“on da groun'”

Budget on da groun’…

Budget on da groun’…!

The photo…. just too good.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Luke says:

    Apparently he’s in total denial about his approval ratings…

  2. edwardo3 says:

    Sancte Michael Archangele,defende nos in proelio;
    contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
    Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
    tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
    satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
    qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
    divina virtute in infernum detrude.

  3. gloriainexcelsis says:

    And then there are Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee

  4. They’re all gonna have their “pants on the ground”…if they keep up this charade!

  5. chironomo says:

    I had a very strange dream the other night that congress replaced all of the seats in the House chambers with folding lawn-chairs…the green and white striped kind?? When I woke up I thought “You know…it could happen!”.

  6. chironomo says:

    “My numbahs slip, slip, slip-n slide! Slip, slip, slip-n-slide!”

  7. Kerry says:

    To the applause of the papier mache Hoyer and the Medusa of San Francisco, President B+ shakes the water of culpability from his hands, and says to worried house dhims, “What, me worry? I have a gift.”

  8. edwardo3 says:

    More like Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-Dumber.

  9. Luke says:

    Well I for one support him as a fellow Christian and because of that I suggest that we band together in support of him by way of an intervention–exactly because of behavior such as this–right after the impeachment.

  10. HAHAHA, priceless!!

  11. wanda says:

    ..Budget on da groun..Dems goin’ down..I don’t care..I don’t care

    ..got my chin in da air..got my chin in da air..

    ..campaign mode..campaign mode..

    ..lie to your face..lie to your face..


  12. DarkKnight says:

    “More like Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-Dumber.”
    Might I add the name of the third member of the Riders of the Obamanation, “Tweedle-Dumbest?”

  13. John V says:

    I have to ask: Where did this come from?

  14. John 6:54 says:

    I gave up TV and blackberry news for lent so I’m not up on all the current events but my first thought was, he’s a puppet. I just wonder who’s pulling the strings.

  15. EXCHIEF says:

    He looks in pain…maybe a CORPSE man could help

  16. wanda says:

    EXCHIEF, Right on! Zzziinngg!

  17. TJerome says:

    George Soros is pulling the strings.

  18. MarkFradl says:

    Putting aside the obvious racial content of this, and also putting aside the fact that the overly forced joke-metaphor doesn’t even work since it makes no sense (“budget on the ground”?? What does that even mean?) I’m just honestly and respectfully curious exactly what proposals people here have for tackling the huge current deficit, the current accumulated debt, and the astronomical increase in the debt projected in the future. Assuming (perhaps I’m wrong) that most folks here don’t want tax increases, specifically what do you favor as far as budget cuts and reforms to Medicare/Medicaid?


  19. LoyalViews says:

    lookin’ like a fool with the budget on the ground

  20. Kerry says:

    C’mon MarkFrad, it’s still all Bush’s fault.

  21. penance2 says:

    To MarkFradl…Well I don’t think most of us think the “shove everything down people’s throat” is the right approach for an American president to foist upon us. Blowing off steam with dissenting humor is absolutely American… expected and encouraged in a free nation, and it’s legal, (at least for now), it was very fashionable just a few years ago:-) We also tend to look to and trust Our God, Our faith and Ourselves, to solve our problems and not look to and trust a bigger government to do more, and more, and more, when there is so little governments does well.

  22. MarkFradl says:

    Kerry: There’s plenty of blame to go around (Democrats and Republicans) but if you’re trying to say Bush is not chiefly to blame for the current deficit and much of the debt I’d love to see your numbers. Most of the debt can be explained by 2 unfunded wars, a huge new unfunded entitlement (Medicare drug coverage) a huge tax cut with no matching spending cuts, and an economic collapse due to lax oversight of the financial industry (every president since Reagan – including Clinton – is responsible for dismantling regulations that kept banking stable for the 50 years previous)


    Assuming the NYTimes is not your favorite source I’d be happy to look at anything you can show that disprove their numbers.

    I have plenty of problems with Obama (not tough enough with the banks, not pursuing serious financial re-regulation, etc), but how exactly do you say he’s responsible for all this? Don’t get me wrong, if he doesn’t improve things he’ll be responsible for his part, but he unemployemtn rate was still rising 2 1/2 years into Reagan’s presidency.

  23. MarkFradl says:

    Penance2: I’m not sure exactly how you can call the health care reform (I’m assuming that’s what you’re referring to) “shoved down our throats” when it was the cornerstone of his election campaign and was voted for by a majority of our elected representatives (60 Senators, far more than a simple majority).

    If you’re going to cite polls that show people are opposed to it, I would cite the polls that show that although people say they’re opposed to “Democratic Health Care Reform”, when they are asked about every key piece of the legislation they overwhelming are in favor of each part of it. Problem is there have been so many lies (death panels, government “takeover” of health care, etc.) that most people don’t know what’s in it. So now it’s like people are saying they hate apple pie but love crust and pie filling.

    “We also tend to look to and trust Our God, Our faith and Ourselves, to solve our problems” –I’m not trying to belittle this sentiment, but what exactly does that mean in practical, real terms? If you think Obama is doing a horrible job with the budget then what do you think should be done to tackle the deficit? And what do you think should be done to control Medicare costs – and health care costs in general – which are set to bury our entire economy?

  24. Budget problems are just part of the plan to cause bankruptcy and then install a marxist solution.

  25. wanda says:

    MarkFradl, If this bill gets passed it wil be the biggest expansion of tax-payer funded ABORTION in our nation’s history. The Hyde-Amendment will be gone, having stood for thirty years. We hear ‘just pass it for now and we’ll fix it later.’ Yeah, guess who would fix it..
    none other than Kathleen (Planned Parenthood) Sebelius.

    This issue is the paramount issue, it trumps ALL the other issues.

  26. MarkFradl says:

    Fr. Marie-Paul — OK, putting aside a debate on the existence of some Grand Marxist Conspiracy, and putting aside how much of this debt is the result of the actions of Republicans (as detailed above– and not that Democrats don’t also go in for their share of blame) —putting aside all that, I ask again what are the specific policies you favor for ending the deficit and for fixing healthcare and Medicare. No matter what your opinions are on the current healthcare system, no one can argue the system is sustainable. It’s simple math, costs cannot continue to rise like they have been.

  27. hald says:


    What tax cuts?

    2000 Total revenues: $2,025,198 million
    2001 Total revenues: $1,991,142 million
    2002 Total revenues: $1,853,149 million
    2003 Total revenues: $1,782,321 million
    2004 Total revenues: $1,880,126 million
    2005 Total revenues: $2,153,625 million
    2006 Total revenues: $2,406,876 million
    2007 Total revenues: $2,568,001 million
    2008 Total revenues: $2,523,999 million
    2009 Total revenues: $2,104,612,447,874.21

    It looks to me like 2004-2007 saw tax increases, whereas tax cuts didn’t begin until 2008, and have continued into 2009.

    Source CBO, revised 1/24/10 http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/108xx/doc10871/Historicaltables2010Jan_forweb.XLS

    The president and the congress have very little control over taxes, only being able to change the tax rates. Lowering the rates can and in the past has increased total tax revenues. Just like when a store can sometimes increase revenues by lowering the price.

  28. penance2 says:

    MarkFradl-To begin, when 85% of people polled liked their health care and it never showed up on a single poll as the number 1 issue for citizens as opposed to politicans, it reveals the sickness is in the politics not the people. Jobs and the economy were what people told their elected officals to do something about. I do not see 9 votes as “far more” than a simple majority, especailly when the “vote” goes to overhauling a hugh portion of our economy, putting it into a newly created gluttonous government bureaucracy… that alone should earn a no vote from a reasonable mind. Dare I mention when all is said and done not everyone will have health care and the people that do will have long waits like the rest of the world with socialized medicine but then those people used to be able to come here for treatment. Dems have always had the 51 votes to ram this through if they really believed it’s what the people wanted. They didn’t “shove” due to the people themselves loud outcry and public opposition, but now they reveal themselves and plan to shove,ram,cram in spite of the people.

    What does trust in God, Faith, and Ourselves to solve problems “mean in a practical sense”…everything! We have lived under all types of government persecution for thousands of years and still prosper living happy lives, we pray for our president, our people and our Pope. But we don’t have to drink the Koolaid, while others find it tasty, and we can still get a chuckle out of a photo op gone wrong.

  29. MarkFradl says:

    Wanda: I understand the importance of this issue for you, but even some people who are anti-choice/pro-life are saying the health care bill will not be the abortion mandate many are trying to paint it as —


    I know there’s an argument that even though federal money cannot go directly to abortion that money is fungible– if we pay for part of a poor person’s insurance then they can afford to additionally get abortion coverage by paying for it themselves. But isn’t the logical extension of this argument that ANY money given to the poor lets them then spend their own resources on an abortion? By this logic, don’t even food stamps give them extra money to spend on drugs, abortion, or anything else we oppose?

    As for the issue of funding to Community Health Centers not being covered by the Hyde amendment, would you be satisfied if that language changed and the Hyde amendment applied?

  30. randomcatholic says:

    Speaking just for myself, I find myself somewhat in agreement with MarkFradl.

    I agree that (leaving aside the racial overtones of much of what has been posted here) universal health-care is an important issue, and I would go so far as to say health-care is a universal right for all Americans.

    I think there is a lot of good in this bill.

    This however is where our agreement ends.

    Mark, this bill includes funding for abortion, which is murder: i.e. the killing of an innocent human person.

    And such actions can never be supported and condoned. They should not be legal, let alone supported as a positive good or funded by tax dollars (or by our insurance premiums)

    Abortion is NOT health-care, and unless there is strong Stupak like language in the bill, and unless there are strong conscience protections for health-care workers, no moral person well versed in the natural moral law could support this bill.

    Abortion is a deal-breaker. At the end of the day, there can be no compromise on this fundamental question.

  31. MarkFradl says:

    Randomcatholic — thanks for recognizing a simple, sincere effort to see if there is common ground.

    I take it you’re saying that the Stupak amendment was a satisfactory protection against the abortion funding? And that if it ends up restored that would address your concerns?

    I’m a strong believer in a woman’s right to choose, and that the primary question – does life begin at conception – is unanswerable and thus should be left up to the individual to decide. But I – and many other pro-choice people – are willing to compromise and let this issue be debated on different grounds in order to pass a health care bill that – while flawed in many ways – will extend insurance to 30 million Americans, end denial of care to those with pre-existing conditions, and do many other important and needed things (without coming anywhere near a “government takeover of health care)

    So while many on the left oppose the Stupak bill I’ve been doing my own small push for its acceptance – I’m not a fan of how far the restrictions go but I think it does far less harm than not reforming health care will do.

  32. MarkFradl says:

    Hald: Sorry, but I think this is a classic case of citing selective statistics. First, your figures show total revenue (income, corporate, soc. sec. tax, excise tax, etc)- income tax alone, which received the tax cuts, were fairly stagnant despite a growing economy. In fact, if you factor in inflation the numbers actually declined in real terms, much less as a percentage of GDP (which of course was growing every year).


    But that’s either way, we’re still talking about the fact that tax revenues were far less than they would have been under the old rates, to the tune of $2.5 trillion from 2001-2010.

    http://www.ctj.org/pdf/bushtaxcutsvshealthcare.pdf (sorry, it’s a pdf)

    If you want to argue those rates were to high (despite thate fact that those were the rates under Reagan) that’s fine, but that’s a separate argument from whether you can cut those taxes without also offsetting those cuts with spending cuts.

  33. MarkFradl says:

    Penance2 : I’m sorry, but you misconstrued what I said. I didn’t ask “What does trust in God, Faith, and Ourselves to solve problems “mean in a practical sense”” I asked what it means in practical, real terms– exactly what policies are you advocating, exactly what cuts do you want to see, exactly what reforms to health care would you push to see enacted? “Trust in God, Faith, and Ourselves” is fine as a basic principle, but that’s not a policy position – in real terms what does it mean you wish to see the government do? Not general slogans” “smaller government”, “personal responsibility”, etc What exact policies do you wish to see enacted. What specific areas do you wish to see cut to balance the budget? What studies have you seen that back up that those cuts will help balance the budget?

    And yes, 10 votes out of 100 (the Senate bill passed with 60) is a large majority. If a president were elected with 60% of the vote it would be a huge landslide.
    As for your contention that the Democrats could have “rammed” through health care with 51 votes at any time, how is that? They had to get 60 votes to get past the filibuster to pass the original bill. Again, we’re talking about a majority of elected officials passing legislation. if the American people think it’s wrong, they’ll show it at election time. We don’t govern by polls because polls can be skewed 100 different ways. in this case, saying “Democratic Healthcare Reform” is a very vague term since there has been no one proposal. But when people are polled on the individual elements they show strong support.

    Saying that 85% of people are satisfied with their health care is selectively picking statistics. First, that’s only 85% of the people who have insurance – ignoring the 36 million who don’t – and 1/3 of your 85% – almost 100 million people – are on Medicare or Medicaid (that’d be the evil government run healthcare that’s supposed to be so bad).

    But aside from that, there’s also the simple fact that even if most people are happy, it is not sustainable. Medical costs are bankrupting this country – costs are raising far faster than inflation. Health care premiums are set to double again by 2020. Again I ask what is the alternative plan you support?

    I also am amazed to still hear people talking about the myth of how horrible health care is in the rest of the developed world. The rest of the developed world spends half – HALF – what we do, and has at least comparable results. If things are as bad as you like to claim in England, Canada, France, why aren’t people clamoring for change? We’ve seen politicians in America talking about reforming health care since Roosevelt (health care reforms championed by Nixon were far more liberal than those now proposed by the Democrats) and yet in Canada politicians from both ends of the spectrum would never dare speak out against their national health care.

  34. MarkFradl says:

    “We have lived under all types of government persecution for thousands of years and still prosper living happy lives, we pray for our president, our people and our Pope.

    ? lol I guess 2 thousand years constitute “thousands”, but only just barely. And if you’re going to play the “we’ve been persecuted” card, be sure to also include the “we’ve been persecutors” fact too, just to be fair.

  35. An American Mother says:

    Talking points . . . talking points.

    Hardly know where to begin, but let’s begin with the canards about medical costs and Medicare/Medicaid.

    The ONLY thing that has kept Medicare/Medicaid afloat so far is the insured and self-insured. Medical costs are rising rapidly because doctors and hospitals are turning to those who actually pay the freight to make up the difference between what the government is willing to pay and actual costs. Your aspirin costs $15 because the government is only willing to pay a penny for its aspirin.

    Once you remove that hidden source of funding, the well will run dry. The “evil” insurance companies are already stretched very thin — their profit margins are minuscule, despite what the administration is saying. Imposing price controls will cause the entire system to collapse.

    And the idea of removing pre-existing condition exclusions could only be proposed by somebody who hasn’t ever dealt with the realities of insurance coverage. Insurance works by spreading the risk through a large pool of healthy and ill individuals. Insuring people for a period of time while they are in health covers the costs when they get sick. If pre-existing conditions are covered, nobody is going to buy insurance until they get sick. Then there will be no healthy insureds’ premiums to cover the cost of paying for the sick. And, again, the entire system will collapse. The solution is not to get rid of the pre-existing conditions clause (which has been part of insurance since Mr. Lloyd set up in the back room of the coffee house) but to make insurance portable and bar instant cancellations for illness or accident.

    And you must not read the papers in Britain or Canada if you think the folks there aren’t “clamoring for change”. The mismanagement is a scandal. But there isn’t much they can do because the government has a stranglehold on everyone’s medical care — the central planning model simply doesn’t work, but the average Brit has no alternative other than to die at home. Of course, the very wealthy have their private hospitals (or they come to the U.S.), so even in such a government-dominated system there isn’t any equality or “spreading the wealth” which seems to be so desired in certain quarters.

    Which is the ultimate problem with the proposed plan — it isn’t about health care or about health insurance. It’s about power and control. It will take health care decisions completely out of the hands of both the recipient and the provider. What was once a matter of contract will become a matter of begging the government to give you a pittance or not to deny your elderly grandmother or your Downs child medical care because scarce dollars have to be allocated.

    The answer, of course, is to get the distortions out of the medical market — start removing barriers to negotiating one’s own health coverage. Get the employer out from between the individual and the insurer by making policies individual. Those who don’t want that personal responsibility could participate in a consortium or private group coverage, with portability. Allow catastrophic coverage with high deductible for the young and the healthy. Loosen coverage mandates (these are mostly generated by state insurance commissioners) so that young single males don’t have to purchase mandated coverage (e.g. for birth control, childbirth, mammograms, and pediatrics). This will bring the young and healthy into the insured pool and spread the risk. Most importantly, it will make individuals responsible for their own health care choices, which will substitute individual choice for central planning. A large number of individuals responds much more quickly and efficiently to needs and demands than a harried bureaucrat in an office somewhere.

    While this is shaking out it is going to be messy — but not so messy as allowing the current system to collapse, or putting in charge the folks who do such a exemplary job of running the post office and the VA. People who are not used to making their own choices are going to make some bad ones – like going bare or not reading the declarations page on their policy.

    What seems to me to be an excellent answer to that was proposed here by the head of Grady Hospital (our local charity/county-funded hospital). They already have clinics in place for the uninsured and the indigent, paid for by local taxes and bond issues. Simply use some of the money that would be wasted on layers of bureacracy in the proposed legislation, and fully fund the already existing clinics. They give good care, especially emergency and critical trauma (if you can’t tell somebody where to take you, you need to be at the Gradys), and they already know how to run on a shoestring. Leave the local board in charge to make sure the money isn’t wasted.

    It’s that wonderful principle of subsidiarity — put economic choices as close as possible to the people affected. It works every time it’s tried.

  36. wanda says:

    MarkFradl, I don’t want the government taking over our health care system, period. Ours is already the best health care system in the world. Just ask those who come here from other countries for their surgeries, etc. I like my health care and I want the government to go away and get out of my life. I don’t ask anything from them except to defend our country from our enemies foreign and domestic.

    If our leaders want health care coverage for those who do not currently have it, then set that up by all means. Don’t tell me it can’t be done.

    Mark, I want to invite you to go to the Priests for Life web-site and see for yourself what abortion really is – the deliberate taking of the life of another innocent human being. And, yes Mark, each and every human life begins at the instant of conception. Yes, it’s a human being at that moment, a real live PERSON.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers, Mark, that you will have a change of heart on abortion. It is murder.

    And Mark, you can’t be Catholic and be pro-choice.

  37. MarkFradl says:

    American Mother:

    I think we have different definitions of a “talking point” — by my definition a talking point is a fact that sounds good and persuasive but is not actually backed up by evidence, or only tells a sliver of the full story. I think a lot of what you say falls into this category.

    Cost shifting (Medicare doesn’t pay enough and private insurance has to make up the difference): Plenty of evidence of cst-shifting occurring in the 80s, but since then not much. The easiest way to look for cost shifting is to see if a reduction in Medicare payments for a given procedure results in an increase in what private insurers are charged, but studies have shown only a very small correlation:

    “the rates were found to be on the order of a 0.4 to 1.7 percent increase in private payments in response to a 10 percent reduction in Medicare and Medicaid fees”


    Even looking at older studies and sources from very anti-Medicare authors the highest claim I’ve seen (which didn’t seem particularly well backed up) was that there was a 10% cost-shift. Even in that extreme case 10% is substantial but not catastrophic.

    The one undisputed source of cost-shifting is from the uninsured poor, who get treatment in emergency rooms when needed and then don’t pay – one of the reasons there are so many people advocating universal insurance.

    I’m more than open to being proven wrong if there’s evidence to the contrary. Although I’m also not sure why this is a point of contention since no one is talking about eliminating either private insurers or Medicare.


    Spreading the risk/pre-existing conditions: OK, I’m very confused here because the Democratic proposal only gets rid of pre-existing conditions tied to a mandate that everyone has to have insurance (as you point out, you can only get rid of pre-existing conditions is everyone has insurance before those conditions arise, otherwise people will wait til they get sick) I’m not a fan of the mandate, but I’m even less a fan of the alternative (people not able to get insurance due to pre-existing, indigent getting care at hospitals that have to cost-shift to the rest of us)


    Britain/Canada — you provide no evidence of people in those countries demanding a change, so this too qualifies as a talking point, random anecdotal evidence. How about actual polls that show people in England at least as satisfied as we are even though they pay far less than we do as a percentage of GDP:

    even though they pay far less as a percentage of GDP (and on a per capita basis)


    (Canada isn’t included in the graph, but they pay about 10% of GDP, as opposed to our 16%)
    That is not to say their systems are perfect, and of course there are scandals and failure, just like in our system.

    Although it’s a moot point anyway since there are NO proposals to get anywhere near even the Canadian system (single payer) much less the English system (fully socialized, doctors are government employees) If anything, they’re proposing to get closer to the Swiss or Dutch system, which uses private insurers.


    As to your point about the rich being able to travel to other countries and use private hospitals, no one ever said that government-run health care (which, again, is not even what is proposed here!) would give everyone amazing care, merely that it would give everyone adequate care. Those with money will always get the best, the question is whether the poor will get a basic level of health care or none at all.

    “Which is the ultimate problem with the proposed plan—it isn’t about health care or about health insurance. It’s about power and control. It will take health care decisions completely out of the hands of both the recipient and the provider. What was once a matter of contract will become a matter of begging the government to give you a pittance or not to deny your elderly grandmother or your Downs child medical care because scarce dollars have to be allocated.”

    And you accuse me of talking points? lol Please explain to me where in this bill the government suddenly has the power to make all health care decisions. And thanks for not making the discussion hysterical by, say, throwing out visions of the slaughter of Down’s syndrome kids and grandmothers, and loving parents on their knees begging heartless bureaucrats for health care. Glad we could keep it within the realm of civil discourse. Please, show me the reform plan’s “slaughter the Down Syndrome kids” proposals.

    As for allocation of scarce dollars, that’s happening in any system. Care to thumb through the horror stories of people in America who were denied care even though they had insurance Much less the uninsured)? The question is, can we help to create a system where that happens as little as possible. The only real, comprehensive Republican proposal is from Paul Ryan, who wants to phase out Medicare in favor of giving people vouchers for a set amount of money to buy private insurance. Good luck being able to afford private insurance with those vouchers if you’re a 70 year old with a heart condition.


    All that said, your proposals honestly do sound good – but do you have any studies or evidence that show they are workable solutions? If, for example, young males buy cheap insurance with high deductibles and very specific coverage is that really going to help spread the risk in the system? Won’t they simple pay a tiny amount to cover their tiny usage (as a group) and not contribute to any broader risk sharing?

    That said, part of the current reform proposal is to form large insurance markets where people can choose from various insurance companies.

    Again, your proposals sound good, i’m just afraid it’s a case of what Obama ran into when he hosted the health care summit with the Republicans – they kept offering up different proposals (i.e. lawsuit reform) as these great cures for the system and he kept having to say “Well, problem is independent groups have looked at these proposals and found that they won’t help the system much.” Unless there is evidence a proposal or idea will work, then it’s just – as you say – a talking point.

  38. hald says:


    You said the budget was reduced by the tax cuts. I showed that revenues were up. Now here are the total numbers as a percentage GDP and amount derived from individual income tax receipts. These numbers also show an increase.

    2000 — 20.6% GDP — $1,004,462 million
    2001 — 19.5% GDP — $994,339 million
    2002 — 17.6% GDP — $858,345 million
    2003 — 16.2% GDP — $793,699 million
    2004 — 16.1% GDP — $808,959 million
    2005 — 17.3% GDP — $927,222 million
    2006 — 18.2% GDP — $1,043,908 million
    2007 — 18.5% GDP — $1,163,472 million
    2008 — 17.5% GDP — $1,145,747 million
    2009 — 14.8% GDP — $915,308 million

    Revenues increased as a percentage of GDP from 2005-2007, declined in 2008, and even more in 2009, individual income tax receipts increased from 2004-2007, before declining in 2008 and 2009. Note that the GDP actually shrank in 2009, making the decrease even more significant.

    But you completely missed my underlying point. You cannot know what the revenues would have been if the tax rates were different. A government cannot say “If our tax rates were 5% higher, then our revenues would be 5% higher”, any more than a store could say “If our prices were 5% higher, then our revenues would be 5% higher”. Just as a consumer changes behavior based upon changes in prices, so to does the taxpayer change behavior based upon changes in tax policy. A higher tax rate provides greater incentive for the tax payer to find ways to reduce the tax amount.

    Source CBO, revised 1/24/10 http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/108xx/doc10871/Historicaltables2010Jan_forweb.XLS
    Source BEA, revised 2/26/10 http://www.bea.gov/national/xls/gdplev.xls

  39. hald says:


    How will the government mandate that I have insurance? If insurance companies are no longer permitted to deny applicants due to pre-existing conditions, I may just cancel my policy altogether and only purchase one once I really need it. The tax penalty imposed for not having proper coverage is much smaller than the actual premiums I’m currently paying. Since I don’t foresee my premiums being lower under the proposed rules, I can save several thousand dollars annually.

  40. An American Mother says:

    Mark, you’re making a quite unwarranted assumption — that this administration is telling the truth.

    I no more believe that unnamed ‘studies’ have proved that every independent or Republican proposal ‘won’t work’ than I believe the assertion that the CBO has scored the proposal (it hasn’t had time) or that the plan is going to ‘save $30Bn’ or that ‘450,000 people died last year because they were uninsured’. That “won’t work” remark by the president in response to the facts and figures put forward in the health care summit was just so much noise. He didn’t back it up at the time with any specifics, and he hasn’t backed it up since. When you add this to all the wild and unsubstantiated assertions that have been made in support of this proposal, without any reference to specifics, you simply can’t rely on their representations. The Speaker of the House actually said yesterday that ‘we have to pass the health care bill so that you can find out what is in it.’ Which is probably not what she actually meant, but it gives you an idea of the reigning confusion.

    So many ‘studies’ (like the global warming sourcecode, never mind the Emails) have been shown to be biased, compromised or just outright falsehoods, that I place no credence in any of them unless I know the sponsoring organization and the study managers, and trust them.

    What I do place credence in is my experience in and around the insurance industry. I was in the private practice of law on all sides of the insurance industry (representing agents, brokers, companies, surplus and excess lines and reinsurers, AND insureds) for 20 years. My father represented Lloyds. My grandfather was an independent insurance agent during the Depression.

    I’m no longer in that line of work, so I don’t have a dog in the fight any more than any other individual who seeks medical care. But I think I have a pretty good handle on how the system works. I have also experienced first hand how it works (or rather doesn’t work) in Britain.

    It is true that allocation of resources is always a problem, to a greater or lesser degree. But government control and allocation of resources always makes the problem worse, because it reduces the incentives for performance/profit, which reduces the size of the allocable pool of resources. And that may not lead directly to denying care to the elderly or the mentally handicapped, but it does lead to them being placed in waiting-list limbo with no reasonable hope of ever moving up the queue. The proposed legislation calls for a panel which will make just such “return on our investment” judgments, and given the nature of bureaucracy the judgments will be bad.

    Which leads to another point. When a private insurer makes a bad judgment, denies a claim improperly, or delays payment, or otherwise acts in a wrongful manner, you have recourse in the courts. Not only can the insurer be forced to pay, it can be assessed attorney fees, a 25% penalty for failure to pay, bad faith penalties, frivolous appeal penalties, etc. The statutes and the legal rules spell it all out quite clearly, and everyone knows where they stand. That is the nature of private contract law.

    If any kind of government body makes a wrongful decision, your remedy will be nonexistent. Sovereign/official immunity and all that. The more decisions that are placed in the hands of the government, the less recourse any one of us will have if something goes wrong. It turns the relationship from a contractual one, where both sides have obligations and duties to fulfill, with penalties established if they fail, to a one-sided governmental one, where one party is free from any penalties if it fails to fulfill its supposed duties.

    You are absolutely right about the use of emergency rooms by the (voluntarily) uninsured. This legislation will not affect that much one way or the other, because the voluntarily uninsured have a lot of reasons to go bare, most of which have nothing to do with whether they can afford health care or not. Many are young and feel invulnerable (until something happens), so they spend their money on other things that to them, at least for now, are more important. Many are illegals who are sailing under the radar. And of course there is the eternal crowd of ‘something for nothing’ who see no reason to buy (or rent) the cow when they can get the milk for free. The local head of Grady’s proposal for free public clinics (as opposed to ER) would solve that problem. And, after all, he is the man who is down in the trenches dealing with the very worst situation in the busiest ER in Georgia, so he should know. (He is an honest fellow by the way, doing his best to bail out the sea with a sieve.)

    What I am hearing from physicians, regardless of what “studies” show, is that Medicare/Medicaid is becoming more and more onerous in its requirements and paying less and less (I am always interested in what the folks on the front line have to say, so I always chat them up. They all know my former line of work so they do tend to vent – about Medicare, and about malpractice premiums. I have some ideas on that score, too, but that’s a different topic.) I am also hearing that many are planning to retire early. My sample is small — two GPs and about a dozen specialists, mostly at two hospitals in metro Atlanta — but the sample is unanimous, something that you don’t hear very often from doctors, who tend to have an independent streak.

    Wrt the young healthy individuals and the catastrophic coverage, you would be surprised at the numbers. My sister the actuary could have given you the exact figures (she inherited all the mathematical ability in the family), but every insurer wants those paying customers because they are willing to pay a fairly substantial premium to insure against the chance of a catastrophic loss which will (odds are) never occur. But because it is so devastating when it does occur, it is worth it to the individual to pay a significant amount (in my dad’s timeless words, “Insurance is only an expense until you have a loss.”)

    The exact opposite is true if you have only a relatively small monetary penalty to pay if you fail to abide by the “mandate”. More and more young and healthy people will prefer to pay the penalty rather than buy a mandated policy stuffed with items that they will never conceivably need. In order to truly enforce the mandate, the government will need to make the penalty extremely punitive — or they will need to put prison time and the concomitant loss of civil rights on the table. That proposal was on the table early on, by the way, but was pulled because even Blind Freddy realized that forcing Americans to buy insurance by threatening to throw them in prison was a bit much.

    Time to quit trying to pass this massive, major legislation on a short time fuse before anybody’s had the opportunity to read and study it, and take an incremental approach. Try a few of those ideas that “won’t work” — not all of them at once, because we don’t have any idea if that will “work” either. I suspect it won’t, just because when it comes to government I rely on entropy, inefficiency, confusion, laziness, and greed. For which there is no remedy at law.

  41. An American Mother says:

    Well, gosh, hald, you said what I said but took up a lot fewer electrons saying it.

    Well done.

  42. MarkFradl says:

    hald: Your contention that revenues were actually more than they would have been without the cuts flies in the face of the conclusions of the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers (and this was back when Bush was in office, not Obama’s Treasury Dept. etc)


    But of course we’re in the realm of theory since we can never know – but I go with the consensus.

    That point aside, it still begs the question of what we do now — I wish the Republicans (and more Democrats) would have backed Obama’s desire to form a deficit commission that would have made solid recommendations that would have to be voted up or down by Congress (in order to avoid political paralysis and lobying as much as possible) — this was an idea many Republicans embraced (I think it was originally their idea) until Obama backed it, then they changed their votes.

    The same type of commission was proposed to make changes to Medicare (from everything I’ve read it’s the best way to reform Medicare since too many Congresspeople responding to too many lobbyists blocks any attempts at reform)

  43. MarkFradl says:

    American Mother: I agree, it’s easy to cite random studies to back any argument, but when there are a lot of studies giving evidence for the effectiveness of one thing, and not studies showing the effectiveness of something else, then I’ll side with the side that has a fair amount of evidence.

    I agree, though, that mandates won’t work unless the penalty is comparable to what they would have to pay for insurance — that’s the problem Massachusetts is running into right now (although for all the talk of Mass. health care being a failure, it’s interesting to note Scott Brown endorsed it — once again it’s popular with the people who are experiencing it).

    Politics is, sadly, the art of the possible. Progressives have a LOT of problems with this bill too, and they’re split on whether it should be passed or not. Some think it’s easier to fix an imperfect bill that passes because the alternative is to do nothing. When health care failed 16 years ago there were plenty of promises that if we just defeat the Clinton plan Congress would then fix health care in smaller steps. 16 years later nothing was done.

    On a related topic (since you mentioned immigrants) I’m cautiously hopeful about Republican Lindsey Graham leading a push to come up with bipartisan ideas to at least partially address immigration reform and energy policy.

    As always, thanks for sharing your views and insights!

  44. hald says:


    You: the debt was caused be, among other items, “a huge tax cut”.
    Me: total revenues increased.
    You: “income tax alone, which received the tax cuts were fairly stagnant”, and “the numbers actually declined in real terms, much less as a percentage of GDP”
    Me: individual income tax and tax as a percentage of GDP also increased.
    You: “Your contention that revenues were actually more than they would have been without the cuts flies in the face of the conclusions of the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers”.
    I think I have completely refuted the portion of your initial contention that the deficit was caused by “a huge tax cut”, since total revenues increased. I will agree that the “no matching spending cuts” portion didn’t receive nearly enough attention from Congress. Unsurprisingly I have opinions on that matter as well.

  45. hald says:


    Just two weeks ago I lobbied my state senator and state representative, meeting with them in person in their state capital offices to lobby them on an issue that is important to me. I am hopeful that they will respond favorably to my efforts at lobbying them. If you are opposed to these sorts of activities, then the nature of our disagreement is much, much larger.

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