Democrats Archives

What Works and What Doesn’t: Health Care

(This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

Liberal columnist Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post, June of 2009:

If you ordered America’s different health systems worst-functioning to best, it would look like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration.

Yeah, he really said that, and it was obviously untrue back then. But that didn’t stop his love of socialized medicine. Here he is again in 2011:

The thing about the Veteran’s Administration’s health-care system? It’s socialized. Not single payer. Not heavily centralized. Socialized. As in, it employs the doctors and nurses. Owns the hospitals. And though I think there’s some good reason to believe its spending growth is somewhat understated — it benefits heavily from medical trainees, for instance — accounting for that difference still means a remarkable recent performance.

He also called the VA system, “the program is one of the most remarkable success stories in American public policy.” Of course now everyone’s saying that the system has been awful for decades, so you can’t blame Obama for it. While that’s certainly true, you can blame liberal pundits who have been trying to suggest for years that the performance of the VA means that ObamaCare ought to work. It seems like they’ll say anything to get their policies enacted. Never mind reality.

And they’re making the same claim as a certain presidential candidate did 6 years or so ago. So in a sense, you can blame the President for foisting on us a system based on one that was, and is, a money pit and an abject failure, and which is utterly dishonest about those failures. They can, or should, be able to see what works and what doesn’t, but I guess Obama is going with the idea that this time, it’s gonna’ work.

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    What Works and What Doesn’t: Gun Control

    (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”. You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

    For the month of May, 2013, the number of shooting victims in New York City went up 43% vs. May of last year. New mayor Bill deBlasio is proud of this. Well, OK, not the statistic per se, but of the fact that he’s made the New York police force reactive instead of proactive. Sure, 129 people were shot last month, but hey, at least gang-bangers are free from having to be stopped and frisked. I mean really, you have to have your priorities, people!

    OK, here’s the thing. If liberals like deBlasio think that guns are the problem, why are they against getting them off the street? I understand the personal liberty issues, and I think they are worth serious consideration, but was any judgment ever passed on them in this case? If not, the mayor is reaping what he’s sown. Well, actually the citizens of the Big Apple are the ones getting reaped.

    Look into those questions, but meanwhile, if you see what works and what doesn’t, and still ignore it, you might be a Democrat. And sure enough, that’s what he is.

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      (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”. You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

      Sometimes people ask what the real difference is between the Republicans and Democrats, and sometimes, for certain issues, I’m inclined to agree; not much. However, when it comes to promoting economic growth, there’s certainly a trend that favors one over the other.

      It’s been said that the states are the laboratories of American democracy. Though more and more autonomy has been taken from them by the federal government, there is still enough that one can look across the country from sea to shining sea and see what works and what doesn’t. So what has the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis told us about the year 2013?

      Here were the top 10 states in GDP growth:

      • North Dakota — 9.7 percent
      • Wyoming — 7.6 percent
      • West Virginia — 5.1 percent
      • Oklahoma — 4.2 percent
      • Idaho — 4.1 percent
      • Colorado — 3.8 percent
      • Utah — 3.8 percent
      • Texas — 3.7 percent
      • South Dakota — 3.1 percent
      • Nebraska — 3.0 percent

      This was all while the nation’s GDP growth was just 1.8 percent. Tom Blumer writing at the NewsBusters website noted that only Colorado and West Virginia could be considered something other than deep-red states — and despite having several prominent Democrats in statewide and national office, they both arguably lean red.

      And let’s not forget, as I covered back in February, that Wisconsin, under Republican Governor Scott Walker, went from running a deficit to a $1 billion surplus by cutting taxes.

      In all of this, you’d think that someone would have predicted such an economic outcome from these policies. Oh wait, they did, and those people are called “conservatives”. So if you indeed see what works and what doesn’t, and still ignore it, you might be a Democrat.

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        Defending ObamaCare With Anecdotes

        You’ve no doubt heard them yourself. I’ve heard them quite a bit; on social media, on blogs, and even in TV commercials. I’m talking about people with their own personal stories about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, has helped them personally.

        It’s great to hear that people are able to get coverage for things that they either couldn’t get covered for before, or for less money. Who wouldn’t be in favor of that, and be glad for these people? It feels good hearing how people have benefited from this government program.

        And that’s what those, especially on social media, are trying to say with their success story; this is a good thing, because it worked for me. Then I have to ask, what do we make of this story?

        William Rivers Pitt, is the senior editor and lead columnist at the leftwing web site TruthOut. He has his own story which he posted at the Democratic Underground website, a forum for the far Left. (Have we figured out where this guy’s politics lie on the spectrum?) He first extolled the wonders of Obamacare, writing about his experience in getting signed up. System goes down in the middle of the session. No problem. Call the 800 number and finish the process there. “No. Big. Deal. Thanks, Obama.” That’s how he signs off that post.

        And then reality set in. In another post later on, he relates his experience, not with signing up for Obamacare, but actually trying to use it.

        What I’ve learned after a three-month war with these fiends: the ACA says the insurance companies cannot deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, which is true as far as it goes. But they can deny coverage for the life-saving medications necessary to treat those conditions. The insurance company I signed up with through the ACA exchange just denied coverage of my wife’s multiple sclerosis medication. We’re "covered," to the tune of $700 a month…just not for what she really needs.

        He signs off that post quite a bit differently. Later he said he feels like a dupe, and wishes he had a time machine to undo what he’d done. His criticisms get to the point that the DU folks stopped allowing him to comment on his own post.

        So then let’s consider this. Does this prove that Obamacare is an abject failure? No. Additionally, good experiences with it don’t prove that it is a success, either. If you contend that one is true, then you have to accept the other, and they come to opposite conclusions. Well then, what does any of this prove, other than that some people are doing better and others doing worse?

        The answer is, it proves nothing.

        Read the rest of this entry

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          Does the Pope Shop at Hobby Lobby

          No, but he does seem to be watching their Supreme Court case.

          Pope Francis and Vatican officials on Thursday told U.S. President Barack Obama they were concerned about "religious freedom" in the United States, an apparent reference to the contraception mandate in Obama’s health care plan.

          The talks included "discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church" in the United States, including "the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection," a Vatican statement said.

          Obama’s 2010 healthcare law, widely opposed by Republicans, includes a provision that requires employers to cover the cost of contraception in their health insurance plans.

          Catholic and other religious groups say the mandate forces them to support contraception and sterilization in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines.

          Just wondering if all those Democrats who have been falling all over themselves over the Pope when he seems to be saying something they like (whether or not he’s actually saying what they think he’s saying) will take note of this rather obvious political stance.

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            The Delaying Game

            Great line by James Taranto, summarizing the latest ObamaCare delay: "If you like your plan, and your state insurance commissioner likes your plan, and your insurance company likes your plan, you can keep it, possibly until after the next presidential election."

            How blatantly political.

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              Since I know there are some folks who deny that ObamaCare is impacting workers’ hours, here’s a NY Times article that notes that even the public sector is feeling the pinch already.

              Cities, counties, public schools and community colleges around the country have limited or reduced the work hours of part-time employees to avoid having to provide them with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, state and local officials say.

              The cuts to public sector employment, which has failed to rebound since the recession, could serve as a powerful political weapon for Republican critics of the health care law, who claim that it is creating a drain on the economy.

              President Obama has twice delayed enforcement of the health care law’s employer mandate, which would subject larger employers to tax penalties if they do not offer insurance coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week, on average. But many public employers have already adopted policies, laws or regulations to make sure workers stay under that threshold.

              Harry Reid recently claimed, ”There’s plenty of horror stories being told [about Obamacare],” Reid said. “All of them are untrue.” Tell that to the workers of this country, Harry.

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                Did Democratic Dominance Doom Detroit?

                I posted something on my personal Facebook page about how one of the booming businesses in Detroit is photographing the dilapidated buildings. I labeled my link to the article, “Documenting decades of Democratic dominance.” Can you tell I like alliteration?

                This bothered one of my Democrat friends who said that my bias was showing, and that blaming Democrats for Detroit was like blaming Republicans for the Katrina response. His contention was that both were unfair. I, and some other friends of mine, had to point out a few differences.

                • The Republican administration wanted to come into Louisiana before the storm hit to be ready when it arrived, but the Democrats in the state capitol wouldn’t allow it.
                • The Democrats at the city level in New Orleans failed to use the resources they already had to evacuate their own people.
                • Democrats have been running Detroit for 50 years. To say that blaming their policies is unfair, is to make one wonder how long one party has to rule a city for their policies to actually affect that city.

                So no, the analogy isn’t even close. And the devastation in Detroit wasn’t caused by Mother Nature, either.

                This is yet another example of how Democrats seem to take the stance that it’s never their policies that failed, and in fact the best way to solve any problems they cause is to do the same thing with more money. That has always been Paul Krugman’s solution regarding stimulus spending. That has always been the solution for failing public schools, poverty programs, and every other idea that just isn’t panning out the way they thought it should.

                Oh, and when ObamaCare drags down our economy, expect the same excuses, because we’re hearing them already. Republicans are being accuses of “sabotaging” it, when all they did was make the Democrats own it by not voting for it. As it is, the need to a revamp of the website, and delaying key parts of the law, are not sabotage by any means. But Republicans will get the blame while the Democrats will throw more money at a program that was sold as a way to reduce the deficit.

                Blame is useful, if it is honestly applied. Using it, we can find our mistakes, and correct them. Democrats will never accept it, even after a half century track record. Does that give you confidence?

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                  More ObamaCare Broken Promises

                  President Obama gave something of an apology in November for his promise that if you liked your health care plan or doctor, you could keep them, period. Turns out what he meant was that if he liked them, you could keep them. And he turned out to be very difficult to please.

                  But he’s not the only one who was going around making that promise. Here’s a link for the occasions where these Senators went and did likewise.

                  SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA)
                  SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC)
                  SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-AK)
                  SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO)
                  SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA)
                  SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA)
                  SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY)
                  SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL)
                  SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV)
                  SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT)

                  Baucus actually wrote most of the bill that eventually became ObamaCare, and was a major player in health care policy for decades before, so his transgression is especially grievous. They were fed a line, which a few of them at least should have known to be false, and parroted it to the people.

                  The American people were not promised a website; they were promised that they could keep their plan and doctor. Will these Democrats pay a price for this? Will saying something so transparently false hurt them at the ballot box? Do Democratic voters really want people who lie this brazenly, or are just tools for those that do, representing them? Will they vote them out? We’ll see, but hold not thy breath.

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                    Suing Educational Success

                    Hurricane Katrina caused unimaginable devastation to the city of New Orleans and to the state of state of Louisiana itself, but it did provide an opportunity to push the reset button on some of the city’s and state’s policies. One of these resets has occurred in the area of education.

                    Last year, Louisiana’s legislature established a voucher program for poor kids who would otherwise be stuck in failing public schools. It received bipartisan support, and is part of a larger set of reforms statewide; that reset button. Here are some of the results:

                    • Last spring, Louisiana’s graduation rate reached an all-time high, with 72.3 percent of students graduating from high school on time, up from 64.8 percent in 2005.
                    • About 85 percent of students using Louisiana’s vouchers are black. In Louisiana, where 45 percent of blacks remain in poverty, this can only be a good thing economically, both for the kids for whom many more doors open when they have a high school diploma, and for the state economy, as more workers with a better education helps deal with unemployment.

                    When he was in Louisiana this month, President Obama said these words in a speech. “Let’s give everybody a chance to get ahead, not just a few at the top, but everybody. If we do that, if we help our businesses grow, our communities thrive and our children reach a little higher, then the economy is going to grow faster. We’ll rebuild our middle class — stronger.”

                    Now that sounds great, and it’s exactly what the school voucher program is doing; giving everybody a chance to get ahead. Which is why it’s rather incongruous of the President’s Department of Justice to be suing the state to essentially halt the program, on the grounds that if poor black children leave terrible schools for better ones, those failing schools become less diverse?

                    And here we get to the crux of the matter. To the Left, results don’t matter if they are achieved by proving liberal policies wrong; in this case, the idea that the government is the best educator of kids. Further, diversity has not been negatively impacted, and in some cases, has improved, so they’re making stuff up just to protect their orthodoxy, and hurting school children in the process.

                    Don’t listen to this administration’s rhetoric, watch what they do. Their politics are more important than the outcomes.

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                      ObamaCare Navigators Exposed

                      James O’Keefe has been exposing fraud with his Project Veritas for years. The oxen that have been the target of his goring have been of the variety that liberals tend to hold dear, which is why, while saying they don’t like fraud, they typically try to marginalize him. And when that doesn’t work, people like Rachel Maddow just make stuff up.

                      The latest group to find themselves in front of the cameras of Project Veritas are the ObamaCare “Navigators”, those 50,000 folks who will, if you need it, give you help in getting signed up for the Healthcare Exchanges. Once those exchanges are actually, y’know, working. They’ll get you the lowest premium, even if they have to tell you to commit fraud.

                      And it’s not just the fraud that is of concern. Enrollment information is being shared with a political group called Battleground Texas, one that is trying to get more Democrats elected. There’s more in the video, and O’Keefe says this isn’t the last of what he has. Hopefully he’ll get to the issue of no federal background checks being required for these folks.

                      O’Keefe’s undercover videos were a major reason that fraud was uncovered in the group ACORN, and it seems like these Navigators are cut from the same cloth. In fact, in some states, they’re one and the same, with former ACORN people forming more groups under different names and supplying people to work as Navigators.

                      Yup, if you liked ACORN, you’ll love the ObamaCare Navigators, because both groups seem to have the same agenda. And competence.

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                        Millions of ObamaCare Broken Promises

                        Yeah, I know I’ve been harping on ObamaCare for quite a while now, but there’s just so much wrong with it. And I’m not speaking of the website. All I’ll say about that is that the oversight that was given to putting that together is the same oversight you’re likely to see on the program itself. How does that make you feel?

                        No, the big deal is the fact that what you were sold is not what you’re getting. You were given some promises about this that were repeated over and over.

                        Well of course no one was saying you’d lose your coverage. Obama couldn’t have sold this particular bill of goods if he’d been honest about it. What we’re getting are millions of Americans whose insurance companies had to—had to—cancel their policies because they didn’t meet ObamaCare’s standards. Yes, you can keep your plan, as long as the government says you can. And then you can’t. Ben Shapiro tweeted, “PolitiFact rated Obama’s ‘If you like your plan, you can keep it’ as ‘half true.’ Which half? ‘If you like it’?”

                        Oh, and you can keep your doctor, as long as he doesn’t leave the practice, or get laid off from the hospital. There are links in the show notes to stories about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is, for many Americans, not being very protective in this regard.

                        And the “affordable” part? Not so much, either. First there was the promise.

                        And now comes the reality. Supporters of ObamaCare, most notably, are getting acute cases of “sticker shock” as they find out how much their premiums will go up. A writer at the left-wing Daily Kos website was floored that his rates were doubling.

                        I never felt too good about how this was passed and what it entailed, but I figured if it saved Americans money, I could go along with it.

                        I don’t know what to think now. This appears, in my experience, to not be a reform for the people.

                        What am I missing?

                        Well for starters, you’re missing the reality of basic economics. And, as Dave Ramsey says, you’re missing basic math skills. What happening is that non-subsidized premiums are skyrocketing, but even if you get the subsidies, the deductibles are huge, reaching 10-12 thousand dollars. Sure the insurance may be affordable, but the health care is not.

                        But it’s not even so much the broken promises, so much as it is the fact that they knew, from the start of this awful bill, that they couldn’t keep it. Regulations within the bill itself give an estimate that 40 to 67 percent of customers who bought their own insurance will not be able to keep their policy. That’s an estimate right in the bill.

                        But Obama kept parroting that promise, and the media kept dutifully reporting it. From the “Now They Tell Us” Department, NBC News now reports this rather important bit of information, now that the bill has passed the Congress and the Supreme Court, and has started signing people up. And this startling revelation was worth a whopping 21 seconds on the NBC Nightly News.

                        Yeah, you can report on how the administration lied to us, but what about the journalistic malpractice in not doing this digging years ago? I’m looking at all of you, including CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and Fox.

                        Why is it that conservatives saws this coming but liberals didn’t? And why were conservatives who pointed this out called “racists” (and still are)? The truth would have benefited conservatives, liberals and independents. But blind partisanship won the day, and we’ve all been dragged into the same pit.

                        Indeed, dealing with the pre-existing conditions issue and lowering the cost of insurance are admirable goals. But the ObamaCare way of dealing with this is, overall, not the way to do it. The Republicans have had their proposal up on the web for all to see for years; a plan to fix the specific problems without upending the entire industry and forcing government’s choice on the individual.

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                          Name That Quote: Debt Limit Edition

                          Here’s something I’ve not done in a while. Let’s once again play “Name That Quote”. This is the game where I read someone’s words verbatim, and you try to figure out who said it. If you’re playing along at home, give yourself 10 points for being correct, 5 points if you’re close (and I’ll let you determine what close is), and 1 point if you get the political party right. (Hey, it’s a 50-50 chance.) And for this quote, party is a factor. Here’s the quote:

                          The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.

                          There’s lots more, but you get the gist of it. Come to the website and see the show notes for a link to the full text of this rant against a debt limit increase.

                          I will give you a hint; this is not from the current debt limit fight. The speaker is someone who has been on both sides of the debate. That’s right, he was against the debt limit increase before he was for it. No, it’s not John Kerry, but if you thought that, you were close.

                          This quote, from March 16th, 2006, during a Republican presidential administration, is from the, then, junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. Of course, now that he’s in the Oval Office, it’s just as reckless, and just as much a failure of leadership, to agree with what he said. You’re likely to get whiplash discovering what a difference an administration makes.

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                            Manufactured Pain in the Government Shutdown

                            This past weekend, veterans and their supporters protested in Washington, DC. They took down the barricades surrounding the open-air World War II memorial, and dumped some of them half a mile away outside the White House. It seems like spending money, during an alleged government shutdown, to close something that doesn’t actually require opening was a bridge too far for an administration bent on making sure you feel the pain, even if the pain is manufactured.

                            Speaking at this protest were politicians of all stripes, standing with and supporting our vets. Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin spoke to the crowd, and… Hmm, just a minute. Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin… Aren’t they both Republicans? Why yes; yes they are. What should have been a bipartisan show of support, was partisan only because every available Democrat either supported this manufactured pain, or dare not cross his party leaders with a show of independence or support of the troops.

                            Is the question of this manufactured pain — shutting down things that have never been shut down during a government shutdown – a partisan issue? It shouldn’t be. And I do understand supporting the President who happens to be of your party. Generally, you don’t want to be the one giving the other side an easy target. I get that. But aren’t there some things beyond the pale? For some, it appears not.

                            Oh, and on Monday, the barricades were put back up. Now there’s an essential service for ya. Seems the World War II Memorial is more secure than our borders.

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                              What the Detroit Bankruptcy Has To Say To Us

                              [This is the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

                              Detroit, Michigan, formerly the auto-making capital of the US, if not the world, filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on July 18th, becoming the current capital of big cities going under in the US. What brought Detroit under water is not really debatable; declining income and spending beyond its means. What is being debated are the causes of the two.

                              On the spending side, I think it’s no coincidence that the city has had essentially one party rule for the past 51 years. No surprise that the party in question is the Democratic Party. Detroit’s current budget deficit is believed to be more than $380 million, and its long-term debt could be as much as $20 billion. Rather than cutting spending, Detroit ignored the common sense lesson of living within your means, embrace the Paul Krugman idea that austerity kills, and died anyway, spending like there was no tomorrow. Well, there is a tomorrow, and it’s here.

                              When tax and spend had to be curtailed, because of a shrinking tax base, then borrow and spend kicked in. I suppose someone like Krugman would say they didn’t borrow enough. When that wasn’t enough, President Obama said that Detroit wouldn’t go bankrupt on his watch, and he tossed boatloads of money at the union-controlled, Democrat-voting auto industry, and pronounced it, merely on the reasoning that he had written a check, that Detroit was coming back. Yeah, no so much.

                              Now, even the Obama administration won’t touch them. They’ve stood up for their big spending principles, in DC and in Detroit, and reality has hit them upside the head with the mother of all clue-bats, as in “get a clue”. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. Consistently spending more – far more – than you have will one day come home to roost. And everyone – both those from whom the money was taken, and to whom the money was given – will suffer. And it will affect the poor disproportionately because the rich have the means to escape.

                              And they did escape, which brings us to the income side of the equation. The riots of 1967 chased citizens and businesses alike out of the city, which only accelerated and existing trend, such that in the past 60 years, it lost 60% of its residents. But the riots weren’t the only reason. With corruption, over-promising and the requisite overspending, those that could read the handwriting on the wall did what they had to do. If you can’t change the government, change your location, and they did.

                              And if you’re inclined to lay the blame at the feet of greedy corporations that outsource jobs, Walter Russell Mead has some information that tends to suggest a group as, or more, culpable. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners. That’s “billion”, with a “B”. But now, these folks, whose union representatives negotiated this package, and now very likely going to get less than 10 percent of that. Like I said, everyone gets hurt, ultimately, with these kinds of policies. Those who got their benefits and hit the road are not unlike the folks who start a pyramid scheme. They cash in early and often, while those who get in later either get very little return, or lose out. The pyramid in Detroit has played itself out.

                              Walter Russell Mead, again, has a relevant warning for those in other cities who still think such policies are a good idea, because of their good intentions.

                              Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate.

                              I would add that the sooner DC comes to terms with this, the better, for the same reason. And, working our way back in the political process, the sooner the voters of this nation come to terms with this, the better off we will all be. It may not sound, to the untrained ear, to be very caring, or fair, or socially just. But Detroit has a 47% illiteracy rate. 60% of its children are living in poverty. Its crime rate is 5 times the national average. The murder rate is 11 times higher than New York City. Is it caring, or fair, or socially just, to pursue policies that led to that?

                              If you continue to vote for those policies, then what visited Detroit will be visiting you soon enough. It may already be in the process of happening. Detroit just got there first. Who’s next?

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