November 20, 2013

What a Pitiful Sight

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:45 pm

Obama says Obamacare largely isn’t working because of Republicans:

Time to bring out the official seal:

OfficialDemCrybabySeal

Three Lessons From Obamacare’s Failed Rollout

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:59 pm

In this administration, they’re destined to go unlearned.

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This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Monday.

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Obamacare’s difficulties, which have brought it to the brink of earth-shattering failure, should cause its architects and supporters to reexamine what they’ve tried to do. History has taught us that this will not happen.

So-called “progressive” ideas continue to make matters worse virtually every time they collide with reality.

Their alleged greatest achivements, Social Security and Medicare, are dangerously unsustainable; the programs’ trustees annually remind us of that inconvenient fact. Their welfare initiatives have led to ever-increasing dependency, broken up countless families and marriages, and held back achievable economic growth. Their “progressive” tax system, combined with unfortunate but understandable efforts by those affected to dodge its worst effects, has created the incomprehensible monster that is our tax code.

Those whose most fervent wish for decades has been to impose a state-controlled healthcare system on a hostile nation thought they had clinched the argument for all time on March 23, 2010, the day Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Nancy Pelosi’s now-infamous statement — “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” — gave away their strategy, which was to get an indecipherable law on the books, and to then turn Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s bureaucrats loose to make it as restrictive as possible.

First to get it passed, and then to fend off the majority of the country which has consistently opposed it, Obama, 27 senators and an army of other Democratic politicians and apparatchiks lied to the American people when they unconditionally guaranteed that “If you like your plan-doctor-provider, you can keep your plan-doctor-provider.” Many if not most of them did so knowingly, shirking their responsibility to tell the truth in the name of “salability” and “simplification.”

Obamacare’s devastatingly botched rollout demonstrates that its progressive managers have failed to grasp at least three fundamental truths:

1. The vast majority of tasks, including project management, are best left to a reasonably regulated private sector. That’s because the government has an oversupply of control freaks and incompetents.

Given a 42-month head start, HHS, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, has failed to deliver what three guys were able to produce for free over a long weekend: a working web site. TheHealthSherpa.com asks its visitors to enter their age(s), family makeup, county of residence, household size, household income, and whether they smoke. Consumers instantly learn what health insurance plans are available in their area, what they cost, what their federal subsidy will likely be, and how to contact each plan’s carriers. The Health Sherpa’s primary shortcoming is that it doesn’t tell users that they still have time to buy a usually less expensive pre-Obamacare plan this year, which will keep consumers away from the statists’ clutches until late 2014 or the beginning of 2015.

Though the government engaged outside companies for various aspects of the project, it chose to put bureaucrats within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in charge of overall project management, “despite the fact that CMS has no experience managing large IT projects.” Compounding the likelihood that the train wreck which has occurred would occur, project managers appear to have mostly fiddled for over 2-1/2 years to ensure that most controversial matters would be kept from the public until after the 2012 elections.

The bureaucratic control freaks convinced the obviously incompetent project managers that the government simply had to have a mountain of information about each potential applicant before they could even be allowed to shop for plans. Then things went from merely disgraceful to utterly inexcusable. We now know that Sebelius’s crew opened HealthCare.gov despite being warned just four days before its launch that it would be “a ‘high’ security risk” for users “because of a lack of testing.”

No private firm would launch under these circumstances — and if any did, law enforcement would be frog-marching company executives to jail within days.

2. What a person pays for a good or service should have no relationship to their income or wealth.

Obamacare’s subsidy system puts the “progressive” income-tax system on steroids and directly applies it to the purchase of a consumer product.

Each American household with an income above four times the poverty level must pay an unsubsidized premium based on both income and age. The vast majority of those below that level pay a net amount after subsidies based only on their income, with no age-dependent differences.

Obamacare’s promoters claim that their salvation lies in millions of relatively well-off young people signing up for coverage. That simply isn’t so. There aren’t that many of them, especially after subtracting out the millions under age 27 who have glommed onto their parents’ policies. Of the rest, only a precious few with sufficient earnings aren’t already participating in an employer plan.

The big money was always going to come from exorbitant premiums extracted from high earners who are 50 and older who had been in the individual market until Sebelius regulated most of those plans out of existence. Given proponents’ “keep your plan” guarantee, they should, logistics permitting, be able to get their old individual policies back. But that will make offsetting the tax subsidies given to eveyone else a pipedream.

The fundamental flaw in Obamacare’s entire design is that how much you pay for a good or service should be based on the interaction between supply and demand, and have nothing to do with buyers’ incomes. Departing from reliance on supply and demand inevitably distorts markets. Virtually every government attempt to “fix” distortions which follow only digs a deeper hole.

3. Massive, top-down changes will have unforeseen, predominantly negative consequences.

The Affordable Care Act’s proponents apparently thought that designing a takeover of one-sixth of the economy would be a breeze. Maybe that’s so in Ivy League faculty lounge bull sessions, but not in the real world.

Obamacare has powerful disincentives to work. Its subsidies drop as income increases, and disappear at the four times poverty threshold. When combined with the federal income tax, the payroll tax, and state and local income-based levies, those who make as little as $30,000 per year stand to lose as much as one-third to one-half of each additional dollar they earn. The “working families” the left claims to love so dearly won’t feel much like working. Those whose earnings are near the four times poverty threshold will cut back on how much they work to avoid getting above it. If they fail, their subsidy losses will dwarf any extra earnings.

Obamacare also encourages divorce and discourages marriage. Cohabiting couples almost invariably pay less, often far less, in net Obamacare premiums than identically situated married couples.

Obamacare’s architects either didn’t see any of these problems coming, or didn’t think they would matter. Obviously, they do.

This administration’s particularly repulsive brand of hubris has come back to haunt it. Its members and its party apparatus seem incapable of learning from their mistakes. Opponents, whose numbers are growing as formerly low-information voters and even liberals get mugged by reality, are going to have to legislatively take away their keys to the healthcare system.

AP’s Hananel Grudgingly But Cryptically Notes House Investigation of Allegedly Juiced 2010-2012 Jobs Reports

In a mild surprise, the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, hasn’t totally ignored John Crudele’s Monday evening blockbuster story at the New York Post about how fabricated Census Bureau information fed a pretty clearly cooked September 2012 Employment Situation report. But the wire service’s Sam Hananel ruined the surprise by spending five terse paragraphs making sure that relatively disengaged readers would learn as little as possible.

Most crucially, Hananel never told readers that the alleged manipulation may have been the main reason why the reported September 2012 unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. At the time, former GE CEO Jack Welch was among those who strongly questioned the rate drop.

(more…)

NewBusted (111913)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 8:18 am

Here we go:

Topics:
– American Poverty
– Democrats
– President Obama
– Obamacare
– Astronaut Robot
– Facebook
– NSA
– Mexican Tunnel
– Farm Bill
– Bill Maher

Best Line: “A record 49 million Americans are now living in poverty — or, as the Democrats call it, voter outreach.”

Mark Levin’s Gettysburg Anniversary Show

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 7:17 am

I’m posting the whole show here for posterity:

The first 18 minutes tells the story of the battle, the turning point of the Civil War. At the 10-minute mark, he replays Ken Burns’s recounting of Pickett’s charge.

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Related (and mentioned by Levin), at the Washington Free Beacon (“Historian: Americans Don’t Understand Meaning Behind Gettysburg Address”):

Lincoln studied the terror of the French Revolution and the military dictatorship of Napoleon, followed by the 19th century revolutions across Europe that were “crushed and subverted by nascent monarchies and romantic philosophers,” Guelzo said. Democratic government “lay discredited and disgraced,” he added.

Guelzo noted a comment from the time period by Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian ruler who rose to power after Germany’s failed 1848 revolution.

“When you have governed men for several years, you will become a Monarchist,” Bismarck said. “Believe me, one cannot lead or bring to prosperity a great nation without the principle of authority—that is, the Monarchy.”

Lincoln was determined to prevent the same fate from befalling the United States, Guelzo said.

“The greatness we have not suspected in the [Gettysburg] address lies in its humility, its reminder that the question of democratic survival rested ultimately in the hands, not of czars, but in those of citizens who saw something in democracy worth dying for,” he said, adding that this meaning is not well understood by modern government officials or at “Georgetown cocktail parties.”

“What we got from Lincoln was that reminder. We could use it again today.”

Perhaps this passage explains why Barack Obama wouldn’t attend. He doesn’t agree with the second bolded paragraph.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (112013)

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: Pope Francis recommends ‘spiritual medicine’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Nov 17, 2013 / 10:16 am

At the close of his Angelus address today, Pope Francis encouraged those in St. Peter’s Square to pick up a little box of spiritual medicine on their way out.

“I would like now to all of you to consider a medicine. But some may think, ‘the Pope is being a pharmacist now?’ It is a special medicine to make the fruit of the Year of Faith that is coming to a close more concrete,” said Pope Francis Nov. 17, as he raised a little box for the crowds to see.

“This little box contains the medicine, and some volunteers will distribute it to you as you leave the square. Take it! It’s a rosary with which one can pray also the chaplet of Divine Mercy, spiritual help for our souls and for spreading love, forgiveness, and brotherhood everywhere.”

“Don’t forget to take it,” he repeated as the crowds cheered. “Because it does good, eh? It does good for the heart, for the soul, for all of life.”

Pope Francis had earlier emphasized the need for faith and trust in God in the face of life’s difficulties.

Like the apostles in Sunday’s Gospel, many people find themselves worried about losing faith in the last days.

But Jesus reminds his followers, “First: don’t let yourselves be deceived by false messiahs and don’t let yourselves be paralyzed by fear. Second: live the time of waiting as a time of witness and of perseverance,” recounted Pope Francis.

“This discourse of Jesus is always current, even for those of us who live in the 21st century,” the Roman Pontiff reflected. “We are in a time of waiting, of waiting for the coming of the Lord.”

“We remember that we are totally in the hands of the Lord!”

“The adversities that we meet for our faith and our adherence to the Gospel are occasions for witness; they must not distance us from the Lord, but push us to abandon ourselves again and more to Him, to the power of his Spirit and his grace,” he encouraged.

The Pope then spoke of the “many Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution because of their faith.”

“There are many – maybe many more than the first centuries. Jesus is with them and we too are united to them with our prayer and our affection, and we admire them for their courage and their testimony.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.