Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 205

On Politics
Healthcare.gov, health care rates, cost and availability of health insurance, are related issues – but not the same.

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, I saw it as a start, not an end. Republicans tend to under-regulate while Democrats tend to over-regulate. Given the at best, shaky rollout of healthcare.gov and initial implementation of the law, I hoped each party would step forward to make the law better. Because would stretch each party outside of their comfort zone, fat chance of that occurring.

Insurance companies decreasing their list of physicians is not only problematic and pathetic!

First I wondered why a first-term senator would attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Then I wondered why said senator would ceremoniously protest Raul Castro by walking out of a ceremony honoring a man of reconciliation. Yes, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), that’s you – and staging an action to bring attention to yourself is very unlike Mr. Mandela. I yield my final comment to this great American orator.

A good read about Senator Cruz from the editor of Real Clear Politics.

I enjoyed columnist Dana Milbank’s take on political selfies.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Obnoxious friend won’t stop attaining major life milestones
Eighth grader caked in makeup probably really confident
Poll shows the majority of Americans would watching something called Love Trap
Modern-day Caligula orders Everything Bagel
New attractive person comes to nation’s attention
Encouraging economic report reveals more Americans delusional enough to start their own business

Interesting Reads
The Greatest of Gifts by Sue @ Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary
50 Breakthroughs since the wheel
An ancient Israeli wine cellar found
Three Italian Mountain Towns
Book review about Johann Sebastian Bach
A saga about Coca-Cola’s polar bears

On Potpourri
I have a holiday party for the weekend, which will start very early in my day. After all, I must open the doors early for those in time zones ahead of mine. Your friends are welcome as well … beware … there will be items with names on them.

Plus, don’t forget my annual Christmas Eve posts of video gifts.

For those needing these pertinent holiday tips, The Onion offers these suggestions for decorating a Christmas tree.

Once again, I enjoyed Act 11’s music. Bad News – Time: The Musical will conclude after the first of the year. Good news – A new musical will take its place

Getting Freshly Pressed still brings a smile, but it is work. After all, staying to true form, I respond to all comments and reciprocate many visitors.  Reality is that FP brings a spike in followers and daily hits (temporarily), but maybe a couple of bloggers who may turn into regulars. Juggling FP with holidays, Time: The Musical, these OITS, and preparing for a holiday fest is more than a chore! For those that didn’t know, here’s the post.

Being on the same FP page as Kathy McCullough was an added treat!

Apologies to Bulldog for my careless mistake in Act 11.

I added a new subpage under More Bloggers called Possibilities, which has some new bloggers.

Here are your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) Human Solidarity Day, Mudd Day, Sangria Day, Underdog Day
  • (Sat) Solstice, Crossword Puzzles Day, Humbug Day, Don’t Be a Scrooge Day, Ann & Samantha Day, Hamburger Day, Kiwi Fruit Day, Yalda, Yule, Flashlight Day, Phileas Fogg Win-a-Wager Day
  • (Sun) Haiku Poetry Day, Date Nut Bread Day

Let’s celebrate going into a weekend with a song from 1968 that reached Billboard’s Top 10. The video has wonderful images to go along with Everything that Touches You by The Association. Who remembers them?

Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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 Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 52

On the White House, Republicans, and Health Insurance
Recent news has President Obama inviting Republicans to bring their ideas to the table. Here are the problems I see with this step.

  • Of course is it a fight for bipartisanship or a ploy to blame the other side?
  • President Obama is admitting the previous process shutout Republicans
  • Even if the White House and GOP find common ground, getting Speaker Pelosi (the one controlling legislation) to buy in is another matter
  • Republicans will probably still vote no.

On the other hand, many voters see the current partisan tone as a negative, so now there’s a race to see how can demonstrate bipartisanship.

On Senator Shelby
Until earlier this week, Senator Shelby (R-AL) was intentionally medaling the federal appointments process to prevent approving appointees because he wanted certain pork for his home state. Since this a prime example of what many citizens do not like about Washington, here are three thoughts:

  • Senator Shelby is pathetic
  • Republican senators not calling him out are pathetic
  • Democratic senators who did the same thing during the Bush administration are pathetic

On the Super Bowl Commercials
As a whole, I found the commercials during the Super Bowl to be a very mediocre crop. Go Daddy doesn’t get it, the ETrade baby is not as funny, and Budweiser and Coke seems to be cutting back. No need to slam Hyundai for being normal, yet I praise Doritos as the product winner.

On a Fund Raiser for Haiti
The earthquake in Haiti has tugged on a lot of heart strings … but in this case, G-strings. Marilyn’s, a strip club in Toledo, recently raised $1000 in their Lap Dance for Haiti promotion.

On 2010 Bearcat Football
The past several seasons have been successful for the UC Bearcats, but they announced the 2010 OOC schedule. OUCH! … a 1-3 start is a good possibility …. at Fresno, Indiana State, at NC State, Oklahoma.

On Studying Climate Change
Our Commerce Secretary announced plan for NOAA to set up a new group to study climate change. Here is a novel idea – Study all the data without political or economic interests and then reporting honest, unbiased conclusions to the public.

On No to this Stimulus
About an hour after posting about social security, I read a bipartisan proposal in USA Today that Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Hatch (R-UT) have to boost the economy. Well, it’s obvious that they didn’t seek my advice.

On Missing the Bush Administration
Someone posted a “Miss me yet?” billboard in Minnesota with a picture of President Bush. Although I’m disgruntled with the current administration, I politely say no.

On Toyota
Their recent recall situation continues to be a PR nightmare. Let’s see – the company has formed a quality committee to closely examine the situation. What happened to your focus on quality as part of normal operations? Their focus on the crisis and not the problem is unbelievable!

Of course, Congress cannot resist looking into the matter with its own special committee, thus another opportunity for grandstanding!

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.