October 24, 2013

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102413)

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:18 pm

(Moved to the top late in the afternoon.)

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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4:15 p.m.: I need to correct an error. (Also see the update.)

I originally accepted a report from Digital Trends that the cost of the Obamacare web site development so far has been $634 million. Digital Trends later revised that to “over $500 million,” and I used that revised figure in a recent PJ Media column. About a week ago, the New York Times was still using a number of $400 million.

All those figures are apparently incorrect, according to the Hill (HT Newsmax):

A surge in government spending in the six months before the ObamaCare exchanges went live pushed federal spending to top government contractors over the $1 billion mark, a new study finds.

According to the report released Thursday by Bloomberg Government analyst Peter Gosselin, federal spending ramped up in the months leading up to Oct. 1, with $352 million of the $1 billion in federal contracts to the top 10 ObamaCare contractors awarded during this time.

… “In looking at the full range of ACA-related contracts for just 10 firms, the BGOV analysis found more than $1 billion worth of contract awards,” he wrote.

I was wrong. I am sorry.

It’s over $1 billion already (probably not all spent, but certainly allocated to be spent) — and given the announced attempts at triage, they’re clearly not done.

Update, 4:30 p.m.: Yeah, going to underlying Bloomberg blog post, it gets worse

In the meantime, the administration is turning to a low-technology fallback. In June, officials signed a $114 million contract with the U.S. subsidiary of London-based Serco Group Plc (more outsourcing — Ed.) to, among other things, run a mailroom to handle paper applications for the 2014 coverage year. Just days before the Oct. 1 opening of exchanges, it made a second $87 million award to expand the company’s services.

Serco is NOT one of the “top 10 vendors” listed at the link. So make that $1.2 billion — and they’re not done yet.

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3:50 p.m.: “Sebelius failed at government website projects prior to serving in Obama administration”

The happiest guy in the world right now, or at least the most relieved, might be Tom Daschle, who was Obama’s original nominee to head HHS in 2009 until tax matters derailed him.

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7:00 a.m.: Wayne Allyn Root at At Personal Liberty“Why Obamacare Is Not A Train Wreck; It’s A Suicide Attack”:

… (Obamacare) is a brilliant and purposeful attempt to damage the U.S. economy, kill jobs and bring down capitalism. It’s not a failure; it’s Obama’s grand success. It’s not a train wreck; Obamacare is a suicide attack.

No. 1: Obamacare was intended to bring about the Marxist dream: redistribution of wealth.
No. 2: Obamacare was intended to wipe out the middle class and make them dependent on government.
No. 3: As a bonus to wiping out the middle class, Obamacare is intended to kill every decent paying job in the economy, creating only crummy, crappy part-time jobs.
No. 4: Obamacare is intended to bankrupt small business and, therefore, starve donations to the GOP.
No. 5: Obamacare is intended to make the IRS all-powerful.
No. 6: Obamacare is intended to unionize 15 million healthcare workers.

Elizabeth, NJ Mayor, Obamacare Truther, Thinks GOP Might Be Jamming Access to HealthCare.gov and Phone Lines

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:54 pm

As HealthCare.gov’s disaster has dragged on and grown in scope, it was entirely predictable that doctrinaire leftists in the fever swamps would begin concocting reasons why its epic failure thus far has been the fault of obstructionist conservatives and Republicans.

What perhaps was less expected, but based on history should not have been, is that supposedly responsible Democrats in elected positions have also joined the ranks of “Obamacare Truthers” by promulgating outlandish theories and engaging in intense blame-shifting, both with extraordinary gusto. Perhaps the worst — or, given its absurdity, the most entertaining — is the one tweeted and quietly deleted (HT Twitchy) by Chris Bollwage, the mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey (population 126,000):

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Hillary: ‘The Future … Doesn’t Include Yelling’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:02 pm

That’s funny, because the past certainly did:

Politico’s Purdum Decries ‘Trash-Talking the President’ Over Denied Incident, Silent on Obama’s and Dems’ ‘Hostage’ Language (See BizzyBlog Update)

Taking journalistic hypocrisy to ever-headier heights, Politico’s Todd Purdum spent hundreds of words Wednesday evening bemoaning the potential impact of an incident which both sides involved say never happened, and acted as if incivility only comes out of the mouths of conservatives and Republicans.

Earlier Wednesday, the website’s Tal Kopan relayed news that Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin “said in a Facebook post that a House Republican leader told off President Barack Obama during a negotiation meeting, and that GOP leaders are so disrespectful it’s practically impossible to have a conversation with them.” The supposed statement to Obama by a GOP leader, which both White House spokesman Jay Carney and House Speaker John Boehner say never was made, and which Durbin could not have observed or heard because he wasn’t there, was: “I cannot even stand to look at you.” Durbin, it must be recalled, ultimately was forced to apologize for comparing U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay to “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings,” in 2005.

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President Obama, July 28, 2010 — ‘Not Your Ordinary Website Demo’

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:29 am

On July 28, 2010, President Obama promoted “HealthCare.gov,” including the “finder” section which happened to be the subject of a PJ Media column by yours truly in late August:

So President Obama carved out the time to do a demo of HealthCare.gov’s promotional precursor, and was never curious about when he would get to do (or at least see) a demo of the full-blown site before October 1. Assuming he wasn’t given access to see any of it ahead of time, we’re supposed to believe that he didn’t wonder why he couldn’t do that?

Sure.

Initial Unemployment Claims (102413): 350K SA; Raw Claims 10% Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:15 am

Thanks to sloppiness about posting of claims, this report has been losing its value during the past several weeks.

It’s probably too much to expect that we might get assurances, now that computer “upgrades” in certain states are hopefully out of the way, that from this point forward reported claims will actually tie to the week they were submitted by people applying for benefits as opposed to when they were entered.

Maybe that explains why I couldn’t find any predictions at Bloomberg or Reuters. (Update: Business Insider has a prediction of 335,000 seasonally adjusted claims.)

Last week’s result was 358,000 seasonally adjusted claims, down from 373,000 the previous week.

Seasonal adjustment factors:

  • Week ended Oct. 19, 2013 — 88.9
  • Week ended Oct. 20, 2012 — 92.7

Raw claims:

  • Week ended Oct. 12, 2013 — 357,041
  • Week ended Oct. 20, 2012 — 345,226

To match last week’s 358K, raw claims will have to be 318K. To match Business Insider’s prediction of 335K, raw claims will have to be 298K. Each seems ambitious, but thanks to the noise of the past several weeks, there’s no solid basis for an attempted prediction.

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (Permanent Link):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending October 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 350,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 362,000. The 4-week moving average was 348,250, an increase of 10,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 337,500.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 310,814 in the week ending October 19, a decrease of 49,905 from the previous week. There were 345,226 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

That’s definitely a miss compared to expectations, though raw claims are 10% below last year.

If last year’s seasonal factor has been used on this year’s raw claims, seasonally adjusted claims would have been 15,000 lower (310,814 divided by .927 is 335K, rounded).

As best as anyone can tell in this data-muddled mess, the four-week moving average of 348K probably reflects where we are, and it isn’t all that impressive, or reflective of some grand improvement.

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UPDATE: Zero Hedge

With claims from the backlog in California’s systems “glitch” (which began in September) still working their way through the system, one can only imagine the debacle that this data really is as more people filed for unemployment claims that expected for the 3rd week in a row. 44,100 Federal workers applied for claims two weeks ago (and received it we presume as well as their back pay now).

NewsBusted (102413)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 6:50 am

Here we go:

TOPICS:
– Obamacare
– Democrats
– Debt Ceiling
– New York Times
– Hillary Clinton
– MSNBC
– Fox News
– Silent Restaurant
– Alec Baldwin
– California Governor Jerry Brown

Best Lines:

  • “The president of MSNBC is asking for an investigation into Fox News’s ratings. Yes, he wants to know what these things called ‘ratings’ are, and how does one get them?”
  • “Alec Baldwin says his new MSNBC show, quote, ‘won’t be for laughs.’ Yeah, Alec. That’s what the Obama administration is for.”

Positivity: Be pro-life unconditionally, Denver archbishop says

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Denver:

Oct 23, 2013 / 12:09 am

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver urged Catholic medical workers to be “unconditionally” pro-life witnesses, criticizing those who support abortion and other forms of medical killing in the name of conscience.

“Any time anyone takes the life of an unborn child, or promotes assisted suicide or euthanasia, or treats others as though they can be thrown away, their conscience is deadened and erroneous, and they are not listening to the voice of God or the voice of truth but rather are listening to the father of lies, to the evil one,” he preached during the Denver archdiocese’s Oct. 19 “White Mass” at St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, Colo.

The White Mass is a long-standing tradition for health care professionals, taking its name from the white clothes common in their profession.

“Sadly, what has happened with so many Catholics today is that they have come to understand conscience as listening to their own voice, rather than listening to the voice of God as he has revealed himself in Scripture and in Tradition,” the archbishop said.

He taught that Catholics must form their consciences and understand that their conscience can become “hardened,” “deadened” and “erroneous” when it is “not faithful to God and to the truth.”

“It is essential that we help people to understand that conscience is the voice of God living within the human heart. They must quietly listen for that voice and open their hearts to it.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.