Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Voice of Experience


Simple Questions About the Current Healthcare Reform Bill


In our justifiable zeal in attacking His Majesty, King Hussein Obama the First's irresponsible attempt to reform our nation's healthcare system, I think that sometimes our attacks fail to hit the mark due to their overly technical and detailed nature.  Perhaps it would be wise to step back from tearing to shreds the various aspects of the King's plan and instead ask a few simple questions.  In this way maybe those members of the public who might not be following this issue as closely as we are might come to realize why the King's healthcare reform is so wrong for this country.  So next time you're talking to somebody about healthcare reform, ask them the following questions:


1.  Why doesn't the healthcare bill require coverage until 2014?


Ever since that impish loser Al Franken was sworn in as the Democrat's effective 60th vote in the Senate on July 7, 2009, the King and his minions have been demanding that healthcare reform measures be enacted immediately.  His Majesty, for example, issued a decree that a bill reforming healthcare be on his desk by August 1, 2009.  Once this deadline passed, our sovereign leader summoned a Joint Session of Congress on September 9, 2009 and told them and the nation that:


            The time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed.  Now is the season for action.


Now that the Senate has passed a version of the healthcare reform which needs reconciled to the previously passed House version, we're told that it must be passed by His Majesty's State of the Union Address, which usually occurs in late January or early February.


Now if you're a wacked out liberal you'll certainly understand the need for passing this sweeping reform as soon as possible.  His Majesty, for example, stated in the aforementioned address that every day 14,000 Americans lose their healthcare coverage.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-to-a-Joint-Session-of-Congress-on-Health-Care  One of his baronets, Senate Majority Leader Sir Harry Reid shared the following dire statistic on the cost of delay with the public in his remarks on the floor of the Senate on December 21, 2009:  http://democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=321051


Much of our attention this year has been consumed by this health care debate.  And a Harvard study found that 45,000 times this year – nearly 900 times every week, more than 120 times a day, on average every 10 minutes, without end – an American died as a direct result of not having health insurance.


And if you really want to step out onto the wacko fringe, Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson cried out the floor of the House during a debate on September 30, 2009 that:


I call upon all of us to do our jobs for the sake of America, for the sake of those dying people and their families.  I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America."


Pretty strong stuff.  So if you take all these overblown claims at face value, why do the Democrats want us to rush like mad to pass their reform bill and then sit back for nearly four years and watch another 20,020,000 people lose their health insurance and another 171,600 people die?.  Sounds like Rep.. Grayson will have a lot more dead people to apologize to in the next few years.  (Note for all you mathematically challenged liberals out there, the preceding figures assume a passage of the bill on February 1, 2010 and implementation of its provisions on January 1, 2014.)


Of course liberals will tell that that this is a complex process and it takes time to set up properly and it has to be done right and blah, blah, blah, but none of these types of concerns seemed to trouble them when they enacted the phony stimulus last February.  At that time, His Majesty and his minions said we needed to dole out the money as fast as possible.  But now that people's lives are at stake, it's more important that some bureaucrat makes sure they cross all the T's and dot all the I's than saving some serfs' lives.


Not to be cynical but my own answer to this question is that the King and his minions would love to stand before the voters a few times as the enactors of healthcare reform before the actual effects of that reform, which might not be as great as they are claiming, are felt by the voting public..


2.  Why is the majority party having such difficulty passing this bill?


The royalist majorities in the Congress are impressive.  Currently there are 58 Democratic Senators along with the socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders and the former Democratic Senator, independent Senator Joe Lieberman who both caucus with the Democrats to give them a filibuster proof total of 60 votes out of 100.  In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi commands a force of 256 Democrats versus a meager 178 Republicans, with one seat being vacant.  These majorities are on par and arguably better than the majorities former President Bill Clinton had in 1993 when he tried to pass a healthcare reform bill.  At that time there were 258 Democratic Representatives plus the socialist Sanders, who at that time was in the House but only 56 Democratic Senators after the election of Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison in June 1993.  So unlike our current sovereign, President Clinton needed Republican help in the Senate to avoid a filibuster..


So with such commanding majorities, why has so much of the discussion of the past several months focused on various parliamentary procedures and vote buying to get this bill passed?  In a roll call vote on the House's healthcare reform bill, Speaker Pelosi lost 39 Democratic votes, or in other words, 15% of her caucus.  The bill needed 218 votes to pass.  It got 220.  http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/111/house/1/887 


Once that bill went to the Senate, the liberals immediately started sweating blood over the prospect of a filibuster despite their filibuster proof majority.  Democrats initially floated that idea of using a process called "reconciliation", which is a procedure used for filling out the details of the federal budget that can't be filibustered, in order to pass the bill.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/24/democrats-ponder-one-bill_n_267166.html  The use of this procedure would have been unprecedented for a bill like this one and was ultimately dropped.


Instead, the Democrats settled on a well-worn and proven strategy for obtaining votes:  buying them..  Anderson Cooper of CNN reported that Nebraska Democratic Senator Ben Nelson got a provision put into the bill that would make the federal government pay for any Medicaid expansion in his state caused by this bill, something no other state received.  He also reported that other senators received a deal.  Who are some of these others?  http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2009/12/21/evening-buzz-buying-health-care-reform-votes/  How about Independent Senator Joe Lieberman?  He got the Democrats to drop a provision in the bill that would have allowed uninsured Americans aged 55 to 64 to purchase Medicare coverage, an improvement in the bill that will make the many insurance and pharmaceutical companies in his state of Connecticut very happy and generous in their donations to Lieberman..  http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/12/14/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5979254.shtml  Or perhaps Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landreiu?  She got a quick $100 million by getting a provision in the bill to increase Medicare subsidies for "certain states recovering from a major disaster."  Remember Hurricane Katrina?  Yep, this provision only applies to one state, Louisiana.  http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2009/11/the-100-million-health-care-vote.html


And now that the Senate has been bought off, the Democrats are worried about going through the normal process of reconciling their version of the bill with the House's version.  And what's their worry?  What else, it would take too long!!    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/04/dems-will-bypass-conferen_n_410403.html 


Once again, the liberal will have an answer.  The legislative process is inherently messy.  It's like watching someone make sausage, right?  And don't think that Republicans haven't bought votes too you know..  Everybody does it.  All of which is true but hasn't healthcare reform been a signature Democratic issue for decades?  Remember when Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy died last year.  All the liberals told us was that poor old Ted had been fighting for healthcare reform for over 40 years and now we had to pass it in his honor.  So now that the Democrats have a golden opportunity to pass it, what's the big hang-up?


It's really quite simple.  A solid majority of the American public is against His Majesty's plan.  Remember the ear beating His Majesty's minions got back in August when they tried to take their case to the people?  Mobs of serfs descended on the townhalls that Democratic Congressmen held and demanded that the public option and the death panels be removed from the bill.  The Democrats seem to have given in on these issues but are pressing ahead with the rest of this bill despite the disapproval of 52% of the public for the current bill.  http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2009/1220/GOP-s-last-bullet-in-healthcare-reform-battle-public-opinion  Furthermore, only 37% of the public thinks that the healthcare system will be better after His Majesty's bill passes.  No wonder the King's own poll numbers are sinking like a rock.


3.  Why is Medicare reform included in the bill?


Well that's an easy one your liberal friend will say.  Medicare is part of our healthcare system and it needs reformed.  That's true of course but I thought the whole point of this legislation was to provide universal health coverage for all Americans.  Medicare already provides universal coverage for all Americans 65 and older so what does it have to do with this problem? 


Strip out all the bells and whistles and extraneous provisions and the King's plan consists of two basic parts:  raising taxes and imposing fees to offset the cost of providing health insurance for those who can't currently afford it and those who are currently uninsurable due to pre-existing medical conditions and reforming Medicare.  Both of these parts of the bill present big challenges and would be tough enough to solve separately.  Putting them together, to paraphrase that lovable M*A*S*H doctor Hawkeye Pierce seems to be like piling mounds and mounds of fertilizer on the problem in the hopes that something beautiful will grow.


Once again the answer is pretty simple.  As I explained in a previous post http://delta-man.blogspot.com/2009/12/voice-of-experience.html , the only way for the King to pretend that his healthcare reform is budget neutral is to assume unrealistic savings from reforming Medicare.  To summarize, the King's plan assumes savings from Medicare reform in 2010 through 2019 of $438 billion and savings in 2020 through 2029 of $2.582 trillion!!  These are pretty big numbers and greatly exceed the projected reductions of the budget deficits in 2010 through 2019 of $132 billion and $1.3 trillion in 2020 through 2029.  So what's the difference?  It's the gap in the King's revenues raised from taxes and fees versus the payments for insurance coverage.  Without these Medicare savings, His Majesty would have to increase these taxes and fees over and above their already oppressive scheduled rates which might prove fatal to the King's popularity.


4.  Why doesn't the bill include healthcare cost savings except for reductions in Medicare?


Another easy one, your liberal friend will say.  The unruly mobs of "birthers" demanded that our cost savings measure, the public option, be dropped from the bill.  To briefly summarize, the public option was supposed to hold down healthcare costs by creating a government run insurance company to compete with private insurers.  The liberals hoped that this "competition" would drive down healthcare costs.


Without discussing the merits of this warped economic theory, let's just assume the liberals are right.  The public option would have reduced healthcare costs.  So if that's correct, then why are they rushing to enact a flawed bill?  It could be argued, in fact, that this bill will increase healthcare costs by pumping more money into the healthcare system in a manner similar to the federally funded college loan program.  I'm not the only one to think this way.  When the Senate healthcare bill cleared the first filibuster attempt in late December, thereby signaling that it would pass, insurance company stocks hit 52 week highs.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/20/scarborough-health-insura_n_398520.html  And why do you think that occurred?


Basically the Democrats are backed in a corner.  By traveling down this road of trying to enact a politically unpopular reform, they have left themselves open to suffering a crushing defeat at the polls this November.  But if they don't pass this bill, not only will all the conservatives and moderates still be mad at them, the wacko liberal base of their party will be furious because once again, they blew a golden opportunity to reform healthcare.  So it's crucial that the King and his minions pass something, really anything, that they can claim to be a reform of healthcare.  Which leads to our final question...


5.  What's next?


After such a bruising and protracted battle, you'd think the last thing the Democrats would want to tackle would be another round of healthcare reform.  If you thought that, you'd be wrong.  Consider the comments  http://www.sphere.com/opinion/article/senate-health-care-bill-is-imperfect-first-step-supporters-say/19291360 of Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet who calls the bill a "step in the right direction", or how about Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, who describes the healthcare bill as follows:


What we are getting here is a starter home.


Or how about this from commentator and author Joseph Lazzaro http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2009/12/24/2009-u-s-health-care-reform-bill-a-first-step/  who echoes Harkin's starter home comments and says:


there is no credible evidence that suggests that a market economy in the modern era can achieve universal health insurance while simultaneously keeping costs low.


I could go on and on but I think you get the point.  Once the King and his minions get their foot in the door with this bill, we will be traveling down a path to a single payer healthcare system.  Just imagine the arguments some future liberal, who is probably getting high or doing some "blow" at this very moment, will make in 2025.  He'll say:


Yes I know we've increased healthcare coverage but look at the cost.  The federal deficit is exploding and the insurance companies are getting rich.  We need to stop this madness and pass this 10,000 page bill which will provide free, governmental provided healthcare for everyone.


And the Democrats of that day will drag His Majesty, the Father of Healthcare Reform, from whatever hole he's in at that time to once again rally the masses with his stirring rhetoric.  As he's doing now, he'll once again promise hope and change if only we'll trust him to do the right thing.  As they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…..

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