Saturday, March 22, 2014

Obamacare Schadenfreude for a Slow Saturday

A slow morning here, warmish going towards 60 F, overcast, with a strong south wind. Currently waiting for a plumber to arrive to fix a split copper pipe from our last spell of global warming deep freeze. I guess we're still due at least one more cold spell with possible snow, after the weekend. 

A slow day for Obamacare Schadenfreude by recent standards.

Matt Drudge, conservative media mogul, set off yesterday's Obamacare Schadenfreude firestorm when he tweeted that he was paying his Obamacare penalty for 2014 and renaming it the "Freedom Tax." (Actually, I think the IRS's preferred term "Shared Responsibility Payment" is so Orwellian that we should leave it at that and alway pronounce it with scare quotes).
A White House aide set off a stampede of liberal media criticism for Internet news pioneer Matt Drudge over Obamacare – but his critics don't seem to understand how small businesses pay taxes.

The brouhaha started when Drudge tweeted, “Just paid the Obamacare penalty for not 'getting covered'... I'M CALLING IT A LIBERTY TAX.”
A White House flunky disputed the claim:
Jesse Lee, the Director of Progressive Media at Barack Obama's White House, respondedthat that was a “Flat lie, no fee for previous year,” adding, “Scary how much influence he once had.”

Lee’s response to Drudge set off a firestorm in the liberal media, with many mainstream media and left-wing reporters countering him on Twitter and in their own articles to claim he does not have to pay Obamacare’s Individual Mandate tax until next year. The individual mandate went into effect Jan. 1 of this year, and most people paying their taxes right now are paying taxes for 2013.
Of course, this just demonstrates the ignorance of the White House flunky and his liberal up-suckers. Any one working now is either having taxes for 2014 withheld now, or in Drudge's case, as a small businessman, has to pay estimated taxes quarterly.  The money is going to the government now, and being spent along the way.  April 15, 2015 is the date that all the accounts are supposed to be squared up with the reality of the tax law, not when the taxes are collected.

Apparently, Drudge knows the tax law and Obamacare better than the White House, and the liberal media. But probably not better than Ezekiel Emanuel...

Obamacare Architect Ezekiel Emanuel: Obamacare Will Spur the End of Employer-Provided Health Insurance
It was always the plan.
Emanuel reveals this in a new book, as reports the New York Times.
Mr. Emanuel expects the law to produce an unadvertised but fundamental shift in where most working Americans get their health insurance — specifically, a sharp drop in the number of employers who offer coverage to their workers. That scale of change would dwarf what took place last fall, when a political firestorm erupted over President Obama’s “if you like your plan you can keep it” pledge.
His former colleagues in the Obama White House say there is no evidence the law will bring “the end of employer-sponsored insurance"...
But now Mr. Emanuel thinks that a number of well-known national companies will break the mold and begin a trend. By his estimation, the proportion of private-sector workers who receive health care from employers will fall below 20 percent by 2025. Currently, just under 60 percent of private-sector workers get health care from employers.
“It’ll be a matter of a few big employers, blue-chip companies,” Mr. Emanuel said in an interview. “Then it’s going to be the norm.
The United States system of primarily employer based health insurance arose in WWII as a response to wage and price controls by the FDR administration, and grew organically from those restraints.  It may not be the best system imaginable, but until Obamacare, the US as a whole was about 85% satisfied with it's healthcare system.  Liberals were not. The likelihood of liberals creating a system that satisfies as many people is not high, and in fact, is probably not their goal.

Like Hotel California, Obamacare, designed by liberals to trap and keep people in there system, can be difficult to leave: Woman Paid For 2 Health Care Plans After Trouble Disenrolling From Obamacare
A Florida woman had to pay for two health care plans after she had trouble disenrolling from Obamacare. Melissa Battles tells WOFL-TV that she originally signed up through for insurance for herself and her autistic son.  “I enrolled online and it is very convoluted and takes a very long time to enroll,” Battles explained.

After getting a full-time job with benefits, Battles went to disenroll from the Obamacare insurance she purchased through But trying to disenroll from Obamacare turned out to be a full-time job in itself.

“The first person I spoke with after being on hold for 49 minutes couldn’t do anything and they had to refer me to a specialist, who still couldn’t do anything,” Battles said. “They had to refer me to an event resolution center. There was no email address, there’s no direct number to the event resolution center, only the main 800 number. And there’s no mailing address to file any type of grievance or complaint about how it’s handled.”

By the time it took her to finally disenroll from Obamacare, she was already paying for both health plans.
Hispanics souring on Obamacare -- and Democrats too?
. . .Obamcare may be costing the president and his party support among Hispanics. Sharp-eyed analyst Rebecca Kaplan at CBS News notes that the latest Pew Research Center poll on the Affordable Care Act shows 47 percent of Hispanics approving of it and 47 percent disapproving. As the Pew analysts note, this is a huge drop: 61 percent of Hispanics approved of Obamacare in September 2013. Obamacare, after all, was sold as a program that would help the uninsured, and a significantly higher than average percentage of Hispanics don't have health insurance.
. . .
I think that Obamacare may be discrediting Big Government generally among Hispanic voters. They may have assumed that government in the United States was competent and functional. They have been finding out that Obamacare has been about as competent and functional as government in Mexico.
Given the opportunity, all institutions devolve into a system for promoting the employment of the people running the system.  A democracy (or a republic) gives the citizens an opportunity to fight that tendency; but only if they take it.

RNC Chairman: Obamacare still stinks - Republican alternatives to the health care law deserve a look.
When healthcare reform was being debated in Congress in 2009, Republicans offered a range of solutions to lower cost and expand access. But Democrats had no interest in listening. . . But fast-forward four years and their brainchild isn't working as promised. Their worldview hasn't been vindicated. So their feeble defense is something-is-better-than-nothing. They're saying in effect, "Obamacare may be bad, but at least it's better than no plan."

You could easily argue that's a false statement, but more importantly that's a false choice. It was never a choice between Obamacare and nothing. It was a choice between healthcare reform that gave more power to the federal government (the Democrats' preference) or healthcare reform that gave more power to the consumer (the Republican way).

So first, Republicans have long proposed allowing consumers to purchase healthcare across state lines, just as they can purchase almost any other good or service. Your healthcare choices shouldn't be limited by the state you happen to live in. If there's a good plan available in Wisconsin, someone in Florida should be able to buy it, too.

Second, we could allow small businesses to pool together to negotiate lower insurance rates for their employees. Instead of sticking them with expensive mandates and regulations from Washington, why don't we make it cheaper for small businesses to give their workers health coverage?

Third, we've got to stop the frivolous lawsuits that drive up costs. We need tort reform. This could include putting a cap on non-economic damages and creating specialized health courts.

A fourth idea that some have proposed would expand the allowable expenses for health savings accounts. That way, consumers can pay for the services and insurance they need — rather than the ones the government thinks they need.

Fifth, others suggest we restructure the tax code so that Americans buying individual plans get tax deductions, putting them on a more level playing field with those who receive health insurance from their employers.

Sixth, we could protect prices for individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage. This way, people aren't subject to unexpected rate hikes and they can have some degree of predictability. It also encourages personal responsibility and reduces the likelihood that people will only buy insurance when they're sick.

That's just a few examples of ideas that some Republicans have proposed. Unlike Obamacare, none of these requires new taxes. There would be no need to hand over your private information to a malfunctioning website. And they wouldn't take away your current plan if you happen to like it.
But where's the opportunity for graft?

From Townhall: Why Are Obamacare Polling Questions So Terrible?
Pew tries to spin the results, including the following subhead in their own post: "But Most Opponents Want Politicians to Make Law Work." And that sentence is well supported by the following question in Pew's poll:

What do you think elected officials who oppose the health care law should do now that the law has started to take effect? Should they [READ AND RANDOMIZE] or should they [ITEM]?

Among those who disapprove of Obamacare, 30 percent want elected officials "to make the law work" while just 19 precent want elected official to "make it fail."
But what do those options even mean? If an elected official supports repealing Obamacare's individual mandate, is he trying to "make the law work" or "make it fail"? What about the employer mandate?
Followed by even more awful examples from the MSM.

Polling questions are biased because the people who write them are biased.  Furthermore, polls have two not necessarily consistent goals.  First, the nominal objective, to find out the state of mind of the the electorate, a worthy, overblown goal.  Second, the more subtle objective of steering public opinion. For the most part except for us contrarians, people want to feel part of the mainstream.  By telling people that some majority wants to "mend it, not end it" is to try to bring pressure to get people to accept that as the default position.  Not that democrats are trying to mend it.

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