Are price controls on health insurance a good idea?

Here’s a startling chunk of President Obama’s speech on health insurance yesterday (the emphasis is mine):

So this is a long-overdue victory for America’s consumers and patients. And yes, it does away with the status quo that some insurance companies have taken advantage of for so long. But insurance companies should see this reform as an opportunity to improve care and increase competition. They shouldn’t see it as an opportunity to enact unjustifiable rate increases that don’t boost care and inflate their bottom line.

The point is that there are genuine cost-drivers that are not caused by insurance companies. But what is also true is we’ve got to make sure that this new law is not being used as an excuse to simply drive up costs. So what we do is make sure that the Affordable Care Act gives us new tools to promote competition, transparency and better deals for consumers. The CEOs here today need to know that they’re going to be required to publicly justify unreasonable premium increases on your websites, as well as the law’s new website — healthcare.gov. As we set up the exchanges, we’ll be watching closely, and we’ll fully support states if they exercise their review authority to keep excessively expensive plans out of their insurance exchanges.
None of this is designed to deprive insurance companies of fair rates. And as I mentioned when we were meeting with the CEOs, there are a lot of cost-drivers other than those that are within insurance companies’ control.

That sounds an awful lot like he wants to impose price controls. Since when do price ceilings ever succeed at anything but causing shortages of whatever product/service they’re supposed to make “affordable?”

How Betty Sutton “solves” mortgage foreclosures

Last summer, the Obama Administration threw $50 billion of your tax money down the mortgage foreclosure rat hole. Yesterday came news of what happens when Washington showers another $75 billion on mortgage holders without even requiring evidence that they can pay it back. It’s called the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, and it’s imploding:

The Obama administration’s flagship effort to help people in danger of losing their homes is falling flat.
More than a third of the 1.24 million borrowers who have enrolled in the $75 billion mortgage modification program have dropped out. That exceeds the number of people who have managed to have their loan payments reduced to help them keep their homes.

A major reason so many have fallen out of the program is the Obama administration initially pressured banks to sign up borrowers without insisting first on proof of their income. When banks later moved to collect the information, many troubled homeowners were disqualified or dropped out.

As more people leave the program, a new wave of foreclosures could occur. If that happens, it could weaken the housing market and hold back the broader economic recovery.

Credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings projects that about two-thirds of borrowers with permanent modifications under the Obama plan will default again within a year after getting their loans modified.

Apparently the brain trust in the White House just discovered that people without incomes tend to default on mortgages, even after the government restructures the terms. That’s one heck of an expensive experiment.
How did we get here, and how does it affect Ohio’s 13th District? We can thank our Democrat Congresswoman, Betty Sutton.

U.S. debt approaching 100% of GDP

As of last Friday, The International Monetary Fund now forecasts that the American national debt will reach 100% of our Gross Domestic Product within five years. This chart comes from that very long IMF report, and displays the problem clearly:
US spending as percentage of GDP
The left side of the chart shows U.S. debt as a percentage of GDP. The bottom of the chart shows the year.
Notice where the debt zooms upward? That’s 2006. As I recall, that’s when the Democrat Party took over the U.S. Congress. All federal spending bills originate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Come to think of it, 2006 was the year that a certain someone got elected to the U.S. House from Ohio’s 13th District.
Betty Sutton's money tree
If she actually wanted to ruin our economy and turn us into a basket case like Greece, how would Betty Sutton’s voting record be any different? She’s either trying to destroy American free enterprise, or she’s hopelessly ignorant of basic fiscal sanity.
Someone on Her Royal Highness’ staff should Google “The First Rule of Holes” and do a finger painting explaining the concept to the boss.

Questions for OH-13 challenger Justin Wooden

Mr. Wooden, how on God’s green Earth can you continue as a member of the Democrat Party after its headlong dive last night into socialism, taxpayer-funded abortion, and blatant corruption?
Justin WoodenYou attend Tea Party rallies. You claim to be pro-life. You claim to be pro-free markets. You claim to be anti-corruption. You claim to be pro-military. You claim to be pro-gun rights. You claim to be anti-Obamacare, for Heaven’s sake. Nevertheless, your party stands in opposition to all of your proclaimed stances. Talk about cognitive dissonance! This ain’t your father’s Democrat Party. Scoop Jackson’s influence burned away decades ago.
If you first defeat Betty Sutton in the primary election for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, and if you then defeat your Republican opponent and become our Congressman, will you caucus with your party? Will you support its leaders, like Nancy Pelosi? What’s to keep you from being the new Bart Stupak, Mary Jo Kilroy, Marcy Kaptur, or … Betty Sutton?
If your party has decisively left you, if you are who you claim to be, then how can you reconcile that with your continued membership in the Democrat Party? Are you naïve? Are you hiding your true beliefs? Do you lack the courage to leave a socialist party bent on destroying our republic? Why are you a Democrat in 2010?
Explain it to me. Please.
—-
5:00 PM Update: How about you, Dan Moadus?

Video: “Reason Saves Cleveland”

Drew Carey and The Reason Foundation decided to look for ways to save Cleveland from its aggressively stupid political leaders and their refusal to heed the first rule of holes. The result is a video series called “Reason Saves Cleveland”:

Keep checking back as new episodes premiere, because I’ll add them to this playlist.
3/18 Update: Right on cue, Tim Russo (a standard-bearer for typical Cleveland progressives) posts a spittle-flecked screed that misses the points of the Reason video … and indelibly beclowns its author. Statist hacks like Russo simply cannot admit (or even comprehend) that punitive taxation and suffocating bureaucracy are responsible for Cleveland’s sorry decline.

Betty Sutton decides ACORN needs more money

Rep. Betty Sutton just introduced a warm-and-fuzzy-sounding piece of legislation. It’s called the Foreclosure Mandatory Mediation Act of 2010:

Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH13) joined Ohio Reps. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH11) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH15), as well as Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Kendrick Meek (D-FL) to introduce H.R. 4635–a measure to combat foreclosures. Ohio has been particularly impacted by the foreclosure crisis and projections indicate no signs of change. In Ohio’s 13th Congressional District alone, 17,555 homes are projected to be foreclosed upon over the next four years. This legislation will require lenders of Federal loans or guarantees to enter into mediation with homeowners prior to placing the property in foreclosure or a sheriff’s sale.

Since anything advocated by Maxine Waters automatically gets my antennae twitching, I went to the bill’s text, which contains this key nugget (the emphasis and links are mine):

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, before a qualified mortgagee may initiate a foreclosure proceeding or a sheriff sale, the qualified mortgagee shall conduct, consistent with any applicable State or local requirements, a one-time mediation with the affected mortgagor and a housing counseling agency, at the expense of the qualified mortgagee.
For purposes of this section the term ‘housing counseling agency’ means a housing counseling agency certified by the Secretary under section 106(e) of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 (12 U.S.C. 1701x(e)); or a neighborhood housing services program established by the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation under section 606 of the Housing and Community Development Amendments of 1978 (42 U.S.C. 8105);

The parties are forced into mediation (even if it’s a slam-dunk case of delinquency by the borrower), and look who foots the entire bill for the mediator’s fees: the lender trying to foreclose on the delinquent borrower. When the government keeps forcing a company to incur new costs, the company must eventually pass on those costs to its customers. Otherwise the company will go bankrupt.
If this law passes, it will end up costing you more to get a mortgage. Care to guess which legislators will then wail and gnash their teeth about “predatory lenders screwing the poor” and “fat cat bankers jacking up fees” when those inevitable effects occur? Now, this is par for the course among politicians who have no clue how a free market works. They think the solution to every government-imposed problem is more government regulation and spending. What’s unusual is that this isn’t the worst part of the bill.

Ohio Porkulus data by district (both real and phantom)

The hard-working folks over at Recovery.gov, ever on guard for that rare instance of government inefficiency that occurs only once in a decade or so, have responded with commendable speed to news reports of erroneous/incompetent/fraudulent data in the records of stimulus money spent to save (or “create” jobs). No longer does their database report on taxpayer funds wasted invested in places like the nonexistent 99th U.S. Congressional District of Puerto Rico. No, sir. Everything’s been scrubbed squeaky clean, and the original records now show each offending transaction taking place in an “unassigned congressional district.”
see no evilWhat’s that you say? You want to know what the original data showed? Oh, c’mon. You can trust faceless, nameless bureaucrats in Washington to behave with the most scrupulous ethical standards. They’re from the government, and they’re here to help you.
Pardon me? You still don’t trust them? You must be one of those bitter people clinging to their Bibles and their guns out in the sticks. Besides, it’s too late now. The original data’s gone. Unless you know someone who scooped up some of the data before it was altered erased corrected, you’re out of luck.
Hey, wait a second. Guess who snagged the original data for Ohio, put it in Excel spreadsheet format, and sorted it all by district?

Ohio’s Porkulus data

I just looked up the summary of Ohio data on Recovery.gov and here’s some of what I found. Compare the numbers for jobs created/”saved” and money wasted spent for Ohio’s 18 congressional districts, and the numbers for the ten nonexistent districts that turned up.




































































































































































District Jobs Porkulus
1 – Dreihaus (D) 349.7 $1,063,584,388
2 – Schmidt (R) 146.6 $191,500,216
3 – Turner (R) 385.4 $186,371,562
4 – Jordan (R) 215.4 $104,248,906
5 – Latta (R) 105.7 $158,653,454
6 – Wilson (D) 224.2 $191,292,584
7 – Austria (R) 366.4 $167,834,446
8 – Boehner (R) 103.7 $98,813,378
9 – Kaptur (D) 367.5 $171,627,681
10 – Kucinich (D) 85 $80,955,117
11 – Fudge (D) 394.5 $349,743,107
12 – Tiberi (R) 140.1 $110,808,249
13 – Sutton (D) 149.5 $153,496,938
14 – LaTourette (R) 207 $78,765,929
15 – Kilroy (D) 13212 $1,366,388,033
16 – Boccieri (D) 96.3 $87,084,609
17 – Ryan (D) 229.4 $165,232,615
18 – Space (D) 306 $309,355,127
Total 17084.4 $5,035,756,339



20 0 $208,836
21 3 $1,241,652
49 0 $230,000
54 0 $100,000
56 0 $12,000
69 0 $400,000
85 0 $250,000
87 0 $336,108
99 0 $660,000
0 8 $1,865,319
Total 11 $5,303,915

Government weighs down the economy$5.3 million went to nonexistent congressional districts, creating (or maybe it’s “saving”) 11 jobs. That’s $482,174 per job. How do I sign up for that sweet deal? Then there’s the average waste stimulus per job in our actual 18 districts, which works out to $294,758 … still not too shabby. If I can snag one of the 149.5 jobs here in the 13th District, I will have cost America’s taxpayers a cool $1,026,735! Betty Sutton, call your office. I want a job.
That’s “transparency” in the age of Hope and Change™ for ya. Is this incompetent accounting, dishonest accounting, or both?
Want more? Nineteen out of the top twenty Porkulus recipients in Ohio are state, county, or municipal government entities. The one that’s not government owned is “a single-purpose environmental remediation Limited Liability Corporation dedicated to providing remediation services to the United States Department of Energy at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site.” In other words, a government contractor.
Boy oh boy, that Porkulus sure did stimulate the free market, didn’t it? Way to go, Governor Strickland … you sure know how to allocate funds. I can’t wait to experience the joys of Obamacare, Cap & Trade, and amnesty for illegals.
For more analysis, check out Ohio Watchdog.

On rude and inappropriate outbursts

Sure, Rep. Joe Wilson‘s outburst against President Obama would once have been thought rude. Thirty years ago, shouting such an accusation at a president addressing a joint session would have been nearly inconceivable … but this ain’t 1979.
Shut up demotivatorAmerican popular culture is much coarser and cruder these days, and our politics mirror our culture. The blame lies almost exclusively at the feet of Americans who occupy the farthest reaches of the statist left wing. They’ve brought us the Sexual Revolution, rampant drug use, violent and sexually explicit entertainment, abortion on demand, disregard for our Judeo-Christian roots, militant atheism, and moral relativism. The left’s utter disregard for anything standing between them and complete political power leads to the rise of political opportunists like our current president. He and his ilk will say and do anything to advance their agenda. Lying is just another tool in the toolbox, to be used whenever it will accomplish the left’s goals.
The left bemoans the supposedly inappropriate and rude outburst by Joe Wilson for one reason only: they hope to advance their agenda by doing so. Period. Never mind that they’ve done far worse. Never mind that moral disapproval is supposedly evidence of the cardinal sin of “intolerance.” The left will scream and wail as long as faux victimhood helps them extract money and power from American citizens.
Given that fact, I refuse to join in the Tut-Tut Chorus. We’re close to enacting an irreversible government takeover of close to one fifth of the American economy, by people who have more in common with Stalin and Mussolini than with Madison and Jefferson. I’d much rather have inappropriate and rude outbursts in defense of the truth than polite silence in the face of blatant and dangerous lies.
The truth hurts the statist, so shout it if you must.

Zach Lahn corners Barack Obama

Bravo to Zach Lahn, for having bigger balls than 99% of the media! I hope this young man’s ready for the Joe The Plumber treatment, courtesy of ACORN and SEIU.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

President Obama spent the majority of his “answer” restating the question, then talked about “opposing” the exact kind of public option that’s in the House bill. ABC transcribed some of it:

“Certainly they can’t compete if the taxpayer is standing behind the public option just shoveling more and more money at it,” Obama said. “That’s certainly not fair. And so I’ve already said I would not be in favor of a public option of that sort, because that would just mean more expenses out of our pockets and we wouldn’t be seeing much improvement in quality.”

“I think there are ways that we can address those competitive issues,” he said. “And you’re absolutely right, if they’re not entirely addressed, then that raises a set of legitimate problems. But the only point I wanted to make was the notion that somehow just by having a public option you have the entire private marketplace destroyed is just not borne out by the facts.”

Read the whole thing; ABC interviewed Zach afterward, and he kept the pressure on the president for regurgitating nothing but vague talking points. Ten bucks says Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck are all over this within a week. Oh … notice that Obama didn’t accept Zach’s challenge, either (wuss).
More coverage:
Politico

UK writer: US health care beats ours

Stephen Glover admits that the truth hurts:

In treating almost every cancer, America apparently does better than Britain, sometimes appreciably so. According to a study in Lancet Oncology last year, 91.9 per cent of American men with prostate cancer were still alive after five years, compared with only 51.1per cent in Britain.
The same publication suggests that 90.1 per cent of women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2002 survived for at least five years, as against 77.8 per cent in Britain.
So it goes on. Overall the outcome for cancer patients is better in America than in this country. So, too, it is for victims of heart attacks, though the difference is less marked.
If you are suspicious of comparative statistics, consult any American who has encountered the NHS. Often they cannot believe what has happened to them – the squalor, and looming threat of MRSA; the long waiting lists, and especially the official target that patients in ‘accident and emergency’ should be expected to wait for no more than four – four! – hours; the sense exuded by some medical staff that they are doing you a favour by taking down your personal details.
Most Americans, let’s face it, are used to much higher standards of healthcare than we enjoy, even after the doubling of the NHS budget under New Labour. Of course, the U.S. is a somewhat richer country, but I doubt its superior health service can be mainly attributed to this advantage.

In other news: jumping into water leads to wetness, rocks fall downward, and there’s no way to pick up a turd by the “clean end.”