The newest betrayal of the American taxpayer took place last week, Chicago-style, as organized labor was paid off to the tune of $60 billion in return for their support of health care reform. While exempting high-premium health insurance plans from the “Cadillac Tax” was publicized as a necessary concession, this was just another facet of this administration’s ongoing assault on the private sector.
. . . we’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system, a system that is currently full of waste and abuse.
President Barack Obama, September 9, 2009
Saving taxpayer dollars by reducing fraud and waste is a campaign trail favorite that never translates into effective policy, as evidenced by the negligible success of initiatives to staunch the flow of public money from Medicare and Medicaid.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, in his quest to set a new benchmark for misrepresenting health care reform legislation to the public, has posted his own summary of a December 10, 2009 report by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the “Baucus Press” section of the Finance Committee website. The release makes the following statement:
“The CMS Actuary found that, as a result of the Senate health care reform bill, the growth rate of national health care costs will begin to decline as cost-saving reforms kick in.
Part I: Benefits for Illegal Immigrants: What Congress Won’t Admit
“The truth is, there’s no plan that has ever been considered under health care reform in Congress that covers illegal immigrants. Nobody has proposed that. And yet, a huge percentage believe that that’s the case. So, anybody listening right now, let’s dispel that myth.”
– President Barack Obama, August 20, 2009
Christmas is over.
With most jobs, experience is a win-win proposition. As you gain experience, that experience pays off for your employer and yourself and increases the value of your skills. This reciprocal relationship between experience and value is a good thing in a free market economy. For example, if you are facing an exquisitely delicate brain surgery, and have a choice between a surgeon who has been doing brain surgery for twenty years and one who is still disoriented from the medical school graduation party, you are going to go with the twenty-year veteran every time, and you will be happy to pay the high fees that those twenty years commands.
With Christmas nearly here, many of us reflect back to what may have been the earliest betrayal of our trust in the world, the discovery that Santa Claus does not exist. There were, of course, no real consequences from this betrayal. My parents remained generous to a fault, with the only visible difference being that the labels on our Christmas gifts no longer said “Santa.” Still, things never felt quite the same after that revelation, as if it had sowed a seed of suspicion that there might be a few, far uglier surprises with real consequences lurking farther down the path.
Pulling back a bit from Friday’s remark that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ November jobs report was the best since 2007,1 the president was appropriately restrained in his assessment during this week’s Saturday morning address. Although he claimed that “. . . the numbers released by the Labor Department reflected a continuing positive trend of diminishing job loss.”,2 even that statement may be more than the numbers deserve, and his words wisely reflected caution.
If it were possible to use a word so many times that it wears out and can never be used again, then “historic” vanished last Sunday morning. Perhaps deciding to decide seems like historic progress to the Senate after months of endless, circular discussion of unpopular fixes for our health care market. In private industry this would be called “project creep,” and heads might roll because of it, but Congress has no frame of reference for such a concept.