Patterico's Pontifications


Health Care Rationing

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 10:53 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Via Breitbart and Naked Emperor News, Peter Orzag reveals the truth about rationing and the Independent Payment Advisory Board:

Obama’s Budget Director: Powerful Rationing Panel (Not Doctors) Will Control Health Care Levels

ORZAG: “And the only real solution to our long-term fiscal imbalance, because it’s driven disproportionately by the rate at which health care costs grow, is to move towards a health care system that is based on quality and efficiency rather than quantity. Everyone agrees that we can no longer afford to just pay for quantity, that is, a fee for service system where doctors and hospitals are reimbursed based on volume.

I think folks have not really focused on the Medicare commission, the Independent Payment Advisory Board that’s created. This institution could prove to be far more important to the future of our fiscal health than, for example, the Congressional Budget Office. It has an enormous amount of potential power.

So this Independent Payment Advisory Board has the power not … it has the responsibility to put forward proposals to hit a pretty aggressive set of targets over the long term. And furthermore the proposals take effect automatically unless Congress not only specifically votes them down, but Congress specifically votes them down and the President signs that bill.

So the default is now switched in a very important way on the biggest driver of our long term costs, which is the Medicare program.

REPORTER: “Was that explained to members of Congress very carefully?”

ORZAG: “Yes, it was, and that’s why this was something that was very difficult to actually …

This is why I think this was underappreciated that this is a very substantial change. Statutory power to put forward proposals to reduce health care costs growth over time … and improve quality, and those proposals take effect automatically if Congress ignores them, if Congress votes them down and the President vetoes that bill. So, in other words, inertia now plays to the side of this Independent Board.

Wasn’t it the Democrats’ job, as sponsors of health care reform, to help Americans focus on the important parts of the legislation — like the Independent Medical Advisory Board? Instead, they clearly felt their job was to hide the ball.

This reminds me of two things and it’s hard to choose which is more appropriate: Sarah Palin’s ‘Death Panel’ or Nancy Pelosi’s ‘But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.’


Crying Babies

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There are probably as many ways to parent a child as there are children, but an English psychologist and childcare expert says not responding to a crying baby is a bad idea:

“Leaving a distressed baby to cry on a regular basis could be damaging to the developing brain, according to parenting guru Penelope Leach, whose new book will be seen as a head-on confrontation with the tough-love approach of baby experts such as Gina Ford, who say parents should “train” their infants by allowing them to cry themselves to sleep.

In the latest salvo in the baby wars, Leach brings science to her aid, which she says has progressed remarkably in recent years. Using saliva swab tests, scientists have been able to measure high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in distraught babies whose cries elicit no response from parent or carer. Neurobiologists say, according to Leach, that high cortisol levels are “toxic” to the developing brain.

“It is not an opinion but a fact that it’s potentially damaging to leave babies to cry. Now we know that, why risk it?” Leach says in her book, The Essential First Year – What Babies Need Parents to Know.

She is not, she tells the Guardian, saying it is bad for babies to cry. “All babies cry. Some cry more than others.” But crying, in the first year or so, is the only way a baby can get a response. Denying a response, she argues, can have long-term emotional consequences.”

One of the first decisions new parents make is when to feed and comfort their babies. Did Leach convince you?


Financial Reform Fails for Now

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 4:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

For now, it’s back to the drawing board for financial reform:

“Senate Republicans held together Monday afternoon to block efforts by Democrats to officially begin debate on the financial industry reform bill.

No Republicans cast a “yes” vote on the procedural motion, keeping Democrats from the 60 vote threshold needed to move forward. One Democrat, Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, voted “no” outright.

The vote was 57-41. Two Republicans did not vote: Utah’s Bob Bennett and Missouri’s Kit Bond. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to a “no” so that he can bring the bill back to the floor, something he is vowing to do that later this week.
Nelson said he couldn’t support moving to debate on a bill he hasn’t seen, and that his vote was not an indication that he would oppose the legislation.”

Republican Senator Richard Shelby is working with Democrat Chris Dodd on the legislation. Democrats, including President Obama, attribute the failure to Republican obstructionism. Republicans say the reforms need more bipartisan input.


Blogging Quote of the Day

Filed under: Blogging Matters — DRJ @ 4:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Nick Denton, founder and president of Gawker Media:

“Are bloggers journalists? I guess we’ll find out.”


Nonprofit Alert

Filed under: Government,Obama — DRJ @ 4:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

TaxProf notices a New York Times article that says up to 1/4 of nonprofit groups may lose their tax-exempt status this year:

“As many as 400,000 nonprofit organizations are weeks away from a doomsday.

At midnight on May 15, an estimated one-fifth to one-quarter of some 1.6 million charities, trade associations and membership groups will lose their tax exemptions, thanks to a provision buried in a 2006 federal bill aimed at pension reform. … “

No interns for you.

H/T Instapundit.


President Obama Announces Vote 2010

Filed under: 2010 Election,Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 4:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama is excited about getting out the 2010 Vote:

“It will be up to each of you to make sure the young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008, stand together once again.”

The most charitable construction of this statement is that President Obama is targeting the voters likely to sit out this election. The most reasonable construction is that he’s given up on white voters, at least in 2010.


Goldman Sachs Goes to Congress

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 4:04 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Goldman Sachs officials and a former employee will appear before a Senate subcommittee tomorrow to answer questions. Apparently the subcommittee wants to know why Goldman Sachs’ employees discuss making money in emails:

“As the U.S. housing turned downward in January 2007, a Goldman Sachs trader wrote in e-mails to a woman he apparently was courting that investments he had sold were “like Frankenstein turning against his own inventor.”

“I’m trading a product which a month ago was worth $100 and today is only worth $93,” wrote Fabrice Tourre, who was charged along with the bank in a civil complaint filed this month by the Securities and Exchange Commission. “That doesn’t seem like a lot but when you take into account … (the investments) are worth billions, well it adds up to a lot of money.”

Tourre was talking about investment products like the one at the heart of a federal complaint against his firm. For Tourre, the investments were like an invention gone awry: He had started arranging them when the market was on the upswing. But he continued selling them after the market turned — now with Goldman betting against them, in one case allegedly misleading investors about a deal’s origin.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. released that e-mail and 25 other internal documents Saturday in response to a Senate panel’s release of messages in which Goldman executives boast about money they were making as the market imploded later in 2007.

When credit rating agencies downgraded many billions of dollars of mortgage-backed investments in October 2007, Goldman executive Donald Mullen was unabashedly pleased.

“Sounds like we will make serious money,” Mullen wrote to Michael Swenson, another executive, in one of the e-mails released by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Goldman has argued vehemently that it did not profit from the mortgage meltdown.

Swenson and Tourre, along with Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, will face a public grilling on Capitol Hill Tuesday from the subcommittee.”

I believe the Senate had previously subpoenaed Goldman Sachs’ records, including the emails that were recently released by Senator Carl Levin:

“The internal e-mails among Goldman executives were released by subcommittee chair Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. In a statement, Levin called banks like Goldman “self-interested promoters of risky and complicated financial schemes that helped trigger the crisis.”

Are documents turned over to Congress pursuant to a subpoena public records? Probably. If so, is there any restriction on their release by Congress in the manner orchestrated by Senator Levin? Probably not, but …

In 1975, a dispute arose between the FTC, a Congressional committee and Ashland Oil regarding documents subpoenaed by Congress that Ashland claimed contained confidential, privileged or proprietary information. The case — Ashland Oil, Inc. v. F.T.C., 179 U.S.App.D.C. 22, 548 F.2d 977 (1976) — authorized the release of confidential information to Congress:

“A federal district court agreed that the data at issue constituted “trade secret” information within the purview of Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. However, the court noted that the restrictions in FOIA do not refer to Congress, and that the information sought in the subpoena was properly within the subcommittee’s jurisdiction.

Finally, the court ruled that Ashland Oil had failed to show that release of the material to the subcommittee would irreparably injure the company. The court rejected the argument that the transfer of the data from the FTC to the subcommittee would lead “inexorably to either public dissemination or disclosure to Ashland’s competitors.” Courts must assume that congressional committees “will exercise their powers responsibly and with due regard for the rights of affected parties.”

That decision was affirmed by the D.C. Circuit.”

It’s not clear if the Goldman Sachs emails contained confidential, privileged or proprietary information. But even if they didn’t, did this Senate subcommittee exercise its powers “responsibly and with due regard for the rights of the affected parties” by releasing selected inflammatory emails prior to the hearing?


The Rodney King Riot: What Happened at Florence and Normandie?

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 9:03 am

Last week, both our host and I posted on the Los Angeles Times’s shameful editorial published on the occasion of former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates’s death. I presented my thoughts at Pajamas Media. The online comments to that piece largely became a debate on the Rodney King riot and its origins, with retired LAPD Lieutenant Michael Moulin on one side and a number of LAPD officers, past and present, on the other. Michael Moulin was the night watch commander at 77th Street Division on April 29, 1992, and it was he who made the decision not to send police officers to the intersection of Florence and Normandie as the rioting erupted. Moulin defends that decision to this day.

Today I have a new piece on Pajamas Media in which I explore the events of that fateful afternoon 18 years ago. You can read it here.

UPDATE: A quote from the PJM piece to spark your interest: “If Michael Moulin had been in command of a platoon on D-Day, he never would have made it off the beach.”

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