Patterico's Pontifications


A Health Care Riddle

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 9:13 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today President Obama said the costs of Medicare and Medicaid are increasing on an “unsustainable” trajectory.” Obama also said we must pass health care reform or “health care costs are going to consume the entire federal budget” and the U.S. will go bankrupt.

Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP accounted for $718 billion in health care costs in 2006 — “slightly more than one-third of the country’s total health care expenditures and almost three-fourths of all public spending on health care.” The federal government paid an additional $252 billion in publicly-funded health care for veterans, Indians, federal workers compensation, federally-sponsored womens’ and childrens’ programs, substance abuse programs, assistance to the states, and for public research.

It sounds like Obama’s answer to our bankrupt federal health care programs is to cover everyone. Won’t that make us go bankrupt that much faster?


Florida Political Races Tighten

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Two new Rasmussen Florida polls show the Governor’s race and the Republican primary in the Senate race are getting closer. First, the Governor’s race:

“According to a Rasmussen reports telephone survey out today, Florida’s governor’s race is beginning to heat up between Republican state Attorney General Bill McCollum and Democrat Alex Sink. McCollum leads 44%-39%, but that’s down from an 11-point lead in October when he was ahead 46%-35%.”

And now for the GOP Senate primary:

“Another Rasmussen report poll, which was released yesterday, shows Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former state House speaker Marco Rubio neck and neck in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Each has 43% of the vote, with 9% of those polled saying they are still undecided.”

Rubio is a Tea Party favorite and Rasmussen describes the Senate race as “a test of the new ‘Tea Party’ mood among many conservative and traditionally Republican voters.” Read together, these races suggest there is significant anti-incumbent sentiment in Florida right now. That’s probably true of America, too.


U.S. National Debt Exceeds Limit

Filed under: Economics,Government — DRJ @ 7:23 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The U.S. national debt hit $12.135 trillion and now exceeds the legal Debt Limit of $12.104 trillion approved by Congress in February. But the Obama Administration’s Treasury Department knows how to get around it:

“A senior Treasury official told CBS News that the department has some “extraordinary accounting tools” it can use to give the government breathing room in the range of $150-billion when the Debt exceeds the Debt Ceiling.

Were it not for those “tools,” the U.S. Government would not have the statutory authority to borrow any more money. It might block issuance of Social Security checks and require a shutdown of some parts of the federal government.”

The government’s solution is to increase the Debt Limit by another $290B. They wanted more than that, but Republicans and conservative Democrats blocked a move “to pass a $1.8 trillion dollar increase in the Debt Limit so the Democratic majority would not have to face the embarrassment of raising the Debt Limit yet again before next November’s midterm elections.”


Dems Break Senate Rules Over Health Care

Filed under: Government,Health Care — DRJ @ 6:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This afternoon, Democratic leaders in the Senate reportedly broke Senate rules by allowing the withdrawal of Senator Bernie Sanders’ 767 page single-payer amendment to the health care bill and stopping its reading without the unanimous consent of all Senators.

In an effort to slow down the health care bill, Republican Senators had refused to waive reading of the amendment, an undertaking that would take an estimated 12-13 hours. (After 3 hours of reading, the Clerk had read 139 pages of the amendment.) Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded (the complete text is at the link):

“The plain language of the Senate precedent, the manual that governs Senate procedure, is that unanimous consent of all members was required before the Senator from Vermont could withdraw his amendment while it was being read.

Earlier today, the majority somehow convinced the parliamentarian to break with the long standing precedent and practice of the Senate in the reading of the bill.”

The ends justify the means, right?


Big Labor might oppose ReidCare?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 3:43 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The SEIU skipped out on a pro-ReidCare event today, but there is likely both less and more than meets the eye at the HuffPo:

Two of the country’s largest labor groups, the SEIU and the AFL-CIO, are each holding emergency executive meetings today to discuss whether they should support the latest round of health care compromises made by Senate Democrats.

Though there’s no official word yet, early indications based on talks with various officials are that the groups will either formally oppose the legislation or, less dramatically, just not fight very hard to ensure its passage.

There is a big difference between not fighting hard and formally opposing a bill. Moreover, opposing Reid’s bill is not opposing ObamaCare in general. It may be nothing more than trying to get the tax on “Cadillac” health plans pulled from the Senate bill, or in a House-Senate conference.

That’s the “less” than meets the eye. The “more than meets the eye” is the possibility of longer-term consequences. Big Labor may try to leverage their anger into backing for card check legislation. Or they may threaten to stay home next year:

Another labor official warned that while labor leaders will likely grudgingly support the legislation, some may be bitter enough to sit out the midterm elections, dealing a blow to Democrats.

I would take that threat with a truckload of road salt, but it does raise the possibility of the “demoralized Democrats” problem becoming larger and more real than the current carping among the netroots.


Climate Change Chaos

Filed under: Environment,International — DRJ @ 12:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Copenhagen climate change summit is reportedly disintegrating from protests outside and chaos inside:

“Police fired tear gas, brandished batons and detained more than 200 protesters who tried to push through the security cordon around the Bella Center, as negotiations inside bogged down, for the second time this week, over differences between China and the West over emissions, funding issues and transparency.

“People around the world [are] actually expecting something to be done from us,” red-faced Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen lectured delegates from nearly 200 nations.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the highest-ranking American yet to appear at the talks, urged attendees to put aside their differences and “make Friday our day of success.”

Minutes earlier — in a surprise move that captured growing uncertainty over conference — Denmark’s climate minister, Connie Hedegaard, stepped aside as president of the conference, handing the gavel to Rasmussen, as head of the host country.”

The article concludes with accounts of summit representatives decrying the organizers’ bullying tactics. As we all know, it’s hard to reach a consensus when everyone is calling each other names.


Nearsightedness Up 66% Since 1970s

Filed under: Health Care — DRJ @ 12:38 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC reports on a new study that says nearsightedness is up 66% since the 1970s:

“A new study conducted by the National Eye Institute shows that the rate of nearsightedness, or myopia, in Americans has increased from 25 percent in the 1970s to a staggering 41 percent this year.

The study didn’t examine the causes of such an increase, but experts told “Good Morning America” the reasons could include genetics or poor outdoor lighting. Another possible reason could be an increase in “near work”-like reading, surfing the Web or texting.”

The Good Morning America report focused on the increase in ‘near work’ as a possible cause and concluded “the numbers don’t look good” for our vision. However, the report also clearly stated that we should not confuse cause with association.

In today’s world, Americans need for and use of ‘near work’ is greater than ever. So while my baseline is probably association rather than causation, I’m not ruling out that our bodies and eyes are mutating more quickly to make it easier for us to do the ‘near work’ that is such a big part of our lives.


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