Give us health tax deductions

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) drafts the national health care plan that Congress should consider. Tax credits and deductions give consumers money to purchase medical coverage in the private sector, shopping across state lines. State high-risk pools would cover those with existing medical problems. One vital feature, missing from the Democrats’ plans, are provisions to curtail excessive medical malpractice awards. It is a national policy calamity that a more open and honest congressional debate didn’t occur.

Don’t know Glenn Thomas, a candidate for mayor of Atlanta, but he offers a profound insight into taxes collected by one government and handed over to another to spend, specifically Atlanta’s spending of federal largesse. Said Thomas: “It’s not that we don’t have the money. We don’t know how to spend it.” He was speaking of the wasted $100 million Empowerment Zone money that the Clinton administration shoveled to Atlanta.

Same topic, different point. The Empowerment, now called Renewal Community, has about $37 million remaining and may have to return about $30 million to the feds at year’s end if it’s not spent. “The goal of the [Renewal Community] board is not to send any money back,” said Peggy Harper, board chairman. “We’re going to look for the most expedient way to spend the money.” In two sentences, Harper has just explained the failure of 99 percent of federal social programs – and how people end up in jail, though far less often than they should if federal programs were properly monitored.

You be the judge: The honesty of John Thompson, a 29-year state employee is so startling – “I do nothing” – that a) Diogenes works for Georgia or b) he’s really angry with superiors and wants somebody fired. You gotta admit, though, that moving him to a “do-nothing” job from “chief of operations” and giving him a 22 percent pay increase is the way that large corporations and big governments with too much money deal with their personnel problems.

East Point officials appear to be doing a commendable job of managing the city out of its recurring financial troubles, prompting the question of why City Council would now invite future financial trouble by recognizing a union, East Point Professional Firefighters Local 4717, to represent its fire department.

Other than newspapers, the single company I’d like most to see succeed is Ford Motor Co., which just posted second-quarter profits of $2.3 million. Executives there took the risk to borrow $23.5 billion in 2006 and 2007, putting the entire corporation on the line, to prepare for the downturn. No government bailout. That kind of free-enterprise risk-taking should be rewarded in the marketplace.

Fulton County’s new elections chief, Barry Garner, makes an outlandish promise. “We are not going to be the laughingstock of the election community anymore” by always being the last to get ballots counted,” said the brash young newcomer. He’d just as soon promise to end traffic congestion.

Oh, car hijackee and Atlanta City Councilman Ceasar Mitchell, was not the victim of crime; he was the victim of perception of crime. According to the mayor, the city’s “safer now than it has been in decades.” But people like Mitchell and Council President Lisa Borders seem to be noticing crime more.

The whole world knew when the shakedown of Big Tobacco succeeded that they’d be coming for the soft-drink and snack-food industries at the earliest opportunity. Answer the door, Maggie. They’ve come. The liberals at the Urban Institute, allegedly alarmed by increases in obesity, think a 10 percent tax on “fattening food” would “reduce consumption while raising more than $500 billion over 10 years.”

285 comments Add your comment

Th

July 31st, 2009
3:07 pm

Reconciliation is coming… why would you want to trash the Lewin Group study. It says very clearly that a government run public option can deliver the same health care for 30% less than a private insurer. Not because of taxpayer subsidies but lower administrative costs and lower reimbursement rates. That is why Price hates the public option, doctor reimbursement will be cut by 6.8%.

The Lewin study makes a great case for the public option and the more people eligible to buy it the better. They compared how much a private insurer would charge for the same policy congressmen have and how much a public option would charge and the savings are $2500 per year. Basically, for every four families that leave a private plan and join the public plan, we can insure another family with the savings. Buy 4, get 1 free. Everyone who doesn’t want government health care can pay the higher price.

For those convinced congress would never join the public option, how do you know their plan won’t be the public option?

Th

July 31st, 2009
3:16 pm

An earlier poster chastised us old farts for leaving them a Social Security mess. Actually, back in 1983 we started paying into the SS fund more taxes than we needed at the time and investing that extra in the safest investment in the world, US Treasuries, just so we would not burden you young people when we got old. I know you want to thank us for our forethought and sacrifice, and Eagle Scout and I say, “You’re welcome.” As we retire, we will start cashing in those Treasuries rather than making you put us up in your guest room.

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
3:42 pm

For those convinced congress would never join the public option, how do you know their plan won’t be the public option?

How do you know it will have you read the bills?

http://www.defendyourhealthcare.us/houseandsenatebills.html

Haven’t seen anything mentioned in the bills that will force all those on the federal payroll into the public option.

Happy reading. The House version contains only 1,017 pages.

Tray

July 31st, 2009
3:48 pm

All of you are so ignorant its not even funny. You can all apologize in Chinese in about 30 years…

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
3:48 pm

The entitlements have been in trouble for years. Everyone knows unless serious steps are taken now Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare will not be sustainable in the coming decades. That should serve as warning enough why the Public Option government socialist healthcare idea will not work.

Jake

July 31st, 2009
4:00 pm

MH Smith – The entitlements, despite facing huge shortfalls in coming years, have worked. Haven’t your parents or grandparents received retirement income and health benefits?

They used to call me crazy joe now they call me the batman!

July 31st, 2009
4:02 pm

Tray: With what our government owes China NOW, (borrowed during the Bush II years); we’ll be speaking Chineese sooner than that!! Why if they decide to call in those loans tomorrow; with 2 wars, (THREE if the republicans have their way and we invade Iran), out of control healthcare and a massive debt left over from Bush II……………….well, draw your own picture there!

MHSmith: You are correct!!! Those corporate entitlements HAVE TO STOP!!! My God, they’re completely out of control!!! These Farm subsides, et al. are SICKENING!! And I’m glad you agree with me! We, the people, need to stand up and say “If you give one more entitlement to those lazy, shiftless, good for nothing, corporations, we’re gonna have a TEA PARTY!!!

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
4:10 pm

Jake when my parents drew their social security the system was well funded, in the coming years that will not be the case. Don’t play games here. The current Fed Chief testified before Congress a few years back that unless steps are taken the entitlements alone will consume the entire federal budget. We have too much debt already, going into deficits to fund the entitlement programs is simply out of the question. The same said for creating another monster called the Public Option which I’ve yet to see any CBO scoring that says differently.

Hotlanta

July 31st, 2009
4:15 pm

Why is it that the folks who are complaining about people having access to better health insdurance have some of the best insurance. If Sean/Rush/Bill got sick today they have the money and means to some of the best healthcare but yet they complain about other folks having access to insurance. I could never figure that out. Right on Batman this free market has screwed everything so bad I had an $8.00 gas bill. By the time they finished adding all of those FREE market fees such as administrative fee it was $60.00. That is just like someone who says the police is too rough with criminals but yet complains about the crime in their neightborhood by saying they are not doing their job by saying “where are the cops”.

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
4:18 pm

Just for the record to my conservative compeers: I’m completely supportive of universal healthcare specifically for every U.S. Citizen and only on a limited bases for LEGAL ALIENS. However, do understand that I and the socialist liberals mostly found in the Democrat Party live in two entirely “different universes”. They are from Mars, I’m from earth.

They used to call me crazy joe now they call me the batman!

July 31st, 2009
4:50 pm

MHSMITH is from EARTH?!! :) :) :) :) :lol:

OMG!! That’s too funny!!! Please, please stop!!! You go too far for a laugh sometimes dude!

Th

July 31st, 2009
4:55 pm

MHS: I have read it. It only sets certain minimum coverages, not maximums.

Th

July 31st, 2009
5:17 pm

This is on Page 117 of the House bill regarding the public option:(3) PROVISION OF BENEFIT LEVELS.—The public health insurance option—
(A) shall offer basic, enhanced, and premium plans; and
(B) may offer premium-plus plans.

maybe the premium-plus plan is the one congress has.

clyde

July 31st, 2009
5:27 pm

Dear DeeGee,
When an employer pays for an employee’s health insurance,it’s in lieu of wages.The employee is paying every cent of the premium.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

July 31st, 2009
5:33 pm

Well, I’m all for this Tom Price healthcare plan. We’re willing to give you $5,000. It ain’t our fault if you can’t come up with the other $7,000 you need to buy a health insurance policy. What, you think we’re made of money? Go sell some crack or borrow from your relations to come up with the rest of the money.

That’s my opinion and it’s very true. Have a good weekend everybody.

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
5:57 pm

brucie wilcox is from planet X he never goes far enough away, dude!

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
6:07 pm

Maybe Th?

Nah, nothing in there says it will force all those on the federal payroll into the Public Plan.

Page 116

HEALTH BENEFITS PLAN.—
(1) EXCLUSIVE TO THE EXCHANGE.—The pub21
lic health insurance option shall only be made avail22
able through the Health Insurance Exchange.
(2) ENSURING A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD.—Con24
sistent with this subtitle, the public health insurance
option shall comply with requirements that are ap-
VerDate Nov 24 2008 23:22 Jul 14, 2009 Jkt 079200 PO 00000 Frm 00116 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 E:\BILLS\H3200.IH H3200 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with BILLS
Page 117
HR 3200 IH
plicable under this title to an Exchange-participating
health benefits plan, including requirements related
to benefits, benefit levels, provider networks, notices,
consumer protections, and cost sharing.
(3) PROVISION OF BENEFIT LEVELS.—The pub6
lic health insurance option—
(A) shall offer basic, enhanced, and pre8
mium plans; and
(B) may offer premium-plus plans.

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
6:12 pm

clyde

July 31st, 2009
5:27 pm

Actually the customer of the employer pays the costs of an employees healthcare benefit when they buy the product or service from the company.

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
6:26 pm

brucie wilcox the oxygen deprived brain says: That’s my opinion and it’s very true. Have a good weekend everybody.

Only if you leave the U.S. brucie and never come back will everybody have a good weekend. :lol:

Reconcilliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
7:48 pm

At this point in time, the current Nobel Laureate in Economics would like to set Mr. Wooten and the Palintards straight on health care economics. I was unable to find Mr. Wooten listed as either a physician or a Nobel Laureate in economics:

If you turn on your TV to C-Span 3 you’ll see a trend on the House Energy and Commerce Committee: Defeat of Stupid Amendment after Stupid Amendment and Democratic Victory and American Victory every time it happens.

July 31, 2009
Op-Ed ColumnistHealth Care Realities By PAUL KRUGMAN
At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Representative Bob Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Mr. Inglis said, “wasn’t having any of it.”

It’s a funny story — but it illustrates the extent to which health reform must climb a wall of misinformation. It’s not just that many Americans don’t understand what President Obama is proposing; many people don’t understand the way American health care works right now. They don’t understand, in particular, that getting the government involved in health care wouldn’t be a radical step: the government is already deeply involved, even in private insurance.

And that government involvement is the only reason our system works at all.

The key thing you need to know about health care is that it depends crucially on insurance. You don’t know when or whether you’ll need treatment — but if you do, treatment can be extremely expensive, well beyond what most people can pay out of pocket. Triple coronary bypasses, not routine doctor’s visits, are where the real money is, so insurance is essential.

Yet private markets for health insurance, left to their own devices, work very badly: insurers deny as many claims as possible, and they also try to avoid covering people who are likely to need care. Horror stories are legion: the insurance company that refused to pay for urgently needed cancer surgery because of questions about the patient’s acne treatment; the healthy young woman denied coverage because she briefly saw a psychologist after breaking up with her boyfriend.

And in their efforts to avoid “medical losses,” the industry term for paying medical bills, insurers spend much of the money taken in through premiums not on medical treatment, but on “underwriting” — screening out people likely to make insurance claims. In the individual insurance market, where people buy insurance directly rather than getting it through their employers, so much money goes into underwriting and other expenses that only around 70 cents of each premium dollar actually goes to care.

Still, most Americans do have health insurance, and are reasonably satisfied with it. How is that possible, when insurance markets work so badly? The answer is government intervention.

Most obviously, the government directly provides insurance via Medicare and other programs. Before Medicare was established, more than 40 percent of elderly Americans lacked any kind of health insurance. Today, Medicare — which is, by the way, one of those “single payer” systems conservatives love to demonize — covers everyone 65 and older. And surveys show that Medicare recipients are much more satisfied with their coverage than Americans with private insurance.

Still, most Americans under 65 do have some form of private insurance. The vast majority, however, don’t buy it directly: they get it through their employers. There’s a big tax advantage to doing it that way, since employer contributions to health care aren’t considered taxable income. But to get that tax advantage employers have to follow a number of rules; roughly speaking, they can’t discriminate based on pre-existing medical conditions or restrict benefits to highly paid employees.

And it’s thanks to these rules that employment-based insurance more or less works, at least in the sense that horror stories are a lot less common than they are in the individual insurance market.

So here’s the bottom line: if you currently have decent health insurance, thank the government. It’s true that if you’re young and healthy, with nothing in your medical history that could possibly have raised red flags with corporate accountants, you might have been able to get insurance without government intervention. But time and chance happen to us all, and the only reason you have a reasonable prospect of still having insurance coverage when you need it is the large role the government already plays.

Which brings us to the current debate over reform.

Right-wing opponents of reform would have you believe that President Obama is a wild-eyed socialist, attacking the free market. But unregulated markets don’t work for health care — never have, never will. To the extent we have a working health care system at all right now it’s only because the government covers the elderly, while a combination of regulation and tax subsidies makes it possible for many, but not all, nonelderly Americans to get decent private coverage.

Now Mr. Obama basically proposes using additional regulation and subsidies to make decent insurance available to all of us. That’s not radical; it’s as American as, well, Medicare.

Michael H. Smith

July 31st, 2009
7:56 pm

Health Care Co-Operatives: Doing It the Right Way

by Edmund F. Haislmaier, Dennis G. Smith and Nina Owcharenko
WebMemo #2493

As the U.S. Senate begins final preparations to mark-up health care reform, some key Senators are considering cooperatives as an alternative to a public health plan. The aim is to provide a health plan in any local market that families can feel is part of the community and always a dependable option.

What Are Co-Ops?

As Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and others have noted, cooperatives (or “co-ops”) have a long and rich history. For example, farmers established co-ops to market and distribute their produce, workers in some industries organized financial co-ops called “credit unions,” purchasing co-ops offer members access to a variety of goods and services at favorable terms, and when the term “co-op” is used in New York city, the speaker most likely means an apartment building collectively owned by its residents.

The co-op concept is also longstanding and widespread in the insurance sector, where it is known as a “mutual” insurance company. Thus, such large well-known companies as Mutual of Omaha and Northwestern Mutual Life are in fact cooperatives. There are also successful smaller, niche-market mutual insurers, such as Church Mutual (which offers lines of property, casualty, and liability coverage for member religious institutions) and Jeweler’s Mutual (which offers similar coverage lines for members engaged in making or selling jewelry).

When it comes to health care, a group that “organizes” coverage provided by insurers could be structured as a co-op, and a company that provides insurance could also be structured as a co-op. Both could be present in the same market.

Lots of organizations, some of which are member-owned cooperatives, help their members get access to various goods and services on preferential terms. For example, AARP performs this “organizing” function for its members when it arranges to get them access to discounts on travel, entertainment, and insurance. Members of a farm bureau often have access to similar products, such as financial and insurance benefits.

When it comes to buying health insurance, there are employer-based groups, such as the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce and the Cleveland Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), that organize coverage for their members’ workers. It is also not hard to envision applying the same model to other groups of individuals. Any of the sponsoring organizations could be member-owned cooperatives.

Why No Health Co-Ops Today?

In the case of cooperative or mutual insurers, while they are a longstanding feature in most other insurance markets, they are not found in today’s health insurance market. Instead, current health insurers are organized either as stockholder-owned companies or as non-profits operated (at least in part and at least in theory) for charitable purposes beyond simply selling health insurance. There is a reason for this, as discussed below.

Even the example Senator Conrad cites of Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound is organized as a non-profit and is not, in fact, a mutual insurer. The key difference between Group Health Cooperative and other non-profit health insurers, such as Kaiser Permanente, is that Group Health includes in its bylaws provisions allowing policyholders to apply to be members, and it grants those members voting rights on certain governance issues, such as the election of directors. However, Group Health’s policyholders do not have ownership rights in the company the way the policyholder owners of, say, Northwestern Mutual Life do.

Some argue that federal involvement is necessary to organize, regulate, and “jumpstart” co-ops financially in the health sector. However, what is actually needed to allow health co-ops to flourish is for the federal government to remove barriers in the marketplace–most importantly itself.

What to Do

If Congress wants to provide Americans access to health co-ops, it would need to make it possible for an institution to combine tax-exempt (non-profit) status with mutual insurance status, something health plans cannot do today. Congress should allow mutual health insurance companies to form based on the credit union model. Under this model, Congress would simply grant non-profit status to mutual insurance companies, justified by the “member benefit” they provide.

Very likely, with this form of health care arrangement possible, various non-profit memberships and other organizations might link with a health co-op to make coverage available. State farm bureaus or consortia of churches, for instance, could establish such co-op health insurance.

In addition to these steps, addressing the tax treatment of health plan benefits in the individual tax code would help spur co-ops. If families could receive the same tax relief for joining a co-op–or any other free-standing health plan–as for enrolling in an employer-sponsored plan, there would be new options for the uninsured or underinsured.

Health Care Models to Avoid

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a supporter of a public plan, introduced his key principles on a co-op system that go in the wrong direction and would end up with a federally run public plan in all but name. He states that a co-op must be national in scope, it must secure significant federal start-up funding, and it must be run by federal officials appointed by the President.[1]

There are “co-op” models that are the wrong way to provide health care and should be unacceptable to lawmakers, such as Senator Schumer’s thinly veiled public plan version. Simply calling some form of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) a “cooperative,” for instance, would be only another type of public plan in disguise.

A health insurance GSE, with its close relationship to the government, would tilt the market playing field and open the door to political manipulations–both of which would ultimately harm consumers. It would also create unjustifiable and unaffordable taxpayer exposure to financial risk.

One need look no further than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to see how GSEs can distort the market and leave taxpayers with huge liabilities. Decades of market distortions generated by their implicit government backing, compounded by the effects of repeated political meddling by Congress, put those GSEs at the very epicenter of the mortgage market collapse that triggered the current financial crisis and recession. Furthermore, that GSE approach has now saddled American taxpayers with hundreds of billions of dollars in liabilities for just Fannie and Freddie alone–not counting the additional costs of the follow-on effects that their market-distorting practices produced in the rest of the financial system.

Furthermore, the rural electric cooperatives are yet another example of government involvement in the marketplace gone wrong. Close to 80 years after their creation, the federal government continues to subsidize these well-established cooperatives. Having government directly subsidize private cooperatives in health care would create similar unjustifiable distortions and taxpayer risks.

Principles for a Consumer Cooperative

Health care cooperatives can work as private entities in a private market and give another choice to families, but they have to be done right. Here are several principles that must be a part of any co-op model:

* Cooperatives must be voluntary, open to individuals who choose to freely join together without coercion or restraint, and controlled by its members, not the government;
* Cooperatives must be viable on their own and must not receive anti-competitive government support in any form including assumption of risk, “start-up” capital, or continuous subsidies to the organization–which would turn them into government-preferred public plans;
* Health plans must be selected only by a co-op’s members, not the government;
* Competitiveness must be based on the member strength of the cooperatives and not on any favored status, including government subsidies, access to government pricing, coverage or coding decisions, or regulatory intervention;
* Any necessary regulation to keep a level playing field among health plans must be reserved for the states;
* State reforms should open doors to competition, including the competition that cooperatives would bring; and
* All individuals–including those who receive public subsidies and individuals eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP–should be free to join cooperatives of their choice.

Consumer Choice Is Paramount

The entire basis for lawmakers even pursuing further discussions of the cooperative insurer concept must be to give consumers more options and control within the context of a “level playing field”–with all insurers subject to the same market rules. Under a true consumer-based cooperative, members would have a trusted partner to help them obtain private health insurance coverage for them and their families.

greg

July 31st, 2009
7:59 pm

Utube has a Barney Frank video with Barney explaining to someone that the public option will open the door for universal coverage. I smell a TV commercial.

Reconcilliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
8:12 pm

I smell public option being passed in the House and the Senate because the votes are there whatever commercials get run.

Reconcilliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
8:15 pm

53 Votes are already in the whip count in the House to pass a public option. 51 votes are needed in the Senate to pass public option. That pretty much makes commercials based on ignorance and misniformation by the party that had it’s ass handed to it on every amendment today in Waxman’s committee markup gnat on freight trains.

Reconcilliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
8:17 pm

There are already 53 votes in the House to pass a public option, and only 51 votes via the Reconciliation statute are required in the Senate to pass a public option and we have ‘em in spades.

Reconciliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
8:47 pm

Palin can’t get a job at any wingnnut/whackjob/republitard radio company. They don’t want the nutjob that was the darlin’ of the white racist ignorant Jawjaws–only because she doesn’t look like Golda Mier and their stuck with the nags they married.

Reconciliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
8:49 pm

that’d be the jawjaw crackers are stuck with the nag they married, and Palin (typically) cancelled out on the dinner at the Raegan library because she’s a whack job.

greg

July 31st, 2009
9:11 pm

Rcon- public option is as good as dead. All this time and still no bill. Might as well forget about hatin on Palin -she is not qualified for the big job, and she will not be nominated.

Obama gets a really weak bill by winter, claims victory, end of story. Well, not quite. He loses cap and tax and then white voters -independants- middle of roaders- throw him under the bus- one term Charlie.

Reconciliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
10:16 pm

From maccacio:

It’s reporting time for health insurance companies, and so, to the tape. These are Wooten’s homeboys, the ones he wants to prosper while they kill tens of thousands of patients a year.

Aetna Inc. (AET) reports “…second-quarter 2009 operating earnings of $308.5 million, or $.68 per share, a 28 percent decrease from the prior-year quarter.” The company underestimated the explosion in medical costs, and set premiums too low (page 3). Not to worry, Wall Street:

Mark Bertolini, president, said, “We believe these increases in Commercial medical costs are largely the result of continued higher claim intensity, such as services rendered in a higher cost setting and more tests and procedures per visit, resulting in higher costs for emergency room, ambulatory, laboratory and preventive services. We are taking immediate actions to address these issues.”

That doesn’t bode well for policy holders or doctors, now does it?

Premium revenues were up $738.7, 11.8%, primarily from membership growth and premium increases (page 4). It’s distressing to think that wasn’t enough premium increase. Aetna admits thats that it’s benefit payout ratios are high. It paid out about 86% of commercial premiums in benefits, compared to 89% of Medicare revenues, and over 92% of Medicaid revenues, but it promises investors it will bring those commercial payout ratios back down, maybe to the 80% range where they were in the second quarter of 2008. That will leave plenty of money for dividends and stock repurchases. And bonuses.

Reconciliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
10:30 pm

strong>The Bush Wooten Republitard Piggies at the Troth

August 1, 2009
Federal Agencies Diverted Earmark Money By RON NIXON and ASHLEY SOUTHALL
WASHINGTON — Thirteen federal agencies took nearly half a billion dollars off the top of Congressional earmarks for administrative expenses in 2008, nearly 3 percent of the total amount that members of Congress had directed to pet projects in federal spending bills.

The Defense Department led the way with nearly $240 million deducted from earmarks. Several agencies, including the Education and Housing and Urban Development Departments, did not withhold any money to process and provide oversight of earmarks.

The findings, summarized in a report from the White House Office of Management and Budget, provide the first governmentwide look at how much federal agencies keep from earmarked money.

The report was done at the request of Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, who said he first learned of the practice three years ago when the recipient of an earmark he had requested notified him that it had not gotten the full amount.

“This is an issue of transparency,” Mr. Nelson said. “Some of these agencies are clearly taking money without any authority, and they should not have these off-budget expense accounts.”

Agency officials say they must use money from earmarks if they are required to put in place projects that they did not include in their budgets.

Many federal agencies can cite laws or rules that they say grant them the authority to take part of the earmarked money. But the laws and rules do not always specify the percentage that can be withheld, and some agencies say there is no law outlining how much they can take. As a result, many agencies have developed their own policies.</strong

Reconciliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

July 31st, 2009
10:49 pm

Cigna Corporation (CI), reports increased profits: $1.58 per share in the second quarter, up from the same year-ago quarter profit of $.96. Health care segment results were pretty good at $177mn, down slightly from the same year-ago quarter, but up from $154mn in the first quarter. CI says:

Premiums and fees in the second quarter 2009 decreased approximately 7% relative to second quarter 2008 primarily due to a decline in medical membership, partially offset by rate increases.

That decline in membership was 7.3%, 878,000 human beings. Better luck next quarter.

WellPoint, Inc. (WLP), reported that second quarter income was $693.5, down somewhat over the same year-ago quarter. A large part of that difference was the investment losses of $.07 in the second quarter, compared with losses of $.03 in the same year-ago quarter. A good bit of the reduction of revenues is lower membership. Here’s what WLP says about that:

Medical enrollment totaled 34.2 million members at June 30, 2009, a decrease of 1.1 million members, or 3.0 percent, from 35.3 million at June 30, 2008. The decline in membership was most significant in the Local Group business, which experienced a 734,000-member reduction from the prior year quarter, primarily due to in-group enrollment losses caused by the rise in unemployment.

WLP projects an increase in medical expenses of 8% for the rest of the year. It tells us that it intends to increase premiums enough to stay ahead of that trend, plus its costs. Page 2.

It looks like one big problem for these companies is loss of premiums because of unemployment. These companies must be salivating at the prospects of government subsidized premiums. Current profits are enough to pay for drinks and dinner for lobbyists and their dear dear Congressional friends.

Davo

July 31st, 2009
11:43 pm

Sorry…didn’t bother to read JW’s rant; I don’t think anything there would change…but that other guy Kyle Wingsomthinorother…..

Don’t look to these guys for leaders imho

EVIL REPUBLICANS TIME IS UP

August 1st, 2009
1:32 am

FOR FOOLS LIKE TRAY AND MIKE,IF THE REPUBLICANS WERE DOING SUCH A GREAT JOB,THEY WOULDNT HAVE BEEN VOTED OUT NUMBNUTS!

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
9:09 am

Well, well, well. The government cash for hoopties program is was nearly canceled like a government stamp. A last ditch effort by Congress infused more cash into the program yesterday. The brilliant government analysts kinda “miscalculated” the popularity of the program. Well hell’s bell’s. You think those libtards running Congress would “miscalculate” your health care just a little bit, hmmmm? And you chucknuts on the pathetic libtard left want them to take it over when they can’t even run a simpleton OLD CAR = CASH AT DEALER FOR NEW CAR government program. Are you people serious? Good gawd how pathetic!

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
9:22 am

Afghanistan. Listening to NPR yesterday morning on the way to work, the “news” reporter stated that the record deaths in the entire war effort last month (under Obama) were due to the US military in the past not encroaching into territory aligned much with the Taliban – in other words, they were never really challenged before. Do you think NPR would have stated that in Iraq (or Afghanistan) during the Bush years? As usual, the media trumps up and downplays “news” depending on what needs to be reported (good or bad) and who is in office.

No further proof of that needs to be had than Newsweek attempting to validate the positives of the Great Depression in a pseudo attempt to prop up the current economy and make us all feel good. After all, the libtards in the DNC media can’t allow their wonder from Chicago with no experience (who they propped up and put on a media pedestal) fail and look back. Yes, just smile when taking another bite of that sh!t sandwich those Dhimmicrats in Washington and their media keep dishing out to us. And without further adue, I produce the Newsweek article. Note the jubilant attitude and positives brought forth of living in hard times. Again, did we get this kind of “news” from “News”week during the Bush years? And unemployment sure as hell wasn’t at 10% back then either.

The Upside of Depression

“History largely records the 1930s as a bleak chapter in American life. But some famous survivors fondly recall a time of resourcefulness, altruism, and even joy.”

http://www.newsweek.com/id/209109?GT1=43002

EVIL REPUBLICANS TIME IS UP

August 1st, 2009
9:24 am

BOY THESE REDNECKS ARE FUNNY,THEY SPEAK ABOUT SOCIALISM MARISM AND LIBRALISM DONE BY THE DEMOCRAPS.

BUT NEVER DO THEY EXPLAIN WHY THEY WANT DICTATORSHIP AMONG THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?

ALSO WHEN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE PROSPERING THE DEMOCRAPS ARE IN OFFICE,BUT WHEN AMERICA GOES TO HELL AND BROKE THE REPUBLICANS ARE ALWAYS IN POWER,THEY ONLY LOOK OUT FOR C.E.O’S AND NOT YOUR AVERAGE BROKE REDNECK,SO LET’EM KEEP GETTING SCREWED OVER BY THE GOP,GREAT JOB BUSH AND CHENEY FOR 8 PROSPEROUS YEARS,WE HAD EXTRA JOBS ADDED AND WE DIDNT HAVE A RECESSION,SONNY DID A GREAT JOB ALONG WITH THE GEORGIA REPUBLICANS,THANKS FOR ALL THOSE JOBS GEORGIA GAIN DURING THE GOP RULE,YEAH RIGHT!

Reconciliation & Republican Defeat is a Comin' Baby.

August 1st, 2009
9:31 am

It seems like the Wooten mousketeers whose whacko fringe party loses all elections and votes can’t read at all. Just like Palin their heroine who can’t even get hired by right wingut radio–none of ‘em want the whackjob lol and they took Rush.

U.S. Economic Contraction Slowed in Quarter By CATHERINE RAMPELL and JACK HEALY
The American economy’s long decline leveled off significantly from April through June, the government reported on Friday, crystallizing expectations of a turnaround in the second half of the year.

The nation’s output shrank at an annual pace of 1 percent in the second quarter, after contracting at a rate of 6.4 percent earlier this year. Government spending, helped by the first payments from the administration’s $787 billion stimulus package, propped up activity in the latest quarter and accounted for 20 percent of the country’s output.

Friday’s report on gross domestic product — a broad gauge of the country’s output — painted a bleaker picture of the recession than earlier estimates had. It showed that the Bush administration had driven the economy to the abyss of a depression, and that the Obama administration has pulled it back and it is on a positive trajectory. Job growth always lags when the US is pushed to the line of depression, until businesses can begin profitting again, and it will take months to pick up.

The Commerce Department said the economy tumbled downward at an annual rate of 6.4 percent this winter, more than the 5.5 percent previously reported, as the country reeled from the shocks of the financial crisis. It also found economic growth of only 0.4 percent in all of 2008, compared with earlier assessments of 1.1 percent.

EVIL REPUBLICANS TIME IS UP

August 1st, 2009
9:32 am

DUMB DUMBS LIKE FAILED LIBRALISM FORGET TO MENTION THAT A DEPRESSION WAS BOUGHT ON BY BUSH,REMEMBER DUMB HICK OBAMA HAS BEEN IN OFFICE FOR 7 MONTHS,YOUR BOY BUSH CAUSED THIS MESS,BUT NEVER WILL YOU HICKS PLACE BLAME ON THE DEVILWORSHIPER BUSH.

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
9:43 am

Did someone hear a couple roaches scurrying around on this blog? Idunno, I thought I heard something. Ever notice how they always appear and disappear around the same time and leave their little roach turds behind? Anyway, let’s see how great this economy is, shall we?

“The US economy lost far more jobs in June than had been predicted by economists, and the unemployment rate hit 9.5 percent, its highest level since 1983, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday. The June jobless report undercut the efforts of the Obama administration and the media to downplay the depth of the economic crisis and generate illusions of a rapid recovery.”

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
9:49 am

Yes, and the libtard FAILED hooptie for cash program being ignored here is duly noted. Moving along………

Mr. Saturday Night Live whose camp stole a congressional seat in Minnesota is showing his leadership skills. Like his brilliant questioning of Sotomayor and asking her about Perry Mason. Now, he’s going after Tbone (Pickens). Apparently the junior senator with the little man syndrome is bringing up the Swift Boat ads. Again. How amusing. Let these people self destruct, please.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25667.html

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
9:54 am

Too bad I missed this gem from the libtards at NPR. This would have been good:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg criticized conservative opposition to socialized medicine on Friday’s edition of the talk-show Inside Washington, distributed to PBS stations. She suggested that Republican delays are “mischief-making,” proclaimed “the misinformation on what’s in the bill is astonishing,” and even suggested she was about to use a crude metaphor for the overwhelming power of insurers: “The insurance companies have – unless there’s a very aggressive regulator, they have – I was about to use an expression one shouldn’t use on television.”

First, she complained that Republican leaders are obstructing progress on health care:

And the reason that the Gang of Six, so-called, in the Senate Finance Committee didn’t produce something is that the Republican leadership intervened and said ‘Don’t do this. Leave us August to do what we can do.’ You can call it mischief-making, you can call it obstructionism, you can call it constructive criticism, but that’s what happened.

From there, the longtime NPR star went on the attack against the overwhelming power of insurers. I’d guess she was going to say insurers have Americans by the family jewels:

TOTENBERG: One thing that nobody mentions is the insurance companies have an antitrust exemption. And if – you can’t talk to a doctor or a small business insurer who isn’t sort of presented with the rates they’re going to pay. Where it’s the doctor and liability, or the small business insurer wants to buy for their employees. The insurance companies have – unless there’s a very aggressive regulator, they have – I was about to use an expression one shouldn’t use on television.

GORDON PETERSON, host: Let’s try to stay on the air.

Just like the PBS show Washington Week in the half-hour preceding it on Washington PBS station WETA, Inside Washington talked about Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling Judy Woodruff on the NewsHour that the insurance companies made “immoral profits,” and Rep. Virginia Foxx suggesting the new talk from Team Obama about Medicare sending “end-of-life” specialists to discuss medical wishes with the elderly is akin to execution:

PETERSON: Republican Congressman [sic] Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, she said on the House floor that the Republican plan would not put seniors in the position of being put to death by their government. I just wanna say, as someone in that age group, I support that. (Laughter.)

TOTENBERG: The misinformation about what’s in the bill is astonishing. The misinformation – some of it, you know, by error, and some of it, a great deal of it by deliberation — is really astonishing.

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer replied to Totenberg that in single-payer health systems like Britain’s, the elderly are not granted organ transplants or other life-extending therapies, and they die because of a government decision.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yep, isn’t that just like such caring libtardism: throw the old people under the bus. Because after all, they voted dumocrat, paid their taxes in their lives, bled for socialist security, and now aren’t needed anymore and a drain on Communist Care.

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
10:04 am

Oh, and my good man John Stossel knows how to lay it out:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On Friday’s 20/20 on ABC, co-anchor John Stossel exposed the flaws in Canada’s government-run health care system, and even showed viewers a clip of President Obama as he once expressed a belief that single-payer health care would be an acceptable system, even while taking the position that he would not pursue it, during one of the Democratic party presidential debates in 2008. During the January 21, 2008, debate on CNN, Obama had said:

“It’s fine for us to have a debate about how the best way to get there is, but to suggest somehow that I’m not interested in having everybody covered, or to suggest, as Hillary just did, that I was in favor of single payer, I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single payer. What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn’t have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system.”

During the six-minute, 20-second segment, Stossel informed viewers of the long waits patients must endure in countries with government-run health systems – like Canada and Britain. He recounted that some patients – including world leaders and wealthy celebrities – come to America for treatment of serious conditions, and relayed the case of one Canadian woman who came to America to treat a clogged artery whose American doctor told her she would not have survived waiting a few more weeks for Canada’s government health care. Additionally, Stossel found that even patients waiting in emergency rooms in Canada have to wait an average of 23 hours for service.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
10:09 am

Chris Dodd? Does that name ring a bell to anyone? If not, you can thank the current economic conditions in part to him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On Friday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson filed a report recounting mortgage company Countrywide Financial’s history of offering special deals on loans to government officials – including figures with connections to President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama. But, while the two most prominent figures currently still in government who are implicated in the scandal are Democratic Senators Christopher Dodd and Kent Conrad, neither Senator was identified by Attkisson as a Democrat. Even while soundbites of the two Senators were shown, there was not even an on-screen label showing the party of either Senator. Until the end of the story, the only clue viewers had as to either Senator’s party was when Attkisson identified Dodd as being the “head” of a Senate committee.

But later, the CBS correspondent did more directly link one other figure to Republican members of Congress as she read documentation citing Countrywide’s interest in a former House committee counsel, Clinton Jones. Quoting an “internal Countrywide email,” Attkisson described him as “‘an advisor to ranking Republican members of Congress responsible for legislation of interest [to Countrywide].’”

It was not until the end of the report, after a soundbite of Republican Congressman Darrell Issa – whose party was labeled on screen – complaining about Countrywide’s actions, that Attkisson finally hinted that Democrats may have more to fear from the scandal as she relayed that “Democrats are blocking a Republican effort to subpoena Countrywide documents.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
10:21 am

The good man Charles Rangel (chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee – for you libtard Obamabots, that’s the part of the government that establishes tax policies) wants to impose a 5.4% income surcharge tax for the most productive Americans in society (again, for you libtard Obamabots, that means the EVIL RICH). Too bad Rangel “forgot” about paying HIS OWN taxes, eh? But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt: old age. Oh, and yes, he’s a Democrat, naturally.

“Ever notice that those who endorse high taxes and those who actually pay them aren’t the same people? Consider the curious case of Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, who is leading the charge for a new 5.4-percentage point income tax surcharge and recently called it “the moral thing to do.” About his own tax liability he seems less, well, fervent.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203946904574300013592601036.html

Well said as always, WSJ. We sure as hell won’t get this news from DNCNN, PMSNBC, and the Atlanta Urinal Constipation.

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
10:26 am

Just for kicks, let’s check in with the Obamanation and see how we’re doing, shall we? Yes, we shall (or can… HAHA!). Sorry. Here’s the latest Obamorameter report:

“The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 30% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-eight percent (38%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -8″

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/var/plain/storage/images/media/obama_index_graphics/august_2009/obama_index_august_1_2009/237535-1-eng-US/obama_index_august_1_2009.jpg

Woohoo!

NR to tha' B

August 1st, 2009
11:07 am

Yesss…we must give ourselves over to the government…because we’re all in this together!

That guy down the street with no health insurance is my responsibility because, well…because we’re all human and breathe the same air!

Due to the fact that he has two arms and two legs, and I have two arms and two legs, I hereby agree to let the government club me over the head and steal from me and give it to him…it does not matter that I have my OWN family to provide for, I’m a world citizen and it’s my duty…no!…my OBLIGATION to provide for everyone else!

I mean, what kind of sick, twisted, soulless person would demand that they be able to keep most of the money that they work 12-16 hours a day to “earn”…whatever that means to “earn”….

Don’t they know that the very definition of greed is someone that is upset that they work for 6 months out of the year so that people in Africa can get condoms and Barney Frank can get corn cobs rammed up his ass in some San Francisco bath-house…the nerve

Plus I saw on Comedy Central that an illegal alien was unable to get a free abortion in Texas, I mean whats up with that…we’re all one world, which means we have to pay for the rest of the world too…and free abortions are a right…killing unborn babies is soooo cool….well gotta go run I’m protesting the death penalty today because they’re giving a serial killer the electric chair TTYL GTG YES WE CAN!

Stomp the tards--they make it easy.

August 1st, 2009
12:17 pm

A lot of the morons here, who of course believe health care is all about them but in reality don’t know jack squat about medicine or how to prevent commonplace events like MI, CVA, etc. don’t realize that health care costs have grown over 300% over the economy whch was reported yesterday to be recovering steadily after the Republitards drove it into the ground since 1980. Tomorrow on ABC Stephanopolis, one of the few publitards who will take responsiblity, Greenspan is going to say he fooked up the economy badly stopping regulation of CDS’s.

But there is good news. All of these republitards are going to have little effect on a public alternative to the insurance rapists. It’s going to happen. We have the votes and we can crush the Blue dogs with them. 53 votes in the House and growing to crush ‘em and we only need 51 votes in the Senate via Reconciliation which the Palintards here don’t understand even though I posted it.

The NYT poll out this morning has these numbers. Yep the Wooten comment section gets the whackjob minority of the Pubtard party–it’s an epicenter for the people the Senator from Ohio wants out of the Pubbytard party–the Sourthern whackjobs.

Agaiin congrats that your Saint Sarah the moron can’t even get hired by whackjob wingnut radio! I see a place for Sarah the whackjob as the lead columnist for the AJC whacknut paper–run by Cox rightwingwhacknuts.

90% of Americans want health care reform, more Americans approve (46%) than disapprove (38%) of how President Obama is handling health care reform (Congressional Republicans only have a 17% approval rating on this topic), and far more Americans have a favorable opinion of the Democrats (47%) than of the Republicans (28%). Even the news of Chris Dodd’s battle with prostate cancer — a battle that, as he says, he can fight effectively because he has access to health care options that are out of the reach of most Americans — is being downplayed by a media that knows such news is helpful to the cause of reform..

Stomp the tards--they make it easy.

August 1st, 2009
12:19 pm

NR to the B isn’t near an income bracket that was on the table for higher taxes LOL–how dumb these people are.

Stomp the tards--they make it easy.

August 1st, 2009
12:24 pm

A public plan is not just about getting an insurance alternative for everyone, including the 15% of this country who is uninsured–it’s about stopping the treatment of doctors like dirt by insurance companies and the cancelling of policies of people who pay for insurance themselves or get it paid by their businesses but get an illness that has a considerable price tag to take care of.

It’s about keeping physicians from leaving medicine, and a number of them are, because they can make more money with less headaches and late nights invested, and calls 24X7.

I haven’t seen any evidence that the idiots here know enough to provide medical care for themselves.

FAILED LIBERALISM

August 1st, 2009
12:34 pm

Ladies and gents, what we have here is a failure to communicate. And of course denial libtardism:

1. Most Americans do not believe that the U.S. health care system is in a state of crisis. The economy outweighs health care as the most pressing problem facing the country and in Americans’ personal lives.

2. Americans are not convinced that health care reform will benefit them personally. This is, in part, because most Americans are satisfied with their current medical care and access to health care. Seniors in particular are not convinced that health care reform will benefit them.

3. Americans agree that health care costs are a major problem for the country. Americans do not, however, believe that health care reform would lessen costs — neither for the system as a whole nor for individuals.

Yeah, someone explain that one to Nancytox who ignored the CBO along with other libtards.