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Sometimes, House Democrats have the tinniest of tin ears. After reading this post by Philip Klein of the American Spectator, I’m certain we’re looking at a prime example of the Democrats arrogance. Here’s what I’m talking about:

The bill also calls for the creation of a national, government-run insurance exchange, in which individuals would receive government subsidies to purchase either the government plan or chose among government-designed private plans.

The common theme in my interviews with Rep. Charles Boustany and Rep. Paul Ryan was their advocating giving people the option to design their own custom health care policies. That’s why the House Republicans’ plan is titled the Patients’ Choice Act.

This is the biggest philosophical difference between conservatives and progressives. Generally speaking, conservatives want to give people the freedom to choose what works best for them. Generally speaking, progressives think that they have to design policies because people aren’t capable of thinking things through and finding the best solutions.

TRANSLATION: Conservatives trust people and put a high priority on sustaining a high level of personal liberty. On the other hand, progressives trust only wonks, which naturally means that they try controlling everything as much as possible.

QUESTION: What makes progressives think that they know what’s best for me in terms of health care policies?

One of the central themes to Rep. Boustany’s thinking was that the doctor-patient relationship was important in the patient getting the highest quality health care possible. Rep. Boustany said that anytime a DC bureaucrat gets in between a doctor and his patient, there’s cause for concern. He’s absolutely right. That’s precisely when the patient should start worrying.

Klein does a great job in highlighting this part of the House Democrats’ legislation:

One key fact worth highlighting: “Over time, the Exchange will be opened to all employers as another choice for covering their employees.”

As Klein notes, “this directly contradicts President Obama’s pledge that everybody who is happy with the health care they receive can keep it.” This isn’t surprising, especially in light of the video that Verum Serum put together. That video, combined with CBO’s scoring of the Kennedy-Dodd bill, have put the Democrats on the defensive on this issue.

That’s why it’s vitally important that we keep increasing the pressure by exposing the parts of the Democrats’ bills that people disagree with. That’s why it’s vitally important that we keep increasing the pressure by highlighting the popular provisions in the Patients’ Choice Act. Here’s how Rep. Ryan chose to sell PCA:

“Both parties need to step up to the plate with specific solutions to our nation’s health care crisis,” added Ryan. “The Patients’ Choice Act represents a clear alternative to those who seek to empower Washington at the expense of the individual, and I am hopeful that our efforts can help push Congress to enact a more sensible health care reform bill this year. The Patients’ Choice Act proves that America can have universal health care coverage without the government running our health care system.”

I’ll just refer you to my interviews with Rep. Paul Ryan and Rep. Charles Boustany on why they think it’s important to get government out of the way. First, here’s an exchange I had with Rep. Ryan:

Shouldn’t people, working in concert with their physician, have the option of putting together a customized health insurance policy?

Yes, that’s a great idea and just the type of innovative thinking we don’t want the federal government to squash. Patients have different needs, and that’s exactly why health insurance shouldn’t be run by the federal government. The government does not know what is best for patients. Patients and doctors should be able to make decisions together about the types of health plans that best suit their individual needs. That concept is exactly what motivated the Patients’ Choice Act. We don’t want the federal government taking over these decisions, and we want to show people that there is another way that allows the individual to maintain control over these personal decisions.

Here’s what Rep. Boustany said about giving people multiple (private sector) choices:

The next subject we talked about was whether government was capable of efficiently administering the changing world of health care. Rep. Boustany said that, based on his personal experiences dealing with government regulators, that the answer to that question was a definite no. Rep. Boustany said that the government is incapable of the type of flexibility that’s needed.

Rep. Boustany also said that the doctor-patient relationship shouldn’t be discounted in these considerations. He said that doctors, working in concert with their patients, make the type of quality decisions that bureaucrats can’t possibly make.

Another topic that we discussed was regulations/mandate-oriented health care vs. cafeteria-style health care. Rep. Boustany said that giving patients the widest variety of choices is the centerpiece of the Patients’ Choice Act. He said that minimizing the number of mandates will drive down both health costs and health insurance premiums while giving the patients a high quality insurance policy.

Anything that government gets its hands on, it strangles with mandates.

In the end, the Democrats’ public option plans will be defeated because people prefer having lots of private sector choices more than they prefer having bureaucrats and politicians putting health insurance policies together.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

I just finished interviewing Rep. Charles Boustany, (R-LA), on the subject of health care in general and the ‘private option’ provisions. Let’s start with a little bit of background on Rep. Boustany.

Before he became Rep. Boustany, he was Dr. Boustany. Rep. Boustany was a practicing physician for over 20 years, with the last 14 years specializing in heart surgery.

The first thing that I asked Rep. Boustany about was what he was hearing in terms of the pace at which health care hearings would be proceeding. He said that he’d heard that Sen. Baucus had delayed his initial hearing until next week, mostly because they were balking at the high price tag, which was estimated at $1,300,000,000,000.

The word is that they won’t get far with this bill until it’s trimmed below $1,000,000,000,000.

Rep. Boustany said that he’s hearing that the House Ways and Means Committee is having difficulties getting their act together. He said that they’re having trouble figuring out which taxes to increase to pay for the high pricetag for the public option.

Another question I asked was whether there was increased public pressure being put on Blue Dog and swing district Democrats by John Q. Public. Rep. Boustany said that that’s definitely happening. He reported, too, that there’s alot of grumbling behind the scenes because they aren’t willing to openly criticize House leadership.

The next subject we talked about was whether government was capable of efficiently administering the changing world of health care. Rep. Boustany said that, based on his personal experiences dealing with government regulators, that the answer to that question was a definite no. Rep. Boustany said that the government is incapable of the type of flexibility that’s needed.

Rep. Boustany also said that the doctor-patient relationship shouldn’t be discounted in these considerations. He said that doctors, working in concert with their patients, make the type of quality decisions that bureaucrats can’t possibly make.

Another topic that we discussed was regulations/mandate-oriented health care vs. cafeteria-style health care. Rep. Boustany said that giving patients the widest variety of choices is the centerpiece of the Patients’ Choice Act. He said that minimizing the number of mandates will drive down both health costs and health insurance premiums while giving the patients a high quality insurance policy.

He pointed out, too, that that’s the best way to spur competition. Rep. Boustany said that putting a high priority on innovation, both in terms of health care and with health insurance, is a great motivator to not get complacent.

Rep. Boustany said one thing that government can do is put together a user-friendly website that tells health care consumers what policies are available from which companies. This website, we agreed, would have to be the ultimate in user friendly features and that it would have to include which hospitals and clinics do the best work for the various specialties.

Rep. Boustany said that this is likely to work because “Americans love to shop”. With more people getting dissatisfied with their current health care situation each day, the greater the likelihood that these people would find such a website helpful.

Another topic that I brought up in our conversation was that the public option is nothing more than government-imposed price controls. Rep. Boustany agreed, then said that, based on his experience with Medicare and Medicaid, that this option would cause some hospitals and clinics to shut down because they can’t survive on the Medicare/Medicaid payments.

If that became the rule rather than the exception, it would hurt quality dramatically. I suggested that people whose children have been diagnosed with cancer or whose parents just got diagnosed with Alzheimers want robust innovation.

That observation drew a swift and passionate response from Rep. Boustany. He said those are the types of health care consumers who want robust research programs because in some instances, it’s literally the difference between life and death. He said that’s especially true of heart patients.

Rep. Boustany said that having a public option included in any legislation aimed at reforming health care is likely to be counterproductive to the goal of improving America’s health. I wholeheartedly agree and, based on the reports coming out of DC, so do alot of other people across the United States.

The next sign that this thing is collapsing under its own weight will be when Democrats start speaking out against a public option.
This is just speculation but I’m betting that’ll happen well before the August Recess.

Finally, I’d like to thank Rep. Boustany for taking the time out of his busy voting schedule for this interview and for his Rick Curtsinger, his press secretary for getting the interview scheduled.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

It isn’t a secret that President Obama’s gift is for rhetoric. Another of President Obama’s gifts is his ability for creating strawman arguments. It’s just unfortunate that he rarely lives up to the moderation he professes to believe in. During his visit to Green Bay, WI, President Obama offered the false choice of a public option. It’s many things but, in the end, it won’t be an option. Thankfully, Paul Ryan has responded to President Obama’s rhetoric:

Another favorite refrain of the President is that entitlement reform is health care reform. With health security threatened by the unsustainable growth of Medicare and Medicaid, serious reform of these programs is no longer an option. Last year, I introduced comprehensive reforms of both programs, and yet again – nothing but rhetoric from Washington. What’s worse, the Administration’s current strategy to fixing our entitlement crisis is to add yet another entitlement program to an already unsustainable fiscal future. You can’t create new government entitlements, impose trillions of dollars of new taxes, and call this cost containment. We already spend over two-and-a-half times any other country on health care. The problem is not that we don’t spend enough money, but that we don’t spend it efficiently or effectively.

I recently asked a number of my conservative friends if it’s reform if the end product costs more, is less flexible and leads to rationing. The consensus was that that doesn’t constitute reform. True reforms bring true progress. ObamaCare isn’t true reform because it’s taking a step backwards.

What every person in America needs to know is that the Democrats’ health care plan is all about controlling people’s lives by adding mountains of taxes on the would-be job creators. There’s a provision in the Democrats’ bill that’s called play or pay and it’s aimed at employers. If entrepreneurs don’t offer health insurance to their employees, they get fined.

The Obama administration hasn’t explained why their public ‘option’ is needed. I suspect that they won’t because their explanation isn’t compelling. I further suspect that they won’t engage in that conversation because it’ll expose their desire to control a big part of the economy. The only way that the government plan will save money over the current system is through cost controls. That’s the first step to rationing. This video proves it:

As I said before, it’s intellectually dishonest for President Obama to call this a public option. It’s nothing of the sort. It isn’t even being sold as a trojan horse. As Mr. Hacker states without equivocation, it’s right there for all the world to see.

This Bloomberg article says that the Democrats’ bill includes a huge tax increase:

Health-care overhaul legislation being drafted by House Democrats will include $600 billion in tax increases and $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel said.

If this keeps up, affordabe health insurance will be too expensive.

Let’s summarize. ObamaCare is being sold to the public as having a public option. In private, though, politicians like Rep. Schackowsky and activists like Jacob Hacker tell people that their plan “will put insurance companies out of business.” We also know that a massive tax increase is included in the bill, quite likely because it’s wildly expensive. We know that eliminating private insurance leads to single payer and that single payer leads to rationing of health care resources.

Put in simpler English, we’re being lied to about what the Democrats’ plan is. If the Democrats’ health care reform is enacted, taxes will increase and health care will get rationed.

Earlier in this post, I said that the Democrats’ plan was a step backwards. I’d like to amend that statement to say the Democrats’ plan is a giant step backwards, both in terms of value and freedom.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Clive Crook of the Financial Times has written today’s must read article. In his article, he articulates why President Obama’s budget is a scary thing:

While Barack Obama was in Europe last week, Congress was voting on his budget. Because of the administration’s surpassing ambitions, and because of the colossal demands its budget will place on domestic and international capital markets, the outcome of this debate will matter more in the end for the US economy, and even for the world economy, than all of London’s pleasant if ineffectual global summitry.

Both houses of Congress passed versions of the budget that are close to what Mr Obama proposed. Yet what comes next is still unclear. This will be decided in the House-Senate conference to reconcile the two versions, and in the tax and spending measures that follow. At this stage only one thing is sure: the permanent excess of spending over revenue in the long-term fiscal outlook.

Approximately a month ago, people criticized President Obama’s budget projections. I ridiculed him for his liberal use of fuzzy math:

A report I heard on TV last night said that the Obama administration is using the rosiest of rosy scenarios for FY2011-13. They’re projecting GDP growth in 2011 at 5.5 percent and 6 percent annual growth in FY2012 and FY 2013. Those numbers aren’t just optimistic. They’re delirious. The highest growth rate for a quarter in the last 20 years came in 2003 when it hit 8.1 percent. The best years of the Clinton administration didn’t average 5 percent.

President Obama insists that FDR spent lots of money in his attempt to get us out of the Great Depression, then pulled his punches and didn’t spend enough. That’s wrongheaded thinking. Each time government takes money out of the economy, ecnonomic growth is limited.

President Obama’s budget doesn’t represent him taking a little bit of money out of the economy. President Obama’s budget represents him taking one huge bite out of the private sector economy after another. I haven’t seen visible proof that President Obama’s budgets won’t keep taking one huge bite out of the private sector economy after another.

One of the most expensive commitments in the budget is healthcare reform. Towards the full cost of this initiative, estimated at $1,200bn (€890bn, £810bn) or higher over 10 years, the budget merely calls for a 10-year “downpayment” of $600bn. So even that 3 per cent full employment deficit (4 per cent, according to the CBO) was a deliberate underestimate.

And still it gets worse. Congress’s new versions of the budget tweak here and there, paying lip service to the need for fiscal control, but taken together point in the direction you might expect, towards even bigger long-term deficits. Both chambers have agreed to scale back spending on future financial bail-outs, and to trim relief for the alternative minimum tax (a parallel tax code originally aimed at the very rich, which is starting to affect middle-class households). These are delusional economies. More will have to be spent on bail-outs before this crisis is over, and it is the closest thing to a political certainty that the ever-encroaching AMT will continue to be pushed back, at the cost of forgone revenue, year by year.

In short, President Obama’s budget is irresponsible in the extreme. Forget about whether we can afford it. Forget about whether the generations after that can afford it. The big question isn’t whether the Obama administration-inflicted debt won’t be a major drag on our economy for the next generation. The question is this: How big of a drag the Obama-inflicted deficits will be on the economy for the next generation.

In short, whether it intends to or not, Congress is leaning towards making the long-term deficit even bigger. It is preparing to underwrite a large and permanent expansion of the government’s spending obligations while failing to provide for a corresponding expansion of the tax base. A crucial question is therefore whether, and for how long, Mr Obama will continue to be bound by his pledge to raise income taxes “by not one cent” for almost all Americans.

The crucial question isn’t whether President Obama will keep his promise of not raising income taxes for middle class Americans. It’s more about when he’ll break that promise. It’s obvious that President Obama can’t get enough money from “soaking the rich” to get us even remotely close to balancing the budget. If President Obama wants to get us close to an acceptable debt-as-percentage-of-GDP level, he’ll need to increase taxes on the middle class.

BTW, that’s one of the reasons why Wall Street doesn’t trust President Obama and why they haven’t supported President Obama’s economic plans.

That’s why it’s critical that conservatives join their voices with those of Paul Ryan, Mike Pence and other fiscal hawks. If we can impress on people that we’ve gotten the message and that we can be trusted to solve the banking crisis and right our economic ship, we’ll win over the independents that we lost so badly the last two election cycles.

Winning lots of elections, starting in 2010, is the best way to stop President Obama’s race to insolvency.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative