Published on TheHill.com September 29, 2009
While all eyes were on the rantings of Ahmadinejad at the United Nations, the United States- under President Barack Obama- was surrendering its economic sovereignty at the G-20 summit. The result of this conclave, which France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed as “revolutionary”, was that all the nations agreed to coordinate their economic policies and programs and to submit them to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for comment and approval. While the G-20 nations and the IMF are, for now, only going to use “moral suasion” on those nations found not to be in compliance, talk of sanctions looms on the horizon.
What will be our economic trajectory? How will we do as we come out of the recession of 2008-2009?
There are those foolish optimists who predict a “V” shaped recovery – the swift crash will be followed by a buoyant surge. Others, more sober, believe in a “U” – the crash will gradually ease and slowly be followed by gradually increasing growth. Pessimists see an “L” – the crash will be followed by a long period of stagnation and no growth.
America’s elderly are finally realizing that Obama’s health care changes are largely financed by cuts in Medicare and are rallying against his proposals in increasing numbers.
The latest poll by Scott Rasmussen not only shows national opposition to Obamacare rising — now it is 41-56 against — but also shows the elderly moving against it even more strongly by 33-59 or almost 2:1.
The Baucus healthcare bill provides for a tax on “gold-plated” health insurance policies. But, as with the Alternative Minimum Tax, once slated to be imposed only on the wealthy, inflation will make most Americans liable to pay the 40 percent tax in a few years.
The tax applies to all individual policies with premiums above $8,750 and families of four whose premiums exceed $23,000. But the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the average health insurance premium for families of four will reach $25,000 by 2018. The average premium should pass the thresholds in Baucus’s bill by 2016.
Published on TheHill.com September 22, 2009
Now that the various healthcare plans are being reduced to print, the financial details are emerging and with them a fundamental conclusion is becoming evident: The Obama plan is a giant tax increase for much of the American people (not just the rich).
Start with the mandate that falls on those whose welfare is the supposed object of the entire program — the uninsured. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average uninsured person or family will have to pay between 15 and 20 percent of his or their total income on health insurance (counting premiums, deductibles and co-payments) before any of the subsidy in the Baucus bill kicks in. Even in the more generous House bill, the tab that the uninsured must pay is very, very high.
Published in the New York Post on September 21, 2009
The elderly were the first group to turn against President Obama’s health-care pro posals, alienated by the plans to cut $500 billion cut from Medicare. The young and the uninsured may be the next to jump ship — out of worry over about the huge premiums they’d have to pay.
Requiring everyone to buy insurance will impose a massive tax on all who now are uninsured. The Congressional Budget Office projects that it would force the middle-income uninsured to pay on average more than 15 percent of their income.
The ups and downs of the published polls about Obama’s health care proposals dramatically illustrate the ferocity of the headwinds he faces as he desperately tries to sell his program to a suspicious and wary public.
Before Obama addressed the nation and a joint session of Congress, his proposals drew only 45% approval (Rasmussen). But after he spoke, support for his health care proposals rose until it peaked at 52%. Then, a scant week after his speech ended, public support had quietly but quickly eroded back down to 42%.
As any good Persian rug dealer knows, you have to hold back a bargaining chit so that you can whip it out at the very end to tie down the sale. That’s how Obama is playing the so-called public option in his health care program. His plan seems to be to combine its abandonment with some form of tort reform and try to buy off some Republicans – maybe only Maine’s Olympia Snowe – to give moderate Democrats enough confidence in the veneer of bi-partisanship to win their backing for his bill.
But it’s a fraud and a trick.
In his hour long speech on health care, he failed to spend even a moment rebutting the central critique of his program: His inability to provide quality medical care for 30 million new patients without any additional doctors or nurses.
The shortage of medical personnel which will inevitably accompany the expansion of the patient population will leave some element – and perhaps all — without adequate care. Like the man who sleeps with a blanket that is too small, either his neck or his feet will get cold unless he gets a bigger blanket.
The fundamental question that the Obama Administration has never answered is a simple one: How can they treat 50 million new patients with no extra doctors?
A new report from the American Association of Medical Colleges underscores the urgency of this concern. The Association notes that the United States now suffers from a shortage of 15,000 doctors – a shortfall that is expected to grow to 125,000 in fifteen years. And, the Association reports, if universal health insurance is passed, the shortage will grow to over 150,000 by 2025.