 million Americans into the expanded Medicaid coverage next year and eventually up to 10 million more newly insured Americans by 2017, Avalere’s Stento said. Before the Supreme Court ruling, Avalere projected there would be 11 million new Medicaid enrollees in 2014 “with that phasing up to 20 million by 2017 and 21 million by 2019,” Avalere said.
As if Medicare and Medicaid fraud aren't bad enough, Obamacare is another fraud factory in the making because it heavily subsidizes Obamacare premiums purchased through the Obamacare  exchanges.

Who is eligible for Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, eligibility depends on family income and dependents.
Beginning in October 2013, middle-income people under age 65, who are not eligible for coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, can apply for tax credit subsidies available through state-based exchanges.
Additionally, states have the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level (which is about $33,000 for a family of four). In states that opt out of expanding Medicaid, some people making below this amount will still be eligible for Medicaid, some will be eligible for subsidized coverage through Marketplaces, and others will not be eligible for subsidies.
How much will Obamacare subsidies cost? The Obamacare subsidies are now projected to far exceed initial estimates. American Thinker reports:
According to the new White House budget, from the time the exchanges open in 2014 to 2021, the administration expects to spend about $606 billion on subsidies, a massive commitment of federal resources. That's about 27 percent more than the $478 billion projected in the president's budget last year, and 65 percent more than the $367 billion for the same period in the 2012 budget.... The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will cost about $9,000 in subsidies for a person who would have qualified for Medicaid under the expansion -- compared to $6,000 for Medicaid coverage.....
...the CBO jacked up its estimate again:
The CBO significantly hiked the amount of money needed to fund the subsidies available through Obamacare's exchanges, hiking them by $233 billion. IBD explains: "The CBO's new baseline estimate shows that ObamaCare subsidies offered through the insurance exchanges -- which are supposed to be up and running by next January -- will total more than $1 trillion through 2022, up from $814 billion over those same years in its budget forecast made a year ago. That's an increase of nearly 29%. The CBO upped the 10-year subsidy cost by $32 billion since just last August." Part of that is expecting more people in the exchanges thanks to employer dumping and more limited Medicaid expansion, but "The rest is largely the result of the CBO's sharp increase in what it expects the average subsidy will be. Last year, the CBO said the average exchange subsidy for those getting federal help when ObamaCare goes into effect next year would be $4,780. Its latest estimate raised that to $5,510 -- a 15% increase. All these numbers are up even more from the CBO's original forecast made in 2010, which had the first-year subsidy average at $3,970."
Recap:  The Obama Administration initially estimated that the average Obamacare subsidy would cost $3,970 per person but the CBO now estimates that the average subsidy will be $5,510 but some subsidies can reach $9,000.

At this juncture, nobody really knows how many folks will sign up for subsidized health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges or what the actual cost will be because the Obamacare exchanges don't go into effect until 10/1/13.  What is known is that the government will not verify any information provided by applicants.

Obamacare’s Invitation to Fraud
In fact, the exchanges are not only released from the obligation to verify whether applicants are eligible for employer coverage, they are also released from the obligation to confirm applicants’ statements regarding their household incomes before providing them with what is supposed to be an income-based benefit.
Furthermore, it is unclear how many employers will simply dump health insurance benefits for their employees and then dump them into the heavily subsidized Obamacare exchanges.  The extent of Obamacare subsidy fraud is largely dependent on the extent to which employers just cancel health insurance benefits for their employees.  As health insurance premiums continue to soar, both business and folks seeking health insurance will be faced with a cost prohibitive nightmare that is anything but affordable healthcare.

With America already spending a trillion bucks a year on Medicare and Medicaid, and with the CBO estimating that Obamacare subsidies will be very costly, it's unclear how much another entitlement program, Obamacare subsidies, will cost.  The CBO is notorious for vastly underestimating the cost of every government program and it's already estimating that the 10 year cost of Obamacare subsidies will be a trillion or $100 billion a year which in reality will probability translate to $2 trillion or more in new entitlements.

The Food Stamp program or SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) cost $75-78 billion a year.
In 2001, the program served 17 million people at a cost of just over $15 billion. By June of this year, there were 47.8 million people enrolled in the program, and annual costs were about $75 billion, here
As the food stamp program grows, so does the fraud.

Cost of Food Stamp Fraud More Than Doubles In Three Years
In 2012, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said that food stamp fraud totals $750 million each year - a number that more than doubles the cost of trafficking reported in a 2006- 2008 USDA study. 
As Medicaid and Medicare costs continue to soar, food stamp usage has also soared dramatically.

While it's clearly evident that every government program is nothing but a monstrous fraud factory, Americans remain hopelessly addicted to their entitlements and the political and corporatist business class absolutely know how to cash out, grow filthy rich and and grow their power. 

Obamacare - the Legacy of the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, & Understanding How We Arrived at Obamacare

Nancy Pelosi is a dangerous psychopath who endorses endless wars, America's Nazified Police State, the wholesale shredding of constitutional civil liberties and the government takeover of everything.  But she actually got something right during the Obamacare debate when she proclaimed that the insurance companies were villains, even if for all the wrong reasons.  Pelosi wanted to fully utilize the powers of the Federal government to nationalize America's healthcare system.  Instead, Pelosi and the Dems got the horror known as Obamacare.

Healthcare spending in the US hit $2.6 trillion in 2010 according to the Kaiser Foundation, here, and is estimated to explode to $3.4 trillion by 2015 under Obamacare, here.

On a per person expenditure basis, US healthcare spending soars ahead of other industrialized nations and we in fact spend more than twice the average of other developed countries.

So why is healthcare so expensive in the US? Why do we spend more on healthcare than any other nations and by a wide margin? It all goes back to the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act. Health insurance companies lobbied (bribed Congress by filling campaign coffers) to get Congress to pass a health insurance monopoly law.  The health insurance cartel succeeded in banning the sale of health insurance across state lines and further facilitated the power of the healthcare cartel to lobby state legislatures for very costly mandates that drove up the cost of health care.  The healthcare industry just divided up America, banned competition and outlawed choice in healthcare coverage. Healthcare costs started to rise as America was forced by the health insurance industry to pay for healthcare coverage that consumers wouldn't opt to pay for if given a choice.  Until the health insurance cartel flexed its well oiled money muscle power, most consumers of healthcare services just opted to buy major medical coverage and paid for everything else out of pocket.

McCarran-Ferguson birthed the mandate and the mandate was very profitable for health insurance companies who had guaranteed profits that were forcibly extracted from consumers.

The mandates varied from state to state but since most health insurance at the time was paid for by employers, few folks noticed that a nasty and destructive cartel was in the making. The nearly $3 trillion and growing healthcare industry became hugely profitable for healthcare monopolies.  

Not only did the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act unleash a medical cartel and the medical insurance industry takeover of US healthcare, it also spawned the rise of Medicare and Medicaid, well known fraud factories.  Big Pharm quickly jumped in to claim its share of government subsidies and health insurance mandates, a situation that simultaneously birth 'America - One Nation Under Big Pharm'.

Republicans never really opposed Obamacare.  In fact the foundation of Obamacare was hatched by the Republicans and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Something for Conservatives to Think About: Obamacare Really Was a Republican Initiative 
Obamacare really was hatched by the Heritage Foundation in the late 1980's, supported by Republicans during the 1990's, tested in Massachusetts by a Republican governor and finally passed as Obamacare. Newt Gingrich got rich promoting the healthcare mandate. Despite campaigning against Obamacare, Gingrich was one of the godfathers of the healthcare mandate. The Nation Review disclosed some of the details of his healthcare mandate business..... Obamacare really was hatched by the Heritage Foundation in the late 1980's, supported by Republicans during the 1990's, tested in Massachusetts by a Republican governor and finally passed as Obamacare. Newt Gingrich got rich promoting the healthcare mandate. Despite campaigning against Obamacare, Gingrich was one of the godfathers of the healthcare mandate. The Nation Review disclosed some of the details of his healthcare mandate business.
Gingrich Health-care Think Tank Raked in $37 Million

A think tank founded by GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich collected at least $37 million over the past eight years from major health-care companies and industry groups, offering special access to the former House speaker and other perks, according to records and interviews.
The Center for Health Transformation, which opened in 2003, brought in dues of as much as $200,000 per year from insurers and other health-care firms, offering some of them “access to Newt Gingrich” and “direct Newt interaction,” according to promotional materials. The biggest funders, including firms such as AstraZeneca, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Novo Nordisk, were also eligible to receive discounts on “products and workshops” from other Gingrich groups.
The health center advocated, among other things, requiring that “anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year must purchase health insurance or post a bond,” a type of insurance mandate that has since become anathema to conservatives.
Neither the Republicans or Democrats are willing to touch the issue of mandates because, well, it's a sacred cow and how they get campaign money (bribes) from the health insurance and the healthcare industries.  

McCarran-Ferguson is so bad that even socialist Obamacare supporter Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attacked it, link here.
By virtue of the McCarran-Ferguson Act, passed by Congress in 1945, the insurance industry is one of only a handful of select industries in the United States, such as Major League Baseball and railroads, to be exempted from federal antitrust laws. Schumer, a co-sponsor of a bill authored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to repeal the exemption, said the health insurance industry should lose its special status as part of the landmark health care bill scheduled to reach President Obama’s desk later this year.

“The health insurance’s antitrust exemption is one of the worst accidents of American history. It deserves a lot of the blame for the huge rise in premiums that has made health insurance so unaffordable. It is time to end this special status and bring true competition to the health insurance industry,” Schumer said.
Schumer was right about the need to repeal McCarran-Ferguson but for all the wrong reasons.  While Schumer accurately accuses the health insurance industry of driving up premiums, Schumer totally fails to address the mandates that are the defining characteristics of both Obamacare and  McCarran-Ferguson.  If anything, Obamacare is McCarran-Ferguson on steroids.

The health insurance industry had been lobbying Republicans and Democrats in Congress for decades to federalize McCarran-Ferguson.  It's expensive to lobby and bribe the legislatures in all 50 states and the health insurance industry badly wanted to buy Congress, write the mandates and have Congress pass a federal law enforcing the mandates.

However, there was indeed a HUGE problem.  The health insurance villains were acutely aware that federalizing the mandates would significantly drive up the cost of health insurance everywhere.  So they and their Democrat congressional pals constructed a healthcare system that was a complicated maze of subsidies to pay for the mandates; working families earning nearly $100,000 a year were eligible for Obamacare subsidies.  The political class never saw a subsidy it didn't like so long as their campaign coffers were filled and consumers love the idea of getting something for nothing.

But freebies are never really free as Americans are about to learn.

Actually, health insurance exchanges are a good idea providing they are free market exchanges without costly mandates and subsidies.  Neither the government nor the healthcare industry will allow for consumer choice.

But heck, it's America where everybody from old men demanding cost free Viagra and hair transplants to the Sandra Flukes of the world demanding cost free birth control enjoy forcing other people to pay for their acute sense of entitlements including a sex life and vanity.

At the end of the day, it's always about villains and vanity and America has no shortage of either.

Related post: America the Fraud Factory: Medicare Fraud, Medicaid Fraud, Obamacare Fraud, Food Stamp Fraud 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How Obama, Pelosi, the Dems and Obamacare Stiffed Labor Unions and Workers

One of the biggest incentives for folks to join a labor union was the healthcare benefits, specifically the high benefit, low cost plans offered under the Taft-Hartley plans that are substantially funded by union dues.  Taft-Hartley health insurance plans made a lot of sense.  They are non-profit multi-employer plans within industries that provide ongoing healthcare benefits for folks within certain industries. Union members could freely change jobs within an industry without losing their healthcare coverage. The 2 defining characteristics of Taft-Hartley plans was affordability and portability. Additionally, there were tax benefits to Taft-Hartley plans.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was designed to heavily tax employer provided health insurance, create news taxes on various medical products/services, raise the cost of healthcare and ultimately force businesses to stop offering healthcare benefits to employees by making it so expensive that businesses could no longer afford to provide healthcare benefits to its employees. Effectively, Obamacare is nothing but a costly nightmare that destroys healthcare and lays the foundation for a single payer healthcare system.  That's what big labor, socialists and the government envisioned as Obamacare's end game.

Obamacare health insurance plans are also heavily subsidized with tax dollars provided that the plans are purchased through government approved Obamacare exchanges.  The estimated cost of the Obamacare subsidies was vastly underestimated by those who crafted the Obamacare bill.  American Thinker reports, here
According to the new White House budget, from the time the exchanges open in 2014 to 2021, the administration expects to spend about $606 billion on subsidies, a massive commitment of federal resources. That's about 27 percent more than the $478 billion projected in the president's budget last year, and 65 percent more than the $367 billion for the same period in the 2012 budget....

"The CBO's new baseline estimate shows that ObamaCare subsidies offered through the insurance exchanges -- which are supposed to be up and running by next January -- will total more than $1 trillion through 2022, up from $814 billion over those same years in its budget forecast made a year ago.
Forgetting that Obamacare is a hugely expensive and unaffordable monster, here's where it get really ugly: the Taft-Hartley plans utilized by labor unions are not eligible for Obamacare subsidies because they are not purchased through the exchanges and are considered private insurance.

Once it dawned on labor unions that unionized workers were royally stiffed by Obamacare, the drama unfolded way beyond healthcare costs.  It also dawned on labor unions that the cost of the healthcare coverage they provided would soar and that employers would cut employee worker hours back to 30 hours or less a week to avoid the cost of Obamacare.

Quite naturally, big labor went screaming to the Obama Administration with a long list of legitimate complaints.  

Unions To White House On Obamacare, Taft-Hartley Plans: 'You Made The Problem, You Fix It'

WASHINGTON -- Signaling a growing rift between some unions and the White House over the Affordable Care Act, the Nevada State AFL-CIO passed a stinging resolution Wednesday that criticized the administration for its handling of their concerns with the health care reform law. The resolution claims the law could end up "destroying" the unions' multi-employer health plans if the administration doesn't come up with a regulatory fix.

"[O]ur union members and their families originally offered strong political and moral support for the promise of the Affordable Care Act because it would expand health care coverage for more Americans," the resolution read. But when it came to dealing with the unions' concerns, "the Administration has postured on proposals to address the problem, but no proposal to date will actually solve the problem. Our health plans only get worse."....

Long used by unionized workers in the building trades and service industries, Taft-Hartley plans are nonprofit health care plans jointly administered by participating companies and unions. The plans have traditionally allowed workers in transient industries to move between employers while still maintaining the same health care. Due to unions' seat at the table, the plans tend to offer strong coverage at a low out-of-pocket cost to workers.....

The Treasury Department has signaled that it views the Taft-Hartley plans as equivalent to other employer-based plans, which aren't eligible for subsidies. Taylor said Taft-Hartley plans should be seen differently because they're nonprofit.

Forbes also reported on the unfolding nightmare.

Labor Unions: Obamacare Will 'Shatter' Our Health Benefits, Cause 'Nightmare Scenarios'‘Unintended consequences’ causing ‘nightmare scenarios’
The union leaders are concerned that Obamacare’s employer mandate incentivizes smaller companies to shift their workers to part-time status, because employers are not required to provide health coverage to part-time workers. “We have a problem,” they write, and “you need to fix it.”

“The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe,” they continue. “Perverse incentives are causing nightmare scenarios. First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.”
Although labor unions do indeed have legitimate concerns about rising healthcare costs and reduced hours of work, they were also seeking eligibility for Obamacare subsidies.  The cost of these subsidies for the 20 million workers covered by Taft-Hartley plans has been estimated at $50 billion and more.

The Obama Administration turned them down flat on Obamacare subsidies.

W.H. rejects labor’s bid for Obamacare exemption
The Obama administration on Friday told labor union leaders that their health plans would not be eligible for tax subsidies under Obamacare next year.

A White House official said the Treasury Department has concluded that such an exemption is not possible under the Affordable Care Act. The labor unions have been asking that their union plans, known as Taft-Hartley plans, be eligible for premium subsidies the way plans on the new insurance exchange will be.
Why did the Obama Administration turn down the request of big labor?  Certainly not because they wanted to deny a benefit to a major core constituency.  At the end of the day, the Obama Administration refused to create a legal loophole that would empower many companies to unionize with the explicit intent to skirt costly Obamacare and its punitive taxes.  You better believe that once Taft-Hartley plans became eligible for federal subsidies that every business in America would use it as a legal precedent to do the same - avoid the taxes and expensive regulatory apparatus.

Here's the Obamacare flow chart disclosing that it's a monster of a regulatory nightmare that will sure gobble up tons of money in administrative costs and leave little money for actual healthcare.

Clearly, such a bureaucratic nightmare cannot possibly implement affordable and cost effective healthcare.

At the end of the day, everybody is screwed and not just workers and labor unions.  Employers everywhere are already laying off workers because they cannot afford the cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The biggest problem with Obamacare is that it's unaffordable at any price. Moreover, more and more American companies are just packing up and moving out of the US because they cannot be globally competitive with the US regulatory and healthcare noose around their necks.

Yeah, big labor has a legitimate gripe because America is a place where the rich get richer, the middle class is vanishing and the poor get poorer.  But big labor has bigger problems because Obamacare will absolutely result in destroying the one incentive to join a labor union - truly affordable healthcare voluntarily paid for by its membership and without government subsidies.  Well, Obama, Pelosi, the Dems and Obamacare took care of that!

Obamacare will destroy healthcare in America as well as our profoundly suffering economy.  America once had the best economy, the best healthcare system and the strongest middle class on the planet UNTIL government goons and bureaucrats deliberately destroyed it all.

America is terminally ill.  Abolishing Obamacare won't solve our immense problems or save the 'patient' because we are too far gone and irreparably damaged by wars and statism.  Abolishing the predator government is our only hope.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Robert Morrow on the Texas Whip Count on Syria Resolution

Texas liberty and antiwar activist Robert Morrow did an analysis of where Texas Reps stand on the Syrian War resolution.  Since I called all 36 TX Reps today, plus 2 senators, his analysis is nearly identical to the information I received based on phone calls.  The only difference is that I had Stockman and Carter in the undecided category but Robert has contacted folks who have access to them and he was advised that Stockman is a definite NO and Carter is leaning NO.  Also, not one single TX Dem was a No or leaning No.

It's critically important for antiwar Texans to contact their reps, preferably all 36, and voice their opposition to the war on Syria.

Robert Morrow reports:

Most of the Republicans will vote NO. The Democrats are refusing to release statements - although there is absolutely NO constituent support for bombing Syria, getting involved in another war in the Middle East. I have tried to shame these offices. Please keep the whip count list at Firedoglake current and accurate. I would start targeting the undecideds right now - writing a column on it, sending out an email blast asking for phone calls or letting folks on Facebook know who the top 30 undecideds are.
The Syria War resolution will fail in the House, but we need to keep pounding the warmongering into dust particles.
Robert Morrow    Austin, TX  512-306-1510
Committee Assignment
2243 RHOB
Natural Resources
2412 RHOB
Foreign Affairs
1211 LHOB
Ways and Means
2405 RHOB
Energy and Commerce
Science, Space, and Technology
2228 RHOB
Financial Services, Chairman
2107 RHOB
Energy and Commerce
2352 RHOB
301 CHOB
Ways and Means
2201 RHOB
Financial Services
131 CHOB
Homeland Security, Chairman
Foreign Affairs
Science, Space, and Technology
2430 RHOB
Ethics, Chairman
Armed Services
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Granger, Kay  UNDECIDED
1026 LHOB
Thornberry, MacUNDECIDED
2329 RHOB
Armed Services
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
510 CHOB
Foreign Affairs
Science, Space, and Technology
Hinojosa, Rubén UNDECIDED
2262 RHOB
Education and the Workforce
Financial Services
O'Rourke, Beto  UNDECIDED
1721 LHOB
Homeland Security
Veterans' Affairs
1030 LHOB
Natural Resources
Veterans' Affairs
2160 RHOB
Homeland Security
Neugebauer, Randy UNDECIDED
1424 LHOB
Financial Services
Science, Space, and Technology
212 CHOB
Armed Services
Foreign Affairs
2409 RHOB
Science, Space, and Technology, Chairman
Homeland Security
Olson, Pete LEANS NO
312 CHOB
Energy and Commerce
Gallego, Pete  UNDECIDED
431 CHOB
Armed Services
1110 LHOB
Education and the Workforce
Ways and Means
1122 LHOB
Transportation and Infrastructure
2336 RHOB
Energy and Commerce
117 CHOB
Oversight and Government Reform
Transportation and Infrastructure
2431 RHOB
Green, Gene  UNDECIDED
2470 RHOB
Energy and Commerce
2468 RHOB
Science, Space, and Technology
Transportation and Infrastructure
409 CHOB
2233 RHOB
Rules, Chairman
Veasey, Marc UNDECIDED
414 CHOB
Armed Services
Science, Space, and Technology
Vela, Filemon UNDECIDED
437 CHOB
Homeland Security
Doggett, Lloyd  UNDECIDED
201 CHOB
Ways and Means
326 CHOB
Foreign Affairs
Science, Space, and Technology

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