Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: August 3, 2009


The Unread Health Care Bill

HR3200, the House’s version of health care reform, can be found here, at the GPO’s web site, in PDF format.  All 1017 pages of it. You’ll need some time to read it.  It’s dense.  Too dense, in fact, for Congressmen to read, apparently.

Or, you can read this PDF file instead, which is a summary of the high points provided by Liberty Counsel, a conservative, pro-life legal firm, which apparently did read it. They reference the GPO’s file directly, so you can quickly track down the references they cite.  A randon selection from the critique:

• Sec. 205, Pg. 102, Lines 12-18 – Medicaid-eligible individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No freedom to choose.

• Sec. 223, Pg. 124, Lines 24-25 – No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No “administrative of judicial review” against a government monopoly.

• Sec. 225, Pg. 127, Lines 1-16 – Doctors – the government will tell YOU what you can make. “The Secretary shall provide for the annual participation of physicians under the public health insurance option, for which payment may be made for services furnished during the year.”

• Sec. 312, Pg. 145, Lines 15-17 – Employers MUST auto-enroll employees into public option plan.

• Sec. 313, Pg. 149, Lines 16-23 – ANY employer with payroll $400,000 and above who does not provide public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.

• Sec. 313, Pg. 150, Lines 9-13 – Businesses with payroll between $251,000 and $400,000 who do not provide public option pay 2-6% tax on all payroll.

• Sec. 401.59B, Pg. 167, Lines 18-23 – ANY individual who does not have acceptable care, according to government, will be taxed 2.5% of income.

• Sec. 59B, Pg. 170, Line 1 – Any NONRESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay for their health care.)

• Sec. 431, Pg. 195, Lines 1-3 – Officers and employees of HC Administration (government) will have access to ALL Americans’ financial and personal records.

• Sec. 441, Pg. 203, Lines 14-15 – “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax.” Yes, it says that.

It’s actually quite an interesting read, even minus Liberty Counsels alarmist tone and worst-case-scenario suppositions.

The scary thing is…maybe they aren’t being alarmist.

Also, note the tax rates above very carefully for employers who don’t provide health insurance.  If you don’t think those rates are low enough to positively incentivize employers to dump private health coverage and turn it over to the government, then you just aren’t a very astute observer.  8% of payroll is nothing, compared to getting rid of the administrative headaches.

It’s not called “single-payer health care”.  But, objectively, that’s precisely what it is.  Private health insurance won’t be outlawed, of course.  It’ll still be perfectly legal to provide it, or acquire it.  It will just be starved to death under this plan, because employers will stop buying it.  It’ll be easier and cheaper just to push the employees over to the “public option”.

I wonder if our NHS ID cards will have our pictures on them.


Health Care: It Is Getting Hostile Out There

An interesting video here – you could entitle it “What The Hell Is The Rush?!”

It is Arlen Specter at a healthcare townhall meeting being given whatfor when he says that they have to rush on the health care bill. Also speaking is Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. It would be hard to characterize the crowd as “warm and welcoming”.

The one thing I think politicans will hear almost universally is the public demands they read and understand the bill they’re voting on – not their staffers. And until they do and can discuss it rationally and actually bring it to the floor and debate it – giving debate all the time it needs – they don’t want them voting on it.

Now, that’s not to say that some of those making this demand don’t want to see health care reform passed as a result. But I think even they understand that there is no crisis and their is no rush to pass such legislation quickly. That’s a self-imposed political desire – passing it quickly – because Democrats understand that not doing so risks getting nothing passed at all.

We’ll see if politicians heed this message or, when they head back into the atmosphere prevalent inside the beltway, again fall into line with party leadership and try to rush this turkey through.

If the video is any indication, doing so could end up being a very big electoral mistake.

~McQ


President Obama: Media Savvy or Overexposed?

New York Magazine has an article about Barack Obama which begins:

Since occupying the White House, Barack Obama has hosted fifteen town-hall meetings; appeared in more than 800 images on the White House Flickr photo-stream; and held four prime-time press conferences, the same number held by George W. Bush in his entire presidency. He’s sent a video message to the people of Iran. He’s given an address in Cairo that was translated into fourteen languages. He’s sat on Jay Leno’s couch, where he riffed about the supreme strangeness of having his own motorcade (“You know, we’ve got the ambulance and then the caboose and then the dogsled”), and he’s walked Brian Williams through the White House, where he introduced the anchor to Bo the dog. Two weeks ago, when he made a controversial comment at a press conference (that the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly” toward Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.), he followed up with yet another press appearance in the White House briefing room—and an exclusive interview on Nightline. And that was before he sat down for a well-publicized beer with Gates and the offending officer …

Such are the president’s media habits. It’s gotten to the point where one expects to see and hear from him every day. He’s in the information business almost as much as the policy business. “This is president as content provider,” says Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman and adviser to George W. Bush. “It’s like when Rosie O’Donnell had a show and a magazine and a blog.”

The obvious and not very subtle point of Gillespie’s comment is people tired of Rosie O’Donnell rather quickly, especially when she was overexposed at that time, and her star quickly faded.

The question I’ve been pondering for some time is whether Obama risks overexposure to the point that people just start tuning him out? For a political junkie like me, I’ve mostly tuned him out already, since after listening to a couple of the town halls, I’ve realized that what’s going on with him now is not much different than during his campaign. He has a set of talking points, depending on the subject, and you can depend on him repeating them. During questions, he’ll repeat them again. Knowing the talking points, I see no need to watch them delivered again and again – especially when I know most of them are nonsense.

As things develop and more and more people who aren’t in the “political junkie” category pay closer attention, will they too end up having the same reaction I have had? Especially when they see the talking points (“your taxes won’t go up by even a dime”) turn to political dust?

And here’s another point from the article’s subtitle:

Barack Obama’s ubiquitous appearances as professor-in-chief, preacher-in-chief, father-in-chief, may turn out to be the most salient feature of his presidency.

It may indeed end up being “the most salient feature of his presidency”, but I wonder how long Americans are going to stand being lectured about almost every aspect of their lives, especially as the economy continues to tank? At what point do you suppose the majority will say, by tuning him out, “why don’t you concentrate on governing the country and we’ll take care of running our lives?”

New York Magazine, unsurprisingly, thinks that this seemingly deliberate strategy of “ubiquity” isn’t the same as overexposure and is thus a good thing:

It’s a large helping of Obama, surely. But those who think the White House has overdone it are missing the point. In today’s media environment, ubiquity is not the same as overexposure. It’s a deliberate strategy. And it’s critical to any understanding of the Obama presidency.

What they’re referring too is this country’s celebrity culture. And Barack Obama was certainly a political rock star on the campaign trail. But this premise that his “ubiquity” now is going to be a good thing seems to ignore the ubiquity of George Bush in terms of media exposure, especially in the last 4 years of his presidency. Few will argue that exposure was a “good thing” for him. Most of it, however, was media driven and mostly negative.

New York Magazine is arguing this is different (and I’d agree since much of Obama’s “ubiquity” is also media driven and mostly positive).

But just as Americans tired of George Bush, doesn’t this seeming overexposure of Barack Obama, especially this early in his presidency, risk the same will happen to him? New York Magazine may find referring to it as “ubiquity” somehow makes his constant appearances on just about every subject something other that overexposure, but I’m not ready to buy into that just yet.

I’m already tired of seeing him. I’m just wondering if the same thing will happen to the majority of my fellow citizens – and, if so, what political effect that might have.

~McQ


Six months and counting: Team Obama looks pretty pitiful at this point

I have not posted much lately. Busy. Very busy. I don’t see how McQ does it. He’s a machine.

But I have been paying attention, and I must say Obama is as amusing during his first six months as I had hoped, and maybe more. Here’s a brief summary of where he’s at as far as I’m concerned, categorized into various types of success and failures on the political front.

Continue reading


Iran Ready To Build Nuclear Bomb?

That’s what the UK Times is reporting:

Iran has perfected the technology to create and detonate a nuclear warhead and is merely awaiting the word from its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to produce its first bomb, Western intelligence sources have told The Times.

The sources said that Iran completed a research programme to create weaponised uranium in the summer of 2003 and that it could feasibly make a bomb within a year of an order from its Supreme Leader.

Of course, what we don’t know about Iran’s capability could fill a book. We’ve seen it variously reported that they a year away to ten years away – a good indicator that for the most part intelligence agencies haven’t a clue in reality.

However, as we know, nuclear bombs are old technology. The genie has been out of the bottle way too long to believe that Iran can’t build a bomb if it dedicates the time and resources to do so. And it certainly seems to have done both.

So now what?

That’s the salient question now. Let’s assume Iran has a bomb by this time next year – then what?

Well here’s the apparent game plan:

If Iran’s leader does decide to build a bomb, he will have two choices, intelligence sources said. One would be to take the high-risk approach of kicking out the international inspectors and making a sprint to complete Iran’s first bomb, as the country weathered international sanctions or possible air strikes in the ensuing crisis. The other would be to covertly develop the materials needed for an arsenal in secret desert facilities.

Last week, during a series of high-level US visits to Israel, officials outlined Washington’s plans to step up sanctions on Iran, should Tehran fail to agree on talks. Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, and General James Jones, the National Security Adviser, said that Iran had until the end of next month, when the UN General Assembly is to meet, to make a positive move towards engagement.

If Tehran fails to respond, Washington aims to build a tough international coalition to impose harsh sanctions focusing on petroleum products — an area where Iran is particularly vulnerable because it sends almost all of its crude abroad for refinement.

The feeling, of course, is if these sorts of sanctions can be imposed, it will hurt the regime even further by adding more unrest among a population already not happy with the election outcome. And, per the Times, hit directly at the Revolutionary Guards Council, which is the main exporter of terrorism through its surrogates in various parts of the world.

Of course what isn’t mentioned by the Times is the one big fly in the ointment of getting this done – China. No China, no sanctions. And China has developed a pretty close relationship with Iran based on petroleum trade. In 2004 it signed two huge oil and gas deals with Iran. Presently 45% of China’s crude imports come from the Middle East and that’s expected to rise to 70% by 2015. In 2008, China finalized a $70 billion deal to develop Iran’s Yadavaran oil field in exchange for the supply of liquefied natural gas. And much, much more.

So China is not going to be keen to cripple a nation which it has invested so much time and money in developing a relationship with – especially if it wants to maintain its own economy (and keep its own internal unrest to a simmer) during recessionary times.

Bottom line? My guess is a lot of tough talk and fist shaking at Iran, but in the end, nothing much happens and Iran ends up with its nuke. The play will be made in the UN where China has a seat on the Security Council and I’d almost bet the house that nothing comes out of that organization with any teeth whatsoever or China won’t vote for it.

Bottom bottom line – Israel, who we seem bound and determined to have worse relations with, is probably going to have to find a way to destroy the capability on their own. Militarily they’ve been quietly developing the strike capability for some time. And Saudi Arabia, which is very worried about an Iranian nuke and what it would do to the balance of power in the region, has given Israel a subtle nod that it would turn its back should the Israelis fly over their territory to strike Iran – unprecedented in the history of the region and an indication of the depth of fear the Saudis harbor.

But reliance on the UN and “sanctions”? I just don’t see that happening.

~McQ