August 20, 2009

US Receipts Now In Their Second Year of Ongoing Downward Plunge

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:47 pm

Here’s what August looks like thus far (from August 19, 2009 and August 20, 2008 Daily Treasury Statements):

USrecs081909v082008

Same old, same old — except that this time, we’re beginning the second year of consecutive monthly declines in receipts from economic activity. That’s because we’re now in the 14th full month of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, now the POR Recession/”Repression” As Normal People Define It.

The really troubling part of this is the withholdings decline. A lot of that will disappear at the end of the month because August 2009 has five high-receipt Mondays, while August 2008 had four. Since a typical Monday is good for about $17 billion in withholding receipts, August 2009 total collections may ultimately end up roughly equalling August 2008. The figures through August 19, 2009 and August 20, 2008 above each include three Mondays, and thus more accurately reflect the ongoing downward spiral than the month-end report will show.

Don’t be fooled. Besides, September 2008 had five Mondays and September 2009 will only have four, so the September decline in withholding collections will tilt in the other direction, and will thus be a bit higher.

VA’s Denial-of-Care-Oriented ‘Your Life, Your Choices,’ Quashed Under Bush, Revived Under Obama

VeteranAndFlag

If you were a reporter trying to gauge the credibility of Obama administration’s protests that it is really serious when it says that it will honor patient, doctor, and family treatment wishes in serious illness situations if the government takes an exponentially greater role in health care, you might look into how areas of health care already controlled by the government are dealing with these sensitive matters.

Apparently either no journalist has cared to look, or if anyone has looked, they haven’t found anything they believe is worth reporting.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Jim Towey, a former director of the Bush White House’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and founder of the nonprofit Aging with Dignity, found a troubling, newsworthy, death-encouraging decision that has already been made during Barack Obama’s short term in office.

As Towey chronicles and explains, it’s in the Veterans Administration, and it really is appalling. Here are key excerpts from his column (bolds are mine):

If President Obama wants to better understand why America’s discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA’s National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, “Your Life, Your Choices.” It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA’s preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated “Your Life, Your Choices.”

Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

“Your Life, Your Choices” presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political “push poll.” For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be “not worth living.”

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to “shake the blues.” There is a section which provocatively asks, “Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘If I’m a vegetable, pull the plug’?” There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as “I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family” and that the vet’s situation “causes severe emotional burden for my family.”

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

….. only one organization was listed in the new version as a resource on advance directives: the Hemlock Society (now euphemistically known as “Compassion and Choices”).

This hurry-up-and-die message is clear and unconscionable. Worse, a July 2009 VA directive instructs its primary care physicians to raise advance care planning with all VA patients and to refer them to “Your Life, Your Choices.” Not just those of advanced age and debilitated condition—all patients. America’s 24 million veterans deserve better.

Towey wraps by challenging the president “to walk two blocks from the Oval Office and pull the plug on ‘Your Life, Your Choices.’”

Don’t hold your breath, Jim — waiting for the president to make that walk, or waiting for anyone else in the press to note a federally-controlled health care system that is realizing the worst fears of those who believe in the dignity of life.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Hannitize — Er, Sanitize — This

Yesterday, I heard about the last two-thirds of Sean Hannity’s 164th radio interview with Mitt Romney in the past three years (that’s a guess, and it may be low).

As has frequently been the case in recent months, Hannity was in the midst of giving Romney an open mic to repeatedly fib about the results of state-controlled Commonwealth Care aka RomneyCare in Massachusetts, the state he (Romney) used to govern.

To hear Objectively Unfit Mitt tell it, it’s working out fine, almost everyone is covered, costs are only a little bit higher than expected (even that’s the fault of the rest of the country), and access to care is fine.

Horse manure.

In a March Boston Globe op-ed, Susan L. King, whose conclusions and recommendations I don’t agree with, nonetheless put forth these facts:

  • “The state has more than 200,000 without coverage, and the count can only go up with rising unemployment.”
  • “Spending for the Commonwealth Care subsidized program has doubled, from $630 million in 2007 to an estimated $1.3 billion for 2009, which is not sustainable.”

As to access, look at how many days you have to wait to see a doctor in Boston (average of cardiology, dermatology, OB/GYN, orthopedic surgery, and family practice at Page 9 of this PDF; cute related vid is here; HT TNR):

MAwaitTimeForDrAppt0809

In Atlanta, it’s 11 days. To be fair, it was higher in Boston before RomneyCare, but average wait times have nonetheless increased to their current 50-day level. Oh by the way, the linked video also notes that insurance costs are three times higher in Massachusetts than in Georgia.

Things are working out sooooooo well in Massachusetts that people, especially the potentially and actually more productive, are voting with their feet and leaving the Bay State.

The seemingly daily free passes Hannity gives Mitt Romney have been intolerable for quite a while.

It would be one thing if this only had to do with one politician’s career. But defeating statist health care is about saving America as we know it in so many ways and on so many levels, and Hannity is increasing the risk that the resistance to statism will fail.

Mitt Romney, whether he admits it or not, is the architect of the poorly-working model for ObamaCare. By giving Romney free rein to spread his falsehoods, Hannity muddles the opposition message. Sensible conservatives everywhere should be asking “But what about Massachusetts?” every time Obama and his apparatchiks drone on about competition, cost savings, keeping your insurance, access, and all of the other flat-out lies they are selling as they attempt what Mark Steyn has so perfectly described as “the nationalization of your body.”

By allowing Mitt Romney a national platform to constantly claim that the situation in Massachusetts is really not that bad, or is even okay, Hannity is seriously compromising that effort. As far as I’m concerned, he will be partially to blame if any form of ObamaCare becomes law. Romney’s share of the blame will, of course, be much greater.

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RELATED: I didn’t get to hear author, broadcaster, and friend Gregg Jackson’s call to Hannity shortly after the Romney interview yesterday.

Here, via e-mail, is Gregg’s take on the call. Once again, Hannity on Romney tried to defend the indefensible –

Sean, on your radio show today, I asked you how you could continue to criticize Obama’s proposed government-run healthcare plan when you in fact endorsed Mitt Romney for president of the United States (whose own quasi-socialist healthcare bill established abortion with a $50 co-pay as a “healthcare benefit” (and the same man you continue to support and promote on your show as you shamelessly did today, in fact, right after you rudely cut me off.)

You had no answer to my very simple and straightforward question and could only claim that RomneyCare didn’t fund abortions, and only a few minutes later, totally contradicting yourself, stating that Romney attempted to veto the abortion provision and that it was “the Democrats in the legislature” who forced him to include it in the bill.

Suffice it to say that you are wrong on both counts, Sean.

First, RomneyCare established $50 co-pay abortions as a “healthcare benefit.” And Romney signed it into law AFTER his phony “pro-life conversion” ….. And by the way, Sean, neither Romney nor any of his people have ever disputed that Romneycare established abortion with a $50 co-pay as a “healthcare benefit.” I noticed how you conveniently omitted RomneyCare’s abortion provision from your discussion with Romney today.

Secondly, although Romney did veto at least 8 other provisions in CommonwealthCare, he never vetoed any provision for government funded abortions. In fact, not only did RomneyCare establish abortion as a “healthcare benefit,” Sean, but Romney also appointed a Planned Parenthood member to a permanent position on his healthcare advisory board with no pro-life member (AFTER his supposed “pro-life conversion.”)

When you combine Hannity’s endless softball Romney interviews with his insufferable, enthusiastic support for statism as he personally plugs the “new, lean, green, strong” General Motors, it’s impossible to avoid the fact that Sean has a serious credibility problem — one that is entirely self-created. Even worse, it’s also impossible to avoid the fact that he is selling out the cause of sensible conservatism (which is, of course, a redundant term).