Free Markets, Free People
You have to hand to Harry Reid. His lack of respect for the Constitution is rather pedestrian by Democrat standards these days, but he is positively the Thomas Alva Edison of inventive ways to flout it:
If ever the people of the United States rise up and fight over passage of Obamacare, Harry Reid must be remembered as the man who sacrificed the dignity of his office for a few pieces of silver. The rules of fair play that have kept the basic integrity of the Republic alive have died with Harry Reid. Reid has slipped in a provision into the health care legislation prohibiting future Congresses from changing any regulations imposed on Americans by the Independent Medicare [note: originally referred to as "medical"] Advisory Boards, which are commonly called the “Death Panels.”
It was Reid leading the Democrats who ignored 200 years of Senate precedents to rule that Senator Sanders could withdraw his amendment while it was being read.
Section 3403 of Senator Harry Reid’s amendment requires that “it shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.” The good news is that this only applies to one section of the Obamacare legislation. The bad news is that it applies to regulations imposed on doctors and patients by the Independent Medicare Advisory Boards a/k/a the Death Panels.
Section 3403 of Senator Reid’s legislation also states, “Notwithstanding rule XV of the Standing Rules of the Senate, a committee amendment described in subparagraph (A) may include matter not within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Finance if that matter is relevant to a proposal contained in the bill submitted under subsection (c)(3).” In short, it sets up a rule to ignore another Senate rule.
These provisions were pointed by Sen. Jim DeMint on the Senate floor last night:
Meh. It’s an old Constitution anyways, and it’s not like we’ve really been using it. Heck, I’ll bet most people don’t even know what’s in that old rag, and those are just ones in Congress.
It would appear the “Gang of 10 (Senators)” compromise bill which Harry Reid has been touting but refusing to give details about would bend the cost curve way up:
Senate Democrats have provided few details about their latest health care proposal, but this much seems clear: Anyone who wants to buy the same health benefits as members of Congress, or to buy coverage through Medicare, should be prepared to fork over a large chunk of cash.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, a family of four earning $54,000 in 2016, when the health legislation is fully in effect, would be eligible for a subsidy of $10,100 to help defray the cost of insurance under the health legislation being debated by the Senate. By then, one of the most popular federal plans, a nationwide Blue Cross and Blue Shield policy, is projected to cost more than $20,000.
That could leave the family earning $54,000, slightly more than the current median household income, with monthly premium costs of more than $825.
The Democrats’ proposal would also allow some people ages 55 to 64 to “buy in” to Medicare, starting in 2011. That could cost about $7,600 a year per person or $15,200 for a couple, according to a budget office analysis of an earlier version of the concept. No subsidies would be available until 2014.
So why are many Democrats so “enthusiastic” over the proposal. Well, let’s knock off all the spin and be blunt about it:
“Extending this successful program to those between 55 and 64 would be the largest expansion of Medicare in 44 years and would perhaps get us on the path to a single-payer model,” said Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York.
That is the name of the game here and don’t ever loose sight of that. Liberals want a government run single-payer system. And whether they get there via a “public option” or expanding Medicare doesn’t matter one whit to them.
Over 2,000 pages (yeah, nothing can be hidden in there, can it?) the bill sets up at least 370.2 billion in new taxes over the next 10 years:
1. 40% excise tax on health coverage in excess of $8,500/$23,000 ($149.1 billion)
2. Employer W-2 reporting of value of health (negligible revenue effect)
3. Conform definition of medical expenses ($5.0 billion)
4. Increase penalty for nonqualified health savings account distributions to 20% ($1.3 billion)
5. Limit health flexible spending arrangements in cafeteria plans to $2,500 ($14.6 billion)
6. Require information reporting on payments to corporations ($17.1 billion)
7. Additional requirements for section 501(c)(3) hospitals (negligible revenue effects)
8. Impose annual fee on manufacturers & importers of branded drugs ($22.2 billion)
9. Impose annual fee on manufacturers & importers of medical devices ($19.3 billion)
10. Impose annual fee on health insurance providers ($60.4 billion)
11. Study and report of effect on veterans health care (no revenue effect)
12. Eliminate deduction for expenses allocable to Medicare Part D subsidy ($5.4 billion)
13. Raise 7.5% AGI floor on medical expenses deduction to 10% ($15.2 billion)
14. $500,000 deduction limitation on taxable year remuneration to health insurance officials ($0.6 billion)
15. Additional 0.5% hospital insurance tax on wages > $200,000 ($250,000 joint) ($53.8 billion)
16. Modification of section 833 treatment of certain health organizations ($0.4 billion)
17. Impose 5% excise tax on cosmetic surgery ($5.8 billion)
According to the CBO, this turkey comes in at 849 billion over 10 years. Let me again stress that the cost is a bogus cost because of the way the spending is structured. CBO is limited to a 10 year window. So what it is saying is that within that 10 year window, if passed exactly as written and with no changes, it will cost that much over that 10 year span. It isn’t chartered to look beyond that. So, over the years, the Democrats have learned how to use that restriction to sell budget busters as deficit reducers.
Here’s how. See all those taxes above? They begin immediately. However the major costly programs don’t begin until 2014. Consequently, the taxes are going to have a plus effect on the deficit over those first few years. Then, as the spending kicks in, since we’ve already pre-paid it with the taxes, it will appear as much less spending than it really is. Once outside that 10 year window, it explodes. The real cost, not the gamed cost to get past the CBO and attempt to fool the public, is estimated to be about 1.8 trillion over 10 years – or twice what is being claimed – and that’s if nothing changes or is added. And it doesn’t include the 250 billion “doc fix” which will put it over 2 trillion.
One other thing to note – all the taxes above are only part of the plan to “pay” for this. Don’t forget the 500 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as well (cuts that will never happen at the size projected if at all).
It’s pretty simple when you look at the numbers – this is another huge, costly program we can’t afford and we don’t need – at least in the form Congress insists on putting it in. Common sense reform – ok. But common sense reform doesn’t cost 2 trillion in “deficit reducing spending”.
I still can’t imagine anyone actually believing 2 trillion in new spending will reduce the deficit.
But they are – hook, line and sinker.
Is anyone else tired of hearing about Sarah Palin? As an aside, she’s ginned up one heck of a media storm to push her book – I’ll give her that. One of the best I’ve ever seen.
Anyway, on to the Senate.
First the semi-good news from the senior chamber – the Senate won’t consider the cap-and-trade economy buster bill until spring. Harry Reid, Senate majority leader and all around putz, says they simply can’t get to it before then. That, of course, gives us the opportunity to concentrate fully on the other legislative monstrosity they’re engaged in trying to pass – health care reform.
Reports have Reid “cautiously optimistic” about getting the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture and pass the bill. How, you say? Well there’s a new strategy, apparently. Forget reconciliation and get Republican Senator Olympia Snowe on board (yes, the terrifying RINO attack). CQ (via Brian Faughnan) reports:
Senate Democrats have abandoned plans to use a fast-track parliamentary strategy to avert a threatened Republican filibuster and pass a health care overhaul — a signal that they are considering major policy concessions to moderates.
The most significant of these could be restructuring or dropping altogether a proposed government-run insurance plan — the so-called public option — that many liberals consider a necessary part of the overhaul.
The idea, of course, is to attract at least one Republican by removing the obstacle of a “public option”. It would also supposedly allow all Democrat hold-outs (Lincoln, Landreau and Nelson) and Independent (Democrat) Joe Lieberman to support the bill.
One possible fallback is a proposal by Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., to create a government-sanctioned insurance plan that would be available only in states deemed to lack affordable private insurance plans. Under Carper’s plan, the insurance plan would be structured as a private nonprofit entity, run by a board appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate…
You have to love the use of “private” immediately followed by the president having to be “confirmed by the Senate”. Yeah, no undue pressure can be brought to bear in that sort of a set-up can there?
Anyway, the entire point of Carper’s plan is to lure Olympia Snowe on board (the fact that it isn’t a public option should bring Lieberman and others on board – or at least that appears to be the thinking):
…[Carper's] proposal is similar to one Maine Republican Olympia J. Snowe offered that would create a “trigger” for the public option, making it available only if private insurers fail to meet deadlines and targets for affordable insurance plans.
What a coincidence. A plan that a RINO could love. Of course the details have yet to be set in concrete:
Carper said he was still discussing how the government would determine whether private insurance in a state is unaffordable. A bill the Finance Committee approved (S 1796) deems insurance unaffordable if premiums consume more than 10 percent of a policyholder’s income.
The government would lend money to the new nonprofit for startup costs. After that, Carper said, the plan would have to be self-sufficient.
Of course the policyholders may not care that premiums consume more than 10% of their income if the benefits warrant that. However, as I recall, the plan is to tax “Cadillac plans” into oblivion anyway – so we can all suffer the same mundane “benefits” despite our willingness to pay for more. So I would think the trigger would never be pulled. Oh, what am I saying, this is government we’re talking about – triggers are mechanisms placed in bills to allay legislative fears and give legislators cover back home when explaining their vote. All of them know that there is every intention, if a trigger is placed in the legislation, of finding an excuse to pull it. And my guess is they’ll use the same sort of math to decide to pull the trigger as they have in computing “saved and lost jobs”.
Secondly, does anyone believe that if the government gives this new “nonprofit” startup money, it won’t save it if it begins to fail? If so, I’ll have to ask which turnip truck you fell off of last night. This, like the vast majority of the legislation on health care, is all smoke and mirrors designed only to provide political cover for its passage.
That’s apparently the developing plan in the Senate. Reid has to get this done and passed before Dec. 18th when Congress plans on going into recess until next year. Your job, should you decide to take it, is to ensure they go home unhappy and unfulfilled with this legislation still marked as “pending”.
Democrats have become rather adept at including things in bills which the Republicans don’t support but because of the overall bill in which they’re included, can’t vote against. The hate crime legislation is a good example – it was included in a bill which authorized defense spending.
Apparently Republicans are trying to play the same game now:
Senate leaders remained at an impasse Wednesday over adding tax provisions to a bill that would extend unemployment insurance benefits to millions of jobless workers.
But Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., remained at loggerheads on what other amendments the chamber might consider. Republicans have been pushing for amendments on the community group ACORN and on the E-Verify system that checks potential employees’ immigration status.
Turnabout is fair play in politics, but Harry Reid finds this all to be just a terrible bother:
Reid called those amendments “vexatious,” “argumentative,” and “not relevant.”
Of course when Reid is adding hate crime legislation to a defense appropriation bill, it isn’t at all vexatious, argumentative or “not relevant”. It was simply business as usual.
That used to be one of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats favorite descriptions of George Bush. The irony is I’ve seen nothing from Harry Reid that says he has any room to judge anyone else’s competence. The latest:
After a month of praising bipartisanship, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lashed out at the GOP on the Senate floor Wednesday when a Medicare measure he brought up for a vote failed amid concerns about its impact on the deficit.
The bill would have prevented a 20 percent drop in Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors that is scheduled to take effect in January.
Reid angrily blamed the loss on bad intelligence from the American Medical Association, which he said promised him 27 Republican votes (he got none), as well as Republican dirty tricks designed to impede Democrats’ progress on meaningful reform.
Just as a lawyer should never ask a question of someone on the stand for which he doesn’t know the answer, you’d think a Senate Majority leader wouldn’t bring something to the Senate floor for a vote unless he knew he had the votes. And Senate Majority leaders normally don’t rely on lobbyists for their vote counts. Outsourcing such a task to the AMA doesn’t appear to have been a very smart move.
Vote counting is a tried and true art within legislative bodies and any competent leader would pretty much know what to expect before ever putting a bill or amendment up for a vote. In fact, Reid missed by 27 – just on the Republican side.
Apparently he wasn’t aware of the 13 Democrats who were going to vote against it as well. That’s 40 no votes in a body of 100 that he didn’t know about. That’s a pretty big miss. And a reminder – Democrats hold a 60 vote filibuster-proof majority (the two “indies” caucus with the Democrats).
Then he whines about things being run by a minority – a game he was more than happy to play when he was the Minority leader.
Harry Reid – incompetent (not that I’m complaining, mind you – just pointing it out), and the opposition’s best friend.
Of course this sort of political bribery isn’t necessarily unusual or confined to one party. It is just a particularly blatant example of the practice that is at the heart of the rot infecting our form of government:
The White House and Democratic leaders are offering doctors a deal: They’ll freeze cuts in Medicare payments to doctors in exchange for doctors’ support of healthcare reform.
At a meeting on Capitol Hill last week with nearly a dozen doctors groups, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would take up separate legislation to halt scheduled Medicare cuts in doctor payments over the next 10 years. In return, Reid made it clear that he expected their support for the broader healthcare bill, according to four sources in the meeting.
Quiz: What was one of the major means of “paying for” health care reform? That’s right – cutting payments to Medicare providers. What has Harry Reid et. al. just promised to do with this freeze? Give away those savings.
What does that then automatically do? Increase the cost of the legislation they’re proposing and making the CBO estimate of cost null and void. It also will most likely bend the cost curve up again (not that any serious person actually believed the current version would really bend it down in practice).
What does that mean? Well it means that President Obama, true to his word about not signing a bill which adds to the deficit, will veto this one if the promise is accepted.
When pig’s fly.
We all know that’s a promise he’ll be most pleased to break if he can get something – anything – to sign and call health care.
And, as an aside, making promises like this says to me that despite all the happy spin about how the administration and Democrats are regaining their health care mojo, they’re still short of what they need to pass the legislation.
Are Democrat lawmakers really this disconnected and clueless?
First Rep. James Clyburn, D-SC likens townhall protesters to – yup, you guessed it – racists. Not just your generic, everyday racists, however. Instead, we’re talking Bull Conner, Deep South, red-neck, Klansman-type racists:
“I have seen this kind of hate before. I have seen this discussion before,” he said. “I have seen snarling dogs going after people who were trying to peacefully assemble. I have seen the eyes of people who were being spat upon.”
“This is all about activity trying to deny the establishment of a civil right. And I do believe that health care for all is — a civil right,” the House Majority Whip argued. “And I think that is why you see this kind of activity. This is an attempt on the part of some to deny the establishment of a civil right.”
Look at how hard he had to work to tar people who honestly and passionately disagree with his party’s proposed legislation on health care.
This is like watching a huge temper tantrum thrown by spoiled kids. Democratic lawmakers don’t see, hear or get what they want and they lash out at those who deny them with the most hateful rhetoric they can muster. In Clyburn’s case the most hateful image he can muster is comparing citizens who have nothing more than a political disagreement to Bull Conner.
Not to be outdone we have Sen. Harry Reid (D-BS), the Senate’s male version of Nancy Pelosi, uttering this unique characterization of the old folks and veterans in opposition to his agenda:
Town hall protesters are “evil-mongers,” says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Reid coined the term in a speech to an energy conference in Las Vegas this week and repeated it in an interview with Politics Daily.
Such “evil-mongers” are using “lies, innuendo and rumor,” to drown out rational debate, Reid said.
“It was an original with me,” Reid said of the term. “I maybe could have been less descriptive,” he said, adding that “I doubt you’ll hear it from me again.”
Nevertheless, Reid worked in the word one more time during the interview.
Reid, of course, is a pathetic example of what we’re stuck with in terms of political leaders and another example of why seniority is a terrible system for picking leadership. I mean, for heaven sake, the man brags about coining a term to describe his constituents who disagree with him – “evil-mongers”.
“Evil-mongers”. It’s not even very good, for heaven sake, but witless Harry is proud of it.
This is what you get, apparently, when you cross our “civil” Democratic leadership (you know, the same one’s whining about the “uncivil” protesters?) – hateful comparisons with no basis and newly coined words designed to denigrate American citizens.
Thanks a bunch, guys. And may you enjoy many more years of the free speech you would deny others. Because you guys obviously know exactly what to do with that right, don’t you?
Sen. Harry “the SURGE has failed” Reid is again in the analysis business:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Monday that the banking industry is “very close” to being stabilized and the nation’s economy is starting to rebound.
“We tend to talk about the negative. … Things are beginning to turn and I think the American people are going to feel that very soon,” Reid said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.
Cancel the “stimulus” and cut the deficit by 789 billion.
Fiscal responsibility somewhat restored (well, except for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid).