Health Care “Reform”: Senate’s Striker Amendment Provides a Hint that the House Will Adopt the Hideous Senate Bill

Now that the Senate has passed their form of the health care bill, H.R. 3590, the House (H.R. 3962) and Senate must meet in a conference committee to reconcile their differing bills into one bill.

I somehow think that the House will abandon its bill and add amendments to the Senate version. I think this because the Senate used a motion to strike and insert for its bill. A motion to strike and insert strips the old language from the legislation and allows new language to be written in. In this case, the new language was added by an amendment.

This strike and insert motion was applied to H.R. 3590, which originally was the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009.

The Senate bill contains a tax provision, which must start in the House. But, the Constitution allows the Senate to add tax language through an amendment (U.S. Constitution, Art. I, section 7).

Given the massive giveaways in the Senate to get 60 votes, it is unlikely that the House will step in the way. Especially given the amount of money that  health care industry contributes to political campaigns.

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Steven Pearlstein: Triumphalist Apology for Abusive Corporate Power

In the Washington Post this morning, columnist Steven Pearlstein wrote an article that was off base.  Pearlstein states that he is evaluating whether the government or the private sector provides the best value. Somehow, corporate excesses are downplayed or ignored, while Pearlstein viciously attacks civil servants.

This is unjustified because corporate entities (nonhuman) flood out human interests in the nation’s politics. While only narrowly being truly loyal to their shareholders, namely whatever produces a penny more profit determines what they do.

Pearlstein criticizes public servants generously. I guess its easy to pick on people who cannot fight back–we have all seen this in school:  Bullies find the most vulnerable to impose their wills on.

The private sector should receive tireless scrutiny for multiple instances of socially destructive behavior. The damaging excesses of the private sector are manifest. Who can forget the financial crisis the private sector financial “titans” caused (yet, glaringly, those titans did not get together to find a private sector solution to the private sector crisis-all of them ran to the government (sad!)).

Additionally, Pearlstein fails to mention the other excesses of the obscenely expensive and bloated corporate bureaucracy. I’ll mention a few.

Outsourcing

The manufacturing base in the United States is seriously in peril. Many products are made overseas for trifling amounts per item yet they are sold at gilder prices in the U.S. market. The corporate executives say that they have created wealth when in truth they are taking more from the consumer than is deserved and calling it a profit.

401(k)’s

Pensions (defined benefit plans) were replaced with inferior 401(k)’s (defined contribution plans). Pay that was held down to account for the pension remains held down and corporations generally do not contribute to the 401(k) plans unless the employee contributes. The cancellation of pensions with these policies led corporations to realize huge profits without any work (the employee suffers a cut in purchasing power instantaneously however).

Health Care “Reform”

The bills in Congress have become so skewed in favor of health care corporations whose bloated bureaucracies eat up 30% of the health care dollar without providing any value (search for my health care “reform” posts for the link for the 30% figure).

Private sector profit used to be tied to value added products. It seems that now the goal is to profit by any means. Because Pearlstein did not address these or other faults of the private sector, it is easy to disregard his column.

Taxation: Health Care Bill “Cadillac” Tax is Unreasonable; Economist Jonathan Gruber that Advocates for It Ignores Excesses of Insurance Companies

In the Washington Post, Economist Jonathan Gruber, provides an apology for applying a 40% excise tax on so-called Cadillac plans. He argues that since employer-provided health insurance is not included in an employee’s wages for income tax purposes, the excise tax is not a new tax. But as the insurance companies pass the amount of the tax to policyholders, that tax will reduce the amount of income available to the employee to save or spend.

The destructive underpinning of Gruber’s column is that the comprehensive plans (health, vision, and dental insurance) are disfavored such that people who hold them should be punished with taxation until they have to accept sub-par high deductible health plans. Instead of doing this, why not make comprehensive coverage the standard to follow?

Gruber’s view is jaundiced and unrealistic, and must be rejected, just like the Senatorial disaster being foisted on the public.

Gruber’s column fails to address critical issues which further invalidate his ideas presented in his column.

  • The Senate bill does not address the inefficiencies in the bloated bureaucracy of health insurance companies.
  • There is no public insurance program, thus no competition with private health insurance companies. It seems that Gruber’s tax should have been pared with a public plan. Since the Senate scrapped the idea, the public is left with a huge and destructive tax provision.
  • The Senate Bill does not contain any incentives for health insurance companies to control costs. The Senate bill is silent on to be expected spiraling insurance premium increases. The insurance company is not affected by the excise tax, like taxes assessed to cable companies, the expense will be passed on to the policyholder.

Iran: President Barack Obama Comments on Unrest in Iran; President’s Noble Lecture Hinted at U.S. Policy

In my post summarizing the subtext of President Barack Obama’s Nobel Lecture, I noted the following observations:

Short of military action, social disturbance or destruction must be used or threatened to achieve U.S. objectives.

–The President defines “peace” as that which is based on the inherent rights and dignity of each person (which are human rights, the right to speak freely, worship as one pleases, choose their own leaders, assemble without fear, democracy, and economic security and opportunity [presumably the U.S’s rule of law beliefs].

There was an uprising in Iran and the President commented on the situation.

For months the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights.  Each time they have done so they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days.  And each time that has happened the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people, who are a part of Iran’s great and enduring civilization.

What’s taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country — it’s about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves.  And the decision of Iran’s leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.  As I said in Oslo, it’s telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

The West is likely involved in this social unrest. For example, in addition to the President’s comments, on PBS, there were representatives prepared to disseminate negative information about Iran as well. It seems that every day that is significant in Iran, the same unrest will take place, with the idea of destabilizing the government. With Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no need of further destabilized states.

Post script:

U.S. nominal GDP-$14 trillion

Iran nominal GDP-$385 billion

Yemen nominal GDP-$26.6 billion

Karim Sadjadpour

Trita Parsi

“Colorblindness”: The Trouble with President Barack Obama’s Boilerplate Response to Concerns from Black Elected Officials

I continue to be dismayed with President Barack Obama’s position on questions from Black United States citizens. He seems to believe that any request for attention for issues of concern to the Black community (writ large) is exclusively race based. Hence, he developed a flawed boilerplate response that not only diminished legitimate issues but also makes Black citizen functionally second class. The President’s attitude must change. The President is indeed the Chief Executive of the nation; he should therefore act appropriately to his office’s responsibilities.

My concern began with the President’s response to concerns of the Congressional Black Caucus about the high level of unemployment among Black people. The President said,

I will tell you that I think the most important thing I can do for the African-American community is the same thing I can do for the American community, period, and that is get the economy going again and get people hiring again,” the president told Richard Wolf of USA TODAY and Justin Hyde of the Detroit Free Press in an exclusive joint interview.

[…]

I think it’s a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of the United States rather than to think that we are all in this together and we are all going to get out of this together, he said.

I wrote a response to this statement in a previous post. The President’s “colorblind” approach is intrinsically unfair to those who are not part of the majority. Because non-majority group members will never be the majority–at least in the short term of the President’s first term–their issues necessarily will not get any attention at all using his rationale.

In response to a question from April Ryan, the President reiterated his boilerplate response.

The only thing I cannot do is, by law I can’t pass laws that say I’m just helping black folks,” Obama said. “I’m the president of the entire United States. What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need. That, in turn, is going to help lift up the African-American community.

I realize that the President is the Chief Executive for the whole nation, but Black people are also equal citizens under the law who have the right to bring their concerns to elected officials and to expect that all necessary action will be taken. That does not mean that merely seeking redress from the elected representatives of the people requires the President to prepare race-based legislation. I do not know where the President got that idea from.

I figure that the President should not focus on the identity of the person seeking redress, but rather he should focus on the issues presented. For example, poverty. The President should be able to consult his Ivy League educated staff to develop policy, legislation or both that would be able to help many citizens, including Black people.

Why does the President have expansive and fast action for Wall Street (despite their regression to avaricious behavior that led to the crisis), corporations (particularly in the unsavory health care “reform” Bill), and those with wealth, while being slow footed and slack jawed for everybody else? This is not a proper footing for a President, and he should correct it immediately.

Health Care “Reform”: Taxation Issues Involved with H.R. 3590

The Senate’s health care Bill becomes more abhorrent the longer one examines it.

It seems that the value of the employer-sponsored health insurance (H.R. 3590, section 9002) would rather be used as a means of calculating the amount of the 40% excise tax in section 9001.

[For analysis of this tax issue as well as other tax issues in H.R. 3590 and the Manager’s Amendment, see the text of the Joint Committee of Taxation (jcx-61-09).]

In analyzing H.R. 3590, I presumed earlier (search H.R. 3590 is search box) that section 9002 would be used as an entryway to tax the value of health insurance by including it in an employee’s gross income under section 61.

Given the increase of premiums that will occur with the unfortunately likely passage of this Bill, many people are likely to be subject to the 40% exise tax.

In addition, I comment negatively on a statement of President Barack Obama’s advisor, David Axelrod, in which Axelrod explained that a tax on insurance companies would force insurance companies to bring down the price of so-called Cadillac policies (see views of Allan Sloan, and the SEIU).

Well, as I have seen on my bill, cable companies also recieve taxes on their services. What do they do? They assess it to subscribers. I think insurance companies will do the same.