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Posted at 6:46 AM ET, 12/15/2010

Wonkbook: Senate will vote on tax deal today; House looks to change estate provisions; Admin's housing plans criticized

By Ezra Klein

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If you're a deficit hawk, today's Wonkbook won't be easy reading for you. We lead with the tax vote, of course. The $858 billion package does more damage to the deficit than anything other piece of legislation passed during the Obama presidency. It's also expected to receive the largest bipartisan majority of any major piece of legislation the Senate has considered in the last two years.

The lame-duck Congress is also likely to pass an omnibus spending bill that's chockfull of earmarks -- and plenty of them are going to Republican senators like Mitch McConnell, who've now come out against the practice, and many of them were requested by Democratic senators even after the White House begged them to give up on the earmarks this year. It's not exactly a great sign if you were hoping an earmark moratorium would stick. And nor is it a great sign if you're looking for divided government to be more fiscally responsible. The only thing Democrats and Republicans really seem able to agree on is spending money.

Top Stories

Senate Democrats have delayed their vote on the tax deal till this afternoon, reports Lori Montgomery: "Senate leaders...postponed a vote on the $858 billion package until Wednesday afternoon. Despite the delay, the measure was expected to sail through the Senate with even stronger support than it received in a test vote this week, when 83 senators voted to advance the package in the strongest bipartisan vote on a major initiative since President Obama took office."

But House Democrats want to change the estate tax portion of the deal before passing it. "After meeting for two hours with rank-and-file lawmakers late Tuesday, senior Democrats said the House is likely to stage votes to change the terms of a revived estate tax that many Democrats view as overly generous to the wealthy. Outraged by the agreement to exempt individual estates worth as much as $5 million from taxation, senior Democrats said they would press to lower the threshold to $3.5 million. They also want to impose a stiffer tax on larger estates, by setting the rate at 45 percent rather than the 35 percent demanded by Republicans and agreed to by Obama. Those are the same terms that were in effect in 2009."

House leadership member Rep. Chris van Hollen makes the case against the deal's estate tax provisions: "The Kyl estate tax provision will not help economic growth or jobs, and it was not even necessary to the core deal. It was added in exchange for extending certain tax credits that were included in the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but it was fundamentally not a fair trade. The cost of the tax credits and the cost of what would have been the common-sense estate tax compromise are essentially the same - a fair and equal trade. But instead of striking that deal, the administration acceded to Kyl's long-standing quest to give a huge break to the top three-tenths of 1 percent of the nation's wealthiest estates."

A Congressional watchdog is condemning the administration's mortgage modification plan, reports Brady Dennis: "The Treasury Department's primary foreclosure-prevention program has failed to live up to expectations and has suffered from a lack of 'meaningful goals,' according to a report from a congressional watchdog panel due out Tuesday. The government's Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, is on pace to prevent 700,000 to 800,000 foreclosures - a significant figure, but far fewer than the 3 million to 4 million struggling homeowners Treasury officials originally hoped to help, according to the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel."

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

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Swedish pop interlude: jj's "Voi Parlate, Io Gioco".

Still to come: The Fed is staying the course on quantitative easing; the Obama administration is appealing a district court's ruling against health care reform; judicial nominations are being blocked at a historic rate; renewable energy is losing a lot of federal support; and a mashup of movies from 2010.

Economy

The Fed is staying the course on quantitative easing, reports Neil Irwin: "Interest rates are marching upward, making it more expensive to take out a mortgage or get a loan to expand a business, and diluting efforts by Congress and the Federal Reserve to strengthen the economy. The rise is partly because of good news: The outlook for growth has improved, putting less pressure on investors to keep their money in ultra-safe bonds. When there's less demand for bonds, their interest rates - or yield - go up to attract more investors...The climb in interest rates is confounding the Fed's efforts as it tries to bring down rates by buying $600 billion in Treasury bonds. The central bank affirmed that it would stay on course with those plans Tuesday after a policy meeting."

Obama will caucus with CEOs today: http://wapo.st/eNB6g1

The Senate's omnibus spending bill contains millions in earmarks, report Philip Rucker and Paul Kane: "The $1.2 trillion bill, released on Tuesday, includes more than 6,000 earmarks totaling $8 billion, an amount that many lawmakers decried as an irresponsible binge following a midterm election in which many voters demanded that the government cut spending...Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) epitomizes the conflicted nature of the debate. Formerly a member of the committee that doles out earmarks, McConnell reluctantly embraced a moratorium on the practice last month to send a signal that Republicans are serious about curbing spending. Yet the legislation includes provisions requested this year by McConnell, including $650,000 for a genetic technology center at the University of Kentucky."

The SEC is in a budget battle with Congress, report Jean Eaglesham and Victoria McGrane: "The Securities and Exchange Commission is slowing the pace of some investigations and routine inspections as part of a belt-tightening caused by the budget impasse in Congress. Agency officials recently postponed gathering testimony from witnesses in a number of probes into potential wrongdoing, according to people familiar with the situation. And some previously scheduled audits of financial firms outside Washington have been put on hold because the SEC won't pay travel costs for investigators until an agreement is reached on the agency's funding for the current fiscal year...Republican gains in both houses of Congress have increased speculation that the 12% budget increase proposed for the SEC by President Barack Obama won't be approved."

Gene Sperling, Robert Altman, and Yale president Richard Levin are in the running to replace Larry Summers: http://bit.ly/flqlOC

The financial industry is fueling inequality, writes Tyler Cowen: "Steven N. Kaplan and Joshua Rauh have recently provided a detailed estimation of particular American incomes.6 Their data do not comprise the entire U.S. population, but from partial financial records they find a very strong role for the financial sector in driving the trend toward income concentration at the top. For instance, for 2004, nonfinancial executives of publicly traded companies accounted for less than 6 percent of the top 0.01 percent income bracket. In that same year, the top 25 hedge fund managers combined appear to have earned more than all of the CEOs from the entire S&P 500... In normal years the financial sector is flush with cash and high earnings. In implosion years a lot of the losses are borne by other sectors of society."

Economic inequality didn't cause the financial crisis, writes Edward Glaeser: http://nyti.ms/gR7xap

Inheritance is a form of income and should be taxed as such, writes Ray Madoff: "Americans seem little inclined to resist wealth concentration. Efforts to impose taxes geared to the wealthy are lambasted as promoting class warfare...Missing from the debate has been any discussion of what level of tax is appropriate for heirs. Few Americans may realize that money received by gift, inheritance or life insurance is entirely free from income taxes. Of course, this made sense when there was a strong estate tax. But there is no other reason inherited wealth should not be taxed the same as wages, lottery winnings and all other forms of income."

Stupid college student tricks interlude: Emerson College students lipdub Lady Gaga.

Health Care

The US will appeal the anti-health care reform court ruling, reports Jess Bravin: "The Justice Department said it would appeal a decision invalidating a core provision of the federal health-care overhaul, the next skirmish in a constitutional struggle likely to reach the Supreme Court before the 2012 presidential election. On Monday, a federal district judge in Richmond, Va., ruled that Congress lacked authority to compel individuals to carry health coverage. If ultimately upheld, the decision would undercut a core feature of the national insurance market envisioned by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration is bracing for another possible setback in Pensacola, Fla."

GRAPHIC - The status of all 24 legal challenges to health care reform: http://wapo.st/h8YibJ

Conservatives always cast increased government protection as a threat to freedom, writes David Leonhardt: "The federal income tax, a senator from New York said a century ago, might mean the end of 'our distinctively American experiment of individual freedom.' Social Security was actually a plan 'to Sovietize America,' a previous head of the Chamber of Commerce said in 1935. The minimum wage and mandated overtime pay were steps 'in the direction of Communism, Bolshevism, fascism and Nazism,' the National Association of Manufacturers charged in 1938...This year’s health care overhaul has now joined the list."

40 percent of those eligible for Medicaid do not sign up. Here's why: http://slate.me/dZbkGj

Domestic Policy

Obama's judges are being blocked at a historic rate, reports Ryan Grim: "The Senate has overseen the slowest pace of judicial staffing in at least a generation, with a paltry 39.8 percent of Obama's judges having been confirmed, according to numbers compiled by Senate Democrats. Of the 103 district and circuit court nominees, only 41 have been confirmed. By this time in George W. Bush's presidency, the Senate had confirmed 76 percent of his nominees. President Clinton was working at a rate of 89 percent at this point in his tenure. While the confirmation process is slower now (a function of a packed legislative calendar and Republican obstruction), Obama's nominating pace also lags behind his predecessors."

High speed rail is viable, writes Ryan Avent: http://bit.ly/gv8UCf

Google is behaving monopolistically, writes Steven Pearlstein: "Since Google generally has little existing presence in the market segments of the companies it buys, regulators fear that they will be unable to prove to skeptical judges that any one transaction will substantially lessen competition. One at a time, these deals might appear to be relatively benign. But taken together, they allow Google to increase the scale and scope of its activities and to further enhance its controlling position across a range of sectors. Moreover, by swooping in and buying these promising firms, Google forecloses on the possibility that they might be purchased by companies such as Microsoft or Facebook, which could use them to mount a serious challenge to Google's dominant position."

Supercut interlude: 2010 in film, in mashup form.

Energy

Federal money for renewable energy is drying up, reports Heidi Moore: "Congress seems to have dispensed with one major program that has been a boon to solar and wind companies: a grant program that provides 30 percent of the cost of developing alternative energy projects through tax breaks. That has disappeared from the Congressional agenda twice, including in the tax-cut bill that Congress is working on. The end of the tax breaks are likely to result in the loss of about 15,000 jobs, according to industry estimates...The tax bill also does not provide any more money for an advanced manufacturing tax credit -- a $2.3 billion program that gave tax breaks to companies that manufacture solar energies."

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews, Mike Shepard, and Michelle Williams. Photo credit: White House.

By Ezra Klein  | December 15, 2010; 6:46 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Next: The tax deal and 2012 revisited

Comments

I am a liberal, but I don't believe in heaping hefty taxes on all estates.

Much too often, when an owner of an estate passes, his heirs can not afford the tax due, and so they must sell the estate to pay off the IRS. When this happens, these estates are sold to wealthier people or corporations. This is one way in which the giant Monsanto is snapping up farms.

Small, intergenerational family farms, for example, can be easily valued in the millions of dollars though the owners really aren't cash or income rich.

Dems need to be careful in setting estate tax thresholds and rates. Indeed, maybe that's the wrong way to do it, and instead more complex exemption criteria need to be figured out so that we can keep giant corporations and vulture investors from snapping up estates as their taxes become overdue.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 15, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Ezra

Can you provide more details about the earmarks?

What percentage are for each party?

How many earmarks are given for those members who publicly denounced earmarks?

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 15, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Gee, the Senate set to approve the White House-Republican tax compromise with a few costly sweeteners stirred in, the House seems on its way to doing the same, and gone is any great concern for the economy going down the tube into debt upon debt that was said to be a bankrupting tax on the nation’s future.

We can trust that these fine public servants can get everyone to pretend that the wealthy sitting atop huge piles of money that they are not investing In America will do so with the additional loot that is going to be stuffed into their pockets. These powers that be consider it all free if it just costs you and me and our posterity.

Meanwhile, some supposed new disasters will certainly be found to distract attention from the fact that the hoarders of the nation’s wealth will double down their rake-and-take from cheap imported goods produced by enslaved labor in low-standard-of-living countries.

But, a little bit of these fat-cat tax breaks will be spent right here at home on ownership of the best politicians that their money can buy, and in the offing there will be no need to export jobs; a low standard of living is soon coming to a place near you.

Posted by: Islewood | December 15, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

great article on medicaid eligibility in Slate. As expected they take the position that asking people to confirm they qualify for free healthcare at an average cost of $7000 per year is too burdensome on them. Will they say the same when these precautions aren't taken and fraud is increased in a system already costing $340 Billion per year and growing? Who will take responsibility for that? its nice how they gloss over the "some are just irresponsible" and then chastize the system for ensuring compliance and legality. One thing I can say though is that if private insurers were running it we'd hear a lot more screaming about the 40% not enrolled.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 15, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

If for no other reason than to get Obama's judicial nominees seated, the Senate should reform the filibuster immediately and get these nominees seated before 2012.

The most important legacy a President can leave behind is his judicial appointments (as we are painfully learning because of past GOP appointments)

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 15, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

vision

Not picking a fight here, but I'd like to see you post a clear statement about what YOU would do about health care if you were President.

All I ever read from you is nitpicks, which can be done to ANY program. You seem to be a contrarian with no solutions. Maybe I've missed your posts where you answer my questions, but I haven't seen 'em.

Specifically, do you or do you not support health reform, and if so, what reforms are needed? How would things change if you had YOUR way?

How would you ensure all Americans would have access to quality health care regardless of income level or health status?

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 15, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

appreciate you not calling me names or picking a fight. One option I'd agree with is to do exactly what the President did but I'd try to find a way to actually attack costs instead of hoping that IPAC would affect medicare and eventually trickle into those of us with private insurance. Not enough has been done to increase the number of doctors in the US. Its been talked about but not nearly enough has been done and if you don't increase the numbers of doctors you continue to give too much power to the AMA and other doctor's groups. How to do it? Forgive doctor's debts if they agree to serve in rural areas for a period of time.

Once we have enough doctors either developed here or brought in from other countries then we need to seriously consider price controls on doctors as other countries do. This doesn't need to be draconian in the ways they are in other countries do but can be structured in a way to keep doctor's in their lovely first and second homes some of them have attained (and earned) but doesn't need to see them go further. Capitation to me would be a way we could do this in the way that healthcare costs were constrained in the 90's. And also these price controls or capitation would need to be passed on thru to those of us with private insurance.


I also obviously have a problem with how the government (especially Sec. Sebelius) attacks private insurers who charge high rates but doesn't attack the true drivers of costs. Its not as if the high risk pools are cheap. There's a reason not many are in them and its because of cost. Medicare's not cheap either. if people purchased medicare outside of age 65 they'd be paying $500 to $600 per month per person but NO ONE speaks about those two facts around here.


Another option I was in favor of was Wyden Bennett. I'd be fine with a system that had every insurer currently available and allowing everyone in the country to purchase off an exchange (including large employers). in fact I'd even consider requiring it. Allow employers to give their employees a set amount to purchase coverage on the exchange at some tax favored status (and give the same to individuals that aren't employed by a company, ie independent contractors). The purchasing power would keep rates low for all and wouldn't be government run (thus avoiding issues of fraud that run rampant in government run systems here).

two examples of how i would do it given my choice.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 15, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

oh and I DO support health reform AND an individual mandate. if you can get to everyone being covered without a tax or fine then that's good by me too. I've seen states (my own of NJ) when you have no requirement for coverage and people opting in and out whenever they want and its not good for costs/pricing. People in general don't understand the insurance death spiral when an opt out of the healthy is allowed and then allow them back in whenever they need coverage that costs more than their premiums. Its still math and 1 + 1 is still 2.

I also agree there should be an end to pre-ex and HOPE that the hatred and demonization of the insurance industry by this administration and many Democrats would stop then although I doubt that'd be the case.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 15, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

An important thing to remember about estate taxes is that 'estate' includes real estate, sure, but also all of the assetsand liabilities of the deceased. If we want to protect small family farms it's easy enough to exempt them up to a certain value from the tax. You could even tie it to inflation. That said, from what I remember, the incidence of people having to sell their intergenerational family farms because of the tax is a pretty rare occurrence.

Posted by: MosBen | December 15, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

this is my healthcare reform version, curious how much the conservatives on here would hate it:

(1) There'd be 'medicare' for children (don't care too much where the age cutoff is put) with no 'means testing'.

(2) Fed would cover ~75% of catastrophics ( > $40,000? )(enough so that providers would be willing to perform costly procedures if necessary without being overly worried about coverage, but low enough that performing unnecessary costly procedures without coverage would be very unprofitable) (die reinsurance, die diediedie)

(3) $1000 tax credit for keeping yourself covered (+ another $1000 for each family member you buy coverage for) (sort of a reverse mandate)

(4) Some of the basics of the obamacare: in terms of pre-existing conditions and maximum cost ratios

(5) The employer health coverage tax break would end (the upside becomes irrelevant once you have mandates, and shielding people from awareness about the real cost of their health care is counter productive when you are working toward cost control)

(6) Heavy subsidies would be in place for preventive care, basic dental, and ob-gyn.

(7) 'old people Medicare' would be available below age 65: on the order of $100/month buy-in for each year under the age of 65 you are. So you could retire at 62 and get Medicare for around $3600 / year.

(8) Eliminate Medicaid (would generally be obsolete due to (1) - (7))

(9) Federal minimum plan description would be outlined that insurers could meet to sell coverage across state lines (to get your $1000 credit, your coverage would have to meet this) (would not require any coverage for catastrophics, which I think would greatly reduce plan prices)

So basically, universal coverage for kids/elderly. Adults would purchase off of an individual market which would be supported by mandates and federal coverage of catastrophics, both keeping prices down. Adults would have a direct interest in cost control as well, either in terms of shopping for cheaper plans or making direct purchase decisions out of their own pockets. Government would also be allowed to bargain on drug prices, not sure if massive savings there is a liberal fairy tale or not but I see no reason not to (though not bullet worthy).

Oh yes and

(10) Death panels. Lots of death panels. Can never have enough death panels.

Posted by: eggnogfool | December 15, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Less estate tax, more Karamazov!!

Posted by: willows1 | December 15, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

eggnogfool - I like provision 1, provided that the children are working and paying into Medicare ahead of time. And I really, really like number 10. Diabetes? Asthma? Near sighted? Severe allergies? Ha, these people are like closed pistacchio nuts. Why bother?

Posted by: willows1 | December 15, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

visionbrkr - "Its still math and 1 + 1 is still 2". God, you Leftists are all the same. It's so predictable.

Posted by: willows1 | December 15, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

vision

I agree with many of your comments there.

The one I don't agree with is the myth that Obama hates insurance companies.

Under Obamacare, health insurance stocks have gone up, profits continue to climb, the public option has been fought against, the plan embraces free market principles and allows profits and the existence of insurance companies.

Obama himself has said (paraphrasing from memory) "our insurance friends are valuable and provide good jobs too and don't want to put them out of business."

I am curious why you would suggest Obama hates insurance companies when all his actions speak otherwise? I HOPE you don't mean to imply that because a given industry is regulated to some degree that that means they are hated?

Many of our right wing friends would say you hate freedom because you support the mandate or that you are an American hating socialist because of your reform ideas.

I have a broader question for all: Why is it hard to find an American born and bred doctor in the USA now? Everywhere I go, they are Indian or Pakistani or to a lesser extent, some other nationality.

Specifically, why do foreign doctors thrive in the USA with the same malpractice laws and insurance burdens that American doctors say kill their business?

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 15, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

The link about HSR is hilarious. He wants to effectively tax the whole US economoy which depends on the roads, to make good the cost comparison for the inifitesimal number of people, comparatively speaking, who will use HSR.

Remember HSR does not carry freight, nor does it make many stops. So by definition, HSR is limited by carrying capacity, and time to the upper middle class and upper class people who can afford a ticket and need to travel long distances on a daily basis.

If you are against the tax cut extension as a grant to the rich, how could you ever be FOR HSR?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 15, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Worrying about family farms is like saying we should publicly subsidize Norman Rockwell paintings!

What does it matter to the national economy if these farms get sold to other farm corporations? This is like all the other "human interest stories" that crop up over every piece of proposed leigslation. The "one person standard" is a horrible way to legislate as in if one person goes homeless, somehow we're a horrible nation.

Wasn't it here that yesterday we had a post supposedly from the "sheepherder" who was saying the estate tax would force him to sell, notwithstanding that his business actually died many years ago and his industry has only been kept alive at all by large Federal subsidies!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 15, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

54465446 - We should call them "National Anti-Terrorism Nodes" and advertise them as a way of rapidly transporting large numbers of people away from a radioactive cloud in a dense urban center instead of "High-Speed Rail [for annoying, skinny urbanites with square glasses and kindles]" Watch the dollars pour in.

Posted by: willows1 | December 15, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

willows:

More than truth in what you're saying. How do you think we got the national highway system in Eisenhower's time.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 15, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

farms are but one example.

There are numerous businesses that close because of estate taxes.

Every time such a farm or business or large home gets sold, it is swallowed up by someone or something bigger and wealthier.

I am not arguing to eliminate estate taxes; I am arguing to make sure they are set correctly.

I have a friend who lives in the corn fields of Illinois. She tells stories of many neighbors and local farms being swallowed up by agra-business because of tax issues.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 15, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"Worrying about family farms is like saying we should publicly subsidize Norman Rockwell paintings!"

Only in your demented mind.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 15, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

lauren:

Why is that a bad thing? I mean let's talk like adults discussing economics here, don't go all amber waves of grain and children in overalls on me.

My father worked 40 years for GE in a swtichgear plant in PA, and my sisters started there too, but eventually GE thought it best to move that same plant to Iowa, ironically enough, where it remains today. It was ok for him because he was close enough to retire, but my sisters had to find other employment that was not as lucrative at the time.

So were they hurt, of course. Was the economy hurt, not at all. GE is still a thriving company and so is the switchgear business. Nobody in my family had a "right" to have their way of life preserved, nor do family farmers (or any of the other myriad ways of life that have gone out of business in the last 100 years).

There is absolutely no harm done to the economy if a farm is sold to a larger concern, it may even be beneficial production wise.

Should we make a law that the children of family farmers HAVE to become farmers themselves on that same acreage because we changed the tax code for them?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 15, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Economically irrelevant perhaps.

I can see how it feels wrong to a given farming family that the tax man shows up every 30 years to take 40% of the family farm,

where Farmco, Inc.'s farm next door has gone 70 years without the IRS biting off a chunk and looks likely to go another 70 the same way.

Not saying they're right to feel that way, but why does big government love faceless corporations and hate Real American Families?

Posted by: eggnogfool | December 15, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

eggnofool:

Because many, many, many more Real American Families have been supported by faceless corporations than have existed on family farms for much more than the last 100 years!

It just one of many bogus myths that we cherish like the cowboy, which was a crummy job engaged in by blacks and Hispanics between 30-40% of the time, or the gunfight in the middle of the street that never happened.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 15, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse


Obama himself has said (paraphrasing from memory) "our insurance friends are valuable and provide good jobs too and don't want to put them out of business."

I am curious why you would suggest Obama hates insurance companies when all his actions speak otherwise? I HOPE you don't mean to imply that because a given industry is regulated to some degree that that means they are hated?

Many of our right wing friends would say you hate freedom because you support the mandate or that you are an American hating socialist because of your reform ideas.

I have a broader question for all: Why is it hard to find an American born and bred doctor in the USA now? Everywhere I go, they are Indian or Pakistani or to a lesser extent, some other nationality.

Specifically, why do foreign doctors thrive in the USA with the same malpractice laws and insurance burdens that American doctors say kill their business?

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 15, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Lauren,

the President can say he's not anti insurance all he wants but when you tell a business that they can only by LAW spend "X" on administrative expenses that to many is stepping over some big lines whether you like it or not. Let's say the government tells restaurant's that they must spend at least 80% of their money on food and food related supplies and salaries for their employees can only make up 20%. Wouldn't most people revolt over such harsh regulation? I know that health insurance is different but its still seen by some as overregulation of an industry that honestly is one of the most highly regulated around. If you don't work within the industry you honestly don't see how highly regulated it is.

I'd agree that the President doesn't demonize insurers say as much as Secretary Sebelius or Speaker Pelosi or Senator Rockefeller but he has his moments and some of them are justified, I'll readily admit but what he doesn't say (becuase honestly most wouldn't understand) is that every state's laws are different. MA has 100% TOTAL guaranteed issue. Do they deserve to be demonized as much as say a state like CA with much less regulation in terms of pre-ex?


And Obama didn't target insurers specifically? Oh he sure did. I'm not saying he's not right in SOME of the things he said but insurers were absolutely a target and still are every time a valid rate increase happens. I'm still waiting for ANYONE in the adminstration to target the true drivers of costs, doctors.

http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-19/politics/health.care.main_1_entire-house-democratic-caucus-health-care-white-house?_s=PM:POLITICS

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 15, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

lauren,

as far as your doctor question I'd suppose that doctors in other countries don't have the schooling bills that doctors in the US have.

Also many of those doctors (as many other professions) go back to those countries from time to time with lower costs of livings and live like Kings there as opposed to how they could live here. happens in the tech professions all the time.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 15, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Yet in Virginia, this is what is called quality health care, or at least it's deemed, defended and supported as "The Acceptable Standards of Care" in SWVA.

http://www.wisecountyissues.com/?p=62

Causing

http://www.wisecountyissues.com/?p=94

Posted by: 24279lbva | December 16, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Insurance companies are not the first to have their products or services or prices thereof highly regulated.

There are certain things essential for a modern society to function well. Sometimes private enterprises can be taken to extremes whereupon they can be detrimental to society at large. It is entirely constitutional and traditional for gvmt to stay the hand of laissez faire in key cases for the good of society. Health care is such an industry. So are utilities.

Given that health care is a human necessity and that insurance practices are predatory in many cases and are bankrupting the country, it is inevitable insurers will be regulated.

Regulation /= hatred.

And there are indeed many insurance practices worthy of political demonization, especially given their profits are more healthy than their customers.

Just because Obama hasn't yet gone after doctor costs, that doesn't invalidate incremental reform attempts (obamacare)

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 16, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

I have posted this already here before You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check search online for "Wise Health Insurance" If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and believe me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: robertaviles | December 16, 2010 3:50 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

we're going to eventually agree to disagree but just because some insurers practices are deemed by some as worthy of political demonization doesn't mean that most, many or all are. that's like me saying that i know some government employees that are corrupt so they all are. If I made that sweeping generalization then I'd deserved to be called on it.

I doubt that Obama will take on the doctor's. no one else has but I'd be happy if he did and yes it doesn't invalidate incremental reform but let's make sure we know that's exactly what it is. its incremental and its really not reform per se. Its an expansion of coverage (through subsidies and wealth redistribution via subsidies). So the next time you or another liberal comes on here and rails on the "rich" as they're called (and i'm not one of btw) just remember that come 2014 and beyond that rich person will be paying someone's healthcare with little or no strings attached.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 16, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

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