we’ve really stepped in it this time

“Deja vu all over again.”

We all noted, back in 2009, that we’d really stepped in it this time.

Pundits have said that the new Administration’s need to stack accomplishments during the first 100 days is the reason for the rush to pass a health care bill. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nicky Shaw and I talked about the two big issues in Washington before the 115th Congress left for their 97th vacation so far this year. “This Congress has been very busy,” she said.

Yeppers. They codified the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, passed a GAO access act, disapproved of an SEC rule, authorized the National Science Foundation to support entrepreneurial programs for women (I guess women weren’t allowed to be NSF entrepreneurs before that?), and passed a joint resolution to appoint a citizen regent for the Smithsonian Institution.

Oh, yeah. And they repealed ObamaDon’tCare and are about to cut the corporate tax rate.

“I’m all for dumping the Unaffordable Care Act,” Ms. Shaw said. “I know it’s politicspeak to say this, but it is unsustainable.”

We’ve covered that taxpayer-financed insurance bailout for seven years. She’s right. And that pullquote up there about the rush to pass? That’s from 2009.

I’m also all for dropping the corporate tax rate (I’m all for any drop in tax rates) particularly since corporate earnings are double taxed, once when earned and again by the shareholders when received as dividends (corporations may not legally deduct their dividend payments). Here’s some background on business taxes

In 2014 the United States had the third highest general top marginal corporate income tax rate in the world at 39.1% (consisting of the 35% federal rate plus a combined state rate), exceeded only by Chad and the United Arab Emirates. Shareholders of most corporations are not taxed directly on corporate income, but must pay tax on dividends paid by the corporation. However, shareholders of S corporations and mutual funds are taxed currently on corporate income, and do not pay tax on dividends.

Despite what the tax-and-spend crowd tells you, it’s not the just the Kochs and the Soroses who get those dividends; retired geezers and all the still-working-soon-to-be geezers get the dividends on more than $25 trillion in retirement funds alone. “Trillion” with a “T.”

Hmm, if corporations are people (viz. Citizens United) then they are taxed without representation. I’m thinking corporate income tax is unconstitutional if they are taxed without representation and we shareholders should revolt. And, bonus, we can blame the Democrats for the income tax! See, the Democrats first called for income taxes back when the whole idea of it was still unconstitutional.

During the two decades following the expiration of the Civil War income tax, the Greenback movement, the Labor Reform Party, the Populist Party, the Democratic Party and many others called for a graduated income tax. The Socialist Labor Party advocated a graduated income tax in 1887. The Populist Party “demand[ed] a graduated income tax” in its 1892 platform. The Democratic Party, led by William Jennings Bryan, advocated the income tax law passed in 1894, and proposed an income tax in its 1908 platform.
In 1894, Democrats in Congress passed the Wilson-Gorman tariff, which imposed the first peacetime income tax. In 1895 the United States Supreme Court, in its ruling in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., held a tax based on receipts from the use of property to be unconstitutional.

Do ya feel as if we’ve been here before?

Do ya remember electing a President who promised “change”?

Same Old Stuff, Different Day
No matter how you dress up the typeface, the “UnAmerican Health Care Act” is just the “Unaffordable Care Act” in a new TV costume. No health care reform there. No matter how you dress up the characters, the “Tax Cut” is just the 4,037 or 70,000 page tax code in a new TV costume. No tax reform there.

And the only actor who has changed in this play is the guy at the top.

Passing a health care bill in the first 100 days. Why was it critical in 2009 and critical in 2017? Back then I thought even Congress would rebel if they actually read the bills. Turns out that was wrong this year, too.

Passing a tax cut in the first months. I had hopes for tax reform. This year, it looks like that was wrong, too.

“Maybe We the People should revolt instead,” Ms. Shaw said.

And there you have it. Since corporations are people and they buy their representation, that means We the Overtaxed People are no longer represented and that’s the hook to use.

 

Lying Liars #2,749

Welcome to the first day of Spring, the day when day and night are the same length and politicians tell you one is the other.

“The affordable health care’s purpose was to lower costs, expand access, and improve benefits,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Face the Nation yesterday. “It has succeeded in all three.”

It has succeeded? Succeeded? Really?

Let’s take how Ms. Pelosi knew the facts and said just the opposite. Out here outside the Beltway, we call that “Lying.”

• “[Its purpose was to] lower costs…
Health care cost Americans $2 trillion in 2008; ObamaDidn’tCare grew it every year so health care will cost Americans $3.6 trillion in 2017. Alabama premiums jumped 28% from 2015 to 2016 for individual plans purchased through the marketplace. They went up another 36% this year. The cheapest “Bronze” plan here in south Florida costs $4,660 this year, almost double the unsubsidized cost in 2013. A Bronze plan comes with a $6,000 medical and $500 prescription deductible and $12,500 out of pocket maximum costs. And your premium skyrocketed anyway! True believers can’t accept those facts but the NY Times does.
Nancy Pelosi - Pants on Fire
• “[Its purpose was to] expand access…
Enrollment tumbled in 2016 at a faster rate of decline than in 2015 as people got kicked off for not paying premiums. UnitedHealth Group dropped out of almost every ObamaDidn’tCare market.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2016 that ObamaDidn’tCare would leave 27 million uninsured through 2019.

• “[Its purpose was to] improve benefits…
Slightly true. Some of the 20 million folks who never had insurance before ObamaDidn’tCare definitely got better benefits. Anything more than nothing is “better.” The rest got stuck with far less. And for the 75 million Americans who got their insurance through large companies in 2013, according to NBC News, ObamaDidn’tCare caused companies with the most generous plans to cut benefits.

Lying liars who lie a lot.

Ms. Pelosi’s definition of “success” seems a wee bit different than ours, I’m thinking.

“[The Unaffordable Care Act] should be respected for what it does,” she said.

We’ve seen what it does. In that, for once in the past nine years, Ms. Pelosi told the truth.


No matter what the true believers think, ObamaDidn’tCare — the original Unaffordable Care Act — is disintegrating. It’s collapsing politically. It’s collapsing financially. It’s collapsing medically.

As we learned last week, the new Unaffordable American Health Care Act doesn’t address the biggest issue: cost. It needs bring costs down and to do that it needs to address [wait for it] American Health Care. So far it doesn’t do that any better than what we had foisted on us in 2013.

 

“Obamacare Lite”

Today we start what looks to be a long series on another atrocious Health Insurance bailout, what Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) calls “Obamacare Lite

“The American people and Members have a right to know the full impact of this legislation before any vote in Committee or by the whole House…”
–Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

I think David Koch or Stephen J. Hemsley must have paid Ms. Pelosi to write to Speaker Paul Ryan, “The American people and Members have a right to know the full impact of this legislation before any vote in Committee or by the whole House…”

(Where have I heard that before?)

I can think of nothing anyone could do that would more solidify the Republicans to pass this next looming disaster. Called the “American Health Care Act,” the bill has already made it through two committee hearings and is fast tracked to be passed about the day after tomorrow.

We're Here to HelpRather than wait for the Congressional Budget Office score and for outrage to build, Mr. Ryan wants to hurry the legislation through the committee stage in a few days. The reason for the rush should be obvious: the more you look at the Unaffordable American Health Care Act, the more unhealthy it appears.

Republicans have obviously learned a lot from the Democrats these last eight years.

(They hoped we wouldn’t notice. We noticed.)

Here’s a quick comparison between the Unaffordable Care Act and the Unaffordable American Health Care Act:

• ObamaCare is extremely complicated. The new House plan is extremely complicated. For example, doctors must choose from 140,000 codes (up from 18,000) when entering a diagnosis. Do you really think the new House plan changes that?
• ObamaCare (“if you like your plan you can keep it”) forced insurers to cancel policies. The new House plan will also push insurers to cancel policies.
• Obamacare has fewer options and inferior care. The new House plan will have more options and inferior care.
ObamaCare will cost more and more and more. The new House plan will cost more and more and more. Oh, I know the argument that the “tax credits” won’t be as much as last year’s “tax subsidies.” Pfui. Health care cost Americans $2 trillion in 2008; Obamacare grew it every year so health care will cost Americans $3.6 trillion in 2017. Somebody has to pay that no matter what billing scheme Congress passes.

No matter what they say in Washington, the Unaffordable American Health Care Act is not a health care bill. The Unaffordable American Health Care Act is just another payment scheme.

“Under Obamacare [there was] dishonest accounting” Sen. Paul said. “They said the federal government will pay for Medicaid, 100 percent of it. But we have no money. We borrow a million dollars a minute and have a $20 trillion debt, so it is dishonest.”

He’s right.

No matter what the true believers think, Obamacare — the original Unaffordable Care Act — is disintegrating. It’s collapsing politically. It’s collapsing financially. It’s collapsing medically.

The new Unaffordable American Health Care Act needs to address those issues but most important, it needs to address [wait for it] American Health Care.

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
–Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Oh. Yeah. That was it.

Rand Paul and other conservatives call the GOP plan “Obamacare Lite” Unfortunately, they’re wrong. It’s not “lite” enough.

 

Insurance Pawns, I

Here’s the column I was going to write today. It would use facts and data that have been reported for almost a decade to show, yet again, how the boosters of our current Unaffordable Care Act and the medical conglomerate it supports have become insurance pawns.

George Gobel was about six months older than my parents. He died at age 71 in 1991, shortly after undergoing heart surgery.

“Here’s the thing, Nancy Pelosi told George Stephanopoulis yesterday, “when we did the [Un]affordable Care Act, if everyone loved their care, if everyone loved it, which they didn’t, and their insurance, we would still have had to do it because the escalating cost of health care in our country were (sic) unsustainable to individuals, to families, to small business, to corporate America, and to the public sector…”


We “had three goals,” Rep. Pelosi continued. “One, to lower costs. The other, to expand benefits. And the third, to improve — increase access of many more people.”

Right.

Lower costs: In 2008, healthcare cost $7,889 per capita. In 2016 healthcare cost $10,345 per capita. In Rep. Pelosi’s world, jacking the costs by 31% is “lowering costs.”
In 2014, my own new plan cost 15% more (from $5,172 per year to $5,965) and covered less than my commercial, “substandard, predatory, and inadequate insurance.” In fact, my own individual premium was $2,502 at the beginning of the Obama Administration in 2009. Premiums soared to $7,239 on the Exchange in 2017.

Expand benefits: The Unaffordable Care Act added some coverage guarantees (you can buy insurance only during open enrollment) and premium guarantees (they will rise based on family structure, geography, the actuarial value of the benefit, age, and tobacco use).
Benefits don’t include bariatric (weight-loss) surgery, infertility treatment, alternative medicine including acupuncture, long-term care, foot care, eye exams, and more. And co-payments have skyrocketed. The co-payment for an asthma inhaler used to cost $7. Then it went to $30. Then $60. Now it’s $100, every month. Flexible spending account are limited to $2,500.

Increase access: 20.4 million people were forced at gunpoint to buy health insurance. My existing, commercial Blue Cross plan was dropped and I had to buy a new one on the Exchange.


For the record, the standard plan premiums on the Vermont Exchange were $6,880 for gold, up from $5,965 in 2014, $5,814 for silver, or $4,910 for bronze in 2016.

For the record, the standard plans on the Vermont Exchange had a $750 individual medical deductible for gold, a $2,000 individual medical deductible for silver, and a whopping $4,000 individual medical deductible for bronze in 2016, with additional deductibles for prescriptions and other services. The so-called standard “High Deductible” plans are worse.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is beating the horse again. “20 million people are about to lose their health insurance as the GOP ‘destroys’ the [Un]affordable Care Act,” she says.

Right.

Remember the flat out lies about the Unaffordable Care Act?

Caduceus• Mr. Obama said, Like your plan, keep your plan.
• Mr. Obama said, Like your doctor, keep your doctor.
• Ms. Pelosi said, Premiums will decline.
• Mr. Obama said, Premiums will drop on average $2,500.
• Mr. Obama said, Deductibles will go down.
• Ms. Pelosi said, We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.
• Kathleen Sibelius said, The Exchange website will work.
• Jonathan Gruber said, The Exchange website was secure.
• Ms. Pelosi said, Emergency room visits would decline.
• Ms. Warren said, Obamacare is the best thing that ever happened to this country.

Mr. Obama and the Congress knew the public wouldn’t buy this gift to the insurance companies, so they forced mandates and regulations and false guarantees on us. The only real guarantee was to drive up the cost of health care.

We’re going to make people buy it, Mr. Obama decreed about the false promise of the Unaffordable Care Act, and if they don’t buy it, they’re going to get penalized.


I simply do not understand why so many people, from insurance pawns like Ms. Warren to my liberal friends who support her, don’t get how bad this thing is. The news, the statistics, the facts have shown over and over that Obamacare is accelerating the demise of a system that has failed us.

“Make America Great Again!” Presidential candidate Donald Trump, 2016.
“America never stopped being great.” Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton February 27, 2016.
“The average American is actually economically in a lot of economic desperation, insecure. We have parts of this country that are — really, desolate…” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, February 26, 2017.

Apparently the American protesters want their unaffordable premiums to climb more and more and more. American protesters want their unaffordable prescription drugs to cost more and more and more. American protesters want to their healthcare system to kill more patients than Iraq, the Maldives, Mexico, and 126 other countries. Apparently the American protesters want to buy the lies.

Those inconvenient truths, of course, don’t fit Ms. Warren and Ms. Pelosi’s story.


That’s the column I was going to write, until I realized the futility of using facts to counter the religious belief in Obamacare. I’ll just repeat a joke instead.

Squares Day…
True or false, George: experts say there are only seven or eight things in the world dumber than an ant.
George Gobel: Yes, and I think I voted for six of ’em.