Thursday, August 16, 2012

Medicare: The Issue that Turned

What’s New Today
Story # 1 is signs of desperation as Medicare seems to have blown up in the Democrats face.  #2 is an interesting look at Obama and Wall Street.  #3 shows you whose fault it is if you are a Democrat?  Someone else’s.  #4 and #5 are videos.  #4 is a great new RNC ad.  #5 is an independent one from Military and intelligence professionals.  #6 explains how the Democrats stepped into their own trap.  It appears it is Romney who will save Medicare not Obama.  #7 discusses the Republican Medicare advantage.  #8 tells of Dr. Kimball’s Self-Help Program for Disillusioned Liberals.  Finally #9 warns about another GM bailout. 

Today’s Thoughts

The comedy site, Newsbusted has declared that Joe Biden has already phoned in sick for his October 11th debate with Paul Ryan.  Probably a wise move.  

There’s a lot of speculation that Obama will dump Biden and have Hillary run with him.  I don’t see that happening, not because Obama doesn’t need her, but because Hillary doesn’t need him.  There’s nothing in it for her.  She’s already the odds on favorite to be the Democratic nominee in 2016.  

In case you want to read it, here is a link to the Paul Ryan Budget. 

Why is the Medicare issue blowing up in the Democrats face?  Seniors today have been hearing for the past 20 years the system is going broke.  They know something must be done.  What Obama did was to steal $716 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare.  Seniors may be old, but they aren’t stupid and stupid is what the Democrats were counting on. 

Lie of the Day

Soledad O’Brien:  “I don't think I show bias in my TV show. I think I am aggressive with people about trying to find the facts behind what they say,” O'Brien said. “Am I a liberal or conservative? I'm neither.”

1.  Signs of Desperation

On Special Report, Charles Krauthammer weighs in on the Medicare debate in the 2012 Presidential race.
Charles Krauthammer: I think the Democrats are discovering that they stepped on a land mine with Medicare. The fact is that Medicare was raided for Obamacare and here's why. This isn't even a wee issue. The Obama administration had to show -- because it kept arguing that this is not going to cost anybody anything, this will be revenue neutral. It's not going to add to the budget deficit. Remember that was the mantra for a year and a half. So they had to get half a [trillion] dollars from somewhere. That's why they made the cuts in Medicare in order to be able to say in the bill, in the Obamacare bill itself, you take that money, you put it in Obamacare, it pays for itself, thus it's revenue neutral. This is not a fable, it's not a fiction, it was the heart of the debate.

Now, as you interviewed the president, you pointed out that they keep arguing, 'No, the money isn't spent over here, it's really in the trust fund.' It is not. You can't have it in two places. So that is simply a fact and that is devastating because the Republicans can now argue that Obama is actually taking the money from your grandma today and for the next decade. Whereas the Ryan plan contemplates a change which begins in ten years which would exempt anybody who is in the system today, which doesn't' reduce the spending in Medicare. And then what Obama said is that at the end of that plan you lose the guarantee of the Medicare. That also is a falsehood. The Medicare is retained in 2022.

Charles is correct, but incomplete.  Part of Obamacare is the IPAB which will review reimbursements and adjust them down if there is too much spending in Medicare.  It a form of price controls and never in the history of the world have they worked.  It ends up as rationing.  That is the end of Medicare as we know it.

2.  Obama and Wall Street

For all the bluster of Obama, pre- and post-2008, as well as that of Attorney General Eric Holder concerning the alleged criminal activities on Wall Street, there have been zero Wall Street prosecutions under Obama/Holder.  Compare that with his predecessors Bush and Clinton:

GAI [Government Accountability Institute] details how the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations both actually took down financial criminals - unlike the Obama administration.  Between 2002 and 2008, for instance, GAI points out how a Bush administration task force "obtained over 1,300 corporate fraud convictions, including those of over 130 corporate vice presidents and over 200 CEOs and corporate presidents."

"Clinton's DOJ prosecuted over 1,800 S&L (savings and loans) executives, senior officials, and directors, and over 1,000 of them were sent to jail," GAI adds.
But, despite having "promised more of the same," especially in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration's DOJ has not brought criminal charges against a single major Wall Street executive.

The Bush and Clinton administrations' track records on prosecuting white-collar crime, and the Obama administration's failure to do so, Schweizer said, is "evidence that this has less to do with some sort of partisan or philosophical issue."

Bush - 1,300 convictions; 
Clinton - 1,000 convictions; 
Obama - Zero attempts.

Here’s another example of the facts contradicting what most people believe. 

3.  If you are a Democrat, it’s always someone else’s fault

Joe Biden just returned from another one of his vacations. So it can't be blamed on fatigue. Maybe age? He does turn 70 this year. 

But JB's been gaffing up a storm recently. He's in Virginia talking about winning North Carolina. He's proclaiming the 20th will be an American century. He's describing Mitt Romney's new vice presidential partner as Governor Ryan. 

And then there's Joe's BFD chains gaffe that really wasn't a gaffe. He's introduced in Danville, Va. as "the conscience of our nation's capital." He's talking to a significantly black crowd and he warns what Gov. Romney is going to do to help those evil banks: 

"Romney wants to let the--he said in the first 100 days he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unnnn-chain Wall Street. They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”
A guy from Scranton living in Delaware on the public payroll since Obama was in grade school suddenly talking like a faux Southern preacher. The crowd approved. But elsewhere, the vice president of the United States looked, in the vivid image of Charles Krauthammer, like a crazy uncle in the attic. And this guy's a heartbeat away from the presidency?  

The campaign reacted to the public shock in typical Obama fashion. It's the country's fault for hearing anything racial in that. Just like the lousy economy and poor job growth is always somebody else's fault. 

Remember back in 2008 when Obama was mocking then-opponent Hillary Clinton to a North Carolina crowd? As he spoke of her, he scratched his cheek with a middle finger, like some defiant high school boy behind the teacher's back. The crowd knew exactly what he was doing and hooted. Obama dragged the moment out. (See video below.) 

His campaign spokesman then was shocked, he said, shocked that anyone could see anything like a senatorial bird. Again, someone else's fault….

One of the signs of leadership is taking responsibility.  I guess it’s not surprising Obama refuses to do so about anything.   

4.  Video: Great new RNC ad

The ads are getting better.

5.  Video:  Dishonorable Disclosures

Twenty-two minutes that you want to watch.  It appears Obama is getting the same treatment that John Kerry did when he tried to take credit for things he didn’t deserve credit for.  My favorite line is killing bin Laden was a victory,” but the politicians turned that victory into an intelligence disaster.” 
6.  The Democrats Growing Medicare Dilemma

In the last few days, the Romney campaign has moved to dramatically change the terrain of Medicare politics, and it looks like the Democrats are beginning to realize how vulnerable they might be. Because of Obamacare, it is the Democrats who now plan to cut current seniors’ benefits (especially those in Medicare Advantage) and access to care (thanks to the IPAB) while still failing to avert the program’s (and the nation’s) fiscal collapse, and because Romney would repeal Obamacare and pursue a version of the Ryan-Wyden premium-support reform it is the Republicans who would protect current seniors’ benefits and make them available to future seniors while saving the program from collapse through market reforms. Through the candidates’ statements this week and through this new ad, Romney and Ryan have made clear they’re going to inform voters about this and force the Democrats to defend themselves on Medicare.

That won’t be easy for the Left, since the Romney campaign’s charges are true, and it is beginning to become apparent that the Democrats are totally unprepared for the coming fight. Their defenses so far fall into roughly three categories: Ryan did it too, the Obamacare Medicare cuts aren’t very serious, and finally what can only be called frantic distractions. Even as pure demagoguery (let alone as efforts at actual substantive arguments) all three are exceptionally weak defenses, and suggest the Democrats could be in serious trouble. Let’s examine each one.

The “Ryan did it too” defense is perhaps the most amusing of the three, as it succeeds in being simultaneously untrue, irrelevant, and an admission of the basic charge against the Democrats. Even as they call Paul Ryan a cruel and merciless budget cutter who cares not for the weather service and would gladly see children exposed to E. coli, the Democrats justify their taking $710 billion out of Medicare and spending it on Obamacare over the next decade by pointing out that Paul Ryan didn’t put that money back into Medicare in his budget. So if he had, would that have made their cuts unjustifiable? Well it so happens that he did. By repealing all of Obamacare’s spending, the Republican budget does not spend the money Obamacare took out of Medicare and thus those funds are used to extend the Medicare trust fund. And this point is hardly hidden in the Ryan budget. The budget document spells it out in its spending tables and also explains it in its narrative section, noting on page 54 that:

This budget ends the raid on the Medicare trust fund that began with passage of the new health care law last year. It ensures that any potential savings in current law would go to shore up Medicare, not to pay for new entitlements. In addition to repealing the health care law’s new rationing board and its unfunded long-term care entitlement, this budget stabilizes plan choices for current seniors.

The Democrat’s position on Medicare and cutting $716 billion from it seems to be 1. I didn’t do it, 2. You can’t prove that I did it, and 3. I’ll never do it again.   I think the Democrats were giddy about Romney figuring they could demagogue Medicare and peel of senior voters for Obama.  It now appears that that isn’t going to work but actually addressing the issue is popular with young voters and that appears to be peeling off young voters from Romney. Win/Win for Romney and Lose/Lose for Obama.

And here’s the latest Romney/Ryan ad on it

7.  The Republicans Medicare Advantage

…Mr. Ryan's plan has a different approach. While there would be no changes in Medicare for those 55 or older, starting in 10 years younger Americans would have a choice. They could either pick traditional Medicare or use the average amount of money the government spends on each Medicare enrollee to buy private insurance. The reasoning is based on a reliable truth: Competition will lower costs by using market forces to spur innovation and improvement.

This approach is nothing new or radical. Called "premium support," it was recommended in 1999 by Louisiana Democratic Sen. John Breaux, chairman of President Bill Clinton's Medicare Reform Commission.

There's evidence of how effective—and popular—this approach would be. In 2003, Congress structured Medicare's prescription drug benefit by using the "premium support" concept. Though more seniors signed up and used it more than expected, the Congressional Budget Office now says the 10-year cost of this popular drug benefit will be 43% less than it estimated in March 2004. 

Premium support can also make good politics. This spring, Resurgent Republic (a conservative polling group I helped organize in 2009) offered 1,000 registered voters the choice between a candidate who echoed Team Obama's recent Medicare arguments and a candidate who backed allowing those aged 55 and younger to choose between traditional Medicare and private insurance backed up by premium support. The poll's respondents picked the candidate favoring choice and premium support by 48% to 40% with independents preferring him 48% to 41%.

I think the prescription drug program is the first government program in my lifetime that came in costing less than the original estimate.  

8.  Dr. Kimball’s Self-Help Program for Disillusioned Liberals

You’re seeing these sad people everywhere these days, especially in large East-and West-Coast urban areas and on college campuses. At parties they alternate between a melancholy, far-away wistfulness and a muttering “why me?”-belligerence. They’re touchy and quick to blame others, and they seem to suffer from night sweats and vague feelings of persecution. Their symptoms worsened suddenly a few days ago when it was announced that Paul Ryan would be joining the Romney ticket as candidate for vice president.

These people are not conservatives. It’s not clear that they’re liberals, exactly, either, though in recent history they have, as it were, caucused with liberals, that is to say, with people who identify themselves as liberals (never mind how illiberal their policies and sentiments happen to be). Above all, however, they are part of the tout le monde: the people who think of themselves as being on the right side of history (corollary belief: they think history has sides and a direction). They go to the right cocktail parties. They have “advanced” (i.e., establishment) attitudes about art, culture, and morals. They are part of that group Harold Rosenberg memorably denominated “the herd of independent minds.”…

First time around, these people voted for Obama, giving themselves a little frisson of self-satisfaction when they pulled the lever and, even more, when the emitted condescension about anyone who happened to vote for John McCain — they didn’t encounter such people often, but it always gave them a little thrill of self-satisfaction when they did. It wasn’t long, however, before doubts began to accumulate. The seas didn’t subside, as promised, nor did the unemployment figures. By now, they’re thoroughly depressed. Their man has clearly let them down, and the inadvertent comedy of Joe Biden screaming that Republicans are going to “put y’all back in chains” isn’t helping. Even worse is the news that team R&R, the Romney-Ryan express, is surging among young voters…

This is just a small part of the coming Romney Landslide.

9.  Is GM heading to another bankruptcy?

President Obama is proud of his bailout of General Motors.  That’s good, because, if he wins a second term, he is probably going to have to bail GM out again.  The company is once again losing market share, and it seems unable to develop products that are truly competitive in the U.S. market….

…GM is unlikely to hit the wall before the election, but, given current trends, the company could easily do so again before the end of a second Obama term.

In the 1960s, GM averaged a 48.3% share of the U.S. car and truck market.  For the first 7 months of 2012, their market share was 18.0%, down from 20.0% for the same period in 2011.  With a loss of market share comes a loss of relative cost-competitiveness.  There is only so much market share that GM can lose before it would no longer have the resources to attempt to recover….

“The game isn’t over until it’s over”, but if President Obama wins reelection, he should probably start giving some serious thought to how he is going to justify bailing out GM, and its unionized UAW workforce, yet again.  And, during the current campaign, Obama might want to be a little more modest about what he actually achieved by bailing out GM the first time.

I cut out the heart of the article.  If you are a fan of American Automobiles this is a very disturbing article.  It features the Chevy Malibu (GM’s entry into the most important market segment)  and the latest Malibu comes in dead last compared to its competitors. 

No comments:

Post a Comment