In a brilliant move, the GOP has managed to not only be unable to impose the debt ceiling, it has apparently found a way to capitulate and make it temporarily unlimited:
There’s no actual debt ceiling right now.
The fiscal deal passed by Congress on Wednesday evening to re-open the government and get around the $16.4 trillion limit on borrowing doesn’t actually increase the debt limit. It just temporarily suspends enforcement of it.
That means Americans have no idea how much debt their government is going to rack up between now and February 7, when the limits are supposed to go back into place and will have to be raised.
17 days for this?
And they wonder why people call them the “stupid party”.
Experts tell you that you have about 2 seconds to have your webpage download (or at least begin to download) or the person who clicked the link is likely to move on. We Americans are not a patient people.
So how has that impacted the ObamaCare debacle? Well, since the disastrous launch of the exchanges, there’s been a huge drop off in attempts:
The number of visitors to the federal government’s HealthCare.gov Web site plummeted 88 percent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13, according to a new analysis of America’s online use, while less than half of 1 percent of the site’s visitors successfully enrolled for health insurance the first week. …
Based on a sample of two million users — or 1 percent of all online users in the U.S. — which Millward Brown Digital has permission to track, it suggests that the rush of traffic administration officials cited as the cause of the site’s problems trailed off within a matter of days.
Of the 9.4 million unique visitors to the site during the launch’s first week, according to the analysis, roughly a third attempted to register, and a third of that number — 1.01 million — completed registration. Ultimately, roughly 36,000 Americans signed up for an insurance plan online, the report said.
Not that I’m upset, but 36,000 out of 9.4 million is just incomprehensible incompetence at work.
Yet Kathleen Sebelius still has the “full confidence” of the other incompetent in office – one Barack Obama. No surprise there. No accountability either.
Meanwhile for those that do manage to get through, sticker shock is sure to await them.
You tell me. Robert Samuelson:
The presumption of strong economic growth supported the spirit and organizational structures of postwar America.
Everyday life was transformed. Credit cards, home equity loans, 30-year mortgages, student loans and long-term auto loans (more than 2 years) became common. In 1955, household debt was 49 percent of Americans’ disposable income; by 2007, it was 137 percent. Government moved from the military-industrial complex to the welfare state. In 1955, defense spending was 62 percent of federal outlays, and spending on “human resources” (the welfare state) was 22 percent. By 2012, the figures were reversed; welfare was 66 percent, defense 19 percent. Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants and Social Security’s disability program are all postwar creations.
Slow economic growth now imperils this postwar order. Credit standards have tightened, and more Americans are leery of borrowing. Government spending — boosted by an aging population eligible for Social Security and Medicare — has outrun our willingness to be taxed. The mismatch is the basic cause of “structural” budget deficits and, by extension, today’s strife over the debt ceiling and the government “shutdown.”
You know, we keep saying this is “unsustainable”, yet we keep refusing to face the problem head on and do anything about it.
This little bit of political theater isn’t going to change that and we all know it. The last paragraph identifies the problem. What apparently isn’t understood, though, is government is not the solution. And big government simply makes the problem worse because it sucks down more and more of the GDP.
The solution is both painful and difficult. And, of course, no one wants to face that fact, certainly not any politician.
So the can gets kicked down the road – as you know it will before any of this ever begins. None of the politicians want to be “the ones” in power when all of this collapses.
For whatever reason, after WWII, we decided to change the purpose of government from “night watchman” to “Santa Claus”. Maybe it was the horror of war. Maybe it was the huge surge in post-war prosperity, but like the story of the goose that laid the golden eggs, we’re about to kill the goose.
So what does that mean?
As economist Stephen D. King writes in his book “When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence”:
“Our societies are not geared for a world of very low growth. Our attachment to the Enlightenment idea of ongoing progress — a reflection of persistent postwar economic success — has left us with little knowledge or understanding of worlds in which rising prosperity is no longer guaranteed.”
And that fact alone makes any recovery from this mess even less likely. We’ve been able to stumble along and put off the inevitable because we have managed to have “persistent postwar economic success”. But if you look at economic projections for the future, they don’t show the historical growth that America has enjoyed since the ’50s. They show European type “growth”. They show slow growth as the “new normal”. Why?
Lindsey attributes U.S. economic growth to four factors: (a) greater labor-force participation, mainly by women; (b) better-educated workers, as reflected in increased high-school and college graduation rates; (c) more invested capital per worker (that’s machines and computers); and (d) technological and organizational innovation. The trouble, he writes, is that “all growth components have fallen off simultaneously.”
As it seems now, Greece is our future. Nothing, politically, is going to be done about it, despite the current political theater. Neither the politicians nor the citizens want to face reality. And as it is shaping up, it isn’t a matter of “if”, but “when” it all folds in on itself like a wet cardboard box.
Remember, it’s called the “Affordable Care Act” officially, but in reality, it is anything but that. The purported purpose of the act was to provide a means for people and families to buy affordable health insurance if they weren’t insured. But, in fact, reality is proving this to be the usual smoke and mirrors government usually manages to produce. Not only is the insurance more expensive in many cases, it has a higher deductible as well. From the Chicago Trib.
Adam Weldzius, a nurse practitioner, considers himself better informed than most when it comes to the inner workings of health insurance. But even he wasn’t prepared for the pocketbook hit he’ll face next year under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
If the 33-year-old single father wants the same level of coverage next year as what he has now with the same insurer and the same network of doctors and hospitals, his monthly premium of $233 will more than double. If he wants to keep his monthly payments in check, the Carpentersville resident is looking at an annual deductible for himself and his 7-year-old daughter of $12,700, a more than threefold increase from $3,500 today.
“I believe everybody should be able to have health insurance, but at the same time, I’m being penalized. And for what?” said Weldzius, who is not offered insurance through his employer. “For someone who’s always had insurance, who’s always taken care of myself, now I have to change my plan?”
Do a little math. You are someone who hasn’t been able to afford health insurance in the past. The $1,000 a month you had to pay for your family is unaffordable. So you opt into this system assuming the premium will be lower (Well, you don’t “opt” in, you are required to enroll and pay). And to your joy, it is. Only $500 a month, something you can barely afford, but at last you have insurance.
But wait, there’s more:
To promote the Oct. 1 debut of the exchanges, the online marketplaces where consumers can shop and buy insurance, Obama administration and Illinois officials touted the lower-than-expected monthly premiums that would make insurance more affordable for millions of Americans. But a Tribune analysis shows that 21 of the 22 lowest-priced plans offered on the Illinois health insurance exchange for Cook County have annual deductibles of more than $4,000 for an individual and $8,000 for family coverage.
Those deductibles, which represent the out-of-pocket money consumers must spend on health care before most insurance benefits kick in, are higher than what many consumers expected or may be able to stomach, benefit experts said.
By comparison, people who buy health insurance through their employer have an average individual deductible of just more than $1,100, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
An $8,000 family deductible. So instead of paying $13,100 a year for family coverage that you couldn’t afford (along with a $1,100 deductible you might have been able to struggle through) you get to pay $14,000 (including deductible) before the insurance you have begins to kick in.
What a deal. And that, of course, assumes that you can find a doctor that will take your insurance. Of course that likely won’t matter since unless you have a health care emergency over $14,000 you’re going to be paying cash anyway.
Oh, and don’t even think about saying “screw it” unless you want the IRS on your rear end.
Haven’t enrolled yet? Get on it, dude. And good luck (you may up having to pay the penalty anyway because you can’t find a way to enroll):
CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has been trying for two weeks to sign up for ObamaCare.
Unfortunately as she reported on Monday’s New Day, despite trying for fourteen days including at hours that were claimed to be “off peak,” she still hasn’t been able to establish an account.
I’d like to say this is astonishing, and it would be if a Republican was in the White House because our press would make it so. But with Obama? Meh:
“President Obama said that increasing the debt limit does not increase the debt,” the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee says in a statement. “But when the Treasury department started using so-called extraordinary measures to avoid a breach of the debt ceiling in May, 2011, the debt limit stood at $14,294 billion.
“Today it stands at $16,699 billion, which was reached when Treasury started using extraordinary measures in May of this year. That’s a $2,405 billion increase in 2 years.
“Meanwhile, the economy, as measured by GDP only increased by $1,199 billion between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of this year.
“So the debt increased twice as much as the economy over the last two years, the very definition of unsustainable. The growth of a nation’s debt cannot for long exceed the growth of its economy – which is precisely what is happening now.”
If you need a picture, try this:
And, of course, they’re asking for more. So here’s the question: If we give them more, what will they want next? Answer: Why more, of course.
So at some point, you have to say “no” don’t you?
Well common sense says you do, but apparently for this crowd, that sense isn’t at all that common.
So we do the circus thing, year after year after year and we build charts like this?
Hell, that’s the chart of a 3rd world country.
And the word that should be plaster across the top of it is “unsustainable”.
Meanwhile, in DC, they continue to wrangle over more debt.
Not that I care, particularly, who gets the blame in all of this. Frankly I’m with the “a pox on both your houses” group that finds the entire Congress and the President to be equally at blame. But then there’s the “I’m fine with the shutdown and it is important for the GOP to make the spending point” that finds me mostly on the GOP’s side.
Look, we’ve seen the government shutdown before. And despite all the scare rhetoric, we’re not going to default on our debt. Nope, this is about how inconvenient this bunch who continues to want to run up debt can make this shutdown seem to the voters. The idea, obviously, is to have them screaming and whining enough to push the GOP into their usual position – the dying cockroach, where they give in and let the Democrats have their way. Result? The usual – more spending and more debt.
Anyway, to the AP poll:
The Associated Press-GfK survey, out Wednesday, affirms expectations by many in Washington — Republicans among them — that the GOP may end up taking the biggest hit in public opinion from the fiscal paralysis, just as that party did when much of the government closed 17 years ago. But the situation is fluid nine days into the shutdown and there’s plenty of disdain to go around.
Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility.
“About half” blame the Dems and Obama. Yet, Obama’s approval ratings drop by 10 points from his previous low of 47%. Hmmm. Must be more to it than “about half”, huh?
But the media spin machine prefers to lay it on the GOP.
As for ginning up support to pressure the GOP to cave, there’s still a ways to go:
More than 4 in 5 respondents felt no personal impact from the shutdown. For those who did, thwarted vacations to national parks, difficulty getting work done without federal contacts at their desks and hitches in government benefits were among the complaints.
And the “impact” with the worst optics (and mostly blamed on the administration)? The Gestapo like tactics of the Park police and the “Barrycades” at national monuments and parks.
— Sixty-eight percent said the shutdown is a major problem for the country, including majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (82 percent) and independents (57 percent).
— Fifty-two percent said Obama is not doing enough to cooperate with Republicans to end the shutdown; 63 percent say Republicans aren’t doing enough to cooperate with him.
— Republicans are split on just how much cooperation they want. Among those who do not back the tea party, fully 48 percent say their party should be doing more with Obama to find a solution. But only 15 percent of tea-party Republicans want that outreach. The vast majority of them say GOP leaders are doing what they should with the president, or should do even less with him.
— People seem conflicted or confused about the showdown over the debt limit. Six in 10 predict an economic crisis if the government’s ability to borrow isn’t renewed later this month with an increase in the debt limit — an expectation widely shared by economists. Yet only 30 percent say they support raising the limit; 46 percent were neutral on the question.
I didn’t look into the numbers on the poll, but I’d bet it is a bit Democrat heavy. That said, it’s interesting that a majority within that poll said Obama isn’t cooperating enough. That’s right, that’s over half. Somehow that’s buried in all of this (and yeah, that’s not just ‘about half’, that’s over half).
And the real story within the poll:
Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it.
It seems to me the “blame” is pretty evenly divided. I guess you can claim the GOP is getting most of it, but when you see an already low presidential approval rating drop by 10 point in the matter of a couple of weeks right in the middle of this nonsense, it’s hard to claim that 53% of the voters aren’t blaming the President.
However, if your messaging is directed toward blaming the GOP, well, you just sort of bury that in the story.
USA Today nails it:
President Obama’s chief technology adviser, Todd Park, blames the unexpectedly large numbers of people who flocked to Healthcare.gov and state websites. “Take away the volume and it works,” he told USA TODAY’s Tim Mullaney.
That’s like saying that except for the torrential rain, it’s a really nice day. Was Park not listening to the administration’s daily weather report predicting Obamacare’s popularity?
Park said the administration expected 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users. It got 250,000. Compare that with the similarly rocky debut seven years ago of exchanges to obtain Medicare drug coverage. The Bush administration projected 20,000 simultaneous users and built capacity for 150,000.
That’s the difference between competence and incompetence.
Yup … and all we’ve seen, for years with this current administration, is exercises in incompetence.
I remember when the word of the day for Democrats during the Bush years was “incompetence”. They had to work very hard to try to sell it.
Well, the sales job now would be a walk in the park. Except the parks are closed.
Incompetence – look in the dictionary and you’ll see this administration depicted.
Worst. Governance. Ever.
And that covers a lot of territory.
So went to my once a year get-together/reunion with my old college buddies which we do in beautiful Gilbert, AR (population 33) on the banks of the Buffalo river. We golf, fish, float, etc (well yes, of course there are adult beverages involved) and just enjoy the quiet and commune with nature.
Unless the government is out of money and then, apparently, they just shut down rivers with Barrycades. As the guys said, we’ve seen more Wildlife Dept. people there to stop people from using the river than they’ve ever seen when it was open. I thought they were having funding problems.
Oh, by the way, we couldn’t have floated it even if we’d have walked around the Barrycades (which we obviously did to know this) – the flow to the river had been shut down at the dam as well.
All in the service of government.
And there’s a reason for this – it’s called a tantrum:
National Park Service officials cited the government shutdown as the reason for ordering an elderly Nevada couple out of their home, which sits on federal land.
“Unfortunately overnight stays are not permitted until a budget is passed and the park can reopen,” an NPS spokesman explained to KTNV.
Ralph and Joyce Spencer, aged 80 and 77, respectively, own their home, but the government owns the land on which it sits.
“I had to be sure and get his walker and his scooter that he has to go in,” Joyce Spencer told the local news outlet. “We’re not hurt in any way except it might cost me if I have to go buy more pants.”
Similarly, the NPS forced privately-operated inns on the Blue Ridge Parkway to close during the shut down.
“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can,” an unnamed park ranger told the Washington Times. “It’s disgusting.”
It is indeed disgusting. And, it just goes to illustrate how much we’ve let government control our lives.
There’s a backlash in all of this. I’m not sure exactly how it will play out, but I can say that normally mellow men of my acquaintence who don’t particularly pay attention to politics were highly incensed this weekend. “How”, one of them demanded, “can government shut down a river that was here before man existed!?”
Not that it should come as any surprise to those familiar with our president. Nile Gardiner hits the sore spot:
The American Left’s hatred for all things conservative has been on full display in Washington in recent days, with the White House and its allies in Congress heaving with anger and indignation over mounting opposition to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and growing calls to defund it. President Obama has blamed Tea Party Republicans for what he calls a right-wing “ideological crusade” prompting the federal government shutdown. As the president put it in his Rose Garden press conference, “they’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.” Obama allies have used similar inflammatory language over the past week, aimed at demonising anyone who disagrees with their approach. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has railed against Tea Party “anarchists,” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has attacked what she calls “legislative arsonists.” Even former Vice President Al Gore has jumped in to the fray, accusing the GOP of “political terrorism.”
The harsh invective flowing from Washington’s liberal establishment has been nasty, juvenile and petty. This should be a moment for humility for the White House over its hugely unpopular Obamacare reforms, which are opposed by a significant majority of the American people. Ironically President Obama turns the other cheek on the world stage when it comes to challenges to US global power, and has made the appeasement of America’s enemies and strategic competitors into a form of art. But he acts in a truly imperial fashion at home, refusing to listen to the slightest hint of criticism domestically. This is a president who happily apologises for his country’s past when he travels abroad, in thoroughly humiliating fashion for the United States, but cannot bring himself to acknowledge that his own policies might be wrong.
That’s exactly right. And he makes it clear he’s not going to take a leadership role – like a petulant child, he’ll just refuse to deal with others. Fred Barnes points out the obvious:
Presidents have two roles. In the current impasse, Mr. Obama emphasizes his partisan role as leader of the Democratic Party. It’s a legitimate role. But as president, he’s the only national leader elected by the entire nation. He alone represents all the people. And this second, nonpartisan role takes precedence in times of trouble, division or dangerous stalemate. A president is expected to take command. Mr. Obama hasn’t done that.
The extent to which he has abdicated this role shows up in his speeches. On the eve of the shutdown, he warned that a government closure “will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away.” Defunding or delaying his health-care program—the goal of Republicans—would have even worse consequences, he suggested. “Tens of thousands of Americans die every single year because they don’t have access to affordable health care,” Mr. Obama said.
In an appearance in the White House pressroom, he said that “military personnel—including those risking their lives overseas for us right now—will not get paid on time” should Republicans force a shutdown. At an appearance in Largo, Md., the president accused Republicans of “threatening steps that would actually badly hurt our economy . . . Even if you believe that ObamaCare somehow was going to hurt the economy, it won’t hurt the economy as bad as a government shutdown.”
Yet as he was predicting widespread suffering, Mr. Obama steadfastly refused to negotiate with Republicans. He told House Speaker John Boehner in a phone call that he wouldn’t be talking to him anymore. With the shutdown hours away, he called Mr. Boehner again. He still didn’t negotiate and said he wouldn’t on the debt limit either.
Mr. Obama has made Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid his surrogate in the conflict with Republicans. Mr. Reid has also declined to negotiate. In fact, Politico reported that when the president considered meeting with Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, along with the two Democratic congressional leaders, Mr. Reid said he wouldn’t attend and urged Mr. Obama to abandon the idea. The president did just that.
The man is a presidential bust – and I don’t mean the type that sits on a pedestal. He’s never had it, he will never have it and we’re going to continue to suffer because instead of any leadership qualities the only thing this man can boast is petty partisanship. He’s a master at that. He’s essentially said that he’ll not negotiate and he’ll use his bully pulpit to insult and degrade his opposition.
Until he steps up and assumes that role – this is his shutdown.
The sun is out, the birds are chirping, the day is beautiful and … the government is shut down. I’m not sure, but that may be adding to the beauty of the day.
Meanwhile this is ObamaCare’s first day. Unfortunately, ObamaCare isn’t quite ready.
On Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pleaded for patience during a briefing with reporters, acknowledging there would probably be some site issues in the coming days and weeks as the administration moves forward on the sweeping program known as Obamacare. She likened the inevitable fixes to software updates on Apple products such as the iPhone or iPad.
“No one is calling on Apple to not sell devices for a year or to get out of the business because the whole thing is a failure,” she said. “Everyone just assumes there’s a problem, they’ll fix it, let’s move on. . . . Hopefully, they’ll give us the same slack as they give Apple.”
Apple. She dares to compare this monstrosity to Apple? Really?
Here’s the reason that comparison doesn’t even begin to hold water:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has had since March 2010 to prepare for open enrollment’s October 2013 rollout. Besides churning out thousands of pages of regulations, what have she and her army been doing?
Someone performing as Sebelius has in the private sector would have been fired at least a year ago, when it become obvious that her implementation plan — having already missed critical deadlines almost two years ago – was still hopelessly behind.
However, this would have been an admission of failure during an election year.
Instead, Sebelius and the administration unilaterally, and illegally, delayed imposing the employer mandate requiring companies to cover “full-time” employees — defined as any employee who works an average of 30 hours per week — for one year. The political motivation behind this cop-out is so transparent, one wonders if the delay wasn’t hard-coded in the plan. There has been no change in the individual mandate, which requires individuals and families to have health insurance coverage beginning next year or face a fine. So the employer mandate delay combined with the still-present individual mandate will force more Americans into the state health insurance exchanges. The administration is likely intent on making the process of undoing the exchanges as difficult as possible.
Apple would a) meet their deadline and b) have the product ready for the launch or c) some heads would roll.
So why is Sebelius still at HHS?
Oh, that’s right … because we don’t hold people in government accountable for anything, do we?
Which, of course, is a big part of the reason we’re in the mess we’re in today.
Frogs marching or heads rolling (figuratively speaking) might begin to change a culture that know no matter how inept or incompetent they are, nothing of significance will happen to them. And after all, it’s your money they’re wasting, isn’t it?