Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is David Frum Right?

Partly. Frum has criticized the GOP for adopting a Nyet! strategy on healthcare, supposedly fomented by the Radio Talkosphere. Frum noted that the version of Obamacare that was signed is very similar to Massachussetts' Romneycare, so the GOP was a trifle hypocritical in their opposition.

Frum is right to claim that a Nyet! strategy was wrong, but it wasn't wrong for Obamacare. That mess will end up at least as bad as Romneycare, where costs are skyrocketing. But the GOP did fail to understand after the 2004 election that the healthcare problem was a nasty boil that would be quickly coming to a head (yuck, sorry about that). Republicans could have moved a free-market, small government-oriented package of solutions in 2005 (something like the McCain plan of 2008) that would have forced the Dem's hand and preempted the crypto-socialist "solution" that we are now stuck with.

Why was this approach not pursued? Perhaps it was because the GOP believed, as Democrats would have hoped, that such a proposal would have been transmogrified into the Middle-Class Black-Tar Heroin of a massive government entitlement. But the risk should have been taken; at least Republicans would have controlled the process. Ultimately one should ask those visionary ex-leaders of the former GOP House majority, Tom Delay and Dennis Hastert, and George Bush, father of the disasterously underfunded Medicare drug program.
How Dare They Cut Earnings!

Congresscritter Henry Waxman, enraged that Catepillar, John Deere, AT&T and other corporations have restated lower earnings to reflect higher immediate costs from Obamacare, will be holding an Inquisition to personally berate them for their impertinent honesty.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let the Party Bee-Gin!

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow gleefully laid out the rain of goodies to be expected from Obamacare. As a public service we provide some commentary and include some of the other events that will occur during the first few years of the rollout (points marked with * indicate reforms that are commonly accepted as part of less intrusive solutions):


  • Tax credits for small businesses to provide health care for their employees*. May not be sufficient to compensate for increased rates (see below).
  • Kids can stay on their parents' plan until age 26; if the increment in rates is not onerous, this could improve the financials.*
  • More money for seniors' drugs by plundering Medicare Advantage.
  • High-risk pools established.* May or may not raise rates.
  • Ban on "previous condition" denials for kids*. This is likely to raise rates.
  • Health Savings Accounts gutted; maximum HSA deduction reduced by 60%
  • Pro-abortion advocates likely to overturn "Stupak's Order".
  • Patching the Medicare provider payment reductions eats all of this year's "savings" and them some.
  • The new enormous federal healthcare bureaucracy begins to be assembled, to join all of the other federal government healthcare bureaucracies (Medicare, Medicaid, VA, Military, SCHIP, Indian Health, to name a few).
  • The IRS begins hiring its required additional 16,000 agents.
  • Pork deals to garner Congresscritters' votes explode like fiscal grenades throughout the year.
  • Student loan program converted in government monopoly, except in North Dakota. On the surface, it seems that this has nothing to do with health care. However, it is expected that the profit made on these loans, generated from the interest rate difference between borrowing and loaning, will be part of the advertised "health care savings".


  • Long-term care insurance program established; minimum 5 years of premiums required, but who is going to say no to Grandma?
  • Free preventative care for Medicare recipients. Likely to raise rates.
  • Annual $2.5B "Pay to Play" charges to drug makers begins.
  • Insurance companies must pay out 80-85% of premiums in health care expenses, or must refund difference to policy holders. Most health insurance companies have profit margins at or under 5%, so increased overhead costs to implement new federal rules and mandates are likely to lead to losses in intial years. The federal government's profit ceilings on insurance companies begins their transformation into utility companies.


  • Excise tax on medical devices begins.
  • New Medicare taxes on the "Super-Rich" (couples with incomes greater than $250K)
  • New tax on dividends and interest income.
  • Pilot programs to test "bundled care" Medicare payment programs.
The Mount Vernon Statement.

Getting back to basics.