On a Ruling

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court surprised many people with their ruling regarding the Affordable Care Act (more commonly called Obamacare). As liberal Democrats responded predictably with glee, conservative Republicans also predictably responded with anger, doom, and gloom. Amidst all the rhetorical responses dominated by taglines, campaign slogans, and misinformation, I (on the other hand) have taken the time to ponder the situation.

In my opinion, Justice Robert would have voted no, but as the leader of the court, Chief Justice Roberts chose to his path based his long-term view of the court. Meanwhile, here is my opinion of what Chief Justice Roberts did.

He constricted the Commerce Clause

He kept the high court in its own jurisdiction, and out of the political arena

He passed the issue back to the people and their elections, especially this November

He assured governors the ability to opt out their state

I see more than a handful of governors will opt out, which means 1) fewer people will go into the Federal system – thus screwing up the numbers and the design so the program costs the Federal government more than projected; 2) elected officials will continue to politicize the issue, which includes using misinformation to gain political advantage

Meanwhile, the issue will divide the public more than ever, and the public will become more confused and angered than it already is. Because the public will want solutions and officials will continue to fail to deliver solutions, more people will become disillusion with government and participate less in elections – and when a political party gains total control, they will force something onto the public that the public doesn’t want. In the immortal words of pop music artists Sonny and Cher, and the beat goes on.

On a Health Care Prediction

The situation – A conversation with a friend, who is a self-proclaimed political pundit

The timing – Approximately a month ago, but it was before Congress passed the health care bill

My Series of Predictions

  1. The Democrats will pass a health care bill.
  2. Republicans will campaign to repeal it.
  3. Republicans will gain control of Congress as Independents back them because Democrats did not listen.
  4. Republicans successfully repeal the bill, and then replace it with what they think is best.
  5. Independents vote out the Republicans because they did not listen either.

Analysis

  • My friend (the self-proclaimed political pundit) said it would not happen because the Democrats did not have the votes to pass the bill.
  • For me, two check marks.

On the (Yawn) Health Insurance Debate

Discussions about health insurance reform continue through newspapers, blogs, news, and radio/TV talk shows – even a few sensible ones. Meanwhile, as President Obama is attempting to push the process forward, it’s time for a look by a voice of reason.

Point 1: At first, I saw President Obama making his insurance plan public before the summit with the Republicans as a major faux pas. Upon further review, he posted in advance simply to show that he listened to the other party. In other words, he went into the “summit” knowing what he would add. In other words, I’m not buying the appearance of compromise.

Point 2: To discover the rationale behind the positions of both parties, all one has to examine is their respective donor list. Ask yourself these questions: Why are Democrats against tort reform? Why are Republicans against controlling costs? Why is neither party focusing on what is best for people?

Point 3: Because of their bully-pulpit tactics, the Democrats have politically backed themselves into a corner with a no-win situation thinking they are giving the people what they want. As Mr. President pushes the bill toward reconciliation, the Republicans are licking the chomps because they seeing opportunities for them – not for the people. Besides, they are enjoying watching Speaker Pelosi leading her flock of lemmings toward the cliff. Does anyone think she will jump?

Conclusion: Two things are certain: continual health insurance debate takes away time from discussions about the economy in terms of jobs, and the both President Obama and the Democratic leadership have talked this supporter of health insurance reform into an opponent. Sorry Republicans, I’m not on your side either.

Meanwhile, here are some good columns on the mess.

On Renewing the Health Insurance Debate

As Democrats unsuccessfully ramming their health insurance plan through and while Republicans remained obstinate to changes, the situation of citizens remains the same: people with pre-existing conditions cannot get coverage, people using health insurance still face rising premiums, many employers continue to shift more health insurance responsibility to employees, and many people are lack employment.

I know health-insurance Darwinists are out there – meaning they see insurance only for those who can afford it – of  course their tune changes with their situation – so they only get these few lines. Nonetheless, the majority of Americans still want something done. (USA Today poll).

Before mentioning my ideas, members of Congress must pledge to stop lying and distorting information. All truths and nothing but the truths! Since the pledge, lying, half-truths, and distortions is beyond their grasp, thus won’t happen, here are 10 ideas (in no particular order).

1) A national program without tort reform is quite stupid; however, national leadership must clearly inform the public that such tort reform would only affect litigation involving federal law through the federal courts – thus do not effect cases based on state laws in state courts. Currently, some states have already done tort reform, while others have not.

2) Denying insurance because of pre-existing conditions and raising premiums because of using insurance must stop.

3) No pork and no sweetheart deals as in Nebraska or Louisiana. Nada, none, zilch!

4) Remove the tax on the luxury plans. If employers want to offer better plans, so be it – well, as long as they offer to every employee. In other words, a luxury tax on exclusive plans within a company is acceptable.

5) Dramatically reduce the number of uninsured. The numbers I’m seeing from both sides of the aisle are too high. However, I appreciate USA Today’s thoughts on removing the requirement for purchasing health insurance.
“If someone refused to sign up but later got sick and sought coverage (which insurers would have to provide), that person might have to pay a year’s worth of premiums to get covered.”

6) Offer a three-ponged government option.

  • Allow states to opt out, thus offering their own solution if they so choose. However, no opting-out state who does not offer options may prevent its residents from buying into the federal plan
  • Allow insurance companies to cross state lines in order to participate in the federal plan that should offer a cooperative of private insurers competing against one another.
  • Allow the ability to purchase into the same plan provided to those in Congress. It not, Congress should eliminate their current plan and use the cooperative. To the pompous roaming the Capitol Hill halls, this is your chance to shine!

7) Many pro-choice voters will not mind excluding abortion funding from government-backed insurance. If the move gets more votes, so be it.

8) Stop blaming the health insurance companies because they are only one part of the issue. Since they are part of the equation, they may have some useful insight at controlling costs. Although one does not have to agree, here is an interesting WSJ article based on an interview with the WellPoint CEO.

9) Do not move people from Medicare into another program. Now is the perfect opportunity to examine the Medicare system to find wastes, abuses, and duplicate/conflicting programs that, if eliminated, would produce cost savings to the government without reducing coverage.

10) Develop a way to maximize use of tax-favored health saving accounts (HSAs) for everyone who wants one.

Oh well, let Washington get back to the rhetoric and self interests.

On the Health Insurance Merry-Go-Round

With the Massachusetts special election for senator upon us, it seems appropriate to write about health insurance.

Anyone thinking that Congress has the intestinal fortitude and wisdom to create meaningful health insurance reform would be a combination of dreaming and brainless bliss. Anyone thinking that the Republican Party was capable of such an act clearly demonstrates sheer stupidity. Anyone thinking that the Democratic Party could create an effective program without catering to special interests is stranded in a small boat many miles from shore while rowing into the wind with a set of toothpicks.

One side of me thinks that whatever the Democratic Congress agrees upon is better than what is currently in place. Maybe so, but ineffective legislators aside, the health insurance industry is the problem. It is the large, untamed elephant in the room. Great plan Congressional Sherlock – give it plenty of peanuts and build around it!

So, thanks to the Democratic Party for screwing up the chance to produce meaningful legislation that the public can support regarding a timely and meaningful issue. You have done well at convincing supporters to become turncoats. Several late-December columns examine the stench the Democrats created during the process. I do not agree with all of their points, but collectively through different points, they hit the nail on the head. Thank you David Brooks, David Broder, and Paul Krugman.

Also, thanks to the Republican Party for sticking to the same principle that you demonstrated during your power period (1995-2006). No matter what you say, you do not have interest in the matter, thus no need for a plan.

For readers, since everyone cites public opinion, here is the Gallup organization with some interesting numbers.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 44

On the Health Insurance Dilemma
There’s no doubt that I support some sort of universal health care because I believe it’s a matter of human decency. On the other hand, I simply don’t trust Pelosi-led legislation. Stop cheering Republicans, you passed on your chance to get anything done.

Although columnist Charles Krauthhammer isn’t one of my favorites, this was an interesting column.

On South Carolina Republicans
Wow. South Carolina, arguably the most conservative state, has a battle brewing between conservative (as Sen. Lindsey Graham) and ultra-conservatives (as Sen. Jim DeMint). Now there’s a battle aimed at winning over moderates. Here’s an article.

A similar thing is happening in my district as a conservative incumbent is being challenged by two to the further right: those so far right that they are actually left. I like this Kathleen Parker column about the GOP.

On the Swiss Reaction
The Swiss vote banning the building of Islamic minarets could me off guard. On the other hand, the multitude of reactions is a balance between interesting and scary. The holy wars are definitely ramping up, and I have to wonder when a similar referendum is tried in here.

On Drivers Holding Cell Phones
Some states have passed laws against drivers talking on a cell phone while driving. Also, and well documented, females do this act more than males – and my observations note that the numbers are considerably different. Meanwhile, we in Ohio don’t have any laws about as such; and to top it off, today I observe a member of our local police force holding and talking on a cell phone while driving the cruiser. Yes, it was a female.

On Baseball’s Hallowed Hall
This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was announced. Given the choices, I would vote for Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, and Fred McGriff. Then again, that doesn’t mean anything to the actual voters.
 
On a Cake Recipe
I like wine and I like chocolate, so how does a chocolate wine cake sound? We’ve used this recipe from Food & Wine twice and it’s been a hit both times.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 38

On the October Opener
The first Monday marks the start of the Supreme Court. Those pointing to the addition of Justice Sotomayor as a swing in the court aren’t even close. No question – Justice Alito replacing Justice O’Conner is the most recent philosophical swing.

Meanwhile, USA Today had a few interesting articles on the first Monday.

On Bauchus Health Care Reform
Seems the Congressional Budget Office says the Baucus Plan, the one from the Senate Finance Committee, is the only one the CBO says won’t increase the deficit. So is it cuts or taxes? Here’s the CBO report.  The Washington Post has this interesting interactive.

Meanwhile, I’ll ask these questions: Does the plan leave anyone uninsured? If so, who? Does the plan work to maintain or lower costs? Will anyone with a salary below $250,000 face additional tax increases?

On the Rangel Ruckus and Rove
Although somewhat partisan, Congressman Rangel (D-NY) needs to be proven guilty. If so, then immediately resign. Since I can’t imagine that all the charges are face, he should resign and move on with his life. Of course what House members don’t get that the issue is about ethics, not political affiliation. Meanwhile, ALL 565 members of Congress should be audited!

So Karl Rove has written the people are abandoning Democrats. Moderates to Karl – Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean these people are embracing Republicans.

On the Noble Peace Prize
This morning’s announcement about President Obama winning the Noble Peace Prize. First of all, congratulations Mr. President. Secondly, the immediate partisan responses are pathetic.

On Dancing with the Stars
Now that several weeks are in, it’s time to look to the finals. Make no doubt about it, but (as a whole) this year’s female class has been much stronger since the opener.

  • Contenders: Aaron Carter, Natalie Coughlin, Jonna Krupa, Mya, Donny Osmond
  • Possible with Improvement: Mark Decascos, Kelly Osbourne, Louis Vito
  • Biding Time: Michael Irvin, Chuck Liddell, Melissa Joan Hart
  • Gone: Tom DeLay, Ashley Hamilton, Macy Gray, Kathy Ireland, Debi Mazar

Another interesting oddity this year is that 4 of the fan favorite professional dancers are gone: Edyta, Tony, Cheryl, and Maksim.

By the way, I enjoyed this Macy’s Stars of Dance clip with the USC Marching Band.

On Sports Shorts

  • Wow … The Detroit Tigers may have achieved one of the greatest chokes since the ’64 Phillies.
  • I continue to wonder about the bias and the rationale behind college football polls.

A Musical Sendoff into the Weekend
I’ve been fortunate enough to see Blue Man Group twice, a concert tour and a theater show. Awesome!