Pants on fire

1.  Taxes:

The president defended his proposal by saying that, for high-income taxpayers, “the tax rates would just go back to where they were under President Clinton.” The president reminded his listeners that the economy grew at a rapid clip during the Clinton years, adding tens of millions of new jobs.

2.  Spying:

WASHINGTON — The White House and State Department signed off on surveillance targeting phone conversations of friendly foreign leaders, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said Monday, pushing back against assertions that President Obama and his aides were unaware of the high-level eavesdropping.

Professional staff members at the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies are angry, these officials say, believing the president has cast them adrift as he tries to distance himself from the disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have strained ties with close allies.

3.  Healthcare:

President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

PS.  Off topic, James Pethokoukis sent me a Larry Kudlow interview of Alan Greenspan. All I can say is: Thank God for Ben Bernanke!  And I’m not a Greenspan hater, I don’t think he’s to blame for the mess we are in. But he must be about 115 years old by now, and it was definitely time for new blood at the Fed.

PPS.  I’ve had nothing to say about the computer “glitches” because that’s not the issue.  The issue is and has always been the fact that Obamacare outlaws the only kind of insurance that makes any sense—catastrophic insurance.  Glad to see people are finally waking up to that fact.


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71 Responses to “Pants on fire”

  1. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    29. October 2013 at 15:52

    4. Syria and the Red Line:

    “A year ago, President Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad would cross a “red line for us” and might trigger a U.S. military response. Now, the president says it wasn’t his red line, but rather a line set by the international community and by Congress.”

    http://www.factcheck.org/2013/09/obamas-blurry-red-line/

  2. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    29. October 2013 at 16:09

    Of course, when The Alan was younger he had other ideas about NGDP targetting.

    Maybe UPS can free up some of its IT guys for Obamacare;

    http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2013/10/28/ups-says-automated-routing-will-transform-package-delivery/

    ———quote———-
    “We are fully committed to the idea that technology drives business results,” Mr. Barnes told CIO Journal. The program, which began with a pilot in 2008, will officially launch on Wednesday. UPS says that 10,000 of its 55,000 drivers will be on the Orion system by 2013, and that it will be fully deployed by 2017.

    The effort involves a team of 500 workers. The computer scientists in the group have written an algorithm with 1,000 pages of code, he said. It’s the largest technology project at UPS, which invests $1 billion a year in technology.

    The idea of using algorithms to devise optimal routes for drivers was conceived back in 2000, although R&D didn’t get underway until 2003, he said. First, the company had to install GPS sensors to track its drivers and vehicles, a technology known as telematics. That effort already has avoided about 100 million minutes of engine idling, according to Mr. Barnes. UPS then devised its own mapping system, which includes about 250 million delivery points, a database that is updated continually.
    ———–endquote———–

  3. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    29. October 2013 at 17:12

    Obamacare doesn’t eliminate Catastrophic insurance. You can get a plan in AZ for about 100 bucks a month:

    https://www.healthcare.gov/find-premium-estimates/#results/&aud=indv&type=med&state=AZ&county=Maricopa&cov=self&age=49andUnder

  4. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    29. October 2013 at 17:21

    What about the $7230/year incentive payment to have kids out of wedlock under Obamacare?

    “Get divorced (or avoid getting married, if you live together), and you save $7,230 per year if you are a fairly typical 40-year-old couple with kids (example: the husband working full-time, and the wife working part time, with the husband making $70,000, and the wife making $23,000).”
    http://www.openmarket.org/2013/09/26/massive-marriage-penalties-in-obamacare-health-insurance-exchanges/

  5. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    29. October 2013 at 17:54

    @Steve

    Interesting link, The penalty doesn’t only apply to those with kids. Two thoughts on this:

    1. After all the battles fought, it kinda takes some of the attraction out of gay marriage, I’d guess;

    2. This reminds my of “the rhythm method of tax planning” which in my professional (nota bene–tax!) life had other applications. For that 62 year-old married couple mentioned in the link, if they have some control over the timing of their income, they might be better off concentrating income in alternating years so that they get the large tax credits every other year. The credit would likely be greater than additional tax attributable to the higher marginal tax rate in the “on” years, particularly if that income is comprised of dividends or LTCG taxed at a max 15 percent in any event. Or, that couple may decide to indefinitely defer income because the benefits of doing so far outweigh the costs, at least until Medicare kicks in. Treasury not only pays the tax credit, but loses pre-credit tax that would otherwise be collected had it not been for the inevitable planning. Or, they may decide after all those years that $11K per year is the straw that broke the back of their marriage.

    When you start messing around with higher (implicit) marginal rates it’s bonus time for tax planners, professional loafers, and now, perhaps, divorce lawyers.

  6. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    29. October 2013 at 18:24

    Policy idea for Obama (make it a mandate):

    President Nicolas Maduro says the new Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness will coordinate all the “mission” programs created by the late President Hugo Chavez to alleviate poverty.

    Housewife Liliana Alfonzo, 31, said that instead of a Supreme Happiness agency she’d prefer being able to get milk and toilet paper, which disappear off store shelves minutes after arriving at stores.

    Maduro blames the shortages on speculation and hoarding, but merchants say they would go broke if they adhered to government price controls.

    Chavez spent billions on social programs, from benefits for single mothers to handouts of apartments and major appliances.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuela-fights-shortage-blues-with-new-happiness-agency/2013/10/25/59ba5b5a-3daa-11e3-b0e7-716179a2c2c7_story.html

  7. Gravatar of Don Don
    29. October 2013 at 18:45

    5. Benghazi

    Obama is starting to look like either Tricky Dick Nixon or Sgt. Schultz. Either way, there is a growing credibility gap. I hope it doesn’t hurt Yellen’s chances.

    I heard a commentator say that the next rotation of Fed. governors is more hawkish. Anybody care to handicap 2014?

  8. Gravatar of David R. Henderson David R. Henderson
    29. October 2013 at 19:55

    Scott, Your ageism against Alan Greenspan is beneath you.

  9. Gravatar of Paul Paul
    29. October 2013 at 20:13

    Catastrophic plans outlawed yes or no?

    From healthcare.gov:
    People under 30 and people with hardship exemptions may buy a “catastrophic” health plan. It protects you from very high medical costs…When you fill out a Marketplace application you’ll see catastrophic plans listed as options if you qualify for them. If you don’t qualify for a catastrophic plan, you won’t see them as an option.

    Free to choose? Not exactly.

  10. Gravatar of Ashok Rao Ashok Rao
    29. October 2013 at 20:25

    “Catastrophic insurance” reminds me of the “mathematical economics” major.

  11. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    29. October 2013 at 21:04

    Ashok +1

    “Outlawed” does seem a bit extreme, though…

  12. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    29. October 2013 at 21:16

    Josh Barro on health insurance:

    I’m sure some conservatives will say that health insurance should be a normal insurance product and not a tool of fiscal redistribution. But we have this system for a reason: chronic health conditions are really expensive, and they can’t be addressed through one-year contracts. Addressing the problem of uninsurability requires either heavy-handed regulation of the sort we have now and will have under Obamacare, or some other heavy-handed non-market alternative, like a single-payer plan for catastrophic health expenses.

  13. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    29. October 2013 at 23:17

    “like a single-payer plan for catastrophic health expenses.”

    I would actually favor this solution: Single-payer catastrophic, everything else private.

    Of course, this wouldn’t end the political debate. For example, if a woman has 8 kids out of wedlock, does she have a “chronic health condition”? The same with drug addiction, sedentary lifestyle, etc. Chronic? The left-wing wants free preventive and free maternity/child, as evidenced by the ACA. A view about what the government should provide free, and what requires personal responsibility is really central to any view of the ACA.

    I wonder how long Republicans will be able to get away with the repeal and no alternative line. And I wonder how long the Democrats will be able to get away with the claim they didn’t massively increase the present and future tax burden. The 2014 midterms are going to be really interesting, to see who gets pushed off the party line first.

  14. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    30. October 2013 at 01:02

    Well, re Greenspan…Marcus Nunes would say Greenspan oversaw the Great Moderation and Bernanke the Great Recession…

    so who likes Bernanke?

  15. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    30. October 2013 at 03:03

    Steve,

    “I would actually favor this solution: Single-payer catastrophic, everything else private.”

    This was Friedman’s solution. IIRC, he compared to having insurance for non-catastrophic healthcare to having insurance for flat tyres.

  16. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    30. October 2013 at 03:03

    (Or some similar car-based analogy. The point is that ‘catastrophic insurance’ is usually a redunant phrase.)

  17. Gravatar of Michael Michael
    30. October 2013 at 03:08

    One thing that I’ve never seen explained by the proponents of catastrophic health insurance (which I agree is a good idea) is why such insurance is not a standard offering by employers. If there was a demand for policies like this, why wouldn’t employers offer them? It seems to me that this argument relies on some appeal to “people are too stupid to know what is good for them” logic.

    In recent years, firms have started offering high deductible plans that do not offer first dollar coverage – for example I had a family policy with a $3,600 deductible two years ago, the first time I worked at a company that offered such a policy. This is the closest thing to catastrophic insurance that is routinely offered by employers. Obamacare also offers high-deductible plans (the Bronze plans).

  18. Gravatar of Nick Nick
    30. October 2013 at 04:36

    @Michael –

    Employers are incented by the tax code to offer rich healthcare benefits. If they pay you $10,000 in cash, you only get, say $8,000 of that after taxes. But if they give you $10,000 worth of health insurance, you get $10,000 worth of health insurance. So if they give you a catastrophic insurance policy for $2500, then give you the remaining $7500 in cash, you are worse off than if the employer throws in a bunch of “prepaid” heath expenditures under a tax exempt insurance policy like cheap doctors visits, etc. to get a tax exempt policy premium of $10,000, of which you get 2,500 worth of real insurance and $7500 worth of probable health care costs.

  19. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    30. October 2013 at 05:13

    The term “catastrophic insurance” is being used rather casually and, in my view, imprecisely in a number of comments.

    Presumably, by “catastrophic insurance” one means insurance that covers only those risks that the insured cannot himself or herself absorb through deductibles and co-pays. As thus defined, what may be “catastrophic” for one person may not be for another with greater savings and/or current “disposable” income. Warren Buffett does not need health insurance at all, someone with a few million in the bank can surely afford a higher deductible and co-pay than someone with nothing. The ability to self-insure is one of the most important benefits of deferred consumption (i.e., saving).

    Seen in this light, the objection should be to laws that force people to “over-insure” themselves. In this respect, ObamaCare, which only allows “catastrophic insurance” for those under 30, has it exactly backwards. That age group is precisely the cohort that on average his little savings and lower current disposable income than most other age cohorts. While the chances of getting seriously ill are lower, the inability to self-insure large expenses should one lose the health lottery are also lower. Both factors (lower risk and higher exposure to large expenses) should factor into premiums and result in relatively lower premiums without excessive risk-taking.

    It appears that this backwards approach was driven merely by the need to drive down premiums for the sub-30 age group in order to get them into the insurance pools.

    Of course, age is not the most precise measure of how “much” health insurance coverage one needs–that is more directly driven by assets and income. I recall that a few decades ago, Germany had a system under which those below a certain income threshold were required to participate in a state-run insurance system (Pflichtversicherung) and I think they still have it. Those above a certain minimum were free to be insured on the open market. That distinction makes more sense to me than merely saying the government should provide “catastrophic insurance” .

    As an aside, it appears to me that there is a very strong correlation between poverty in the United States and financial illiteracy. One of the best things we could do to alleviate it would be to drop some of the softer courses taught in high school in favor of some very practical courses on financial topics, including the function of insurance.

  20. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    30. October 2013 at 06:14

    Vivian Darkbloom,

    “ObamaCare, which only allows “catastrophic insurance” for those under 30”

    That’s astonishing. What’s the rationale behind this?

  21. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. October 2013 at 06:20

    Paul,. I didn’t know about the under 30 exemption, but they use little health care anyway. Vivian’s last comment is relevant to this issue.

    Ben, As I said, Greenspan did a good job, but right now his views are completely incoherent. He didn’t even seem to understand the question that was asked.

    Steve, You said;

    “I would actually favor this solution: Single-payer catastrophic, everything else private.”

    I agree.

    Michael, You asked;

    “One thing that I’ve never seen explained by the proponents of catastrophic health insurance (which I agree is a good idea) is why such insurance is not a standard offering by employers. If there was a demand for policies like this, why wouldn’t employers offer them? It seems to me that this argument relies on some appeal to “people are too stupid to know what is good for them” logic.”

    The answer is simple. 35% of the cost of private insurance is subsidized by taxpayers, so of course it makes sense to overinsure.

  22. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    30. October 2013 at 06:36

    “What’s the rationale behind this?”

    Why ask me? I didn’t design the law or draft the regs. As I stated above, the rationale that seems to be at play is the need to do everything, however illogical, to try to attract sub-30 year-olds into the exchanges. And, nota bene, I’m accepting for this purpose a rather loose definition of the term “catastrophic” as defined by the Act. Here’s a brief blurb, but no stated “rationale”:

    https://www.healthcare.gov/can-i-buy-a-catastrophic-plan/

    As a follow-up to the German discussion, I should have anticipated that someone would raise the objection that, well, Medicaid sort of does the same thing. If someone had raised it, it would have been a fair point; however, while Medicaid can charge limited premiums and co-pays under limited circumstances, it appears to me that it is run more like a welfare program than a subsidized insurance program. I see no rational reason why we should run both Medicare and Medicaid programs. It would appear to be more efficient to abolish Medicare and have older low-income folks folded into Medicaid with required participation, premiums and co-pays according to income. General funds would end up paying for a lot of this, but it would be hard to believe it would cost more than what we’ve got now with all the hidden taxes and subsidies.

  23. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    30. October 2013 at 06:42

    ” As I stated above, the rationale that seems to be at play is the need to do everything, however illogical, to try to attract sub-30 year-olds into the exchanges.”

    That’s the sort of thing I was looking for, though there might have been something a bit more sophisticated.

    It’s disturbing that the US federal government has made such a mess of healthcare reform, yet it’s also in control of so many nuclear weapons. It’s like Chernobyl: there’s nothing else than finding that the person with their foot on the accelerator has issues.

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. October 2013 at 06:49

    David, The age comment was of course a joke, what appalled me was his comments.

    Only a few dozen people in all of human history have lived to 115.

  25. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    30. October 2013 at 06:57

    “What’s the rationale behind this”?

    Another possibility comes to mind, other than the desire to draw this age group into the exchanges. It’s been my experience with the current administration that there is an extreme amount (much more than previously) of political (electoral) consideration given to policy decisions. The sub-30 age cohort is a very important one for the Progressive movement. Had they simply forced members of this group into the exchanges to subsidize older cohorts, they would have antagonized the very group they rely on for electoral success. It is, in my view, quite possible that a bad policy decision (allowing the “wrong” group to buy “catastrophic” insurance and disallowing it for other groups for which it would be more appropriate) was done for calculated political purposes. If that were the rationale, or even a contributing factor, do you really think this would have made it’s way into the legislative history? The apparent absence of a cogent policy reason would lend more credence to my suspicion.

  26. Gravatar of MikeF MikeF
    30. October 2013 at 07:08

    “Obamacare doesn’t eliminate Catastrophic insurance. You can get a plan in AZ for about 100 bucks a month:”

    Tried to go to the AZ website…crash…I can see the

    I guess it depends on your definition of Catastrophic…from my understanding all the plans limit the total out of pocket expenses to something like $6200..and mandate that certain items are covered to get to this maximum..even it you have a high deductable…like birthcontrol, pediatic dentristry…etc…

    Of course, I haven’t read all 10K+ pages of the law…so I could be wrong..

  27. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    30. October 2013 at 07:10

    I’ve had nothing to say about the computer “glitches” because that’s not the issue. The issue is and has always been the fact that Obamacare outlaws the only kind of insurance that makes any sense””catastrophic insurance. Glad to see people are finally waking up to that fact.

    Shout that from the house top. There are always bugs early on so that is to be expected, now if they are still not working in January I will agree that they made things way to complicated.

    My problems with the PPACA are:

    1. Like Scott said, it made very high deductible catastrophic insurance illegal. It should have encouraged rather than discourage very high deductible plans
    2. It did not get rid of the health insurance tax deduction.
    3. It encouraged rather discouraged employer paid for insurance.
    4. It made a secret tax on the young to subsidize 40 to 62 year olds. Is this because old people vote? (I am less bothered by the secret tax on the healthy to subsidize the unhealthy because it is simplifying.)
    5. The ridiculous give away to birth control users presumably to keep them as democrat voters. So of the other similar mandates.
    6. The failure to address at all bad state regulations that increase costs.

  28. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    30. October 2013 at 07:52

    7. It attempts to subsidize people with above median income there by subsidizing them with their own money creating a dead weight loss for no benefit.

  29. Gravatar of Michael Michael
    30. October 2013 at 08:02

    Mike F wrote:

    “I guess it depends on your definition of Catastrophic…from my understanding all the plans limit the total out of pocket expenses to something like $6200..and mandate that certain items are covered to get to this maximum..even it you have a high deductable…like birthcontrol, pediatic dentristry…etc…”

    $6,200 for an individual or a family? Either way, it is a lot of money for many people.

    Even the famous RAND study that is often cited as a rationale for catastrophic picked up the tab after the first $1,000 which is probably comparable to $6,200 today.

  30. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    30. October 2013 at 08:13

    Casey Mulligan does it with pictures (and charts);

    http://caseymulligan.blogspot.com/2013/10/new-video-on-affordable-care-act-and.html

    The incentives of Obamacare.

  31. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 08:20

    Vivian, W Peden,

    “ObamaCare, which only allows “catastrophic insurance” for those under 30”

    It’s actually worse than that. You can get catastrophic age 30 and up, but only with a “Hardship exemption”.

    What are some examples of hardship exemptions?
    * You were evicted in the past 6 months or were facing eviction or foreclosure.
    * You received a shut-off notice from a utility company.
    * You filed for bankruptcy in the last 6 months.
    * You had medical expenses you couldn’t pay in the last 24 months.

    So a demonstrated record of financial irresponsibility is a “hardship” entitling you to purchase catastrophic insurance. (Remember, the law was written at the peak of the housing/foreclosure crisis.)

    https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions/

  32. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    30. October 2013 at 08:28

    Steve,

    And it’s exactly those who are struggling with non-catastrophic healthcare who drop out of the system?

    Would I be fair in saying that, had the Republicans spent more time focusing on these flaws and less on constitutional questions, they would have had a much better chance at demolishing public support for Obamacare?

  33. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 08:56

    W Peden,

    It’s hard to say. Rationally, maybe. But American politics isn’t rational. The Democratic base would like Obamacare no matter what, because it gives them freebies. And Republicans claiming financial issues with the ACA were stuck in a he said/she said environment due to Obama’s three claims: affordability, no tax increase, and no change of insurance plans. Plus Congress aggressively gamed the CBO scoring to make the ACA deficit reducing.

    At a personal level, my biggest objection to Obamacare is that it destroys the individual health insurance market, by forcing individuals into the same risk pool as the exchanges. And the exchanges are likely to become high-risk pools due to adverse selection. Keep in mind, most people buying individual policies off-exchange receive neither affordability subsides nor tax deductions. And now they will be in de facto high-risk pools, too. Most who are over 400% of FPL lean Republican and don’t have K Street lobbyists, so they were considered expendable by the authors of the ACA.

  34. Gravatar of Randomize Randomize
    30. October 2013 at 09:36

    ACA bronze plans are catastrophic insurance. The only tweak is that they’ve used “insurance” as a means to cost-pool for preventative care, hoping that people will be more likely to get flu shots and physicals if they can use OPM.

  35. Gravatar of MikeF MikeF
    30. October 2013 at 10:26

    “$6,200 for an individual or a family? Either way, it is a lot of money for many people.”

    That is for an individual..family is twice that…
    Yes, that is a lot of money if it is not planned for…
    I would like to have some power over the out-of-pocket maximums. If I have been saving into a Health saving account for years and have a substantial amount it…why should I not be “allowed” to buy a policy at a considerable savings that has a much higher out-of-pocket maximum…for someone in their ’50s/60s this makes a big difference in the price….and it doesn’t impact the overall pool…

    My main problem with Obamacare is that in exchange for the general loss of personal freedom, it does nothing to address the overall costs of healthcare it only broadens the risk pool and progressively distributes the cost.

    My family physician loved having his own practice with his wife an OB/GYN…but now says that it has gotten too complicated with Obamacare so he was forced to group practice…he is miserable…and his wife has given up medicine all together.

  36. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 11:36

    Again folks, if you are healthy, do ok, and buy your own insurance, the smartest answer, that will save you $10K+ a year, is:

    1. Non-compliance. You can buy any policy you want. And you legally only are compelled to pay the fine IF the IRS owes you money.

    2. High Deductible HSA / PPO.

    3. You do want to time things so you know you are covered thru next calendar year, so if you have gotten sick, you can then join thru exchange.

    Now here’s where it gets interesting:

    Any of the Insurers who are sitting out of Obama exchanges can now craft highly selectable non-compliant plans based on above.

    You can use this as regular insurance that does renew, or you can use short term.

    The point is, the nice clean healthy pools created where there is NO long term care cost, since anybody who gets sick can jump into Ocare within 1 year’s time…

    Means you’ll find plans that are $50 for individual $200 for family based on above.

    That’s just hospitalization, but based on above assumptions you don’t need anything else.

  37. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 12:21

    “the smartest answer, that will save you $10K+ a year, is Non-compliance.”

    Morgan,

    And you don’t think Obama will create an “enemies list” of non-compliant high income earners for tax audits on other grounds?

  38. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 12:28

    I think the Insurance industry is going to sell MILLIONS of these non-compliant plans to people telling to PAY THE FINE, and its still cheaper.

    And then, MILLIONS of people are going to decide whether to pay the fine of not.

    It’s too cheap. It’s BETTER insurance. It’s the good stuff. Cleveland Clinic, up market doctors, the ONLY WAY you’ll get to keep the good stuff you already had.

    Ocare plans don’t have this stuff.

    For people with money to spend, they STILL want to save money, but they are definitely not going to eat HMO goop.

  39. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 12:30

    What else is this guy going to do?

    http://healthpolicyandmarket.blogspot.com/2013/10/mr-president-i-like-my-health-insurance.html?m=1

  40. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 12:32

    Morgan,

    Yes, the Eubamanized plans, including the off-exchange individual plans, are dropping a lot of the better hospital systems, like Cleveland Clinic and Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

    But won’t Obama (without his knowledge, wink) instruct the IRS to flag non-compliant tax returns for additional scrutiny in other areas?

  41. Gravatar of John John
    30. October 2013 at 12:50

    It is very interesting to watch America descend into Fascism, a system where the government allows the notion of private property but directs every aspect of the economy and people’s lives. I’m glad that it will be captured so well with all the blogs and media out there so that we’ll have a clear historical record.

    Everyone should enjoy their freedom of speech while they can. Of the critical first 6 amendments to the bill of rights, I can make a clear argument that it is the only one left.

    If anyone is interested, read Radley Balko’s book where he argues that the 3rd (don’t have to quarter soldiers in your house) and 4th amendments (unreasonable search and seizure) have been shredded.

    Also, if you think the cops are the good guys and not SS Storm Troopers, watch this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b-67q0vlCw

  42. Gravatar of John John
    30. October 2013 at 13:11

    Obamacare is so damn complicated, convoluted, and clearly unworkable that I’d just prefer an outright single payer system. At least you know how that works even if you have to accept deteriorating medical care standards. I’m saying that as a diehard libertarian and I think that was the point of the entire exercise. Discredit private enterprise through regulation and have the government come in on its white horse and save the day.

    Here’s 4 simple steps to fix the health care problem.

    1. Get rid of all medical licensing requirements. This alone would vastly increase the supply of heath care the market provides and bring down the cost.

    2. Eliminate all restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products. Get rid of the FDA.

    3. Allow private companies to sell whatever kind of insurance contracts people want to buy.

    4. Stop subsidizing sickness.

  43. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 13:13

    Steve,

    Again, you are talking about folks making $80K+ a year who are:

    1. NOT JOINING OCARE bc it doesn’t have their good doctor / hospital. “where’s my BMW?” F’that I’m not poor.

    2. SINCE they are now shopping outside Ocare… who needs mental health and maternity, and hey I’m healthy and just need catastrophic….

    3. HOLY SH*T this is cheaper (under $300 a month) than it has ever been! I sock $6K away in HSA, I cover my expenses, and if I blow thru $6K after another $1K, I have no expenses. Even with a $2K-4K fine, its a killer deal.

    4. “wait, are you sure Brad? Well if my CPA says I don’t have to pay that IRS fine, I’ve always listened to him before.”

    Steve, it’s just like when I say gamed out NGDPLT shrinks govt.

    It boggles my mind that given the way the dominoes are lined up anyone would expect them to fall any other possible way.

  44. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    30. October 2013 at 14:07

    So much BS on here especially from Morgan so here are some facts. Right now I make 75k without insurance and my wife makes much less but has really good insurance through her work. We game planned a scenario where she could quit and I would get insurance through the exchange for our family of 5.

    Turns out I can get a really good plan for only $550.00 a month with subsidies and NO deductible for the 5 of us. Same doctor’s we have now. Right wing scare tactics is all this is and it literally won’t matter in 3 months.

  45. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 14:46

    Tom pls name and list plan details. Name of plan, state.

    Something isn’t right in Denmark. I have literally priced a couple hundred plans over past 3 years doing research for start-up.

  46. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    30. October 2013 at 14:54

    Morgan,

    This is the smoking deal available to me in AZ:

    http://www.valuepenguin.com/health-insurance/AZ/health-net-health-net-communitycare-hmo-open-access-gold-30-60-6000-500

  47. Gravatar of David N David N
    30. October 2013 at 15:31

    No deductible, but copays and 30% coinsurance from dollar zero.

    It might be the best deal for you, but I would think if everyone is healthy you should look for an HSA compatible bronze plan. Much better in the long run.

    By the way, A gold plan in New Jersey for my three person family is about $1,600. Maybe there really are winners and losers and it’s not just “scare tactics.”

  48. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 15:57

    “We game planned a scenario where she could quit and I would get insurance through the exchange

    This is exactly what people have been saying. O-Care is a great deal for the moocher class, who quit work to collect subsidies. Terrible deal for the unsubsidized.

  49. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    30. October 2013 at 16:25

    Steve’s comment just goes to show how stupid the teahadists really are.

    If my wife quit her job, we would lose the existing government subsidy we already get because of the deductibility of employer provided health insurance.

    Now here’s where it gets interesting. My subsidy through Obamacare would be about $1700.00 a year. Teahadist hero Ted Cruz gets a gold plated health insurance policy through his wife that gets a subsidy to the tune of $8000.00! a year. Now, who’s the moocher?

  50. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    30. October 2013 at 16:44

    Dave N,

    Speaking of New Jersey, I could get the following HSA compatible bronze plan for the ridiculously low price of just $462.71 a month:

    http://www.valuepenguin.com/health-insurance/NJ/amerihealth-amerihealth-nj-tier-1-advantage-bronze-epo-h.s.a.

    Downside would be I’d have to live in New Jersey.

  51. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 17:14

    Tom,

    1 I’m against the employer tax subsidy. Reducing that subsidy would be a good way to pay for the Obamacare subsidies, instead of gouging people in the individual market.

    2 Arizona must have cheaper than average policies.

    3 You are also getting subsidizing (through community rating) for your kids. It’s good to know people who tried to become financially stable before having families now have to support people who didn’t care about that.

  52. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    30. October 2013 at 17:25

    Ummm, what the hell is #3 supposed to mean? We get community rating right now through her employer plan as does everyone else who gets insurance through their employer. We were very financially stable before we had kids so I don’t what the heck you’re talking about.

  53. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 17:39

    Tom, sorry buddy you are wrong.

    That plan has you paying 30% of your medical bills costs until you are out $12K of pocket.

    Then I put in 40, 40 and three kids and the premium is $543 mo at $75K a year.

    SO, you get:

    a HMO doctor (yuck)
    you pay $6500 a year
    AND you are on the hook for 30% or your medical care for UP TO another $5500

    So you pay $6500-$12K NO MATTER WHAT for HMO on a salary of $75K. If something bad happens, you are stuck in network.

    AND poor people in your town can buy that Awesome PPO care for 90% off, if something bad happens… they get better than you and your family.

    —-

    If you pay the fine it’s: $750 this year

    If you dump $6300 in a HSA thats YOURS you keep it, if you don’t need to use it.

    And you get PPO HSA care for say $300 a month premium.

    $3600 + $750 = $4350 and that’s only if the IRS owe you $750 back in April.

    —–

    But Tom, you’re super smart, so you just tell everybody they owe you a big thanks for letting the guy criminally lazy guy get in front of your kid on the MRI machine.

  54. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 17:42

    2-0% not 3-0%

  55. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 17:45

    And Tom, don’t try to work to hard, bc if you get a $10K raise, you pay another $1800 for that HMO not including your normal income taxes.

  56. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    30. October 2013 at 18:06

    Morgan,

    Like many people, I would never get PPO HSA care because I was stupid and irresponsible and got skin cancer. My fault, I know…too bad, so sad.

  57. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 18:23

    So nothing I said was wrong AT ALL.

    And the point is WHEN the healthy wealthy wise guys do what is in their best interest…

    YOUR INSURANCE WILL GO UP.

    Look Tom, let me help you here, stop looking at the people who make $25k-100k more than you and shrugging or smiling bc they get to pay full boat.

    INSTEAD, say

    NOBODY getting a subsidy should get PPO care! No security guard with a three pack a day habit should be getting anything more than BASIC ‘essential services”

    Xrays, not MRIs, student doctors, not the specialist you can’t get yourself.

    NOBODY paying full freight should have access to the good stuff.

    The truly disgusting unwritten thing here is Obamacare is the Obama iPhone, it’s letting people use food stamps at Whole Foods.

    When Haidt measures conservative morality, he says clearly, we care about and focus primarily on not letting people steal, not letting people be lazy…

    The legit compromise, what this becomes is going to be:

    BASIC CARE, out of patent drugs, student doctors, x-rays – the stuff that 80-90% effective and cost 20% as much – thats what we give to the folks at 2s poverty, the folks who never bought insurance anyway.

    And doing that Tom, not only makes you moral, it means that when the healthy wealthy guys opt out of the system, you aren’t he one who eats it.

    So decide you who you really want to side with Tom.

    Is you alliance with the top 2/3 or the bottom 1/3? Bc your the one who pays for the outcome, not the comfortable. It’s YOUR money and health being spent here.

  58. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 18:39

    Tom,

    Maybe we can agree that the tax subsidy on employer group insurance is too big?

    As I said before, Republicans are self-harming by wanting a repeal with no alternative in mind.

    Democrats are self-harming by lying about keeping insurance and lying about O-care not being a tax (which slams the individual market).

    Maybe both parties should avail themselves of the mental health benefit now guaranteed by O-care? The first step to solving the problem is to admit there is a problem. And maybe a political advantage in admitting it first, too?

  59. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    30. October 2013 at 19:00

    Morgan,

    No, I don’t disagree with the numbers you present. But life isn’t so simple. The “healthy, wealthy” is a slice of life… a moment in time. Eventually they won’t be so healthy and those pre-existing conditions will come to the fore for nearly everyone at some point.

    As far as health care for the lazy, I largely agree with you. I have a relative in your state of Texas who doesn’t take care of himself. But you know what, instead of getting the crappy care he deserves, he’s being whisked to the finest hospitals in Midland. In my state, the bums don’t get turned away from the freaking Mayo clinic. And THAT was Mitt Romney’s answer to Obamacare?!? Who pays for that?

    With the Obamacare roll out unforced errors, you guys have your chance. Put together something that will pass the House, that favors the hardworking and thrifty but takes account of the fact that we can all get hit by a bus or come down with cancer.

    If the Republican party would show that it gives 2 shits about hardworking people that will never have the IQ to be a chemical engineer, they could win national elections again. But alas, my guess is that they will never be about the top 2/3. They will always be about the top .01 and therefore, they will continue to lose.

  60. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    30. October 2013 at 19:09

    Steve,

    I’m sure you and I or Morgan could work out a decent system before the end of the night. But Republicans in Congress? Never. Even the hint of compromise with the Kenyan, Marxist, Atheist Muslim is guaranteed to get you a primary challenge. And in a Republican primary, the nuttier you are the more likely you are to win.

  61. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 19:11

    Here’s my proposal:

    Employer provided health care becomes a refundable tax credit, rather than an income deduction.

    25% of the value of employer health insurance.
    $1000 maximum credit per adult.
    DONE

  62. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 19:14

    Tom,

    It’s good that we have common ground. The disagreement is, you think Republicans are wingnuts. I think left-wing Democrats are wingnuts. Probably, we are both right. Not sure what else to say. Goodnight.

  63. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 19:18

    Ok, more complete view of my proposal:

    – Reduce the tax break for employer health insurance. 25% or $1000 whichever is less. This raises a ton of revenue.

    – Remove “essential benefits” from O-Care to cheapen the plans. Make it true insurance, for things like car accidents and cancer.

    – Uncap the subsidy at 400% FPL, to remove the “subsidy cliff” and the high implied MTR.

  64. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. October 2013 at 19:21

    Focus on frugality at the low end and everything else takes care of itself.

    it’s super easy.

    Everything in world prices at 80 / 20 rule.

    For 20% of the “luxury” good price you get 80% + of the functional value.

    $100 vs $500 phone
    $4 lb vs $20 lb cheese
    $14K new care $70K new car
    Xrays vs MRIs
    Out of Patent vs. patent

    Just say those with hand out get the left hand column. Never more.

    Obama could have sold it as, “if you can afford better you will WANT TO” and not been lying, and we’d not be gong thru htis, bc that’s ALL the bottom 1/3 are going to get – the left hand column.

    Whats SICK and DEPRAVED is that Obama intentionally tried to flop who gets the good stuff.

    It was malicious and terribly immoral.

  65. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    30. October 2013 at 19:30

    Agree, Morgan.

    Give the poor nurse practitioners and generic drugs all for free on Uncle Sam’s dime. Want more? Pay for it.

  66. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    31. October 2013 at 02:06

    Morgan,

    Tour-de-force!

  67. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    31. October 2013 at 23:40

    Here’s James Taranto regarding the ACA provision that generally allows only persons under 30 to buy “catastrophic health insurance”:

    “Second, under-30s are exempt. That’s right, the geniuses who wrote ObamaCare are forcing everyone to buy maternity care except the age cohort that includes women at peak fertility.”

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304073204579169711152265686?mod=trending_now_1

    That’s right. One of the features of such a “catastrophic plan” is that he don’t need to buy insurance for maternity care. But, men over 30 can’t opt out, nor can women above child-bearing age!

  68. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    31. October 2013 at 23:41

    {they] don’t…

  69. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. November 2013 at 06:21

    Vivian, That’s very funny.

  70. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    3. November 2013 at 09:35

    Here’s an excerpt from the recent WAPO article on how the ACA implementation went wrong:

    “On Dec. 19, Obama met with roughly a dozen senior White House and HHS officials, including Sebelius. They discussed important policy issues, such as how to persuade more young, healthy Americans to sign up for insurance.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/challenges-have-dogged-obamas-health-plan-since-2010/2013/11/02/453fba42-426b-11e3-a624-41d661b0bb78_story.html

    Per the WAPO article, it seems the administration was obsessed with that issue.

    I didn’t attend the meeting, but I had a fly on the wall:

    https://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=24498#comment-287877

  71. Gravatar of Sumner and Obamacare: Who's Pants Are on Fire? | Last Men and OverMen Sumner and Obamacare: Who's Pants Are on Fire? | Last Men and OverMen
    17. March 2017 at 04:42

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