Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just a quick test

I am using Google Chrome with Extensions, one of which is a mini Blogging extension. I highly recommend Chrome with the Coloriris extension, you have to see it to appreciate it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

7 Stories Barack Obama doesnt want you to hear

7 stories Obama doesn't want told
By: John F. Harris
November 30, 2009 05:45 AM EST

Presidential politics is about storytelling. Presented with a vivid storyline, voters naturally tend to fit every new event or piece of information into a picture that is already neatly framed in their minds.

No one understands this better than
Barack Obama and his team, who won the 2008 election in part because they were better storytellers than the opposition. The pro-Obama narrative featured an almost mystically talented young idealist who stood for change in a disciplined and thoughtful way. This easily outpowered the anti-Obama narrative, featuring an opportunistic Chicago pol with dubious relationships who was more liberal than he was letting on.

A year into his presidency, however, Obama’s gift for controlling his image shows signs of faltering. As Washington returns to work from the Thanksgiving holiday, there are several anti-Obama storylines gaining momentum.

The Obama White House
argues that all of these storylines are inaccurate or unfair. In some cases these anti-Obama narratives are fanned by Republicans, in some cases by reporters and commentators.

But they all are serious threats to Obama, if they gain enough currency to become the dominant frame through which people interpret the president’s actions and motives.

Here are seven storylines Obama needs to worry about:

He thinks he’s playing with Monopoly money

Economists and business leaders from across the ideological spectrum were urging the new president on last winter when he signed onto more than a trillion in
stimulus spending and bank and auto bailouts during his first weeks in office. Many, though far from all, of these same people now agree that these actions helped avert an even worse financial catastrophe.

Along the way, however, it is clear Obama underestimated the political consequences that flow from the perception that he is a profligate spender. He also misjudged the anger in middle America about bailouts with weak and sporadic public explanations of why he believed they were necessary.

The flight of independents away from
Democrats last summer — the trend that recently hammered Democrats in off-year elections in Virginia — coincided with what polls show was alarm among these voters about undisciplined big government and runaway spending. The likely passage of a health care reform package criticized as weak on cost-control will compound the problem.

Obama understands the political peril, and his team is signaling that he will use the 2010 State of the Union address to emphasize fiscal discipline. The political challenge, however, is an even bigger substantive challenge—since the most convincing way to project fiscal discipline would be actually to impose spending reductions that would cramp his own agenda and that of congressional Democrats.

Too much Leonard Nimoy

People used to make fun of
Bill Clinton’s misty-eyed, raspy-voiced claims that, “I feel your pain.”

The reality, however, is that Clinton’s dozen years as governor before becoming president really did leave him with a vivid sense of the concrete human dimensions of policy. He did not view programs as abstractions — he viewed them in terms of actual people he knew by name.

Obama, a legislator and law professor, is fluent in describing the nuances of problems. But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

That’s the Chicago Way

This is a storyline that’s likely taken root more firmly in Washington than around the country. The rap is that his
West Wing is dominated by brass-knuckled pols.

It does not help that many West Wing aides seem to relish an image of themselves as shrewd, brass-knuckled political types. In a Washington Post story this month, White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, referring to most of Obama’s team, said, “We are all campaign hacks.”

The problem is that many voters took Obama seriously in 2008 when he talked about wanting to create a more reasoned, non-partisan style of governance in Washington. When Republicans showed scant interest in cooperating with Obama at the start, the Obama West Wing gladly reverted to campaign hack mode.

The examples of Chicago-style politics include their delight in public battles with Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (There was also a semi-public campaign of leaks aimed at
Greg Craig, the White House counsel who fell out of favor.) In private, the Obama team cut an early deal — to the distaste of many congressional Democrats — that gave favorable terms to the pharmaceutical lobby in exchange for their backing his health care plans.

The lesson that many Washington insiders have drawn is that Obama wants to buy off the people he can and bowl over those he can’t. If that perception spreads beyond Washington this will scuff Obama’s brand as a new style of political leader.

He’s a pushover

If you are going to be known as a fighter, you might as well reap the benefits. But some of the same insider circles that are starting to view Obama as a bully are also starting to whisper that he’s a patsy.

It seems a bit contradictory, to be sure. But it’s a perception that began when Obama several times laid down lines — then let people cross them with seeming impunity. Last summer he told Democrats they better not go home for recess until a critical health care vote but they blew him off. He told the Israeli government he wanted a freeze in settlements but no one took him seriously. Even
Fox News — which his aides prominently said should not be treated like a real news organization — then got interview time for its White House correspondent.

In truth, most of these episodes do not amount to much. But this unflattering storyline would take a more serious turn if Obama is seen as unable to deliver on his stern warnings in the escalating conflict with Iran over its nuclear program.

He sees America as another pleasant country on the U.N. roll call, somewhere between Albania and Zimbabwe

That line belonged to
George H.W. Bush, excoriating Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988. But it highlights a continuing reality: In presidential politics the safe ground has always been to be an American exceptionalist.

Politicians of both parties have embraced the idea that this country — because of its power and/or the hand of Providence — should be a singular force in the world. It would be hugely unwelcome for Obama if the perception took root that he is comfortable with a relative decline in U.S. influence or position in the world.

On this score, the reviews of Obama’s recent
Asia trip were harsh.

His peculiar bow to the emperor of Japan was symbolic. But his lots-of-velvet, not-much-iron approach to China had substantive implications.

On the left, the budding storyline is that Obama has retreated from human rights in the name of cynical realism. On the right, it is that he is more interested in being President of the World than President of the United States, a critique that will be heard more in December as he stops in Oslo to pick up his Nobel Prize and then in Copenhagen for an international summit on curbing greenhouse gases.

President Pelosi

No figure in
Barack Obama’s Washington, including Obama, has had more success in advancing his will than the speaker of the House, despite public approval ratings that hover in the range of Dick Cheney’s. With a mix of tough party discipline and shrewd vote-counting, she passed a version of the stimulus bill largely written by congressional Democrats, passed climate legislation, and passed her chamber’s version of health care reform. She and anti-war liberals in her caucus are clearly affecting the White House’s Afghanistan calculations.

The great hazard for Obama is if Republicans or journalists conclude — as some already have — that Pelosi’s achievements are more impressive than Obama’s or come at his expense.

This conclusion seems premature, especially with the final chapter of the
health care drama yet to be written.

But it is clear that Obama has allowed the speaker to become more nearly an equal — and far from a subordinate — than many of his predecessors of both parties would have thought wise.

He’s in love with the man in the mirror

No one becomes president without a fair share of what the French call
amour propre. Does Obama have more than his share of self-regard?

It’s a common theme of Washington buzz that Obama is
over-exposed. He gives interviews on his sports obsessions to ESPN, cracks wise with Leno and Letterman, discusses his fitness with Men’s Health, discusses his marriage in a joint interview with first lady Michelle Obama for The New York Times. A photo the other day caught him leaving the White House clutching a copy of GQ featuring himself.

White House aides say making Obama widely available is the right strategy for communicating with Americans in an era of highly fragmented media.

But, as the novelty of a new president wears off, the Obama cult of personality risks coming off as mere vanity unless it is harnessed to tangible achievements.

That is why the next couple of months — with health care and
Afghanistan jostling at center stage — will likely carry a long echo. Obama’s best hope of nipping bad storylines is to replace them with good ones rooted in public perceptions of his effectiveness.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The only campaign promise I cared about...

Last year, before the election, Obama said one thing that piqued my interest. He said that as president, he would find a way to get a college football playoff to decide a national champion. Of all the things he said, this one actually appealed to me. I find it unfortunate that along with pretty much all the other promises he made that this one fell by the wayside. And I cannot believe it is because he has so many other important things to decide or do. He still finds plenty of time to jet off to watch his wife's brother coach a college basketball game, or take her to Paris for dinner.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Great Global Warming Fraud

Late last week, servers at Britain’s Climate Research Unit, a part of the University of East Anglia, were hacked and over 172 megabytes of data dumped onto the internet for public access.

The data paints an ugly picture of scientists operating as political hacks orchestrating smear campaigns against global warming dissidents, deleting files rather than make their data publicly available, and manufacturing data to prove their case when the actual data does nothing of the sort.

The University of East Anglia has confirmed the authenticity of the documents. With that confirmation, we see global warming for what it is — a scam perpetuated by scientists intent on gaining access to money.

Even the Washington Post has felt the need to cover this story. The Australian Herald Sunwas one of the first to cover the story. They note:

The 1079 emails and 72 documents seem indeed evidence of a scandal involving most of the most prominent scientists pushing the man-made warming theory - a scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science. I’ve been adding some of the most astonishing in updates below - emails suggesting conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organized resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more. If it is as it now seems, never again will “peer review” be used to shout down skeptics.

This is clearly not the work of some hacker, but of an insider who’s now blown the whistle.

Ed Morrisey, at Hot Air, and others have done significant digging into the emails and documents. The highlights are:

  1. Prominent environmental scientists organize a boycott of scientific journals if those journals publish scholarly material from global warming dissidents.
  2. The scientists then orchestrate attacks on the dissidents because of their lack of scholarly material published in scientific journals.
  3. The scientists block from the UN’s report on global warming evidence that is harmful to the anthropogenic global warming consensus.
  4. The scientists, when faced with a freedom of information act request for their correspondence and data, delete the correspondence and data lest it be used against them.
  5. The scientists fabricate data when their data fails to prove the earth is warming. In fact, in more than one case, scientists engaged in lengthy emails on how to insert additional made up data that would in turn cause their claims to stand out as legitimate.

Andrew Bolt of the Australian Herald Sun has sifted through the emails and finds some surprises that, at first, he was not sure were authentic, but have now been confirmed to be authentic. One, from Kevin Trenbeth in Bolder, CO, to a group of fellow global warming scientists, admits “that [they] can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that [they] can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong.”

Another, from Professor Phil Jones at the Climate Research Unit, admits he “completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline [in global temperatures].”

This is damning stuff.

This world is LITERALLY swimming in oil...

Oil's Expanding Frontiers

By George Will

WASHINGTON -- What city contributed most to the making of the modern world? The Paris of the Enlightenment and then of Napoleon, pioneer of mass armies and nationalist statism? London, seat of parliamentary democracy and center of finance? Or perhaps Titusville, Pa.

Oil seeping from the ground there was collected for medicinal purposes -- until Edwin Drake drilled and 150 years ago -- Aug. 27, 1859 -- found the basis of our world, 69 feet below the surface of Pennsylvania, which oil historian Daniel Yergin calls "the Saudi Arabia of 19th-century oil."

For many years, most oil was used for lighting and lubrication, and the amounts extracted were modest. Then in 1901, a new well named for an East Texas hillock, Spindletop, began gushing more per day than all other U.S. wells combined.

Since then, America has exhausted its hydrocarbon supplies. Repeatedly.

In 1914, the Bureau of Mines said U.S. oil reserves would be exhausted by 1924. In 1939, the Interior Department said the world had 13 years worth of petroleum reserves. Then a global war was fought and the postwar boom was fueled, and in 1951 Interior reported that the world had ... 13 years of reserves. In 1970, the world's proven oil reserves were an estimated 612 billion barrels. By 2006, more than 767 billion barrels had been pumped and proven reserves were 1.2 trillion barrels. In 1977, Scold in Chief Jimmy Carter predicted that mankind "could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade." Since then the world has consumed (BEG ITAL)three times(END ITAL) more oil than was then in the world's proven reserves.

But surely now America can quickly wean itself from hydrocarbons, adopting alternative energies -- wind, solar, nuclear? No.

Keith O. Rattie, CEO of Questar Corporation, a natural gas and pipeline company, says that by 2050 there may be 10 billion people demanding energy -- a daunting prospect, considering that of today's 6.2 billion people, nearly 2 billion "don't even have electricity -- never flipped a light switch." Rattie says energy demand will grow 30 percent to 50 percent in the next 20 years and there are no near-term alternatives to fossil fuels.

Today, wind and solar power combined are just one-sixth of 1 percent of American energy consumption. Nuclear? The United States and other rich nations endorse reducing world carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. But Oliver Morton, a science writer, says that if nuclear is to supply even just 10 percent of the necessary carbon-free energy, the world must build more than 50 large nuclear power plants a year. Currently five a year are being built. Rattie says that as part of "a worldwide building boom in coal-fired power plants," about 30 under construction in America "will burn about 70 million tons of coal a year."

Edward L. Morse, an energy official in Carter's State Department, writes in Foreign Affairs that the world's deep-water oil and gas reserves are significantly larger than was thought just a decade ago, and high prices have spurred development of technologies -- a drilling vessel can cost $1 billion -- for extracting them. The costs of developing oil sands -- Canada may contain more oil than Saudi Arabia has -- are declining, so projects that last year were not economic with the price of oil under $90 a barrel are now viable with oil at $79 a barrel.

Morse says new technologies are also speeding development of natural gas trapped in U.S. shale rock. The Marcellus Shale, which stretches from West Virginia through Pennsylvania and into New York, "may contain as much natural gas as the North Field in Qatar, the largest field ever discovered."

Rattie says U.S. known reserves of natural gas, which are sure to become larger, exceed 100 years of supply at the current rate of consumption. BP recently announced a "giant" oil discovery beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Yergin, writing in Foreign Policy, says "careful examination of the world's resource base ... indicates that the resource endowment of the planet is sufficient to keep up with demand for decades to come."

Such good news horrifies people who relish scarcity because it requires -- or so they say -- government to ration what is scarce and to generally boss people to mend their behavior: "This is the police!" Put down that incandescent bulb and step away from the lamp!"

Today, there is a name for the political doctrine that rejoices in scarcity of everything except government. The name is environmentalism.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Reid Senate Healthcare bill

This will be voted on for Cloture on 11/21

Harry Reid’s objective has been to secret the provisions of the most important piece of legislation in our lifetimes until he could cram it down Americans’ throats because there was insufficient time to analyze and mobilize against it. To some extent, he has succeeded. I have done what I could, given the need to disseminate this at least a day before the Senate moved to cloture on the motion to proceed. I have therefore focused on the mandates, the public option, regulation, rationing, and taxes.



-Reid’s phony number: $847 billion

-Including $247 billion in costs passed in separate legislation or achieved in phony regulatory fixes: $1.094 trillion

-Including both the $247 billion “doc fix” and $465 billion in phony Medicare cuts which no one believes will be made: $1.569 trillion

-For the first ten years when the bill actually goes into effect: about $2.5 trillion


-Reid’s phony number: -$127 billion

-Including $247 billion in costs passed in separate legislation or achieved in phony regulatory fixes: +$120 billion

-Including both the $247 billion “doc fix” and the $465 billion in phony Medicare cuts which no one believes will be made: +$585 billion

-Medicare Cuts: $465 billion

-Tax Increases: $376 billion+++


-This bill would require virtually every American to have –- not just insurance -– but the type of insurance approved by the Obama administration. The cost of this insurance is projected by PriceWaterhouse to be $25,900 for a family policy by 2019. This is dramatically more than the premiums if Congress did nothing, with the only difference being that you would be required to pay the inflated premiums, under penalty of fine and, ultimately, imprisonment.

-You would almost certainly not be allowed to keep the insurance and providers you currently have. Virtually all of the 10.2 million seniors on Medicare Advantage would lose care. Virtually all non- unionized employers would find it in their economic interest to dump their employees onto the exchange. States would have a strong economic incentive to dump Medicare recipients onto the exchange. And the individual and employer “grandfather” clauses are full of holes.


IMMEDIATE CHANGES: Section 1001 would prohibit giving different types of benefits, based on the ability of employees to afford them and therefore would make it illegal for more highly compensated employees to opt for premium plans (section 1001, as inserted into section 2716 of the Public Health Service Act (hereafter “PHSA”)).

Section 1001 also bans lifetime limits on coverage or annual limits on coverage exceeding statutory limits, thereby outlawing the cheap plans which many young, healthy Americans prefer.

Every customer who does not get a summary of benefits which precisely complies with section 1001 could result in a fine of up to $1,000 per customer.

Section 1001 (section 2717 of the PHSA) requires the HHS Secretary to set “reporting” standards dealing with “health care provider reimbursement structures” which would —

-“improve health outcomes through implementation of activities such as quality reporting, effective case management, care coordination, chronic disease management, and medication and care compliance initiatives…”

“implement activities to prevent hospital re-admissions through a comprehensive program for hospital discharge that includes patient-centered education and counseling, comprehensive discharge planning, and post discharge reinforcement by an appropriate health care professional…”

-“implement activities to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors through the appropriate use of best clinical practices, evidence based medicine, and health information technology…”

All of these provisions seem to be a wide-open invitation to regulations implementing health care rationing, in the guise of reporting requirements.

Section 1201 (inserting section 2705 into the PHSA) and 1001 (section 2717(a)(1)(D) and (b) of the PHSA) create wellness programs which allow consideration of behavioral issues in setting premiums and, presumably, determining activities which are so dangerous that coverage might be suspended. The definition of “wellness” includes same very broad issues, including obesity and “lifestyle.” But even these broad categories are not exclusive and do not prohibit, for example, the consideration of firearms ownership. Section 1201 specifically prevents consideration of the health of a person for purposes of setting rates, but, for any other “health status factor,” premiums can vary by up to 30%, which may be increased to 50% under the discretion of the HHS Secretary. A “reward may be in the form of a discount or rebate of a premium or contribution, a waiver of all or part of a cost-sharing mechanism (such as deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance), the absence of a surcharge, or the value of a benefit that would otherwise not be provided under the plan.” The “wellness” program qualifies under this section if it “has a reasonable chance of improving the health of … participating individuals.”

The Reid bill (section 2718(b) of the PHSA) requires a rebate if, in any given year, private premiums exceed medical payments by a given percentage.

Under section 2794 of the PHSA, the HHS Secretary would review “unreasonable” insurance premiums and can require insurers to “justif[y]” their rates.

By prohibiting the consideration of preexisting conditions (section 1101) and severely limiting the ability of Americans to buy cheap policies with high deductibles and copayments, the bill insures that the cost of insurance will go through the roof. This is particularly ironic because the ostensible reason for the bill is the escalating health care premiums -– and the effect of the premium increases on small business.

Section 1101 of the bill sets up “high risk pools.” The initial “high risk pools” will supposedly cost $5 billion. But, in an unusual provision, the Secretary is authorized to somehow “make adjustments” “for any fiscal year [in which there are insufficient funds].”

Section 1102 would spend $5 billion on reinsurance for employment-based plans for people who are part of one of those plans and who retire prior to 55 –- a provision which, I’m guessing, was a payoff to labor unions.

Section 1104 gives the HHS Secretary the authority to promulgate broad rules with respect to “electronic standards.” Subsection (b)(2), for example, amends the Social Security Act to require the Secretary to “adopt a single set of operating rules … with the goal of creating as much uniformity in the implementation of the electronic standards as possible.” The same section goes on to require health plans to certify, in writing, “that the data and information systems for such plan are in compliance with any applicable standards…” It goes on to provide that a health plan is not in compliance unless it “demonstrates to the Secretary that the plan conducts the electronic transactions … in a manner that fully complies with the regulations of the Secretary…” Furthermore, anyone who provides services to a provider must comply as well. Again, the section requires health plans to certify to the Secretary “in such form as the Secretary may require, … that the data and information systems for such plan are in compliance with any applicable revised standards and associated operating rules…” The Secretary is authorized to conduct “periodic audits” to insure this is so, and substantial penalties are provided for.

GRANDFATHER CLAUSE: The language of the grandfather clause is interesting: Section 151(a)(1) provides: “Nothing in this Act … shall be construed to require that an individual terminate coverage under a group health plan or health insurance coverage…” Not to quibble, but this is different from saying that the grandfathered plan satisfies the mandate. Furthermore, grandfathered plans are exempted from Subtitles A and C, but neither contains the mandate.

Section 1251(d) specifically grandfathers health benefits offered pursuant to collective bargaining agreements.

MANDATED COVERAGE: Subtitle D defines the “qualified health plan” which Americans must have, under penalty of law. It must have “in effect a certification … that such plan meets the criteria for certification described in section 1311(c).” (Section 1311(c) says: “The Secretary shall, by regulation, establish criteria for the certification of health plans as qualified health plans.”) The mandated plan must also include statutorily mandated benefits [section 1302(a)], including mental health parity, “behavioral health treatment,” preventive care (including gym memberships), and pediatric dental care. And these statutory requirements are not exclusive, and section 1302(b)(4)(G) lays out a variety of generalized considerations which the HHS Secretary would use to set and revise benefits which Americans would be required to payt for. Subsection 1302(c) would limit deductibles and copayments. Subsection 1302(d) would set “levels of coverage,” but the levels would be based wholly on financial issues such as the levels of deductibles. With the exception of a young person under 30 who obtained a hardship certification from the government or who could not buy “affordable” coverage (section 1302(e)), a healthy person could not buy catastrophic coverage, or coverage that forced him to pay for “services” (such as maternity services) that he did not need or want, or coverage that forced him to subsidize persons whose lifestyle choices had made them very sick.

Section 1303 sets out the rules for funding abortion. The public option would be required to fund abortions for any abortion which was allowed by the Hyde amendment, as it existed for the six previous months. Thus, if the Hyde amendment were amended to provide abortions in “health of the mother” cases (i.e., abortion-on-demand), the public option would have to provide abortions in those cases without any accounting artifices whatsoever. However, by segregating private and public funds, the HHS Secretary can allow the public option to immediately fund all abortions, including third trimester and partial birth abortions. We have seen, in connection with section 1008 of the Public Health Services Act, that Planned Parenthood is experienced in setting aside one room for abortions and another room in the same building for condoms –- and claiming that the condom money is not being used for abortions. In addition, for the first time in American history, under section 1303(a)(1)(D), the federal government will become a guarantor that abortion coverage is available to everyone in the country. Persons receiving subsidies would be subject to the same phony segregation rules. There is “non-state-and-federal preemption” language in section 1303(b) which is of dubious value. State parental consent laws could not be overturned, but state laws requiring abortion coverage also could not be preempted. Current conscience protection would not be affected, but it is far from clear that it would be extended in the way that would be required to cover the new applications created by this law. Finally, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would be explicitly grandfathered. Liberals have argued for some time that failure to provide abortions in cases where other medical services are funded constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex under that statute.

MEDICAID: Would be expanded to cover those earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level.

RATIONING: The central mechanism for rationing medical care among non-Medicare-covered individuals is section 1311(c), which says: “The Secretary shall, by regulation, establish criteria for the certification of health plans as qualified health plans.” This open-ended grant of authority would allow the Secretary to write into “certified” policies a limitation on benefits in cases where treatment is not regarded as complying with “best practices.” Other sections are even more explicit: Section 1311(g) sets up a “strategy” to save money through, inter alia, “the implementation of activities to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors through the appropriate use of best clinical practices.” Finally, there are the $465 billion in Medicare cuts. Although the bill pretends that reductions in benefits and eligibility will be prohibited, it is unrealistic to assume that a Congress which cannot carry through with a 1997 commitment to cut the increase in doctors’ reimbursements by $247 billion will be able to comply with $465 billion in cuts. The result will be “rationing by under pricing.” The chief actuary for Medicare and Medicaid predicts that hospitals and providers will not treat persons at the levels of reimbursement which will result from this bill.

Sections 1321 et seq. provide various mechanisms for state “flexibility,” but, by and large, apply only to states that are willing to throw even more money away than the statute requires.

Section 1331 would give the states “flexibility” to establish basic health programs for low-income individuals not eligible for Medicaid because they earn between 133% and 200% of the poverty level. On a related issue, one conservative think tank has found that virtually all 50 states would find it to their financial benefit to dump all of their Medicaid beneficiaries into the exchange. Although the CBO has not scored this eventuality, estimates are that it would increase costs of the program by $2 trillion.

Section 1333 is a nod to GOP calls for interstate sales of insurance, but it applies only in accordance with open-ended HHS regulatory authority to limit it and only if licensed in each state.

Section 1401 sets up a “refundable” health tax credit (which means that the government sends a check to people who otherwise have no tax liability). The credit equals “the excess … of the adjusted monthly premium … over 1/12 of the product of the applicable percentage and the taxpayer’s household income for the taxable year.” The applicable percentage is “2.8 percent, increased by the number of percentage points (not greater than 7) which bears the same ratio to 7 percentage points as the taxpayer’s household income for the taxable year in excess of 100 percent of the poverty line for a family of the size involved, bear to an amount equal to 200 percent of the poverty line for a family of the size involved.” This is the easy part. The credit, which is supposedly intended for low-income, relatively uneducated Americans, goes on with 26 more pages of special rules and definitions.

Section 1402 reduces copayments, deductibles, etc., for persons earning less than 400% of the poverty level, in accordance with a sliding scale.

Section 1421 et seq. create s “small business tax credit” for employers with fewer than 25 employees. Under these provisions, a small business can supposedly deduct 50% of the exorbitant forced premiums required by this bill. If the average annual wage is over $40,000, the employer could not benefit from this section. If the average annual salary is below $40,000 (and the average cost of a family policy is, as PriceWaterhouse estimates, $25,900 by 2019), this would still mean that the cost of the bill to small employers would be over 1/3 of the employees’ gross pay.

Section 1501 would require virtually everyone in the country to have –- not just insurance –- but government-approved insurance. The statute justifies this by a 1944 case [U.S. v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association] holding that “insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation.” Of course, the question of whether “insurance” is interstate commerce is different from the question of whether not buying insurance (i.e., not doing anything) is interstate commerce. Furthermore, there is the question of whether a legally forced payment which is used to provide for the health care of others is a tax –- a tax not imposed by Congress, as required by Article I, Section 8, but imposed by bureaucrats and private parties — and whether, furthermore, it is a capitation tax not commensurate with the census and not authorized by the Sixteenth Amendment. If the individual fails to comply, he will be subject to an IRS-administered fine, which, by 2017, will be $1,500 for a married couple, indexed for inflation ($2,250 for a married couple with a dependent 19 year-old). And, if the individual fails to pay the fine, because, for example, he cannot afford either the premium or the fine without selling his house or his business, he can be sentenced, notwithstanding the Schumer amendment, to up to $250,000 in additional fines and up to five years in prison. There is an exemption for persons who would have to pay in excess of 8% of income for insurance.

Section 1511 et seq. provide for employer responsibilities. Section 1511 provides for automatic enrollment in the case of employers with over 200 employees. Under section 1513, an employer with employees eligible for the exchange who does not provide insurance must pay the “applicable amount,” times the number of employees. The “amount,” laid out in 26 U.S.C. 4980H(b)(2)(B), is up to $600 each for each employee. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the potentially negative impact on jobs, this figure is low enough to make it almost always economically preferable to dump employees onto the exchange, rather than paying the spiraling costs of premiums under government-mandated insurance, even given the puny tax benefits which are made available under that section.

TAXES: (1) There is a 40% tax on insurance with premiums over $23,000 ($8,500 for individuals). Because these are not indexed to premium costs -– and because the average premium will soon be in excess of this level -– this is another Alternative Minimum Tax in the making. (2) The increases in small business taxes (for those filing taxes using Schedule C) would cripple jobs creation. The Medicare payroll tax would increase for these earners from 1.45% to 1.95. (3) In addition, there are increased taxes on HSA distributions (section 9004), increased taxes on flexible spending arrangements under cafeteria plans (section 9005), an annual fee on pharmaceutical manufacturers which would be passed on to the consumer (section 9008), an annual fee on medical device manufacturers and importers which would be passed on to the consumer (section 9009), an annual fee on health insurance providers which would be passed on to the consumer (section 9010), elimination of the deduction for expenses allocable to Medicare Part D (section 9012), a tax on the very sick by increasing from 7.5% to 10% of income the level at which you can deduct health care expenses (section 9013), and the bo-tox tax (section 9017). This is in addition to the massive penalties imposed on the uninsured.

Imaginary Districts, imaginary jobs, our REAL TAX MONEY GOING TO THEM

Here's a stimulus success story: In Arizona's 9th Congressional District, 30 jobs have been saved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending. At least that's what the website set up by the Obama Administration to track the $787 billion stimulus says.

When it comes to stimulus spending, could the wheels of government bureaucracy be grinding too quickly for once?

There's one problem, though: There is no 9th Congressional District in Arizona; the state has only eight Congressional Districts.

There's no 86th Congressional District in Arizona either, but the government's Web site says $34 million in stimulus money has been spent there.

In fact, lists hundreds of millions spent and hundreds of jobs created in Congressional districts that don't exist.

In Oklahoma, for example, the site lists more than $19 million in spending -- and 15 jobs created -- on Congressional districts that don't exist. In Iowa, it shows $10.6 million spent – and 39 jobs created -- in non-existent districts.

In Connecticut's 42nd District (which also does not exist), the website claims 25 jobs created with zero stimulus dollars.

The list of spending and job creation in fictional Congressional Districts extends to U.S. territories as well.

  • $68.3 million spent and 72.2 million spent in the 1st Congressional District of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • $8.4 million spent and 40.3 jobs created in the 99th Congressional District of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • $1.5 million spent and .3 jobs created in the 69th district and $35 million for 142 jobs in the 99th district of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • $47.7 million spent and 291 jobs created in Puerto Rico's 99th Congressional District.

The Web site was established as part of the stimulus bill "to foster greater accountability and transparency" in the use of the money spent through the stimulus program. The site is a well-funded enterprise; the General Services Administration updated it earlier this year with an $18 million grant.