Tag Archives: Medicare

Obama’s Budget Plan: Raise Taxes on Middle Class, Gut Charities

President's budget to fail$800 billion in tax increases form the center of President Obama’s new budget plan with some $1.2 Billion in cuts to future spending growth. Neither side seems to willing to support the plan.

Democrats say that the tax increases don’t go far enough and point to the liberal plan from the Senate that raises taxes by more than twice what Obama’s budget calls for.

Republicans see no spending cuts at all. The budget doesn’t reduce spending year-over-year, only the rate at which spending will increase each year. In fact, Obama’s budget adds $1 billion for 15 manufacturing innovation institutes, additional funds for high-speed rail, and free pre-school for low-to-moderate income families.

Both sides are concerned about the tax increase on the middle class.

The only entitlement reform, the method most economists agree is the only way to save those programs, is to change the way inflation is calculated. Currently, inflation is calculated based on price increases in a set basket of goods. The president’s plan would switch to chained-CPI which takes into account the behavior of switching to alternative, cheaper products as the price of an item increases. The resulting inflation rate is slower. Inflation calculations are used in determining the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for government programs like Social Security and for determining increases in the tax brackets.

Democrats are concerned that using chained-CPI will result in seniors seeing their Social Security checks not keep up with actual cost-of-living. Republicans are concerned that more middle-income earners will be pushed into higher tax brackets or above the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) threshold and forced to pay higher taxes.

Senate Democrats are threatening to give Obama yet another zero-support vote and House Republicans have called the plan “dead on arrival” in the people’s chamber. Since this plan closely resembles the failed “grand bargain” from 20011, there is little hope that it will materialize into an actual budget.

There are also concerns over the supposed spending slow-downs in the budget. Much of it depends on cost savings due to Obamacare.

With this year’s delay of implementing the exchanges, skyrocketing implementation costs, quickly rising premiums and the projected shortfalls in available care, rampant cost overruns are the expectation. Even the Department of Health and Human Services was caught off-guard by the complexity and costs of the President’s marquee health care legislation.

The President’s budget plan also removes charitable deductions and home mortgage deductions for higher earners. Non-profit groups that rely on huge donations from wealthy contributors are understandably concerned that the new budget plan, if enacted, could decimate their efforts to help others. Add in middle-earners being hit with higher taxes and the two groups that mainly fund charitable efforts will be far less likely to do so.

Low-income families are often heavily-dependent upon charity groups for food and clothing. The President’s plan will likely do more harm to lower and middle-income earners than anyone else.

HHS Then: Time to Cut Medicare Advantage…Now: Time to Boost Medicare Advantage

Kathleen_Sebelius_Secretary_of_Health_and_Human_Services_nominationIt was just February of this year that the Health and Human Services Department announced it would cut payments to Medicare Advantage, using those funds to help finance the expenses of ObamaCare. Now, in a reversal the Obama Administration said it will increase the payment for health insurers who offer the Medicare Advantage program.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said on Monday it will increase the rate by 3.3 percent in 2014, reversing a 2.3 percent cut announced in February.

This reversal followed an intense lobbying program by seniors and Medicare Advantage Insurance providers who were warned of significant cuts to the popular program. Some insurance providers had hinted they would drop the program due to the cuts.

“The policies announced today further the agency’s goal of improving payment accuracy in all our programs, while at the same time ensuring program stability and preserving beneficiary choice,” Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator for the CMS, said in a statement.

Again, as with the Affordable Care Act itself, it appears there was little actual foresight or planning.

Read more at Kaiser Health News.

Attn Seniors: Obamacare is Not Medicare Friendly

What will happen when your grandma falls and breaks her hip? Will she get the care she deserves?

This young man’s grandma worked hard raising her family and once the kids were raised went back to school so she could work outside the home. Is it right that the promised Medicare services, the program she paid in to for years, may now be cut just at a time she really needs it? Will the doctors she wants be there for her? Will she be sent home before she’s ready just because there’s no more money in the budget for her diagnosis?

Here’s a new PAC ad reminding senior citizens that Obamacare is scheduled to make big changes in their Medicare program. Cuts that will be made to Medicare may not increase the cost to seniors but will reduce the reimbursement to the physicians and hospital causing more doctors to stop taking Medicare patients. The result will be less choice and a more difficult time finding a quality doctor. Hospitals will still take Medicare patients but may have fewer on staff to deliver care.

Super PAC for America is chaired by Ronald Reagan’s oldest son Michael, a strong supporter of programs from the Reagan era.

Super PAC for America was founded to advocate for a President and Congress that supports limited government, less taxes, free enterprise, a strong national defense and positive American values.

Share this short ad with your friends who are concerned about themselves, their parents or their grandparents continuing to have quality health care.

 Vote November 6. And if you know a senior who needs a ride take them along.

 

2013 Medicare premium increase will cut into COLA for Seniors

The anticipated 2013 1.7% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security recipients will likely be wiped out by an expected 7-9% in Medicare part B premiums next year.

Private analysts expect the $99.90 part B premium for incomes up to $85,000 to rise by as much as $9 while the government’s projection anticipate a $7 per month increase. At around $100 per year, this could cut into the small COLA increase that is forecast.

An additional impact to seniors will be the expected rise in prescription drug plans (PDPs). According to a September report from Alvalere Health, “Seven of the top 10 prescription plans are raising their premiums by 11 to 23 percent.”

Between the PDP and Medicare part B increases, the entirety of the COLA increase could get almost completely eaten up by healthcare costs. Medicare officials are advising seniors to shop carefully for drug coverage to avoid the high increases.

The COLA increase will also raise the income ceiling for Medicare recipients. In 2012, the ceiling was $110,100 and will increase to $113,700 for 2013.

Medicare open enrollment started on October 15th and continues until December 7th, 2012. Any changes to Medicare selections will take effect on January 1st, 2013. During open enrollment, seniors can switch from   Medicare parts A and B (traditional Medicare) to a Medicare Advantage plan (part C) or go from Medicare Advantage back to a traditional plan. Medicare supplementary plans can be changed/elected at any time during the year.

The COLA increase is computed by the government using the CPI-W figures in the third quarter of the current year in comparison to the third quarter of the previous year. CPI-W measure price inflation of those working – known as CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Some Medicare analysts are pushing to have a new CPI measure, CPI-elder, be used to compute COLA as it takes senior costs more into account by weighting healthcare expenditures heavier.

 

 

 

Rep. Price Introduces Legislation to Revamp Medicare Bidding Process

Washington, D.C. – House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) has introduced legislation to make significant improvements to the Medicare bidding process. “The Medicare DMEPOS Market Pricing Program Act of 2012” (H.R. 6490) would replace the current Medicare DMEPOS, or “Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies,” competitive bidding system with a sustainable market pricing program (MPP) that is based upon sound economic principles that are embraced universally by auction experts across the U.S.
Modifying pricing for DMEPOS would help curb costs and curtail government spending, while assuring patients have the access to the medical supplies they require. To this end, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would contract with an “auction expert” through a competitive process to develop and design the implementation of the MPP. A market monitor would be responsible for the evaluation of the design, implementation and functioning of MPP for the purpose of identifying weaknesses or problems, as well as recommending adjustments and changes.
“Applying common sense, free market principles to the bidding process will ensure that taxpayers get the most for their money while seniors receive the quality technologies and treatments they deserve,” Chairman Price said. “Streamlining government to make it more efficient for taxpayers and better for patients is a non-partisan issue. I hope my friends on both sides of the aisle will join me in this effort.”

Romney/Ryan Medicare Plan Would Cost Seniors $6400: Debunked

Per Politico, here’s the analysis of the latest Obama campaign attack ad towards Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on Medicare:

(AP)

“It’s a promise that was made long ago: you work hard, pay in, your Medicare benefits are guaranteed. But Mitt Romney would break that promise,” the ad says. “Replace your benefits with a voucher. Insurance companies could just keep raising rates. Instead of a guarantee, seniors could pay $6,400 more a year.”

The claim that the Romney/Ryan plan would cost seniors $6400 is completely false and based on an outdated and questionable Medicare reform plan from Rep. Paul Ryan – the plan that Romney and Ryan actually support does not include any cost increases for seniors. Ramesh Ponnuru explained all of this in a Bloomberg column, the day that it was announced Ryan would be Romney’s running mate.

Under the original Ryan plan, retirees would have chosen a private health plan and the government would have contributed money toward the cost. The amount of money would have depended on the beneficiary’s age and health status. Over time the average amount of money would have risen with inflation.

Critics pointed out that health-care costs have risen faster than inflation for a long time. If competition failed to change this trend, senior citizens would indeed have been left paying more.

The new version of the plan cleverly fixes the problem. Insurers would submit competitive bids to see who could cover Medicare’s traditional benefits for the lowest premium. The average amount of financial assistance would be equal to the second-lowest bid. So seniors will always have an option that leaves them with no higher costs than now. If they pick something even cheaper, they will come out ahead.

Ryan’s budget includes a failsafe to make sure the plan saves money even if competition doesn’t lead to restraint in premium growth: Total spending on Medicare would be limited to the growth of the economy plus inflation plus 0.5 percent.

That failsafe doesn’t rescue the Democratic attack, however, because the Obama administration caps Medicare spending at the same level. There is no scenario under which Medicare recipients have to pay more under the Romney-Ryan plan than they have to pay under the Democratic plan. The Obama campaign is, in short, responding to new thinking with stale talking points.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, then read this recent memo released by the Romney campaign debunking the claim.

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Romney’s Media Fostered Distractions

For the umpteen zillionth time since the presumptive GOP nominee’s identity became apparent, the “progressive” Party Pravda and their occupy Oval Office idol are attempting to define GOP challenger Mitt Romney in an utterly disingenuous light.

In an article entitled “Romney Turns to Ohio Amidst Distractions” published by staunch “progressive” Pravda propagandists the Associated Press and Yahoo News, Phillip Elliot and Steve Peoples waste little time in asserting their misrepresentations.

The article goes negative three times in the first five paragraphs:

“…as the former Massachusetts governor tried to shrug off a series of unwanted distractions…

…as Republicans face difficult questions about the party’s position on abortion after a Missouri Senate candidate’s recent suggestion that women’s bodies can prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”

…It also comes less than 24 hours after Romney raising the discredited rumor that Obama wasn’t born in the United States.”

http://news.yahoo.com/romney-turns-ohio-amidst-distractions-072025970.html

First of all, the “series of unwanted distractions” exist thanks to the ongoing efforts of the “progressive” Party Pravda, including their continuous attempts to tie Romney to Todd Akin’s remark, in spite of the fact that Romney spoke out immediately, publically criticizing Akin for the remark while prompting him to drop out of Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest.  The only reason Akin’s remark is tied to Romney is because people such as Elliot and Peoples continue to lie about it, and organizations like the AP and Yahoo News that employ them are complicit in repeating those lies.

The joke Romney made about where he was born, that was obviously a joke, that was never intended to be anything other than a joke, has been blown completely out of proportion and given a sinister intent that is, to put it politely, entirely fictitious in nature.

Instead of inventing faux issues with which to assail Romney, why don’t Elliot, Peoples, the AP and Yahoo News write about how the current White House occupant has fulfilled his campaign promises to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, close Guantanamo Bay, and unite the Red States and Blue States into the United States?

Why are they not talking about how the politics of “Hope and Change” has become the politics of “Envy and Division”?

Why are they not reporting the true story that their anointed savior is neither the great uniter nor problem solver he portrayed himself to be in 2008?

Meanwhile the “progressive” Party Pravda willfully ignores the lies being spread by the White House re-election campaign and their “progressive” co-conspirators.  The White House, in a new 30-second TV ad states that Romney’s plan will break the Medicare promise and replace it with a voucher system.

That is a lie.  The Romney plan takes the $716 billion in savings found through the elimination of waste fraud and abuse and applies it to Medicare.  The White House falsely claims they are applying those savings to Medicare while in reality they are double counting them.  Out of one side of their mouth the White House is saying they are saving Medicare with that money, and then out of the other side saying they are using that money to pay for the government takeover of America’s healthcare.  The voucher system will be an option, not a dictate.  Anyone wishing to remain on the current Medicare system will have the option to do so.

The divisive, inflammatory, racist, class warfare rhetoric coming from the institutionalized “progressive” left is aptly explained by one of America’s most distinguished, honorable Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin in Emblematical Representations, circa 1774:

“History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill-suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy… These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened.”

For centuries, Americans have been warned about the storm clouds that now darken America’s sky.  For America to return to blue skies and brighter days, for America to experience a new dawn, the proponents of jealousy and animosity, who seek nothing more than the perpetuation of their own privileges and advantages, must be defeated once and for all.

http://mjfellright.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/romneys-media-fostered-distractions/

Mom, You Did Build That!

Paul Ryan introduced America to his mom. There was more than a little emotion as he told her story. Betty Ryan was a stay at home mom who, after her husband died, went back to school. The skills she learned enabled her to become a small business owner. She is an example of the greatness in America.

Take a minute and meet the mom of our next Vice President. After watching this clip you may want to see Ryan’s entire speech at The Villages in Florida. You can find it here at C-Span. If you have senior friends who are buying in to the left exaggerations about Medicare you might want to share this link with them. Ryan makes it clear that as president, Romney has no plans to change Medicare for those like his mom and other retirees like her.

Democrats Pushing Grandma Off Cliff By Ignoring Facts

First, it’s baffling that advocating for reform of a broken system is anathema to liberals.  I’ve never met anyone who is against efficiency. Second, who cares if the right tried to ‘end medicare as we know it.’  Emancipation from wasteful government entitlement programs is inherently moral and enhances the freedom of the American people.  However, those are the hypotheticals.  These are the facts.

As Jim Geraghty of NRO reported today, it’s “shocking” the health care costs have gone up under Obama:

Health insurance costs for families are up considerably: “Kaiser’s survey found that annual insurance premiums to cover people through their employers average $5,429 for single people and $15,073 for a family of four in 2011. Those rates rose 8 percent for single people and 9 percent for families. In 2010, premiums rose just 3 percent for families from the previous year.”

Then there’s the price hikes in the current year: “The cost to cover the typical family of four under an employer plan is expected to top $20,000 on health care this year, up more than 7 percent from last year, according to early projections by independent actuarial and health care consulting firm Milliman Inc.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute projects medical costs will increase 7.5 percent for 2013, a rate they characterize as “relatively flat growth.” The National Business Group on Health projects a similar figure: “With the cost of employer-provided health care benefits at large U.S. employers expected to rise another 7 percent next year, employers are eyeing a variety of cost-control measures including asking workers to pay a greater portion of premiums but also sharply boosting financial rewards to engage workers in healthy lifestyles, according to a new survey by the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association of 342 large employers.”

How could this have happened?  Didn’t we spend nearly a trillion dollars to make sure these hikes in costs didn’t occur? Oh wait–now I remember.  The Obama administration ignored the demands of the people to control costs and decided to increase coverage instead and mandated that those who don’t buy insurance will be taxed.  I guess Obama’s policy wonks, a term I use loosely, missed the Cato study showing that all states have created nearly 1900 mandates on benefits coverages.  The result was an incremental increase in health care costs. It didn’t work at the state level.  It won’t work with a federal mandate steroids.

Medicare and other costs in health care are certainly the focal point when it comes to getting our fiscal house in order. We must also understand that when these programs were instituted competent medicine was never factored into the equation.  The average length of time between retirement and death was two years.  That has now increased by two decades. For the next two decades–10,000 baby boomers will become eligible receive Medicare and Social Security benefits in their respective states.  In addition, the very elderly, people who are 85 or older, as a percentage, is the fastest growing demographic in the United States.  A lot of these people are living with chronic illnesses that would have wiped them out ten to fifteen years ago.  With the dismal statistics eventually showing a paltry 2.1 workers supporting each retiree, it’s time for liberals to recognize that reform is needed.

Instead, they demonize Republicans for trying to get Medicare and health care costs under control via free market reforms.  I think the depraved reality is that liberals would rather see grandma go off the cliff than sacrifice the last bastion of liberal social achievement. An achievement that was temporary– which is the case with most socialist initiatives.  However, in light of the data showing the ‘graying’ of America, the left has resorted to misinforming the public.  Otherwise known as MediSCARING– which was demonstrated by the president when he addressed a crowd in Iowa this week.

As Carol E. Lee of the Wall Street Journal reported today, the president reiterated his Davy Crockett stance on the issue.  “I have strengthened Medicare, Mr. Obama told a crowd of 3,000 people on the last of his three days in Iowa on a campaign swing. He said Mr. Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, would turn Medicare into a voucher program that could cost seniors $6,400 more a year…their plan ends Medicare as we know it, Mr. Obama said.”

However, Phil Kerpin wrote today that:

Obama has already cut $716 billion from Medicare to fund his new health care entitlement, and would cap Medicare growth going forward at the rate of GDP growth plus 0.5 percent. Those cuts will run into the trillions of dollars in the second decade under Obama’s program, and will be implemented principally by turning over control of health care decisions to bureaucrats who will be empowered to deny people the care they need.

The Ryan plan implements the same cap on overall Medicare spending, but achieves it by injecting individual choice and competition into the program, allowing patients to choose between traditional fee-for-service Medicare and competing private plans.

However, according to Andres Ramirez, Vice-Chair of the DNC Hispanic Caucus, those cuts are “not necessary or essential in the Medicare budget.”

Whatever happened to the president’s call for a serious conversation about this subject? Well, when you re-election bid is marred by a failed health care reform , increased debt, and unemployment remaining above 8% for over 40 straight months, you have to misinform  your way back into office–even if it means your policies push grandma off the cliff.  It’s all relative.  That’s liberal thinking 101.  In all, I find it sickening that liberals would sacrifice an entire demographic for political points and plunge this nation into fiscal ruin.  Some say the Tea Party did that with the debt ceiling crisis last summer, but that’s a frivolous assessment.  We never would have reached that point if liberal Democrats and squishy Republicans didn’t engage in their orgy of spending.  The Tea Party was trying to save the nation, which Obama is certainly not interested in doing in the slightest.

P.S. Democrats should note that seniors were Romney’s biggest supporters in Florida.  However, we’ll have to see how they respond to Paul Ryan. Nevertheless, it points to the fact that even seniors understand the perils our entitlement system is facing.

A. Quinnipiac (July) ALL VOTERS: Obama 51% Romney 45%

Seniors: Romney 56% Obama 41%

B. Survey USA (July) ALL VOTERS: Obama 48% Romney 43%

Seniors: Romney 53% Obama 43%

C. Mason-Dixon (July) ALL VOTERS: Obama 46% Romney 45%

Seniors: Romney 47% Obama 42%

D. Quinnipiac (May) ALL VOTERS: Romney 44% Obama 43%

Seniors: Romney 49% Obama 37%

E. Fox News (April) ALL VOTERS: Obama 45% Romney 43%

Seniors: Romney 52% Obama 40%

Cross-posted at RightWingNews

It Would Be ‘Priceless’ If Romney Admitted He Was Wrong

John C. Goodman challenges Americans to rethink healthcare in his book from the Independent Institute, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision that determined that the individual mandate was constitutional, there has been much talk about “repeal and replace.” That has lead to the question, what does the GOP have to offer to replace Obamacare?

While Goodman’s suggestions throughout Priceless should probably form the basis of any GOP plan, it’s questionable whether or not that will actually happen. The book is necessarily repetitive, because it suggests a very radical change from what we currently have. Bluntly, the concept of people paying for routine healthcare at a market rate with their own money could be considered frightening, especially to seniors on a fixed income. But, one must keep in mind that Goodman is a long-standing proponent of Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s), and his plan is that people rely HSA’s for healthcare costs not covered by real insurance. In his plan, health insurance would resemble casualty insurance, and would primarily be there to cover major health care expenses.

Radical as his theories may be, Goodman has managed to get the endorsements of a couple former CBO Directors, and a former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, based on posted reviews. Well, it would be a better sign if those officials were still working in their respective agencies, and stated publicly that they agreed with his ideas. Of course there are some GOP politicians that have come out saying that they are impressed with Goodman’s book and theories. But there is nothing from Mitt Romney. That’s not surprising, since Goodman has used Romney’s healthcare reform in Massachusetts as a policy poster child of what not to do – or an example of coming attractions nationwide under Obamacare. Either way, it is anything but praise, like the following:

In fact, there is nothing in the legislation [the Affordable Care Act] that makes “healthcare a right.” Nor is there anything in the new law that makes the role of government more just or fair. To the contrary, a lot of knowledgeable people (not just conservative critics) predict that access to care is going to be more difficult for our most vulnerable populations. That appears to have been the experience in Massachusetts, which President Obama cites as the model for the new federal reforms. True enough, Massachusetts cut the number of uninsured in that state in half through then-Governor Mitt Romney’s health reform. But while expanding the demand for care, the state did nothing to increase supply. More people than ever are trying to get care, but because there has been no increase in medical services, it is more difficult than ever to actually see a doctor.

Far from being fair, the new federal health law will give some people health insurance subsidies that are as much as $20,000 more than the subsidies available to other people at the same level of income.

Right after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Obama administration health advisers Robert Kocher, Ezekiel Emanuel, and Nancy-Ann DeParle announced that the new health reform law “guarantees access to healthcare for all Americans.”

In fact, nothing in the act guarantees access to care for any American, let alone all Americans. Far from it. Again, take Massachusetts as the precedent. The waiting time to see a new family practice doctor in Boston is longer than in any other major US city. In a sense, a new patient seeking care in Boston has less acess to care than new patients everywhere else.

Fairly harsh words for Romney’s healthcare reform that the campaign has undoubtedly been trying to figure out precisely how to deal with on the road. But, there’s one option, albeit unlikely. Why not admit that the Massachusetts health care reform law was a mistake? It’s not like there’s any shortage of factual proof to back that assertion, since Goodman has already taken the time to not only find it, but also expound on it. Sure, it’s off the reservation for a candidate to admit flaws unless there is absolutely no other option. The Romney camp isn’t there, but this isn’t a typical situation either.

While Obamacare has some popular features, in general it is disliked by a majority of Americans. Now that the actual costs for the program are becoming more clear, the need to come up with “something better” should be high on the list of things to do for the Romney folks. Saying that repealing Obamacare on day one isn’t enough – back to that whole GOP “repeal and replace” theme. Goodman’s plan is to move healthcare to a market-driven system, and this is something that a good businessman can manage much better than a typical politician. The left has been hammering on Romney’s background at Bain Capital in an attempt to portray him as an out-of-touch corporate man. But if the GOP “replace” plan was to slowly shift healthcare and health insurance to a true business model, even a past as the most ruthless of corporate marauders could be sold as an asset.

Goodman points out that the primary problem with healthcare is the fact that there is no real price for anything in the industry. Because of this, this complex system does not behave like any other economic system. Contrary to what policy makers would like to have people believe, the problem of increasing healthcare costs is not the amount of money being paid to providers. The problem lies in the fact that people are encouraged to over-consume healthcare services when they are healthy, and under-utilize services when they are ill. This is the direct result of insurance companies catering to the healthy, primarily because their care costs less. Because people are not directly paying for services rendered, and have no real control of healthcare dollars, there is no incentive for them to be frugal in their consumption of healthcare. Bureaucracy has created an environment of wasteful spending, and perverse incentives that keep those that need care the most from actually getting it at all, or at the very least, getting it in the most cost effective way possible. Priceless, while a repetitive text, should be considered required reading for anyone that honestly wants to learn about what ails our current healthcare system, and what problems Obamacare will undoubtedly exacerbate in the near future.

Obama claimed that he made history with his landmark healthcare legislation. If Romney could manage to be daring enough to publicly admit that his Massachusetts plan is fundamentally flawed, and offer a solution along the lines of those offered by Goodman, the upcoming election could end up re-writing that historical moment. The Supreme Court left this issue squarely on the shoulders of the politicians, and that should be interpreted as a call to the GOP to declare open season on failed Obama policies in healthcare, and everything else. The only wrong answers are already on the books thanks to Obama. It remains to be seen whether or not Romney will have the courage to stand up and offer something more than just a promise to undo Obamacare on day one. What about day two?

South of the Border, Down Washington Way

Doing business in the US and Mexico has a number of similarities, although the medium of exchange is sometimes different.

Here’s an outrage: sleazy government officials approach a major business interest and want to enter into “negotiations.” The officials casually mention, “You’ve got a nice little business here. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”

Both sides know the business needs permits to operate, current regulations could be changed or delayed and the bureaucracy’s normally glacial pace could begin to approach that of plate tectonics. All it takes is a little ill will on the government side and costs and delays start to escalate for the business side. And there’s no one to complain to for obvious reasons.

The government officials say this doesn’t have to happen. We can all cooperate for “the greater good.” Spend a little money now and it will pay off tenfold in the future. Everybody’s happy. It’s just a cost of doing business in this locale.

Yeah, yeah, you’re thinking: Wal–Mart in Mexico. Old news. The bad guys have already been treed in Bentonville.

But it’s not old news and it’s not in Mexico. It’s how Obamacare was passed in Washington, DC.

The Washington Times reports that internal Obama administration documents just released by House Republicans reveal “those negotiations violated the promises of transparency Mr. Obama made during his 2008 campaign.” Well whoop–tee–do. My question is: why didn’t those “negotiations” violate the law?

Let’s compare the two stories. In “progressive” circles all cultures are relative until a non–union US corporation decides to ‘go native,’ so to speak, and conform to the cultural norms where it’s attempting to do business.

Wal–Mart is now in a heap of trouble for potentially violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Specifically, Wal–Mart is accused of paying “mordida” translated as the “little bite” to local officials. These bribes meant the officials didn’t “lose” paperwork, invent environmental problems or arbitrarily change the rules for building permits in the middle of the process. “Mordida” is a way of life when dealing with officialdom in Mexico, as many US drivers who’ve received a traffic ticket South of the border know from personal experience.

As a result, Wal–Mart’s Mexican division rapidly built stores all across the country and became the fastest growing part of the corporation with one in five stores now located in Mexico lindo.

Now compare that with the Obama administration “negotiations.” The Washington Times reports White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina and health care honcho Nancy–Ann DeParle met with major drug company representatives and told them that if the drug companies didn’t publicly support passage of Obamacare, the administration would demand a 15 percent rebate on Medicare drugs and urge Congress remove the tax deduction for consumer advertising. Times reporters estimate this would have cost drug companies $100 billion over the next decade.

This little problem went away, just like Mexican permit difficulties, when drug companies agreed to changes in Medicaid and new fees that would raise $80 billion to offset Obamacare costs. And drug companies also agreed to spend millions of their own money on an ad campaign supporting “healthcare reform.” As a bonus, druggies also got a new captive market and Obama dropped support for importing cheaper Canadian drugs.

Right here you’ve got your quids and your pro quos. In Texas, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a doyen of “progressive” circles, indicted Attorney General Jim Mattox for fund–raising calls that weren’t nearly as blatant as these “negotiations.” Yet it’s business as usual in the capital as Attorney General Eric Holder spends his time attempting a posthumous indictment of Pitchfork Ben Tillman.

Here’s another similarity between the two cases. In Mexico not one government official went public when Wal–Mart money crossed his palm, which is saying something because even in the District of Columbia’s government you can occasionally stumble across an honest man. And of course Wal–Mart paid because that’s how one gets things done in a corrupt environment.

Similarly, not one White House minion felt the least bit unclean about participating in the Obama protection racket and the drug companies paid because that’s how you get things done in a Chicago administration.

Once you get past the general atmosphere of third–world sleaziness, the really insulting fact is the Mexicans got the better deal!

Wal–Mart is the largest employer in Mexico and it is planning to add an additional 23,000 new jobs. Mexican shoppers have new, modern stores with “everyday low prices” and senior citizens asking if you “want a sticker on that” when you enter the store.

On the other hand, US taxpayers are going to get a health care system that will soon resemble Mexico’s along with ballooning Obamacare deficits and fees the drug companies will pass along to them.

Progressive moralizers passed the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act to protect the third–world from its own culture. When are they going to get around to passing a Corrupt Domestic Practices Act to protect us from “negotiations” like this?

Europe Won’t Work in America

Spain’s economy is under such duress that the country is prepared to request a 40 billion Euro cash injection from the Euro zone this weekend. The request comes after Fitch Ratings reduced Spain’s credit by three notches on Thursday. This move will make Spain the fourth country to need a bailout since the European debt crisis began. The Spanish banking sector’s weakness and contagion from Greece’s debt crisis have put Spain’s economy in such a precarious position that the International Monetary Fund reported a need for 90 billion Euros to entirely cleanse Spain’s banking sector.

Much has been said about the problems of Greece and how those problems will impact the Eurozone. However, the size of Spain’s economy is over four times that of Greece’s. Spain’s 11.5% share of the Euro zone’s GDP has a far greater impact on European finances than does Greece’s 2.5%.

What the world is witnessing is the collapse of the European socialist economic model; the failure of government dependency. As more people become dependent on government, fewer people are left to pay the cost.

But it goes beyond simply spending other people’s money. The socialist entitlement mentality makes people less productive. As more and more people become less and less productive, an ever-smaller minority of productive people become responsible for shouldering the burdens of a completely lopsided, unfair system. When a tiny number of productive people are required to deprive themselves of the fruits of their own labor in order to finance the lives of the remaining population, where is the incentive for them to produce?

If that is not enough, reliance on a big government nanny state makes people less responsible for themselves, less self-reliant. That is the antithesis of the American way of life.

When European settlers colonized the New World, they left the security of Europe behind in favor of North America’s unknown wilderness. They left homes, family, friends and country behind in exchange for an opportunity to build better lives for themselves. They were freed from the constraints of Europe’s restrictive class system. They openly rejected the European way by leaving.

When the British Monarchy deemed to re-impose that system on Britain’s thirteen North American Colonies, that attempt was adamantly and thoroughly rejected. Hence the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution and the founding of the United States of America.

When America’s pioneers ventured west to traverse the Great Plains and cross the Rocky Mountains they were completely self reliant. They took care of themselves. They didn’t have, want, or need a big nanny state government to take care of them from cradle to grave.

This is the stuff of which America is made.

Because it gives them control over “the masses”, “progressives” have long sought to fashion America after the European socialist model, to make Americans more government dependent. There was FDR with the New Deal and Social Security. LBJ gave America the Great Society, Welfare Programs and Medicare. Now obama forces upon an unwilling America the crown jewel of European style socialism; government controlled medicine.

Every time obama holds a press conference he sounds exactly the way he has always sounded: he inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. his policies are working, but need more time. Congress needs to quit stalling and enact more of his policies. The private sector is doing fine but to grow the economy government needs to spend more money to create more government jobs at the state and local level.

Coming as it does on the heels of the Wisconsin recall election, where such policies were rejected, this shows precisely how out of touch obama is with the private sector, how the economy works, American history and the nature of America’s people…and with reality.

Europe won’t work in America. Neither will an out of touch narcissist who insists on imposing a long rejected European system upon America.

obama, you are fired.

http://mjfellright.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/europe-wont-work-in-america/

The Coming Entitlement Crisis

In February of last year, conservative commentator  George Will gave a great lecture at the Navy War College in Rhode Island.  In that lecture, he detailed two major battles we will face in the coming election, which are taxes and entitlement reform. Despite what the liberal media says about conservatives, we are not trying to destroy Medicare. We are trying to salvage it.  It’s the same for Social Security.  The math simply doesn’t work anymore.  People are living longer through the advancements in medicine. This is a good thing, but it is also incredibly expensive.

When Social Security was instituted, the average length of time from retirement to death was two years.   That is no longer true.  The fastest growing demographic in the U.S. is the very elderly who are people aged 85 or older.  Furthermore, baby-boomers are retiring in droves at a rate of 10,000 a day, every day for the next two decades. This is causing unbearable tension on the already stressed Medicare and Social Security payrolls.

By 2025, there will be a paltry two workers per retiree versus the fourteen workers per retiree in 1950. 

The retirement age will have to go up and keep going up in increments to ensure solvency.  We will have to discuss the possibility of creating private retirement accounts to decrease the burden on the system.  The introduction of choice and subsequent competition are usually effective in reducing costs.  The Heritage Foundation has also released policy prescriptions for Medicare that suggests, amongst many things, raising the eligibility age to sixty-eight.  The premium support that is outlined in Congressman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity is essential.  It injects choice, personal responsibility, and fiscal discipline into a rigid system that incentivizes waste.  In short, recipients receive a voucher to buy a plan that fits their critical needs.  It is not a wasteful one size fits all approach. With this, Americans have more of a stake in how their money is spent on their insurance and reestablishes discipline and responsibility. This is not an alien concept.  During the Kennedy Administration, the average recipient paid forty-seven cents for every dollar of Medicare spending.  Medicare, of all entitlements, is the one that needs priority attention since it carries  $37 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, which will fiscally destroy us if it is not dealt with soon.

Now, Grandma and Grandpa will fight hard to keep their welfare state intact.  They vote more often than the younger generation and will oust any politician who seeks to make these critical changes.  Democrats will try to co-opt seniors, since admitting Medicare as an insolvent program invalidates their liberal ideology, and paint Republicans as heartless. However, the “gravy train” is over.  It may have been great for our parents’ parents, but it has become a gross transfer of wealth from the young to the elderly, which in the end leaves almost nothing for succeeding generations.

In fact, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stated that Social Security is solvent for only another 20 years.   After which, full benefits payouts to recipients will not be possible.  Moreover, the Trustees Report also included the insolvency of Medicare that will be unable to cover seniors’ hospital bills by 2024, which is three years earlier than what was projected last year.

George Will asks, succinctly, how much wealth are we willing to spend subsidizing the last twenty-five years of American life.  That is a tough question, but with new fiscally disciplined and conservative Republicans in the House, under the leadership of Congressman Ryan, we have a solution.  We are still waiting on President Obama’s proposals to seriously deal with this fiscal disaster.  So far, none have materialized.  In the meantime,  America’s young and vibrant workers are at risk of becoming trapped in a gerontocracy.

Retirement Programs-Running on Empty

Government trustees report this week reveal that Social Security and Medicare will run out of money sooner than expected. Medicare is looking at a shortage beginning 2024 but Social Security for Disabled (SSI) will be out of funds just around the corner in 2016. All agree that by 2030 there will only be enough money to cover 75% of the need.

The closer Baby Boomers get to retirement age the more worrisome these gloom and doom headlines become. For the most part we pay into these retirement programs with the expectation they will be there to supplement our future needs. We should be taking note. Something has to be done. And now.

Last year Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) presented a plan to reduce the debt and continue retirement programs well into the future. You recall, he was greeted with a barrage of criticism from the left and seniors were given the impression that they would suffer severely. (Remember, throw Granny off a cliff?) Nothing ended up being done by Congress last year except to further kick the can down the road. This year Ryan again has presented a budget and appears better prepared to argue his plan.

Many will argue that this “Path to Prosperity: Saving Medicare” has faults. Many will argue that there are other solutions. Others assure us that removing the FICA cap (which would be a cost increase for those making over $106,800) should be a large part of the solution.  There are questions how moving funding from federal to state governments will affect low income Medicaid recipients. Additionally, there is discussion whether the new Affordable Health Care law is funded in part through cuts to the Medicare budget.

All the above are good questions. The type that should be debated and compromised on in open meetings in Congress. And yet… there is no plan from the Obama administration. In fact, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner reacted to the funding shortfall, not by offering an answer or compromise, but instead to further criticizing the Ryan Plan. As a reminder, it is over three years since the Democratic controlled Senate has even produced a budget.

There appears no attempt to find a resolution. It’s hard not to agree with Stuart Varney on this issue.  The government says: We don’t like your plan. We don’t have a plan but we know we don’t like yours. Is it any wonder people are looking for a change in administration?

Throwing Granny Off The Cliff: Part 2

 

Remember this?

Following Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal progressives tried to scare seniors into believing that Medicare services were in danger and Republicans didn’t care about the elderly.

This year conservatives are taking a proactive position. Poor granny again finds herself in a precarious position. But this time it’s the man behind ObamaCare doing the throwing.

Some will say the ad goes to far; that it’s not nice granny actually is tossed and that they shouldn’t use the likeness of the president. Personally, I’d rather have seen, then, Speaker Pelosi who famously told Congress they’d have to sign the bill to learn what was in it. A strong argument could be made that Team Pelosi were the ones who did sacrifice Medicare to pay for ObamaCare.

In any case, I’ll be watching with great interest the Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. And no matter the outcome, I’ll be voting in November.

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