Saturday, September 28, 2013

It's Well Past Time for Real Leadership in Washington

We need to increase the debt limit.  It is not optional.  We must meet our obligations. But it should be done, as it was last time, with dramatic reductions in spending.  Most importantly, the Hypocrite in Chief Obama should quit his name calling and get off his high horse and negotiate for reasonable spending reductions.  It would be easy as the Republicans are desperate and will settle for any crumbs.

Based on his many outrageous statements just this past week it is impossible to respect Barack Obama, the man.  Between Barack Obama and Senator Ted Cruz I feel like we're watching children on the playground in kindergarten.  "Nazis and Racists and Terrorists, Oh My!"

Dear President Obama, 

          Your poll numbers are so low because you prefer name calling to leadership.  You have no real effective opposition, the Republicans are divided and drowning.  President Reagan, President Johnson, President Clinton and even President Bush would have taken this opportunity to solve the problem and emerge as a leader.

          The opportunity is now your's. Please be the leader we elected you to be.

The American People

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Insurance Regulation versus Medical Care Reform

Today, for a few short hours, is an exciting moment for those who somehow hoped to end The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare as it is known to both its friends and foes. Senator Ted Cruz is holding his mini-filibuster and it is the stuff of great television.  It is also, I'm told by politicians who know the inside scoop, doomed to failure.

In my opinion his filibuster is much worse.  It is a tragic waste of time, energy, enthusiasm and public opinion that needed to be aimed at amending and correcting the many, tragic, often horrific, errors of ObamaCare.  It isn't even possible to "defund" ObamaCare as Senator Cruz proposes and it is a mistake for him and the Republican controlled House to even try.

Repealing ObamaCare would be wonderful, but that's not possible either, so repair is the best option.

What I want to add to the discussion tonight is a simple and rather brilliant observation made on television this morning by my new favorite Congressman, Doctor Brad Wenstrup of Ohio. Yes, he is an M.D. and he served in Iraq prior to becoming a Congressperson.

Like me, Congressman Wenstrup sees the desperate need to provide medical services to the poor and to the uninsured.  He sees the need to provide full and complete care for the people who face major illnesses.  He has proposed fully thought out and intelligent programs for the government to provide such services.

The problem with ObamaCare, he wisely observed this morning, is that it will not accomplish any of these goals.  Not one! Why? Because ObamaCare isn't Health Care Reform, it's Insurance Regulation and over-regulation at that! 

Under ObamaCare the uninsured will still be uninsured and will still flood Emergency Rooms for services like diabetes care, or simple cases of flu, or child wellness vaccinations, all of which that Emergency Rooms are not equipped to handle.  It will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, needlessly.

Meanwhile, by providing totally unneeded and tragically misplaced Insurance regulation, the currently insured will lose their coverage and have it replaced by managed coverage that will almost uniformly change their doctors, hospitals and coverage costs.  

You can count on this for sure - Next year you will not be able to keep your insurance, your doctor or your hospital.  And you can count on  this,too - it's going to cost you personally, a lot more, more in premiums and more in deductibles.  And you may well be denied needed medical care as a bonus.

The answer was always deregulation not increased regulation of insurance.  Here's a much needed example, just one of many. Once we deregulated the Telephone companies we got better service, the long promised (but never delivered) picture phones (now called Facetime), and virtually free long distance.  And phone bills are a tiny fraction of the cost they were for your mom and dad (or grandma and grandpa).

Instead of over-regulating Insurance we need to completely deregulate it!  Get rid of every state board.  Allow full competition across state lines.  Costs will drop and coverage will improve.

Meanwhile the government should fund clinics for the uninsured and the poor instead of forcing them to misuse emergency rooms.  Finally states should administer "catastrophic care" programs for those facing major illness. This could be done for a tiny fraction of the cost of ObamaCare.  

That's the prescription from Dr. Wenstrup.  Let's stop filibustering and start fixing the problem.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Tragedy of War, The Victims of Hate, Remembering Peter, Sue Kim and Christine Hanson

President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy." The horrific, unannounced and unanticipated attack on the Naval Base in Honolulu, Hawaii left 2,467 dead, Americans and Japanese combined and left America in a state of shock.

September 11, 2001 was, in many ways even more horrific.  Believe it or not, more people were actually killed, 2,996 lost their lives.  And the attack wasn't perpetrated by another nation, but by a large, loosely knit group of religious fanatics determined to bring death, destruction and humiliation on private citizens living in a country that did not agree with their strict religious beliefs.

In the minds of the terrorists, Americans had perpetrated a million wrongs and their humiliation, death and destruction was demanded by God, by Allah himself.

For the first few hours America didn't even realize we were under attack.  Our President was reading schools books to children in an elementary school in Florida. Early reports were so unclear that President Bush continued to read even after being informed of the first airplane crash.  It took hours for the events to unfold.

We saw it all on television.  Reporters and politicians were confused, bewildered and horrified.  We watched the Twin Towers collapse and the shear magnitude of the damage done slowly became clear.  Hatred turned out to be the real weapon of mass destruction.

We focused that day, as we do on most days, on the big issues.  Numbers, statistics, nations, religions. Two Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety Six dead.

But I believe we can only learn to replace hate with love if we focus on the people, their lives, their loves, hopes, fears and dreams.  That's why today, as I have every September 11th since 2006, I'm taking a time to remember Peter Hanson, the handsome, young software engineer, Sue Kim Hanson, his Korean-American bride, and their two their old daughter, Christine.

The Hanson's were killed when United Flight 175 was hijacked by the terrorists and purposely crashed into the World Trade Center.

Sue Kim was a Doctoral Candidate at Boston University.  She, Peter and Christine decided to take a vacation to Disneyland and to visit Sue Kim's father in California before she had to defend her Doctoral Thesis.

Blind hatred killed the Hanson's.  The terrorists never knew them, because to know them might have lead to understanding, to doubt in their mission, to have concerns about the justness of their cause.  The leader of the terrorists, Osama bin Laden didn't want to know people, he wanted to see numbers.  Peter, Sue Kim and Christine weren't people to the terrorists, they were just the number 3. Just 3 out of 2,996.

Please take a few minutes today to remember Peter, Sue Kim and Christine.  Say a prayer for them and their families.  Say a prayer for us all.  Remember people today, not numbers.


In 2006 a blogger project was begun on the fifth anniversary of 9-11.  Called the "2,996 Project" volunteers were asked to write a short remembrance for each of the victims of the September 11, 2001.attack.  I was randomly assigned Sue Kim Hanson.  Each year since I have repeated my effort to honor Sue Kim and her family.  You can read each of my essays following the links below:

September 11, 2006 - Susan Kim Hanson

September 11, 2007 - Remembering Sue Kim Hanson

September 11, 2008 - Remembering Sue Kim Hanson

September 11, 2009 - Remembering the Reality: 9-11-2001: Sue Kim Hanson

September 11, 2010 - Reflections on the Life of Sue Kim Hanson

September 11, 2011 - Tears in Tragedy - Remembering Sue Kim Hanson

September 11, 2012 - Honoring the Memory of Peter, Sue and Christine Hanson

Friday, September 06, 2013

The Slow, Inexorable March into Hell

I realize I should be writing about the Affordable Care Act nearly every day.  So should every blogger and analyst. The issue genuinely is that important.

But there are other important issues, too.  And important events capture our attention, like the current debate over military action in Syria.  Nearly every blogger, liberal and conservative alike, are debating this chain of events, presidential powers, war powers, red lines and more.  This is an important discussion and President Obama's actions could have major ramifications for the region or even the world.

On a brighter note, the Syrian debate has temporarily distracted Republicans from their insanely stupid, "Defund Obamacare" debate in the House and Senate.  First it is technically impossible to "Defund" the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and second, the move actually hurts the effort to fix or even repeal this monstrosity of a law.

Democrats know full well the law must be massively altered to become remotely functional.  But they don't dare allow any bill to come to the floor fearing (quite correctly) such a bill would bring about nearly complete repeal of the President's most important legislative victory.  And, so far, protecting the President is more important than serving the best interests of the American public.

So we continue the slow slog down the hill to a medical insurance disaster.  Virtually everyone loses.  Two important news articles this week illustrate the misguided nature of the ACA, it's ill conceived provisions and the unintended consiquences of passing a 1,900 page bill without even bothering to read it.

Late last week, the 22,000-member United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers withdrew its support for the Affordable Care Act and went one step further and demanded its full repeal.  Several other unions have also withdrawn support or demanded exemptions from the law.

The Roofer's Union issue hit the very core of the problem with the ACA.  The insanely mercurial ACA forces everyone in America into a one size fits absolutely no one policy and penalizes severely anyone who dares to have better health insurance.  This is the dumbing down of American Healthcare.  The bottom line is that the Roofers are deemed to have a "Cadillac" plan and must pay a penalty premium in taxes for their hard earned union benefits.

While President Obama said "If you love your plan, you can keep it," that was simply untrue.  What he should have said is "Many Americans will be forced to accept inferior insurance at much higher rates than they've had in the past."  And he might have added, "My bill will favor non-union workers and give then tax subsidies while taxing Unions for their negotiating skills."  That's exactly what ObamaCare (the ACA) does.

On the flip side of the coin the ACA is even a worse disaster for America's creative culture, hitting artists, musicians, photographers and "gasp" even writers hard by taking away their insurance entirely.

Here I have to quote Nancy Pelosi, the real architect of the ACA (it should be called PelosiCare) who said, "Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance."  The sad joke here is that before Pelosi dumped this rotten fish onto the canvas of unsuspecting artists, they had achieved that goal. PelosiCare took it all away.

Once again the enemy is the ACA's dogged determination to create a one size fits absolutely no one insurance template.  But for loosely knit groups likes artists or photographers, Congress made it much worse.  Ignoring the pleas of Democrat Senator Ron Wyden, Congress outlawed insurance plans from operating across state lines and demanded each individual purchase only through his or her State Insurance Exchange in each individual state.  Hence group policies that served creative artists across state lines were made illegal!!!  Virtually every policy serving loose knit groups will end this December, forcing artists and musicians and other independent professionals to purchase significantly more expensive policies from their state exchanges.

In reality Nancy Pelosi should have said, "Under my Affordable Care Act, artists and creative people will be forced into the workplace to accept mundane labor jobs and will no longer be allowed to pursue their dreams. Creativity, whether in Insurance or in the arts will no longer be allowed to exist."

I'll leave you today with this terribly funny ObamaCare parody video produced by the extremely evil Karl Rove Crossroads group.   Laugh while you still can because, like it or not, the ACA takes over on January 1st.