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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pant Pant

I hear the hospitals around Phoenix are pretty good. Also there are some good areas in Texas....

There has to be a better way....

But maybe I should be paying attention to the states that are getting "special" treatment under the Senate health care bill. Betsy Newmark has a great roundup; this is some pretty sickening stuff:
What amazes me is how this bill was crafted to treat some states, in perpetuity, differently from other states simply because those states had senators who were more powerful or more canny when it came to bargaining for their support.
Why should Michigan and Nebraska be the only states where their insurers get a tax exemption? Is there any rhyme or logic to that? And why should Medicare Advantage recipients in Pennsylvania, New York, and Florida be the only ones that don't face cuts? Why should taxes and benefits and regulations be different across the country?
The bit about non-profit insurers being treated differently in some states than others is particularly irksome. Of course Nelson's Nebraska won't have to pay for Medicare....

It strikes me that something is seriously wrong with Congress.

Also, see NOFP's post on the Peterson-Pew Commission for Budget Reform report. In 36 pages this report lays out the fiscal situation, which is serious. We have about ten years, and we need to take action during those ten years. The report contains a relatively detailed proposal:
The website is available here. The people involved in this are past financial heavyweights from Congress (GAO, CBO, OMB) and the Fed (like Volcker). The two main sponsors are leftish (Pew) and rightish (Peterson Foundation). You will find organizations from all shades of the political spectrum footnoted; serious persons from all perspectives realize that our debt is threatening all our goals. The conclusion:
Other countries have successfully undertaken fiscal consolidation efforts to reduce their debt. However in many cases, it took a debt crisis or severe international pressure for these nations to act. If policymakers fail to act before a crisis hits, citizens will pay a tremendous economic price.

The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform believes that policymakers must change the fiscal course to head off such a crisis. This will require policymakers to adopt a path toward sustainable debt and credibly commit to enacting it over the next several years. There is no question that the Commission’s plan will require hard choices—significant spending cuts and tax increases will be necessary to shift our fiscal course. And we are under no illusions that any single fiscal framework will fix the country’s fiscal problems
The "tremendous economic price" they discuss can be found in any study of Argentina or Turkey after finanical crisis; the middle class will be wiped out. Seriously. I admit that the economy is pretty bad now, but the truth is that the US recovery has moved along faster than in most other major countries. So it is time to get a grip on reality. This report discusses some enforcement mechanisms that sound good to me and might really put the spurs to Congress. See what you think.

Update: See this site for some updated info on the Senate health care bill.

"Why should taxes and benefits and regulations be different [from state to state]?"

Ummmm, is this Constitutional? I know, I know, living document, blah blah blah...
Well, that IS the question Betsy brings up, and it depends upon the details. Of course, we don't know the details because this compromise thingie is not really divulged to the public.

Congress has been playing games with excise taxes forever; in some cases individual companies are given exemptions. On a state by state straight basis, there may be a point at which one could level a constitutional challenge. But if the exemptions are given to specific companies, probably not - if the SC were to rule that unconstitutional, whole chunks of current law would be thrown out and the SC does not do that. "Active liberty", etc.
I have some suggestions for some disciplinary action to spur Congress into fiscal responsibility.
1.No pay raises of any kind until the budget is balanced.
2.Reduce pay by 5% every five years until the budget comes into balance.
3.Pass a law prohibiting earmarks.
4.Set up a priority system for Federal expenditures. National defense and law enforcement at the top and others in a descending list of importance.
5.Require every Congress Critter to have a neutral observer at every meeting with lobbyists. Just to prevent loose cash from being "lost" in the lawmakers' offices.

The problem is, who will make these rules? The fox is watching the henhouse - one of the major weaknesses in our government.
Jimmy - BWHAHAHAHAAAHA on the supervised lobbyist meetings.
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Jimmy J.,

5.Require every Congress Critter to have a neutral observer at every meeting with lobbyists. Just to prevent loose cash from being "lost" in the lawmakers' offices.

Where can we find a neutral observer though? I know! We could let the public decide through some sort of voting process.

Maybe not, lol.

Perhaps we could have convicted bankers be the neutral observers? It could be a way for them to redeem themselves. Andy Dufresne did a decent job of that in The Shawshank Redemption.

Oh wait. I think I've got it. We just need a new reality TV show.

"C-SPAN: Congressional Big Brother"

We could be the neutral observer. All of us! Oh how George Orwell would laugh if he could see it. Mwuhahaha!!
If this is a wish list I want a return to the Rule of Law and restoration of the American Republic.the rest would follow.
So what is there left for us to do?

The Idiots In Power have obviously decided that hyperinflation is better than fiscal prudence. We're going to be the next Zimbabwe, and I vote for Dear Leader's picture to be on the $1,000,000,000,000 bill, which we'll soon be using to buy bread with.
36 million mericans have no representation in the Senate. California is nothing more than a Democrat party line vote. You expect fair or just or even compromise in this situation?
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