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Monday, June 02, 2014

OTP - June 2014: Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.

The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.

Bitter Mouse Posted: June 02, 2014 at 07:48 AM | 4613 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: otp, politics, stupid ideas

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   1201. Lassus Posted: June 08, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4721413)
He promised that ObamaCare wouldn't cause plans to cut doctors - "If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan, you can keep your doctor".

Are you stating that your second (quoted) sentence proves your first sentence's assertion?
   1202. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4721421)
There's evidence of it -- the CBO says so.

Perhaps this would be a good time to note that the CBO has quietly dropped its claim that ObamaCare will reduce the budget deficit. Another broken promise.
   1203. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4721422)
And no, I do not think that Obama really thought it was true. Because even after it was pointed out that it not true he doubled down on it, repeating it at various points along the way and even literally adding "You can keep your plan, PERIOD." to the end of it. How could they keep their old plans, with all of the changes that were being made? It simply wasn't going to happen.
My problem is this: Even when it became clear that not only were there no WMDs found in Iraq AND the evidence the Administration used to prove their case was shaky at best, the President was still making the case that Iraq was only days or weeks away from having nuclear material. Why would he do that? Because that's his position, his entire reason for putting thousands of lives in jeopardy and spending untold billions and all his political chits on the line. Walking away from his position, whether that makes him a liar or not, destroys his presidency.

Obama's doing the same thing. I don't think Obama is actual the Devil, so no, I don't think he was lying. I think he really believed what he said — we've all read the reports of how he would argue with his own health care experts when they told him to stop saying it. I'm sure one of the reasons he believed it was because he had to, what with the ACA still trying to get on its feet and all that.

What makes one guy a liar and the other merely wrong in political arguments almost always ends up following easy ideological lines. Greg in 1197 gets it right; it's as much wish fulfillment as anything else.
   1204. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:16 PM (#4721430)
Because (a) more people are now paying premiums; (b) emergency room treatment is more expensive; and (c) there are a number of cost control mechanisms included in the ACA (e.g., lower insurance company administrative costs).

Yeah, there's no evidence of this.


There's evidence of it -- the CBO says so. You, of course, are free not to accept their judgment.


I wouldn't believe the CBO if thy told me water was wet. And, in fact it's not so.

Health Care Spending Growth Hits 10-year High

There was a slow down in cost increases during the recession and aftermath. That seems to be wearing off, and Obamacare ain't going to help.

Whether or not they pay premiums has zero impact on healthcare cost, it's a CPI factor. It doesn't matter who is paying for it; the change in the price of groceries doesn't vary based on whether people pay cash or use food stamps.

If insurers could lower administrative costs by fiat, they would have done so before. Any reduction in admin costs goes straight to profit.

People with insurance use the emergency room far more. Medicaid studies have shown this.

Keep sticking your fingers in your ear and reciting Obama's campaign slogans, but the reality is that Obamacare is a pure welfare program, and a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the Dems preferred voters and a much smaller number of actual sick people.
   1205. Mefisto Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4721444)
And, in fact it's not so.


One quarter of increase before the ACA deadline doesn't strike me as very persuasive "evidence". Certainly not enough to justify you treating it as a fact. The latest CBO estimate is $9 billion lower than last years.

If insurers could lower administrative costs by fiat, they would have done so before
.

No, because things like community rating are no longer necessary, so the administrative expense of dealing with pre-existing conditions is substantially reduced.

Whether or not they pay premiums has zero impact on healthcare cost


Without getting into whether it affects healthcare costs, it affects health insurance costs.

the reality is that Obamacare is a pure welfare program


If this were only true, I'd be much more supportive of the law. As it is, I'm pretty meh about it.
   1206. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4721446)
I presume many folks here saw that Bill Watterson drew (parts of) 3 comics last week, for the first time in 20 years. And they're excellent.

Calvin & Hobbes is so good.
   1207. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:41 PM (#4721450)
If I had to bet, I would guess Bush did not intentionally deceive; he believed what he was saying. People around Bush lied like crazy to convince him of that, some of them with complete intention to deceive. And Bush deserves criticism for lack of critical judgment.


And the odds Obama did the calculations and arrived at $2500, then completely penned the speech? Really?
   1208. GregD Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4721452)
Bitter, I was not defending Bush or jabbing at Obama--I'm one of the leftier people on the board. My point was broadly that I don't think "lying" is a very useful way to critique any president.

On another issue, this graphic representation of legal and illegal guns used in mass shootings once again shows that the scandal is not what's illegal; it is what is legal.
   1209. bobm Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4721454)
[1205] because things like community rating are no longer necessary,

Community rating is at the heart of ACA.
   1210. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4721456)
If the health-care plan makes people's lives worse--a different question than whether it lives up to inflated promises--then the Dems will no doubt pay a price that keeps on going through 2016 and beyond.

If it's a mixed-bag, then likely 2016 will depend on other factors.

If it is a resounding success by 2016--something I think is practically unlikely--then no one will remember how it was sold.


Exactly. What we're seeing now is little more than a collection of conflicting anecdotes and projections, based on early "returns" which were in turn partly influenced by the website screwups and partly by partisan noise. By 2016 people will have had a lot more first hand interaction with the benefits and liabilities of the ACA than they have today, and a lot more second hand knowledge from friends and relatives who've had similar interaction. And at some point the culmination of that much more direct experience is going to trump all the spinning put out by both sides of this current neo-cultural war.

It's also clear that one side wants the law to succeed, while the other side has every bit as much an emotional stake in wanting it to fail, for purely ideological reasons. Hell, half the kvetchers here likely think we'd also be better off without Social Security and/or Medicare, and that we'd be better off relying on emergency rooms and private charities. It's an anti-government sentiment that extends to just about any and every program that relies on any kind of subsidies, and it's hardly restricted to Obamacare.
   1211. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 08, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4721459)
I presume many folks here saw that Bill Watterson drew (parts of) 3 comics last week, for the first time in 20 years. And they're excellent.

Calvin & Hobbes is so good.


Did you happen to see the backstory behind that? It's actually kind of neat. As is Pearls Before Swine.
   1212. Mefisto Posted: June 08, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4721461)
Community rating is at the heart of ACA.


Yes, I wrote that backwards. I should have said that because there's now community rating, administrative costs are reduced.
   1213. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 08, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4721464)
Bitter, I was not defending Bush or jabbing at Obama--I'm one of the leftier people on the board. My point was broadly that I don't think "lying" is a very useful way to critique any president.


I was taking what you said and extending it in a slightly different direction, though on reread it looks like I am trying to rebut. My bad.
   1214. GregD Posted: June 08, 2014 at 06:16 PM (#4721465)
No problem. I'm sure I misread. I agree that Obama relied on advisers for his figures and probably believed them.
   1215. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 08, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4721494)
Yes, I wrote that backwards. I should have said that because there's now community rating, administrative costs are reduced.

The vast majority of costs are in billing and claim administration. The initial u/w cost has to be trivial. Even in life insurance it only costs ~$250 per new client, and life insurers underwrite far more thoroughly than health insurers.
   1216. Mefisto Posted: June 08, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4721506)
The vast majority of costs are in billing and claim administration.


Yes, and the ACA reduces the costs of that process substantially because there's no incentive for insurers to deny claims base, e.g., on pre-existing conditions (and because administrative costs are capped).
   1217. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 08, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4721507)
Yes, and the ACA reduces the costs of that process substantially because there's no incentive for insurers to deny claims base, e.g., on pre-existing conditions (and because administrative costs are capped).

Of course there is still an incentive to deny claims. There's just one less basis.

Capping costs doesn't actually reduce them, it just shifts the burden of paying.
   1218. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 08, 2014 at 07:26 PM (#4721516)

Did you happen to see the backstory behind that? It's actually kind of neat. As is Pearls Before Swine.


I did. I think the recent work from Watterson raises my hopes that he's been producing comics privately, since the new material - the movie poster, the comics - are as good as any of his stuff from his prime.
   1219. Mefisto Posted: June 08, 2014 at 07:44 PM (#4721525)
Of course there is still an incentive to deny claims. There's just one less basis.


Yes, and that reduces costs. In addition there are other bases which now can't be used to deny claims. That all reduces administrative costs.

Capping costs doesn't actually reduce them, it just shifts the burden of paying.


The insurance companies agreed to the cap, so they're apparently ok with it. But in any case, capping administrative costs incents coverage, which is the goal.
   1220. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 08, 2014 at 07:48 PM (#4721528)
The insurance companies agreed to the cap, so they're apparently ok with it. But in any case, capping administrative costs incents coverage, which is the goal.

Yes, b/c Obamacare effectively guarantees their profit margin, and expands their client base. If claims get too high, and their profit is imperiled, the Gov't bailout money starts flowing.

Yes, and that reduces costs. In addition there are other bases which now can't be used to deny claims. That all reduces administrative costs.

No, not really. They still have to review every claims to see if it is covered, what the reimbursement rate is, etc. This is just one small extra thing to check. I'm sure it's largely automated anyway.
   1221. tshipman Posted: June 08, 2014 at 08:17 PM (#4721546)
I wouldn't believe the CBO if thy told me water was wet. And, in fact it's not so.

Health Care Spending Growth Hits 10-year High


Snapper, that's really silly. A bump in costs was always expected. Why? Because all of a sudden a lot more people have health insurance. Something like 10-12 million (based on the Gallup numbers) have health insurance who didn't have it before.

Adding that many new customers causes a temporary bump in costs, which was expected when the bill was signed and projected.
   1222. Mefisto Posted: June 08, 2014 at 08:20 PM (#4721548)
If claims get too high, and their profit is imperiled, the Gov't bailout money starts flowing.


That's not really accurate. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/01/27/heres-the-deal-with-the-obamacare-bailout/

They still have to review every claims to see if it is covered, what the reimbursement rate is, etc.


The review process is simplified, thus reducing costs. Nor is it accurate to say that the review process was "largely automated" before the ACA. It might well be automated afterwards because the grounds for denial of coverage are so restricted. That's a good thing.
   1223. Lassus Posted: June 08, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4721553)
Did you happen to see the backstory behind that? It's actually kind of neat. As is Pearls Before Swine.

It was a neat story. I have tried to like Pearls Before Swine but simply have been unable to. Maybe if Watterson has that high an opinion I could revisit.
   1224. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 08, 2014 at 08:45 PM (#4721562)
I have tried to like Pearls Before Swine but simply have been unable to. Maybe if Watterson has that high an opinion I could revisit.

Pastis does get into a bit of a rut at times with the crocs, but he always recovers, and I'll always have a soft spot for him because of those elaborate Sunday pun strips. I generally hate (as in hate) puns with a passion because they're usually so obvious, repetitious, and lazy**, but Pastis uses such imagination to build them up to a climax, he's completely worn away my resistance, especially when Rat comes in to complain about them in the last panel. As far as syndicated newspaper strips go, it's not as consistently dead on cynical as Dilbert or as sublime as Tom The Dancing Bug, but given the rest of the competition it's easily among the best ones around today.

** As in Mother Goose and Grimm or anything by Gene Weingarten, who's the lamest humorist this side of Jerry Lewis.
   1225. spike Posted: June 08, 2014 at 10:36 PM (#4721607)
Meanwhile, back at Berghazi....

John McCain: Obama released the ‘jihadists responsible for 9/11' to get Sgt. Bergdahl

Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who was the former top prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, told MSNBC on Saturday that the prisoners released in exchanged for Bergdahl were so inconsequential that he did not even know who they were.

“My role as chief prosecutor was to review the information we had on the detainees to determine which ones we could potentially bring war crimes charges against,” Davis recalled. “When I saw the names of the five individuals, when they were reported last weekend, my first reaction was, ‘Who are they?’”

“I never saw the names before, which means there was not enough information to even make it on our list of potential prosecution,” he explained. “To trade five of them for a U.S. service member, in my estimation, and I’m often critical of President [Barack] Obama, I think they struck a pretty good deal.”
   1226. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 08, 2014 at 11:40 PM (#4721630)
Right. The VA was well funded.


Speaking of lies ...


TShipman, did you read my post 1175 re the funding and do you now concede that the VA was in fact well funded and therefore that if anyone was lying above it was you?
   1227. steagles Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:26 AM (#4721645)
More ominous than anything, though, is the Cavaliers' visit to the White House.

In 2018, the year after his second term ended, Barack Obama remains the President of the United States. He has clearly abolished Constitutional term limits, and God knows what else with it.

   1228. steagles Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:34 AM (#4721646)
   1229. tshipman Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:55 AM (#4721651)
TShipman, did you read my post 1175 re the funding and do you now concede that the VA was in fact well funded and therefore that if anyone was lying above it was you?


No, it's a ridiculous argument. If the Phoenix VA were well funded, they wouldn't have had to resort to fake waiting lists.

I didn't respond because it's pointless to argue with you. There have been bills blocked as recently as this February by Mitch McConnell, who insisted on tying new sanctions for Iran to the bill. (Remember when that was the R pet rock of the moment?)

Just because VA funding has increased does not mean that the VA is adequately funded.
   1230. bobm Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:14 AM (#4721656)
If the Phoenix VA were well funded, they wouldn't have had to resort to fake waiting lists.

Do you know whether the management of the Phoenix VA appropriately allocated the funds it had to medical staff versus administration? Do you know if they had the flexibility to cut non-medical / administrative staff and hire more doctors and nurses?
   1231. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 09, 2014 at 02:00 AM (#4721660)
If the Phoenix VA were well funded, they wouldn't have had to resort to fake waiting lists.

Well, who can argue with such a well-researched argument that discusses the actual budget in detail? The legislative director of the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, for one:
Since 2009, Congress has given Secretary Eric Shinseki every penny he has said he needed to fund the VA fully, resulting in an astonishing 50% increase in the agency's overall budget at a time when budgets everywhere else across the federal government have been squeezed, strained and slashed. Congress even exempted the VA from sequestration, a win that not even the Pentagon managed to score while still engaged in a war overseas.

Congress also agreed to take the extraordinary step of giving the VA the annual funding it needs to cover veterans' health care a year in advance so that the agency's hospitals and clinics never run out of money. It is the reason the VA's health care system continued to operate without interruption during last fall's government shutdown, even as parks, federal buildings and congressional offices were forced to close or curtail operations for weeks.
. . .
A lack of resources within the VA is not to blame for the failures of that department, and even if it were, the responsibility for that underfunding would lay solely at the feet of the secretary due to his inadequate budget requests, not with Congress.

RTFA, and there are lots of similar ones out there. Congress appropriated every penny the Obama Administration asked for, so if money is the problem, it seems that tshipman is suggesting the Obama Administration seriously misled Congress.
   1232. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 09, 2014 at 02:19 AM (#4721661)
More evidence that the VA Scandal isn't a funding problem:
The VA's budget has been exploding, even as the number of veterans steadily declines. From 2000 to 2013, outlays nearly tripled, while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million. Medical care spending — which consumes about 40% of the VA's budget — has climbed 193% over those years, while the number of patients served by the VA each year went up just 68%, according to data from the VA.

From 2008 to 2012 alone, per-patient spending at the VA climbed 27%. To put that in perspective, per capita health spending nationwide rose just 13% during those years. And per-enrollee spending for Medicare went up only 10%, government data show.

Some will argue that the increase in health spending was the direct result of all those wounded warriors coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. But these vets aren't driving VA costs higher. A Congressional Budget Office report found that they cost $4,800, on average, in 2010 compared with $8,800 for other veterans who used the system. It also found that while these Iraq and Afghan vets account for 7% of those treated, they were responsible for only 4% of its health costs. Iraq and Afghan vets, the report found, "are typically younger and healthier than the average VHA patient and as a result are less expensive to treat." [emphasis added]

BTW, when is Obama going to do anything about all the officials that lied to Shinseki?
   1233. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 09, 2014 at 02:27 AM (#4721662)
The real crime is that the VA ran like a well-oiled machine up until January 20, 2009.
   1234. caprules Posted: June 09, 2014 at 03:29 AM (#4721666)
Do you know if they had the flexibility to cut non-medical / administrative staff and hire more doctors and nurses?


12 layers of management is just crazy. I work at a company with 63k employees and I think there are about 7 levels from frontline to CEO.
   1235. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:44 AM (#4721681)
12 layers of management is just crazy. I work at a company with 63k employees and I think there are about 7 levels from frontline to CEO.

My company has ~25K and 7 layers sounds about right. Might be 8 someplace. Probably less than 7 in the sales force.
   1236. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:02 AM (#4721689)

My company has ~25K and 7 layers sounds about right. Might be 8 someplace. Probably less than 7 in the sales force.


Nature of exponents - if each manager can manage only 5 subordinates, 7 layers gets you to 15,625 employees . . .
   1237. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4721691)
No, it's a ridiculous argument. If the Phoenix VA were well funded, they wouldn't have had to resort to fake waiting lists.


Odd. I would think that to determine whether something was well funded, one would.... look at the amount of the funding.

I didn't respond because it's pointless to argue with you. There have been bills blocked as recently as this February by Mitch McConnell, who insisted on tying new sanctions for Iran to the bill. (Remember when that was the R pet rock of the moment?)

Just because VA funding has increased does not mean that the VA is adequately funded.


But the amount of funding does.
   1238. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4721697)
Nature of exponents - if each manager can manage only 5 subordinates, 7 layers gets you to 15,625 employees . . .

Who says each manager can manage only 5? My boss has 7 directs. In a call-center or sales branch, for example, a manager might have 20 or 30 direct reports.
   1239. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:20 AM (#4721698)
No, it's a ridiculous argument. If the Phoenix VA were well funded, they wouldn't have had to resort to fake waiting lists.

There's no possibility that the Phoenix management was incompetent or corrupt? Or more interested in plumping up administrators salaries than hiring medical staff?
   1240. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:31 AM (#4721704)
Again, my understanding one of the problems is allocation of resources. So in the midwest there is plenty of beds and doctors, but in places the Veterans have been migrating (like AZ) there are shortages. It is not that the entire system is short of resources at all, so looking at the entire system funding is silly (Unless you plan on force marching Veterans back North or something).

Also bureaucracy is odd. Some organization (Governmental and private) are vertical with many layers and "title creep", where many people in management roles have roughly equivalent managerial responsibilities other than direct reports, and other organizations are really flat.

There is no perfect organizational structure. It may be the VA managerial structure is bad, but just counting layers is a fairly dumb way of deciding that. It would require a bit more study than that to get an informed opinion of the organization.
   1241. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:39 AM (#4721708)
Again, my understanding one of the problems is allocation of resources. So in the midwest there is plenty of beds and doctors, but in places the Veterans have been migrating (like AZ) there are shortages. It is not that the entire system is short of resources at all, so looking at the entire system funding is silly (Unless you plan on force marching Veterans back North or something).

But, that's on VA management. They should be able to lay-off staff in the Midwest, and add staff in the sun-belt.

If they can't, b/c of union contracts or whatever, that's not a funding problem. Hell, even GM is allowed to close plants and force workers to relocate or lose their jobs, under the UAW contract.
   1242. bobm Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:40 AM (#4721710)
There is no perfect organizational structure. It may be the VA managerial structure is bad, but just counting layers is a fairly dumb way of deciding that.

What about the inability to reallocate resources due to pushback from the unions and politicians who do not want to close facilities in their congressional districts?
   1243. Ron J2 Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4721718)
#1158 The problem is that recruiting primary care physicians is tricky. They generally can't pay the going rate, and working conditions (in particular case load) are problematic. I think there's every reason to believe they're recruiting aggressively but unsuccessfully. As noted in the article I linked to, the number of primary care physicians did go up by 6% -- and this is in spite of high turnover. There's a secondary issue in that they're replacing experienced staff with (generally) junior doctors. That's likely to matter.

That said, the whole issue of -- we have money in the budget and can't spend it on the intended purpose (hiring doctors in this case) so let's spend it (or lose it) on something else is a real (and long standing) problem. It would have been better if the money had been set aside specifically for doctors.
   1244. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:00 AM (#4721722)
Here's a pol for Clapper:

Poll: Hillary Clinton a strong leader
Do you think Hillary Clinton . . . ?

A strong leader... Yes-67%, No 31%

   1245. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:04 AM (#4721724)
1241 & 1242: Reallocating capacity from one region of the country to another costs time and money, and is not trivial. I have no idea if they are doing it well or poorly, and your assumptions that any problems are automatically unions, management or whatever seems more than a little unfair. It could be those, but those are just random guesses which include various hobby horses.
   1246. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4721726)
1241 & 1242: Reallocating capacity from one region of the country to another costs time and money, and is not trivial. I have no idea if they are doing it well or poorly, and your assumptions that any problems are automatically unions, management or whatever seems more than a little unfair. It could be those, but those are just random guesses which include various hobby horses.

Well, what else could it be? There budgets have increased dramatically. The money seems to be there. If it's not deployed properly, that's either poor management, or other constraints (unions, politics).

In the short term, they could alleviate overcrowding in the sun-belt by referring Medicare eligible vets (more than 50%) to private hospitals and physicians. But, they don't want to do that because it threatens their "market share" and future budgets.
   1247. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4721728)
Well, what else could it be?


Lack of physical resources (clinics/beds). Lack of available Doctors, Nurses, and other personnel. There are plenty of reasons there could be problems.

I agree it is a scandal (Ray thinks otherwise), but it is not necessarily a scandal that is system wide or that reflects long cherished conservative anti-government stereotypes. Sure it could be everything terrible about government writ large in the Socialistic VA system, but it also may not be that.

I was planning to read more on the whole thing, but it ended up being a really busy weekend and I did not have time.
   1248. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4721731)
In the short term, they could alleviate overcrowding in the sun-belt by referring Medicare eligible vets (more than 50%) to private hospitals and physicians. But, they don't want to do that because it threatens their "market share" and future budgets.

Except that they are.

....President Obama said in remarks after Shinseki’s resignation that the Veterans Health Administration needs a new culture in which “bad news gets surfaced quickly so things can be fixed.”

Gibson echoed those sentiments Thursday and outlined steps VA has taken to correct its scheduling practices and resolve treatment delays in Phoenix. He said the agency:

?Contacted all veterans on the unofficial wait list to help them schedule appointments.

?Began work to contract with private clinics that can help VA deliver timely care.

?Deployed mobile medical units to see more patients.

?Started the administrative process required for removing three senior officials at the Phoenix center....
   1249. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4721734)
Lack of physical resources (clinics/beds). Lack of available Doctors, Nurses, and other personnel. There are plenty of reasons there could be problems.

Right, but they have the ability to send patients to non-VA facilities. Many of their patient shave insurance, i.e. Medicare.

If the backlog is that great, they should start referring people with serious conditions to private facilities.

Except that they are.


Now that the scandal has broken, sure. They should have done this 4+ years ago.
   1250. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4721735)
Obama is the worst communist ever. I'm starting to think he isn't even Muslim.
   1251. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:34 AM (#4721741)
But, they don't want to do that because it threatens their "market share" and future budgets.

Except that they are.

Now that the scandal has broken, sure


But I thought that "they don't want to do that," clearly implying that they won't. Make up your mind.
   1252. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:35 AM (#4721743)
They should have done this 4+ years ago.


Like I said it is a real scandal. It is obvious things were done that shouldn't have been done, and things were likely not done that should have been done. President Obama is responsible for fixing the mess, even if he and his administration did not create it, it came to light during his term in office. It is a scandal.

But let's not assume the entire VA is terrible, corrupt, beholden to evil union contracts or whatever. Let's look at the problems and hold people accountable for those problems and see that it is fixed.

This is very different than Benghazi! or IRSGate or PhoneGate or the most horrific ill-advised Rose Garden Ceremony PR disaster ever. This is a real problem and it needs to be fixed.
   1253. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4721748)
Again, my understanding one of the problems is allocation of resources. So in the midwest there is plenty of beds and doctors, but in places the Veterans have been migrating (like AZ) there are shortages. It is not that the entire system is short of resources at all, so looking at the entire system funding is silly


This is a dishonest argument. Looking at the entire system funding - which I did - is exactly the correct way to answer whether the system was well funded. If the problem was allocation of resources, that is not a funding problem; it's a mismanagement problem, and perhaps a structural problem in that the system that socialists like Bernie Sanders were trumpeting routinely before the "scandal" broke wasn't the utopian fairy world they thought it was. No shock there. This is government.
   1254. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4721751)
I agree it is a scandal (Ray thinks otherwise),


It's not a scandal. It's government. And to the extent one might classify it as a scandal it's certainly not an Obama scandal. I don't assign blame to presidents just because something happened on his watch. He's got a million things to do, and can't be expected to micro-manage everything. Now that it's come to his attention he's taking steps to address it. I don't know what else people want from him on this score.

No, the thing to note about this, in my view, is that socialists like Sanders were touting the VA system as a paradise. Liberals like Krugman fell in lock step. The system was -- despite TShipman's lies -- well funded, not controversial, nobody was trying to sabotage it. And yet it sucked.
   1255. Lassus Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4721752)
No, the thing to note about this, in my view, is that socialists blah blah blah...

Drink?
   1256. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4721755)
...the system that socialists...

Drink?


Only a watered-down one, since IIRC Sanders does identify as socialist.
   1257. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4721758)
...the system that socialists blah blah blah...

Drink?


Why did you cut that off there? I said socialists "like Sanders." And he is one. Of that there is no doubt.

   1258. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4721761)
If the problem was allocation of resources, that is not a funding problem; it's a mismanagement problem


Right, which has little to do with the total budget, exactly like I said. And allocation problems happen all the time in private business also. It means mistakes have been made, but mistakes are hardly only found in government. And those mistakes will cost money to fix, no matter the current total budget, just like they do in private business.
   1259. GregD Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4721764)
Only a watered-down one, since IIRC Sanders does identify as socialist.
Yes calling Sanders a socialist is entirely different than calling Obama or someone else a socialist since Sanders both calls himself one and has policy ideas that are explicitly and proudly socialistic. On the whole his platform seems to be more Scandinavian social democratic than actually socialist (and the Scandinavians are extremely successful capitalists either despite or because of their social democracy), but still his self-definition is clear.
   1260. Lassus Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4721769)
I was confusing him with Bernie Madoff, I think. Whoops.
   1261. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4721776)
But I thought that "they don't want to do that," clearly implying that they won't. Make up your mind.

They don't "want to do that", they're being forced to by the scandal. It's not in their institutional interest to farm out patients, but now they have to.
   1262. Ron J2 Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4721786)
#1197 I don't think people around Bush lied like crazy. It's more subtle than that.

It was more like, "Give us everything you have". And then cherry picking that which supported the case for war.

Thing is that intelligence really can't work that way. You can find a source for almost anything. But you try to get a picture by taking into account everything. The Bush people simply disregarded that which did not support what they believed (see also Team B for an earlier example of Cheney doing this)

The one case I can see for a clear lie comes in Britain. The intel was in fact "sexed up" (Kelly was right about this, just wrong about who was doing it. It was done by the head of MI6 rather -- telling the politicians what they wanted to hear. Kelly assumed that it happened later in the chain because he knew what MI6 knew)
   1263. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:18 AM (#4721788)
I was confusing him with Bernie Madoff, I think. Whoops.


Might as well throw Bernie Carbo, Bernie Williams & Bernie Parent in there while you're at it.
   1264. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4721796)
If the problem was allocation of resources, that is not a funding problem; it's a mismanagement problem

Right, which has little to do with the total budget, exactly like I said.


No, exactly like I said. And TShipman disputed it.

And allocation problems happen all the time in private business also.


Who cares? I wasn't talking about private business. But we know that people in private business have more accountability and incentive to do well than people in government, so I'm not sure what your point was.
   1265. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4721798)
f the problem was allocation of resources, that is not a funding problem; it's a mismanagement problem, and perhaps a structural problem in that the system that socialists like Bernie Sanders were trumpeting routinely before the "scandal" broke wasn't the utopian fairy world they thought it was. No shock there. This is government.


How, exactly, do you propose to replace the current VA system with a less "socialist" model, Ray? How do you propose that the free market fairy solve for injured veterans of war?
   1266. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4721800)
But we know that people in private business have more accountability and incentive to do well than people in government


False. Or at least begging the question. It's times like these that I wonder if Ray has ever worked in the private sector at large. "Failing up" is a massive thing in corporate America, at both the middle management and upper management level. At the C-levels it's virtually impossible to fail out of a better paying job.
   1267. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4721801)
#1197 I don't think people around Bush lied like crazy. It's more subtle than that.

It was more like, "Give us everything you have". And then cherry picking that which supported the case for war.

Thing is that intelligence really can't work that way. You can find a source for almost anything. But you try to get a picture by taking into account everything. The Bush people simply disregarded that which did not support what they believed (see also Team B for an earlier example of Cheney doing this)


Yes.
   1268. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4721802)
How, exactly, do you propose to replace the current VA system with a less "socialist" model, Ray? How do you propose that the free market fairy solve for injured veterans of war?

You could make all veterans Medicare eligible (regardless of age) and have the Feds pick up the part-B tab for anyone with injuries sustained in the service.

Alternatively, the Feds could just buy them all private insurance. There are lots of options that don't involve the Federal Gov't owning hospitals.
   1269. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4721807)
You could make all veterans Medicare eligible (regardless of age) and have the Feds pick up the part-B tab for anyone with injuries sustained in the service.

Alternatively, the Feds could just buy them all private insurance. There are lots of options that don't involve the Federal Gov't owning hospitals.


I doubt this satisfies Ray's "no socialism" bar. What you're doing here is setting up incentives for government contractors (the hospitals) to jack the #### out of rates and then rely on the shitty politics of "you're not willing to pay for veteran's care?!" to make sure that no one ever questions those rates.
   1270. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4721809)
I don't have a "no socialism" bar for the VA. Just pointing out how crappy the system was despite the fact that it was being trumpeted.
   1271. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4721819)
It is obvious things were done that shouldn't have been done, and things were likely not done that should have been done. President Obama is responsible for fixing the mess, even if he and his administration did not create it, it came to light during his term in office. It is a scandal.

If you run on a platform of improving VA services, and your transition team identifies patient waiting times & data integrity as issues, but you don't do anything about them despite significant funding increases, you can't duck responsibility. It's on Obama & his team. And if you believe the Obama administration version - that Shinseki was systematically lied to - when are people going to be held accountable?
   1272. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4721821)
But I thought that "they don't want to do that," clearly implying that they won't. Make up your mind.

They don't "want to do that", they're being forced to by the scandal. It's not in their institutional interest to farm out patients, but now they have to.


Sort of like insurance companies that used to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, only now they can't, thanks to the law that you folks want to repeal.
   1273. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4721822)
I doubt this satisfies Ray's "no socialism" bar. What you're doing here is setting up incentives for government contractors (the hospitals) to jack the #### out of rates and then rely on the shitty politics of "you're not willing to pay for veteran's care?!" to make sure that no one ever questions those rates.

I would think insuring as large a pool as all US veterans, you could get some very competitive bids from private insurers, and be able to set whatever care standards you want (to be reflected in the price). The insurers would then make sure the hospitals didn't gouge them, as they do today with their corporate coverage.

The Feds could even self-insure, and just hire a private insurer to administer the plan, as thousands of big businesses do.
   1274. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4721826)
Sort of like insurance companies that used to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, only now they can't, thanks to the law that you folks want to repeal.

Insurers have the incentive to deliver the care the contract calls for, and only that care. So, if your contract excludes pre-existing conditions, of course they have the incentive not to pay those.

Prohibiting that, and imposing community rating, just shifts the cost to someone else. So now, relatively poor, young people, will be subsidizing the coverage for richer old people. A true triumph of progressivism.
   1275. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4721837)
I would think insuring as large a pool as all US veterans, you could get some very competitive bids from private insurers, and be able to set whatever care standards you want (to be reflected in the price).


This IS true for prescription drugs. The USG gets the most competitive prices on those, better than private insurers and hospitals.
   1276. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4721838)
Prohibiting that, and imposing community rating, just shifts the cost to someone else. So now, relatively poor, young people, will be subsidizing the coverage for richer old people. A true triumph of progressivism.


Health care costs money. The money comes from somewhere, and here the case is the healthy subsidize the unhealthy. If you are concerned about rich and poor, well so am I, but that is more about taxation and other policies, IMO.
   1277. GregD Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4721842)
#1197 I don't think people around Bush lied like crazy. It's more subtle than that.

It was more like, "Give us everything you have". And then cherry picking that which supported the case for war.

Thing is that intelligence really can't work that way. You can find a source for almost anything. But you try to get a picture by taking into account everything. The Bush people simply disregarded that which did not support what they believed (see also Team B for an earlier example of Cheney doing this)
You raise a good point but there's an additional level.

After scooping all the things that confirmed what they said, they went to war against every piece of information that conflicted with it and tried to undermine that information and the people who dared to bring it up. And then told the president that they had found the best-possible information. That's the point where you get beyond confirmation bias and into willfully stacking the deck and then misleading people about the process that created the information.

I agree that most people around Cheney probably either believed there were WMD in Iraq or didn't care. I doubt many of them had certainty that there were no WMD. In that sense, it wasn't a lie.

But they didn't simply parrot their points. They distorted the process, shut out other information that they knew was based on more-reliable sources, and then lied about the process they had used to obtain information.

Still and all, it's the outcome that matters. If Saddam had WMD, or if the Iraq war had been a resounding success, the lies involved in creating it wouldn't be that meaningful. And if they had told the truth and led us into disaster, that wouldn't mitigate the disaster.
   1278. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4721843)
Health care costs money. The money comes from somewhere, and here the case is the healthy subsidize the unhealthy. If you are concerned about rich and poor, well so am I, but that is more about taxation and other policies, IMO.

Well, why do you care more about the unhealthy than the poor? Why should a 28 y.o. making $30K be forced to subsidize a 55 y.o. making $75K?

The taxation to fund all your grand progressive ideas never actually hit the true rich who are making out like bandits (the 0.1%). It always falls on the middle class and upper middle class people who have done all the things we want citizen to do (education, working hard, etc., etc.,) but still have to pay the freight for everyone else.
   1279. GregD Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4721855)
Well, why do you care more about the unhealthy than the poor? Why should a 28 y.o. making $30K be forced to subsidize a 55 y.o. making $75K?


Do your numbers make sense on their face? Can't a 28 year old sign up for catastrophic coverage, as can anyone under 30? If that's what he does, then isn't he simply bearing the cost of what he would have imposed on society had he become seriously injured without Obamacare? Depending on where he lives, he will receive tax credit subsidies of varying sizes, from small in some states (maybe zero in really poor states) to substantial in others.

And it's odd that your economic populism doesn't seem to embrace the increased Medicare payroll taxes on families who make over $250,000, which is the primary individual-based funding mechanism for Obamacare.

Families who make over $250,000 in taxable income are among the top 6-7% of all earners.

I would be in favor of stepping that more toward the top 2-3% if there's a viable way to do that. I am also very much in favor of taxing capital gains more heavily to make sure that the wealthy who don't report much income have to come on the books.

There are different ways to skin the cat.

But if your position is that you're only interested in taxing the 0.1%, you aren't an economic populist, since you can't get enough from them to have an impact.

And if your point is that taxing high-income people is bad since some people avoid it, therefore we shouldn't do anything, then you're absolutely not an economic populist. You're someone looking to call himself an economic populist without supporting any positions consonant with economic populism. That's okay, but you should be honest about it.
   1280. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4721860)
Well, why do you care more about the unhealthy than the poor? Why should a 28 y.o. making $30K be forced to subsidize a 55 y.o. making $75K?

He has no moral right to monetize his relative youth.

Or to externalize the costs of not insuring himself. Since we won't enforce his decision against him by letting him die if he needs emergency room care, the market mechanism is hopelessly broken down, making it imperative that society step in.
   1281. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4721871)
#1197 I don't think people around Bush lied like crazy. It's more subtle than that.


Actually, it was less subtle. Dubya fecklessly let Cheney make key administration cabinet hires. Fatally, one of them was Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney's old buddy from the Watergate days. Rumsfeld then hired Wolfowitz as his assistant, who then hired Douglas Feith (who one high Pentagon general once described as "the dumbest ############ who ever walked the planet"), who hired Richard Perle. Once this group was assembled, the Iraq War was a foregone conclusion. 9/11 actually interrupted the timetable. This group tried to rescue the situation by claiming that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Cheney still claims this, which is absolutely absurd because Saddam was anathema to Al Queda as a secular/apostate dictator and Sammda would not tolerate any power structure in his country that he did not directly control (it is instructive to remember than the little fundamentalist Islamist activity occurring from Iraq was being conducted by Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdist separatist group that was directly opposed to Saddam and was out of his reach because it operated north of the no-fly demarcation line).

So it wasn't really cherry-picking, because there was never any objective evidence at all that Saddam had WoMD. All there was was heresay and intelligence from guys like Chalabi, who worked the prejudices of the Rumsfeld cabal like a maestro works his baton. What it was was a grasping at a straw and running with it. What the Bush admin. insisted Powell tell the UN, tht there was conclusive proof of Saddam's weapons, was a flat-out lie. And the same lie was given the American people.

And let's not forget the deliberate silencing of any dissenting voices. The Bush Admin. was not really interested in a disinterested debate. They had already made up their minds and were going ahead regardless of the evidence.
   1282. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4721873)
Haven't you heard? Rik is dead! The People's Poet is dead!
   1283. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4721875)
Hearing Hillary Clinton talk about "the cancer of inequality" should be as fun as hearing the charlatan John Edwards talk about "Two Americas."

But liberals bought what Edwards was selling and will surely do the same with the nonsense Hillary will dish out come election time.

From the NY Post:

The Clintons went on to earn an astonishing $109 million between 2000 and 2007, according to disclosure reports. They paid $34 million in taxes over that time frame — more like a third than half.

The Clintons also purchased a $2.9 million home off DC’s Embassy Row, from which Hillary Clinton conducted the Sawyer interview.

Clinton described her struggles when pressed by Sawyer on why she gives speeches for a reported $200,000 a pop.

“I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than getting connected with any one group or company as so many people who leave public life do,” Clinton said in a dig at former colleagues who go into lobbying or consulting.

That hasn’t kept her from lending her name to a variety of corporations, including Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, the Carlyle Group, a chain drug store association, and a realtors’ group.

She has reportedly earned $5 million giving speeches of her own — a figure Clinton did not dispute during the interview.

She also earned more than $10 million from her 2003 memoir, “Living History.”

   1284. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4721878)
But if your position is that you're only interested in taxing the 0.1%, you aren't an economic populist, since you can't get enough from them to have an impact.

And if your point is that taxing high-income people is bad since some people avoid it, therefore we shouldn't do anything, then you're absolutely not an economic populist. You're someone looking to call himself an economic populist without supporting any positions consonant with economic populism. That's okay, but you should be honest about it.


My position is that I'll agree to higher taxes on the top 20% or even 50%, but only if you get the top 0.1% to pay their fair share first, and make other systematic changes to help labor.

I am pointedly not OK with billionaires, and multi, multi-millionaire buying the votes of the poor and working class with other peoples' tax dollars.

It's obscene that a 2 income couple in NYC could face a marginal tax rate of nearly 50%, while hedge fund owner pays 15%, and a Buffett or a Gates pays nothing unless they feel like it.

A good start would be to index capital gains for inflation, and then tax them, like regular income. Likewise, make dividends deductible for corporations, and tax as regular income. I'd also be OK with a small wealth tax over, say, $10M in assets, and eliminating charitable trusts entirely.
   1285. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4721880)
The Clintons went on to earn an astonishing $109 million between 2000 and 2007, according to disclosure reports. They paid $34 million in taxes over that time frame — more like a third than half.


How many people that make that much money pay that much in taxes? Not guys like Romney, that's for sure.
   1286. Mefisto Posted: June 09, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4721881)
Ditto 1284.
   1287. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4721882)
He has no moral right to monetize his relative youth.

Or to externalize the costs of not insuring himself. Since we won't enforce his decision against him by letting him die if he needs emergency room care, the market mechanism is hopelessly broken down, making it imperative that society step in.


So, mandate catastrophic coverage, then.

Though I object to your premise. People monetize physical characteristics every day.
   1288. GregD Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4721883)
My position is that I'll agree to higher taxes on the top 20% or even 50%, but only if you get the top 0.1% to pay their fair share first, and make other systematic changes to help labor.
That makes sense but isn't responsive directly to an ACA tax that affects the top 6-7%. Democrats were not willing to back a tax that would reach down to the top 20-25% for better or worse. In terms of fair share, obviously perfection is ideal, but you are opposing taxes that pointedly do reach up into the highest brackets on the grounds that they don't reach the highest brackets enough. Okay, but your alternative--status quo--reaches them even less, which is why I raised the question of whether you actually cared about raising taxes for the top, say, 5 percent. I do even though I am among them.


I am pointedly not OK with billionaires, and multi, multi-millionaire buying the votes of the poor and working class with other peoples' tax dollars.
You say this but the evidence for it seems very weak. In fact the vast majority of billionaires who give money seem to be spending it to repeal the very taxes you claim won't affect them. Of course some billionaires support the Democrats, but do you really think the evidence of the last 4 years is that billionaires are huge Democratic Party and ACA boosters?


It's obscene that a 2 income couple in NYC could face a marginal tax rate of nearly 50%, while hedge fund owner pays 15%, and a Buffett or a Gates pays nothing unless they feel like it.

A good start would be to index capital gains for inflation, and then tax them, like regular income. Likewise, make dividends deductible for corporations, and tax as regular income. I'd also be OK with a small wealth tax over, say, $10M in assets, and eliminating charitable trusts entirely.

I'd need to think more about the wealth tax and corporation tax changes but am with the general program.

And I'm also with raising capital gains rates.

I wonder which party is more likely to support that?
   1289. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4721884)
How many people that make that much money pay that much in taxes? Not guys like Romney, that's for sure.

Very few. They were unlucky to have it all as wage or fee income, not as cap gains.

They still paid a lower average tax rate than most of us do.
   1290. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4721886)
not as cap gains.


Or the bullshit that is carried interest.
   1291. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:08 PM (#4721887)
That makes sense but isn't responsive directly to an ACA tax that affects the top 6-7%. Democrats were not willing to back a tax that would reach down to the top 20-25% for better or worse. In terms of fair share, obviously perfection is ideal, but you are opposing taxes that pointedly do reach up into the highest brackets on the grounds that they don't reach the highest brackets enough. Okay, but your alternative--status quo--reaches them even less, which is why I raised the question of whether you actually cared about raising taxes for the top, say, 5 percent. I do even though I am among them.

I don't "care" in the sense that I think it's a good thing, in and of itselfe. The top 10% to 1% (where I assume you fall, as I do), is already over-taxed.

I'm OK with taxing them (us) more, if the money is going towards true structural change. e.g. non-refundable SS tax credits for working families with children, or tax subsidies for good blue collar jobs.

I am not OK with it just to pump up, and patch up, the existing welfare state.

You say this but the evidence for it seems very weak. In fact the vast majority of billionaires who give money seem to be spending it to repeal the very taxes you claim won't affect them. Of course some billionaires support the Democrats, but do you really think the evidence of the last 4 years is that billionaires are huge Democratic Party and ACA boosters?


More very wealthy people support the Democrats than the Republicans these days.

I wonder which party is more likely to support that?

Neither.
   1292. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4721889)
Well, why do you care more about the unhealthy than the poor? Why should a 28 y.o. making $30K be forced to subsidize a 55 y.o. making $75K?


I don't care more about them, but when enacting health care (and health insurance) legislation the unhealthy are the ... you know ... one of the main topics. So that is what you want to deal with. Income disparities (and many other policy choices) need to be dealt with (and have been to one degree or another dealt with).

It is not some choice where it is only A or B, but in each piece of legislation, especially one as complex and far reaching as ACA, you really have to focus a bit. People already complain about how large ACA was, you can't include more in it (or perhaps shouldn't).
   1293. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4721892)
How many people that make that much money pay that much in taxes? Not guys like Romney, that's for sure.


The capital gains tax rate is 15% so yeah, the Clintons pay way more than just about anybody else in their tax bracket. Over 2010-2011, Romney paid between 13.5-14%. But that's just what he reported. Nobody really knows how much he has stashed in Switzerland or the Bahamas or Bemuda or wherever that he's earning a tidy return on.
   1294. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4721893)
Or the bullshit that is carried interest.

Well, yes. But that's because carried interest is defined as a cap gain.

By IRS fiat, BTW. Which Obama could change tomorrow if he wanted to.

Not only Republicans are bought and paid for by the Plutocrats.
   1295. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4721894)
I am not OK with it just to pump up, and patch up, the existing welfare state.


Well I am. The current safety net is not perfect, but it is better than all the politically feasible choices I have heard about.

More very wealthy people support the Democrats than the Republicans these days.


This is a slippery assertion, and likely not true without some arguable definitions of "very wealthy" and "support".
   1296. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4721895)
It always cracks me up when conservatives go bonkers when they see liberals making a lot of money and using that money to further their political causes. It's like they think the rules should only work for them. They fulminate about George Soros constantly.
   1297. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4721896)
I don't care more about them, but when enacting health care (and health insurance) legislation the unhealthy are the ... you know ... one of the main topics. So that is what you want to deal with. Income disparities (and many other policy choices) need to be dealt with (and have been to one degree or another dealt with).

It is not some choice where it is only A or B, but in each piece of legislation, especially one as complex and far reaching as ACA, you really have to focus a bit. People already complain about how large ACA was, you can't include more in it (or perhaps shouldn't).


I'm sympathetic to the idea that people with pre-exisiting conditions deserve help. But, wouldn't it have been much simpler to propose a subsidy for people with pre-exisiting conditions, say a refundable-tax credit, and fund it out of general revenue?

Of course that wouldn't have allowed the facade that Obamacare was free.
   1298. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4721897)
They still paid a lower average tax rate than most of us do.


If that's true (and it's not true for me despite a 6 figure income), it's likely due to the payroll tax cap. I'm not sure I'd like to change that. Property taxes probably figure into this as well. Someone earning $10 million /year is likely to have property worth well more than someone making $100 K, but it's not going to be 100 times more.
   1299. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4721901)
Sort of like insurance companies that used to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, only now they can't, thanks to the law that you folks want to repeal.

Insurers have the incentive to deliver the care the contract calls for, and only that care. So, if your contract excludes pre-existing conditions, of course they have the incentive not to pay those.


Well, duh. Which was exactly one of the problems that the ACA addresses, unless you don't think it was a problem that insurance companies could refuse coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, or jack up the premiums for the ones they deigned to insure.

Prohibiting that, and imposing community rating, just shifts the cost to someone else. So now, relatively poor, young people, will be subsidizing the coverage for richer old people. A true triumph of progressivism.

Insurance companies can still charge 60 year olds more than 25 year olds, but only three times as much rather than five. I suppose that this is your idea of a scandal.

I also find it strange that someone who writes incessantly about the decline of community over the past 50 years would be so opposed to the idea of subsidizing the premiums of those in need of it. Or does your concept of community only apply to nuclear families and neighborhood parishes, and disappear whenever you see the "socialist" boogeyman in your crosshairs?
   1300. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4721902)
I'm waiting for Ray's reaction when Hillary uses the money she earned as author and speaker to fund a successful presidential campaign, then changes the tax code to 50% for the highest 1%, wiping out the budget deficit and funding expansions in healthcare, education, job training and unemployment benefits.
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