(NY Times) Waivers Address Talk of Dropping Health Coverage

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Obama administration officials put into place the first major wave of changes under the health care legislation, they have tried to defuse stiffening resistance — from companies like McDonald’s and some insurers — by granting dozens of waivers to maintain even minimal coverage far below the new law’s standards.

The waivers have been issued in the last several weeks as part of a broader strategic effort to stave off threats by some health insurers to abandon markets, drop out of the business altogether or refuse to sell certain policies.

Among those that administration officials hoped to mollify with waivers were some big insurers, some smaller employers and McDonald’s, which went so far as to warn that the regulations could force it to strip workers of existing coverage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

71 Comments
Posted October 7, 2010 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. tired wrote:

This is no way to run a nation: 

*Pass bad legislation. 
*Predictable bad consequences loom. 
*Prior to elections, issue waivers from the legislation to delay bad consequences.

rolleyes

October 7, 8:28 am | [comment link]
2. Br. Michael wrote:

Agreed.  This administration has a bad habit of ignoring laws it doesn’t like.  While ordinary citizens can’t get away with that, it does breed general contempt for the law.

October 7, 9:03 am | [comment link]
3. robroy wrote:

I will apply to Obama for a waiver for my small business. How do people think that I will fare with my proposal?

Actually, it is small businesses that have just over 50 employees that are going to get hammered. Will they be getting waivers? No, they will be laying off workers to get under the 50 level (and those small businesses that are just under the magic 50 sure won’t be hiring).

October 7, 9:25 am | [comment link]
4. Scott K wrote:

The real answer to these problems would have been a one-payer system. But no that’s “socialist”! The compromise that put the increased cost on employers was the worst of both systems.

October 7, 10:03 am | [comment link]
5. sophy0075 wrote:

I agree with #1-3. Look at the convoluted mess that is the Internal Revenue Code; it’s incomprehensible, and full of loopholes for those who can afford to buy them. Small businesses, which are the driver of our economy, will be unable to buy their way out of this law. In order to survive, they will either have to lay off workers or postpone hiring - which will, of course, keep the numbers of unemployed up.

As for having a one-payer system, consider how inefficiently the Federal Government runs the Postal Service and the Veterans Administration hospitals, to mention but a few. I shudder to think of how my health care would suffer if a bureaucrat controlled my access to care. In addition, think of how many more bureaucrats would have to be hired to staff such a mission - and that, of course, would mean higher taxes to pay for more government.

October 7, 10:15 am | [comment link]
6. David Keller wrote:

#4—You may be right that benefits need to be coordinated under one system, but do you honestly believe the Federal government is capable of overseeing such a system?  Every social program they have touched in the last 80 years has turned out to be an joke. Education is worse now than it has ever been, energy policy is idiotic, welfare is out of control, Medicare is a disaster, Medicaid is even worse than Medicare, Social Securtiy is Social Unsecurity,  and the Law of Unintended Consequences is already overtaking Obamacare after it has been in effect for a grand total of three weeks. That’s got to be an all time record for even the US Government. And why is it we need 12,000 new IRS agents to look at our medical records? There my be a solution, but it isn’t coming from institutional Washington, DC

October 7, 10:48 am | [comment link]
7. Creedal Episcopalian wrote:

The compromise that put the increased cost on employers was the worst of both systems.

Remember that this is Obama-Reid-Pelosi and company. From their perspective, that’s not a bug, that’s a feature.

October 7, 2:03 pm | [comment link]
8. Jim the Puritan wrote:

This doesn’t seem legal to me.  You can’t pass a law and say only some people have to follow it.

Would my company get such a waiver?  No.

This sounds like grounds for yet another lawsuit to invalidate Obamacare.  However, the preferable alternative is to vote everyone out of office and then repeal it.

October 7, 2:11 pm | [comment link]
9. Katherine wrote:

Are these waivers legal?  If so, the Secretary of HHS has way too much legislative power.

October 7, 2:30 pm | [comment link]
10. Scott K wrote:

No, single-payer was the orignial idea, but the administration knew quickly that it would never get any Republican (or business) support, so it was changed to the less desirable employer-provided model. Which is unwieldly and inefficient, which is why the rest of the world doesn’t use it.

Then it turned out the administration couldn’t get any Republican support anyway, so in the spirit of agreeing with you I’ll say that it is President Obama’s fault. If they were going to have to ram something through without the Republicans anyway, they should have made it single-payer. Now they’re reaping the fruit of their weakness.

October 7, 2:31 pm | [comment link]
11. J. Champlin wrote:

#5—that is a reflex argument that needs to be allowed to go to an old age home (possibly either run by the government or depending on Medicare reimbursement).  Medicare is a hugely popular entitlement (thus the absurdity frequently screamed at town hall meetings of a year ago: “Obama is a socialist engineering a government take over!  And don’t touch my Medicare!”).  The post office exists as a competitive business, with problems admittedly, but then it has to deliver the regular mail and FedEx doesn’t.  I have yet to meet the vet who doesn’t utilize their VA coverage; and there have many steps taken to improve service delivery.  In the meantime, it’s not exactly like our hospitals and insurance coverage are models of rationality.

The one-liner that the Federal Government runs everything inefficiently is a cop-out; it’s just one more excuse not to think about difficult problems.

October 7, 3:17 pm | [comment link]
12. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Only a true believer could believe, “The real answer to these problems would have been a one-payer system.”.  Does it not strike someone as curious that somehow in the whole universe that it is only healthcare that cannot benefit from the competitive capitalistic marketplace of ideas and offerings?
As better minds have said, Single Payer Healthcare is exactly what we need if you love the efficiency of the US Postal Service combined with the compassion of the IRS.

October 7, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
13. Scott K wrote:

Capt. Deacon, you are confusing one payer with one provider. Does your employer provide your direct medical care?

And I agree with #11 above. My Dad gets his medical care through the VA and raves about it.

By the way, I am a benefits manager at a Fortune 500 company so I’m a little familiar with the issues of having health care covereage tied to one’s employer, especially when unemployment hovers around 10%. It’s not a good model for employers OR patients.

October 7, 3:26 pm | [comment link]
14. Katherine wrote:

Scott K, I agree with your last paragraph in #13.  Having health care tied to employment is not a good model.  The difference between us is that I don’t think the single-payer government model would reduce costs, improve innovation, or be effective at fraud prevention.  Medicare is a prime example.

My father, a WWII vet, never used his VA medical benefits to my knowledge.

October 7, 3:35 pm | [comment link]
15. David Keller wrote:

Scott and Champlin—1.What in the world does the Federal Government run that’s efficient? (note:This is a different question than whether your father likes something or not) 2. There are plenty of people, myself included, who are at or near Medicare and Social Security age who are more than willing to look at a better way.  Plus nobody I know under 50 expects to get either one anyway. 3.  Those pesky Republicans, going around and representing the will of the people on issues the left thinks is good for us whether we like it or not. Somewhere between 62 to 68% of Americans, depending on which poll you look at, want Obamacare scrapped. And there are plenty of Democrats who wish they hadn’t been bullied into going along. 4.  This debate actually has a resolution.  One of us will be proved incorrect in about 25 days.

October 7, 3:49 pm | [comment link]
16. Septuagenarian wrote:

The previous administration “administration has a bad habit of ignoring laws it [didn’t] like.” Bush repeatedly signed laws and then said he didn’t have to obey it.

#5, Medicare is a medical insurance program run by the government. It is far more efficient than insurance companies, if for no other reason than it pays its management a small fraction of the benefits given the corporate executives and expense no dollars on lobbyists compared to the millions spent by the companies—mostly to insure their profits and prevent a single-payer system they couldn’t bleed. A single payer system would also eliminate the need for advertising and commissions—not to mention having to pay dividends to stockholders.

There is no particular reason why a government run single payer system would be inefficient.

October 7, 3:50 pm | [comment link]
17. Katherine wrote:

#16, I think the idea that Medicare is “more efficient” than private insurance companies cannot be justified, if by “efficiency” we mean paying claims that ought to be paid on a reasonably timely basis and not paying fraudulent claims.  A private enterprise has an incentive to be sure that it pays proper claims and doesn’t pay improper ones.  The Medicare fraud estimates are astronomical.  Only if “profit” is a bad word could we say that a massive single government payment system is “better.”  A family member of mine, a leftist who reads leftist news and analysis, actually told me that she wasn’t sure people should be “allowed” to make a profit on health care.

October 7, 4:14 pm | [comment link]
18. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Federal Government Single Payer might as well be “One Provider” because this PARTICULAR PAYER gets to make ALL the rules, and I mean ALL of them.
Scott K may be a benefits manager at a big company, but I am the care manager for my elderly mother and I have received a big time education on what it is like to traverse the Medicare/CMS system versus a private insurance provider (like my BC/BS).  CMS will not give you the time of day, period [and if you by chance do talk to a person the appeals process goes to infinity and you and whatever specific provider you are dealing with just give up out of shear exasperation].  BC/BS may not always give me the answer I want (although I have talked them to my point of view more than once) but they are there, they will talk to you, and they will explain why they are doing what they are doing and why they beleive they are right.
Unfortunately my time is coming where I too will deal with CMS instead of a private company I am afraid.  Again, Federal Single Payer is the way to go if the Post Office and IRS are the two Federal Agencies you admire most.

October 7, 4:31 pm | [comment link]
19. David Keller wrote:

#16—See my post #15.  1. What progam of the Federal Government is efficient? Actually I just though of one—Tricare which is run by a private contractor; and Obama wants to get rid of it. 2. Medicare advertises all the time. 3. Name some of the laws that Bush signed and then said he didn’t obey. I stand to be corrected, but I’d like to know what you are referring to.

October 7, 4:49 pm | [comment link]
20. Septuagenarian wrote:

#17, I have had non-government insurance for over a half century. I am currently covered by Medicare. I have had far less trouble getting Medicare to pay than I had with the insurance companies. They can be a real pain. At one point a major carrier was so slow in paying doctors, that doctors refused to accept patients with that insurance. In other cases they tried several dozen lies before paying a hospital bill.

October 7, 5:13 pm | [comment link]
21. Septuagenarian wrote:

David, there were hundreds of “signing statements” in which Bush indicated that he would not follow the law he was signing. He set an all time record for the number of such “signing statements.” Where were you 2001-8?

October 7, 5:15 pm | [comment link]
22. Br. Michael wrote:

21, I actually agree with you.  Obama is following in Bush’s footsteps who followed in Clinton’s and on back.  The problem transcends party, it is systemic, and that is the federal government (all branches) routinely ignore the Constitution and the law.  A new Constitutional Convention is required either to restore the 1787 Constitution or to re-write the Constitution to reflect the current state of governance.

October 7, 8:20 pm | [comment link]
23. Br. Michael wrote:

And 21 I would pose a question to you:  If Bush was so bad why do you applaud Obama for following in his footsteps?  And if Obama is right why do you criticize Bush for showing him the way?

October 7, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
24. Katherine wrote:

So, in that case, #20, your solution is to get a better insurance company.  In the case of Medicare, there is no other place to go and little recourse.

October 7, 8:34 pm | [comment link]
25. Septuagenarian wrote:

Katherine, I have better insurance—Medicare.

I would note, however, that employees rarely have the option of getting a different insurance company without paying horrendous penalities both in terms of lost employee benefits and in terms of higher “out of group” insurance premiums.

The simple fact is that insurance companies are not efficient means of paying for medical care for the reasons I cited. They spend huge amounts of the insured’s premiums in executive benefits, commissions, advertising and lobbyists. The “overhead” of insurance companies is significantly greater than Medicare.

October 7, 9:33 pm | [comment link]
26. Septuagenarian wrote:

Bush set an all time record for signing statements—750.

As for the repeal of health care, that is wishful thinking. Even if (and it is not certain) Republicans gain a majority in the House, the Senate will have to concur. It is even less certain that Republicans will gain a majority in the Senate—and even less certain that they will gain the 60% required to bring repeal to a vote. And even if repeal should overcome those hurdles, it would surely face a presidential veto—and it is simply impossible that the Republicans will gain the requisite 2/3rds majority in both houses to override the veto.

As for polls—I have seen recent polls indicating that it is more like 50/50 on the health care reform. And probably the 50% “opposed” includes some who actually would prefer a single payer system.

As for a constitutional convention—lot’s of luck. And you might be surprised what might come out of such an endeavor. Certainly some folks back in 1787 by what came out of Philadelphia.

October 7, 9:55 pm | [comment link]
27. Larry Morse wrote:

Still, a constitutional convention has genuine work it could do. One of the great problems with Supreme Court decisions is that they are being asked to find rational distinctions in an antique document (however skilled) for problems which the writers thereof could never have guessed at, much less comprehended. Some of this factitious precedent-searching could be obviated by amendments to the constitution that deal with matters for which the past has no precedent, e.g., genetic manipulation.  Larry

October 7, 10:06 pm | [comment link]
28. robroy wrote:

Joe Wilson was wrong about Obama. He should have yelled, “You lie, lie, lie, lie, ...”

Obama lies about Obamacare:

1) If you like your health care, you can keep it.
2) It will bend the cost curve down.
3) It will cost less than $1 trillion.
4) “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”
5) Obamacare would cut a typical family’s premium “by up to $2500 a year”?
6) Obama said in his address to Congress that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions”

and so on…

October 7, 10:33 pm | [comment link]
29. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Many, maybe most doctors around here will no longer accept Medicare patients because of problems with inadequate/tardy reimbursements from the government.  It’s a real problem.

October 8, 2:24 am | [comment link]
30. robroy wrote:

What Jim said. Medicare will be paying less than Medicaid within 10 years. I lose money when I see a Medicaid patient but I still see some out of civic duty.

Liberal: Why not give Medicare to everyone?

Medicare has always been a Ponzi scheme. It is not viable. Why all the Medicare fraud? Because it is not their money, it is our money. They don’t care. Medicare doesn’t have any prior authorizations and doesn’t need any referrals to see specialists. Isn’t that great! No, it isn’t viable. When Medicare was implemented, that was when health care inflation started out pacing regular inflation (CPI) by a lot.  Government cannot control cost - even with rationing like in Canada and Britain.

October 8, 5:25 am | [comment link]
31. Br. Michael wrote:

27, The point is that the Supreme Court is operating as a sitting Constitutional Convention and amending the Constitution, but calling it “interpretation”.  This enables the Court to avoid the almost impossible to meet Constitutional standard for amendment set out in Article 5.

October 8, 7:15 am | [comment link]
32. Br. Michael wrote:

26, a new Constitution can’t be any worse.  The very idea that we have a federal system and a federal government with limited powers is now a total farce.  At least a new Constitution could honestly recognize that the federal government has unlimited powers under the commerce clause and that the executive branch can do any thing it wants by decree or executive agency action.

October 8, 7:43 am | [comment link]
33. Katherine wrote:

The Ponzi scheme nature of Medicare means that while Septuagenarian has had a good experience with it, when I reach his age in ten or fifteen years I’m going to have trouble finding doctors to treat me and care will be restricted.  It’s a one-size-fits-all “insurance” program which never covers its costs.  It’s unsustainable.

October 8, 7:47 am | [comment link]
34. Scott K wrote:

28. robroy wrote:

Joe Wilson was wrong about Obama. He should have yelled, “You lie, lie, lie, lie, ...”

This is what’s wrong with Wilson and so many like him on both sides. In a debate, if you believe the other side is lying, the appropriate response it to reveal the truth. Devolving into namecalling like a schoolboy does not advance your argument and makes you look foolish. Even if the facts you listed were untrue, that may make the Democrats mistaken, misinformed or over-optimistic. It doesn’t make them “liars” and you worsen the problem by resorting to epithets. In any case:

1) If you like your health care, you can keep it.

This is the way the plan was designed - no one will be told what doctor they have to go to (anymore than in the current system—my provider BCBS has a list of approved doctors if I want my care covered by them).

2) It will bend the cost curve down.

It probably will, after the exchanges are in place to foster competition between providers. It’s way, way to early to say this statement is true or false yet. It wasn’t designed to reduce costs right away.

3) It will cost less than $1 trillion.

That wasn’t Obama’s claim, that came from the non-partisan CBO. It’s probably overly optimistic but again we don’t know yet.

4) “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”

Isn’t this the same as #1? Who is being forced to change doctors?

5) Obamacare would cut a typical family’s premium “by up to $2500 a year”?

Most of the cost saving aspects of the policy don’t even take affect until 2014, so how can you know if this will happen or not? This is the estimate that the CBO gave.

6) Obama said in his address to Congress that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions”

This, I’ll grant, is a little bit of political spin. You can make the argument that federal money is not directly paying for abortions, but it’s a weak argument. But I don’t think this issue is completely played out yet. Federal funding of abortions is still against the law, so if the courts agree that the new healthcare plan does indeed fund them then this piece of the bill will be struck down.

But my overall point is, if we want to debate the health care plan, let’s have some respect and goodwill for each other and deal with the arguments and not who can score cheap points with soundbites and ad hominem attacks.

October 8, 9:26 am | [comment link]
35. Septuagenarian wrote:

Actually, a “new constitution” could be far, far worse than what we have now. In many respects, what the right wing is calling for would not be a revival of the supposed “intent” of the framers of the Constitution, but rather a return to the Articles of Confederation which the framers of the Constitution knew from experience did not work. One might also consider various “rewrites” of state constitutions, most of which were not improvements.

I would make an additional observation. There was no such thing as the “original intent” of the Constitution other than to end the government of the Articles and to achieve the ends set forth in the preface of the Constitution. Ideas proposed and debated at the Philadelphia convention ranged from a unitary government that essentially did away with states entirely to something closer to a confederation. The actual Constitution was a compromise between those extremes.

The debate over a strong, central, activist national government with broad powers versus a decentralized system with narrowly defined powers is not new. It existed in the Philadelphia convention. The debate existed in the Washington administration between Hamilton and Jefferson—with Washington and the Congress supporting broad federal powers (such as the Bank of the United States) and Jefferson opposing them. It was the essential difference between the Federalist (and later the Whig and Republican parties) and the Democratic Party (especially the southern wing thereof). The irony of history is that at some point (probably in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the southern Democrats (as in the “solid South”) left the national Democratic Party and join the Republican Party over Civil Rights, forever altering both parties. As a result the modern Democratic Party platforms of today read more like the Republican Party platforms of Lincoln and T. Roosevelt; and the Republican Party platforms read more like the southern Democrat rhetoric of a half century ago.

As one example of the change, the criticism from the right of the Federal Reserve harkens back to Jefferson’s and Jackson’s criticism of the first and second Bank of the United States. Both administrations shut those banks down, with the result of severe recessions and economic chaos. Economic chaos was ended by both first and second Bank of the United States and the Civil War era Republican National Banking Act which was the precursor of the Federal Reserve.

From the earliest days of the Republic, the federal government was involved in building ports, canals, railroads, public schools, universities, labor disputes, etc. It was the consistent policy of the Federalist, Whig and Republican parties until quite recently.

We are, after all—“one nation, with liberty and justice for all,” e pluribus unum.

October 8, 9:35 am | [comment link]
36. Scott K wrote:

Congress can’t even pass simple, straightforward bills anymore thanks to partisan animosity—and most state legislatures are no better. It’s inconceivable that we could ever have any kind of agreement on a new Constitution that is any improvement over the current one.

October 8, 9:40 am | [comment link]
37. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Two final comments from me on this thread:
1.  It must be wonderful to live in the world Scott K lives in.  “Yeah maybe that Trillion dollar figure was a little optimistic.  But hey, we don’t know that yet”.  Only a true believer could be satisfied with that statement.
2.  For all the folks who are “so happy with Medicare”.  Well, if someone gave me a Cadillac Escalade at a Kia price, I would probably be pretty satisfied with my Escalede.  But how do we all sleep at night knowing that our Medicare/Esclade requires outright generational theft, stealing the treasure of our unborn offspring far into the future?  Whether Clinton, Bush, or Obama promotes this stuff makes no difference, it is wrong, wrong and wrong.
We are living the greatest Ponzi scheme of human history.  These schemes never have a good ending.  When are we going to grow up and admit this one is no different?

October 8, 9:54 am | [comment link]
38. tired wrote:

‘Single payer” is a euphemism for either (i) monopolized medicine (private); or (ii) socialized medicine (public).  IMHO, I don’t think the case has been made for a statist solution.

Regardless, there is a very real question as to timing and fiscal responsibility.  Embarking on a new, expensive program in a time of tripled deficit spending is simply unwise.  Why not reduce other government programs?  For example, eliminate the Department of Education and retrench the Department of Energy - and then you might find the ability to take on another entitlement program.

At a minimum - those who propose expanding federal government should include a plan for the elimination of state governments and the substitution of smaller, provincial executive management.

October 8, 10:02 am | [comment link]
39. Scott K wrote:

Re: “True believer.” Didn’t read the first or last paragraphs of my post, did you?
Healthcare is going to cost someone a trillion dollars anyway. The question is who pays for it - individuals, employers, health care providers or the government (i.e. taxpayers). We can disagree on where the burden ought to fall, but let’s be civil about it.

October 8, 10:03 am | [comment link]
40. David Keller wrote:

Scott re: your #36—Especially since the Prez announced yesterday that if the GOP takes back Congress the Dems will start “hand to hand combat”.  Now that’s what I call reaching across the ailse. As to Medicare, the best suggestion I have heard is to give everyone over 65 $12,000 a year to buy insurance.  This would cut Medicare in half over night and reduce the size of HHS by at least a third.

October 8, 10:27 am | [comment link]
41. Septuagenarian wrote:

#40, reality check. The plan you suggest would actually increase the cost of Medicare by $22 billion. If your plan actually reduced the size of HHS by a third that might save $26 billion. One might also ask where the $475.25 billion dollars required to give everyone over 65 $12,000 a year might come from. I would assume the current funding mechanism would remain in place: $199.6 billion in payroll taxes, $194.6 billion general revenue and $104.8 billion in other revenue.

Note also, that the cost of such a program will rise sharply as more boomers turn 65.

October 8, 10:59 am | [comment link]
42. David Keller wrote:

#41—I love it when you can come up with these #‘s so quickly.  I had a secretary who was hooked into a DNC limited access website, so she could instatntly refute any thing anybody said about Obama.  My guess is you are hooked into the same one. BTW—this is not my plan, but your response confirms that the Dems are the real party of “no”; you guys don’t even want to discuss changing or eliminating failed programs and reducing the size of government. And since you can’t refute that Obama plans on hand to hand combat the scenario for 2011-12 is pretty clear. BUT be careful what you ask for.

October 8, 1:16 pm | [comment link]
43. Scott K wrote:

David, neither side is blameless in the ongoing stalemate between the parties. I didn’t claim otherwise. Since ‘09 the Republicans have been the obstructionists, but if they manage to get control of the congress, I’ve no doubt the Democrats will do the same.

But you said “you guys don’t even want to discuss changing or eliminating failed programs and reducing the size of government.” Sure, I’ll discuss it. Name some failed programs. I’ll start by identifying cuts to Education and you can start by cutting the Military. Energy is small peanuts. Frankly though (and I know this will drive you up a wall) I have absolutely no problem with a large government as long as it is efficient and accountable to the people. Right now it’s neither, though.

October 8, 1:27 pm | [comment link]
44. Septuagenarian wrote:

David, you are quite wrong. Google is your friend. The figures I cited do not come from DNC. Your figures, however, seem to come out of right wing rhetorical fantasy.

October 8, 2:42 pm | [comment link]
45. Septuagenarian wrote:

Scott, I do hope that the folks who get elected in November to the Congress do stop the partisan politics and focus on addressing the numerous problems which face the nation—both short term (e.g., the economy and bringing an end to our military entanglements) and long term (e.g., our decaying infrastructure, the ongoing issues of energy and environment, strengthening the regulation of the financial system, etc.)

However, I am not optimistic. The Republicans seem to be running on a platform of “repeal everything” which simply will not happen and wouldn’t be a solution to anything even if it did.

David talks about “smaller government.” It hasn’t happened in the past 234 years. Government, at all levels has grown, is growing and will continue to grow if for no other reason than the country and its economy has grown, is growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. There is really little evidence that the increasing size and scope of government is harmful to the nation’s economy or the general welfare. If anything, the historical evidence suggests quite the contrary. This is not the 13 colonies that declared its independence in 1776 or that ratified a Constitution in 1788. A few things have changed since those days. grin

October 8, 2:55 pm | [comment link]
46. Scott K wrote:

Septuagenarian, you and I are on the same page.

October 8, 3:01 pm | [comment link]
47. Septuagenarian wrote:

One of the neat things about “changing or eliminating failed programs and reducing the size of government” or “eliminating waste and fraud” is those who say such things never really get very specific about what changes, what is to be eliminated or what is to be reduced.

If we say that “education” is a failed program, will eliminating education actually accomplish anything positive. It will not promote commerce, national security or the general welfare; quite the contrary.

If we say that SEC or MMS are failed programs, will eliminating them make the financial markets more stable or prevent future disasters like the BP “oil spill?” I rather doubt it. My thought it would make matters far, far worse and the world a much more dangerous place.

What exactly gets eliminated? Perhaps we could reduce the size and scope of the INS, Border Patrol and Customs Service (and maybe the whole Department of Homeland Security as well). We could stop building fences along the southern border. All of these are pretty obviously “failed programs.” So let’s get rid of them and save many billions of dollars, right? But I don’t hear the folks on the right saying eliminate them. We got along just fine for a century with open borders and over two centuries without a Department of Homeland Security. Let’s get back to the way things were.

The Republic isn’t what it once was. What is more, it never was what it once was. grin

October 8, 3:19 pm | [comment link]
48. robroy wrote:

Scott K fisk of my fisk.

First off, there is a time to call people liars and this is it. When someone deliberately says something that is not true and not simply mistaken assumptions, one needs to call out the dissembler.

Obama: “I will not sign health-insurance reform that adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade.” , then…

The main selling point for government-run health care, at first, was cost control. An April study by actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that “national health expenditures under the health reform act would increase by a total of $311 billion (0.9 percent) during calendar years 2010-2019.” The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that Obamacare would drive up insurance premiums by around 30 percent in the individual market and up to 3 percent in the small-group market. For the average family, this will mean an additional $2,100 in health care costs. At a Sept. 10 press conference, President Obama admitted that “we knew that.”

“We didn’t think that we were going to cover 30 million people for free,” he said. So much for savings.

Note the past tense.

With regards to the bogus $1 trillion figure, Scott defends Obama. EVERYONE knew the trillion dollar figure was pure fiction. They took out the doctor fix because it would have pushed it over a trillion. They added the federalization of student loan to the bill just so that supposed revenues would keep in below a trillion. Despite this shenangans, Obama touted the “under a trillion” figure repeatedly in his speeches. The deliberateness makes it a LIE.

Another lie: Obama promised bipartisanship in crafting the bill. How many times did we see the closed door with behind it Rahmbo and the Democrats and special interest cronies drafting the 2400 page monstrosity. Republican input was nil. Republicans were carrying out the will of the people by obstructing it. A huge majority opposed it and still oppose it.

Scott defends Obama’s lie that the bill would bend the cost curve in the negative direction. “This is the CBO estimate.” Again, the CBO has to follow the rosy predictions assumed by the bill when they score it. The chief actuary of Medicare can speak truthfully, and he says that it will bend it positively (which was obvious to all).

October 8, 4:08 pm | [comment link]
49. tired wrote:

At any rate - the waivers reveal real flaws in the legislation - business is right to be suspicious of the outcome. 

There are certainly some curious notions about economics and government reflected in some of these comments.  On a personal level - we could work to be more productive and try to earn more, but working harder just to pay higher tax at higher rates for a wasteful government is flat not worth it.  In fact, we may go down to a single earner and live a bit more simply. 

Funny thing is, I keep running into folks who are thinking about doing the same thing.  I guess that seems to be the new American dream. 


rolleyes

October 8, 5:14 pm | [comment link]
50. Br. Michael wrote:

Actually there is a lot to be said for a more Franciscan lifestyle.  A lot of consumerism is pointless.  It’s consumption for consumptions sake.  Just spending for recreation and buying things you don’t need simply to keep the economy going.

October 8, 6:06 pm | [comment link]
51. Septuagenarian wrote:

On a personal level - we could work to be more productive and try to earn more, but working harder just to pay higher tax at higher rates for a wasteful government is flat not worth it.
That’s just plain silly. Maybe you would be happy making $9,000 a year and not have to pay any income tax. Most people wouldn’t. Most people would rather make $16,000 and pay $28 dollars in income tax. Good grief, many people will work for $100,000 and pay $18,844; I know I did before I retired. And the likes of Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, Bill Gates et al. don’t seem adverse to working harder to make more money. But then, maybe you are just plain lazy.

(Actually, I never did pay $18K in income taxes; I stashed as much as I could in a 401(k) and my medical insurance premiums were “pre-tax.” But I still paid $12K in income taxes—and was happy to do so for the priviledge of living in the U.S. and enjoying the benefits thereof.)

October 8, 6:33 pm | [comment link]
52. robroy wrote:

We have this hypocrisy for the United Federation of Teachers who also got a waiver from Obamacare:

The UFT is a member of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).  In September 2009, the NYSUT’s website published “Health care reform: facts vs. myths.” Here’s an excerpt:

  * Myth: Health care reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors.
  * Fact: You can keep your existing insurance; reform will expand your medical options, not eliminate them.

ObamaCare was such a great idea at the time - the AFT gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Healthcare for America Now, the leading organization pushing for the government takeover of health care.

It was announced Thursday that the UFT has requested and received an Obamacare-waiver after it discovered their members would end up losing their health insurance plans.  Uh oh.

This ditty is even worse. Apparently, it is a longstanding practice of law that for conviction of a felony, there needs to have been intent to break the law. ObamaCare eliminates this and makes it easier to convict physicians of felonies who unknowingly break the law (and with 2400 pages that seems fairly easy to do).

October 9, 3:39 am | [comment link]
53. clayton wrote:

You all do realize that these waivers are renewed yearly and will be removed once all the provisions of health reform are in place, right?

  The issue is that it would be wrong to force people off of lousy insurance when there is no affordable alternative for them.  We are mostly talking about people who are going to be eligible for subsidies once the exchanges are up, at which point these fake policies (which basically mean a lot of unpaid hospital bills if someone actually gets sick since a $2k annual limit won’t go very far and the only reason you would have such terrible insurance is…you have no money) stop being allowed.

October 9, 3:57 am | [comment link]
54. Sarah wrote:

RE: “However, I am not optimistic.”

Yeh, you shouldn’t be.  We don’t even agree on the problems confronting the country [judging by your list], much less their solutions.

I, however, am quite optimistic.  It’s been good to have Obama be even more ideological than I had hoped.  Knew he would be what he is, and live true to his principles and ideology, but man, this has been great.

I couldn’t have imagined or hoped for such radically horrible decisions.

Good times.

October 9, 8:37 am | [comment link]
55. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Sarah is right on point.  Obama provides us a clear differentiation with his vision for America versus that of ordinary citizens, represented in a national way by the Tea Party Movement.  With a McCain presidency, it would have been harder to see.
Each person can decided where they stand.  If you see your needs being met by government and your salvation through government, then Obama and his buds are for you.
If you believe in making your own way in life without government bureaucrats micro-managing every aspect of your life then you should be hunting for constitutional conservatives and libertarians to represent you.  It seems the last time everyday people were as engaged as they are now was during the Ross Perot period.  The current popular uprising seems more fundementally based than that was which augers well for sustainability.
As folks weigh the two visions of our future, they would do well to remember Rush’s two rules of politics:
1.  Socialism fails where ever it is tried.
2.  Liberals lie.  They have to.  No rational person wants to buy what they are selling.
Certainly the current campaigns of the vast majority of democrats running for national office demonstrate clearly the veracity of rule #2 as they seek to put as much distance between them and ObamaCare, TARP, Stimulus, and Cap & Trade as they possibly can.  Why our own Bluedog (locally called a LapDog) demo Gene Taylor came out supporting the repeal of ObamaCare!

October 9, 9:35 am | [comment link]
56. Septuagenarian wrote:

Clayton, there is no such thing as “unpaid medical bills.” If someone cannot pay, the rest of us pay those bills in higher bills, higher insurance premiums and higher taxes.

There is no free lunch.

October 9, 9:37 am | [comment link]
57. Septuagenarian wrote:

Some of us (including, I think, the President) believe that we the people should work together to “may our way as a nation.” This was the vision of the likes of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. It has been the view of a significant portion of the nation since its founding. The national government, from its beginning, encouraged schools, farms, industry, agriculture and sound financial system by investing resources to advance those activites and regulating abuse to promote commerce, industry and the general welfare.

The the closest thing to “socialism” was the rescue of GM, where the government became (temporarily) the major stockholder and guided it through restructuring. The government’s stock is being sold.

So called “conservatives” lie. We have their nonsense about the President’s birth, his religion, death panels and on and on. No rational person would buy the propaganda of the right.

October 9, 10:00 am | [comment link]
58. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

“The the closest thing to “socialism” was the rescue of GM”
Socialism: political system of communal ownership
With the historic and current Federal takeover of: retirement savings, medicine, education, GM, energy policy, and eyes on the medical insurance industry and energy companies (aka, Maxine Waters), about the only things that haven’t been socialized (yet) are food production/distribution and retailing.  Food production however is distorted by price support programs and energy policy that supports Ethanol production and biodiesel.
As I have noted on several posts, it is an interesting exercise to take the 2011 budget proposal and X out those things not relegated or delegated to the Federal Govt by the Constitution.
Two results are that you can cut Federal Spending by about 2/3’ds and you no longer need a fulltime Congress.

October 9, 10:17 am | [comment link]
59. Sarah wrote:

RE: “This was the vision of the likes of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.”

Not *your* definition of “making our way as a nation.”

RE “It has been the view of a significant portion of the nation since its founding.”

No it hasn’t.

RE: “So called “conservatives” lie.”

Lol.

No we don’t.

Collectivists lie.

And there we are.

Two mutually opposing and antithetical foundational political worldviews.

It will be a good election with that being so clear.

October 9, 11:18 am | [comment link]
60. Septuagenarian wrote:

Socialism:

any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

Merriam-Webster dictionary

Your “definition” of socialism is a lie.

Retirement savings and pension funds are mostly invested in stocks and bonds.

Your allegation of “government takeover” of “retirement savings” is a lie.

Etc.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the
general Welfare
, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preface, U.S. Constitution.

The Congress shall have Power To ... provide for the ... general Welfare of the United States…. To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

(Article I, Section 8, U.S. Constitution)

October 9, 11:52 am | [comment link]
61. Septuagenarian wrote:

RE: “This was the vision of the likes of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.”

Not *your* definition of “making our way as a nation.”

RE “It has been the view of a significant portion of the nation since its founding.”

No it hasn’t.

The debate between a limited national government and a strong national government has been going on since the days of the Articles of Confederation. It was debated and compromised at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. It was the essential difference between the Federalist/Whig/Republican and the Democratic parties until recently. These are easily documented historical facts.

October 9, 11:58 am | [comment link]
62. Sarah wrote:

RE: “These are easily documented historical facts.”

Yup—which has nothing to do with Septuagenarian’s definition of people working together and “making our way as a nation.”

So the easily documented historical facts are utterly irrelevant to *your* definition of what *you* wish the State would do.

It’d be a bit like my saying the same thing . . . naturally you can’t agree with *my* definition of the people working together to “make our way as a nation.”

Why?

Because we hold antithetical political worldviews, that’s why.

Good that it’s all so clear—this very thread for instance, reveals the stark and clear chasm in competing worldviews in this country.

Thank God for voting.

October 9, 12:25 pm | [comment link]
63. Septuagenarian wrote:

Because we hold antithetical political worldviews, that’s why.

As did Hamilton and Jefferson. That is the fact of American life.

The historical fact is that the Constitution was a rejection of confederacy in favor of a strong, active government. I seriously doubt that it is in the interest of the American people to return to the way things were at the time before the Constitution. Or for that matter, to return to the way things were in 1850.

The fact is that both our national security and the general welfare depends on a strongly united nation, economically and in many other ways—that is essential to the survival of the United States.


The military knows that sick and poorly educated people do not make good soldiers. That is why we need to insure health and educated people—particularly the young.

Most businesses realize that sick and poorly educated people do not make good workers, that unemployed and underemployed workers, customers and that people living in poverty do not make good customers.

Is there perhaps something signficant in the fact that those states that yammer the most about “state rights” and doing things at the local level seem to rank near the bottom when it comes to education and health and near the top when it comes to poverty?

October 9, 1:04 pm | [comment link]
64. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

“The historical fact is that the Constitution was a rejection of confederacy in favor of a strong, active government.”
I don’t think so.  The Constitution was a natural evolution to correct some of the apparant flaws of the Confederation.  But the Confederation was more of a success than it gets credit for.  It negotiated a war with Britain and a peace. And it governed a new country for several years.  And it’s short-comings acted as a laboratory experiment that allowed the proper changes going forward to bring us our current Constitution.  The commentary of the Constitutional Covention clearly shows how agonizing the debates between strong vs weak central government were and how the delegates sought to carefully thread that needle with their design of checks and balances.  And the end result shows a Central Government with few carefully delineated powers——and EVERYTHING not specifically delegated to the central government RESERVED to the states.
Hardly a ringing endorsement for “..... a strong, active [central] government.”

October 9, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
65. Septuagenarian wrote:

The Constitution was a natural evolution to correct some of the apparant flaws of the Confederation.

Hardly. The first decision of the Philadelphia Convention was to scrap the Articles of Confederation and to start from scratch. About the only thing to “evolve” from the confederacy was a Congress, and even that was radically changed. It is also quite significant that the Philadelphia Convention totally bypassed the Congress of the Confederacy and even the state legislatures when it came to ratifying the new Constitution.

EVERYTHING not specifically delegated to the central government RESERVED to the states.

You will not, of course, find that language anywhere in the Constitution—not even in the 10th Amendment, which, of course, was not the original “intent” of the authors. If you read the original document that came out of Philadelphia you should note that what it quite clearly sets forth is a supreme Congress whose laws (along with the Constitution itself and treaties made by the United States and ratified by the Senate) were the supreme law of the land.

And even the 10th Amendment doesn’t put a major restraint on Congress, which has, according to the Constitution, the

Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States…. [and] To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the
foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof. (Article I, Section 8)

To be sure, there are somethings that the Constitution specifically prohibits Congress from doing; there are also thing states are specifically forbidden—among them doing anything contrary to “the Authority of the united States.” (Article VI)

That is pretty sweeping power.

October 9, 4:39 pm | [comment link]
66. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Tenth Ammendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Empasis mine.

October 9, 4:49 pm | [comment link]
67. Septuagenarian wrote:

I am well aware of the 10th Amendment. It does not say anything like what you claim. As I pointed out, Congress has the power to provide for the general welfare of the nation (a constant theme of the Philadephia Convention) and to enact whatever laws are necessary to that end. That is specifically set forth in Article I, Section 8. The 10th Amendment does not repeal that.

Surely the “general welfare” of the United States includes such things as a stable monetary system, which did not exist under the Articles or in the absence of federal banking and currency laws. Or for the promotion of commerce (specifically mentioned in Article I, Section 8). Or healthy, educated citizens capable of participating in industry, commerce and the national defense. Clearly our dependence on foreign oil is a threat to our national security—we have known that since the Arab Oil Embargo and got another taste of it in 2008 with $4/gallon gasoline. Obviously industrial pollution endangers both our health and the economy. These are all national issues involving our national security and general welfare. Nothing in the Constitution prohibits Congress from enacting laws concerning these matters; nothing in the Constitution reserves the right to act on this matters to the states.

October 9, 6:03 pm | [comment link]
68. Sarah wrote:

RE: “The fact is that both our national security and the general welfare depends on a strongly united nation, economically and in many other ways—that is essential to the survival of the United States.”

And again—we don’t agree on the meaning of the word “united” either or what makes up a “united” nation.

RE: “As did Hamilton and Jefferson. That is the fact of American life.”

Nope—theirs were often opposing in parts, but their foundational political worldview was not antithetical to one another’s.

Ours—yours and mine—are.  The good news is that more and more people like me are recognizing that and doing something about it.

See you at the polls.

October 10, 6:37 pm | [comment link]
69. Septuagenarian wrote:

RE: “As did Hamilton and Jefferson. That is the fact of American life.”

Nope—theirs were often opposing in parts, but their foundational political worldview was not antithetical to one another’s.

Everyone in the late 18th century had a “worldview” that is quite different from the “worldview” of the 21st century. Their’s was an agricultural world of small subsistence farms or large plantations served by slaves and cottage industries. The largest city was NYC with a population of 60,515. The largest city in Jefferson’s home state was Norfolk—6,926. Travel time from the east coast to England was measured in weeks, not hours; it was pretty much the same story when it came to land travel from Massacusetts to Georgia. The land mass of the United States was about a quarter of the present area. There was no television, radio, telegraph or telephone; communication was by post (see land travel above). The Philadelphia Convention was delayed from May 14th to May 25th because a quorum had not been able to reach Philadelphia. Newspapers, journals and books were handset, printed on flatbed presses and handbound. The standard militia weapon was the smoothbore flintlock muskett. Plowing was done by animal (frequently the human animal) power. Epidemics were common in urban areas, but tended not to spread beyond because of the difficulty of travel.

Hamilton believed in a strong, active national government and a broad construction of the Constitution. The prime example is the Bank of the United States established by Hamilton as Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury. Jefferson opposed such activity; he killed the Bank as President (and created monetary chaos and crisis in so doing).

October 10, 7:51 pm | [comment link]
70. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

#67…...And now we have come full circle to the central point of this whole thread.  I doubt anyone in this discussion discounts the need for all the positive things you cited above plus many, many more characteristics which are central toward a strong functioning country which is a world leader and a “beacon on a hill”.

The difference is: how much are we as a people going to do for ourselves using the freedom and liberty granted to us by God and enshrined in the Constitution of our country versus the idea of sitting on our butts waiting for some government bureaucrat in Washington to make it so?  It is more than big Government vs small Government.  It is a mindset of a people who wake up everyday and see unlimited opportunities versus a people who wake up everyday and see endless problems.  Government loves endless problems and expands infinitem in its efforts to address those.  The people, who know they have to produce to have their daily bread, move from opportunity to opportunity, unfettered by the bureaucrat who raises an objection to everything that does not his own agenda.

As Sarah says….....“See you at the Polls”

October 11, 7:36 am | [comment link]
71. tired wrote:

Been away from the computer.

51 - don’t care really if think it is silly or not.  It doesn’t change the prospect of a potential bracket change, along with several tax policy disincentives.

Your examples (Gates, Buffet) reveal a perspective of disconnect - they are already in the top bracket and likely earn most of their money through investments, not through additional hours of labor.

From that rightwing publication - the NY Times - here is a more relevant example.

50 - I generally agree - though the bigger change would be that with more time (fewer hours at word), we would have the ability to do things for ourselves that we might otherwise be forced to pay someone else.  FWIW, for example, I prefer to work on my own house rather than have someone else try to fix the problem.

October 11, 8:39 am | [comment link]
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