Tag: Stimulus Package

California “closes the gap” and changes “party politics.”

Apparently the real victory for Mr. Maldonado, the Republican who broke ranks to end the “crisis” (by raising taxes by almost $13billion) was a provision to create (or potentially create, subject to a referendum, of course) an “open primary” system.

A proposed constitutional amendment would go before voters in June 2010 instituting a “top-two” primary system, which would effectively eliminate party primary ballots, erase candidate party labels in primary elections and allow voters to choose the two candidates – of whatever party – who would compete in the general election.

An open primary would dissolve the current political primary system, and has the potential to seriously erode party power and change the entire landscape of state politics.

The measure was the work of Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County), the swing vote Democrats needed to push through state budget legislation Thursday morning. That vote earned him the wrath of his party.

So, in other words, Maldonado has cut a deal whereas while earning the wrath of his party he weakens the party, therefore weakening the party’s ability to affect his reelection (by pushing an alternative in the primary). How “courageous” of Maldonado to cut a deal to protect his job, and how “bi-partisan” of all the other legislators to agree to protect their jobs from “party politics.”

Meanwhile, about $26 billion dollars of the Stimulus Package will be coming California’s way. Wonder how much of that will given BACK to Californians in a tax cut? Anyone want to guess?

Stimulus?

The bill was finally posted in its “final” form late last night at about 11pm Eastern.  This is the $48 hours that we have to look at this thing?  They’re voting today…less than 18 hours after the final version of the bill was posted.  The NTU emailed me this morning with a summary of some of the non-stimulating stimulus:

  • $24 million for USDA buildings and rent
  • $176 million for renovating Agricultural Research Service buildings
  • $290 million for flood prevention activities
  • $50 million for watershed rehabilitation
  • $1.4 billion for wastewater disposal programs
  • $295 million for administrative expenses associated with food stamp program
  • $1 billion for the 2010 Census
  • $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries
  • $650 million for the DTV converter box coupon program
  • $360 million for construction of NIST buildings
  • $830 million for NOAA research and facilities
  • $2 billion for Byrne JAG program
  • $10 million to combat Mexican gunrunners
  • $125 million for rural communities to combat drug crimes
  • $1 billion for the COPS program
  • $1 billion for NASA
  • $300 million to purchase scientific instruments for colleges and museums
  • $400 million for equipment and facilities at the NSF
  • $3.7 billion to conduct “green” renovations on military bases
  • $375 million for Mississippi River projects
  • $10 million for urban canals
  • $5 billion for weatherizing buildings
  • $2 billion to develop advanced batteries for hybrid cars
  • $3.4 billion for fossil energy research (possibly including an earmark for FutureGen)
  • $5.1 billion for environmental cleanup around military bases
  • $5.5 billion for “green” federal buildings
  • $300 million for “green” cars for federal employees
  • $20 million for IT upgrades at the Small Business Administration
  • $200 million to design and furnish DHS headquarters
  • $98 million earmark for a polar icebreaker
  • $210 million for State and local fire stations
  • $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines
  • $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites
  • $140 million for volcano monitoring systems
  • $600 million for the EPA Superfund environmental cleanup program
  • $200 million to clean up leaking underground storage tanks
  • $500 million for forest health and wildfire prevention
  • $25 million for the Smithsonian Institution
  • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • $1.2 billion for “youth activities” (for “youth” up to 24 years old)
  • $500 million earmark for NIH facilities in Bethesda, MD
  • $1 billion for Head Start
  • $32 million for home-delivered nutrition services
  • $160 million for volunteer programs at the Corporation for National and Community Service
  • $500 million earmark for the SSA National Computer Center in MD
  • $220 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico
  • $8 billion for high-speed railway (including an earmark for Harry Reid’s LA to Las Vegas MagLev)
  • $1.3 billion for Amtrak

Name one of these items (totaling over 50 billion dollars) that actually do anything to stimulate the economy? If these spending items are not worthy of making it on their own weight, then they certainly don’t need to be a part of a stimulus package. And this list is just a tip of the iceberg. A real stimulus package would be a tax break to the top 1%, but don’t get me started on that.

(If you don’t think a tax break to the top 1% would have a more drastic effect on our economy as a whole than ANYTHING in this $800 billion crap sandwich, then go study economics. Even John Meynard Keynes would have trouble disagreeing with this statement, and he’s the so-called “father” of this twisted sort of  “demand-side” philosophy that’s dominating the progressive mindset these days.)

But the real problem is that Congress wants to get this to President’s desk on Monday…before giving us a chance to realize how laden with nonsense it really is.

National Healthcare Coordinator

If anyone thinks that given the current economic crisis, Universal HealthCare is a long way off…think again.

Tucked deep into this “Stimulus Package” is a bill, courtesy of the Ex-DHHS Secretary Nominee, Ex-Senator Tom Daschle, which establishes an “Office of National Coordinator of Health Information Technology,” where the DHHS shall “allow for and promote the electronic exchange and use of health information for each individual in the United States.”

You got that?…each individual.

This is the beginning of nationalized healthcare as is evidenced by the stipulation that the office’s  “annual operating plans shall be provided not later than November 1 of each year”.  These plans shall describe “how expenditures are aligned with the specific objectives, milestones, and metrics of the Federal Health Information Technology Strategic Plan”.

Further, the bill allows “at least” for the following:

1. Health information technology architecture that will support the nationwide electronic exchange and use of health information in a secure, private, and accurate manner, including connecting health information exchanges, and which may include updating and implementing the infrastructure necessary within different agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services to support the electronic use and exchange of health information.
2.  Integration of health information technology, including electronic medical records, into the initial and ongoing training of health professionals and others in the healthcare industry who would be instrumental to improving the quality of healthcare through the smooth and accurate electronic use and exchange of health information as determined by the
Secretary.

This is such a violation of State’s rights, contract law, free-markets…and most of all, individual privacy rights.  If the first three don’t concern you, the latter should.

(You see this is where any of you who are Pro-Choice on the grounds of individual privacy rights, your outright hypocrisy will show through if you are a fan of Universal HealthCare in general and this brand of Government overreach in particular.)

Now there are rumors that the FULL GAMUT of Daschle’s ideas (laid out in his book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis) are in this provision, but the truth is…all of these things (the wholesale universalization of HealthCare DECISIONS being the most “critical” to Mr. Daschle, decidedly less emphasis on “new” medical treatments and medicines, and penalties for Doctors’ not participating in the system) are NOT in the bill.

However, the bill creates the TOOLS NECESSARY to add these provisions at a later date–for very little money.  All of the infrastructure and technology, back office, and most of the personnel necessary to grant the DHHS complete operational control over all of our HealthCare decisions will be firmly in place courtesy of a few billion dollars, a portion of which will be carefully utilized as bribes given to Doctors to participate.

No offense to all of you who have supported the current President, but President Obama has made his career on incrementalism.  He was a genius at it in the Illinois Senate, and he’s making a genius move at it here (OK, yeah…now would be an OK time to go back and look at his actual record…no really…go ahead).

Some of you may know that as of about 3 minutes into the second Presidential debate (around the time that McCain started blabbing about $300 billion in mortgage restructuring), I transformed from political philosopher to political activist, so a couple of suggestions for those who want to do something about this nonsense:

  1. Call your Representative and both of your Senators and tell them you will fight day and night to make sure they do not get reelected if they vote for this nonsense (and follow through on that promise)–PARTICULARLY if it contains the “National Healthcare Coordinator” provision.
  2. Call your Doctors and your Pharmacists and tell them you will not be using a medical service which uses this system.  You might not have a choice with hospitals, but with your doctors and your pharmacists, you have a choice.
  3. Tell EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO DO THE SAME.

My wife has already said to me the following:

As God is my witness, neither my health information nor my family’s health information will be in the hands of the government…ever!

So there you go.   If it becomes required that in order for me or my family to get medical care, my doctor has to run a cost/benefit analysis by the Government, then I will find a doctor who is willing to operate outside of that system.

Furthermore, and perhaps just as importantly, the measure WILL NOT WORK at getting “costs” down.  The way it is designed to save money is (eventually) by RESTRICTING and RATIONING healthcare.  This doesn’t “bring costs down” it will actually make costs for a given procedure go UP because they will be LESS AVAILABLE (only through Doctors who are willing to operate outside the system).  And if you assume that unintended consequences have been thought through here, you probably haven’t read the news lately (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?).

This is the worst version of a solution for our HealthCare problems, and is nothing more and nothing less than a Federal takeover of the system.

An open letter to the Maine Republican Party

To whom it may concern:

Now you have two (that’s two out of two) Senators who apparently get out of bed every morning and make a conscious decision that above all else they will be “Moderate” first, Republican second, and Conservative–dead last.

We’ve known this about Senator Snowe for quite a while, but maybe Senator Collins is a new convert to the “don’t think, just be moderate” wing of the Republican Party.

Please ask your Senators to clearly lay out either a) what they were offered by Senator Reid that was so tempting as to “reach across the aisle” and pass YET ANOTHER crap sandwich “stimulus” bill, or b) where is the gaping hole in their lives that has to be filled by abandoning reason in order to appear…”bi-partisan.”

Sincerely,

LogiPundit

Health Insurance and the Stimulus Package

I admit that I haven’t read the Stimulus Bill in its entirety.  I keep hearing/reading bits and pieces and those bits and pieces scare me!  For example, our government (at least most House Democrats and our President Obama) believe the Stimulus Package, HR-1, will make health insurance easier for employees after layoff via a massive expansion of COBRA .

The Department of Labor describes the “benefits” of COBRA as such:
“COBRA provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates.  This coverage, however, is only available when coverage is lost due to certain specific events.  Group health coverage for COBRA participants is usually more expensive than health coverage for active employees, since usually the employer pays a part of the premium for active employees while COBRA participants generally pay the entire premium themselves.  It is ordinarily less expensive, though, than individual health coverage.”

**DOL’s last statement is laughable, as it applies to those who are very unhealthy.**

The typical yearly COBRA payment is $12,000/yr.  Instead of $12k/yr, the proposed stimulus provides allows an ex-employee to pay only $4,200/yr. So, you have two guesses as to who is paying for the balance and how.  Ultimately, the government foots the bill; this means YOU, unless the US Government is gathering funds from secret bake sales across the Sudan.  However, it also means increased costs to all businesses; this sucks for the ones.

Workforce Management reports that this

“means employers could have as little as two weeks to make the necessary administrative changes to be able to comply with the law by the time health care coverage decisions take effect, as they normally do, at the beginning of each month.

The mechanics of complying with the law appear to be straightforward: An involuntarily terminated employee who chooses to extend coverage would pay 35 percent of the total cost of his or her health insurance; the employer would cover the rest. Employers would then deduct that amount from the payroll taxes the company wires to the Internal Revenue Service the following pay period.”

I do not own a small business, but I can only imagine what kind of administrative nightmare that this imposes on them. Woopty frigging do that the companies get this back almost immediately; it’s an unnecessary burden to put on any business when they are already hurting.

Because the ex-employee will be paying $4,200/yr, they have little incentive to find more affordable plans…which are out there!  More folks are going to feel like they cannot make it without the government and become slaves to the dole.  I’m guessing that the more than $30B for this program is going to look like chump change if it rolls out in its entirety.