Swampcare v Obamacare

Well, Ryan’s healthcare plan is out. What is no surprise is that it is a statist, big government plan, not as bad as Obama’s but pretty bad all on its own.

Dan Mitchel wrote back in 2010

The only way to fix healthcare is to restore the free market. That means going back to a system where people pay out-of-pocket for most healthcare and use insurance to protect against genuine risk and catastrophic expenses. The time has come to reduce the size and scope of government. …Change Medicare into a system based on personal health accounts and shift all means-tested spending to the states. …the flat tax is ideal from a healthcare perspective since it gets rid of the healthcare exclusion in the tax code as part of a shift to a tax system with low rates and no double taxation.

This video, narrated by Julie Borowski for the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, looks at the Obamacare/third-party payer issue.

via Our Healthcare Policy Problem Is Much Bigger than Obamacare

Yep, and for that matter, back in 2013, I wrote this,

Understand this, 404Care isn’t healthcare, it’s a chance to buy insurance, executed properly, in some alternate universe it might even have been useful. But here, where the sky is blue, it’s not. Why? Because with the limited number of plans available and the narrowness of providers, you’re screwed. You’re screwed, even if your identity doesn’t get stolen, which is likely as well.

Why? Because healthcare is properly defined as having a doctor and/or hospital take care of you when you are sick or injured. Depending on your choices, insurance is a valid way of paying for that (which is required, since Obamacare, before that doctors and hospitals were required to provide minimal, lifesaving care, free, if necessary.) 80 years ago, chickens and/or eggs worked, cash nearly always works, nearly anywhere. The way this is written, since I’m from Nebraska, if I go see Mt. Rushmore, and get food poisoning (because I’m too stupid to refrigerate my potato salad, say) I’d better be tough, cause I ain’t going to see a doctor in South Dakota, unless I have cash, of course.

What all the noise then and now is about is how to pay for it. Medical care in this country is very expensive. Mostly that is so because of bureaucracy, of the government, of the insurance companies, and of the healthcare industry (although to be fair, much of the industry’s bureaucracy is driven by the other two).

In 2010, John Goodman wrote,

Almost everyone believes there is an enormous amount of waste and inefficiency in health care. But why is that? In a normal market, wherever there is waste, entrepreneurs are likely to be in hot pursuit – figuring out ways to profit from its elimination by cost-reducing, quality-enhancing innovations. Why isn’t this happening in health care?

As it turns out, there is a lot of innovation here. But all too often, it’s the wrong kind.

There has been an enormous amount of innovation in the medical marketplace regarding the organization and financing of care. And wherever health insurers are paying the bills (almost 90 percent of the market) it has been of two forms: (1) helping the supply side of the market maximize against third-party reimbursement formulas, or (2) helping the third-party payers minimize what they pay out. Of course, these developments have only a tangential relationship to the quality of care patients receive or its efficient delivery.

The tiny sliver of the market (less than 10 percent) where patients pay out of pocket has also been teeming with entrepreneurial activity.  In this area, however, the entrepreneurs have been lowering cost and raising quality – what most of us wish would happen everywhere else. For example:

  • There are more than 1,000 walk-in clinics spread across the country today – posting transparent prices and delivering high-quality, low-cost services;
  • Whole businesses have been created to provide people with telephone and e-mail consultations because third-party payers wouldn’t pay for them;
  • Mail-order pharmaceuticals are a huge and growing market – one which emerged to offer price competition to consumers who buy their drugs out-of-pocket;
  • Wal-Mart didn’t introduce the $4-a-month package price for generic drugs in order to do a favor for Blue Cross. It is catering to customers who pay their own way;
  • Concierge doctors are also providing patients with innovative services – services that health insurers don’t cover.

Nothing has changed. Except that the GOP has taken ownership of Obamacare, well it might accidently be a little better, but not much. David Harsanyi says this.

First of all, the preferred free-market plan for health care policy should be no plan whatsoever. The idea that we need a federal, top-down strategy to manage a huge chunk of the economy is at the very heart of the problem. We don’t need a federal “plan” for health care any more than we need a federal plan for food or clothing. Yet, Republicans have allowed liberals to frame the entire health insurance debate in these anti-market terms.

So the American Health Care Act is obviously weak tea, falling far short of a promised free-market solution, much less a full “repeal” of Obamacare. It’s a half-measure that endeavors to fix Obamacare with small doses of deregulation while failing to repeal its core. It’s almost as if Republicans were trying to mollify their constituents and save Obamacare at the same time.

Donald Trump tweeted out something about a three-phase rollout, but the specifics of the other two parts have yet to be confirmed as of this writing. Perhaps the full proposal will reflect better on Republicans, although considering the noise moderate senators have been making and Trump’s own views on entitlement programs, it’s unlikely to meet conservative expectations. So what can be done?

In a piece highly critical of the planThe Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein, who’s done some of the most insightful writing on Obamacare, states: “the GOP will either be passing legislation that rests on the same philosophical premise as Obamacare, or will pass nothing at all, and thus keep Obamacare itself in place.” What if this is the choice?

We know the Democratic Party’s plan for health care: constrain markets to create monopolies that can be controlled by a federal regulatory regime (this is why liberals oppose markets expanding across state lines); and rather than worrying about access, choice, or cost, continue to incentivize the growth of the welfare state. When this situation becomes untenable, pass single-payer. What Democrats understand, but Republicans often don’t, is that you can reach your goals incrementally.

He asks this: “is something better than nothing?”

Perhaps, at the margins, but the basic problem is that the government has been driving healthcare fiscal policy since World War II, and the market distortions are continually getting worse. Swampcare isn’t going to help much, if at all

Schwerpunkt

The Monday Forum over at Watchers of Weasels is always worthwhile reading, as some very astute bloggers give their view of one of the issues of the day. This week, it was exceptional. Taking as their subject: Forum: Is Demonizing Putin And Russia A Smart Move? they gave us some very good thinking on the subject. Rob Miller highlighted something that I’ve long said.

Ahh, Russia! A mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a wonderful sandwich of that Russian black rye, turkey or roast beef, spicy Russian mustard and pickle with kasha on the side and a Stoly chaser (Sorry, Sir Winston).

First, let’s not forget that Barack Hussein Obama and his $ecretary of $tate Hillary Clinton gave Putin whatever he wanted in the beginning. They literally betrayed Poland and the Czech Republic by reneging on America’s commitment to put missile defense units in those countries and all Putin had to do was glower a bit.

Russia’s nukes at the time of the Hillary ‘reset’ were outmoded and out of date, So Obama and Hillary put together that ridiculous START treaty, which not only had the U.S. decommissioning state of the art American nukes on parity with Russia’s obsolete ones, but giving Russia access to our top anti-missile technology like Shoot To Kill, with no quid pro quo from Russia at all. And that doesn’t count Hillary giving Russia control over a chunk of America’s uranium production in exchange for a nice donation to the Clinton Foundation and a $500K speaking fee for Bill. What the Clintons and Obama gave Russia hurt America worse and was worth far more to Putin than they and their surrogate’s wildest accusations about anyone in the Trump Administration!

But as to the question at hand…

The major challenge of our age is the War on Jihad. Nothing else comes close. This isn’t a clash between civilizations as Samuel Huntington put it, but a clash between civilization and totalitarian barbarity. And the Russians know that first hand.

via Forum: Is Demonizing Putin And Russia A Smart Move? – Watcher of Weasels

Keep reading, and read the other views as well.

That’s the priority, in my mind. If we don’t win (or at least drive back) the war on jihad, we lose completely, our civilization disappears into history.

Putin is not my sort of leader, that’s pretty obvious, but then Stalin wasn’t to the taste of either Churchill or Roosevelt, either. But they supplied him because Hitler was the clear and present danger. Was it fairly obvious that Stalin would become a menace at some point? Sure. But if Hitler won, it simply didn’t matter. Neither in fact, did Tojo. Hitler was the Schwerpunkt, the center of gravity of the Second World War. Now Islamic jihad is. That doesn’t mean it’s 1943, we don’t need to send trucks, guns, and food to Putin free. But we would be well advised to not demonize him, to recognize that he will attempt to advance Russian interests, as we should those of the United States. But also recognize that we have many common interests.

Historically, until their revolution, Imperial Russia was mostly a friendly power, by no means an advanced democracy, but not an enemy, either. Putin strikes me as more a new Czar than a komissar.

Churchill said after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, “If Hitler invaded Hell itself, I would give the Devil a favorable mention in the House of Commons”. So should we. Putin is not a present danger to Western Civilization, he is a part (certainly an imperfect part) of it.

The Jihadis are the existential enemy of this generation, anything else is a distraction. And anyone promoting that distraction does not have the best interests of the United States or Western Civilization at heart.

Hubris, meet Nemesis

msmprop4Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote for the Hoover Institution. As usual, it’s outstanding.

Donald Trump conducted a press conference recently as if he were a loud circus ringmaster whipping the media circus animals into shape. The establishment thought the performance was a window into an unhinged mind; half the country thought it was a long overdue media comeuppance.

The media suffer the lowest approval numbers in nearly a half-century. In a recent Emerson College poll, 49 percent of American voters termed the Trump administration “truthful”; yet only 39 percent believed the same about the news media.

Every president needs media audit. The role of journalists in a free society is to act as disinterested censors of government power—neither going on witch-hunts against political opponents nor deifying ideological fellow-travelers.

Sadly, the contemporary mainstream media—the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN), the traditional blue-chip newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times), and the public affiliates (NPR, PBS)—have lost credibility. They are no more reliable critics of President Trump’s excesses than they were believable cheerleaders for Barack Obama’s policies.

Trump may have a habit of exaggeration and gratuitous feuding that could cause problems with his presidency. But we would never quite know that from the media. In just his first month in office, reporters have already peddled dozens of fake news stories designed to discredit the President—to such a degree that little they now write or say can be taken at face value.

A loud and blatant truth there, if you wish to lose whatever credibility you have all you have to do is take sides, while continuing to maintain that you are objective. True for me, true for you, true for the New York Times. Although I wouldn’t know, since I have no pet birds, I have no reason to support overpriced birdcage liners. But to be serious, even as a blogger, I exercise a modicum of judgment, whether something is likely true, possible, or simply propaganda, there are many stories you don’t see here because even with the wide reading I do, I only saw it once, or it’s simply too unlikely. Whatever, if I’m not convinced, it doesn’t get posted.

VDH does an outstanding job of running down the ‘bill of particulars’ that have damned the MSM in this country, no need to do it here, so read the link.

We are now in a media arena where there are no rules. The New York Times is no longer any more credible than talk radio; CNN—whose reporters have compared Trump to Hitler and gleefully joked about his plane crashing—should be no more believed than a blogger’s website. Buzzfeed has become like the National Inquirer.

Trump now communicates, often raucously and unfiltered, directly with the American people, to ensure his message is not distorted and massaged by reporters who have a history of doing just that. Unfortunately, it is up to the American people now to audit their own president’s assertions. The problem is not just that the media is often not reliable, but that it is predictably unreliable. It has ceased to exist as an auditor of government. Ironically the media that sacrificed its reputation to glorify Obama and demonize Trump has empowered the new President in a way never quite seen before. At least for now, Trump can say or do almost anything he wishes without media scrutiny—given that reporters have far less credibility than does Trump.

Trump is the media’s Nemesis—payback for its own hubris.

Emphasis mine and via Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution.

I have nothing to add to that.

The non-SOTU

trump-sotu-terrorists-immigrants-900x450Paul over at PowerLine wrote this yesterday.

The slogan and organizing principle of President Trump’s administration is “America first.” As he explained last night: “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”

This is just common sense. Absent the Obama aberration, no president would think to say it.

However, even a message this obvious can use powerful, patriotic rhetoric and effective staging to support it. Trump’s presentation contained both, beginning with the second paragraph:

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice — in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

The address ended on the same note:

[W]hen we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.

The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.

We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.

The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.

And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears — inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past — and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and believe in yourselves.

Believe in your future.

And believe, once more, in America.

via A little patriotism goes a long way | Power Line

Those are paragraphs that could have been written by almost any president – before Barack Obama. It is the essence of American patriotism, not the blood and soil patriotism of Europe. Like most things in America, American patriotism is different. It is more about having optimism in the future, sharing the dream, if you will.

The huge recognition of CPO Ryan Williams (the longest applause, at about two minutes, of the speech) through his widow, he was killed in the January raid in Yemen, also speaks to that. And yes there is a story in who did not join in the standing ovation.

In fact, I completely agree that Mr. Trump became Mr. President during that speech. I don’t agree with every thing he wants to spend money on, which is fine. He’s the president and I’m not the all-knowing philosopher-king. It’ll work out. He’s by far the best of what was on offer.

The speech itself made me think of Roosevelt (both), Kennedy, and especially Reagan. It was that good. After an eight-year hiatus, it seems to me that America is in process of getting out of the ditch, and back underway.

You did notice that the Dow broke 21,000 yesterday?

Francis Browning wrote:

Light in the eastern horizon, it cometh, hail, all hail!

Bringing the joys of the New Year, and the tiding on the gale

Trump to the Joint Session of Congress

Pretty good speech, I think.

He does set piece speeches quite well. Must have been difficult for many in the audience, he did an admirable job of representing the people who elected him to Congress and the world. What do you Think?

CPAC Sunday

How about a bit more from CPAC? Well, why not.

Have to admit, I like the guy more as we go along. He fights.

Nigel Farage? But of course.

Steve Bannon, seeing him is pretty rare.

Rustbelt, Religion, and Realignment. Oh, my!

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

CPAC 2017 – Rising Stars in the Conservative Movement

 

If you’re like me, you probably won’t them all, at least all the way through, but they’re all interesting.

Have a good Sunday.

 

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