Are the Democrats Listening?

The Healthcare Summit chaired by President Obama, quite frankly, was a farce.  From what I heard, President Obama spoke the most, followed by the Democrats, then by the Republicans.  By a couple of accounts, the President chided the Republicans for not seeing it his way.  In the end, the Democrats came out of the meeting with the thought that the only way to pass any legislation was by the process of reconciliation, and that the majority of Americans wanted the legislation.  As President Obama stated:

I’d like Republicans to do a little soul searching to find out if there are some things that you’d be willing to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance*, and dealing seriously with the pre-existing conditions issue. I don’t know frankly whether we can close that gap.

And if we can’t close that gap, then I suspect Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner are going to have a lot of arguments about procedures in Congress about moving forward.

However, CNN reported that a Gallup poll states “that a majority of Americans would oppose a move by Senate Democrats to use a parliamentary procedure called ‘reconciliation’ to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass their health care reform legislation by a simple majority vote.  A Gallup survey released Thursday morning indicates that 52 percent of the public opposes using reconciliation, with 39 percent favoring the move, and 9 percent unsure.”

What this is telling me that the Democrats aren’t listening to the American people.  We may want reform of the health care system, but not by this political process.

But the bigger question that no one really seems to want to address is why health care costs (and insurance premiums) are rising.  In my own humble opinion, I think I can point out a few.

1)  Costs are rising because the government reimburses doctors at below cost rates.  The doctors have to make up the difference between Medicare/Medicaid patients and those covered by private insurers.  The insurance companies will charge higher premiums to make up for the higher billing rates.

2)  Drug companies R & D takes up horrendous amounts of capital to develop new treatments for the endless supply of ailments.  I have heard that only 1 in 15 treatments are effective and will pass FDA guidelines, and that is after years of research and testing.

3)  Medical malpractice insurance coverage on doctors is tremendous.  Often, lawsuits are settled out of court because of the time and expense in defending what many times is a frivolous claim.  Those claims that actually make it to court result in clogging the court system and costing everyone millions of dollars.  (Note:  people who are really hurt or die because of inept doctors should be compensated with the doctors being punished both criminally and civilly.)  The cost of the premiums the doctors pay is passed on the the insurance companies which charge higher premiums which are paid by the consumer (you).

4)  Fraud is another cost that drives the cost up.  An example of this would be elective cosmetic surgery to correct a deviated septum, aka, rhinoplasty, aka a “nose job” covered by insurance as a necessary procedure.  We have also heard that many of the government programs have their own levels of fraud and abuse which cost millions of taxpayer dollars.  Perhaps it is this last that riles so many people – If the government cannot keep it’s own house free from fraud, then why would we want them to run it?

If you have noticed anything from the above, 3 out of 4 causes for costs to continue to rise have to do with politicians, lawyers, and government.  Those three have nothing to do with improving the quality or cost of healthcare for everyone, but with covering someone’s rear end.  Should the government take over healthcare, we’ll be paying the government our healthcare premiums instead of private industry, and we all know how well the government controls costs…

To really reform the healthcare industry in this country, the causes of the increases in costs must be addressed first, not the businesses that make it possible for people to even have coverage and treatment in the first place.  And for this reason, Mr. President, you need to ditch the 2,400-page monstrosity with all of its deals and special provisions, and start over from scratch.

* Do you remember that the number a couple of years ago was 47 Million?  Where did the other 17 Million go?

UPDATE: The American Spectator has an article that is very informative and realistic about the state of Healthcare.

Just Another Week?

The new job is keeping me really, really busy.  So busy, in fact, that posting anything bordering on semi-rational will be a challenge.  But here goes nothing…

Tiger Woods’s confession/press conference was predictable.  Period.  He said all the right things to calm the corporate body, and sets up a return to golf in the future.  That in itself is minimizing the damage that he has done to his marriage, to his wife, and to his children.  In other words, it was a self-promoting selfish display.  There are a few lessons to be learned from Tiger’s example:

First – It doesn’t matter how rich, successful, or admired you may be, you may not be a happy person.  Some of the happiest people I know are salt of the earth, hard working people that don’t have much money.  Having fame & fortune does not equate to happiness.

Second – Never build your heroes or examples around sports figures.  Instead, be a hero to your kids, and be the example to be followed (if you are a sports personality, then toe the line or be tomorrow’s headline).

Third – It’s more of a question – Why are people only sorry for their actions when they get caught?  Why not before?

As I stated in a previous post, I didn’t think that Obamacare was dead with the election of Scott Brown.  I just had that feeling that the Democrats were going to push for it somehow.

So now the Campaigner in Chief is going to publish and push for his vision of Healthcare, truly making it the Obamacare Mandate.  With the fumbling of Healthcare legislation by Pelosi and Reid, the “one” is going to take over.  Supposedly, the proposal is to be published on-line on the White House, and the reconciliation process is to be televised.  Where was any of this when Congress was meeting behind closed doors and making deals?

But regardless, I somehow don’t think that a government mandate into health insurance coverage is going to fly with the American people.  There are enough rumblings out there that the President and Congress should be paying attention to, but aren’t.  As Mitch McConnell stated:

Using reconciliation would be an acknowledgment that there is bipartisan opposition to their bill, another in a series of backroom deals, and the clearest signal yet that they’ve decided to completely ignore the American people.

And yet, in the meantime, the economy and the loss of jobs weighs heavily on everyone.  The Obama solution is an insane policy of spending to prosperity with pubic funds and heavy borrowing against those funds.  An author, David Warren, says this from the perspective of our neighbor to the North:

Canadians tend to feel smug about this, for we look south at a fiscal catastrophe that had nothing to do with us. For the last generation, we have been trying to claw our way back to budgetary conditions before Pierre Trudeau broke the bank. This had once seemed a small price to pay for his "just society" (or "just watch me"). Surely it was worth mortgaging our children’s future, and that of their children, and children’s children, for the transient privilege of being governed by such a man. (I can still hear the erotic screams of the women, from the 1968 general election, as Trudeau passed by.)

By about 1984, we had had enough. Michael Wilson balanced the operating account, then Paul Martin balanced the overall budget, and today Jim Flaherty tries to keep the federal debt "shrinking" in proportion to national income. (Of course, the debt itself grows and grows.)

We feel smug because we are watching President Barack Obama do for the United States what Prime Minister Trudeau did for us — although in their case, on top of what Obama’s predecessors did. The U.S. national debt now exceeds $12.3 trillion in a $14.2 trillion economy, and the U.S. government is now piling it on with unprecedented new deficits. The U.S. Treasury’s borrowing requirement is, as it were, coming up against the Great Wall of China.

Little things, such as the heart of the U.S. space program, are being gutted to make way for metastasizing social security entitlements and debt service payments that will soon swamp the entire federal budget — thus requiring the elimination of more little things such as the army, navy and air force. At some point the entitlements simply can’t be paid, without hyperinflation.

I am not exaggerating. The American debt is now at levels that ring bells at the International Monetary Fund. And as the world’s biggest debtor rapidly accelerates its borrowing, the fiscal carrying capacity of the rest of the planet comes into question.

Several generations of our grandchildrens’ future earnings are going to be needed to pay off the massive debt that the Obama administration and Congress have saddled the country with.  And it will continue forever because our government will continue to allocate increasing levels of spending in future years for this, that, and the other.  Governments tend to grow, not shrink.  Thus, the 800-lb gorilla that will beat us to death unless we feed it

So much for change…


h/t to Conservative UAW Guy for finding this.

And I’m still waiting to see what the jobs bill is supposed to cover in addition to what the Stimulus Bill didn’t.  I fully expect to see pork sandwiches slathered with mustard in it.

Bayh Says Bye … Maybe

Evan Bayh, Senator from my home state of Indiana, shocked the Democratic Party by announcing that he would not be seeking re-election.  There are a lot of pundits with a lot of theories as to why Senator Bayh would leave his Party in the lurch on so many fronts.  So here’s my take:

The statement that he was leaving the Senate because of partisan politics somehow has the ring of truth to it, but then again, it doesn’t.  Politics in Washington has always been partisan, but perhaps the good Senator decided enough was enough.  There are limits to what one can take, so perhaps he got tired of holding his nose.  So this is a possibility, although probably not the entire reason.

But the question that pops into my mind is why would he leave the Democrats so abruptly, leaving them with such short notice for finding a viable candidate for his Senate seat?  It cannot be that he’s that upset with his Party – he has a life-long affiliation with the Party.  Is this part of a long-range strategy distancing himself from the increasingly leftward movement of the Party, or something else?  He has a $13 million political war chest just sitting there ready to start funding a political return.

Some of the pundits are speculating that the soon-to-be-ex-Senator would want to make a run at the White House, but after the Obama rein has run it’s course.  That might make sense except that there are some of the more serious pundits discounting such a move, citing Bayh’s inability to secure the nomination from the Democratic Party.  And after leaving them high and dry with his short-notice announcement, that’s probably true.  The Democratic Party has a long memory of such treasonous actions.

What I think is going to happen is that Bayh is going to “retire” from politics, if only temporarily.  He will return to Indiana, and throw himself into Indiana-based issues to help build up the State (and to distance himself from the job-killing high-spending policies of Congress).  He can then return to politics with credentials bolstered with success.  Would he run for the Governorship of Indiana again?  That could signal a restart into the political realm.

Of course, all of this is speculation.  My guesses are just as good as the next person.  It will be interesting to watch this scene play out.