The Senate Finance Committee Is A Joke

With yesterday’s passage of the “Baucus Plan”, the Senate Finance Committee confirmed something we all (well most of us) have known all along.

The call for “Health care reform” in the United States amounts to nothing more than a massive middle-class tax hike. Take these inconvenient truths into account:

To avoid the fate of the House bill and achieve a veneer of fiscal sensibility, the Senate did three things: It omitted inconvenient truths, it promised that future Congresses will make tough choices to slow entitlement spending, and it dropped the hammer on the middle class.

The only way they could get this “plan” through committee was to leave out all of the details, promising that those details will be filled in, in the future. Since when do we create fill in the blank legislation? I know Mad-Libs are popular, but who knew that the U.S. Senate depended on them?

One inconvenient truth is the fact that Congress will not allow doctors to suffer a 24% cut in their Medicare reimbursements. Senate Democrats chose to ignore this reality and rely on the promise of a cut to make their bill add up. Taking note of this fact pushes the total cost of the bill well over $1 trillion and destroys any pretense of budget balance.

This one simple truth makes it impossible for President Obama to sign the final legislation. Remember, he said he would not sign any health care legislation that added to the federal deficit. They’re going to be pretty hard pressed to fund a $1 trillion health plan without touching the deficit.

Oh, and remember when President Obama promised there would be no new taxes for anyone making less than $200,000?

Most astounding of all is what this Congress is willing to do to struggling middle-class families. The bill would impose nearly $400 billion in new taxes and fees. Nearly 90% of that burden will be shouldered by those making $200,000 or less.

But the economics are clear. These costs will be passed on to consumers by either directly raising insurance premiums, or by fueling higher health-care costs that inevitably lead to higher premiums. Consumers will pay the excise tax on high-cost plans. The Joint Committee on Taxation indicates that 87% of the burden would fall on Americans making less than $200,000, and more than half on those earning under $100,000.

Whoops. That’s gotta hurt. It’s amazing to watch Congress go through all these motions when it’s clear they have no intention of actually reforming health care in the first place. Did you know the CBO has estimated that by 2019, the “Baucus Plan” would leave approximately 25 million people without health insurance?

Like I said, this is less about health care reform and more about authorizing higher taxes on those who can least afford it. If they really want to reform health care why not make medicare/medicaid available to everyone who needs it? Wouldn’t that guarantee coverage for everyone?

Barack Obama, The Pretentious Prevaricator

Tonight I wrap up my analysis of the President’s recent speech to the Joint Session of Congress. When I started I thought for sure I would find one or two juicy tidbits, in addition to the blatant lies we all noticed right away. How was I to know that I would find 17 places in his speech where he lied to, or misled, the American people?

The President began to wrap up his speech by telling us about those who have suffered silently, he spoke of the many Americans who were counting on us to succeed, the ones who shared their stories at town hall meetings, in emails and in letters. Then the only example he offered was a letter from the recently departed Ted Kennedy.

I received one of those letters a few days ago. It was from our beloved friend and colleague, Ted Kennedy. He had written it back in May, shortly after he was told that his illness was terminal. He asked that it be delivered upon his death.

In it, he spoke about what a happy time his last months were, thanks to the love and support of family and friends, his wife, Vicki, his amazing children, who are all here tonight. And he expressed confidence that this would be the year that health care reform — “that great unfinished business of our society,” he called it — would finally pass. He repeated the truth that health care is decisive for our future prosperity, but he also reminded me that “it concerns more than material things.” “What we face,” he wrote, “is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.”

I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure Ted Kennedy wasn’t an average American who received substandard health care. He was a sitting U.S. Senator with a unique health care plan that offered coverage which every non-politician in the country wishes they had access to.

It’s sad when anyone loses their battle with cancer, but invoking the name of Ted Kennedy was nothing more than an attempt to get sympathy votes for a health care bill that, in it’s current form, hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of passing. If it could pass in it’s current form, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid would not be waiting a single moment. They’ve set a deadline for Thanksgiving. Why not vote on it now? I thought they were trying to pass this bill before the summer recess? What’s the hold up?

That large-heartedness — that concern and regard for the plight of others — is not a partisan feeling. It’s not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character — our ability to stand in other people’s shoes; a recognition that we are all in this together, and when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand; a belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgment that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise.

I agree, we are a compassionate people, but we cannot let compassion blind our sensibility. The current health care plan will place an unsustainable burden on generations to come. There is no reason why we cannot work on incremental change, tweaking our system as we go, to ensure than things are handled better and make sure the 4.6% of Americans who have been unable to obtain coverage get some.

In 1935, when over half of our seniors could not support themselves and millions had seen their savings wiped away, there were those who argued that Social Security would lead to socialism, but the men and women of Congress stood fast, and we are all the better for it. In 1965, when some argued that Medicare represented a government takeover of health care, members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — did not back down. They joined together so that all of us could enter our golden years with some basic peace of mind.

Many people depend on Social Security and Medicare and many more baby-boomers will be flooding the market in the next few years. Need we remind the President that the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare are currently hovering around the $59 trillion mark, or $192,104 per citizen?

I am not going to deny that many people benefit from receiving their Social Security payments, but touting either of these social programs as a success is hypocritical. What do we hear every election cycle?

“We need to fix Social Security and Medicare”, “Social Security will run out of money in the next decade”, “We cannot continue without an overhaul of Social Security and Medicare”.

Now we’re touting both of these programs as an example of what government can do? What happened to the lock box? I bet no one can answer that question.

So let’s review. What have we learned in this series of posts?

  1. President Obama distracted the American people from his own $3 trillion deficit by waving the $1 trillion deficit from 2008 under our noses.

    The federal deficit is projected to grow by trillions each year of the Obama administration. Trillions. Have you seen what a trillion looks like? $1,000,000,000,000. That’s a one with 12 zeroes after it.

    It’s one thing to see the zeroes, but do have any idea what a trillion is? One million seconds pass in 12 days. One billion seconds pass in 32 years. One trillion seconds pass in 31,688 years!

    Reports indicate that our deficit will grow in the trillions rather than the billions for many years. It’s time to wake up people!

  2. President Obama said we have pulled the economy back from the brink.

    The brink of what, success? Things still aren’t looking too good you know.

  3. President Obama invoked the name of Teddy Roosevelt stating that he was the first President to call for health care reform.

    While President, Teddy Roosevelt never called for health care reform. His political party called for required health insurance in industry in 1912, several years after he served as the 26th President of the United States. Requiring companies to provide health insurance options isn’t really reform, and it doesn’t matter anyway because the platform failed and the political party faded away into obscurity.

  4. President Obama claimed that we are the only democracy on Earth, the only wealthy nation that allows such health care hardships for millions of its people.

    That was a lie. It’s obvious that President Obama considers short waiting periods, abundant potable water, and the lack of prevalent disease as “hardships”. I wonder if the White House staff ever looks out the window? It’s clear they don’t know how to use the Internet. A couple of searches on Wikipedia totally debunked his “only democracy, only wealthy nation” rhetoric.

  5. President Obama says there are 30 million people who cannot get health insurance coverage.

    That was a lie. The actual number of Americans who “cannot get coverage” is somewhere between 10 and 14 million people, a fact he clearly backs up later in his speech albeit unintentionally.

  6. President Obama told us that our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else.

    That was a lie. Has he conveniently forgotten the stimulus bill? What about the auto bailouts? Has he forgotten (or would he rather you not remember) the fact that his administration alone will be responsible for increasing the size of the federal deficit to more than $11 trillion in the next few years? These figures do not include the new health care bill or the current liabilities for Social Security and Medicare.

  7. According to President Obama “confusion has reigned” when it comes to discussing the health care bill.

    That was a lie. It’s not confusing to those of us who have read the bill.

  8. President Obama has promised time and time again that if you like your current health care plan, you can keep your current health care plan. During his speech, he changed his tune and said “nothing in this bill will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have”.

    That was a complete, blatant, lie. There is nothing in the bill that will guarantee anything the President said, and a whole lot of sections that will over-regulate private companies right out of competition in the marketplace.

  9. President Obama called Americans cynical and irresponsible for claiming there were sections of the bill that discussed some serious end-of-life “alternatives” and said they were bogus claims.

    That was a lie. The text is in the bill. Prominent politicians denied it was in the bill. Americans across the country showed them the bill. They now promise that those sections have been removed from the bill. The President, however, still says the claims were bogus.

  10. President Obama told us that the bill does not provide coverage for illegal immigrants.

    That was a lie. The bill prevents illegal immigrants from obtaining “affordability credits” to help pay for health care. The bill does not restrict coverage or their ability to seek treatment. In fact, every amendment introduced to specifically address illegal immigrants has been voted down by the Democratic majority.

  11. President Obama told us some sad stories about Americans who lost their coverage.

    Lies, lies, and more lies. Their stories are part of the Congressional Record and cannot be disputed. The President’s honesty, on the other hand, can be.

  12. President Obama states adamantly that the health care bill will not fund abortions.

    The biggest lie, so far. The bill specifically states that services offered will be aimed at “Improving maternal or child health and pregnancy outcomes or increasing birth intervals between pregnancies.”

    You cannot increase birth intervals between pregnancies without that key word, pregnancies. If you’re pregnant,there is no other way to increase birth intervals than by preventing births. Once you’re pregnant, preventing a birth is usually called abortion.

    The debate is not about abortion, and the question is not whether the word abortion appears in the bill, the question is why are they leaving the door wide open by allowing federal funds to be used to obtain them? Why would they word it specifically to include the word “pregnancy” if they didn’t intend for abortions to become a covered option under the public health plan? It’s clear they were trying to circumvent current U.S. Code without having to introduce a specific bill to do just that. It’s much easier to hide it in a 1,000 page bill.

    U.S. Code, Title 42, Chapter 6A, SubChapter VIII, § 300a–6 states, “Prohibition against funding programs using abortion as family planning method”.

  13. President Obama used the people of Alabama as an example of poor health care in America.

    Those were more lies. He cherry-picked some specific examples that were immediately proven false by the Birmingham news, and the people of Alabama.

  14. President Obama said he will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits.

    That was a lie. He knows the current plan will add a minimum of $239 billion to our deficit in the short term and possibly $9 trillion in the long term.

  15. President Obama claimed more people will die if we “do nothing”.

    That was a lie. He has no way of knowing, in fact, if this health care bill is allowed to pass, the quality of health care in America will suffer, services will be rationed to save money, and up to 45% of all doctors will quit, rather than work under this plan.

  16. President Obama invoked the name of Ted Kennedy as an average American who suffered silently with substandard health care.

    That was a lie. Check out all the options under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and then tell me how bad Ted Kennedy’s insurance was. The President was invoking his name solely for the sympathy vote.

  17. President Obama claimed we are better because of Social Security and Medicare.

    That was a lie, and I can list $59,000,000,000, 000 (yes, that’s trillion) reasons why, but I don’t have 1,869,592 years to do so.

The bottom line is, even if you discount half of these examples, the President told an overwhelming number of lies to the American people when he stood before the Joint Session of Congress and delivered that health care speech.

Americans have grown cynical in the fact that they continue to support politicians who lie to them continuously. We’ve grown apathetic toward the entire political system, and that has to change.

During the course of these posts, I have been called out, I’ve been called names, and today, a family member “de-friended” me on Facebook simply because I stood my ground and debated the true aspects of the health care bill. It’s a shame he chose to walk away rather than simply agree to disagree and move on, but I don’t regret my coverage of HR 3200, I don’t regret pointing out the President’s obvious (and not so obvious) lies, and most of all I don’t regret making my voice heard.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” If we remain quiet now, we will surely pay for it for generations to come. Thank you for taking the time to read this series of posts. Hopefully it will make a difference, for your sake, for my sake, for our children’s sake.

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
Thomas Jefferson

Intermission: How Do You Measure Health Care?

Before I continue addressing the President’s speech, let me address a couple comments I received from a friend in Canada regarding the previous post. Bear with me while I respond to his question and divulge a few personal accounts. I will continue with the speech in tomorrow’s post.

My friend states,

You said Obama “claimed that the United States is the only democracy, the only wealthy nation that allows health related hardship for millions of it’s people, while the people of many other democracies and wealthy nations are suffering far more than we are.”

Well, we’re not. Compare Canadian life expectancy, infant mortality, cost of health care per person, and universality of access to yours.

and in a follow up comment he adds,

Based on the most recent stats available from the WHO, here’s how the “far better” US system stacks up to the Canadian system.

Life Expectancy: 81 years in Canada, 78 years in the US.

Population with access to treated drinking water: 100% in Canada, 99% in the US.

Deaths/1000 among children under 5: 6 in Canada, 8 in the US.

Adult Mortality rate (probability of dying between 15 to 60 years per 1000 population): 72 per thousand in Canada, 109 per thousand in the US.

Total expenditure on health as percentage of gross domestic product: 10% in Canada, 15.3% in the US.

Per Capita expenditures on Health in US$: $3912 in Canada, $6714 in Canada.

Hospital beds per 10,000 population: 34 in Canada, 32 in the US.

So…by what measure do you figure your system is better than ours? Just curious.

Those statistics from the World Health Organization sure look good. Life expectancy, infant mortality, cost of health care per person, and universality of access all appear to be much better than ours here in the United States, but let’s look at the whole picture, not just general statistics, or one political view.

I am sure the WHO statistics are true, I am not going to try and disprove them, as that would be ridiculous. But let’s keep in mind that there is a whole lot more to health care than general statistics and overall numbers. What looks good on paper can be very deceiving, and misleading.

Does it matter if Canadians live three years longer than Americans if their quality of health care (and quality of life) are not any better than ours here in America? I would certainly give up three years of my life if it meant having a higher quality of life in the years that I did have remaining.

Believe it or not I have a lot of experience with the Canadian health care system. My mother is a naturalized American who came to the United States from Canada when she was two years old. Her sister, mother, father, uncle, aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers were all born in Canada. I have seen what the Canadian health care system has done to my relatives.

In 1982 I was living in Hawaii with my grandmother while attending college. I met my great-uncle Bob and his wife Isabel for the first time. My uncle Bob and I bonded immediately. He understood the angst of a 17 year old kid living in a strange place (I had never lived outside my small home town before I left for college). He spent time telling me all about his life and I shared my life with him.

One day, while we were walking outside he started rubbing the side of his face. He seemed to be applying a lot of pressure and looked uncomfortable. I asked him if something was wrong and he told me how his face, just one side, would tingle and go numb for several minutes at a time. I asked him what his doctor said, to which he replied, “I’ve only been able to see one doctor and that was months ago”. His doctor thought it might be some sort of “nerve disorder” but they could not be sure until they ran some tests and those tests were not scheduled until they returned to Canada. It was the earliest he could be seen at the time.

He experienced those episodes several times during his vacation, and insisted his doctor would “take care of it” when he got home. When he and Isabel boarded the plane to return to Canada, it was the last time I would see him in person. We exchanged letters for several months, and I spoke to him on the phone a few times.

The last time I heard from him, he had still not seen a doctor. His “elective” appointment for “facial tingles” was delayed. Time and time again. Then, in December of 1983, he died. He suffered a massive heart attack, was rushed to the hospital, and it was discovered that the “nerve disorder” was simply a symptom of a much more serious heart problem.

This wasn’t an issue of a misdiagnosis, this wasn’t an issue of poor judgement in the prescription of medication. This was a result of the lack of proper health care. Whatever the reason, whether it was an effort to save money (rationing) or just a coincidence that he died from the very thing he was seeking medical treatment for, we’ll never know, will we? I don’t have statistics from the WHO or any other organization on the number of untreated cases, the quality of care, or the long term prognosis for people like my uncle Bob. He was my uncle, not a statistic.

Many years later, while living back in Las Vegas, my aunt Isabel came to visit. While she was visiting, she felt weak and wanted to go to the hospital. It was quickly determined that she had suffered from a stroke, and received health care at one of Las Vegas’ premiere hospitals. When she was discharged, many weeks later, her American doctor advised her what needed to be done for follow up care, and she went home to Canada.

Aunt Isabel is still living in British Columbia, but her quality of life has not been good for a very long time. Shortly after returning to Canada she suffered another stroke. Over the years she suffered even more “mini strokes”, and just a couple years ago, she suffered another big one. I don’t talk to her, or my cousin, as much as I should, but I know she hasn’t been to see a doctor nearly as much as she should have.

The question is, would she have suffered so many strokes if she lived here in the United States? Who knows. We have no way of knowing that, but there is one thing I do know. She would have seen her doctor a heck of a lot more living here than she has in Canada. Do I have statistics to back this up? Nope. All I have is her personal account of what she’s endured under the Canadian health care system.

Because I know my friend, I know these personal accounts will mean nothing in the overall argument about health care (as far as he’s concerned), so now I will point out a few facts and statistics, from other sources, which may clarify why I figure that our system is better than that in Canada.

According to the National Center For Policy Analysis,

  • Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians.
    • Breast cancer mortality is 9 percent higher, prostate cancer is 184 percent higher and colon cancer mortality among men is about 10 percent higher than in the United States.
  • Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians.
    • Take the proportion of the appropriate-age population groups who have received recommended tests for breast, cervical, prostate and colon cancer:
      • Nine of 10 middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to less than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent).
      • Nearly all American women (96 percent) have had a pap smear, compared to less than 90 percent of Canadians.
      • More than half of American men (54 percent) have had a PSA test, compared to less than 1 in 6 Canadians (16 percent).
      • Nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) have had a colonoscopy, compared with less than 1 in 20 Canadians (5 percent).
  • Lower income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians.
    • Twice as many American seniors with below-median incomes self-report “excellent” health compared to Canadian seniors (11.7 percent versus 5.8 percent). Conversely, white Canadian young adults with below-median incomes are 20 percent more likely than lower income Americans to describe their health as “fair or poor.”
  • Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the U.K.
    • Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long – sometimes more than a year – to see a specialist, to have elective surgery like hip replacements or to get radiation treatment for cancer. All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada. In England, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.
  • People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed.
    • More than 70 percent of German, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and British adults say their health system needs either “fundamental change” or “complete rebuilding.”
  • Americans are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians.
    • When asked about their own health care instead of the “health care system,” more than half of Americans (51.3 percent) are very satisfied with their health care services, compared to only 41.5 percent of Canadians; a lower proportion of Americans are dissatisfied (6.8 percent) than Canadians (8.5 percent).
  • Americans have much better access to important new technologies like medical imaging than patients in Canada or the U.K.
    • Maligned as a waste by economists and policymakers naïve to actual medical practice, an overwhelming majority of leading American physicians identified computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the most important medical innovations for improving patient care during the previous decade. The United States has 34 CT scanners per million Americans, compared to 12 in Canada and eight in Britain. The United States has nearly 27 MRI machines per million compared to about 6 per million in Canada and Britain.
  • Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations.
    • The top five U.S. hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other single developed country. Since the mid-1970s, the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology has gone to American residents more often than recipients from all other countries combined. In only five of the past 34 years did a scientist living in America not win or share in the prize. Most important recent medical innovations were developed in the United States.

All of these statistics, or facts, come from sources such as the National Program of Cancer Registries, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control; the Canadian Cancer Society/National Cancer Institute of Canada, the Fraser Institute, the England Department of Health, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Nobel Prize Internet Archive, and various media reports.

These are not conservative “talking points”. These are simply additional statistics to consider with the numbers presented from the World Health Organization. If we’re going to look at whose health care system is better, we should look at the entire picture, not just pieces we choose to put under the magnifying glass.

With that in mind, make sure you read The Top Ten Things People Believe About Canadian Health Care, But Shouldn’t from The Heritage Foundation.

A 2005 survey by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada reported that more than 4 million Canadians do not have access to a family doctor. 12% of the Canadian population did not have access to a family doctor in 2005.

When it comes to health insurance in America, President Obama has made the claim that 47 million Americans “cannot get coverage”. During his speech to the Joint Session of Congress that number changed to 30 million. The White House later released a statement that the 30 million number does not include illegal immigrants. Using that number, the number of Americans who “cannot get coverage” is 9.86%. (We know from the second post in this series that the true number is closer to 14 million or 4.6%).

That same Canadian survey also states that more than 3,800 doctors plan to retire in the next two years and that 60% of family physicians are already limiting or refusing new patients.

Oh, and Americans are not the only ones talking about reforming their system of health care.

In an article dated August 16, 2009, the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association said the country’s health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.

Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country – who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting – recognize that changes must be made.

“We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize,” Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

the article continues,

Doig says there are some “very good things” about Canada’s health-care system, but she points out that many people have stories about times when things didn’t go well for them or their family.

“(Canadians) have to understand that the system that we have right now – if it keeps on going without change – is not sustainable,” said Doig.

Canada’s own medical community knows that their existing system is not sustainable, so why should we, here in America, be so quick to rush into a single payer system that has proven to reduce the quality of health care and break the bank in country after country, after country?

When it comes to health care and treatment, there are horror stories from both sides of the border, but when you hear those stories you never hear of Americans seeking treatment in Canada for specialized procedures that are not available here.

In many discussions and debate about health care I keep hearing that I need to remove my “partisan blinders”. What part of wanting the best health care choices for Americans is being partisan? I don’t support the current health care bill introduced in the House. I don’t support anything similar to that bill. I agree whole-heartedly that we need health care reform in America, I just don’t think we need to totally overhaul the entire system to make sure that an additional 4.6% of the population has access to health care.

Even CNN, one of the most liberal news outlets in America, reports some of the horror stories from the Canadian health care system. I don’t need CNN, FOXNews, or any other media outlet to remind me of the horrors of the Canadian health care system.

Whether I consider “elective” surgeries like knee replacement surgery, life expectancy, cancer survival rates, mortality rates, or any other statistic touted in this post or anywhere else, I still feel that Americans have better quality health care.

Knee replacement surgery might be “elective” but waiting for that replacement can be very painful and no one should have to wait four months or more for that surgery. People suffering from “facial tingles” should not wait more than six months, and die, before they are seen to have tests administered. What good is a longer life expectancy if you are in pain or miserable while you are waiting for treatment?

I’d much rather choose the health care system that is capable of treating the “big stuff” like cancer if it comes along, rather than the one that puts me on a waiting list for “elective” surgeries that could ease my pain, limits access to radiation services to treat my cancer, and treats me as a number in the system while touting “universal coverage for all”.

So, in conclusion, I hope that answers the question, “by what measure do you figure your system is better than ours?” We can argue points back and forth until we are blue in the face and it won’t change the fact that both systems, American and Canadian alike, need serious work.

Now, if you pardon me, I have to get back to analyzing President Obama’s speech to the Joint Session of Congress.

How To Spot A Prevaricating President. Part Three.

I sat here for an hour this evening wondering where to start this post. Do I recap the facts we’ve learned over the previous two posts, or do I jump right in with more of the President’s own words? After careful deliberation I decided to remind you of the key details we’ve covered and then jump right in.

In the first eight paragraphs of his speech to a Joint Session of Congress, President Obama,

  • Distracted the American people from his own $3 trillion deficit while waving the 2008 deficit ($1 trillion) in our faces.
  • Invoked the name of Theodore Roosevelt trying to justify complete “health care reform” while Roosevelt wasn’t even President any longer and simply called for health insurance in industry.
  • Claimed that the United States is the only democracy, the only wealthy nation that allows health related hardship for millions of it’s people, while the people of many other democracies and wealthy nations are suffering far more than we are.
  • Attempted to convince us that 47 million people in the United States “cannot get coverage”, while the true number sits closer to 10 million people.

Last night the President said,

If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out.

Well, tonight, I am calling him out. As I said before, I’ve read the health care bill. I know what’s in the bill. His speech was a complete misrepresentation of the bill, and I am going to show you how. I will do so by quoting his own words, and using the text of the bill to prove he was lying.

President Obama, like many Presidents before him, was quick to bring fear into the forefront. He spoke about those who have insurance and the fact they have less security and stability now than ever before. Losing coverage happens everyday, he warns.

Of course, no Presidential speech would be complete without invoking the names of victims. This time it was victims of our current health care system. A man whose insurance was dropped in the middle of chemotherapy, resulting in his death. A woman’s canceled mastectomy surgery, resulting in bigger cancer. He never mentioned if she died or not. I guess the fear of living with more cancer in our current health care system is more frightening than dying from it. Then he talks about the “unsustainable burden on taxpayers”.

Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else.

Now, these are the facts. Nobody disputes them. We know we must reform this system.

The President says our current health system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. According to the National Coalition on Health Care, national health spending is expected to reach $2.5 trillion this year rising to $4.4 trillion by 2018.

That’s a huge amount of money isn’t it? It is, until you consider H.R. 3200, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009“.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan agency charged with providing Congress with the estimated costs of legislation reports,

According to CBO’s and JCT’s assessment, enacting H.R. 3200 would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period. That estimate reflects a projected 10-year cost of the bill’s insurance coverage provisions of $1,042 billion, partly offset by net spending changes that CBO estimates would save $219 billion over the same period, and by revenue provisions that JCT estimates would increase federal revenues by about $583 billion over those 10 years.

But they also add,

The figures released yesterday do not represent a complete cost estimate for the legislation. In particular, the estimated impact of the provisions related to health insurance coverage is based on specifications provided by the committee staff, rather than on a detailed analysis of the legislative language. (The estimates for other spending provisions reflect the specific legislative language. JCT has separately published its estimates of the effects of revenue provisions contained in H.R. 3200.) In addition, the figures do not include certain costs that the government would incur to administer the proposed changes and the impact of the bill’s provisions on other federal programs, and they do not reflect any modifications or amendments made after the bill was introduced. Nevertheless, this analysis reflects the major net budgetary effects of H.R. 3200.

According to the CATO institute,

The current health care bills will increase the budget deficit by at least $239 billion over the next 10 years, and far more in the years beyond that. If the new health care entitlement were subject to the same 75-year actuarial standards as Social Security or Medicare, its unfunded liabilities would exceed $9.2 trillion.

There’s one more thing to keep in mind too. Under the current health care bill, employers who do not provide health care coverage to their employees will be subject to an 8% fine. That’s 8% of the employees income. Many employers are currently paying 9 – 10% of the employees salary in health care costs. With that in mind, how many employers are going to keep paying up to 10% along with all of the administrative costs, when they can pay 8%, and save 2% plus all of the costs of administering the plan? I can guarantee that employers will drop their company provided plans as quick as they can, and I can guarantee you that the additional cost of adding those people to the national plan are not factored into any estimates by the CBO or the CATO Institute.

The President said, “Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else.

Has he forgotten the stimulus bill? Has he forgotten the auto bailout? Has he forgotten the fact that he himself is responsible for helping to increase the federal deficit by nearly $3 trillion this year alone? Has he forgotten that the deficit will rise another $8.364 trillion before 2014?

These estimates for the federal debt do not include the health care bill being debated or current liabilities for Medicare and Social Security. Sorry Mr. President, put simply, our health care problem is far from being our deficit problem. Sure, it will contribute to that deficit, one way or the other, but it’s not even close to being our biggest problem. Government spending. Too much government spending. That’s our biggest problem.

Let’s move on with the speech. President Obama said,

Instead of honest debate, we’ve seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

I agree with everything he says in this paragraph except the last line. He’s right. There has been no honest debate. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid would never allow that to happen, not on their watch. We’ve seen scare tactics. We sure have. If you’ve read the bill, you know it’s beyond scary. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps with no hope of compromise. Pelosi and Reid have proven time and time again that their ideological voice is the only one allowed to be heard in their respective chambers.

I draw the line however with his final statement. No matter what you hear in the “blizzard of charges and counter-charges” there is no confusion if you have read the bill. There is no doubt about the content of the health care bill, if you take the time to read it.

So let’s get on with the points he made about the bill, shall we?

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.

That is a lie. Plain and simple. While the bill itself does not “require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have”, there is nothing in the bill to prevent the government from over regulating insurance companies and driving them from the marketplace. As I stated above, there is nothing to prevent employers from agreeing to pay an 8% fine in order to drop health care, because it saves them money. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) introduced an amendment on July 28th which stated, “Nothing in this division shall prevent or limit individuals from keeping their current health benefit plan”.

The amendment failed in a vote of 32-26. Apparently there wasn’t enough interest in the committee to guarantee that you could keep your health care. In fact, even President Obama has changed his rhetoric about that topic. He used to say, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period“. Now he says, “nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have“.

Under HR 3200, the new Health Choices Commissioner sets the regulations and procedures that independent health care insurance companies must follow to be considered a “qualified health benefits plan”.

When the President said “Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.” He was deceiving you. If you still don’t believe me, READ THE BILL.

I currently have no health insurance. No dental insurance. Nothing. When I lost my job, I lost my insurance. I can’t afford insurance at this point in time. A universal health care plan would benefit me greatly at this point in time and you may think I would support that, but I don’t.

I cannot support any plan that gives the government so much control over my life or the lives of my family members. I cannot support any plan that will pass unsustainable debt onto my children, my grandchildren, and my children’s grandchildren. I cannot support any plan that allows the government to make the regulations, define the services, set the prices, and control the way in which those services are provided.

HR 3200, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009“, does all of this.

President Obama stood at that podium last night and blatantly lied to the American people. He knowingly contradicted the text of HR 3200, and he showed the utmost contempt for the citizens of our great nation.

Tomorrow is September 11th, and I have a long tradition of remaining silent in honor of those who were lost on that horrific day in 2001. I’ll be back on Saturday to continue my breakdown of the President’s speech and show you all of the remaining places in that speech, where he lied to you.

The Prevaricative President. Part Two.

Last night I established the fact that our President is being less than truthful with the American people.

He distracted American citizens from his administrations $3 trillion deficit THIS YEAR, but invoking the previous administrations $1 trillion deficit for 2008. Far be it from President Obama to actually be honest and open about anything.

When he invoked the name of Theodore Roosevelt into the conversation he once again was attempting to distract you from the truth. Theodore Roosevelt did not call for health care reform, he did not push to revamp the entire health care industry in the United States. His party, the Progressive Party of 1912, simply called for “required health insurance in industry”. By 1912, he was no longer President, in fact he served from 1901-1909 so he hadn’t been President for three years by the time he and his party called for the health insurance requirement. I should also remind you that Woodrow Wilson won that election and the Bull Moose Party and it’s platform slowly faded away into obscurity.

In his speech to the Joint Session of Congress, President Obama said,

Our collective failure to meet this challenge — year after year, decade after decade — has led us to the breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can’t get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or too expensive to cover.

We are the only democracy — the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardship for millions of its people. There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two-year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone.

Let’s see how truthful he was when he said “We are the only democracy — the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardship for millions of its people.

Does he really expect us to believe that we are “the only democracy” that allows such hardship for millions of its people? Seriously? While you think about that statement, remember there are are more than 70 ‘democratic’ countries around the world. Something tells me that no matter how bad you think our system is, the health care here in the United States is far better than it is in Canada, Croatia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, India, North Korea, Lesotha, Nicaragua, and the United Kingdom, which are all democratic countries.

There is no doubt that our current health care system needs a good tweak, but you can hardly compare the “hardship” of health insurance in America with the overall quality of health care in any of those other ‘democratic’ countries. And yes, before you blow a gasket, North Korea is known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and is technically a ‘democratic’ country in the world.

Let’s look an example, shall we? How does “hardship” in the United States compare to “hardship” in India?

Although India has eradicated mass famines, half of children in India are underweight, one of the highest rates in the world and nearly double the rate of Sub-Saharan Africa. Water supply and sanitation in India continue to be abysmal; only one of three Indians has access to improved sanitation facilities such as toilet. India’s HIV/AIDS epidemic is a growing threat. Cholera epidemics are not unknown. The maternal mortality in India is the second highest in the world.

Providing healthcare and disease prevention to India’s growing population of more than a billion people becomes challenging in the face of depleting resources. 2.47 million people in India are estimated to be HIV positive. India is one of the four countries worldwide where polio has not as yet been successfully eradicated and one third of the world’s tuberculosis cases are in India.

I don’t know about you, but India doesn’t sound like a shining example of a democracy that doesn’t “allow such hardship for millions of its people”. The President said we were the “only” one. Do we even need to review the others? Whether it’s 12-18 week waiting periods for everything from basic appointments to major surgery, the lack of potable water, or the prevalence of disease in their country, I think it’s safe to say the President lied when he compared us to other democratic countries around the world. What about those wealthy nations he mentioned?

Based on GDP, China is the third richest country, India is 12th, and Saudi Arabia is twenty-third.

So how does the third wealthiest nation fare in comparison to health care in the United States?

Western style medical facilities with international staff are available in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and a few other large cities. Many other hospitals in major Chinese cities have so-called V.I.P. wards or gaogan bingfang. These feature reasonably up-to-date medical technology and physicians who are both knowledgeable and skilled. Most V.I.P. wards also provide medical services to foreigners and have English-speaking doctors and nurses. Physicians and hospitals have sometimes refused to supply American patients with complete copies of their Chinese hospital medical records, including laboratory test results, scans, and x-rays.

Despite the introduction of western style medical facilities, the PRC has several emerging public health problems, which include problems as a result of pollution, a progressing HIV-AIDS epidemic, millions of cigarette smokers, and the increase in obesity among the population. The HIV epidemic, in addition to the usual routes of infection, was exacerbated in the past by unsanitary practices used in the collection of blood in rural areas. The problem with tobacco is complicated by the concentration of most cigarette sales in a government controlled monopoly. The government, dependent on tobacco revenue, seems hesitant in its response and may even encourage it as seen from government websites. Hepatitis B is endemic in mainland China, with about 10% of the population contracting the disease. Some hepatitis researchers link hepatitis infections to a lower ratio of female births. If this link is confirmed, this would partially explain China’s gender imbalance. A program initiated in 2002 will attempt over the next 5 years to vaccinate all newborns in mainland China.

As of 2004, in more undeveloped areas it is advised to only drink bottled water as cholera, among other diseases, is spread through the water supply.

Maybe the next time President Obama talks about the health care insurance “hardship” in America he should leave out the comparison to other countries. Like I said before, our system definitely needs a good tweak, but cholera, high maternal mortality rates, non-potable water, and tuberculosis are not normal “hardships” you find in our health care system.

Now, let’s talk about those 30 million people who “cannot get coverage”.

In July, President Obama talked about “the 47 million Americans who don’t have any health insurance at all…” In August, President Obama said we had “47 million people without health insurance” in our country. Now, in September that number is 30 million. What kind of calculator is he using? That must be the magic calculator that also tells him the current health care plan will not add to the federal deficit.

So why the sudden drop in the total number? Were 17 million people suddenly able to obtain health insurance last month or is there something the President wasn’t telling us… again?

Let’s look at the actual breakdown of people who “cannot get coverage”, and just for arguments sake, we’ll use the 47 million number in this breakdown. According to Keith Hennessey,

  • 6.4 million are covered by Medicaid or S-CHIP but mistakenly tell the Census taker they are unemployed.
  • 4.3 million are eligible for Medicaid or S-CHIP but have not signed up.

Just these two segments of society amount to 10.7 million people who shouldn’t be considered in the 47 million number touted by President Obama. The number, at this point, is closer to 36.3 million.

Of the remaining number, Hennessey claims 9.3 million are non-citizens. He does not break that down into legal and illegal immigrants, but most experts agree there are at least 12 million (if not 15-20 million) illegal aliens inside our borders. For the sake of argument I am going to use this number. Once we remove the 12 million illegal immigrants who cannot get coverage our number of uninsured Americans sits at a solid 24.3 million.

Hennessey continues his breakdown.

  • 10.1 million make more than three times the poverty level, therefore they could obtain health insurance coverage if they wanted it

These people should not be included in the number of people who “cannot get coverage” because it’s clear, they can if they want to. Our number now sits at 14.2 million uninsured or 4.6%. If we use Hennessey’s numbers that number would be 10.6 million or 3.5%. Remember now, we used the 47 million number, not the 30 million number touted by the President in his speech to the Joint Session of Congress. If we use his number, our numbers go negative and we know that’s not a true representation of those who are uninsured in America.

The next time you hear President Obama or anyone else touting the “millions of uninsured” while discussing the current health care plan, remember they are talking about less than 5% of the population.

The next time a politician tries to convince you that government control (of anything) is the only answer, don’t take their word for it. Check the facts. Read the bill, and compare the numbers. The United States is a republic, and it’s up to you keep tabs on your representatives in our government.

A republic is a form of government in which the head of state is not a monarch and the people (or at least a part of its people) have an impact on its government. The word ‘republic’ is derived from the Latin phrase res publica which can be translated as “public affairs”.

Being the citizen of a republic, you have the responsibility to question your government and hold them accountable for their actions.

Tonight I want you think about something.

Do we really need to overhaul our entire health care system and destroy the current level of health care we currently enjoy simply to “get coverage” for less than 5% of our population? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to tweak our current system and change the Medicaid guidelines to permit that 5% to enroll?

Why are President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress trying to rush this through the process? We’ve already read the bill and we know what it will do to our country, and now we know how many people will benefit from any type of reform. What exactly are they trying to force upon us?

More in my next post…