Saturday, August 10, 2013

Republicans are virtually unanimous about one thing: They want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). But what would they replace it with?

Actually, there is a serious GOP proposal. It's called the Patients' Choice Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). This is essentially the health reform plan that John McCain proposed when he ran for president in 2008.

The GOP proposal is actually more "progressive" than ObamaCare. And, unlike the Democratic approach, it solves problems rather than creating new ones. Yet Republican politicians almost never mention it.

How does it work? Let's consider the current system's problems that need solving:

•People who obtain insurance through an employer are able to buy insurance with pre-tax dollars, whereas people who purchase insurance on their own are basically forced to purchase it with after-tax dollars. For a middle-income family, having to buy individual coverage almost doubles the after-tax cost of the insurance. This encourages people on their own to remain uninsured and to seek insurance through an employer if a family member happens to get sick.

•Group insurance, however, is not portable. So the kind of insurance the government encourages all of us to have is the kind of insurance that does not travel with us from job to job and in and out of the labor market. This, in turn, virtually guarantees problems with pre-existing conditions and lack of continuity of care.

•Further, the subsidy for employer-provided coverage is open-ended. This means people can always lower their taxes by buying more insurance. As a result, most Americans are over-insured -? leaving patients with perverse incentives to over-consume care and providers with perverse incentives to maximize against payment formulas. This is the principal reason why health spending is growing faster than our incomes in this country and elsewhere around the world.

•Also, until recently the subsidy for employer-purchased insurance applied only to third-party insurance and not to self-insurance (say, through a Health Savings Account). This encouraged everyone to (wastefully) rely on insurance companies and employees to pay every medical bill. This, in turn, destroyed price competition and quality competition and effectively suppressed normal market forces throughout the health care system. Although we now allow tax-advantaged self-insurance, the conditions are highly restrictive.

What does the Affordable Care Act do about all this? It leaves every single one of those perverse incentives in place and adds new ones! What does the Republican approach do? It eliminates every one of them by offering a fixed-sum, refundable tax credit for the purchase of private health insurance. Every individual and every family would get the same amount of help from government, regardless of where the insurance is purchased -? at the office, in an exchange or in the marketplace.

People would no longer be encouraged to buy employer-specific, non-portable coverage. Because the subsidy is a fixed sum, it would apply only to the core insurance we want everybody to have. Any additional insurance would be purchased with after-tax dollars. People would be discouraged from buying an additional dollar of insurance unless it was more valuable than a dollar spent on other goods and services.

The Republican approach also gives people greater flexibility in combining health care savings with third-party insurance.

Here is another problem: the current system of subsidies is arbitrary and unfair. It penalizes people who must purchase insurance on their own, and it gives the greatest tax relief to those who least need it. A family earning $100,000, for example, gets six times the tax subsidy as a family earning $25,000.

What does the Affordable Care Act do about that? It leaves the current inequities in place and layers on a whole set of new ones. A family of four at, say, 138% of the poverty level will be able to enter Medicaid and obtain coverage worth about $8,000 a year for free. Families that earn one dollar more will be able to go into a health insurance exchange and obtain, say, a $16,000 insurance plan in return for a premium of about $900 out of their own pockets. Yet, employees of the Hilton Hotel, earning similar incomes, get no new help from government, and the tax relief they get from the current income tax system is less than $2,500.

By contrast, the Republican approach does not force families into Medicaid, and it gives everyone who buys private insurance the same help under the tax law.

The Republican approach is a defined contribution approach. People are given a sum of money to buy health insurance. They may add funds of their own to this amount. Suppliers of insurance will then be allowed to compete in the private marketplace to see what they can offer for premiums people can afford.

By contrast, ObamaCare takes a defined-benefit approach. The government intends to tell all of us what insurance we must have, whether it is affordable or not. Further, the ObamaCare approach double penalizes people who choose not to insure: failure to claim the credit means they will pay higher taxes and there is a penalty imposed on top of that.

Here are a few more ways in which Republican and Democratic approaches differ:

Tax Fairness. Under the Republican approach, every individual and every family will get the same help from government:
•Regardless of whether they work less than 30 hours a week or more;
•Whether their workplace has fewer than 50 employees or more; and
•Whether they are in a union or not.

Fair Treatment of Employers, Employees and Retirees. Unlike ObamaCare, the Republican approach:
•Would not encourage employers to avoid hiring new workers;
•Would not encourage employers to drop health coverage for current employees or for their retirees;
•Would not penalize employees and their employers if they work full time rather than part time;
•Would not favor small over large business or vice versa;
•Would not favor non-union over union firms or vice versa; and
•Would not encourage outsourcing or labor saving technologies or in other ways discourage economic recovery.

No Mandate. No one would be forced to buy health insurance. People who turn down the tax credit and elect to be uninsured would have a higher tax bill, however. For families that pay income taxes, failure to insure would result in $2,500 in higher taxes for individuals and $8,000 for a family of four. They could either use these funds to buy health insurance or give them to Uncle Sam.

Universal Coverage. ObamaCare is expected to leave 30 million people uninsured and the actual number is probably much greater than that. By contrast, under the Republican approach it's hard to imagine anyone remaining uninsured. The reason: every adult can have at least $2,500 of health insurance for free. Every family of four can have $8,000 of insurance for free. Insurance at this premium may consist of very narrow networks and perhaps pay provider fees only a bit better than Medicaid. Still, it's free. I'm sure some will turn down the offer anyway, however. I wish Republicans would deal with that eventuality by sending unclaimed tax credits to safety net institutions in the communities where the uninsured live. This would guarantee a form of universal coverage for everyone.

Minimum Bureaucracy. The Republican bill is only 56 pages long. One suspects that the regulations needed to implement it would fall well short of the 20,000 pages needed to implement ObamaCare. Because the tax credits are the same for everyone, there would be no need for an exchange to verify income or establish that an applicant had not been offered affordable coverage by an employer or link electronically to five or six different government agencies. Uwe Reinhardt has written about the highly complex assignments the ObamaCare exchanges must carry out. So have I.

By contrast, EHealth (a private online exchange that has allowed more than 3 million people to obtain health insurance) could handle the entire process under the Republican plan without spending millions of dollars on new technology ? as the Obama administration is doing.

How can we pay for the Republican plan, especially given our frequent criticism of ObamaCare's unsustainable cuts in Medicare and our dislike of ObamaCare's taxes on capital? I believe it can be done with money already in the system (that is, with no new taxes) even after restoring some Medicare spending and reversing the taxes on investment income.

If I could summarize these huge differences in one sentence, it would be this: The Republican approach is focused on getting rid of perverse incentives and treating everyone equitably, while the Democratic approach leaves the current system's perverse incentives and inequities in place and adds new ones.

If the mainstream media were a college class, Republicans would be taking advanced calculus taught by a short tempered professor from South Korea with bad English, while Democrats would be taking remedial reading pass/fail. In other words, as long as liberals don't do anything to embarrass the Democrat Party, they get treated with kid gloves while all Republicans should assume reporters would just as soon punch them in the throat as ask them a question. What this means is that Obama seldom has to deal with tough questions a Republican in his shoes would have to hear asked on an almost daily basis. That was the case in 2008, it was the case in 2012 and it's still the case today. Whether you're talking about press conferences, cable news shows, or the editorial pages, Barack Obama should be hit with questions like these on a regular basis until he comes up with some real answers instead of stonewalling or ignoring them until they're heard no more.

1) Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan "described himself as mujahedeen" and yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers. As Commander-In-Chief, do you agree with the Department of Defense report that labeled that killing as "workplace violence" or was that an act of terrorism?

2) Do you regret aggravating racial tensions in America by inserting yourself into the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case by saying, "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon?"

3) Americans died in Benghazi and it’s a "phony scandal" -- Would you tell a mother who lost a son there that it was a "phony scandal?"

4) If it's legal for you to unilaterally delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's Employer Mandate without Congress having a say, couldn't a Republican President legally choose to unilaterally delay or stop the entire bill?

5) How can the American people trust the federal government to have their private data on file when we already know unreliable people like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are being given access to that data? Beyond that, given that your administration has refused to come clean about what you're doing and has been caught lying on more than a few different issues, how can the American people just take your word for it when you say that private information about American citizens you have no right to view isn't being looked at anyway?

6) If Republicans send you a bill without funding for Obamacare in it, are you willing to shut down the government to fund the program?

7) Your administration is flat out refusing to enforce existing immigration law. Since that's the case, shouldn't the American people assume that if a comprehensive immigration bill were to pass that grants legal status to undocumented Americans in return for tough new laws, that the new laws wouldn't be enforced either?

8) Given that the IRS has illegally targeted Tea Party groups, isn't it reasonable for Republican groups to demand that the IRS not be allowed to participate in Obamacare?

9) Unarguably, the economy has performed extremely poorly since you became President. Do you think you've made any mistakes that helped cause the problem? If so, what are they?

10) Do you consider your administration's strategy in Egypt, Syria, and Libya to be a success? If not, what did you do wrong that caused you to fail?

11) Early on in your administration, Hillary Clinton rather famously presented a button to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that was supposed to say "reset," but actually said "overcharge." Since the Russians are refusing to hand over Edward Snowden, is it fair to say that the "reset" failed and that relations have actually deteriorated since you took over from George Bush?

12) Are you now willing to admit that a lot of the promises made to the American people to sell the Affordable Care Act just weren't true? Prices are going up for most people, not down. Congress is getting the cost of its care supplemented. Not everybody is going to get to keep his doctor. It goes on and on. Do you feel any attacks of conscience over all the lies that were told? Does it keep you up at night?

13) In 2008, you promised to change how things worked in Washington and bring unity to the country. Obviously you've failed and things have gotten very hostile between you and the Republicans in Congress. Do you believe you've done anything to contribute to the polarization in the country and the acrimonious relationship you have with Republicans or do you believe you haven't made any mistakes?

14) After seeing the behavior of Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, and Bob Filner, are Americans justified in asking if your party is engaged in a war on women?

15) Many people have compared your administration to the Nixon Administration because of the stonewalling of Congress, using executive privilege to keep the truth from Congress, and because the IRS has been used against your political enemies. Do you think that it's fair to compare your behavior to Richard Nixon's behavior before he was almost impeached and if not, why not?

16) If Al-Qaeda has been decimated and it’s on the run, why have we had to recently close down 22 embassies and consulates because of the threat from Al-Qaeda?

17) The IRS is still flagging and holding Tea Party applications. So not only was the IRS's behavior a problem, it still is a problem today. Why did your administration allow this to happen, why haven't you taken action to fix the problems at the IRS, and what are you going to do to ensure that the IRS doesn't continue to target your political opponents on your watch?

18) How do you justify going on extravagant vacations and sending hundreds of millions to the Egyptians and Palestinians when you're cancelling Easter Egg rolls at the White House and pleading poverty because of the sequester?. Aren't you deliberately sabotaging parts of government that are popular with the country to give the false impression that the sequester is having a serious impact on government spending?

19) To this day, we still don't know what you were doing during the Benghazi attack, what directives you issued, why your administration lied about what was going on, whether you had good reason to have such lax security in the first place, and whether Americans troops could have potentially arrived in time to save the lives of the men who died. When is your administration going to come clean so that the families of the men who lost their lives can have some peace?

20) In 2012, you said, "We refused to throw in the towel and do nothing. We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way." Since Detroit has now gone bankrupt, do you think that bet is still paying off or did the American people waste billions of dollars for nothing? Do you think you deserve any blame for Detroit going bankrupt? How about unions? Are they a significant part of the problem in Detroit?
10 Quotes by Barack Obama about islam... sickening...just sickening.
From Conservative 2 Conservative

#1 "Islam has always been part of America"

#2 "We will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities"

#3 "These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings."

#4 "America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

#5 "So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed"

#6 "Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality"

#7 "As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith."

#8 "I look forward to hosting an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan here at the White House later this week, and wish you a blessed month."

#9 "That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."

#10 "I also know that Islam has always been a part of America's story."
A yawn of a press conference by a bloviating yawn of a man
By: Diane Sori

From the man who thinks that Charleston NC, Savannah GA, and Jackson FL are on the Gulf Coast came a press conference that was one BIG yawn of bloviated rhetoric from start to finish.

A BIG yawn when press conferences are supposed to be Q&A’s NOT Obama talking in circles saying NOTHING as he runs the clock down…and so it began…here are some of the highlights…lowlights actually…

“America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” Obama said. But…but…didn’t he just say on Jay Leno the other night that, “What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address.” Guess what…that is spying in case he didn’t know. And if there’s NO interest in spying on ‘We the People’ then how come a giant data mining storage facility is being built in Colorado…how come Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Verizon, and countless others admitted to collecting data on their uses…how come Obama spoke about directing his administration to inform the public the legal reasoning behind the collection of data and ordered the creation of yet another useless task force to issue a report in six months on something that he said the government has NO interest in doing…why…why…why…

“I’m absolutely confident that if [the Senate immigration] bill comes to the floor of the House it would pass,” Obama bloviated on. Oh really…is this man totally clueless or what. This joke of a bill will NEVER be passed because most in the Republican controlled House are smart enough to know that we cannot afford to suddenly make millions of ILLEGAS legal with just a swipe of a pen. Most are smart enough to know that BEFORE any immigration reform is tackled that the borders must be sealed and locked down…most are smart enough to know that Obama is pushing this immigration nonsense (when we just need to enforce the laws already on the books) just to increase the Democratic voting rolls and for NO other reason. So just more blah…blah…blah…

Blah…blah…blah…Obama said he didn’t think “it would be productive” to boycott the Winter Olympics that are being held in Sochi, Russia. I bet Putin had hoped he would. “No one is more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation” in Russia, he said. No one more offended than him…what an odd thing to say, but hey, he has to pander to a big part of his base. And so as America is beget by ‘supposed’ phony scandals that needed to be seriously addressed Obama just drones on and on about gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold. Seems like a deliberate slap in the face to ‘We the People’ after all the bru-ha-ha over the gay marriage issue doesn’t it.

And literally on and on it went as he took on the planted questions he had prepared his useless and meaningless answers for.

Case in point…when asked about al-Qaeda and the closing of our embassies Obama said, “The core of al-Qaida is on its heels, has been decimated. But al-Qaida and other extremists have metastasized into regional groups that can pose significant threats". Uh…if they’ve been decimated how can they have metastasized…how can they pose threats as decimated means for the most part destroyed … done…finished… kaput. Just more double speak don’t you think.

More double-speak in preparation for his ObamaCare bloviations...bloviations where Obama became aggressive and defensive while playing the usual blame the Republicans game. Addressing a possible Republican plan to defund Obamacare he said that, “the idea that you would shut down the government unless you prevent 30 million people from getting healthcare is a bad idea...Republicans have determined that they don’t want to see these people get healthcare”. And we all know that is pure unadulterated garbage for Obama does NOT care about the health care needs of the American people…Obama cares about binding the people to the government for those medical needs…for their very lives…and for their deaths when he deems the time is right (death panels and rationed medicine…it’s in there…read it) for Barack HUSSEIN Obama has bought into his own media PR that he is the ‘anointed savior’ of us all.

Blah…blah…blah…all Obama did was talk, talk, talk as he had to deflect the few questions asked away from the one topic he did NOT want to address…Benghazi.

When that question finally came Obama gave new meaning to the word ‘defensive’ (had to cover his butt you know) while looking at anything but the cameras. And when he said with a straight face that he promised to bring those who attacked the consulate in Benghazi to justice, and that “We’re going to do everything we can to gather those who carried out those attacks” I really wanted to throw something at the TV. ‘Gather those’…’attacked the the consulate’…how about those who MURDERED Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty…how about bringing those people to justice. Oh wait…that would include him. Don’t think he’d bring himself to justice for justice is for others NOT for him.

Obama’s bloviations…his talking in circles as he chased his own pointy tail (get it), made it obvious that he did NOT want to be there…that he did NOT really want to have anything to do with the press…the reporters…or anything, because even though most in the media are actually his rah-rah team, he feared the few who were NOT would rip his non-answers to shreds.

And to be honest, I don’t think even he believed what he was saying. That’s why he had trouble looking directly into the cameras…and for a photo-op whore like Obama that must have been hard for he knows his rhetoric is NOTHING but lies. And after awhile it must become obvious even to him that without his teleprompter it’s hard to make his lies even a wee bit credible.

And besides, he and Michelle really needed that time to plan their taxpayer funded Martha’s Vineyard vacation and this pesky press conference was in the way.