ObamaCare problems and solutions

“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul.” — George Bernard Shaw

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” Do you remember that promise? President Obama spoke those words dozens of times. Well, it wasn’t true – and he knew it. His own Department of HHS estimated and published in the Federal Register in 2010 that 93 million Americans would have their policies canceled in order to meet the requirements of ObamaCare. For the next three years, Obama continued to tell people they could keep their plans, even though he knew it was not true.

The fact checking organization, PolitiFact, rated Obama’s statement as “Lie of the Year” for 2013. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave it four Pinocchios and also ranked it “Lie of the Year.”

New Hampshire’s Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter joined in Obama’s lie of the year, repeating it many times. It is possible that they did not know it was a lie, but they certainly should have known it.

Then last year, cancellation letters went out to some 4 million Americans. Millions of people were perfectly happy with their plans, but the ObamaCare law did not allow them to keep their plans. Virtually every major NH newspaper has run stories about the turmoil caused by ObamaCare-mandated cancellations.

People lost the plans they liked, may have lost their nearby hospital, may have lost the doctor they’d been visiting for decades. In New Hampshire, the one and only insurer on the ObamaCare exchange nixed 10 of the 26 New Hampshire hospitals. In parts of the state, you may have to drive 2 or 3 hours, halfway across the state to go to a new hospital, driving right by your old, much closer hospital. Some people had to give up the doctor they have been seeing for decades and find a new doctor perhaps hours away.

Even worse is that the new ObamaCare policies don’t cover care in hospitals outside NH. Some of the best doctors and hospitals in the country are in Boston, but NH citizens cannot go there. The Union Leader reported about a woman who was told by her Nashua hospital that her cancer was untreatable. Under her old insurance she was allowed to go to a Massachusetts hospital for treatment and now three years later she is doing well. Under her new ObamaCare insurance she would be dead.

And then there are the premiums and deductibles. I have talked with people who say the combination of higher premiums and higher deductibles is costing them an extra $1,000 per month. I asked an insurance agent if her clients were seeing increases like that. She responded that most were not quite that high, but she could believe that some were paying that much extra. Another insurance agent told me that his clients were seeing up to a 100% increase but the average was about 20% to 40% increase. 

Nationally, Aetna’s CEO reported that premiums have increased an average of 30% to 40%. He also reported seeing lower employment overall and more part-time employment. A large union similarly reported seeing a shift to part-time work by companies seeking to avoid ObamaCare’s requirements. The Congressional Budget Office recently predicted that ObamaCare during the next ten years will cause job losses equivalent to 2.5 million people.
 
It’s no surprise that a recent Gallup poll found that more than twice as many Americans say that ObamaCare has hurt them or their families compared to the number it has helped. It might be a surprise that most (63%) say it has made little difference but that is only a matter of time. Most people get their insurance via their employer and that part of ObamaCare has been delayed and delayed – for political reasons.

As the New York Times reported, “[The recent change] is designed to provide political cover for Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns.” The law as written would have had millions more cancellation notices going out a month or two before Election Day. So with a stroke of his pen, without any authority granted to him, Obama decided to change the law so that the cancellation notices would go out AFTER the election.

The Wall Street Journal notes that “if [ObamaCare] were really working the way it should, senators who voted for it wouldn’t be running away from it, and the administration wouldn’t be forced to choose between enforcing its provisions and protecting the Democratic majority.”

As much as nervous politicians are shying away from ObamaCare, so also are the uninsured. The Washington Post reports that “The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway in signing up Americans who lack insurance, the Affordable Care Act’s central goal, according to a pair of new surveys. Only one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private plans through the new marketplaces enrolled as of last month.”

The first step in fixing a problem is recognizing that there is a problem. NH Democratic leadership seems oblivious to any problems with ObamaCare, jobs, and the economy. NH Republicans know that there are problems and that we can help solve those problems. The guiding principle is that people should be able to choose what they want, not what some politicians in Washington tell them they should want.

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Millennials Are Tiring of Liberal Failures

National Review predicts that 2014 will be “the year that a majority of millennials become disillusioned with their allegiance to today’s liberal movement and look elsewhere for political relevance.”

A poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found strong majorities – nearly 2:1 – opposing Obama’s handling of the economy, health care, and the federal deficit. “A majority of Americans under age 25–the youngest millennials–would favor throwing Obama out of office.”

The Pajama Boy ObamaCare ads did not go over well with millennials.

The real Pajama Boy has a 50 percent chance of being unemployed or underemployed, on average is laden with thousands of dollars of student-loan debt, and is increasingly likely to still live at home with his parents.

Millennials “realize that a government that can’t design a website can’t be expected to manage the intricacies of the entire health-care industry. In the wake of the news that the NSA collects mountains of metadata, they also fret that the government that wants you to talk about health care could (with a warrant) listen in on that very conversation.”

Other data suggest that millennials share conservative views of government:

  • 51% believe that when government runs something, it is usually wasteful and inefficient
  • 86% support private Social Security accounts
  • 74% would change Medicare so people can buy private insurance
  • 63% support free trade
  • only 38% support affirmative action

Here is the opening for conservatives to win back millennials. “Conservatives must offer positive, uplifting solutions that emphasize upward mobility, opportunity, and personal liberty through education, job creation, and reforming the over-intrusive federal government.”

Democrats Are the Out-of-Touch Extremists

The public overwhelmingly believes the country is headed in the wrong direction, that current economic policies aren’t working, that President Obama is doing a bad job, that government should be smaller and that ObamaCare should be repealed. But not Democrats.

Those are findings from a new poll by Investor’s Business Daily. On issue after issue, large majorities of the public tilt one way, but the Democrats tilt the other way.

Is the country headed in the right direction? 64% say no. Among Independents, 71% say we are headed in the wrong direction along with 92% of Republicans. But 66% of Democrats think we are headed in the right direction.

On all of the poll’s questions, Independents aligned with Republicans and against Democrats.

Scott Walker: stand on conservative principles

In a WSJ op-ed, Gov. Scott Walker says that the way he won the center, even including many Obama supporters, was by showing “the courage to stand on principle”. Against enormous pressure, he stood up for conservative principles.

The way Republicans can win those in the middle is not by abandoning their principles. To the contrary, the courage to stand on principle is what these voters respect. The way to win the center is to lead.

That’s why those arguing that conservatives have to “moderate” their views if they want to appeal to the country are so wrong. If our principles were the problem, then why are so many Republican governors winning elections by campaigning on them? Since Barack Obama took office in 2009, the GOP has gone from controlling both the legislature and governor’s mansion in nine states to 23 states today. Not one sitting Republican governor has lost a general election since 2007.

Republicans did not win those races by running from principles. They won by applying principles in ways that are relevant to the lives of citizens.

… Republicans focus on improving education, caring for the poor, reforming government, lowering taxes, fixing entitlements, reducing dependency, improving health care, and creating jobs and opportunity for the unemployed.

Republicans need to do more than simply say no to Mr. Obama and his party’s big-government agenda. They can offer Americans positive solutions for the nation’s challenges—to reduce dependency, and create hope, opportunity, and upward mobility for all citizens. They need to make not just the economic case for conservative reforms but the moral case as well—showing how conservative policies and ideas will make America not only a more prosperous society but a more just and fair one as well.

Too many people in politics today spend their time trying not to lose instead of trying to do the right thing. They would better serve the country by worrying more about the next generation than the next election. The irony is that politicians who spend more time worrying about the next generation than about the next election often tend to win the next election—because voters are starved for leadership.

We are a caring and generous society

“The history of recent decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.” — Thomas Sowell

According to an old story, a small town in Italy was having a problem with vipers. So the town council established a “viper bounty” to pay people for bringing in dead vipers. The result was that people started breeding vipers in their basements.

This illustrates one of the basic laws of economics: People respond to incentives. They do more of something when the reward increases; they do less of something when the penalty or cost increases.

Much of our public policy suffers from a failure to understand the basics of human behavior. Politicians perceive a problem, rush to pass a law that sounds good, pat themselves on the back, then go on to the next problem. They rarely look back to examine whether their “solution” actually fixed the problem or made it worse. If the program doesn’t work, their answer always is that it needs more money. They never admit that they were wrong.

Consider our many programs to help the poor and vulnerable. We are a caring and generous society. We donate hundreds of billions of dollars and countless millions of hours of our time to helping others. Caring for the vulnerable attracts almost universal support. But good intentions don’t automatically produce good policies.

Shouldn’t the goal of our anti-poverty programs be to help people move up out of poverty? Most if not all of the programs don’t even try to reduce poverty. Instead, they simply hand out money so the poor will be a little less destitute. Those unfortunate people remain in or near poverty, dependent on government sometimes for their entire lives – and their children’s lives.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: “They want to give you a line where you can wait for a handout… I want to offer you a ladder so you can reach for your dreams.” Democrats measure success by how many people receive assistance. Republicans measure success by how many people no longer need assistance.

The myriad of welfare programs reward people for being poor and penalize those who try to move out of poverty and up the income ladder. Someone who works harder, takes a second job, learns more skills, might earn $10,000 more but lose $15,000 of benefits. Hence, many say “I can’t afford to take that job. I’d lose my benefits!” With perverse incentives like these it is no wonder that we have more people in poverty and fewer people making the effort to better themselves.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recognized the problem: “This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.”

Democrats like to claim that they are for the poor, that Republicans are for the rich. The truth is that we Republicans are for all people to have the opportunity to become rich. The Democrats are for policies that keep people poor. If they really cared for the poor, they would fix a system that traps people in poverty. They would reward, not penalize, people who try to better themselves and escape poverty.

Bad policies are condemning people to lifelong poverty, trapping them there, and killing all hope of a better life.

Three simple rules will keep most people out of poverty: “finish high school, get a full-time job, and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.” Follow all three rules and you have just a 2% chance of falling into poverty. Break all three rules and your chance of winding up in poverty is 76%. Tragically, government policies create incentives to break all three rules.

Welfare programs pay more to a teenage girl who has children, and pay less if she gets married, thus violating the third rule. ObamaCare provides a terrible incentive for businesses to limit employees to part-time work. This year 96% of all new jobs are part-time jobs, making it very hard to follow the second rule.

But the worst incentive of all is the government school system in too many parts of the country. In the inner cities the school systems are so bad that half the children drop out before they graduate and half those who do graduate are functionally illiterate. They will never get a decent job or a shot at the American dream.

The politicians and even the teachers know that the schools are terrible. That is why they send their own kids to private or parochial schools. Parents cry out for voucher programs that would let them send their kids to the same good schools that the politicians and teachers use for their kids. But the politicians and teachers care more about teachers’ jobs than they care about the kids whose lives they are destroying.

Did I mention which party runs all of these cities, has held the mayoralties, the city councils, the school boards for more than fifty years? Democrats run the welfare and school systems; they have created the policies that ruin the lives of the recipients of their handouts. And these are the people who say they care for the poor. They like the poor so much that they want more of them.

Some good news from the elections

Republicans did well in many unexpected places:

GOP sweeps Erie County (NY)

County Republicans scored an election sweep Tuesday, winning control of the County Legislature while retaining the offices of sheriff and comptroller in the Democratic stronghold of Erie County.

In New York, Republicans re-elected county executives in Westchester and Nassau Counties, captured the mayoralty in Binghamton and a majority of the county legislature in Erie County for the first time since 1977, and won a special election for the state Assembly in Suffolk County.

The common denominator of winning Republicans in the Empire State was opposition to taxes and championship of small government.

In Connecticut, Republicans had an extraordinary Tuesday as they swept the shoreline of the Nutmeg State and won mayoral races in such blue-collar Democratic bastions as Bristol, Meriden, and New Britain.

“You could say ‘a star is born’ in New Britain, which has a Democratic voter registration edge of 6-to-1,” state Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. told Newsmax. He was referring to 26-year-old Erin Stewart, who unseated Democratic Mayor Tim O’Brien in one of the biggest upsets anywhere in the nation Tuesday.

Colorado income tax hike lost big. An almost $1 billion tax increase “on the rich” and “for the kids” (i.e. for the teachers’ unions) lost by almost 2:1. Supporters spent about $10 million to the opponents’ $11,000.
Even in Virginia there were some silver linings. You probably know that the Republican was outspent more than 2:1, that there was a faux-Libertarian (funded by a Democrat), who took many more votes than the margin of difference. You may not have heard that the Republican won the Independent vote and won married women.
To the extent that Virginia says anything nationally, and it’s easy to over-interpret it, it says that even an outspent and outgunned candidate leading a divided party can make serious headway just by pounding a single issue: Obamacare.
  • Obamacare almost killed McAuliffe
  • Cuccinelli might have won if he had more money

Democrat Gov. Shumlin (VT) says that the McAuliffe race will be the model for 2014. Republican strategists replied:

that they wouldn’t be concerned if Democrats used the McAuliffe model in upcoming elections, noting that he lost married women, health care voters and independents while outspending Cuccinelli by a wide margin to win the election by just 2.5 percentage points.

“unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy”

[They] see the uninterrupted forward march of the American left. Entitlement spending never stopped growing. The regulatory state continued to expand. The national debt grew and grew and finally in the Obama years, exploded. They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew. And they see the Republican Party as having utterly failed to stop the drift toward an unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy. They are not interested in Republican policies that merely slow the growth of this leviathan. They want to stop it and reverse it. And they want to show their supporters they’ll try anything to bring that about. (my emphasis)

That Brit Hume commentary has it just about right. Too many Republicans, especially in Washington, are content with Big Government as long as they have a hand in running it. The grassroots and, polls show, the American people prefer smaller government:

far more voters continue to favor a smaller government with fewer services than a bigger government that provides more services. — Pew Research Center