November 8, 2013

Obama Flunks the Apology Test, and Offers No Legitimate Penance

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:34 pm

From Psychology Today in January:

I’m Sorry: 3 Components of an Effective Apology

Apologizing is often considered an ethical obligation, a responsibility, or simply the right thing to do. But we have gotten so accustomed to hearing, and giving, perfunctory apologies born out of a sense of obligation, or simply covering our a**, that it has dulled our collective sense of the meaning of an apology.

Apologies that hold their power and value require at least three things:
1) a clear statement of the offending action,
2) an expression of genuine empathy for those aggrieved, and
3) a deep and honest understanding of the needs/motivations for acting in the offending manner. Without these three components the power of our apologies will decline and their currency will become devalued.

Let’s test Barack Obama’s supposed “apology” for Obamacare’s arbitrary termination of millions of individual plans (with more having already occurred among small employer groups and even more coming from among those covered by employer-sponsored plans) against Psych Today’s three components, plus an all-important fourth to be seen later.

1) a clear statement of the offending action:

Well — first of all, I meant what I said. And we worked hard to try to make sure that we implemented it properly. But obviously, we didn’t do enough — a good enough job — and I regret that. We’re talking about 5% of the population — who are in what’s called the individual market . They’re out there buyin’ health insurance on their own.

A lot of these plans are subpar plans. And we put in a clause in the law that said if you had one of those plans, even if it was subpar — when the law was passed, you could keep it. But there’s enough churn in the market that folks since then have bought subpar plans. And now that may be all they can afford. So even though it only affects a small amount of the population, you know, it means a lot to them, obviously, when they get — this letter cancelled.

Assessment: Not clear at all. In fact, it’s dishonest —

  • It understates the degree of the problem (it is NOT just the individual market).
  • “I regret” is not the same as “I’m sorry.” (more on thar later)
  • He is still clinging to the “subpar plans” mantra, when the Obamacare plans often, and perhaps mostly, have higher cost, less coverage, or both, than the plans which terminated.
  • The reason for the terminations has far less to do with “churn” than it does with Kathleen Sebelius’s restrictive regs and even in some cases (e.g., California) Obamacare exchanges demanding that carriers who wish to participate cancel policies which otherwise would have survived the grandfathering restrictions.

2) an expression of genuine empathy for those aggrieved:

… the majority of folks will end up being better off, of course, because the website ‘s not workin’ right. They don’t necessarily know it right. But it — even though it’s a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged, you know, it means a lot to them. And it’s scary to them. And I am sorry that they — you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me. We’ve got to work hard to make sure that — they know — we hear ‘em and that we’re gonna do everything we can — to deal with folks who find themselves — in a tough position as a consequence of this.

Assessment: little if any empathy, accompanied by more dishonesty —

  • It is not at all clear that the “majority of folks will be better off” — unless you decide to exclude from the evaluation people who are faced with five-figure annual premium increases who decide to go without insurance. In that case, sure, most of those who remain will be people who get subsidies and will likely be better off. So that’s how you claim victory, by throwing thousands, hundreds of thousands, or conceivably millions of people out of the insurance system entirely?
  • “Small percentage” tells the people affected that they’re really not that important.
  • “Scary” tells the people affected that they’re ignorant and maybe just don’t have “the information that they need.”
  • He says he’s sorry, but see Point 4.

3) a deep and honest understanding of the needs/motivations for acting in the offending manner:

CHUCK TODD, NBC: … Clarence Page , your hometown newspaper, The Chicago Tribune , this is not — not White House. He’s been pretty supportive of what you said. He characterized this as a political lie.

BARACK OBAMA: … No, I — I think we, in good faith, have been trying to take on a health care system that has been broken for a very long time. And what we’ve been trying to do is to change it in the least disruptive way possible.

We tried to find — a proven model. We’ve seen it work in Massachusetts. That would be as — as undisruptive as possible. And in good faith, tried to write the law in such a way that people could keep their care. Although we really believe that ultimately, they’re gonna be better off when they’re buying health care through the marketplaces. They can — access tax credits. And they’re benefiting from more choice and competition.

Assessment: Complete horse manure —

  • There was no “good faith.” Policy people in the White House knew that Obama’s guarantee — let’s make it clear, it was an ironclad guarantee — did not square with the legislation. Their concerns were overruled by the White House’s political hacks, who insisted that the message must be “simple,” even if obviously untrue.
  • There is less choice. It’s the Obamacare exchange or nothing, starting on January 1, 2014.
  • There is less competition (i.e., fewer carrier and fewer available plans.
  • - As to Massachusetts, after five years of Romneycare, Massachusetts still has the most expensive health care in the nation.

Finally, there’s a fourth element Psych Today missed — a genuine intention to make things right and follow through to ensure that things are made right.

Assessment: It’s not there. This is as close as Obama gets —

But obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law. And, you know, that’s somethin’ that I regret. That’s somethin’ that we’re gonna do everything we can to get fixed.

There is no specific promise to do anything to help people whose policies have been cancelled. Edie Sundby and Bill Elliott, both of whom inarguably lost their existing coverage because of Obamacare — it’s too bad, so sad for you.

Barack Obama gets an “F” on all four key apology elements. … Period.


UPDATE, Nov. 11: Allahpundit at Hot Air“He’s not sorry at all that people’s plans are being canceled.” Bingo.

Obamacare Causes Cancer Patient to ‘Let Nature Take Its Course’ Rather Than ‘Burden’ His Family

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:42 pm

Partial transcript from Megyn Kelly’s show (video at link) on Fox News last night (bolds are mine):


MEGYN KELLY: … Tonight, we speak with a viewer who just messaged us on Facebook telling us that after his insurance, which covered most of his cancer treatments, was cancelled and he doesn’t know what to do.

Bill Elliot joins me now.

… My question for you tonight is whether the president who has now come out and offered an apology, your reaction to it.

BILL ELLIOTT: I believe that was more of an insult the to me and other people who were cancelled than him saying 41 times, period, you can keep your doctor, keep your insurance, period. To me now he’s like a doctor coming out of the operating room and said, I cut out the wrong kidney, but I’m sorry about that. There’s nothing you can do about it now except get on my website if we can ever get on the website, which I have tried three times. There’s nothing you can do about it.

KELLY: Do you feel that the president knowingly misled you? Does it even matter to you?

ELLIOTT: Absolutely. He misled me. In fact, I voted for him because of that fact. You know? Governor Romney come out with his facts, but when President Obama come out and said, you know, you can keep your doctor, keep your insurance, I liked my doctor, I loved my insurance. It was paying just about everything including medications and medical devices.

Now with ObamaCare, the man that I’ve got looked into it, they are not going to pay for pharmaceuticals or medical devices. MRI that I had last month before I got cancelled was $3,000. Now if I have to have another one it costs me out of my pocket $3,000.

KELLY: Your decision now faced with these costs is to do what with respect to your insurance?

ELLIOTT: What I’m going to do now — and I have thought about this long and hard — is that when my insurance comes out it’s going to be — just for me — it will be $1,500 a month with a $13,500 deductible. I’m not going to pay that. If I make it that long I will pay $95, whatever fines and I’m going to let nature take its course. I’m not going to put a burden on my family to pay this $1,500. What good is it going to do? When I was paying almost $180 I think it was, now it’s $1,500 and will take money out of my kids’ banks, my family. I’m not going to put up with that.

Whatever happens, I believe I’m doing the right thing. I thought about it and prayed about it. I’m not letting this $1,500 — that’s a catastrophic event, previous event. I’m not going to pay it. To me it’s saving my family money and they will have money to spend instead of throwing it down the drain like President Obama is wanting us to do.

So Obamacare is effectively denying care to someone who under the old system had been receiving it.

It isn’t just that Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board is a de facto “death panel,” as Sarah Palin correctly alleged back in 2009.

Obamacare’s pricing structure and plan designs are forcing people who had coverage in the pre-Obamacare world to choose between premature death and bankrupting themselves and their loved ones.


UPDATE: Related, from Tony Perkins at Family Research Council — “Atone Deaf”

The October Employment Situation Report (110813): 204K Jobs Adds, 7.3% Unemployment Rate, Civilian Labor Force Crashes

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:12 am

Conveniently delayed until after Tuesday’s elections, this morning’s Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics will garner a great deal of attention.

Econ Recap: A fair portion of the economic news of the past week or so has been positive, at least on the surface, but the employment-related metrics haven’t been –

  • Auto sales were pretty strong, up 10.6 percent over October 2012.
  • Both of the Institute for Supply Management’s surveys (Manufacturing and Non Manufacturing), which had already been showing expansion, improved even further in October, though I’m beginning to doubt the degree to which these surveys reflect the nation’s underlying reality.
  • September’s retail sales were “unimpressive,” and September’s “core” durable goods orders declined.
  • Third quarter GDP growth came in at an annualized 2.8 percent yesterday. 0.83 points came from inventory build-ups and personal consumption growth was weak. That said, pending revisions, it was the best overall number since an identical result in 3Q12.
  • Yesterday’s reported weekly unemployment claims were a seasonally adjusted 336,000, and averaged just over to 350,000 during the five work weeks containing October business days.
  • ADP’s private sector payroll report released on October 28 showed a pretty weak 130,000 private-sector payroll jobs added, and also included significant downward revisions to previous months.


  • Bloomberg — 7.3 percent unemployment rate (up from 7.2 percent), with 120,000 jobs added.
  • Business Insider has Bloomberg’s prediction, but notes that several economists are weighing in with 150,000 jobs added.
  • Reuters — 7.3 percent unemployment, 125K jobs added.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Benchmarks:

October is a strong month on the ground for actual (i.e. not seasonally adjusted) job additions):


For the job market to be seen as meaningfully on the mend, at least 975,000 jobs will need to be added overall during October, with at least 450,000 of them occurring in the private sector. If those seem like artificially high bars, too bad, so sad (I think a case can be made that we really need to see 1.05 million and 500K, respectively, given the number of people on the sidelines). We’ve been waiting to see consistent breakout jobs news for years, and with rare exceptions, it hasn’t happened. It needs to, or millions of potential workers who are now on the sidelines are going to stay on the sidelines. Instead, I’m afraid we’re going to see fewer than 900,000 overall and under 400,000 in the private sector.

It’s clear that a majority of the job additions are in government in a typical October. We’re told that furloughed federal workers during the 17 percent government shutdown will end up affecting the unemployment rate, but not the number of jobs added. We’ll see.

The report will be here at 8:30.

Also worth watching: Changes in the full-time/part-time mix and the length of the work week.

HERE IT IS (full HTML version is here): Much better than expected, at least a first glance –

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 204,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, professional and technical services, manufacturing, and health care.

Household Survey Data

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 11.3 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.3 percent, changed little in October. Among the unemployed, however, the number who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 448,000. This figure includes furloughed federal employees who were classified as unemployed on temporary layoff under the definitions used in the household survey.

… Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.0 percent), adult women (6.4 percent), teenagers (22.2 percent), whites (6.3 percent), blacks (13.1 percent), and Hispanics (9.1 percent)
showed little or no change in October. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.2 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

The civilian labor force was down by 720,000 in October. The labor force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 62.8 percent over the month. Total employment as measured by the household survey
fell by 735,000 over the month and the employment-population ratio declined by 0.3 percentage point to 58.3 percent. This employment decline partly reflected a decline in federal government employment.

… Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 204,000 in October. Job growth averaged 190,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In October, job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, professional and technical services, manufacturing, and health care. Federal government employment continued to trend down. There were no discernible impacts of the partial federal government shutdown on the estimates of employment, hours, and earnings from the establishment survey.

… The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +193,000 to +238,000, and the change for September was revised from +148,000 to +163,000. With these revisions, employment gains in August and September combined were 60,000 higher than previously reported.

So 264,000 more Americans were believed to have been working in October than was the case in September. This certainly isn’t what one would have expected based on ADP’s report and its prior revisions.


UPDATE, Nov. 10: The 60,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added in August and September revisions occurred even though there was no net revision to August and September’s combined raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) job additions:



(return to original post)

The civilian labor force decline is stunning, and is completely independent of partial shutdown effects (i.e., furloughed federal employees were still considered workforce participants, so they don’t affect the labor force size.


  • “Not in labor force” went up by 932,000 to 91.541 million.
  • The civilian labor force is 720,000 lower than it was in October 2012.
  • The number of full-time workers dropped 623,000, and the number of part-timers dropped by 127,000. The full-time result appears to be beause of the federal furloughs.
  • The dominance of retail and leisure/hospitality in the job additions continues.
  • The number of workers added at temp firms was a relatively small 3,300, but previous months were revised up.
  • Raw job additions were 943,000 overall, somewhat short of the benchmark of 975,000, while the private sector raw additions of 453,000 beat the benchmark.

Overall, the number of job additions trended positive, though the mix of occupations continued to be in relatively low-wage areas. Job additions need to accelerate further in future months to start drawing non-participants back into the workforce. I’d like to think that’s going to happen, but I don’t see how.


UPDATE: Zero Hedge — “So much for all the fire and brimstone associated with the government shutdown.” Great point. Related: Pethokoukis – “The odd October jobs report: The US government shutdown failed to shutdown the US economy.”

UPDATE 2: Consistent with the civilian labor force drop, the workforce participation rate plunged 0.4 points to 62.8 percent, a level last seen in 1978.

UPDATE 3: More on the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force, currently at 154.839 million —

  • It’s only up by only 607,000 in the 57 months since January 2009 (i.e., less than 10,000 per month), the month Barack Obama took office. Meanwhile, the civilian population has grown by 10.642 million.
  • It’s only up by 1.129 million in the 51 months since June 2009 (i.e., about 22,000 per month), when the recession officially ended.
  • It’s only up by 1.719 million in the 46 months since December 2009 (i.e., about 37,000 per month), the figure’s post-recession trough.
  • It’s virtually identical to the 154.825 million seen in February 2012, 20 months ago, meaning that the workforce has growth by less than 1,000 per month during that time. Meanwhile, the civilian population has grown by almost 4 million.

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Zeke the Bleak at His Putrid Peak’) Is Up

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:18 am

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (110813)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

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.

Positivity: Fox News’ Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower (Kirsten Powers)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From New York (HT